Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
A couple of years ago I worked on a project that involved furnishing an entire home practically from scratch for a family of four. They had just purchased a prefab home through a local design firm, and while the styling and layout of the house was modern, they wanted to maintain traditional touches to create a soft modern vibe that was kid friendly.
So over the next few weeks I will show you the process we went through, from concept images (you know how I love them!) to floor plans to furniture and finish selections.
One of the main design focuses for the house was to work with the principles in “Creating the Not-So Big House” by Sarah Susanka, a favorite author of both the clients and myself. One of the key principles we focused on was adding built-ins throughout the house to not only add storage but to define rooms and create intimate spaces within the open concept floor plan. Since I was brought in early in the process, we were able to work with the architecture firm that designed the pre-fab to modify the home to fit the clients’ desires.
Next week I’ll show you how we modified the floor plans, but let’s start with the inspiration images that helped guide the process as we moved through all the phases of the design process.
As you can see, we wanted to incorporate a mixture of open and closed storage. Think of all those everyday items and functions that need to be easily accessible and conveniently located. Everything from dog food and mittens to stereo components and pantry items. Everything needs a home and if it’s well designed and properly located people are more likely to put things back where they belong.
The living room spaces (which includes a family room on the lower level) are key spaces in a home where family time is all the time. This family spends a typical Saturday hanging out in their living room and dining room, reading Harry Potter, playing with trucks, doing a bit of work on the laptop, grading papers at the table, and then playing Rock Band all together in the evening. So of course it was essential that these spaces accommodated all these uses simultaneously, while also allowing them to not feel like they were right on top of each other.
The living rooms we selected as inspiration are cozy, curl up spaces filled with warmth. Layered window treatments add texture and volume. Big sofas with unartfully arranged pillows invite you to plop down (not sit down). The coffee tables and ottomans are meant to be used. The dining rooms are also filled with warm colors and finishes that help create intimate spaces. When you’re dining room is truly where you dine for all of your meals, it should be a space that you enjoy spending time in, after all.
For the bathrooms and kitchen we wanted to achieve that magical mix of clean, contemporary lines with a bit of cottage warmth. Using wood and other finishes in warm tones helps to make the contemporary feel inviting. You’ll also notice that there are a number of rooms in these images that have high contrast – dark brown woods mixed with bright white surfaces. Remember this because you’ll see the influence of these images in our finished rooms.
Since the master bedroom and the bedrooms for the two kids needed to have different vibes, you might notice there are two different qualities showcased in these images. The master bedroom needed to be a calm, relaxing retreat for the parents. But it still needed to be achieved in kid-friendly finishes to be realistic about how the room would be used. (“Little House on the Prairie” is often best enjoyed cuddled up together under a big comforter, after all. I read plenty of books with my parents growing up.) Since the kids’ bedrooms had a fairly small footprint, I wanted to ensure as much functional space was incorporated from the get go so that there would be plenty of floor space left open for informal play. The window seats offer a great place to sit and read or play with John Deere tractors. Plus they provide more storage. Bold colors in the kids rooms allow them to express their ever-evolving personalities. When we get to fabric and finish selections you’ll see how pattern and color are applied for easy updating.
Stay tuned for next week’s installment… I’ll show you how the inspiration images and book led to a refined floor plan with new storage columns and a kitchen that offers more storage while helping delineate the boundaries of each room in an open floor plan home.
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
Celerie Kemble is an rising star in the interior design community. Based in NYC but raised in Palm Beach, her mother is an interior designer as well, so she was exposed to great design from an early age. I had the chance to meet her a few years back at an event promoting a line of textiles she designed, and I even got a photo with her! Unfortunately, the person who took the photo gave the camera to her techie, who deleted my picture with Celerie (sadness!) But I’m sure I’ll get the chance to fix that in the future.
I finally got around to reading Celerie’s book “To Your Taste: Creating Modern Rooms with a Traditional Twist,” and while our styles can be very different at times, I love both her bold use of color and her restrained application of color and pattern. The book explores her own personal design evolution, and then covers how you can create your own personal style. It’s worth checking out from the library and seeing what inspires you.
Here are a few of my favorite images from the book.
Last week I wrote about using bold greens, and here is a great example of incorporating a bold green and bold patterns, but tempering them with restful expanses of white. It’s fun and playful, but still retains a polished hint of traditional.
Don’t you just love these palettes? I love the use of orange in different color palettes, either as a dominant element or a supporting player. It’s always fun to see the paint, fabric, wallcovering, and trim details pulled together to tell the story.
Lest you think all she can do is bold, check out the lighter palette of this breakfast nook. Spring yellows, greens and white are layered with textures. The chandelier, the bamboo style chairs, tweedy fabrics on the banquette, ruffle edged plates on the wall, and wainscotting on the wall and ceiling add layers of interest that the eye only observes slowly.
Can I just say I love the mix in this small dining room? The morse code like dots pattern on the banquette and drapes is fabulous! The tree like base on the table is textural but subtle in black. The metalic finish on the slim chairs is unexpected, but works. And the faux snakeskin fabric on the chairs is one of my favorites from her line of fabrics. I can’t wait to have dining room chairs that I can reupholster in something similar. They look so fancy, but wipe clean with a wet cloth. Excellent!
So can you relate to any of these rooms? Do you like the mix of traditional and modern elements? How do YOU define your personal style? I’d love to hear your definitions!