Breathing Room: Long Living Room ….

Kelly is back with another edition of Breathing Room, where she tackles furniture and space planning solutions.  This week, she tackles the dreaded “long living room”.  So many clients contact designers to ensure they avoid the “ballroom effect or border effect” where everything is pushed up against the walls and you are left with a massive space in the center of the room — perfect for impromptu dance parties but not really for living.  Check out Kelly’s tips and examples on how to battle this scenario…..

Now that we’ve discussed the basics to drawing up a floor plan, I thought it would be interesting to discuss individual space issues.  First up, long living rooms that require more than the typical sofa and chairs seating arrangement.

The key to making a long living room feel comfortable and cozy (as opposed to sparsely furnished and cold) is creating a space plan that incorporates multiple seating areas.  The seating areas can have a variety of functions and should be customized to work for the owner of the space.

For example, I’m designing the space plan for a living room that is very long and open to the entry and kitchen (so a few restrictions on where furniture can be placed).  The most important function for this room is to take advantage of the great city views.   Unfortunately, the entire room doesn’t have access to the city views so I will incorporate another seating area that is great for conversations.

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In the alternative, a long living room that has the focal point of a fireplace would have a completely different space plan.   You would want to create a seating area that focuses on the fireplace and additional seating areas could incorporate other interests – conversations, gaming, etc.

Pic 4 -Deborah Needleman Pic3-Kerry Delrose Pic2-Traditional Home

How about a long living room without a focal point?  You can create different seating arrangements completely based on the interests of the owners.  It could be focused on creating great conversation, watching television, or playing games.

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Pic6-Vicente Wolfe

A long living room is a great opportunity to create multiple functional spaces in one area.  It is important to plan out the space prior to purchasing furniture to ensure that your furniture proportions allow multiple seating areas.   A little pre-planning with result in a space that is inviting and well-designed.

Thank you Kelly!  I will leave you all to start rearranging your living rooms now that you are inspired.  I, on the other hand, will be cleaning my kitchen as we embark on yet another weekend styling for a photo shoot…story of my life now (and I love it!) ……

[picture credit: New York Magazine//House Beautiful//Traditional Home//Nuevo Estillo/Architectural Digest]

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The Sky’s The Limit….

Next time you are in a room, look up.

Go ahead, I will wait…….

Notice anything?  Probably you are looking at a white ceiling with no interest or defining details.  Getting a client to agree to a ceiling treatment is typically pretty difficult.  I liken it to being 16 and trying to get your parents to allow you to stay out past curfew.  You may have a logical and completely legit argument, but they aren’t budging in their final decision.

However, you get those occasional clients who trust your vision and allow you to try something out in their home.  This was the case of my clients at the Calvert Court project.  As a quick recap, they have an amazing mid-century home which we are slowly working on.  At the moment, we are putting the finishing touches on the living room which leads into their dining room.  The living room has very much a “Mad Men” vibe to it with brass fixtures, faux-silk wall coverings, a curved couch….you get the idea.  However, the clients wanted to reuse the dining furniture from their past residence which was not quite mid-century.  Actually, it all was quite modern – white leather chairs, acorn ceiling fixture, mirrored bureau……and it was lacking.   We had furniture that didn’t feel grounded in the space.  We knew the space would feel slightly disjointed from the living room and we were okay with that but the space felt adrift, which was not what you want.

Initially, I suggested we swap rugs but the clients wanted to use their existing rug.  Knowing that we had spent a majority of the budget for the room on new captain’s chairs, I had to figure out a way to anchor the space.

Thus enter the ceiling.

Rather than paint an accent wall, which would have competed with the floor-to-ceiling windows in the space, we opted a large square centered on the ceiling.  After a few testers, we decided on Benjamin Moore Caribbean Sea – it is a hue of the peacock-blue we used throughout the house and it looks equally great  in bright and low light……

Painting the ceiling instantly grounded the room and directed your focus to the amazing windows.  It brought a sense of mood to the space and dulled the modern feel of the furnishings.  The rooms feel connected rather than competing now……

Best of all, the client called me and said “Thank you for suggesting this.  It looks amazing.”  Ummm, how awesome is that?  It totally made my day and put a notch in my “design belt”.  A few finishing touches and we should be ready to call the dining room done!

So tell me, do you like color on your ceiling or do you prefer crisp white?  Speaking of painting, I am back at the Hawthorne project as the painters are back finishing up the bathroom in shades of grey (no relation to the book).

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Calvert Court Update: Wallpaper…..

I have been working on several long term projects, one of which is the Calvert Court project in the beautiful hills of Piedmont (which is the fancy name for the part of Oakland that seceded years ago).  In any case, the couple I am working for are true mid-century buffs and we have slowly been working on the main living quarters (bedroom, dining room and living room)  since the start of the year to update the house.

It’s been slow slogging but this week was a bright spot as we hung the wallpaper in the bedroom and living room.  What should have been a nightmare installation thanks to thick paper, metallic surfaces and uneven walls was saved by my wallpaper installer Susan.  She worked her wallpaper voodoo and aside from some two small patches that need some work, the installation ran flawlessly.

In the bedroom, we opted to install a paper wall covering from Prestigious Wallcoverings called “Rhythm” which fits the mood perfectly.  The paper is a soft creamy white with a gold metallic wave pattern.  It’s a bit mid-century but definitely sophisticated yet fun – the perfect trio in my book……

In the living room, we wanted a slightly more masculine feel, so we opted for a bronze faux silk wall covering from Thibault.  Funny enough, when we received the wall covering sample, someone had written the words “style” across the back of it.  While not the covering’s name, “style” fit the paper perfectly and its what we kept referring to it as throughout the process……

So we got rhythm and we got style….who can ask for anything more?

Well the clients are asking, since there is still a TON of styling to to be done, a ceiling to painted (notice those patch swatches in the living room pic) and custom furniture to receive.  The space is going to be a showstopper – it just needs to get done!

So tell me, how do you feel about wallpaper in your own home?  Love it or leave it?  And one final thought, thank you to everyone who supported my Joss & Main sale!

Okay, I am off to sketch shelving and work with a decorative painter on one final element for the Hawthorne Street project.

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