I received an email with the subject line “Need help”.
The email read “I recently bought my home (2011) and did an extensive kitchen, living room, bathroom renovation. I am now looking for design help for furniture selection, theme and overall look and feel.”
What my client meant by “Need help” was simply hiring someone to create that overall feel for him, to “finish” his house….you know, like a showroom. He was in for a surprise….
The front room of my clients’ house is open to the kitchen, which he had beautifully renovated. This is the original part of this old house, and we could really nod to that as it aligned with his decorating taste – so it was decided that the furniture pieces coming in had to be a mix of old and new.
Together we planned the furniture, area rugs, paint, window coverings – but as much as all that, what his spaces needed was personalizing….some character. He was completely missing from these rooms.
So when I asked him to think about what possessions he really identified with, what had personal significance….things that were ‘him‘; that his spaces needed those so it would be his home – well, this was a bit unexpected for him.
The design challenges for me were to create a space that was cozy and warm, with some softness, but that was still inherently masculine; and, finding elements appropriate for his lifestyle, without compromising sophistication.
First, the entire room was painted Sherwin Williams Passive, (IMO) a perfect light gray. The wood plank ceiling was white washed. One important design decision we made was to paint the wall above the brick fireplace black, to essentially make the TV ‘disappear’ when it’s not in use (the brick was already painted black).
That same principal was applied to the partial wall between this room and the kitchen – it was painted black so that it kind of ‘disappears’. It’s also a wonderful backdrop for the items now displayed there.
Gray and white linen window panels frame out the sofa and minimize the lines of the bay window. The 9’ L sectional offers optimal lounging/TV viewing, lots of seating, and much needed delineation of the front door area (just left of shot). Further defining that area is the console table behind the sofa chaise, serving as a perfect landing spot and some storage at the door.
The sofa had to be durable and easy maintenance – the lines and colour had to suit a masculine space. We chose a gorgeous charcoal gray cotton/poly/linen blend, comprised of just 2 bench style seat cushions with tufting, and low rectangular back cushions – clean lined and tailored. (but also deep, and SUPER comfy).
This gorgeous chair? It’s a recliner. Uber-manly. But done with a bit of panache, isn’t it? And all these pieces are sitting on the most foot-fabulous bamboo silk area rug.
The vintage and antique pieces were collected – the oak bookcase beside the fireplace, the rustic sideboard cabinet, and the factory cart as the coffee table (and so not a repro, it’s worn and beautiful factory floor wood), . (Extra points if you spotted his dog in that picture!)
The challenge for my client was learning about himself – but he likes lists; so he made lists and took pictures of things that he liked, items that resonated with him, that meant something to him. He has some unique, personal objects that had belonged to his parents….special things with personal significance - but a single man with, for example, a large display of ceramic thimbles was a bit peculiar. Just. sayin’.
But once he was done that “exercise”, the oak bookcase was styled combining the interesting pieces I’d searched out with his own personal pieces. They blended perfectly, creating a personal, vintage masculine vibe….
Those thimbles are far left in a large mason jar – so his Moms collection is there, but in a way that fits his space. The old license plates refer to the 3 places he has lived in his life, there’s some really old books and cameras….it’s a curation that looks funky and cool, and just invites you to look closer at what’s there.
Other interesting pieces include a vintage milk can holding twigs in the corner, and on the sideboard a wooden pulley, and a circa 1950’s copper phone. That unusual white statue is another piece with personal significance – and it’s perfect in the space.
Quotes or lyrics are graphic and personal…. My client came across this quote while we were working together and wanted to incorporate it into the room, so we made this pallet style sign.
Almost everything changed in this room – this was taken at our first meeting….
And the same vantage point Now….
So, even if you’re hiring a professional to work with you on your spaces, it’s still your Home, and the end result has to be an expression of you and your life….And, a big part of ‘Home’ is a feeling – it’s an energy, a blending of pieces that’s comforting to you. There should always be items in your space that have absolutely nothing to do with the “styling” – but they do contribute to the whole. They add the feeling….That is the soulstyle.
And my client? He really didn’t “get” the process when we started out. And, he really didn’t understand why he was gathering stuff that was significant to him. But, he was also baffled by the amount of toss cushions coming in, and didn’t see why drapes were necessary. Thankfully, he trusted the process (and me). For 2 years, he had just ‘lived’ in this house, he hadn’t yet been ‘at home’ …. With a bit of emotional investment in the result, my client now has his Home.