Balancing Act

by Lauren Setum

Well, you’ve seen design ideas for the KitchenDining RoomMaster Bedroom and Guest Bedroom in my friend’s new home. Last, but not least, is the Living Room. The paint color for this space is…

sweet rosy brown

Sweet Rosy Brown by Benjamin Moore

As you can see in the space plan below, the Living Room is long and narrow, but by strategically placing furniture of the correct size, cozy conversation areas and reading nooks emerge. You’ll notice that the area rug is labeled as a 10′ x 14′. It’s important that the rug not be smaller. Smaller rug = smaller feeling space. The two lounge chairs across from the sofa are placed in front of the large window for a reason. If you want to see an interior designer cringe, place a large sofa in front of a window (CRINGE!). The chairs are more appropriate for this spot because they feel lighter in comparison to one big sofa. A sofa would make the window feel blocked off; we want to welcome the light in! Finally, end tables are drawn in at just the right size: not too small, not too big.

planLR2

Now, let’s talk about focal points in the room and how they should be addressed. You probably noticed on the plan that the fireplace is tucked into one end of the room. While it should remain a charming architectural detail, it’s important that, in the interest of visual balance, not everything be directed toward just this one end of the space. First, let’s focus on how to include the fireplace as a focal point.

lrbefore

The photo above (walls are awaiting their new paint color!) gives you an idea of the fireplace’s existing brick. You can also see that there is an existing mantle. Instead of a single piece of art above the mantle, I’d suggest a look like (one row of) this…

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It’s a great way to showcase special photographs. The layered look of these photos suggests that they’ve been acquired over time and  that there’s a real history to the home and the people who live there (which is true!). I’d also recommend replacing the chandelier you see in the Living Room photo with this spotlight fixture from Home Depot. The placement of the existing chandelier is a little awkward; this spotlight, mounted on the ceiling, would allow the photographs to shine. (Tip: when purchasing a fixture that’s meant solely for highlighting other elements in a room, try to match the ceiling color as closely as possible; no need for a big dark blob on a white-ish ceiling!)

Then, to complete the fireplace area, add a small lounge chair as seen on the plan. Notice that whichever way you look at it, whether from the kitchen or from the other end of the Living Room, you see a lovely composition at the fireplace. Plus, what a great spot to curl up and read a book!

Now for the other end of the Living Room. The wall opposite the fireplace needs some attention so that the space won’t feel visually lopsided. My idea, as seen in the elevation drawing below, involves a credenza and a few key accessories. First off, the homeowners would want to keep an eye out for a mid-century credenza that’s about 5 feet wide; vintage shops, like findfurnish in Northeast Minneapolis, are great places to find such treasures. The floating bookshelves from The Container Store designate a place for reading materials and create a great asymmetrical look on this wall (necessary because the doorway to the dining room is to the left and restricts any kind of wall hanging that projects). A large scale piece of art and 30 inch high lamp complete the look. Oh, and don’t forget these gold trays from West Elm; they allow the credenza to be turned into a great little bar at a moment’s notice!

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And, of course, materials and finishes…

materials

1) Sofa Fabric: This color did not work well the way the previous homeowners used it, as an accent wall. Toss this fabric from Pollock on a sofa though, and you have one fabulous pop of color!

2 & 3) Sofa pillow fabrics: A little pattern (Schumacher) and a texture (Pollock) with just the right colors can work wonders.

4) Ceramic art above sofa: Kimberlee Joy Roth is a Minneapolis-based ceramic artist. The piece shown on the board above is lovely, though I’d recommend going with one of her blue finishes. Check out the fabulous installations you can do with her art here.

5) Side table: You’ll notice on the floor plan that I’ve placed a small end table between the two lounge chairs. I love this one from Ballard Designs for that spot.

6) Lounge chairs: I found this pair of chairs (there are actually two of them) at findfurnish in Minneapolis. The shape of the chairs is absolutely perfect for this home.

7) Fabric for Lounge Chairs: The lounge chairs are indeed wonderful, but they definitely need to be reupholstered. This fabric from Schumacher does a fantastic job of picking up on the blue color seen here in the Living Room and throughout the rest of the home.

8) Pillow fabric: Repeating the red color on the chairs with some pillows using this Schumacher fabric.

9) Art for over the credenza: I’d shown some art placed above the credenza in the elevation drawing. A couple things that I feel are important: a) The colors; love that this piece has red, blue and gold tones. b) The subject matter isn’t too serious. While I love that this space is moody and almost a little dramatic, I think it’s important that the tone not be overly serious. The homeowners are young, vibrant people, and their space should reflect that. This artwork is fun and unexpected, but it still works.

And the all important rug, shown at the bottom of the board. This beauty is from Dash & Albert.

Seamless Shimmer

by Lauren Setum

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve shared design ideas for the Master Bedroom and Kitchen (complete with a custom cabinet) in a friend’s new home. From those posts, you might have gathered that the dining room is semi-open to the kitchen. This means that whatever is done in the dining room will need to acknowledge and flow seamlessly from the kitchen.

dr

The Dining Room (and staircase to the basement) is just behind this (in progress) wall. Goodbye, green!

That being said, the existing layout infers that the Dining Room is still a ‘special place’. It is a destination; the area in which guests will dine and the homeowners will entertain. The design of the space should convey this. So, with that in mind, I present you with this shimmery Schumacher wall covering. Oooo…Ahhh…

wallcovering

The wall covering in this colorway works with the Kitchen paint color but still serves to distinguish the dining area as a separate destination. The shimmery design would read as more of a texture than a pattern so it would provide a nice backdrop for other wall hangings without stealing the show. Plus, my friend had pointed out to me that she liked the subtle gold shimmer in curtains that the old homeowners had left behind; this wall covering speaks to that aesthetic preference. Check out the other fabulous colorways that this wall covering comes in…

orange

granite

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Not Just Any Cabinet

by Lauren Setum

Today, I’m jumping back in to the kitchen design I posted a few days back. As I’d mentioned, a custom cabinet could be a great solution to the needs for more storage and an aesthetically pleasing view from the dining room. While purchasing an existing cabinet and refinishing it could also be an option, there are a few reasons why going custom might be more desirable:

  • Going custom allows you to to specify the exact size of a piece. This is especially useful when you have a slightly awkward space; the spot where this cabinet is placed falls under that category (although there is some wiggle room if the homeowners decided to go with an existing piece).
  • While the nuances of vintage finds can be charming, the lines of that existing piece might not be exactly what you’re looking for. With a custom design, you can ensure that features will be in keeping with your aesthetic concept.
  • A kitchen for true cooks will likely require storage space for larger and more specific tools (i.e. stand mixer, wok, etc.). Custom pieces, like this cabinet, allow you to design a space specifically for those pieces. You’ll notice in the concept sketches below that I notated roll-out shelves for items such as these, making them more accessible. Before submitting a final cabinet design, I would be sure to measure the items the homeowners would like to store in the cabinet.

The board below shows a couple concept sketches for a custom cabinet that would work well in this particular kitchen. Also, check out the paint progress; the new kitchen color is looking fabulous so far!

concept

You’ll notice in the perspective drawing below that the cabinet features a geometric cut-out design. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see that this shape is used in the entry way as well. Repeating shapes and forms throughout the spaces in a home serves to unify them and (dare I sound like a broken record) make them feel cohesive.

Also, I love the idea of removing the existing cabinet hardware from the current cabinetry and using it on the custom cabinet. The piece is designed to look like a separate piece of furniture, not a built in or extension of the current kitchen cabinets; using different hardware will make it feel even more special.

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Counter space is precious in this kitchen so getting the microwave into a place of its own is key in getting the kitchen to function to the best of its ability. This is where a custom design comes in handy! I included a spot for it in the lower half of the piece. You’ll notice in the CAD drawing below that I adjusted the design of the upper half of the cabinet from the original sketch. Once I put the drawing in the computer and got it to scale, I preferred just two cabinet doors on top with no cubbies for baskets; sometimes simpler is better.

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