Tag Archives: makeover

Get Rid of Your Boring Living Room Once And For All


Design Within Reach has paired with one of my favorite home decorating on-line inspirational magazines, Houzz.com to bring you an opportunity of a lifetime.  If you love modern, transitional design styles, sign up to WIN a modern living room makeover – it’s EASY! Get the details here.


$40,000.00 in Services and Products? How can you resist?!

3 On-The-Spot Designer Tricks You Can Do Immediately to Literally Change Your Formal Living Room and How You Feel About It!!!

1.     Move furniture pieces away from the wall. Come on Nibbles, it’s a living room, not a middle school dance-off. Place pieces so that the conversation will flow naturally, by grouping seating around a coffee table in a circular pattern.  Imagine guest sitting down – will they have to turn awkwardly to talk to one another or will there be fluid movement for all?

2.     Use an area rug to anchor the seating, make the conversation the focal point, soften the echo that hardwoods tend to make, add warmth, color, texture and pattern to the room.  Mimic the rug shape to the room shape. Square room = square or round rug. Rectangular room = rectangular rug (tip: the longest side of the rug MUST face the longest wall – otherwise, you risk throwing the proportions of the room design off)

3.     Place multiple levels of light throughout the  room. Don’t be afraid to have a pair of wall sconces, 2 table lamps, a floor lamp and an overhead fixture in your formal living room.  This prevents shadows, offers task as well as mood  lighting and provides the opportunity to add a variety of finishes and bling in to the space.

When you’re all done – invite some friends over, mix some martinis, sit back and laugh the night away while they marvel at the changes you’ve made.

ABOUT Design Within Reach…if you fancy modern design and are happy to make the investment for furniture you can absolutely pass down through the generations, you have to put DWR in your catalog of home furnishing stores.  There amazing designs, superior service and standout quality ranks high on my list of industry leaders.  Here are a few of my favorite pieces.

imageLine Credenza

Isn’t it beautiful!!!  The warm, rich horizontal lines add so much detail and character to what could have been an ordinary boxed storage console.


LC4 Chaise Lounge

Just look at it – a piece of work. Stunning. Artful yet practical and comfortable.  It was designed by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand and produced by Cassina.  It is the classic modern design.


Rubic Service Coffee Table

I call it a martini table – yes, I can appreciate a good martini. So when you and your friends are chatting it up in your new living room, listening to music, while enjoying your favorite martini, there’s no need to strain your arm or back reaching for the side table or coffee table to place your drink. B-e-c-a-u-s-e this baby slides underneath your sofa so the top will rest above your seat cushions, in easy reach.

Good luck with the CONTEST Nibbles – REGISTER TODAY!

Why an Accurate Furniture Floor Plan is so Important

I discovered a new blog today, Modernica by Renee Massaro!  I read an interesting and informative interview she conducted with interior designer Kenneth Brown.  I enjoy his work.  Among other things, it’s easily recognizable for his use of clean lines and organic materials.

I could not agree with KB more when he stated that one of the biggest lessons learned is to have an accurate furniture plan.  For a strong foundation, I always start each room design with 1) understanding how the room will function, 2) taking accurate room measurements and 3) laying in any existing and new furniture.

I studied AutoCAD in college but I always gravitate back to my hand drawings.  What can I say, I’m old school all the way.  Here are three plans I recently submitted to a client. The furniture templates are magnetic and allow me to plug in different options quickly.

Option 2

Since my client had reviewed several options herself, I wanted to share all the viable ones with her so that she could see how I decided upon the final plan.

Option 3

When I email preliminary plans to a client I always include notes to review before we meet to discuss.

Option 1 with a quick sketch of 3 wall elevations

The final option, my favorite,  includes 3 rough sketches of wall elevations for the client to get a clearer visual of what the room would look like with smaller accessories.

Laying in the furniture ensures proper traffic flow, sufficient seating, correct placement of art work and budget development.  Don’t make a move without it!

Basement Remodel: Space Planning

Last fall I was excited to receive a phone call from former clients that I had helped a couple of years prior.  That project included designing  the interior of their entire house.  This go around they needed help converting their unfinished basement into a playroom for the kids, a home gym, a guest bedroom, an office and bathroom and possible a wet bar.

The challenge: they had little idea how to achieve this, specifically with the addition of a wet bar.

Needless to say my team and I jumped at the chance.  They are a lovely couple with two  beautiful daughters and its always a pleasure spending time with them.

Initial floor plan, home gym not included

The underlying goal of the project was to make it kid friendly but adult comfortable.  A low key design for the girls but stylish enough for adults to enjoy when they are in the space.

After listening to what their needs were, how they planned to use the space, what was of value to them and understanding their budget and priorities, I created a space plan (by measuring the room as is).

After the traffic and large furniture layout and the complete function of the space was settled, the next task was to sort out what of their current belongs was salvageable, what needed to remain in storage for a rainy day and what should to be  donated.

This is one perspective of the main basement area. Notice the desk and chair on the left? They will also be integrated in the new space.

Just too contemporary and not at all kid friendly, the glass and metal end tables did not make the cut.

This old girl (the wing chair that is) is timeless. Of course we can find a place for her.

Chairs too formal for a basement playroom but luckily the remodel also consisted of the contractor creating more usable space for storage. They will come in handy for large party's and family gatherings.

My client gave it a good try to salvage this beauty but it has seen far better days. It was time to say good bye to the sleeper sofa. The rustic entertainment center and bookcase in the background stayed. In fact, the entire living space was designed around them.

Next post: Flooring options

E-How offers some helpful tips on what to consider when converting a basement into a playroom.

Another helpful article about building a child’s playroom in basement is found on Bukisa.com.

Useful tools for space planning.

Basement Remodel: What’s Your Niche?

Okay, so use your imagination in the image below.  This is another BEFORE picture of the basement remodel project.

Before photo featuring this sad sad sleeper sofa that will soon be homeless.

This view looks into what will be the guest bedroom.  There will be a wall erected to separate the area and that is where the niche will be.

Penny and Bill. We had a blast working on this project together.

Penny and Bill discussing whose has the tougher job, the designer of the general contractor.  I told him I know he does, because he has to put up with me! Ha!  But I’m worth it!  LOL!

To create a focal point at the end of the hallway, this 18×32 inch niche was recessed between two studs.  The niche was purchased on-line in a basic white but after the magic fingers of Jennifer Serrano of Jennifaux, it was transformed into a metallic wonder.

A spotlight was added to highlight the sculptures in the niche

Now you can see the linen closet (door) on the left.  At one point the owners were considering putting a wine closet there.  Quite an expensive undertaking for the size it would have been so they opted for the closet instead.

You must admit the niche is much more attractive than framed art would have been. It is the ideal backdrop for a trio of lady's. The sculptures are made of a resin material but look and feel like iron. Everyone Loves a good deal.

I love a well appointed niche.  So why spend so much time on the effects of a niche in your design decor?  Here are few more images that speak for themselves.

Ashford Associates mediterranean dining room

Can you believe this next cabinet is actually a built in!  Stunning!  The small detail of notching the top into the wall make this hallway console a scene stealer not to mention a space saver.
Thank you Rhoda of  Wm H. Fry Construction for sharing your workmanship and images.

Niche for cabinet modern hall

Towel Niche: custom Macassar Ebony veneer cabinetry with glass shelves eclectic bathroom

La Canada contemporary hall

chelsea atelier contemporary bathroom

The next image was selected because of the cool niches on the left; however, how brilliant is this fireplace/mantel/TV console combination.  Its a  Zen Rustic Modern ensemble that fits the space perfectly !

family room fireplace with vaulted cieling and deep niches modern family room

Interested in building your own wall niche? E-How can take you through the process step by step.

Home Design Basics: Advantages to Adding a Niche to Your Design

Before & After – Color Me Beautiful

Color: My clients were over it!  They had reached a point of despair with their NEW home not living to it’s full potential.  For starters, the color was all wrong.  For the main living area, this sectional was suffering from the 3D’s. Drab, dull and dreary. Although the wife more so than the husband, they both enjoy vibrant colors. Needless to say, they had just about had it with the 3D’s when they gave me a call.

BEFORE: Sectional and existing furniture from a previous home

Furniture: The position of the sectional mentally blocked off the connection between the kitchen area and the family room.  One of the key selling points in a house like this is the open floor plan so we wanted to enhance that feature as much as possible which meant using pieces with more flexibility in arrangement.

BEFORE: All walls were void of color and character.

Windows: The two story windows were screaming for some TLC and both homeowners were in agreement that floor to ceiling drapes were the way to go.  This was a chance to bring more color into the room and create a cozy cocoon for everyday  living .

BEFORE: Four sets of windows were in desperate need of dressing.

Details: The focal wall already housed the TV, fireplace and built-in shelving unit; yet, it lacked the features to make it a dynamic focal wall worthy of attention.

BEFORE: Focal wall

As you see a simple sketch of how it could look with a few minor changes convinced the homeowners to add a natural textured wallpaper and some additional trim molding to integrate it seamlessly with the existing molding on the bookcase and fireplace mantel and legs.

TRANSITION: Wallpaper installation freshly completed

Walls: The walls have been painted a soft green tint in P&L Appaloosa which satisfied the cooler tones the husband enjoys.  The wallpaper is in a blue/green sea grass that as you will see later, picks up the main color in the window treatment.

AFTER: View from the kitchen. Now that's a FOCAL POINT!!!

Lighting:  From the kitchen there are two focal points.  The immediate one is the table behind the sofa that has three purposes.  It’s a room divider, a decorative element concealing the back of the sofa with beautiful yet affordable accouterments and it’s also a place to position lamps for reading and soft mood lighting.

Because there was just one big florescent light over the island in the kitchen, we had it removed and several can lights installed to provide a softer more evenly distributed set of lights throughout the room.

AFTER: Carpet is by Flor!

Flooring: The carpet, by Flor, was super easy to design and install.  It added a modern touch with out too much geometry.

To fill an extra large wall, I painted an oversized abstract design  on 2 large canvases that were then placed side by side.

AFTER: To fill an extra large wall, I painted an over-sized abstract design on 2 large canvases that were then placed side by side.

Creating our own art for this project resolved three dilemmas: Finding the right colors, finding something within the clients budget and finding a way to transport such a large piece to their home.    You could look in magazines, books and even fabric for inspiration.  Abstract images are very easy to freehand. Pay a visit to a craft store such as Michael’s and AC Moore and pick up the appropriate acrylic colors, any brushes you will need and stretched canvases already on the frame.  I like the frames with more depth for a more professional look.

First Draft

After I painted the design I sent an image to the client to get some input and we both agreed it needed more depth to define the image.

More color was added and a photo of the image was emailed to the clients. I framed the border in a a dark bronze metallic paint.

The clients were satisfied with the colors at this point.  Before I delivered the paintings a few more touches were added and my clients agreed, for me not to be an artist it looked very artistic.  If I can do it anyone can.

Final painting delivered.

Final painting delivered and ready for mounting.

The installer attached both pieces before it was mounted and with a little finagling it was up and ready to enjoy!

AFTER: Family photos were edited and are now purposefully displayed upstairs.

Mentions: I had the carpenter add some picture frame molding on the stair way wall also.  Now the attention to family photos is assigned to one area only which is on both ends of the hallway upstairs.

I hope you have enjoyed watching this room unfold into something beautiful!  I know the clients are so into every minute they spend in their living room and kitchen.  If you have a before and after I would be glad to post and share with my viewers so we all can enjoy it.