I recently received a request from a client to come take a look at her living room and provide some direction.
Now, I tend to walk into every space with a discerning eye, taking in the layout, color, furniture, etc., and then figuring out how it can be changed for the better. That is not to say I share this opinion every time. In fact, I rarely share unless asked. And it’s not to say that I find fault with every space because many times it is just perfect (or close to it).
But when a client asks for help I have to mentally prepare to both provide good design advice while ensuring they are comfortable with my suggestions. This is their home, their safe place and there are a lot of emotions attached to it.
Mary asked for advice and it seemed to me this was the first time she had ever consulted a designer so there was that also. Upon walking in it seemed like they really didn’t need much help but after really assessing and speaking to them about their concerns I quickly came up with a plan. It was not too involved and her husband is very handy so they did not require any help from me other than fresh eyes and a design plan to implement. I won’t get into all the details in the plan but here is a brief recap of what they wanted:
- New wall paint color
- New door color
- More light in the room
- Possibly a new furniture arrangement
- Cohesiveness to the kitchen
What I saw was:
- A tight space
- TV that was way too high on the wall
- A fireplace that needed upgrading
- Windows throughout the space with blinds
- Perfectly good furniture
It may seem like what I saw and what they wanted were a bit different but in the end the plan I gave them addressed their issues, just not in the way they originally thought:
- New paint color throughout will bring the cohesiveness they desire
- New door color that worked as well outside as it did inside
- A plan to reduce the overpowering fireplace so the TV was lowered and the old vent hole was covered with the extra brick instead of a metal cover plate
- Reduce the hearth that seemed to end in the middle of the room, thus increasing floor space and allowing the furniture arrangement they have to breathe and feel more open (which also allowed for a much larger colorful rug)
- Lifting the blinds to allow more light (I kid you not!)
The point is that sometimes you just need a fresh perspective, sometimes you walk into your space day after day and can no longer see the forest for the trees. It’s okay, we all do it. We get comfortable and immune to the space around us. Also, sometimes you know what you need but just cannot figure out the best way to get there.
Here is the before:
Nothing glaringly wrong here but despite all the windows, the room is dark and you can’t help but notice what looks like a paper plate covering the hole in the fireplace where the old stove was vented, not to mention the odd TV placement, it seems to be almost on the ceiling.
Again, nothing too bad but they instinctively knew the door color was not helping out the room or the outside facade.
Door color updated to contrast with beautiful siding outside and match the new rug inside.
Hearth reduced, fireplace lowered. No more paper plate, and the TV is at a more acceptable viewing height.
The room feels larger just by reducing the hearth and adding the larger rug (they are waiting on new coffee table).
And here is the learning: For those of you not entirely comfortable with handing over the reins to a stranger but just want a little direction, or “fresh eyes,” there is an answer. You can get as little or as much help as you want from an interior designer or decorator, especially one not attached to a furniture store or big design firm. Many of us are happy to work up a design plan that you can implement yourself, no strings attached. I have even done a few design plans just from pictures emailed to me. It doesn’t need too complicated or intimidating. Give it a try!