”IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME!” Thank you, Field of Dreams. I know–I’m referencing a really old movie, but there is a reason this line has been running around my brain! The building and renovation industries have been running FULL TILT. (At least in the Boston area, where I have been happily juggling about 20 residential design projects over the last few months…) Despite labor force shortages, supply chain and shipping problems, and a 300% increase in certain building materials (lumber, plywood and foam insulation to name a few), residential building projects and activity are at an all time high! So, in the case of an interior designer, if you design and build it well, they (the clients) will be happy and come back for more!
After over a year and a half (almost) of Covid “landscape” living, homeowners are sick of staring at the same (often tired, and outdated) walls, and are also more than eager to have their homes truly be their castle. Too many homeowners have had to fight it out with their spouses and toddlers to claim their little piece of the kitchen, family room, or living room to find their own, semi-private Zoom haven.
Too many months of competing for space where there is an abundance of functional demands has resulted in this building boom. People want their hard working homes to really and truly function as they need them to, and (hopefully) also be perfectly in alignment with their aesthetic and lifestyle preferences, and budget limits. That’s where the professional interior designers come to the rescue! As I have stated before, a design professional can assess a project, and help any homeowner design, plan and implement the perfect environment. This takes a great deal of experience, the ability to listen well to needs and preferences, and a keen understanding of how to translate thoughts, images and desires into a space that perfectly reflects and captures everything the client has in mind.
In the image above, a hard working team is installing my clients’ new banquette style seating. This work was all part of the new kitchen/eating area design and renovation plan, where we eliminated a wall, expanded the overall footprint of the working kitchen and dining areas, installed two new islands, and generally did a major overhaul of the whole first floor. The result gave this busy family a much more pleasing, functional, and multi-tasking space than before. They love the way they now live, play, eat, entertain, and enjoy in this new space!
How is this done? Good design fundamentally relies on certain “touchstone” principles: color, balance, symmetry vs. asymmetry, scale, proportion, texture, etc. However, the much trickier part of designing and planning is translating good design principles within the context of a stated idea or vision of the ultimate space. A well-experienced designer listens carefully, and can “capture” the home owners’s vision by deftly combining an understanding of what is being said or described (or sometimes, not said) with the best manifestation of design. In the image below, we have the perfect example of the hard working home in the BEFORE RENOVATION mode! There is a sea of toys, clutter, and furniture that seems randomly arranged. Maximum chaos reigns, and the aesthetics of the space leave something to be desired…
A series of great planning (and listening) sessions with my client unveiled my client’s ultimate vision for the renovation–both in terms of functional and aesthetic needs and desires. Tired, blah colored cabinetry and an old brick fireplace surround got transformed by the (relatively simple) change of the fireplace surround material (this great white and grey ledgestone) and a fresh, dove grey paint job on the cabinetry. A well-defined furniture plan, that includes two little moveable bench seats, super comfortable and well-proportioned lounge chairs, and a large, lounge-worthy sectional complete the furniture layout. Finally, we “styled” the shelves to create a family friendly, casual, yet cohesive feel for the flanking bookshelves. Additionally, new storage areas (in the form of new built-in cabinetry) to house organized baskets of kids’ toys has created great ease of clean-up and organization for this busy family!
I know it is very bold of me to show this next image, but here is the dramatic “before” of the fire-gutted house that I renovated in Hingham, MA. My client, needless to say, was overwhelmed by the trauma of what had happened to her home. Patience, kindness, and a great team of contractors and sub-contractors enabled my client to go from devastation to dream house. See the smoke damaged, gutted bathroom below.
And now, the “after”!
Multi-tasking spaces come in all shapes and sizes. Your multi-tasking space might be a playroom/office/retreat combination area, where there is a designated workstation (whether a complete built-in wall of cabinetry with a desk, cabinets and bookshelves, or a simple standing desk somewhere in the room), flexible areas with bean bag chairs, or other easy to move play and lounge pieces, and perhaps also a cozy corner for reading and relaxing.
The type of multi-function, hardworking space that I seem to be designing the most of recently is the humble basement! With so many families having EVERYONE home (and often competing for space or quiet) adding this whole additional level of living space is becoming an increasingly popular way of creating a large, wonderful new area in the home that can suit everyone’s needs and wishes. For a family of 5 here in the Boston/Metro West area, I am in the middle of a full build-out and renovation of the basement level of the house. Today, the stone countertops were installed, and the space is really coming together. The new space will feature a well-laid out kitchenette (complete with double height bar area), a home theatre space (that includes a huge movie screen) and adjacent gas fireplace, and a playroom separated from the “adult” entertaining and relaxing areas by a series of huge, metal and glass sliding barn doors from Rustica Hardware!
See the contracting team below, installing the first of these awesome doors! The dark, oil-rubbed bronze metal finish provides a wonderful contrast to the weathered grey color of the vinyl plank flooring (which looks remarkably like real wood!)
Finally, what hard working house doesn’t need the #1 most needed extra space of all?? You guessed it–a bathroom! It is no exaggeration that I could probably make a decent living as an interior designer from adding and improving bathrooms and kitchens alone! In the case of one of my most recent renovation projects, the homeowners were ready to give their young teenage daughter a room of her own (including a lovely new bathroom.) Working closely with her to assess her tastes and her vision of the perfect, spa-inspired bathroom, we chose a palette of cool, serene greens, pearl greys, and aqua to create a new bathroom with a shower featuring a stunning waterfall effect. Literally, like a painting! Even the Mom of this family says it’s her favorite bathroom in the house, even though it wasn’t designed for her! You know a design has resonated with your client when they chose to visit and view the space multiple times a day–just for fun!
Whether your budget is large or small, a few clever design tweaks can transform your multi-tasking home into your favorite haven!