Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Project, and its Tablescapes

Many of you know that I work for a regional developer in the area who has management and ownership interest in several multi-family apartment complexes throughout the area. One of those communities happens to be in a very nice area of the collection of Buffalo suburbs, and is within walking distance to downtown amenities, and one of Buffalo's most highly regarded private Universities. The model apartment for this complex was decorated about 10-years ago, and was catering to a style and taste that wasn't attracting the young, urban professional that the leasing staff was showing apartments to. One sure fire way to attract renters or buyers to a property is to have them enter and leave thinking, "Wow, I could see myself here!" With that said, can you see yourself here?

As you can see, it was a taste specific decor that was leaving a sour taste with many of the prospective dwellers. So, a co-worker who saw the article on our home in the Buffalo News suggested that I be in charge of re-vamping the space. Catering to a 24 - 34 year old urban professional man or woman. The task seemed easy enough, until we talked budget. Now, the bottom line, in any project, is the most important when you are talking dollars and cents, and the lower the better in this case. I constructed a budget, (a TIGHT budget) and brought it in at just around $3200. With cash in fingers crossed hands I set out to find furniture that would work well in the space, for very little money. Enter the chair I teased about last week. And enter the beginning of our before and afters, and the collection of tablescapes I did for the space. You can see more beautiful tablescapes by linking over to Susan's blog here. (Please excuse the lighting issues in these photos.)

The living room after. (Taken at night.) The chairs flank a modern table made to mimic the lines of brick layer tables. The sofa, a contemporary classic is covered in a mushroom brown colored velveteen cotton and stools serve as additional seating, or as convenient side tables. The collection is meant to be fresh and sophisticated, urban but eclectic, and gender neutral.

I opted for warmer colored fabrics and softer more textural fabrics in this space to give a warm and welcoming, "Cozy" feeling to this space. With more than 6-months a year lost to snow and ice, coming into a warm and cozy living space is what we all long for.

The dining room area before:
And after:

The dining room after. The table before (which will make a re-vamped debut soon) was much too big for this space. I opted for this bistro size table and chairs (BigLots, $187.) and this bookcase/buffet (Christmas Tree Shop $129.99) to give this space a larger feeling while still having all the function.

I replaced this:

With this:

My favorite vignette/tablescape, taken in the daylight. The wooden bowl atop the black cabinet relates back to the warm wood tones of the living room tables, while the cream accents and green-stained picture frames bring in color tones of the accessories found throughout the space.

The kitchen after. Another "tablescape" I worked with very little money to create. A new lamp shade from Hobby Lobby (14.99) on an existing lamp, and 4 bottles of Pellagrino behind a bamboo cutting board ($6.99 - Christmas Tree Shop) was all it took to create a stylish, high end display.

The master bedroom (largest bedroom) before. (Above.)

The vignette/tablescape atop the master bedroom dresser. Existing artwork was layered along with black felt boxes to create depth and interest. The palette was soft and neutral with a pop of ...

Peacock blue! Oh, how I love thee! White pintuck duvet layered with a peacock blue throw, 2 dupioni silk toss pillows and we had a soft but equally masculine feeling space - don't you think?

And to minimize my art costs, I extended the rods 3' to either side of the window and hung peacock blue drapes I found at Pier 1 for $39.99 per panel. Sheer voile panels in between make best use of all the light the room gets throughout the day.
The guest (smaller bedroom) before:

And it's new "Green" makeover:

The second bedroom after. Ikat in navy and white pair up nicely with kelly green trellis duvet and art that is an Artie original. To bring the color of that green around the room, I simply stopped at Hobby Lobby and picked up this 24x36" canvas, and then color matched the green of the sheets to Lowes "Globe Artichoke" by Olympic Paints. A small tester size paint can for $2.94 was all I needed.

And how about a wall decal that is oh so easy to install. "Green is the new Black" is a fresh, modern, hip sorta saying don't you think? And with a woven jute mirror, large handblown glass jugs and enormous shell on top of gorgeous kelly green leather boxes ... I think we might have fooled them from thinking this room was actually smaller than the other one completely!
I hope you enjoyed your tour, I certainly enjoyed putting these rooms together. I never thought I'd get to actually hear the remarks of 24-34 year old men and women who might be interested in renting in the community, but it just so happens that I was showing my boss the unit when the manager of the complex brought over 3 couples, all between the ages of 20 - 35 to view the newly finished model.
The remarks:
"Oh, this is nice!"
"It's so beautiful!"
"Does it come furnished?"
"They do have it furnished beautifully."
So, it wasn't all in vain. The came, they saw, and they approved. I hope you do too! Be sure to let me know what you think!

Design Star Episode 4 : My Thoughts

YAY! I'm finally "unlocked" and there is no message threatening to delete the contents of my blog indefinitely. Thank you to everyone who wrote to google on the blog's behalf. Many of you have sent your returned emails to me, and it's humbled me greatly to know how much you enjoy reading everyday. Now, onto Design Star:

I'll start out with this: They sent the right people home ... and I think that everyone would agree. As for everything else, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. With the blog being "blocked" by spam seeking robots, and a heavy project that I am knee deep in, I've had very little time to watch television leaving me completely free of any episode teasers HGTV might have aired during the week. So when I sat down, ice cream in hand, to watch this weeks episode I was excited to see how the designers would handle this challenge.

The idea was to make useable, livable space out of a detached garage, evidently while keeping the function of a garage, i.e., those ugly doors can not be replaced by a series of gorgeous french doors (*le sigh!) No matter, the interior space roughly 20x17 was essentially a blank canvas and in theory fantastic design still could be made. Both spaces were your average garage detached from a home built in the 1930's. Nothing redeemable.

So, of course there are teams. Team 1 = Dan (my fave), Nathan (my second fave), Tashika, and Lonnie. Team 2 = Jamie, Tori, Antonio, and Jason. Immediately I think: "Wow, Dan and Nathan on the same team, they'll do a great job - even with Tashika." But the fact of the matter is, they didn't - and I don't think that they would have, even without Tashika. The owners described their interior as eclectic, but they appreciated the 1930's Spanish courtyard style of their home. They wanted a space where they could watch television, entertain, be a family, but most importantly felt like an interior room. The finished product:

It's not the fact that they left it partially unfinished due to the myriad of delays they encountered, the look here is (in my humble opinion) restaurant spanish. That look that you see in any middle of the road spanish restaurant. The sunwashed color, the dark and heavy wood: and those elements alone aren't bad - but together, it's too expected.

What I loved:
  1. Using the fabric on the back wall. Whether it was Tashika's idea or someone elses really doesn't matter - it was a great way to diffuse that and create texture, interest, and depth in that space.
What I would have done differently:
  1. I wouldn't have created the sunken living area in this space. As Vern said, the height of the garage was questionable without the addition of the platform. And anyone who saw the show, watched the husband duck almost 2' to get onto the platform from the door. I think that the idea was great, and it was a good way to deal with the uneven floor, just not in this space. We have to remember that the "white room" challenges are really the time and place to show off the creative theory. Residential projects like the 2nd challenge kitchens, and now this garage, are spaces that are left for people to use, enjoy, and ultimately appreciate as finished spaces. I would have simply shimmed out the floor with exterior pressure treated lumber to make it as level as possible, then layed decking timbers to create the look of a hardwood floor. That could have then been painted black, because even with wear, it would have fit nicely into the Spanish style the homeowners were looking for.
  2. I would have replaced the garage door with something that had more windows to let light into the room.
  3. I would have painted the interior timbers of the garage and the entire "cieling" the same color as the walls (an antique white, or soft muted bisque color) to create a false sense of height.

The family of the second space, well the wife anyway, really wanted a sophisticated Hampton's feel for a home office / family room / work out space / gameroom / theatre / slash slash slash. You name it - she wanted it, and why not? Here you have the eyes of fresh, young, talented designers working with your space - I'd probably be sure to tell them to hang the moon, too! The finished space:

Team 2 definitely did a better job. The white floor, the soft green on the walls (which picks up as blue here because of the seafoam color, it appeared more green on television, and was described as a light sage by the group) the seagrass rug. In my opinion, they really gave the homeowner what they were looking for here, albeit text book Hamptons.

What I loved:

  1. The color.
  2. The idea of doing a white floor, with the seagrass rug.
  3. That they gave the owner the television, office, gathering, and exercise space they asked for.

What I would have done differently:

  1. Again, I would have painted the interior ceiling of this space. (Probably white)
  2. I would have left the wainscotting white, and had the color only on the upper portion of the wall space.
  3. I would have done more with the back wall (behind the sofa), that mirror sure seems lonely, don't you think?

Now, I cringed when I heard the homeowner say: this looks like a set up from a furniture store. I certainly understand that one-stop shopping was the best way to handle their time constraints, and budget concerns, but ...

I will say that I am happy for anyone who got the opportunity to be a part of this season. Television, in particular, HGTV is a wonderful opportunity to show everything you've got, and with that sort of weight, it's obvious that some people will make mistakes that they wouldn't have otherwise. HGTV exec.'s, picked these folks for a reason - and looking at the online portfolio's of many of them, they're all very talented. My thoughts are not meant, in anyway, to depreciate the hard work of any of the designers.

With that out of the way ... I was so excited to read the comments you all left on the chair teaser from last week. I left the chair as it was, but used it in a design project that I just finished last night. I'll get the before and after's ready for posting tomorrow!