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Forget the Focal Wall – Enter the Focal Room (How To Manage A Multispace Eyeline Within Your Design) + A Colorful Bathroom!

January marked our team’s (“Velinda Hellen Design”) fourth year, with over 300 projects under our belt. The majority of these are return clients or referrals, a testament to your trust and support, especially during our start-up days amidst the pandemic. Your collaboration and confidence have been our anchor, propelling us forward. We can’t help but reminisce about the many faces that have crossed our path over the years. It’s a sentiment echoed among our team: we have the best clients, hands down! And a significant portion of that gratitude goes to EHD.

Amid the many gifts from our collaboration with EHD, top-notch clients stand out. When clients mention discovering us through EHD, it’s an instant reassurance that we’re aligned with kindred spirits. While there might be statistical correlations between informed blog readers and creatively-minded, generous clients who would be an asset to any dinner party, I avoided any/all statistics classes in school. Instead, here are results from  my amateur field research, having worked now with several of you readers over the last four years:

You all:

·  You embrace color fearlessly.

·  Love a clean, contemporary line, but don’t fully abandon eras gone by.

·  Bring informed perspectives to the table, and push boundaries.

·  Break the mold!… I’ve heard rumors that many designers look to leave residential design because clients can be too “exhausting”. Our EHD reader-clients are REFRESHING.

Take today’s reveal’s clients, the most delightful EHD-reading couple. Their Spanish bungalow in West Hollywood was a canvas awaiting the perfect balance of Mediterranean charm and modern allure. With multiple shared eyelines, the challenge was guiding the eye seamlessly through each distinct space. Our solution? “Forget the accent wall”. To avoid confusing the eye amid this much information, “It’s time to whip out the accent room!”

Now, choosing bold elements isn’t without its balancing act. Thankfully, I’m supported by a team of design tightrope walkers, like Julie Rose and Grace DeAsis. For this project, Julie was the lead designer and my collaborator on each careful step taken to avoid “wobbling”.

But let’s back up…To 2022 when we finished this project. Before blooming, this Spanish beauty looked like this:

Unlike our clients, the home lacked warmth and personality. Functionality was lackluster, though the original hardwood floors had already been impressively redone, pulled back to a natural white oak tone our clients loved (as did we!).

The layout of the kitchen unnecessarily divided a nice-sized kitchen nearly in half. And unlike the rest of the house, which had an open flow and entryways with lovely, historic arch detail, this room had a standard, narrow passageway that cut off potential natural light to the dining area and inevitably exiled a host from the hub of future gatherings. This would not do.

With a need to expand the passageway to mimic the other two and the acknowledgment the dining room would now be a visual extension of every main living space, we had uncovered our currently-shy, but soon-to-be anchoring all-star. An ugly duckling ready to become a swan.

But unlike every 90s movie, we couldn’t simply straighten frizz, remove eyewear, and expect a shallow love-interest to suddenly take notice. We needed to establish a palette that was stand-alone-exciting enough to pull the eye first within the design (as any good, anchoring “accent” will do), but gracious enough to complement or share elements well with other rooms. Our palette and overall aesthetic direction started here:

The original concept was to bring in some vintage elements and a wallpaper that blended the colors of all adjoining spaces.

And without further ado, here she is…

To maximize entertainment potential in a consolidated footprint, a round extendable dining table became the central piece. This avoided interrupting the flow of this usual pass-through room unless extra guests demanded it. HOT TIP: A dining table in a similar tone as the floors will help keep the large piece from feeling overwhelming, especially helpful in a smaller space. Duo corner cabinets were brought in to provide both open and closed storage as well as a place for appetizers and cocktail setups to land when entertaining.

While adjacent spaces would be lighter and brighter, this one would carry the most visual weight through chunky black chairs, lots of natural texture, and a bold blue and green patterned wallpaper. This central space had “oomph” (an incredibly technical design term). To keep it from leaning too heavy, wood tones and the oversized natural rug (for when the table is at its max capacity) all played off of the gorgeous white oak tones of the floor.

Here’s just a small peek into the office nook, where we repeat elements from other spaces you still have in store: floor tiles and custom cabinets match the kitchen while the color pop teases what’s to come in the bathroom. 

To successfully play off this established aesthetic, the adjacent rooms needed to be related without matching; “sisters” but not “twins” to this not-to-be-forgotten middle child. Beyond implementing similar finishes and complementary color palettes, they also needed to maximize function and balance the home’s historic heart with the client’s contemporary cravings. And what better place to curb a craving than in a kitchen:

Want to guarantee colors will pair well? Take a leap across the color wheel. Opposites attract! Our design color anchors were blues and greens; our leap landed us in the pink world, which happens to be a simplistic yet contemporary nod to traditional Spanish designs.

The soft Portola Roman Clay added a bit of texture and warmth to the walls and an extra layer of depth to the space, but little was needed thanks to the gorgeous variations of the concrete floor tiles, which our client reports is easy to keep clean since it was properly sealed despite the porousness. The flooring was kept heavily mosaic influenced; a clear “old world’ statement since the more contemporary, white oak tones were again repeated in this room through the custom cabinetry, remember we are going for “sisters” not “twins”. The integrated pulls in lieu of traditional hardware further “modernized” the look in a subtle way.

To keep things feeling open and airy, we opted for floating shelves instead of traditional uppers along this run as well as white minimal light fixtures and window treatments.

Continuing the streamlined theme, a seamless counter to an apron front sink was installed in a more natural quartz material that brought in some of the rustic earthy-ness aesthetic our clients were drawn to from their inspiration of the space.

Topping things off with a zellige backsplash in a similar color to the stone laid out in a modern leaning pattern, vertically stacked.

An adjusted cabinet layout allowed the original square footage to multiply in functionality and now frame the walk out to the gorgeous patio, bringing the outdoors in. The space not only feels/looks more spacious, it has uninterrupted flow from the dining room to the courtyard, meaning nobody ends up exiled…this is now wholly a hub.

Never mind the fact you’re technically standing in the laundry room too. Who would notice, given the streamlined carpentry (with louvered doors for ventilation), integrated/hidden appliances, and a narrow but mighty utility storage?

This pretty “sister” shows a softer side, overall, complementing the anchoring room without competing. She doesn’t mind that the louder, bolder “middle child” demands attention first. Her own, subtler demands are satisfied.

But she’s not alone in having to “share a room”. On the other side of our dining room lives the brightest sibling. And when we met her, she looked like this:

Great bones and historical character! Look at that barrel ceiling and original fireplace. We didn’t want to lose an ounce of it, but wanted it to shine brighter. And that same zellige tile that shone in the kitchen helped:

A simple refinish for stunning sophistication. But you’re looking at this space’s biggest challenge. Designers in the 1920s were completely careless when it came to placement for TVs. Every last one of ‘em. Bizarre. We didn’t want to lose the overall shape of this original fireplace by pulling away the mantle, but the layout of the room combined with the height of this one just wasn’t going to work. Our savior: the Frame TV stationed on an easel-style TV stand.

As you all know by now a trick to add more visual height to any room is high and wide window treatments, we went with a dark olive tone for some added color and depth. The thicker velvet fabric is great for blocking out any TV glare.

The rest of this room was simple furnishing and lighting fixture swaps, which were kept wall-mounted (true to the era of the home) but modernized. Lighting is a great place to “play” or even follow trends as they are easy to swap over time. And boy did we love the playful, nimble double-arm sconce in this room.

Sophisticated and bright, vintage-leaning rugs with the help of our friend, Sheba, who owns Blue Parakeet Rugs and a slipcovered sofa (leaning once again old world) are balanced by a contemporary, chunky chair and pops of black (more subtly repeating the black pops in the dining room). Then, further proving to be fearless and fun, our clients encouraged a colorful reface of the front door for a fully-swoon-worthy-yet simple first impression.

A formerly “dead” space was reimagined to serve as an entry drop zone. Including storage for shoes, hooks for jackets, and incorporating the existing black bar cabinet which holds all the party essentials.

Speaking of needing to make an impact; there is only one bathroom in this house. So, the single commode quarters needed to be as exciting as a guest’s powder room yet as soothing as a spa, all while being fully functional for everyday use. At first, she fell short of fully hitting any of these marks:

But after a buff, came a beauty (WHOA! It’s like she took her glasses off??!):

While the footprint and even windows were kept, the space was reimagined. A large shower and tub plus maximizing storage were two things on the top of our client’s list.

The former shower became a separate water closet “nook” to maximize the space allotted to this older bathroom’s wash zones and add a bit of privacy to the toilet area, which was oddly in the forefront before. Adjusting the placement of the plumbing gave way to the opportunity to integrate a built-in cabinet for additional storage, further maximizing both flow and functionality.

Adding to the visual “openness” is this floating vanity moment. It’s a custom design with rounded edges and a mirror integrated into the stone of the backsplash. Paired with classic-leaning lighting for an overall timeless touch.

Here’s that color the office built-in “sneak peek” teased, applied here in a Roman Clay finish which speaks to the subtle movement/wall material of the pink hue in the kitchen.

Inspired by arched elements often found in Spanish-style homes (and the barrel ceiling present in this one), curves became a repeated element in this space. Rounded elements repeat through the arched stone shower opening, the curved glass cutouts on the shower doors, and the singular oval sink (we, of course, asked our clients’ preference for two sinks vs one with more counter space and they chose the latter).

Further adding to the traditional vibes, penny tiles were used for the floor and shower surround for more of that modern spa-like look. The water closet nook was dressed in a wallpaper that stayed true to the palette established in the nearby dining room and was chosen in a traditional pattern. A vintage rug, again from Blue Parakeet, was used as a bath mat for some additional charm within the now fully-new design. 

And thus, the Spanish sisters burgeoned into beauties. Given the great bones and personality already at the core plus the easy-going nature of our savvy clients, the only real challenge faced on this project was avoiding a fight for attention from each craving sister space. But it ended harmoniously.

Speaking of harmony. I started writing for EHD in 2018 and at that point, I casually used “friends” to address you readers. Now, many of you have become just that “IRL”. From casually addressing you in 2018 to now, it’s been an incredible journey of collaborating with both teams and clients who deserve that valued term. 

We hope to work with more of you! Currently immersed in thrilling full-service projects, our virtual services are a tad limited. But fear not, if you’re eager to join forces, simply drop “EHD” on your intake form, and we’ll fast-track you onto our client list. Planning a major renovation? Let’s chat—we’re already lining up projects through 2025 and we’re happy to extend a complimentary call. Thank you, FRIENDS!

*Design by: Velinda Hellen Design
**VHD DESIGN LEAD: Julie Rose
***Photographer: Sara Ligorria-Tramp
****Stylist: Emily Edith Bowser

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Rita
6 days ago

Stunning! You are incredibly talented. Love everything about this home, especially the lounge, that ceiling and the green drapes , swoom.

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Rita

That ceiling is a showstopper the moment you walk in the door, thanks from the VHD team!

Mariana
6 days ago

Wow! Congratulations, every room is stunning!

E Feeney
6 days ago

absolutely gorgeous. Love you beauties. I am so happy to hear that your business is such a success.
You are very talented!!

Connie
6 days ago

WOW! this is one of the most gorgeous homes I have ever seen, down to every last detail. incredible transformation!

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Connie

We are all about the details at VHD, thanks for noticing them!

Kerri
6 days ago

It is stunning!

Savannah
6 days ago

WOW! My jaw absolutely dropped. What an amazing job.

LW
6 days ago

whoa the kitchen floor is so cool… anyone know more about that?

Mara
5 days ago
Reply to  LW

It looks like Artillo Arabesque in Creme Fraiche Vintage by Arto.

Jen
6 days ago

Fabulous! This post was so educational and helpful to read. I loved hearing about the process, how the rooms are meant to flow and work in harmony, why certain decisions were made, and most especially why the individual elements in each of the rooms work. I learned so much from the descriptions and how this was planned and transformed. I am not just seeing photos thinking, “wow” but am actually understanding better the how and why it works which is just what I come to this blog for. Thank you for sharing it with us. Also, that tile on the fireplace is PERFECTION. I can’t stop staring at these photos, so much inspiration here. Well done!

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Jen

Thank you Jen, we are so happy to hear you had so many great takeaways from the post! Also, agreed…the tiler did some pure magic on that fireplace.

JinFL
6 days ago

So happy to see Velinda’s voice here again! You hit it out of the ballpark once again. I don’t know how you do it, but the rooms you design are perfection every single time. The transformations you made to this house are absolutely gorgeous.

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  JinFL

Thank you so much from the VHD Team!

Colleen
6 days ago

I love everything about this! And the TV solution is very interesting. I know it wouldn’t work in houses with big, clumsy dogs like mine or with small children, but it’s ingenious, and I’d love to know more. Does the wiring get hidden behind the green drapes? Thanks for sharing this incredible project.

Anna
6 days ago

More Velinda projects, please!!! Her work is always, always beautiful and inspiring.

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Anna

Thanks from the VHD Team!

Lulu
3 days ago
Reply to  Anna

Yes, I miss these posts!

Lindsay
6 days ago

Amazing! All the thoughtfulness and cohesiveness without being matchy matchy. Loved everything about it. Beautiful job Velinda and team!

Kimberly
6 days ago

Absolutely gorgeous. You and your team’s work is among my favorite. Always both a visual standout and incredibly soothing. IMO, the perfect balance.

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Kimberly

As a Libra who is always striving for balance this means the world!

Tiffany
6 days ago

Wow! Julie did such an incredible job on this whole project. The vanity and arched shower is a dream!!

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Tiffany

Thanks Tiffany!

Jeanne
6 days ago

You’ve made this home so pretty and functional, too. As someone with pets and grandkids, the tall easel-style TV stand looks like an expensive accident just waiting to happen, with the TV being knocked over. Not sure what else you could have done, though

MBJ
6 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne

Haha I was thinking the same thing. Looks like a good solution, but I thought “guess these folks don’t have toddlers or an active dog like I do”

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  MBJ

haha it’s definitely not the solution for all but thankfully it works for them!

Caitlin
53 minutes ago
Reply to  Jeanne

I had the same thought, but it just occurred to me that you could use a tabletop easel and have the same effect. I love the idea of a frame displayed this was on an ornate dresser in the bedroom or storage cabinet in the living room…now I just have to find a good one!

Cris S.
6 days ago

Love to see this! It’s great to hear from Velinda again!

Ellen @ohcondo.mycondo
6 days ago

This post makes it clear that large scale renovations (more than 1 room, especially a kitchen) really NEED a professional interior designer to get the show-stopping WOW and that “I LOVE being in, existing in, my home” feeling that people like me crave. I think a call with Velinda for my Primary Suite, Kitchen, dining, living room renovation and update are in my future 🙂

Julie Rose
5 days ago

We would love to hear from you! x VHD Team

Brenna
6 days ago

My jaw dropped on multiple occasions – absolutely fabulous! I love the play of colors and textures. And you’ve inspired me to look for a vintage rug as a bathmat (why haven’t I thought of that before??)

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Brenna

Thanks Brenna!

DEFINITELY check out Sheba’s collection over at Blue Parakeet Rugs, she has so many amazing options. Send her an email or DM on Instagram if you know the sizing you are looking for because she has some that aren’t on her site.

Crissy Perham
6 days ago

Really beautiful spaces and love them all together, but the reimagined bath is incredible!! What a fantastic use of space and I bet the owners love going in there everyday! Well done!

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Crissy Perham

thank you!

Karen
6 days ago

O M G this post is incredibly gorgeous, inspirational, and chock full of great design and Reno ideas — so much so that I was compelled to *actually comment* for the first time ever after following for like a decade! Thank you for featuring such a talented crew, and such a special project, that highlights the magic that can happen when we lovingly update historic homes. Such a refreshing change from the McMansion stuff that we so commonly see all over social. Thank you and kudos to this genius talented design team!

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Karen

Thanks Karen, we love hearing from readers who have been ‘behind the scenes’ this means so much!

MBJ
6 days ago

I LOVE THIS. Absolutely stunning. Bummer that the bathroom was totally ripped out, because it seemed to have some decent finishes (marble tile, etc.) but I do see how the new layout makes much more sense AND of course the end product is *chef’s kiss*. Thanks for sharing!! More Velinda/Julie content please!

Julie
6 days ago

What the heck – this is so beautiful it’s making my heart beat faster. Can you source some things for us? Like that amazing dining room chandelier? I wish my house had the multi-room view feature – this house is so gorgeous!

Nina
4 days ago
Reply to  Julie

Looks like someone replied with it below to the wrong comment.

Stephanie
6 days ago

A Velinda post!!! What joy! This whole house is stunning, but that bathroom is absolutely bananas, especially the tub. What a talent you are. So fun to see you and Julie in the last photo. I hope you’re both doing well.

Mara
5 days ago
Reply to  Stephanie

It’s the Tanner Chandelier in Neutral from Anthropologie.

Ashley
6 days ago

Would love a source for the chandelier over the dining table!

Mara
5 days ago
Reply to  Ashley

It’s the Tanner Chandelier in Neutral from Anthropologie.

Alexandra
5 days ago

It’s all beautiful, but that bathroom is a standout in terms of functionality and storage. Gorgeous job, VHD!! Love the decision to go with a single sink. In a small space, every inch counts — and sink plumbing/pipes can really cut into the under cabinet storage (not just the counter surface area). Can you speak more to the roman clay finish? Curious to know how it holds up in a bathroom with moisture. LOVE that it gives some movement and depth while letting the water closet have its hot girl moment.

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Alexandra

OMG she is having a hot girl moment, we love that! And so true about the vanity storage, plus always nice to save a few dollars when you don’t have to buy duplicates.

AKH
5 days ago

Wow I love every room! So much inspiration in one post!

Jenni
5 days ago

this. is. STUNNING. I tagged every single image as inspiration! The way these rooms flow and work together without becoming boring (love the use of complementary color palettes!) is a masterclass. I still despise too much open shelving in a kitchen, but love how it was used in the corner nook.

Billie
5 days ago

Head over heels in ❤️ with kitchen floor tile 💋. Info please.
And the wallpaper in the loo…..1 of ]my favs.😍

Nina
4 days ago
Reply to  Billie

The tile is in one of the comments above. The wallpaper is Raphael in Blue by Sandberg.

Anne Davis
5 days ago

BRAVA!!

Jill
5 days ago

This is how a project should be presented. Truly enjoyed the whole creation: From concept to final product. I can see why you & your team have been successful.

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Jill

Thanks Jill, that means a lot to us! x VHD Team

Susan
5 days ago

Usually I see renovations and find that there’s aspect that I don’t like. But I couldn’t find anything with this one. The use of color, pattern and taking of an unusual layout and making it functional was just perfect. One of my favorites to date and plenty of pictures and ideas added to my pictures folder!

Velinda Hellen
4 days ago
Reply to  Susan

This is SO appreciated, Susan. Thank you!

Sally
5 days ago

Beautiful!! Well done Julie, Velinda and team!I often come to the site hoping to see an update on one if your projects, Velinda, so was very happy to see this!!!! I love your team’s style which to me is the perfect blend of modern, traditional, colourful, fresh and nest-like!!

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Sally

thank you!!

kate
5 days ago

oh to have this much money to do such a project! Looks amazing!

Dawn
5 days ago

Love everything and it’s so refreshing to see such smart, high design in a house with largely 8 ft ceilings, modest room sizes, and design challenges.
I think room orientation like this is going to knock the ubiquitous open floor plan off the most wanted list. Good tips for how to make the spaces seem related but not identical. I can’t decide if I love the bathroom most or the kitchen floor tile. So cool.

Julie Rose
5 days ago
Reply to  Dawn

Dawn, this means the world!

Tara Lynch
5 days ago

Absolutely stunning. So well done. 😍

Charlene
5 days ago

Ladies , you knocked it out of the park. Absolutely fabulous design. It’s a feast for the eyes.

K
5 days ago

What a beautiful transformation! I’d love to see more of Velinda’s projects on the blog!!

Velinda Hellen
4 days ago
Reply to  K

Thank you, K! We hope to share more too 🙂

Kim Malkiewicz
5 days ago

Oh,my goodness! Everything is so beautiful. You’ve maximized every bit of space. The bathroom makeover is a dream. I can’t believe you got all of the stunning features and practical use in that jewel box.

Velinda Hellen
4 days ago
Reply to  Kim Malkiewicz

Thank you, Kim. I love the term ‘jewel box’ for a space… especially one with color!

Roberta Davis
4 days ago

Very very nice!

emily jane
3 days ago

GAH…! the world is a better place with you gals in it…

Lisa
3 days ago

What an inspiring remodel! Love the round rug (!), where is it from?

Quin
2 days ago
Reply to  Lisa

The Alanis Farmhouse Jute Area Rug from nuLOOM looks similar but hard to tell if it’s an exact match.

Evelyn
3 days ago

great before and after!! You all did a wonderful job!!

Casey
2 days ago

where are the corner cabinets in the dining room from?

Quin
2 days ago
Reply to  Casey

The Fayette Corner Storage Bookshelf Cabinets from Crate & Barrel.

Sara
2 days ago

Wonderful job! I’d love to know where te dining table is from and how many people it can seat. I’ve been looking for a nice extendable table for a while.

Katie
2 days ago

I LOVE this! Beautifully functional and cohesive. The mother-of-pearl quality on the kitchen backsplash is gorgeous.

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