Design projects are happening over here (thanks to my very hardworking and talented design team run by Ginny). One of them is more of a refresh on the living room of a client that we LOVE, The Silver Lake Hills Family. It’s a weird situation because the room is pretty much designed. The family have been reluctant to have us involved because, well, they already paid for a designer to do it, 4 years ago and it is totally pulled together and functional. But as you’ll see, they didn’t really feel that it was ‘them’ and now that we’ve done the rest of the house this room feels jarringly different.
The problems were mainly that it felt heavy, dark, lacking in personality, and just not their vibe. I generally don’t like to be negative but there was just something generic about it that felt like a designer had designed it, sitting from their desk with a bunch of catalogues; no sense of person or family here. The room was rarely used because it was just so serious and not very family friendly. It looked like it had enough seating, but nobody really wanted to sit in there. All the furniture was comfortable, but not even the kids wanted to lay around and read in there. They said there was just something really off putting about the whole thing.
But there were a lot of good things happening, too. So much so that when I first did the rest of the house I kept telling them ‘don’t spend money here’. In fact there isn’t anything I don’t like in here. Every single piece is good in the right environment. But all of it together feels somehow impersonal. And dark. The sofa, side tables, frames, coffee table, chairs, armoire, other chairs … EVERYTHING is dark and feels so heavy. The main thing that is right is the sisal rug, but certainly not one that brings in personality.
Our goal is to make it a space that people will want to spend time in, while changing as little as possible since they have already invested time/money into this room. The ask was ‘make it better, make it more us, but we don’t want to pay for a whole redesign’. Understandably so.
We proposed two options:
The first option involved reupholstering the sofa in a brighter (but still family friendly color), keeping the rest of the dark furniture as is (with new pillows). The wall color would go lighter (maybe not that shade, but something lighter and with more of a happy tone than the purple-gray that is in there). The room doesn’t get a ton of light so we wanted to go for a tone instead of bright white (read about the mistake of painting darker rooms white here).
The second option would keep the brown velvet sofa and then refinish the side tables to be a lighter, prettier wood, and the rug would be more antique/aged to bring in some soul.
The photo of the brown sofa above is not good – it looks like the bad kinda brown not the rich luxe beautiful chocolate brown that it is (we photoshopped the color but you can’t really capture the pretty texture). Part of me wants to keep the brown because brown is coming back this year (you heard me) so it would be a really fun challenge to make that sofa work. Plus that sofa is beautiful and new enough that I’d love to not put $1500 – $1800 of fabric/labor into it. But remember that if the sofa stays dark then the side tables would need to change to be refinished which is at least $300 each = $600 total – not exactly free, but less.
A vintage Persian rug would really bring in some depth, warmth, color and most importantly soul that we need. But we have been shopping and MAN it’s hard. More on that later, but finding an antique Persian Persian Persian that is 9×12 and light in tone (aka, not burgundy) for under $5k is virtually impossible, so we may have to buy a new rug (like in option 1).
For both options we plan on moving that mirror up (maybe painting the frame), reframing some of the photos in wood, white, and gold frames then rearranging them, moving the two side chairs into the room so they feel part of the conversation and adding more personal accessories. For both we’ll also update the fireplace – separate blog post with options on it’s way.
Generally the process goes as follows: We present them options like these that are just more look/feel and ideas. We haven’t shopped yet, gotten quotes nor spent any real time doing research because we bill hourly and we don’t want to spend hours going down the rabbit hole of getting quotes from refinishers when she might immediately say ‘Lets throw them away!’ So this is more to gauge in what direction they are leaning initially.
When we showed them they really liked both options, and did want us to do some research on the price difference so that is the stage that we are in now. We all REALLY want an antique rug (and have now tried 4 of them) which is going to dictate a lot in the room, no matter which sofa we go with. But at the same time we can’t look forever because our time is costing them money. So we are going to give them a few non-antique options to make sure we are moving forward. This is why a lot of designers don’t even bother shopping vintage/antique and instead shop from catalogues or websites. Everything is right there, in front of you. But then you run the very high risk of getting a more generic room.
It’s one of those things that, right when we finish the project, I’ll probably be in a thrift store in the valley and that perfect light blue, cream, green and coral, antique, perfectly worn Persian rug will be just sitting there, in all its huge 9×12 glory for like $500.
I think what we’ll end up doing is a bit of a combo between the two boards, and you might be surprised to find out that I actually think I prefer #2 (I’ve gone back and forth).
So which do you prefer? Option #1 or Option #2?
Good news to all of you who have been following along with this house over the last few years – we are finally renovating their kitchen, too. Stylistically its going to be a bit old-world hollywood and totally classic. We are VERY excited. Stay tuned.
*Design Boards by Ginny MacDonald for EHD.