The Fig House Lounge | Before & After
Welcome to quite a dramatic before and after, folks. Like ‘Extreme Home Makeover’ proportions only without the tears – wait, what am I saying?? There were tears shed; both out of frustration and then out of happiness – but I was pregnant the whole time, so who knows … I cried once because I couldn’t find the third disc of Veronica Mars, season 2, that I had already watched twice so tears don’t really mean legitimate emotions necessarily with me.
Remember in my last Fig House reveal post that I told you how the Fig House property was divided into a few different spaces that all connected? Well todays post is the lounge, which is my favorite interior space. It took 9 months to redo and now I’m ready to show you the result:
Here she is!!!!
Kidding. That is the before. I think it was a bike shop or something. But regardless it wasn’t exactly “party ready”. Whats wrong with it is kinda obvious, but I’ll break it down for you anyway: it was windowless, was just a box, with bad everything. But it has potential and outside of it was going to be the courtyard and we really wanted it to have an indoor/outdoor feel to the whole space so we knew that it was going to get opened up.
Here’s the reverse shot facing back towards what is now the ballroom/banquet hall (the wall in between is totally gone now):
So we started with some renderings (done by the always so lovely and British, Ginny):
We plugged in these huge glass doors, large mirrors a stained glass detail above the door (that led to the bathrooms), added some chandeliers and stained the ceiling.
This rendering obviously doesn’t look that awesome, but you have to start somewhere and often knowing what doesn’t look good helps you to solve the problem and turn it into what does look good. We knew we were going to do stained glass doors so we thought we’d bring that detail somewhere else – in the form of a transom on the far wall, but it just looked random and they are too expensive to just throw anywhere.
This rendering looks like we were painting the walls 2 different colors, but we weren’t. It’s just the perspective. Here you can see the indoor/outdoor feel and the art deco detailing on the mirrors that I love – plus those beautiful sconces. Clearly the back wall lacked something, though.
“Hey lets see what black tables and mirrors would look like!”, i must have exclaimed. “Too high contrast and cold!” is what we all yelled afterwards.
Then Dean or Ginny, I forget which one made the brilliant idea to put the dining tables/chairs (essentially the ballroom) into the larger room (what we call ‘Big Fig”) and have this be a lounge. This was smart for 1 million reasons but mainly for occupancy and budget. To furnish that large room with awesome furniture would have been so out of our already very tight furnishing budget. Plus this room could only hold like 100 for dinner where as the big one can hold way more. Of course we knew that for any event all of the furniture can be reconfigured, etc, but for some reason we had it in our heads that the lounge needed to be in the dark room.
Once we flipped it and put in the furniture/finishes it started looking MUCH better:
And now for the elevations, etc, to give the contractor. Basically you have to tell them EXACTLY where you want things before they do a lot. In a perfect world I would mark the sconces on the wall with a pencil and say ‘here, please’, when dry wall is coming down, soundproofing is going in, and junction boxes have to be added behind new dry wall, we unfortunately had to tell them WAY earlier than I like to. So the only way to make sure that we were right is to do renderings, so Ginny whipped these up (I’m sure it’s not just a ‘whip it up!’ situation, she spent hours on renderings and Its one of the reasons she’s full-time now – this stuff is CRAZY important, useful and helpful to have. THANK YOU GINNY!!).
But its kinda boring to look at (although part of the process)
Now for the construction. First things first – get rid of the wall, bathroom and weird little side room between the two huge rooms to become one large shared (yet separate) space.
Already it was feeling way more open. The green space was the bathroom between the two spaces that now had to be moved to the back of the space. “No problem! Just move the bathroom!” we innocently exclaimed! Oh to be that young and innocent again. Oh to think that plumbing can just get moved with magical little pipe moving angels. Instead we had to create a 3′ wide river in the middle of the space spanning the entire length of both big fig and little fig. Asleep yet? I almost fell asleep just talking about it. But I know that there are some of you still awake, riveted at the bathroom moving saga. But once its back there it has to drain correctly, go in a certain way, etc, before we can close it up (obviously it has to go through one million inspections as well) and just generally it all sucked, was very expensive and was so boring to think about.
Back to pre plumbing demo – the ceiling was taken out and it was high high high with woodwork that was really wide apart and spacious. Wonderful – good news was welcome.
When the opening was cut for the new stained glass doors (by the lovely and famous Judson Studios) we started seeing the place really come together. The amount of light it was going to bring it would be RIDICULOUS. And if there is anything that I’d ever whore myself out for, it is natural light.
The soundproofing was put back in, the electrical work installed, the plumbing moved, the walls mudded. This pic below is looking from Big Fig into little fig (you can see the doors back there on the right). So now its one big space.
Oh the potential. It just needed some paint, although I kinda liked it white. Before you say ‘how sad it is that you painted the woodwork!’ trust me that a. it was dark, and b. it was gross and cheap. Beautiful woodwork is only beautiful woodwork if its beautiful – not cheap, dark and gross. We would have needed to refinish this wood, but it just wasn’t the look we were going for. We wanted bright, airy, romantic, pretty, not a ceiling full of oily dark wood and ductwork.
See? Its better and that’s just primer. And here we have the mirrors installed. These mirrors were from the Chinese Restaurant that closed (they retired) that is now the Room Forty Tasting room. They were along one wall, and I think were 8 of them. So we salvaged as many as we could and put those suckers here because nothing creates drama without busy-ness more than HUGE mirrors.
Whats up focal point? The space was really becoming just so bright and happy and I started become way more bright and happy.
As much as I love the white we wanted to give it a tone and we chose Theres’s Green from Farrow and Ball. It’s the most perfect mint ever because its soft and therefore not really annoying but still a color.
Here you can see the woodwork added to the mirrors to frame it, bring in some deco style and give them even more heft. We designed them on some renderings and then gave it to a carpenter, but when he did the first one we realized we needed it even bigger to match the scale of the mirror and the space.
I loved how it turned out. What a fairly inexpensive way to dress up a simple wall mounted mirror.
Here, below, you can see the stained glass windows installed, otherwise known as my favorite thing I’ve ever done. Don’t worry, you’ll get a whole post on that design process with hero photos of the final result.
And then it was the day before the furniture came in (otherwise known as my favorite day of the year).
Speaking of furniture. Our budget was tight and we had to be VERY thrifty and resourceful in order to get enough really unique pieces. So yeah, it was all about thrift store/flea market finds with new fabrics. This is when it started getting really fun. We needed high-end, even commercial grade, fabrics which is why we chose so many velvets – they are just so much more durable than a linen, although now I wish we had just a few more linens or other textured pieces.
I think we had 18 pieces of furniture that needed to be redone in 14 different fabrics. My upholstery dude thought I was NUTS. I just really wanted it to feel bright and lively and unexpected, where everywhere you turned there was another big pop.
So everything arrived on the same day (although we had to remove it so we could finish that space) and it was the happiest day of my life, barring the days that actually warrant being the happiest days of my life.
You plan and pick and pin (yes, we pin swatches on each of the chairs) and send you babies off to get all spiffied up. You hope you did the best by them and made the best decisions for then, but it’s not til you get them back and they are all sitting in a room together that you think you did them right.
So many favorites – I think that the mint club chairs might be my favorites.
Well, here we are, ready for the after photos friends?
Welcome to The Fig House:
I love this room. Every time I walk into it I get happy. Sure, I designed it and i probably have no objectivity left (yes, I do, trust me) but I still really love it.
Everything was collected from the flea market or thrift stores and if we were lucky we didn’t have to refinish them, but all the upholstered pieces we had to strip completely and redo. But ultimately if you are buying pieces for $50 and $75, and then putting $400 into them its still a well-priced chair especially since it’s totally unique.
The stained glass windows are really the feature here, and they are even more impressive in person. I’m writing a whole post about them (just waiting on finishing up the video!) so stay tuned. They were designed by Tim Carey (and myself) at Judson Studios and they are just insanely beautiful.
That awesome copper dome/mushroom lamp is vintage, but I purchased it off of Chairish.com. And one savvy reader noticed that these rugs were the rugs that I bought on Craigslist a couple years ago and have been hoarding for a while, but they were from Bette Midler’s estate (she purchased them in the 80’s, they are originally from the 20’s and was redesigning her house). I love the history of them and I just picture her laying on the rugs, singing ‘The Rose’ over and over.
The yellow/navy chairs were purchased from Shopclass – one of my favorite LA vintage stores.
Those stained glass windows are from Judson Studios, but stay tuned for that post. The green sectional was purchased on craigslist and then reupholstered. Its just a dream to sit on.
Wall Paint Theresa’s Green by Farrow & Ball | Vintage chandelier From Old Good Things | Paintings by Kai Samuels Davis| USA Artwork by Nike Schroeder| Marble and brass side table (similar) | Pillar candles | White and brass sconces from Lamps Plus | Coffee Table, vintage (similar).
And all art chosen by Danielle Krsysa, The Jealous Curator.
It’s hard to source because almost everything except for the sconces and the side tables were vintage.
And that, my friends is The Fig House. It has some art deco, some 2014 and a lot of blood, sweat, tears and now, love. It was a project that was way bigger than we thought, took way more time than we thought but of course was way more satisfying that I thought it could be. A HUGE thanks to Ginny MacDonald (I hired her full-time after this job :)) and Dean Fisher who helped project manage the job. It was a dream to work with both of you and they are very responsible for the outcome. Also thanks, Steve Fortunato and the Room Forty team who you, made the whole project happen. So spread the word. Get your weddings on. For bookings email firstname.lastname@example.org
And obviously tell them I sent ya.