Whole House Project

4 copyI’d like to give you a little background about the clients.  They are a married couple in their early 40s, with no pets and no kids.  They both work outside the home.  They chose to build a house they could easily afford (1800 square feet!), so they’d have money left over to travel, do the landscaping (the wife is an avid gardener), and hire a designer (me!) to complete the interior.


This project took shape over 4 years.  It represents most of the different ways a client can use an Interior Designer.

Let me start with the Living Room and Kitchen.  They are open to each other, and the only thing that visually separates the spaces from each other is the flooring.  There is ceramic tile in the Kitchen side, and hardwood on the Living Room side.  (The clients wisely used the same ceramic tile from the Kitchen floor as the surround for the fireplace.)  We used all of the existing furniture, except for the table and chairs in the Kitchen, which we replaced.  All of the fabrics and other materials I used had to coordinate with the upholstery on the sofa cushions, which you see here.2

Prior to our working together, the clients purchased window coverings (Hunter Douglas Silhouettes) that provided privacy and light control.  13 copyWhat they needed from me was a decorative fabric treatment to add color and texture, and soften the look of the windows.  In addition, I selected a paint color that had to work in the Living Room AND the Kitchen, since both spaces share a wall.





The electric piano was moved 9to the opposite wall, and we added a handmade mirror above it.  The mirror’s frame is made from recycled metal containers, and the colors work beautifully in the space.




10We also added a more striking piece of artwork over the fireplace.  The photo is one that was taken by the client’s sister, who is also an avid gardener.  We had it blown up and beautifully framed.







In the area left open by the movement of the piano, 14we added a Breakfront/Hutch that matches the new Kitchen table and chairs.  This house has no Dining Room, so the Kitchen is the only place to entertain guests with a meal.  Since there was no wall space in the Kitchen, we put the Breakfront/Hutch in the Living Room.


White chair

In addition to the sofa and a matching chair and ottoman, there is an accent chair that needed a new seat cushion.  I used the same fabric for it that I used for the Kitchen chair seats, further connecting the spaces to each other.

Black Chair No Table


Since the Kitchen cabinets and countertops 16 copywere in fine shape we left them alone.  What we did in that space was add a tile backsplash, the soft window treatments, and the new paint color.  As I mentioned before, we replaced the table and chairs, as well.






21There is a small TV room right off the foyer.  Again, the clients already owned the furniture in that room and were not interested in replacing it.  My challenge was to select fabric for the window treatment and then a paint color that would connect this space to the rest of the first floor.  The clients already owned recliner chairs covered in a dark blue fabric.  Their TV cabinet and another display case in that room are stained the dark red color we often identify as cherry wood.  The fabrics I selected for the window treatment coordinate beautifully with the red and blue already in the room, and also add a gold color which gave us the paint color for the room AND one wall in the foyer that is two stories in height.  This gold color coordinates with the color palette in the Kitchen and Living Room, even though the dark blue of the recliner chairs did not.

All the carpeting in this house is an off-white color.  Since the clients liked how light and bright the foyer and the upstairs hall felt with a light color on the walls, we painted that space to match the carpet color.  It’s not the “builder beige” that came with the house, but is clean and fresh and coordinates better with the carpeting.



Now to the Master Bedroom, upstairs.  23 copyIn this space, the clients wanted everything to be new.  The only color limitations were created by the dark green tile they selected for the Master Bath floor when the house was being built.  I selected an array of fabrics that coordinated beautifully with each other, and did not clash with the Master Bathroom tile.

The clients favored the multi-colored grid style fabric, but it was somewhat expensive.  It often takes 12 yards or more of fabric for two sides of a king sized bedcover, and since that grid fabric was almost $100/yard, the bedcover would have been extraordinarily pricey.  To make the cover more affordable, we used the grid fabric as a panel, set into a cover made from a coordinating chenille fabric that was significantly less expensive.  We saved the grid fabric for accents (the gussets in the bedcover and in the soft cornices, as well as the panels in the headboard), and used the chenille for the larger portions.

The linen floral drapery panels were originally meant to be stationary.  However, the client pulled them shut as an experiment, and liked the level of darkness that was achieved.  I had the panels remade and had the hardware changed to make the panels operable.

The clients wanted their new bed to be King sized (the original was a Queen).  There was enough floor space in this room to accommodate the additional 18” in width, but the placement of the windows in the wall threatened to make this increase in bed size impossible to achieve.  So I designed the window treatments to be mounted in such a way as to make the windows look as if they’re the same distance away from the adjoining walls.  This way, the bed could be centered on the floor and would also appear to be centered on the wall.  AND there would be enough room on each side for a nightstand.

27 copyMost of us have dressers and/or chests of drawers in our bedrooms.  These clients managed to get all their clothing storage needs met by having the walk-in closet fitted with shelves and drawers.  This left lots of extra floor space.  So in addition to the bed and the nightstands, we added a bench and a large mirror on an easel.  We also replaced the artwork with beautifully framed prints that the client selected, as well as a tapestry wall hanging and a wrought-iron piece.  Whenever possible, I prefer to use artwork and accessories that are different from each other, yet are color-coordinated with each other and with the furnishings in the room.


I brought some of the fabrics from the 28 3Master Bedroom into the Master Bath, by designing a valance to hang over the large window that is over the soaking tub.  28 2I also had some of the clients’ artwork28 1 re-matted and re-framed to make them better coordinate with the colors in the room.






The Hall Bathroom presented a challenge 29 1similar to the one presented by the TV room on the first floor.  For reasons unknown to everyone concerned, the clients selected light blue tile for the floor and a dark blue cultured marble vanity top in this room.  29 3The fabric I selected for the custom made shower curtain incorporates the blues with the golds and oranges that you’ll see used in the Guest Room.  29 2And I know it’s hard to tell from these photos, but in real life, the dark brown on the walls is stunning.






In keeping with some of the upstairs color scheme, 30I had these floral prints framed in oranges and yellows.  The client selected this series of prints because of her love for gardens and for the colors in which they are rendered.  This grouping is in the upstairs hall near the Master Bedroom, just at the top of the stairs.  Also, though I don’t have a photo of it, there is a brown wicker chair in the upstairs hallway.  The fabric I selected for the cushion ties the colors used in the second floor room together.



31 1A bit of the color scheme from the first floor is represented on the second floor.  The client rejected the idea of a custom mural being painted on the two story foyer wall that is on the right side just inside the door to the house.  I came up with the idea of using the fabric from the Living Room and Kitchen window treatments as the artwork.  31 2My drapery fabricator made a “quilt” of sorts with that fabric and sewed a border around the edge using the companion fabric that we used in the window treatments, to make it look like “matting.”  My handyman mounted it to thin pieces of wood that he mounted to the wall, and then “framed” it with crown molding, painted the same white as the trim that goes throughout the entire house.31 3



32 1The remaining two bedrooms were dealt with differently.  One was made into a guest room.  The clients didn’t want to spend a fortune on a room that doesn’t get much use, so I found relatively inexpensive fabrics that they 32 2liked, to dictate the color scheme.  We found an inexpensive headboard at Pier One, and a similarly inexpensive ready-made bedcover at the now defunct Linens ‘n’ Things.  We used the fabrics I found to make a custom bedskirt and decorative pillow, as well as a soft cornice for the window.  The client selected movie posters as the theme for the room, and we had them custom framed and matted.  Again, the artwork and the color scheme of the room are compatible.32 3



33 2The last bedroom was turned into a Sitting Room.  Already in this room was a cabinet that was built by the client’s grandfather.  The color of the wood helped dictate the color scheme in that room.  The upholstery on the chair and ottoman includes many colors already used in the house, and the fabric used for the window treatment is also similarly coordinated.  We added a side table and some artwork 33 1(beautifully framed prints—AND a set of postcards from the Chicago Botanical Garden) and this room is ready for reading or other quiet endeavors.






In summary, this home represents many different ways a client can work with an interior designer.

We can work with furniture and artwork that you already own;

We can replace every item in a room with new products;

We can take color schemes in adjacent spaces that start out disconnected and connect them;

We can repurpose a room to make it serve the way you live, not the way it was labeled on the floor plan;

We can change the feel of a space (which is very subjective and individual to different people);

AND most importantly,

We can create spaces that are warm, welcoming, beautiful, functional and unique to the people who live in them.