Finally, we’d discussed moving this black cabinet from the LR:
Finally, we’d discussed moving this black cabinet from the LR:
Well. We all know that cluttered counters are an indication of depravity.
I saw a bossy basic client not too long ago, and while the focus of my visit was elsewhere, I was charmed by the tiny kitchen.
We replaced dark brown laminate (NEVER in style, from what I can gather) with grey concrete; a peeling vinyl floor with Marmoleum tile; and random appliances in varying states of decay with spiffy but inexpensive white fixtures.
My kitchen now has 80′s oak cabinets and salmon-colored Formica counters. But it’s not that tiny, and the layout makes sense. Even though I desperately want to remodel, a new kitchen won’t make me a more inspired cook.
If Mark Bittman can slog through and live to tell the tale, well, I suppose I can, too.
Picture of Mr. Bittman braising turkey breasts by Kelly Doe for the New York Times.
A very nice woman called me up recently. “I’m stuck,” she said.
In the 4 years she and her family had lived in their house, they had never really used the living room. She didn’t like the master bedroom. She was thinking of enclosing a porch but wasn’t sure it was a good idea…
This was a job for the bossy basic. That’s when we do as much as super-humanly possible during a single, two-hour site meeting. It’s very satisfying, I must say.
This was her living room:
We decided to change it into a quiet, “quality time” room with two different spots for reading and one-on-one conversation. We had to accept that the room is too awkward to create a single large seating area.
The client didn’t love the yellowy-cream color on the walls. I agreed; it’s too traditional for her. Benjamin Moore‘s HC-45 Shaker Beige is a more contemporary choice and will look great next to the red dining room, which she’s very happy with. (She’ll put up a paint sample first, but I’ve used Shaker Beige a lot and have a sneaking suspicion that it will be perfect.)
- Move the tall china cabinet into the dining room. She’d thought of that but wasn’t sure it would fit…we measured, and it will. Us: 1, forces that conspire to make us hate our houses: 0.
- Buy a new sofa for that wall instead. The style and proportions of Mitchell Gold‘s Tyler sofa are perfect (it’s a go-to bossy color piece, truth be told), and she loved the picture I showed her. The upholstery should be a solid color fabric, not leather, in a medium-to-dark taupe. I id’d some Benj. Moore colors that are close to the color I have in mind to help her when she picks up fabric swatches.
- Steal the barrister’s bookcase (right) from the dining room for the books she’ll be reading on the new sofa. Place it against the wall along the stairs and put a small accent lamp on it. (She doesn’t care for the desk anyway; it’s not a family piece, and she’s happy to find it a new home.)
- Drape her red throw over one arm of the sofa, and possibly buy some patterned accent pillows later
- Keep an eye out for a large piece of art to hang over the sofa. No family pictures. Given her taste, I suggested Heineman Myers Contemporary Art as a place to start when she’s ready…it could take her a while to find the right thing, though.
- Move the fireplace rug in front of the new sofa. The size is perfect, and she loves the colors.
The client likes the two wing chairs and wants to reupholster and work with them. Happily, their slightly smaller proportions make it possible to position them in front of the fireplace, creating a cozy conversation area for two people.
In addition, I advised her to:
- Say YES to the red embroidered fabric she was considering for the chair upholstery (it was an excellent selection on her part!). I gave her contact information for Jose Goncalves & Sons upholsterers in Arlington – they’re fantastic.
- Look for a small, low, round table to put between the chairs. Imagine being able to put a checkerboard on it…that’s the size we’re looking for. It must be round, so a garden stool could work. I gave her a few places to look for that.
- Put a rug under the wing chairs. We measured for the ideal size, and she’ll do a custom-bound solid colored camel/taupe-colored remnant.
- Remove the family photographs from the mantel. It’s too crowded.
- Paint the fireplace richer colors to anchor that space: black hearth, darker brown brick surround, black mantel (she wrote down the specific color numbers we chose).
- Replace the fireplace screen with a larger black one.
- Hang a mirror horizontally over the fireplace.
- Steal a painting from the dining room and hang it over the radiator.
She had an idea of what she wanted in this room – a blue-and-cream palette (she showed me some sheets she bought in the colors she liked), upholstered headboard, window treatments – but she needed some validation and guidance.
- YES to the palette, but possibly cream on the walls, not blue. We chose a taupey cream, BUT she agreed that she’ll determine the fabrics first, and then tweak the wall color if necessary.
- YES to an upholstered headboard, NO to a footboard, because the room is too small. Gave her the contact info. for Roya Akbari, Great Dreams Interiors, who does all of bossy color’s window treatments and headboards (and Design Houses )
- YES to window treatments; Roman Shades would be perfect.
- For the headboard and Roman Shades, we discussed a fabric with a cream/taupe ground and a large blue pattern. I have confidence that she’ll choose a great fabric, but she may decide she needs help with this down the road.
- Bonus suggestion: switch this rug and the dining room rug. We measured. They’ll fit. The client was super excited about that; she’s very fond of the DR rug (below), and it will be lovely and interesting with the new blues and creams in the bedroom. She never really bonded with the darker bedroom rug (right), but I think she’ll like it much more in the dining room. The rich colors will look FANTASTIC with the red walls, and the black in the rug will tie in with the china cabinet we’re moving in there.
- Moved two small pictures from the LR into the DR (right) and decided where to hang other pieces in that room.
- Approved her plan for enclosing a screened porch, covering the outside of it in wood or brick (wood), using it as her office and possible playroom (yes to office and “quiet play” space; no to electronic or loud toys – those stay in the family room).
- Chose a color for a new porch umbrella (green).
The client did everything possible to make sure this would be time and money well spent. We had a limited agenda: the living room, master bedroom, and a few stand-alone issues. She’d written out her concerns and questions in advance. And most important, she was rarin’ to go.
Instant gratification AND a to-do list for the future…what could be better? This is why bossy basics are popular: clients get excited about their houses all over again. It’s like they’re seeing them for the first time.
And it’s a lot easier than moving, that’s for sure.
Garden stools are from Home deco-direct. I haven’t used that resource before, but I liked these stools a lot.