As an interior designer I have to appreciate every design style out there. I have to be able to get my mind into “country french” and “farmhouse modern” and “East Coast minimal” and everything in-between. Sometimes it takes me a minute to switch from one to the other but I like to think I eventually get there! I think my job is the best job ever and it is definitely what I was made to do. I hope that when people look at the portfolio on our website they can see different styles there. When I first met the clients we’re talking about today, He said to me “I really don’t think you can give me what I want. I’ve seen your site. It’s not for me.” Talk about throwing down the gauntlet—challenge accepted! These clients wanted MODERN modern. To be completely honest, my personal aesthetic is much more modern than what I normally get to do for clients so I was so excited to get to tap into that modern, creative side of my brain!
Many people have had bad construction or design experiences—budgets, timelines, and vision can be missed. In this home they’d gotten roman shades with a contrast trim—even though that isn’t minimal or as modern as the clients wanted to go. I so appreciated these clients moving past their bad experiences to trust me with their home. When setting our initial design goals, we paired down our materials list. We would have WHITE white, RED red, wood, and stone in each room—nothing extra, no variations on a theme—if we could get rid of it, we did.
Once we’d nailed our vision and direction, we got to go shopping for materials, cabinetry, furniture, etc. This process was such a joy because the clients’ motto was “When we know, we’ll know.” Now this might sound a little scary and directionless but it actually helped us refine what we were looking for. If we didn’t have a gut reaction—keep hunting. We had hope that the absolute PERFECT item was out there, we just needed to find it. There were times I would think we’d finally found the right fit and send it over with excitement only to hear back “we’re close but what about this?” and then we’d both sigh with relief. THAT WAS IT! It was a fun collaboration like this on every piece, every material, every fixture.
1. What specific needs stuck out on this project?
The basic need of the project was to meet the demands of the Clients’ aesthetic. They knew they were “modern” or “contemporary” but couldn’t differentiate between the two. Past designers had tried to meet one or both of these aesthetics but not met the expectations. For example, the red and black roman shades in the breakfast nook or the stainless-look faux finish in the family room were attempts by a more traditional designer that didn’t quite meet the expectations of the clients. Sure, a clean-lined roman is a step in the right direction but not ENOUGH steps!
The clients had a pair of LC2s by Le Corbusier that we could reference back to in every discussion. Though they’d seen better days, THEY were the modern we were after. We could use the LC2s as our measuring stick—will this new material/selection/light fixture work with these? Does it match their clean, minimal, aesthetic? Would Le Corbusier approve?! “If we don’t need it, we don’t want it” became my design motto. Once the basic need of aesthetic direction was met, we got down to the function of the spaces. We needed more room in the family room and to re-assign the space under the stairs from office and pantry to something more organized and accessible. To address the family room space problem we took over the covered back patio (100 sq ft) and eliminated the breakfast nook entirely. We’d move family meals to the dining room (which nobody ever uses!) and casual, quick breakfasts to the kitchen island. That would gain about 200 sq ft for the family room! We also had to move the fireplace from the angled corner to centered on the back wall for a better floor plan. If we hadn’t moved it—the furniture layout would’ve been lopsided toward the corner and we wouldn’t have been able to maximize our extra 200 sq ft! Once we got that sorted, we decided to eliminate any ‘under-stairs-storage’ by designing floating cherry-wood stairs. We don’t NEED more pantry or a Costco closet with our German-engineered kitchen cabinet plan so why keep it? It comes back down to our basic aesthetic requirement—if we don’t need it, we don’t want it!
2. What selections did you make and why?
Because I hadn’t gotten to design modern interiors EVER in Southlake I felt like I was way behind the times on what actually exists on the modern market. I went to a trade show in NYC to study up! I got to walk through hundreds of vendors who specialize in modern finishes and furnishings and really refine my vision for the project. There was a lot of asking myself “Do I like this for them? Why/Why not? What about this is wrong?” That way, I could cast a very clear vision of where I wanted us to go in the project and WHY. I found lots of products we ended up using like the invisible doors, the Plyboo in the master bedroom, the Neolith in the master bathroom, and even the Stickbulb fixture in the kitchen!
One of the very first finishes we selected was the wallpaper in the dining room (Elitis RM665-02 from George Cameron Nash)! The client had said his favorite color was red (can you tell?)! I selected the wallpaper having refined the palette to white and red, cherry wood, and concrete or stone looks. If you can set a palette for yourself, it makes selections so much easier! There are ten million tiles on the market—but “Is it white? Does it look like concrete?” helps you narrow down the options immediately! Because we were inspired by our LC2s, we chose furniture that was designed in that same vein. Barcelona chairs (my personal fave), Saarinen table and tulip chairs, DeSede loungers, and even 4 LC3s! When we were shopping for furniture, the clients would say “I don’t want my house to look like anyone else’s house!” so we tweaked each piece to make it unique: the tulip chairs had unique read leather upholstery, the barcelona chairs were in a non-standard color, etc.
3. What was the most memorable part of this project? Most laughable? Most encouraging?
Memorable—On the final day of install I got to stand in the house after a hard day of work and watch the homeowner walk up his front sidewalk (while I held his wife’s hand inside!) as he stopped mid-stride, looked through the windows, and burst into tears he was so overwhelmed with gratitude!
Laughable—At our first meeting the client said “You can’t give me what I want.” I was torn between “watch me” and “well poo on you, too!” To look back and see how incredible it turned out, how proud I am of the finished product, and what a great team we made cracks me up every time!
Encouraging—I’ll be super honest—the design of this house is WELL outside my price point or budget. I know that doesn’t sound encouraging! What IS encouraging–when they clients first moved in, 20 years ago, they didn’t even have furniture for all the rooms. They had a small child and were still trying to get their careers going! These clients encouraged the team daily by saying “Isn’t this crazy? That we’re getting our dream house? It’s what you work for and work toward but who’d have ever guessed we’d be here!” It’s always better to be around people who realize how blessed they are and spread that gratitude around! This project was and is a joy to my heart. To get to be true to my own aesthetic and to get to work with people who pushed me to be my best and who were overjoyed to get to be redesigning their home was such a treat for me and worth every late night web search for the unheard-of-brand of God-knows-what. Romans 12 says to rejoice with those who rejoice and I hope you can feel and see our rejoicing when you look at these pictures!