Today is a special post for me. I’m sharing some before and afters of a remote design project I worked on at the end of 2018. The homeowners had moved into a new family home, but not your average property, their new pad formed part of a Grade 2 listed Arts & Crafts mansion, designed by the architect George Morley Eaton, a follower of Sir Edwin Lutyens. As you would expect, architecturally, it’s stunning. However, one room in particular left them feeling somewhat overwhelmed; The Drawing Room.
Estate Agent Photo
Here’s how the room looked when it was sold. As you can see, it’s a huge at over 5m by 7m. With rooms like this, you don’t need to work too hard to make it look amazing. But what you do need to do is know how to use Scale and Proportion. You can’t put an average sized sofa, rug or ceiling light into a room like this, you’ve got to supersize everything so it matches up to that fireplace, the beams, those door frames….
As with all remote projects, it begins with the brief, so I sent over some key questions;
What’s the problem? – we have this massive room and have no idea what to do with it. The rest of the house provides all the other room-types e.g. we have a snug room to watch TV, a great kitchen diner, a dining room, an office etc. So this room doesn’t really have a specific purpose as such.
What does the room need to do? – we love to drink wine in front of the fire and listen to vinyl records. Also if we have lots of people over we would want to use this as an entertaining space (although we have a cocktail cabinet/drinks stuff in another room). Just a space people can gather, listen to music and relax.
Original fireplace – 2m x 2m! See what I mean about the sheer scale of the room?
How do you want it to feel? – Interesting and comfortable. I’d love people to come in and spend time staring at things on the walls etc but then being able to relax on the seats and have a good drink!
Who will use it? – me and my husband during the week. We have a 4 year old daughter and a beagle dog. I want them to love the room and feel safe and relaxed in it but I don’t want it to be a playroom. It’s more of an adult space to share with friends and family over the weekend.
When will you use it? – occasionally mid week when we have a second to breathe and haven’t fallen asleep in the snug, mainly weekends or on big family occasions/Christmas etc (our tree will go in here).
After reading their client brief and going through all of the before photos, we followed this up with an hour’s Skype consultation. It’s here where I quiz and hone in onto some of the finer wants and wishes, along with the realities of the budget. One thing to consider when buying period properties like this, is that as well as costing more to buy, more to renovate and more to run, they also cost more to decorate and furnish. You can’t get away with Ikea in rooms like this, the pieces you should be well-considered and sympathetic to their surroundings. To save money, you can search for old pieces of furniture, ones that look out of place in most homes, but in this room, ‘Big Brown Furniture” and Old Charm pieces can look pretty cool if you give them a backdrop with a contemporary twist alongside quirky artwork and lighting.
With everything in mind, I got to work on the layout, design and sourcing list.
A few days later…
The room’s moodboard showing how all of the elements would work together
A to-scale floor plan…
…and a Pinterest board with several options per item, including these key items:
- one of my favourite Arts & Crafts inspired wallpapers, Vine Bleu by Little Greene. “Vine (c1932), taken from the archive at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, offers an unmistakeable nod to William Morris, the father of the late 19th Century Arts & Crafts movement. An authentic surface print technique has been employed to reproduce this contemporary version”
- with Hicks Blue below the dado rail and Portland Stone on the ceiling.
- two Chesterfield blue velvet Hugo sofas from Rose and Grey
- a gorgeous Arts and Crafts sideboard which was needed to house the their record player and vinyl and an old farmhouse kitchen table cut down to make a huge coffee table. Both from eBay for less than £200 each.
- 3x4m Classic Yara Rug in beige and blue from Benuta
- two AL36 silk lights from Gong. If you haven’t seen their lights, you need to. They are just stunning!
- Gold Palm Leaf Floor Lamp from Olive and Sage
- Glass Pineapple Table Lamp from Breeze Furnishings
Only last week, I was very kindly sent some photos of the room now it’s almost finished. And they’re wonderful!
Here’s what the homeowners had to say about their new room and how they found working with me (am so very lucky to work with some fab people);
“We chose Karen to help design a room in our Arts and Crafts house following a google search and finding some wonderful room designs that she had done. I just loved all the rooms she had done and really hoped we could work with her. She was really easy to contact and responded promptly explaining the option of remote design. It seemed to fit our needs and so we went ahead with it. I sent an email and a link to a Pinterest board detailing the dimensions of the room, what we would like to use it for and photos showing things we would like to include as well as images detailing our tastes. We then followed this up with a 1 hr skype chat where we could go through it in more detail. She was really friendly and instantly put us at ease. Once she had a good idea of our project she went to work and shortly after we were given the details of our design…
…I cant stress enough how happy we were with the plan. She took all our ideas and pulled it together in a fantastic design that we both loved. She managed to come up with ideas we never would have thought of but that also fitted our brief perfectly. We followed her plan pretty much to the letter and now are super pleased with the finished design. She really gave us the confidence to go bold with the design and I would thoroughly recommend her services to others. I feel we will definately be using her again in the future!”
I’m always so amazed when remote design works as well as this. When the battered old coffee table I saw on eBay four months ago now sits in the room and looks this good. Remote design is a fantastic way to work with a designer as long as you’re willing to put the hours in yourself and make it happen. These guys totally did that, they nailed this design and I’m sooo happy for them!
Before and After
If you’d like to see and read more about some of my past remote design projects, pop over to this post where I share another three projects, including one in Munich. And if you’d like more info about working with me remotely, have a read of the below or jump onto my work website. And just before I go, one more before and after, because I like ’em…. Hope you guys like ’em too!
Many thanks to my very lovely remote clients for sending these photos and kindly letting me share them on the blog 🙂