The client's former home was filled with family heirlooms
as well as treasures she and her husband had collected together.
Styles ranged from Louis XV to 60's and 70's modern, and most
of the pieces came with a story.
Fortunately, her new home is a large apartment with generously
sized rooms, and we were able to accommodate most of her sentimental
favourites. The key was to combine pieces in a new way -- for
the client, at least -- and to add cheerful and whimsical touches
wherever we could.
We divided the huge main
living space into distinct zones. In the dining area, we initially
used a complete suite which had been the first purchase made
by the couple. However, when the china cabinet proved to be too
small for the generous space, we re-purposed it as kitchen storage.
To replace it, we found a vintage English-style sideboard whose
imperfections (wabisabi) complemented those of the dining table
perfectly. Another trip to the consignment store netted us a
tromp l'oeil hand-painted mirror to hang above and reflect a
gorgeous new crystal chandelier. Rounding out the furnishings
in this area is an old baker's rack laden with heritage silver
A corner of the living space close to the kitchen became the
breakfast room/games area. Here, an odd couple of Regency chairs
sit at a 60's glass table, with a 70's étagère
as a backdrop. In the main sitting area, we started with
more of the client's own pieces, reupholstering chairs in a mix
of plaids, damasks, and animal prints in bright pink, green,
and yellow. A mismatched pair of tables, topped by 50's table
lamps, flanks a new sofa: a navy, tailored contemporary piece,
with the custom addition of a traditionalskirt. A new coffee
table was purchased to complete the seating area, but not intrude.
Underfoot, a new Persian rug in sunny yellow combines all the
colours in our cheery scheme.
The kitchen is a basic rental kitchen with painted white cabinets
and laminate counter, but the addition of the china cabinet inspired
us to dress it formally. From the client's large collection of
heirloom china, we selected several plates to hang along the
bulkhead and around doorways. A change of hardware on the cupboards,
installing a formal fixture, and laying an area rug on the boring
beige tiles have transformed the formerly utilitarian space.
The large master bedroom is dominated by a new headboard and
over-sized pendant lamp -- both lending an exotic Moorish note.
The rest of the furnishings hold memories for the client, from
the night tables that once served as living room lamp tables,
to the chest of drawers and lady's armchair. A kitschy over-sized
lamp is a reminder of her childhood, and paintings by her mother
are given pride of place.
In the guest room/TV room, we once again partner the new --
sofa bed, ottoman, and whimsical armchair -- with the old --
a 60's Plexiglas shelving unit inherited from an aunt, and a
drop-leaf desk painted long ago by her mother. To finish it off,
we found the perfect rug: a patchwork of vintage carpet scraps
dyed vivid citrine.
Throughout the home, starting right at the front door, we
have managed to display a huge assortment of tchotchkes on walls,
shelves, tables, and even windowsills. Shopping in the client's
moving boxes was a fun and rewarding experience for client and
designer alike, as each piece brought with it a story.
We knew it was all coming together beautifully when an old
painting we unwrapped to hang above the sofa proved to contain
all of our design elements within its imagery. And when we were
missing a miniature artwork and a sconce to complete the wall
arrangement, we rooted through the packaging and dug up just
the right pieces.
The result: A happy new home with instant "soul"
and fond memories.