In this open concept kitchen/family room/casual dining room/living
room a wonderful 20' high atrium area is surrounded by spaces
with 9' ceilings. The previous conventional furniture arrangement
of sofas placed against walls with art above looked insignificant,
and the high walls were just blah. The clients wanted to add
a fireplace and turn this space into an intimate but special
They had recently updated their kitchen with sleek lacquer
cabinets in a taupe woodgrain, adding a low cabinet in the same
material to their casual eating area in the atrium. Shades of
taupe, black and teal unified the various portions of the main
living space. While some tweaking was in order, the clients had
already done a good job of creating the palette and setting the
tone. Our job was to take these elements to the next level, not
to start all over.
With the existing architecture as our guide, we developed
a scheme to visually break up the expanse of our feature wall.
The top of the fireplace surround was matched to the same 9'
height as the ceiling in the adjoining TV area, and its width
scaled to accommodate the horizontal fireplace insert. The remaining
wall surface was divided into a grid based on these parameters.
Since an electric fireplace had been specified, we were free
of constraints as to the choice of material and decided to use
an exotic veneer similar to the kitchen millwork as our key design
element. We created a complex interplay of dark and light neutrals,
horizontal and vertical elements -- a subtle checkerboard of
wood panels outlined by the reveals exposing the darker wall
behind them. Window trims, crown moulding, and ceiling were all
painted to continue and blend with the grid pattern.
For high contrast and punctuation, the dark taupe fireplace
surround was embellished with a frame and illuminated niche stained
black. Black was repeated in the hearth/bench that runs the full
width of the wall, as well as a large low coffee table around
which the new seating pieces would be arrayed. Chairs are upholstered
in a narrow taupe stripe outlined by a black-stained frame, echoing
the look of the fireplace surround. Continuing the theme of muted
vs. bold, the over-scaled art for the seating area was selected
for its muted tones, while in the eating area, an elaborate mirror
offers a punch of black. Similarly, two massive chandeliers and
a striking pair of wall sconces have a strong impact, while simple
understated fixtures provide perimeter lighting on the upper
walls. A hit of teal in the sofa pillows serves to bring in the
colourful accents in the rest of the living space.
A dose of peacock blue in the entry hall also enlivens an
unispiring display niche. This vignette -- a study in contrasts
-- is a taste of what lies in the space beyond.