All design projects present unique challenges, but none more so than the assignment I worked on last summer.
In June of 2014, thanks to photos and references for my work on www.Houzz.com, a prospective client asked me to meet her at her newly purchased lake house in Connecticut. The house is a 7,000 square foot waterfront home with cathedral ceilings and a third floor finished basement that supplements the family quarters with a game room, media room and two guest bedrooms. The house is sited in a way that allows stunning views of Bantam Lake, and has wooden floors, walls and ceilings in some of the living spaces.
The house, as sold to my client by a mature couple, had traditional furnishings and a formal dining room. My client and her husband, however, were arriving with three active children and two dogs. I was told to design the rooms and furnishings in a way that invited fun and family participation; no rooms would be off limits to the kids, as they were accustomed to fully enjoying all the furnishings in their year-round house.
Additionally, I was asked to complete the entire project by Labor Day, less than three months away!
The assignment required the selection and production of custom sofas and chairs, sourcing coordinating fabrics for seating, window seats and throw pillows, consulting with craftspeople to create dining and coffee tables to our specifications, sourcing, ordering and installing lighting and large ceiling fans, choosing paint colors and partially renovating two full baths. Once the fabrics were selected and the seating was in production, those fabrics were used to choose colors for a custom made, casual rug with leather trim for the living room.
I am generally quite confident in my capabilities, but this assignment required a team of committed, industrious colleagues and vendors who would work with me under the pressure of a short deadline. Showrooms with whom I’ve worked in the past were contacted to see whether floor samples might be available for our consideration. Others pushed their workrooms to respond to our sense of urgency, and leveraged their relationships with national shipping companies to deliver their goods without delay! Fortunately, our client engaged Danco Management, a boutique property and construction management company. The owner, Dan Sweeney, believes in “under promising” and “over delivering” on services and projects while “in a constant pursuit of perfection for its clients and properties”. Thankfully, our values were fully aligned and together, we coordinated plumbing, electrical and construction schedules.
The original dining room was transformed into a family-friendly den, and had the only television on the main floor, mounted on the wall. Swivel chairs were used to facilitate both conversation and TV viewing, and steel and leather stools provide seating for extra guests. (See photos below)
The living room, the central and largest space in the house, was transformed by casual but elegant furniture and family-friendly fabrics. Clean lines and a modern aesthetic helped to create open space where artwork would really stand out. Sid Schatzky of North Egremont (www.sidneyschatzky.com) provided the solution with a stunning 6’ X 8’ diptych, using acrylic, pure pigments and collaged pieces from an antique Japanese screen.
The long water-facing expanse of window seating was made with indoor-outdoor fabrics, so that wet bottoms coming in from the lake could sit without worry. Swivel chairs in front of the window could focus on the view or spin to join the conversation area. And three cement movable “roll-away” coffee tables (with brakes!) suggest a bit of industrial informality and versatility. (Photos below)
The main floor powder room felt bland and inconsistent with the upscale design of the rest of the house. Not wanting to do a full demolition and renovation of the space, we were able to change the look and feel dramatically by changing the counter top, sink and faucet, and wallpaper. The counter top went from Formica to Pietra del Cardosa with the help of Rock Solid in Sheffield, and bronze hardware replaced the dated door pulls and matched the new fixtures. Contemporary grass-cloth wallpaper was selected to add warmth and texture to the “new” bathroom! (See photos below)
And finally, the kitchen — the heart of many a home. With an active family of five and many guests anticipated, the table needed to be large, modern and welcoming. A child-friendly surface was needed too, so a custom made table of concrete and stainless steel was designed. The table feels as comfortable for six people as it does for twelve. Outdoor chairs with stainless steel frames were selected for their casual style and durability. The chairs that are not in use on a daily basis stack neatly in a storage area off the kitchen Three Italian glass lights are mounted on a single fixture. The lighting dims for intimate dining with water views, and can provide ample light to meet the needs of this active family. A modern, whimsical “Popsicle” oil painting by NYC and Alford painter Geoffrey Moss (www.geoffreymoss.com) completes this warm and welcoming room. (See photos below)
The project was indeed finished in time for the family to enjoy late summer boating on the lake. We are now working on a project at the client’s year-round residence, where I appreciate the luxury of working at a more leisurely pace.