First off, welcome to my inaugural blog post! This is a new venture for me and hopefully will be enjoyable for both you (the reader) and myself. I always dabbled with the idea of casually blogging (as I feel I have a lot to say!) but felt daunted by the task, married with PTSD memories of college term papers. I don't want these posts to feel like a research paper but merely a sharing of the goings-on with projects, past and present, and some tips and tricks I've learned along the way...
The living room, or family room, is the most utilized space in a home and a place where the whole family congregates making its functionality crucial to fit the whole family's personal needs. For my very first blog post (thank you for taking the time to check it out!) I am going to break down a recently completed living room that I designed for a family on the Isle of Palms, SC. The size of their living room is generous but also necessary in order to fit the amount of seating required to sit the entire family at one time, with 2 adult daughters, their significant others, as well as two grandchildren. Their house is situated on the Intracoastal Waterway and the living room has one of the best views in the house. However, it is also the room where the family watches TV. Thus both the scenic view and an area for TV viewing had to be taken into account.
Always start with a scaled floor plan, and measure twice!
Keeping both the marsh view and the TV in mind I created two main seating areas within the living room itself. One situated by the 3 French doors that open onto the deck overlooking the waterway and another grouped by the television. Joining the two designated parts of the room is a custom double-sided sofa specifically designed for the room.
Above left, the double-sided sofa. Above right, the scenic view seating area. Below, the TV seating area.
The room's color palette was another major starting off point in addition to the layout. I wanted to bring the marsh view inside which directly influenced the colors and finishes chosen for the room. I knew I was going to be using neutral textures on the big pieces of furniture and wanted to have at least three colors, in addition, to keep things visually interesting and not flat. So by playing with olives, sky blues, and navies this was able to be accomplished. Not to say rules can't be broken but if the room were two-toned in just navy and cream it would not have the same depth and level of interest. (Side note: The sofas being cream-colored is not much concern as they are upholstered in Crypton fabric. A commercial-grade fabric now available for residential use and softer than ever before.)
Deciding on a room's color palette will help in narrowing down finish selections.
Once having the layout and color scheme accomplished furniture and finish selections could be made. Mixing patterns, textures, and finishes is a great way to achieve a layered room. It is okay to have a pattern repeat itself but I like to interweave them into the room. You will notice the drapery panels and chair fabric repeats themselves in the pillows or the lumbar pillows and the skirted table.
Interior designers have access to a plethora of manufacturers and custom workrooms that sell only to-the-trade (aka thru an interior designer) making the design possibilities endless and much less restrictive than shopping online or at big box stores.
The final result is a space that is both functional and beautiful and one that is also completely bespoke. Incorporating my client's collections of sweetgrass baskets and blue & white into the design I think is what truly completes the space. Adding a bit of their personality into the room.
Personal items are what finish a room. If you have a collection, show it off!
Mixing in antiques is another crucial key to creating a layered room. Having custom-made pieces is wonderful and often necessary to fit a client's specific needs but they need to be paired with antiques to balance out the "newness" of it all. Often times the holes left after finding the major pieces for a room are the best places to put an antique.
No corner should be left untouched, and no chair without a place to set a drink.
To read more about this living room and see the rest of the house check out the April 2021 issue of Charleston Magazine.
All photos by Julia Lynn