Have you ever lived on a really awesome street with amazing neighbors? Everybody jives well, looks out for each other, hangs out in their front yards, and nobody throws loud rage-y parties (or if they do, you’re invited). It’s THE DREAM. I’ve lived on a street like this before, and currently live on one like it now, and it’s life changing. But, whenever a neighbor inevitably decides to sell, you’re filled with dread that the next person isn’t going to be as awesome and it’s going to mess up the great thing you’ve got going. You hope and pray that the people who come in will be just as amazing as the ones who just left.
Running our design business is EXACTLY like this. We are blessed to work with some pretty amazing clients, and become close throughout the process, and it’s always bittersweet when we wrap up a project and it’s time for us to go. But then, sometimes, they tell a friend about us and we get to keep the party going with someone just as awesome!
That’s exactly what happened with our Stanford project. The lady of the house over at Stanford is the childhood best friend of our Valleybrook project! Once she saw her BFF’s revamped living and dining room, she called us to create her version of that look, and we said SIGN US UP! Here’s the story.
We’ve already spoken about Mrs. Stanford, but the childhood connections don’t stop there, because this is actually the childhood home of Mr. Stanford! (You guys get that these are code names, right? Just wanted to be sure you did. Ha!) Several years back, they purchased his childhood home from his parents, moving back into the house he grew up in. They used their budget to renovate the bones of the house to freshen it up and make it their own, moving in the furniture from their last house. Many of the pieces they’d collected had great style, but some weren’t the perfect fit for the scale and layout of their new (yet familiar) home. Fast forward a few years and it was finally time to furnish the downstairs to fit their family’s needs and design style.
But it wasn’t so simple as just adding in new pieces to fit the house as-is. One major design consideration – there is a potential in the future to expand the downstairs of this house, so everything we choose now needed to fit into the potential expanded floor plan so that we wouldn’t be wasteful later. A tall order!
Here’s a look at where we started.
There were some really cute pieces that would definitely be staying (hello, wishbone chairs!), but others needed a functional and style upgrade. Glass tabletops were not made for people who have kids, let’s just say that. And the sectional was the wrong scale and was too heavy for the living room. The entry console, while super cute, was just too small for the space. But so much greatness to work with!
Functionally, since we weren’t moving any walls, the name of the game was optimizing the spaces that we had. That meant creating a better seating arrangement in the living room, where the family spends most of their time, and getting some additional seats in this area. Next, swapping the dining table for something larger that maximized the space and added more seating (sense a theme?). In the entryway, bringing in a larger piece better suited to the scale of that space.
Aesthetically, we wanted to brighten things up. This house sits in an older, well wooded area, making the interior spaces on the dim side. We wanted to keep it light and airy and not use too many dark things that would suck up the available natural light. But neutral wasn’t the gameplan – we wanted some COLOR.
To make the most of our budget, we wanted to bring in a few eye-catching signature pieces, durable foundation pieces, and then sneak in more affordable items (that would look like a million bucks next to the show stoppers).
THE FINAL PRODUCT
Let’s start at the front door! From the moment I walked into this house, I knew we were going to need a burled wood piece somewhere. Since this is the first impression for visitors AND directly across from the heavily used home office, this was a great spot to feature it.
Bringing in color was critical. I painted this piece specifically for our client (and it’s available over at our sister shop, Humble Abode!) for a powerful punch. On either side the aqua lamps add more cheerful color. The succulent arrangement was custom and made on site to ensure the perfect fit!
Just opposite the entryway is the home office. This wasn’t initially a huge component in the project, but when I walked in I declared “this room is begging for wallpaper!” and the rest is history.
Fun fact – if you hire us there is a huge chance we will throw out a crazy design idea that you’d never thought of before. Some would call it “unsolicited advice.” We call it thinking out side the box…or simply CHARMING. Ha!
The office desk and chair along with the built-ins stayed as-is. We recovered the homeowner’s grandmother’s wingback chair in a two-tone combo of blush and cream for something a bit unexpected. Some fresh accessories in the bookshelves, artwork, and rug pulled the look together.
Now to the main living space. Before, the giant gray sectional was like a black hole sucking down the life-force of the room. Typing that feels harsh, but I’m going to stick with it! I’ll soften it with this – there is nothing objectively wrong with a gray sectional. We use them all the time in our projects. But in THIS particular instance, it was too heavy and bulky for the room. Also it was not the most comfortable and our clients had grown to hate it. It’s so discouraging when you invest in a large piece and it doesn’t meet all of your hopes and dreams (or even baseline expectations).
The solution for this space was two sofas in a light colored, durable, kid-friendly fabric. Freeing up the corner previously occupied by the sectional may not feel like a big move, but it made all the difference. The lighter fabric, cleaner lines, and overall reduced footprint made a substantial impact. Plus, we now have space for pretty flowers and are able set down a drink!
Another major change came in the form of those soft blue curtains! Privacy was a concern here – this room is a fishbowl at night and our clients need to be able to close the curtains in the evening. These add a soft color, and hung all the way to the ceiling (which you know from reading this post is the only way to hang them!) added some visual height to our standard 8’ ceilings. The ceilings look SO much taller now.
We brought in even more color and texture with this one of a kind rug. We had initially selected a different rug, but after coming across this one by happy coincidence with our client we made a swap! On top of that, 2 customized statement swivel chairs added extra seating, and our favorite Frame TV over the fireplace that looks like art when the TV isn’t in use, but then allows everyone to watch TV, without looking like people who watch TV. Ha!
This little bunny living on the fireplace mantle, which is now lovingly nicknamed Judgy Bunny, is the one who likes to look down at all of the humans who watch TV! He's so smug.
Turning the corner to the breakfast area, we kept the existing table and chairs and brought over the former entry console, which is the perfect scale for this space. Some new accessories was all this spot needed.
Finally, the dining room! This new, larger non-glass top table (does anyone else get driven literally insane by the scratching and clanking sounds of plates and cups on glass?! Just me?!) seats extra loved ones. We customized the upholstery on these chairs, swapping out the standard beige backs for this feisty blue animal print, to make them unlike anything anyone else would have. These unique touches set this space apart and make it feel uniquely personal.
The new gold mirror brings the metal tone of the existing light fixture onto the walls and helps bounce much needed daylight around the room.
There you have it! I bet you can spot some common threads to this house’s BFF over at Valleybrook, but we love how they are each still so unique and tailored to each family. Just goes to show you that you shouldn’t ever try to recreate a Pinterest image or magazine photo. You don’t want to live in somebody else’s house! Make it your own and let it reflect you!