Sounds like the start to a good joke, eh? It’s not (but I’m open to punchline suggestions). It’s actually the concept behind the Washington Design Center’s Design House, where nine of DC’s top interior designers divide and conquer to turn nine blank spaces into nine trend-setting design concept rooms. And this past weekend we stopped by in search of some inspiring, well, inspiration.
This season’s theme was “What Hue Inspires You?” So each room – with names like Silver Lining, Something Blue and Paprika Passion – showcased how to bring color into your home while steering clear of tacky and heading straight for elegant.
We’ll start with the Paprika Passion foyer, which features a seating area anchored by an oversized light fixture. We learned there’s a trend toward using chairs instead of couches because as our rooms become more mutli-use, chairs can be more easily rearranged – especially when they’re on casters – to face each other for conversation or towards a TV for movie watching.
But not all the seating we saw was designed for function. For instance, this stuffed-panda-bear seat in the quirky Black Splash living room is probably meant more for conversation than it is for comfort. A reminder that it’s sometimes okay if the only thing a piece adds to a room is a good story (although this isn’t a story we’d necessarily want to tell).
Next we meandered into the Silver Lining bedroom and lounge, which stole Sherry’s heart with a metallic shine on just about every surface in the room (iridescent ceramic floor, metallic paint stenciled walls, mirrored four-poster bed, etc). Sounds crazy, but it was actually – brace yourself – very relaxing. Who knew shine could soothe?
But it was the White Wash spa room (i.e. bathroom) that was truly the epitome of soothing. Maybe it was the wall-to-wall sisal carpet, the giant marble bathtub or just the fact that we are sorely lacking in the master bath department but we couldn’t take our eyes off of this room. It made us dream of one day creating a bath, I mean, spa room of our very own.
Next was the Something Blue sitting room, a room that took its name literally and included only one blue something (a painting over the couch). An interesting note is that the designer apparently loved the existing floor and wall color so much that he practiced the often overlooked skill of restraint and kept them exactly as he found ‘em when he started designing the space. Bravo.
The last room on our tour was the Gold Rush ladies boudoir. Once I got over the discomfort of being a man in a “boudoir” I totally appreciated the subtle art deco touches (like the diagonals in the screen and sharp curves of the chaise), not to mention the ability to work with the smallest space in the house.
But perhaps the most inspiring lesson learned at the Design House was the generous use of texture. From a capiz-pattern wallpaper and a hand-stamped brocade paint treatment to a unique twist on traditional hardwood floors, we’re now on the lookout for ways to bring more unexpected texture into our house. Does painted wood paneling count?
If you wanna see these rooms for yourself, the DC Design House tour is free and runs through this Saturday, June 28th (you can visit their website for details, directions and all that jazz). And the Fall Design House opens on September 26th and features completely different designers (working with a different theme) so stay tuned for more inspiration later this year.
When Meghan Carter came to interview us, we tried to pull out all the stops to make our house look its absolute best. We were sure to have a tasty assortment of apples in our clam-shell-turned-fruit-bowl in the kitchen and fresh towels in each of the bathrooms. Heck, we even Fabrezed a bit for good measure. But we opted against bringing in bushels of fresh flowers after deciding that lush leafy greenery looks just as fresh with our simple neutral palette (and conveniently grows in abundance just steps away in our backyard.
So we were sure to snip some fresh ferns for a few bud vases in our bathrooms:
And to bring in some heavier artillery (in the form of some big leafy branches) for our oversized glass bottles in the living room.
And just look how good those leafy greens look with the red front door… gotta love complementary colors.
Do you guys have any rituals to get your house ready for special guests? Or any cheap decorating tricks like robbing your yard of some not-to-be-missed branches and twigs? Do tell.
There are about a million and one suggestions to make a small space feel larger, but when it comes to cozying up a large room with soaring ceilings and square footage to spare, there’s nary a tip or trick in sight. So without further ado we’d like to take you on a fun house tour through our good friend Justine’s amazing abode. Her house serves as the perfect example of what to keep in mind to evoke that cozy and über inviting feeling that doesn’t always go hand in hand with a super-sized space.
Rule #1: Create different zones by using a variety of furniture arrangements and other decorating elements to define each space. For example, Justine and her husband John’s kitchen has separate areas for cooking, eating in, and living that are defined using light fixtures, rugs, and furniture placement to create three smaller rooms within one large one that screams “come on in and stay a while.”
Rule #2: Incorporate deep wall colors that you couldn’t otherwise get away with in a small, light-starved space. The bold use of navy in their man cave (both on the pool table and on the back wall of their screening room) keeps things from seeming too open and undefined, and adds a stunning punch of color that a smaller room couldn’t handle.
Rule #3: Choose rich tones of wood over white or pine furniture (or any pieces with reflective mirrors and glass tops) which can expand the look of a room instead of cozying things up. These solid furnishings ground the coffered ceiling and keep the expansive space from looking too vacant while the paneled wainscoting seems to envelop you as you walk into the room.
Rule #4: Bring in eathtones and natural stone when you can, like they did in this vast bathroom (which features an amazing multi-jet spa shower as well). Sure, you usually can’t go wrong with gleaming white subway tile, but in this space it could look stark. The use of a rich granite countertop and a complementary natural stone tile around the jacuzzi tub (and that amazing aforementioned shower) keeps the room feeling spa-like and serene without seeming sterile.
Rule #5: Be sure to inject a little personality in a large house like Justine and John’s to keep it from feeling like a nondescript “builder” home. They painted the coffered ceiling in their master bedroom a pale blue color which really adds some signature style to the room while bringing the ceiling down a bit to keep things cozy. Justine also introduced a super fun green floral chair in the living room (see above), which is just the personal touch that a gorgeous home like this needs to feel, well, like home.
Now it’s your turn. Do you guys have any more big room tips to share? We’re sure we missed a bunch so feel free to chime in with some sage advice for all of our readers lucky enough to have room to spare. And a special thanks to Justine and John for the Young House Love Open House!