Welcome to a fun and fabulous month of blog posts. For the month of January I’m giving you the lowdown on how to turn rooms around by using my AA design-ometer. I also asked you guys to send in pics of any rooms that you feel need help, so this is the first Style Clinic post. Follow all the design-ometer makeover posts here.
Morning. Up a bit earlier today as we have two days of photography scheduled for our new collection which is super exciting and I’ve got a bit of organising to do. In full makeover mode today, so we’re drilling down into Elina’s 2,200 square foot loft in NYC.
Being such a large space the loft is difficult to address and make feel cosy. Whilst Elina is happy to contemplate painting it out dark she is concerned that her white kitchen will feel awkward and doesn’t want a super-expensive kitchen redo at this point. Additionally lighting is a challenge as there is only one floor outlet (which is still far away from the seating area) so she can’t plonk down lamps on a console or behind the couch without doing some major electrical work… a real headache.
My plan is to give Elina the confidence to create the home she so desires. You will see from the slide show that Elina’s loft is fabulously large. Here’s how to take advantage of this…
- Play with scale
This would be incredible in Elina’s large space. Most people are scared of this but it’s so transformative, and the silliest thing to be afraid of! I love the lamp by the green velvet sofa in the moodboard that’s a bit too large and a bit too high. In this loft adding pieces that are a little bit too big like an oversized mirror propped up against the wall, or a big piece artwork above the mantel would add real fairy dust magic. You don’t need many pieces just the odd thing (think of it like an exclamation point) to draw and intrigue the eye.
So of course you knew I’d say this, but painting out the main space a darker hue would totally cosy it up and there wouldn’t be such a stark contrast between the walls and the floor. Colour is personal so I’m not going to say use such and such a hue but the more you restrain the overall palette throughout the space, the more sophisticated and glam the room will look. The white kitchen also won’t look terrible against a dark colour palette – all you need to do is blend the two spaces together. To do this accent the dark painted living area with a few pale accessories or furniture, and vice versa. Good news is these are already in situ! The kitchen has dark counters and sleek steel appliances, and the living space has pale accents – check out those cream sofas and floor lamp.
- Creating cosiness
If painting the whole place out is too big a renovation for now, you can still create the sense of cosiness in an open-plan living space without painting the whole place out. The trick is to create small nooks and zones, particularly with seating, side tables, conversational areas, reading nooks etc. The reason the loft doesn’t feel cosy right now is because there’s simply not enough in it. On Elina’s inspirational moodboard I’ve put an image of Kate and Andy Spade’s Manhattan loft which is wonderfully snug (although not even painted a dark hue) so making a room cosy isn’t necessary about paint, but it helps!
For the large blank stretch opposite the fireplace I would take advantage of the architectural columns to turn this empty space into a storage/library area, or even a bar if that’s more Elina’s style! Library bars are my new obsession, and this would be amazing here. Simply plop a few chairs near by to soften the mood. Another one of two chairs dotted at the end of the seating area would look fab. Because the sofas match, I would recommend trying to make the chairs mix, not match. Some cushions on each will bring all the seating together. Remember when you’re adding things like cushions to the sofas and accessories go for contrasting textures and wham bam you’re nearly there. In a nutshell it’s all about layers and little conversational areas for people to settle in and feel at home. Consoles or tables in the alcoves also and little tables at the end of the sofas for lamps and drinks will help big time.
- The importance of lighting
The only thing that has to be done and there is no getting around this (sorry Elina) is the lighting. After colour, lighting is the second most transformative thing you can do to a space, even an average sized room needs at least 8 lamps going on, so this huge space is going to need heaps – simple as that! Deep breath, but you will need to extend the circuit around the room. You can do this above the surface in nice galvanised sockets which will be a lot less work than undertaking anything major. There are other cheats too – I’ve got a couple of lamp cords or extension leads hidden under rugs here! The first priority should be adding lamps to cosy up all the seating areas, but you can add them to the kitchen area too to make it feel more at home with the rest of the room. I know lighting is a big deal, but if you don’t do it you’re not going to get a cool space.
I know it sounds like a lot but creating a tantalising home isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Take a small area – perhaps the walls flanking the fireplace – and start with that. Add a console (IKEA do some fabulous lacquer ones which I use a lot), some art, flowers, books and before you know it you will change the whole vibe. Many people with large open plan spaces break them up with dividers but for me that’s way too predictable and I’ve yet to see a really cool one. Why would you want to divide a room as cool as this up anyway? Elina has an amazing home, and I can’t wait to see what she does with it. Happy decorating!