Step into a world of of mystic intrigue…descending a flight of stairs, you are led into an old-world room where you find a crowd gathered by a fireplace and a full bar. As you move forward, you are enveloped by … Continue reading
We’ve just completed the first phase of this renovation in West Chester, and I’m excited to share the changes so far. In the foyer, we went big and bold with a new, 60″ diameter light fixture in crystal and nickel. To add to the drama, we painted the walls a medium green/gray, added a beefy crown molding and decorative boxes with a silvery damask paper inside. We will finish off the space with a silver-leafed chest and a new rug. (Will post when the chest comes in).
In the family room, we added a window to balance the architecture. We modernized the fireplace by removing the raised hearth and installing stone from floor to ceiling. We added a beam to the ceiling, and replaced the fan with a simple chandelier. The large wall was outfitted with large boxes and a gray linen paper. Simple, sheer blue/gray drapes were hung to soften the look and make the room more cozy. Our plan is to fill the room with new furniture pieces that better fit the size of the space.
Redesigning a laundry room may seem like an insignificant project, but this one was certainly complex. The homeowner had a lot of “must-have’s” on her wish list, and we were able to creatively arrange them into one small space. The room is 7’4” by 8’10” and includes a dryer, washer, sink, clothes line, bench, folding table, toilet, multiple laundry baskets, cubbies, and cabinets. Let’s first go through these practicalities and then I’ll give an overview of the design.
The owner of this home recently installed a backyard pool, but because the first floor powder room is on the other side of the house, she hoped to make a toilet more accessible for swimmers. We moved over the original door opening so as to install a pocket door, creating privacy for the bathroom function while saving space by not having to accommodate a door swing. Adjacent to the toilet is the folding table where laundry baskets fit snugly underneath. Included in this table is a drawer that serves as a dryer for delicate clothing. (Nice that you can hide those “unmentionables” while they’re drying, right?) Between this table and the far wall, is a bench with cubbies underneath–great for putting on winter boots. Directly across the room the dryer is stacked over the washer and a cabinet is included above. Next to this is a serviceable farm sink, with a skirt to soften the hard lines of the room, and hide more “stuff”. In the last corner of the room is a full height cabinet with a built-in vacuum duct underneath, completing this multi-functional space.
Given the dense and dual nature of the room, we had to think creatively to make it more than just practical. Some design features we added are crown molding around the cabinets, porcelain floor tiles, and a backsplash above the sink. The walls were painted a soft green and the cabinets stained gray, which both compliment the leathered granite counter-tops. The gray also blends nicely with the washer/dryer. This room serves as an entry to the backyard, a laundry room, a storage room, and a bathroom. It is attractive, orderly, and modern with many homey final touches.
Cabinets and carpentry by the Renovo Group.
This week, we installed new drapes in this Chester Springs master bedroom. The existing silk drapes, while very pretty, did not add any oomph to the room, and they also didn’t block out the light for better sleeping. Additionally, because of the strong southern exposure, the sun had deteriorated the fabric in some spots.
The new drapes are blackout lined, they are decorative when opened or closed, and they also block drafts in the winter (or strong light in the summer) which is a nice bonus. We chose a current, large-scale pattern to add more visual interest to the room. The solid banding is a nice accent, and will stand up to wear from the client’s dogs rubbing up against them.
We offer many options for window coverings, but I highly recommend a blackout-lined drape for a bedroom. Other clients just rave about the darkness they can achieve. Great for people that want to sleep in, or those that work nights and sleep during the day.
Clients often ask me what my favorite personal decorating style is. I’m guessing that they want to know if my style closely aligns with theirs. My short answer is “eclectic”, meaning I really like to mix different styles for a more interesting look. But, there are many considerations in how this has come about, and my longer answer is this:
I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, and my mother loved to decorate our colonial home, then redecorate once things started looking old or outdated. She loved wallpaper and wasn’t afraid of color and pattern. Looking back, I would say that she also liked to decorate to the current trends, so there was a lot of gold, brown and rust in our house in the earlier years. Going through design school meant learning in detail about past styles, and both school and work experience taught me more about current styles and trends. They also taught how to blend the two, considering line, mass and tonality. My takeaway from these influences is an appreciation for individual objects for their own particular style and personal meaning. I also developed an idea for what I don’t like, and even though Baroque, Victorian, and busy/overdone aren’t high on my list, I can still appreciate what some might find appealing about an ornate piece or even a period room.
In the end, what I personally like are rooms that invite you to come in and spend some time. A sitting room should be comfortable, sunny, and cozy, and project a feeling of warmth. It should have interesting things to look at and feel balanced, which is calming. If there is a mix of styles and colors, they should harmonize with each other, and elements should not compete as the main focal point. I personally don’t like things that are too “fussy”, nor do I like a cold, contemporary look for my own spaces. I like a house with rich architecture, but can appreciate a clean, modern space provided that it still meets the criteria for what I consider a well-done room. I like British colonial-style furniture, or anything that reminds me of warmer climates, and a relaxed, coastal lifestyle. I also like natural materials along with various textures, and it never hurts to bring the outdoors in with some plants (or even palm or citrus trees). As far as trends are concerned, I do think clean lines and simpler looks are here to stay, but I would prefer to do my own thing and not follow the trends too closely.
What I want my clients to know is that good design can exist within any style, and I consider a successful project one that reflects my clients’ tastes rather than my own.
We love working on smaller spaces because of the challenges they present, and the fun and interesting solutions that can come from brainstorming with our clients to see what would work best for them. Our client felt that her Logan … Continue reading
When McGrath Interiors began working with the following clients in Devon, PA, they were leaning towards installing fabric drapery panels in their family room. After establishing that white was the best color for the area, the thought of doing them in fabric was impractical because they would easily become dirty. Especially considering that the clients have pets and children who enter through the slider on a daily basis, the drapes would have been a nuisance. After we helped them consider the need for a more practical and long lasting option, they decided on using a vinyl vertical blind. Vinyl is easily cleanable so it became a more sensible choice because of the heavy use this door receives. We were still able to provide an aesthetically pleasing element in the fabric patterned cornice board above the doorway while maximizing its functionality.
The next photo is of a functioning Roman shade in the guest bedroom of a different client’s home in West Chester. This one shade is decorative as well as practical because it goes up and down without difficulty. It is a custom designed option with a very good price and a ten day turnaround.
It’s hard to explain the feeling you get as you turn off the main road, and start winding down the narrow, tree-lined, Chester County back road until you reach the clearing that is part of this amazing historic property. … Continue reading
The switch to luxury vinyl flooring in the living room, dining room, powder room, and kitchen became one of the primary changes to this home in New Jersey. The existing floor in the living/dining area was a plastic laminate product. Although appearing acceptable from a distance, this type of flooring carries with it two major drawbacks. First, it tends to buckle when getting wet so putting it in a bathroom or kitchen is not recommended. Second, it tends to sound hollow when being walked on. It was for these reasons that we chose to upgrade to a COREtec vinyl product.
COREtec is completely waterproof and, in contrast with real wood, quite resistant to scratching. The owner of this home has a dog, so this product made more sense for this application. COREtec products are also easy to install because, having a cork backing, they need no vapor barrier and are resistant to odor, mold, and mildew. The cork also makes it quieter and warmer. For these reasons, we were able to install it in all of the rooms on the first floor, including the kitchen and powder room, keeping the desired wood look consistent throughout.
We chose the Montrose Oak product from the Plus XL line, which gives the impression of being aged because of its texture and color variation. Imitating the look of reclaimed wood, it has saw blade marks, nail holes, and the surface is textured as if hand-scraped. It’s the largest LVT plank on the market–9”x72”. Another great feature is that it’s certified for low chemical emissions. Although we think this is a fantastic product, if there is one drawback, it’s the fact that it doesn’t have the “depth” of graining that real wood has, but we still feel it’s one of the best-looking wood-look luxury vinyls available right now.
Overall, this COREtec floor has succeeded brilliantly with its simple installation, durability, and rustic appearance.
When McGrath Interiors began this project on a two-year old home in West Chester, the first impression I got was that there was a dichotomy between the formalness of the house, and the relaxed, updated feel that the clients wanted … Continue reading