This is just a small portion of a main-floor renovation that we’re working on, but it was an important aspect, as the wall is a focal point, and can be easily seen from many parts of the house. In order … 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.
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70’s and 80’s, and my mother loved to decorate our colonial home, then redecorate once things started looking old or outdated.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.
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
This project has been completed for a while now, but having the discipline to post pictures and job details is something I need to work on. The before pictures of this family room in a West Chester home show brick arches … Continue reading
If your furniture is arranged against the walls around the perimeter of the room and that’s not working for you, try the following:
Ignore the walls and try to arrange a seating group that is no more than 10-12 feet apart.
Consider where the focal point of the room is. Try not to have a sofa or loveseat with its back to that focal point if it’s a TV or fireplace. If you don’t have a TV or fireplace but do have a large window, try bringing the seating group out from the window with the seating perpendicular to the window. Use an area rug to anchor the pieces, as well as occasional tables.
Mix up the seating components, as in one sofa and two chairs, or two loveseats and two chairs. You won’t get much more in the seating group, but that’s okay. If you have a very large room, you may need more than one grouping, or you can have a table and chairs, pool table, etc.
If you have the budget to do so, add architectural interest to the room. Consider a gas fireplace, built-in shelving, a mirrored wall, or a combination of elements.
This is a typical living room in an older colonial-style home in Chester County. The temporary “fix” for this room cost under $100. It was just a matter of rearranging the furniture and adding lamps to the sofa table. I designed the space for a future remodel when the budget permits. A beautiful gas fireplace and new windows will add more natural light and a new focal point to the room. With shelving and a comfortable seating arrangement, this room can become a lovely library/retreat away from noise, TV’s, etc.