Multi-Functional Laundry Room

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.

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Before

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Before

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Before

 

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.

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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.

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Floor Plan

 

The versatility of window treatments

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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.

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Some like it cool

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

Historic house discovers new world

  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

Product Review: COREtec Luxury Vinyl

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Before-Laminate flooring being removed

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.

Kitchen floor

After: COREtec Kitchen Floor

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After: COREtec flooring in powder room

Striking a Balance

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

Keeping it simple

This West Chester dining room had a traditional/formal feel from the previous homeowner, which didn’t suit the style of my clients.  They wanted a more relaxed, yet elegant feel that would work well with their beautiful table and chairs.  We changed out the chandelier to one with wrought iron and wavy glass, painted the walls in a base of dark brown and glazed it with a subtle copper metallic finish.  The  windows were framed with simple panels made out of a beautiful linen blend with taupe embroidery.  Artwork and accessories were redone, but kept to a minimum to allow the focus  to remain on the few beautiful elements, and the people that will use the room.

Dining Room-Before

Dining Room-Before

Dining Room-After

Dining Room-After

Serving piece

Serving piece

Panel fabric detail

Panel fabric detail

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Restaurant Redesign

Accent wall

Accent wall

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Before

Arch

After (Stone arch)

When the owners of Fellini Cafe selected me to design their new West Chester, PA location, I was excited to have the opportunity, and we got started immediately.  Demo work had already begun, and the owners had plans to add columns and arches clad in stone veneer, but needed design direction for everything else.  The floor would remain, but the colors of the walls, trim, and ceiling needed to change from the blue and yellow greek theme, to something much more subdued.  Even though this is a casual dining Italian restaurant, they did not want the decor to be too busy, but rather wanted visual clarity with a warm, welcoming atmosphere conducive to experiencing an enjoyable meal out.

A key design decision was to paint the ceiling a dark color to make it recede as much as possible, and also make the grid less obvious.  The ceiling, trim, and furniture are all a dark brown, although of varying shades.  Another important design component is the accent wall, done in a rich rusty red, in order to play off of the warm hues in the stone and also add warmth and color to the large space.  The remaining walls were painted a warm neutral, providing the perfect background for some interesting decorative pieces.

With plenty of space to dine comfortably, patrons will hopefully find the atmosphere as appetizing as their food!

Hostess stand

Hostess stand

Stone detail

Stone detail

Targeted changes with big impact in Chester County home

Master Bedroom After

Master Bedroom After

When I started working on this project in West Chester, the clients had requested that we work on a few areas of their home at a time, and use their budget as judiciously as possible to change and update the selected spaces.  As I got to know them, I learned that the tastes of this couple were somewhat disparate–he likes a traditional style, while she is drawn to things that are more modern looking.  That challenged me to figure out how to make them both happy, and achieve spaces that are great looking and functional.

Sink Before

Master Bath Vanity Before

Shower Before

Shower Before

We started with the Master Bath, which had a very large tub, a double vanity and a lot of tile, all of which were to remain.  The clients definitely wanted to change out the wallpaper and window treatment, and address the shower area.  Plans for that area were drawn up, and the concept is shown below.

Shower Concept

Shower Concept

Once we decided on a color direction, we selected a beautiful paper with a metallic floral design for the walls.  The soft blue-gray gives the room a touch of color, the larger pattern suits the size of the space, and the metallic taupe gives the room a slightly more glamorous feel.  New crown molding helps to give a more finished look.  The new light fixtures also have a more modern and sophisticated feel.  The husband, an accomplished craftsman, created the paneling above the mirror.  The shower was in need of repair, and the clients had asked that we make it larger if possible by removing the corner build-out, which may or may not have had mechanical “stuff” behind it.  Turns out that it did, but we were still able to make the shower larger, and add the bench, which was a high priority for the wife. The tile was chosen to blend with the existing tile, while not highlighting its rose tones.  The border is a nice way to break up the field of tile and add another contemporary design element.  Clear glass doors also help to make the whole area feel more open.

Vanity After

Vanity After

New vanity light fixture

New vanity light fixture

Shower AfterShower After

Shower bench/tile detail

Shower bench/tile detail

For the Master Bedroom, I suggested new carpeting, window treatments and bedding to update the space.  We worked with the existing neutral wallpaper and furniture, using the blue color from the bathroom as a starting point for the color palate.  The carpet pattern is subtle, but definitely modern.  It adds just a bit more design interest than a plain cut pile does, and provides a good background for everything else we wanted to do in the room.  The comforter was custom made out of a Robert Allen fabric.  By changing out the valances for panels, we achieved a warmer, more lush look for the room.  Chocolate brown provides visual contrast and breaks up the blue on the panels and on the bed with the throw pillows.  A new bench with a sharp striped fabric is both beautiful and practical.

Master Bedroom Before

Master Bedroom Before

Master Bedroom After

Master Bedroom After

Pillow and window treatment detail

Pillow and window treatment detail

Stripe on bench with comforter fabric

Stripe on bench with comforter fabric

In the family room, there were new window treatments, soft crimson walls and an area rug, but the clients wanted help pulling the rest of the room together.

Family Room before

Family Room before

We re-covered the existing sofa in a beautiful, gold chenille fabric.  We also replaced the blue leather chairs with rich brown ones, and brought in an over-sized, inlaid cocktail table that would be serviceable to all of those pieces.  Its style is traditional, but the finish is so distressed that it doesn’t look formal.  Two other reading chairs were added to give the couple a comfortable place to read in the sun.  New lamps and accessories rounded out the transformation, and now this lovely couple is enjoying and appreciating all of the changes–my absolute favorite part of the project!

Family Room After

Family Room After

Leather chairs

Leather chairs

Cocktail table detail

Cocktail table detail

Reading chairs

Reading chairs