Client Living Room Redesign

A recent redesign of a client’s living room:

Before

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This is a lovely condo in Reston Town Center, spacious and bright. My client hated the living room. She and her husband were happy to spend their time in the family room, but she was frustrated that the living room was not functional, and wanted a space that could entertain a group more easily than the smaller family room.

After:

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We conferred about the arrangement that would work best and the items she would purchase, and she decided to go with a new color palette entirely. Didn’t she do a great job? I advised a slightly larger rug to anchor the seating area more completely, and it really makes a difference. Switching the sofa to the long wall and putting a smaller love seat into the window nook worked better for the proportions of the room. It also allowed the large Asian piece above the sofa to assume its place as the focal point of the room. The pair of lamps introduces some symmetry and adds needed nighttime light. The armchair and another across the room (pictured below) can be pulled into the conversation area to provide seating for a group. My client reports that she uses the room all the time now! Always gratifying to hear.

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My Top Five Things that Make a House a Home

Working with clients to help them make their homes fit them better and making my own home into a place that feels right for my family has led me to these conclusions about what’s most important in creating a space that feels “right” to you. Other designers might have other priorities, but since mine is helping people be comfortable in and like their homes better, these are mine.

1)  Comfort

comfortable home, comfort, relaxed home, relax, style, informal style, informal decor, homey
Home needs to be comfortable. There should be at least one spot that you feel comfortable doing each of the following: sitting, reading, working, eating, sleeping, and any other activities that you regularly do at home. There’s going to be a nagging sense of unease about a place when you’re uncomfortable doing what you want and need to do there.

Comfort includes safety, to me. Home should be your refuge, the place you feel safe, relaxed, completely OK with being yourself. You can recharge there, rebalance yourself, get your bearings, come back to center.

2)  Functionality

find your stuff, organized home, organized house, style, decor, house to home

You can find your stuff. You can get around easily. You have space to work if you need to do a project. There are clear  places to do different things – cook, eat, sleep, read, play games, etc. Not that those can’t shift, or overlap. But basically, you have space. If you’re frustrated that you can’t accomplish what you’d like to in your house, it’s hard to feel good about the place.

3)  It’s personal

personal home, comfortable home, love your home, like your home, house to home

There are reflections of your life and experiences at home. Objects, artwork, furniture – any or all of these, or other things – remind you of people you love, places you’ve been, things you’ve done. Home is not an anonymous place. The things around you should have meaning to you.

4)  Aesthetics

beautiful home, house to home, comfortable home, love your home, like your house, like your home, beautiful house

It looks good (to you. it doesn’t matter if it looks good to others for you to feel at home with it). Many people would put this factor first on the list.  How my house looks is definitely important to me; I’m a very visual person. But not everyone is. My husband cares more about the acoustics in our home than the aesthetics; that’s a comfort issue to him. Your house should fit your aesthetic. If your aesthetic is messy and you’re happy with that, that’s OK. It just needs to suit you.  But, to feel at home with your space, you don’t want to look around and dislike what you see.

5)  Color and Lighting

I slipped two in there under this last one. The color of a room can influence how comfortable you are there. The same is true of lighting. Rooms that are lit solely by overhead lights feel colder, and cast people in a less attractive light. The light is harsher, as opposed to the warm pools of light created by table or floor lamps with shades. And having enough light – three sources in most rooms is a guideline – contributes greatly to the feel of the room. Actually I think I put lighting ahead of color in importance. It’s possible to fix a lot of ills with lighting; adequate, warm, flattering lighting really impacts how a space feels.

 

Note that many of these things all point to comfort, which is why I put it first on the list. It’s really the sum of lots of factors, and doesn’t just refer to comfortable seating which might seem like the most obvious factor contributing to comfort.  And, comfort also means you just plain enjoy being in your home. If it grates on you somehow then you’re not going to be completely “at home” there.

So, those are my five most important things to make your house feel like home. What would yours be?