This is my final project dive for my 2023 projects! Last but not least: the The Blue House project! As always, feel free to scroll to the end to see a brief project snapshot.
This client reached out to me through a mutual friend. She was going through a major life transition and was moving back into her previous house which she had been renting out for several years. A minimalist at heart, she owned very little furniture. Most of what she did have were family heirlooms or hand-me-downs. She also some beautiful and interesting small treasures from her world travels.
The main task for this house, was to give my client a space for a new chapter in her life. She needed a space that felt true to her authentic self. She also requested a space that would add a big sense of calm and relief to her when she walked in the door after work from her stressful job. Even though, she didn't want a lot of "stuff" in the space, she realized that finding the right furnishings was essential to creating a warm, welcoming environment.
I was tasked with designing her main living room, primary bedroom, home office, and eventually her dining room. Together, we worked thoughtfully on the project for a full year.
Let's take a look at some before images:
Every room had its own quirky issues, which I'll get to later, but creative design solutions were always found even if it took a try or two. As for budget, I could tell that my client was happy to spend what was needed, but that in general, she had a difficult time spending money. Spending money on one's home can come hard to folks, which I completely understand, so I gave her options at several price points. This allowed her to spend more on items that she really fell in love (like the rugs!) with and less on other items (like curtain rods). All in all, the four rooms were about 12k total, which I find pretty incredible.
I started with the living area to help set the tone for the rest of the house. My client really loved the existing wall color, so I began with that as a starting point. When she had previously lived in the house, all the furniture was pushed against the walls - this time, I wanted to create a much more cozy, conversational area. I also considered the view from her front door, which is now her family's heirloom rattan sideboard (such a cool piece!). I also wanted to find space for a cafe set where she could sit to have tea or meals by herself, instead of only being able to dine at her large, formal dining table. I love the mix of textures, lines, + tones to look at in this room.
For the home office, located just off the living room, I continued the base palette but with varying tones and again considered the view from the doorway (a door that my client likes to leave open). The doorway acts as a frame to a reading area, where she can sit and thumb through publications or grade papers. My client first fell in love with the top rug, so we started there with purchasing. The vintage desk was a fun discovery at a local vintage shop (shout out West Main Antiques, as seen on Swap Shop), which was sourced from university dorm rooms where the client currently teaches. The largest struggle with this room was figuring out what to do with the closet, which did not have any doors. Thanks to old homes with funky measurements, purchasing something off the shelf was not an option, nor were custom doors in the budget. The solution?! I hung the same drapes as I did on the windows, but I lined them with an attachable blackout liner (found on Amazon and very easy to attach), and then I had my handyman inside mount them for a cleaner, streamlined look, at the exact height to just touch the floor. We ended up doing the same in the client's bedroom for her closet doors.
The primary bedroom was perhaps the most straight-forward of all the rooms, which desperately needed layers of comfort and zen. I love a good hotel-vibe bedroom so while the palette is light and calming, we added blackout curtains (as high as possible to ceiling), a patterned room to step out of bed onto, bedside scones and little bedside tables for storage. The bed, which was probably my client's #1 non-negotiable (ha!), took up wayyyy to much visual space, overwhelming the room. The solution was to nix the boxsprings and lower it on to a new bed frame, making the room feel much larger. I also hung her new drapes as high as possible and much wider than the windows, making the windows look much larger than they really are - and the window behind the bed acts as a headboard.
The dining room was the last room in the house for the project - and it was so fun! It wasn't originally part of the plan, but with the openness of the house - once the living room was complete, it was hard to ignore the fact that the dining room needed some more attention. Given that this room was in the middle of the house and you basically had to walk through it to go anywhere in the house, I wanted to give it a dramatic, more intimate feel. The first step was convincing my client to paint the ceiling navy. After that, everything feel into place. We used some Anthropologie curtains that had first been in the running for her bedroom. I love a dramatic light fixture and this orb acts as a moon against her dining sky. We didn't even end up painting the walls - the existing color went from a boring taupe to a lovely neutral backdrop for all the dramatic pieces. But perhaps the biggest showstopper of the room is the transformation of her grandmother's dining room table, which was painted and reupholstered by some local furniture painters. I'm obsessed!
Name: The Blue House
Location: The Tree Streets, an historic neighborhood in Johnson City, TN
Main Problems: Needed a furnishings overhaul in the living room, primary bedroom, home office, and dining room, along with updating lighting
Furnishing Requests: Client wanted to keep a similar color palette - she loves the color blue!
Key Solutions: Thoughtful layout, connecting all rooms with a calming color palette, additions of drapes to elongate the space and add a sense of coziness
Lamps: Vintage, FB Marketplace
Coffee Table: Wayfair
Drapes: West Elm
Rattan Cafe Set: Walmart
Mirror, Art, Tables: All previously owned by client
Rug: Quince (top) + Amazon (bottom)
Reading Chair: At Home
Desk Chair: Target
Lamps: Both from Target
Side Tables: Nathan James
Sconces: World Market
Ceiling Light: Etsy
Bed + Dresser: Client's
Pendant Light: Pottery Barn
Dining Table + Chairs: Client's, repainted by Playing Ladies