Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beginning Thoughts

Successful interior design, and perhaps all design, at its core tells a story. That story could be as simple as "this is a comfortable place to sit" to something more complicated like "this is the way this interior originally looked." The challenge is to tell the story, whatever it is, with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of grace and beauty. When working with my design clients, I very often find that part of the story they want to tell involves memories, either of their childhood home, or a relative's home, or even a great vacation they took to some hotel that made them feel happy, comfortable and safe. It is a pleasure of my job for them to uncover these memories, hear about them, and then attempt, as much as is possible, to incorporate them into the finished result.
The work that I do involves, for the most part, historic structures. Whether we are doing an authentic restoration, which involves detailed research on many levels, or furnishing and decorating a house or interior with an eye towards accuracy, I try to always keep history in mind. The most successful and pleasing results, I believe, are ones that respect the context of the structure itself, and do not create a whole new vocabulary of design. The best compliment I can receive at the end of a project is for someone to say that it looks as if it had always been this way. Very often my clients use the word "inevitable", like it could not have come out looking any different than it does. This applies equally to renovation projects as well as new construction or additions. I believe you should never see the hand of the decorator, but you should always be aware of the lives and personalities of the people that live there.

The before picture of a small addition on a bungalow in Highland Park

The same basic view of the finished space. We actually removed the existing addition and replaced it with a slightly larger one more in keeping with the style and feeling of the original house. My client had wonderful memories of family dinners in this house with her husband and children, and was afraid that moving the dining room to the new addition would not produce a space with the same feeling of warmth and intimacy. She is thrilled with the result, as am I. By moving her existing table and china cabinet, as well as the original leaded glass chandelier, all the familiar elements were retained, but the resulting reorganization of the floor plan makes this space much more usable and logical in the overall scheme of the house. My client's memories were preserved, and she is happily making new ones around the same table that now involve her grandchildren as well.