Friday, April 17, 2015

Multi-Purpose Rooms
When I visit my family in another city, I stay in the guest room which is also the home office
and child's playroom.  It is a particular challenge for the designer to help a client incorporate
multi-purposes in one extra room.  The needs for function, comfort and style must all be met
while utilizing often limited available space.  We would all like to treat our guests to a room that
reminds us of a favorite hotel in the photos below.  A large and luxurious bed, seating for relaxation, and a desk work space are all desired elements.
The ambiance and versatility of these rooms can still be realized in a more limited scope in our residences.  If the main function of the room is for an office, the bed can be given less importance
by installing one in a wall enclosure as in the following three photos.  The beds are quickly stored away until needed and easily lowered when in use.

Sofas with pull-out beds are very popular offering comfortable seating for the office as well as
sleeping for occasional guests. Even upholstered chairs can provide sleeping arrangements with pull-out twin beds.  The photos below are good examples of both options.
It is important that the room be free of clutter and not overcrowded with non-essential furnishings.
It isn't restful for the guest or convenient for the homeowner if a lot of items have to be moved around to switch from one function to another.  Built-in shelves and cupboards are a great solution for storage needs and display areas as in the photos below.

If the room must also serve other purposes beyond working and sleeping, I suggest small-scale versions of required items. In the next two photos, an electric keyboard is available for music lessons
and a wall-mounted television creates a tv-viewing den in the home.

My family's guest room is the "travel" room where artwork and momentos of travel experiences
are on view for guests to enjoy.  I like it when homeowners want to portray their personalities, color preferences or a theme in the decor of the guest room, especially if it's also the home office where they spend a lot of time working.  In the next photos, favorite contemporary artwork is hung on the walls, a blue and green color scheme is both restful and happy, a striking wall treatment is featured and an elegant and eclectic decorating style is evident.

Very small spaces can still be highly-functional where thoughtful design techniques are employed.
I like the storage drawers under the bed in the first photo where a neutral color scheme helps enlarge
the feeling of the room.  In the intimate bedroom in the second photo, decorative curtains hide the office area from the bed so a guest doesn't feel cramped when using the bed.
Larger rooms will feel more intimate when room dividers separate the sleeping and work areas. In the following photos creative use has been made of a folding door, a low screen, and a movable bookshelf.

If an attic or basement is the only available area to locate a guest room/home office, good lighting
is essential to make the room feel more livable.  Cove ceiling lighting, skylights and pale or white wall colors are excellent choices for these situations as seen in the photos below.
Be it bright and airy or cozy and dark, a well-designed multi-purpose room assures a satisfying working experience in a welcoming and comfortable setting that every guest will want to visit again and again.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Going Green
Earth day will be celebrated this week and it's a timely reminder of how the interior design industry
is now embracing eco-friendly and sustainable products in all projects.   One of my childhood fantasies was to live in a tree house, open to the air and surrounded by nature.  All the structures
and furnishings would be made from gathered materials.  That fantasy is not far from reality with
all the options available to the designer today. It is certainly possible to create luxurious interiors
that are also practical and environmentally safe.  The following photos feature rooms furnished
with antiques and second-hand pieces in the time-honored tradition of reusing beautiful old items
in the design schemes. Whether the rooms are elegant, bohemian or contemporary, each of them
helps to save our  environment with furniture that has been refurbished or repurposed and looks completely new.

I'm always happy to suggest using reclaimed and recycled materials to create new uses for them.
Old hardwoods , bricks and ironwork are especially popular for new installations to give
an aged and time-worn look to a living space. In the photos below, new barstools have been made
from old wood, a bathroom door is a reclaimed panel from a barn, a new headboard is made from old planks, an old tabletop covered in reused stainless steel looks gorgeous in the all -white modern kitchen, recycled glass tiles brighten a bathroom, and repurposed pendant lights add interest to a dining area.

 One of my favorite ways to introduce an eco-friendly ambiance to interiors is to recommend
live greens in the form of houseplants, trees and flowers.  Not only do they add natural beauty
to the home, they also absorb household pollution and make the air cleaner for us to breathe.
The following photos confirm that live plants are appropriate in any room.

Saving on energy costs is possible with ceiling fans used instead of air-conditioning and large , open
windows made with low e-glass. Clean , healthy air is circulated in the bedroom and bathroom below.

Carpets and rugs provide warmth and beauty to floors but they can include toxins that are harmful to people and the environment.  I think it's best to specify natural products like sisal, wool and cotton for floor coverings, as in the photos below.

With the widespread use of radiant underfloor heating elements, natural wood floors are comfortable
and free of dirt and dust that collect in carpets.  Interiors with sustainable hardwood flooring , as well
as stone and tile, complement organic upholstery fabrics and promote a healthy lifestyle for the homeowner.

The choices are endless in today's market for eco-friendly products to furnish interiors.  Low mounted gravity flush toilets, natural fibers for window treatments, paints with low VOC's (volatile organic compound), energy efficient lighting and appliances are all selections one can make for a sustainable and environmentally happy home.  I particularly like the following example of a homegrown tabletop for a "green" dining experience.  What can you do to make your home ready for Earth Day?