A few months back when I was asking for willing volunteers to be my Guinea Pigs as my first interior design clients, my friend from the gym bravely raised his hand! He and his wife and three young kids have a new-build home in Roseville, MN that they had built for them around 7 years ago. They wanted to make-over the main floor living area, which is an open-concept kitchen, dining and living area.
When I first assessed the space, I noticed how light-filled and airy it was, even with all the dark wood. The space was cozy, but had grown a little tired over the years. The layout was generally good, it just needed a bigger seating area.
The clients used to live in Florida and wanted to bring the light and airy, comfortable coastal style to Minnesota. They also wanted it to be more of a grown-up, coordinated and clutter-free space, with hard-wearing fabrics and more storage for toys. They loved the arch feature above the fireplace and wanted to accentuate it more. They also wanted a more comfortable TV viewing area, where they could all curl up and watch TV together. They had a decent budget for these rooms at up to $10,000.
After learning more about how they wanted to use the room, their style and their hopes for how it should look, I created three moodboards for them. I like to create three as I don’t feel any of us have a purist design style, we all like elements of different styles, so by offering three options that lean different ways, it gives the clients better choice and helps me as a designer to see which way they lean most.
The first moodboard was ‘Classic Navy’. The styles they liked most were coastal, but with a mix of more traditional elements – the classic ‘Potterybarn look’. So with this moodboard I brought in more traditional elements with the navy and dark wood, and kept the more traditional coastal feel.
The second moodboard was a little more contemporary, even a little bit farmhouse with the more rustic woods and textures, but definitely still coastal in its feel. The pallet was monotone with warmth added from the natural wood.
The third moodboard was a bit of a ‘wild card’. It was a fun modern take on coastal, using pops of yellow to liven up the space. Whilst still preserving the coastal feel through uses of lots of white, linens and handmade glass.
When I presented the moodboards to the clients they leaned more towards the traditional coastal feel with the navy and dark wood accents. They loved how the navy highlighted the arch over the fireplace. And how the dark woods tied in with their existing kitchen and flooring. They also loved the pops of yellow in the wild card design. They had both attended the University of Michigan, and unbeknownst to me, navy and yellow were their school colors!
I moved onto the next stage of the process which was to create a revised moodboard. I stayed with the classic navy design and added the pops of yellow and gold to liven it up and make it more contemporary. I kept the natural linens and handmade glass of the true coastal style, the dark wood and navy of the more traditional coastal style, and now with the pops of yellow and gold the design felt fresher and livelier.
The clients loved it! My first happy clients! It felt so good! I’d underestimated just how much pressure I would feel designing spaces for other people. They look to you to be the expert, and perfectly translate what they want in their heads onto paper. When you design for yourself, you can experiment and make mistakes; but when you’re designing for somebody else, you want to get it right first time, or at least soon after. There’s also the worry that they’re afraid to tell you their true feelings, especially when designing for friends. That’s why it’s important to spend plenty of time up front understanding the verbal and non-verbal cues from what they truly want from the space.
There were a few more tweaks to the moodboard to arrive at the final design, this was mostly when we started shopping for the items. The sofa and wallpaper we were able to save money on by shopping around, and opting for paint instead of the grasscloth wallpaper. The TV unit in the moodboard was a dark wood design with textured wicker panels to the front. However we swapped to a white unit with dark wood top, which looked equally as good and still fitted with the coastal feel.
Stay tuned for my next blog to see the grand reveal!
Thanks for reading.
Jo (aka Britflipper)