When this family moved from New York City to Texas, they wanted the look they’d honed in Gotham to come with them. They found a house with architecture they loved, with a freshly renovated kitchen and bathroom they liked. But once the furniture was in, they needed help pulling it together. After admiring the style of the local interior designers at Laura U, the family enlisted them to incorporate their love of contemporary art and design, find furniture and accessories that could stand up to two young boys and most important, create comfortable and functional spaces where they could relax as a family and with friends.
Here are four of their redecorated rooms that are comfortable yet chic, along with design tips for the rest of us.
Bold Wallpaper to Line Your Living Room Walls
The Celerie Kemble wall covering the designers found for the first-floor den set the tone(s) for the room’s whole design. “We love the paper and kept that color scheme in mind throughout every space,” the team’s Laura Umansky says. “It looks so rich, and the color is truly beautiful. We feel it sets this space apart and really makes it something special.”
The den functions as the formal living room; the family uses it primarily for entertaining. Open to the wine room, it has as a private-lounge feel.
Tip: “Extending the window treatments to the crown molding enhances the windows and brings your eye all the way up, making the ceilings feel higher,” Umansky says.
BEFORE: The original dining room lacked warmth and color.
AFTER: “Adding window treatments and rugs really softens a space,” Umansky says. Stripes on the rug and unfrilly window treatments maintain the couple’s urbane style, while patterned chairs and a wood table add warmth. Abstract art and a contemporary light fixture are a stunning focal points.
Tip: Treat the ceiling as the fifth wall. “We love bringing color to the ceiling — it provides another point of distinction between rooms and also makes the design within the room cohesive,” Umansky says.
BEFORE: The breakfast nook, a family gathering spot just off the kitchen, was bare and blah.
AFTER: Don’t write off office furniture when searching for dining seating. The client owned the table and chairs, and the design team initially had reservations about using office furniture in the breakfast nook. “At first we were a bit reluctant to include them, but then we loved the idea. They are great for the kids, easy to wipe down and easy to move, so you can clean under them,” Umansky says.
A circular rug, a globe pendant light and custom flat Roman shades with a Greek key pattern soften the space and take away any office vibe. “The Greek key pattern brings a subtle texture into the room, and the purple square glass trim is really fun,” Umansky says.
Chairs: Eames Aluminum Management Group Leather Chair; rug: Flor, cut into a 9-foot circle
BEFORE: The large family room had great bones but was uninviting.
AFTER: “This large-scale room cried out to be broken into two seating areas,” Umansky says. There is a TV-watching area complete with a comfy sectional and an ottoman at one end, and then a more formal seating area centered around a cocktail table beyond it. “This space is open to the kitchen, so the homeowner’s guests can lounge and still interact if the host is cooking,” she says.
Tip: Use rugs to unite and define spaces. One large sisal rug pulls the two seating areas together here; a cowhide rug sets the second seating area apart while giving an understated nod to the family’s new Texas surroundings. “By layering rugs, like we did here in the formal area of the room, you can create more intimate spaces in a subtle way,” Umansky says.
Light-colored window treatments complement the arched doors. One long rod run all the way across prevents the room from feeling chopped in two.
Sisal rug: Unique Carpets; window treatments: custom, cotton with grosgrain trim
“We wanted this room to be sophisticated but still comfortable and approachable,” Umansky says. Don’t be fooled by the luxe appearance of the light-colored fabrics. “The couple’s two young sons played a huge rule in our decisions for specific fabrics that can take a lot of abuse,” she notes. The team also kept the home light on accessories at the homeowners’ request, as accessories and young children are not necessarily the best mix.
The ottoman in the TV area adds a generous dollop of rich color, inspired by the wall covering in the den. (You can see a peek of it through the doorway.)
Tip: Protect your fabrics from pets, kids and yourself. “We double up on fabric protection for families with small children and/or pets,” Umansky says. “We specify commercial-grade fabrics on sofas and chairs, and then have all of our upholstery professionally treated to prevent stains. Typically, we recommend treating seating, rugs and even drapery.”
Sectional, ottoman: custom
A sofa table serves both seating areas well, providing lighting as well as definition between the two seating areas. It also covers the back of a sofa, which can be awkward and uninviting looking.
Tip: When working with multiple seating groups in the same room, consider a tête-à-tête. Another way the team avoided that back-of-the-sofa issue was by using a tête-à-tête (left). This is a type of settee that is open on both sides and faces two different directions at once. “It faces the entry as well as the living room, so it addresses both spaces,” Umansky says.
Tête-à-tête: Kravet; armchairs: Vanguard Furniture; sofa: Armani Casa; cocktail table: Oly Studio
Light tones soften the room and ensure that the couple’s contemporary art collection will work in the room. While there are a few dashes of color, the room gleans much of its visual interest from a mix of textures from metals, rugs and other textiles.
“We wanted the home to be fully functional as well as look great, and chose furnishings that are cozy for the close family of four,” Umansky says. At the same time, they gave the home a sophisticated look that allows the clients’ contemporary art collection and tastes to shine.
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