Before & After: Retro Coastal FUN
I remember clearly the first time I met Julie. As she walked into West Elm in OKC, where I was then the Lead Home Stylist, she and her sister were giddy about near everything they saw. Their adorable Southern accents immediately endeared me to them, and this was before I even knew how much she loved color and midcentury goodness! She began to explain the many offenses of her living room, and how the house was fighting her to make sense of the space. For this reason, they hardly went in the room, despite the prime location, good lighting, and the fact that it's what first greets you upon entry.
Once I arrived at her consultation, I could see immediately the issues of which she spoke: the primary factor throwing off the room was that the fireplace was quite off-center with the windows opposite it. This made furniture arrangements a nightmare, because anything centered to the fireplace would be oddly ignorant of the window, and vice versa. Add that there are three openings to enter the room, and that this living space is a combined dining space, and well, it felt distinctly off. She told me this before I'd arrived, and I found it to be true. It was a tricky room!
My main objective was to balance the feel of the room while maintaining the injection of whimsy along with two of her loves: the ocean (ahem, Alabama beaches, remember that accent I mentioned??) and midcentury styles. The strategy here was to create a focal point that united the architectural features -- window and fireplace -- and defined the spaces. I first recommended a rounded sectional that centered under the window and framed the fireplace, and painting the walls + trim the same shade of white so the pink ceiling could shine.
Tone-on-tone curtains, always hung high and wide, are one of my favorite tricks in the book. Beyond the textural addition these pom-pom cotton sheers provided, they added height and ambience to the room without blocking all the light, stopping your eye or feeling chunky.
The fireplace was already gorgeously finished, and I love any opportunity to form up a focal point. We didn't touch the stonework but tweaked the paint and styling of this area to best balance the sectional area, especially since this is your first hint into the room from the front door.
Continuing to draw the rooms together, I sought to maintain the calming white paint so that the colorful accents got their due attention. Her color blocked pink frame stayed exactly as it was!
It was also amazingly thrilling for me to connect my worlds of art and interiors in this room. We knew a large piece of art was needed in the dining area to draw your eye to the room's completion, and I felt confident that I could deliver such work. Nora and I painted this and Julie agreed that it would do the trick! You can commission us for some artwork of your own by contacting us here.
The Heywood Wakefield set is such a stunner in this room, and combined with the other details of the room, doesn't feel themed or too kitsch. I loved the fabric already on them, an interesting velvet Fair Isle that I'd likely have never chosen, but it was so perfectly weird, and would hold up well to wear. Why mess with that?! Also, her Fiddle Leaf Fig tree is such a perfect touch. She's to thank for that, as well.
Though certainly partial to large art, I find it to be such a powerful transformation in a room. The visual weight it carries is unmatched by a gallery wall, especially when you aim to bring peace or rest to a space. Had we used many small pieces instead here, I feel the room would have leaned towards busyness, and connecting the rooms would have been less effective. Sometimes, there's just no substitute for the real thing.
This was all in 2015. Since, I've helped Julie complete her son's house while he's in college, their suite at Boone Pickens Stadium, the Master Bedroom, and now we're rounding out the basement living space. To say she's a favorite client is an understatement! Be on the lookout for more about her projects soon!