We always love a successful transformation, so we caught up with Brea‘s past client, Jenn, who settled on her home in June of last year. We already knew Jenn was a talented designer, but the before and afters she sent us completely blew us away.
Jenn was kind enough to take the time to answer some of our questions about her process in her home, and with design in general. Read on for before and after slideshows, as well as some pretty great advice for anyone out there who wants their home to look straight out of a magazine, too!
REWH: What room was your favorite change?
Jenn: We fell in love with this house because it has good bones (high ceilings, large rooms and a lot of original details). All of the doors and woodwork are original and we were lucky to find the original heart pine floors upstairs that were covered over with carpet. They were not in great shape when we uncovered them, but we were able to restore them and bring them back life. It was important that we preserve and enhance the original details because they are irreplaceable and they add so much life and warmth to the home.
Of all the original elements in the house our favorite by far is the original Parlor/Drawing Room. It’s in the front of the house and separated from the Dining Room by a wall with beautiful pocket doors. Rather than tearing the walls down to create a more open floor plan, we decided to keep them so we could create two separate environments. In designing the front room, we wanted it to function as an everyday Living Room where we can kick back and watch TV but also a comfortable space to entertain guests in.
The grass cloth wallpaper we chose has a lot of warmth and texture which gives the room a cozy feeling, while the metallic background bounces light around to help brighten the room. We painted the pocket doors and trim a cool gray/blue to contrast the warmth of the grass cloth. All the furniture pieces were brought over from our previous home – a large loft in Old City where we had tons of open space. We had to be careful with the change in scale to make sure the room didn’t feel crammed with over-sized furniture.
The ceiling fixture that came with the house only had 1 bulb which didn’t provide adequate lighting for the room. We replaced it with one that casts light onto all the walls helping to enhance the metallic wallpaper. We also mounted the TV over the mantle and had the wires fished behind the wall. In the end I am thrilled with how the room turned out! We love putting candles on at night and cozying up to watch TV. It’s so comfortable to sit in the room and enjoy a cocktail with friends!
REWH: What was the biggest design leap you took while working on your space?
J: Making bold choices with color. I am an interior designer with Leslie Hayes Interiors and we are always pushing our clients out of their comfort zones in order to achieve dramatic results. However, designing for clients is completely different than designing for yourself. You usually have a clear set of parameters when working on a client’s room, but when designing for yourself it can sometimes be hard to decide what direction to take the room in. I have so many ideas that it can be challenging to settle on just one. I love color and at the moment I’m really into deep saturated colors, so when it came time to choosing the colors for the master bedroom, dining room, and guest bedroom I really had to take a leap with my selections.
The trick to doing this successfully is to choose a color that you respond to emotionally and then find the right tone of that color so that it isn’t too weak or too bold. I always buy sample cans of paint and paint large swaths of the color on each wall in the room. Then I look at the color in the morning, afternoon, and evening. The color will look completely different during different times of the day and the color changes from wall to wall depending on how the light hits it. I usually have to make 2-3 trips to paint store to buy more samples before I get the color just right.
REWH: Did you run into any major challenges while working on your home?
J: Because of the age of the home it doesn’t have great closet space. One of the challenges in making the home more functional before moving in was to add closets to the Master Bedroom. The closets that the room had were only 12” deep so you couldn’t hang clothes in them. We tore them down and built a larger closet that stretches from one end of the room to the other with two sets of mirrored French doors. We had closet organizers installed and a light that turns on in the closet when you open the doors.
Current space challenges we are working on include designing a built-in bar with a hidden coat closet in the Dining Room and reworking the layout of the Master Bedroom and adjacent bedroom to add a Master Bathroom. Luckily the rooms are large enough that we can afford to lose a little space to make them more functional.
REWH: How would you define your style?
J: An eclectic mix of old and new. I like to juxtapose feminine and masculine elements. I’ve been told that I have a bit of a hospitality bend to my design.
REWH: Where do you get your inspiration? (If from blogs/instagram, we’d love links!)
J: Seeing the work of other interior designers inspires me so I subscribe to Elle Decor and Architectural Digest and I also follow some of their international editions on Instagram: @ad_spain and @elledecoritalia. Some of my favorite interior designers include Patricia Urquiola @patricia_urquiola and Jean-Louis Deniot.
When I’m searching for textiles or wallpaper for a project, the Design Center in Philadelphia, open to interior designers, offers endless inspiration. Some of my favorite fabrics are by Kelly Wearstler @kellywearstler and Pierre Frey @lamaisonpierrefrey
I get a lot of inspiration from hospitality and restaurant design as well. I love walking into a well-designed hotel or restaurant and taking the time to appreciate every detail that went into the design. I’m always discovering innovative uses for materials that I can incorporate into a project I’m working on. I also subscribe to Hospitality Design but for some quick inspiration I just discovered @myrestaurants on Instagram.
REWH: What do you think is the most important piece you need to consider a room “finished”?
J: Lighting is one of the elements that is most often overlooked, but good lighting can completely change the mood of a room. It functions to help define and accent important areas of a space which subconsciously makes a room feel more comfortable and relaxing. Aesthetically, lighting adds another layer of interest and offers the opportunity to introduce different materials into the room. I like to call decorative lighting the “jewelry” of the room. We changed the ceiling fixtures and added dimmers in almost every room in our house. We also just recently installed smart bulbs in some of our lamps that we can control from our phones and set on a timer.
You don’t need to spend a lot for great lighting! There are great online retailers like Y Lighting that have unusual pieces at various price points.
REWH: Do you have any advice for people who want to try and give their space a face lift?
J: Pick a room or an element in a room and go bold. Take a risk and go out of your comfort zone. Buy a brightly colored chair or put up a fun wallpaper. It will transform your space and make you smile when you see it. If you’re scared to take the wallpaper plunge, there are tons of removable wallpapers that can be installed without a professional. And after you’ve seen the transformation and you’re ready to wallpaper your entire house get a recommendation for a good wallpaper installer!
REWH: What’s your favorite easy tip to make a room feel more put together?
J: Buy some art! Art is the element that brings a space to life and makes it feel authentic. It could be a painting, photograph, sculpture or other object. Art is so personal so look for unique things that speak to you. When you stumble upon something you love, follow your instincts and go for it. Those personally procured items will make your house feel warm and inviting. If you’re not sure where to begin, pick a color you want to enhance in the room and look for art with that color in it. Find local artists on Instagram or by going to First Fridays or the student shows at PAFA. I worked with local artist Virginia Chonko, founder of Tryals and Tryumphs, to procure the 3 purple paintings in my Living Room. Virginia is an amazing artist and has a lot of her work on Instagram @tryalsandtryumphs. She will also create commissioned pieces or procure art from other local artists for you. Another place to look for art is when traveling abroad. I have a rule not to leave a country without at least one item for my home. It could be a piece of art, a rug or a vase. My guest bedroom is filled with art I’ve bought on trips to South America!
Thanks for sharing your beautiful home, Jenn! And thanks for all of the helpful design tips!
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