Yes, I’m kidding. But even on dark and rainy days the mood in this room is sunny and warm, like a day in Provence. When we first started talking about what kind of changes they wanted in their home, Sue and Bob Van Brocklin let me know their color and style preferences, and we spent a lot of time talking and walking through the house, discussing the things that they loved and didn’t love about their home. We began in the kitchen nook (see my post “French Dressing for Kitchen Nook,” under category “kitchen nook”), which firmly established the blue-and-yellow color palette. Sue had a large collection of table linens, china and other objets d’art from France, including the very china from Monet’s table in Giverny. This became our color palette inspiration.
My challenge was to determine what else needed to be changed to make the space warm and inviting, and to present the changes to Sue and Bob. Here’s what their living room looked like BEFORE:
Living Room BEFORE
They told me they rarely spent time in this room, and it was obvious to me why they didn’t. For starters, the furniture arrangement didn’t encourage conversation. The sofa and chairs were too far apart, there was no coffee table to set down drinks or snacks, and the colors were bland. The lighting was dim, and the fireplace wall, with the oddly mis-matched windows flanking it, lacked charm.
I did a concept sketch of the fireplace wall, showing a European-style carved stone fireplace to create a dramatic focal point for the room. I also added drapery to minimize the window differences, and pairs of sofas, lamp tables, and lamps, to give a slightly more formal and dressy feeling.
I presented blue-and-white fabrics for drapery, upholstery, and pillows, which would contrast beautifully against the sunny golden walls, and a magnificent Oriental rug from NW Rugs, which added a vibrant tone of red. New recessed lighting in the ceiling, on dimmers for maximum control, would keep the room warm and inviting no matter what the weather or time of day.
Last week a friend sent Sue and Bob a lovely magnolia wreath, so I suggested they put it above the magnificent custom-carved limestone fireplace, fabricated by the Stone Center, for the holiday season, since we are still on the lookout for the perfect piece of art.
We finished this room the day before Thanksgiving. My gratitude is unbounded for Sue and Bob’s willingness to go along with my ideas for their space, as well as for the massive inconvenience and mess that goes along with a major renovation of this kind. Emery & Associates is also grateful to all of our vendors and skilled artisans, who work so hard to create beauty and value for our clients. This response from the Van Brocklins warmed our hearts:
“Thank you so very much for making such an improvement in our home! We truly love everything you did in the living room.”
When it comes to interior design, most people think of me as a colorist. Fact is, I think of myself that way. But recently we needed to replace the flooring in our guest room, which is on the lower level of our home. After consulting with my good friend, interior designer Jamie Devlin, who works for CFM, we chose Mannington laminated flooring in a warm cherry color. The installers Jamie recommended were wonderful, and in a few days we had a beautiful, shiny floor instead of the black carpeting that had been there since we moved in 8 years ago. Trouble was, all our furniture was old and brown, so I was faced with the dilemma of too much brown wood, which forced me into DIY mode. I decided to paint my furniture. I can hear the gasps now–”Oh, NO! You can’t paint those antiques!” But, as you can see from the “BEFORE” shot, below, something needed to change.
BEFORE: View of Fireplace Wall
So I painted the fireplace wall, and the armoire with the mirrored doors. The mantel had fallen off the wall a few years before, and my husband had moved out his old desk (where the Christmas tree sat). The loveseat and draperies stayed the same, but we moved the armoire to sit in front of the doorway to a storage room, since we can access it another way and never used the door. A new mirror (from Pier One) and a pair of chairs moved from the living room makes a great conversation area in front of the fireplace. Doesn’t the room look fresher now?
AFTER: View of Fireplace Wall
I haven’t been a DIY-er since the ’70s, so painting the armoire and the dresser took me days and days! I then decided to refresh the bed linens so I’d have an all white room. Here’s how the bed looked BEFORE:
BEFORE: Headboard Wall
You can see the brown dresser to the left of the bed, and while this room had its charm, I was really ready to lighten everything up. Also, the brass headboard had fallen out of style, so it got a coat of flat black paint. The old lamp went away, and a pair of vintage alabaster lamps from a local design shop were added to the mix since we often have a couple staying in our guest room, and I think each person deserves a reading lamp. New linens from Tuesday Morning and Macy’s completed this budget makeover:
AFTER: Headboard Wall
Probably the best response I’ve gotten after this makeover is from my son, Tony, who said “Wow, Mom! This looks great! It reminds me of Anthropologie.” He then asked ”What do you call this style?” I hadn’t thought about it, but decided that perhaps “Paris Flea Market” might describe the look. What do you think? I’d love your feedback in the “comments” space, below.
While some people have an innate sense of scale and proportion when it comes to furnishing a room, most of us could use a little help, which is the reason most professional interior designers and architects carry tape measures with them at all times. At Emery & Associates we usually start with scaled floor plans, and then go on to develop the the rest of the space, adding color, texture, furnishings, and art to make a harmonious, finished whole. The example below is a very large master bedroom, roughly 16 feet square, with eleven foot ceilings, in the penthouse at Tanner Place in the Pearl District.
This beautiful room resulted from taking note of the generous proportions of the room, and searching for furnishings that would be in proper scale with each other and with the size of the room. When my clients first looked at this condo, they took photos of the rooms with the previous owner’s furnishings. BEFORE:
BEFORE Tanner Place Master Bedroom (Previous owner’s furnishings)
The queen-sized four-poster bed and delicate night stands belonging to the previous owner are dwarfed in this space. I told my clients that they needed a king-sized bed, with large chests on either side, as standard-sized night stands would be out of proportion with the size of the room. So we installed a bed with a six-foot-high, fully-upholstered headboard and proportional footboard. And when I say “we,” I mean the excellent delivery crew from Parker Furniture.
Installing the bed at Tanner Place
Standard-sized night stands would be out of proportion with the size of the room, so I found oversized chests that measure four feet wide by three feet high to flank the bed.
The crew wrestle the chests into position
The mirrors above the chests are each five feet high by 41″ wide, reflecting back the views of downtown Portland from outside the condo windows. Bed, chests, and mirrors by Hickory Chair Furniture through Parker Furniture.
Putting the mirrors into position
Draperies mounted just below the crown molding emphasize the high ceilings, and add color and pattern to the room. Since the clients wanted to keep the lemon-yellow broadloom carpeting and walls, I thought the cool grey/spa blue tones in the fabrics worked as a perfect complement to the warm walls and floor.
DETAIL: Drapery and chair fabric by Calvin Klein through Kravet Fabrics
Proper proportion and scale are essential design principles. If you’re not sure about how these principles apply, or if you want to learn more about the elements of design, contact Emery & Associates. We would love to hear from you.
My clients are having some friends over for dinner tomorrow evening, and I told them I’d bring the flowers for the table since the room is now completed and I wanted to photograph it. The hostess is using her mother’s Spode china (“Buttercup”), and her own coral red place mats and napkins. This space now feels as vibrant and warm as the owners themselves, but it wasn’t always so.
When I first met the homeowners, we talked about what they loved about the room, as well as what they didn’t like. The antique buffet was a family piece, and the table and chairs were the first furniture purchase they made together as newlyweds several decades ago–these items were meaningful and precious to them. The wife was tired of the peach-colored walls, and said the room didn’t feel pulled together. The stunning painting by Shirley Gittelsohn over the buffet was a large plus, since it added a huge punch of color to the otherwise bland space. I thought the teal rug argued with the painting, and there seemed to be an overabundance of brown wood. This is how the room looked BEFORE:
After interviewing the clients at length about how they wanted the spaces to feel when we were finished, both husband and wife said “cheerful, happy, relaxed, and welcoming.” We accomplished this by removing extraneous furniture, and changing the color palette: the wall color became “Anjou Pear” green, the drapery panels a sunny yellow floral, and upholstered host and hostess chairs in the same golden yellow. The place mats and napkins, which the wife already owned, echo the hot colors in the painting, and now the room truly feels “pulled together.”
Now that summer is officially here, how about a few ideas to freshen up your home for the season? One of the easiest ways is to add garden flowers–if you don’t grow your own, you can stop off at your local farmers’ market for a large bouquet for just a few dollars.
Another idea is to change your linens. I like to change out my dining room linens and dishes in the summer to blue and white, with a bit of green thrown in. It’s such a classic combination, and the cool colors remind me of water, blue skies, and green grass.
Another warm weather color direction you could take, especially here in our cloudy Pacific Northwest climate, is citrus brights. I just revamped the cushions, pillows and tablecloth on my deck (custom sewing by Tracy Quoidbach). All of the fabrics shown are Sunbrella indoor-outdoor fabrics from Robert Allen, available through Nest Showroom in Portland.
When the previous owners showed the house, even though it was fully furnished, the upper deck was completely bare except for a table. Here was a room-sized space with SO much potential! I couldn’t wait to transform it with pots of colorful plants, comfortable furnishings to lounge and dine on, and great textiles.
KATHIA’S UPPER DECK “BEFORE”
KATHIA’S UPPER DECK “AFTER”:
The wonderful thing about these outdoor furnishings is that you do NOT have to move them every time it rains because they are designed to withstand moisture and UV rays. What a remarkable benefit for those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest.
If you have an outdoor space that’s going to waste, give Emery & Associates a call today. We’d love to help you create the outdoor room of your dreams.
Often the master bedroom is the last room in the house a homeowner tackles, probably because it’s a private space–not the first room seen when guests enter the home. However, it is a space where the homeowners will spend a large part of their time, so it’s important to make it inviting and comfortable.
The homeowners whose bedroom is shown below had only one major issue with the room: light leaking in through the shutters in the bay window. However, once we started discussing the space, other issues emerged.
HERE’S WHAT THE BEDROOM LOOKED LIKE BEFORE:
Master Bedroom Before–VIEW FROM BEDROOM DOORWAY
The bed itself lacked interest, and the wife didn’t like it, so I suggested a more interesting headboard, upholstered in the same spa blue as new draperies, which would have block out lining, and be installed from wall to wall, completely covering the bay window when drawn closed. The drapery not only solves the light gap problem, but the beautiful, spa blue fabric adds softness and color in this very traditional room. For bed linens, we mixed floral (feminine) with paisley and houndstooth checks (masculine), so the space would be equally appealing to both husband and wife. The homeowners had two lovely antique dressers, one of them located on the focal wall where the headboard of the bed needed to be, so I persuaded them to rearrange the furnishings.
DETAIL: Bed linen fabrics from Kravet by Ralph Lauren
We replaced the three small rugs with one large, room-sized Oushak from NW Rugs, which makes the room feel larger and more pulled together. We added night stands for storage, and when I couldn’t find lamps that I liked for this space, I asked Naomi’s Lamp Shop to make lamps from a pair of burgundy vases. The pair of benches at the end of the bed came from another room in the house, and work perfectly as a spot to perch on while dressing. Notice how many pairs of things there are in this room! Symmetry is one indicator of very traditional design, and it also is symbolic of two people being in a relationship.
Master Bedroom AFTER–VIEW FROM BEDROOM DOORWAY
Now the room feels pulled together, with additional storage space provided by the new night stands, and enough color and pattern to be interesting, yet restful. If your bedroom has a bad case of the “blahs,” give Emery & Associates a call. We would love to help you transform your bedroom from drab to dreamy.
As anyone who lives with cats knows, we don’t own them–they own us. Pictured above is Callie, who came from Holland with my husband and his daughter nearly eight years ago. Callie, and her sister, Cassie, think that the living room sofa is their personal boudoir. The soft, down-filled sofa cushions are just purr-fect. We don’t have the heart to make them change their ways, so pretty soon I’ll probably have to reupholster the sofa, but at the moment the neutral fabric pretty much hides the cat hair and snags that they inflict upon the fabric daily. This photo was taken by my web designers, Blackstone Edge, last week, when they were shooting my entire main floor. I think they had more fun taking photos of the cats than anything. Here’s a wide shot of the living room, including the sofa, sans cats:
Our home is a continual work-in-progress. When I viewed the house in 2005, the living room looked like this:
Kathia & Jim’s living room BEFORE (previous owner’s furnishings).
Now it looks like this:
We kept the red walls for several years, after adding recessed lighting into the ceiling, and removing the dated window coverings. It was a another year before I was able to re-face the fireplace with tile that suited our taste more than the old original brick. Several years later, I got tired of the red walls, and painted the room taupe. Last year I found a rug at Seams To Fit Home that was perfect, so that added another lift.
The room is very personal–all of the paintings were done by Janet Pressman, Jim’s late mother. The bust of Jim’s Grandfather, Irving Kahan, was done by Irving’s sister, Lotte Kagan Rushchuk.
Here’s a portrait of Cassie, sitting in our library. This is a room where we spend a LOT of time–reading, watching TV, entertaining friends, and playing games. When I first viewed the house in 2005, the room looked like this:
Kathia and Jim’s Library BEFORE (previous owner’s furnishings)
Here’s what the room looks like now. We took out the acoustical ceiling, dropped some soffits for art lighting, added recessed lighting and speakers into the the ceiling, and filled the room with built in bookcases.
When Jim and I are in this room watching TV, we are usually being sat upon by the two cats and our black Lab, Emma, who somehow managed to avoid being photographed in these shots. So, when you need an interior designer who truly knows how to decorate around kids, cats, and dogs, give Emery & Associates a call. We understand!
Often one of the first things homeowners say to me is that their rooms don’t feel “pulled together.” This post explains how to accomplish that feeling of cohesiveness, and demonstrates how you can do it without pitching everything out and starting over. In each of the rooms below, the homeowner wanted to keep some of her furnishings, so we accomplished a lot with paint, moving art and accessories from other rooms, and by adding a few new furnishings to create the casually elegant spaces shown below.
When she first called us, the homeowner had a laundry list of items for several rooms. She wanted new linens in the master bedroom, to update the family room, and change the counter in her guest bathroom. Here’s a shot of the master bedroom “BEFORE”:
The only place to position the bed was under the high window, always a difficult position for a bed. Her idea of changing the bed linens was a good one, but didn’t go far enough. The combination of brightly colored linens, window outlined in dark wood, and oversized dark furniture from a former, much larger home, made the room feel chopped up. Here’s how the room turned out “AFTER”:
We kept all of her wood furniture, but needed to make the headboard wall the focal point of the room. I suggested three things: create an upholstered headboard that would come up to the bottom of the high window, hang a textured grass shade over the window, and flank the bed with a pair of draperies hung from iron rods close to the ceiling. Now the headboard wall makes a statement! Limiting the palette to golds and browns and keeping the drapery and bed linens close to the color of the wall makes the room feel larger. The area rug continues the monochromatic color scheme and adds textural variety. I moved some of her artwork and accessories into this bedroom from other rooms, and brought in a new pair of lamps to complete the look.
Next, we tackled the TV Room. The homeowner loved her hand-knotted Tibetan rug, and the pair of ottomen she could put her feet up on when watching TV, but the sofa wasn’t comfortable anymore, and she was tired of the wall color. Here’s the TV room BEFORE:
Since she loves color, my suggestion was to flip the figure/ground relationship: do the sofa in grey, like the rug, and the walls in terra cotta. She was somewhat dubious about this idea at first, but when I found a well-priced sofa in the perfect grey color, she decided to go for it. Here’s the “AFTER” shot of the TV room:
We moved a floor lamp from another room, and reupholstered the pair of ottomen. The pillows from the old sofa work nicely on the new one, and the art work pops even more than it did on the more neutral walls. We asked the painter to cover the door trim with the same color as the walls, so it would disappear (you can see it as a white outline in the “BEFORE” shot). Now this room feels pulled together.
The dated-looking guest bathroom, with its blue Formica countertops, needed a complete remodel. In this room, we could save only the tub. I brought in samples of materials for counter, backsplash, flooring, fixtures, and wall color, along with my perspective sketch and floor plan of the room. I suggested removing the “privacy” wall between the counter and the toilet, since it really served no practical purpose and made the room feel smaller. Here’s the guest bathroom “BEFORE”:
Once the bathroom was completely gutted, we discovered that there were two electrical boxes that had been hidden behind the old plate glass mirror. I searched far and wide to find the perfect pair of sconces, one of which is visible in the “AFTER” shot below:
Once the perfect pair of sconces was installed, I realized that because the old boxes were located so close together, the space left for a mirror was extremely narrow. Fortunately, I located an unusual mirror with a narrow top and wide bottom, and we were able to pull everything together with this serendipitous find.
Winter Hill Construction did a masterful job of coordinating the various trade sub-contractors, and would like to acknowledge them: floor, backsplash, and tub surround: Campbell’s Tile Concepts; cabinet: Kitchens and More NW; countertop: Conrad Stonecutter; lighting and electrical work: Omni Electric Inc.; and plumbing: Silver Mountain Plumbing. The plumbing fixtures and sconces are from The Fixture Gallery.
Need help pulling it all together? Give Emery & Associates a call!
The young couple who hired Emery & Associates in 2009 to do the main floor of their 1903 foursquare home in Ladd’s Addition called me back this year to do their master bedroom. ”It’s really dark. What can you do to help us?” I gave them the obvious answer: add lighting! They really didn’t want to do that, since the house is listed on the Historic Register, and they thought it might compromise the architecture of the house. My next brainstorm was received with even less enthusiasm: ”Paint all the dark wood trim a light color!” Here is what the room looked like BEFORE:
So I did a colored sketch of my vision of what the room could look like, which included a beautiful, light-colored historic wallpaper and reflective surfaces everywhere–walls, furniture, window coverings, and bedding. The wife loved it, but neither of them wanted the four-poster iron bed I had drawn into the sketch, and the husband hated the idea of wallpaper. SO, back to square one: add lighting.
I brought in Ken DeKorte, of DeKorte Electric, whom I had met through my membership in the Architectural Heritage Center, to meet with the clients. Because of his expertise in working with older homes, he was able to reassure the home owners that we could add recessed lighting into the space using low-voltage fixtures, and still maintain the vintage original fixtures that were originally gas lamps, now electrified. Both Ken and I agreed that this historic space would be enhanced by added lighting. You can see the dramatic results below:
While adamant about not changing the dark millwork, the clients were willing to go along with my ideas about changing out the window coverings to ivory tones. I also recommended positioning the drapery above the picture railing, close to the ceiling, to emphasize the high ceilings in this space. The antique dresser with mirror, which was a cherished family piece belonging to the wife, was painted and glazed by a family friend, so now you can see all the wonderful details on it, especially since the recessed lighting in that quadrant of the room adds illumination. I also recommended moving the small area rug to another room, and bringing in a room-sized rug in pale tones to ground the space, which they found at NW Rugs. We also changed the wall color from green to a pale, spa blue.
Last evening my window coverings installer, Ken Chupp, finished the installation, while the homeowners were still at work. I received a text from the husband later in the evening: ”Looks great, Kathia! The color and scale of the drapes pulls things together. We now have a ‘grown up’ room.”
I’m so happy that they are happy, and I couldn’t do these magical transformations without the help of expert artisans like my sewer, Tracy Quoidbach, my installer, Ken Chupp, my electrician, and all of my trade-only resources. If you need your spaces transformed, give Emery & Associates a call, and we will bring our team to the rescue.
When the new owners of this penthouse condo at Tanner Place contacted Emery & Associates, they told me that their taste was very contemporary, but they had fallen in love with this rather traditional space because of the high ceilings and large walls where they would be able to showcase their collection of art. They weren’t sure how to integrate their contemporary taste with the dark, traditional millwork that is such a dominant feature of this condominium. Standing in the empty condo, looking at photos of their artwork, I probed them about how they wanted the space to feel when we were all finished. ”Happy, welcoming, comfortable.” That is how we began our collaboration, and here are photos of the finished spaces.
(above) This sun-filled living room reflects the homeowners' collection of art: Georgia Gerber bronze bear scupture (left), Andy Warhol "Mickey" in dining room, with custom-sized silver-leafed mirror in niche above fireplace.
(above) This view of the living room displays the homeowners' love of whimsical art work. "Hero", oil on canvas by Robert Bissell, hand-knotted Tibetan carpet by Tufenkian, bronze bear sculpture by Georgia Gerber make the space uniquely the client's, while Emery & Associates Interior Design pulled it all together with color, furnishings and accessories.
The scarlet walls in this penthouse condo dining room set off the Andy Warhol "Mickey," while the recessed lighting illuminates the ethereal glass sculpture by Anna Skibska. The hand-knotted Tibetan rug from Tufenkian adds warmth and texture. Tabletop items from Please Be Seated.
Detail shot of the media room/library shows how the cowhide chairs add an interesting pop of texture and casual elegance to an other formal, traditional space.
The only remodeling we did on this project was the guest powder room, which was a dark, Asian-themed space when the current owners purchased it. They wanted something completely different, so we came up with the light, bright palette, cabinetry, finishes, fixtures and accessories to give them a whole new look. Remodeling construction by Neil Kelly Company.
In this windowless space, hand-painted wallcoverings and a round Deco style mirror reflect light from a pair of Ruhlman sconces.
The master bedroom has spectacular views of the Portland West Hills. We needed to use very large-scale furnishings to make this space feel warm and inviting.
(above) Calvin Klein fabric drapes the windows and covers two upholstered chairs. The same pale grey/blue/green palette covers the upholstered bed. Large scale mirrors reflect the views of downtown and the West Hills of Portland.
Sweet dreams! Detail shot of the master bedroom features oil on canvas by artist Robert Bissell titled "AM."
The guest bedroom in this spacious condo (below) features three small paintings by Robert Bissell (above bed), and a Native American sculpture. Ralph Lauren plaid drapery fabric, a tufted headboard, and linens from the French Quarter makes this room a cozy spot for guests.
Call or email Emery & Associates today for a complimentary one-hour consultation, and let us help you create the home of your dreams.