The Upside of Downsizing

Our client had sold her home and most of her furnishings several years ago, when she first moved to into a one-bedroom apartment in a retirement community.  She called me when she had the opportunity to move to a two-bedroom unit so she could have an office space.  She wasn’t happy with the furniture she had kept, but she did have some interesting art work and a dynamic personality.  When she showed me the new space, I could understand why she liked it–it was larger and had better light, even though the empty space looked a bit challenging on first viewing (see photo of new apartment living room “before”, below, and scroll down to see the “after” view).

New apartment living room, BEFORE

New apartment living room, "BEFORE"

This space was definitely an improvement over her previous apartment, and after talking with her at length about her wants and needs, it became apparent to me that this dynamic woman needed a living space that reflected her colorful personality as well.  She asked for color on her walls, contemporary furnishings, and an area rug to cover up the boring carpet. More than anything she wanted me to help her figure out how to position the furnishings in her new space.  This was a real opportunity for creating a fresh, new look.

Since we always start with a scaled drawing of the floor plan for furniture placement, I did the plan with the furnishings set on the diagonal.   It was unorthodox, but I hoped that the client would be open to accepting the idea, because it would provide a dynamic room arrangement, thus drawing people into the space, as well as hiding the large air conditioning unit on the window wall.   I also did a concept sketch of the room, showing furnishings that she didn’t yet own, but needed to have:

When I presented the furniture plan and concept sketch, I also presented photographs of all the furnishings I had drawn into the plan, along with fabrics for drapery, upholstery, and pillows.  The client was happy with the presentation, and came with me to visit the trade only showroom to see the pieces I had drawn into the sketch.  We were very fortunate to be able to purchase the sofa, pair of chairs, and cocktail table directly off the showroom floor–thank you, Nest showroom!  The Robert Allen fabrics we used for drapery and pillows also came from Nest.  Did I mention that this client loves the color red?  Here’s a sample of the linen Chinoiserie print that we selected for draperies:

Within two weeks we had the basics of this room in place, including an area rug we ordered from the same showroom.  We had to order the lamps and lamp tables, and it took about 6 weeks before the draperies were finished, but meanwhile we were working on her office space and master bedroom, as well as hanging pictures and installing other accessories.  When the final items were installed in the living room, I took the photo below.  My client is thrilled with the results, and feels that the space truly reflects her taste and personality.

During the past two years, Emery &  Associates has done numerous projects for clients who are “in transition.”  We’ve done apartments and condos for seniors who are downsizing, as well as for middle-aged clients who are going through divorces or other kinds of traumatic changes, most often moving from large homes to  much smaller living spaces.  We are able to empathize with the client’s angst during these changes, and at the same time help them sort through their possessions with scaled-out floor plans in hand, so we can show them what will FIT, literally, into the space, as well as what may need to go or be replaced.  This post features just one example of the “upside” of downsizing.  This delightful client was so open to our ideas and willing to trust our expertise, that her apartment now expresses the ageless verve and charm that she herself embodies.  How divine!

There are 10 Comments to "The Upside of Downsizing"

  • Megan Borg says:

    Love this Kathia!!

  • Wendy says:

    Love that table! Great job, as always.

  • Nothing short of stunning! We want to walk right in and sit right down!

  • Diana Kerman says:

    Love it! Gives me encouragement for my “downsizing” move. With your help mine can be beautiful too!

  • Mary Bailey says:


    Beautiful transformation of a basic room. Once again, you have applied your magic touch.


  • Judi Cleghorn says:

    Wow, what a transformation. This might be your best blog yet, and I love that you went into such detail about your design decisions and the way you work with the client in a period of upheaval. Lovely, lovely work. Your clients (and cousins) are so lucky to have you in their lives!

  • Judi Cleghorn says:

    Another thought…The design process is a partnership between the client and the designer. Kudos to your client who could choose change and a vivid new self-expression in what might well have been a difficult transition period. I so often see people get “stuck” where they are, either literally or mentally, and I personally aspire to be the kind of senior citizen who can make good judgments based on new realities, not on the past, which is treasured, but gone. I think of my own mother, of course. Your client is an inspiration! And aren’t we all in transition!


    • Kathia Emery says:

      Thanks, dear cousin, for your perceptive comments. I hope I am as flexible and fun as my client when I am her age. She is an inspiration to me as well. Yes, we all are in transition!!

  • I’ve been browsing online greater than three hours nowadays, yet I by no means found any attention-grabbing article like yours. It’s pretty price
    sufficient for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made just right content as you probably did, the web will be a lot more
    helpful than ever before.

  • Franklyn says:

    Hello there I am so delighted I found your web site, I really found you
    by accident, while I was searching on Askjeeve for
    something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say thanks a lot for a marvelous
    post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to go through it all at the moment but I have book-marked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I
    will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the
    awesome work.

Write a Comment

houzz interior design ideas