My answer for Greg, who according to him was overwhelmed with where to begin, was simple. Get the best sofa money can buy, and build from there. Greg also mentioned he was on a budget --and these days, who isn't-- so I also mentioned second-hand stores. I am a true believer that you can re-paint or recover pretty much anything, and the result is a beautiful custom piece, one that will really fit in with your scheme--if you have one-- and of course your budget.
|Rooms by Leta Austin Foster,|
All "after" photography by Daniel Newcomb
This was the entryway, and as you can see it really needed to be updated. We began by painting the room in Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace, and adding the Petite Zig Zag wallpaper from China Seas in blue. We then took the existing sofa and had it recovered in a very smart fabric from Norbar, a very inexpensive linen-cotton blend, in a green hue called Montana. We also recovered the pillows in fabrics we already had.
The two rattan chairs you see in the picture below are custom made for Leta Austin Foster, and the upholstery is also done in the wonderful Norbar Montana. We had the client's own coffee table repainted and purchase (secondhand) two Chinese chests and had them repainted in the same dark brown color as well.
As for the stuff we purchased new, we found this very inexpensive rug at Dash and Albert, and the two wall laps and hanging lamp from Visual Comfort. The small mirror above the chest is also new and it is custom by Leta Austin Foster, and I already mentioned the two bamboo chairs, which were also custom made for us.
The bone of the room there, and we worked with them. We didn't even move the mirrors because we wanted the light, and frankly so did the client. One of their biggest concerns with the entire project initially was that it was too dark, so we kept them because there are no other windows. I think the result is a gorgeous room that is light and airy, and very Palm Beach, while still being perfect for a heavily trafficked area.
The next room we worked in at the Lowell House was a medium sized common area, which like the entryway, was also very dated. Since we were working within the constraints of a budget, we again decided to keep as many of the old furnishings as possible and concentrated on getting a beautiful new engineered wood floor from Cavastone, new panelling and ceiling, 14 new light fixtures from Visual Comfort, wonderful grasscloth, and lovely sheer curtains by Benny Armas in West Palm Beach.
The coffee table and long console behind the sofa, were their own, and we had them repainted in a dark chocolate lacquer. As we did with the sofa in the foyer, we had these sofas recovered in the green Norbar fabric and added four of the same new bamboo chairs--through Leta Austin Foster-- this time with the upholstery done in Rose Cummings' signature fabric, "Banana Leaves", which she designed herself by dipping actual leaves in paint and using them as stamps. I love this fabric so much that I had Zenon Toczek hand paint the wall panels in a similar style and color.
The white chests throughout the room, client's own from the 50's, were repainted in a bright shiny white. We added Chinese pottery tables, which were the client's, along with a repainted Moroccan star table, which we bought at a tag sale. Their beautiful white lamps we re-used, but with different lampshades available in stock from Leta Austin Foster Boutique. The two stuffed chairs are also second-hand and recovered in "Banana Leaves", and the circle table was theirs too, we just gave it a different placement.
The last room I want to show you is the game room at the Lowell House, which was in desperate need of an update. Here is the before...
In the bar area of the same room, we took away some lockers, and added glass shelves where there was wood. All of this panelling was already there, but we added the mirror for light. We did not need to add a rug because this is a bar. On the walls we used the same grasscloth we did in the room above, and as you can the results are exactly what the client wanted: rooms with a tropical feel and lots of light.
I did this post with idea the of showing you, and Greg, that one does not have to get all new things to drastically change a room. If you plan, plan and plan, you will see that you have more things that can be useful to you already, leaving room in your budget for important things like paint and lighting, things that most DYI decorators tend to forgo in lieu of a new living room set. As you can see with the Lowell House common areas, we worked under a constrained budget and utilized as much of their own stuff as we could, only changing what we had to. The results were clean cut and contemporary, and the clients really love it.