Chances are that if you live inside the Beltway, you have limited square footage. Whether you’re in an old rowhouse in the District or a bungalow in the suburbs, space is almost always at a premium.
And though maximizing space while also taking design and function into account might seem to require a little smoke and mirrors (mirrors will, in fact, make a space look bigger), it mostly takes smart shopping for “decorative choices in a scale appropriate to the space,” says Mary Douglas Drysdale, a Washington-based interior designer and 2009 nominee for a Cooper Hewitt Design Museum Interior Design Award. In the living room, for example, instead of a room-dominating L-shaped sofa, a cozy settee might make more sense — especially when paired with slipper chairs and poufs — and will provide more flexibility in function and furniture layout.
When you are ready to shop for quality furniture pieces that will fit your space, “it’s worth it to hire a decorator for a couple of hours,” says designer Jennifer Wagner Schmidt. As owner of Northern Virginia-based JWS Interiors, which focuses on affordable design, Schmidt says that buying furniture is an investment in your home, and hiring a designer is a good way to protect your investment.
Double-duty pieces, abundant lighting and a monochromatic palette are other sleights of hand that will visually expand rooms. But above all else, make sure to edit, edit, edit. “You really have to have organization when you have a small space,” Schmidt says. “I think that should be your first goal.”
Find decorating and organizing inspiration on Local Living’s Pinterest.
So I just got back from a client's home to check on progress of basement. We are waiting on drywall to be finished, then carpet. Paint goes up next week.
All of our pieces are in!
Here are a few sneak peek pics! I can't wait to show you more in the coming weeks!
New flat screen TV was hung. Check out the awesome media console I found at ABC Home in New York!
This is console table for back wall.. I added baskets which will hold blankets, pillows. A wall gallery of family photos will cover a majority of the back wall. We'll flank the console with 2 West Elm floor lamps..
This is the bar cabinet in another part of the basement where the poker table will go
I don't know about you, but it always seems like October through December fly by.
Between work, school, after-school activities and well, life, time flies by.
Which brings me to my point. This time of year, my family always has our picture taken for our annual Christmas cards we send out. No matter what your religion, if you send out holiday cards, especially photo ones, it adds one more thing to your to-do list.
My good friend Meredith Puzenski of Puzenski Photography takes fabulous family photos here in the DC area.
This year we went downtown (DC) to have our taken. Here are two of 3 photos I am debating to use for our Christmas card-both very different.
Which do you like best? HELP ME DECIDE!
This one is very different from our normal photo cards. We actually only stood here for a few minutes and she snapped away.. We are under a bridge!
I like the architectural element here of the steps..It's a closer up photo too.
Today's design dilemma question comes from Sarah :
"How important is it to match your interior paint with your exterior? (Especially the first room you walk into from the front door.)"
I think this is a very good question. My answer would be that your exterior paint does NOT HAVE to match your interior paint.
BUT, as with all design, if your exterior colors are coordinated with the interior--and specifically the first room--then you are definitely going to have a very nice FLOW upon entering your home.
More specifically if you are painting the outside of your home, for example, dark gray with black shutters, it could look really nice in your foyer/entryway to bring in those colors with furniture, accessories such as indoor rug, indoor paint, etc.
On the other hand, you could choose a bright a red for high impact in the interior entryway. This doesn't exactly "MATCH" the exterior, but it would give it character and a certain panache!
I hope this helps Sarah!
And, on since we're on this topic, here are some great entryway photos!
For the past couple years, I’ve been so immersed in the “to the trade” culture of interior design while working at the Washington Design Center that I always passed off retail design options as a much lesser form of, well, LIVING. Not that my house is filled with anything remotely trade or custom, of course (save for one amazing piece, but that’s another story), because a $10,000 sofa isn’t currently in the budget.
Imagine, then, how my eyes virtually popped out of my head when I saw these before-and-after pictures of a project by Jennifer Schmidt of JWS Interiors — all done on a shoestring budget (TARGET, anyone??).
Virtually the entire house was painted this color yellow.
What an amazing transformation, using Benjamin Moore’s Cosmopolitan and Decorator’s White.
Jennifer was lucky, in that this family of four with dogs wanted to get rid of everything in the family room (adjacent to the kitchen at the right), and start fresh. But again, they didn’t have a ginormous budget. “I try not to do a lot through the trade,” she says, noting that her slogan is “Affordable Luxury.” Instead, she says, “I try to find those diamonds in the rough to pull that room together.”
Here’s what she did. First, the family wanted the TV and stereo on the far wall, so they could watch TV from the kitchen. That meant a long sofa (big enough to seat the entire family) would have to go on the smaller wall. She found the right one at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. Then she mounted the TV on the wall above this lovely Bennett console by Zinc Door (which can be customized in any one of 25 colors!):
The house has lots of gold accents, Jennifer says, so the door pulls here were perfect. In addition, she chose two of these chests from Layla Grace, the companion site to Zinc Door:
The cream leather ottoman is from Room & Board, and the throw pillows on the sofa are from Z Gallerie.
Here’s the shocker: Jennifer found the two X-benches online at Target, and had them recovered, and also found the two leather club chairs there!
The rug is from Wisteria; the mirror is from Ballard Designs.
You can just see the club chair in the foreground, but here is a better view from Target — the pair costs a total of $400:
Nolan club chairs by Target
Now, I tend to walk right by the furniture section at Target on the way to get stuff like toiletries, clothes for my kids, or DVD’s. Jennifer swears they are comfortable, and “for what they need” the price was right on. I’m fairly sure these chairs won’t last through the decades, but for small children and a dog, it might be just the ticket for right now.
What’s worth noting here is that every single piece of furniture in this room is available to all of us — any of us could go online and purchase any of these pieces. But would we, in just the right combination, with paint colors that are dead-on for the space where they are arranged? Of course not.
That’s why (again, I think I sound like a broken record sometimes), it’s so beneficial to hire a designer. Jennifer goes into Home Goods at least four times a week because the inventory changes so often, and that’s how she finds the perfect pieces for her clients. Do any of us have the time to do that? No. “Average consumers can’t do that, and that’s why they’re paying me to do that for them,” she says. I totally agree.
Jennifer started out her career in corporate PR, but it grew old when her priorities changed. “Corporate PR wasn’t the type of job I wanted to do when starting a family,” she says. So she took some classes, worked for a while at Ebanista when it was still at the design center, and then ultimately went out on her own.
I’ll sign off with more of her designs from other projects. Clearly, she made the right move.
I love the quiet elegance here, and the way the lines of the mirror and chandelier play off each other.
I really like how she tackles this big room with tons of windows, bringing it down to size with the molding along the top windows and the treatments on the bottom.
Jennifer’s own kitchen, something to file away for when I redo my own!