I have a confession to make. I have favorite clients.
I hope that isn’t an awful thing to say. Truthfully, 99% of my clients are fantastic and fun and creative and many eventually become dear friends. Every now and then, one comes along and we really connect. This was the case for my (now) dear friend, Sandi. Honestly...we haven't seen each other in a long time but I still call her a friend and I want to share her story with you.
Sandi and her ridiculously sweet husband, Rod, came to me as they were settling into their new home. The couple just sent the last of their three kids off to college. Bittersweet it was indeed.
They raised three children in Ken Caryl but decided they didn’t want to live alone in a big empty house. Who can blame them! These are not your typical empty nesters people! Rod and Sandi are two of the most active, interesting, and magnetic people I’ve ever met. City people. In addition to her day job, Sandi teaches yoga and Rod brews beer for fun (and he’s damn good at it). They have an adorable pair of long-haired dachshunds named “Chip” and “Dale”. (I die.) They enjoy going to shows, hosting friends for parties, and they also make a killer homemade pizza. Music is ALWAYS on in their home.
Rod and Sandi are two of the most active, interesting, and magnetic people I’ve ever met.
So they needed a home that reflected their youthful and bright personalities. The couple bought the hippest little townhome in the heart of the Sunnyside Neighborhood which had been converted from an historic building. Complete with it’s original brick wall, old doors, and tile fireplace, you could say…it had good bones.
However, they were not bringing ANY of their old furniture back to the city. Sandi purchased a few key furniture pieces but the rest of the home remained empty. So the two of us set out to design and furnish the space in a way that would support their laid back lifestyle and love of entertaining.
THE CONCEPT DESIGN
When Sandi came to me and described their story and lifestyle, I knew she would be fun to work with. Initially she was only asking for a few key pieces, but when I walked through their home, I realized that I could bring them a few more ideas beyond what they were expecting.
For example, they just wanted some patio furniture…instead, we designed and built an outdoor kitchen. They wanted something to put the TV on, instead, we created custom built-ins with more storage than they could ask for. And I took one look at the powder room and said, “Let’s wallpaper that”! Yes. Yes. Yes she said.
I wanted the home to feel warm and inviting, yet packed with color and visual interest. I imagined features like live edge wood slabs and interesting art.
In the living room, they were surprised to hear me suggest they leave the brick wall blank. I think it’s a natural tendency to want to cover our walls. But in this case, the idea was to celebrate the history of the building and let the texture of the wall be the art. Instead, we anchored a giant slab of live edge wood and the bottom that would serve as a perch for extra pillows and blankets as well as overflow seating during their rockin’ parties.
We hung a giant brass drum light over the seating area and finished off the space with decor details like delicate sheer curtains, cocktail tables, and a help-yourself bar cart.
THE OUTDOOR KITCHEN
The path to the outdoor dining area was often obstructed by the powder room door which opened into the hallway. We replaced it with a reclaimed door and had it installed on sliding barndoor tracks.
Out back, we wanted to continue the easy-living style so I designed an outdoor kitchen that would incorporate Rod’s beloved grill and pizza oven. It’s a natural gathering space for friends and family.
THE FAMILY ROOM
When Rod and Sandi aren’t entertaining, they enjoy movie and game nights in their garden-level family room. Their kids still visit often (a real sign of cool parents) so it needed to have plenty of comfy seating. We had this giant circular swivel chair upholstered in a peacock green velvet. It just sucks you right in.
The built-ins were designed to be simple and modern. Instead of hardware that would have been distracting, they were designed with magnetic push buttons so the drawers and doors pop right out. Because the ceilings are low and there is no natural light, we built them to the ceiling and kept the room bright and white. Sandi and I together picked out the art for the feature wall.
THE GUEST ROOM
In the guest room, we repurposed an existing headboard by reupholstering it with a gray linen and adding nailhead trim. Mid-century nightstands with industrial sconces continue the vibe of the old building. A leather tufted wing chair with a floor lamp provides the perfect spot for reading. Sandi had professional photography of the neighborhood framed and hung above the headboard.
As a final note on Sandi and Rod’s off beat personalities and sense of humor, there was this little space along the stairs that sat empty. Guests always provided their suggestions on what they thought should be there. The funniest perhaps, was a bowling alley (it is a long strip of wood space). In response to this idea, Sandi’s best friend glued down these miniature bowling pins as a joke. They sat there unnoticed for weeks and remain there today as a reminder to not take life (or decor) too seriously. I love it!