Hi Everyone! I know that you’re busy and I know that I promised to cover painting an open floor plan. But last night, I was thinking about that and realized that I just can’t do it. I can’t. So, I went back to doing my pinterest feed.
And even this morning, I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about.
But, a little nagging voice inside my head keeps reminding me about Laura. Remember? The talented, flute tooting Laura with the two adorable cherubs (aka: pretend children) and pipe organ playing hubby? If you need a refresher, click here.
Merry Christmas Laura! (She doesn’t know I’m doing this because I usually don’t tell people.)
You may also recall that they have one massive family room which is threatening to swallow them all up whole, it’s so imposing.
I mean, that’s how this huuuuuge open floor plan feels. It’s dark, oppressive and despite all the warmth of the wood, is just not working.
Now, that’s not entirely the room’s fault. Right now, there is some functional furniture, the aforementioned grand piano and that’s about it. There is no art. And, no paint color is going to look good without these layered accents.
And, I also realize that Laura hasn’t bothered with that yet because this is a room in progress.
However, to drive the point home, looking at Sunday’s post featuring the extraordinary home and styling of Maura Endres, it is evident that it’s the details that matter most.
To compound the issues, there’s a cherry wood kitchen in this home of mixed identities. Is it a Victorian or a Craftsman? Victoriman doesn’t quite cut it.
In addition, I got the Dear Laurel letter to end all Dear Laurel letters. And I am not faulting Laura one bit. And she is not bugging me or presuming that I’m going to do anything to help her.
In fact, I told her that this one is so fraught with problems that it’s giving me a giant headache, and therefore, we shouldn’t hope for too much. haha But alas, here we are.
First, let’s go back, if you haven’t already, and view the post about the charming music room. I have to say that this was one of the most successful posts and the images that y’all have pinned to pinterest are doing super well!
Naturally, who doesn’t love the idea of being able to decorate beautifully without spending a full college tuition for two! And, Laura spent more like the supplies needed for one semester. Really awesome! Plus, it’s beautiful and home-y.
I just went through Laura’s email and my eyes started glazing over by the time I got to the kitchen, so for now, I am going to leave most of that out.
There are a few other details that I’m leaving out as well, because they are specific to their needs as professional musicians and they aren’t huge issues, in any case. But, since they wouldn’t be of interest to most people, and there’s much to cover, I’m leaving them out.
Below is the letter. My comments along with Laura’s images are within the letter.
Laura is in normal print or bold italics.
Laurel is in teal italics like this.
Hopefully you’re still intrigued with my not-uncommon problems with my massive open floor plan family room, dining area and kitchen.
I hope you know, but to be clear, I have NO expectations from you whatsoever!
Thank you. I appreciate that.
What I am doing here, is laying out ALL OF THE DESIGN PROBLEMS/ROADBLOCKS that I think a lot of us face.
Hubs and I talked about it and will budget considerably more for this whole area— it is so important to get the heart of our home right.
oh phew! Good thing and I agree!
I’ll still only be able to move at the pace I can find things at prices that make sense to me. But working in our favor, my father-in-law restores and paints antique cars for fun, so we basically have a pro painter, paint booth and commercial sprayer at our disposal.
And, my brother-in-law is a retired cabinet-maker, so he is willing to help us tweak things on the kitchen or the built-ins (but he’s not up for major overhauls).
Family for the WIN.
I’ll say!!! You’re very, extremely lucky!
I clicked over to them and discovered they completely remodeled a house nearly identical to mine- the Windsong house ( #windsongproject on instagram) likely the exact same original house plan.
The Windsong house before.
The Studio McGee Windsong house after.
Holy Crap!!! But, yes, I can see that it’s the same basic model. Stunning transformation.
You’d think a totally remodeled open floor plan, beautifully done, those awesome designers would be all the inspiration we’d need to move forward, but they were able to do things with their deeper pocketed clients than is within reach for us in the next 10 years.
I hear ya!
Plus, we have a lot of antique elements we want to incorporate, and will need to find more of a neo-traditional balance, style-wise. And, I like/NEED a lot more color.
I looove white, like is everywhere in the Studio McGee project, but I need to make sure there are ‘life-giving’ colors infused throughout my everyday living. I’m already an Arizonan living in the SNIRT capitol of the world, but like so many others, have some health issues that need consideration in my surroundings.
We discovered a while back that my physical environment plays a huge part in my sense of well-being, and are big believers in color/light as therapy.
I believe that!
Another interesting note: my husband did some post-doctoral work on chromesthesia (so fascinating) motivated by the fact that *to some degree*, we both “see” the music we make in colors. And the reverse being true, that colors around us inspire different music.
Yes, I have heard of this phenomenon. Cool!
Basically what it boils down to: we like color… AND white.
I love the organ room because it has some great saturated colors, and as you said, “greens love greens”, so it still manages to deliver a peaceful, monochromatic feeling.
MY ROADBLOCKS TO CREATING THE OPEN FLOOR PLAN HOME OF MY DREAMS:
1. ALL THE WOOD. it’s just too much.
Ya think? ;]
Originally, we were drawn to the richness of the family room ceiling, and I’d really love to keep that wood, (maybe changing the color) if it makes sense.
I can see the ceiling being balanced out by a wood floor, and painting everything else. But I can’t believe the solution here is actually add more wood!? Lol! But to be honest, I have no idea. I have puzzled over this for months. Finding that exact right formula to make sure one element doesn’t feel too heavy is daunting!
2. WOOD ANTIQUES: clocks, record players, phonographs, music boxes, instruments- everything my husband loves is wood color.
So how do I accessorize a head to toe open concept wood room with more wood antiques?? Ugh.
3. THE NICHES/TV: I hate that there is no focal point because there are 100 focal points. I’ve thought about putting just 1 amazing piece of art in each niche, but I have a hard time knowing what images I’d love THAT big and be so much of a focus and make it still feel like me. And to fill them with shelves and books just feels awfully heavy considering all the doors and wood work around them. And how do I keep the fireplace a focal point? Ugh. So hard for me.
Well, your predecessors haven’t made it easy for you.
4. KID SPACE: I’d really like to keep a couple of cabinets dedicated for kid use/toys. But most importantly (because this is the stage of life we are in), we need a home for the doll house. When Santa found a vintage Playmobil Victorian Mansion doll house with adorable furnishings and crazy awesome details, he knew it’d be something I wouldn’t mind sharing living space with. And it occupies the girls imagination for hours.
I love that! It will be a cherished memory for all of you!
BY THE WAY- The only things that must stay in this room are the piano and doll house.
Okay! Bring in the futons!
(yes, I’m genuinely laughing out loud)
It’d be nice to have some of his antiques, but not critical. And the main furniture for sure goes away! I do have some antique accent chairs from hubby’s mom that I’ve been thinking about using and reupholstering in something awesome and bold.
5. FURNITURE: my husband is 6’4”, I am 5’9” and we’re not petite. I need more human-sized furniture, but we still want it to feel relaxing for all. These large chair-&-1/2s were actually super great in our old living room because they functioned as sofas there. (I know it sounds nuts, but it worked).
Actually, I don’t think it sounds nuts at all!
They were comfy for one, kids could climb up in them with you, and even my husband and I could snuggle into one of them to enjoy a fire. I got both of them barely used for $150, but didn’t love them, so I actually painted my living room a nice rich gold (close to the chair colors) so the chairs blended with the surroundings and didn’t look enormous. It was a shock moving them into this room. yuck.
But, my husband is reluctant to get rid of them because they were so comfy for us.
He’s afraid all my modern ideas for furniture will not be cozy or will be too small to fit his legs. He likes the styles of it fine, he just likes to relax comfortably too.
The picture from last Christmas in our old house is just for you, so you can see we aren’t like enormous people, just not tiny. Lol. See what I mean about liking color? Very similar to Blair Gold from the Laurel Home Collection.
We didn’t really think we wanted this particular color again in this house. We’re trying to use less golds and reds this time, which unfortunately we are both innately drawn towards when making decisions which is THE EXACT reason why I bought your paint guide ;).
Thank you Laura. We need to stop for today, so that we can examine all of this.
Oh wait. That’s not true! I got another significant email a week ago from Laura, entitled
[insert ugly crying face].
I wanted to give you an update on my family room, and I have to tell you, it’s not good news.
Uh oh… What happened???
I actually took your advice (though not faulting you at all ), and despite owning your paint guides and feeling pretty confident in choosing colors in general, I actually hired an interior designer to take a look at my space, and give me some recommendations.
I felt somewhat confused with her final analysis, but since I have been so stuck on moving forward, and I’m hosting our best friends with 6 kids for a week at Christmas, I just plowed full-steam ahead…
Oh no, Wawa; should I cover my eyes?!
After all, SHE was the expert, right? I should have known better, honestly, I was so desperate.
ummm… no, sweetie, you are frustrated and using deadlines to make rash decisions. And, now you know not to do that again. But, take heart. We all make this mistake at least once.
So instead of the soothing, relaxing, living room, with life-giving colors that harmoniously, yet somewhat monochromatically fills me with something other than pure dread, I have successfully punched up the overwhelming awfulness that IS my built-in. And it accentuates every glaring bright orange detail.
Right, it’s like Phillip Glass juxtaposed over Sergei Rachmaninoff?
Seriously, what the h*** was I thinking? 🙂
Well, don’t beat yourself up. Like I said, we all make mistakes. I’ve made plenty of them and hopefully not as many for clients. But that’s happened too and then I have to fix it. And, it’s always expensive. Yuck!
I was generally (and perhaps too safely) leaning towards something greige, maybe SW Dorian Gray. I felt like I needed to mellow out the orange not give it something to wake up with.
I’m afraid that gray or greige is not the answer, either. It’s definitely not. The reason is that the wood is basically orange. Orange and gray are not going to look so great, especially with your lovely music room.
I knew I could always add “me” back into it with saturated furnishings.
We want as much light in there as possible, yet my instincts told me I needed something more medium to balance the color values of the ceiling and built in.
So, when the designer insisted Sherwin Williams Moody Blue was exactly the right choice, who was I to say it wouldn’t be daring, yet great? (Her other option was SW Tin Lizzie, which didn’t work for me at all).
No comment which IS a comment. lol
But coming home to the newly painted living room now has me UGLY FACE CRYING.
And I knew you’d be the only one who could understand! Thank heavens for those that commiserate with us. 🙂
There, there now… dry your eyes dear child. Why, it’s ONLY paint! ;]
And to make things worse, I had also snagged 2 of these fabulous navy (bordering a dark royal) wingbacks + a matching ottoman for, wait for it, $200! They were supposed to be considered for the whole scheme… but um, nope, not working together. When we had the samples up, it really didn’t look bad. It looked much grayer and darker. But I think that is was just SO DARK in there, you couldn’t accurately see ANYTHING at all.
I feel for Laura. And I know that there are thousands of Lauras. Hell, millions, I’m sure. And I’m not going to beat her up. (too much), but what is the first rule of decorating???
Uhhh… Laura… hold on honey!
Where do you think you’re going? You haven’t been dismissed. ;] I know that you know the answer.
Uhhh… Please don’t be mad at me, Laurel… Uhhhhhh… I painted without having a plan?
Yes. And I’m not mad at you. I fully understand the situation. Kids, work, work, house, work, kids, house, in-laws, husband, house, work, company, fugly great room. Gotta do something NOW! But this is a complex situation with a lot of moving parts and they aren’t just the piano keys!
I have thought long and hard about this open concept floor plan and in summation, what I think is the main problem is that there is a disconnect between what is already here with what you really want to do.
One thing that sometimes works is to say to yourself. “If I were building a house from scratch, what would it look like?”
Now, I don’t think that you’d have built a family room that’s 22 x 24.
But, my first instinct way back in October, was to paint the wood.
YES, ALL OF IT!
And yes, you can have white walls AND floor and still have a very colorful home. We saw that here.
However, if you were to keep the wood, the best color to paint is something that’s actually close or closer to the color of the wood. I’m sure you’ve heard in music, well jazz. “If you play a wrong note, play it again and it won’t be wrong.” I learned that from one of my son’s music teachers way back.
Well, it’s like that with color. If you want a color to “disappear,” create MORE of it.
But, the over-riding problem is that there is soooooo much of it. And the coffered ceiling is big and heavy. Based on everything you’ve told me, I feel that you want light and bright.
That means paint.
What I think you want is something more along the lines of the studio McGee home but with more warmth and personality. And in truth, the McGee home as pretty as it is, perhaps lacks a certain element of soulfulness which is probably what is disturbing to some, but not others who want this clean “transitional” look. I see both points of view.
Some of you may be wondering if it IS the same home. Well, in the McGee home, it was built with the balcony and in this version as we can see, it doesn’t have that element. I think that the room was designed with that in mind which is why it ended up being extra deep.
And, like I said, I’m not going to address the kitchen specifically, but I also think that the space is too open.
Moving on with figuring this space out, there are three main issues:
- The wall color
- The furniture
- The space itself.
They all need to work in tandem.
So, before we jump in and try to figure out what the color and furniture will be, we need to work on the envelope. The bones of the room.
Remember, that ALWAYS comes first and it’s what hasn’t been addressed. That’s because the tendency with all things in life is to go with the path of least resistance, or to pick the low-hanging fruit. Same thing. We all do it. It’s human nature. However, in this case, it’s important to get the bones right, because right now, they need some tweaking.
In so doing, there’s a lot of “IFS.”
However, check out below my favorite part of this space.
Those windows are pretty gorgeous! But, I see like in this home, some of the trim is stained and some is white. So weird.
Moving on… I listened very carefully to everything you said, Laura. And I am going to say some things that may surprise you and others that won’t.
The worst thing going on in this large open floor plan besides all of the heavy stained wood is the wall to wall greige-y carpeting.
It matters not what else you do, because until that’s been taken care of, this room is always going to fall short.
Wall-to-wall carpeting in a traditional, or classical living space is like doing Romeo and Juliet; only think Annette Funicello with Bobby Darren romping around on the beach in string bikinis going “Romeo Oh Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo?” Sure, you can do it. But should you? Probably not.
Therefore, I very much recommend that you put in a hardwood floor. Don’t worry about not being able to match it. Yes, it’s tricky but it’s not impossible. And if it’s a shade off, it won’t matter. Believe me. It won’t. It’ll be better for resale too.
Issue #two is the bookcase.
Now, something very interesting. The McGee fireplace wall, because of the balcony, is at least 8 feet shorter. And, that’s significant. The room according to your measurements is 24 feet long.
That’s a lotta lotta bookcase on either side. I would build it up to the ceiling and GET RID of all curves.
That means changing doors with curvy rails. They have no place anywhere in this home.
And, I’d paint everything a creamy white. Simply white that you used in the front room might be fine, but you’ll need to test.
Yes, paint everything.
But, we’re not done because the furniture is super important. And, this isn’t necessarily going to be the final answer. And we also need to look at the kitchen, but this is already one of the longest posts ever.
Actually, this is going to come as a surprise, I believe. But I think that you should keep your furniture– for now, that is. If you had a beautiful rug and some great pillows, lamps, accessories, artwork, the furniture could look great! And, I’d far rather you put your money into fixing up the kitchen, etc.
I do think that the coffee table is too dinky, however.
Below, I came up with two schematics floor plans.
You can mostly ignore the colors. I can’t get into whether the fabrics will change, although that’s important. But I think that you could work with them as they are now. And yes, add in some red and a little blue, if you like. Maybe in pillows and/or accent pieces.
The reason that they look so badly right now, I feel very strongly is because of the carpeting.
(I’m sounding like Scott McGillivray. lol)
Is pretty much what you currently have, but a new coffee table and a table with a lamp between the two large chairs. The round things on the walls are sconces and the ones in the corners are floor lamps.
And yes, I added some little walls. Like Melissa Tardiff did in her charming New Jersey home.
You’re allowed to do that you know.
Okay, Laura. May *I* be dismissed?
PS: Please don’t forget to check out the hot sales. Things are really heating up now that Christmas is only two weeks away! Melissa and I have added a lot of new things mid-week.