Create your own custom-designed space
I like that I get to mix things up creatively on a daily basis. I can be working on design projects at one point, shooting a makeover for a magazine or TV later on, and—one of the most rewarding aspects of what I do—having an in-home consultation with a homeowner.
I started doing in-home consults a few years back to help homeowners freshen up their space. Often homeowners live in their house every day and cannot “see” it anymore. They cannot see the potential because that isn’t what they do. It’s what I do. I come in with a new set of eyes and a fresh perspective. I share ideas and come up with creative solutions that are attainable and will make their living space more functional. I get to see what dilemmas homeowners are facing design-wise, some of which can be solved by moving furniture around or sketching some ideas. In any case, I leave them with a plan of action for change.
Let me share a makeover project that stemmed from such a consult with a homeowner who wanted to have a creative space to work in. As you can see, the “before” space is a great example of a room that was intended to be a creative space but didn’t quite get there. Look familiar? Often, procrastination or fear of making the wrong choices gets in the way of good home spaces coming to life.
I begin every consult the same way—looking at the positive and negative things about a space—and then come up with a plan of action for making it the best it can be. That is just what I did when I walked into this little barn studio for the first time.
The small barn had a vintage feel to it, and the space did not inspire the client to be creative. It just didn’t have that vibe. So my task was to bring that vibe to life quickly because it is important to show a client that you can turn a room around fast and give it a new look—and feel.
It’s all about being organized and I’m very much a “to-do list” type of guy, so here’s what I needed to do for this project:
Remove every item from the room.
Paint the walls white. Paint all the doors, beams, and trim black. I wanted the new foundation look for the room to be black and white, which would give the space a contemporary feel. I chose milk paint from the Real Milk Paint Company because the building was historic and this eco-friendly paint jibes with what was used in the old days.
Lighting is the key to creating an inviting room and especially in this space, which needed to be brightened up. I replaced the overhead, dated pendants with a more industrial-style fixture and some simple halogen spots from Ring’s End to illuminate the room better.
Next, it was about creating areas. I wanted a central work area that was movable if needed. So I chose stainless-steel work tables from a restaurant-supply company to act as my main island. One can work standing up or pull up a stool and work on a laptop.
An unfinished wooden bookcase was painted white and positioned in the center of the room to serve as a backdrop for the work area. I am a big fan of unpainted pieces that can be personalized. I found this one at Wood Bin Furniture.
I made a small desk area by using two, movable, storage-drawer units as a base with a stainless-steel top bridging it. The desk ties into other steel accents I introduced—a simple metal chair from Overstock and matching lamps from Homegoods.
To crank up a contemporary feel, I brought in some eco-friendly carpet tiles from FLOR. If they get dirty, simply pick up one square and clean it off or replace it. The whole eco-friendly angle of FLOR’s products works for me, too. This pattern is called “Mod Cow” and ties in perfectly to the black and white cow painting on the wall.
At the entrance of the space, I created a casual seating area by using simple black chairs, an industrial floor lamp, and some colorful throw pillows and a throw.
In the end, this space serves a purpose and is an enjoyable place to spend time in. I also designed the room with pieces that can be reconfigured for various work styles or moods. To me, this is all part of what keeps us inspired and interested in a space.
Do you have a room like this that could use your own creative stamp—perhaps to write that cookbook, generate paintings for your first art show, do yoga, or simply savor your morning coffee while you organize your day? Think of it as your own, private, rejuvenation space.
We can all use that.