3 keys to finish a design project

The quest for inspiration to decorate our second bedroom was over. The vision was clear: The men’s club, reimagined. Take a space that, historically, was like a genteel clubhouse with “no girls allowed” and strip it down to the essentials. It’s a place to gather and relax. To read and have a drink. And, who doesn’t want a place like that? I hunted for modern interpretations of key design elements like club chairs, beautiful rugs, and decorative pieces that look like there’s a story behind them. In short order, I had a Pinterest board Shawn and I liked and it was time to make this idea a reality.

Step 1: Make a shopping list. Buying furniture is like buying groceries. Identify what you need in advance and go to the right store. Going without clear direction is like grocery shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll come home with lots of weird stuff.

·      Tip: Use a Pinterest board or lay out photos of the pieces you like.  Seeing them all at once helps you decide if they work well together.

Step 2: Painting? Buy samples and paint swatches on at least two walls before you commit. Each wall will reflect light differently, which changes the color a bit. Also, check to see if you like the color during the day and at night.

Step 3: Space-planning. Time to decide what should go where and be sure it fits.

Shawn’s an engineer, so there is A LOT of measuring before we commit. It makes me impatient but it helps us buy pieces that fit the space and work well together. Your goal is to make sure you aren’t buying an eighty-six inch sofa for a seventy-four inch wall or that the bookcase you want doesn’t block the doorway.

·      Tip: Use books to mark the length, width and depth of all the pieces you plan to buy. Can you walk around easily? Does it feel too big or too small for the space? Are you blocking any doors or windows?

You can also sketch the pieces out on graph paper if you’re handy with a pencil and know how to draw things to scale. Don’t worry if you’re not Rembrandt; just draw basic shapes to represent your furniture. Or try out cool apps like Homestyler and Home Design 3D to create three-dimensional images of your space with furniture.

Now, let’s get to it!

I painted the room while Shawn was out of town. Full disclosure: I wanted to add interest to the space by painting the trim charcoal gray. It didn’t look right to me when I started but did I stop? No. I kept right on painting as if it was going to get better as I went. It didn’t. We had to paint it back to white when I finished. Note to self: trust your gut even when it changes your plans. 

Once he got home, we grabbed our shopping list and measurements and hit the stores.  Some pieces came from my Pinterest board and we just pulled the trigger. But with the chairs, we had a clear direction but wanted to look around for the perfect pieces, like a furniture treasure hunt. Our concept for the room and our space planning guided us past the things that didn’t fit, literally or figuratively, to a pair of Aviator chairs from Restoration Hardware that we loved immediately.

Finally, it was time to arrange the furniture and add those finishing touches that give the room personality. Putting a gray ombrè cashmere throw over the back of a beautiful black leather chair invites you to sit down. Cool little items we’d collected over the years found a new home on the shelves of the bookcase and added visual interest. A stylized photograph of a 1960s Porsche continued that men’s club, reimagined vibe and tied colors in the room together.

But, the best piece came from Shawn’s hard work. He used a two-foot wide nook in the corner of the room to build a bar with a small wine fridge and gray granite countertop. Taking a design cue from our new bookcase, he made shelves from black walnut to bring the wood tones in the bookcase across the room. We put a clean-lined glass decanter full of scotch and four glasses on the counter and it was time to relax.