Today I am going to give you the before & after on the sunroom, bar, tv room, den.
This room always leads to a bit of a “who’s on first” situation for me and Pete.
“Pete, can you get Gracie’s shoes from the sunroom?” -me
“What room is the sunroom?”-pete
“The TV room!”-me
“Oh! You mean the Den!!”-pete
the very next day
“Pete, are my keys in the den?”-me
“You mean the sunroom?”-pete
I think part of our confusion is because of how totally the whole feel of the room changed in our renovation, it was definitely a sunroom when we bought it:
Not so sunny.
So why did we choose to go in the complete opposite direction of what was here?
Like I have said before, the house to me just felt like it was in drag, or something, when we bought it. The decor before was lovely and pure, and VERY “Houston”, but the actual architectural style of the house and the exterior is a sort of olive green/gray and it just felt like a cozy sort of gentlemanly house to me.
The kind of home that is cool and shady in the summer and warm and snuggly in the winter.
(citing george stanley banks for that description)
It isn’t even that I mind the paneling, though that certainly was not ideal. It’s just like…what the what? There was no real structural reason why the shelves/cabinets were all lopsided like that. There was a slight bump-out from the living room fireplace that meant you couldn’t have full depth shelves or cabinets, but put a faux door on it people! That is why we had to do the two levels of cabinet doors, because the second level can only be about 4 inches deep. Too shallow for shelves, so we put doors on it and now they hide lots of little junk. And are symmetrical.
And the old furniture layout?
What, were you supposed to sit in on your couch 6 feet away, crane your neck up, and contemplate literacy?
It made no sense.
But then OHay! There is the Tv! Way…Up there…In that corner?
And because I am such a visionary genius, I thought BROWN lacquer!!
Oh. Yeah, well.
It is hard to be completely original and fabulous when Miles is out there doin’ the damn thang.
I didn’t actually start with the Miles inspiration, though. I ROYGBIV’D it. We wanted something a little grayer and muddier to work with the olive green and other muted colors we were doing in here.
And if you have been reading here for any period of time (except for the 9 months I was housing Grace) you know that Pete and I avail ourselves of a beverage regularly. So we obviously put a bar in it.You can see here our backyard which is about to get ripped apart. You can’t see the guns on the chairs because I just can’t handle them right now. I go back and forth constantly of what they mean now, but that is a whole different discussion.
Opposite the bar we put a game table that folds out. Day to day it is Pete’s catchall table.
Seriously, how do boys have so many ITEMS!? Our house is filled to the brim with keys, golf tees, pens in various states of malfunction, golf balls, wads of $1 dollar bills, chapsticks. Is it because they don’t have purses? That these items find themselves all around? It is incomprehensible.
I kind of pride myself on my bars. People tell me I should specialize in kitchens and baths. But what about BARS?
Do most people not build shrines to alcohol in their homes?
Chicago. We really used this bar so much, probably because we were younger and childless and drank more, but I loved that we had wine and bottle storage built in. The mirrored backsplash added some sparkle.
Austin. Carried over the mirrored backsplash and some super sparkly wallpaper. We had the wine fridge and the ice machine, but no sink.
That would be green leather on the countertop. Don’t even try to tell me that’s a Design Don’t. And the tortoiseshell wallpaper backing. And the brass. And the ‘cessories.
I am a self-proclaimed non-beige(r) but I really loved the challenge in this house of working within the neutrals and seeing if I could bring the same interest and sparkle that I am drawn to in colorful spaces in that palette. I think while working with neutrals and monochromatic spaces it is essential to bring it with different textures and patterns. Even though Kelly Wearstler can work a color like a boss, she is the queen of texture.
Oops, she did it again.
See my point?
So we went with brown. The fabric on the couch is this awesome olive and brown houndstooth suiting type of fabric. Another texture in the same palette with the sisal carpeting. The back of the bar is an incredible tortoiseshell wallpaper from Schumacher. We have lucite, and brass, and wood, and lacquer. It all feels layered and interesting yet soothing.
But you might be like, where all dem pillars from the shoot? Those were on loan from my mom. Ours are very similar but still in sewing.
You knew this was coming, right?
I couldn’t keep it totally neutral forever. We went back and forth on whether or not to even do a window treatment. We have a lot of privacy from the street with our landscaping and all the lacquer looked soooo delicious. But then Pete saw this post I did on the fabric and, surprisingly, LOVED it. We are going to do shades and the birds are going to look like the ducks are flying all about the room. Plus adding in another texture in the velvet and a bit of something unexpected and beautiful.
So some takeaways from this room:
1. Neutral can be just as exciting as balls out color, but you have to bring interest in the form of texture, pattern, and a variation of material. Here we have the lacquer on the walls contrasting with the natural seagrass. Sparkly faux tortoiseshell with leather and brass. Woven wool with velvet and silk damask.
2. A note on brown paint: I included the color that we used which was Mink by Benjamin Moore, but brown is one of those colors that changes hugely in every room. I had tried to use mink when I did the Truffleberry Market tasting room awhile back and it looked completely different with all of the light in this space.
3. I had a comment on another post asking me how lighting affects my color choices. Lighting does change the color, but I tend not to obsess over every single time of day and how the color shifts. You have to like the color in full daylight with lighting turned off since that is how you will experience the room most of the time, but make sure to come see it at night with artificial light on it. Artificial light is easier to manipulate to make the color work than natural light. There are white, yellow, pink, blue spectrum bulbs that can help with any weird tonal changes lighting brings on. And dimmers, and lamps. However, if you are carrying a color from more than one room say into hallways or on trim, you need to test it in each space. I ran into this issue upstairs with our trim color. I have always used BM white dove for trim in Chicago, Austin, clients- it never changed that much on me as a trim. We tested it in our fairly bright entry hall downstairs here and it looked great, but upstairs the hallways have no natural light and it looks straight up beige.
4. Lacquer is a ridiculous process. There is a difference between high gloss and lacquer. Lacquer in a room is hugely labor intensive and not a DIY. I believe for this room they tinted a formula from Fine Paints of Europe to match the BM Mink because FPoE has a higher gloss. They would fully spray the room, let it dry for a full day, and then come back and sand it down to be completely smooth and glassy without drips or varying thickness- but that also took a great deal of paint off. So you do it again, and again. I think they fully sprayed and sanded the room at least 6 times to get the depth of color and finish. But it totally makes the room. And in a space like this where the wall space would have otherwise been an afterthought (with so many windows and cabinets, there is ilk 1 foot of actual wall) the walls literally shine.
5. I have also received a lot of questions of finding people who can make custom furniture for you. I have gotten trade recs from friends and colleagues everywhere we have gone, but there is no substitute for doing your own research. Google, ask around, see if any fabric showrooms have people they send fabric to a lot or that they will recommend.
If you saw a pretty picture in this post, it was taken by Emily. If you saw a crappy picture, it was taken by me. If you saw some design and thought GENIUS! It was by Kelly Wearstler and/or Miles Redd.
Y’all have been asking some legit questions lately, and I appreciate that. It is helping me come up with an editorial calendar of stuff you want to see- so keep it coming! I will answer everything I can in the comments, and have been pretty good at responding to emails as well. Loving all the feedback, so keep it coming!
What do you think about this transformation? Do you miss the sunniness of the original room, or do you dig the cozy? Anything I can help you with?
It’s our favorite room.