Today’s post is a guest post written by Beryn Hammil
Question: My family tells me the time has come for me to give up my seven- room house and move into a one-bedroom in a retirement place. So I made the big decision (more like an incision. It hurts so much).
Enclosed is the floor plan. I have a large green and white sofa and wing chair, and an Italian cane-and-wood chair in white. My pair of gold velvet chairs — no arms but large — may have to go.
I am selling the dining room furniture; however, I would like to keep the white credenza trimmed in green and a side piece with drop leaves. I have a small marble table next to the wing chair with a narrow lamp.
I have a French Provincial card table with cane-back chairs that I think I’ll use in the living room. Any advice would be appreciated.
MAE BRASH, Daly City
Answer: Although moving to a smaller home may be difficult, it sounds as if your new home will be a much easier place in which to live because its smaller size offers you a much more practical lifestyle. Think of it this way; there’s less for you to manage, clean and maintain.
The floor plan of your new apartment offers everything you’ll need to create an inviting home, and it seems that you’ve chosen well regarding which pieces to take with you.
My recommendations involve arranging the pieces you’re keeping to create rooms within rooms.
For example, in the living room I would place your green and white sofa so it faces both the fireplace and the view outside through the large sliding doors and windows. At its back, I would place the off-white credenza that’s trimmed in green so it faces into what will become the dining area. You’ve now created a wall of furniture that’s a room divider. This layout helps you define and separate the dining area from the living room area.
To help reinforce this divided room concept, I would place a pair of console-height table lamps on either end of the credenza and put some of your favorite accessories in between. This provides lighting for the sofa area as well as ambient light for the new dining room.
Your French Provincial card table and cane-backed chairs are the perfect pieces for your new dining area. In addition to functioning as a dining area, these pieces give you and your guests a place to sit and play cards or board games.
To make it seem less like a card table when it’s being used as a dining table, I suggest adding a wood disk with a 48-inch diameter that’s intended to expand a card table on the top. Then put a round table cloth that drapes to the floor on the newly rounded table. A fabric that complements the sofa fabric will be a nice finishing touch.
For an extra luxurious look, you can put another piece of fabric on top of the table’s “skirt” fabric. This piece should be square so you can see the underneath layer of fabric. It can be changed with the seasons or holidays so there’s some variety in the space.
Moving to the living room area, I would place your oval marble cocktail table in front of the sofa. Your pair of gold armless chairs should face the sofa. We’ve now created a living room with a conversation area around the sofa.
Your narrow liquor cabinet, the side piece with drop-down leaves, is a perfect piece to put on the long wall opposite the fireplace. It provides another focal point to balance the room and functions as a serving area for cocktails and after-dinner drinks. Placing a large framed mirror on the wall above it will visually expand the room. And if you put a tall vase of flowers on the top of the cabinet, the flowers will be reflected in the mirror and create the illusion that your bouquet is twice as abundant.
I would place your wing chair with its side table and floor lamp on the window side of that cabinet to create your own little reading corner. It provides a view to the outside or you can look across the room at the fireplace. And, if you need more seating for an additional guest, you can always bring it closer to the other seating in the living room.
With this furniture layout we’ve succeeded in creating three different living areas within the one large open space. There’s the dining area, the living room seating and the reading corner, making the room more intimate by creating rooms within the one large room.
Keep the bedroom simple; all you need is your full-size bed, night tables on either side with table lamps, and the dresser on the opposite wall. Put the TV on the dresser, and now you can read in bed or watch TV from there.
This variety of spaces will make your home seem as if it has more rooms in which to live, and without all the hassle of a larger house.
© San Francisco Chronicle, 2002
Known throughout the Bay Area for the “Design Dilemma” columns she writes for the San Francisco Chronicle’s Home & Garden section, Beryn’s interior design and remodel projects are as compelling as her written ideas.
As a designer, Beryn listens carefully to her clients’ needs, and then expands on them to create the homes that people enjoy living in for years after the work is complete. Projects are finished on time and on budget, making good on her goal that the process should be as enjoyable as the results.
Beryn works directly with all her clients, and they appreciate knowing that her hands-on approach is being used on their behalf in both design and management.
Additionally, Beryn’s talent includes being the featured designer on many episodes of HGTV’s “Curb Appeal” and “Sensible Chic.”