BTR: Welcoming Guests into a Marin Cottage

Room: Living + Dining Room

Hours to Complete:  5.5 hours

Main Objective:  Creating space to entertain guests by reducing the amount of souvenirs from this client's past.

The Details:  Greg lives in a bright 2 bedroom cottage in the San Rafael hills.  A world traveler, accomplished athlete and passionate musician, Greg has been in his home for several years.  While he loved the space, Greg also felt that it was under-utilized and not convenient for the activities he values most.  

Before: The living room, while full of windows and natural light, feels dark and heavy due to the oversized furniture and limited pathways.

I won't mince words here: Greg was a fabulous client.  Freshly returned from a transformational trip, he felt a deep desire to create a space that echoed his values.  Though Greg's space was full of windows and natural light, his oversized furniture and packed shelves made his home feel heavy and tight.  

Together, we identified the three main goals of this redesign:

  1. Curate all travel souvenirs to represent the best memories,
  2. Create a space to listen to and place music, and
  3. Maintain a comfortable atmosphere to have friends over. 

Before: The cramped couch blocks access to the sitting area and the upstairs. 

In the original layout the flow of traffic from the stairs was interrupted by one too many couches.  By removing the leather couch and armchair the walkway is relieved. 

For the distilled collection of travel accessories, we placed like with like to create larger impact. We utilized the space under the stairs for his vinyl collection and guitars.

After: The orange chair provides a more proportional seating option, better access to Greg's musical instruments and records, as well as adding a pop of visual interest to the room.

From the garage we found the other half of the modern gray couch and created an L-shaped living space to define that side of the room.  The space has great bones and abundant natural light, so once we pared down the furniture clutter, the room really shined.

After: By removing the oversized black leather couches and shifting the grey sectional to an "L," the living room is optimized for ease of access as well as conversation.  

Redesign Tip:  More seating is not always better.  

Greg's gregarious charm made it no surprise that he enjoys hosting his multitude of friends.  For this purpose, he had accrued an abundance of seating: a large leather sofa, a leather love seat and a multiple piece sectional.  While Greg's goal was to have abundant seating for entertaining, his space ended up feeling cramped and was difficult for more than a few people to navigate.  He now has proportioned, accessible and highly utilized seating for 8 (or up to 13 by moving his kitchen chairs).

After a clearing of unused or out of date technologies, all media and music-related electronics were easily consolidated to fit within the television nook.  (Important note: never underestimate the impact of orderly electric cords!)

The focus of the dining room was largely decluttering as the furniture fit well within the dimensions of the space.  It was simply a matter of clearing the table and windowsills to create a clean, calm space to do work during the day and enjoy the views to the outdoors.  

Decluttering Tip:  Honor negative space.  

If your home feels cluttered even when it's clean there is a good chance you have too many things on your walls.  While artwork and photos might not occupy much physical space, they do take up a great amount of visual and energetic space.  Just as important as what you choose to show are the walls or sections you choose to leave blank.  Negative space serves both as a resting point for the eyes as well as adding drama and importance to the highly selective items you've displayed.

  Greg's open-minded, easy-going spirit are now honored in his flowing, spacious home.

The result of their process: a living room that I am excited to live in, a haven where I can do work or clear my head, and a room that highlights things that are important to me.

Before they visited me, my place felt heavy, dark and frustrating; afterwards it felt airy, light, and calming. Kyle and Cary exceeded my high expectations, and I canโ€™t thank them enough!
— Greg