interior design

BTR: An Adorable Hayes Valley Studio

Hooray, another Behind the Redesign!  Thank you for being so patient, dear readers.  We had a BTR hiatus this past season due to a series of confidential projects.  We are excited to kick-off 2015 with some new content and, of course, tips for you to use at home.

Room: Bedroom/Living Room

Hours to Complete: 8.5 (Day 1)

Main Objective:  Transform the layout of the room to establish distinct and optimized areas for sleep, entertaining, and creating art.

The Details: Our lovely client, “M”, landed in this charming Hayes Valley studio by way of karma-heritance (that's our way of saying this positive karma-related inheritance).  Wanting to adopt a simpler lifestyle, M decided to downsize from her large loft in SOMA.  Coincidentally at the same time, one of M's co-workers was relocating to New York, leaving his perfectly-sized apartment.  With this transaction, M inherited several pieces of furniture, but she also inherited a less-than-optimized furniture layout.  A small space with too much stuff and an awkward furniture layout?  New Minimalism to the rescue!

Over 2 day-long sessions (18 hours total), we worked swiftly to create a serene and comfortable home, one that reflected M’s dynamic personality: creative, open, approachable and intellectual.  Session 1 focused on the bedroom/living room, and Session 2 tackled the large walk-in closet, as well as a utility closet.  Today's Behind the Redesign will focus on Session 1, the bedroom/living room.

Windows: Before // After 

We knew right away that we wanted to move the bed away from the windows.  Resting your head against a solid surface is important for deep sleep.  When you sleep with your head against a window it is almost like sleeping against a door, the reptilian (think Neanderthal) part of your brain subconsciously stays alert to outside noises so that you will be prepared to defend yourself.  So, first order of business was swapping the bed and the couch.

Tip: Is the head of your bed against a window or a non-functioning door? Look around your room and reevaluate the position of your furniture. Is your desk, which actually only functions as a drop-all space, taking up the best wall in your room? Or perhaps you can condense your clothing into a capsule wardrobe so that it fits entirely in your closet and you can donate your dresser? Whatever you decide, make sure that your bedroom functions firstly as that, a BEDroom. And give that bed the best wall in the room. To get extra fancy, Feng Sui recommends that you are able to view the entrance of your room while lying in bed.

The existing couch was extra-long, so when we moved the couch into bay window, we placed it on a slant in order to decrease the amount of dead space between the window and the back of the couch.  This, we surmised would be a temporary solution, recommending that our client replace the couch with one that would better fit into the window alcove. 

However as we worked within the space, we realized there were a lot of benefits to placing the couch on a slant.  By angling the couch towards the bedroom, we drew the couch-sitter’s attention away from the entry hall and the kitchen, creating a conversation area with the base of the bed and the new-and-improved music corner.  Other benefits of the current couch:  the extra-long couch worked great for our extra tall client, structurally, it was super solid and in great shape, and we all agreed that the draped fabric lent positively to a casual, comfortable vibe. 

Tip: Add texture and warmth to a minimally-decorated space using fabric, blankets and pillows. Here, a drapey fabric covering contrasts well with the bare hardwood floors. If you are working with a textured rug, balance it with clean lines with the furniture.

Accent Wall: Before // After

With this redesign we were lucky that M already had these perfectly proportioned and matching side tables, adding some nice symmetry to the general eclectic vibe.  We also scored with the charcoal accent wall.  This wall helps to define the sleeping area, signifying that it is separate from the rest of the space.  With the two table lamps, the contrasting shapes add interest, while unified color keeps it, well, unified. 

As an artist who gets fully-absorbed into projects and then moves on to the next, M did not want to adorn her walls with art.  Over the bed we chose to hang a series of simple line drawings to stand out against the charcoal, neutral enough that M would not tire of looking at it. 

Music Nook: Before // After 

Music is an important part of M’s routine.  Whenever she is home she is sure to have some pleasant tunes playing the background (M even introduced us to FIP, our new favorite radio station out of Paris).  So with this design, we wanted to ensure that she had easy access to her speakers.  We also wanted to make order out of a mess of cables. 

Enter, amazing large leaning mirror that was karma-herited.  If you don’t already know, we are quite fond of large mirrors.  When positioned strategically, they reflect light and can feel like another window.  Added benefit: when placed on the floor to lean, they can hide those unsightly cords and cables.  So that is exactly what we did here.  And I think it is worth noting that opposite there was a wall that was perfectly sized to fit the mirror, but if placed there, the mirror would reflect the white wall - booooring.  By placing the mirror on the wall opposite the light and bright kitchen, you extend the eye and draw some of the brightness into the bedroom.

Tip: When using a large mirror in your space, make sure to consider what is in the reflection. Are you opening the space by reflecting other bright, airy spaces? Play around with placement. As the sun light changes throughout the day, maybe you will discover something new about your space that you would like to highlight. Not into the idea of always seeing your own reflection? Look for a distressed mirror with a patina over the glass so obscure the reflection.

Overall we were quite thrilled with the results of this decluttering and redesign.  We donated two carloads of items to the Goodwill and local library, in the meantime creating a calm, inspiring sanctuary for M to enjoy. 

Up next on BTR:  The fancy closet system we custom designed and installed to house M’s clothing and art archives.

I Live in Wait... How Many Square Feet?

Hello dearest New Minimalism Readers!  

Kyle, Redesign Specialist here to introduce the newest series on the NM blog, 340-Squared in which I will share my insights from life in the one-room studio I now call home.  

Prior to this apartment, I had been living in a magical situation in a friend’s storefront-turned-living-space near Alamo Square.  It was raw, creative, and we had the freedom to experiment with décor (How about a giant pink geometric mural? Hell yes!).  Having lived there for over two years, the space saw its fair share of events and parties, and even played host to one beautiful wedding. But eventually the master tenant, and my dear friend, decided he wanted to live alone. 

While the housing market in San Francisco is moderately insane at the moment, finding a new home could not have come at a better time for me personally.  I loved my unique space, fun roommates and absurdly affordable rent, but my partnership with Cary and New Minimalism was just gaining traction and I longed for a sanctuary to gather my thoughts.  Additionally, having a near obsession with clutter-free spaces and clean floors, living alone would allow me to truly practice what I preach at New Minimalism.  In some ways, this was basically an investment in my career.  

Meet Our Newest Member: Kyle Quilici

I am SO excited to introduce you all to the newest member of the New Minimalism team: Kyle Quilici.  She will be heading up the redesign portion of our services when she's not busy drinking cold-brewed coffee or hanging with her pup, Dolly.  

I hope you'll enjoy getting to know her and I highly recommend following her redesign and small-living adventures!


What 5 words would you use to describe your personal style?

Bold, playful, clean, simple & a little weird.

How would you design your "perfect space?"

That’s a tough one.  A perfect space depends on its functionality and the people who use it.  If it supports the functions of its users and reflects the values of those users, then it is darn near perfect.  Of course, there are some basic elements that help beautify a space, such as abundant lighting (natural, as well as artificial), tall ceilings, good ventilation, and sweeping views.

How did you come to learn you were passionate about design?

When I think back, I have actually been “planning” spaces since I was a young.  I used to draw layouts of my dream ____ (insert little girl fantasy here).  I recently came across a drawing I made in middle school of the perfect horse stables.  Ha! In high school I began to develop my eye in photography class.  I continued photography throughout university, and found I was attracted to the personalities of interior spaces.  

Fast-forward three years: after some serious goal coaching and soul searching I whittled my vast interests in design down to interiors.  Living in New York at the time, I enrolled in an Interior Design Intensive at Parsons.  Dissatisfied to learn that the traditional teachings of Interior Design did not speak to my values for sustainability, I re-routed and pursued my certificate in Sustainable Design.

What objects in your home do you feel like best showcase your values and personal aesthetic?

This is an important question that everyone should be able to answer with, “Everything!”  I am intentional about every object that enters and lives in my home with me.  If I do not love it, if it does not serve me well, then it does not stay.  Living with roommates means that compromises are made.  But as long as we communicate with each other, everything runs smoothly.

What are you in love with these days?

I try to avoid trends, especially in terms of interior spaces.  But I am naturally attracted to the bold statements of large graphics.  The intersection of digital media and design is a fun place to explore.  I love the wall coverings from Flavor Paper and the playful products from AREAWARE.  

What are your favorite design books/mentos/websites?

I intentionally keep my rolodex pretty simple, otherwise I find that I exacerbate the desire to accumulate more material things.  To keep abreast of the general conversation, I regularly reference DesignSponge and The Satorialist.  And of course, Béa from Zero Waste Home is also an inspiration.

How do you find inspiration in your daily life?

It’s everywhere!  I make an effort to always pay attention, try new things and meet new people.

What do you think is the greatest misunderstanding people have about space clearing?

I think that people assume it is a huge undertaking.  While simplified living is a way of life, it is not done in one fell swoop.  It is a muscle that you learn to use and you use it regularly.  I have a basket in my room for clothes to donate/sell, just like I have for laundry.

What is your favorite part of helping people clear their space?

Satisfied clients!  I love when they begin to understand the real energetic effects of their belongings and feel empowered to take control.  I also personally love the challenge of figuring out the best use of a space.  I always loved Tetris as a child.

Why do you feel space clearing is important?

When you feel at peace in your surroundings you can focus your energy on attaining greater goals in life.  I must acknowledge that having too much is a luxurious problem to have.  So, I see space clearing as my contribution to the reality of my immediate community.  I view the world as one large, dynamic ecosystem.  If some people have too much, and others have too little, why not help to redistribute some of those goods?  Of course, solid design plays a pivotal role as well – investing in durable goods that do not deplete the natural systems we depend on is also quite important.