Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Man's Home is his Castle


When I first met Steve, he was the typical 40 something bachelor. Divorced, free-lancing and as carefree as one can be, he joyfully lived in flannel shirts or sweats, had the TV stuck on the sports network and had the obligatory six-pack in the fridge at all times, right next to the chip dip. Needless to say, his home is his castle. 

  He owns a nice, modest-sized brick house built in the 1950's that he 'decorated' with a certain manly flair. Since the front door was no longer the main entrance, we entered thru the sun room, room?... that connected the garage to the main house. My design wheels went from 0-60 in less than a minute....what a perfect place to entertain on a summer evening. I could already imagine the laughter of friends, hear the sound of a blender mixing cold concoctions in the kitchen, see the sun setting thru those vintage, wall-to-wall jalousie windows....but ooooh.....first....stepping over the broken down boxes of old car parts and discarded furniture I was brought back to reality. No doubt, this was going to be a sweet project!

  Suite 24 was called on to rescue the whole house....again, one room at a time. The living room was to be our first task. As we left the sunroom and entered the main house the thru the dining room, the storage theme continued. Tho the place was well kept, it was no surprise that nary a fair maiden would venture into the generous-sized living room. The decor was early tool box and the dust bunnies were well fed. Beyond the controlled clutter, the place had great bones. As a lot of men will confess, decorating isn't their natural born forte. Like his bro's, this nice guy possessed a total inability to distinguish function from funky but there was promise.

  Walking from room to room I could see just how simple it would be to bring this haphazard haven up from despair and make it handsome. To top it all off, Steve reaped the rewards of some decent furniture that his bachelor room-mate added to the mix. All that was needed was a good cleaning and some simple re-design to get these guys back in the game. Suite 24 was ready to make this place oh so Sweet!

   For the majority of our designs, Suite 24 is responsible for the dismantling and sprucing up of the room to be worked on. On this assignment, because the budget was small, we enlisted the help of both Steve and Saleem. Together we did a white glove cleaning, exorcised the dust bunnies, carted the tools to the garage where (gasp!) a toolbox and workbench lived and then began the process of editing the room. just takes determination to relegate things to a more appropriate spot...which just might mean the trash! 
We laughed a lot and I got a great feel for how these two men wanted their space to represent them. 

Clean me  
Emptying the room is the first step towards re-design. Steve's living room housed a proud collection of guy stuff. The raised slate hearth was hidden by tools, hardware, a zillion old phone chargers, books and manuals, sports equipment, you name it. Tho the task may seem daunting, cleaning and organizing exposes the range of possibilities and makes the process flow. You will also now be able to locate your cell phone and your keys. 

The Second Half
After a good cleaning, editing is the single most important part of the re-design process. Suite 24 takes care to carefully choose from the pieces you love and re-purpose others that may be hidden in other parts of the house. Your favorite chair may need a slipcover or the funky lamp you discovered in your Mom's basement might need spray painting and a new shade but incorporating these sorts of items will help show off your individual character . As important, removing excess elements helps the room make sense. In Steve's living room, there lived 3 table lamps, 2 floor lamps (one was broken but still took up space there) and a ceiling fan with down lights. Can you say overkill?  Clearly, these guys liked things to be well illuminated. Suite 24 becomes a new set of eyes to see beyond those emotional blocks that accompany the oft-heard sentiment 
"I like it this way!" and brings you to that  ahhh moment. 
For those elements that will need replacing, future purchases are discussed. Consultations are always available to guide your choices as we complete the whole picture. We're a team....remember?
One room step closer to wonderful.

Choose your focal point
 Since Steve no longer used the front door, the space had no traffic flow. What it did have was lots of natural light. Often, as in this case, the living room is where the gang watches TV. This TV and the stand overpowered the best asset in the room....the fireplace. Moving the set would bring back flow and make it someday possible to re-instate the front entrance. For now, that one change would eliminate the competition for attention between TV land and the under-appreciated fireplace.

 I took a tour downstairs to the "man cave" to check out the wiring with high hopes that we could re-position the set and it's console to the long wall allowing us to better use the floor space. Experience prevailed and it was obvious in this house it would be a time consuming undertaking to move wires thru the floor joists under the dropped ceiling. This is an easy enough task from a work perspective, but sometimes you've just gotta go with what you can accomplish in the day. 

This is a great example of setting the framework for future upgrades to the design. Leaving the TV where it was functioned fine and will be addressed in the next phase of refining. In the end, it all came together and the TV is now in the shadow of our true focal point, the fireplace.

Game Results
We brought some importance to the room by showcasing a favorite framed  picture over the mantel. Steve managed to smuggle it out of his childhood home and tho it has little monetary value, it's sentiment is priceless. This is what we at Suite 24 look for when beginning your design. Pieces of your life, things that reflect who you are and where you've been....these are the details that turn a house into a home. 


  With some creative, inexpensive additions the mantle became the wow factor this simple surround needed. Even tho the budget was minimal, we were able to add some 'free' touches. There were a few odd wine bottles that we fitted with  inexpensive colored candles reminiscent of  earlier times in Steve's life. 
(The guys later told me how much they really like that particular feature. Candles are now part of their budget!) Using the wine bottles for the candles kept the design manly and un-fussy but brought ambiance to the room. We also agreed to keep the odd pair of contemporary pictures since they echoed the fun-loving side of the homeowner. Phase two of the re-design process will find them a better place to 'hang' but for now they're part of the story. Sometimes you just need a touch of quirky or the unexpected to keep things light and interesting. 

  Using the red color of the sofas, we incorporated a special art piece that belonged to Saleem thus bringing his presence into the design. It's important to represent all members of the household. Each of us share part of the tapestry that becomes the whole.
 Guests are no longer seated on sofas at opposite ends of the room but instead are positioned to bring the focus and conversation front and center. Between the candlelight, a roaring fire, some real plants and new furniture placement, the room gained an identity at little cost. Even the addition of firewood artfully stacked on the hearth created interest. Family and friends can now comfortably gather, welcomed by memories the familiar picture evokes and the interesting story of Saleems' Togo roots evidenced in his art piece. Both of the men's personalities now shine thru. 

Suite 24 to the rescue. One cohesive look. 
Oh....and it doesn't hurt that the tools and manuals no longer hide the hearth. Go Steve! 
P.S.  Don't forget to water the plants. 



       Suite 24    

             Re-Arranging, Re-Designing, Re-Purposing in one day!                                            We offer same day basic design solutions as well as ongoing services, special occasion designs, staging for resale, organizing,re-purposing, remodel consulting, interior design, color consulting and more....specializing in small spaces, apartments and first homes.

  *Returning to the Annapolis area soon!  Consultations available    to book in time for the holidays. Call now....410-370-3020


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