Last week I went to Italy to help my dear friend, Ana design her home. She contacted me shortly after moving from Montreal to Italy to see if I had time to make the trip. Because she was already living in the apartment, I wanted to get there as soon as I could. I gave myself one month to sketch out a plan and source fabrics. Today I will show you the before and after shots, and later in the week I will do a couple of posts about the methods that got us here. As you read this post, keep in mind that the only things we purchased were the two large rugs, the white bookshelves and night stands from Ikea and a few accessories.
I was gone for ten days, but two of those were travel. Two days were taken for Milan (another project I'm working on). Sunday we "rested". Ana generously insisted I choose one excursion day for pure touristy pleasure, so that left just FOUR full days to flip her apartment! Let's get started in the entrance, right through the front door. Before:
The entrance is generously proportioned and they owned a lovely armoire. Ana had the bench reupholstered before I arrived. I was so happy when Ana went along with my color suggestion without batting an eye. I was even happier when it came back and she was thrilled by the choice. The custom cushion and newly framed art completed this area.
This apartment is about 2200 square feet with about about 500 square feet dedicated to the entrance and hall. Some people call these non-room spaces "wasted space", but in many cases I disagree. These wide halls provide a gracious transition between the hustle and bustle of the entrance and kitchen and the calm and elegant living spaces.
Moving into the hall, there is a large niche about 5 inches deep. Although we all would have loved built in bookshelves, they only plan to be in this home for about five years. Also we were on a strict time frame, so IKEA to the rescue. They fit well and we had them professionally built and installed. They are very secure. This hallway is not only attractive and functional, but putting the shelves here has improved the flow of the home.
Now through the double doors, into the living room. Before:
The first thing you saw when you walked through the French doors to the Grand Salon... was the giant black TV screen. This is a family who hardly ever turns it on! Ana confirmed that the girls play the piano (which at the time was sitting in the hall) every day and that music is a much bigger part of their lives, so the beautiful piano got the prime visual real estate.The TV went to the other wall, but I left the sofas and coffee table as they had been arranged. This area was suffering terribly from RugTooSmall syndrome. After looking at dozens of vintage Kilim rugs, we finally found a new one with the modern proportions that we needed (vintage Kilims are long and narrow). The neutral grays were exactly what I had in mind to modernize the rooms' style a bit.
The guitars were being kept in the guest room, along with myself and my things. As I used the room I thought of future guests and realized we needed to find a new home for the guitars. The result exceeded our expectations. The wood tones of the guitars perfectly compliment the wood trim in the doors. Their color and finish lead your eye back and forth between the piano and the guitars. It filled in the wall in a warm and sculptural way, which was the hope, but the whole family became excited to use their instruments more, which is even better. Tim is even going to start taking guitar lessons again.
In the dining area, the large mirror helped break up the empty wall while still keeping the area simple and elegant. As an added bonus it perfectly reflects the art wall. The wonderful basket on the table was brought back from Ethiopia by Tim's father years ago. I think I found it on top of the fridge, but now everyone agrees it's way too cool to be hidden away. Fresh flowers and candle sticks completed our little still life.
When I left we were still waiting for the last piece of art from the framer that will go on the top left, but it's a good start. I prefer an eclectic selection of gallery frames so that you can continue adding as you collect art. We edited out some photography because that made it too busy.
We selected a book on Paris (where the parents met) and a book on Colombia (where Ana is from) for the coffee table. This room now tells you so much about who lives here. It's personal, warm and cozy and will be very easy to keep clean.
Just through the door on the left side of the above picture, you can see the girls' playroom. Here is what it looked like when I arrived:
In the far right of this picture you can see the rocking chair that had been in the living room. The children insisted I use it, so I slip covered it and moved it in here. That corner became my favorite relaxation spot. Now Ana has a comfy place to plan her days while supervising the girl's art projects. Oh, and speaking of comfy, the girls LOVE their floor cushions, and we had so much fun making them, together. Can you tell I "pinked" up the room? Sneaky!
The dresser with the dolls on it had been in the master bedroom. Now it contains every last doll, all the doll clothes and all of their accessories. I selected a handsome piece of furniture and used one of the best pieces of art above it, because that corner is visible as soon as you enter the main living space.
And now, a serene and welcoming oasis of calm. The 3 shams were bought at the antique fair in bologna. They are all a little bit different, but made from antique linen. I wanted to install sconces over the bed, but Ana didn't think it would be worth it, considering she already had two perfectly good lamps. When I hesitated, she held them up and said, "Look. This one's me, and this one's Tim. They're perfect!" I had to laugh, because they are! One thing that drives me crazy is too small rugs. In this case, we took took two nice wool rugs and matched them up. We had the art re-matted using the vintage frames they were already in. The framer really wanted to replace the old frames, but I'm glad I stuck to my guns.
Here's one last picture from the other direction. Again, the framer had no idea why I wanted a really wide mat, but when it was done he agreed he liked the look. In the reflection, you can see my friend saying, "You're a genius". It was a great week and I am so pleased that she gave me the opportunity to help her make her apartment a home. In the end, we moved every piece of furniture except the girls beds, the dining set and the sofas. Thanks for everything, sweet friend.