Design Reveal: Ali and Brian's New Nest

Hello, friends! I won't even bother trying to hide my excitement for today's post - it's a design project I've been looking forward to sharing with you since JANUARY! And in January, all I was looking at were these photos:

While these images represent a DECADE of dudes on rotation moving in and out, the potential had my heart fluttering at first look. But not just because of the potential for some really fun design - this is the second time getting to work with our dear client, Ali! You may remember Ali's Navy Yard condo, (bedrooms here)? Ali was absolutely amazing to work with the first time around - she let me dream big and come up with risky ideas that required HER execution! She's a total go-getter and when she's happy with the design, she will make it happen. So I knew going into this one that we could do some big fun things!

But the very best part of this particular design project is that it represents an incredibly precious new chapter in Ali's life. Ali moved into this space with her fiance, Brian! They tie the knot in about 6 weeks and we sure couldn't feel happier for these two lovebirds. Brian has lived here for 10 years and when Ali came onto the scene, she wasted no time transforming this long running bachelor pad. But combining two full lives under one roof proved quite the challenge! Their many, (maaaaaany), books needed ample storage space, their desire to entertain and host friends needed room to do so, and even the task of joining their individual styles together required some creative thinking. Brian prefers warmer colors, (hence the mustard yellow walls and red rugs), while Ali enjoys a lighter, airier space with room to breath. We used a lot of neutrals and blue tones throughout her previous condo and she expressed early on that she didn't want this home to look just like her last. 

Let's take a look around!

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Brian works from home a good bit and uses the bay window in the living room as his office. So while table space and comfortable seating for his meetings were important, we were also weary of the space looking too much like a dining room. It can certainly double as dining space when need be, but thoughtful chair selection and styling was crucial in executing this space as a definitive work area.

Before

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I am the LUCKIEST girl to have a business partner like Cate who can come in with fresh eyes and style these spaces out on shooting day. There were some odds and ends to finish up here before we got pictures and it was such a relief to know Cate would bring the shelves to life with her thoughtful touch. We've done this enough times now that she understands my style, she's prepped on the vibe of the space, and works her magic to create groupings that make sense in the surrounding room. There was A LOT to work with in here and she hit the nail on the head. It doesn't hurt that Ali herself has acquired some really fun goodies to play with! Not only does she have the greenest thumb among us, she has a careful eye for art, photography, and pretty little things. It was a lot of fun to be hands on in this space after 7 months of selecting everything from paint to picture frames!

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The first thing I started brainstorming for this space was storage. I knew I wanted to add storage to both sides of the fireplace, (which is, indeed, off center -  your eyes aren't messing with you), but one side is narrower than the other. Asymmetry doesn't bother me in the least so when I plugged two side-by-side IVAR cabinets from IKEA to the left side in the digital floorplan and saw that they were a perfect fit, I decided to just run open shelving up the right side. This solution makes absolute sense given that Brian's work area is on that left side and he really needs the extra storage space there. I wanted to have the IVAR cabinets floating over the floor by about 8" for a modern, custom look, and cannot express enough how much I love, love, love how they turned out! Ali and her handy Dad hung the shelves and they created the mantle from a DIY tutorial we found on Pinterest, (which they brilliantly added a notch in from behind to hide cords)!

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If this isn't your first StyleMutt Home design reveal, you might be noticing a recurring element - moody mossy green, and specifically green velvet, (examples A, B, C, D - walls and sofa for a double whammy, E, F - you get the point!). And those are only a few that we've photographed so far! As a young designer with an itty bitty portfolio, it can be risky to reuse an element over and over. Will that signature move be well received or turn people off? I've used this element both subtly and obviously in various jobs and it's just my favorite! Dark green was first inspired by my love for nature and the beautiful shades of green I see right outside my window. I view it and use it as a neutral and love how it adds a touch of earthiness! It's not right for every space, but somehow it finds its way in to quite a few!

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When we got down to the final details and Ali was ready for pillows, I got a little carried away! But with all that we had going on across the room on the shelves, I wanted to balance the space with some weight on the sofa. I had A LOT of fun with the pillows. :)

And if you want to know what's behind the door that the couch is blocking, you'll need to take that up with Sweden. Apparently this old building in DC belongs to them LOL!!! All I know is that no one needs access to that door and it's the only wall in the room to place the sofa, (and with the dimensions of the room, floating the sofa is not an option). I only tell you this because I have already had one designer question this layout with a comment: "Sofa in front of a door?" I get it, it's not ideal, But this is DC living, folks. Old, quirky buildings with odd elements that you just have to work with. I worked with it by adding an oversized mirror to one side of the door and mounting a good sized sconce to the other. When the conditions are not ideal, you can always fall back on scale and at least get that right.

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Before

 
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Recognize the art? It was over Ali's sofa in her last place! She took that photo in Cambodia and framed it herself!!

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This sweet alcove is right off the kitchen and is perfect for dining and game nights. Nailing down exactly how Ali and Brian wanted to use this space was crucial and I had a couple different ideas for it. But when comfortable seating and dining height table space became priority in this narrow space with only two walls, it made sense to add a banquette and round pedestal table. A Craigslisted cabinet stores games and defines the space, along with a cozy rug and soft leather chairs. And more pillows - I'm telling you, I've never had more fun with pillows!

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The bedroom is a quieter extension of the main living spaces - layered texture and pattern take on a more neutral vibe with the strong statements being the brick and green velvet covered headboard.

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There are pleeenty of gorgeous lush green velvet headboards out there, but with a perfectly good headboard already in place and a willing Ali to recover it herself, I found this delicious mossy velvet on Etsy for her to use - this is a much more cost efficient solution but the results are dramatic!

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One of the sweetest surprises in here was when they removed the makeshift desk that had been built over top of the window seat! It was something we had spent quite a bit of time discussing when they gave me the Facetime tour during our consultation, and at the time they weren't sure it could be broken down. But they made it happen and it completely opens this room up! I have a special place in my heart for window seats so this element just puts a smile on my face.

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The last stop of our tour is the back room which doubles as Ali's office and their guest room.

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A rolling desk floating in front of some Billies, (bookshelves from IKEA), make this an easily transitional space when guests come in town.

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It's bittersweet to be at the end of this amazing project and to be done working with Ali and Brian. I cannot express enough what a gift it's been to get to work with them, (and with Ali TWICE). I said this last time, but she makes us look DARN GOOD! It's so hard to get projects to the finish line as things come up in our client's lives, (as we, too, experience and more than understand), so connecting with someone who cares just as much to see things through, even moving mountains to do so, just means the world. Fortunately we have had the pleasure of working with several like minded clients this year, so this reveal is the beginning of a short chain of finished projects we will get to share with you! We hope you enjoyed this one and we can't wait to share more soon!

Thank you so much for stopping by today!

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Cantilever Chairs || Plus a Dining Room Reveal!

Today is the day.  I finally have a room in our new place to share: our dining room!

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Ok so it didn’t look like much when we moved in.  Basically three things had to happen to get us to this reveal day: 

1) The dining room HAD to be painted something a little less light-sucking
2) We needed to find some chairs - because what is a dining room without chairs amiright? 
3) I needed to decide what art to feature in here!

We (I mean er my familial paint crew - thanks again guys!) knocked out the painting on week one but finding some chairs that could really make a statement was proving more difficult.  But eventually, I found them:

Brass... Breuer... CANE... Cantilever chairs.

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Up until I found these, I didn't even know Marcel Breuer chairs came in anything but chrome.  But when I saw these glittering gold chairs, I scooped them up - carrying two at a time through the maze of dusty furniture at the thrift store, slightly panicked that the other two wouldn't still be there while the check-out clerk waited for me to navigate them safely out. 

My original plan was to flip and sell them. But I wasn't sure what direction to take them in.  My gut wanted me to recover the seats in leather but I was having some doubts.  Between the warm cane and bright brass, I feared that richly-toned leather would stick out like a sore thumb.  It needed something to tie it all together.

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I sought council from my favorite sounding board Chelsea.  She actually suggested a soft, light velvet instead - wouldn't that be lovely?!  But after more research at the fabric store, I realized velvet was out of my price range.  Plus, I already had some yardage of leather in black and didn't want that to go to waste - but what could I do to marry the look?  

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Eventually, I landed on adding an unexpected touch of black on the back of the cane.  Suddenly, this discreet black lip is what I needed to realize I was in love!  Alrighty - let's see it all together shall we?

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Ah the paint color already makes a WORLD of difference in this space.

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And these chairs are the stuff my dreams are made of!

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Can you see the touch of black on the inside lip?

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At certain angles it even peaks through the cane.

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It’s funny to me that rooms with molding used to always read really "traditional" to me.  But when we toured this rental, it was the idea of making this space a fresh take on traditional is what sold me on this house in the first place - despite the dingy tan walls.

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As for the art, I tried hanging all sorts of arrangements in this dining nook and was despondent to all of them.  I had wanted something long and low to lean a cluster of art on but the dining room didn't have space for a buffet or credenza.  But when I hung the art low and along the chair rail I realized it created the same effect that I love without the added furniture footprint!

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Even though they were originally supposed to be for sale, once I brought them in around our table - I was done.  These babies were mine.  And the perfect crowning jewel to our freshly finished space.  Hoping to have more of our new place to share over the coming months so stay tuned friends!

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Custom Campaign

Early on into our move, I found a fixer-upper campaign piece for sale on Facebook.  We hadn't unpacked everything and my workshop was nothing more than a junk drawer for empty boxes and miscellaneous curtain rods.  But the price was right (and it was an easy pick up on my way home) so I brought it home without a plan. 

 
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After posting the cabinet in my stories on Instagram, I immediately got a DM from a client who was looking for a cute little storage piece for her living room.  After a couple conversations about colors we landed on an old favorite as our inspiration - this piece from 2016:

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Since the paint color from our inspiration piece was a custom mix, I got the paint color-matched to finally get a name: Tanglewood by Behr.

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It's a warm shade of greige that reminds me of wet potters clay.  

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This color is super moody when it wants to be.

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And plays really well with the bright gold tones of the original campaign hardware:

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Like these brass recessed pulls.

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And corner braces.

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Despite what it looks like a first glance, those pulls aren't on individual drawers - they are actually on a pair of doors that open up into a cabinet.

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For styling, I broke out my with diy chandelier which sadly doesn't have a home in our new place... yet ;)

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This little guy was shipped off to it's new home in Richmond.  But, if you are interested in a custom order like it, email me at cate@stylemutthome.com.
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