Friday, October 28, 2011

before & after: the blank slate

Ask any inte­rior designer this ques­tion: "Which is harder — to start with an empty room or to start with some­thing a client already owns?" I would answer that a blank slate is often the more dif­fi­cult assign­ment. When start­ing with a piece that a client already loves, be it art, a rug or some­thing else, the designer has clues. And clues are always help­ful in deci­pher­ing the mys­tery of someone's taste and style! Color pref­er­ences and styl­is­tic ten­den­cies can be read in a well-loved piece.

But some­times you don't get clues — you get a blank slate. In this case, a large beige box. A per­fectly ordi­nary room with absolutely no char­ac­ter whatsoever:

the blank slate home office
the blank slate home office

The charge for this space — cre­ate a home office for the lady of the house. She wants a com­puter work­space, sump­tu­ous fab­rics, lush col­ors and a place to put up her feet and chat with a girl­friend. Oh, and there needs to be some glam!

As I final­ize the design, the client and I do a lit­tle gallery-hopping and bring home this fash­ion­ista from local artist Sandy Welch:

Sandy Welch painting

Sandy Welch painting

Although she's out of frame in this next pic­ture, you can visu­al­ize how she now takes pride of place in this glam­orous home office:

the blank slate home office - transformed.

the blank slate home office — trans­formed. photo by Michael Partenio

The Bar­bara Barry desk is the state­ment piece for this room, with the Robert Allen ottoman in a divine blue vel­vet a close sec­ond. Creamy whites, deep blues, char­coal walls and sil­ver silk drap­ery are the per­fect com­ple­ment to the fash­ion­ista who lives here!



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  1. Leslie Fine says:

    Cyn­thia — Won­der­ful post and beau­ti­ful "after" photo. I actu­ally think it can be more dif­fi­cult to work with exist­ing pieces rather than start­ing with a clean slate. Some­times, work­ing with exist­ing pieces or col­ors can be lim­it­ing; a blank slate can become ANYTHING! As always, the suc­cess of any project is all about being able to get as much infor­ma­tion from the client as to what he/she loves and being able to trans­late those desires and dreams into a beau­ti­ful and func­tional space.

  2. Cynthia says:

    Thank you Leslie! You are cor­rect, the biggest chal­lenge is inter­pret­ing the client's desires, whether start­ing from scratch or with exist­ing cues. Thanks for stop­ping by!

  3. Santi says:

    That office looks amaz­ing, I am sure you have one happy client.

  4. Cynthia says:

    Thanks! Yes, she is over the moon!

  5. KMS says:

    Yes I am over the moon! Thank you Cindy for lis­ten­ing to & inter­pret­ing my desires for a space I can truly call my very own!

  6. Cynthia says:

    KMS, it was my plea­sure! Thank you for hav­ing con­fi­dence in our shared vision and choos­ing to embark on your design jour­ney with Cyn­thia Mason Interiors!