Monday, March 25, 2013

Designer's Questionnaire

Tina, of Life in Sketch, sent me a list of questions to answer in order for NY interior designer, Sarah Sarna, to advise me on how better to decorate our home's living area.

I hope I didn't write too much, especially since I added some background and other information at the end.  But, I just get one chance at this, and I wanted to be clear about my needs, concerns, and preferences.  

I didn't tell you the process of this gift I won...  I answer a set of questions and send photos of the space.  Sarah Sarna will look things over and get back to me with recommendations for the space within 4 weeks.  Then I can send her one email, asking questions about her advice, and she'll answer one final time.

Some of the photos I sent were shown in Saturday's post, but I sent many more, including some that showed our home's exterior, the kitchen, and entry, in order to give a feel for the style and what else we have going on.  

I had Hubby and Princess Sassy read through everything I wrote, to make sure it was clear, and communicated everything they knew me to be concerned with.  When all 3 of us were satisfied it said what I wanted her to know, I emailed it.  Hopefully, I haven't tied her hands too much!

Here are the questions and my answers.  Warning... It's long!

Life in Sketch/Sarah Sarna Consultation Questionnaire

1.    What space in your home are you interested in redesigning?
o   Our “great room.”  This is a long space, partially divided into 3 smaller spaces… Living, dining, and computer/sitting area.   If it is “cheating” or too much to address this whole area, we can concentrate on only part of it, but all will ultimately need to visually/cosmetically connect, so, from my end, I need to consider how changes in one area affect and dictate choices in the others. 


2.    What do you love about this space right now?
o   The Douglas fir trim (cut from our own trees, cut and installed by my husband and sons, and hand finished by me) and the beefy, Craftsman style of that trim.
o   The rich, wood flooring…even though I wouldn’t choose this species/color again, because of showing dirt and scratches.  It does not show light spots, as in the photo.  It looks pretty much all the same color... and is med-dark.
o   Large windows without coverings.
o   The wall colors.  (not as green as they look in the photos)
o   The lighting seems good and attractive.
o   The space we have for our table, which can extend through as much of the 39’ of room length, as necessary, for big, family dinners.  With 8 kids, someday we might need to seat 40+! 
 3.    What are you looking to change?
o   The cluttery, unfinished overall look with hand-me-down furnishings.
o   The lack of polish and cohesiveness.
o   Form should follow function, but we seemed to have stopped at function, for the most part. 
 4.    What is your budget?
o   $6K, including any new furniture and the materials for any DIY built-ins, home-sewn pillows, etc.
o   Plus $4K to add possible fireplace to the living room section, where the TV is?  But not sure of the location in regard to efficient airflow for the heat. 
 5.    What are your favorite interiors styles?
o   “Loft”:  wood, metal, stone/brick/concrete.  Organic mixed with industrial… A little edgy with clean lines, but comfortable, people-friendly atmosphere, and a punch (or two!) of color.  I can appreciate some whimsy.  Appropriate for barefoot lifestyle, and ‘hanging out,’ but also a gracious and attractive backdrop for special occasions.
o   Craftsman/Mission to go with our (21st Century) American Foursquare styled home.
o   Pacific NW… Bringing the outdoors in; appreciating the outdoor view and coordinating the interior feel, materials, and colors with the natural surroundings.
o   I like décor that focuses on architectural details, like fireplaces, built-ins, windows, and wood trim. 
 6.    What styles do you dislike?
o   Traditional, Country, Old World… or anything too flowery, cluttery, or ornate.
o   Contrived rustic--or any contrived look, really.  I’m not in Italy, so wouldn’t want Tuscan, for example.  If something is distressed, it should have been well-loved, not beaten with a chain last week.
o   Any style that doesn’t give due respect to the dignity and character of the architectural style of the home, or shows a lack of continuity from room to room, or exterior to interior. 
 7.    What are your favorite colors?
o   Aubergine/eggplant
o   Grays… Slate, dove gray, creamy grays, or gray greens.  Not blue-grays.
o   Burgundy and deep reds
o   Black
o   Espresso brown
o   Deep, clear blues with a hint of green are OK…Marine blue? Or Dark Teal? 
 8.    What colors do you dislike?
o   Rust/Orange/Peach
o   Dusty rose
o   Light or dusty blues
o   Royal blue
o   Pastels and Beiges
o   Golds in any more than a touch here and there, or a minor part of a pattern 
 9.    Do you like pattern?
o   Abstract, including, but not limited to, large-scale, simplified florals
o   Geometrics
o   Swirls, random dots, whimsy, et 
 Are there certain patterns you dislike?  
o   Traditional, including florals and formal patterns 
 10. What is the most important thing you’re looking to get out of your new/redesigned space?
o   I want the space and its décor to look intentional… Planned, as if grown-ups with a complete vision for their home live here, instead of the ‘make-do,’ one-step-up-from-college-apartment look.
o   I want a place for everything and everything in its place, but also some decorative pieces and wall art to make it nice and to make it neat, welcoming, personal, fun, and reasonably colorful. (Our daughter does ceramics and paints, and I sew art quilts, so those are possible art and display items)`         
o   I want it to look polished and finished, from floor to ceiling.

Background and other info you might find helpful: 
 We are what I call “terminal DIYers.”  This has served us well in improving homes, and in building this one.  We moved in 5 yrs ago.  (I designed and the whole family, led by my construction teacher husband, built it with little outside help.)  But it also means, that at this point, our “to-do” and “to-finish” lists are longer than the years I foresee we have left!  I am tired of a house that is full of ‘make do’ situations, using what we had from years ago or what people have  (generously) cast off to us.  We live on one income and have a large, homeschooled family (8 kids, now ages 8 to 25.  2 are married.  One married couple and our eldest son live in their own apartments in other cities, but one married couple lives with us, and we’re adding a garage with space above for them) … So ‘making do’ has been necessary, but I want to do better. 
 I am including photos of the exterior, plus kitchen and entry, which show the style of our home.  You can see that, like the entire house, the kitchen and stairway still lack some finishing trim. 
 I am also, of course, including photos of the space, which is lacking the casing around the big doorways separating the long space into 3 sub-spaces, and the French doors that could separate the living area into a quiet space.  It’s also missing a lot of the built-ins we’d planned, so I’m including some old renderings of suggested plans.  We wouldn’t want the window seat any longer in the dining room, but would do a buffet counter instead.  We also won’t do the ceiling beams that may be visible in some of those illustrations. 
 I’ll also include the main floorplan, so you can see how things flow, and the space dimensions.  You can see that we’d planned another addition to the south side of our house, which will mean replacing the large window in the middle of the space I’m sharing with a doorway to get to a larger family room. Meanwhile, though, the living room end of the space is all we have for gathering to sit and talk or watch a movie together.  We have to bring chairs from the center section of the space to have enough seating. 
 Speaking of furniture, we are not fond of much of what we have and intend to get rid of most or all.  I loved the red leather chairs, one of my only opportunities to choose and buy something that I felt was ‘me.’  But the seats have faded and a pair of kittens clawed the arms.  I think I still love the chairs and am considering having them recovered, or just dealing with the ‘patina.’ 

We also have a pair of smaller, brown leather chairs with matching foot rests that aren’t in the space currently.  Because of their simple lines and modest size, I think they might work somewhere?  The rest of the furniture is too big, and mostly not my color or style, because of coming from my in-laws’ home.  We like leather for family-friendly cleaning. 
 The dining room chairs need recovering badly.  I was thinking of a marine blue (dark blue with a bit of green tint) or deep teal to liven them up?  I’d considered a lively print, but want to leave my options open for a table runner or other table decorations, so thought the chairs should be colorful, but not steal the show.  
 I am not a fan of window treatments, especially that would cover the wood trim. Our hardware is mostly antique pewter, and our light fixtures are black.  I wanted an iron (gray metal) look. 
 The blue tape around the dining table is from considering putting a rug in there the day I signed up for Tina’s contest!  :-)  Not sure that’s the most practical solution, for cleaning and for when we extend the table, and mostly, the tape made me think a rug would overwhelm the room… 
 As I said in the questionnaire, if I’m asking too much by presenting the whole 3-section room as one space, I am surely OK with you limiting the scope to the living or dining area, and I will try to take what you’ve suggested for one end and try to utilize and coordinate with the other end.  


Now, the wait to see what she comes up with!
                               .........Excited...... Excited..... Excited...................................  :-)

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