The challenge: Create a fresh new look for a new style of living.
The designer: Renae Keller, Renae Keller Interior Design, Minneapolis, email@example.com, 952-261-9031.
Open to change: Christopher Vye and Rebecca Swan had recently moved from a Tudor-style home in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood to a newer townhouse in Eagan. “Our furniture was traditional and suited that house really well,” said Swan. But after moving into the townhouse, the couple could see that their living-room furnishings were too formal and small in scale for the new space, with its open floor plan and high ceiling. “We wanted to make the most of the open concept, which was pretty unfamiliar to us from our other house,” said Swan. “We were overwhelmed with all the possibilities.” So they called in Keller.
Conversation spots: The new living room had to be multifunctional. The couple, who like to entertain, wanted a space that could accommodate gatherings, from casual to semi-formal, and also provide cozy spots for reading. “They’re not super-formal people,” Keller said. Swan and Vye wanted guests to feel comfortable and relaxed in their living room. “We were looking for a space where people could put their feet up on the coffee table,” Swan said.
Keller combined a clean-lined sofa, a pair of distinctive chairs, two versatile ottomans and accent tables to create three distinct conversation areas within the large open space. The open floor plan and inviting seating options have changed the way the couple live at home. “Before, in the old house, we had a formal living room, but we tended not to end up there,” said Vye. “It was closed off. We’re much more likely to hang out in the living room now.”
New palette: The living room, which was painted a neutral golden-khaki color with white trim, offered a blank slate for choosing colors. “Both of us love color and texture,” Swan said. Patterned fabric, in yellow and fresh spring green, became the starting point for the new palette. Keller used the fabric for accent pillows, then the green was repeated in patterned chairs, the leather ottomans with nailhead trim and a number of smaller accessories. The fresh hue echoes the natural green of the outdoor landscape — the room has a large window offering an expansive view of wooded parkland. The color also complements and enlivens the brown wood tones in the furniture. “It gave it a little punch,” Swan said. “It’s very much a spring feel, but the palette works amazingly well at Christmas, too, for a contemporary holiday feel. And in winter, when it’s brown outside, it’s nice to come home to.”
Balancing the focal point: The centerpiece of the room was its fireplace, with oversized mantel and surround. “The fireplace really took over the room,” Keller said. “We thought about scaling it down,” Vye said. “But we were able to work with what we had by balancing it.” Keller commissioned a large painting and hung it low, directly above the fireplace, then accented the mantel with glass candlesticks of varying sizes. “They added height but weren’t heavy,” she said.
Floor solution: The living room needed an area rug, but the one the couple had in their former house didn’t work in the new space. Instead, they moved that rug to the dining room, and Keller used broadloom carpet, in textured ivory, cut to the perfect size and bound, for a lower-cost alternative to buying a large custom rug.
Finishing touches: To play up the connection with the outdoors, Keller chose organic accent pieces, including extra-large pine cones, slightly bleached and displayed in large spring-green urns by the hearth, and decorative moss balls, visible through the open latticework of a bowl on the coffeetable. “It’s a lighter, modern look, and the pieces inside add color and texture,” Keller said. She also incorporated some of the couple’s collectibles, including glassware, pottery and photos. “Renae did a nice job bringing in our personal items and melding those into the design,” Swan said.