All original work © Jason W. Wong. Please ask for permission to reproduce any work.

All original work © Jason W. Wong. Please ask for permission to reproduce any work.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Three, that's the magic number (yes it is...)

You might remember Emily and Chris--they're my young creative Central Valley clients who were thinking of buying a new home. Well, plans totally changed a couple of months ago. Instead of trying to buy a tract home with lots of room for their creative endeavors (she's a writer/actor, he's a musician) they decided to chuck it all in to pursure their art.

Chucking it all in. Literally. They got rid of almost all of their possessions and scaled down to a small, charming 1920s one-bedroom Mediterranean Revival apartment near the downtown area of their city. I was in awe of their priority shift and was filled with this crazy mix of amazement and respect for their decision. In some ways, I wish more people would just let go like this...

But now they were starting fresh. More than ever, I wanted to help them create a stylish home that reflected their personalities and sensibilities.

Suddenly going from a three- to four-bedroom tract home to a one-bedroom rental was a shift. There wouldn't be any more talk of kitchen and bathroom remodels. But I saw it as a space planning and decorating challenge, one that we're still working through. After a long sit-down consultation, I was surprised to see that both agreed on a certain '70s glam/rock aesthetic. The patterns and textiles they gravitated toward were pretty bold and geometric, but sometimes a paisley would also grab their attention. Space age was out, but they could be swayed toward glass and chrome. Based on previous conversations, I was surprised that their tastes were actually so clean and modern.

I developed a furniture plan to show them how their living room could be divided into three spaces to maximize entertaining, living, and work:

As I continued researching different pieces for this space, we ran into some communication glitches regarding my overall vision for their home. I understood the look perfectly in my head, but how could I communicate to my clients how each piece related to the ones around it? We were all swimming in a sea of digital images, tear sheets, and magazine/catalog pictures that we were sending each other back and forth from our computers and phones. "Does this table go with that rug?" "What desk would look good with which combination of chairs?" "Where should that vintage cart go?" It was getting confusing, since they were trying to understand how to juggle all the pieces of this puzzle.

That's when it hit me. At least for this job I could explain the look as a formula that they could understand. The equation of their '70s chic apartment involved three factors: something geometric, something organic, and something classic (or "old school" as I explained to them.) For example, the sofa area could have a dark leather Chesterfield sofa (old school) with a floral/organic patterned rug and a geometric coffee table. I told them that if something changed (like their choice of rug to something with a geometric pattern) then they'd have to adjust accordingly (like get a more organic-shaped coffee table.) Even the entire living room fit into this equation: the sofa area tended to be more classic, with a traditional sofa and a floral rug, while the middle office area would be very geometric, with an angular desk and a graphic painting taking up most of the wall. The third area by the kitchen/entry would be the wild card, balancing out the other two-thirds of the room as we furnished it.

I created this collage to help show how these different parts of the formula relate to one another:

In the end, they were happy that they could finally have some "rules" to use as they hunted for certain pieces on their own. And I was just relieved to have happy clients. I poured myself a bourbon and slept well that night.

It's still a work in progress, but as part of my Redesign-1 package of services, I can only make suggestions for pieces that my clients can buy. They may find something better, more unique, or cheaper on their own. Luckily, I get one more chance to make the most of what they've purchased in a final staging/rearranging round. I'll take photos of the results and share them with you in the next couple of months.



Jim N. said...

I love the dynamic nature of the geometric-organic-classic formula. It's great that you acknowledge that your clients' needs and interests will likely change over time...and the collage gives them a great visual reference "library" to play with and build on.

Chris said...

As soon as Jason put together our unique formula, the lightbulb went off in my head! I suddenly had a clear vision and mental picture of what our apartment would look like. I'm getting more and more excited with every piece we acquire.