A lesson in custom casegoods
Funky homes habitually offer unending, oneof-a-kind possibilities for special built-in features. When you inherit a floor plan that meanders and changes levels because it has been formed over generations, you have the basis for uniqueness. Some of the most charming homes I’ve ever worked on attained that quality only because they were not perfect tract homes. Even the well planned out custom home often is too carefully plotted out, and because of that fact, can risk feeling far too predictable. Character emanates from the unpredictable situation.
This dining room setting is in present day Australia and offers a mod- ern Mid-Century table handmade from timber recycled from old Queenslander houses. While we don’t know how the painted brick wall was originally planned, the brick introduces texture to a nearly all-white room. Sometimes walls like this one were, in the beginning, exterior walls. Changes in materials very often are the sort of design features that occur randomly over time and would not be a feature found in a newly built home. In the Southwestern U.S. one could run into an adobe wall. In the rain-soaked Northwest, perhaps, you might run into a stone wall that would have been used in a 1960s home, or a red brick wall from the 1940s. Instead of tearing such features out, the wise homeowner seeks a way to use different layers of style to their advantage. I have worked around wood paneling and old wall coverings before.
When one travels to other countries, very often you find very old structures that have been adapted to modern use over hundreds of years. That’s the charm of France and Italy: honest materials like stone and plaster that have turned and cracked and worn unevenly over time. The imperfection itself is what we Americans have tried to copy in our design over the last three decades as more and more people have taken advantage of accessible travel. Note how the slim built-in shelves mount to the side and up and over the French doors. Instead of appearing awkward, there is a seamless quality achieved by the white painted finish on all materials. Wood doors, brick, wall surface and trim all blend together. The eye accepts the variety as friendly and woven.
Since this is the year of white, or more accurately, “Alabaster,” according to Sherwin-Williams paint, it is noteworthy that this scene demonstrates exactly how white works its magic. The reason the non-color was chosen was to foster calm and serenity in our turbulent days. Our hope for 2016 is that it be a year of peace, but the popularity of white speaks to the stress felt outside of our home. The only warmth introduced into this room comes from rustic wood with personality. That tone is artfully repeated in the copper light globes, chairs and accessory items. One could just as easily have introduced a vibrant yellow or a peaceful blue color to use as accent.
Often a light neutral base color works better in a structure that is undisciplined and a bit bumpy. You don’t really want to emphasize all the warped lines or mismatched corners, details or levels. There is a bit of a trick to carefully preserving some of the unique features while smoothing out the sharp edges. A basic rule of thumb might be this: Stand back and study any odd feature with both acceptance and practicality. If the situation is just too strange or limiting, then you might wish to eliminate the trait. If you can save it by making it blend in better, then take the steps to do just that. This might involve tearing out the most offensive part of it. For example, if to the right side of these doors there had been a very deep lower storage cabinet, perhaps it would be best to tear that bulky section out and only leave the shallow upper shelves in place. That would accomplish both acceptance and practicality in one action.