Flashback: Revisiting a Design from the Past
Stacey Lapuk, ASID
Years ago, I designed a primary bedroom for a Decorators Showcase House. Looking back on this design from the past, I still remember it proudly. The room was 1,000 square feet, with views, a fireplace, and a balcony. There were windows along one wall and a corner, and french doors onto the balcony. The bed wall opposite was flanked by openings to the bathroom and the closet.
I’d like to tell you about my thought process, and how I went about filling such a vast space in a way that felt balanced, beautiful and comfortable, even cozy. It tells a story about the occupants, and about each carefully chosen or created element that found a home here.
When the room was presented to me, there were plywood floors, sheetrock walls, and the fireplace was a hole. I had a wonderfully blank canvas!
The first thing that struck me was the ceiling height. At 10’0,” it still felt low, as the other dimensions of the space were so expansive. I knew I would need to bring in vertical design elements to help the eye run up and down, visually heightening the ceiling.
The next realization was that the light was far from balanced. One side of the room had all the windows and the french doors that brought in light, while the other sucked it into the cavernous realms of the bathroom and closet.
With regard to the design style, I wanted to create something with layers and interest. I wanted to mix contemporary pieces with antiques, interesting artwork to showcase local talent, and a variety of textures and color to add depth and coziness. The gorgeous Chippendale bed I found was the anchor to the overall design. It gave me a sense of the West Indies, where British Colonialism offered a confluence of styles around robust trade.
That feeling directed me to wall colors of taupe and cream. A beautiful custom wall finish by Beatrice van der Voort in taupe and cream envelopes the room. A slightly darker dado helped visually support the base of the walls, with a lighter treatment above the chair rail allowing the walls to stretch up into the space. Installing a subtle metallic and dimensional wallcovering by Silk Dynasty on the bed wall helped to balance the light from the window side of the room with its low-key reflective qualities, while the relief in the wallcovering design itself offered another opportunity for verticality.
For the floor, we installed a beautiful antique Persian area rug from Soraya. By positioning it at an angle, the design directs your attention from the entry to the bed, the sitting area and the French doors out to the balcony. The anchor of the room, its simplicity and detail (with Farsi script along the border) feel warm and comfortable.
The bold red in the rug in this design from the past subconsciously encourages you to find the other reds in the room – in the artwork on the far wall, for example. This brings that wall forward, tightening up the expanse to feel more relatable. A reason for everything!
The bed worked perfectly. Its tall four posts provided additional verticals to the design, helping to push the ceiling away. To create a sense of coziness and safety, we developed a room-within-a-room by draping the bed with silk panels. This treatment added scale within scale, warmth, comfort and peace. The plush comforter and large Euro pillows are inviting, and the contrasting not-so-simple black pillow almost forces your eye there, drawing you to the bed from anywhere in the room. This was the “star” of the room.
The curve of the headboard was a nice counterbalance to the straight, horizontal lines of the openings around the room, the doorways, the windows and the mullions.
I mimicked the curve of the bed in the fireplace surround, and augmented the hearth and mantle with tall sculptures, again drawing your eye up along that vertical dimension.
The curves of the seating area furnishings further soften the horizontal lines of the room’s structure here – in particular, all the straight lines in the windows. The curious “monkey man” painting on the corner table helps one to be drawn over to this area and enjoy the conversation.
Sculptures and paintings were carefully placed to draw the eye around the room with their particular shapes, colors and tones. They visually heighten the ceiling, balancing the volume of the room. Of special note are the contemporary and colorful paintings over each nightstand as a strong counterpoint to the more neutral tones and colors, and a frame in which the bed sits. Along one wall, gorgeous contemporary paintings in a Renaissance style pick up the muted red and blue of the area rug.
Furnishings in this design from the past include a 19th century hibachi stand used as a plant stand, hand-carved reproduction Singapore Regency chairs from Indonesia, antique night stands from Mariani Antiques, and Japanese Coir table lamps from Imari Gallery, each curving towards the bed, the star of the room.
At the entrance to the room, we placed a round table, so that you can enter, rest your eyes, then flow around the table to take in the rest of the room. Though certainly dated with its massive drape of fabrics, the concept is sound. It would be jarring to simply enter the space without a place to set your expectations, or encounter a straight line here, visually preventing you from moving comfortably into the space.
This room won an American Society of Interior Designers’ Stars Competition Award, which was especially meaningful, as it was judged by my peers. It has graced magazine covers, coffee table books and various newspaper and magazine articles.
As the room was coming together, I remember having nightmares that a red velvet rope would be placed across the doorway because I was unable to complete it in time for the Showcase. But with the help of so many artists, furniture makers, antique dealers, design showrooms and contractors, we pulled it off. With just a few tweaks – for example, reimagining the entry table fabric and shape, and tightening up the bed drape, among a few other updates – this design from the past could easily be adapted for the 21st century.
Stacey Lapuk, ASID is celebrating her 30th year with her firm. Named “One of America’s Ten Designers To Watch” by Design Times Magazine, one of the “Top 100 Interior Designer in North America” by Blink Art Resources, and the winner of multiple national design awards. Her goal is simple: To co-create with her clients the home of their dreams with responsive and comprehensive solutions, and timeless, beautiful results.
Her full service firm attracts clients desiring the finest workmanship, materials and custom design. Facets of work include partnering with architects on new construction, remodels, kitchen design and bath design, color consultation, custom furniture, flooring, area carpets, wall and window treatments, lighting design, art procurement and antique acquisition. Service areas include but are not limited to Marin County, San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma, Ross, Kentfield, Belvedere, Tiburon, San Rafael, and Pacific Heights.