January 25, 2019
Sometimes you have to have them. Even when you don’t want to. And, that is when the test of your relationship with the designer you hire or any contractor comes. We had to have a conversation with a client to tell them something we knew they were expecting. But, that is why you hire a professional. It is also why you have to hire one that you know has your best interest at heart supported by the experience to help you understand why something needs to happen.
A long term client called us to help with their great room. They loved their home, they enjoyed entertaining and quiet nights at home as a family. But, their great room just wasn’t built in a way that worked for their lifestyle. It was smaller than they needed and they didn’t have enough seating. It was also a dark space and these are folks that like to be outside and enjoy bright rooms. While they are excellent clients to work with, they were hoping that we could make the space better and offered us a challenge. They wanted to try to keep the foot print of the room but make it better.
To start with, there was a baby grand piano. They also had a large fireplace that took up so much space in the room. Almost as if it was an afterthought but was stuck in there anyway. Upon hearing that the piano was seldom used, we immediately recommended removing it from the room. (This is another story for another day. Let’s just say finding a home for a piano is not an easy task! ) They were receptive to that idea and we got to the drawing board.
A few layouts for the room were created and new color, furniture and rugs were selected. We worked on that spatial planning for a few weeks and found a few that would work. We liked our selections but were concerned if the end results would accomplish what our clients asked in full. Back to the meeting table we went and the client liked our ideas. The client selected furniture and window treatments from our ideas. But, something was nagging at all of us. There is a lesson here : if something feels wrong to you, it most likely feels wrong to us. Have the tough conversation. Talk to your design team now as opposed to waiting to the finish line. We slowed progress and met to brainstorm about what we felt wasn’t working. That fireplace was still there. It still took up too much space and was ultimately going to hinder the use of the room. We had to revisit the possibility of removing it.
Our clients, being so much fun, got up from the kitchen table and asked, “what if we DID take it out?” We couldn’t see what was behind the wall and try to think things through before acting but when they grabbed a small sledge hammer and knocked a few holes in the drywall, we knew this was the answer all of us found correct. Yes, right there in the middle of a meeting, they did a little demolition. It was a point in our story that will remain memorable and always makes us smile. We reached out to the companies that could remove this fireplace completely and within a few days, it was gone. The whole fireplace and surrounding built ins, all removed. What was in its place was about 50 square feet of space. We added a few extra pieces for seating, some interesting details to that wall where the fireplace was and the components for television and cable were rerouted. By adding mirrors to that wall, the lake view was reflected and the space became even bigger and brighter.
Our clients LOVED their new great room. When family came to visit everyone was comfortable and surprised how spacious the great room now was and the holiday became one that everyone could share in one space. This would never have happened if our client didn’t trust us enough to hear that piece of advice that was the game changer and if we didn’t have the relationship to have that tough conversation. We love sharing how this design became a reality and knowing that our clients are able to enjoy their great room every day. This is how home should feel.