SO much adversity!! First, the elephant in the room: COVID-19.
I hope you, Gentle Readers, are socially but comfortably isolated, not too stressed-out, and disease-free. What a mess. The design house (talk about a distraction from the news of the world!) has been POSTPONED but not cancelled. The new dates are JUNE 13 – JULY 12, 2020. I will remain steadfastly optimistic that the ASPIRE HOUSE will happen.
As a 180-degree distraction from reality, let me fill you in on what we’ve been doing for the show house.
Last time, I told you that the room we were offered was not the one we were hoping for.
We seriously considered declining the invitation to participate, because we were convinced that our design would not translate to the new space.
I know that sounds pretty snobby. But show houses are an incredible investment of time, money, and social capital. Designers don’t participate only because they’re fun (although they are). We participate because we want to exhibit our very best work to the public. We want to introduce Annie Elliott Design to people who may not know us, and we want to surprise and impress people who DO know us. It’s a “go big or go home” situation.
After sitting with the offer for a few days, a thought struck us. What if we bucked what the room was telling us to do (children’s play space, man cave, bunker) and did what WE wanted to do? What if we beat it into submission? What if we surprised everyone by creating a sunny, happy, lighthearted bedroom in this challenging space anyway? WHAT IF??
We had a little time before the deadline. So we arranged to go back to the house (hopefully there would be walls this time!) and re-assess. We brought our window treatment and bedding fabricator, Sew Hallie, with us so she could measure.
Being something of a fatalist, I looked for silver linings:
- The room is larger than the original and has a different door placement = a full-fledged seating area with a settee or chairs
- The fact that it only has one window = less fabric for drapes = lower expense
- Being on a level separate from the other bedrooms = more memorable, perhaps? As in, “Did you see the bedroom on the lower level? It’s fabulous!”
- More wall space = more art
As recovering art historians, Amy and I include art in our design plans as often as possible. Pieces our client already has and loves, new pieces we recommend, or, ideally, a combination. Art is essential to personalize and enliven a home.
In this room, however, because we no longer had windows flanking the bed, we decided to use two of these pieces in large-scale format instead. They’d almost serve as windows, if that makes sense.
I’m kind of sad that we can’t use all of Claire’s bird portraits, because they are stunning. But I will say that the larger scale is spectacular. Amy and I took them to the framer’s last week, and we got lots of oooohhhs and aaaahhhhs. Which, let’s face it, is always the reaction we want ;)
Another change we had to make was the desk. The original choice had waterfall sides in a beautiful tortoiseshell finish. That was no accident; given the “original” room’s door placement, you would have seen the side of that wonderful desk upon entering. But now the desk would have a different relationship to the doorway…and it was a bit large…and maybe it was too fancy for the other adjustments we were making (such as adding tufted chairs and introducing some antique prints).
The replacement desk is slightly smaller and more modest in style, which works better with the vibe of this room.
So, Gentle Readers, that’s where I leave you. Two designers embracing their new circumstances and determined to create the loveliest, most breathtakingly charming bedroom you’ve ever seen. Go big or go home.
(Next time, I’ll tell you about our unexpected bonus space! Talk about a silver lining.)
Annie Elliott Design is based in Washington, DC, but we travel for fun projects. Annie’s design work and insights have appeared in numerous local and national publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Washingtonian Magazine. The ASPIRE HOUSE will open this fall. See you there!