Before / After

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In my design work, I enjoy using something the client already has and transforming it to fit into the aesthetic of the room. In life & in design, I look for the good traits & play them up. I like the concepts of recycling, upgrading, transforming; polishing a lump of coal into a diamond.

A Bernoudy client of mine had a pair of vintage Baker chairs they inherited from an Uncle. They had a sentiment attached to them which made me look closer at them. The scale was appropriate to the room & they possessed sufficient quality but lacked the necessary panache fitting for the vision of the space. I started to think of ways to bring them up to par for use today. We had the frames lacquered an orange red. The original caning had a dated look to it so the caning was replaced with a fine weave pattern in a bleached finish that contrast the lacquer & compliments the Romo linen selected for the seats. As a finishing touch, we had the incised molding below the seats inlaid with brass. The end result is quite effective in the room.

Another recent transformation on a pair of chairs was a case of extreme makeover with the difference in before & after quite dramatic. A client mentioned to me in our first meeting that they would like to use a pair of chairs from their previous living room. My first thought was that they didn’t lend themselves to the scale or architecture of the new residence, a midcentury William Bernoudy. I presented an alternate choice but the client came back to the idea of using the chairs.

I think a good designer listens & evaluates the needs of the client. What was it appealing about the chairs? Comfort. I might in another case look for something equally comfortable but fitting to the style of the room but in this case discussed redesigning the chairs. Decorative cosmetic surgery was in order. Again, the quality of the structure was there but the scale was off. We eliminated the shapeless back pillow & replaced it with a square modern cushion. The rolled arms were too traditional so they were shaved down & made in a more architectural form. The skirt was eliminated & the legs refinished in a tone to compliment existing woodwork. We retained the inside seat width but made the outside dimensions more narrow. New luxe striped velvet brought the chairs into the present. Voila!

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My last example of before & after was a challenge of scale, color & function. In a Bernoudy residence powder room, there is a corner vanity with a whimsical Italian sink decorated with a perfume bottle motif & matching tiles above the sink. We wanted to retain the sink & found a complimentary wallpaper made by Dedar. The previous owners took the vanity mirror & attached sconce which provided the only lighting for the space. We needed a mirror & lighting solution that was compact & as chic as the wallpaper & sink. I found this vintage brass framed mirror that was the perfect scale but the reverse painted glass at the top didn’t fit our color palette. I had the motif copied to a stencil & painted on a piece of white milk glass. The mirror was retro fitted to be back illuminated & made into a sconce. The end result fits the space, fulfills the function & looks as if it has always been there.
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