If you have been reading this blog in the last week, you know I am in my hometown for the Thanksgiving holiday. While I have been here I have had the unique opportunity to makeover my brother’s apartment.
My brother recently went through an amicable divorce with the mother of his three children. His ex-wife stayed in their home while he rented an apartment close to the children to share custody. Covering a mortgage payment and apartment each month probably hasn’t been an easy transition for him. After several months, he hadn’t had the time, expertise or inspiration to give to his apartment. On the way to my brother’s house for the first time, he asked me not to expect anything extraordinary.
I design interiors for a living because I believe we all deserve a place that inspires and speaks to our uniqueness as individuals. It felt natural to redesign my brother’s apartment for him. If we can’t use our talents and abilities to help those we love, aren’t we wasting some of what we have been given?
My brother’s apartment had a cold feeling due mostly to poor color and lack of lighting. The management company for the apartments chose (quite literally) the most depressing dingy white paint with grey undertones I have ever seen. To cut time and money they also coated every surface in sight. The baseboards and trim, registers, bi-fold closet doors and walls were all painted the same hue removing needed dimension from the space. The warm wheat color carpet looked dirty next to the wall color backdrop. The insufficient lighting also left his place feeling stark and lifeless. The before photos don’t do the awful paint color justice. Trust me!
In this previous blog post you can view a “before” video of his apartment: An Apartment Makeover for my BRO .
We started the project by painting the walls of the family room, kitchen, nook and hallway a warm, inviting color. I chose a lovely neutral from Sherwin Williams called “Nomadic Desert”. We also decided to paint the existing oak furniture to update and revive its look. With the help and expertise of Sherwin Williams we were able to transform the furniture without sanding the furniture – selecting an appropriate primer and paint allowed us to skip this labor intensive step. (I LOVE the folks at Sherwin Williams. No one is as good at Jamie and Keith in the Pearl District in Portland, but the local Indianapolis store near his apartment was a close second.)
We also visited a local do-it-yourself frame shop and had a black and white photo of Randy’s children framed. The photograph wasn’t quite large enough for the fireplace’s focal point, so we selected two custom mats to frame. Tip: You can cut back the cost of framing and still have the custom look by selecting a ready made frame, but having a custom mat created. We did this in one evening – no waiting!
We created a focal point in the nook area by painting an unexpected contemporary red and black and square on the wall and centering a framed photo collage over the treatment. The framed photos would have been lost without the scale of the red and black treatment. The red square was a great addition for many reasons. It balanced the color red for the family room, and the square shape mirrored the existing area rug and the cut out square design in the coffee and cocktail tables in the adjoining room.
We invested in two additional lamps and changed the type of light bulbs in the existing lighting to make the most of the lighting we did have. We also picked up a couple of containers to tuck away remote controls and tidy up keys, a cell phone and what nots.
My brother’s style is contemporary clean lines with a hint of Art Deco novelty. He loves chess, so we incorporated large chrome pieces for the mantle. We also included a chrome clock for function and surprise. These pieces worked well with his existing Manhattan artwork that we placed above the sofa. The total room transformation came in under $350, including the 3 gallons and 3 quarts of paint. My brother, not generally good with words, sent me a text message after I left his apartment. “I really don’t know how to thank you. This makes it feel like I have a home.”
Ironically, that was thank you enough. Below is his apartment transformation via video after we did our magic. (I look scary. The blog video captures a random pause from the video. Lucky me!)