Top 15 iconic Western homes
Apply the rule of threes. “Using the same color in three completely different ways makes a room interesting,” Paquette says. Here, for instance, he repeats sapphire blue in the tile, window seat fabric, and walls.
Create an eat-in lounge. “You wouldn’t necessarily have a giant sofa in the kitchen, but the double-width banquette still gives people a place to relax,” Paquette says. Plus, the softness of the fabric is a counterpoint to the hardness of the other materials in the room.
Tap all eras. Mix items from different periods, Satterfield says, to avoid a stiff, museum-perfect setting. Leaning toward classic colors and materials—gray, black, wood, and leather—also helps.
Define, don’t divide. The three-sided fireplace is a late-1950s concept that still works today, separating the living and dining rooms while leaving the spaces open. Satterfield updated the fireplace with a wide concrete hearth, which protects the floor from sparks and adds an industrial edge.
Swing low. A hammock in the corner is still a great way to signal This room is for relaxing. Hiemstra hung one end higher “so it feels more like a seat,” she says.
Double up on lounge space. “Everyone’s always fighting over the couch,” says Hiemstra. But not with this layout, thanks to a pair of deep sofas placed back to back.
Open up storage. Instead of closed-door built-ins, Hiemstra gave the room architectural interest by creating a wall of staggered cube cutouts to hold books and plants.
“Lift” the ceiling. A little paint—just the bottom half of the wall—results in a lot of pleasing trickery. “It gives the perception of higher ceilings since there’s more white wall space,” says Hiemstra. It’s also a great technique if you don’t want to commit to one color completely.
Shine a spotlight. In rooms lacking interesting architecture, a showy overhead light fixture fills the style gap.
Work your corners. Heimstra placed the desk and chair at an angle in the corner for better flow through the narrow space. In place of a traditional desk set, she kept the workspace sophisticated by mixing a wood and brass table with a white upholstered chair.
Make it a group effort. “Repetition of plants lets other materials stand out,” Nolan says. The glaze on the containers, the texture of the decomposed gravel, and the copper-colored sculpture have more impact when plants like aeonium, aloe, and Agave angustifolia are repeated and grown in clusters.
Import plants from Down Under. Nolan chose a few plants originally from the Southern Hemisphere; they adapt well to coastal climates in the West. Astelia offers “a striking, silvery texture” year-round, he says. Grevillea blooms on and off all year, but the plant is still dramatic when it’s not flowering.
Plant a gallery. Staghorn ferns and sphagnum moss lashed to plywood with fishing line are a tongue-in-cheek nod to mounted antlers.
We take the “great room”—a no-barriers room with the kitchen, dining, and living room all within four walls—for granted now, but when we featured it in 1955, the “studio room” was a revolutionary concept. As our lives became more suburban and more casual, the walls separating spaces to prep meals, eat, entertain, and relax came down.
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