A Living Room That's an Elegant Space for Work and Play
A living area that also hosts a home office gets an update in keeping with its surroundings
Sometimes a living room is for more than just conversation. For poet Karen Harryman, it is her workspace, a spot for her musical family's jam sessions, and a place to entertain. Unfortunately, the existing room "felt dark, dirty, and heavy," says Karen, and had a cluttered and cramped seating area, a beat-up desk for her writing, and an unappealing color palette.
Shown: A lighter color palette unifies the now open space. The family's instruments double as decor.
Designer: Kyle Schuneman, Los Angeles, CA
General contractor: Mark Aller, Malkoe Design, Los Angeles, CA; 323-301-6613
Paint: HC-7 Bryant Gold (reading nook) and HC-17 Huntington Beige (window wall), Benjamin Moore; Benjamin Moore
Pillows: Crate & Barrel
Art over mantel: Kudu Voodoo (oil on canvas), by Rachael Harryman, Los Angeles, CA
After seeing how Los Angeles-based designer Kyle Schuneman had totally transformed her husband's basement man cave the year before, Karen asked him to work his magic with this multipurpose room. The result: a lighter, airier living space in sync with the 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival house, with freshened-up wood finishes and dramatic new lighting. Says Schuneman: "Now it's a functional workspace for Karen, as well as a sophisticated gathering spot for family and friends."
Karen couldn't agree more. "I got the update I wanted," she says, "without sacrificing any of the details that we loved about this house."
Shown: The step-down seating area, wrapped on one side with a wrought-iron railing, felt hemmed in.
The home office consisted of a desk shoved against the back wall.
The beams and trusses stayed the same, but the ceiling was removed and insulated, then covered with white tongue-and-groove paneling. A dark stain and a simple tile border refreshed the mantel and fireplace. Pale neutral wall paint gives the space a brighter look overall.
Blue chair: Mortise & Tenon Handmade Furniture, Los Angeles, CA; 323-937-7654
The built-in storage bench was refinished with a lighter stain that shows off a long-concealed bow-tie inlay detail on the back. A sleek cushion makes it comfy.
Original details, like the molded concrete floor and the decorative toekick tile in the sunken seating area, were left as is to maintain the house's Spanish Colonial Revival character.
The space was chopped up by a railing.
Pro Tip: "As long as it's in keeping with the architectural character of the house, adding new lighting can have a big impact in giving a period-style room an updated look." —Kyle Schuneman, designer, Los Angeles
While the footprint stayed the same, removing the railing, adding work-worthy built-ins, and converting a closet into a wet bar created an open, multifunctional space.
1. Brought in more light by widening a single doorway to the patio to fit double French doors.
2. Improved the flow by removing an intrusive wrought-iron railing.
3. Added a wet bar in a seldom-used coat closet, making entertaining easier.
4. Built in a desk area surrounded by shelves that climb ceiling-high on a large underutilized wall.