Decorating an Open-Concept Space

I'm often asked to help bring cohesiveness to common spaces in all kinds of homes, from those with small footprints to those with more room. Room Assembly asked me for some tips you can implement in your own home to make sure your open-concept space feels natural and beautiful. I've also included an design inspiration board with some looks that are trending now so you have some building blocks if you happen to be furnishing your home. Come read more about it here!

A Comfortable and Cozy Castro Cottage

You know what's important in life? Mentors! That's not where you thought I was going did you? I only bring this up because this client happened to be one of my mentors when I summered at a firm during law school. And while working with him recently, I've had the opportunity to reflect how important and valuable mentor relationships are. He was not only a great mentor but an incredible client, trusting and flexible, making the whole process smooth sailing. 

You know the drill, here we go!  My client has lived in this Castro Cottage for several years and it's just perfect. It's in the midst of the action but still set back from the street creating a little oasis. He had been wanting to update the space for a while and had already purchased a new couch and dining table. He needed my help to implement a cohesive design scheme and bring all the different elements together. We wanted to lighten the space up a bit and optimize it for entertaining and relaxing.  

When I first walked into the space, I immediately knew what could be changed. It was the color tones imbued throughout the room. The lovely green walls were accented by orange, brown and darker tones throughout. Orange and brown can and often do play well with green. Here, the orange/brown tones weren't bold and bright but more muted which just wasn't working with everything else. Below is the before. 

As important as color choice is, also remember the tone of a color is just as crucial and can make or break a room. The coffee table was a bit heavy and too large for the space. But do you spy that lovely leather couch? Just beautiful, it actually glistens. I knew we could give it a better backdrop so its full potential could shine. See below!  

Scroll back up to the before, then back down to the after, then do it again.  Do you see/feel the difference? The rich blue rug against the black and white throw pillows on the sofa brings completes this very sophisticated color palette. This living room isn't trying hard, it knows it's cool and everyone wants to be its friend. The lightness of this new glass coffee table makes the space feel a thousand times bigger. The wood legs and midcentury silhouette is in harmony with the clean lines of the sofa, floor lamp and the adjacent dining room (which you'll get to see below). Let's change perspectives and see what's on the other side of the living space. Below is the before. 

That TV stand was sad. This living space is fairly petite so every inch needed to be used in purposeful way. I can't say it enough but closed storage is everyone's best friend! Below is the after. 

LIving Room3.jpg

Great right? I love that media stand and I've been eyeing it for a while, hoping to use it in the perfect space for the right client. The brightness of the white plays against the soft green walls so well. And I know you've been appreciating the floor lamp. The faux bois pattern on the shade brings in interest. 

Did someone say art? I don't purchase art for my clients but rather give them a list of sources. This client gave me a list of artwork he liked and I helped him whittle it down. This fabulous wall is what we ended with. That raven print makes such a bold and sophisticated statement. 

The layering of the artwork behind the floor lamp creates depth which is often a forgotten aspect of design. Depth is a good thing in both design and people. :) 

One last close up below. 

A magazine holder never looked so good. I tend to understyle all my projects, allowing the client to bring in meaningful pieces over time. The accessories I do bring into a room are things that are timeless like this magazine holder. It brings some elegance to the otherwise boring profile view of this sofa.

Shall we move onto the dining room? Just take one step backwards and you're there, here is the before! 

There is the beautiful marble dining table the client purchased prior to hiring me. It needed some chairs. The sideboard behind the table was the catchall surface that needed some love. Below is the after! 

Those chairs. Maybe you've seen something similar before, but these are the real deal. Made from walnut and covered in the softest leather, they should last forever. The wood grain on the curve of these chairs are just incredible. Below is a closer look. Also note the low profile of the chair which is crucial for this open concept space. When you walk into the home this is the first space that greets you and it was important to me that the line of sight remained clear to preserve that airy feel. 

Where to next? The adjacent sideboard. It just needed some organization and pieces to help the client keep it organized even when busy. The before below. 

Just a little sprucing up is what this area needed. I also wanted to replace the torchiere floor lamp with something more modern and off the floor to create more space for foot traffic. Here is the after! 

Let's start left and move from there. The plant is one of my favorites, mistletoe! Low maintenance, hardy and their round leaves contrast nicely with the straight lines on the adjacent tray. Don't forget to clean off leaves with a moist paper towel when you bring one home as I did here. It helps the plant to absorb the sun better! 

The textured light green tray gathers everything neatly. The marble teardrop bowl is for spare change and keys. The black vase for flowers and when empty can be used to hold sunglasses or pens. The brass bookends are another one of my favorites, Last but not least, this cement table lamp, super modern and beautiful. 

A little insight into my design process, when I come to do an installation, I come armed with numerous plan Bs, Cs, etc. Hence, the wagon and the 17,000+ steps on installation days. The first choice in my head may not always work in the actual space. Design is definitely something that requires hands-on work and attention. For example, I brought two table lamps with me, the cement one above and the wood one below. Both lamps are beautiful but clearly the winner here is the cement one.  

The wood lamp is sleek and warm but the rough surface of the concrete table lamp brings in modernity and something unexpected. 

One more close up before because those dahlias are glorious. 

You might have noticed the addition of the giraffe. I was washing my hands and spotted in in the kitchen, immediately grabbed it knowing that it had a new home here. 

If you think we're done you're mistaken. One last stop. This client has some amazing outdoor space, especially in one of the most crowded cities in the country! Here is the before. 


San Francisco doesn't have LA weather for sure, but when it does get warm everyone embraces it. I knew that if we brought in some patio furniture, it would be used. Since the client was throwing a Halloween party shortly after the install, I thought it would only appropriate to do a tablescape as well. Scroll down for the after. 

And that's all! I hope you enjoyed viewing this project as much as I enjoyed working on it! Have a great Halloween!