http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2009/03/13/designing-a-room-to-fit-the-family


Danville Express

- March 13, 2009

Designing a room to fit the family

Blackhawk makeover creates a room no one wants to leave

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Most people decorate their living room and dining room twice in their lifetime, said designer Dorene Gomez. These rooms are mostly neutral, and people may change their accent pieces for a new look.

"But a family room is redone every 10 years," she said. "It gets more wear and tear." Plus people spend more time in it, and they are ready for something new.

Sometimes there is nothing wrong with a family room; it just gets a little "tired." So people call in a decorator.

Enter Gomez, a designer with J. Hettinger in Danville.

She said when she begins a project she meets with the clients to learn what they have in mind. Then she spends an hour or two - or three - at their home.

"You have to know about the people," she said. "You want the personality of themselves to come out."

She also wants to learn their expectations - how much the room will be used; what they want replaced and what is to stay; how much seating they'd like; and whether they are budget-minded.

"Some people say, 'Make it pretty,'" said Gomez. "Some say, 'I don't want too much clutter.'"

Her latest redesign of a family room was in a 14-year-old Blackhawk home. Its owners said the well-used room was starting to show wear and tear, plus there was sun damage to the carpet and drapes. Gomez first met with them in August.

"They wanted to make their family room functional, comfortable and colorful," she said. They requested a room that made them want to stay in it.

"I brought part of their lives into the room - lots of pictures and their favorite books," explained Gomez. The family has two teenage sons.

The owners wanted to get away from the mauve carpet they'd had but still wanted the family room to tie in with the wallpaper of the adjoining kitchen, which has tiny fruit branches.

"They wanted something completely different and they wanted something warm," said Gomez. "Now it is livable and warm - but sophisticated."

Gomez added furniture with fabrics in several colors and textures. The couch color is similar to that of the walls, with a slubbed texture, and the chairs are a crisp blue green with large pillows in complimentary fabrics.

New oak flooring ties in with the kitchen flooring, and it has a dark mahogany band around the outside of the room. The walls are painted an earthern bisque.

"The room looks 20-25 percent larger," said Gomez.

The curtains are a darker pattern, with side panels with goblet sleeves and reeded rods, and Roman shades. The French doors opening onto the yard have a matching Roman valance with a triangular overlay of silk.

"They wanted maximum seating," Gomez noted. "I added a sofa with an attractive chaise lounge plus two oversized chairs that swivel, and ottomans."

With another family, Gomez said, she probably would have put an armoire holding the television against the 20-foot wall, which was heavily fauxed dark green. But this family said TV is not important to them so she kept the set in the side bookshelf, mounted so it could come out of the wall and swivel.

Gomez considered putting furniture against the large wall but the clients wanted the room to look more open. So she hung family photos framed in groupings, many of scenes taken on vacations. "It's a story wall of the family," she said. "I mixed the frames up a little, and added original pieces of artwork." A clock adds color and variety. On the other side of the room are photos of other relatives.

In the corner against the wall, Gomez designed a corner for the husband with a comfortable chair and a reading light in front of built-in bookshelves on the intersecting wall. The chair can be pulled further into the room for additional seating. The wall was also designed to look good from the chair with items hung at the lower eye-level. Next to the chair hangs a framed record of the family's ancestors passing through Ellis Island in 1906.

While some people request "minor" conversation areas, such as a grouping in an intimate corner, this family wanted a "major" conversation area. The room gathers around the large slate fireplace, which Gomez said was an asset in the decorating.

"The slate fireplace has different textures and colors and ties in nicely with the kitchen," she noted.

Speakers are hidden near the ceiling. "Music is important to them," Gomez said.

She was pleased that the family likes to mix modern with traditional so she chose a metal sculpture to hang over the slate fireplace.

"You will never see two of these alike," said Gomez. She tried out many pieces in that spot - including a mirror - but when she hung this sculpture, everyone agreed it belonged.

"They wanted a room that was well planned out and they wanted it to be them," said Gomez.

In January, everything was ready to install at minimum inconvenience to the family.

"I think it turned out beautifully," said the wife. "It was great to have a professional do it. We pretty much worked together but Dorene did the design and, fortunately, would get all the subcontractors."

This family room just might serve for longer than 10 years.

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