joy of nesting

joy of nesting
California designer Shiree Hanson Segerstrom's weekly tips for decorating, gardening, and stylish living

“Behind the Scenes of a Favorite Design Project”

It’s been one busy winter here at the Shiree Hanson Segerstrom design studio, which is unusual for this time of year. I’m pleased to say the projects I’ve been working on have been tremendously gratifying.

Things are running smoothly despite the hectic pace. We’ve just completed a residential remodel. We enjoyed seeing the home’s transformation from a state of neglect to clean, comfy and well accoutered. We oversaw the remodel of the kitchen and bathrooms, choosing new counters, flooring, sinks, paint and designing and fabricating the window treatments. I love the designing stage of my work because it’s a time I’m allowed to be creative. But I also love the installation stage. It’s gratifying to see everything come together in the client’s home, like opening night at the theater when the curtains go up.   

Behind the scenes isn’t always perfect though. There are occasional mishaps such as when a fabric company sends out flawed fabric and the seamstress unknowingly sews it up into curtains; or when a shipping company damages an expensive leather sectional in route and we must postpone delivery waiting for the replacement to arrive; or when my delivery guy picks up and delivers a raw template table of particle board instead of the finished, custom cocktail table--right before a client’s party.  True stories all. Most clients understand, after all we are human. The trick is to keep things in perspective and make it right as quickly as possible so no one is inconvenienced any longer than necessary.

This month I’m in the installation stages of a new project just outside San Francisco. The home is mid-century, and the owners are dear friends and returning clients. We did a beautiful, custom home together ten years ago.

We are reupholstering an existing sofa and converting it to a pillow back; replacing armchairs, area rug and dining room ceiling fixture; doing new Roman shades and throw pillows; painting; adding crown molding; designing and building a new mantel; and redesigning two room divider pony walls with vintage columns the clients found in one of our favorite design stores.   

The challenge of this particular project was finding ways to warm up the typically “cool” mid-century modern style of the architecture. I spent a few hours at the San Francisco Design Center pulling fabric samples that would bring the scheme together with current day colors and elements. From those fabrics, I came up with four or five strong design schemes, presented the best three to the clients, and they chose the one that best represented their personal style.

The couple initially wanted to replace the sofa but after inspecting the piece, I felt it was in good enough condition to recover. As I told the client, it would be a waste to replace it with a new sofa because I would choose a similar sofa for them. It has no skirt, perfect for the smallish living space. It has three back cushions and three seat cushions, another practical point. And the cushions have a solid core with a down and feather blend “wrap”. This creates a soft but comfy seat.

The home has spectacular views. We took that into account when designing the Roman shades. When the shades are raised, the whole expanse of glass will be exposed. No part of the view will be obscured. The fabrics themselves consist of soft textures and subtle yet graphic prints. There is an amazingly soft, light mousy taupe colored “silk chenille” with a subtle damask imprint; a “MIssoni-esque” zigzag upholstery fabric in taupes, grays, corals and terra cottas; a cream colored, faux reptile skin; a dark taupe “silk chenille” with a small, “wavy” imprint; a crisp linen fabric with a graphic patterned, coral colored embroidery, and a black and cream “Ikat dot”. The area rug is a Williamsburg design in caramel wool that has a repeating, scallop motif.

One of my favorite, chic and sexy features is a modern, cross leg bench covered in cream colored faux reptile. A fun item we considered for the dining room was a wonderful mid-century modern sideboard the husband had purchased. We eventually decided, however, that a new, modern sideboard would be more to the wife’s taste. The petite, gold leaf chandelier we chose is tailored and modern. In place of a chain, it hangs from unique, linked rods. 

Phase II will presumably be the dining room. I’ve recommended a gorgeous dining room table I found online. Due to size constraints it has to be small enough to fit for everyday use and have enough leaves to accommodate holiday dinners. It has an oval shape and a beautiful leg/stretcher design. Accent chairs I’ve presented are a combination of bamboo, cane and fabric. For the ends of the table, slip covered, his and hers accent chairs in the embroidered taupe and coral linen. A recent suggestion I made to the client is a beautiful, wood etagere to go along the wall you first see upon entering the home. It would make a great focal point behind the new armchairs and the wood stain closely coordinates with the wood caps on the pony walls with vintage columns. We are still looking for the perfect sideboard. 

With the creative work mostly behind us, our job as project manager has now begun. Our office placed and continues to track all orders; we have prepared the numerous work orders for our workrooms including tiny details down to the size of the welts; we confer daily or weekly with fabricators to make sure they have absolute clarity; we continue to troubleshoot and keep everyone on task, which isn’t easy at times; then finally, we will schedule all the various deliveries and installations working around the painters and carpenters.

Some ten weeks later the final installation day will arrive and everyone will know their roles. Like in the theater, we hope the set knocks ‘em dead when the curtains go up.


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