Photography by Aaron Leimkuehler
(Part 1 of 2)
LIVING ROOM & ENTRY AREA
In a boutique hotel, it's the little touches by the concierge that makes you feel like a special guest.
Now, imagine living that way in a luxury high-rise community where numerous amenities and services are available – it's like ringing room service to have something brought up to your very own 'Residential Suite'. This Renovation + Refresh project at the Kirkwood development was divided into two phases. In this first post, I'll walk through phase one – the living, dining and kitchen areas and share insights and some BEFORE kitchen images.
On this project, the recently retired couple opted to downsize from their considerably larger 4500+ sq. ft home to a more pared-down 1300 sq. ft version where they could enjoy living a more relaxed lifestyle. This couple was keen on trading square footage in exchange for upgraded luxuries. With no yard maintenance, they had time to plan extended road trips and lead a more active lifestyle by being centrally located near great shopping, lush parks, accessible dining and cultural venues.
The overall inspiration was to create a serene sanctuary, something that would soothe
anxieties while promoting a more mindful approach of living.
We actually kept the color of the condo as the homeowners found it in a sage green hue. It was instantly soothing with a slightly cooling effect against the sunlight that can flood the condo unit above the shade of the treetops. This became my jumping off point that inspired an Organic-Soft Modern design concept done in a sophisticated, transitional style with a muted neutral color palette and antique brass metal accents throughout.
A helpful design tip to give the impression of a larger room is to intentionally limit
the number of furniture pieces you invite into the space.
It also helps to ensure the room isn't overtaken by furniture items that are too large in scale, especially if you're working in a modest-sized room. This is often a reason a room can feel 'off'. There isn't harmony between elements - where what you actually want featured is competing for attention causing visual confusion.
While walking into an empty room can impact depth perception when the eye can't focus on an object for scale, being intentional with the placement of furnishings influences how a person enters and navigates the space. This is a simple and effective feng shui adjustment for directing the energy flow.
The living room pictured here feels spacious with the glass top coffee table freely floating in the middle of the living room surrounded by a pair of soft suede-covered swivel chairs on one end and a curved velvety sofa on its opposite side. The organic curved nature of the main seating elements intentionally feels balanced and inviting without the need to fill in the negative spaces.
Never skimp on accessories.
They uncover your personal story and reveal parts about you that you may not think are worth knowing – but they are!
This is a tip I learned from several of my past creative leader mentors back during my photo-styling days with Hallmark Cards (shout-outs to Jeff Manning, Stuart Watson and Lorraine Elmore). Accessories will bring your home to life and give it a soul, setting it apart from looking like a showroom or a disjointed assemblage.
Accessorizing a space is also the last layer in a room refresh and is oftentimes what gets reduced or eliminated from the budget during the project when something invariably happens and funds are diverted. To avoid this, include an accessories budget up front and don't merge it in with your contingency or any 'leftover' sum at the end of a project – it always shows. In order to truly complete a project, you need those elements that add personality, color, texture to help link your story. Without it, I view the project as incomplete.
One of the experiences I like to provide clients who desire adding art in their homes is to avoid mass-produced pieces often found in big box stores (unless it's a real quality reproduction). Instead, I'll help set up private appointments with local galleries that will host private viewings of their collections. Hanging throughout this condo are many of the new art pieces that spoke to the homeowners.
Art is quite subjective in the viewer's eye and can also be intimidating for those who feel they can't afford or know how to select original art. The reality is that art is available in any price point. Additional to local galleries, I appreciate Etsy, Society 6, 1st Dibs or even One Kings Lane, for this reason precisely as viable options for finding original pieces. If I can support an artist or designer, I'm here for it and encourage you, too!
Hanging above the fireplace, for example, is a Dean Kube original painting. Kube is an amazingly talented and recognized artist that I've had the opportunity of knowing during our hey day at Hallmark Cards, here in Kansas City. Also, a shout out to Kim Weinberger, Owner & Chief Curator, Weinberger Fine Art Gallery and Ross Redmon, Gallery Director, http://www.weinbergerfineart.com/ for providing my clients with a high level of service that helped them connect more deeply to the art and its creators, which resulted in the purchase of several pieces for their bare walls. Redmon even couriered and hung the art pieces in their condo letting them first live with the art before committing to their investment.
DINING AREA & GALLEY KITCHEN
The dining area is flanked by two walls of glass surrounding views of the well-established
Kansas City Country Club Plaza shopping district.
We placed a 60" round marble top dining table to help with keeping a graceful flow-around that didn't disrupt reaching the outdoor terrace. I've learned that the energy or "Qi" can become stagnant – think trapped stale air. I appreciated that this condo had windows that could be opened. A practical feng shui tip is to open your windows often for nine minute increments ( 9,18,27, etc.) allowing fresh air to circulate. If you can't open your windows, an air purifier can also be used throughout your space. It reduces allergens and captures dust particles. Fresh air invites you to breathe deeper, thus calming and oxygenating your mind and body, and who doesn't want that?
We had additional space in the dining area to include additional seating against a wall of windows with matching pairs of modern leather club chairs. We placed them next to the bar console making for a perfect spot to enjoy either an apertif or digestif while taking in the view. When there's a well-stocked and beautifully displayed bar console, it instantly makes the room feel more sophisticated and puts you in the mood for entertaining.
I've shared this styling tip before but I definitely swear by it. If you ever get liquor that comes in a less-than-appealing bottle, find an elegant decanter and pour your liquor into the new bottle decanter. On this bar console, I poured a couple bottles of hooch into stellar-looking decanters with a modern silhouette and the affect is pure sophistication.
A galley kitchen is efficient
and streamlined and they're perfect when space is at a premium.
This condo's kitchen had a time stamp that took us back to the 90s with the popularity of dark granite counter tops and blond wood cabinets. Rather than a complete gut job, however; we opted to professionally repaint the cabinetry and update the countertops with quartzite, new hardware and faucet fixtures that connect aesthetically with what we did for the main living areas. The result is a brighter and fresher kitchen that lightens and lifts the Qi energy.
You may be wondering why is there a mirror over the range?
It is certainly unconventional as a design choice, I'd agree, but it does serve a couple very important feng shui purposes that many may not be aware of. I'll share one of the two reasons.
In feng shui, stoves represent wealth and abundance and a mirror is used to intentionally honor this and invite the doubling of food, family and nourishment. (It's good to keep in mind that wealth and abundance isn't always linked directly to money). Let's look at this more closely. Where is the center or heart of home for you? I'm guessing you're thinking the kitchen? Or another way to think of this is when you host a gathering, where do folks invariably end up – even with a sundry of rooms in other parts of the home? There's a reason for this, of course. The kitchen carries good energy just like the savory or sweet smells of a favorite dish or dessert so when the presence of invited company enters that space, the energy gets amplified.
How many meals has your stove prepared and nourished for you and your family? I'm guessing LOTS, save for the occasional Door Dash and Uber Eats deliveries, right?. It's not a magic mirror but knowing the intention shifts your perception of what the stove or range represents and manifest in your life. Each time you clean the mirror, you're clearing the Qi to make room for more abundance!
BEFORE - Kitchen Images
Will Brown is a certified BTB Feng Shui consultant, tastemaker and interior designer in the midwest residing in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Owner of Will Brown Interiors LLC, Will helps
his well-traveled and adventurous clients create gracious homes using positive energy flow to help increase balance & harmony and well-being as they re-imagine their life's next chapter.
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