A Masculine Living Room Makeover

Updated: Mar 10


Stepping into this recent living room refresh, guests may be inclined to request a shaken or stirred cocktail while taking in the gentlemanly, seductive vibe.

AN EAMES LOUNGER NEXT TO THE FIREPLACE AND WINDOW INVITES COZY READING AND REFLECTION

"I need your designer's eye on my place!", declared Greg Oborny, an energetic elementary principal at the Olathe School District in Kansas with a sharp wit and self-deprecating humor. "What can you do to make this place feel like an in-the-know stylish educator lives here?" Plenty! And with that I set out to pull together a design plan that would curate the furnishings and art for his living room while elevating the design and function as a space for hosting and entertaining guests.


If you look at this space, at first glance you're likely to see a swanky pad with a mid-century vibe that's decorated with a masculine feel. Of course, you'd be correct, however; I also approached it with a deeper intent of applying practical Feng Shui adjustments to provide the homeowner with an optimal layout plan which would better align with his strong Metal energy so he commands the room – like any principal should.


When decorating with Feng Shui in mind, I consider the balance of the five key elements: Wood, Earth, Water, Metal and Fire. Feng Shui translates to Wind and Water and the goal is about creating balance and positive flow of the energy or "Qi" throughout a space to help support a positive and flourishing environment. Naturally, creating this energetic flow will also improve the lives of those inhabiting the space as they benefit from these Feng Shui adjustments.


AN EVOCATIVE KATE MOSS PRINT BY PHOTOGRAPHER ALLEN JONES ANCHORS THE FIREPLACE

Each of the five elements carry inherent properties and the key element in this living room is Metal. Energetically speaking, Metal is sharp, organized, efficient and precise. In Greg's case, being a Metal element himself, he embodies many of these personality traits so it was easy to see why he had a natural affinity for modern design, drawn to metal details and desired a more functional layout. Becoming certified as a Feng Shui consultant has helped me as a designer get to the heart of learning about my clients beyond their design style preferences to better understanding their true nature, their elemental core.


The challenge with this room makeover was really about scale. This is a post-war Cape Cod style home so the square footage is choppy making the rooms feel small. A natural tendency can be to go light and bright to expand the illusion of space but instead, I leaned into the limits of the room and covered the walls in a dark gray color. Set against a bright white ceiling and trim, it feels as though the room is now dressed in a smart gray suit and crisp white shirt. The living room has a functional fireplace and when lit, introduces a warm and inviting focal point adding that über coziness – perfect for Greg as he entertains guests with a post-dinner digestif and intimate conversation.


Have you entered a room where all you can see is an item of furniture because it dominates the entire space – but not in a good way? I've attached some BEFORE images below so you can see what was removed and what was kept. Greg has a keen eye for selecting art and accessories, such as the Allen Jones photo print of fashion icon Kate Moss as well as unique sculptural objets. There is a fine line between collected and cluttered. The skill, I find, is in the edit – especially when space is limited. We did a tighter edit of Greg's accessories so the items selected connected to the larger purpose of the room. When you have many items you love, the tendency can be to display them all together at once. I definitely get that, however; if you rotate selections of your favorite items throughout the year, you'll keep your space from feeling cluttered and with each rotation, your space will feel fresh again!


ADDING TACTILE TEXTURES HELPED EASE THE STRONG YANG MASCULINE ENERGY OF THE LIVING ROOM

In order to create the best flow in the room, we removed a large over-scaled white contemporary chair that reminded me very much of a white padded cell. Sitting in it made me feel confined instead of relaxed. I also removed a long wooden bench used to functionally hold magazines but blocked the natural flow of traffic behind the sofa thus making it feel too tight. Speaking of sofa, Greg already owned an elegant apartment-sized Duncan Phyfe style sofa upholstered in a tailored blue stripe adding a welcome dose of a complementary style into the room. With the amount of black and chrome, this piece added a much needed grounding Earth element in the space with both its wood detailing and blue tones. Set between a mid-century iconic petit LC2 Le Corbusier chair and Eames Lounger, the room takes on a more dimensional personality, more reflective of its dynamic homeowner – while also staying properly in scale.



A DUNCAN PHYFE SOFA ADDS DESIGN INTEREST AND PERSONALITY NEXT TO THE BLACK LEATHER MID-CENTURY ICONS

A modern walnut wood credenza anchors the far wall flanked by simple white table lamps and a round mirror. Both the color white and circular shape are related to the Metal element so placing these items there felt very functional and appealing to Greg. Incidentally, placing the mirror over the console, in this case, allows someone sitting in the living room with their back to the front door to see who's behind them. This is an effective Feng Shui adjustment that relieves a basic human anxiety of not knowing who's either coming toward you or behind you.



BALANCE IS ACHIEVED BY LIMITING THE SCALE AND NUMBER OF FURNISHING ITEMS AND EDITING ACCESSORIES




BEFORE


THE LARGE RUG WAS REPLACED BY A SMALLER SCALED VERSION THAT WASN'T BUSY OR DISTRACTING


THE OVERSIZED WHITE-PADDED CELL CHAIR WAS LOCKED AWAY FOR INDECENT EXPOSURE



THE FIREPLACE WASN'T ALLOWED TO BE THE FOCAL POINT WITH THIS RANDOM DISPLAY OF FURNISHINGS

This living room refresh has led to additional room projects in Greg's home, including the primary bedroom followed by a full kitchen renovation. This has been an adventurous and surprising journey for Greg as he realizes more about his personal style and why he's drawn to certain things. I leverage design as a way of helping my clients uncover more about themselves along their design journey. When one room is completed, it can often draw attention to other rooms in the home that can also benefit from being Feng Shui'd. I've developed an intuitive approach to interior design that goes much deeper than mere decorating. This approach comes to life through a series of steps to uncover how homeowners aspire to live their best lives and how their homes are a means of expressing this.


I recently completed my certification as a BTB Feng Shui consultant and like being plugged into The Matrix film, I view spaces now in a completely different construct. Many folks think Feng Shui is about adding wind chimes in every corner but this couldn't be further from reality – for one thing, who could tolerate the constant clanking? If you're interested in a Feng Shui room refresh, they're easier to do than full renovations, generally less pricey and definitely less messy. Click the Contact tab on website www.willbrowninteriors.com/contact and fill out the simple form and we can discuss your key element and reveal the aspirations you'd like to actualize.



Will Brown is a certified Feng Shui consultant, tastemaker and interior designer in the midwest and resides in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Owner of Will Brown Interiors LLC, Will helps the well-traveled and adventurous to create gracious homes using positive energy flow to help increase prosperity and well-being as they re-imagine their life's next chapter. Please be sure to sign up for future posts and follow us on Facebook at Will Brown Interiors and IG @willbrowninteriors to stay abreast of new projects!

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