When Megan Oldenburger of Dichotomy Interiors was hired by the newlywed owners of this home, she was tasked with changing what was essentially a bachelor crash pad with orange wood and mismatched furnishings to a space that would work for a couple.
“I wanted this space to have both masculine and feminine appeal, so we kept the large dark leather sofas, but lightened and brightened up the space by painting the ceilings, walls, and beams,” says Oldenburger. “The floors were red oak that had severely oranged from all of the sunlight, so we refinished the floors with a white wash. I love contrasting elements that bring harmony when unified.”
Oldenburger also focused on the fireplace, which had been a simple rectangular piece with a small mantle. “We wanted to create drama and bring the eye up to emphasize the height of the ceilings by adding stone and expanding it,” she says. “By changing the floor color and re-facing and expanding the fireplace, it set the tone for the rest of the home and the furnishings.”
The view was a very important part of this design, too. The Great Room looks out onto the Ashokan Resevoir and the home’s pool, so natural elements were used to bring the outside in. Oldenburger says that about half of the items added to the home were custom-built. “I custom-designed and built the coffee table myself to tie in with the flooring and add a rustic, organic element,” she says. “Because it is such a huge, heavy slab, I wanted to balance both the rustic-ness and the weight with something delicate and airy. I used two Lucite slabs as legs to create a floating effect in the middle of the room.”`
The custom pieces, the dark and light elements, and the beautiful view enhanced by the height of the fireplace and lighter floors make this a fabulous mix for a couple.
Oldenburger’s Tips for Making a Great Room Better
Common Mistakes: Keeping furniture against the walls. “Many people are afraid of pulling furniture into the room. In a Great Room, you need to divide the space, creating areas of purpose. You can’t do that if all the pieces have their backs against the walls.”
Tricks of the Trade: Hide the unsightly stuff. “In this project, I designed a built-in piece for an alcove with shelving and closed storage below to hide games and some of the electronics, while the top provided lit shelving to highlight antiques and personal items [the owner] wanted on display. If you have space for it, I am a huge fan of projectors. The screen disappears completely when not in use, and, in a Great Room where everything is in sight, it’s nice to not see a black box on the wall.”
What to Focus On: Continuity of tone and color. Great Rooms can include or open up to other rooms, such as a dining room and kitchen, as in this space. “Because Great Rooms typically have at least two functions, all of the rooms need to speak to one another, and be part of the same conversation from a design perspective”.
Trending Now: Sectionals. “I am seeing more and more sectionals in Great Rooms.They truly are a wonderful way to divide space and can be so customizable.” Also, fireplaces. “Nothing beats cozying up on a sectional with a throw in front of a fireplace, or eating a Thanksgiving dinner with a roaring fire in sight.”