So many of my clients are in the same boat… they are undertaking the overwhelming task of trying to convert their more traditional interiors to much more causal environments. Our hustle-bustle lifestyles have changed the way we live and what we want to be surrounded by when we are home. Formal entertaining and formal furniture is becoming a thing/trend of the past. In the last decade we have seen a strong shift toward a much more relaxed way of both entertaining and living. Our desire for causal and comfortable has also been driven by popular television shows that showcase causal interiors that viewers are striving to mimic. Rooms that have been so rarely used, like ” formal living” and “formal dining”, are being converted to spaces that can be enjoyed on a daily basis and not just utilized for a holiday gathering or fancy dinner party!

New house plans being drawn by architects are purposefully deleting never-used spaces that use to be included for the purpose of “looking pretty”, and replacing those spaces with more open plans which yield a more casual and family friendly feel. The less comfortable and ultra-tailored designs of wingback chairs and Chesterfield style sofas are fading into history. On our current wish-lists are homes with large rooms full of natural materials and light. Carpet is being replaced by hardwood, fancy crystal chandeliers are being removed and replaced with more casual decorative iron, and more comfortable furniture is now desired with more cleanable fabrics for durability and comfort.

Are these words resonating with you because you are ready to toss your shiny dining table that you have often dared your kids to touch?… the same table you have used maybe 10 times since you and your spouse bought it? Would you like to replace it with a more durable table that offers ease of maintenance for daily use? Are you tired of your formal patterned rugs and their jewel toned colors and want a more casual look? Like I said, many of my clients are working through this process right now….Little by little their formal furnishings are either being re-invented with paint, scattered to different rooms, or they are simply being replaced. I call this transition from formal to casual, “opening a big can of worms”. I always warn that it can definitely be a fairly large undertaking, and the process can be overwhelming without a good plan of attack. But, ultimately the result will yield more comfortable and livable spaces to relax and entertain. So, go for it! Get your giant can opener out, ( or maybe at least your giant paint brush) and get started!

Here are some tips to success:

  1. Start with the end in mind! Formulate a comprehensive plan. If you are shifting furniture in your house to make room for new, go ahead and do it. Do you have a “set” of furniture? Try adding interest to your room by replacing some of the matching pieces with new furniture. Afraid of mixing different wood finishes in the same room? Try mixing painted finishes with stained wood furniture. That is a safe way to complement your existing pieces and create a more up-to-date look.
  2. Do you need to paint your walls before the process kicks off? If so, start with the colors of your kitchen and work from the inside out. The kitchen is the “command central” of every home, and a nice paint scheme can built from starting from the colors of the kitchen and working your way through the house.
  3. Keep the word timeless in mind.. when buying furniture try to stay away from things you know to be “trendy”, those items have a shelf life and are costly “bandaids”.
  4. If you think your project is more than you can handle, call a professional interior designer. Few can afford to make costly design mistakes.

Here is a living room that I completed in the fall. This entire house was transitioned from super formal to more welcoming and comfortable. The living room now has simple detailing. This family of 3 young children wanted it to be comfortable yet elegant with fabrics that their kids could “climb on” .. I think we achieved that!