Online interior design is our thing. It's what we do. So, we were excited to take on this room makeover challenge: be the first and only virtual designer for the Cottages & Gardens Designer Showhouse On The Green. The goal: turn the library of an old, historic mansion in Fairfield, Connecticut into something spectacular...without ever stepping foot in it. As with any design challenge, we armed ourselves with serious interior design talent and professional expertise; in this case, our very own Celebrity Designer Christina Murphy, of Christina Murphy Interiors.
Christina is a top designer in New York City and her incredible work has been featured on TV and has also graced the pages of many top interior design publications. She's known for her colorful interiors and playful mix of casual and refined. We were also fortunate enough to partner with home furnishings company Safavieh Home, which helped us pull together much of the furnishings while layering in other online retailers as well. What a team!
The Room Before The Makeover
As part of the usual Decorist design process, our designer Christina was sent several "before" photos of the space, along with room measurements and specific design goals and objectives. As you can see from the before photo, Christina had some serious work to do! The library felt dated—not necessarily in the positive, historic sense!—abandoned and uninviting. With lots of brown stained bookcases, and flat burgundy painted walls, it felt dark and a bit cold. Overall, the room need some serious design help.
The Makeover Design Inspiration
As inspiration, Christina used her own home library, which was featured in Traditional Home last year. Her goal was to create a space that would feel elegant, current, but with a classic sensibility that would pay homage to the existing architecture and the home's traditional, historic charm. And, since the library is one of the first rooms one sees when walking into the Showhouse, Christina also wanted it to be vibrant and memorable.
The Initial Design Concept
Christina's design concept integrated classic and more modern, edgy pieces. She chose a modern-looking grey rug, a beautiful oak console with acrylic sides, and an elegant, off-white, mid-century club chair with steel frame.
To bring additional texture and interest into the room, Christina chose a velvet sofa, used sheepskin throws (similar to this one found at World Market), a fabulous Danish-inspired modern woven leather chair, a black resin side table, linen and silk pillows, a glass top desk with a sleek brass base, and some metallic accessories like the large brass bowl on the coffee table made of glass, acrylic and brass. And a nod to the old—she found a vintage stool similar to this one which she paired with a cashmere throw from Restoration Hardware.
The Final Makeover Design "Big Reveal"
We just love the final room, especially the juxtaposition between classic and modern and the mix of masculine and feminine. It feels attainable and inviting, yet very refined. Christina’s overarching vision when designing the library room was to transform it into a space that would feel fresh, intimate, and of course, chic. The bookcases take up most of the wall space and Christina immediately knew they’d be the focal point of the room.
Pulling inspiration from her own home library, she decided to paint the entire room in a high gloss finish—bookshelves, walls and trim included! She wanted a color that felt classic, but also fun and new. The wall paint she selected is a gorgeous warm shade of blue from Farrow & Ball called Hague Blue. As you can see, this added some serious drama to the room!
While many of the products in the room are from our partner Safavieh, Christina selected pieces that have character and are unique. Of course, Christina also layered in products from other retailers, like Etsy, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and others, to give it a carefully curated and collected look.
We love how Christina hung the art right on the bookcases. And how she mixed some black and white photography in with the vibrant abstract art from a local Connecticut artist, Julia Contacessi. By selecting mismatched side tables, she added to the eclectic feel. Christina’s favorite piece in the room is the vintage-looking leather Hamel Arm Chair from Safavieh. Gorgeous!
In the end, this originally dated, dark and uninviting library room was transformed into an elegant, intimate, vibrant, eclectic space.
Words From Our Celebrity Designer Christina Murphy
Here is what Christina had to say about the library, “I love how the room came together; you can take what seems to be an older, perhaps dated space and, with some bold paint and a mix of modern and classic pieces, you can create a whole new, fresh look.”