Downsizing with Style

New furnishings and colorful décor made moving to a smaller home fun.

“Happy, stylish and classy”—that’s the look that decorator Emily Shakra, of Emily Shakra Home Staging & Design in Bedford, was aiming for when she renovated the home of Diane Dunkle of Bedford. “I wanted the home to reflect her stage of life,” Shakra says.

That stage involved downsizing from a large home to smaller one—for Dunkle, this meant a detached condo built in 2000. Dunkle loved the privacy and ease of maintenance it would afford, but the open-concept interior needed a lot of updating to make it the “oasis” she wanted.

Shakra had staged Dunkle’s former home for sale, so they already knew they worked well together. “She understood my lifestyle and personality,” Dunkle says. Apparently, Shakra also understood Dunkle would be open to a bolder décor than she was used to.

“Emily pushed me out of my comfort zone so I could get the house of my dreams,” Dunkle says.

Start with some color

While planning the renovation of the condo, Emily Shakra (left) suggested homeowner Diane Dunkle go with a bolder décor than she had in her former home. Dunkle says her decision to do that created “the house of my dreams.”

It started with placing pops of color against a neutral tan and sea-gray paint palette that was used on the walls throughout the seven-room house. “I added colorful pillows, art and accessories to pack a punch, and bring a bit of freshness and fun to the home,” Shakra says.

Dunkle especially loves the color theme of chartreuse (“Google ‘chartreuse’ and it means ‘happy,’” she says) and bright avocado that ties the rooms together.

Softer greens and blues—what Shakra calls “nature’s most soothing colors”—are mixed into the bright colors to bring harmony and calmness to the rooms.

The mix is most evident in the living room, sunroom and combination office/music room/small guest room. In the living room, Shakra updated the traditional furniture with “today’s hottest patterns and hues.” A modern Oriental carpet under the sofa table provides a colorful focal point in an otherwise restful room.

To add seating, an upholstered bench was placed in front of the window. Shakra also darkened the stain on the floor and had the art reframed to fit over the sofa.

The combination office/music room/small guest room presented the biggest challenge. “It was no easy task,” Shakra says. But now there is room for guests; for the piano and guitar that Dunkle says she “dabbles in”; and for the home office that’s just “thirty steps from my kitchen.”

In the sunroom, the neutral palette for the wicker furniture, blinds and sisal rug again acts as a backdrop for the splashes of color. “I also added a touch of nature with plants and a hanging bird stand,” Shakra says. That’s one of Dunkle’s favorite things because it holds the (not real) toucan that used to hang in her parents’ home. “It reminds me of many great times there,” she says.

In the kitchen area

Dunkle also likes the fact that the sunroom is now open to the kitchen. A wall and sliding-glass door between the rooms were removed during the renovation. “Doing this brought in a lot of light and made the high ceilings pop,” Dunkle says.

A wall and a sliding-glass door were removed to open the sunroom to the casual dining room and the kitchen.

The kitchen, renovated by Capital Kitchen & Bath in Concord, provides more counter and cabinet space. An L-shaped island was replaced with a gray center island that anchors the room. “We chose Dove White cabinets and layered the kitchen with a variety of textures and materials— granite counters, subway glass tiles and a hidden floral wallpaper in glass-front cabinets above the sink,” Shakra says. A small pendant light was placed to bring attention to these cabinets.

An open, V-grooved plate rack accommodates Dunkle’s collection of Kate Spade dinnerware. Open shelving is also used in the adjacent casual dining area, which features a circular table and chairs, and lighting with a drum shade.

More cabinet space and counters were also added, with the gray of the center island providing a contrast with the Dove White cabinets. The homeowner’s Kate Spade dinnerware collection is displayed in an open, V-grooved plate rack.

It was the formal dining room that seriously pushed Dunkle out of her comfort zone. Shakra suggested using a mirrored grass cloth on the ceiling. “It acts as a reflector and bounces light down into the room. It would also add a touch of modern flair and subtle surprise,” Shakra says.

Dunkle was skeptical, calling it a “crazy thing,” but now she “loves it.” She says every first-time visitor gets a tour of the room.

Visitors also see open-framed, over-sized lantern lighting; a bench seat and chairs updated in a modern blue and green zigzag pattern; and a window treatment that, as Shakra says, “pulls the room together and helps unify the color scheme.”

The drapes in the dining room—in a leaf pattern that recalls the outdoors— hang from rods that are placed beyond and above the window frame. “That makes the ceiling appear taller and the windows larger,” Shakra says.

The bathroom—which also has the bedroom’s lavender color theme— features updated vanities with frameless cabinets with Shaker-style doors.

In the master suite

Shakra used a similar stationary window treatment in the bedroom, but there, the drapes frame both the win-dow and the bed. “The king bed was moved in front of the double window,” Shakra says. “To make the bed look more aesthetically pleasing, I framed the window with the drapes and a decorative trim was added to them.”

The lavender bedding adds the “bit of sophistication, calmness and femininity that Diane wanted,” Shakra adds. The ottoman at the base of the bed is covered with a lavender animal print fabric.

The color theme is carried through to the adjoining bathroom, which was renovated by Capital Kitchen & Bath. Quartz replaced the countertops and porcelain tile was used for the floor. The vanities were updated with frameless cabinets with Shaker-style doors.

“The bathroom is adorned with spa products that make me feel pampered,” Dunkle says. It’s also adorned with a painting that pleases her. She credits Shakra with helping her to pick the right artwork throughout the house and introducing her to an artist “who painted pictures just for me. The ocean scene in my bedroom, the tree in the living room—I smile whenever I look at them.”

Shakra surprised Dunkle by framing a picture she had painted and placing it on the mantel in the living room. “I’m not an artist, which makes that piece even more special,” Dunkle says.

Goals reached

When the renovation started, Dunkle’s goal was to create “an oasis” to come home to. Shakra’s vision was for Dunkle to “feel happiness” when she opened the door. Consider it done and done.

The bed was placed in front of the double window and framed with a stationary window treatment.

The biggest design challenge for Emily Shakra was the room that’s now a combination office/music room/small guest room.

A new center island anchors the kitchen renovated by Capital Kitchen & Bath in Concord.

In the sunroom, the neutral palette again acts as a backdrop for splashes of color. Plants and a hanging bird stand add a touch of nature.

Diane Dunkle loves the fact her home office is “thirty steps” from her kitchen.

Categories: Architecture and Interiors