Third Time’s the Charm

A living room goes from small and awkward to elegant and family friendly.

When an Evanston couple with three young children commissioned an addition to their historic Victorian, they turned to Buckingham ID founder and interior designer Julia Buckingham Edelmann for help with scale, color and figuring out the best way to make use of the home’s small, awkward living room. Nearly one and a half years later, the enthusiastic designer explains how she pulled it all together.

How long have your clients lived in this house?
They’ve lived in the home for eleven years, and they never want to move, so this was their third renovation. They added a big new kitchen and breakfast room as well as another bedroom and bath on the second floor. They also doubled the size of the basement.

How did the homeowners envision their completed home?
She had outfitted the house in a very traditional fashion, but then realized she wasn’t really traditional. We recovered everything in her house with gorgeous, fun, colorful and pleasing to the hand fabrics. I’ve never looked at more fabrics in my entire life!

What were the most challenging aspects of this project?
The living room’s a very funky area. People tend to shove their furniture against the wall and then they’ve got this awkward center space.

How did you address it?
She had two chairs that were extremely comfortable but they had a green outdated fabric. I custom made two additional identical chairs, so there are now four of the same chairs in a circle with a huge covered ottoman to create a seating area in the center of the room. We upholstered the chairs with an amazing Christopher Farr fabric that has an English historical pattern but with these incredible, electric colors.

So you used color to help traditional patterns feel more contemporary?
Yes. In the dining room, the brocade grass cloth wallpaper has a historical presence, but it’s a fantastic, mushroom-y taupe color, which brings a classic timeless appeal into a new age.

What was your favorite part of this project?
One of the best things about the project was that the young son, who is very artistic and musical, wanted to talk with me about his room. We had this little meeting where we talked about the fabrics and what kind of bunk bed he liked. It was really quite charming. Sometimes those children’s rooms can take longer to design than the main spaces!

How delightful! Any final words on the project?
The client has very good taste, and things had to be special to get into the house. This was more than just decorating her house; it was a real labor of love.

Thanks Julia!

Photography provided by Buckingham ID