California Modern Interior Decorating Reveal

My goal is to begin writing more often.  I think it’s great to be able to show a behind-the-scenes look at what we’re working on and to give more interior design tips and tricks that you can use in your own home.

Over the past couple of weeks we have been hard at work installing a home in Chatham-Kent.  This was SUCH a fun project because the client really allowed me to push her out of a neutral comfort zone into some colour and really trusted the vision all the way through.  

The home before had a LOT of dark panelling… It felt like my basement growing up.  (Anyone else have one of those dark panelled basements?)

We weren’t doing much in terms of renovations here as the clients were turning their old homes into vacation rentals meaning we had to furnish every room in the house!  Down the road they plan on a major renovation, so this project was more about making it liveable without any real cosmetic upgrades to the structure.

Here’s what the living room design looked like before we got to decorating… 


See where that opening is on the side of the living room?  It was open to the formal dining area that looked like this…

More wood panelling!

When you walk through that door on the left you’ll get to the kitchen which wasn’t touched and a large casual dining space on the back of the house.  Here’s what that room looked like before we decorated it:

One thing this house really had going for it was their beautiful lot AND all the huge windows!

And yes, that’s a different floor in here.  The floors had been updated by the previous owner and was clearly done in stages.  Most likely whatever was on sale because there were SEVEN different floors in the home.  We worked with it because, again, the clients plan on doing a big renovation down the line and ripping out walls.  So there was no sense doing the floors twice.

We also worked on the Principle Bedroom design that used to look like this:

Yup… another floor!  This one has a red undertone to it.

Quick design tip:  if you’re considering putting in new floors try to avoid a wood with a red undertone.  

Most flooring can be like a good pair of jeans — goes with anything.  But flooring with a red undertone really limits your design choices because it’s a very bossy colour.

Step 1 of the Interior Decorating Process:  Getting Measurements + Client Interview

The first thing we do with any project is to get measurements of the room and sit down with our clients to really understand their personality, what they love, what they don’t like, how they use the space, and even things like where they travel.

When we’re in a client’s home we don’t just want to know if the room is 12’X12’…

We need to also measure out the windows, the doors, and how much space is under the windows.

We need to understand whether furniture will fit in the space… In this particular home the front and back doors were incredibly tight and there were a lot of sharp turns to get things into the Principle Bedroom.  So we had to be careful when ordering furniture that it would fit through the door!

Another challenge in designing this space was that the ceilings were less than 8′ tall.


Step 2 of our Interior Decorating Process: Concepts

I was really excited to get to putting together the design concepts for this home because the clients wanted a California Modern aesthetic with some industrial touches.  They weren’t afraid to let me push the boundaries of some colour!

I began the design plan in the living room.  I always start my decorating process with a floor plan.  Function first, pretty second.

In this case, we had a long and narrow living room (like a bowling alley) so it made sense to break up the room into an entryway and living area by using an L-shaped sectional.

I always start by putting down a rug to define key areas then I can set up furniture around it.

We created an entryway with a huge round mirror that would reflect the light coming in through the door and the large window.  (And, let’s be honest, to give guests a place to check themselves out as they’re coming in and out of the house!) . A bench and console added much needed function for a place to remove shoes and to drop keys, mail, etc.

 The client wanted the wall to be a creamy white (Silky White by Behr) and we suggested painting the doors a gorgeous soft green (which they’re going to do now that they’ve moved in!)

The formal dining room was tight on space.  There wasn’t room to have a decent-sized table AND be able to pull the chairs out…

It’s the worst to have guests over for drinks or dinner then have someone need to get up and EVERYONE has to get up in order for them to leave the table…

So, one of my favourite solutions right now is swivel chairs!  You don’t have to pull them out to get in AND as a bonus they’re super fun and relaxing to sit in.

I also wanted to fill that back wall with storage.  In a smaller home, storage is essential and that bulkhead gave us the perfect opportunity to add a TON of cabinetry to this room.

The back dining room was our chance to pull in a big family-style table and chairs.

The client had a vision of camel coloured leather chairs paired with black windsor chairs.

We added to that a 10′ table so they could easily seat 8 people, a gorgeous modern light, and some large-scale artwork in the design concept.

And for the Principle Bedroom design the client wanted grey walls (Graceful Grey by Behr) and a grey upholstered bed.  She had an Ikea Hemnes dresser already that they wanted to reuse in the space.

(Side note:  I have put together a few of those Hemnes dressers in my day and I was SO grateful this one was already assembled.  Those things are the flat-packed dressers from hell…)

I went with mint and blush accents for the Principal Bedroom design and I think it turned out fab!

Are you moving, building, renovating or redecorating?  Let us help you make your home stylish, comfortable, and a reflection of who you are.

Check out our full range of interior decorating and design services here.

Step 3 of our Interior Decorating Process:  Approvals and Sourcing

The clients LOVED our designs and wasn’t afraid to try them.  I seriously live for when that happens.  The end result is always so much better when we can layer in colour and texture and high-quality pieces.

Here are some of the pieces we pitched in this space.  All are available for purchase through the Comfortable Dwelling Boutique in Tilbury, Ontario.


Step 4 of our Interior Decorating Process:  The Installation and Reveal

I’m skipping a few steps that aren’t really that sexy for a blog post…. really we go through each product approval, procurement, logistics of delivery to our warehousing facility, inspections, and THEN we schedule the reveal… Kyle takes care of all that because he’s much better at details than I am.  I just want to make everything look pretty and talk to people all day!

In the living room the client had a blue rug that worked well.  We brought this STUNNER of a media unit — yes, that’s a marble top!  That thing weighs about 200lbs and is such great quality.  All of the trade workers were even obsessed with it!


We kept the windows bare so that the clients could eventually do a motorized blind.  When you place a piece of furniture in front of the window you dont’ want to have to be climbing over it every time you want to open or close the blinds!

Our Comfortable Dwelling sectional looks stunning in this space.  Not only is it beautiful and modern with those black metal stilletto legs, it’s uber comfy and supportive also!

We layered it up with designer toss pillows and a beautiful boucle throw to add that bohemian texture California Modern interior design is known for.

I’m just SO excited to go back and see it once that door is green.  It’ll really make this space pop!

The entryway feels so hip and modern and clean.  That mirror wasn’t easy to hang… You can’t just hang a mirror into a hollow wall space using a typical anchor.  It’ll rip right from the walls.

Instead, you need to use toggle bolts.  Maybe I’ll do a post sometime on how we do it… it’s important to get your cuts right the first time because the bolts require a pretty sizable hole in the wall.  But this thing will stay put!

Are you moving, building, renovating or redecorating?  Let us help you make your home stylish, comfortable, and a reflection of who you are.

Check out our full range of interior decorating and design services here.

The client loved the art that I had sketched up in the rendering and she had Laura Van Veen Arts + Craft bring it to life!

We’ve done that a few times — what I create digitally an artist paints and makes reality.  It’s super cool!  Especially given my own sister is the artist.  She’s done quite a few murals and large canvass works throughout the Chatham and Windsor areas.

The client’s brother is an electrician, so he’s going to install the sconces above the built-ins in the formal dining room and finish building out the bulk head.  So don’t mind the raw wood on either side — it’ll all get finished up and painted out once he’s able to fit it in.

The clients scored these swivel chairs online that bring in the blue colour.  The shelves turned out GORGEOUS in this design plan!  The black part is all metal. 

Usually we’d do custom, but remember this is just a furnishing and quick facelift.  So for now, we used the BROR shelves from Ikea (which are meant to be garage storage, but I think the black powder coated metal looks amazing indoors).  On the bottom is also Ikea stock cabinetry with a laminate marble-look countertop.

In addition to moving sconces to the bulkhead and capping the old pot lights, the electrician will also lower that beautiful new light fixture over the table.  We mimicked the hint of brass in some of the accessories and layered in concrete, wood, metal, and greenery to really give an organic and clean look to the shelves.

I’m obsessed with how the dining room turned out!  It looks so much like the rendering — aside from the art which is a digital print we had made in a large 40″ X 30″ format.  I love how the Arizona prints pull together all of the colours in the house.

I think every house needs one piece of art that speaks to all of the colours in a home.  It really gives a jumping off point and helps all of the colours flow together well.

The clients will be knocking that back room off the house so this room will have a view of the incredible property the house sits on!

Kyle and our moving team weren’t super impressed by the 10′ dining table made of concrete and rebar… But I think it looks FAB.


The Master Bedroom also didn’t change much from the design except that the client opted for this beige-coloured bed instead of a grey.  Once the cage pendants are hung in front of the mirrors this room will be a mirror image of the renderings!  It’s just so cool as an interior decorator to see your vision go to paper and then turn itself into a room and, when a client trusts you to do your thing, how incredible it all turns out.

The Comfortable Dwelling blush watercolour rug is really the star of this show… I mean seriously….

Before + After Design Comparisons

You know, when we set up shop in Chatham-Kent as an interior decorating and design company everyone said “why Chatham?  No one will spend any money here… you’re not going to make it.”

Yet the very day we opened, this client walked in our doors and trusted us with her and her fiancee’s home.  We couldn’t be more grateful.  Since then we’ve been bombarded with requests for our warm, modern aesthetic.  It’s been so overwhelming!

I want to share more of our projects over the coming months with you so that we can celebrate how Chatham and Windsor are growing and thriving inside the design community.

To wrap, here are some side-by-side comparisons of the before and afters of this California Modern project.

Are you moving, building, renovating or redecorating?  Let us help you make your home stylish, comfortable, and a reflection of who you are.

Check out our full range of interior decorating and design services here.