September 30, 2010

polished, sophisticated … and practical

Yesterday, I told you about the “designers’ challenge” that Amanda over at AB Home Interiors put together … and here’s what I came up with!

Traci Zeller AB Challenge Concept

My goal in this challenge was the same goal that I have for all of my clients – to create a classic, sophisticated, polished space … that fits their budget and their lifestyle.  Personally, I favor a neutral background with interesting art and pops of colors.  Naturally, that’s what my hypothetical clients like, too!  Hee hee hee.   I also really wanted some luxe pieces to upgrade the whole look of the room.  It’s like the idea in fashion that – if you have on fabulous shoes and are carrying an amazing bag – the rest of your outfit can be bargain basement … and no one will be the wiser.

Here’s how I arranged the room –


Basically, I wanted to create two groupings – one, a roomy conversation area and the other, a secondary space where family members could work, study,  use a computer or even play a game – as well as preserve the walkways between the rooms.  I wasn’t too fussed with the measurements because I knew no one would be replicating this room exactly.  So my drawing is just a freehand sketch (read – not to scale) that I used to figure out what pieces I was looking for.

With that being said, here’s my shopping list:

West Elm Jute Boucle Rug (shown in flax, priced as 9’ x 12’) – $299

Jasper sofa from Flores Designs (available from Nest Furnishings) – $999

Overstock’s Manchester Club Chair – $305.99 each, so $611.98 total

Avenue Six Armless Chair in Diamond Java – $241.82

Nate Berkus for HSN Hourglass Side Table with Glass Top – $149.95 each, so $299.90 total

West Elm Parsons Desk with Drawers (used as sofa table, shown in polished tumeric) – $299

Pottery Barn Hyde Turned-Leg Coffee Table – $399

Restoration Hardware Textured Linen Drapery (shown in mocha, priced as rod pocket style at 96”L x 100”W) – $319 each panel, so $638 total

Aquamarine Aura V by Jennifer Goldberger limited edition print (priced as matted and framed) – $294.99 … but we are going to use one of’s frequent 25% off coupons, so $221.24

VintageJamie (on etsy) hanbok-inspired linen pillow cover – $47.50

Elegant Touch (on etsy) pillow in Bleeker fabric by Celerie Kemble – $55.00 each, so $110 total

Elegant Touch (on etsy) pillow in chocolate brown/ivory zebra – $40.00

Pottery Barn Graham Desk & Hutch – $1,439.00

That brings my grand total to $5,645.44.  Pretty good, huh?  That leaves $354.56, which I would use for accessories – hopefully to include a cashmere throw in deep sea.  That would serve two purposes – adding a luxe element and bringing out the blue in the art.

Of course, I was assuming a few things – mainly that the existing paint color worked with the new concept and that we could use a handful of pieces that the clients already owned (lighting, drapery hardware, some accessories and a pretty chair for the Graham Desk & Hutch).  If we weren’t quite that lucky (!), my solution would be to buy a vintage secretary from Craigslist and paint it a creamy white … which would save the huge chunk of the budget (much larger than I wanted!) devoted to the Graham Desk & Hutch.  Then we’d have money for paint, lighting, and more.

To give you a little bit of insight into the process, let me explain some of the reasoning behind my choices.  The jute rug is reversible, so that will help to preserve its good looks a little bit longer.  The Jasper sofa is a great sofa for the price … and it is certainly worth it to devote 1/6 of the budget to the main upholstered piece in the room.  Plus, we want a sofa to last and be comfortable!  Flores Designs also has a nice selection of comfortable, durable fabrics, including ultrasuede, available with no to minimal up-charge.

The hourglass side tables – despite their low price point – are hand-crafted.  The metallic finish also adds a jewelry-like accent to the room.  The Manchester Club Chairs from are an amazing price.  I love the tufted back – because the chairs will never look messy – and the nailhead trim (more luxe!) makes them even more special.

Pops of color and pattern come from that fantastic Goldberger print, great pillows (luxe Celerie Kemble fabric!), and the polished tumeric parsons table.  The parsons table and secretary are so practical.  Think storage, homework, children’s computer time, bill-paying and more.

The Restoration Hardware drapes – another of our luxe elements – are lined … and a very nice quality for the price.  I assumed an 8 foot ceiling, so if we hung the drapery right below the ceiling, we’d get a nice break to slight puddle on the floor.  Oh, and we would definitely use drapery hooks to hang the panels on rings.  It’s a huge upgrade to the look!  Notice that I got the 100” width panels for this window.  Having the extra fullness really adds to the custom look.

Eventually, we could add a few more pieces to the room – for example, ottomans tucked under the Parsons table.

Whew.  That was a mouthful … and I could definitely keep talking – but you might be bored at this point.  So what do you think?

Don’t forget to check out what my colleagues come up with –

Kelly Berg of Arte Styling
Kelly James of
Dayka Robinson of
Meditations on Life and Style
Kathy Passarette of
Creative Home Expressions
Amanda Burdge of
AB Home Interiors
Susan Snow of
Moving Designz

Amanda, thanks for coordinating this fun challenge!


  • DesignTies
    Sep. 30, 2010
    I see some similarities between your design and mine -- and they're also totally different in some ways!! It's going to be fun to see what everyone else came up with :-) Love the side tables and the hutch :-) Kelly
  • susan snow
    Oct. 01, 2010
    Hi, Love your room and it does remind me of Kellys too! Different yet the same feel. What a great shopper you are :) Love all of your choices. cheers Susan
  • Classic…with a twist
    Oct. 01, 2010
    I love how you are always so true to your preferred design style... it is such a niche. I could spend all day on Etsy- terrific chairs! Quick question- what program did you use to create this? I've looked at Olio board and few others and want something easy! Traci
  • Laura
    Oct. 01, 2010
    Love it! What a fun idea- sometimes it helps to just set aside your own style and what a client wants to see what you can come up it.
  • Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions
    Oct. 01, 2010
    Hi Amanda ~ Great room! I love how it seems like most of us have at least one similar aspect in all the designs we came up with. For you and I it is the Pottery Barn hutch and desk! How funny! : ) Plus I think some of your colors would work in my room as well {pillows, couch, brown chair, drapes}. I agree that the hutch was a good chunk of money {and in mine, the couch, too}, but the hutch was the first thing I really decided on and I definitely wanted to work it in. Nicely done!
  • Kelly, Arte Styling
    Oct. 01, 2010
    Hi, Traci. It looks really good! Very, very pulled together and warm. Thanks for sharing your design!
  • Shannon
    Oct. 01, 2010
    You will have your own segment on HGTV someday...I just know it!!! You inspire me...but I have zero creativity!
  • Pamela @ Atmosphere ID
    Oct. 01, 2010
    Great choices! That's definitely a room I would love to have.
  • amanda
    Oct. 01, 2010
    Traci You did an amazing job! Thank-you so much for participating in this! It was definitely a challenge with the time constraint, life and of course work, work, work! BUT I am so glad all of you agreed to do it! Everyones creativity and approach to the same room is spectacular to see! And yes I want to know what program you used to make your board. Its fantastic. And how is the MAC computer doing for you?? xo amanda
  • Elise Lowerison
    Oct. 01, 2010
    I love the design layout and color palette of this room. I came across your post this afternoon while browsing interior design blogs and the topic of window treatment selection was very interesting to me. The window treatments you selected work wonderfully, but I wonder if the windows can add that pop of color as well? It is true that you must dress your windows appropriately to bring out their true beauty. Thank you for writing and as a special thanks to you and your readers, I would like to offer a 20% off coupon using this code upon checkout: BLG20.
  • Amanda Hill
    Oct. 01, 2010
    I love it Tracy! I was so great to hang with you in NY, thanks you are sweet!
  • dayka @ life+style
    Oct. 01, 2010
    i love your furniture selections (and your handwriting on that space plan!). Since I added a dresser as a media stand, I didn't focus on the fireplace as much, but i love that you used one of my favorite furniture layouts (for some reason, it always reminds me of the holidays). I see the graham desk/hutch that i love here, and i'm digging the neutral palette with pops of saffron. great job!
  • The Zhush
    Oct. 04, 2010
    WOW, great job. Love every single piece in this room!
  • Eddie Ross
    Oct. 04, 2010
    Amazing! Great selections! E+J
  • abbyjenkins
    Oct. 05, 2010
    How sophisticated! Yes to the cashmere throw please. I could use a secretary, wooden or the traditional flesh and bone type!
  • Sarah (Matters of Style)
    Oct. 05, 2010
    Pretty pretty!!! I love it!!

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