A Chicer Place to Shelter

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Maybe home renovation wasn’t on your 2020 vision board, but after half a year sheltered in place, you’ve realized your place could be a more inviting place to shelter. The Bay Area’s top interior innovators have been helping clients reconfigure, redecorate and reorganize their homes to accommodate all the roles (office! day care! gym!) a modern living space now plays. Here’s what they’re seeing in the field and how they’re making magic happen at home.

Ken Fulk’s work. (Douglas Friedman)

Ken Fulk: “Suddenly our clients find themselves at home with the entire clan, with no end in sight to this mandated family reunion — and the spaces are really getting a workout. Home offices that doubled as guest bedrooms no longer cut it and projects that had once been contemplated suddenly seem vital: Home cinemas, pools, gyms and guest houses are no longer looked at as ‘someday we’ll get to it,’ but are now viewed as integral necessities for home life that also double as a workplace and vacation spot all rolled into one.”

A room by Jay Jeffers. (Matthew Millman)

Jay Jeffers: “Design-savvy people want a sanctuary — a place to live, work, eat and meet safely with small groups — mostly outside,” says Jeffers. He also notes that open spaces are in demand, but privacy can still be achieved. “That doesn’t mean adding walls — we need to get creative. Separate rooms with draperies that are lined so they muffle noise. Take out the nightstand in the master and add a desk. Add a drop-down screen to the dining room — instant boardroom!”

Johnathan Rachman’s design. (Victor Samuel)

Johnathan Rachman: Practicality and ‘expansion’ are the two major changes. The obvious request is home office space. Some clients never dedicated a room for an office but now they have to, so a few guest rooms have become full-on offices or now double as offices.”Rachman says some not-so-obvious requests include more open kitchens, which have become the “central command” of many homes; sunroom extensions to integrate the outdoors; office are as that seamlessly mesh into living spaces; mudrooms that are not only formal entries, but now serve as post-outdoor “decontamination” areas.

A bedroom by Suzanne Tucker. (Matthew Millman)

Suzanne Tucker: “People may be cooped up but are taking comfort in reorganizing their surroundings and using
their homes and spaces more creatively. Reading in the living room requires better lighting; sleeping in the same bedroom night after night calls for refreshed walls, better pillows and a cozier bed; and dining alfresco brings
a desire for new table linens, dishes and flatware. I’m seeing people seeking solace in two approaches: either purging everything with the mindset of freeing up their lives, or the complete opposite — refreshing everything,
redoing the house, and ordering new dishes because when life gets back to normal, they’ll be ready to party!”

An outdoor design by Green City Construction/Sophie Azouaou

Sophie Azouaou: “The vast majority of our clients have been interested in bridging the gap between indoor and outdoor spaces with the creation of more outside dining and seating areas with soothing colors, comforting textures and the addition of outdoor offices.” According to Azouaou, some of the biggest 2020 trends have been Zen aesthetics, “but we expect futuristic and more vibrant colors in the fall”; kitchen creativity: “dark islands, stain-resistant, high-performance countertops and glass or slab backsplashes as the focal point”; minimalistic home or outdoor offices where clients with children can work quietly; nature-themed wallpapers and biophilic designs.

Ken Fulk on Creating the Ultimate Zoom Room

We’ve all had that awkward moment of trying to project professionalism during a video chat only to have a pajama-clad family member meander through the background. Never have a cringe-worthy online meeting again with these tips on creating the ultimate Zoom room from Ken Fulk, who assures us, “You don’t have to have a picture-perfect home to give good Zoom! You just need one good backdrop.”

1: “A well-styled bookcase always looks great, but make sure you pay attention to the titles and what’s in any photos on display. There are video-conferencing detectives out there looking for those intimate details!”

2: “Lamp light is best; overhead lighting is unkind and makes event hose gifted with good hair look like they are balding.”

3: “Don’t sit in front of a mirror when on a video call. It’s distracting and people see the back of your head, which may not be your best asset.”

4: “A nice plant positioned beside you will help block out unwanted sightlines.”

5: “Look at the camera and smile — people want to know you’re engaged and happy.”

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