October 16, 2017
The Design Process of Hilary Unger of Perianth Design
Hilary Unger takes us through the fascinating design journey that is an interior design project.
by New York Spaces
Hilary Unger, of Perianth Interior Design, takes us through her personal design process.
My client, whom I had worked with several times prior, had purchased the apartment next door. The architect drew up the plans to combine the two apartments and I was asked to fully design the daughter's bedroom and to help implement the new apartment construction. This included the Floor Plan and the tiles for the bathrooms and kitchen, that had previously been decided upon. It quickly became apparent, however, that there was much more to be accomplished, which included creating the overall materials and color scheme for the entire apartment, as well as to address the lighting, built-ins, closets, and to adjust the exact layout as conditions arose during construction.
My directive was to incorporate several items from their existing furniture and take control of the full project from there. They gave me carte blanche on the design, and I knew I needed to create a look of unity throughout the apartment through the use of color, textures and finishes. The center of the home is, of course, the open kitchen, living and dining area, finished in a combination of varying creamy white woods, lacquers, and lace fabric, with exclamation points of black and grey stone and clear crystals. The same scheme continue in the hallways, master bedroom and bathrooms. The big change is in the daughter's bedroom, where the colorful book Madeline was brought to life. The moody, purple and lavender, sheer balloon-shade accompanies the rose lacquered cabinetry...all of which complement the main event of the room, which is the floor-to-ceiling mural.
In addition to their daughter's bedroom, one of the most important elements to my clients was the lighting. They desired a fully-lit apartment without freestanding lamps. By lowering the ceilings 1-1/2" to accommodate the wiring and installing small square Italian glass lights throughout the ceiling of the entire apartment, we achieved an incredibly inviting feeling without compromising the ceiling height in any significant way. In addition, the rectangular beams housing recessed lights around the perimeter of the Dining area defines the ceiling and also adds illumination.
I always find something fascinating in my projects. It either appears in the general challenge of the space, or something as specific as having the opportunity to create a new storage cabinet in order to align a beam, such as what we did in this kitchen.
My approach to designing, is that once the Floor Plan and furniture plans are set, I can move full steam ahead with the finishes, fabrics, textures and materials. I start by selecting fabrics. We reupholstered the sofa and ottoman and we needed curtain and pillow fabrics as well. Next is requesting samples of the flooring and lacquers from the contractor. It may sound odd, but when I shop for fabrics or look for colors, I almost consciously 'check out'. I let my eyes do the looking and I put my brain on rest mode. If I become 'intellectual' about colors and fabrics, I am not able to connect to the feeling of the space. The times that I am concrete are when I am working on the floor plan or with space. That is a very conscious event for me.
One of the design tricks I used in this project is to run the floor planks run vertically from the entry door toward the far window. Since the apartment is longer than it is wide, this stretches the space and makes it look wider. Another trick that accomplishes a modern feel in the apartment was to use square recessed light fixtures. Round fixtures tend to be less edgy. I also was not afraid to mix the Shabby Chic crystal chandeliers with the square Italian glass lights. The juxtaposition is interesting. At the Master Bedroom makeup vanity, we created the illusion of depth by installing mirrors on all three sides. The mirror had holes cut into it by the manufacturer to accommodate the hard-wired wall lights. Also, making the cabinetry similar in color to the floor brings true unity to the space. I very much believe in what I like to call durable quality. I don't classify this under 'design tricks', but I do always raise the bar whether it is with the mixture of colors, the application of paints, and being attentive to the details that matter. The result is always more sumptuous.
Inspiration to use Certain Designs:
My client's flirtation with the Shabby Chic look challenged me to fold in both the modern and the traditional, which inspired me to mix in the glass cube lights on the ceiling. The Gothic infused hinges are an extension of the scrolls of the chandeliers, as are the crystal knobs on the cabinetry.
The Final Reveal:
Ultimately the final reveal is a luxurious yet livable space that has become Perianth's signature. The apartment is serene and spacious with lots of elements of surprise that add to the dimension of the place my clients now call home.
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