Like many of us, it didn't take designer Rasheeda Gray many days of shelter-in-place to realize that the layout of her family's home just wasn't working. "My family and I would gather in what we call our family room, but it was never complete," the designer (who runs Pennsylvania-based Gray Space Interior Design) tells House Beautiful. "It was full of 10 year old furniture we'd owned from a previous home, and we'd just kind of bought things here and there—there was never a design plan." But with Gray newly working from home and her husband and kids there too, she realized the space deserved a more thoughtful treatment.
Plus, she says, with the spread of COVID-19, "I realized just how precious time is and the reasons for holding back felt too thin to hold onto." So, with the help of her avid DIYer husband (the two appeared on Flea Market Flip together), she set about transforming the open concept living and dining area of her midcentury home, using lots of time and money-saving tricks to create a space that's beautiful and functional—in just eight weeks—as part of the One Room Challenge.
A connecting palette
"Our home was built in 1961, and I fell in love with it because of the open floor plan," says Gray. "But it was also a challenge. So when I was thinking about this design for the space. I thought, how do I make that space feel cozy and connected?" More on the coziness later, but as for keeping it connected, Gray opted for a monochromatic palette (with walls painted in Sherwin-Williams's Pure White), which also allowed her to emphasize her modern, graphic style.
Anchoring the space is a ventless fireplace with a large, vertical overmantel, which Gray's husband covered in a plaster finish that gives a rich patina—and makes the TV less noticeable. "It's my favorite feature," says Gray. "It's what makes the space feel whole, and unique to our family." Plus, she points out, it adds an architectural detail, which can be less common in modern home.
Texture, texture, texture
To add coziness within the clean palette and modern lines, Gray relied on texture, beginning with the fireplace and extending to fabrics like "heavy cottons and velvet," natural wood elements (like the dining table), and plenty of greenery. "I have an olive tree at either end to kind of give height for those corners, and then different greenery throughout, but all in the same shade of green," she explains.
Since the space was so open, Gray used thoughtful placement to delineate various areas, using one Surya rug to anchor the living room and another for the dining area, then placing a bench under a gallery wall for another separate vignette. Meanwhile, barrel-backed chair by the window (purposely facing away from the TV) serves as a mini reading nook. "I wanted to have a spot by the windows where, if you want to just kind of sit away from the television and unwind at the end of the day, you can," explains the designer.
Working within a limited budget and time frame, Gray used several clever tricks to get custom looks for less. First, she painted the window frames and muntins black, giving them the look of wrought iron. For the window treatments, she bought a set of off-the-rack grommet-style curtains (from Target, no less!) then brought them to her workroom, where she changed the tops to pleats and sewed two standard curtains together for an extra-wide one that feels more custom.
For the gallery wall, Gray also went DIY: "I didn't buy a single frame," she says. Instead, she collected ones she already owned and spray painted them all in a matte black to give them a more cohesive look, then filled them with black-and-white photos for a graphic treatment that is also personal.
Explore more of the room below!
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