LOS ANGELES, Sept. 29, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In the October 2010 issue of Traditional Home magazine, "up-and-arrived" Designer Kristi Nelson, of Los Angeles-based KMNelson Design, LLC, shares her personal planning style and trade secrets for stylish, elegant design with substance. The four page editorial details a five year labor of love renovation of the designer's home--a 1936 Georgian Revival in Westwood, originally built for Edward Dickson, the co-founder and first Regent of UCLA.
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With a knack for effortlessly transforming tired or blank spaces into gorgeously livable showpieces you never want to leave, Nelson reveals how to undertake each design project with purpose for the long term.
"Whether you're building on what you already have, starting from scratch with a new build, just want to facelift a few rooms, or you're undertaking a major renovation, your first priority is to understand how you will live in and use the space," explains Nelson. Nelson suggests putting ample thought into space and floor planning before beginning every project. "Think of volume, scale, comfort and flow—especially flow. Think about how you want to use and move through your home," says Nelson.
Lasting style begins with careful planning and investing your design dollars wisely. It's also about honoring the integrity of the original bones of the house, if they exist. Nelson makes every effort to highlight and restore original architectural details to play up the positive, character-giving elements of a home, whether it's period or brand new construction.
"Design is about reflecting who you are, but it is also about respecting the context. Well-built homes have integrity, especially older houses, which have a soul. You have to look for it and listen to it to create something special," says Nelson.
To create her forever home, Nelson had to completely demolish the mistakes the previous homeowners made attempting to modernize the interior and exterior architecture. Enhancing the home's Georgian architectural details, Nelson installed a thoughtful mix of contemporary art and furnishings with much-loved antiques found at auctions, collected from travels and inherited family heirlooms.
Because of the local historical importance of her home, she was careful to use materials that matched the original construction. The renovation included replastering damaged walls and ceilings, as well as using only plaster -- no drywall -- in newly constructed areas; recasting original plaster moldings and integrating them into new rooms, reusing the existing steel casement windows and gathering the rest from salvage yards, as well as visiting local construction sites to grab period oak floor boards out of homes being renovated so that all of the floors were matched and were authentic. The renovation also included a veranda addition, a complete kitchen redesign, and a removal of and redesign of the entire upper story of the back of the house to eliminate an unfortunate 50s addition referred to by her and her husband as "the Wart". They now have a grand master suite that stretches across the entire back of the house with a stone porch and sweeping 180 views from Bel Air to downtown LA to almost LAX.
Rooms now flow into each other with ease like an unending carousel—an important detail for Nelson which allows for a large number of guests to circulate freely because she and her husband entertain often. The kitchen is pretty and state-of-the-art but designed for function, and her family's museum quality treasures are displayed openly in rooms they use the most. Nelson loves antiques and believes they should be enjoyed rather than shut away in an attic collecting dust.
Her favorite room, the living room, blends a warm, welcoming color palette and wallpaper, a comfy s sofa she regularly naps on, a rare pair of exceptional Georgian rosewood mirrors she found for a steal at auction, a Georgian cupboard, as well as 18th, 19th and 20th century porcelains and furnishings she's collected over the years from England, France, China and New England.
Recalling the all-white rooms of the '70s and '80s that no one would go into without permission, Nelson states, "A room shouldn't be so precious you're not comfortable living in it, or that something can't be touched, or might be spilled on. There are so many fabric options now that can take spills and stains like Sunbrella's indoor/outdoor line or Edelman's leather sofas that are treated with Krypton during the tanning process so they can resist tough stains like crayon and ink," says Nelson. "The point of having a home is to enjoy living in it—all of it—not to just look at it!"
When designing, Nelson looks to make spaces more than pretty or trendy, whether contemporary or traditional, and will always select pieces with timeless style over momentary fashion. She advises clients to skew their budget to timeless pieces that will get the most use like high-quality, high-style, well built upholstery pieces and case goods. Nelson also recommends thinking about the three R's--restore, refashion, and reuse--rather than buying new wherever possible. "Just because you're gutting a bathroom doesn't mean you have to throw away the mirror…glass is expensive," says Nelson. "I would rather cut the glass down and reshape it for use in another room or re-frame and re-hang it…the cost of a 6 x 10 piece of mirror would be better served in another place in the budget."
Refashioning items with a new face also saves the expense and effort of having to get rid of what you have. Nelson suggests you look to change it up before you toss it out. Designing for longevity is a mindset. It can be done with high style and livability. There are endless, creative solutions.
"There are also more ways to reinvent a sofa than just putting new fabric on an upholstery piece with a solid frame," says Nelson. "Change out the cushions. Take a round arm to a tuxedo arm. Change the legs or the back or the arms to make it what you want it to be."
Since its inception in 2002, KMNelson Design, LLC has seen tremendous growth and success with an extensive client base and diverse range of projects. Nelson admits when she first meets with a client, she's immediately sketching ideas in her mind and will put pencil to paper as soon as the client exits her office door, often with swatches and tear sheets in hand. But Nelson says no project has brought greater personal satisfaction than designing for her family--husband Bill Frack, son Ben (age 11) and their dog Lacey.
ABOUT KMNelson Design:
KMNelson Design, LLC is a full-service interior design company serving clients throughout the US. The company provides residential and commercial services from design conception to project management and final installation, and is located at 320 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024, Phone (310) 441.0026, Fax (310) 470.6381.
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