How Downsizing Actually Helped This Family Create the Space of Their Dreams
Style on a budget has never looked better.
Published Mar 10, 2019 7:00 AM
For most, the idea of a “dream home” is centered around something larger, more expensive, and generally more luxe—the idea of downsizing into a dream home is not as popular. Yet, this was the case for the family that tapped designer Linda Eyles. Faced with a house that was too big and spread out, they were looking for something that felt more family-friendly and comfortable. Eventually, they found their perfect space, in the form of 4,000 square feet in Houston, and Eyles got cracking.
“We wanted to create workable spaces with multiple functions,” explains Eyles. Luckily, the home was a new construction project, so both designer and client had total freedom with molding the space into exactly what they wanted, including built-in beds for the daughters’ bedrooms to allow more floor space for playtime or stunning concrete floors in the kitchen.
Given that Eyles had previously worked with the family on their old house, she had a good grasp on their personal style. Both of the clients are artisans with a knack for craftiness (the husband actually built the plywood shelves you see in the music room), so this intrinsic creativity and willingness to experiment aesthetically gave Eyles even more freedom.
“They really love a mixed aesthetic,” she explains. “They have a deep love for all things Texas, but you also see European inspiration, both modern and formal, so we mixed it all in.”
Eyles’s clients actually kept and repurposed most of their items from the previous home; a refreshing (not to mention budget and eco-friendly) change of pace, as it can often feel like most new homeowners abandon all prior possessions when decorating a new house. The challenge, then, was about figuring out fresh ways to incorporate old pieces, creating a final product that was varied not only in its high-low price point but also in its mix of old and new.
“I think the clients and I both believe in the Sharon Stone theory of decorating,” Eyles jokes when explaining how she maintained that balance. “Do you remember when she dressed in a Gap T-shirt and a luxe designer skirt for the Oscars? To me, that’s the way it should be—invest in things that will make an impact, and then everything you pair with it [automatically becomes] elevated.”
She took more formal pieces that the family owned, like an antique-looking chandelier, and juxtaposed them against materials and silhouettes that look more laid-back. That chandelier has a new place of residence against the light plywood shelving in the music room. In the powder room, simple shiplap walls doused in a modern teal blue color look even more striking against the older, opulent-looking accents.
This decorating tactic also allowed for the occasional splashy addition—the best example of which has to be the aforementioned concrete flooring in the kitchen. In their last home, Eyles had worked with the clients to install the floors, and they fell in love with the style. She called on the help of David Miller (who she calls the “concrete maestro” of Houston) to install cement floors in the kitchen, which bring an edge to the otherwise whitewashed, traditional space.
Read on to get Eyles’s tips for decorating on a budget and making your old decor pieces feel new.
On editing what you already have
While it would be great to give every single piece of furniture or decor a renewed lease on life, moving is the perfect time to look critically at the stuff you’ve amassed and partake in a bit of Marie Kondo–endorsed paring down. “You need to have a ‘love them and leave them’ mindset,” she continues. “No matter how hard you try, not everything can move from one house to the next.” If you haven’t ever loved that stuffy living room armchair, donate it. Consider buying a new one that better suits your style a housewarming gift to yourself.
On reusing furniture:
The most important thing to remember is to stay flexible. “The velvet sofa you had in the living room may need to morph into the velvet sofa at the bottom of the master bed. You need to leave your preconceived associations with your pieces behind,” says Eyles.
On making budget look luxe:
“We focused on using materials that give a lot of impact for less money,” explains Eyles. In the secondary bathroom, for example, she used inexpensive penny tiles in a statement-making color so the floors still pack a visual punch.
On perfecting the art of the high-low:
Start becoming a regular at your local antique markets and junk shops—you never know what you’re going to find. Eyles’s clients spend time combing through those kinds of vintage pieces, finding hidden gems that act as the perfect finishing touch without breaking the bank. According to Eyles, mixing in these more affordable items is key in balancing out a space’s luxe features.
“We paired crusty little tables and lamps with velvet sofas and chandeliers,” she says. Elsewhere, marble countertops play nicely against penny tile floors. Seagrass blinds contrast with high-end Rose Tarlow chairs. It’s all about smart shopping and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
See more homes we love: Babba C. Rivera’s Brooklyn Apartment Is a Serene, Scandi-Inspired Retreat Inside a Breathtaking Melbourne Home That Effortlessly Mixes Old and New This Home Looks More Like a Global Bazaar Than a Brooklyn Townhouse