On our Turf

Before and After: A Westside Contemporary Gets a Facelift – Part I

We were honored to be chosen to help one lovely Atlanta couple re-design a few key spaces in their newly acquired contemporary home. First up – the living room. The goal – to create a sleek, yet comfortable open-concept space with plenty of room for family and friends to gather. Designing with pet-friendly materials and incorporating a touch of pink into the design were high on the priority list, so we got to work!

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Carter


Believe it or not, this space was actually a designer’s dream – blank walls, warm hardwoods running throughout, large windows and a fireplace in need of a little love. What more could you ask for?! Centered in the room, we proposed adding an oversized clean-lined sectional in a durable, yet luxurious gray velvet, perfect for entertaining a crowd. A large coffee table was a must, along with plenty of surfaces to set a drink and ambient lighting for enjoying an evening movie with dinner or curling up and reading a book. We suggested adding in the pink ever so slightly with a pop on the chairs and accent pillows, being careful not to overuse it and come off as too feminine.

The fireplace was the other point of focus in this room. The shape was odd and the mantle unusable. We proposed removing the existing slate surround and streamlining the fireplace silhouette by extending the footprint upwards. Applying a porcelain tile in a straight stacked pattern would enhance the once drab surround, and designing a custom built-in to accommodate a large entertainment center would turn this forgotten wall into to the focal point of the entire space.


We loved the bright white walls, but wanted to amp them up a bit as well. By using a dramatic copper streaked wallpaper behind the television and then carrying it over to the opposite side of room behind the new bar area, we were able to unify all of the walls and add life and warmth to all sides of the room.

Photo courtesy of Christina Wedge

Photo courtesy of Christina Wedge

Photo courtesy of Christina Wedge

This room received quite a transformation and ended up being one of our favorites to date! Sleek, sophisticated, and complementary of the style of the home and the vibrant clients that live there. Designing a space for a client is always a team effort. The best projects and happiest clients always seem to come as the result of collaboration, and this project was no different. We love it when that happens!

Need We Say More?

Need We Say More? Shinrin-Yoku

By: Stephanie Andrews

Photo courtesy of Lisse L.

Shinrin-Yoku is a Japanese concept that most closely translates to “a forest bath.” To me, this means slowing down and connecting with nature. Walking through the woods, noticing the smells, textures, colors, and sounds provides an opportunity to improve my health, both mentally and physically. I also notice that my creativity and curiosity expands during and after a forest bath.

Learn it!

Elements of a Modern Paris Salon

By: Stephanie Andrews

I have been a Francophile since elementary school. After four years of French in high school, field trips to Montreal, and then a minor in French in college, I was hooked. My husband and I travelled to Paris just after we got married, and it was truly magical. We loved the color of the buildings, the history, the architecture, the churches, the food, and the culture. The style is captivating, and although it has been written about extensively (perhaps too much) French women and their homes have an effortless chic that I find mesmerizing.

Photo courtesy of Sharon Santoni.

We recently met a client who is also a fan of this effortless style, and wants that iconic look for her living room. Her father is an antiques dealer in Paris, so a French salon style living room seems only natural. I started by doing a little research into the history of the salon. A product of The Enlightenment in the early 18th century, it was a key institution in which women played a central role. Salons provided a place for people to congregate for intellectual discourse.

Did you catch that? The main purpose of the room is for intellectual conversation! Not phones, work, or TV. Love the idea? Let’s look at the quintessential elements needed to create this space. (Disclaimer: even if you find the elements, it may still take some additional “je ne sais quoi” to really pull it off, in a French way.)

The ideal room has high ceilings and architectural moulding at the ceiling and an interesting fireplace. (Obviously, many of us do not have these details in our living rooms, but work with me on the vision and then adapt it for your home.) Our client’s living room fit the bill perfectly — large room, beautiful fireplace, and a baby grand piano!

Photo courtesy of Elle Decor.

Since the purpose of a salon is the ability to have conversations, consider the floor plans and scale of furnishings. The seating needs to be easy to access and also comfortable, with a place for drinks as well as good ambient lighting.

Once you have a floor plan that works, it’s time to choose a rug. For a French salon style, choose a rich, jewel toned, hand knotted wool or silk rug with patina (read: old). This may take some time to find. Your rug options probably will need to be brought in, laid out and looked at in different lights and hopefully call to you saying, “I’m it!” I recommend browsing eBay, Chairish, Next Door, or local sources that will let you send the rug back if it is not quite right. Be patient, this is probably the most important decision in your new room. Don’t worry if the rug is somewhat worn or a bit frayed — that just adds to the character!

For a comfy curvy sofa, I chose this one from American Leather in a terra cotta velvet to complement the rug. I added some rattan chairs from CB2 because look: they look like they’re smiling! I could see reupholstering these in a fun pattern (maybe black and cream zebra print?). A heavy chunk of drink table, a vintage glass round coffee table, and some fabulous ambient lighting sets just the right mood. A gilded mirror can sit above the sofa or the mantle, depending on the floor plan.

A salon isn’t really a salon without an art wall, and this one is a curated collection of women we admire. It features women poets, artists, actresses, and a yoga carving. This wall can continuously be added to, and interesting frames can enhance the collected feel of the room.

Photos courtesy of Art.com, Society6, and Amazon.

The final secret to a Paris style salon is this: never really call the room finished. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt and the ever-changing canvas of your room!

Curate My Life, Learn it!

The High End Ikea Life

By: The Balance Design Team

We love to mix things up in pretty much every way — patterns, styles, colors, and even price range. There’s room for every level of budget in our designs, and we’re here to show you how to mix your finally-got-that-raise purchase with your I’m-not-spending-more-than-$100-on-that staples. We thought it would be fun to show you how our designers pair a cool Ikea piece with some medium and high end items and create a complete designer look.

Shelby’s pick:

You have to admire the classic clean look of IKEA’s Hilver table — perfect for a desk. Pairing this piece with a mustard desk chair from Chairish and matching art print by Eva Magill Oliver creates a mid century vibe for an office space in a small ranch home. I love the teal/rose/white color combination on the wall in the above photo (courtesy of The Old Piggery) and a simple woven teal rug to balance out the pops of yellow. And how about that stunning silhouette on the CB2 brass desk lamp? A hanging Hoya plant finishes off the space and gives it the playful touch it deserves!


Melody’s pick:

Don’t let the style of one piece dictate the aesthetic of the whole room — mix things up to get a real global feel! I saw this modern woven pendant light from IKEA and instantly thought to pair it with a comfy shaggy rug. Of course you also need equally comfortable seating, and the rich rust cushion of this Anthropologie carved daybed brings out the pop of color in the CB2 rug. Deep teals and bright blues are perfect accents to such a warm tone, and the combination of a bold pouf from Etsy and intensely saturated grasscloth are just the thing this room needs. The cherry on top of this easy-going, worldly look is a fringed hanging planter from World Market. Get cozy!


Danielle’s pick:

What’s in a name? Sometimes nothing! Let the quality of materials speak for themselves rather than the brand name of the item. Here I’ve paired stunning sterling silver flatware from Tiffany & Co. and engraved Saks Fifth Avenue stoneware canape plate with a classic 100% linen tea towel from (ready for this?) IKEA. I love the combination of these vintage bentwood chairs with caned seats and an affordable-yet-durable French garden inspired rug. A brutalist end table made of charred, 100-year-old reclaimed wood from collapsed barns in Transylvania and inkblot-style wallpaper from Schumacher add the right amount of grit and edge to ground this delicate room. Plus, the table provides the perfect perch for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Delightful!

The moral of this story is: look for the hidden gems. Whether it’s a simple desk, a funky pendant, or a classic textile, you never know when a super special piece might jump out at you from the least expected places, even at Ikea.

Need We Say More?, On our Turf

A Nook to Read In

By: Stephanie Andrews

Photography by Christina Wedge for Balance Design.

Sometimes you just want a spot to steal away and lose yourself in a good book. Such was the case for our client in Atlanta’s historic Druid Hills neighborhood. The upstairs landing was the perfect spot for a cozy reading nook, complete with a custom built-in for her collection of books. A mid century chair and ottoman atop a colorful sari silk rug inspired our client to arrange her books by color, creating a cheerful rainbow effect.