First Interior Design Board

As we’ve mentioned before, we hired an interior designer. We were excited to get the first design board from her, which covered interior finishes for our main living space:

Frankly… we didn’t like it much. Some of it was in the ballpark – the cabinets, some of the flooring, the butcher block counter was something we liked but hadn’t thought about, but the barnwood didn’t do anything for us.

Our Feedback to the Interior Designer

I like the look of the C1 beams, but I’m hesitant about using an element that is so unabashedly “fake” for the purpose of a look. Really broadly, I like seeing how things work, and I like it when things are “honest” about how they work. So, for example, I’m not shy about exposed joinery in woodworking, etc. I like the look though, and it’s a big expanse of ceiling to be otherwise unadorned, so I’m kind of torn. We do have the big beam that separates the kitchen/dining from living; another option would be to “skin” that. It feels more honest, and the beam itself serves a function.

I have some of the same hesitation with the barnwood. Especially given its wide distribution. The N wall of the living room will be a set of built-in bookshelves. Doubt it will need much wall accent beyond that. The small alcove between the fireplace and kitchen is going to be a bar cart and liquor shelves. Might do those in reclaimed or barnwood, which would give some of the same look.

On the fence about barnwood for the main stairs, at least with such a “busy” pattern as BW-1. BW-1 as a pattern I don’t like at all. For accent barnwood, I would want to use actual barnwood or cedar fence shakes etc. See above, regarding honesty. I’m also concerned about barnwood being trendy at the moment. 

Additionally, stair walls are also often a “touch” surface, which makes me nervous about “true” barnwood. Since even sanded, it can be splintery.

ST-1 and BW-1 both have a dark espresso color that I don’t particularly like. Same with F-1A/B.

Of the floor options, I like F-1A the most, though I may want to go somewhat warmer. The other floor options don’t do a lot for me. 

I like most of ST-1, but the burgundy bricks take it to be one step too busy for me.

I like CT-2 but do not want actual marble as a material, more just the look, and like the idea of a wood countertop section (CT-1); I’d at least like to see what it looks like. 

Additions from my wife:

Adding on, I really do not like the barnwall look.  We have a lot of big wall art, so not sure we want a wall that busy.

Flooring wise, I like F-1A the most, but could go even a bit warmer, while still staying out of the amber color.  


We were a little concerned – if the second board came back with some of the stuff we didn’t like (like the super contrasty barnwood), maybe this wasn’t going to work out. On the other hand, it was a first draft, so we hoped Ellen would take our notes and work with them.

Some of the process reminded me a little of Tracy Kidder’s book House, which details her process building her home and working between an architect and a builder. It didn’t focus much on interior design, but up until this point we had only been working with Shaun, so it shifted things a bit once we started working with another professional on our design (or, ug, “vision”).

Book Review: House Beautiful Dream Homes

As the title suggests, House Beautiful: Dream Homes includes a lot of pretty pictures of pretty houses in pretty places. Unfortunately, most people are way, way too poor to mimic many of the looks in the book. If you’re designing for your second beach home, you may find some great inspiration here, but for most of us the looks are out of reach.