A secondary residence is remodeled and infused with color to accommodate a young family.
A newly renovated condominium is a second home for a young family. Bold accents and powerful color choices provided a vivid palette for the design’s inspiration.
For many young families, Tulsa is a house-with-a-backyard kind of town.
Plenty of room for little ones to roam and ample storage space for the grown-ups to organize — those criteria are always top of the list when house-hunting.
But the family that interior designer Emily Davis helped did not fit the usual mold.
They divide their time between their primary residence in northwest Arkansas and their high-rise condo in midtown Tulsa, which they use to meet with business clients and to visit friends and family.
Davis had the rare opportunity to create a functional, family residence with the creative freedom and sophistication of a big city pied-a-terre.
“They really wanted a bold, colorful space since this isn’t their everyday house,” Davis says. “This is their fun home away from home.”
The yearlong project touched “every surface of the condo,” Davis says of the 1,500-square-foot space, and it allowed the homeowners to experiment with bold accents, such as the gray-and-white “Tanzania” wallpaper by Thibaut on the entry and dining accent walls. It also gave them permission to use color they may not usually select for their primary home.
“Color was first and foremost, and navy and fuchsia was our starting palette,” Davis says. “But the thing about a lot of color like this is it really needs to be peppered with a lot of whites and neutrals, or blacks. I love what a clean hit of white can do for a space. It makes it not so overwhelming and the accent colors pop even more.”
The homeowner shared with Davis a photo she found on Pinterest as inspiration — a wedding centerpiece — and Davis knew exactly how to begin. Finding a photo from a magazine or the web is the perfect way for a designer to start mapping a project, she says.
“With Pinterest or Instagram, a picture really is worth 1,000 words,” she says. “It makes it so much easier to work from.”
Davis acknowledged that hundreds of decisions go into any major remodel, and while it may seem overwhelming at first, she starts with the basics.
“I really like to purchase the foundational pieces first. I always tell my clients, ‘If you make one decision, the other decisions will just kind of fall in line.’”
To create a lighter, brighter space that was more functional for a young family, Davis optioned to remove a partial wall to create an updated, open kitchen area. And she even enclosed a doorway in the kitchen’s pantry area to gain a closet space on the other side of the wall.
The dining area also is modern but functional — the clear, Lucite dining chairs are easy to clean for accidental messes from the kiddos — and a pop of fuschia from the custom-designed cushions adds a touch of luxury for the adults.
“We were really cognizant of it being a family-friendly space, so this being a young family, we wanted things that could take a beating,” she says.
For additional storage, Davis added custom-built cabinetry in the living area to keep the children’s things, and they chose a sleeper-sofa to add an extra sleeping area for the family when they decide to entertain friends for a concert weekend at the BOK Center or extended family for holiday shopping at nearby Utica Square.
Davis says the “quirks of the building” always add some challenges, but that ultimately made way for design choices she and the family are pleased with. For example, the only overhead lighting in the front living area is in the dining room, so they chose plenty of lamps that add light and metallic texture to the room.
Rather than tear out all of the condo’s tile — causing a nuisance to the neighbors and a restriction to their timeframe due to the building’s construction curfew — they placed hardwoods over the existing floor surface.
“It’s the way the building is built,” she says. “Anything can be done, but you can work around it and make it fit your needs. If you think about the demo and the noise, it wasn’t even worth it.”
The same practicality came into play for the guest bath/powder bath. Since the family already had one bathtub in the master bath, they decided to replace the hallway bath’s tub with a glass shower, so they could add a storage enclosure.
And the biggest decision was flip-flopping the condo’s two bedrooms: The first bedroom now houses a king-sized bed, while the master has two queen-sized beds.
“It’s not really everybody’s go-to, to do two beds in a room, but this is how they use it. The parents want to stay up and put kids back here. It really has function for them,” Davis says. “We really went back and forth on this, but they’re really happy because they use all the sleeping arrangements to the fullest capacity.”
The bedrooms have the same navy and fuchsia color scheme, and they complement each other with custom drapes, metallic touches and neutral-colored storage furniture.
The master bathroom suite, with an enviable walk-in closet, was the perfect space for the room, so they left the configuration as is, while tearing out and replacing everything with a new vanity, surfaces, fixtures and tile.
Davis, a Stillwater native who recently lived in Houston and St. Louis before moving back to Tulsa two years ago, said working on this project has been a good way to introduce her to local design sources.
“Learning the market has been great,” she says. “It’s taken time to find out who works well, and Tulsa just has really amazing sources and great people to work with.”
Her local sources for this project were: The Dolphin, Sasha Malchi Home, Richard Neel at Home, Grigsby’s, T.A. Lorton, Little Design Co., American Building Contractors, and art by local artist Aubree Johnson, who created the large paintings in the master bedroom and living room.
But she also used pieces from retailers, such as Restoration Hardware, West Elm and Pottery Barn because she’s “all about mixing and matching one-of-a-kind things, with things you can just buy,” she says.
Personal touches throughout make it a comfortable home away from home.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re renovating a 100-year-old house, building a new house or working on a condo — every space is going to have quirks and challenges. They loved this location, the amenities of the building, and they didn’t want the maintenance and upkeep of a yard,” she says.
“And they keep asking me ‘Where we can add more color?’”
Here are Emily Davis’s tips for maximizing space in a smaller living area, such as a condo:
- Consider multi-functional furniture. The garden stools in the entry double as extra seating when needed.
- Don’t be afraid to go big. Statement items, such as wallpaper and large-scale art, make an even bigger impact in a small space.
- Really consider how you will use each space. It might not be the norm to place two beds in a room, but if you need to maximize sleeping arrangements, it works!