Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

This topic could not be more appropriate for my first blog post as an independent design firm owner.    I had mulled over the decision to step out on my own literally for years before I finally took the plunge.  And although the amount of work that has gone in to launching this business was daunting, I can honestly say that it has also been thrilling.    Of course there is comfort and security in the familiar.  And stepping out of our comfort zones can be anxiety-provoking.  But you cannot ever succeed at something you don't try!   This is true both in life generally and in design specifically.

That Leslie Toran Interiors' very first client was an individual looking to broaden their design horizons and step out of their comfort zone was particularly apropos.  Our client was transitioning from a traditional suburban home to a chic city apartment.  The furnishings that had worked so well in a rambling house punctuated with detailed millwork would have been out of place and overwhelming in the new apartment.  The client's previous style was steeped in historical influences.  The furniture was heavy and consisted primarily of darkly-stained woods.  Rich jewel tones abounded.  In contrast, the apartment was bright, light, and contemporary featuring simple millwork, lightly stained wood floors, floor to ceiling windows, concertina doors, and sleek, flat panel cabinetry topped with quartzite countertops.

Our client quickly realized that the architecture and finishings of the new apartment dictated a style transition.  That said, the client had never attempted a more contemporary look and was concerned that it may feel too cold and unwelcoming.  In the client's mind, "contemporary" read white, black, chrome, sterile.  With assurances that we could, indeed, achieve a design that complimented the architecture while still providing a cozy respite for the owner, we dove in to the design process.  Here is a sampling of some of the furnishings we curated for our client:  


We devised a simpler color palette and chose stream-lined silhouettes, but we maintained warmth by incorporating a few pieces of richly stained walnut furnishings and utilizing tactile fabrics with a soft hand.  The tone on tone geometric rug grounds the space, and the linen upholstered dining chairs and sofa are simple, yet still inviting (design tip: if you are using less-resilient fabrics like linen, as we did here, you may want to have them knit-backed to bolster their wearability).  The caramel colored leather bar stools and chair further help to soften and provide warmth to the space.  

So where are we now?  All of the furnishings have been ordered, and we are in the process of accessorizing the apartment with art and simple soft goods.   In the end, our client is so happy to have stepped out of their comfort zone and has chosen to use nothing from their previous home!

Although this client decided to jump in to a transition in style with both feet, many people are not so willing or able to do so.  That does not mean, however, that you can't push your boundaries just a bit and test your comfort zone.  If you are more of a traditionalist, you could, for instance, try something as simple as placing a modern, sculptural objet d'art next to a classic English roll arm sofa.  If you lean towards a more contemporary or modern style, perhaps consider upholstering a Victorian-style settee in a fabulously modern graphic print fabric.  Juxtaposing styles like this can result in a striking end product.  

Working with this client has been inspiring and an absolute treat.  Sometimes, our greatest experiences and achievements come from stepping out of our comfort zone.  I encourage you to take that leap both in life and in design.  Until next time . . .





Leslie Toran