Before & After: An Art Director's Family-Friendly Living Space

Lonny's Carolyn Veith Krienke extols the virtues of a new sofa—and the room that rearranges itself around it

The family cat, Tigger, perches with pride on a new sofa from High Fashion Home. Pillows (from left) from All Things Taj, ABC Carpet & Home (2), and High Fashion Home. Rex Lamp from Crate and Barrel.
The family cat, Tigger, perches with pride on a new sofa from High Fashion Home. Pillows (from left) from All Things Taj, ABC Carpet & Home (2), and High Fashion Home. Rex Lamp from Crate and Barrel.

A year ago, my two children and I moved from our home of nine years in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to the south side of the borough. We went from an open light-filled apartment to a flat in a lovely, ornate Jazz Age brownstone. In the process we gave up our sofa, and so for the past year our lives were centered around hanging out in my bedroom. We craved a place to be together as a family after school and in the evenings that we could decorate along comfortable, contemporary lines.

To be honest, it took me quite some time to get used to living in a space dominated by dark wood details, towering mirrors, and relatively petite partitioned rooms. Most of my belongings no longer suited the decor, much less the proportions. Moving to a new apartment necessitated a whole new perspective on what to buy, keep, and how to make our existing pieces work. But once I fully embraced the aesthetics of our new home, I realized that I could pull from my personal history to breathe life into our living/dining room.

The foundation was my love of modern design and an upbringing amid my parents’ 1950s Danish furniture. Since the existing architectural features of my home were a significant presence, I chose to keep the rest of the decor fairly streamlined. After giving it more thought, I realized how much the wood details reminded me of my childhood in the mountains of Switzerland and its influence of chalet living. Adding an alpine charm would provide the prefect bridge between old and new.

Veith Krienke's midcentury table is paired with chairs and a Nelson pendant from Design Within Reach.
Veith Krienke's midcentury table is paired with chairs and a Nelson pendant from Design Within Reach.
A photo of the author's father scaling the Swiss mountains is set next to a porcelain mushroom and vintage candlestick.
A photo of the author's father scaling the Swiss mountains is set next to a porcelain mushroom and vintage candlestick.

I began with an existing midcentury teak table that was a gift from my mother-in-law, paired with Salt Chairs from Design Within Reach. Suspended above it is a large Nelson Saucer Pendant Lamp that enlivens the dark wood surroundings. Our dining table is always in constant use for homework, drawing, and meals with friends and family; now it’s flanked on one side by an IKEA shelving unit displaying books and treasures and on the other by the company’s low red industrial-style PS Cabinet, above which is mounted a painting by Ezra Johnson.

For the centerpiece of the room—the sofa—we wanted something light and cozy, large enough for the three of us to cuddle while watching movies. The Sophie Sofa from High Fashion Home was the perfect solution for the modern lines I wanted. Warm-hued pillows bring in pops of color and texture, while Crate & Barrel's Rex lamp provides exactly the right light for those evening reads. My 11-year-old daughter has been coveting CB2’s Peekaboo Clear Coffee Table for more than two years, so I knew that definitely had to be included! To provide a fun textural contrast, I chose a large sheepskin area rug from Ugg Home. The effect is stunning and elegant in the afternoon light—a decadent fort for my seven-year-old son.

Within a week, I’m amazed at how just a few new pieces of furniture have completely changed my family’s way of living. Old objects take on new life, and suddenly we have a whole new space to be together, play, and dream.

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