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Great Space

Clean Slate

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Interior designers from home furnishings store Domicile created such a scenario in a model apartment for Lofts at Lee, a Miller & Associates development at Kensington and Belmont avenues in Richmond's Museum District. The space is 1,725 square feet with two bedrooms, two baths and a loft area above the kitchen. "We tried to build as much flexibility into the design of the lofts as possible," Paul Williams, manager of Monroe Properties, says of the renovation, which will become condominiums in several years. "We built on the existing features that have been restored, like the maple floors and glazed brick walls, and there's a little bit of whimsy like the blackboard walls, which are an amusing aspect and make the space different."

Prospective tenants might look at the soaring ceilings and open floor plans and draw a blank on how to decorate. In the model unit, they can observe the guiding principles that are useful whether their budgets allow a full-blown decorating spree or a lifetime of moderation.

"The design was dictated by the very large proportions of the space — its volume and light," says Seth McCutcheon, Domicile's owner and manager. "Balance was essential to the selection of each piece, allowing the furnishings to make their own statement without overpowering. Our mission was to create a luxurious home that celebrates life through comfort and functionality."

Domicile designers chose large accessories, such as a wall-sized mirror and five-foot urn filled with branches, to announce the entry in grand style.

Furniture is floated in the rooms rather than pushed against walls and often is angled into place for drama and interest. A massive poster bed layered in crisp linens gives exotic flair to the bedroom and gets breathing room from its placement in the middle of the floor. A similar layout in the office balances the effect.

In this space, less is more, bigger is better. Rather than shelves full of knickknacks, accessories are pared down and functional: large lamps, a stone-topped wine rack, a big brass clock.

A unified color palette keeps the space feeling cohesive. Rusty reds, browns and earth tones set off the dark wood furnishings. White walls keep the background clean, and industrial detailing and silver-toned lighting fixtures give a modern edge.

Room-sized rugs delineate areas and add warmth, color and texture to the blond maple flooring.

Brown leather bar stools and leather chairs in the office contrast with the chenille upholstery fabrics in the living room. Textures are more important than patterns in this design.

An expandable dining table fits neatly near a window and offers options for entertaining or projects with its foldout top.

Because the furnishings are compatible, chairs can be pulled in from other rooms or shifted about with ease. Though they don't match, they share the same color tones and weight. Materials and scale are consistent.

In an open floor plan with French doors between rooms, versatility and harmony become important design elements. Rooms can be seen from other rooms, so a sense of flow and consistency is desirable.

"Our visitors tell us the model is a complete success," Williams says. "The furniture ties very well to an early 20th-century building and is as interesting as the architecture. And the tenants who already live in the building had a roving Christmas party to see all the ways people have done their apartments. People really appreciate the building as much as we do." HS

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