Amy Carman and her team at Amy Carman Design, a Wauwatosa design firm, were enlisted to help bring an East Side Tudor into the 21st century. Her clients’ goal, says Carman, was to preserve the home’s historic character but also pepper in a more modern design sensibility – and do so in a way that accommodated their needs as a young family with small children.
Dark woodwork is emblematic of the Tudor style, and something that the clients wanted to retain. To provide balance, Carman and her team selected bright upholstery, brass pieces and contemporary accents. In the living room, a pair of bold turquoise sofas set the tone. “We thought this [hue] was just a little different. It was more adventurous, but it’s such a deep turquoise that it still feels neutral,” says Carman.
“With all the projects that we work on, we have this mindset: It’s a big investment. You want this to last, and not age out too quickly. There was just something about that color that gives it kind of a vibrant look, but it’s also deep enough that you can layer pillows in or potentially change up the artwork.”
Carman was strategic in selecting the cushion-less Chesterfield style of sofa.
“The great thing about them is that your kids could be lounging or reading or playing [on them], and they will never lose their shape,” she says. “You’re not constantly fluffing cushions or putting pillows back where they’re supposed to go. That was really important – how can we get something that’s elegant and durable, but also just soft and family friendly?”
A kid-friendly plush ottoman was chosen in lieu of a sharp-edged coffee table to avoid unnecessary bumps and bruises.
The juxtaposition of contemporary and traditional is best represented in the dinette – the owners’ “everyday family space,” notes Carman. Here, the clients tasked the designers with stylishly mounting a TV on the room’s most prominent wall. Carman and her team found a creative solution: a framed, customizable art TV.
“What we did was build the entire art wall around the TV,” says Carman, “and [the client] was able to find a projected art piece to dovetail into the other selections. Unless it was pointed out to you, you’d never guess the TV was there.”
Adjacent to the kitchen, the dinette also functions as the main walkway into the home from the garage, so it’s a well-traveled space. “[The owners] needed a surface to set something on, but your typical buffet, which is anywhere from 20 inches to 2 feet deep, was just too much,” explains Carman. The solution? An elegant yet shallow Design Within Reach console. “It has these great curved details, where the top follows the legs,” she adds.
Carman is quick to compliment her clients’ existing selections, too, and says the all-white kitchen renovation – a previous collaboration between the homeowners and Sazama – inspired much of the brightness woven throughout each space her team touched. “We helped to build on that [airy feel],” she concludes, “introduce some gutsier pieces, and look at that art wall and handle it in an unexpected way.”