The designer and founder of Jana Bek Designs, a ceramic lamp company, breaks down the formula for her chic and cheerful living room.
What makes a room more than just pretty, what are the elements that make it memorable? In our Secrets of a Great Room series, we ask designers to tell us how they created their signature rooms. From decorating advice to the practical nitty gritty of furnishings, we get their insider advice on crafting rooms to remember, like this sunny and stylish living room by Jana Bek.
Bek founded her lamp company after spending her career in all corners of the home market. Bek worked as both a product designer and a buyer for some of the biggest names in interiors before launching her own venture. Sophisticated yet cheerful, Bek’s home is also a laboratory for her company. Here she can try out prototypes for new lamps, play with color, and explore new shapes and patterns. Bek shuffles accessories often and “shops her own home” when she wants to refresh a space, but she takes a slow and steady approach to the foundation of her decor. Bek describes how she redecorated her living room in her open-plan home:
Build a timeless foundation.
“I love the ability to switch up rooms as my tastes change,” says Bek, who knows that personal aesthetics evolve over time. She sticks to neutral colors and timeless silhouettes for walls and major furniture pieces, and saves her whims for smaller accents.
Always make a mood board—even if it’s not a full makeover.
Bek likes to gather images of everything she is going to use in a room in either Photoshop or Pinterest—and that includes her existing furniture. Bek says she’ll search for an image of her personal pieces, if they’re still for sale, look for a very similar item, or just shoot a photo of the piece with her phone. What’s important is to get “everything together to make sure it all will work well.”
Look for natural “frames” in an open plan.
In her original design for the room, Bek had boxed her living space into a narrow corner of the open plan. “There was so much space between the kitchen and the living area, that wasn’t being utilized,” she says. A pair of French doors had prevented Bek from choosing a larger rug, but one day, she says she had an “aha” moment when she realized she could put the rug in front of the doors if it was thin enough for the doors to open. Seeing this new “frame” for the room within the room changed everything.
Try a bold print in a quiet colorway.
“I’ve always loved animal prints. They have such a fun energy to them,” says Bek, who notes that while she’s always been drawn to animal prints, they are usually dark and boldly graphic. However, cast in a more subtle palette like our neutral colorway of her custom Panthera rug, a bold print goes from being the focal point of the room to “this beautiful foundation to the room that I knew I would love for years and years,” says Bek.
Every room needs a touch of vintage.
Bek loved the patina of a secondhand find. “If you’re not confident with buying vintage furniture, try small accents,” she says.“It’s surprising how a few small items add a layer of depth to the space.” For example in this room, the furnishings are all new but a couple of vintage vases and a midcentury lamp give it character.
Watch your legs!
One thing Bek looks out for when she’s designing a room? Legs. “Lots of different styles of chair and table legs in a room can make it look busy and chaotic,” she cautions. If you notice your space getting leggy, look to skirted sofas or pieces with simple lines like Bek’s waterfall coffee table, to minimize the visual noise.
Mix your metals.
Forget the old-fashioned rules about using only one metallic finish in a room. “I love mixing metals,” says Bek, who paired polished and antiqued brass with chrome—in one room! “She adds, “If you match all your metals, it can look cookie cutter.”
Fix an awkward space with wallpaper.
“Before it wasn’t anything,” says Bek of the narrow wall between the front entry and the living room, “But the addition of the graphic pattern wallpaper, made it into a little space of its own,” she says. Used strategically wallpaper can do the same for other awkward walls and nooks.
Use art and accessories to play with color.
“People are afraid of color!” says Bek, but she doesn’t think they should be. Color can be brought in in low-commitment ways. In her own living room, a neutral base plays backdrop to vibrant art and textile accents. “If I change out the pillows or artwork, the whole mood of the space can change.” Another easy way Bek adds color: Take the dust jackets off your coffee table books to reveal the colorful covers beneath.
Balance an off-center window with art.
Occasionally, furniture placement can make a room’s architecture look off. For example, with a sofa placed beneath it, Bek’s corner windows looked imbalanced, so Beck strategically hung graphic art prints on the wall next to the window, “It helps create from the set directly across the room further enhancing the room’s symmetry.
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