How to Design an Odd Space – A Before and After Story…

Great room with built in cabinet redesigned by Chicago designer

Often, I am called in when clients have a strangely configured space or room that is tormenting them. It may be an oddly shaped recess or column jutting out in the wall or the way the doors break up the space.  Newer homes seem to suffer from these problems, possibly because builders do not pay enough attention to the way we live our lives and the interior design of a home in the construction process. Older homes may also suffer from additions and changes that have been badly planned and look out of place with the rest of the house.

A recent project of mine is a case in point, so I thought I would share how I dealt with the problem.

A group of oddly shaped recesses were built into a double height wall.  My client put their TV in the middle but the niches looked artificial and unbalanced.  It was an eyesore in an otherwise beautiful open great room with a soaring ceiling and grand windows.

Here is the BEFORE PHOTO:


Before photo of great room with odd niches, chicago interior designer
BEFORE PHOTO with odd niches in the wall of the Great room

My clients still wanted a TV but a much larger one and they were on a tight budget.

We had to keep the same footprint on the hardwood floor to avoid any additional cost repairing and refinishing the floor but we recognized that this wall was the focal point of the family room.

Below you can see the full height of the room and the challenge we faced to make it more harmonious and functional.

Before photo of great room with odd niches, chicago interior designer
The challenge.

My design objective was to create a subconscious sense of division between the upper and lower parts of the wall, creating a more cozy feeling in the room, which is often a need in large great rooms.  We did this with crown molding aligned with the window and adjoining ceiling and by using contrasting paint colors.  We built a cabinet over the floor where the drywall was removed, which also provided useful storage.

Great room with built in cabinet redesigned by Chicago designer
Here is the AFTER PHOTO showing the final result of the redesigned space

The side niches were retained and made a feature with an eye catching wall paper.  A new area rug anchors the space and large sectional, which no longer dominates the room.

Draperies are yet to be installed but their design emphasises the subconscious line between the lower and upper levels of the great room.

Check in a bit later or sign up for my newsletter to see how draperies can made a difference!

Family room with double height ceiling redesign by Chicago interior designer
The Great room with its finishing touches.

I have more projects demonstrating how awkward walls or spaces have been redesigned to create more balance and harmony.  See my portfolio at