It’s fair to say the past year changed our perspective on the spaces we inhabit. We learned that cultivating these places—our homes, our offices, our home offices!—allows us to reflect, restore, and transform for the better. So after working remotely for a year in a shared space with her husband and two-year-old, The Sill’s founder & CEO Eliza Blank set her sights on the dilapidated old barn in her backyard. After converting it into an empty but inhabitable open space with help from DEMO Architects, she was left with the task of making it feel like home.
Enter Barry Snowbarger, a modern design veteran who just celebrated his 13th anniversary at Design Within Reach. The son of a retired florist—flowers, plants, and design are in Snowbarger’s blood—it was a match made in heaven. “I’ve never worked with a designer before,” explains Eliza, “I loved getting to discuss our vision and then see it come to life, with just the right elements to make it feel like us, and like home.”
After seeing Eliza’s finished space, we couldn’t pass up a chance to ask the pro some questions.
How did you approach this design project?
It was important to Eliza to pack as much function into the space as possible. It needed to be comfortable for her family and friends when they came to visit, but it also needed to double as a workspace for her and a place for her husband to have larger meetings. She also wanted an entryway moment, so that had to be part of the mix.
With the open floor plan, my goal was to create zones to define each area and function (entry/living/dining/work), while choosing pieces that are versatile and easy to move around as needed. I wanted the space to be dynamic and multifunctional.
What was the most rewarding part about the process?
Without a doubt, it was seeing the finished product come together just like we envisioned it. When we arrived for the installation, the empty space seemed kind of small. But once all the furniture was in, the zoned spaces actually made it feel much larger.
How do you utilize plants in the spaces you create?
I like to use as many plants as possible, and vary heights, sizes, and textures. It's good to have some height with a tall Fiddle Leaf Fig or other tree; place some plants down low on the ground, and fill in between with taller planters or plants with stands, and of course, on windowsills if they're deep enough to accommodate. I think it's hard to overdo it with plants!
One of my favorites is the ZZ Plant, a great choice if you think you can't keep plants alive...you really can't kill them! I sent one to my parents—my Mom jokes that she has a black thumb—and it is growing like crazy. The texture and height are great to fill in an empty corner.
For those of us looking to reimagine our spaces at home, what are some tips?
- Do your research and save as many inspiration pics as possible. You'll start to see a theme develop and then you can start editing and sorting the ideas that work well together.
- Ask for help if you don't feel confident. Even if you think you know what works, it's always good to get another perspective from an objective design consultant, like our free DWR design services. They might see something you didn't.
- Really think through how you want to use the space and how it needs to function for you. If you're furnishing a living room, it's usually best to start with the sofa, since it's likely the largest piece. Finding the perfect sofa that has the comfort, size, and look that you want (and that the space calls for) is the hardest part. Once you've nailed that, the rest starts to fall into place.
Shop Snowbarger’s favorite DWR pieces:
- Story Planters: The verticality is great for smaller spaces. You can also mix the Story Planter and Bookshelves together for a unique conversation piece.
- Fellow Nesting Tables: These tables come with a pouf or stool that slides underneath. Multifunctional, versatile pieces like this always come in handy.
- Pacha Chair: This 1975 classic from Pierre Paulin is low, but surprisingly comfortable.
- Saarinen Table: Always! It's a classic for a reason, and you can't improve on perfection!
P.S. We’ve partnered with Design Within Reach and Bolé Road on a gorgeous giveaway to elevate your home with handwoven textiles, inspiring new design, and plants! Learn more and enter here.