In Black & White
When designer Morgan Brown of Morgan Brown Designs found her five-bedroom, five-bath home in Los Angeles's Hancock Park, it was the neighborhood that convinced her to make an offer on the 4,200-square-foot space. “Hancock Park is a beautiful suburban neighborhood that has an old-money kind of atmosphere,” she says. “I moved here because it reminded me of the East Coast. I have a house in the Hamptons and grew up going there as a kid, and Hancock Park’s main street reminds me of the main street in the Hamptons.”
Brown also recognized that a great neighborhood alone wouldn’t make the classic residence suit her style as a designer or her needs as a homeowner. It needed a lot of work. “When I first came into the house, it was stuck in the ‘80s. There were pastel mosaics around the tiles around the fireplaces and the rooms were painted lime green or covered with terrible wallpaper,” she says. “I wanted to bring back some elegance, charm, and personality to the home’s design.”
The renovations commenced in the dining room and kitchen, which Brown calls the epicenter of her home. Originally, a wall separated the two rooms but Brown removed it and added two large wooden support beams in its place such that the rooms now flow into each other. By connecting the rooms into one L-shaped space, Brown improved the function of both spaces and vastly improved the look and feel of the dining room in particular.
“The original dining room was stark and cold feeling, closed off, and small,” she says. “It functioned as a dining room did twenty years ago when dining rooms were primarily used for entertaining and special occasions. Those rooms were kept very separate from the kitchen, where the house staff or wife prepped the meals and brought them into the dining room to serve. It was a very formal space that did not fit the life I lead these days.”
Today, Brown uses the 300-square-foot dining room as a space to host dinner parties or help her child with homework when she switches to mom mode. The clean-lined, black-and-white furniture she wisely selected for the room suits such multifaceted needs as well as the size and color palette of the space. For example, the upholstered chairs, the benches, and the long rectangular table from Room Service in Los Angeles provide seating for small gatherings but can easily be reconfigured so the table can serve as a buffet table when Brown throws large dinner parties.
In addition to updating the room’s furniture, Brown made a few cosmetic changes to breathe new life into the space. To create continuity between the kitchen and dining room, she started by giving the rooms matching subway tile treatments and staining the floors a dark black. Pitted against each other in the dining room, the high-gloss floors and simple tiles create the much-needed contrast that Brown says the space lacked before.
“The floors were originally a light, natural color and they provided no contrast in the space. In my work, I try to create contrast so I like to do a black or white floor in a room to really make the walls stand out from everything and be more present in your eyesight versus just melting into a light colored floor,” she says. “I also like [the combination] in this space because the black floor pops so much and the subway tiles contrast it to make a real statement.”
To complement the black-and-white color palette used on the floors, walls, and furniture, Brown painted the remaining sections of the walls a soft-blue hue. “Between the floor and the tile, I needed a color for the walls that wasn’t white and that wouldn’t draw your eye away from the tile,” she says. “I find blue to be such a calming color and one that brings a little piece of serenity in a room. And I like a soft blue and high-gloss white together. I find it to be a very clean combination.”
The same could be said of Brown’s overall design for the dining room, which partners smart structural changes with just the right aesthetic updates to perfectly suit Brown’s traditional-modern style.
For more information check out this article in Kim Marie's Home by Design!