Jonathan Sweet

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.
— Winston Churchill

Living & Dining Rooms

I’m the kind of person who is rarely satisfied with certain things. There is always room for improvement. In my professional life I do this daily, I identify issues with usability or perhaps on artistic merit.

When we bought our house we fell in love with it. It didn’t mean that the house was flawless or that we were completely satisfied with every single thing. The dining room had awful wallpaper. The living room had two large doorways and no place to put a TV or a couch. So I sat down with Google Sketchup, and spent hours tweaking ideas and planning.

The Dining Room

The dining room is central to the rest of the house, and the wallpaper was probably the primary reasons for renovating the room. We spent a number of hours stripping off that wallpaper, and even afterwords I needed to skimcoat and sand the walls to get them ready for paint.

It was nice to have a built-in cabinet, but the rustic doors didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the house. I decided to mirror the existing built in with a second built in on the other side of the opening to help balance the room.

I also wanted to add the design element of rough beams in the ceiling. I was able to find dense foam beams that are very lightweight. After a generous coating of stain, you’d never know they were just a facade.

We also added bead-board and a chair rail around the perimeter of the room. The last element we added was ornamental columns between the dining room and living room.

Living Room

The first thing that we did with the living room was remove the doorway to the front room. The doorway isn’t required and the living room becomes a lot more usable with one of the walls being flat without windows or doors.

The most dynamic part of the living room, however, is the large window seat I built. The outside wall of the living room is curved wall with windows which made it very difficult to utilize. Of course the window seat does double duty as storage (especially handy when you have kids).

The window seat might be dynamic, but my favorite thing is the tray ceiling with lighting. I created a structure of ribs using steel frames that I finished with drywall. The space allowed me to install several small halogen spotlights, run wires for speakers. When complete I installed incandescent rope light which gives the room a nice diffuse light when watching a movie.

Of course I also wanted a proper place to put a TV. One of the walls was uneven because the chimney intersects the wall. I reworked the wall to include a spot for the TV to set into the wall.

Designed and built by Jonathan Sweet in Berlin, CT