Clare de Room 

A young Heights family with a pre-teen daughter and two mischievous rescue dogs turned to their stylish friend, Clare Burks, for help when they wanted to transform their old house into a modern, well-appointed home. I'm a firm believer that great designers are born not made, and Burks is a prime example of that. A mother of four who once worked in the fast-paced ad world in L.A. and lived in Budapest for over a decade, Burks brings a unique perspective and worldly sensibility to her work. She also has an innate sense of proportion and a great eye (perhaps inherited from her mother, Mary Clare Brierley, who worked at MertinsDyke for many years).

"They were still living with their college furniture," says Burks of her clients/friends. They also, says Clare, had beige walls throughout the house. So, the ever-energetic Burkes decided to begin with color—and some gentle coaxing. "Originally, the clients wanted to leave the interior house color the same as it was, beige. . . As the project moved forward, however, the client's trust in me grew, and we ended up choosing new paint colors for the master bedroom downstairs and all the rooms upstairs." After establishing the palette—and trust—Clare's creativity could really take flight.

Here, she catalogues a few rooms for us. Prepare yourself for an edifying experience.

Great Room/Kitchen

Here, we focused on the comfort of daily living here. We knew a few things at the outset: that we wanted a sectional and large TV somewhere and that we would use the client's rustic country dining table and matching chairs. Other than that, it was wide open.  

Again, I wanted to accent the natural light where we had it and enhance it where it was lacking. The backsplash was originally a rather dull putty-colored tile placed on the diagonal, and it just zapped the room's energy. My dear friend, Eric Ford, suggested I go see what options Inside Effects had; I did and found exactly what I was looking for—a gorgeous, pillowed subway tile in a rich creamy-white that matched the trim in the room. Perfect! Casual glamour.

Next was the sectional. We chose one of the newer shimmer leathers in chocolate from American Leather. It radiates light and sheen, and it's supple and soft. We then found the fabulous console in Platinum (by Stanley), the Museum Bench in Lichen ultrasuede, the custom pillows from Hickory Chair and a linen accent pillow with French writing. All from mertinsdykehome. The blue-green throw was from Cynthia East. In addition to adding undercounter kitchen lights, we needed a chandelier for the dining table. There were several considerations, like the fact that the table is small and very narrow and that it has a rough-hewn feel to it. We decided to counter the rustic style of the table with a modern chandelier. All of us were drawn to fabric-enclosed fixtures because of the muted light and interesting shapes available now. The length and narrowness of the table also lent itself to having a long, thin shape for the light. The owner found a Polsen light that fit the bill with her father, a retired architect.

Front Living Room/Entryway

I just love, love, love the windows, the wood-burning fireplace and the firescreen (from Ellen Golden Antiques) in the front living room. I really wanted to take full advantage of the indirect daylight in this room and also encourage cozy lounging around a crackling fire during cold evenings. So the first change we made was to replace the black polished square tile around the fireplace with a gorgeous marble-like cream Travertine from All Natural Stone in Riverdale. This lightened up the focus point considerably.



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