Meet the Designer: Christopher Kennedy on the Small Space Big Style Showhouse

After accepting an invitation to take part in California Home+Design’s very first showhouse, interior designer Christopher Kennedy decided to refine the layout of the living room and the dining room in the 1,400-square-foot space. To do it, he channeled both his strong sense of style and his inner child—the one who loves vintage sitcoms.

You decided to reconfigure the kitchen and the dining room. Why?

Even in a small space there should be an entry foyer, a place to welcome and tell them goodbye. I repurposed the intended dining room, creating a landing area for the space complete with a custom built-in that serves as a combo entry console, virtual work station, breakfast area, and additional food prep area. It can also be used as a bar or buffet serving station for cocktail parties. I incorporated the materials from the kitchen to give the feeling that even though this is a relatively small condo, the kitchen is huge.  I decided to move the dining room to an area of the living room that may have gone unused.

 

Tell me about the color palette you chose for the space?

I love color! In this case, I wanted to use hues that were bold and eye-catching, yet also warm and earthy—deep green, burnt orange, chocolate brown, and beige and a pop of fuchsia for punch!  Green is my favorite color, so I incorporated it throughout the space.

 

What are the key pieces you used in the space?

One of my favorite tricks is to make the most of a small dining area by placing banquette against the wall. In this case, instead of the typical upholstered piece, I chose a one-of-a-kind Nakashima-style bench. I have paired it with a small green Pick up Sticks table from Rose Tarlow and amazing hot pink dining chairs made from recycled seat belts. A custom curved sofa made in the style of Vladimir Kagan anchors the living room, and is paired with the David Chair & Ottoman from my own furniture line. Kyle Bunting and I collaborated on an amazing hide rug that brings together all the colors and references the design of the wall graphics. The Robert Chair, my own update on the Art Deco Roadster, with its acrylic arms and legs rounds out the design. Acrylic is a great material for a small space, because it does not visually take up any room. To accentuate the vista, and draw the eye from the entry all the way to the far end of the space, I framed the impressive floor-to-ceiling window with drapery panels using the bold Chiang Mai pattern by Schumacher.

 

How does the look and feel of the 1970s era manifest itself in this space?

The basis for my wall designs are the Supergraphics of the 1970s and early 1980s that were popular when I was a kid. I remember them from some of my favorite TV shows—especially, Welcome Back Kotter and Too Close for Comfort with Ted Knight.  It seemed the perfect treatment for the large, blank walls that make up much of the loft.  I've had fun taking the graphics to new heights—literally!  Thanks to the amazing scenic artists at Warner Bros., the green stripe in the living room starts low, curves upward, and then flies across the ceiling before descending the wall in the dining area. It's pretty cool!

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