To pack the modestly sized bonus room of his mountain house with style and substance, a designer mixes classic western elements with smart, space-saving solutions.
Written, produced, designed, directed and styled by Brian Patrick Flynn with photography by Sarah Dorio and Robert Peterson
As a college kid in the late 1990s, I waited tables at the Olive Garden. Sam and Sally, two of our regulars, were an argumentative 80something couple who demanded things be exactly the same every Tuesday through Saturday. They wanted to sit in Jay’s section, and if Jay (an accounting major) wasn’t working, they wanted Rich. Should Rich (a business major on a diving scholarship) be off that day, they wanted Jennifer (a vocal performance major from Oregon) or Becky, and if Becky (criminal justice major who lived in my neighborhood) had class, they’d be okay with me (an undecided student obsessed with decorating and country music). But they needed to sit in the window halfway between the kitchen and the front of the building because Sally got hot easily and Sam had issues with his hearing aid.
Most of the servers loved Sam and Sally because they never strayed from routine and preferred to be left alone, but they scared the f@$k out of me. Why? I detest routine and pretty much never want things to stay the same. We were polar opposites. They were so predictably regimented that they brought their own silverware, insisted that all wrappers remain on their bendy straws and had zero tolerance for ice in their free waters.
Conversely, I took a liking to Dr. Foo Foo, a mysterious female patron who paid exclusively with special edition country music credit cards. Like me, Foo Foo was an unpredictable risk taker and a fan of Loretta Lynn and Lyle Lovett. Was she gonna bust out her Reba McEntire Visa and scarf down two bowls of minestrone and three refills of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, or would she mix it up and maybe go for the Tour of Italy sampler, one raspberry lemonade, then pay with Faith Hill? In addition to her country western currency and random menu item choices, Foo Foo claimed to be a jet-setting doctor yet had no patients nor place of employment, drove a bright yellow Ford Mustang covered in country music decals (but claimed to drive a Mercedes-Benz), had a wardrobe bedecked with sequins and was just stopping in on her way to catch a flight. Every. Day. Of. The. Week.
Although I didn’t consider Foo Foo the most credible person, I really liked how she mixed things up and really didn’t give a flying f#@$. Perhaps the lying, exaggerating and fixation on celebrity was a little unhealthy, but I dug her gonna-change-things-up-in-this-place kind of style. So when it came time to remodel the blink-and-you-missed it bonus room of my mountain house in parternship with Hayneedle, I took more of a Foo Foo approach rather than a Sam and Sally: a little bit off-course with some country western flair. For years, I’ve favored bright colors and vintage mid-century furnishings. But this time around, I wanted something totally different, something unlike anything else in my portfolio. So instead of clean, tailored mid-century with lots of high-energy hues, I went all earth-tones-and-traditional-western-ish. Another departure: Almost every single item in the room was bought online HERE rather than my usual routine of driving between flea markets, antique stores and design centers. The moral of my story: Every now and then you’ve gotta get a little Foo Foo, otherwise you’ll end up like Sam and Sally.
WTF is with that before shot, right? When I first bought the house, I kept thinking to myself, “This gigantic, solid wall is blocking the amazing, 180-degree view of the north Georgia mountains. I hate everyone.” So within 48 hours of grabbing the keys at closing, my lead contractor David busted out the chainsaw and the reciprocating saw to replace the silly 4-foot-by-5-foot window with wooden French doors. Oh, and just some insider’s information on doing a French door swap out: You need to know the actual thickness of your exterior wall since pre-hung doors are stocked in a range of thicknesses. Should you get a set of doors with framing that’s too thin, it’s okay because your contractor can then build up the thickness with extra lumber. Order a set of doors too thick, and yeah, you’re kinda screwed.
Once the French doors were in, SHAZAM!, instant writing inspiration thanks to the ridiculous view. On any given day, the room is flooded with natural light, so using a dark color like pea green was totally okay since (a) the color will read truly rather than a barfy pseudo-brown, and, (b) the room won’t shrink visually from the dark undertones of the paint. Plus, with the doors open, not only are both the light and the view spectacular, the breeze creates the feeling of truly being outside, whether you’re sitting at the streamlined desk-console or laying in bed reading a book. And when I say book, I mean The Hollywood Reporter or People Magazine.
As far as decorating was concerned, I bucked my usual choice of mid-century sculpture, instead opting for a collection of western hats and resin antlers. Why resin antlers? Bambi ain’t never been harmed by cast resin, y’all. A few other details of the room include upholstered hollow-core closet doors and a big-ass reclaimed driftwood mirror to reflect the view from the bed, one Gidget seems to find perfect for bird-watching. And when I say bird-watching, I mean barking at dangerous things like clouds, shadows, pine needles and dense air.
Okay, now head over to Hayneedle to check out where pretty much every single thing in this room came from. Also, go there because I said so and I am the boss of this blog. And if you are not following us (which means me but, you know, safety in numbers and all) on Instagram, that means you hate me and therefore I am going to cry.