This Shaker Heights Colonial Is A Study On How To Make Your Home Feel Intimate This Shaker Heights Colonial Is A Study On How To Make Your Home Feel Intimate
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A collection of African masks makes a bold statement in this 2,600-square-foot, two-story colonial home, located in Shaker Heights’ Fernway neighborhood, where Dawn Cook’s client lives with her high school- and college-aged children. 

An insurance executive who moonlights as a yoga teacher, the homeowner was looking for a redesign of her first-floor living room, entryway and dining room. She wanted her home to feature a sophisticated place to host business networking events and serve as a comfortable space to relax with her kids. 

“She didn’t want it so fancy and formal that nobody would want to hang out there,” says Cook, co-owner of BLDC Design Studio in Shaker Heights. 

So, Cook focused on enhancing the home’s unique architectural characteristics and drawing attention to items meaningful to the homeowner to create a classic, chic design. 

“I’d much rather make art and accessories that are true to someone’s work than buy a bunch of stock stuff,” Cook says. “It’s the difference between feeling like you’re in a home where someone lives versus a show house.” 

Take the masks, for example. They were gifted to the homeowner throughout her childhood by her father, who collected them during his work travels around the world. 

“Before, they were scattered all over the house,” Cook says. “They’re really cool, but we wanted to pull them all together in once space. What better way than to run them up the fireplace to make a ‘Wow.’ ” 

Another wow-worthy moment in the two-story-tall living room comes courtesy of the transformation of the windows and doors, which open up to a stone patio in the front of the home. Previously, they were covered in heavy drapes. Cook painted the window frames a high-gloss black and left them uncovered, letting in the natural light and providing a contrast to Sherwin-Williams’ Greek Villa- painted plaster walls. 

“Instead of covering them up, we showed them off,” she says. “It was such an easy thing to do and it made the space.”

Cook layered color and texture into the room with accent pieces, such as the emerald velvet chairs from Bernhardt and the geometric throw pillows on the gray sofa from CR Laine. 

A display cabinet handed down to the homeowner by her parents was another keeper from the “before” space. 

“It was more traditional, but we liked it because it makes the space feel real to have an antique in there,” says Cook, who had the piece refinished. 

Cook also painted the entryway white to set off the wrought-iron railings on the stairway and balcony and the rich, newly refinished hardwood floors, done by Pasquale Floors. The hardwood’s color is a custom mix of black, dark gray and walnut. 

The dining room has a cozy, elegant vibe with its midnight blue walls, round marble table and Italian black lacquer chairs that sit atop a custom area rug. Cook kept the original built-ins and used the homeowner’s accessories and artwork, including a print by Hector Vega.  

A gold Robert Abbey Bling chandelier adds a modern touch. 

“We went with this black, white and pop-of-gold scheme to focus on the artwork and the masks,” she says. “You can do neutral rooms, but you have to do something to bring them to life.”

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