One Room Three Ways 8

Design by Sanctuary Interior Designs

There is a lot to consider when redesigning your home. Lifestyle and personal taste are at the top of the list. Expert interior designers like Bethesda’s own Sanctuary Interior Designs understands there are multiple factors to consider when reimagining a room. We asked owner and principal designer Hillary Summerbell to design one space three completely different ways. She selected a small sitting room in a charming Washington-area home.

“Everyone has their own individual style, and so all our projects vary widely. Our process helps us to understand how our clients want to feel and live within their homes,” she says.

To show us how one room could take on three different moods, Hillary enlisted the skills of her Sketch Up team.

“Sketch Up is a very powerful tool that provides our clients a virtual interpretation of their proposed design,” Hillary says.

Utilizing this powerful tool and the creative talents of her team, Sanctuary presented us with one room, three different ways.

“It’s impossible to design without understanding our clients. We design for people, not walls. However, with the room in question, there are aspects to consider regardless of who will be living there.”

Hillary points out that the room is small. The sitting room measures 12 by 19 feet with a number of traffic patterns to take into consideration.

“There are multiple ways to enter the space. This needs to be accounted for not only for traffic flow but also thinking about the optics from all points of entry.”

Hillary also stresses the importance of studying the existing lighting in the sitting room.

“There is only one window, which limits the natural light in the room. This means we need to create light and play with it to build the mood of the room,” she says.

Designers break down lighting into three categories: ambient, accent and task. Ambient lighting provides overall illumination for a room; task lighting is used to illuminate one area for a specific use such as reading; and accent lighting draws attention to a particular object, such as artwork.

Color is another factor in defining the personality of a room.

“We nail down color immediately with our clients. It is a good predictor of what the mood of the room will be.”

Taking into consideration light, color, mood and the lifestyle of potentially three different clients with the same space, Sanctuary created a virtual look at how 230 square feet can take on three distinct personalities.

The Cozy Club Room is used as an adult retreat—great for chatting with friends or enjoying a book by the fire. Sanctuary describes the mood of the first room as “warm and traditional with a quirky flair.” The look was achieved by covering the walls in a dark grasscloth adorned with brass nailheads and the addition of leather wing chairs. The navy blue velvet bench adds color and additional seating. Sanctuary tackled lighting by installing a picture light on the wall, a floor lamp in the corner and recessed lighting for the overall ambient light source.

The Palm Beach Glam Room is for a client looking for a playful space to sit and chat with friends. Poppy, bright fabrics and fun wallpaper immediately set the stage for an upbeat, eclectic room. The large mirror helps fill the room with natural light that plays off the colors and keeps the mood bright.

The Sophisticated Sitting Room is for a client seeking a light and fresh environment that appears larger than its existing footprint. It’s conducive to entertaining and allows for easy traffic flow to all of the adjoining rooms.

“To create the illusion of a larger space, furniture selection is crucial,” Hillary says. “We selected pieces that were low in profile and lighter in color.”

Breaking up the seating to four separate club chairs creates a space plan that is easy for movement. The coffee table is low and long, and accent lighting focused on art that makes the fireplace wall stand out. A floor lamp creates warmth, and a mirror on the wall opposite the window adds charm while reflecting the natural light in the window.

Ultimately, Sanctuary’s client went for the Sophisticated Sitting Room. As you can see, the final project did not disappoint. For more information, visit