Design and Functionality, the Cerines way

The spaces at Cerines were designed with several purposes in mind, some that were planned and others that evolved. This was born from a need to have the spaces in a constant state of flux, owing to my own restlessness and Sagittarius inclination of getting easily bored. When I was a child, I must have rearranged the bedroom I shared with my older brother countless times, evidenced in the scratches that were left on the oak floors. As I got older, I moved to different rooms around the house and was intrigued about how the placement of furniture dictates the feel of the room.

This was years before I learned about the Feng Shui movement and the more mystic flow of energy but there was something which resonated in me back then. Just from being a kid with a healthy sense of curiosity and less interest in hitting the books, all that restless furniture-rearranging taught me about functionality: the space should conform to how you want to live in it rather than you working around a standard set-up. In other words, the space should reflect your lifestyle, not dictate how you live in it. One common thread you’ll find in nearly all the spaces of Cerines, whether it’s inside or outdoors, is its functionality. Indeed, it reflects our family’s fluid needs and how we need the spaces to function for us, instead of us having to conform to the space.

Before we built Cerines, one of our favorite pastimes was to go and walk through houses under construction to get idea on functional design. Designing your space so that it’s functional doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. Regardless of whether you’re just starting out or living in an established space, you may consider following these golden rules:

Design your space to reflect your lifestyle. In most housed and apartments, everyone has a standard triad of rooms: kitchen, sitting area, dining room. I’ve never understood the concept of those who never sit down for a meal or who separate their meals like clothes you wear: relaxed or dressy. Food is not formal or informal. Food is food. Use that dining room for all your meals. Live in it and use it. If you prefer the comfort of a table set in the kitchen, then convert that room you use once or twice a year into something more useful.

Use it or lose it. Formal Living Room. The name just sounds stuffy and off-putting. If you have one of these, it’s either filled with bric-a-brac you hate dusting or you don’t remember the last time you sat in there. If you do, make it more appealing by clearing the clutter. Reserve a closet or storage space to hold these precious items and switch them in and out every few months. You don’t have to display everything you own. If you’re worried about wear and tear (see: kids, school clothes covered in dirt, greasy hands), cover with washable slipcovers or dark-colored throws. Or just go with it, regularly hound your kids to obey the rules and make memories. It’s really just fabric, after all.

Buy everything in pairs but never in sets. My sister admonished me years ago when I was collecting things for my first apartment for buying only one brass candlestick. Of course, I did what any little brother would have done. I ignored her and bought just the one. It’s always out of place and it never quite finds the right spot. Luckily, Ioanna didn’t heed this rule either, so it some other brass companions. Avoid purchasing matching furniture sets in the 3-2-1 seater configuration. The person who invented these resides in the darkest corner of design hell. Consider purchasing identical pieces (also know as pairs). Our couches face opposite one another (see The Living Room) and sit floating in the room, so everyone is in on the conversation.

Spaces should serve several purposes. Our unused closet was once converted into a photo booth and is now a very happy place to escape when you need a little part of an hour to recharge (see The Meditation Room). The Craft Room is both a professional workspace, meeting room, study room, classroom that is now in its current incarnation as our upstairs bar, that grew out of a need for a laboratory space for the cocktail hour portion of our monthly supper club. The guest suite, when no one is in residence, is used partially as a quiet space in the evening to unwind and a pit stop for the boys before bedtime (see The Cabana Room). The Playroom also does double-duty as a classroom space; the library table that is in the center of the room has most recently seen action as a breakfast table. It’s a great way to get the boys to put their books and toys away because the table needsĀ  setting from the night before. As an entire home, we use the upper level more in the winter and the lower level more in the summer. It feels like a different home six months out of every year.

Furniture and objects also do double-duty. Instead of one long table to seat 10, we had a table custom-made that cost well-below any made-to-order choice. With that option available, we chose a design and had the table made in two halves. This is the genius of a pedestal table: no legs to get in the way of people’s knees. The two tables are simply pushed together to make one long one. We actually prefer as a family the intimacy of sitting at the single one; the other half is in the entry of the house. The coffee tables in The Living Room are actually leather foot stools outfitted with inexpensive, portable wooden trays that serve as catchalls. No water marks! Sea grass hampers can become side tables and work great as outdoor tables, too, all the whole holding blankets or extra toys.

Consider these golden design rules when reconfiguring or designing your space, tweaking them to your own needs. Everyone’s multi-talented; the things you have in your home should reflect that as well.