Big Living in a Small Space

Written by Posted On Saturday, 20 June 2015 06:26


In the realm of interior design, there’s nothing more life-affirming than being recognized for your craft. Even more so in the form of an esteemed award.


In the recently concluded Designer of the Year competition, hosted by the influential design association Interior Design Society (IDS), only a few designers were selected to receive such accolades. The expert judges, Deb Barrett, Mitzi Beach, Leslie Carothers, Patti Carpenter, Tobi Fairley, Susan Inglis, Joe Ruggiero, Barbara Viteri, Jackie Von Tobel, and Amy Wax, selected winners for the 19 different categories in the competition.


Among the winners was one designer who instantly caught our eye: Amanda Eck of Houston-based, Amanda Carol Interiors.


Amanda has a signature style of mixing classic with modern. Now, proudly placing first in the category of Living Spaces under $30,000, she flawlessly transformed a small room off of a foyer into one of the home’s main attractions.



Reimagining Space


Space is almost always the biggest issue among homeowners. In the case of Amanda’s clients, Jennifer and Lenny Lilja, this was exactly the problem that had been looming over them. With just 11x12 feet to work with, it was up to Amanda to show them the space’s ability.


While others may have attempted a minimalistic approach, Amanda managed to make the area look more spacious by actually adding more furnishings.


Where a lone, heavy armoire used to stand, a custom made settee, two armchairs and two custom made ottomans (which we all know are every little space’s salvation) now nestle. She even added a Greek-inspired lamp atop a new console table. With no space to waste, she tucked in a couple more ottomans under the tables for extra seating.


The room might have had limited floor space to move around in but it was quite tall, 21 feet to be exact, with a two-storey front window. Amanda saw the opportunity to make the room feel more open by hanging a chandelier graced with a mix of iron and whitewashed wood. Now, the living room’s arched entryway is far better complemented. The Lilja’s also required the space to be kid and pet friendly so consideration was taken to the types of fabrics and finishes chosen.


For Amanda, the size wasn’t a problem but an opportunity to breathe new life to a room.


Opening Up the Palette


Amanda understood the need for this small living area to feel brighter and welcoming by using a fresh color palette.


Before any work was done there was only a black granite fireplace and a brown armoire. It was unimaginative and uneventful. Amanda played with gray, champagne, gold, and blue with streaks of brass to successfully revive the room.


The result was a gorgeous combination of neutrals and popping patterns that truly give this area distinct character. The addition of the gold trim provided the space with a touch of royalty which some might have been considered a bold choice but Amanda embraced it. It was the perfect blend of subtle and strong, we completely see why the IDS judges were thoroughly impressed.



The Clients


Undoubtedly, the ability to draw a smile on a client’s face is the great challenge here. Even though Jennifer and Lenny’s individual styles were so diverse, Amanda successfully met the needs and wants of both. She was able to marry both their personal tastes into one cohesive, carefully designed living room, which the family now dearly refers to as the “Reading Room”.


Designing for Life


With years of travel, design experience and a natural keen eye for understanding function and aesthetics, Amanda has become a go-to designer in The Woodlands, Texas, for creating luxury spaces with tasteful flare.


Amanda has been featured by the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, the Houston-Chronicle, and House & Home Magazine as well as awarded with the Best Houzz award.  She now adds one more honor to her collection courtesy of the IDS.


For a view of her award winning room, see:


Amanda is currently working on a luxury design project in East Shore, which is a high-end community in The Woodlands. She is downsizing her client’s former 6,000 square foot home to a 2,400 sq foot row house, all the while updating their traditional pieces to have a more modern feel. Amanda has been sharing snippets of the project on Instagram under the hashtag #eastshoreproject

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Angelica Angeli

I write about interior design and architecture on various platforms, online and in print.

I am fascinated not just with the visually intoxicating aspects of design, but also the story behind the designs: the designers, their brands, the materials, etc.

Design for me is a full sense experience- it must look stunning, feel luxurious and substantial, it must be acoustically inviting, and it needs to smell clean and healthy.

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