How an Austin Designer Approached an Open-Plan Dining and Living Room

Updated 11/06/18
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Coastal home tour
Lauren Logan ; DESIGN: Maureen Stevens Design

At first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking this home belonged on the shores of Malibu, but this chic, neutral home is nowhere near the sandy coastline of California. However, that's exactly the feeling interior designer Maureen Stevens Design wanted to evoke for her clients in their Austin, Texas, home.

Stevens explains to me that the couple wanted to transform their modern storybook cottage bungalow, built in 9141, into a light and airy home that was minimal and calming. "They made it clear that they are not big fans of clutter and that maximalism is definitely out for this space," she says. The challenge was ensuring the open-plan living and dining room felt warm and cozy despite the minimal styling. 

To do this, Stevens incorporated organic materials and reclaimed wood into the neutral space to create a minimalistic and chic yet functional home for the young family. A few subtle pops of color via pattern and artwork also help break up the monochromatic palette and bring that California cool to the South.

neutral living room
Lauren Logan ; DESIGN: Maureen Stevens Design

Stevens's "updated classic" interior design style really comes through in this space with a mix of traditional pieces grounded in a modern, neutral color palette. "I like the nostalgia of the bygone era, but it should be refreshing and should meld with the design and styles of today," she explains.

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minimal living room design
Lauren Logan ; DESIGN: Maureen Stevens Design

It was fairly easy to choose a color scheme since the client gave Stevens's team a lot of input on how they would like the space to feel. "I incorporated a lot of white and organic tones of wood throughout and implemented edited pops of color, as well as black, to balance out all the whites," she says.

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open-plan living room
Lauren Logan ; DESIGN: Maureen Stevens Design

As in any home makeover, there are many challenges. It goes with the territory. The biggest one with this project was the area in between the open plan living-dining-kitchen and the backyard. Stevens initially thought to put a center table there, sort of a catch-all, that would also create a visual interest from the foyer area to avoid a blank space. "In the end, a storage bench with a mirror was enough for function and aesthetics and the window treatments created an airy, billowy, coastal feel," she says.

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living room design ideas
Lauren Logan ; DESIGN: Maureen Stevens Design

This client preferred a minimal feel with modern tones, so Stevens's team didn't feel the need to fill every space with excess furniture or décor. As a result, this living area has breathing room and each of the pieces is given its own chance to shine. 

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neutral dining room
Lauren Logan ; DESIGN: Maureen Stevens Design

There were a few existing pieces that the young family wanted to keep in the new space, which included the kitchen credenza, the sectional, and the dining table with coordinating benches. Stevens's greatest new find, though, was the bone chevron mirror. "Chevron has come and gone, but when it's made from an exquisite material and in a classic black and white, it can really work for any space at any time," she says.

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minimal home design
Lauren Logan ; DESIGN: Maureen Stevens Design

Stevens really loves that this space is minimal without being sterile. "It truly reflected the client's wants and needs," she says. 

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minimal entryway design
Lauren Logan ; DESIGN: Maureen Stevens Design

This entryway design was all about creating a welcoming yet functional space for the family. Stevens also wanted it to set the tone for the rest of the home, so she weaved in white items and reclaimed wood to create a calming coastal space with a fun side, as seen in the big art pieces with pops of blues, pinks, and yellows.

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Large Brighton Table Lamp
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open-plan living space
Lauren Logan ; DESIGN: Maureen Stevens Design

To bring cohesion to the open-plan living and dining space, Stevens relied on neutral hues with layered shades of white, reclaimed wood, and rattan that evokes a calming coastal feel that's also family-friendly. 

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