Unless you've been living under a rock for the past four years, you've likely heard of a little musical called Hamilton. New Jersey-based designer Sandra Funk certainly has, so when a certain client couple made an inquiry via her online design service, Funk was especially excited to take on the project. As understudy to Lin-Manuel Miranda, Donald Webber Jr. had played the smash hit musical's title star more than 80 times when he first reached out to Funk, founder of design studio. He'd also celebrated another important milestone: getting married to fellow Broadway star Rebecca Covington Webber. The two were looking for help amping up their New Jersey home before both of them embarked on the Hamilton world tour.
Enter: House of Funk's online design tool, a process Sandra established to enable clients to create what she calls a "roadmap" for their renovation, and complete it as time and budget allow. "The Webbers are two really incredible Broadway starts, but with that does not necessarily come big budget early in the career," Sandra explains. Yet, the two talents needed a home that would a) feel like a "nest" for the newlyweds, b) be a calm place to decompress between their packed schedule of performances and tours, and c) reflect their personal style and interests to guests. Oh, and it had to work for Ella, the couple's beloved bulldog.
After an initial consultation, Sandra developed a plan that made use of the existing space—and some existing furniture—while better reflecting the Webber's life and style. It began with the layout. "The home is a great side-hall Colonial with a little front porch, but the way the door is positioned, you come in and sort of fall right into the living room/family room/foyer. You're right in their cozy space."
This was especially unappealing to the Webbers given their lifestyle: "Because they work those crazy hours, they come home late, they ned to unwind, they end up falling asleep on the sofa," Sandra explains. "So it is extremely private space." But what to do when structural renovation is out of the question? Fudge it with the right positioning.
"I wanted to create a sense of entry so we flipped the room and added a console, turned the stairwell landing into a kind of teeny tiny foyer and relocated anything that has to do with their personal stuff to the back door," explains the designer.
Next up: defining the style. "The walls were painted already and they had the sofa and we knew they were interested in using the same sofa, so we worked with it," the designer explains. She stuck to that neutral palette and added in pops of metallic and blues to bring personality to the space.
This compromise is central to House of Funk's online design concept, making it an ideal solution for those on a tight budget, or looking to renovate over time instead of in one fell swoop. "The idea is you have the initial investment in the design and that gives you a roadmap to allow you to execute it over time," explains Sandra.
So what exactly does that mean? Well, the online design fee gets you a CAD plan of your space, delivered to you in a Wecora file along with selections for furniture, decor, and accessories—which you can either decide to purchase or not. "We take it all the way down to the hooks in the little basket," Sandra says. "We deliver everything via Wecora and they can click right through and buy those items or take them as inspiration and shop. We give them exact links and show their scale in CAD and we show the resources they can use."
Within the file, Sandra and the homeowner can chat back and forth about individual items, and the designer will include detailed notes about installation. For example, one comment on the Webber's rug reads: "The area rug should be centered in the room between the dining room wall and window wall...5" off the face of the proposed TV unit is ideal."
Though they kept their original sofa, the Webbers were game for most of Sandra's other suggestions. In addition to purchasing a console, lighting, and several furniture pieces from House of Funk's plan, "they did the layout, all the accessories, they did a personal photo wall that looks amazing," Sandra says. "And who knows, they may come home from the tour and pull the trigger on the sofa we picked." Because we all know, no true home is created overnight.
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