How an energetic, six-foot-five designer translated his love of 1960′s cinema, space travel and farmhouses into the design of his downtown loft
Produced, designed, written, styled and directed by Brian Patrick Flynn with photography by Sarah Dorio
You know that old line “if you don’t have anything nice to say, paint your stuff green and move to a farm on Mars”? Neither do I. But if that actually was a saying, my downtown loft would be the root of its existence. At only 920 square feet, the former downtown Atlanta milk factory lent itself to an “anything goes” method of decorating. While at first this was a designer’s dream situation, too many options rendered me my own worst client. Making decisions for others? A total breeze. Making decisions for myself? A total bitch.
After an unfortunate situation involving a what-was-I-thinking shade of blue and silly rod-pocket drapery panels, I opted to start over. No trends. No neutrals. No being safe. No picture frames. No mirrors. There would be no inclusion of my beloved charcoal, blue-grey or orange. It was time to be totally experimental without asking for anyone else’s opinion. Should I mix space age and farmhouse styles? Well, of course! Pair kelly green and black-brown with ultra-white and Christmas red? Sounds neat! Invite David Hicks and Andy Warhol in to finish it all off? Yup. The outcome? My most loved, hated, talked about and publicized project to date. Apparently, giving the rules of decorating the middle finger works quite well.
My former snorefest of an entrance was adrenalized with a $35 craigslist credenza updated with a sprayed finish using PPG’s “Red Gumball” urethane paint. A pair of Jonathan Adler greyhounds kept watch afront a black-brown wall paneled with stain-grade luan and 1X3 MDF.
Is it weird to still live with Mommy and Daddy at age 34? Well, kinda. But in this case, they’re simply the subject of a mural. Since the space behind the sofa wasn’t earning its keep, I put it to use by getting creative with a photo of my Mom and Dad in the late 1960’s. The 3X3 photograph was scanned in high-resolution, then outputted on UV-resistant vinyl in GIANT SCALE. In fact, even more gigantic than the ego-maniacal reputation I was given from neighbors who assumed the fellow in the photo was me.
Getting a big fat F
And here’s a lesson in bad styling. I’m proud of my revamped flea market furniture and use of natural light; however, I give myself an F in accessorizing. Why the %@#$ did I shove that gorgeous sunflower arrangement way back in the corner instead of on the coffee table? What’s with that wimpy little yellow thing in the skinny vase to the right of the Jonathan Adler elephant? I’d like to blame drugs but the only ones I’ve ever done are for headaches and sore throats. Speaking of placing blame [in a good way], it’s because of a Cartoon Network series cancellation that I got the plush green shag rug. The tv-studio-yard-sale find completed a list of other garage sale-ish items including: a yellow F from a TGI Fridays sign, lucite coffee table scored in Athens, Ga., and a brass chandelier swiped from a flea market and sprayed red. My carpentry friend, Dan, fabricated and installed the barn door shutters complete with frosted Plexi to let diffused light in when closed.
While many say TV cameras add weight, I often argue it’s the Snickers, pizza and cookies between takes. A similar situation occurs when designers see photos of their work and claim “It looks better in person”. Although many times that is actually the case, let’s explore this train wreck of a reading/study area. What I did right: flat black-brown paint to make the walls recede, gallery-style art grouping, false plywood wall with capsule molding afront a 13×9 white/walnut elfa system from The Container Store. And now for the not-so-much: my table choice was totally wrong, that accessory mess on the table is a disaster, spray painting the hanging basket red seemed like a good idea at the time but reads like a college apartment experiment.
Apparently, the kitchen bought a one-way ticket on a Kitsch bound train; however, it was totally fun and done on a microscopic budget..so STFU. My refinisher removed the cabinet door fronts, added molding, and sprayed them with two coats of oil paint. I put my stellar DIY skills to use by screwing the “Grafton” glass/chrome pulls from Restoration Hardware into holes with something called a drill. To update the existing cheesy laminate countertops, my British carpenter, David [who pronounces water "WOH tuh"], created a form around its perimeter, then filled it with concrete resulting in a chunky, modern look. For a custom backsplash, David cut standard 12×12 marble tiles down to 3×5′s with a wet saw, then finished them off with light grey grout. Across the room, floating shelves housed my soup obsession while a breakfast bar below [made from standard fence posts and pine] served double duty as a serving station. Why the hell is there a robot next to the cake instead of plates?
Work of art
Space was tight in the loft so I built a table from pine [then painted and distressed it] for both dining AND work space. I kept finding these amazing iron scrollback chairs at random flea markets throughout Atlanta and, lucky for me, they mix well with just about anything. In this case I paired them with fiberglass 1960′s swivel chairs which my upholsterer updated with kelly green vinyl cushions. IKEA entered the loft in the form of three “FADO” pendants, a cost-saving alternative to true mid-century globe replications. Eye candy art by David E. Peterson, Jonathan Fenske and Ronnie Bautista tempted dinner guests to stick around for dessert. Guess how many times I actually dined in this space? Six. Okay, I lied. Three.