Design & Remodeling

Design – Relaxation Rooms are a Blank Canvas for Self-Expression


The room where either relaxation happens or a party breaks out is a blank canvas for self-expression.

Feet up, laptop off, book open and glass of wine in hand—the room in your house that invites a casual frame of mind can incorporate laid-back design, too.

Pillow fabric at Nell Hills
(4101 N. Mulberry Drive)

Create a space where the vibe is relaxed and tranquil—whether it’s a serene retreat or a room that easily transforms into a space worthy of entertaining friends with tapas and cocktails. Bring a splash of color and foolproof décor into a sunroom, outdoor living room or four-seasons porch for a seasonal spiff-up.

Fluffy, vibrant pillows easily introduce color and style into any room—especially one requiring a soft, cushy place to curl up or chat with guests. Alan Karlin, owner of Alan Karlin Designs (4510 State Line Rd., Kansas City, Kan.), fancies pink and orange hues to create the palette for a blissful, warm weather room.

“Choose luscious citrus-hued florals for spring and summer,” says Karlin. “Keep it simple and fresh for a room where you want to kick back.”

Available at Knotty Rug
(4510 State Line Road
Kansas City, KS)

Leave the coffee table in your formal living room and opt for an oversized ottoman covered in vintage fabric that anchors a seating area and becomes a functional piece of furniture for layering accessories.

“Graphic-patterned trays are trendy—place one on top of a round ottoman where stacks of books and magazines are just as at home as high-style, high-gloss melamine plates for a party,” says Karlin.

Or consider the unexpected: a bamboo or lacquered bar cart that can scoot around the room—perhaps tucked into a corner next to a green plant until it’s put into service pouring happy hour drinks for friends.

Karlin says the key to a mellow room is to outfit it with lighter, more mobile furniture that can be rearranged at the spur-of-the-moment. “A wicker rocker is perfect—it can be positioned in a corner of the room by a window but moved to be part of a conversation area by a sofa, too.”

Available at
Picture Perfect Interiors
(11922 College Blvd)

Hang a starburst mirror on the wall to illuminate the room and inject a shot of airiness. Group candles in soothing scents reminiscent of the ocean or a fragrant garden. Switch a floor lamp shade to a linen-colored one to signal a season change and rotate bookshelf displays by incorporating seashells, bright pottery and an exotic bird of paradise.

Keith Buchanan, co-owner of Temple Slug (4303 Jefferson), Kansas City’s only full-line futon store, recommends a futon for versatility and inviting seating.

“A futon is right at home in a more casual environment,” he says. “I like the notion of a piece of furniture that you can dress for the season.”

Buchanan favors pairing lively colors with neutrals like grays and silver for spring-summer futon covers and pillows.

Careful attention to detail while keeping a sense of relaxation will ensure the décor in more casual room doesn’t look like an afterthought.