When furnishing a new apartment from scratch, you’ll always want to choose pieces that work just right for your space: a sofa that’s not too big, a rug that’s not too small, a dining table that seats the whole family, and so on. On the other hand, if you know you won’t be in your new space for the long-haul, your future self will thank you for thinking a few steps ahead.

Earlier this year, Alison Metzger from the West Elm Kansas City Design Crew started working with Kelly Barber, who had just moved into a new one-bedroom apartment. He was starting with a blank slate and knew he wanted pieces that could work for a future home. “When we were going through the plan, he said, ‘I’m not going to be here that long. I want to move these pieces with me,'” Alison says. “He wants to move into a larger home someday, so we were thinking ahead.”

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For Kelly’s space, this meant scaling up on some items like wall art, rugs and consoles in a way that wouldn’t dwarf his current apartment, but could easily transition into a larger space in the future. “I encourage a lot of people that are in apartments to think this way,” Alison says. “When you do move into a house, if that’s part of your long-term plan, can these pieces come with you?”

The West Elm Design Crew used the Room Planner tool to design Kelly’s space.
Start planning your own space here!

Alison says Kelly has a very utilitarian approach to furniture, but of course that doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. He knew what kinds of pieces he needed in general – a sofa, a coffee table, a dining table – but he relied on Alison, his friends and his sister (a big West Elm fan!) for their input on the aesthetics. “I think it’s very important that we develop an interpersonal relationship with our clients,” Alison says. “I like to sit and ask them questions, but I also take time to listen to what they say and listen to the key words that come out in our design process. I want them to feel comfortable with me and to be able to trust me and the decisions I’m making for them.”

Take a look at the colorful, modern living space that the West Elm Design Crew designed to fit his needs right now – and in the future, too!

Photography by Landon Vonderschmidt

Living Room

The Hamilton Leather Sofa was one of the first things Kelly really fell in love with at the West Elm Kansas City store. “He wanted a sofa that he could lay down and take naps on,” she says. “He tested some sofas we had on the floor, and he liked the Hamilton the best – he felt most comfortable in that.”

The rest of the living room is made up of a lively mix of blues from the large-scale North Gold Wall Art by Minted, the Distressed Foliage Rug and the Carlo Mid-Century Chair paired with the Pietro Round Ottoman in the Nightshade color of Chenille Tweed. “At first he thought it might be too much blue, but when we put the artwork above the sofa and put the pillows in, and really layered everything in, he was just so happy,” Alison says. The light brown color of the sofa and Roar + Rabbit Brass Geo Inlay Media Console help bring the color-scheme down to earth, and the brass accents everywhere help tie everything together.

Dining Room + Kitchen

Even though he wasn’t planning on entertaining much, Kelly knew he wanted a dining table that was big enough for him to work from with his computer. Alison helped him choose the Canto Dining Table – which goes great with the marble-topped Streamline Coffee and Side Table in the living room. A framed print and the brass Mr. Clarke Clock help anchor the dining area as its own separate “room” in this open-concept space.

Alison Metzger, West Elm Kansas City Design Crew

Decorative accessories like the Foundations Vases elevate the whole look in a way that Kelly hadn’t anticipated. “He said to me, ‘I thought I knew what I wanted in my apartment, but it was all the extra stuff that I didn’t even know I needed. It was a total transformation once we brought in the pillows and the vases and whatnot,'” Alison says. “When we’re working through the design plans with a client, and things are coming together and you can see it click and a smile comes across their face, that’s instant gratification for me. Kelly was smiling all day long.”

Alison and her client, Kelly Barber

Ready to make over your own space?
Book a free West Elm Design Crew appointment today!

Photography by Landon Vonderschmidt

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