Designer Snapshot: Eliza Tan

March 2, 2011

While I was talking with Eliza Tan, the Acton, Massachusetts, interior designer featured in Wish List in our March/April issue, she mentioned that some of her favorite projects have been those in which an unforeseen challenge cropped up. Finding a creative way around a challenge can yield an even better result, she says. “It’s like making dinner with what you have in the fridge, versus being able to buy any ingredient you want–and ending up with a fabulous meal.†Not to carry the metaphor too far, but here are a few instances in which Tan took lemons and turned them into lemonade.

The challenge: A hallway was too narrow, but when Tan looked into widening it by three feet she discovered there was a supporting beam in the ceiling. “Replacing it with a steel beam was too expensive and impractical,†she says.

The solution: Wainscoting, a narrow console, side chairs and sconces created a niche effect under the supporting beam. “I think it turned out better,†the designer says.

Photographs courtesy of Eliza Tan

The challenge: Actually there were two challenges. The original foyer was too small and a living room was too big.

The solution: Tan subdivided the larger room to create a new foyer, adding the pilasters and French doors, which mimicked the existing window wall to the left of the foyer table.

The challenge: Tan wanted a straight pediment across the breakfast nook’s window so she could install a rod for the drapery’s side panels, but the builder mistakenly installed a peaked pediment.

The solution: Tan used cabinet hardware to hang the drapery. “It’s so jewel-like, and more unusual and elegant than a conventional drapery rod would have been,†she says.

–Paula M. Bodah

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