Dens have always invited experimentation. Some are treated as reverent studies dedicated to working, others as laid-back, lounge-y hangouts for napping and Netflix. It signifies a different meaning for everyone—even more reason to let it stand out as a moody statement room by cocooning it in dark, enigmatic hues that feel equal parts comforting and mischievous. Whether it’s a small light-deprived lair or a commodious sitting room peppered with artwork and vintage decor, lush shades of blue, green, black, and purple instantly turn these nine den design ideas from AD PRO Directory members into sanctuaries.
Although glamorous London jazz clubs were the muses for a den in Newton, Massachusetts, Cecilia Casagrande of Brookline-based Casagrande Studio was eager for it to feel every bit as geeky as it did sexy, accented by hints of punk rock flair to boot. Casagrande’s client is a scientist, and he wanted a room that would leave him “inspired and energized,” as the designer puts it. “It is a place for quiet evenings reading by the fire or lively discussions about the latest scientific discoveries.” By mingling dramatic, gold velvet chairs with walls painted in Farrow & Ball’s soft black Railings, Casagrande makes this a space where beauty lives harmoniously with brains.
Captivated by a San Francisco home’s 1926 Spanish-style architecture, local studio Chroma combined “the rich textures and patterns from a favorite Attico fashion collection and the bold, contemporary color palette of Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’ video” to forge a space that is “comfortably vintage and vanguard,” says managing partner Leann Conquer. Crafted by Nordic and Brazilian talents like Palle Suenson, Paavo Tynell, and Jorge Zalszupin, the furniture helps conjure what Conquer describes as “a saturated and lively escape that smolders with a timeless mystique.”
Originally the media room-home office hybrid was designated a bedroom, but that idea was quashed as soon as the clients residing in this new development on New York’s Upper West Side realized it was simply too close to the dining room for sleeping. Instead, Kevin Dumais, founder and principal of the studio Dumais in New York City and Litchfield, Connecticut, transformed it by installing reeded glass-paneled pocket doors to connect it to the action of the dining table. Shades of off-white and beige dominate the rest of the apartment, “and we wanted this room to be the counterbalance,” notes Dumais, who did just that by incorporating the likes of a dark slate blue ceiling, a custom chocolate leather sofa that nestles under the window, and panels fusing Phillip Jeffries faux-suede wallpaper with stained walnut trim. “Immediately we had visions of this becoming the quintessential movie-watching room with wood-paneled walls,” he muses.
Jenn Feldman Designs
To upgrade the library of a long-standing client’s residence in the swanky Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, local designer Jenn Feldman began with her client’s love for good-looking coffee-table tomes. “We immediately knew she needed a room to house her ever-growing collection of travel and art books,” points out Feldman. This client works from home, and her husband is a Hollywood agent, so Feldman also put versatility at the forefront of the design scheme, ensuring it welcomes impromptu meetings as much as chill-outs with the kids. Ultimately Feldman opted for something dark and cozy, using Farrow & Ball’s Studio Green top to bottom, she adds, “to juxtapose against the clean, bright shell of the remaining first-floor open areas.”
Kerry Joyce Associates
In the hushed, restored library of a 1930s Spanish Revival overlooking a Mediterranean garden, Los Angeles designer Kerry Joyce entwined one-of-a-kind pieces like a 17th-century Persian Esfahān rug and a vintage French coffee table surrounded by four chairs upholstered in Joyce’s own dreamy Rigoletto velvet. “A wall of books opens to reveal a hidden speakeasy bar, a perfect place for an after-dinner drink, or to read a book,” says Joyce. “The vibe of green is transcending.”
Spending meaningful time with family and friends was a top priority for the homeowners of an East Hampton refuge, so New York interior designer Magdalena Keck spruced it up with a vast art collection and integrated a slew of luxe amenities, like an entertainment lounge complete with a bar. For this relaxed but buzzing space, “we wanted to create an aura of a bygone-era social club with an enveloping feeling of warmth and decadence, but do it in a contemporary, minimal way,” explains Keck. The solution? Swathing the walls, ceilings, and drapes in a daring shade of penetrative green. “Its rich lusciousness is reminiscent of forests but also gems, fancy liquor bottles, and game tables,” adds Keck.
Liz MacPhail Interiors
Completely devoid of natural light, the basement wine cellar and lounge by Austin-based Liz MacPhail Interiors was challenging to design, but “rather than fight it, we leaned in and painted the walls and ceilings in a deep aubergine with a high-gloss finish, and added lots of ambient light and antique mirrors to bounce light around and elevate the drama,” she explains. Designed for the Kips Bay Decorator Show House Dallas in 2021, MacPhail imagined the space could be used for occasional animated wine tastings or quiet, intimate conversations. To facilitate these activities, MacPhail mixed various chairs with a corner banquette to form flexible seating arrangements and riffed “on the antithesis of the man cave by taking a more feminine approach to the concept,” she says.
A family from California loved their Tudor-style residence in the Westchester city of Scarsdale. “It was full of character and had been beautifully kept but needed updating and furnishing,” remembers New York designer Sharon Rembaum. In the family room, where the owners and their small children spend ample time watching television and playing video games together, there wasn’t much natural light, but “believe it or not, making a space dark can often make it feel bigger,” says Rembaum, who chose a brooding palette from her variety of den design ideas. This room presented a particular challenge: Its odd shape required sourcing swivel chairs and a sofa angled in a precise way to accommodate watching television on the opposite wall.
Olivia Song Design
During lockdown, Brooklyn designer Olivia Song revisited the details of a classic Park Avenue co-op repeatedly, ultimately marrying “traditional architecture with contemporary interior design for a young family with three children. The parameters of success: no childproofing, and the furnishings would stay in place, as they were, until the owners leave ‘feet first,’” she shares. This encompasses an alluring space that her own kids dub a “shade room.” By embracing ambient lighting “that reduces visual stimulus and removes the frenetic energy of the outside world,” she points out, Song strived to create a salon that induces recovery and relaxation at every turn. “Whatever the time spent, this atmosphere lends itself to physical and mental calm,” says Song. “When you leave, you feel recharged and ready to be back in the light—in bright rooms with other people.”
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