Podcast, Ep. 183: architect Andrew Cogar

Photo: David Christensen

We are thrilled to welcome back our guest today Andrew Cogar who is an architect and president of the award-winning firm Historical Concepts. We discuss his new book, Visions of Home: Timeless Design, Modern Sensibility, collaboration, the narrative of a house, a closer look at a historic Charleston single house, designing around honesty, the concept of the creative process, and more.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Trials & Triumphs! Karen’s lingering Christmas issues, the Wilcox mirror, adorable doormats, our love of Etsy, Taryn’s old bricks, where to store the extra toilet paper, and Caroline’s new dishwasher.
  • What are some examples of “sparks of joy” as it relates to architecture?
  • Why collaboration is a fun puzzle.
  • What is the concept of a “house narrative”?
  • Recent shifts around the open floor plan.
  • Considering the guest experience and privacy in a house.
  • Reinterpreting the historic Charleston single house featured in Andrew’s book.
  • The importance of designing even the small spaces.
  • Why it’s imperative to be honest with your design team about how you want to live.
  • What Andrew studied and learned while in London.
  • The concept of creative process; emphasis on two separate words.

Decorating Dilemma 

Hi ladies (and guest)!

My decorating dilemma is my square, bare living room. I attached a floor plan and some pics. This is mainly a family room for hanging out and watching TV. I’m really struggling with the room layout. You enter this room from a small front entry and walk diagonally through the room to get to the kitchen and indoor sunroom/playroom, so I don’t want to block the path with furniture. What layout do you recommend? The brown leather couch stays for now (I know, I know…but it’s only a couple of years old and super comfortable, and we have some bigger fish to fry), but we are getting rid of the other furniture. Also, we’ve tried the couch on the opposite wall but it feels very awkward since it’s so close to the front door.

We are planning to get a fireplace mantel. Should I choose a cast stone or a traditional wooden mantel painted white? And is the molding on the wall above the couch going to compete with the mantel? We have a large glass window in one wall, which looks out to the sunroom and brings some natural light. What should I put over there? How much of the room should a rug cover? Note: I’d prefer not to have seagrass or sisal because of my baby and dogs. What should I do with the wall that has the TV? A long console? What can I add there to make it less about the TV?

 I know it’s hard to know what I like since my home is so empty, but I tend to like the traditional/transitional styles and gravitate toward blues. This room is so depressing to look at every day, but I just can’t seem to figure out a good game plan. Any feedback is so appreciated!

PS: LOVE the podcast! I always look forward to a new episode!



Hi Olivia,

The biggest challenge is that this is a pass-through room and it’s hard to get around this square layout. My advice is going to come more from an architectural standpoint than interior design. First, I would suggest putting up a wall. Most people think of this as an impossible task, but it’s not! It’s actually some of the cheapest and simplest construction to do as long as it doesn’t involve any electrical or plumbing. Assuming the fireplace is a gas insert, I would close up that space above the couch and I would put the fireplace on that wall. Incorporate it in a complete wall of bookcases and built-ins and have the TV worked into the bookcase more to the right. You could get a big reading chair and ottoman to be able to take advantage of the fireplace. I would then shift the cased opening and put that where the fireplace was (assuming those are closets and not a powder room) and move the opening there. That way you can have a 3-sided enclosure at the West side of the room. You can put a couch or sectional where the TV currently is, so it really takes advantage of the natural daylight coming in from the sunroom. This really creates two zones; one is a sitting and reading zone and the other one is more of a living room. Being able to see this from the front entryway will really bring it in with the rest of the house. You can spend just as much money and time trying to solve this room, but I think making these inexpensive and simple changes will really unlock so much potential in the space. Hopefully, this is helpful and works out! – Andrew

With regards to the rug, we think you should try to find the biggest rug you can find for the space. Usually anywhere from 3inches to a foot of space around the edges works well. It will really help ground and center the room in a good way.

Good luck, Olivia!

Mentioned in This Episode:

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Happy Decorating!

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Abbey Nolte

Abbey is a homegrown Georgia peach who loves a fresh take on Southern design. When she’s not working behind the scenes of the How to Decorate blog and podcast, you can find her cheering on the Appalachian State Mountaineers and spending time with her wheaten terrier, Charlie.