Guide to Creating a Zen Den

How do you create a water feature with no water? That’s the question designer Keith Baltimore had to answer when his clients requested a tranquil pool in the center of their den in Roslyn. The couple wanted a nature-inspired vignette to bring the outdoors in and reflect the zen-like quality of their home, without the maintenance of a real pond. The result is a modern, wooden structure with a mirrored bottom filled with greenery and stones. “As soon as you enter the room you know it’s a place for serenity, calmness and peace,” said the Port Washington-based designer.

As the den’s centerpiece, the “pond” sets the tone for the rest of the space—serene, airy and inviting. The room serves as both a spot to sprawl out and watch a movie and a hub for entertaining, with plenty of seating for guests. All of the furniture is low to the ground with clean, horizontal lines, prompting visitors to unwind and lounge. In the seating area, the sofa features a chaise for stretching out to watch TV. And the sleek leather chair is an excellent alternative to a bulky recliner. “Everything is very relaxed. There’s a lack of drama. We all live such dramatic lives, this is a place to chill and reflect,” said Baltimore.

decorating a relaxing room

image: ric marder

On the other end of the long room he created a space for gathering around the fire. The coffee table elevates to become a game table, surrounded by comfortable chenille swivel chairs. Here, the fireplace wall is the focal point. Covered in slim, textured stones, it accentuates the room’s natural elements and neutral color palette. “Any time you do a monochromatic room, you have to play with textures,” Baltimore said. Contrasting fabrics serve the same purpose, creating visual depth when there’s a lack of color. Fluffy fur, smooth leather and nubby chenille combine on the furnishings and accessories in tones of brown and taupe.

A recurring theme throughout the entire space is the use of horizontal lines to enhance the relaxed vibe. “It’s very understated and elegant, just like the clients. Everything is very low, very horizontal.” The entertainment center is sparse and modern with long, low shelves and decorative wooden slats echoing the horizontal slat blinds on the windows. Dark wenge-wood floors ground the otherwise airy space, while area rugs delineate the two separate seating areas, dividing the long, narrow room into functional subdivisions, tailor-made for entertaining.