Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Joy of Technology

I know we all feel like this from time to time... it's been two weeks of computer hell. I'll be back to consistent regular posts as soon as I can. I thought of this scene so many times this week that I had to post this image. Anyone got a bat?... because I've got something smash-worthy. I have to be patient and extract my files first.

Details v.1

I recently wrote about nailhead trim, but what about other fun details? Detail is all about the way you put things together and the extra-added surprise of showing someone in the room for the first time a little something that they didn’t expect. Details can be anything from architectural details to accessories, but they’re important to making a room look and feel finished and warm. Creative applications of detail are great, but remember, when you do something unusual or over-the-top you must do it well. Don’t skimp or stop short. Get the best and do it right- suddenly you’ll find it will make the room. Detail is a vast subject to cover, so I’ll get started with the images below and try to post something about detail at least once a month.

You may look at the above image from a room in Décor Magazine from 2004 and think, “that’s not my style” but you can learn a lot about details from this room. The overall feel is warm and finished. This designer, whose name I cannot find, had the presence of mind to think about details. Notice the nailhead trim on the chair. The contrast cording on the sofa cusion… the braid or ribbon on the leading edge of the drapery.. and of course, the pom-pom fringe on the pillows. I would have given the table a bigger, more weighty lamp, but then again, it’s hard to judge proportion when you only have one shot of the room.

This simple little tile detail around a fairly standard looking doorbell creates detail before you even walk in the door. Image from Kelly Wearstler's "Modern Glamour".

Trim is an easy way to infuse detail into a room. I love using trim in unexpected ways or in luxurious combinations. I figure, as long as your buying trim, get the good stuff and go for it. Tres McKinney designer. Image courtesy Traditional Home Magazine.

This is a wonderful space between a walk-in closet and a large master bath that we designed for a client several years ago. Custom details include the lampshades, the trim and the amazing assortment of antique silver jars that line the decorative table top. Design by Jenny Bova Associates

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blackberry Farm

I hesitated before I began this entry… Blackberry Farm is by far my favorite get-away on the mainland. When you find a place like this, you don’t really want the whole world to find out, but then again, you do want the world to find out and you want to see them do well. It would be impossible for the Beall family to not do well with Blackberry Farm. And unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve seen a write up on either the food or the spa or the impeccable décor. Kreis Beall, the wife half of the duo that started Blackberry Farm, originally did all of the design herself and has now set up a company that carries on this work. When I spoke about detail in an earlier post, Blackberry is just that kind of place. There is detail and thought in just about every design and decision they have made. On top of it all, the staff is kind and accommodating in every way. My advice: bring your hiking shoes and forget about your diet.

Above: Image of a well-appointed guest room. Courtesy Blackberry Farm web site.

Just a peek at some of the details you’ll find. Image courtesy of O at Home Magazine.

Above: This photo was taken in the guest room that one of my family members stayed in. I loved the creative solution to covering the flat screen TV. Can't wait to do this one myself!

Being an animal lover, I went down to the pasture to see the sheep during our stay. Their caretaker was about to feed them and let me hang out and watch. They are like giant dogs and seem to like to be near people. Image courtesy of Blackberry Farm web site.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Whether you have limited space or multiple uses for one room, a daybed can be a dashing addition to the mix, no matter what your style. Really, anything goes when it comes to design. Make it work with the function of the room and make sure it’s comfortable. Here are a few fun ones...

Image at top: What child wouldn’t love this daybed in his or her room? It’s like a cozy fort with curtains and all. Check out the wallpaper hung horizontally. I love it! I think it was designed by Alessandra Branca.

Above: An absolutely charming daybed in a child's room. Designed by Charlotte Moss. Image courtesy Southern Accents Magazine.

Above: A daybed in designer Mar Silver's own home. Image courtesy Metropolitan Home Magazine.

Above: A daybed in the home office of designer Heather Wells. Image courtesy of Traditional Home Magazine.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nailhead Trim

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with nailhead trim. One of the first places I actually took note of it was not in a good way. My Mom had hired a design firm in Phoenix in the early nineties to completely deck out their new home. The deal was, if my Mom didn’t like what they brought they would bring in something else, no obligations. I’m not so sure that was their idea with the window treatments because they had to be custom made. The window treatments were generally nice in every room except the kitchen where they selected a washed cotton in off-white that looked wrinkled but wasn’t and looked dirty but wasn’t… you get the idea. Anyway, they made cornice boards above really long windows… like 15-18’ long. Outlining the cornices (yes, more than one) were nail heads that looked and felt like plastic. It takes a lot of nail heads to cover 15 feet. And to add insult to injury, they put giant matching nail heads in the center of the cornice evenly spaced to create a tufted/ western sort of look. It was all a little too Vegas in the early 70’s for my taste. Luckily my Mom felt the same way. Out they went! I wish I had a picture for you.

Needless to say, nailheads haven’t been my detail of choice. But that could and should change. Lately (and in most cases since the aforementioned incident) I’ve seen many applications of nail heads that I love. I’ve seen the right fabric and nailheads bring and old upholstered piece right up to date. And the extra detail and emphasis for things like leather chairs and ottomans just goes to show you’re thinking about how to make things special.
Image above from Kelly Wearstler's book "Modern Glamour".

What a fabulous use of nailheads! Upholstered walls with a nailhead headboard built layered on top and the nailhead continues as almost a paneling motif in a very contemporary way. Ingenious- and by none other than Mary McDonald. While this application doesn’t necessarily feel casual to me, it is an intimate space and the nailheads work very well with the suiting fabric and the masculine feel. Notice the various different applications of nailheads on other pieces in the room- the bed and the stool and even the piece at the end of the bed. Image courtesy House Beautiful Magazine.

This is a chair from Gwyneth Paltrow’s entry hall featured in House & Garden. I like the minute nailhead detail on the base of the chair. A pinch of extra detail.

Sutherland teak outdoor with stainless nailheads.

This side table from Shine Home uses a technique called “close nailing” to create a decorative pattern with the nailheads. This is becoming more common, but very frequently it is done to an otherwise forgettable piece of furniture to try to make something interesting of it. I like this side table application because it is small, movable, and strictly an accent piece. Wouldn’t it be fun for a party or outside on a summer evening?… I’m thinking of the effect of the shiny nailheads with flickering candlelight. Image courtesy House Beautiful Magazine.

For more nailhead ideas, history and application check out the February issue of House Beautiful.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Outdoor Spaces

I have a no, nothing porch at the moment that each year has begged me to do something to make it shine. So far I haven’t raised a finger or made a single purchase, but this year I want to get the garden done and the porch will be a logical extension. Currently the temperature outside is 4 degrees. It’s supposed to hit a high of 13 degrees. Today is a good day to dream about what the outside could be. Here are a few things peaking my interest.

The above beautiful loggia photograph came from Décor Magazine. This is what I think of when I think of usable, beautiful outdoor space. I love the elegant use of fabric and lighting and the crisp, classic lines. Arched topped doors that are 10.5’ high (custom-made) add incredible height and verticality to the space. Notice the bench in place of chairs around the table on one side- doesn’t it feel nicer than all those “soldiers in a row”? What a refreshing change. It would be like sitting down to one elegant “picnic” table.

Above: I love the painted floor and the tongue and groove ceiling. The feeling of this porch/sun room reminds me of Cape Cod.

This is a simple, clean outdoor space. It looks like a perfect resting point in a busy day, doesn't it? Image courtesy Kelly Wearstler's Book "Modern Glamour"

I think what I love most about this porch is the mirror. It’s proportion and grandeur absolutely make the space.

This space has such a southern, refined feel to it. There is something about such lovely looking things outside that makes it feel like a true extension of your home.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lavender Part 2

Above: Image from a Max Mara print ad.

In case you doubted that lavender is everywhere, check out the 3 (of about 2 dozen) images that I found with this lavender/purple shade in fashion. Harper's Bazaar says that bright colored dresses, including these and others that are "sorbet colored" are a hot item this summer. As I said, a little touch of lavender......

Image Above: Dresses by J. Mendel. Image Courtesy of Harper's Bazaar.

Above: A Michael Kors print ad.

In a late edit: I found the following image of Aerin Lauder in what appears to be the dress in the above Micheal Kors ad. May I be so bold as to say that he should have hired her to model for his ad. She brings an unmatchable class to the entire ensemble! Image courtesy Town & Country Magazine.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Glorifying the Closet

The closet is so frequently just an afterthought of an otherwise well designed home.... but not in these three. I searched to find several others and came up shy, which is not to say they don't exist. I'm sure I'll do an update. It's a simple fact that the closet must be well thought out in order to function for the particular person or people. The idea that everything has a place and that you can really see most all of it is so basic but so overlooked these days. The common features that I love are the chandeliers, the center tables or islands, and the seating or chaises. Granted, most of us don't have the luxury of such space for a closet (don't complain to me, I lived in NYC for 10 years) but it's such a nice inspiration to make the space we do have beautiful and functional. Don't just shut the door... make it a place you can't wait to show off.

Above: Closet designed by Robert Couturier.

Above: Oprah's closet designed by Nate Berkus. Image courtesy Nate Burkus' book Home Rules.

Above: Closet designed by David Jiminez. Image courtesy of House Beautiful.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Office

Above: One of my most favorite offices of all time. I have clipped images for years and kept them in my binder files. For all I know this could be a month old (no, I have a little bit of a memory...) or two years old. I think it is from House & Garden and I'm fairly certain that it was done by Charlotte Moss. Everything about this office makes me want to sit down and dig in. Doesn't it look beautiful and livable? I mean, you could actually work here, which is not the case with many designs.

The offices shown here are both home and commercial offices. I think it's nice, when appropriate, for an office to show the occupant's personality and style. It is important for the space to function well and be beautifully designed. It's also important that the room, whether commercial or residential, maintains some connection and consistency with the other surrounding rooms.

Above: Mary McDonald designed this office. I love the simplicity of the color scheme: black, white, and that beautiful ice blue. Yet the room is filled with detail and detailed pieces. It's very easy and elegant. Image courtesy ?? Let me know if you know.....I hate to not give credit.

Above: Alessandra Branca does a beautiful job with her new office. Classic, yet crisp and clean. Again, a space you could really work in. I love what the black does to the space. Image courtesy of Traditional Home.

Above: Celerie Kemble's office. I positively love this desk. I want one exactly the same only slightly bigger. For practical matters I like a big work surface. Perhaps Kemble doesn't need a bigger surface based on the immaculate and well organized systems she has in place around this comfortable well-functioning space. Image courtesy of InStyle Magazine.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Living with Books

Living with books is simply a way of life for many people. I find that books add a welcome touch of personality to a room and a definitive level of interest. Books say "real people live here". I have also found that many of my favorite accessory combinations include books. Needless to say, I love books. Books allow you to travel and learn without ever leaving the house. The next best thing to being there. While many pile books in a big stack (such a big stack that you would likely never dig one out to look at it) I keep my books accessible and handy. And I try to shuffle them around and take "new" old books off the shelf to refresh my memory and inspire me all over again.

Above: Alessandra Branca does a magical round table set up with stools where you might actually imagine getting lost with a cup of coffee and an unexpected find inside one of those gems. Image courtesy of House Beautiful.

Above: A classically simple coffee table with a carefully edited selection of books. Image courtesy of House Beautiful.

Above: A virtual living library. Perhaps you won't get to the bottom of these stacks... but don't you want to see the watercolors on the table? Image courtesy of House & Garden.

Above: A hall table with a nice mix of accessories and books. I find the simple touch of a few books makes a big difference in the formality and overall feel of the vignette. Image courtesy of Traditional Home.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Lavender is regal... let's face it, it's in fashion now and it's so dreamy at home. Here are a few options to consider bringing the color into your home. Think about contrast when using lavender; blue, gray, and white are clean and crisp combinations that bring the lavender to life. Use it in moderate doses such as artwork and accessories or a single upholstered piece. Above: Designer Angie Hranowsky used lavender in a stunning way throughout her mother's home. This was featured in a magazine issue about color recently, and I made the error of not making a note of which one. If you remember, let me know.

Above: A beautiful lavender velvet sofa toned down by surrounding blues, grays, and light pastel pillows. Design by Myra Hoefer. Image source unknown.

Above: a group of fabrics we're working with for a bedroom design. The central print is from Lee Jofa, as is the lavender velvet in the upper right corner. Image Jenny Bova Associates.

Above: Not feeling so brave? Add instant pop to a bath or entry way with a small tightly arranged group of fresh flower. Notice how lovely this arrangement looks next to the blue/gray/seafoam tile. Image courtesy of Southern Accents.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Accessories Make the Room

Accessorizing is an art. A keen, well-edited selection that packs a punch is a difficult task. Here are a few examples that I think are successful. Above: This image has stayed with me for a long time. I go back to this for inspiration when I get stuck. This is a table in Amy Perlin's home and I think it was done by Amy herself. As you might imagine, it consists of antiques that Amy sells at her Manhattan shop. I love the mix of proportions and textures. Image courtesy of House & Garden.

Above: This highly symmetrical design by Barclay Butera feels casual and elegant. I like the large scale of the urns and the lamps together. Very unexpected and successful. Image courtesy of Traditional Home.

Above: I happen to love this table and the mix of accessories on it. A little French, a little Asian, and even a few books. Image courtesy of Elle Decor.

Above: A classic chest accessorized with very classic, clean pieces. Notice the layers. Boxes in trays, multiple height candlesticks, artwork leaning on artwork. Where you would expect symmetry, you find a beautiful asymmetrical balance. Designer: David Jimenez. Image courtesy of House Beautiful.

Above: This table top shows an interesting mix of artwork, objects, and books. I like the use of easels for the artwork and the idea that the mirror is a back drop instead of a feature... the designer is not concerned with the need to keep the area in front of the mirror clear. As much as I like the tabletop, I would personally prefer a different mix of furniture. These pieces feel a little bit disconnected to me. They need to speak to each other a bit more without being to matchy-matchy. Image courtesy of House & Garden.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

New Year, More Blog

I'm back. I'm doing my level best to keep up with my posts. I've got millions of ideas and things I want to share, but I am a professional designer with a great desire to keep up a good blog, not a professional blogger. And I'm also Harley's Mama. So here we are in the new year with lots of new ideas to share. Keep coming back....