Monday, July 21, 2008

Savoring Summer

Image courtesy of Elle Decor

I'll admit it- we're in the dog days of summer and I'm already thinking about inside projects and things I want to accomplish in my house before Christmas, which seems to be a major deadline for so many interior design projects. But take a moment to enjoy the heat and the fact that you don't need to dress in 15 layers to stay warm... it's coming soon enough. For now, give that outdoor space a mid-season spruce up and invite some friends over.

I recommend Mario Batali's new book for some Italian goodness you can make on the grill.

Here are a few outdoor eating areas that may inspire you to design something special.

I love the painted floor and the crisp clean look that continues from the eating area to the seating area.

Photo courtesy of Elle Decor

I love the trees... where are the rest of the leaves? Maybe this was shot in the early spring?

This one isn't exactly outside, but don't you want to go to this party?

Friday, July 18, 2008

What's New

Image courtesy of Southern Accents

When I was in New York a few months back I began to notice a common theme among many of the better fabric houses. A very ethereal, sophisticated line of fabrics that had a bit of a glamorous feeling to them. Not so "Hollywood Regency" that they felt toocontemporary... they actually bridge the gap to tradition in a beautiful, current way. Most of the collections that caught my eye had a silvery, pewter, metallic theme and incorporated true naturals or (better yet) dusty jewel tones that almost go pastel. Fabric make-up wasn't an issue- everything from wool to silk and many in between. I collected a few samples, one of which lives in my dining room, waiting to be transformed into new draperies.

Here are a few of the basics, which essentially become a neutral. Add in color as you wish. I would prefer to see no more than one or two other colors paired with these chic new textiles. Think layers and texture instead....

(Above: Robert Allen's Londra in color Sand Dollar)

Above: Fabric from Robert Allen

Above: Fabric from Lee Jofa, Suzanne Rheinstein Collection

Above: Fabric from Lee Jofa, Suzanne Rheinstein Collection

Above: Fabric from Lee Jofa Threads Collection

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The All Green Garden

All you have to do is drive by my house and you'll know that I'm not the gardener I want to be. I love a well planted and maintained garden, but I don't have the inclination or the know-how to make my yard & garden what I want them to be. I have been admiring the "all green garden" lately. I mean "green" in the old-fashioned sense... simply the color: green. Boxwood, ivy, and ferns are mainstays of the all green garden.

If my yard had a spot that would accommodate an allay of trees, I'd have one. I love the various greens, especially the green moss or grass growing between the random stone walkway.

When I do finally get to my outdoor space, it will most certainly have a mirror. There is something so unexpected about seeing a mirror outside and reflecting natural elements. Give it a try- there are plenty of resin or metal mirrors that will survive well in the great outdoors.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Settee'

The settee' is a really versatile piece of furniture. It's defined as a "long bench with a back and arms" but that can take so many forms. I kind of define it as a wing back chair, stretched. Some shapes are very traditional- such as the one below that has a gold leaf finish- and others are more modern with fully clean lines. Depending upon how you upholster or slip cover a settee', it can be casual or formal. I particularly like the use of the two small settee's to make a breakfast area in the Manhattan apartment. All images courtesy of Traditional Home and Hickory Chair.

Above: slip covered and used as comfy seating at this informal arrangement.

Above: A pair of settee's frame up this cozy breakfast area.

Above: A more traditional approach with carving and gold leafing packs a punch with colorful stripes. A nice mix of the formal and informal...

A few of my favorites from Hickory Chair:

The next time you're wondering "what could we use in this spot?", think of a settee'. I've seen them in entry ways and even on sun porches. Most of all, take your time to find the right one and make it your own.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wood Inlay

Wood inlay flooring and furniture can be a beautiful, traditional accent. It's a very old art form, dating back to the Roman Empire. The real McCoy can be quite expensive, but today there are so many options to get the look and feel of this stunning technique. Above is the entry hall of world renowned designer Ellie Cullman. The design was inspired by a Russian inlaid marquetry floor in St. Petersburg. Instead of recreating the actual floor, it was faux-painted. I think it has a beautiful effect- you really don't want to cover it up! Image above courtesy of Cullman & Kravis, from the book Decorating Master Class.

Another time-tested application of inlay is on furniture. Here is an example from Pearson Company's new occasional collection. Sorry about the lousy image...

Above: The Compass Rose design is perfectly suited to a coastal home. Image courtesy of Traditional Home.

You can really take this technique in any direction- subtle or more decorative, as shown above. This is a center medallion, often paired with a border design to give a room the full effect.

I found this image on Czar Floors web site. It won the NWFA 2007 Floor of the year and is comprised of 45 feet of inlay. Talk about making a statement!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Stop for a minute...

I don't know about you, but my master bath is totally utilitarian. It's nice, colorful, and easy to use.... but it's not a place where we'd stop for a minute and just take a breather. I love the feeling in this bath, which is likely a very "new" space designed by Cullman & Kravis. I love the beams, the chandelier, and especially the chaise lounge. They seem perfectly suited to the environment outside of the windows, and yet they don't scream "mountain cattle ranch".

The Romans perfected the art of bathing many years ago. It involved a lot of lounging that I think we bypass in our hurried, modern-day lifestyles. Perhaps I should rethink the corner of our bath and take away the decorative towel cabinet to add a love seat or comfy upholstered chair... and I'm sort of liking that mini tv mount too!

Side note: Lately I'm on a quest to become a decent runner again. I've been on my feet a lot this week trying to get my body used to more walking and running... today my legs just flat-out hurt. Lounging, slowing down, and comfort appear to be top-of-mind as I finish up this post, don't you think?

Monday, July 7, 2008


The one place in the world I love beyond all others is Chatham, on Cape Cod. I grew up spending summers in sailing school and cruising around town with my friends. Eventually I folded more shirts (1st job) and served more food and drinks (every summer job after the 1st) than I knew what to do with. But we always had fun. Living in the middle of the country has it's benefits, but come July, the beach sounds pretty good. A long (ok, maybe not so long these days) morning run by the harbor into town is a great way to start a lazy day in paradise. Maybe one of these days we'll just pack up the car and head out for a week... puppies love the beach!