Friday, June 12, 2009

Layered Windows

It never fails that what I love is usually the most expensive options. Window treatments are no exception. In most cases, I love layers of window treatments. Shades, sheers and drapery. Or Shades, a secondary drapery, and a focal drapery, or shades and cornices… you get the idea. I have found with most of our installations that layers of window treatments offer our clients the most in terms of privacy, light control, and design. Of course there are situations where simple is good- contemporary loft spaces call for a clean shade style. Tropical environments with many layers of heavy drapery would seem out of place. But in so many cases a few layers adds options and sophistication to any room. Here are a few of my favorites:

Above: Mary McDonald's layered window treatments.

A beautiful tailored silk treatment including a cornice, drapery, and a wonderfully simple shade to complete the look.

This is a very simple example of layers. Both layers are similarly crafted and practical, but also beautiful. That second layer adds a lot of warmth.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Appealing Bookcases

When I first started to become interested in design I was dating a guy whose mother was an interior designer. She had an innate talent for making things look great. Every corner of every house was finished to perfection. Even the bookshelves. (Yes, I noticed). What came as a surprise was that she had asked one of her assistants to do them. Mary, she said, had a talent for making shelves look great and perfectly accessorized. Sometimes I wonder if it had to do with the fact that it wasn’t Mary’s stuff. I don’t think so. I have always taken note of bookshelves and decorative spaces. I’ve studied what I like and what I don’t like and why, but to tell you the truth, that doesn’t make it any easier. Each time we are presented with new display challenges in our work it is different- each person cherishes different things and wants to see certain items every day. Sometimes it can be intricately framed needlework, other times it can be a doll collection or a highly meaningful memorabilia collection. Sometimes we supplement what our clients already own to help them complete a display, but more often we end up editing what they have to make a display with more impact. Less is often more.

There are a few things you can think about when creating beautiful display shelves. The first and most important is to make sure the lighting is good. If possible, under shelf lighting is great. It can highlight individual and important items. But do make sure the light is balanced. A set of shelves should be lit from above with a wall washer to insure adequate overall light and diminish deep shadows. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to add this type of light during construction, don’t let the opportunity pass you by.

Another great trick to use in built-in shelving is to paint or paper the inside of the shelves. You can do just the back, but I prefer the back and the sides- leaving the shelves painted or stained as the exterior trim to tie the look together. Use a deeper color shade, and keep them all uniform.
Lastly, think about visual interest. Lay books both horizontally and vertically. Insert artwork, sculpture, and other small items sparingly and randomly. Balance is nice, but think about variety with different heights and interesting stopping points for the eye. And have fun.

Image at the top: Very practical bookshelves in the Chicago office of designer Alesandra Branca.

Here are a few more great examples:

The bookshelf as a backdrop. I wouldn't have thought of this, but I like the idea of making practical space out of a wall of bookshelves.

Create interest by hanging artwork on the outside of the shelves.

This is a simple bamboo shelf in Barclay Butera's entry. Notice the color and the proportion of the objects mixed in with the books.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

McDonald's New Concepts

I'm not a huge fan of fast food. I try not to eat it, but let's face it, if you put McDonald's fries in front of me I'm hard pressed to say no. The best in the business. Well, I think it's fair to say that McDonald's has leapfrogged all other QSR establishments in the design arena as well. The company recently hired Studio Gaia to design new restaurant concepts and (if I may say so) they ROCKED it!! Check out these images! Would you have guessed McDonalds? Would you have guessed fast food? Studio Gaia emphasizes the use of straightforward and inexpensive materials. The end result looks anything but inexpensive- I'm so impressed. The concepts were recently featured in Hospitality Design Magazine and (I hope) McDonald's will start rolling them out soon. In fact, I just heard that a new concept store opened a few miles from the office today. I may have to stop in. The question is, can I resist the fries?

Below is another, more urban concept. Also by Studio Gaia.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm working on it....

Hi Readers-

I realize that the text here got really small and hard to read all of the sudden. I'm working on it! We will be adding an RSS Feed and links to follow me on Twitter very soon. Thanks for your patience!


Art Upon Art

I can't help posting another brilliant move by Hermes. It's right up my alley. Hermes has taken the beautiful color studies of Joseph Albers and woven them into silk scarves! Mind you, this happened last Fall, but I bet you can still find them.... if you're lucky enough to be able to get one. This is such an obvious pairing- color in any natural material is richer and more vibrant and beautiful. Such amazing color combinations in silk is downright luxurious. My color professor in school studied with Joseph and Annie Albers, so I have always had a fondness for their work. Hermes and Joseph Albers? Slam dunk!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I can't get away from the fact that I simply LOVE marble countertops. I know so many people find them less than practical, but this surface is timeless and incredibly beautiful. Plus, what do you have and live with each day that doesn't show any character or age? I consider it wabi-sabi and I think it's a good thing. Without a doubt my next kitchen will have marble countertops.

A Litte Peace

There is so much heavy stuff going on in the world and personally lately that it feels like a good time for a little peace. Stop and think. And be good to each other... life is too short.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hermes Goes to Work

Hermes Goes to Work

This Hermes Desk Set recently caught my eye. The lines are clean and sleek and each piece is emblazoned with the trademark "H". I tend to love almost anything that this company creates, despite the fact that most of it is "untouchable" for me. This is no exception. I recall that the jump drive alone is in the $700 range. Style doesn't always come cheap.... but a girl can dream.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Design trend: Lime Washed Wood

I've noticed more and more lime washed furniture and flooring slipping into interiors these days. It's a very nice alternative to the heaviness of traditional stain as it adds a light, natural finish that exposes the wood grain. I've seen lime washes done many ways... it can be slick and highly polished for a more contemporary look, but the way I prefer a lime finish is with a little bit more patina and a touch of variation. I also think it's important to use it sparingly so that this finishes beauty has a chance to shine.

The bookcase above is from Horchow's new collection made entirely from reclaimed lumber. There are a few pieces in the collection that have the lime-washed look. I particularly liked this one. In the detail shot you can see how the beauty of the natural wood peeks through the wash to add depth and character.

Above: lime-washed flooring.

A few notes, especially if you're thinking of trying it yourself. Liming isn't as easy as it looks. And the type of wood you apply it to makes a big difference in the outcome of the process. Read up or hire a professional.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Milk Moon Kids

Milk Moon Kids

I've been admiring the work of Milk Moon Kids for a while now. Graphic designer Sarah Spring and her sister-in-law Lauren Kitchen, the co-founders of the company, are super style-conscious and create amazing modern prints. While they are intended for kid's rooms, the graphic quality combined with the tuned-in sense of color in each of these prints makes them timeless and very sophisticated. These aren't your normal "I'll just run over to Target and see what they've got" prints. You will want to keep these around for a long, long time.

I can't wait to see what Milk Moon Kids comes up with next. Sarah tells me a new print is on the way soon. I have no doubt that as the collection grows we will continue to find pieces we just can't live without. Find more images and information by clicking here: Milk Moon Kids

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Power of Great Styling

I love this image from a recent issue of Town & Country. I'm forever looking at how objects are displayed and styled, either for the purposes of a photograph, or in real life. Granted, each of these lovey gems costs a pretty penny and I can appreciate them (from afar) no matter what. They would have looked nice on a standard white editorial page, but the simplicity and elegance of the color of the gems juxtaposed with the color in the silk cord and all on that lavender/plum background are a huge hit with me. I think this photograph has great depth and interest and really shows off the incredible beauty of these gems.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Beauty of Gray

Gray doesn't always have to mean grim. Gray can have the most elegant and subtle effect in a room. Check out the entry hall in designer Ned Marshall's home in New Orleans. The note in Traditional Home says he began with silver radiator paint (love that idea!) and then used a glaze over it to create this amazing effect. You could easily take this in a very traditional direction or a very contemporary direction.

I do think you have to use gray with care and you must have a great sense of color (or hire a professional) to help you use it correctly- especially when using other colors in the mix. I've seen gray used in a light warm tone as the neutral in a nursery- it was amazing. The few selected bright colors popped against the softness of the gray. I wish I had a picture to share with you.... it's in my brain and I'd love to create my own version of this one day.

One of my favorite shades of deep gray is Martha Stewart's "Goose Down". It's very deep and warm- almost a gray-brown. Benjamin Moore's "Iron Mountain" is also great. Which is the right gray? It depends upon the room you're creating and the level of sophistication you're aiming to create. Here are a few more ideas:

I love this masculine bathroom. This photo shows only one portion of the gray built-ins, but they look great against that wool, mens-wear inspired wall. I have to say that I am not a fan of any kind of wall-to-wall in a bathroom though.

Gray walls with white trim always seems to work well. The raised panels and the fireplace mantle in white help to bring some extra life to this deep, almost purple shade of gray.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's A Dog's Life

If you've ever read my blog before- even just part of an entry- I'd guess that you know how much I love animals. I'm a sucker for dogs of any breed and would adopt 100 of them this minute if I thought I could take proper care of them. As it stands, we have one wild child golden retriever and that is just about all this household can handle. Well, we could probably handle a few more... and he'll get some friends soon. But in the meantime, I have some inanimate friends around the house. As I write this there are two stone lions in the garage waiting for Spring to arrive. I found these fun animal statues/sculptures online. They would add a ton of personality to just about any room.

This "Bull" sculpture is so intriguing to me. He looks like an old man... not so fierce. And I love the character and patina on this piece. Find it on 1st Dibs. I'll be jealous if you buy it!

This little guy is a sad little dog without much of a face. But don't you just love him?

If regal is more your style, try a pair of whippets. These would look great flanking an entry.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Black As An Anchor

I've gone back to this image so many times for several different reasons. I can't remember what appealed to me about it in the first place... because there are so many things. This isn't a black room, by any means, but the brilliant use of a few black pieces really grounds all of the other light celadon and chartruse pieces in the room. Take a good look at the crisp white vases in the black cupboard. The only other color in the cupboard is chartruse. The shelves themselves are very contemporarily styled yet are in a fairly traditional piece of furniture. I love the way the whole look comes together feeling very fresh. I'm not so sure I would love it as much without the touches of black....

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Pair of Chairs

A pair of chairs is a classic design solution. Some of the most beautiful vignettes I have seen and created happen with a pair chairs. Aside from the obvious symmetry of a pair, I like the idea of just two. It seems to inspire conversation and intimacy, especially when the pair (people or chairs) aren't in front of a tv. The next time you're wondering what to do in front of the fireplace or in that empty corner of the room, or even in the entry way....think about a pair of chairs.

In the image at the top, the look is clean and crisp with a contemporary feel. A pair of chairs doesn't always have to be traditional or have a bold print. These are understated and very elegant.

Here are a few more examples of the elegant use of a pair of chairs:

Above: Suzanne Rheinstein makes a comfortable haven in front of the fireplace with these oversize chairs.

Above: Mary McDonald changes it up in this dramatic (and well publicized) entry hall. The bold color is great, and matching the chairs to the wall makes it work. Especially with the also dramatic zebra rug.

Here are a few chairs... food for thought. What would you do?

Pairs of chairs show available on 1st Dibs

Monday, February 23, 2009

OK I'm back now...

Thanks for sticking around while I took a much needed break from blogging. It's hard to do everything well, so I knew I needed that break to focus on clients and a few personal things.

It's a difficult time to blog about design and "things" but honestly, I think we all need a beauty and positivity at a time when it feels like the economy will never change for the better. I like to use times like these to become resourceful and inspired for the projects I will do in the future. And I do preach the idea of creating a plan to my clients, especially during times when we can't do everything we want to do right away. Knowing where you want to go and planning the details of getting there are important in creating a successful design. Keep on reading, looking, shopping, and planning. This too shall pass.

On another note, I'm sad that Domino Magazine is gone. First it was House & Garden several years ago... and those issues were automatically added to my Domino Magazine subscription. I do agree that there are many shelter magazines out there... but I liked Domino because it was chock full of ideas, regardless of the kind of story or the style of decorating.

So I'm back now and I'll bring you the best of what I see out there. Cheers!