February 7, 2014
Lots of things inspire me. Inspiration can come from anywhere, a stone wall, a piece of clothing, an old scrap of wood; and it can be applied in a textural, structural, spacial, or even in a literal way. What I find most inspirational is art and nature. The wharf image above is inspiring to me because not only do I dearly love the place, I love the image, and I love the colors. I love the warmth of the pattern on the sand, the strength of the pier silhouetted in black. And, because I have stayed many nights in those fishing shacks on that pier spending countless hours with some of my dearest friends, it means something to me. It doesn’t get more powerful than that.
To execute design based on an inspirational object or image I think it best to identify a color palette first and foremost. This doesn’t have to be completely literal, you can take only the colors you find most pleasing; you can change the amount of each color within the palette to suit your taste or the space in question and obviously you can add to a palette.
I think the photo above with its rich browns, blacks and creamy warm walls captures the colors of the pier quite well. Overall the value of light colors and dark colors is pretty spot on. Not only the palette of the wharf is captured but a bit of the mood too. Strength, a bit of chaos, masculine, with a worn and weathered vibe glazed over the whole thing. This room is wharf like to me, I think it’s a good comparison.
Here’s the same palette, stripped back to something much more sleek a more livable version of the messy working space above. This room gives a vintage undercurrent, it’s strong and masculine and has the boldness and the simplicity of the wharf image. it is the photograph refined down the essential oils of the colors, materials and strong masculine mood. Vintage, warm, woodsy, everything is just sharpened, clearer. To me the collection on the sideboard gives me a bit of the chaos of the wharf supports, the polished concrete is a great stand-in for the sand.
What inspires you? Have a favorite scarf? Use it. In love with the rolling hills of the Pennsylvania landscape in spring? Use it. Pick your colors based on what your comfortable with, go with your gut, but what you love. Oh, and don’t be afraid of not making a statement, sometimes a whisper is more of statement and more powerful.
February 4, 2014
I was a part of the trend setting an I didn’t even know it. I was just obsessed with Waterlogue like everyone else. Little did I know this app would become so massively popular. Waterlogue is a downloadable application you can use on a phone or tablet that transforms any photograph into a beautiful, painterly image. Designers, and other interior obsessed Instagramers, bloggers and the like are all obsessed with the pretty watercolor like images the app produces. Just look at how pretty…
Once I started I couldn’t stop. I have Waterlogued my pets, my home, landscapes, images from vacations past, my garden… everything. And, there’s no sign of me stopping. If you’re creative, or an artist that can’t paint, or if you just love pretty paintings, you’ll love Waterlogue.
February 3, 2014
Trophys of culinary design, stainless steel appliances still reign supreme, but the trend in kitchens seems to walk a fine line between hiding appliances behind cabinetry and celebrating them. These days I lean toward minimizing them without hiding them. I do like a refrigerator behind paneled doors but choose to leave my range, dishwasher and hoods exposed… a dishwasher can sometimes be hard to find when hidden too well and when did we all get so busy hiding everything that is so essential in a kitchen anyway? It’s a kitchen! I do think about sight-lines from doorways, banquette and other rooms and try to place attractive cabinets in highly visible areas vs. a trash compactor or dishwasher. But, come on… we all have kitchens, we all need appliances… do kitchens really have to look like dens?
What I do covet and hope to use on a small project coming up shortly are stainless countertops. I am over marble and granite. I want to do something that feels less fancy, less expected and frankly more industrial and user-friendly. I will combine butcher block and stainless in my next kitchen renovation. White cabinets and walls and maybe even floors, but no granite for this guy. I would rather have an integrated sink and back-splash all made from stainless steel.
I am still a fan of restaurant style tables and fixtures… for me a kitchen is a kitchen. It doesn’t need faux painting, it doesn’t need carved grape leaf corbels and mahogany hood covers. Gosford Park, Downton Abbey, The Breakers… these great old houses and many, many others got it right. Their kitchens are utility driven, simple, clean and efficient. It’s not as thought there isn’t still a “look”. The images I’ve posted show a kitchen can still chic without trying to fool people into thinking they aren’t in a kitchen.
White and stainless is nothing new, it has become a classic that can be used in unlimited ways to suit space, style, budget and project. it feels effortless, easy and unfussed. I love a clean simple space – with some exuberance injected, I’m still a designer after all – that allows the function of the space drive the aesthetic. what do you think?
January 28, 2014
I’m not a fan of wall decor… Things fabricated simply to absorb wall space feel forced, uninspired and frankly cheap. We’re not talking about art or sculpture, I’m talking about “filler”. If I have a large wall to fill, brackets or wall-mounted display shelves are a favorite of mine. If they are flanking a mirror, even better. Who doesn’t love what a mirror does for a space. It can reflect a pretty view and increase the natural light in any given space. Mirrors add depth, and a bit of shimmer and plentiful enough so that they can be tailored to any decor. Mirrors are a decorators very best friend.
I like to choose mirror frame finishes that don’t compete or mimic any art frames in the spaces I design. Natural materials like drift wood, horn and shell are favorites. This way a gold or black frame “story” is highlighted and the decorative frames come forward via texture or they ease into the into the layers of the room. Don’t get too matchy-matchy or your look could end up flat and uninspired. Lesson: We want to see the art in a room first, decor second. Other materials like resin, paper mache and metal also make good choices when it comes to choosing the right look for a mirror.
Scale is also a huge component when it comes to getting it right in the mirror department. A few good and general rules of thumb are to keep a mirror narrower than the piece is being hung over but don’t be afraid of going big! A tall narrow mirror will add the height to a room and adding to the vertically of a space is never a bad idea. A wide short mirror will stretch the width of a space, creating a low horizontal effect best suited for Craftsman, Modern, Deco and other styles that embrace a horizontal aesthetic. Can’t find the perfect mirror? Go to your local frame shop and have one made to your specifications. Now go out and buy yourself a mirror. xo
January 27, 2014
Unfortunately those words don’t describe the same object a large percentage of the time. Often when searching for well made furniture and accessories, “buy the best, cry once” is closer to home as is “you get what you pay for”. Now I’m not saying good design has to be expensive, but when it comes to home furnishings, things that last, heirloom pieces you plan to have forever will cost more… it’s just a fact. Deals can be found, gifts can be received, that Picasso from the thrift store could happen, really. Until then there are pieces that once integrated into a melange of furnishings read lux when intact they are CHEAP & CHIC.
Take this Honeycomb Gold Foil table lamp base for instance. Sold out of most Target stores, it’s still available on-line… It’s $55.00, that’s cheap. I’d pair it with a linen sofa, white side tables and splash around a few additional accents of gold. Voila! You have a subtly 70’s glam vibe, that could be taken hippie chic or hollywood regency depending on the silhouette ‘s of your furniture and the colors/textures of your fabric choices. And, this for $72.00 isn’t too bad either… I’d have preferred less of the patina.
January 26, 2014
Go get yourself some of these, pronto. Don’t need em? Hoard em I say. There will come a day when you find a dresser, or remodel a kitchen or buy a cheap pair of night stands that need a touch of glamour… well here it is.
This is the Antler Melody Knob from Anthropologie, isn’t it a knockout? it’s $14 bucks. Yeah $14.00, one four… I’ve paid more for a glass of wine. Heck that’s about the price of a latte these days isn’t it? It’s rustic modern, it’s cheap and chic, it’s vintage but fresh, it’s clean but interesting and it comes in every color you would need and none you don’t need.
You know you want some: Anthropologie
January 25, 2014
I thought I’d make my point by posting this the day after I suggested brass if you’re thinking about going grey…
The timelessness of a white kitchen is not lost on me, it’s something that will NEVER feels dated, or a relic of a time-capsule from days (or years ) gone by. Brass on the other hand has had its heyday and has been out of favor for some time.. but “it’s back”! The younger set who didn’t live through the last go around have discovered the warmth and beauty of brass and other warm finish metals are showing up everywhere. Show here with White and Grey, the brass is the perfect complement to the cool crisp aesthetic these kitchens possess. And, yeah… sure, brass could fall out of fashion again too, but remember it’s a lot easier and cheaper to change than countertops, cabinets and other major kitchen items.
Fearful of taking the plunge but love the look? Add some accessories to your countertops or swap out a light fixture to update your kitchens look. Mixed metals is OK, trust me. Gone are the days of matching dining room sets, and matching metals… you just have to do it in a way that feels thought out, designed.
I’ll be honest it took me a while to get on this train. I have disliked brass for many, many years… but to be honest now that the market is so oversaturated with nickel, pewter, stainless and chrome a dash of brass really feels special.