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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

Cheap & Chic

January 27, 2014


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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.

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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.

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RUN DON’T WALK

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.

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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.

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You know you want some: Anthropologie 

A Dash of Brass

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…

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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.

acc2e44594088a0d4f185be7004d5271 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.
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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.

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Screen shot 2013-10-24 at 10.22.36 AM As many of you know I am the self professed King of Beige.  I am always comfortable with warm neutrals, morning, noon and night; Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall; living room, family room, bedroom, hall.  Greys and taupes are gaining momentum and popularity but I am still drawn to beige first.  When I think of deviating I’m motivated to go light.  Lightening my “go to” colors in lieu of embracing the cooler neutral palette feels fresher and less trendy frankly.  Don’t get me wrong, I love designing with the greys they just aren’t for me, not completely anyway.  Look at how well grey plays with cream on the sofa above, now that I like.  The light color adds life to the grey… I might be on to something.

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Here is a small collection of greys and taupes mixed with white.  I will admit to liking the combination.  I’d also like to mention that gold frames, brass fixtures and other dashes of warmth would really go a long way to add a counter point to all of these rooms, as the first picture shows.  LESON: Go grey, but add creams or whites and warm up your metals. Now go paint something grey.

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HERMITS (you’re welcome)

January 23, 2014

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HERMITS: My new favorite cookie… soon to be yours.  I might reduce the clove if you’re using freshly ground and I upped the recipe from 20 to 22 minutes in the oven to 22 to 24 because mine were a tad underdone at 21 minutes, so stick to the 22 to 24 minute suggestion.  This is the perfect winter cookie.

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Ingredients

 

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour      
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda      
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger      
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon      
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cloves      
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt      
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature      
  • 1 cup loosely packed light-brown sugar      
  • 1 large egg, room temperature      
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses      
  • 3/4 cup raisins

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DIRECTIONS

  1. STEP 1

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Note: you won’t need the oven for 45 minutes – this step can happen after your dough goes into the fridge.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; set aside.

  2. STEP 2

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl once. Add molasses; beat until combined, and scrape down sides of bowl. Add the flour mixture and raisins; beat on low until dough just comes together, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap; place in refrigerator to chill 30 minutes.

  3. STEP 3

    Remove dough from refrigerator, and turn out onto a clean work surface. Divide into 2 equal pieces, and shape each piece into a 12-inch log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on prepared baking sheet, at least 3 inches apart.

  4. STEP 4

    Place in oven, and bake until logs are golden but still very soft to the touch, 22 to 24 minutes. The logs will flatten out and lengthen as they bake and get slightly puffy in the center. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice logs into 1-inch-wide bars. Hermit bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.photo 1

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