Monday, December 21st, 2009
Greening a party can be done through many small choices. Start by decorating with plants, which have a longer lifecycle than cut flowers. Succulents come in many interesting textures and colors, and they can be grouped in a large shallow planter to make a unique and interesting centerpiece or in a series of small pots scattered around the party area. These can be enjoyed throughout the rest of the year, and even be reused at the next party. If the event requires disposable plates, consider purchasing Bambu All Occasion Veneerware from Sur La Table. These plates and silverware are made from 100% organically grown bamboo peeled directly from the bamboo stalk. They are FDA approved, and biodegrade in 4 to 6 months after disposal.
It is easy to get a fresh look for your home utilizing quick change solutions. Slipcovers are a great way to change the color palette and style of furnishings whenever you choose without replacing entire pieces. Retailers such as Pottery Barn have slipcovers available in standard sizes that can work for certain sofa styles. For a wider variety of fabric, trim, and style options, an interior designer can work with you to design custom slipcovers that fit your furnishings and taste exactly. They can even suggest many new green fabrics that are available in a variety of styles.
Integrating vintage and new-to-you furniture and accessories into your décor adds variety and whismy, without generating new environmental damage as the result of manufacturing and shipping the product. Plus, when you shop vintage you have access to a wide variety of pieces that no one else will have in their home and isn’t available from a catalog. For a European aesthetic, visit Euronest in Minneapolis, or for a midcentury vibe, check out Swank Retro in St. Paul and Spinario in Minneapolis.
When you are refreshing your style, don’t forget your walls! Paint is a quick and easy transformation for any space, and with the wide variety of green paint options on the market, this is the perfect time to update your palette. Hirshfields offers multiple low VOC paints in every color of the rainbow, that perform even better than the original formulas do. VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds – gases that vaporize, which you typically experience as the odor when you paint. I personally love Benjamin Moore’s Aura line of paints and use them in my own home because they are low-VOC and low odor, typically require only one coat of paint, fully washable in any sheen, and the ColorLock technology gives superior resistence to color ruboff. Try in for your next project and experience the difference.
Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
Every time I start a new project I have to find that magical “Inspiration.” So where does it come from? How do you find it for your own projects? For me inspiration can come from the color palette and mix of textures of a necklace, or simply a unique color combination in an advertisement. Primarily I am inspired by seeing other people’s homes and how they create their own personalized mix of colors, possessions, textures, and layouts. In order to get a steady stream of this inspiration I subscribe to design magazines that feature a variety of styles, and I read a wide variety of blogs online that feature everything from product design, home accessories, and fashion, to the homes of creative people who didn’t work with a designer. I’ve been tearing inspiring images out of design magazines since I was a kid, and the files keep growing and growing. Now I also save copies of inspiring images from websites electronically and organize them for easy reference. So now when I start a new project, I usually have an idea of the client’s general style, but I need to flesh out how their style will be carried through into all the details, and that’s where the inspiration images come into play.
So, let’s imagine a client who is interested in updating a guest bedroom and wants it to be neutral but with some pops of color to make it interesting but easy to update. I found this image, where the warmth of this den is created by using grass cloth on the walls and a rich palette of deep tones. But the neutral color palette is set on edge by the use of bright orange accents in the armchair and the two coffee tables.
Then, to show that a lighter color palette could work as well, the following image shows how pale yellow accents can add interest in small doses in easily updated pieces like throw pillows and an ottoman.
By pulling these images together with others you can begin to see the elements in common that highlight the direction for the design. From there, I can see what mix of materials, textures and colors I want to use, and it becomes a matter of finding the right mix of pieces to create a harmonious balance in each room.
Working from these inspiration images, I developed this example of how the guest bedroom could be designed to coordinate with the dark wood tones and clean lined transitional furniture and color palette of adjacent rooms that had already been updated (Concept 1a). Or the room could be taken in a slightly more modern direction with a more Danish influence with a bold accent color that still ties in to the color palette in the guest bathroom (Concept 2).
So for your own projects, start pulling images that you love, even if you are not sure what exactly you love about them, and start a folder. As a designer, it is really helpful and more efficient when clients have started the process of thinking about what their style is, and what they do and don’t like. Even if you feel like the images you’ve pulled together seem like a mismatch, I usually can see the unifying threads that weave them together and reflect your taste and preferences. So get that pile of magazines and scissors out and get inspired! Or just call me, and I’ll figure it out for you.
Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
I was attracted to the shades of grey and warm textures and natural elements accented by the pop of the brightly colored bowl in the photo in the middle, and the grey tones in the photograph of a fern. Inspired by these, I pulled together examples of rooms that have a warm grey palette with accents of antique red in them. Notice that some have dark walls and light floors, while others have the reverse. Either way, these are warm, sophisticated and cozy rooms I would enjoy living in. What do you think of them? Too dark? Not enough color for you?
For similar colors try:
Benjamin Moore AF-560 Flint, Sherwin Williams SW 7065 Argos, Sherwin Williams SW 7072 Online, Sherwin Williams SW 7587 Antique Red
* Photo Sources: Center image: Little Birds, Lower Left: Elle Décor, Upper Left: Metropolitan Home, others: source unknown.