Thursday, July 29th, 2010
I found myself craving Oreo cookies the other day, which is unusual for me. It’s not my usual cookie of choice, but cravings must be satisfied or they take on a life of their own. While enjoying a couple of DoubleStuf Oreos and appreciating their simplicity, it struck me that they were a great inspiration for the quintessential color palette combination: black and white.
So here are some of my favorite black and white rooms. I tried to find spaces that only used those two colors. It’s interesting to see how often people choose these colors for their kitchens and bathrooms and how well these colors work in both traditional and contemporary rooms.
This palette works well in any room of the house, even outdoors.
Alexander Wang, a successful product designer/artist, who tragically lost his life earlier this year (in what some believe was the result of his sleep disorder), created playful spaces with a unique mix of textures and forms in his loft in NYC (upper right picture). I love the black trim around the windows in the upper right photo. It’s a trend that’s been emerging over the past couple of years and it can really change the feel of a space.
The white on black paneling on the lower right photo adds a great graphic element. Most people would be terrified to have black walls, so they have guts.
The desk at right is another Alexander Wang piece. What an office that would make! All the other rooms have dark walls, but all of the white trim, artwork, magazines and other design elements create balance to temper the darkness. The dining room at the bottom has classic bones and proportions, but mixing in the contemporary chairs and art hanging over the table keeps it young and fresh.
This final group showcases the power of wallpaper. The graphic nature of these wallcoverings adds instant personality to each room. The background in the dining room in the middle of the top row is actually a wall of patterned curtains with a valance above, but it creates the same type of effect with such a solid wall of pattern. Powder rooms is a great place to experiment with bold colors and patterns since we spend so little time in them and they are small enough that no pattern will seem to go on and on. My favorite room is the dining room with the wall covering of a forest in black and white. I love the juxtaposition of it with the traditional moldings and chair rail and the completely funky dripping chandelier off a natural branch style form. And the table settings in black are so minimal and modern. Brilliant mix.
I love color. But the restraint of a limited color palette can push you in new directions that can be a fun challenge. Remember to include a variety of textures and shiny and matte surfaces. The eye needs visual variety, and if it’s not through color, make sure it gets it through textures and different tones.
Could you live with even ONE black and white room? Which room would it be?
Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
Have you ever tried to find a light fixture and felt overwhelmed by all of the options out there? Well imagine having access to every lighting catalog out there, and then try not to hyperventilate.
That’s why it is so important to have a great lighting team to work with that knows every catalog they have and where they are most likely to find that fixture you have in your mind but aren’t sure really exists. My favorite local resources (in alphabetical order) are CitiLights Lighting (across from the Basilica in downtown Minneapolis), Filament Lighting (on Excelsior Blvd in St. Louis Park), and Lappin Lighting (in the warehouse district of downtown Minneapolis). They all have great staff that know their products and are fun to work with.
But sometimes you see a light fixture in a magazine and you just know it’s the one. You start daydreaming about how it would totally transform that boring front hall. Often lighting ends up being the last thing we select on a project so that it fits well with all the other players in the room. But sometimes a fixture is so special you just have to go for it and build the room around it.
When I saw these gorgeous photos in Elle Decor recently I had one of those daydream moments. The photography shows off these fixtures so beautifully and it’s rare that you get to see how they cast light in a pure setting like this. But which one to pick? I’m a kid in a donut shop who can’t just pick JUST ONE thing (candy is nice and all, but there are so many yummy types of donuts, scones and croissants!)
Drool. I love how it pops against that dark background! The modern asymmetrical shape could work as an unexpected touch to make a traditional room feel fresh.
Not usually my style, but it’s a fun spin on a chandelier with a more casual vibe.
Hello gorgeous! I love the Moroccan vibe of the top light. And is it just me, or does the bottom light remind you of a donut (in a really good way)?
Clean, simple and chic. Thomas O’Brien gets it right again (the clip on desk lamp at the start of this post is another of his designs).
Aren’t the patterns on the wall and floor amazing? Think how magical these shadows would look in a dining room or bedroom at night.
Sources: All photos from Elle Decor September 2009.
Lighting Sources: Visual Comfort, Matter, Currey & Co., Niche Modern, Visual Comfort, Oly, IKEA, and Moooi.
Tags: Citilights Lighting, Currey & Co., Elle Decor, Filament Lighting, IKEA, Lappin Lighting, lighting, Matter, Moooi., Niche Modern, Oly, Visual Comfort
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Thursday, July 8th, 2010
So this weekend I was re-reading a favorite book for bookgroup, “Cooking for Mr. Latte” by Amanda Hesser. Amanda was a food writer for the NY Times for years, and the book chronicles her adventures in cooking, eating and relationships. Thank goodness she includes many of the recipes she describes at the end of each chapter or I would be a very hungry and frustrated reader!
What I love about this book is that all the recipes have a story behind them, which I think is true of some of the best recipes. Like the lemon bars my family makes that come from a cookbook my brother’s middle school put together of each kid’s favorite recipe. Fred Natkins will forever live on in our lives for his contribution of his mom’s lemon bar recipe. We never refer to them as simply Lemon Bars. Oh no, they are Fred Natkin’s Lemon Bars. I’m sure you all have similar stories about favorite dishes. And you remember who you served them to and how they fed the soul and stomach (if done right).
So what does that have to do with design? Well, it got me thinking about shared experiences, travel, and the objects we pick up along the way. When I travel I prefer to buy an interesting object for my home that I can look at and remember the trip. I’m not talking about “insert destination here” sweatshirts, spoons, shot glasses or fridge magnets. Though if that’s your thing, enjoy!
No I’m talking about that wall hanging I found in the little shop in the Gion district of Kyoto that has a giesha and a temple on it. And after I bought it we passed two maiko, apprentice gieshas, on the street.
Seeing the object pulls you right back into a moment, a story, a feeling. Or the 1890s German scientific print of different types of mushrooms I found in a vintage shop in Austin, Texas, that fits in perfectly on the wall of mushroom photos in my living room.
The mushroom photos always elicit lots of questions from visitors. It gives us the chance to tell them about our love of hiking and mushroom hunting, where I was inspired by the variety of mushrooms and colors and textures in the woods. Then we can show them our bags of dehydrated mushrooms as proof that I’m not just making this up.
The layout with different size and shape frames in an asymmetrical arrangement is more dynamic and allows us to add to the collection easily over the years. In fact, we’ll probably change out the mushroom photos for pictures from our trip to Japan next. That will provide new stories to tell, and different memories to enjoy. And when we tire of those photos, we will have other photos from other adventures with which we can replace them.
I think using objects and photos from your travels and adventures (even if they are local) is one of the best ways to ensure that your home is a reflection of you and your life. Grandma’s hope chest or the lamp from your childhood bedroom can also serve as mementos (not to be confused with Mentos, the freshmaker).
What objects do you have that have special meaning and history behind them? Where did you find them or who passed them down to you? Do they have pride of place in your home or are they mixed in and require exploration to notice?
Thursday, July 1st, 2010
Getting in the spirit of the 4th of July can take many forms.
You could decorate a bedroom in a patriotic color palette, complete with the American Flag.
You could give yourself a camp flashback and grab some colorful arrows, and do a little target practice with your bow and arrow. (Don’t forget the arm guard. I always scrapped up my arm in archery class… I probably wasn’t the most gifted archer.)
You could go to the local zoo, petting zoo, or farm and commune with the animals. Imagine what it was like back in the days of our Founding Fathers.
Or maybe you just want to turn an oversized image of an animal into a new work of art.
In Minnesota, going up to the cabin is a popular weekend escape in the summer. If you don’t have one of your own, maybe friends will invite you to join them. Sweeten the deal with some good homemade (or store bought if that’s all you can manage) treats. S’more bars (made with Golden Grahams) would be rather appropriate fare.
But if the city is your final destination, perhaps a relaxing evening around a fire pit in the backyard with good friends is all it takes to appreciate how blessed we have been this year. I’m certainly grateful for my independence, and I hope next year to have even more good times to remember and celebrate.
Happy 4th of July everyone!
1. Unknown – possibly Cottage Living 2. Valerie Shaff 3. Francisco Costa designed bedroom in NY Times 4. Sweetshorn Etsy shop 5. SALA Architects 6. Unknown