Thursday, September 29th, 2011
I love landscape photography. I love urban environments and pastoral settings. So what happens when you bring one into the other and force a dialogue? You get the work of artist Tim Simmons.
Tim developed a series of installations on billboards in Los Angeles and Philadelphia called “The Urban Land Project.” He thoughtfully studied each area and selected scenes that juxtapositioned against that particular urban landscape would force a dialogue. His photos are breathtaking, but the layered message makes them even more powerful.
For more on this project and other installations, visit The Anthropologist.
Photo credit: Image from The Anthropologist
Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
I love the emails I get from Crate & Barrel every few weeks that showcase pieces from their collection to highlight a current trend. Here are a few that have stood out recently.
Chunky weaves are definitely a trend lately. When I look at those chunky knit pillows, rustic wood table and woven rattan vase I am reminded of Maine. Why? Picture hanging out in an old village in Maine on a cool, windy fall day in a Irish fisherman’s sweater surrounded by fishermen’s baskets and old wooden boats and industrial buildings with faded painted exteriors and iron signs with sea spray patinas. Now do you see it?
The bronze tones in the accessories feel just right for the fall, especially with the perforated leaf design. I like how the pillow unites the different tones in the furniture and accessories. These are the inexpensive touches that can update and refresh a room.
Now compare that to this colorful and modern compilation of light fixtures from CB2, Crate & Barrel’s younger and hipper sister company. (I think of it as the company for the younger sister who’s just starting out and needs to furnish her loft apartment in the warehouse district, while Crate & Barrel suits her big sister in her late 20s-early 30s who is more settled down in her condo and wants to spend a bit more on pieces that she’ll hold on to longer. Not that their collections don’t work for people of all ages!) With all those punches of colors can you guess when this was sent out?
If you guessed Spring, you would be right! I got this image in an email this past March and I’ve kept it in my archives and still remembered it all these months later. In the Spring we’re all itching for bright splashes of color to pull us out of the winter grays. Like daffodils and crocuses popping out of the brown lawn, these yellow and red lights would pop in your home against a neutral palette. Or add them as a surprise element in a room has no other red or yellow elements (though you would want to add at least one or two other accessories in that color somewhere in the room to make it work).
Do retail ads and catalogs that pull their color palette from the latest season inspire you to make a purchase?
Friday, September 23rd, 2011
So in the time I’ve been meaning to scan the best images from the latest issue of Elle Decor many things happened, pushing it onto tomorrow’s to do list. Over and over again. Guess what happened? Before I could get through the Septmeber issue, I got October’s issue in the mail. Oops! So I guess this isn’t quite “Hot Off the Press,” but I still wanted to share the great spaces and details I enjoyed from this issue. If the weekend isn’t too bad maybe I’ll actually get the October issues of Elle Decor and House Beautiful up for you too. Maybe.
Once I’d saved all my favorite images I realized what stood out to me in this issue was really the juxtaposition of very different approaches to similar spaces. For instance, here is a conservatory that is so bright and filled with light that I can’t imagine having a gloomy day in here. It’s an expansive space and fairly formal feeling.
Here is a porch that I’m sure is normally flooded with light thanks to those large windows and high ceilings. But the dark shades are a bit of a color surprise and allow the space to become a cozy den like space. The furniture is more casual and curl up ready. The dogs clearly have the run of the space, and the concrete floor is fuss-free.
Here is the dining room from the same house as the conservatory. I love the mix of furniture and those peacocks at the back are spectacular! It took me multiple looks at this photo before I saw the white peacock on the right. The color palette is crisp and vivid. The furniture is not overpowered by the homeowner’s impressive art collection.
In contrast, this dining room in an urban loft has a dark warmth thanks to the giant original beams, large wood table and vintage chairs, and the big bookcase. It has a library meets dining room casualness that feels inviting in a totally different way.
Now I have two offices that look nothing like typical offices to me, but perhaps that’s because they really work at the kitchen table with their laptop most of the time (no idea if that’s really true).
I love the vivid peacock blues of the wall, lamps and chairs that so brilliantly pull the colors from the painting by Kim Douglas Wiggins on the back wall. I love that painting! The crisp white trim, desk and rug help balance all that saturated blue.
Or you could chose to work in a “chamber of curiosities” filled with botanical drawings, 19th century taxidermy songbirds and Pedro Friedeberg’s Hand chair. It’s the complete commitment to a style that I love about each of these rooms. If something is your passion, then embrace it!
The twine faux taxidermy head reminds me of Ballard Designs’ recent collection of rattan bull heads to hang on the wall in a similar fashion.
Finally, I love the ironwork holding up the draped fabric over the bed and windows in this Master Bedroom. Adding the lantern hanging from one of the branches is a brilliant touch of whimsy that reminds me of dark stories set in times of old like the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, where walking through dark forests with only a lantern would be a common occurrence. The faux bois wall treatment subtly references back to the branches.
Or you could have a masculine bedroom filled with lots of rich woods and leather. It’s all about solid sturdy pieces in this room with enough visual weight to balance the visual weight of those beams and pillars. I love the arms on the Frits Henningsen armchairs.
Are you drawn to one room more than the other? I love how many options there are out there for decorating a home to truly reflect your personal style. That’s why I can’t ever design in just one style. I can select what would work in my house and my life, but every client has a different answer to the questions “what do you like?” and “how do you want your home to feel?” Translating that into a home they will love is an honor and privilege.
All photos via Elle Decor
Wednesday, September 14th, 2011
Summer may be nearly over in most of the country, (Minnesota is cruel – I’m actually wearing slippers and the thermostat says 45 degrees!) so it must be time to find that product that would have been great for enjoying the summer sun. Isn’t that always the case?
I don’t really ever sit in the sun on a beach, but if I did, this would be a product I’d enjoy. I love that this is compact (rolls up to the size of a yoga mat), has a convenient carrying case, offers UV protection (which recreating this with a standard piece of fabric wouldn’t offer), and comes in such cute colors and patterns. All that for a decent price considering you could get years of use out of it? I say go for it and you can use it to build a fort in your living room during the winter and play make believe that you’re sitting on a beach reading a magazine. By the time NEXT summer rolls around you’ll be an expert at setting it up. (Just don’t forget where you put it away over the winter.)
Ready to order? Check out their website. It looks like a feature in the NY Times has boosted their business…the Moroccan blue style is on backorder. But you’d still have it in time for your winter getaway to Jamaica.
Photo credit: Image and article via the New York Times
Thursday, September 1st, 2011
I know you are supposed to live in your home for a while to get a sense of how you will actually live and move in it before you start making big changes. But how many of us can resist plotting changes to a new space the minute you find out it’s yours? I think I have it worst than most as an interior designer since I am constantly finding new fabulous products that I’d love to live with myself, not just put into clients’ homes. Of course with the wide diversity of styles I like, if I did some of everything my house would look like a hot mess (I love that expression!)
So I’m working hard at being patient, letting the house speak to me, and keeping my eyes open for products that fit THIS house and OUR life. (I have a hard time writing the word “lifestyle” in print thanks to a high school english teacher who hated that word and was adamant we never use it in front of him.)
Our kitchen was completely remodeled by the previous owners only a year ago, and while they made some real improvements, some of their finish selections drive me bonkers. The rough slate floor varies in height by up to a quarter of an inch tile by tile, creating the effect under your feet my husband equates to walking on rocks in the Boundary Waters. I’m just waiting for that first toddler still finding their balance to try and walk across it…I foresee lots of tears and bruising. Yikes.
Here is a picture of the kitchen the day we moved in.
IKEA cabinets, black granite countertops, stainless appliances – a good foundation. I was pleasantly surprised how much I can store in these cabinets (the 36″ wide drawer units are fabulous!)
Since the kitchen is the heart of the home (geographically and figuratively), I’ve been trying to select new floor and wall tiles since pretty much the day we first visited the house to make it ours.
Now here’s where the waiting pays off. I recently was flipping through a design magazine and spotted an ad for Ann Sacks tiles that caught my eye and totally changed my vision for the backsplash.
Now before this I was looking in a couple of different directions to pull together the colors in the adjacent rooms.
I still love this tile I had in mind for our previous house, and it could work here.
It has some beautiful blues in it as well as browns, grays, whites, etc. The shape is updated from the typical glass squares you see in every big box store.
Then I thought about going with a ceramic with texture like these examples from Pratt & Larson Ceramics.
The shimmer effect of these glazes really sets them apart.
But with the darker cabinets and black granite countertops, these options were feeling too dark. The Ann Sacks ad made me think what I need to embrace it a lighter color palette, maybe even a gold tone to get that sophisticated drama I like in the copper tiles on the left above. Totally not my usual direction, but that’s the fun of it afterall.
So I did a little research and discovered a gorgeous kitchen example on the Ann Sacks website using this tile.
Talk about a picture selling a product! I’m loving it even more now. The light fixtures are a brilliant pairing and the lines of those stools would totally work in my house too. I just wish my cabinets were white too. Oh well.
Another idea is this beautiful arabesque tile, but I don’t think you would get to really appreciate its form in a space only 18″ high. Maybe that’ll be in the master bathroom (later on).
So now I’ll marinate in the idea of that tile and see what I think in a month, two months from now. If I’m still in love I’ll have to start looking for the right floor tile to coordinate with it. Stay tuned.
What would you pick?