Friday, March 16th, 2012
It’s another record setting beautiful weather day in Minnesota, and it’s Friday, so needless to say I’d rather not be sitting in front of a computer. (76 degrees in March? It’s beyond fabulous!) So I’ll keep this short and sweet for everyone’s sake.
I just finished reading “Organizing” from the Best of Martha Stewart Living collection, and I found it really inspirational. So if this warm weather makes you want to fling the windows open, dust off those blinds, and do a little spring cleaning/ organizing, this is a great new resource for you.
This slim reference book covers the key spaces in homes most in need of organization: Entryways, Kitchens, Bedrooms, Closets, Bathrooms, Kids’ Rooms, Home Offices and Utility Rooms.
The kitchen section has great examples from past featured kitchens as well as Martha’s many kitchens. But it also combines some top tips from over the years. I’ve been using the “Spice Jar Reminder” idea for years, and I remember the first time I saw the “Helping Hands” tip. Now that I have large drawers like that in my kitchen and a kiddo on the way, I’ve already started looking at how I can rearrange my kitchen cabinets to accommodate a drawer like this for the kid’s plates, bowls, bottles, etc.
Toy storage is always a challenge (with kids of all ages), so I appreciate all the detailed thought that went into this toy chest. Having “parking spots” for the cars could help interest a kid in actually putting his cars back in the proper place.
There are plenty of other creative and less complicated ideas for kids’ rooms as well.
Finally, I’ll leave you with editor Kevin Sharkey’s utility room/ closet. Compared to the entire building Martha has at one of her properties for cleaning supplies (see this past post), Kevin lives in a NYC apartment where storage is at a premium. He cleverly transformed a coat closet into a very functional and organized laundry room with a place for everything.
Here you can see the right side of that closet (the end of the dryer is in the corner of the top left picture above). I love the grid of cleaning tools hung on the inside of the door. All the different types of hooks and baskets he utilized allow each item to hang properly without having to be wrangled into place. Now don’t we all want that? Who likes to fight a broom back onto a hook after sweeping?
Be sure to pick up a copy now since it is for sale at local bookstores and drugstores (most places you buy magazines) until April 30th, or they run out. At only $9.95 it’s a steal.
Now go out and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. And maybe organize a drawer or shelf while you’re at it.
Friday, April 22nd, 2011
Picking paint colors has got to be one of the most challenging design decisions most people face. Even though a gallon of paint ranges from $20 to $75 for the premium collections, it seems harder for people to take a chance with paint than with a piece of furniture that costs many times more.
So how can you get more confident in your paint selections? Listening to advice from professionals who deal with this on a daily basis is always a great place to start. So how do you access advice from these professionals? Start with a great resource like “House Beautiful 500+ Favorite Paint Colors” or “House Beautiful Colors for Your Home: 300 Designer Favorites.”
Culled from the pages of House Beautiful magazine, these reference books complie the best paint color recommendations from interior designers. Rather than just show you the best browns or blues, each designer explains the color and what undertones there are in it or how it makes a room feel. There are also selections based on type of room (bedroom vs. entrance) and sun exposure (north facing vs. south facing). These are the kinds of details that help you understand how color influences the feeling of a space and therefore why certain colors work best.
As you can see from the table of contents above, they have pulled together a lot of color information to get the wheels turning in your head. Not sure what your color personality is? Then take the quiz! Prefer neutrals? They have it covered.
I love how they even feature an example of one of the colors as used in a real space by a designer. Since the color chips they show are not always true to the paint chips you will find on the paint deck when you look at them in person, it is helpful to see the colors in use.
I think of these colors as a great starting place and then I work with the paint decks from the different manufacturers to find similar colors (if the color rendering in the magazine is too different from the paint chip). I believe in ordering larger sheets of paint chips (Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore provide samples to designers of all their colors, up to 8″x10″ in size) and taping them up on the wall for days at a time so I can see how the colors I’m debating between will look at different times of day in different lighting conditions. Trust me, this makes a big difference! That hint of pink undertone in that creamy ivory at night might turn ballerina pink in the daylight.
Small sample pots of paint are a wonderful evolution in the paint industry that I believe help take some of the panic out of paint color selections. Paint swatches (2′ by 3′ is a good size) of each color on the wall and see what they look like throughout the day and night.
And when you finally commit to a paint color, don’t skimp out on the painters tape, roller, or paint base. Use quality materials and it will result in a quality finished product. After you’ve invested all this time and energy in picking a paint color and then painting (or hiring someone else to paint) it would be a shame to have a less than fabulous finished product!
I just bought a new house so you know I’m going crazy picking paint colors and plotting new color schemes and floor plans. Embrace the fun of it, the ability to transform the feeling of a room in a weekend, and to have a fresh new space for very little cash. I hope this has taken some of the fear out of painting for you. Need additional tips? Just ask!
Tags: 500 Favorite Paint Colors, Benjamin Moore, House Beautiful, interior design, painting, Sherwin Williams, tips, twin cities
Posted in Color Pulse, Design & Home Living Tips, Reading List | No Comments »
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, June 24th, 2010
Meeting the designers I’ve been following for years is such a kick! A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to have design talent Thomas O’Brien come to town to talk about his latest book, “American Modern.”
You might recognize his name from Target, since he’s been designing bedding, towels, and home accessories for them for a few years now. Clean and modern with a traditional foundation and a muted, masculine palette is how I’d describe his collections. He was also just selected as one of Elle Decor magazine’s A-List Top 25 Interior Designers.
I actually started tracking his career many moons ago when I was a bright eyed college freshman finally getting to explore the Manhattan I’d been reading about in design magazines for years. My aunt, who worked in the city, showed me around SoHo, and we discovered Aero Studios, Thomas O’Brien’s shop and design studio. I was a goner. Back then SoHo wasn’t filled with boutiques by all the major fashion labels. It still had plenty of art galleries and little shops with quirky personalities. I think you have to go way out in Brooklyn now to recapture that vibe. Anyway, I was drooling over his mix of decorative objects on display and dreaming of the day when I could afford his stuff. Fast forward to the present and I’m still a fan of his curatorial eye.
With a chance to have Thomas autograph my copy of his latest book, I handed over my money and jumped right in line! And it’s a book I think you should consider adding to your bookshelf too. Having Thomas walk through each of the projects in the book and give the back story was fun and informative. I was especially impressed by his explanation of how his company bills for projects, as in our industry it seems to be an art form in its own right. So here are some images from each section of the book to show the range of styles he works in under the new framework of “American Modern.”
It’s arranged in sections, with each section focusing on a different house that exemplifies a different type of his version of Modern design.
Classic finishes, but the tall metal leg caps on the vanity are thoroughly modern and unexpected.
This is how his loft like space in Manhattan used to look. Spare but lots of interesting pieces mixed in a quiet palette.
I’ve had pictures of this NYC home in my inspiration images since it was first published in a magazine a few years back. I love the mix of classic midcentury pieces, soft inviting upholstered pieces, and the vertical stonework on the fireplace.
A classic American home transforms into a light, inviting modern vacation home in Thomas O’Brien’s hands. Those long tables are fabulous! The leg detail? Perfect.
How luxurious but inviting is that rug in the dining room?! The subtle color variation and texture makes me want to wander this home barefoot. And the vintage bench with a glass top desk is a juxtaposition against the dark wood of the dining room furniture.
I don’t typically like things too posh, but the finishes in this butler’s pantry are so luxe but with clean lines to keep it modern that I’m a fan. What a lovely space to sneak into during a party, check your make up in the mirrored backsplash, and perhaps sneak in a bit of snogging. (Naughty!)
This is what the Thomas O’Brien’s city house looks like now. Same space as Urban Modern, but he’s now embraced a layered, less restrained style of living. Surround yourself with all those favorite pictures on a giant pin up board. They aren’t just for the office. Group your collections into little vignettes to please your eye everytime you walk by. Homes are for living, so fill them with the things you love and let the rest go.
Which style best fits your personality? Or do you like aspects of more than one type of O’Brien modern?
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
Celerie Kemble is an rising star in the interior design community. Based in NYC but raised in Palm Beach, her mother is an interior designer as well, so she was exposed to great design from an early age. I had the chance to meet her a few years back at an event promoting a line of textiles she designed, and I even got a photo with her! Unfortunately, the person who took the photo gave the camera to her techie, who deleted my picture with Celerie (sadness!) But I’m sure I’ll get the chance to fix that in the future.
I finally got around to reading Celerie’s book “To Your Taste: Creating Modern Rooms with a Traditional Twist,” and while our styles can be very different at times, I love both her bold use of color and her restrained application of color and pattern. The book explores her own personal design evolution, and then covers how you can create your own personal style. It’s worth checking out from the library and seeing what inspires you.
Here are a few of my favorite images from the book.
Last week I wrote about using bold greens, and here is a great example of incorporating a bold green and bold patterns, but tempering them with restful expanses of white. It’s fun and playful, but still retains a polished hint of traditional.
Don’t you just love these palettes? I love the use of orange in different color palettes, either as a dominant element or a supporting player. It’s always fun to see the paint, fabric, wallcovering, and trim details pulled together to tell the story.
Lest you think all she can do is bold, check out the lighter palette of this breakfast nook. Spring yellows, greens and white are layered with textures. The chandelier, the bamboo style chairs, tweedy fabrics on the banquette, ruffle edged plates on the wall, and wainscotting on the wall and ceiling add layers of interest that the eye only observes slowly.
Can I just say I love the mix in this small dining room? The morse code like dots pattern on the banquette and drapes is fabulous! The tree like base on the table is textural but subtle in black. The metalic finish on the slim chairs is unexpected, but works. And the faux snakeskin fabric on the chairs is one of my favorites from her line of fabrics. I can’t wait to have dining room chairs that I can reupholster in something similar. They look so fancy, but wipe clean with a wet cloth. Excellent!
So can you relate to any of these rooms? Do you like the mix of traditional and modern elements? How do YOU define your personal style? I’d love to hear your definitions!