Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Guess what arrived this week for our viewing pleasure? The new House Beautiful, and it’s their “The Ultimate Entertaining Issue.” I love to entertain and I think it’s fascinating how different people are comfortable throwing different types of parties. For instance, I enjoy a casual cocktail party with an open bar, a long counter covered with unfussy eats that will hold up at room temperature for hours. I’ve tried making fancy hors d’oeuvres or cooking up fresh pot stickers, but when people are milling around for hours time-sensitive food just doesn’t make sense. But if you have a cocktail party with a two hour window, go all out! In contrast, a dinner party for 10 requires a different plan, set up and thoughtful details like the seating arrangement (so the most talkative are across the middle of the table from each other so that everyone will feel involved in the conversation. Or put a quiet and talkative together, as long as they have plenty in common to carry them through the evening.)
Even if your are serving take-out on your best china, you will be spending time in the kitchen before the party begins. A beautiful kitchen makes the party prep more enjoyable. This kitchen has a great mix of rustic and refined elements. The old wood on the walls is all reclaimed as this house is actually brand new. The designer did a great job creating a space that feels like a really nice farm kitchen. The industrial scale faucet is an unexpected touch in this style kitchen, which is all the more reason to do it. And the butcher block counter under the window would make chopping up piles of vegetables so inviting. (But I find chopping up vegetables relaxing anyway, so maybe that’s just me.)
Creating a good impression when entertaining starts with the entry. This is a lovely, warm and inviting example. A nice place to sit down to take off your shoes. (I make my guests take off their shoes in the Japanese tradition. No high heel marks in the wood floors and no dirt tracked in.) The plant softens the space. I like that the rug doesn’t match the pattern on the sofa. It shows they aren’t afraid to be playful.
When entertaining, the front hall closet suddenly takes on importance because you need to fit your guests coats in it in addition to all the usual random items that are stuffed in there. These are a few good examples that highlight both good organization and use of color. I think wallpapering the bi-fold doors to blend in with the walls (bottom right photo) is a great idea for those less than fabulous doors.
Once your guests start arriving you might show them into your living room for some hors d’oeuvres. We don’t want them to get too comfortable and settled, so this living room strikes a nice balance. The beautiful vintage PK Sofa and Finn Juhl armchairs are approachable, so your guests won’t be afraid to take a seat and get conversations started, but they won’t be sinking in and getting lost in giant cushions either.
You might consider returning here after dinner to enjoy a nice fire in the real fireplace. The fireplace surround has such a clean minimal design that complements the furnishings.
An inviting dining area is important if you are hosting a sit-down dinner. This room emphasizes the fact that you don’t need a fancy space. The mix of chairs, worn wood, an old rug and lots of natural light makes me want to sit here for hours catching up with old friends. A couple of bottles of wine, a hearty bowl of soup, a rustic loaf of bread and some good cheeses are all you need for a dinner party.
After dinner you can retire to the library for a relaxing chat with your dearest. I love the mix of mid-century classics (the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen and the ubiquitous cowhide rug) and a sleek fireplace facade. The wraparound floating wood shelves update the library concept in a fresh way.
You’ve survived hosting a lovely party for your friends, so now it’s time to take care of yourself. Sink into a tub of lusciously scented warm water (bubbles optional). Enjoy a few more sips of wine (you don’t want the end of the last bottle to go to waste) with a truffle you kept hidden for your reward.
Now go curl up in that big bed and look forward to waking up tomorrow morning to a fresh new day in this soft and peaceful bedroom. (How fun is that sparkly stool next to the chair?! A great bench at the foot of the bed offers storage along with a place to throw your robe, extra blankets and throw pillows. I love that the bedside table has room for all the bedside necessities, with both open and closed storage options.)
Now you better start planning your next party so you can go through it all again.
Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
Despite the 70 degree weather we’re experiencing in Minnesota, the trees still know it is fall. Everywhere I look I see the most beautiful mixes of golden yellow, orange, sumac red, green and brown. I couldn’t help but be inspired to create some room palettes to help inspire you as well.
How fun is the orange on the back wall of the white bookshelf?! What’s great, is that could be changed up easily over the years to a new accent color or fabulous wallpaper since the rest of the room is in easy to coordinate with neutrals. Love everything about this room.
And the bold kitchen with the gorgeous wood lining the walls as well as the floor? A raw stone fireplace surround and sleek red cabinets and stainless steel provide a great balance of color and texture while making their own strong statements. And the fluffy chandeliers add great whimsy (and texture).
Again, pops of orange on a neutral but texture filled living room. Do you see how this works? The eclectic mix of furnishings work together because nothing is too fussy. This entry in a more traditional home features beautiful woodwork, which allows that elegant red table skirt with framed detailing really pop. The chocolate brown zebra print stair runner hints at the homeowners playful personality. Using a solid runner for the entry floor prevents that print from overwhelming the space.
Vintage riflery targets as bathroom wallpaper? Brilliant! The shotgun casings encased in a resin toilet seat cover certainly carries out the theme, but seems a bit much for most situations. I like the pops of color in the accessories on this bookshelf as bar cart.
The bold mix of red-orange and lime green in this library conveys the homeowner’s fearless personality. With such high ceilings and plenty of white to balance the bold colors, the room still feels balanced. Have I used this photo of a vintage red leather chair in front of a glass case before? Probably, since I love the tone of that leather and the simple form of the chair. It seemed a good match for this palette, so forgive me.
I think this really represents those golden yellow and orange tones that so many trees take on at this time of year. A harvest palette, if you will. I can picture that yellow pom-pom fringe on the bottom of a lampshade, along the side of curtains, or the bottom of a roman shade. Pom-poms are not just for the back of your socks (remember being 10 years old and wearing ankle socks with pom-poms on the back? I do!) I just flashed back to some pillows I made for a client years ago in a golden yellow cut velvet with braided trim and a ribbon detail that was similar to the materials in the top left photo.
I had to find you a picture after that description! It wouldn’t be fair to leave you hanging.
I love this media room with those inviting chocolate brown velvet couches, golden yellow pillows, and plenty of throw blankets. Did you notice the bookshelves in the back are orange? Difficult to tell from a photo, but it could even be Hermes orange. What a great punch of color that doesn’t overwhelm because the frame of the shelves has a narrow profile.
Finally, the deep reds of the Sumac bushes make a bold backdrop for two very different kitchens. You can see how it mixes well with orange tones and either dark chocolate brown wood and marble or crisp white cabinetry and stainless steel. I couldn’t resist throwing in the great Weimaraner photo – the chair and the dog both have such great personality!
So that’s your fall inspiration, courtesy of the trees and bushes I see on my drives around town visiting clients and vendors. What is inspiring you right now? Are you drawn to the fall colors or does another season capture your style best?
Tags: bar cart, Bathroom, bookshelf, chocolate brown, fall, foyer, golden yellow, green, Kitchen, living room, orange, pillow, Red, white, Wood, zebra
Posted in Color Pulse, Inspiration Boards | No Comments »
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
Don’t you love when you go to a restaurant and the chef has created a dish where he (or she) has thoughtfully prepared the same ingredient in two different ways so that you can appreciate the range of flavors possible? Well, as a change of pace today I thought I’d offer up some fun feminine spaces. Sparkly chandeliers and ruffles aren’t usually the first style I reach for, but they can really add great personality to a space. As I pulled together the inspiration images I noticed a trend: bright, bold pinks and reds dominated many feminine rooms, while the rest had a lighter soft palette with a hint of sparkle. So, like a great piece of chicken prepared two ways on Iron Chef, here are some rooms for the ladies, prepared two ways.
Don’t you just want to jump on your bed everyday in joy?!
That darn ruffled shower curtain from Anthropologie inspired this feminine kick. I love it with the classic claw foot tub and white subway tile. Perfect for girls of all ages. The butterflies on the kitchen backsplash add a punch of whimsy and color while staying modern. What a great way to use wallpaper in a kitchen. You can put sheets of glass over the wallpaper to preserve it. And if the wallpaper is simply held in place by the glass, you could change out the wallpaper easily for a new look.
I could see a cool collage of favorite images here too. For the fashionista who stores clothes in her cabinets, it could be all fashion images. For the amateur cook it could be made up of glamour shots of dishes from magazines. Using the illustrations from back issues of Cooks Illustrated would give a very different feel than the glossy photos in Donna Hay.
Ok, random tangent, but I started with food, so I should end with food, right? Must be time for lunch.
Would you prefer a hot pink and funky room of your own, or would a soft palette and sparkle be your style of choice?
While we’re taking a poll, Cooks Illustrated or Donna Hay collage? Or does wallpaper intrigue you? Or do you prefer tile?
I love knowing how you think!
Clockwise from top left: Cookie magazine, DesignSponge, Ideal Home, unknown, Cookie magazine, unknown.
Scandinavian Wallpaper and Decor, Anthropologie, Domino magazine, Linda Barker, Kristen Hutchins Design via DesignSponge 12-22-09, House Beautiful April 2010.
Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
Here is my confession (for those who didn’t already know this about me): I am a magazine addict. It is so difficult to walk past the racks of shiny new glossy magazines and resist their siren call. So you can imagine how difficult it is to hold out at an airport with all that time to kill before my flight!
To help my willpower and wallet (or not, depending on how you look at it) I subscribe to a lot of magazines. The rationale is that it’s cheaper to pay a reduced fee to have all the issues magically appear in my mailbox each month than to sporatically buy 3 or 4 issues a year at the bookstore/Target/Walgreens, etc. Then when I’m tempted buy a glossy magazine with pretty pictures promising me new design inspiration or the best burger joints in town, I can remind myself in my head that I have stacks of magazines at home waiting patiently for my attention. Usually that’s enough to help me walk away.
But then the flip side of that is that I do literally have stacks of magazines to be read each month. I get through most of them rather efficiently each month, but the design magazines always seem to have to wait a couple of months to get my attention. So when a new issue of House Beautiful arrived today I had a moment of joy when I spotted it’s bright, colorful cover amongst the pile of boring mail. Which was quickly followed by dread as I realized it would be ages before I got around to actually reading each article (skimming does not count for me).
Then I had a moment of brilliance. I should start a recurring column here that features my 3-5 favorite pages from the newest design magazine, which I will post THE DAY IT ARRIVES. Now do you see the brilliance? This will force me to stop, flip through the issue, and find great content to share with you while it’s still on the news stands and accessible. Since so many great design magazines have been forced to shut their doors in the past 2 years (House & Garden, Domino, Cottage Living, Southern Accents, Metropolitan Home - the design magazine I discovered at age 15 that got me hooked in the first place, etc.) it’s more important than ever to support the remaining design magazines. So keep an eye out for each new post since you never know what day I’ll get a new delivery of design inspiration in the mail. And if I cave in and fall for a gorgeous magazine at the book store, I will post that too (my weakness will be a gift to you).
I hope you all enjoy this new project along with me.
So here are the images that grabbed my eye in the September 2010 issue of House Beautiful:
Like I’ve mentioned in the past, a small bathroom can handle a bold wallpaper. I love how this marbleized paper was mixed with a 1940s French metal mirror and balanced by the paneled white walls and vintage marble sink.
The breezy, worn quality of this room is so peaceful. The texture of the chunky sisal rug against wood floors, old metal and worn wood is so visually interesting even though it’s a very monotone palette.
What caught my eye in this photo is the quatrefoil mirror over the bed. This would not be nearly as eye-catching if the designer hadn’t framed the mirror is a slightly darker paint color than the main wall color, and further highlighted it with a loose mural of ivy in off-white around the darker paint color. Not to mention the piles of books at the foot of the bed look so inviting in this cozy room.
What a bright cheerful room! I have always loved apple green and chocolate brown, and the designer handled these earthy tones with such a light hand that they almost feel breezy. All the natural light pouring into the space doesn’t hurt either. Don’t miss the free form pattern of lily pads and flowers painted on the white floors. A bold but fun choice.
Finally, I always think it’s fun to see how people really live. So this profile of designers and the sofas they own and how they live in them is fun. I think the black couch at the bottom looks just like one of Alexander Wang’s chairs in the Black & White color palette post. I love the high back and sides of the banquette in Liz O’Brien’s office with those colorful pillows. I sat in a off-white sofa upholstered in a fabric like sheep fur with a high back and arms in a showroom in Chicago 3 years ago and I still fantasize about it. There’s even a sofa that was originally from Crate & Barrel that was reinvented through reupholstery (I hope you don’t have to learn that lesson yourself: there is a reason some sofas cost more and last longer.)
Now go pick up your own copy of House Beautiful and find your favorite images!
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?
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?