Thursday, November 4th, 2010
Above: the professional sheep shearer is hard at work. Maryfaith takes the giant fleece and puts it in the bag.
So I went to help a local farm with their sheep shearing a couple of weeks ago and had a great time. I’ve always loved lambies since I was a little girl, and sheep aren’t quite the same (bigger and less cuddly) but it was still a great experience to try to wrangle sheep on the farm for an afternoon.
The farmers also have a lot of chickens roaming around that come running when people approach in the hope for more food. I was taking pictures of the chickens because their heritage varieties have really beautiful subtle coloring. Unfortunately, it didn’t come through as well as I’d hoped in the photos. As I was taking the pictures my mom jokingly said “You’ll probably turn this into a blog post.” Challenge? I think so.
So here is my “Heritage Chicken Inspired Rooms” post. I always say you can find inspiration all around you. Here’s my proof.
Notice that the chickens are not one solid color. They have a tonal range of colors across their body, plus an occasional accent color on their tail feathers. These rooms employ the same philosophy to create visually interesting rooms. Here we have the different tones of browns and reds of one breed of chickens with accents of black from the other breed. Plus you have to have the pop of red from the chickens’ faces!
More tonal brown and red rooms, but I love how the concrete pulls in the gray of the paths on which the chickens run around the farm by their coop. The green and cream of the painting in the living room on the right reference the building behind the chickens and the grass (or what was left of the grass in Minnesota in October). The rough materials and broken in finishes in these rooms give the relaxed vibe that subtly references the chickens’ habitat.
A kitchen can be refined or rustic, and I love them both. On the left, the granite countertops remind me of the pebbly gray ground the chickens hang out on. The copper hood is similar to the color of the cabinets, but the sheen adds variation. I’d love to see this with a patina (did you know that copper turns brown before it turns blue-green?)
In the kitchen on the right we have the dark brown-black cabinets that remind me of the darker breed of chickens. The wood slats on the walls convey a rustic farm feeling. The cream ceiling warms up the room and pulls in the color of the farm building behind the chickens in my photo. I’m sure they don’t gather the chicken eggs in a wicker basket, but isn’t it fun to think they do? Those high back wicker chairs are a great casual accent. Just add a wicker basket filled with fresh picked brown eggs in the middle of the table and you are set!
Finally, these are two rooms that really show off the power of tonal variation and texture. On the left, the graining in the wood floor is highlighted by the medium brown stain. The wood on the walls looks to be a shade lighter than the floors, which helps to keep the room from feeling like a brown box. The textural stone on the fireplace pulls in the organic and rough feel of the pebbly pathways. The lights over the table remind me of the fluffy sheep. And the red cabinet in the foreground? That definitely gives you the pop of the rooster’s red comb.
On the right we have a wide open space with oodles of natural light pouring in. And you can see there are a lots of trees outside, so this must feel like a kitchen tucked in the woods. Because of all that natural light they were able to use dark colors throughout the space without it feeling like a cave. (Notice how different the small rustic kitchen above looks with the same color palette in a much smaller and darker space.) The angled soffit over the cabinetry is a darker brown than the wood paneling over the refrigeraotr (to the left of the stove). They also mixed in black cabinetry, stainless steel and a fun mix of black chairs (love those Panton curved profile chairs!) I think the clock on the soffit is brilliant, except when the battery dies and you need a huge ladder to change it. But it’s the deep orange-persimmon ceiling color that makes this room special. It might be a plaster finish because it has such beautiful color variation as the light hits it.
So, do you see the chicken inspiration in these pictures? What inspires you in nature?
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?
Friday, May 21st, 2010
As much as I adore design magazines and blogs for inspiring images, sometimes the perfect color palette can hit you over the head when you look at a beautiful photograph or piece of art.
As a self-confessed image junkie, I frequently change up the background image on my computer as an ever changing reflection of my current interests or as a reminder of a wonderful experience I had. Yesterday I was looking for old photos of a close friend, which required digging through my electronic photo archives. I think we should ALL remember to do this periodically because there are gems hidden in such places. I stumbled across this photo taken by Dan Buettner, the owner of the Lake of the Isles showcase home, on one of his research trips. Appropriately, it’s one of the featured photos in his kitchen.
But looking at it blown up on my computer screen, that tomato red against the beautiful color and texture of the woman’s hands blew me away. All the rich earth tones offer such a warm color palette to work from.
So how would I use it? The tomato red works well as a bold but approachable element on a large piece of furniture. Various shades of brown from light golder brown to deep chocolate would be used on everything from floors to furniture. Hints of green from the tomato stem and the black of the dirt under her finger nails would balance out the room in accessories and other accents. Perhaps painting the trim in black as a surprise (usually seen in cooler color palettes against whites and grays).
Here are some other examples in all different types of rooms.
Sometimes the red is on a major piece of furniture.
Other times, the red works as a strong graphic statement through wallpaper.
Or red can be used as an accent against the natural wood tones of a beamed ceiling or a backyard patio. How great is that red umbrella?!
How would you use tomato red in your home? A cozy enveloping dining room with deep red walls? Red accent pillows on a couch for a tiny pop? How bold would you go?
Picture credits: Top composition, clockwise from upper left: Patrick Connor via DesignSponge, unknown (possibly InStyle magazine), unknown (possibly FLOR catalog), Katie Kirk via DesignSponge, Traditional Home magazine 4-09, unknown.