Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
Well, this month Elle Decor has redeemed itself. There is a lot of good content to inspire this month, so let’s get right to it!
White kitchens continue to be universally appealing, judging by the countless versions I see each month in various publications. And this house is no different. But the designer Miles Redd convinced the client to trust him with a bold color choice in the adjacent butler’s pantry: marine-blue! It reads almost teal in photos, but I love it regardless. Obviously this would be too much for most people’s main kitchen, but in this secondary space it glows in the most brilliant way. The natural light from the window (which some butler’s pantries don’t have) allowed him to use this darker color.
In contrast, this Valcucine kitchen features minimal dark cabinetry balanced by the open structure of steel shelves against light walls. The color of the glass in the Niche Modern pendant over the island references the glassware on the open shelves beautifully.
The restrained modernism of the kitchen continues into the bedroom of the same home. Natural elements (branch, basket under bed, shearling throw on floor) add texture to the crisp narrow lines of the bed and nightstands. The crystals on the small bedside lamp is a fun pop of feminity in what I would consider a rather gender neutral room.
This dining room has a similarly neutral palette with a splash of sparkle thanks to the C. Jere sculpture over the fireplace. The floating box shelves on either side of the fireplace are a fresh update of the usual built-ins you see surrounding fireplaces in most homes.
Finally we have this living room in Ossining, New York (not far from where I went to college… I always remember the conductor calling this station on the train ride from NYC.) This room features a lot of mid-century modern classics, but the textured walls and corner sofa keep the space from feeling like a DWR catalog come to life (which was the case for many homes featured in Dwell magazine in the past.) The swing arm lamp to the right of the fireplace makes me want to curl up in that corner with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows, and a cozy blanket.
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.
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!
Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
The other night I had a very vivid dream involving a giant cinnamon roll – you know the kind that are the size of a dinner plate? Needless to say, I woke up with quite a craving for cinnamon rolls. After staring at the beauty that is a well crafted cinnamon roll, I realized it would be fun to use it as a source of inspiration.
So here are rooms that incorporate the colors of the cinnamon roll – the glossy white of the icing, the deep brown of the cinnamon filling, and the shades of golden brown of the bread. This palette can work in every style of room – contemporary, cottage, rustic, traditional.
I like this mix of bedrooms. Notice the use of texture in these subtle palettes helps to add layers and interest.
Bathrooms can be traditional – with marble counters and cream inset cabinetry, or rustic – with exposed beams, distressed cabinetry, crisp white walls and a creamy tub meant for hours of soaking.
Kitchens can be the new transitional – with a mix of vintage inspired stools, exposed beams, creamy walls, and sisal rugs balanced by crisp white cabinetry. Or this palette can be applied to a traditional kitchen with buttery yellow walls (more butter isn’t really necessary on a cinnamon roll, but it sometimes tastes really good, admit it!), creamy inset cabinetry, a crisp white exposed sink and the warm tan of a butcher block countertop.
Here you can see the range of this palette. Contemporary living rooms and dining rooms from sunny LA to NYC. A clean lined midcentury modern living room from the midwest. Axel Vervoordt’s Belgian antique filled dining room and living room with those great textural walls in such an enveloping shade of cream.
However you live, there’s always a way to incorporate the cinnamon roll palette in your home. It results in such calm, inviting spaces, just like the bliss I feel after a cinnamon roll and a big glass of milk. Has food every inspired your color palette?
Tags: Axel Vervoordt, Bathroom, bedroom, chocolate brown, cinnamon rolls, color palette, contemporary, dining room, Kitchen, living room, midecentury modern, tan, traditional, transitional, white
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