Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
I just realized how quickly time passes when I went to post my favorite images from the latest issue of House Beautiful and realized that I never shared my favorites from the previous issue! Tisk, tisk, Colleen! But at least I’ve read both issues cover to cover, which doesn’t usually happen this quickly. Thanks are due in part to our local cafe North Washington Cafe where we’ve been going to listen to live music, enjoy a little dinner and wine and catch up on reading (me) and work (the husband). If you are in the area be sure to stop in for live music Thursday nights or any of the other events they are adding to the calendar. I helped them with design ideas to quickly transform it from the black, royal blue and industrial steel look the previous coffee shop sported to a warm neighborhood wine bar.
These are certainly not your typical sliding panels to divide a kitchen from a dining room. These laser cut oak panels were designed by Thomas Hamel, the interior designer, to reference Indian jalis. With ceilings that high you have a lot of room to make a statement. I’m a fan of a well-designed Klismos chair and these have a great silhouette and finish. I’m not sure what the material is but it looks like aged metal. The custom dining room table has great legs too.
I like the new editor’s choice to do more large photo spreads in the magazine so we can appreciate the details in these rooms, but it does make more work for me! Oh well, some rooms are worth the extra effort. I love this new traditional living room. The sofas have white slipcovers and velvet pillows in icy blues and purples. The wallpaper and the chandelier are traditional but not too fussy. The arrangement on the mantel is casual and the coffee table is downright unexpected (in my mind at least). I would expect to see a glass and metal oval cocktail table or a more refined wood table in this room. It’s taking traditional elements and mixing them with more casual elements to create formal living rooms that people actually feel comfortable living in. Crazy notion.
This living room reflects one of the new trend in interior design for 2011: global world traveler with an emphasis on indigenous textile patterns and natural fabrics. The window treatments are made of burlap. The sofa is a mattress and box spring covered in painter’s linen. Then to mix it up he added a 1960s brass lamp in the back corner with a custom red linen shade and a Hans Wegner Wishbone chair on the left with a bright red finish which add a punch to the room. It’s eceletic and feels authentic. I can tell this is a space that he has filled with objects that he loves over time.
So, could you see yourself living in any of these rooms?
Friday, January 14th, 2011
To wrap up a week of purple we’re going for saturation. I’m talking about deep, royal purples. There’s nothing bashful about this color. It says “I’m purple. Like me or don’t like me, I don’t care.”
Look at these deep purple walls. They add drama all on their own. In the dining room the furnishings have minimal lines and silvery accessories add a restrained touch of modern glamour. You could be bold and choose a saturated purple velvet for your sofa and mix it up with old shutters as wall art to create an unexpected pairing. Or stick with a neutral sofa and let the wall color, mirrored tile and artwork be the focal point of your room.
Incorporating purple in your bedroom could be an exercise in all out layering (see the bedroom on the left) or just a couple of accessories could be added to a otherwise quiet palette (see the bedroom on the right). Notice how they upholstered a folding screen to create a headboard, and pulled the pale pink color from the fabric for the trim color. Unexpected but interesting. The living room in the middle has deep purple layered in the rugs, throw pillows and wall art. Mixed with gold, chartreuse, violet, silvery grey on the couch and charcoal on the armchair the palette feels balanced and not focused on one specific color. It feels like it has evolved over time, which is always a good quality to achieve in a room.
So, have these purple posts made you a convert yet? Are you itching to paint or run out and pick up a couple of new purple accessories to update a room? I’m actually thinking about painting my own bathroom!
Have a great weekend. I hope you get to enjoy fun decorating projects to give you a fresh look for the new year. And if you want a designer’s perspective and ideas, I’m here as always to help make your home a place you truly enjoy living in day after day.
Monday, December 13th, 2010
Now this is a living room that real people live in. When I read shelter magazines like Architectural Digest I sometimes wonder how people REALLY live in the rooms because they have been worked over so carefully by a stylist that they have lost some authenticity.
Even though this room was done with the help of a designer, it still feels like a collection of pieces that were gathered over the years. The candles in the hurricane vases are all burnt down and imperfect. Blankets are draped at the ends of the sofas for easy access when curling up in front of the fireplace with one of the many books stacked around the room. The end tables are eclectic pieces that look like they were picked up in vintage shops. The coffee table looks like a weekend project utilizing reclaimed rough hewn wood planks. Flowers picked from the garden are placed in an old mason jar and a white pitcher for a casual touch.
The only things that I’m not crazy about in this room? I love the zig-zag striped rug but it is too small for the space. Even turning it 90 degrees would work better since it looks like a section of the rug is lost under the sofa. Or they could put two of them side by side if they wanted to maintain the current direction of the zigs and zags. A strip of carpet tape would help hold the two rugs together without permanently attaching them (in case they want to move them to other rooms in the future). Also, the stone tile under the fireplace is bugging me. I understand needing tile there, but the khaki sofas clash with the yellow undertone in the tile. If the tile was a darker brown more in line with the tones of the beautiful wood floors it would disappear and not fight the other elements in the room.
I like that the lamps on the end tables have different shape shades, but the shade on the lamp on the right end table blocks the art above it, and it makes that area feel cramped. You can see how just a little bit of breathing room between the lamp and the art on the left side of the sofa feels better to you eye.
Maybe I’m being picky, but I want to educate your eyes to catch the details that help make a room better. Then you can look at your own home with a discerning eye and tweak those things you might not have noticed before that can take your home to the next level of fabulousness. People might not notice the difference, but they will feel the difference without knowing exactly why.
Are there any spaces you would like pointers on?
Photo source: Michigan Farmhouse living room by Rebekah Zaveloff of KitchenLab via Houzz
Saturday, December 11th, 2010
There are about 12″ of snow freshly fallen on the ground outside and more continues to swirl to the ground (they say we’re only about half way through the storm system!) On a day like today there are two types of people: those who are chomping at the bit to go hiking knee deep in the snow, and those who curl up on the sofa in front of a roaring fireplace with a big blanket and a mug of hot cocoa.
Today’s photo is for those who are with me in the later group. I’d have to throw some of those pillows off the sofa so I could fit on it better, but I appreciate the higher arm on the sofa so I can lean a few pillows against it without them falling off the end of the sofa (as happens on sofas with a shorter arm height.) I would pull the adjustable lamp in the background over for reading light. I have a stack of books and magazines to catch up on, and this is the perfect day for it. I might need to add a small side table (a 12″ diameter stool would work) next to the sofa to set my cocoa on because I hate having to lean to reach my beverage when I’m curled up on the sofa. When you are arranging the furniture in any room always think about how you will live in it so that it fits the function of the space. Form follows function, but the space should be pleasing to your senses as well. It’s the balance of the two that makes a room truly great.
So which group do you fit it?
Photo source: Elle Decor, December 2008.
Friday, September 17th, 2010
Inspiration, round 2. I find it fascinating that someone I know thought this was the best issue of Elle Decor they’d seen in a while. But when I scanned through it to find my top pictures, I was underwhelmed. Maybe it’s more of a slow burn issue: I’ll get into reading all the articles in depth and suddenly get new appreciation for the designs. Or not.
Case in point: this is one of my favorite images – and it’s an ad. Granted, I’ve had favorites that I wanted to share in previous magazines that were ads, but there was always too much good editorial content to waste a spot on an ad. But this kitchen is beautiful in it’s own right, plus it’s well staged, well lit, and the copy tells a story. Doesn’t that stroller throw it off from expectation just right? It’s showing the viewer that this kitchen is not only beautiful but it’s functional for real life. There’s food in the cupboards that requires real cooking. Those copper pots aren’t just a collection for display, they get used. And you thought it was just a cabinetry ad.
How lovely is this Alpine retreat? I’m not a hunter, so as much as I appreciate the beauty of animal hides, I’m not always completely comfortable around them. But this room pushes the limit. The pillows and stools covered in springbok pelts are still beautiful in all their natural coloration. But I’d feel odd leaning against those pillows, I can’t lie. Nonetheless, there is something so chic and clean about this room. The Serge Mouille floor lamp and navy sectional against the rough hewn wood walls, antlers and stacks of firewood framed in white is a beautiful balance. The bleached floors keep the room from feeling too dark.
I’m not normally a purple girl. But this room has a sofa warm quality thanks to those gray couches and amazing window treatments. The flounces on the valances remind me of a wedding dress, in the best way possible.
This is a punchy living room with a great mix of styles. Bold contemporary art influences the color palette, but the furniture pulls from diverse periods. A 1940s sofa, a contemporary faceted coffee table in three laquered finishes, a traditional table lamp from the 1950s, and an 18th century chair. A difficult mix to achieve without it feeling choppy and disjointed, but when it’s done right, it works. What’s interesting is that this is just one side of a double sided living room. There are two sofas back to back across from this sofa, and there are chairs upholstered in orange velvet on the other side of the room, to tie in with the oriental rug.
Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
Labor Day has passed us by, everyone has made their last pilgrimage to the cabin before school starts, and now all that’s left before us is crisp fall breezes and the exciting prospect of shutting down the cabin for the winter. Okay, not so exciting for most.
But now is the perfect time to brainstorm how you are going to refresh that cabin next spring to make it an even more inviting space to spend every weekend (and maybe a few fridays too, if you can sneak out without the boss noticing). Now I don’t have a family cabin (how un-Minnesotan, right?) but we periodically rent out a place for a week to escape the city and soak in views of pine trees, water and lots of sky. And the sad truth is that most cabins I’ve seen are a place where ugly furniture goes to die. I think it’s time to change all that.
I propose the following cabin as an excellent case study (the name of the resort will be withheld to protect the design challenged.)
Yes, I realize that southwestern plaid sleeper sofa adds room for extra guests, but you do realize the cushions lost their filling about 5 years ago and I’m sitting on the springs?
And can someone please explain why the recliner that always leans back (with no one sitting in it) has a log under it? It seemed to weighs 300 lbs, so it is no small feat to rotate it to look at the lake instead of the fireplace. Very functional, wouldn’t you say?
The big farm table is great for craft projects during the day (note the glue gun above if you doubt me), and big or small family meals in the evening. But while those chairs might be sturdy, I honestly think they’re ugly. (There, I was blunt and just said it.)
I won’t even mentioned that “carpeting.”
So, with this beautifully furnished cabin as a retreat, whether for a week or every weekend in the summer, you are definitely going to want to spend all your time outside. But imagine if you took these good bones and gave them an update with a budget. I know most people can’t afford to buy nice furniture for a second home or rental property. But uncomfortable and ugly is good for no one’s soul (especially when you are trying to relax!) So with that in mind, I gave this place an imaginary IKEA makeover.
So here’s the basics:
1. New sofa – available with or without sleeper sofa. Pick a darker neutral color that won’t show wear and tear. When the fabric starts getting worn, you can order a new slipcover in a wide variety of fabrics from Bemz. Check them out if you haven’t already!
2. New armchair – if you have to stick with a big recliner, at least get one that swivels! You still get the pop-up leg rest with this model, and in leather it wipes clean after sticky marshmallow hands.
3. Additional armchair(s) – if you’re fine with skipping the big recliner, these two smaller scale chairs still offer lots of comfort and flexibility. Especially since they are light enough to move around the room if necessary. People like their own seat, so I think having more small chairs is preferrable to one large chair, especially if they are all comfortable.
4. Dining room chairs – the big farm table works for me, and with new chairs in a simple, classic silhouette in looks fresh again. I like the contrast of the dark black-brown finish, but the grey-brown finish is nice too. You could even mix and match the two finishes!
5. Accessories – don’t forget plenty of soft throw pillows for the couch and floor. Add other accessories that pull from all the beautiful natural materials outside the cabin door. Turquoise duck head bookends do NOT count. Instead, use a couple of large beautiful rocks from the shoreline as bookends. If they aren’t flat on the bottom, glue them to blocks of wood to make them stable. Or pile up lots of small rocks into a fun formation on a wooden block (see glue gun) to use as art or bookends. The possibilities are endless!
6. Outside seating – at the lake it’s all about the view. And flimsy plastic chairs just don’t cut it. You want to be able to relax and take in the view for more than 15 minutes without a backache. A rocking chair, a cup of coffee, or a stick to widdle sounds pretty ideal to me. The Adirondack chair is a classic all over the country. I like this version with an adjustable back and a fold out leg rest. Don’t you dare buy just one! But be sure the seat is high enough to see over any railings, otherwise you’ll be frustrated every time you sit down.
Okay, that’s my take on the quick and economical update to the family cabin. Almost everything was sourced from IKEA, except the accessories, porch furniture, and existing table. The rocking chair is from Fleet Farm (what a bargain!) and a plain Adirondack chair is available from them for $40 as well. The fancy version is from www.adirondackchairs.com.
What do you think of this makeover? What else would you change or what would you do differently? A rental has different needs than a family cabin, but the idea of updating on a budget works for both.
Do you need tips on updating your cabin or other space? I’m curious what challenges other cabins present.