Thursday, August 25th, 2011
A common challenge for me is dreaming up the perfect piece (for an interior or my wardrobe), sometimes based on a sketchy memory of having seen something like it somewhere once upon a time, sometimes just completely invented. Then I have to try to find it out in the real world. I can drive myself bonkers with this search because of course now I know EXACTLY what I want and I don’t want to settle for less.
Recent case in point: I want an etagere (basically this is a bookcase with no side or back panels, often they taper towards the top) for an otherwise wasted odd corner of a room. I see the ideal version with sides that curve on each tier, and I want it brightly colored. I can draw a quick sketch to show someone, but finding an example image is much more effective. The open shelves on an etagere are great for decorative displays of stacks of books, small boxes and little decorative items.
So I scrolled through my digital image library (I don’t have time to go through my stacks and stacks of magazines and piles of hard copies of design images) and managed to find one example! Yeah!
See it in the back left corner? The open shelf on the right side is an etagere too, but I don’t want that gold leaf finish and rectangular shape.
I was soo excited to find it along with sources for the items… but wait, it’s for SIMILAR items.
Here is the Tall Curvee Shelf from House Eclectic that they recommend as a similar item. It is only available in black or white, but even more of an issue is the fact that it’s only 38″ high. Grrr.
Another option would be this Lia shelf by Oly Studio . It’s close, but doesn’t come in any bright colors. But I could make the white version work.
Here’s an example in a good height (67.75″) with a tapered shape, but no curves. I could live with this, and the antique red or black options are nice. But I want deep orange or kelly green. I want to be playful. This is a little too traditional in this shade of red for the room I have in mind. It could skew Asian influence or cottage in other settings, which is great.
Available in only black iron, this has a bit more whimsy with the top detail, but the black iron doesn’t feel right for my space.
This limited edition piece by Jonathan Adler has the fun punch of color and the mod styling is great. But the price is high for a piece that’s not supposed to be the star of the room, but the funny supporting character.
So, I’m still on the hunt. I’m sure I’ll find something that will work, but will it be the piece in my vision? Maybe not. But will anyone else really know how it differs from that vision? No. Will it still be fabulous? Absolutely.
Of course, if it was an important piece in the room that I didn’t feel like compromising on, I can simply design the piece in my head and have one of my custom furniture guys make the perfect piece for me with the curves, dimensions and color just right for my project. Sometimes that’s what it takes to get the right piece that makes the whole room come to life.
And that’s the reality of what I do. It’s the vision I have for that great piece that’s going to take the room to the next level that the client would never have come up with on their own, and the ability to track down items that will bring that vision to life.
But I’m still searching for that short sleeve wrap dress I saw in a dream the other night…. =)
Photo source: Inspiration room by Catherine Brophy for Real Simple, October 2010.
Thursday, April 15th, 2010
Now that we’ve explored the changes to the lower level, let’s move on up to the main floor of this home. As I mentioned previously, we were inspired by the lessons in Sarah Susanka’s “Not So Big House” books. In total there were 21 principles we incorporated into the home, ranging from spacial defining principles such as Entry, Shelter around Activity, and Sequence of Places to the light and sightline related principles Inside Outside, Connecting Views, and Light to Walk Toward. You will see many of these principles put into practice on the first floor.
We strengthened the entry to make it a space in its own right. Since storage for coats, mittens, boots, etc. was not in the original plan for the entry, I designed a tall built-in piece that has both hanging space and shelves where baskets can be placed to hold loose items. Under the window on the opposite wall there will be a mat for wet shoe storage (always a necessity in snowy Minnesota!)
Another significant addition was the storage towers designed to wrap around each of the support columns that run down the middle of the first floor. Storage is always a necessity in any home, and with such an open floor plan it can be a challenge to find places to put both things you want to display and things you want to have out of sight. From books and pretty vases to stereo equipment and party platters, these new storage towers accommodate it all. I’ve even incorporated a laundry chute that connects the 2nd & 1st floors to the laundry room in the lower level, perfect for quickly throwing those dirty kitchen towels into the “laundry basket” without running up and down the stairs.
To further enhance the functionality of the entry, the first column has a bench incorporated into the end that faces the front door. This serves as the perfect spot to sit down and take off or put on shoes. Plus storage for dog food is cleverly concealed under the flip-up lid (the dog’s kennel will be located in the entry next to the powder room.) Art or hooks can be placed above the bench. Art would provide a focal point and spot for the eye to rest before it continues to look down the vista through the house to the backyard through the sliding glass doors on the end of the kitchen (Connecting Views & Light to Walk Towards.)
The other two columns offer a mixture of open and closed storage. The column closed to the kitchen serves as storage space for pantry items and larger plates and platters.
In the kitchen I changed the layout significantly to add more work surfaces as well as help define the boundaries between the kitchen and living room.
This view is looking towards the sliding doors on the front of the house across the raised bar counter. You can see the pantry storage on the column on the right side of the view with both glass doors and large drawers.
Looking at the kitchen from the dining room. Here you can see the main work zone with a built-in refrigerator and range.
Here is the four views of the kitchen island. There is open space on the dining room end where stools can be tucked underneath. False doors on the ends of the cabinets are mixed in with functional narrow drawers on the sides of the island to create a uniform aesthetic.
Even the dining room is improved with the addition of a low built-in. Rather than doing a standard height set of cabinets along this wall, I did a low slung version with a mixture of doors and drawers (if you look back to the inspiration images you can find the idea that inspired this choice.) It’s great to have room for placemats, napkins, the silver chest, and other dining room related items within easy reach. Plus this offers a great ledge for informally displaying artwork – vases and platters mixed with framed art leaning casually against the wall looks just right. Hanging sconces on either side of the windows helps frame the view as well as offer options for different lighting levels – always important in a dining room.
So those are the highlights of the first floor! What’s your favorite part? It’s a lot of information, so I didn’t want to overwhelm you with details. Are there parts you’d like explained more? Stay tuned for the third floor – see how the three bedrooms and two bathrooms offer livable private spaces for this home.