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?
Monday, December 21st, 2009
Greening a party can be done through many small choices. Start by decorating with plants, which have a longer lifecycle than cut flowers. Succulents come in many interesting textures and colors, and they can be grouped in a large shallow planter to make a unique and interesting centerpiece or in a series of small pots scattered around the party area. These can be enjoyed throughout the rest of the year, and even be reused at the next party. If the event requires disposable plates, consider purchasing Bambu All Occasion Veneerware from Sur La Table. These plates and silverware are made from 100% organically grown bamboo peeled directly from the bamboo stalk. They are FDA approved, and biodegrade in 4 to 6 months after disposal.
It is easy to get a fresh look for your home utilizing quick change solutions. Slipcovers are a great way to change the color palette and style of furnishings whenever you choose without replacing entire pieces. Retailers such as Pottery Barn have slipcovers available in standard sizes that can work for certain sofa styles. For a wider variety of fabric, trim, and style options, an interior designer can work with you to design custom slipcovers that fit your furnishings and taste exactly. They can even suggest many new green fabrics that are available in a variety of styles.
Integrating vintage and new-to-you furniture and accessories into your décor adds variety and whismy, without generating new environmental damage as the result of manufacturing and shipping the product. Plus, when you shop vintage you have access to a wide variety of pieces that no one else will have in their home and isn’t available from a catalog. For a European aesthetic, visit Euronest in Minneapolis, or for a midcentury vibe, check out Swank Retro in St. Paul and Spinario in Minneapolis.
When you are refreshing your style, don’t forget your walls! Paint is a quick and easy transformation for any space, and with the wide variety of green paint options on the market, this is the perfect time to update your palette. Hirshfields offers multiple low VOC paints in every color of the rainbow, that perform even better than the original formulas do. VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds – gases that vaporize, which you typically experience as the odor when you paint. I personally love Benjamin Moore’s Aura line of paints and use them in my own home because they are low-VOC and low odor, typically require only one coat of paint, fully washable in any sheen, and the ColorLock technology gives superior resistence to color ruboff. Try in for your next project and experience the difference.