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?
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, August 3rd, 2010
Here is my confession (for those who didn’t already know this about me): I am a magazine addict. It is so difficult to walk past the racks of shiny new glossy magazines and resist their siren call. So you can imagine how difficult it is to hold out at an airport with all that time to kill before my flight!
To help my willpower and wallet (or not, depending on how you look at it) I subscribe to a lot of magazines. The rationale is that it’s cheaper to pay a reduced fee to have all the issues magically appear in my mailbox each month than to sporatically buy 3 or 4 issues a year at the bookstore/Target/Walgreens, etc. Then when I’m tempted buy a glossy magazine with pretty pictures promising me new design inspiration or the best burger joints in town, I can remind myself in my head that I have stacks of magazines at home waiting patiently for my attention. Usually that’s enough to help me walk away.
But then the flip side of that is that I do literally have stacks of magazines to be read each month. I get through most of them rather efficiently each month, but the design magazines always seem to have to wait a couple of months to get my attention. So when a new issue of House Beautiful arrived today I had a moment of joy when I spotted it’s bright, colorful cover amongst the pile of boring mail. Which was quickly followed by dread as I realized it would be ages before I got around to actually reading each article (skimming does not count for me).
Then I had a moment of brilliance. I should start a recurring column here that features my 3-5 favorite pages from the newest design magazine, which I will post THE DAY IT ARRIVES. Now do you see the brilliance? This will force me to stop, flip through the issue, and find great content to share with you while it’s still on the news stands and accessible. Since so many great design magazines have been forced to shut their doors in the past 2 years (House & Garden, Domino, Cottage Living, Southern Accents, Metropolitan Home - the design magazine I discovered at age 15 that got me hooked in the first place, etc.) it’s more important than ever to support the remaining design magazines. So keep an eye out for each new post since you never know what day I’ll get a new delivery of design inspiration in the mail. And if I cave in and fall for a gorgeous magazine at the book store, I will post that too (my weakness will be a gift to you).
I hope you all enjoy this new project along with me.
So here are the images that grabbed my eye in the September 2010 issue of House Beautiful:
Like I’ve mentioned in the past, a small bathroom can handle a bold wallpaper. I love how this marbleized paper was mixed with a 1940s French metal mirror and balanced by the paneled white walls and vintage marble sink.
The breezy, worn quality of this room is so peaceful. The texture of the chunky sisal rug against wood floors, old metal and worn wood is so visually interesting even though it’s a very monotone palette.
What caught my eye in this photo is the quatrefoil mirror over the bed. This would not be nearly as eye-catching if the designer hadn’t framed the mirror is a slightly darker paint color than the main wall color, and further highlighted it with a loose mural of ivy in off-white around the darker paint color. Not to mention the piles of books at the foot of the bed look so inviting in this cozy room.
What a bright cheerful room! I have always loved apple green and chocolate brown, and the designer handled these earthy tones with such a light hand that they almost feel breezy. All the natural light pouring into the space doesn’t hurt either. Don’t miss the free form pattern of lily pads and flowers painted on the white floors. A bold but fun choice.
Finally, I always think it’s fun to see how people really live. So this profile of designers and the sofas they own and how they live in them is fun. I think the black couch at the bottom looks just like one of Alexander Wang’s chairs in the Black & White color palette post. I love the high back and sides of the banquette in Liz O’Brien’s office with those colorful pillows. I sat in a off-white sofa upholstered in a fabric like sheep fur with a high back and arms in a showroom in Chicago 3 years ago and I still fantasize about it. There’s even a sofa that was originally from Crate & Barrel that was reinvented through reupholstery (I hope you don’t have to learn that lesson yourself: there is a reason some sofas cost more and last longer.)
Now go pick up your own copy of House Beautiful and find your favorite images!
Thursday, June 17th, 2010
For the past year or so I’ve been loving all the new wood finishes that have a more matte, greyed tone. It’s the rustic, well-worn Belgian farmhouse floor in a waxed finish. Let’s call it: rustic sophistication.
It’s the classic Alex Vervoordt room that features his perfect blend of Belgium antiques and soft wall finishes that makes you want to exhale slowly and luxuriate in the calmness.
Or a classic white kitchen with mile long wide floor boards in a bleached finish. Even though it gives it a well-worn, lived in look, it still feels fresh and modern.
But why limit your use of this beautiful material to the floor?! This living room definitely isn’t your typical ’70s panelled rec room! What a great way to add interest and bring in strong horizontal lines in a room that looks like it has higher than average ceilings. The large scale color block art on the wall would be easy to recreate as a quick DIY project in your favorite color palette.
This grey barn board style wall treatment, which also works as a really high headboard in this narrow room, makes my heart skip a beat. The brown, white and grey of the bedding is a warm but low key balance to all that color and texture variation on that wall. It may be a bit much for the typical bedroom, but why not go bold in a guest bedroom where no one will be living with it for long periods of time? It’s like the powder room principal – go bold because this small and infrequently used space can handle the excitement.
Or if the light wood beams is a bit too rustic for you, what about this amazing wood wall that functions as a banquette on the dining room side….
And as the wall and headboard on the bedroom side of the wall. The area under the bench in the dining room was even utilized as storage for the bedroom! Brilliant! Impressive that this was all done by the homeowner (though it did take a long time to complete the whole project… definitely not a quick weekend DIY!) And don’t forget the great end cut wood dining room table he made (in the first photo).
And now that I have a client who is interested in using reclaimed wood for their kitchen, I have an excuse to delve even deeper into the range of gorgeous wood finishes available. Take wood beyond the floor and typical applications.
See this stunning example from Dwell magazine that inspired us:
These were made from a single tree. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! You wouldn’t believe my excitement when they showed me this photo as their dream, since I’d been drooling over it ever since my husband brought home the magazine for me. (It’s a kitchen special issue so he knew I’d love it.)
Now the question is: how do we want to recreate this feel without copying it directly? The ideas are swimming around and around.
Can you see this new (resurrected) style of wood in your home? Maybe as a table top? That’s another obsession of mine that we’ll have to save for another post.
Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
The long Minnesota winter has hidden the grass, trees and flowers for too long. I’m itching for bright green as far as the eye can see. But since Mother Nature isn’t ready to start spring, I guess these rooms filled with bold greens will have to inspire me for now.
It’s easy to see the power of tile in these kitchens – talk about a wow factor! But are you bold enough to not only tile the walls to the ceiling in shades of green and blue but also paint your cabinets a bold green? It may be too much for some, but that kitchen certainly packs a lot of personality.
These living rooms have just the right balance of green and neutrals. The armoire and coffee table add punch to this casual living room on the left. The pillows on the couch serve to pull the palette together.
The living room in the middle might be one of my favorites, if only for that kelly green armchair. I would consider breaking and entering to make that mine (if I knew where the house was in the first place). But I guess the look could be achieved with no criminal activity by finding the right vintage chair and reupholstering it in the perfect shade of silk velvet. Notice how the large plant adds height, drawing your eyes up to the high ceilings, accentuated by those silky spring green curtains. Wonderful!
Finally, why not treat green as the focal point – upholster a sofa and ottoman in rich shades of green, add coordinating pillows and window treatments, and then top it all off with plants that provide the variations of green that nature does best.
Now these bedrooms clearly demonstrate the power of paint. Without that vivid saturated green on the left, the bedroom would be nice, but not eye catching. By using two shades of green paint, a “headboard” was created on the right to give height and interest to an otherwise simple bed (though the bold pink bedding is hardly tame). But it is the kelly green bed in the middle that I can most see recreating in my own home. The bold color is perfect for a guest room, where it won’t overwhelm, especially when tempered with lots of white. I appreciate how the woven shades on the windows and the cowhide pillows add texture and whimsy, respectively.
Green can add a punch to other rooms as well. A bright cushion, throw and accessories liven up this corner of a home office. Kids tend to be more comfortable with bold colors, so their rooms are a perfect place to experiment with mixing together bright shades. But since they tend to tire of a look quickly, be sure to implement this palette in easy to update accessories, like the bedding and stool, as seen above.
Finally, green can be incorporated into a home in truly breathtakingly surprising ways. For pure wow factor, the winner would have to be this ivy wall in a Manhattan apartment! The (all-white) kitchen is just up the stairs, where the homeowner can look down on their reflecting pond and enjoy their own private calm oasis in the city.
So how can you going to bring green into your home? Or how have you already incorporated green in your home? For example, I’m sitting in my office with walls in two shades of bright green with accents in white, brown, pink and orange. It’s bold, cheerful, and stimulating (just what an office should be, especially in a dreary Minnesota winter).
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
So your child loves to travel the world, or at least loves daydreaming about it. And of course the newest generation of tweens is more tapped into the eco-consciousness than any generation has been before. So how do you update their bedroom to reflect their appreciation for world cultures and a sustainable ethos?
This bedroom is inspired by just such a situation. A warm palette with lots of natural materials and textures creates an inviting retreat. World maps and travel photos on the walls provide both reference (geography class, anyone?) and inspiration.
Walls in a deep olive green are accented with 2 stripes in chocolate brown and deep orange, and balanced with creamy white trim. This color palette pulls from the colors in the maps and travel photos – the deep greens of the forest, the chocolate brown trim on a Japanese castle’s roof line, and the orange gates in a Japanese shrine. Even the soft grey of an elephant is captured in the grey metal side table by the bed.
Soft chocolate brown roman shades are detailed with a coordinating stripe in orange to reference the stripe on the wall. A new seagrass headboard is both textural and made from a sustainable resource. New nightstands include a grey metal table and a stump table, which can easily be moved around the room as needed. The client’s existing desk is updated with a rusted metal faux finish, thereby reducing extending the lifespan of the piece.
Accent pieces provide texture and interest – large woven baskets provide easily accessible storage, a twig lamp can serve both the bed and the adjacent window seat, and a chunky woven throw blanket adds the necessary cuddle factor important in every bedroom. A funky perforated paper lamp shade hangs in the middle of the room, creating subtle patterns on the walls at night. And shelves made from reclaimed wood and aged metal brackets add history and storage. A chunky woven cable rug would add additional texture and balance the existing light wood floors. Fabrics in tans, chocolate brown, olive green and deep orange are used throughout the room.
This room is sure to inspire kids and adults alike. The entire concept could easily be translated to an adult’s bedroom or even a family room.
Paint color inspirations: BM 2142-30 Mountain Moss, BM HC-70 Van Buren Brown, BM 2170-10 Fireball Orange, and BM HC-27 Monterey White.