Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
I thought my clients might enjoy seeing that I have to live through construction mess and chaos too.
Here is the before view into our kitchen with the previous owners’ furniture. The maroon carpet was hiding beautiful original wood floors, and unfortunately the slate tile in the kitchen was a DIY project by others that was already failing by the time we moved in (I believe the kitchen was updated within 2 years of our purchase of the house.) Loose tiles, significant tile height variation (toe kickers), and grout chipping out were the key issues, plus the floor sloped in a multiple different directions.
Here is Flooring Day 2 before the tile setters arrived to demo the slate. Flooring Day 1 was having a plumber come over the day before to disconnect the plumbing and gas lines to the appliances so we could move them out of the kitchen. You can see the raw wood floors that were hiding under the maroon carpet. We removed the carpet a few weeks back. Refinishing of the wood will happen after the tile floors are done (proper order of construction projects is a key!)
Flooring Day 2 – Mid-morning. The guys made quick work of ripping out the slate and the underlayment. Unfortunately I didn’t have shoes handy when I came upstairs from my basement office and I got to walk across the whole kitchen worth of rubble to get out. My bad.
Then when they got to the entry the discovered two additional layers of tile under the slate. Here the poor guys are debating how best to jackhammer out the top layer. Have fun!
By the next time I came upstairs to check on progress they’d cleared out all of the debris and the floor was ready for the self-leveling base to be poured.
Here you can see that the entry/ hallway area originally had both wood flooring and tile under it.
After the self-leveling base was poured and cured for a day we have this lovely starting point for Flooring Day 4. (Day 3 was drying time.)
At the end of Flooring Day 4: The majority of the tile has been installed and we just have to be patient as the thinset sets up. It’ll look even better once the tiles are cleaned off and grouted, but I’m soo happy with this new modern look that’s finally level!
Next week I’ll show you the finished product. Then we just have to refinish the hardwood floors and then we can put our whole house back together. (The large dining room and two bedrooms are being refinished, which necessitated moved the majority of our furniture, clothes, books, etc. to the basement where they’ve been for weeks.) It’ll be great to get the nursery set up before the baby arrives; let’s hope she’s on time and not early!
Friday, March 30th, 2012
Happy Friday! Here at Fox Interiors I’m always on the hunt for something beautiful to enhance my current and future projects. This week I stopped by Mercury Mosaics, run by my dear friend of 8 or so years, Mercedes Austin. We met at the annual Minnesota Tile Festival at the Swedish Institute in Minneapolis back when she was running her business out of her live/work studio in St. Paul and I was just starting a business designing custom throw pillows. All these years later, she has 5 kilns, a great team of tile craftsmen, and an inspiring design studio not far from me in Northeast Minneapolis.
I love visiting the studio because they are always developing new color blends and tile designs that showcase just how many possibilities there are when designing with their handmade tile. I’ve shared finished projects of theirs before with you (first see the process and then the finished results for this stunning bathroom), but I thought you might enjoy seeing the different styles that caught my eye this week.
The bubbles with organic edge field tiles is one of their most recognizable designs, and one of their most popular. I love the color variation in the Denim blue tiles. Did you know every tile is cut and painted with glaze by hand?!
This board was created for a client trying to decide between two different colors of Stix to anchor their Bubbles. Notice they were going to have the Bubbles floating on the wall without all field tile above. A great way to make an impact (and save a little money). Which would you chose?
Here you can see how a band of Bubbles can be framed out with liner pieces to create a focal point, like over a stove, while the rest of the backsplash could be in a white field tile. Throw in a few clusters of Bubbles around the room to continue the theme. This is good for both the budget and the design. Check out their portfolio online and you’ll see some beautiful examples of this concept in practice.
The Bubble Grid Stagger is not utilized as much as some of their other styles, but I was really struck by how great it looked on this mirror. The Olive Green glaze has a nice range of variation to it, which adds interest without adding in a handful of colors. I love how the grout color becomes a strong element of the design. Imagine it with a khaki or charcoal gray grout… really changes it, doesn’t it?
The Moroccans is another fun mosaic shape, and I love this fresh color palette… so springy! It looks great in the dark reds and browns you may have seen them feature in the past, but this color palette really showcases it’s versatility.
Here are more examples of the newer color blends Mercury Mosaics is showcasing. The new leopard texture on the green Moroccans is fabulous!
You may have noticed the pricing on this panel and the mirror above. You might recognize Mercury Mosaics from their very popular Groupon classes. You get to come in and make your own art panel or framed mirror, and you even learn how to grout it yourself. It’s a super fun class, and the pieces they develop during these classes are for sale in the showroom. I love how this panel utilizes a field of Stixs and a few Bubbles that were cut on the wet saw to add additional movement to the piece. I think this could easily be recreated on a backsplash or fireplace surround.
In a similar vein, this little panel showcases the variation of the Denim glaze and I love the rings of Bubbles integrated with the field tile (I’m guessing that’s a 2×6, but Mercedes could tell you for sure).
Finally, this piece showcases Mercury Mosaics custom mosaic capabilities. I think this overlapping concentric circle design is beautiful and such a work of art. They’ve created some custom designs in the past that incorporate this style, and I’d love to see more examples.
For more examples of their work, be sure to check out their portfolio on Houzz. If you haven’t played around with the over 385,000 images in this database yet, you are going to be ADDICTED! All you need to do is set up an account with an email address, set up a couple of Ideabooks to tag your favorite images into, and then go crazy! Fox Interiors has a portfolio on Houzz as well, (search “Fox Interiors” under the Professionals category to find us) and you can see my Ideabooks if you need ideas for categories. What’s great about this site is that you can add notes to yourself about what you like in each photo so that you remember it was the light fixture or the color palette that caught your eye. Oh, and there’s an iPad & iPhone version too, especially handy when you’re bored waiting in line. =)
I also love that once you’ve created an Ideabook you can Share it with others, including… your Designer! It’s a great resource for helping you figure out your style that you can then pass to your designer to help them understand what you are looking for.
I can’t wait to hear what you think of Mercury Mosaics and Houzz!
Thursday, January 12th, 2012
I find that once I start noticing a new finish or color around me, it suddenly starts appearing everywhere I look. The latest instance of this? Gold. Not 1980s brass gold that feels cheesy. No, now it has a shimmery sophistication that I’m open to for projects. To show you what I mean I’ve gathered a few pieces to highlight how this trend is popping up throughout the interior design world.
First up: Lighting
Here are three examples of chandeliers that embrace the gold trend in a modern interpretation. The one on the left would fit in well in a mid-century modern home or a transitional home with a youthful attitude. The middle one could be a nice addition of texture and playful shapes to an entry way. The pendant on the right references the traditional shades of Morocco but would be totally appropriate in a sophisticated downtown condo.
Here are a few tile samples and accessories I pulled together that highlight how metallics are popping up across multiple categories in fresh new ways.
I’m loving the large format tiles with raised honeycomb and ovals patterns on top of solids with a bit of color variation to them (hard to see in these photos). Imagine a whole bathroom wall in the honeycomb pattern with a floating white rectangular sink in front of it, stunning! The long narrow tile would be a great accent between solid large format tiles to add punch and glamour to a minimal modern space.
The small square dish is from West Elm and is currently being used as a key tray on my sideboard. I love the abstract pattern and how the gold lines aren’t solid everywhere.
The stag ring is in a bronze finish, but I still consider that part of the new metallic trend. A fun find from Target, I love the surprise looks I get whenever I wear it.
The cream crackle finish tile and small crushed glass accent tile could be combined to create a sophisticated transitional back splash without reading as gold, but coordinating well with gold accessories nearby. In fact, here is an example of the tile used in just that way on a recent project to update a standard builder kitchen in a condo and inject the home owner’s personal taste without going too flashy to turn away future buyers.
While gathering fabrics for that same project I found all of these great examples of modern textures and patterns in metallic tones that would fit right into this sophisticated urban condo. Against the deep espresso stained bamboo floors we installed, these gold accents are really going to pop. The bronze fabric on the lower left has a great tone on tone pattern that doesn’t really show up in this photo unless you study the lower left corner of the sample. Another example of a traditional pattern made modern by stripping it down to it’s basic form and doing it in one color instead of lots of colors.
Now I started gathering images for this post back in October, and in the months since others have noticed the trend too.
I spotted this gold wallcovering in the December/January issue of House Beautiful.
And in December, Elle Decor featured Gold in the Trend Alert column.
Gold’s resurgence is going to continue in upcoming seasons according to the trends spotted at High Point Furniture Market this fall and the forecasts I’ve received from trend spotting experts. So keep your eyes open and watch it start popping up more and more.
Thursday, September 1st, 2011
I know you are supposed to live in your home for a while to get a sense of how you will actually live and move in it before you start making big changes. But how many of us can resist plotting changes to a new space the minute you find out it’s yours? I think I have it worst than most as an interior designer since I am constantly finding new fabulous products that I’d love to live with myself, not just put into clients’ homes. Of course with the wide diversity of styles I like, if I did some of everything my house would look like a hot mess (I love that expression!)
So I’m working hard at being patient, letting the house speak to me, and keeping my eyes open for products that fit THIS house and OUR life. (I have a hard time writing the word “lifestyle” in print thanks to a high school english teacher who hated that word and was adamant we never use it in front of him.)
Our kitchen was completely remodeled by the previous owners only a year ago, and while they made some real improvements, some of their finish selections drive me bonkers. The rough slate floor varies in height by up to a quarter of an inch tile by tile, creating the effect under your feet my husband equates to walking on rocks in the Boundary Waters. I’m just waiting for that first toddler still finding their balance to try and walk across it…I foresee lots of tears and bruising. Yikes.
Here is a picture of the kitchen the day we moved in.
IKEA cabinets, black granite countertops, stainless appliances – a good foundation. I was pleasantly surprised how much I can store in these cabinets (the 36″ wide drawer units are fabulous!)
Since the kitchen is the heart of the home (geographically and figuratively), I’ve been trying to select new floor and wall tiles since pretty much the day we first visited the house to make it ours.
Now here’s where the waiting pays off. I recently was flipping through a design magazine and spotted an ad for Ann Sacks tiles that caught my eye and totally changed my vision for the backsplash.
Now before this I was looking in a couple of different directions to pull together the colors in the adjacent rooms.
I still love this tile I had in mind for our previous house, and it could work here.
It has some beautiful blues in it as well as browns, grays, whites, etc. The shape is updated from the typical glass squares you see in every big box store.
Then I thought about going with a ceramic with texture like these examples from Pratt & Larson Ceramics.
The shimmer effect of these glazes really sets them apart.
But with the darker cabinets and black granite countertops, these options were feeling too dark. The Ann Sacks ad made me think what I need to embrace it a lighter color palette, maybe even a gold tone to get that sophisticated drama I like in the copper tiles on the left above. Totally not my usual direction, but that’s the fun of it afterall.
So I did a little research and discovered a gorgeous kitchen example on the Ann Sacks website using this tile.
Talk about a picture selling a product! I’m loving it even more now. The light fixtures are a brilliant pairing and the lines of those stools would totally work in my house too. I just wish my cabinets were white too. Oh well.
Another idea is this beautiful arabesque tile, but I don’t think you would get to really appreciate its form in a space only 18″ high. Maybe that’ll be in the master bathroom (later on).
So now I’ll marinate in the idea of that tile and see what I think in a month, two months from now. If I’m still in love I’ll have to start looking for the right floor tile to coordinate with it. Stay tuned.
What would you pick?
Friday, February 25th, 2011
Looking at the fall fashion show round-ups one trend I was interested in trying was bright colorful pants (no patterns – I’m not talking about Zoobas here!) Perfect for transforming a simple minimal outfit into a statement with one bold splash of color.
Which got me thinking, why are we so afraid of color in kitchens? So I rounded up a few favorite kitchens belonging to homeowners who embraced color with arms outstretched. I’d love to hear what YOU think! Could you be this bold?
Why does the adage “it’s only paint” apply to painting walls but not painting cupboards? Come on, let’s be adventurous!
To slowly transition into colorful cabinets, consider having some of your cabinets in a color while others are wood or white. Perhaps a pantry unit on one wall is red like a great Chinese cabinet that serves as an accent and conversation piece in a living room. Or you could paint just the island cabinets in an accent color.
Or you can go all out in one shade, head to toe (or ceiling to floor, crown molding to toekick, as the case may be.)
Apple green? Yes please!
Love this glossy turquoise color.
This kitchen has so much going for it. Gorgeous walnut butcher block countertops, a wall of subway tile in a warm cream tone that keeps it light and open feeling to balance the dark green base cabinets, and the green and cream floor tiles that pull together both the color palette and connect the indoors and outdoors in one continuous flow.
Isn’t this just like a pair of colorful pants with a cream blouse and brown belt and great shoes (maybe a strappy pair of wedges with green and white overlapping bands)?
Look what a difference the wall tile can make in a room - compare this space with green base cabinets and no wall cabinets to the kitchen above. Obviously the rooms have different spatial qualities, but the colorful tile on the walls here shifts the attention from the colorful cabinets. But the cabinet color supports the tile – imagine this with maple or white cabinets. Ehh. The dark green cabinets ground the room.
Still love this red base cabinet.
This is what I would call modern english country. The cabinet pulls are definitely not traditional. I love that the background is all crisp white and I could see popping just about ANY color on those cabinets and having it all still work. Though you might need to coordinate with a different cereal bowl.
This is exactly the way I think of the fashion trend – bright pants with a light simple top. Maybe a few pins on the shirt to balance the bright lower half (the art on the walls in the room plays the same role here.)
This kitchen is right on trend with Pantone’s Color of the Year – Honeysuckle. Honestly, I’m not sure I’m loving it on kitchen cabinets.
And finally, the piece de resistance, why not paint every door a different color?! You have endless options for accessorizing the room, and I doubt you could feel sad in a fun space like this! Perfect for those afraid to commit to one color… pick 10 instead!
But if you are stuck with a kitchen where you can’t paint the cabinets (aka. a rental property), painting the walls is still a great way to bring in your personality with color. Here inky deep blue walls add a moody quality to an otherwise plain kitchen.
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