Posts Tagged ‘traditional’

Black and White Color Palette – Oreo cookie style

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?

 Photo Credits:
1. Kitchen by In Search Of
2. Kitchen by Kate Hume of Birdman Furniture Company
3. NY Times article on Universal Design, 2-20-09
4. Kitchen by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design via DesignSponge, 12-21-09
5. Backyard by Commune Design
6. Bathroom by Kjaer8 via DesignSponge, 11-09
7. Knack office
8. Unknown
9. Alexander Wang in his apartment, NY Times
10. Unknown
11. Room by Gal Nauer
12. Knack foyer
13. Living Room by Color Theory
14. Alexander Wang’s desk, NY Times
15. Knack living room
16. Dining Room by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design via DesignSponge, 12-21-09
17. Bathroom by Purple Design
18. Dining Room by owners of Maison 24
19. Fireplace wall with wallpaper by Jocelyn Warner
20. Dining Room with forest wall covering by Applied Image

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Color Pulse | 2 Comments »

Thomas O’Brien – American Modern

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Meeting the designers I’ve been following for years is such a kick!  A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to have design talent Thomas O’Brien come to town to talk about his latest book, “American Modern.” 

You might recognize his name from Target, since he’s been designing bedding, towels, and home accessories for them for a few years now.  Clean and modern with a traditional foundation and a muted, masculine palette is how I’d describe his collections.  He was also just selected as one of Elle Decor magazine’s A-List Top 25 Interior Designers.

I actually started tracking his career many moons ago when I was a bright eyed college freshman finally getting to explore the Manhattan I’d been reading about in design magazines for years.  My aunt, who worked in the city, showed me around SoHo, and we discovered Aero Studios, Thomas O’Brien’s shop and design studio.  I was a goner.  Back then SoHo wasn’t filled with boutiques by all the major fashion labels. It still had plenty of art galleries and little shops with quirky personalities.  I think you have to go way out in Brooklyn now to recapture that vibe.  Anyway, I was drooling over his mix of decorative objects on display and dreaming of the day when I could afford his stuff.  Fast forward to the present and I’m still a fan of his curatorial eye.  

With a chance to have Thomas autograph my copy of his latest book, I handed over my money and jumped right in line!  And it’s a book I think you should consider adding to your bookshelf too.  Having Thomas walk through each of the projects in the book and give the back story was fun and informative.  I was especially impressed by his explanation of how his company bills for projects, as in our industry it seems to be an art form in its own right.  So here are some images from each section of the book to show the range of styles he works in under the new framework of “American Modern.” 

It’s arranged in sections, with each section focusing on a different house that exemplifies a different type of his version of Modern design.

Traditional Modern:

Classic finishes, but the tall metal leg caps on the vanity are thoroughly modern and unexpected.

Urban Modern:

This is how his loft like space in Manhattan used to look. Spare but lots of interesting pieces mixed in a quiet palette.

Casual Modern:

I’ve had pictures of this NYC home in my inspiration images since it was first published in a magazine a few years back. I love the mix of classic midcentury pieces, soft inviting upholstered pieces, and the vertical stonework on the fireplace.

American Modern:

A classic American home transforms into a light, inviting modern vacation home in Thomas O’Brien’s hands.  Those long tables are fabulous! The leg detail? Perfect.

Elegant Modern:

How luxurious but inviting is that rug in the dining room?!  The subtle color variation and texture makes me want to wander this home barefoot. And the vintage bench with a glass top desk is a juxtaposition against the dark wood of the dining room furniture.

Formal Modern:

I don’t typically like things too posh, but the finishes in this butler’s pantry are so luxe but with clean lines to keep it modern that I’m a fan.  What a lovely space to sneak into during a party, check your make up in the mirrored backsplash, and perhaps sneak in a bit of snogging. (Naughty!)

and finally…

Vintage Modern:

This is what the Thomas O’Brien’s city house looks like now. Same space as Urban Modern, but he’s now embraced a layered, less restrained style of living. Surround yourself with all those favorite pictures on a giant pin up board. They aren’t just for the office.  Group your collections into little vignettes to please your eye everytime you walk by.  Homes are for living, so fill them with the things you love and let the rest go.

Which style best fits your personality?  Or do you like aspects of more than one type of O’Brien modern?


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Reading List | No Comments »

Celerie Kemble – To Your Taste

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010


Celerie Kemble is an rising star in the interior design community. Based in NYC but raised in Palm Beach, her mother is an interior designer as well, so she was exposed to great design from an early age.  I had the chance to meet her a few years back at an event promoting a line of textiles she designed, and I even got a photo with her!  Unfortunately, the person who took the photo gave the camera to her techie, who deleted my picture with Celerie (sadness!)  But I’m sure I’ll get the chance to fix that in the future.

I finally got around to reading Celerie’s book “To Your Taste: Creating Modern Rooms with a Traditional Twist,” and while our styles can be very different at times, I love both her bold use of color and her restrained application of color and pattern.   The book explores her own personal design evolution, and then covers how you can create your own personal style.  It’s worth checking out from the library and seeing what inspires you. 

Here are a few of my favorite images from the book. 

Last week I wrote about using bold greens, and here is a great example of incorporating a bold green and bold patterns, but tempering them with restful expanses of white.  It’s fun and playful, but still retains a polished hint of traditional.

Don’t you just love these palettes?  I love the use of orange in different color palettes, either as a dominant element or a supporting player.  It’s always fun to see the paint, fabric, wallcovering, and trim details pulled together to tell the story.

Lest you think all she can do is bold, check out the lighter palette of this breakfast nook.  Spring yellows, greens and white are layered with textures.  The chandelier, the bamboo style chairs, tweedy fabrics on the banquette, ruffle edged plates on the wall, and wainscotting on the wall and ceiling add layers of interest that the eye only observes slowly. 

Can I just say I love the mix in this small dining room?  The morse code like dots pattern on the banquette and drapes is fabulous!  The tree like base on the table is textural but subtle in black. The metalic finish on the slim chairs is unexpected, but works. And the faux snakeskin fabric on the chairs is one of my favorites from her line of fabrics.  I can’t wait to have dining room chairs that I can reupholster in something similar.  They look so fancy, but wipe clean with a wet cloth. Excellent! 

So can you relate to any of these rooms?  Do you like the mix of traditional and modern elements?  How do YOU define your personal style?  I’d love to hear your definitions!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Reading List | 3 Comments »

Cinnamon Rolls Inspired Palette

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The other night I had a very vivid dream involving a giant cinnamon roll – you know the kind that are the size of a dinner plate?  Needless to say, I woke up with quite a craving for cinnamon rolls.  After staring at the beauty that is a well crafted cinnamon roll, I realized it would be fun to use it as a source of inspiration.

So here are rooms that incorporate the colors of the cinnamon roll – the glossy white of the icing, the deep brown of the cinnamon filling, and the shades of golden brown of the bread.  This palette can work in every style of room – contemporary, cottage, rustic, traditional.


I like this mix of bedrooms. Notice the use of texture in these subtle palettes helps to add layers and interest.

Kitchens and Bathrooms

Bathrooms can be traditional – with marble counters and cream inset cabinetry, or rustic – with exposed beams, distressed cabinetry, crisp white walls and a creamy tub meant for hours of soaking.

Kitchens can be the new transitional – with a mix of vintage inspired stools, exposed beams, creamy walls, and sisal rugs balanced by crisp white cabinetry.  Or this palette can be applied to a traditional kitchen with buttery yellow walls (more butter isn’t really necessary on a cinnamon roll, but it sometimes tastes really good, admit it!), creamy inset cabinetry, a crisp white exposed sink and the warm tan of a butcher block countertop.  

Living Rooms and Dining Rooms


Here you can see the range of this palette.  Contemporary living rooms and dining rooms from sunny LA to NYC. A clean lined midcentury modern living room from the midwest. Axel Vervoordt’s Belgian antique filled dining room and living room with those great textural walls in such an enveloping shade of cream. 

However you live, there’s always a way to incorporate the cinnamon roll palette in your home. It results in such calm, inviting spaces, just like the bliss I feel after a cinnamon roll and a big glass of milk.  Has food every inspired your color palette?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Design & Home Living Tips | No Comments »

Fox Interiors Chair