Friday, June 8th, 2012
Happy Friday! I’m headed over to the ASID Showcase Home for the last weekend of tours. I can’t believe how the past month has flown by! I really appreciate everyone who has taken the time to tour the house and support our organization as well as the charities that benefit from this event.
I wanted to start your Friday off right with some beautiful things that have caught my eye recently.
First, I watched a marathon of Kitchen Cousins on HGTV recently(one of the few shows on that network I can stand because they do real construction with real budgets and show their problem solving in action. Though I don’t understand clients letting them pick the backsplash with no input.) I’m impressed with their building knowledge, creative reuse of historic building materials, and well designed kitchens.
I like this kitchen they did for one of the designer’s parents. They completely flipped the layout of the kitchen, opened up the traffic flow, and utilized a lovely mix of materials. The tobacco stained upper cabinets are lovely. Mixed with the white lacquer lower cabinets and a handmade Moroccan backsplash, it’s a modern yet eclectic mix. My husband dug the wall graphic on the far wall.
The fact that they do the majority of their work in Hoboken, NJ (just across the river from Manhattan) makes the show extra special to me since my aunt lived there for decades and I’d spend my breaks during college hanging out with her there. (I went to Vassar College, which is 1.5 hrs north of the city, up the Hudson River.)
These orange accessories would fit in lovely with the concept I developed for my deck (see the post here). And the nautical hook, blanket and basket seem so perfect for a Cape Cod retreat I can dream of having (though the commute there is rough on summer weekends – round-about anyone?)
This kitchen has a lovely mix of classic white cabinetry and well worn vintage details and an abundance of natural light. The designer really played with scale (the etageres on the back counter, the chandelier) in a unique way that really takes this room beyond the typical.
The color palette, fabric selections, paneling, wall color and high ceilings in this room are so different than anything I’ve seen in a while, and that’s so refreshing! Look how the designers mixed mid-century armchairs with a Jansen style daybed, French iron side tables and Murano glass lamps with a bone inlay table. What an inviting solarium (though I think any solarium would be lovely with all that light spilling in)! The rest of this D.C. town house is equally well designed, so check it out if you have access to a copy of the May issue of House Beautiful. Or just click through to the article on HB’s website. The kitchen backsplash is amazingly transformative.
That’s all for this week, or this post would be a mile long. Next week I’ll share a soon-to-be completed bathroom project that’s ALMOST done and looking fabulous.
1. Bruncon.com – Brunelleschi Construction
2, 3, 4. House Beautiful May 2012
5. Mercury Mosaics 2012 catalog
Tags: Brunelleschi Construction, Cape Cod, House Beautiful, interior design, Kitchen, Kitchen Cousins, living room, Mercury Mosaics, nautical, orange, solarium, vintage, white
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Thursday, July 8th, 2010
So this weekend I was re-reading a favorite book for bookgroup, “Cooking for Mr. Latte” by Amanda Hesser. Amanda was a food writer for the NY Times for years, and the book chronicles her adventures in cooking, eating and relationships. Thank goodness she includes many of the recipes she describes at the end of each chapter or I would be a very hungry and frustrated reader!
What I love about this book is that all the recipes have a story behind them, which I think is true of some of the best recipes. Like the lemon bars my family makes that come from a cookbook my brother’s middle school put together of each kid’s favorite recipe. Fred Natkins will forever live on in our lives for his contribution of his mom’s lemon bar recipe. We never refer to them as simply Lemon Bars. Oh no, they are Fred Natkin’s Lemon Bars. I’m sure you all have similar stories about favorite dishes. And you remember who you served them to and how they fed the soul and stomach (if done right).
So what does that have to do with design? Well, it got me thinking about shared experiences, travel, and the objects we pick up along the way. When I travel I prefer to buy an interesting object for my home that I can look at and remember the trip. I’m not talking about “insert destination here” sweatshirts, spoons, shot glasses or fridge magnets. Though if that’s your thing, enjoy!
No I’m talking about that wall hanging I found in the little shop in the Gion district of Kyoto that has a giesha and a temple on it. And after I bought it we passed two maiko, apprentice gieshas, on the street.
Seeing the object pulls you right back into a moment, a story, a feeling. Or the 1890s German scientific print of different types of mushrooms I found in a vintage shop in Austin, Texas, that fits in perfectly on the wall of mushroom photos in my living room.
The mushroom photos always elicit lots of questions from visitors. It gives us the chance to tell them about our love of hiking and mushroom hunting, where I was inspired by the variety of mushrooms and colors and textures in the woods. Then we can show them our bags of dehydrated mushrooms as proof that I’m not just making this up.
The layout with different size and shape frames in an asymmetrical arrangement is more dynamic and allows us to add to the collection easily over the years. In fact, we’ll probably change out the mushroom photos for pictures from our trip to Japan next. That will provide new stories to tell, and different memories to enjoy. And when we tire of those photos, we will have other photos from other adventures with which we can replace them.
I think using objects and photos from your travels and adventures (even if they are local) is one of the best ways to ensure that your home is a reflection of you and your life. Grandma’s hope chest or the lamp from your childhood bedroom can also serve as mementos (not to be confused with Mentos, the freshmaker).
What objects do you have that have special meaning and history behind them? Where did you find them or who passed them down to you? Do they have pride of place in your home or are they mixed in and require exploration to notice?
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.
Classic finishes, but the tall metal leg caps on the vanity are thoroughly modern and unexpected.
This is how his loft like space in Manhattan used to look. Spare but lots of interesting pieces mixed in a quiet palette.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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?
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).
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.