Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dressing a pretty window

Sometimes--make that often--plans in design evolve.

The longer you live in a house, the more you spot problems that can be solved by design.
Take my client in NJ with the gorgeous traditional house and fabulous taste.  (Yes, she's reading, but this is also true!)

One of the first things we worked on together were window treatments for her kitchen.  We chose ivory raw silk for roman shades to give texture without competing too much with all the gorgeous elements in the room.  And we trimmed them out in blue velvet ribbon to tie in the color of the range and to take it up a notch in formailty.  You can see progress shots here.

But we left this window bare.

So lovely on its own, yes?

Turns out, for functional reasons, a shade is required.  (Light control and privacy: the big two!)  But what to do?  There's always more than one way to go.  

1. Perhaps the most obvious choice: a roman shade made to match the others.  Nice.  But also, perhaps, a missed opportunity.  It would be nice to coordinate with the original treatments but also play up the difference of this one--the arched shape and those amazing leaded diamond panes!

2.  Cafe curtains.  Pretty, breezy, and leaving the window top free to strut its stuff.  Though not sure this is really solving the problem of light control.

3. A matching roman shade set off by a shaped cornice in a print.  The cornice following the line of the arched window just emphasizes its pretty shape.  I'm thinking of bringing back the print from the barstools.  Fab, yes?

Or going solid and trimmed, with a natural/ grass shade underneath.

I know what has my vote, but I have to say, ANY of these strategies really dresses up the window, plays up its shape, and balances the architecture of the flanking cabinets.  We can't go wrong!

What would you choose?

Monday, July 29, 2013


I don't believe in "styling" your entire home.  For me, there are simply too many surfaces that have a big job to do (coffee tables to hold up feet and drinks, entry tables laden with keys and mail, bookshelves filled with--gasp!--books), and while I love the pretty look of a surface that has been carefully styled, it's just not always realistic.

There: I said it.

But there ARE opportunities for styling.  The top of the dresser in a little-used guest room is a perfect example.

Statement lamp, layered art (large hung, small propped), a stack of boxes to create another vertical, a bowl to soften the edges, and a little frame covered in bits and pieces for that sculptural quality.

Oh, and my early-morning reflection in the artwork for good measure.

Tell me: to style, or not to style?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Round up: Folding Screens

Do you need a little more inspiration on the folding screens front?
Because I've got some for you.

So versatile!

And here are some of my finds.  Mostly not exactly "budget," but there are a few deals throw in.

Middle row: Wayfair, Bellacor, Henredon
Bottom row: Lamps Plus, 1st Dibs, Luxury World

Top row: Mitchell Gold Bob Williams, Victoria Hagan, The Screen Gallery UK
Second Row: World Market, MGBW, World Market
Third Row: The Screen Gallery UK, Lee Industries, MGBW

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Folding Screens

How's that for a catchy title?

I tried all the obvious puns but, well, the straightforward approach was probably best.

I was sourcing folding screens today for a project and looked at a bunch before realizing it would make the most sense to just have a custom upholstered one built.  But before I closed out all those tabs, I thought I would share my finds.

It's a: ROUND UP!

But first, some inspiration.

Homes and Gardens via Apartment Therapy

The Selby via Apartment Therapy


Martha Stewart


Lovely.  So, tomorrow: ROUND UP!

Also.  Do you have a visual memory?  I took one look at the green image above (found on a google image search) and went, "oh right, that's when Domino did that story about how to do monochromatic palettes."  And then I saw that last image and went "Shalom Harlow on the cover of Domino's green issue.  Madeline Weinrib textiles."  Curious to see if my memory served, I looked it up.


I have to say, I'm sort of impressed that I got this even when the shot was at a different angle (though maybe the angled shot was inside the magazine).  This issue is more than 6 years old.

I have lately been re-watching that show Felicity, and last night's episode had an annoying swim team friend of Ben's sharing his theory that everyone has their 3 things that they are the best at of anyone.  It's a pretty stupid theory when you think about how many people are in the world, BUT, this remembering of magazine decorating stories could be one of mine.  Useful, I know.  I guess I found my way into the right business.

So, two questions:

1.  Do you have a visual memory?
2.  What is one of your three things?

I guess this post should have been called something like "smokescreens" after all.

But if you actually want to make your own folding screen, do as Martha does.  Or check out the altogether reasonable tutorial from Ms. Jenny Komenda.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sophisticated Lodge Living

We took a little family trip last week, to visit the Badlands and the Black Hills of South Dakota, a place whose magic I first encountered at the tender age of 11, on a school trip.  It is this kind of place:  for much of the time, I had the lyrics in my head that say "Oh give me a home where the Buffalo roam and the sky is not cloudy all day."

Gorgeous blue skies.  Literal roaming buffalo.  (Or bison, as our 3 year old companion informed me).  Incredible rock formations.  Still and silent lakes.  I generally don't share much in the way of family photos, but, I mean, come on:

In the Black Hills, we stayed in a cabin in Sylvan Lake in Custer National Park (last  two, above), perhaps one of the lovelier places I have been.  In a way, I appreciated the thought that went in to the decor, with ropes lining the open beams in the living room ceiling, sofas upholstered in western-look blankets, and distressed faux-leather bedskirts in the bedrooms.

But I would love to see my lake decor just a bit more sophisticated.

I was thinking something more like this.

I like how the shapes of the lighting and occasional chair sort of reference the use of antlers in design without actually going there.  The West Elm rug is a take on Navajo blankets, in totally current colors.  And I love a pair of gorgeous Native American portraits, so much better than some cheesy Western landscapes but still referencing the place in a meaningful way.

So.  Am I the only one mentally redecorating the lodgings when I travel?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sneakity Peek

Modern, simple wood pegs and nickel show racks in a front hall.  Floating bookshelves in a living room.

Bit by bit, putting it together. That's what counts!
(Name that tune--anyone?)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Transforming a photograph by staining the frame

Another day, another progress shot.  Isn't this fun?

This one is from the office I'm almost done with, the one with this major gallery wall.  We had some art to work with that the Foundation had been given over the years, pieces that related to the work of the Foundation but had seen better days.  Rather than start from scratch, we worked with what we had.



This black and white vintage large-scale photograph of Notre Dame was done no favors by the pickled wood frame, which just further washed out the faded colors.  Several thin coats of black stain brought it to life, and a goldleaf pen on the inside edges saved me from getting stain all over the photo.

Of course, a custom bench in a Schumacher wool doesn't hurt anything, either.

A custom coffee table in the finishes below is the final piece to come in to the room, and I can show you the whole shebang!

French gold frame and heavily burnished glass top.  It' going to be a stunner!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Exterior Colors

This week is all about progress with ongoing clients.  I worked with a client on a whole-house (interior) paint palette as well as a design framework and some specific furnishing and rug selections, and they get so many compliments on the colors, they asked me to tackle the exterior.  Which of course I was happy to do!

I love the balance of bringing green against the orange brick, whether with dark olive trim

 Or light trim and deep, burnt orange mullions.

Pale green walls with ivory trim is a brighter take on the scheme, with charcoal mullions for contrast.

But green was a no-go, so we had a go at grey, another nice compliment to the orange brick.

In the end we went with a lighter/ brighter approach.

It is the least "different" from the existing house colors, but it gives the best hint at what's inside (like aqua living room walls!).  

What do you think: should the exterior of a house give some hint to what's inside?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Client breakfast nook

I've been working with a client in a sort of modern craftsman home, bringing in investment pieces little by little.  They have a charming breakfast nook, surrounded by windows, with medium wood frames and green beadboard below.  We recently brought in a lovely pedestal table and cross back chairs (which came in white but will be painted.)

Now: fabrics!  The banquette will get a cushion in the stripe, with a suite of throw pillows that can move between this space and the living room sectional.

I'm pushing for orange chairs (see paint swatches above), but we may settle for a warm ivory that matches the table base.

Here's the inspiration I sent my client to put on the hard sell....

Adorable, right?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sneakity Peek

I just uploaded cell phone pictures to my computer, and realized I have really been holding out on you.  So many little progress shots, and since I have not joined the instagram revolution, none of you have seen these yet.

How about little updates on client projects all week?

Yes, I think this is a good plan.

Today:  new light fixture and gorgeous grasscloth in a bedroom.

Can't wait to pull the rest together, including these elements:

Meanwhile, grasscloth is going up on this lovely ceiling tomorrow, for this design, which has also gone through some changes.

Looooooove grasscloth!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Small Measures: Chalkboard bathroom

The weekend series returns with a great idea from Beastie Boy Mike D:
Chalkboard paint in a powder room.  Makes me think of the designer's bathroom--was it Albert Hadley?--where guests were encouraged to trace their hands on the wall and leave messages in sharpie (only a little less permanent).  Or maybe it has more to do with public bathroom graffiti?  Either way, really, really fun.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

But What Rug?

Ah, yes, I love a good saga, don't you?

In short: the beloved orange trellis rug that was living in the living room felt a little "hot" to me.

It moved upstairs to the rugless girls' room with the idea that I would rather invest in something new for our main living space.

I took this jute rug that had been layered in the guest room,

And put it in the living room temporarily (it's too small).

I like the look but not the size.

Then I lost my mind and ordered the wrong striped rug from Overstock.

It was a great rug and actually pretty good for the space, but did not play nice with the adjoining dining room rug.

Now we are all caught up.

With all the browns in the living room, I'd like something cool on the floor.  Ideally it will work with the existing green and orange accents, though the green chair will likely eventually be recovered.

I was planning to do a custom Indian Dhurrie in wool, probably in a blue and ivory where the blue was more like the blue of my dining room chairs.  One of these patterns (colors are fully customizeable):

But then I spotted this.

Too trendy?  Maybe.  (Less so because of the color, but still.)  I brought home a sample and my just-turned-7-year old said "Mom, I LOVE this swatch."  Because it is super soft and plush, much cozier than jute.

But here's the other thing.  This room is an odd shape/layout because of the L-shaped half-wall fireplace/storage.

This means that it is impossible to have a regular rectangular rug cover the whole floor, making the small space seem smaller than it actually is.  Unless I did something custom in sisal or jute, with a notched corner.  Like this.  (See the corner wrapping the fireplace hearth?)

Usually I don't love the look of an odd shape and I don't like spending money on something so specific (i.e. something that won't work elsewhere.)  But we plan to be in this house for a long time, and a rug that fits that space would make a small living room feel bigger and would help all the off center elements feel more centered.

So....the look/feel of a bohemian blue rug?  Or the function of a larger custom natural rug?  Perhaps I could go for the best of both worlds and find a natural rug with blue or metallic woven in, like the ones below, but that can be made to my space?

I think this post made up my mind for me.  Curious what you all have to say....

Also, for the record, last week I helped a friend moving in to a new house choose paint colors for every room as well as several furniture decisions, all in one day.  At the end of the day my friend said "I can NOT believe how many decisions you just made."  See?  I can be very decisive.  Just not for myself!


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