Wednesday
Jun192013

Meet My New Assistant!!

I knew this day was coming for awhile, I was getting the usual warning signs of an ending working relationship. You know the usuals such as unwilling to complete the requested work, lagging response time, very needy and inflexible, and generally uncooperative. We worked together for over 7 years and while they were a very valuable resource they just quit working one day. Seven years is a really long time so I shouldn't complain, but the hardest part of it all was trying to get a new assistant quickly. Good help is hard to find!! 

I made a list of requirements I desired in my new assistant such as: the ability and willingness to travel, good memory, fast, efficient, social, well connected, and the ability to crank out 3D CAD models as well as floor-plans. I wanted all this for a competitive price of course. And so the hunt began - all the while trying to do all the work myself! I spent a frustrating few weeks not finding the right match. Finally I narrowed down a few contenders but they couldn't meet the last important criteria: I needed instant availability!! After weeks of researching and reviewing candidates I couldn't wait any longer and needed to make a decision! I had to compromise a bit on the price but I will say I am extremely satisfied with my choice and so today I would like to introduce to you my partner in crime and extension of my business-self...

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Tuesday
Jun042013

ICFF Recap: Materials

Well, while I couldn't attend the Milan Furniture Fair that happened earlier this year, I could go to the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits Center, NYC!! I look forward to that show every year and so I went on May 20th and have been trying ever since to organize the massive amount of information and inspiration I collected during my trip in! 

Travel

Since Javits is on the west side of Manhattan I took the ferry instead of the normal bridge & tunnel ;) This was one of the first nice days in May that was warm enough to sit on top without a jacket and enjoy the sun, just like this guy...  

This was also soon after the antenna with beacon was added to the Freedom Tower.  Progress on the build is coming along nicely and is scheduled to be open the end of 2013. 

The Booths...

Once I get into the show I have to pick a strategy for walking the isles so I don't miss anything! There is just so much to take in all at once so I usually go straight to one side and work my way across the entire floor. Phew! This year I started on the left and found one of my favorite booths right away. And good thing too because my camera battery died soon after. Many companies and designers put a lot of thought and money into their booths to help show their products in the best light. I really loved this booth from Grain Design for how simple it was! The blue paper shingles were a great idea and created a strong backdrop for their products. I loved the tables, textiles and lighting. It has a sort of nautical / water based feel to me and then I learned they are from Washington State. I could definitely see myself hanging out in a place like that! 

 

Materials

After leaving the fair this year there were so many things to think about but the few that kept circling through my mind had to do with the innovative use of materials. Many designers were taking sustainability to the next level of design and it's so exciting to new beautiful products that are good for the environment! Below are a few of my favorite material explorations, and then I could easily write another 6 posts talking about the actual product designs! 

Porcelain

(High Style Stone & Tile)

Why am I showing a wood floor as the first picture under porcelain? Well because it looks like wood but is not! Crazy, right?!? I saw many "porcelain wood floors" at ICFF and I think porcelain is finding it's way onto floors in big ways! I still can't believe it, I need to research this more but the look of wood grain is very impressive and natural looking. The pictures shown here are from High Style Stone & Tile. I'm sure it doesn't have the physical warmth of real wood, but the other benefits could be a very interesting application. 

(close up detail of the grain, I'm not lying when I say it is in fact porcelain!)

 

There were also very beautiful patterns in porcelain tiles. One was a collaboration with product designer Patricia Urquiola, which is a collection of patterns you can mix and match for an eclectic look.

 

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Sunday
May262013

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy holiday weekend! Firstly, today is an important day of reflection and remembrance for members of our armed forces no longer with us. I feel extreme gratitude for their service to our country and I hope everyone can take some time to celebrate them this weekend. 

Memorial Day weekend also signifies the official kickoff of BBQ season and enjoying more time outdoors. If you are looking to spruce up your outdoor space for entertaining and relaxing we have a few tips to keep in mind when shopping the sales this weekend.

1- Create a Comfortable Conversation area

Just like arranging furniture indoors you want to create a seating area that's conducive to conversation and therefore entertaining. Try a seating area with several seats facing each other, or a "U" shape seating area with a table in the middle to put food and drinks.

(Frontgate)

If you have a small balcony or front porch try adding 2 chairs tilted at an angle towards each other with a table in-between for drinks.

(design sponge)

(Target)

2- Define The Seating Area

Rugs work like magic to carve out a designated seating area. There are many places you can get outdoor rugs for your deck or patio. This is also a great opportunity to try some fun colors you don't want to commit to inside your home!

(grandin road)

(Crate & Barrell)

3- Emphasize the Focal Point - Or Add One!

Some people might want to take advantage of a great view or gardens they have and arrange the seating area to enjoy it. If you don't have a natural focal point then try adding one like a fountain, fire pit, or pergola/ gazebo.

(Home Decorators Collection)

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Saturday
May182013

A Neutral Palette Is Like...

After reading this month's issue of House Beautiful there was one set of photos that really stayed with me and I knew I had to share! They were from an interview with designer Tobi Tobin about her 100 year farmhouse. What I really appreciated about this space was the creation of elegance through layered textures, shapes, neutral colors and materials such as wood and seagrass. There is just this sense of restrained elegance - the smart use of black striping on stair runners, railing, and mirror frames. The glamorous effect of mirrors and lighting options she chose. And that black and white wallpaper in the guest room just makes it feel like a cocoon you could stay cozy in all day long!

I can also appreciate that she bought some of her lighting from Z Gallerie, which I think is totally accessible. AND she also decided not to gut her kitchen but rather repaint the cabinets black instead which looks so charming and simple. Below are some of my favorite photos (which is almost all of them). To read the full interview click here, and to see all the pictures click here.

 

In her interview she mentioned that she designs for a lot of artists and creates a neutral palette for their homes so they can be free of visual clutter while creating art. I can also relate a neutral palette to a blank canvas or a little black dress - so much potential to customize and reuse over time! If you go neutral with the big ticket items like furniture, walls and flooring you can accessorize with the seasons and stay current with style since it's easy and affordable to swap them out. Here are some ideas using a neutral palette with colorful accessories!

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Thursday
May092013

Bringing the Outdoors Inside Is Only Good Sometimes...

As I was gathering my thoughts for this post with Mother's Day quickly approaching I was thinking about all the different things I could show that a mom would love. Then I was thinking a mom would probably love nothing more than for her life to be a little simpler... just one less thing to take care of, right? And considering it's just the beginning of the messy outdoor season with gardening, yardwork, and generally muddy feet tracking in the great outdoors.... I thought that perhaps the idea of a mudroom could make a mom happy. A place where muddy feet stay, bags get tossed, wet rain drenched coats hung... and nothing filthy goes past this barrier so the house stays fresh and clean, ahhhh....

 

Are you with me on this? What do you think? Is this something a mom would appreciate? Here are some ideas for a mudroom that you could work into any space.

 

If you don't have alot of room for a built-in try framing out some cubbies around a window. This offers plenty of storage while still letting the light in. I would even suggest making the cubby in front of the window lower to create a window seat.

 

See how this concept puts the bench nice and low below the windows to create a seat? Cubbies with baskets neatly stacked above eachother are kept towards one side. Tile floor is easy to clean and the carpet catches all the mess.

 

If you have a cubby area or nook near the entry create an alcove for stashing your stuff. This Mediterranean design is just beautiful, look at that tile!  Try a rug by the door for wiping feet! They probably look bad in photos but they are very practical :)
(source)

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Monday
Apr292013

Dreamy Bedrooms

Sometimes when writing these blog posts I like to include relevant topics to conversations I've had or projects I'm working on. Today's post is about bedroom pillows because, well simply put, we are in the market for some new ones stat! After spending some time last week in a hotel it became apparent that I can no longer sleep on the ones we have. Nada, no more. I changed the sheets today and couldn't even bring myself to put the pillow cases back onto the old pillows.

Our upgrade will more than likely be a functional one as we still have some nice shams and pillow covers. But if you are in the market for some new pillows and you'd like to refresh the look of your room as well, here are some ideas for different ways to arrange them on your bed.

I think that all these arrangements above are nice and easy to work with. In general I would say that Euro shams provide a more contemporary look since they are square, compared to their standard rectangular counterparts. Mixing them together though is a nice way to add some variety.

 

Here are some pictures that demonstrate nice pillow decor...

This one mixes euro and standard pillows. I like the graphic punch of the accent pillows with a purple neck roll.

Traditional Bedroom
by Opelika General Contractor Stone Martin Builders

 

This one uses the same fabric on the headboard as the long roll pillow. A pop of matching yellow is pulled out for the back layer, and a soft blue pulled out to layer in front of that.


Traditional Bedroom
by Atlanta Interior Designer Cristi Holcombe

 

Check out this comfy tufted headboard! Black provides a sleek accent color and is softened with the gold and white of the bedset. I like the use of a matching graphic pillow as one of the layers.


Contemporary Bedroom
by Saskatoon Interior Designer Atmosphere Interior Design Inc.


Lots of layers in this bedset - the cute little round accent pillow in front centers the look and adds a soft touch with the ruffles.


Traditional Bedroom
by Morganville Interior Designer Marina Klima Goldberg - Klima Design Group

 

Crisp white linens are paired with neutral browns for a simple contemporary look. Mixed euro and standard pillows works well to add interest when using mostly white.

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Monday
Apr222013

Decorating Tips Mother Earth Would Love

Happy Earth Day! Things have been so busy lately that I didn't realize it was Earth Day already! As a product designer and decorator I am confronted with many decisions that impact how we use and buy "stuff" in our lives. The "stuff" can be furniture, accessories, or any kind of product that we use. I have always felt it is important to reduce. reuse. recycle. but going green doesn't mean committing to hemp and granola design for the rest of your life! There are many companies that offer eco friendly solutions to help lighten our environmental footprints. There are also many small actions you can take that make big impact in reducing energy use. To narrow down some options I posted a few of my favorites tips that are easy to incorporate into your life!Firstly, since this is a decorating blog let's talk about how to "reduce" the need to buy new things by "Using What  You Have !" My decorating training emphasizes how to repurpose people's existing furniture and create a fresh look. Sometimes you already have the right pieces but just need a fresh set of eyes to see new decorating solutions!


Contemporary Living Room
by Montreal Interior Designer Lux Decor


Somewhat related to the above, if you have a room in your home redesigned and decide to upgrade your furnishings please (PRETTY PLEASE!) donate your gently used items. I can't believe how much good furniture goes into the garbage just because the fabric has gone out of style, the wood is worn, or the legs are loose. There are many people out there who could work magic on your unwanted items, so let's keep them out of the landfill. Remember - one person's trash is another person's treasure! If you are able to donate furniture or household items take a look around for local charities that could use your donation. Some of them even offer free pick up, here are my favorites: Habitat ReStore, Salvation Army, United War Veterans, Big Brother Big Sister.

Traditional Bedroom by Chicago Interior Designer Tom Stringer Design Partners

 

Another suggestion is to harness the natural warming powers of the sun, and know the best ways to block it. If you have any windows that are south/ southeast facing you are in luck! You can use passive energy from the sun to your advantage. In the winter months use window treatments that you can pull back to let the sun in. If you can put any stone or concrete in the room it will help absorb the warmth during the day and release it into the evening.

 

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Sunday
Apr142013

A Home Office On My Mind

Well it's been a whirlwind few months for my professional life but I am happy to say that I have officially transitioned into a full time consultant! I will be able to spend more time decorating as well as continue designing products on a contract basis. During this transition period I spent a lot of time thinking about home offices and how I wanted to set mine up. Last year I carved out space in our house that I could call my own and it has worked great so far. But with the additional work I'll be doing at home (including sketching and hands on work) I decided to bring in more storage for supplies and rearrange the room a bit.

I generally feel lucky to have a home office in the digital era - I am trying to go as paperless as possible! For those items I do need to have on hand closed storage is the way to go keeping clutter at bay and workflow efficient.  I'll upload some pictures of the updated office but for now here are some pictures for inspiration!

 

This home office color is kept pretty neutral with strong black accents. The versatile desk desk allows seating on either side and a variety of built-in storage. Window seat keeps furniture needs simple and curtain warms up the room with subtle pattern.

Modern Home Office
by Minneapolis Interior Designer INVIEW Interior Design


Glossy office is serene with just white and silver. Lots of storage and floating desk allows a spot for visitors to pull up a chair.

Contemporary Home Office
by Irvine Interior Designer Nagwa Seif Interior Design


This office is tucked away in a little corner. Built-in storage utilizes a small alcove in room and painted a soft green to coordinate with the wallpaper.
Traditional Home Office
by Charleston Interior Designer LORRAINE G VALE, Allied ASID

 

Great idea for an office turned guest room. Murphy beds tuck away when you don't need them but unfold to provide a full size bed.

Contemporary Home Office
by Orange Closets And Organization Tailored Living

 

If you have a shed or backyard space have you considered an outdoor office? I've seen so many great ideas for modular outdoor offices! Maybe I'll even do a separate post on these...


Contemporary Exterior
by Sydney Architect Danny Broe Architect

 

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