Monday, August 31, 2009

HGTV Design Star kitchen reminds me of ...

This weeks episode of HGTV Design Star opened with the four remaining contestants meeting in the kitchen of their stylish home base. Lots of bright colors and modern elements fill their living quarters. In this shot (taken while I was watching the show on DVR) I took note of the rich purple wall with the proclamation

Flash back almost ten years ago to one of my very first design clients
who happened to be very modern with a fondness for bright colors ...

Good design is timeless!
This almost all white kitchen with soaring ceilings (sorry, I don’t have a full picture to show) gets a jolt of color with this bright eggplant backsplash. The word YUM! was a final touch that my client added above the cooktop.

I had a lot of fun helping out this particular client. She called me after seeing an ad I placed in the local paper when I was just starting out. At our initial meeting, I didn
’t even own a color fan deck of my own. We used Pantone color chips from my graphic design past to get the ball rolling. At our next get together, I showed up with a huge Color Preview kit from Benjamin Moore. Soon after, we were able to transform her mostly white walls with some really fun color combinations. (And she later referred my name to a number of her friends who then became clients and so on). I will always be fond of this project. It was fun to work with someone who did not hesitate to go bold.

Here are a few more pictures from her
home which was a confident mix of contemporary, modern, and traditional with a touch of whimsy. My role in this project was choosing colors to energize and unite her spaces, while providing decorating ideas for her to complete on her own.

The artwork in this entry way was the starting point for our color story. Benjamin Moore Crushed Velvet was a bold choice for the walls, and a real “wow” factor. This lucite bench was recovered in a bright red and purple stripe to coordinate with the art above. The homeowner discovered a perfect match in a striped pillow while a teal vase adds a pop of contrasting color, which is visually repeated in the painting. Even the recessed light seems to coordinate with the full moon.

Opposite the bench, a utility cabinet almost disappears by being “painted-in” with the same vibrant hue as the walls. A collection of silver items is the first hint at the silver painted walls found on the lower level. Before our mini-makeover, the large expanse of mirrored closet doors was the first thing anyone saw upon entering. Now, they seem to recede into the background while the saturated mix of bold colors sets the tone for this home full of unique and lively character.

In the living room, a dark gray wall (Benjamin Moore Eclipse) adds drama while allowing the natural grays of the stone hearth to really shine. Moving furniture to create areas of interest, created this stylish corner. A new pillow on a classic wing chair is a modern update. I think I love the fabric on the chair even more so today. The oranges and blues are such a great color combination, and the pattern is fluid perfection!

My client has since relocated to a warmer climate. I am sure that she has transported her fearless decorating, modern style, and love for color to her new surroundings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Design TV and a Fashionably Chic Condo

I chose this pillow, end table and lamp all from Pier 1
for a recent design project, and later saw the pillow
on the set of the Project Runway All-Star Challenge.

I happily overstuffed myself this past weekend on a large serving of DVR’d design TV ... gobbling up half-a-dozen HGTV Design Star episodes along with a generous portion of the Project Runway season, now being shown on the Lifetime network. I just love watching how other creatives go through the design process. Since the trends in one field will often show up in the other, I liken this overload of TV-viewing to “critical design research.”

I was pleasantly surprised to discover this soft pink ruffled pillow from Pier 1 (which reminded me of the trend-setting design work of last season’s Project Runway winner, Leanne Marshall), displayed on every bed in the women’s sleeping area on the Project Runway All-Star Challenge.

This pillow is one of those great pieces that has the ability to draw a person into a room. It practically invites you to pick it up and “ruffle” it. We used it on my client’s chocolate brown futon in her spare bedroom/office to add a touch of feminine whimsy to this warmly modern space.

Since the room is visible from the front entrance, I wanted to give visitors a reason to walk down the hall to go see it up close. At a recent cocktail party, one of the first guests did just that, exclaiming at the front door, “Ooh, I love that pillow!”

Here are a few more pics from what is turning out to be a very “fashionably chic condo” ...

My client adores zebra prints ... this pair of trays (also from Pier 1) gives her new ottoman an added touch of stylish function. Ottoman and custom sofa from Boston Interiors. My recommendation for art, Verdigris by Elizabeth Jardine, is available at framed print, Seascape by Claude Monet
swells with the colors of her marine palette ...
Benjamin Moore Silver Marlin, Sandy Hook Gray,
Misty Air and Limesickle

A vintage chair gets a pick-me up
with this petite accent pillow from
my Vintage Seaside Collection.

An ocean-inspired vignette ... a silver star pendant casually drapes over a framed photo of a sea turtle (taken during a recent vacation) and is surrounded by a collection of sea-colored glass and gathered shells in a narrow ceramic dish.

Tablescape design with Olive Dish by Sigrid Olsen
as seen at the North Shore Design Show

I recently met designer Sigrid Olsen at the gala event for the NSDS at the Wenham Museum this spring. My client, who attended the gala as my guest, had met Olsen previously during sample sales held at Sigrid’s former clothing design studio. Since selling her apparel business, Olsen has “returned to her roots as an artist and print designer,” and now has a new collection of sea-inspired pottery and art (among other design projects). Check out her new locations in Gloucester, Massachusetts to see more:

Sigrid Olsen Art Gallery
34 Rocky Neck Avenue
ISLA Beach House
77 Rocky Neck Avenue

And be sure to check back later for more updates on this Fashionably Chic Condo. Coming up next ... coffee table, window treatments, and final touches.

Mirrors that seem to float above her desk are
illuminated by this paper lantern from Pier 1

Did I mention that the best part of working with this particular client is the fact that she is my younger sister? Congratulations, Linda, on your new place!

Photo borrowed from the Wenham Museum
North Shore Design Show: Tablescapes – Album 2 on Facebook

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Secret Garden Room

My favorite spot in my house this summer actually isn’t in my house at all. I have been taking my coffee each morning (and a glass of wine many evenings) in this newly designed garden room.

The inspiration for this outdoor living space has been hanging on my refrigerator since I ripped it out of
Southern Living magazine in May of 2008. While they went with a black background for their garden room, I chose the opposite. The feeling of being surrounded by lush plantings and a green view remain the same.

Southern Living, May 2008
Photograph by Van Chaplin
Styling by Scott Martin

When I first saw this photo, the green striped chairs reminded me of the Winston Patio set that my husband and I bought over a decade ago for our last house. While the chairs are still in great shape, the cushions could use a little freshening up.

Some fabrics I have been looking at ...

Winston Marrakesh Palm

I love this pattern. It reminds me of the unopened buds of a hydrangea blossom. My design plan is to keep a neutral color palette on the chairs, but change up the colors in tablecloths and accent pillows to match the flowers that are in bloom at the time. These perennial hydrangeas (in pots right now) will later be planted in my garden.

This chocolate brown, green and pink outdoor fabric with white ferns would be nice as a table topper or on a set of pillows. It looks very much like the one in the inspiration photo above. Maybe I would pair it with a more subtle pattern on the chair like the stripe in the Winston Cedarkey Kiwi.

Available at JoAnn Fabrics

We chose to cover the walls with a barn-board like MDF that comes in huge vertical sheets and is pre-primed. Since the room is adjacent to our garage that is next to our barn, it seemed appropriate. Painting the entire corner room in brilliant white gives the vertical siding a more glamorous appearance. I love how pristine it looks, and hesitate to put anything on the walls. For now, I am using dark accents to contrast with the white backdrop.

Set of two Parisian Luminaries available
through Southern Living at Home

This tablescape with its iron cherub and fretwork candle holders inspires this fabric choice for the chairs ...

Winston Antique Fret

If I decide to have slip covers made through my workroom, I might use this outdoor fabric in a similar pattern (but available at a much lower price point than brand new cushions):

Available at JoAnn Fabrics

Maybe I will add this Chinese Garden Stool from

Wisteria for a bit of contrast to the white walls.

And if I want to change up the colors completely, this palette of blues and greens would be nice especially if we decide to add that pool next year we keep talking (or dreaming?) about ...

Winston Skyline Sea Mist

Winston Aqua Turquoise

Solarium Tropique Peridot

I so love this antique lantern, but it’s not in my budget this year (it lists for $3,500) ... from The Elemental Garden on 1st Dibs.

A work in progress ...

With such high ceilings, I feel I should make the space more intimate by adding something to the walls (even though I am loving this blank canvas right now). I have a couple of items that may work ...

This garden plaque is simple but elegant.
I might put it above the cafe table.

An ornate iron scrollwork piece matches
the colors of the ceiling fan and would
fit well above the paired seating.

Bodiam Garden Urn in Stone Finish
from the The Well Appointed House

At 22 inches high, this urn could be cool as a cocktail table. I would fill it with moss (we have plenty of that around here) and then cover the top with a piece of round glass just slightly larger than the opening. I think I saw something similar at a design show house but it was filled with shells.

Photo courtesy of vintagesteph

This white vintage birdcage from the curated collection of vintage finds available through vintagesteph would be sweet in the corner with a shade loving plant nestled inside. See more cool items like this at

And just so you can appreciate how far this space has come, here is the before photo taken in early spring of this year (this is actually an improvement from when we first moved in and it was full of dirt, weeds and a rickety door into the garage).

Before ...

After ...

View before ...

View after ...

I created a focal point by adding a plant stand plus vintage gate in front of the grapevine arbor. In a former life, the gate was used to secure the eighteen sheep that used to graze this property in their pen. Now it is hard at work holding back the raspberry cane and other weed-like growth!

Chair before ...

Chair after ...

A client of mine gave me this set of four chairs along with the cafe table. In an afternoon, I recovered the ripped vinyl seat cushions with new foam and outdoor fabric in a verdant green striated pattern. Now I use two of them in the space as end tables or spare seating. I could have spray painted the wire frame, but decided a little vintage patina would be a nice contrast to the new fabric.

Design inspired by nature ...

a perennial favorite.

Southern Living at Home Coffee Mug in Provence

A special thank you to my husband who spent a couple of weekends building and painting this room, and to my dad who cleared brush and laid the stone “floor” so that I could enjoy my morning coffee al fresco!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Storyboards online ...

What were you born to do?
A storyboard I created to promote Gap jeans

In the world of advertising, art directors create storyboards to portray a concept to a client. As an interior decorator, it is a great way to show a collection of items along with the intended mood for a space. I have seen polyvore storyboards on other blogs, and after giving it a shot, I have a new addiction. It is just like working in Photoshop, but SO much easier. Tons of trendy items already silhouetted, neat graphic icons to choose from, cool fonts, and much more. Prices and links are automatically posted with each item.

This is my first “set” as polyvore calls it. Expect more to come (along with bags under my eyes from late night posts like this one ... once you get started, it is almost impossible to stop!)

on polyvore