Friday, February 27, 2009

Think Pink!

Pink seems to be a color that spurs strong opinions in the design world. People usually love it or really hate it. I personally love pink, but I definitely think it is a color that requires skill in its usage. The particular shades of pink that are used also determine the overall effect. Personally, my favorite shades are the pinks that are warm in undertone. Sort of peachy pinks, I guess.

These two photos show a Suzanne Kasler dining room using pink. I love the wide pink and white striped chairs. The buffet appears to have a pink and gold glaze as well. (I just had to show the little slipcovered chair to the side. It is precious.)

Linda Knight Carr does touches of pink.

Martha Stewart does pink combined with gray in her guesthouse in Maine. Her idea was to do a continuous wash of ambient color throughout the house, and I think the results are beautiful. I have always heard that cosmetic colors make people look good in their rooms.

This another view of Martha's guesthouse. Here she took several mismatched pieces of wicker furniture and painted them the same shade of gray. This picture shows a corner of the bedroom.
This house is by the ocean, and Martha says she pulled the color scheme from the colors of seashells, oysters, and misty sunrises. I think it is a beautiful, feminine interior without being too over-the-top girly.

This bedroom is a striking combination of brown toile on the walls, pink fabrics on the bed, and a beautiful antique tole bed. Guess who? Faudree, of course!

This is a bad scan I know, but I love this nursery by Suellen Gregory. It avoids many cliche' ideas about using pink in a nursery. By using a peachy-pink combined with gray, she achieved a very sophisticated look that could grow with the little girl.

Pink vanity stool with rhinestone trim.

A Gerrie Bremerrman dining room. Soft pink on the slipcovers on the Louis XVI chairs. They work beautifully with the rug.

A decidedly feminine dressing table. The wallpaper and pink chenille fabric on the stool are luxurious, to say the least. And yes, Charles Faudree again!

I didn't realize until I began working on this post how many designers use pink in their work. For a color to have such a difficult reputation, I think these photos illustrate just how versatile and beautiful it can be.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Mother, My Mentor

I often sit and just think about my journey into this wonderful world of art and design that I am so fortunate to have inhabited since I can remember. Like anything meaningful in life, I think we always want to attribute such important parts of our lives to people and places that have influenced us along the way. My love for all things beautiful has been fostered by many people and from time to time I will address theme here in my blog
My mother is one of those influences. I'm sure you expect that I will say that she herself was an aficionado of the decorative arts and design. Actually she is the furthest thing from it. She is a practical person who thinks if a lamp she had when she "set up housekeeping" 54 years ago is still functional, then it is just fine with her. But she has always been a master of an art that, to me, may be more rare and elusive than having an eye for design. And that is making a home.
As far back as I can remember, my mother was fully invested in being a mother and homemaker. She excelled at what Martha Stewart now has made trendy. Homekeeping as she calls it. But I personally think my Mother had it going on before Martha ever made her first apron. She was the type who took her curtains down what seemed like weekly, washed, ironed, and starched them to perfection. I can still smell their fragrance fresh from the clothesline. She sewed things for the home as well as her children. She embroidered and embellished modest store-bought pillow cases. Our house was always neat and clean and fresh smelling. She gardened and canned. She was and is a famously good southern cook.
Now I'm not going to lie and tell you I was always this impressed with my mother's homemaking abilities. In fact, during my teenage years I thought maybe she was well suited to being the warden in a home economics prison! While I watched my friends play softball out our picture window, my mother had housekeeping "projects" planned for me every summer. She was bound and determined to change my tom-boy ways and make a decent housekeeper out of me.
Although I learned a few things, I sensed that she was pretty disappointed.
Later when I married and I myself had a home, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Lo and behold, I started to sew my own window treatments, ( a term I'm sure she thought was haughty!). I began to read, observe, take classes, anything I could to absorb as much information as possible. I was bitten by a bug that consumed me. I was hungry for beauty and order, but I think mostly for that elusive thing that makes a house a home.
Now when I work with my clients, the underlying theme to all my work is that one idea. Home.
And that is the gift that my very first mentor gave to me. Thanks, Mom.
( Today is her birthday!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bathroom Montage

Since I can't give you all real candy for Valentine's Day, how about a little eye candy instead. A collection of pretty bathrooms for your enjoyment.

This is a bath done by Amy Howard in her own home. I simply love her window treatment idea. She took antique doors and installed them like shutters on a sliding track. She concealed the track with decorative moulding. Open for light, closed for privacy. Very creative! The carrara marble floors and mirrored doors in the room make everything cool and reflective.

I absolutely love all the silver going on here! The hammered nickel sinks are a little different take on the more common copper ones I have seen. It just looks so elegant and works so well with polished chrome or nickel fixtures and, of course, a Southern girl's antique silver collection!
More carrara marble. I think I see a pattern here. (Joni over at Cote de Texas would love!)

This photo is in the same bath as the one above. I included this room because it is clean but elegant. And, of course, the French bergere was the first thing to catch my eye. Love the raffia upholstery and the finish. The full-length draperies instead of shades or valances play up the tall windows and the crystal chandelier is gorgeous. I like the way the tub is placed in the center of the room. It gives it focal point status.

I think the word "bathroom" may not do this room justice. It looks more like something in Marie Antoinette's private chamber. But I love it. Again, the tub is placed in the center of the room. I think all the unexpected furniture such as the coffee table next to the tub is fabulous. Of course, the antique duchesse brisee is so glamourous. (I can imagine doing a spa day here for sure.) The curtain treatment is clever, giving the illusion of separate rooms.

Lest you think I am only drawn to light cabinetry, here is a little change of pace. More vintage in feel, with an antique baker's table used as a sink cabinet with a vessel sink recalling an antique wash basin. Another antique piece holds folded towels.

Same room, with a view of the curtained claw foot tub. Like the monogram on black!

Essential elements are here: Creamy cabinetry, crystal sconces and chandelier, natural stone floors, and a French chair.

A veddy French powder room.

And another. Lantern, sconces, and gold marble, all good.

Last and most certainly least, a bathroom from my portfolio. (Unfortunate sconces not my choice!) But I did like the tub area.

Hope you have enjoyed the tour. A lot less calories than Godiva!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Beauty without Pretension

In a job where we deal with bringing beauty and "things" to peoples' lives, it can sometimes become a conflict of interests in some ways. At least for me anyway. I was taught as an artist before I entered the design field and that early training from some wonderful mentors, ( some of whom I will discuss at a later time), taught me some values that always remain with me. And that is that art really is for art's sake. To enhance our lives with beauty and bring us closer in tune with nature and ourselves. I don't remember any of those mentors saying, "Oh yes, and to impress other people, too!

So therein lies the rub. How do we as designers facilitate all the elements of good art and design in a home while avoiding pretension? It can be a hard line to toe sometimes, especially when your style can be a little over the top like mine if I'm not careful. How do we help our clients own and appreciate beautiful things without seemingly presenting the idea that those objects and "things" are all that matters?

My own personal philosophy is this: I love these things as much as anybody. I couldn't do this job if I didn't. But when it all boils down, my family, my health, happiness, and self-respect are what really matters to me. So while beautiful objects enhance our lives, they shouldn't BE our lives. I think this is where my humble Southern upbringing plays a huge role. You can be proud, just do it humbly and quietly. Nobody likes a show-off. Don't get too big for your britches! You get my drift. In the current climate in this country and the world for that matter, I think it's safe to say that a little less pretension and a little more humility might be a good start to recovery. And maybe our "things" will have their proper place in our lives.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Friday Fun Things

It's Friday and I have to meet a painter and electrical contractor at a job site but I wanted to post a few fun things in the most sincere TGIF mood.

Here is a cute cartoon that sort of sums it up sometimes!

Also a couple of things I've found and carry at my shop.

These candles are absolutely awesome! The line is called Low Country Luxe. They are soy based and the scents are heavenly. They are: Savannah, High Cotton, Gullah, Charleston, Seagrass, and Spanish Moss. They made Oprah's holiday O-list.

This one is called New Orleans and is limited edition. A part of the proceeds benefits preservation in New Orleans.

The company is based in Savannah, Georgia and the line is very eco-friendly. The packaging alone is to die for.

Another thing I carry is the Jaima Brown line of wallcovering. I know, I know, wallpaper! But I never gave up on it as a tool in the box. A beautiful paper and coordinating or matching fabric can be a beautiful and classic look.

This pattern comes from her damask line. Fresh colors and bold motifs keep the look current and fresh.

Her coordinating fabrics are gorgeous.

Another view of one of the damasks.

Well, I'm off to work but I hope Friday is a good day for everybody!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Decorating Elements I Love: Slipcovers

This is the first of a series of discussions about some of my favorite elements of design that I frequently use in my work. Today I want to show you a tried and true way to bring romance and comfort to a room.

I love this chair with the simple, pleated skirt on the slipcover and the ties on the sides which allow the chair frame to peek through. And the stencilled monogram gives it such a glamourous touch. I visualize two chairs like this at either end of a big country dining table with a different type of chair, maybe Louis XIV, down the sides of the table. Ooo La La!

These two pictures illustrate a before and after look to give you an idea how slipcovers can give you a way to easily change a room's look from tailored to romantic.

The simple sheath style slipcovers give a totally different feel to the room, and the ties on the backs add just the right amount of detail without detracting from the simple elegance of the design. The addition of the floor-length tablecloth and cotton fringed topper complete the soft, romantic look.

Slipcovers are like custom tailored clothes for furniture. The type of fit they have to the piece of furniture they cover can be customized to reflect the type of interior they are placed in. They can be tailored and tighter-fitting for a little more formal look, or a less constructed, baggier fit for more casual rooms. I like both looks equally well, according to the look the client desires and their lifestyle.
Here is an example of a tailored look on an English-style sofa. It almost looks upholstered, just softer. I also like the way the sofa legs are exposed on this design since this leg style is so attractive.

Above we see the looser, more casual style. I especially like the dressmaker button details and the welted and gathered skirt.

Slipcovers aren't just for sofas and chairs. This is a pretty photo of a headboard slipped in a white linen, which beautifully highlights the curved shape of the bed. This home, while beautiful, is a little too heavy with slipcovers in my opinion. I prefer to use them a little more sparingly.

If you like to change the look of your home easily and love versatility, then I believe slipcovers may be an option you might want to consider. They are just one of the tools in the design toolbox that bring beauty, romance, and personality to a home.

Photos; 1. Southern Accents 4. Shabby Chic All Others Country Living