Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Classic Style of Joy McLean

As you know, I am in Atlanta fairly frequently since it is the nearest design hub for me. I do at least a couple of buying trips a year, as well as the yearly design show at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center. And when I can, I like to tour the Decorator's Showhouse in Atlanta. Regional showhouses feature many of the same area designers almost every year, so we all usually have one or two favorites that we look forward to each year. Joy McLean is one of the designers that I always look forward to. Her style is very classic and clean.

Her use of antiques and beautiful reproductions is something that draws me to her work.

I like the way she keeps her signature look evident here in this sunroom. It still has that edited, traditional feel, but comfortable and casual as well.

A beautiful vignette in an entryway. The mirror reflects a clean-lined window treatment and gorgeous crystal chandelier.

This looks like a keeping room. Elements I love here are the lantern, comfy chairs, and the curved banquette.

Joy McLean uses beautiful blues a lot in her work. Very serene.

Here again she anchors the room with classic furniture and adds tailored window treatments in pretty fabrics.

A warm and inviting library.

Another soft and pretty bedroom.

I hope you have enjoyed this quick little tour of some of Joy's work. Her rooms are even prettier in person. Classic furniture and soft, livable colors always endure.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Featured Local Artisan: Regann Hunt

Artists in your own backyard are the most special.

I often discuss design topics that feature big-name design talents of national stature, but today I would like to begin a series of posts that showcase the artistry of some of the talented people here in my own area: people I work with every day who make huge contributions to the local design community in Knoxville.

The featured artist is Regann Hunt of Art Elegance, http://www.artelegance.net/. Regann is skilled at faux finishes, textures, venetian plaster, etc. But what sets her apart is her artistic skill. Her murals and paintings cannot fully be appreciated on a computer screen, but I can attest they are fabulous.

This is a painting I commissioned for a media room in a showhouse a few years ago. I came up with the idea to do paintings reminiscent of old movie posters. The results were amazing and the homeowners were blown away.

This is the other painting for the media room project. It is a take-off on the "Ben-Hur" type movie. Notice how Regann used mine and her name in the credits, as well as the homeowners names in the starring roles in the painting above.

English Countryside Mural

Beach mural for a tanning salon.

Ocean mural.

This close-up of the dolphin from the ocean mural illustrates Regann's artistic talent. It is photographic in detail.

Sweet mural in a child's room.

A beautiful Grecian lady painting. I love the framing and sconces.

A detailed jungle scene.

A wonderful tone-on-tone mural of a train.

I am always amazed at the details in Regann's animal paintings. This mural was done for a bar.

Another shot of the mural Regann did for a bar in East Tennessee.

An adorable toile design for a girl's room.

A close-up of the adorable rendition of a nursery rhyme my Dad recited to me when I was a baby. (See my post on this nursery in my archives.)

A wide shot of the hand-painted cribs for our showhouse nursery.

The lovely Ms. Regann herself, striking a pose in front of one of her murals.

I hope you have enjoyed my little piece on Regann Hunt, of Art Elegance here in Knoxville. Regann is extremely talented, but she is a wonderful person as well. She can turn any idea into art and she travels and ships her work as well! A wonderful resource for me and maybe for you as well.

(All images copyright of Regann Hunt and Art Elegance.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Makes a Room Timeless?

Elsie de Wolfe's Villa Trianon

A little trip back in time

What realy makes a room timeless? A better question could be ; how do we avoid those awful mistakes that make us look back twenty years later and think "What were we thinking?"!

This is the million dollar question in the design world; how can we create rooms that trenscend time and trends and remain beautiful and easy to live in year after year?

To delve into this question, I decided to dig out some of my prized back-issues of Southern Accents magazine, my decorating bible, and look back on years past and see how designs from back in the day fare in the daylight of today. (Disclaimer: I started my business in 1993 and my early work wouldn't survive this type of scrutiny!)

Southern Accents 1987

This dining room has survived fairly well. A little stiff, but Zuber wallpaper and classic furniture never really go out of vogue. If I came in today to update this room, the wallpaper would stay, but I would change out the chandelier to one less "period" looking, get rid of the patterned rug and replace with a lightly stencilled jute or seagrass one, and get of the chairs that are also too period design looking and get some with either a painted finish or slipcover them.

Oh lordie, well this kitchen, not so much. The description of the room talks about the oak wood and VINYL floorcovering!! The oak cabinets and countertops, the matching oak table, and dated appliances definitely say "1987". I have decided, and this is just my humble opinion, that perhaps kitchens may not be capable of being "timeless". Refrigerators are not like French fauteuils. They change yearly, therefore we must face the fact that kitchens must be updated at least every ten to fifteen years. (I think I will save this picture to show clients why everything matching is just WRONG.)

Southern Accents 1989

This is a beautiful parlor in an historic home in the Garden District of New Orleans. This room would be as perfect and beautiful today as it was in 1989. Beautifully proportioned ceilings, elegant mouldings, a non-trendy paint color, and classic furnishings mixed with contemporary art. This could have been a dull "period" room, but with all these ingredients the look would still be current.

Ah yes, we remember burgundy and mauve. Perched on what looks like a sculptured carpet area rug with a cutting-edge ceiling fan above. I doubt this room still exists.

Southern Accents 1992

A room that still looks good. Just get rid of the overblown baby's breath floral arrangement, lighten up the room with less dark wood furniture and patterned rug.

Sometimes the ads are the best indicators of where our heads were at the time. This wallpaper ad shows the riot of patterns that became the rage; borders, florals, stripes, and coordinating fabric. Wallpaper overdose. Which is why the very word now strikes terror in so many hearts today.

I guess if we can learn anything from this exercise, it is that classics endure and can be freshened as time goes by. Jumping on trends with too much fervor usually spells trouble and costs lots of money to undo.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Atlanta Report: Suzanne Kasler, Eileen Boyd, and Barclay Butera Panel Discussion

(My last Atlanta report post!)
Market week in Atlanta is always exciting, but getting the opportunity to hear three design greats speak about various design topics is even more so. I was fortunate enough to just happen upon the panel discussion right as it was beginning. Unbelievably, there were quite a few empty seats. (I guess many others were oblivious about it, too.) I wasn't even sure who the designers on the panel were, but as I scanned the room, I saw a small group sitting at the back chatting; was that SUZANNE KASLER? I could not believe I was lucky enough to stumble into a discussion which included one of my all-time favorite designers. After a little more looking, while trying not to stare, I also recognized Barclay Butera as well sitting with Suzanne. Later as they walked to the front, I realized that Eileen Boyd would be part of the panel,too. Needless to say, I was very excited to hear what they had to say.

The panel was moderated by Traditional Home magazine senior style editor Krissa Rossbund. Because this panel was conducted at market, the questions and discussion were aimed at designers and shop owners in design-related product lines. The discussion was rather loose and informal, touching on subjects such as where the designers get their inspiration, how they deal with the challenging economy right now, and how to be authentic in your business.

All three designers cited travel, specifically travel in Europe, as being a major springboard for their designs. Suzanne said that visiting Paris always recharges her creative batteries. She got the idea to put the large live tree in her design at Blackberry Farm this way.

I was also intriqued to learn that all three designers stated that fashion influences and inspires them in a huge way. Eileen takes her camera literally everewhere with her. "The camera doesn't forget." She photographs anything inspiring; nature, fashion, architecture, colors, etc. and keeps them in files for future reference. She also visits art galleries frequently for color inspiration. Eileen used the the phrase "color story" several times throughout the discussion. She says she likes to create color stories for her clients; colors that have meaning in their lives. I thought that was a very interesting concept.

The designers discussed shopkeeping and how to work in this economical downturn. Barclay says that in his stores he gets rid of pieces that haven't sold in a huge yearly tent sale. Customers come in throngs to these sales. He said he keeps "grounding pieces" and builds around them. He suggested the same idea when designing a room. Suzanne feels that the current downturn is a huge opportunity for boutiques and designers because we give more personal service to clients than the big box stores. Now is the time to pamper our clients and make them feel special.

The moderator asked if they had any favorite shops they liked to visit and all three said they love, love, love the shop Mrs. Howard. (Sadly, I wanted to visit her shop but didn't get the time.)

In conclusion, the designers advised us to be positive in our lives and our businesses and to be true to what got us into the business to start with. Keeping our passion and authenticity should always be kept a priority.

I was happy to listen to these three hugely successful designers and was so impressed with each of them and how really wonderful they all seemed as people.

(Sorry for the terrible photos. As you can imagine, they were beseiged after the panel ended.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In Honor of The Skirted Roundtable

A skirted table from my own living room

I love to listen to The Skirted Roundtable discussions every week. Joni, Megan, and Linda are real-life designers like many of us with many of the same challenges and rewards that come with this crazy business. They put real faces and voices out there. I think that is what draws us to this format so much; real world design as opposed to the almost deity-like authority that comes across when we read the design magazines. Don't get me wrong. I truly treasure many of the better magazines and horde my back-issues like prized antiques, but hearing our blog mentors and friends verbalize what we all struggle with is often just what the doctor ordered.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Design Stars at the Atlanta Market

I just got back from a weekend at the summer market in Atlanta. It was the usual dizzying aray of new and exciting products, as well as lots of walking and very tired feet. But something new this year was a feature called b inspired : home design showcase. It was essentially an exhibition of interior rooms created by six of America's most celebrated designers featuring product from the showrooms of AmericasMart Atlanta and the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center. The featured designers were Robert Brown of Robert Brown Interior Design, Suzanne Kasler of Suzanne Kasler Interiors, William Peace of Peace Design, Matthew Quinn of Matthew Quinn Collection, Stan Topol of Stan Topol & Associates, Inc, and last but not least, Carole Weaks of C. Weaks Interiors, Inc.

A shot of Suzanne Kasler's space. Many of the furniture pieces are from her collection for Hickory Chair.

Another shot of Kasler's design.

Carole Weaks' design

I'm sorry that I wasn't able to bring you photos of all the spaces, but we weren't able to get shots of them all.
I was also fortunate enough to attend a panel discussion moderated by Traditional Home magazine with Suzanne Kasler, Eileen Boyd, and Barclay Butera. I will report on this ASAP.