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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rugs--The Tough Buy


There are many pieces of the puzzle when creating a room but, for me, one of the most important is an Area Rug. Nothing is more central to creating warmth, style, and color. And quite often, nothing is more complicated to purchase. There are so many choices that I thought I would give you some basics to start your search~ Ashleigh

Construction Methods
Rugs can be made in many ways with a myriad of fabrics and textures, yielding a variety of looks.

Hand Knotted is an ancient skill consisting of tying thousands to tiny knots to the weft threads on a loom which are then secured by the warp threads. It requires great skill, patience and artistry and yields a one of a kind and long lasting investment. Machine loomed versions can resemble the unique look and longevity of handmade at a fraction of the cost.

Tufted rugs are produced by pushing yarn up though a mesh foundation with a needle or a gun, glue backed. The yarn is either cut, creating a cut pile rug or left intact called a looped or hooked pile rug. Machine made tufted rugs are the norm and rarely can be distinguished from handmade.

Flat Woven rugs have no pile as they consist of only weft and warp threads---they are literally flat but can be very soft when made of thicker fibers like wool felt. Because of their construction method, flat rugs do not hide debris, wear more quickly than others and slip unless one puts a pad underneath. Nevertheless, their relative inexpensive nature lets you replace them with little or no (financial) guilt!


Materials
There are five major categories of materials from which rugs are made from. They vary in price, durability, style, texture, eco-impact, and appropriateness of use in certain climates. The Rugmark Foundation is an global non profit organization devoted to ending child labor in the handmade carpet industry. From their website you can find a retailer of certified rugs by designer or style.

Wool rugs come in an enormous variety of colors, all of the construction methods and resilience to last a lifetime. The most desirable wool comes from Tibet and New Zealand---the colder climate causes the sheep to produce more lanolin, which enhances the fiber's strength, texture and stain resistance qualities. While being relatively soft, wool rugs are water, stain and soil resistant and also is mold and mildew resistant. All of these wonderful qualities do lead to higher prices---you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 for a 6x9 machine made rug to upwards of $20 000 for a handmade designer rugs. If your budget can withstand the hit, a wool rug is an investment which can stand the test of time.
Michaelian & Kohlberg is a trusted vendor that carries both modern and traditional handmade rugs and they have a closeout section (web based) which gives great value for money.

Cotton rugs are lightweight, inexpensive and casual. They are most commonly found in a flat weave but cut pile rugs have been coming out in the market in a wonderful array of colors. If you are looking for a rug to imbue texture and color without wearing out your wallet, cotton is an environmental and economical choice. Smaller rugs can be put in the washing machine or hosed down & scrubbed, treated with common household detergents and they are biodegradable so when your mood, finances or whims change, So Can Your Rug!
I particularly love the color and vibrancy that several of these rugs woven or tufted rugs from Anthropologie provides.

Natural Fiber rugs are anything and everything from sisal (agave leaves), jute (stalks of corchorus herbs), seagrass (from the stems of tall marsh plants), coir (coconut husks), hemp (stalks of cannabis plant), abaca (from the leaves and stems of banana plants) and even paper! The construction methods are becoming more varied from the standard flat weave and interesting patterns and textures come onto the market all of the time. As a neutral ground, natural fiber rugs provide a great backdrop for both modern and antique furniture and are often used as a "summer" option, giving your heavier rug a rest. This fiber can be rough under foot so are best used in places where one does not stand for long periods of time (like in front of the sink!). Additionally, jute and seagrass cannot be used in humid parts of the country, as they absorb moisture and can develop mold and mildew. For all the reasons why not to buy a natural fiber rug, there are many wonderful reasons why this material is a great choice--they are inexpensive, ecologically sound, and their natural tones mean that they can be used in just about every room in the house!
I just installed this rug in a home that Mark decorated; it is amazing for both the color and the texture---and a steal! Crate & Barrel

Synthetic fiber rugs can mimic the highest price of natural materials and still provide affordability, style and durability. Unfortunately, the amount of energy required to make them, their relatively unbiodegradable nature and the fact that they are generally made of petroleum products make them a no go for many devotees of the new environmental movement. They are cheap, readily available in just about every style and there is no wait to suffer once you have made your choice.
I really like the versatility of FLOR rugs but they can only be used on a hard surface so don't make the mistake of laying them over your existing wall to wall carpet.

Finally, Silk rugs make up for a extraordinarily small proportion of the number of rugs sold in the market but in terms of prestige and price, it is a power house! Most rugs are handmade and consist of mostly silk with a bit of wool for elasticity and durability. The beauty of these rugs cannot be surpassed, both for the amazing look of the material in addition to the undeniably rich feeling you get underfoot. Many people choose to hang these rugs as art, as walking all over ones investment of thousands of dollars leaves both footprints, wear and tear and cleaning these beauties is neigh on impossible.
Purchasing a silk rug is highly advisable if you are visiting India, Turkey or Egypt. Notwithstanding that, The Rug Company has beautiful offerings and can make any of their designs in Silk, just for you!

The Size of It
So once you are sure of the material and construction of the rug of your dreams, be sure that the size you are looking for really works in your space. However your furniture is arranged in your room, keep this in mind---Your rug should be large enough to go under the front legs of all large pieces or, if you want to show off your beautiful floor, then it should be small enough that NONE of the furniture legs sit on it...and don't forget a rug pad!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kate's First Post

As promised., members of the team at Mark Cutler Design will be posting here regularly with some of their thoughts on design. Today we are posting Kate's first post, with some of her Holiday Gift Giving Tips:






Kate’s Favorite Things 2007






Oprah may compile holiday lists of hundreds of her favorite things, but I have decided to keep it to a simple list of five. My recommendations may not make these holiday items fly off the shelves, but they just might help you find the perfect gift for that special someone on your list. -Kate














Instead of the tired fruitcake or chocolate array, how about the newest in gingerbread creations for your favorite Designer, Architect, or lover of all things mid-century? The Modern Gingerbread House from http://www.redenvelope.com/ is every bit as edible as the original, but with a style all its own. A unique gift and sure-fire conversation piece, it arrives with its own garage and rock garden and ready to enjoy.





This year it’s time to have Mom retire the snowman tree skirt, and use one with a little holiday flare. The Nicholas Tree skirt from
http://www.eq3.com/ will show her that less is more, and that decorating for the holidays does not have to mean throwing all those design principals to the wayside.




Since no holiday table should be without a little touch of “bling” this year, my favorite hostess will be getting these fantastic 14karat gold leafed cake-stands from Neiman Marcus. They come in white and black and add a touch of glamour to any holiday cake or cupcake tower.






For my sister, a fun set of pitchers with oversized cork tops from
http://www.paigerussell.com/. Now she can have her very own version of afternoon tea without having to use Mom’s heirloom china… which is a good for everyone!





For my nephew I couldn’t resist adding this item to my list, even though the design was not what inspired me. This laptop is part of a special program created by OLPC. Between November 12 and November 26, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program. You can donate the XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution. What better way to help a child in need, get a gift for my nephew, and show him that during the holiday season, it is not all about what we receive, but what we give to those we truly care about.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Really Like Window Seats


























I Really like window seats, there is almost nothing better on a chilly day than to curl up with a good book, and sit in the morning light. This is why in a lot of my Children's Rooms you will see me putting these in. I think it's a great habit to get the kids in and its also a great tool to use to expand into a desk/bookcase/ storage unit without overwhelming the room.

A few tips:

  • Include storage under the seat, it will make it a bit higher to sit on than normal, bit its the perfect spot for a blanket or two.
  • Be generous with the pillows, that will give you maximum flexibility. Also if possible go with 100% down pillows as they will be a lot softer and easier to mold to the shape you need.
  • Make sure you have good lighting. Remember you are in the corner of the room, a ceiling fixture in the middle of the ceiling, may not get you the light you need. I added downlights over the top of this one to give great task lighting.
  • Try to incorporate a small bookcase as part of the experience, it will be the ideal spot for those favorite books.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Christmas Presents For My Favorite Recipients

There are always presents to be bought for colleagues, the boss & various people who help me throughout this hectic life of mine but I thought I would cover the "core" group of gift recipients. They are often the hardest to shop for and mine never seem to have a good list of wants at hand when I ask. Happy Holiday Hunting! Ashleigh

~For Mom, there is nothing more luxurious than a silk duv
et! This year I love the Silk Duvet from Williams Sonoma Home. It can be used as it is in the beautiful white or inside your own duvet cover. Silk is hypoallergenic, does not support allergens and is wonderfully warm.

~For Dad, I have been having portraits done ever since I was a little girl. A simple black and white in a silver frame is a great idea for the guy who has it all. Simple, elegant and understated is always the way to go. Any local photographer can help you with the shots and printing is simple and easy. Find a lovely frame in leather, silver or bone and you have a personal and cherished present. Here are a few frames that I particularly love.

Silver Frames from Pottery Barn

Brown Mother of Pearl from Restoration Hardware

Horn Frame from West Elm

~For the New Home Owner, my Brother, I have been searching for those wonderful accents that every home needs. I love these polished nickel lanterns from Weego Home, which can be used year round!

Also I just love candles everywhere, try mixing scented and unscented in a 25% to 75% ratio. All of the lovely effect without creating overwhelming scent. Try these scented ones or these unscented ones from West Elm.

~For the Significant Other in my life, I am looking at starting our collection of glassware. So much entertaining goes on in our home and I know he will look forward to serving his favorite mixed drinks and wines in these! I love this set from Waterford, they are sold as a set for two but feel free to buy LOTS of sets to fill your glass rack.

The hand blown glassware from Riedel is magnificent and worth the investment.

~For my Best Friend Jackie, I have to admit I am going to be a bit selfish this year. I hate sitting on her lumpy sofa and make every excuse to not spend time in her otherwise delightful mid century modern home. So this year I will be making an investment for the both of us! The Ditte Slipcovered Sofa from Anthropologie fits the bill, as she can always change the look as she updates her d├ęcor.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Real or Fake: The Great Christmas Tree Debate

Ok, it's that time of year again, Christmas is literally just around the corner. So I am starting my planning already, gift lists are being drawn up, guest lists and Christmas Card lists are being assembled, and the question of decoration has arisen. Each year I consider what to do about the tree, I have always been a proponent of the real thing, it makes for an authentic Christmas I would always say. But recently I have seen some trees that have given me pause, and also heard some arguments that really do make sense.
There is the obvious "green" argument that it is better for the environment. Well, people argue this on both sides, that the mulch created by old trees makes up for this, so that's not real convincing to me. Safety though is. I love to come home from a long day of work to a house with the tree already lit. I can do that with an artificial tree, not areal one. With a real tree please make sure you are home, if not, in the room whenever the lights are one, every year there are tragic stories of people who have lost everything to fire caused by their Christmas tree. The other argument is that my dogs will search out any water left sitting in the house and I don't need them drinking tree water, I know that's a bit shallow but there it is.
So what tree to buy? When looking for a tree, go with your instinct. I went to Balsam Hill, because I liked their site and the variety of trees that they offer. But look for the number of "tips" the higher the number the better the quality of tree.
Let me know your thoughts on this, I would be interested to see what other people decided to do.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Using a Screen as a Filter



The project I am showing today is one that I particularly like which I recently did in San Francisco. It is a great little house which had a very small but nice Entry, so the previous owner had opened up the wall to give it a greater sense of space and allow a view of the Dining room. Great idea ,right? Well yes, sort of. What ended up happening was that there was now no privacy in the dining Room, so the owner then went and put shutters up, to provide some privacy.
Well I came on board when the house was sold and thought that the opening was a great idea, but a screen would be a terrific buffer between the two spaces. You can see in the lower picture how using an old screen from India, becomes almost like an art piece, and a wonderful transition between the spaces.
Using old architectural elements like this can really liven up a space and add warmth and personality to boot. So take a look around at old architectural salvage places and see what you can find, or even places that sell pieces from India and throughout Asia, they can be tremendous resources for those found treasures.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Space at the Top of the Stairs

Almost every house has them, those small awkward spaces lurking around every corner. Most of us can't afford to give up that space and are looking for ways to make it useful. Here is an idea that you might find helpful. This is a space that was on a stair landing of a house that I recently worked on. We thought it would make a great little reading nook, so we added a little window seat, with storage below, and then some handy book storage all around.
Some ways that you can dress up this space:
  • Paint the back of the book cases an alternate color
  • Add "feet" to the cabinet so it has more of a furniture type feel
  • Create a valance over the top, it will unify the whole piece, and that sense of a "ceiling" will make the seat more cozy.

Before and After: Guest Room

Today I am headed out to one of my favorite projects to do an installation. These are always exciting days because in the matter of a few hours a room or a house is transformed from a shell with some great ideas into a finished home. It usually represents months of work on behalf of our team, but days like today is when the payoff really comes. I will be sure to snap some pictures.

In the meantime however, I wanted to illustrate the point with a couple of shots of a different project. This is a Guest Room that we did, you can see where we started from and where we finished up. The bed is obviously the biggest thing, but also adding the chandelier and artwork helped as well. You will notice that the doors changed too from white to a faux wood. This is because when we designed the room we thought that the white would pick up the color of the bedding etc. After installing it felt a little weak, I think it looks a lot more substantial finished like this. What do you think?


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Yeah!!! It's up and Running

My new blog is now up and running, well sort of, over at Pointclickhome, check it out. The title of the new Blog is Mark Cutler Style Guide.
It's been a little bit of a crazy week here trying to stay ahead of the curve, but look forward to some interesting posts over there, they will be a bit more in depth and longer than what you have been used to here. The plan for this site is to make it a little bit more personal, with shorter but more posts. Look forward to some contributions from some of the members of the MCD Team as well, they always have a lot to say, and some terrific contributions to make.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Resource Day: Exquisite Surfaces



Every week I find myself flipping through my Rolodex to try and decide which of the people I use on a regular basis to highlight as the Resource Day vendor. Sometimes it's someone I have just discovered and sometimes it's someone that has been a go to source for what seems like forever, and they almost get lost in the shuffle. Well today's resource is one of the latter. It is Exquisite Surfaces and it has taken me a while to feature them, because we use them so often, they almost feel like part of the office.

When they thought up the name for this place it must have been tough, since the stuff certainly is exquisite, but surfaces? Well they do do floors, whether its stone, terra cotta, wood, or ceramic, but they also do ceilings in reclaimed wood, fireplaces, fountains, and almost anything else you can imagine, its almost hard to know where to start.

Their specialty is rustic materials for the home, and they have an incredible collection both reclaimed and new floors. I especially like the old tiles that have been taken from old Villa's and Chateau's in Europe, the patina is authentic, but they do come at a premium. For others there are reproductions of these that are faithful to the point of looking dusty. This pattern is repeated throughout their store, Antique Fireplaces, or faithful reproductions, or reclaimed old floors or pre-finished new floors that have the feel of older floors.

With Locations in New York, Greenwich, San Francisco and Los Angeles they are a great place for almost anyone to visit. So go in, the staff is always friendly and enthusiastic to tell you about their inventory, or just browse the great web site. Say Hi for me!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Just Look Up


For many years the decorative ceiling has been a reliable friend of the Interior Designer, but it seems in the last few years it has become less and less popular. i think that that is such a shame! A beautiful ceiling design can add so much to a room and create a sense of style and elegance that is almost unachievable in any other way. take the small Music Room that I did above, without that pattern on the ceiling it wouldn't be nearly as dramatic. So todays thought is "Look Up!"

Here are some ideas that you may want to think about:
  • If you don't want a strong pattern on the ceiling, try something softer, maybe the much maligned cloud motif, or even a star constellation.
  • Pattern of any sort too much? What about a stronger color, blue is always pretty but just try using a shade that is two or three shades deeper than what you have on the wall, it can be amazing the effect it will have on the space.
  • Perhaps even wallpaper on the ceiling will give you the lift you need, whether it is a pattern or even just a texture, like grass cloth.
  • Maybe you could use one of the fabrics from the room and apply it on the ceiling like wall paper. Like the accent fabric of a pillow or the drapery.
Let your imagination go wild, you might be amazed what you come up with!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Resource Day: Kismet


I always like to look at things that I come across, and think about other ways that I can use them, other than the way they were intended. Todays resource is one of those things. I used to go regularly to the Santa Monica Antiques Market, and there was a woman there, Anne Driver who had this spectacular stand that sold Antique sari's from India. She sold them whole and also items that were made from them, such as small bags etc. But it was the whole cloth that interested me, the attention to detail and the workmanship was inspiring, not to mention the intense colors, so it was only a matter of time till I changed from a fan to a loyal client.

Anne's company is called Kismet, and she has grown it almost single-handedly into a socially responsible company that now provides work and income for women in India, that helps to support their independence as well as honors their skills.

But back to ways that you can use this incredible resource. In the images above, you can see that I love to use them as window treatments, whether it's as drapery or shades. Anne has literally every shade of the rainbow, so is capable of doing pretty much anything. Also, if she doesn't have the shade you need, she is a master of Dying, so might be able to create the shade that you need. I have also used these for lining lampshades, pillows, and even table runners. Some of the saris are woven with precious metals, while others have beading, but they all have a breathtaking quality of workmanship, so let your mind go wild.

I hope that you find something here to capture your imagination.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's Party Season

Sorry to be the one to break the news to you, but it's the beginning of Party Season already. Whether it's a harvest festival, Halloween, Thanksgiving or even Christmas Parties, that time of year is just around the corner and it's time to prepare. I have just ordered a few new holiday ornaments, bulbs for forcing and looking around the house to do that preseason tidy up, that will make party preparations all the easier.

Throwing an event shouldn't have to be a stressful event, it's all about early planning, so here are some tips that will help if you think you might have an event coming up, so that you can relax and enjoy your own party.

  • Cast an eye around your house, over the summer, books and magazines may have started collecting themselves into untidy bundles, it's time to purge those.
  • If you are having trouble being objective, one of my favorite tips is to take Polaroids of your rooms, it will help you see it with fresh eyes.
  • Is it time to freshen up your plants? As the seasons turn, it might be time to change some out, or to trim them back a little to let in more light.
  • Maybe you want a fresh look, by changing out some simple items, like pillows or a new throw to freshen up your rooms.
  • Go lightly on the seasonal items, the chill in the air may just be the result of a ghastly pile of pumpkins as much as the air temp. Remember restraint is good, sometimes too much of a good thing is just that.
If anyone wants to send in images of their Holiday preparations, I would love to see and we can post them as inspiration for everyone else.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Thrilled to Announce


So, I am excited to announce today that I have taken a new Blogging position with a website that i am a HUGE fan of. I will start blogging in the next week or two over at PointClickHome it is the home site of Elle decor, Met Home and Home Magazine, and they have asked me to start a Blog over there. It should be up and running in a week or so. I will keep this site going to, some members of my team here, will start adding more regularly as well, so you can look forward to other information and some different points of view as well.
So things are changing, but we have some great topics we will be discussing, as well as a whole bunch of support from the magazines, so I hope you will check it out, and like what you see, in the meantime stay tune, there is always lots to say.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Traditional with an Edge

This is a house that I did a few years ago, that has never been published, but remains one of my favorite homes ever. It is Southern California and is done in a quiet Traditional style with a few twists that gives it some interest. This is the Living Room and you can see that it is a blend of textures with the rubble stone wall, antique plank ceiling and the solid bronze French doors. With all of this happening, I wanted to layer the room with some more old world pieces, so I used a cut Linen velvet on the sofa and some antique Bergeres adjacent to that. I also used an old rug too, that was a nice complement to the stone floor. The coffee tables though are a little bit more modern, and by using two I was really able to break up the scale a little bit too. Even the under scaled painting did a lot for the whole composition, and makes the painting feel more important.

I like mixing styles and directions, it creates a feeling that this is a collection that has grown over time, not a random selection of stuff that your designer has brought in. Here are some ideas that you may want to implement to help create that "lived in" look:
  1. Don't be afraid to mix furniture periods, but if you do, pay close attention to scale and color, there should always be some unity between the pieces you choose.
  2. Any painting will take on more importance if you place it on a wall by itself, so be sure it can stand up to the attention, if not place it in a grouping.
  3. When contrasting textures try to go from extremes, hard to soft, rough to smooth. Almost smooth to smooth, just looks bland.
  4. Don't be afraid of adding in more modern pieces to your collection, it will spice things up and make your older pieces look more special.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Some More Blogs to Check Out

There are so many Design Blogs out there, it is almost impossible to keep up. I try to make a daily ritual of going through the Blog Roll, and seeing what is out and about, but oh my goodness, that would take days.
So here are a few more sites that we will be adding to the list, I hope you find some things that interest you, I am sure you will:

Toast and Tables
The House of Beauty and Culture
Robin Sherwood Frecklefarm
Orange Beautiful
Oh Joy
Paris Apartments
Love Made Visible

Thursday, October 4, 2007

....And for our Brazilian Readers

I am pleased to say that we are going Global. An interview that I did for a Brazilian site (www.morar.com) that you might want to check out. You can also go straight to the Blog of the writer as well, which will give you all the info you need. And to Ana, once again Thank You!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sometimes You Just have to Chuckle at the Simplicity


I came across this great little device that will avoid sore thumbs for all you DIY types. Check out the link for more info, it made me smile, but I think I have to get one :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Displaying Family Pictures

I am all about making the interior of your home a reflection of your personal values and priorities, but this is no license for bad design. Take your family photo collection for instance. There is no reason for it to take over the house and be displayed on every surface that is available. I like to create groupings that I can use to tell a story, they can then become compelling pieces or art as well. Take the example above for instance, we created an almost Mondrian-like grid that was able to contain a host of images of different periods and sizes, but it still works well within the modern background.

Here are some other ideas that you might want to consider:
  • I like to use all one type of frame, to unify the collection, but maybe if they were all silver frames, that would be enough to pull everything together.
  • If you don't want to group them on a wall, pick one surface where you will display the pictures, try not to let them creep all over the house.
  • I like to mix in old pictures with new, it makes the groupings a bit more interesting.
  • You might want to buy frames that are designed to allow you to change the images easily, then as the kids grow and the family changes its easy to keep it updated.

Monday, October 1, 2007

I'll Say it Again- I Love Canopy Beds


We all have our weaknesses, for some it is chocolate, for others it is fashion, for me it is canopy beds. I think very few things will create the drama and sense of presence that a canopy bed will. The one in the image above I did in a beach house, and I have always wanted to find a use for that Clarence House Seaside Toile, here, accented with persimmon it's the perfect choice. The good thing about doing a bed like this is that when you are done, the statement is made. You can see in the background, that on the windows, I just used a split bamboo shade, there was no competing with this bed.
This kind of thing is actually pretty easy to do on your own as well, just be warned though it takes lots and lots of fabric, and you may never leave your bedroom again. There are some great tips on About.com that will walk you through the process. But here are some tips from me to keep in mind:
  • Try to find a strong color for the inside lining of the bed, it will make it feel even cosier.
  • If you want something that is lighter and more exotic feeling, try making the bed out of a sheer fabric, it will be sheer and sexy.
  • Don't be afraid of pattern, the bed is already making a big statement, now is no time to be meek.
  • One of the beauties of a bed like this, is that it creates a room within a room, so don't be afraid of putting your bed in the middle of your room, it could be an amazing effect.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Making it Look Effortless


I remember one day sitting down to lunch with a very close friend, who was married with two kids, was in the process of building a house, as well as found time to donate to her favorite charity, and I was so fascinated by how she managed to do this all. She replied, I just try and make it look effortless, below the surface the swans feet are madly paddling. I think that a lot of designers could take a page from that book. It doesn't matter how hard you work to pull off a look, I think the best design is the one that looks effortless. That's why I like the room above, it looks simple and lived in, but beneath the surface a lot of work went in to pulling it together in just the right way.
How do you pull off an effortless look? Here are some tips you may want to try in your own home:
  • Simplicity is key, try and keep business and fussiness to a minimum. In this room it is essentially monochromatic, it creates a splendid background for some of the more graphic pieces.
  • If you forgo complexity in the color, be sure to counterbalance that with texture, I used an old rice basket as a side table that creates visual texture that I might otherwise have used pattern or color for.
  • Try and have one piece of significance. In this room I used a coffee table by Christian Liagre it gives the room weight, and the quality of that piece raises all that is around it.
  • Collections are a great way to fill space without the drama of a single overscaled piece.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Resource Day: 20th Century Lighting



Every week when I sit down to plan out what I am going to write on my Blog in the week ahead, I get to Resource Day and start to worry. There are so many different resources that I use, all of whom I want to give some attention to. This week though, I was working on a new project out by the beach, that is a Mediterranean style home, so I went straight to one of my most reliable resources, 20th Century Lighting. While I was doing this I realised that I had never written about them on the Blog, a huge oversight, but one that I hope now I have rectified.
When trying to make a home that is new, look like a period home, or if renovating an older home, lighting can be one of the biggest challenges that you face. Getting the scale just right, or finding that quirky piece, can be a challenge of almost biblical proportions, unless you buy vintage pieces (which can represent their own challenges). Take a look around at 20th Century's site though, it is amazing the depth of their collection, from sconces, to chandeliers, to table lamps, it's all there. They offer a range of finishes to match any project, and one other thing I like is that they are also sold in Showrooms around the country, so you can go and see them in person as well if you want.
So, check them out, I think you will be surprised by everything that they offer, (they are also a pleasure to deal with on the phone).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

One of my Favorite Rooms

I was wondering what to write about today and I was scanning through my old images and I cam across this picture. It's the Living Room of a house that I am still working on (we are doing it in stages), and I just paused when the image came up on my screen, it's one of my favorite rooms I have ever done.

The room is is a Mediterranean house that is fairly new, but we did a lot of work on it to try and make it feel a little more time worn. The goal was not to make it feel old, I believe that doing that you end up feeling like Disneyland, what I wanted was some attention to detail, that created an old world feel.

These are some of the things that we did:

  • Replaced the oak floor with a distressed Walnut floor
  • replaced the baseboard with a ceramic tile border, based on a design from the 1930's
  • Painted the walls a warm glowing gold
  • Replaced the Fireplace with an antique
  • Stencilled the beams in the ceiling
  • Added more lights to the ceiling

All of this gave me a great background to work with. Then we started with the furniture:

  • I built the room around this great cotton print that I found, and used on the drapery, and layered it with a split bamboo shade for texture.
  • I pulled out colors from the drape and used it in solid textures around the room.
  • The textures included, a rough linen, silk velvet and leather
  • I also used a quirky carved wood coffee table that has a lot of detail on it, to add some interest opposite the fireplace.
  • Then lastly, found an antique oriental rug to anchor the same seating group.

I think the room was a great success I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Shameless Self Promotion




I know that this falls within the category of Shameless Self-Promotion, but that's OK. I wanted to announce today the rerelease of a design that my office and I have been working on for some time now, The Tableaux Cloths. This is an idea that I had had several years ago, but had some issues with manufacturing etc etc. It seems now, that that is all solved and we are moving ahead at a great clip. The tables are now available in several sizes, multiple colors, with or without under tables, its all up to you. In the coming weeks we will be previewing some other designs, including a tent!, and some lighting, exciting times indeed. So for anyone thinking this might make a great Christmas Gift, or you might want to add it to the inventory of your store, please contact my office, and we will get you all the info that you need.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

New Blogs.......Well They Are Not ALL New

Once again, I am trying to keep up with all of the Design Blogs that are out there. There seems to be more and more each day, so I will try and feature some each week, hope you enjoy.

I hope You enjoy these, there are some gems here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Resource Day: Lost Art Salon


For those of us, who love to go to flea markets etc, one of the greatest rushes can be had from coming across a great piece of vintage art, whether a painting, drawing of sculpture. The sort of thing done by a not so well known, but still quite talented artist, that can be had for a few hundred dollars, but can stand next to any fine art pieces already in your collection. Well, a friend recently told me of a store in San Francisco, that is a treasure trove of just that kind of art, they are called, Lost Art Salon. Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have never actually been to their store, however, they have such a great web site, I don't feel as though I need to rush.

The pieces that they have are the sort of thing that I would regard as Vintage, and vary from downright cheap to well priced quality pieces. They have paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture, all presented in an easy to use and well documented way. It is like stumbling upon the best of E Bay, all in one place. I have spent many quiet evenings at home, just flipping from one piece to another, so check out the site, but be warned you will keep coming back.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Taking Things for Granted

I will often come on to a project and be amazed by the number of decisions that people take for granted. Bedrooms have to be carpeted, bathrooms have to be stone or tile, but this is not always the case. Take the Bathroom above for example, I used a distressed walnut wood on the floor. What could be more luxurious to walk on in the morning? Obviously the first question, is "how do you keep it from getting destroyed?". Well, you do have to be a bit ingenious, in this room, I used marine varnish on the floor, to protect the wood, and then in an especially tough area, just outside the shower, I used a stone slab.

The point of this post is to have you think twice about decisions you make around the house, that you may take for granted, but needn't be that way. Here are some other thoughts, that may help you look at your hose decisions in a fresh way:

  • Try using real candles in a sconce or chandelier, the quality of light can be much warmer than what you can ever get from a bulb.
  • Use masses of candles in your fireplace, rather than a roaring fire, it will cut down on smoke and make a romantic alternative.
  • Use annuals in pots inside the house, instead of cut flowers, they will last longer, and are equally as pretty.
  • Use old bath towels to recover your favorite bathroom chair, it will be as comfy as your robe
  • When you redo your kitchen, use a wood top on the island, it is softer than stone or tile, and can be a nice old world element in any Kitchen.




Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big Image on a Small Budget

It is a neverending source of frustration that budget never quite matches the idea. Take for instance the project shown above, it was a second home we were working on for a family, so they didn't want to spend a lot of money, but still wanted the house to look great. Well, we had a dilemna when we got to the stairs, because we had this huge wall, but no money to speak of to cover it. So I bought this old poster and took it down toi my local printer and had him blow it up and print it on canvas. Just to break up the scale even more, I had him "tile" it so that it became 9 seperate images that I then just stretched onto frames and Voila! instant art.

There are a lot of options open to people who want to think creatively about art on their walls without blowing the bank:

  • Try using different empty frames that you canb find at any swap meet or junk store, try painting them all the same color, so that they are unified.
  • Almost any group of things looks good on a wall, in a Powder Room I did recently, the homeowner, bought a collection of old hand held vanity mirrors on E Bay, as a set they looked terrific.
  • What about a collection of travel plates, maybe something fun, like places that start with the letter P, or places that you want to visit but haven't yet,,,, let your mind go free.
  • I have also done sets of old postcards, done in single frames or grouped together can also be inexpensive.
  • But while you are looking on E Bay, what about an old store sign?

Try to find something that will make you smile each time you see it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Resource Day: Wisteria



I have to admit that one of my guilty pleasures is catalogues. For me, there is nothing better than the end of the day, sitting at my desk, flipping through the latest retail delights that are available to me. Whether it is cookies, clothing or candles, I will look at them all. Thank goodness, I don't buy a whole lot of this stuff, but I do love to look. An exception to this, is one catalogue that I think stands out from the rest, and that is Wisteria. I think that this company really has it going on. With a mixture of new and vintage stuff, it presents just the right amount of unusual things to set it apart from the norm.

Because I get inundated with these things, I start to notice that certain items can show up in 3 or 4 different catalogues. I don't find that with Wisteria, the stuff is always fresh, well presented, and most importantly to me well-priced. So if you have a moment, check them out and see what they have to offer, you will be pleasantly surprised I think.

Just as a general note, Resource Day, is a day a week that I dedicate to a different resource that I like. I don't write about resources that I don't like, my experience may not be yours and I don't think this is the venue for me to vent. I also do not get paid or asked to write about these companies, I write because I genuinely want them to succeed because I think that they offer something worthwhile.