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Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Beauty of Simplicity

Orchids perfectly illustrate the concept of simple beauty.  These flowering plants are highly prized for their precious blooms. A single orchid flower can be a stunning addition to a table or desk in the home. The beauty of simplicity is a unique way to approach design and decorating for the home.

Beautiful design doesn't need to be overly ornate or complex. Understated elegance in the line of a chair, the color of a wood floor, or the pattern on an area rug can be alluring and still be simple. Letting the material and form be the stars of the design is a popular current approach to design and decorating.

Japanese design is a perfect example of the concept of the beauty of simplicity. Each object and each piece of furniture is carefully chosen for its form and color. Every piece in a design relates to each other, to create a whole that is beautifully balanced. Color, form, pattern and texture all integrate each object and the room as a whole.

Mindful selection of each piece in our room and in our home can create a simplistic beauty that brings a sense of calm and peace with it. Surrounding ourselves, not with the clutter of too many objects, but the beauty of a few is a nice way to live in peaceful simplicity.

I took this approach when decorating my house, and while it is more “cottage” than “minka,” it still feels refreshingly peaceful.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Art Dilemma

Modigliani Portrait 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to buying art. Many people say they don't have art on their walls because they don't know what they like. If this sounds like you, try visiting art museums in your area or go while on vacation to get access to a wide range of artist's works. Doing your research might expose you to a type of art you've never seen before or an artist you really love.

How much you want to spend is also up to you and your budget. If you have a large budget you may want to buy original paintings in oil or watercolors. A tiny budget might mean you buy a reproduction of a favorite painting or the work of a less known artist. For example, I LOVE Modigliani’s portraits and nudes, but with my budget I can’t afford the real deal, so it’s reproductions for me. It gives me a chance to enjoy his work on a daily basis, without being fearful of an art heist or house fire. I’ll leave the originals to the care of the museums!

Think of buying art as you would an area rug. You can buy an antique rug for thousands of dollars or a newer rug with a similar pattern for a few hundred dollars.  Auctions and online resources can be good ideas for buying art. There are online websites, like Etsy.com where you can buy original art for as low as $25.  If you are spending significant money on a piece of art or a rug, make sure you are buying it from a reputable source.

Decide if you are buying for decoration or investment. Set a budge like you would with any home decoration project. Buy only what you LOVE and will enjoy on your walls every day. These simple rules will have you decorating your walls with art in no time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Get Fresh in the Kitchen

OK, so New Year’s has come and gone—have you stuck to your resolutions so far? If getting healthier is on your list, you’re not the only one, this is the #1 goal for many, me included.  Healthy goals (the usual suspects) might include eating healthier, more exercise or major life changes like weight loss and a lifestyle over-haul.  Applying these same goals to our living space is a good way to make our home's healthier this year too.  Keeping a “fresh” kitchen is a good place to start when maintaining a healthy home.

A fresh kitchen includes everything from the foods in the fridge and cupboards to the décor of the room.  Making our kitchens feel fresh can inspire us to be healthier. Clean counters, floors and appliances are a terrific thing to be greeted with when entering the kitchen; much better than a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. (I’m so guilty). Little changes like staying on top of the dishes, counter crumbs and floor spills can help us love our kitchen a little bit more.

Fresh kitchens use cheerful color to liven up them up. Simple additions like fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter can add color and provide a healthy snack.  I love to find the most beautifully hued produce at the market just to put out in bowls and baskets. Colorful cook books on a shelf or counter top is another way to add a fresh pop of color to your kitchen.  A kitchen that's clean, colorful and filled with healthy, fresh food can inspire us to accomplish our other healthful new year’s goals.

Image: Fit Sugar

Room of the Week: Craftsman Kitchen

Take a look at the new kitchen Mark and the team created in a modern California Craftsman home. The main goals were to design a simple, workable and very open space. Check. The stained wood warms it up while touches of stainless give it a more contemporary look. The gorgeous views are an added bonus.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

To-Die-For Floors from Ting

Recently, while working on a remodel of a ranch house, Mark and team were looking for something different and really cool for the floors. They found it in Inghua Ting’s collection of tile made from vintage leather belts. (Yes, I said belts!) Mark had done a leather floor before but never a leather belt floor!

This to-die-for floor tile is crafted from vegetable-tanned leathers and secondhand materials sourced from Paris, London, and Los Angeles. Each belt is hand selected for its high grade leather quality. The coloring and texture of each belt is different adding to the unique character of the final product. When laid in parquet style, the tile even resemble a wood floor.

Take look at a few of Ting’s items from her home and fashion collections. I couldn’t resist throwing in a handbag and belt or two. If faced with the dilemma, I wouldn’t be able to decide whether Ting looks better on me or my floors. 

Be sure to visit TingLondon.com to see her complete lines.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lovin' the Phillips Collection

I’m in love yet again. Fickle?  Perhaps. But you’ll see why when I introduce you to the Phillips Collection. This totally unique purveyor of one-of-a-kind treasures thrills me in unexpected ways. From the Seat Belt Dining Chair to the Life Size Cow (yes, really), Mark and Julie Phillips’ discoveries and found objects—from countries like Africa, Latin America and the Pacific Rim—are anything but understated. It’s no wonder many of PC’s goods exude such a hip vibe, the Phillips have brought together a powerhouse of talent including artists and designers Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, Jason Phillips and Max Rubio. Visit PhillipsCollection.com for the scoop on the design team and their creations.

Take a look below and tell me you’re not as enamored as I am…(My favorite? The Sissi Chandelier. It's absolutely brilliant.)

PH58267 - Martini Table Black

PH57423 - Life Size Cow

B2061WZ - Seat Belt Dining Chair

B2061PU - Seat Belt Dining Chair

TH56583 - Butterfly Bar Table

 PH56282 - Log Cocktail Table

 PH54715 - Habi Wall Décor

698812D - DK Sissi Chandelier

H56698 - Anemone Vase Jumbo White 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A New Take on Botanical Prints

For those looking to get away from the usual suspects—roses and peonies—take a look at these pretty, simple and less ordinary floral  prints from the works of Nathaniel Wallich (1786-1854). As a surgeon and botanist in India, he developed the Calcutta Botanical Garden and a large herbarium collection for which he described many new plant species. However, that was only the start of his life’s work, he went on to become a plant explorer searching for exotic flora and fauna in Nepal, Hindostan, Ava and Lower Burna. He introduced many of his newly found plant specimens to Europe. He published two books centered on his botanical discoveries,  Plantae Asiaticae Rariories and Tentamen Floræ Nepalensis Illustratæ.

Purveyor of rare books and maps, Donald A. Heald says of  Wallich’s published artworks, “… he employed artists including Vishnupersaud (or Vishnu Prasad), who Blunt considered the 'most talented of the native Indian artists'. Maxim Gauci, perhaps the greatest of the early lithographers of botanical subjects, was responsible for translating the drawings onto stone.”

Today, you can buy Wallich inspired lithographs from OldPrintShop.com. Take a look at some of my favorite flora and fauna specimens below. I love how the artists illustrated differing views of the plants in each print. I think I might have gone down the wrong career path  from reading of Wallich's exploits, being a plant explorer sounds quite exciting.

Which prints are your favorite?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Nothing is Permanent, Not Even a Tattoo

What do tattoos have to do with a design blog? This picture is a reminder that nothing we do in design has to be permanent. Not even tattoos are permanent today. This doesn't mean that the "mom" tattoo you got on a whim will be easy or inexpensive to remove, but it can be done. The same is true for design mistakes. 

Some design mistakes can be easily changed while others are more expensive to fix or remove. If you choose the wrong throw pillow for your sofa, you can return it. Easy. If you paint your walls a color you decide is a mistake, you can paint over the old color with a new color. This can be easy or more difficult depending on the colors. Paint and primer are quick and relatively inexpensive ways to change or correct a design mistake.

Flooring and tile are more expensive and labor intensive to install. For these reasons, you want to be certain of your choice before making a decision on these features.  Getting samples and testing them out in your home with your existing furniture and design elements can help save you from making a choice you won't want to live with for years to come. Again, if you do choose wrong, you can always change to something you do love and adore, for a price. ( Word of advice though—don’t buy that red velvet sofa with gold fringe if you aren’t absolutely head over heels for it—you might want to stick with a throw pillow instead :)

In the grand scheme of things, righting a design mistake is easily done and much easier than removing a tattoo. While I don’t have one, I have made my share of design mistakes in my own home that just weren’t me. I hope this will help you be confident in your design choices and decisions. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Eye of the Beholder

The saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder can be easily applied to decorating. If you decorate with vintage, antiques or collectibles you are introducing a very personal touch to the décor. 

Adding personal touches to a room is what makes a house a home. Let your personality shine through with your decor.  Even if you prefer neutral walls, floors and furniture, you can still express your personality with accessories and accents.  If you have a big bold personality you may prefer to have a big bold room filled with color on the floor and walls. Giving personality to a room should reflect the personality of the occupants and owners.

If you do collect something, be it comics or antique vases, display your collections. You can't enjoy your treasures if they are in boxes in the attic or basement. Bookshelves and custom cabinets are great for displaying collectibles as well as books.  You can do custom cabinets that blend with your wood floors or match your molding or wall color. Painting ready-made cabinets and shelves can give you the same look as built-ins.

Proudly show off your personality in your decorating. Surround yourself with things that you find beautiful and you'll feel more at home in your space. If you have collections, display them. If you don't collect anything, you may want to start. It's a great hobby.

I collect books and I just can’t get enough of them. We built floor to ceiling shelves in my home office to display my library. Now, I can grab whatever tome I am inspired to read at any given moment.

In the image above you can see Mark used custom shelves to showcase a client’s collections for all to enjoy. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A work in progress...

Mark and the team are in the process of creating a modern take on a Craftsman style home. With that in mind, they designed this hand wrought iron rail inspired by California wildflowers. If you’ve ever experienced a California spring with wildflowers in bloom, you know why they were so inspired. If not, I’ve included a couple of images for you to enjoy.