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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.