A few of my favorite things…in February

26 02 2010

This month has blown by (no pun intended to those poor mid-westerners and easterners who have had blowing snow everyday this month).  I can’t believe the month I consider “spring to start” is right around the corner.  I just had a few things for the list this month, but wanted to share my findings with you.  So check them out!

1. For starters, who didn’t see Pink at the Grammy’s.  I have been a huge fan for a long time and I think I listened to the Funhouse CD on auto-replay for the whole first month that I owned it, but her performance just solidified what a HUGE rock star she is.  Flying through the air, hanging on silks, while singing your heart out (no lipsyncing for her) is just so amazing!!  She looked sophisticated and elegant down to her high heels.  Way to go Pink.  If you missed it, click here to see the video.

2. This is a new shop on the internet, Succenlent Love Designs, that sells gorgeous succulents.  The beauty is in the way they pot them, the plants they choose and the way they display them make these a great asset for your home.  Since we all know I have brown thumbs these are perfect as they don’t require too much attention or watering.  This bubble is customizable and I absolutely am thinking I need a few for my dining room.

3. I was in search for a couple little inexpensive pillows for my guest room sofa and ran across Hettle’s brilliant designs. These pillows are so cute, modern and FUN.  Usually a ruffle is too girly to get me interested, but she creates them in such a way that they are structured and beautiful.  Check out her online store to see all of them, but here is just a little sneak peek of what you will see.  LOVE them!!

4. Don’t try to rush out to your nearest magazine stand and try to pick this guy up because he won’t be there waiting for you.  Instead, this is an online magazine from the site Issuu.  Part of me LOVES it (the cheap part since it is a free subscription) and part of me hates that I can’t bring it to the dog park with me like all my other glossy friends.  (But don’t worry those of you who have iphones as they are working on an app to take it on the go.)  Anyways, the contents more than make up for the “online only” part.  Similar to Domino (which folded in April 2009) it takes a look at DIY projects, trends and fantastic interiors.  Stop in and take a look, you won’t be disappointed-however you might just be a little jealous that you won’t have enough money or space to recreate everything you see.  http://www.lonnymag.com/: first issue, second issue, current issue.

Hope you all have a great weekend.


Design Quickie under Budget Restraints

24 02 2010

This week I had an interesting challenge from someone that I met for just a couple of minutes during a meeting.  He asked what someone gains by using my services.  We discussed a sense of style and knowledge for products.  He seemed to think he would spend more than double when he incorporated a designer into the process of his office remodel.  I priced out what he could have done an 11’ x 15’ office using cheap knock-down furniture you can buy at any big box store.  We all know the stuff I am talking about.  A sticker on top of MDF board?!  The price tag I came up with would have set him back $1150.

So my goal became doing a complete and stylish office for under $1500 bucks.  {If you are interested–I came to that price because he said it would cost double ($2400), but I wanted to subtract my quickie fee of $250.00 and take off more than a quarter of the initial price so…I thought $1500 would be a good starting ground considering I was using more solid materials.}  Even I was surprised when I brought in the final product for under $1200.

Here is our material board:

So here is what we did to create this sophisticated, fun office…

  1. Starting with paint colors I thought it would be nice to have a soft, calming blue for the walls since it indicates depth, expertise, and stability.  Who doesn’t want their office to show their wisdom in a given field?  A nice color for this would be Dunn Edwards Snow Lodge (#DE5799).  To offset this we needed a bright fun color and since green represents growth, freshness and harmony it seemed like a great color to accent with.  Dunn Edwards Grass Roots (DE5521) will really pep up the room nicely.
  2. Since we were going with more colorful things on the walls I thought adding some beige colored grommet top panels would be classic.  I always thought that the metal at the top made them a bit more masculine.  Anyone agree?
  3. The large wall clock will really make a statement and was the inspiration for the green color that we are using throughout the space.
  4. This shelf is from IKEA and originally starts out white, but with a few strokes of Grass Roots paint this will quickly make a HUGE impact on the room.  Attaching a couple of these above the desk is certain to hit a high note!
  5. The desk is simple and straightforward.  I like that it is light and adds a breath of freshness to the room.  It will also be easy to clean with its melamine top and the construction of the legs will mean this bad boy won’t be laying down on the job.  On top is a great table lamp. The chrome finish helps to compliment the edginess of the office.
  6. This office chair is stylish and ergonomically suitable for sitting long hours in not to mention built solid to last.  I think that the white really works with the desk and the bit of chrome really lends accent to the room.
  7. CB2 knows how to build a rolling file system!  This guy offers two drawers for storage as well as a larger lower drawer for files.  It’s solid metal construction means it will last a lifetime and a classic look ensures it will be able to adapt to any style down the road.
  8. This little bookshelf will act as the printer station.  With the printer on top it leaves plenty of room for extra supplies and stacks of paper.  Just like the rolling storage this is framed in metal with glass shelves ensuring it will look great for years to come.
  9. These bookshelves are a steal from IKEA for $59 each!!  They start out white, but by removing the back panel and giving it an accent paint job these will really stand out from the room. Flanking a standard white one with two of the altered bookshelves should do the job in creating a punch.
  10. The accent side chair just brings the space together.  It has all the hues we are using and while it was a higher priced item at $200 it seems worth it to finish out the room.
  11. Also if you are looking for desk accessories I would suggest any of these brown, yellow and orange colors.  These are from the container store but there are a ton of options out there to choose from.

So there you have it.  For basically the same price and a little bit of labor painting you could totally have a poppy yet sophisticated home office.  If you are interested in snagging a quickie of your own, click here.  I just can’t wait to see what you think-isn’t this design WAY better than the standard office furniture?!

Design Principles: Rhythm & Emphasis

22 02 2010

I am going to try and make this post short and sweet since I think that rhythm and emphasis are 2 of the easier concepts to understand.


Personally, I think the hardest part of rhythm is spelling it!!

The Definition: Rhythm is based on the repetition of elements in space.  This repetition not only creates visual unity but also induces a rhythmic continuity of movement.

Since rhythm it is all about repetition we can take any type of item from furniture to structural elements like a column and repeat, repeat, repeat in a pattern or line.  This establishes a unity within the space that is three dimensional and easy to follow.

The picture above from Coastal Living-Jan 2010 shows an elegant use of rhythm in the columns adjoined with lattice work.  They also used the principle in the ceiling, seating and fans.  By using the same elements over and over they really pulled together the space and made it one inviting patio!


The Definition: The coexistence of dominate and subordinate elements in the composition of an interior setting.  A design without any dominant elements would be bland and monotonous.

However, if there are too many assertive elements the design would be cluttered and chaotic, detracting from what may be truly important.  Each part of design should be given proper significance according to its degree of importance in the overall scheme.

It is obvious what Kerry Delrose (designer) wants you to notice in her design featured in House Beautiful (July 2009).  This chair is an excellent point of emphasis since it has such subdued surroundings in black, tan and white.  The pop of red-orange is just want this room needed.

It is more of a subtle approach in this all white kitchen design seen in Metropolitan Home Magazine.  But Melissa Palazzo of Pal + Smith knows where to make her pop of color count.  The simple artwork in aqua next to its complimentary color of orange and a little green really make this room stand out (even though its main color is white).  She even put a glass vase in the foreground to really drive home the emphasis that turquoise makes in the room.  In my opinion, well done Melissa!

So there you have it.  Like I said, short and sweet.  Don’t you think that emphasis really adds to the room in a way that none of the other principles can?  Basically saying, it is what you focus the room around when you are making a design.  What is your favorite emphasis in your own house?  Is it an old heirloom that has been passed down thru the years?  Or may be it is a fantastic piece of art that you have displayed in all its glory.  Since I love hearing from you fill me in with your favorite bit of emphasis.

Taking down the popcorn.

19 02 2010

Ah. Now where did we leave off with the story of our little abode?  Right, we just finished up how we obtained such a great starter home *sigh*.  You can catch up here if you missed that posting.

Since I didn’t deem it “livable” in its current state we stayed in our apartment for the first month while we renovated it.  This meant that we would go to work in the morning, work our full day at our jobs, then show up to the “new house” as close to 5:30 as humanly possible.  We would work there until at least 10pm when it would be out of the question to run power tools (remember how we loved that it was a very quite neighborhood?) and if we had quite work to do we might stretch it to midnight before heading back to our apartment to get a little shut eye.  The weekends were devoted to our “new house” as well, so we would generally start at 9am and go until we couldn’t see straight.  We really worked our hinnies off that first month.  And as you will see as we go through this process we weren’t alone in the work.  We had such great family and friends helping us every bit of the way.

John scraping the ceiling

Even Gracie helped with the ceiling scraping, but she got fleas the first night so couldn't "help" until the house got exterminated a couple days later!!

Our first official project on day one in our little abode was to tear down the popcorn, as in the ceiling acoustics.  First, we had it checked for asbestos (during our inspection we stole a little piece from a closet to have tested) and in return  the lab gave us a big thumbs up to get started.  So armed with a borrowed garden sprayer (from our realtor) we sprayed the ceiling with a bit of water, let it absorb for a bit (just a minute is all it takes), then took a large scraper (like they use in drywall mudding) and scraped it off like you would with paint.  Note: If it hasn’t been painted it is quite easy to remove (no matter how many years of smoking tar has been absorbed) however if it has been painted I hear that it is a much tougher project.  Since ours was not previously painted our process was actually quite easy and went pretty quickly.  We had it all over the house except in the bathrooms and the kitchen and it only took us about 6-8 hours to do the whole place with 3 of us working.  The tough part came when we had to sand out the original tape/mud work that was done during construction.  While we started off doing the sanding by hand with a drywall sanding block and a long extender handle (we lasted about a room and a half) we quickly learned how efficient a orbital sander can be to this process.  Just be careful to start while holding the sander to the ceiling plane as to not gouge the drywall.

John and our friend Ian sanding the joints

Me working the orbital sander-don't you just love the slouch socks?!

We made it through the rest of the house without a problem scraping and sanding, but we knew we had a project ahead of us in the master bedroom. At some point the ceiling sustained a couple of leaks that ruined the drywall in areas.  They had been patched but whoever did the patchwork left it pretty noticeable so we weren’t sure how we were going to fix it.  Once we started working we noticed the ceiling appeared to be sagging in places.  Upon further inspection we found that the nails in several areas had become dis-engaged with the supports.  Our first thought was to just re-nail them and call it a day.  So to the hardware store we went, once there we explained what we were doing and they gave us another option.  They said the ceiling would hold the way we had planned to execute the job, but it was always going to appear to be sagging since the drywall was already warped.  So they suggested building a frame out of 1×2 boards on the existing ceiling plane then install 1/8” drywall on the new frame.  Honestly, the way they described it this was going to be the best and easiest solution to our ceiling debacle so we hauled home all the needed goods to get started.  What did we learn?  Drywall is hard to do well when you are a novice.  What should have taken us “about a day” according to the home depot guys, took us close to a week of our tight enough deadline as it was, and taught us that we were not good at the mudding process.  After we finished all of the ceilings, we primed and painted them with a flat finish paint and in the end we have nice, smooth ceilings throughout our entire house to swoon over.  On our next installment of our little abode I’ll go into how we made our 4 bedroom house into a 3 bedroom…

Have you ever been in mid-project, headed to the store to pickup a supply and come home with a completely new direction?  Tell me about your most recent debacle and how you were able to solve it in a jiffy.

Design Quickie Inspiration-Fine Art

17 02 2010

As always there are so many ways to find inspiration and this week’s quickie is based off a fine art print.  Many of you know that there are periods in art history, for which the artist studied and exemplified.  This weeks’ inspiration selection falls into the period known as the Pop Art movement.  Artist known for this period are Andy Warhol (think Campbell soup can labels), Tom Wesselmann (pop art collage creator) and Roy Lichtenstein (who created parody of comic strip subject manner-similar to the way Weird Al Yankovic poked fun at pop stars.)

The print is known as Ohhh…Alright by Roy Lichtenstein

If you are interested in picking up a copy for yourself, click here to check out your sizing options.  I personally love, love, love (!!) Mr. Lichtenstein’s pop art pieces because of the characters’ facial expression, the colors he used and the way he interpreted old print manufacturing by making large surface areas as dots (just blown up to an appropriate scale.) You know me and circles—can’t get enough of them.  Now onto the bedroom quickie we pulled together for this week.

Here is the material board:

  1. Our color palette for this week features a grey-blue for the walls with the accents being in dark grey/black, mustard yellow and a lovely burnt orange.  A nice blue-grey for the walls would be Dunn Edwards/ #DEC794 Salina Springs.
  2. The headboard is a fabulous find on Overstock.com that features a woven leather look.  The black will really contrast the light blue-grey walls and the texture certainly adds an opulent feeling to the space.
  3. The bedding took on a much more modern approach to help make the room less traditional and more transitional.  The striped duvet offsets the polka dots throughout the room (that were influenced by the art) and adds a nice bright white and some pops of orange.
  4. The pillows for the bed will create some weight to help direct attention and spread the color around.  The back row, yellow and grey diamond pattern and the grey spiderweb, help to draw a base and will pop off the dark background.  The next row, black and white circles, really anchor the pillows to the headboard and the front pillow is just a simple orange to draw it all together.
  5. These circle mirrors were just too fantastic to pass up.  Since the dresser is so long in this instance we needed 2 sets to complete the look but they add just a little whimsy to the space.
  6. The dresser is the perfect complement to the black headboard and will keep the room in that transitional stage.
  7. The nightstands (I suggest one for each side of the bed) look like they were a sister to the dresser but they really came from a completely different source.  The clean lines and simple detailing really help to let other details in the room stand out while not being overpowered since the black is so stately.  A suggestion for switching out the frame for your room might be this little guy (he’s even on sale).
  8. The lovely table lamp has a wonderful spindle quality that is found in traditional rooms but the black high sheen lacquer finish really helps it to stand apart from the table while the simple white drum shade make it a perfect addition to the room!
  9. I couldn’t find a yellow chandelier (doesn’t that just make you want to sing yellow submarine by the Beatles?) to save my life, but thought that one in the space would really capture everything this room was meant to be so…I found directions to follow to achieve this look.  Quite frankly, even the style of the one in the picture is appropriate for our space.  So visit, onmyperch, to see the tutorial of how to bring one of these guys to life for yourself.  Can you believe such a show stopping piece only put her back $15 bucks?!
  10. Last, but certainly not least in this case, is the art for the walls.  I would suggest picking up “Ohhh…Alright” but also grabbing some of his other great pieces to fill up the walls in your room as well.  A black simple frame and white matte board would pull all of the prints together and keep them looking simple and grouped.

So there you have it, a transitional approach to outfitting a bedroom inspired by a traditional fine art print.  What do you think?  Are you a fan of bright, vibrant colors or do they scare you off?  Need help picking some for your home?  Check out getting a quickie for yourself here.

Design Principles: Unity & Variety

15 02 2010

Picking up where we left off last week with harmony, variety shares a common thread in creating visual interest.  Harmony when carried too far in the use of elements with similar traits can result in a unified but uninteresting composition.  Variety, on the other hand, when carried to an extreme for the sake of interest can result in visual chaos.  It is the careful and artistic tension between order and disorder-between unity and variety- that enlivens harmony and creates interest in an interior setting.

Adding variety, but maintaining unity is as simple as :

  • Varying size
  • Varying orientation
  • Varying detail characteristics
  • Varying texture
  • Varying color

Here, the designers, Garcia & Lavin used similar content in a variety of frame sizes to make an impact along an entire wall, showing a mix between harmony and variety.   The spiral layout helps to reinforce the unity of the entire collection.

In the picture above, John Hix (designer) used pictures of bubbles to create unity within the art pieces, but chose to offer a variety in the orientation.  This style could have caused visual chaos like I mentioned before by changing too many elements, but he kept a consistent size and content which helps to keep harmony within the pieces.  I also like that he used variety when picking pillow fabric, but kept them unified by keeping them the same size as well.

The collection of pottery from Heath Ceramics shows how small detail characteristics make a big difference within interior accents.  While the overall shape of each vase is circular the height and openings are different adding visual interest through variety.

Variety doesn’t just come in different shapes, it can also come in textures ranging from acrylic to wood.  All the display boxes show a variety of textures available at CB2.com.  If you put some of these on a wall and varied a couple of them to a different texture it would add a lot of visual spice to any wall.

In the art above, the backgrounds change color, but they find unity in their square shape and building content. The stacking of 3 sets really helps to fill the wall and balance out the window to the left of the paintings.

You can also check out what we have covered so far in our design principles series by clicking here.  So far what is your favorite design principle that we have covered?  How do you use it in your home to make the space feel unique?  Look for our last installment of the series next monday when we cover, Rhythm & Empahsis.

Jonathan Adler: Designer of the Month

12 02 2010

Front and center on Jonathan Adler’s company website:

Our Manifesto

We believe that your home should make you happy.
We believe that when it comes to decorating, the wife is always right.
Unless the husband is gay.
We believe in carbohydrates and to hell with the puffy consequences.
We believe minimalism is a bummer.
We believe handcrafted tchotchkes are life-enhancing.
We believe tassels are the earrings of the home.
We believe in our muses: David Hicks, Alexander Girard,
Bonnie Cashin. Hans Coper, Gio Ponti, Andy Warhol, Leroy Neiman,
Yves Saint Laurent, and Madonna.
We believe in the innate chicness of red with brown.
We believe in being underdressed or overdressed always.
We believe in infantile, happy emblems like butterflies and hearts.
We believe celebrities should pay full price.
We believe in rustic modernism: Big Sur, A-Frame beach houses,
raw beams, and geodesic dome homes.
We believe in Palm Beach style:
Louis chairs, chinoiserie, Lilly Pulitzer, The Breakers circa ’72.
We believe our designs are award winning even though
they’ve never actually won any.
We believe in Aid to Artisans.
We believe dogs should be allowed in stores and restaurants.
We believe in mantiques – suits of armour,
worn chesterfield sofas, heraldic tapestries.
We believe you should throw out your Blackberry
and go pick some actual blackberries.
We believe colors can’t clash.
We believe in blowing your nest egg on our pots.
We believe our lamps will make you look younger and thinner.
We believe in irreverent luxury.

There are several items in this manifesto that speak to me as a designer as well as a consumer.  “We believe that your home should make you happy…We believe in the innate chicness of red with brown…We believe in being underdressed or overdressed always…We believe celebrities should pay full price (doesn’t it make you crazy when they don’t)…We believe that dogs should be allowed into stores and restaurants…We believe colors can’t clash (just check out he’s design of Barbie Malibu pad, you’ll die)…and so on.

Overall it says, if you are interested in what I am about / can offer / my creativity, then come on in–I am sure we will be GRAND friends!!

Jonathan is a potter at heart.  You heard me correct-a potter.  You say, why am I featuring him on an interior design blog as my first ever designer of the month?  Well, he has turned his flair for all things pots into a budding career as a designer for high profile jobs.  I personally like him because he had a humble start, slow-fast rise, and just is a spectacularly fun and flairly (if that is a word) kind of a guy.  He found that he liked doing pottery during his high school years, went on to college to study semiotics and art history, but really never got over his first love of pottery.  When he graduates college in 1988, he tried his hand at a couple careers before realizing in ‘94 he couldn’t stand his job.  So he quits.  The sheer fact that he quit is astounding to me (it takes a lot of guts to quit your job and head into the unknown.)  But quickly he groups, putting together some pieces to show buyers and amazingly gets an order to spend the next couple years pumping out pots for the super store known as Barneys New York!  In 1998, he finally opens a store of his own in Soho, expands in 2001 to LA and today has 12 stores nationwide.  During his high growth years he also expands from ceramic goods into furniture and  starts taking on interior design projects.  Once he is introduced to interiors he also expands his collection to include home goods.  Most recently he has become the lead judge for Bravo’s reality show Top Design and has gotten married to his partner of many years, Simon.

What I really like about him is his wit and how he brings it to his interiors.  His website says, “Your 24 hour a day pot dealer.”  He is selling to a high, high-end clientele and just has a knack for flamboyant abandonment.  When I first saw the Barbie Dream House, I will admit I was a bit shocked.  Pink, orange, red…oh my.  But on closer inspection, it was really well done.  I have attached a couple pictures to feast your eyes upon.

While it is a bit bright, to say the least, it has a lot of really great detailing.  Like the Barbie circular art on the walls (made out of a ton of Barbie dolls), a modern lavender kitchen (first one I have ever seen) and shiny, pleather couches.  And back to the color, what did you expect from Barbie?!

Other work that he has done is more sophisticated perhaps, but just as vibrant.

If you are interested in learning more about Jonathan and his work (I highly suggest that you do) you can pick up a copy of his book, My Perscription for Anti-Depressive Living from which all the prior picture were taken.

I am going to close this post with  his 15 Fabulous Design Tips:

  1. Mix and match with panache. Don’t be tentative with patterns. If you keep your color scheme restrained, you can approach patterns with wild abandon.
  2. When in doubt, repeat, repeat, repeat your patterns.
  3. Don’t fit in. Scale is the most under-considered piece of the decorating puzzle. Put a Gothic throne in a studio apartment.
  4. Paint your floors white. You’ll feel carefree.
  5. Orange is the poppiest color and the answer to most decorating conundrums. Lacquer your front door orange. Pique your neighbor’s curiosity.
  6. Layer, layer, layer. Unexpected touches are the soul of the MAXIMALIST HOME: A painting hung on a bookcase, a chandelier in a closet, a brass lion’s-head door knocker in a modern apartment.
  7. If you’re a clean modernist, try white grass-cloth for a little warmth.
  8. Chocolate brown and baby blue are perfect together. They’re uptown, they’re downtown, they’re classic and fashion forward.
  9. Replace white walls with unexpected neutrals like camel, olive, or baby blue.
  10. Put regal furniture in your bathroom.
  11. When in doubt, add mirrors for extra glamour, put a piece of mirror on top of a cabinet to make it sparkle or in a niche to create the illusion of depth.
  12. Primary colors are happy colors – use them abundantly.
  13. Let go of coordinating colors. Colors can’t clash. However, when in doubt – brown is your foundation. Brown with red is innately chic.
  14. Go for grandeur with a giant chandelier.
  15. Make your own – Personal style means having a space that’s comfy but filled with stuff that has meaning to you. It should hold things created and inspired by passionate people. Personal style should make you happy and happiness is chic.