I have been doing a good deal of work related travel lately and enjoying it! The travel has involved meeting some interesting people from all parts of the US. A lot of our conversations center around regional architecture in our home towns.
These conversations started me thinking how important the idea of a “sense of place is”. I live in a beautiful town on the Hudson River with gorgeous 19th century architecture. To place a Gap or a McDonalds here would be a crime! Archictural landmarks make a city unique and gives each city a sense of identity.
My colleagues span the country, from New York to California. As you may know I have a rich fantasy life (see previous blog post). So when someone says the are from Long Island and have a 1920s style home, my mind goes to – yes the Great Gatsby:
Gatsby – Perfect set design, the location speaks to “a sense of place”. It is important to embrace where you live and celebrate the regional history and landscape. Enjoy the ways your city and your lifestyle are unique and incorporate these ideas in your home design. A few good ways to accomplish this:
Framed photos depicting area landmarks:
Also framed area maps:
Books about area History:
The idea is to give a glimpse of what makes your city or town unique.
I hope you love your city as much as I do mine. How great it is to appreciate all the uniqueness of where we all live across our beautiful country!
Recently I was shopping with a friend at the Boston Design Center. She sat on a very petit sofa and being her funny self asked, “Does this sofa make me look fat?” We had a good laugh, but It really got me thinking about what is most important when sofa shopping. Here are my top three:
#1. Scale – Small room, small scale furniture, large room large scale furniture. Also the ceiling height should be considered. You can have larger scale pieces in a smaller room if your ceiling is high. Also, if you are placing your sofa in front of a window, the window sill height is important, because you must also consider the view from the outside in.
#2. Quality – Please do not buy a sofa that does not have springs. This is the foundation of the sofa, without springs you just have foam, and foam will compress and lose it’s supportiveness in a very short time frame.
#3. Versalitality – Although it’s always tempting to make a statement with a great pattern or a wild color, neutrals are your best options for sofas. You can always punch things up with pillows and accent pieces that can be easily changed.
Follow these guidelines and your sofa will always make you and your rooms look great!
I was lucky enough to stay at my favorite hotel recently, The Edition in NYC. Oh, how I love this place! While staying there I am always inspired by the interior design. So much so, that in the moment, I am mentally redesigning every inch of 1865 City House.
What makes it so appealing? It’s the repeated use of contrast. Or in other words “opposites”. Light colors with dark colors. This is the best tool in a designers tool box!
At The Edition light oak floors paired with dark wood entryways and beautiful dark oversized beds create contrast at its best. The high contrast concept is implemented with variations on the same theme all throughout the hotel. Even the artwork is great vintage black and white photos in glossy white or black frames.
Here are a few examples of contrast for interiors:
Contrast (light vs dark) is important when designing a room. It is an easy way to make a statement and add personality to your spaces.
Even monochromatic rooms can be visually exciting when paired with strong accents in constrating colors. A room without any contrast can be quite boring. I recommend taking a step back, or better yet photograph your spaces to ensure they are inviting, interesting, and have a good deal of contrast. Often it is just a matter of adding a few dynamic colors to update the entire look!
I have been to NYC more times than I can count (lucky, I know!). Still more often than not, I end up with a sun burn on my neck. Crazy, first because I should remember to use sun screen, and second, because I look like a tourist – at risk of all touristy pitfalls – but I digress.
I am always looking up in NYC to see the amazing architecture. The same is true in Interior spaces. The ceiling is often overlooked but a great opportunity to add a statement.
June, so many beautiful and amazing flowers! Early last week I bought a bouquet of Peonies. I wish I had photographed them, so pretty! In my opinion Peonies are the frangance of summer! But alas all good things must come to an end. I awoke today to a vase surrounded by fallen petals. So sad.
I adore fresh flowers, my garden is planted with the intention of having cut flowers for display inside my home.
However fresh flowers and plants need tender loving care and have an expiration date:
This being said, I will admit to the purchase of fake flowers and plants. These beauties can fill up an empty space and require no care at all. However best to keep them on the small side, as it is harder to find larger arrangements that look natural.
Here are some of my favorities fakes:
Of course there is nothing like the real thing, but once and awhile it’s ok to fake it.
What’s the old joke, “Denial, it’s not just a river in Egypt.”? Ha ha ha, right? I had one of these moments when I realized I have been living in denial regarding my minalmalist quest. I was feeling overwhelmed with all of the springtime maintance of my home, and decided it was time to put my minimalistic goals into action. It was time to downsize yet again! I came up with a list that looked something like this:
#1. Essential sprucing up details to make 1865 City House market ready for a quick sale. A couple intense weekends, an it could be done!
#2. Loft type rentals close by. Many great options. Some so appealing!
#3. Essentials to keep. This is where it got real. Choosing just a dozen or less furniture pieces, yikes!
Artwork, even harder, and the China, if you follow me you know I have this China obsession:
So end of story, it’s not happening at this minute in time. I have often blogged “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for an interior designer to become a minimalist”, so very, very true. And of course “minimalism is a different thing to different people; it’s all a matter of perspective.” Even truer.
So I will continue to edit my “stuff” and I will complete my sprucing up list, at a more leisurely pace however. And by the way, I just picked up this beautiful china set from a friend…
It’s been building for some time now. Everywhere you look there are succulents on display. Just yesterday I noticed a beautiful display at the hardware store and came home to find a furniture catalog in the mail – just about every display photo featured succulents! These lovely plants may just be taking over, we need to excercise caution! Just kidding, but you could use them everywhere as they are quite beautiful. Succulents are easy to care for and mix well with all decors.
If your not sure what succulents are here is a brief description:
Succulent plants, such as Aloe, store water in their fleshy leaves. In botany, succulent plants, also known as succulents or sometimes fat plants, are plants that have some parts that are more than normally thickened and fleshy, usually to retain water in arid climates or soil conditions.
Succulent plant – Wikipedia
Where you spend your time each day and night should be a place you love spending time in. But so often people will wait until they own a home to decorate. So here are some five easy ways to give your rental a great look without upsetting your land lord:
With the help of a YouTube video it’s pretty easy to switch out your overhead lighting. This can make a huge difference! When it’s time to move just reinstall the old lighting fixtures and take the new fixtures with you.
4. Renters are often afraid of putting too many holes in the walls to hang art. Although a little wall spackle and touch up paint can correct this problem, large scale art and mirrors can just lean against the wall – a great solution!
5. Lastly, window treatments. My favorite inexpensive window treatments are rings with clips. This makes any fabric (a table cloth, twin sheet, canvas drop cloth) a window treatment. Just keep it neutral, prints can look too distracting from the outside.
There are many designers I admire. Originally, I was going to blog about my top ten favorites, however, that seemed a bit long. So after giving it a lot of thought, I decided to narrow it to my top three:
#1. Ilse Crawford
Ilse Crawford is known for an emotional approach to design which engages all the senses. Her interiors always have a collected look of well loved objects. She believes “Interior Design is a tool to enhance our humanity, and acts as a frame for life”. Crawford embraces good design for all people; she has designed for IKEA as well as high end hotels.
Victoria Hagen is able to create interiors that are classic with a modern sensibility. I first started following her (the old fashioned way, through print) in the early 90s when I was a design student. Hagen was featured in a design magazine for designing a Nantucket summer home. A simple and inviting interior, I have been a fan ever since. Hagen believes “Design is about using your imagination to create special environments to live in and enjoy”. A fairly basic Idea that gets to the true goal of good design.
Billy Baldwin (not the actor) is known for streamlined modernism mixed with classic design. His famous quote (which I use often) “Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is out of style”. Baldwin designed the “Slipper Chair” in 1930. Were would civilization be without the armless slipper chair?
What I love most about all of these interiors is their timeless quality. Any of these photos could have been taken yesterday or many years ago. Each of thes designers have published many books. Treat yourself and pick up one or all!
Ok, so you know your style, (you are Minimalist or Maximalist) this is half the work. Next, how to decide what to add? First start with your emotional response. Your initial feeling, the gut check reaction; the “I will know it when I see it” feeling. This is where interior design and psychology come together so beautifully. Whether it’s a chair, or a painting, if it makes you feel happy, go for it! The objects you interact with every day should be pleasing; not only visually, but from a tactical perspective as well.
Always be aware of these everyday interactions. How does the softness of a throw blanket feel? What about the weight of the silverware your using? Why not surround yourself with everyday items that celebrate the everyday common rituals! A great coffee cup, soft napkins, a spring flower in the perfect ceramic vase. You get the idea. Nothing dramatic but these types of everyday interactions are important. These little decisions can add to small everyday pleasures.
So when it’s time to make purchases, keep in mind functional aspects of course, but don’t rush; make sure your purchases are appealing to your senses as well. Go for the “good stuff” and enjoy!