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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Outdoor Wonderland in Detail

I am so sorry I did not post yesterday. I had to finish up an outdoor project for a Monday morning meeting. Speaking of outdoor projects, as promised here are three color palettes from projects. These are the fabrics I used. Most of them are from Robert Allen / Beacon Hill. The same principles and elements are applied to outdoor spaces - pattern, color, texture..... Let me know what you think.

Palette #1

Palette #2

Palette #3

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Outdoor Wonderland

I have been doing some of my clients’ outdoor spaces – tis the season. I am enjoying looking at all the wonderful modular furniture that is available. They are constructed of several materials these days – wood, wicker, resin, polymer material, metals…. What ever floats your boat – boat – I am in summer mode. There are endless choices of style from ultra modern to European traditional. With Sunbrella practically revolutionizing the outdoor fabric industry – the possibilities are endless. I’ve been imagining being lulled by warm breezes while lying on furniture that is as comfortable as my own bed. Speaking of which – outdoor cushions have definitely come along way. While at Market in High Point, I visited the Lloyd / Flanders showroom. When I sat down on one of their pieces, I absolutely did not want to get up. Was I tired? Yes. However, the recently improved their cushions. I, for one, can attest to their scrumptiousness.

Outdoor spaces have always been important but they are climbing the importance ladder with home construction reaching new heights to connect the inside with the out. We have everything from the classic French door to walls of glass that fold or slide back to completely connect the two worlds. We have outdoor rooms that function with the same ease as a typical great room – outdoor kitchen with coordinating family room complete with fireplace. Just look.

What I love about modular furniture is that it can accommodate many, can grow over time, can be configured countless ways, and can be broken up into smaller, intimate seating arrangements for special occasions. They add texture and some add interesting shape and form to one’s outdoor world. Here are a few I love….


Lloyd / Flanders

If teak is your thing, Kingsley Bate has some lovely ones and I found the one below at London Teak.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you some outdoor fabrics that I am using this year. Stay tuned.

For those of you following me on Facebook, check out your gem of the week.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Neutralize My World

Yesterday we spoke about color. Today, we focus on neutrals and neutralized color hues. Neutrals are whites, off-whites, grays, black, and off-blacks. Browns and beiges are also considered ‘neutrals’ and used generously as such. I often refer to beige and browns as neutrals but if I wanted to be completely accurate or scientific about it, they are really neutralized color hues. What the heck does that mean? Well, browns and beiges come directly off the color wheel by mixing colors – the other neutrals do not. However, for the purpose of this blog (and almost all my other blogs), we will refer to browns and beiges as neutrals. Let’s first look at rooms using black and whites. We’ll again use Elle Décor / Metropolitan Home – Point Click Home as our resource.

When using whites and off-whites, it visually expands the space. They also make other colors and objects appear clean and crisp. Accents in blacks give an element of richness.

In this Jonathan Alder design, note how spacious, airy, and bright the room appears. The clear Lucite table aids the lightness. His use of texture, pattern, several well-placed objects with curved lines and unusual shape (dogs) and the pop of blue add visual interest. The floor with its dark, rich tone helps to ground the expansive feel. This room makes me feel happy.

In this Scott Slarsky and Katarina Edlund design, note the tribute to the magnificent architecture of the room. The generous molding, fireplace, and curved walls are kept front and center. Even the elegant but simple light fixture does not compete. The boldest black and white pattern is on vintage chairs. The bold pattern remains at one end backed by voluminous windows. The chairs are placed echoing the curved wall and reveal the heirloom clock. Next the contemporary shape and texture of the black hide rug; finishing the room with a white, clean lined, tete a tete. Note the center table is low as to not obstruct the view of the fireplace. The walls accented with tone on tone that marries well with the architecture and pattern selected for the chairs. This entire splendor is grounded by richly toned hardwood floor. The simple mixing of materials and the contemporary with vintage provide the extra creative wow that gives this room such great impact.

In Ron Marvin’s room, again we see simplicity done well. I enjoy the creative use of lines in this design. Lines on the window treatments, rug, the furnishing in the bottom right, and the Grecian design on the throw pillows all make me feel organized and clear. Everything is precise and well proportioned, balanced, crisp, and clean. I feel like I should be in a pencil black skirt, a crisp white blouse, and black stilettos drinking a cosmopolitan. Classic elegance.

Now for the ‘beiges.’ I have chosen two incredible designers to illustrate – Barbara Barry and Vicente Wolf.

First Ms. Barry. Everyone knows she is famous for her pleasing palettes. But what makes ‘beige’ room inviting and interesting. In this room, the immediate warm tones make one feel invited. Second, note the architectural detail on the walls and the varied forms and shapes of the furniture – this adds interest. The seating arrangement in front of the fireplace is symmetrical – this has a formality. Yet, the second seating arrangement is on an angle – a more casual air. It also boasts the unique youthful furniture pieces married with classic wing chairs. The palette, on my monitor, shows fabric with a caramel hue, a tone derived from orange. When orange is neutralized, as it appears to be here, it proclaims wealth, success, and depth. Summary – this room is an unassuming rich, elegant place where people feel comfortable in conversation.

Here’s Mr. Wolf’s design. Comfortable and casual. He is known for his eclectic designs and this one is no different. First look at the architecture. The molding and beams on the ceiling give the room a cozy feel without compromising the airy feeling. The odd chair and sisal rug decreases the formality as does the selection of case goods. Interest abounds with the horizontal use of mirror, aiding the airy feel, the architectural model, mimicking greenery, and unusual accessories. I would love to see what is lying on the table in between the model and greenery. His use of interesting collections always intrigues me. In his designs – spaces are full of interest because of the unusual – but never look cluttered because of careful selection and well one editing.

The beauty about using a neutral palette is the ability to move objects around within the room and into other rooms. This keeps homes fresh. Art is well displayed in these rooms. The art does not need to compete and will look crisp. If a little color is desired the law of chromatic distribution applies – the more neutralized colors of the palette are found in the largest areas with the brighter or more intense chroma in the smaller areas. What that means is that on larger furnishings, walls, and floors – everything remains neutral. The pop color is saved for smaller objects or kept to a particular area or object. Mr.Adler’s design is a good example with the blue. The photo below speaks for itself.

In this Paul Gray design – I immediately say wow. Now the area with the pop is not small but it is confined. Only a smidge of red appears in the painting. All else is neutralized. I enjoy the juxtaposition of the calming color and horizontal line of the furniture grouping with the vertical expanse of red glass and steel on what could have been an eye sore – a support column. Now that is what I call a POP.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Color My World

Today let’s talk about color. Selecting a color palette is likely my largest percentage of ‘consultations.’ I receive numerous phone calls for this weekly. Inevitably I always ask the same question, “What are you basing your color choices on?” I live in an area with plenty of new construction. People are often moving into homes larger than their previous one and would like to ‘start fresh.’ Often folks abandon their furnishings in search for bigger and better likely due to scale. There is nothing wrong with that (as long as the furniture is being recycled by donation). When I ask my question above, I often hear silence or something like, “What do you mean? We don’t have any furniture yet.” My consultations usually start out with education – go figure. I inform people it is a good idea to base a color palette on something that one would like to have in the room. When people do not have anything that they would like to place in their room and all they would like from me is a palette, I suggest we look at neutral colors (usually beige-like color) – either warm or cool depending on how the client would like the overall feel of the room to be. With neutral on the wall, selecting furnishings will be easier. Very nice neutrals that I have used well are from Benjamin Moore’s Historical Colors – Lenox Tan is a favorite. The Historical Colors tend to have more gray in them thus rendering them on the cool side. The added gray gives these colors staying power – one will not tire of them over time and furnishings can be changed out without re-painting. More on neutral palettes later.

When people would like to have color other than neutral on their walls, it is best to base the selections on something – a piece of art, wallpaper, wrapping paper even – as long as it appeals to you. A furnishing I often start with is fabric. If I have nothing to base a color palette on, I first work my clients to find a fabric that they love that will be used in the room capturing their colors. I have my clients live with the fabric for a while, look at it in different lights (full spectrum of natural daylight and artificial lighting) to see if it truly appeals to them or was it just the idea of a trend that they really do not think they could live with long term. I also have clients live with the paint color or wallpaper selections for a few days for the very same reasons. This may seem a bit tedious but color is very personal and evocative. Having to live with a hue one does not care for can be a strain on the psyche – trust me on that one – I know from personal experience.

Many of you have likely seen a color wheel. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. The secondary hues are made by combining the primary colors into orange, green, and violet. The tertiary hues are the combinations of the primary and secondary hues. They are yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-orange, and yellow-orange.

Once a color is found, a full palette can flow from it. The main color will need to be one that you love and believe you can live with over time. It also depends on the room itself. A child’s room will likely be a different color than living room (maybe not if you’re REALLY into color) but you get the idea. I’ll say it again, color is evocative. It one would like to be soothed, then bright pink may not be a good choice. Pure pinks tend to be festive. Let’s take a look at rooms presented by Elle Décor / Metropolitan Home – Point Click Home.

Designs by Kirsten Brant and Rafael de Cardenas skillfully illustrate a monochromatic palette. In Ms. Brant design, she appears to have used medium and dark values of pinks (darker on the walls than on the ceiling). She also used dark gray and white (neutrals) to complement. This room is the epitome of festive and cheerful. Ms. Brant added a textured rug and patterned window treatments and wall accents for interest. In Mr. de Cardenas’ design, light, medium and dark values of violet were used; light on the floor in an area rug, medium on the walls, and dark on the window panels and puff. Texture and pattern on the rug, in architectural wall art, and throw pillows add interest. Neutral upholstered chairs complete the vignette. Neutrals help the room not be overwhelmed with too much of a good thing. Mr. de Cardenas design suggests optimism and depth.

Achieve a monochromatic palette by finding a color that you enjoy – please have it represented in the room – and add black to reveal darker values and white to see lighter values. Black and white are not the only colors that may be added; browns and grays may be added as well for variation. When you look at the color strip in any color index, they always give you different values (using black and white) of the same color so no need to do it yourself unless you would like a unique look all your own.

Let’s look at a couple analogous palettes. These schemes are achieved by colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel. Usually three to six hues are used. One takes the lead role with a second in a supporting role. The remaining are used as cameos. On first glance, one may think Valerie Pasquiou’s design is a complementary color palette but after studying it, it seems an analogous palette using five adjacent colors. The lead role is the wall color; on my monitor it looks red-orange. The supporting role is four hues over -yellow-green which is placed on the sofa. The cameos are in the accessories – yellow on the throw pillows, yellow-orange on the lamps, orange on the stools. Neutrals are also represented in the upholstered chairs, art, lamp shades and rug (brown with red-orange circles). Lovely, just lovely. I feel this room to be quite friendly. I could sip some wine there. In Jonathan Adler’s design, he primarily uses green, yellow-green, and yellow, with green in the lead and yellow, a close second. He uses cameo pops of yellow-orange, orange, and red-orange and light and dark neutrals (casegoods and upholstered chairs respectively) for balance. This room is frank – ‘this is who I am’ – with integrity.

Complementary color palettes are the boldest of all, especially direct complements; these colors are opposite form each other on the color wheel. There are variations of the complementary if the direct contrast is too great. Split complement is one color with the two colors flanking the direct opposite. For example, yellow with red-violet and blue-violet. A triadic complement is three colors equidistant on the color wheel such as red, yellow and blue. A double complement is two pairs of direct complements that are right next to each other on the wheel (e.g. orange and blue and yellow-orange / blue violet). Lastly, a tetrad complement is four colors equidistant on the wheel (e.g. yellow, blue-green, violet, and red-orange). These rooms by Nisi Berryman and Ronald Bricke show the art of a complementary palette. In Ms. Berryman’s bedroom design, she uses red and green (the green has a pinch of brown in it) but the compliment can be seen. Texture, pattern, and neutrals add interest and pause for the eye. It just feels luscious. In Ronald Bricke’s bedroom design, violet and yellow take the stage. Even though there is a dark value of violet on the walls, the yellow ceiling lets the sun shine and makes the room feel lighter and airy.

And there you have it – color, color, color – done well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Music and Design II

I feel compelled to speak about American Idol given my blog yesterday. I have not been a faithful fan of the show but this year I have been. I have DVRed it weekly. Why? The contestants. Now we are down to two: Adam and Kris. I like them both but for very different reasons. To me, it is a little like comparing apples to oranges both involving 'chill.' With Adam I see him as a Broadway star, sending chills down my spine with each performance. But a Broadway show is time-limted. I see the show, feelings are evoked, and then I leave. Would I be likely to have Adam's Broadway show on while hanging out with friends? No. That's where Kris comes in. I would definately have Kris' CD on while chilling with friends, sipping wine, or in the background while thumbing though my favorite magazines. So you see, I would want them at different times. Chills down my spine versus chilling out. So where does design come into this? It is all about interpretation. Here is my interpretation of Adam.

This room, done by the great Geoffrey Bradfield, picture courtesy of Architectural Digest. You may have seen this room also on HGTV Top Ten Living Rooms. This room is all about glamour with the spectacular rug with the larger than life motif, the lucite wing chairs and cocktail table, the sconced mirrors.... it is breathtaking - just like Adam's voice.

Now Kris.

This room's architecture is done by Locati Architects. The interior design by Locati Interiors. Photo again courtesy of Architectural Digest. Here, I can see myself curling up with my magazine or chatting with a good friend with Kris playing in the background. A feeling of contentment, a feeling of being soothed. The natural wood and leather make it warm and cozy. Sitting in chairs that are big and comfortable while being gently warmed by the natural sunlight. Now that's what I'm talking about. Do I want chills running down my spine? Absolutely! But I want to come home to soothing warmth.

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