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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Will Clarity Help You Design Your Home?

If you read my blog at all, you know I write a lot about the principles and elements of quality design.  But is that really where a design starts?  Nope.  The principles and elements are lenses.  I will write more about that soon but right now, let's really start at the beginning.

Jump right into buying!  Um.... NO!  Stop, take a breath and read on...

There are some things that need to be defined and understood first.  This is a critical phase of any project and often overlooked.

First we need to understand the space we are going to be doing.  What does that mean? 

1)    It means we need to know if the space is a public portion of your home such as your family room or a private part such the master bedroom.  This is important because if it is a public portion of your home it will be important for all the public spaces to have a rhythm, a flow, so ones senses are pleased when leaving one space and entering another vs. having your senses jarred because the room you just left has no connection to the room you just entered.  This is particularly important in open concept floor plans.  Private space will have internal rhythm but doesn’t necessarily need to connect with the surrounding rooms. 

2)    It also means we need to know what people will be using the room, how many of them and what will they be doing there.  For example, how many people will need to comfortably sit in the room on a daily basis?  What about when you entertain?  Are there any special needs like an elderly person or small children? What are the tasks and activities that will occur in the room (e.g. watching television, playing Wii, reading, napping…)? A critical room for this to be examined is the kitchen.  How do you move though the kitchen, what are your motions while you are cooking?  Define, define, define in order to create a room that is functionally perfect first.  The saying 'form follows function' is absolutely true.  Once you know who will be in the space and what they will be doing there – function – then the form will flow from there.

3)    Measure, measure, measure then measure again.  Do a drawing with detailed measurements on it.  If you don’t have software to help you with this, good old fashion graph paper is just fine.  Draw the room once and make several copies of that drawing so you can try several space and furniture plans – or layouts - to accomplish the functional aspect you already identified.

4)    Define the feeling of the space.  How do you want to feel in this room?  How do you want others to feel in this room?  What do you want the room to portray or reveal about you?  You may want a different feel in different rooms.  A family room may be comfortable, warm, and cozy to spend time with your loved ones.  I living room elegant and sophisticated that portrays your success.  What feel and portrayal of you in the space in a very important aspect and needs to be considered every step of the way.  The feel helps keep you focused.  There is so much product out there, so much stimuli it can be overwhelming.  You may have defined the feel of the room as warm, cozy, kid friendly but go over to your friend’s house and see this sleek, leather sofa and think to your self “I love it, I want that!”  Whoa nelly.  If you put that sleek sofa in your warm and cozy room, is it going to be warm and cozy?  Is it going to seat you and your kids comfortably to snuggle up on? 

In summary – define, define, define. Define who and what, define the measurements, define the feel.  Form follows function.  The style will be born from in particular, the feel and what you want the space to say about you.  And, after function, aren't those two things the most important elements ever?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Does Balancing What's in Your Home Help Your Life?

Balance matters in your home.
Balance is an important design principle. I was thinking about this the other day because of a project I am working on. This project has odd windows placement making window treatments difficult to implement. I will be suggesting the windows be changed as it would bring a much better sense of balance to the room and the homeowner can get the panels framing the windows he so desires.

 Why is balance so important? 
We all crave it in our lives. Work time, family time, play time... we would like to achieve some sense of balance in our lives. It is no different when designing your home. What is balance when it comes to interior design? Balance is equilibrium both visually and psychologically. Balance pleases our senses and soothes our souls. The example above is balance though symmetry ~ mirror images from a center point. This is considered the most formal type of balance. It is lovely and very pleasing.

What if 'perfect' balance doesn't suit your eye and heart?
But what if mirror images simply cannot be done or it feels too formal for the desired outcome. Above is an example of asymmetry ~ optically varying items from a central point to achieve balance. The central point above is the art work. Note the floor vase with a great amount of mass. On the right hand side, the lamp is very similar in height to the vase but clearly doesn't have the mass to balance the vase. The chair adds the needed mass to gain a sense of balance. I used a grouping to balance the vase. The vignette is very pleasing and draws one into the center (the focal point) using asymmetrical balance.

Maybe a little of both will be the secret to happiness.
The picture at the top and the one just above are in a master suite.  These two forms of balance adds to the harmony, another design principle, in the room. The two types of balance, symmetrical and asymmetrical, adds interest to the room. Clearly the palette unifies; the type of balance adds the variety.

Can we talk?
What about this Jay Jeffers' design? This is radial balance ~ equilibrium based on the circle. Stadiums are often based on radial balance as the focal point is at the center.  Everyone can see the football game because they are sitting all around it.  A round dining table offers radial balance as everyone sitting at the table can see everyone else at the table.  This is a type of balance near and dear to my heart.  You may know I was a psychotherapist in my past career with a specialty in group psychotherapy.  I would arrange the circle perfectly so each member could see the other.  This fosters good communication.  The focal point really is each other.  It is easy to see the radial balance of a stadium and a round dining table but what about real life furniture arranging.  Jay did a nice job here.  The sectional forms half the circle; the single chairs the other half.  There is a fireplace and art as a secondary focal point but I see each other being the primary one in this vignette.

So what type of balance is right for you and your room?  
It all depends on what you're trying to accomplish and the space you have to work with.  Symmetrical can feel more formal; asymmetrical more artistic; and radial more communicative.  I have all three represented in my home.  That variety is simply pleasing to me. What about you?  Do you lean more towards one or the other?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors

Leslie Sinclair is in an amazing artist in Houston, Texas.  What is her art?  Creating beautiful finishes for your home.  I was asked to review her self-published book Segreto: Secrets to Finishing Beautiful Interiors.

I have to admit, I have not used much in the way of finishes described in Leslie's book.  I think it is because my clients have not asked for it much so I placed it on the back burner never really exploring it.  When I received the book, I immediately looked though all the pictures.  They are glorious.  Then I read the book.

I can now say I have a much better understanding of what can be done.  Leslie's book is very informative.  I understand the various plasters available and what each is used best for.  I have a better understanding of the different glaze techniques to achieve the desired outcome.

I think I had a narrow view of styles these lovely finishes could be used for.  Not so. Leslie has used them is virtually all styles with beautiful effect.

This is what Leslie's book can show you.  It expanded my view and showed me exceptional examples. If you want to learn more about interior finishing options and techniques, this is the right book for you.  If you simply want to see what it is supposed to look like, this book is for you too.  It can be purchased on Amazon for a mere $85.00.  Worth every penny.

Kudos Leslie!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Living and Dining Room Update

A few posts ago I showed you an installation of a living and dining room.  Here is an update.  Above in the living room gorgeous throw pillows with fabric from Schumacher and Donghia.  Plus the lovely Hickory Chair cocktail table.
In the dining room, beautiful Hickory Chair chairs surround the table in Schumacher and Kravet fabric.  Just waiting on a couple of accessories to place and then Bob can come in and take photos.  My photography skills are unfortunately limited.  Thank God for professional photographers like Bob!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thank You Houzz for Featuring my Work

Thank you Samantha Schoech and Houzz for featuring the art gallery from a Show House I did a few years back!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Fray ~ Heartbeat

I love this song and this acoustic version.  It inspired me!

Friday, May 4, 2012

April Market Finds

 For me, I usually try to find a new vendor or two during Market.  This time, I returned to a showroom I have visited in the past to reacquaint myself with it.  The Bentley-Churchill and Emerson et Cie Showroom.  I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.  Above is a lovely settee that I enjoyed.
 Some new, interesting tables and bookshelves.
 Nice little writing desk that can be used in multiple applications.
 Another lovely little settee.
I loved this little table that looked like bell-bottoms.  Groovy!
 Mid-century style sofa.  I love the arms and legs.
Chic floor mirror that can be customized with any fabric or leather.  Wonderful! I'm glad I visited them this time!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Home and Design Magazine Luxury Expo

This coming weekend, May 5th and 6th, Home and Design Magazine is hosting a fantastic event if you are in the market for luxury design.  It's being held at the Sheraton Premiere in Tyson's Corner, Virginia.  Click here to find out all the great events and celebrities that will be on hand!  I will be teaching a seminar there on Saturday at 11:00 AM entitled The Principles and Elements of Quality Decorating and Design.  I think this event will not only be a great time, they are having a designer sample sale, and a great place to learn and gather information.

I look forward to seeing you there!
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