Last winter I featured some beautiful counter stools sold through Darby Road Home in Waltham, MA (See my blog from 30 November 2018 – “Darby Road Home Delights with Counter Stools and Holiday Cheer”) and remarked that it is hard to find just the right counter stool at just the right height. Well, that challenge still continues; despite a growing number of on-line retailers who offer stools. The purpose of today’s post is to highlight to my wonderful readers that you can’t rely on the name “counter stool” to magically fit your new kitchen island, because there is great variability in the height of stools - much more so than with chairs, in my opinion. So, you must pay attention while shopping! Especially when using catalogs or shopping on-line.
Before you start looking for stools the #1 thing you need to do is to first figure out the optimal seat height that fits for you and your family. The graphic below (from Williams Sonoma) illustrates this point since it shows the variability they have for seat heights where a counter stool seat could be between 23” and 28” tall.
So where have I been shopping for stools for clients recently to solve their design problems? Well, everywhere – and with good success. Here’s the Gage counter stool from Arhaus, a stylish and practical stool that is incredibly comfortable. I love that Arhaus tells you the dimensions (including seat height and overall height); Gage Counter Stool - Dimensions: 19.5" W X 19.5" D X 36.5" H (SEAT 25" H). Here's the link to the Arhaus website's page about the Gage stool:
Arhaus also has an adjustable stool, the Kensington, which is a good solution if you have children who will grow (well, that’s a given, right?) and family members of different heights. But these adjustable stools are somewhat casual and industrial in nature, and won’t fit every situation. Of course, adjustable has its perks. Here's the link to that page:
Frontgate is my #1 catalog/on-line source for stools, and I just saw that they have a new guide related to the subject of choosing just the right stool; their “Bar Stool Guide”:
In addition, here’s another great resource from Frontgate to help you find the perfect stool for your situation and style; “Seat Yourself: Which Types of Bar Stools Work Where”.
You might not think that getting the counter stools “just right” is that hard, or that important. But Fall is just around the corner, kids are going back to school, and I would venture to say that there are many students out there who do their homework at the kitchen island or peninsula. So perhaps you should think about purchasing new counter stools or barstools for your hard-working kitchen as another “back to school” shopping expedition.
Since this is my 75th blog post, I thought that I would touch on a topic that many of us, both clients and designers, sometime struggle with when we want to decorate our homes; finding the inspirational ideas and visual designs that excite us and motivate us to transform our living spaces.
One way to get started is to look at what other people are doing with their homes. Since we’re halfway through 2019 here’s a look at what they’re up to (from mymodernmet.com).
In my experience many of us have a basic idea of what style (Traditional, Contemporary, Art Deco, French Country, Mid-Century Modern, Shabby Chic, Minimalist, Costal, Feng Shui, etc.,) we want our home to be. Most of us even have a broad idea of what color category (e.g. blue, green, off-white, yellow, etc.,) we want to the space to be. So what’s the hold-up?
I find that having these two significant elements, design style and color category, are a great starting point – but then everyone gets bogged down in the next steps; the specific details and turning a high-level vision into an integrated design – especially if there are time and/or budget constraints. And why is that? Well I think that many people just get overwhelmed by all the activities required by a full-blown interior design project. Activities that include:
1) Choosing the overall colors
a) Both the main color and the accent colors
2) Defining the room layout
a) Furniture type and sizing and traffic flow
3) Lighting design
a) To include overhead fixtures, lamps and window shades
4) Choosing the finishes
a) Including where to source them from
5) Sourcing furniture that meets the design esthetic
a) Both locally and online
6) Selecting window covering styles and fabrics
a) Including where to purchase them or have them custom made
7) Styling and accessorizing
a) To have enough but not too many accessories
8) Trying to visualize how the end result will look
a) 3D visualization or sketches, fabric samples, wallpaper samples, carpet samples
9) Finding and communicating with the trades
a) e.g. painters, wall-paper hangers, furniture painters, upholsterers, handymen, electricians, plumbers, carpenters
Honestly it can all be a little overwhelming at the beginning. So what’s a good place to start? I think the answer to that question falls into a couple of categories: 1) general approaches to style and design, and 2) information on the current trends. So, to help you out, here are a few links to more detailed discussions on those topics:
- Everything You Need to Know: 20 Interior Design Styles Defined in 2019
- Tips for Choosing Interior Paint Colors
- Interior Design Trends for 2019 to Upgrade Your Home Décor
- Interior Design Trends to Watch in 2019
- 2019's Biggest Interior Design Trend Predictions
- The Home Trends You're About to See Everywhere
- 10 Interior Design Trends for 2019
Since I’ve been helping my clients resolve their unique design challenges for almost 20 years, I’d love to help you with yours. So give me a call, I have lots of ideas and materials to help inspire you.
As we’ve all recently seen, one of the latest trends in interior decorating is the use of technology to allow you to automate your home. Consistent with that trend is the latest lighting trend that doesn’t just allow you to turn your lights on and off remotely – but also allows you to change the brightness and color of your lights using LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights that are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connected. The product line with the leading edge technology in this area is the Philips “Hue” line of bulbs. We installed Hue bulbs in my Daughter’s room last year and added them to our Guest Bedroom when we recently redecorated it.
To use the Hue bulbs you just need to replace your current standard bulbs with the Hue bulbs. No special light fixtures or electrical connections are required. You can immediately begin using them by downloading the IOS or Android app and leveraging their Bluetooth connection. To get even more flexibility and control over the Hue bulb’s brightness and colors (16 million colors to be exact), you just need to add a Hue “Bridge” to your home’s internet network (~$50).
Here are some screen shots of the IOS app and photos of the lights (two night stand lamps and an overhead light) in our Guest Bedroom with varying brightness and warmth of white light.
Here are some photos of the lights in the Guest Bedroom with different overall colors (e.g. all the lights in the room are set to the same color).
Here are some screen shots of the IOS app and photos of the lights in the Guest Bedroom with different presets where each light bulb is a different color.
Here are some photos of the lights in my Daughter’s room with different overall colors and presets where each light bulb is a different color.
Although the Hue bulbs are significantly more expensive than standard light bulbs (~$40 each - because of the connectivity electronics and wide range of light colors from the LEDs), they are worth it if you really want to customize and control your lighting.
If you want to find out more about Hue light bulbs and how they work here are the links to the Philips Hue website:
Want to look into how this new technology can enhance your home? Just give me a call and I’ll walk you through it.
As all Interior Designers will tell you one of the joys, and banes, of our industry is fabric. You’ve got to love fabric to be in the business – but at some point it starts to get a little overwhelming.
Last week my daughter was redecorating our guest bedroom (which also doubles as my fabric showroom) and we decided to take the opportunity to get rid of the fabric samples that had expired during the past year. Needless to say this became much more of an effort than we initially anticipated due to the amount of fabric books and samples that I have; books from Kravet, Lafayette, Stout, Greenhouse Fabrics, Duralee, RMCoCo, d’Kei, Samuel & Sons, Horizons, Comfortex – and even paint books from Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams and California Paints. I have to tell you, moving, sorting and restacking all the books felt like a monumental effort.
Here are some photos of what things looked like as a “work in progress” (after we sorted everything out, and put it all back where it belonged, it got a lot neater):
So, if you’re searching for a new look, or just a splash of color, give me a call – I have lots of fabric samples for you to look at…………(but definitely not too many)............................
We’ve all been there. We have ideas for a great new decorating scheme for a room in our house – but don’t have the time to look for all the pieces of the puzzle; paint colors, fabrics, rugs, chairs, tables, light fixtures, art, wallpaper, accessories and all of the other odds and ends. Well I can help.
Since many of my clients are too busy to spend the time required to track everything down, or don’t have the trade resources to locate the furniture that they need to transform their decorating visions into finished rooms, one of the services that I often provide is shopping for them to find what they are looking for, or to narrow down the options, then shopping with them to make the final selections.
Here’s how it works. I meet with my client and review what their decorating issues and style are. We then decide on the priority of the items needed and the budget targets. With that information I start looking at my preferred vendor stores and websites for the desired items. When I’ve found some interesting pieces, and narrowed the choices down to a manageable number, I either send my client photos and the details about the item (or a link to the website if it’s online) or we go shopping together to evaluate what would best meet their vision. From a pricing point of view I can either work based on a commission tied to purchases, on an hourly fee basis, or a hybrid of the two.
Where do we look? Well if it’s an item that my client physically wants to see we go to the stores that best fit their design vision in the Boston Metro area. Stores like: Mitchell Gold, Arhaus, Stickley Audi & Co, Darby Road Home, the Boston Design Center (BDC), Ballard Designs, Ethan Allen, Crate and Barrel, Needham Decorative Hardware, and Carpet Carousel. If it’s something that can be purchased online, we use the vendors that I’ve found over the years that have quality products and good delivery track records. Vendors like Uttermost for accessories, Surya for rugs and Philip Jeffries for Wallpaper. You can see a complete list of my preferred vendors on my website’s “Vendors & Resources” page.
Here are some photos from my recent shopping expeditions:
Furniture Shopping (click in any image to enlarge it or to start a slideshow):
Accessories and Art Shopping (click in any image to enlarge it or to start a slideshow):
Fabric and Wallcovering Shopping (click in any image to enlarge it or to start a slideshow):
Carpet Shopping (click in any image to enlarge it or to start a slideshow):
Light Shopping (click in any image to enlarge it or to start a slideshow):
Over the years I’ve found that this holistic approach allows my clients to see the big picture and then choose specific items that fit into their desired design esthetic. It’s an approach that saves my clients both time and money since I know which stores/vendors have what they might be looking for and my trade accounts normally allow my clients to purchase what they find at a discount.
So, if you want to redo a room, or start an entire new project, but don’t know where to begin, I can help! Call me and we’ll figure out what approach works best for you.
For the first 5 months of 2019 my workroom has been buzzing with an unbelievable amount of activity. I am extremely lucky to have so many new and repeat clients that want to work with me to transform their decorating visions into finished rooms. Here are a some photos from a few of the projects that I have recently completed; from an entire 2 bedroom apartment, to custom motorized woven grass and light filtering shades, to kid's rooms and bathrooms, to window seats and benches.
While you’re looking at the photos if you see anything that strikes your fancy, and you want to embark on a project of your own, give me a call. I would love to work with you too!
Greenhouse Fabrics just introduced a fresh new fabric line called “Anna Elisabeth” which I am very happy to bring to you. The Anna Elisabeth brand “is brought to you by a diverse team of women here to assist you with fabric selection, research, and insight. Each with a unique design background, ….”
I love the tag line on their website: “It’s time to make a statement.” Yes, indeed!
The Anna Elisabeth line is inspired by Paris, and the Greenhouse website will delight your sense of adventure for fabric and travel. I really love that you can use their website to easily sort the line by color, style, category and usage – or search it by keywords.
I have the complete Anna Elisabeth sample collection in my inventory, so let’s explore this new line together for your indoor or patio decorating project. If you are not sure if Paris is a good source of inspiration - here are some of my photos of a wonderful trip that I took to France with my family a couple of years ago. It was truly inspiring.
So give me a call and let’s bring a touch of Paris to your interiors.
If you install window treatments, like I do, you have to be a dog lover!
Here are a few of the furry friends that I’ve met during some recent installations: Champ, Maverick, Tucker, Bubbles, Curly and Barkley. They are always very curious about my sample bags, and tools - and of course whether or not I have any treats stashed away.
I just love these furry residents of the beautiful homes that I decorate. It’s always nice to make new friends.
We have a fun shop here in Sudbury named “Laurel Grove” where owners Michelle Palmer and Isabelle Palmer sell vintage furniture and home décor items. Here’s a photo of Laurel Grove’s location at 339 Boston Post Road (Route 20) on the east side of town. Their website is: https://laurelgroveshop.com/
They were awarded Best of Boston Home 2019 - congratulations! It’s nice to have Sudbury on the map for an outstanding retail home décor shop (as well as many other redeeming qualities which I totally enjoy in my home town.)
After touring through their large 2-level shop just this past week, I spoke with owner Michelle Palmer. Michelle told me about how she and her daughter Isabelle Palmer, an interior designer, rotate the shop’s offerings and products seasonally. With the Summer season coming up they’ll feature many beach and nautically-inspired items, perfect for all of the Metro-west residents who spend their summer vacations at the Cape or up the coast in Maine. Several on-line reviewers have described the shop as having a “farm house” or shabby chic vibe, and I concur. Plus, there lots of clever and ingenious gift items with inspirational messages that are sure to delight. I just couldn’t resist snapping a photo of an adage I totally identify with.
The Laurel Grove website describes the shop as "… a special place where we hope our community can gather to find gorgeous, unique home décor and gifts and also inspiration and warmth. In it, you will find an eclectic mix of home accents and gifts ranging from vintage to handmade to new.” I agree with that, especially since the offerings at Laurel Grove change dramatically with the seasons, so they're always introducing new things that warrant a look-see.
One of the other things that I like about the store is that Laurel Grove is a retailer for chalk paints, including Maison Blanche. For those who are skilled and adventurous enough to paint their own furniture pieces, I suggest you check out Laurel Grove and their extensive selection of paints, finishes, supplies, and samples with various techniques applied.
If you love the vintage look in painted furniture, but wish to have Laurel Grove do your painting for you, they are happy to do that too - https://laurelgroveshop.com/pages/laurel-grove-custom-painting
For other tutorials on painting furniture, I recommend you check out Jann Newton’s website. I'm connected to Jann through our work on window coverings and soft fashions for your home (with textiles), and this gifted lady has lots of talents, that she shares with her blog readers, related to painting furniture.
With antique season coming up, Laurel Grove is the perfect place to visit beforehand to consider the range of painting possibilities (and colors) available. It’s nice to have that info in mind when you shop the Antique fairs and mentally assess just what you will do with the treasures you find. For those of you in the Boston area........
2019 Brimfield Show dates in Brimfield, MA:
- May 14-19, 2019 (only a month away!!)
- July 9-14, 2019
- Sept 3-8, 2019
I certainly enjoyed shopping at Laurel Grove this week and hope you stop in yourself during your upcoming travels through Sudbury. You'll be glad you did!
So, you've set up an appointment with an Interior Designer to get the ball rolling on your newest project, and now you’re starting to wonder what to do next. Rest assured that everyone has this question. Since I see things from the other side (e.g. the Designer’s side), here are some suggestions for you to effectively prepare for a discussion about your ideas and needs during your initial appointment.
If you follow these tips then you and your Designer will have a much more productive initial meeting – and that will allow you to get rolling on your project even faster. During your initial meeting your Designer will be happy to discuss all your preferences and needs, and your preparation ahead of time can make it a truly enjoyable and productive session!
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.