Since yesterday was Valentine’s Day it got me thinking about decorating in tones of reds and pinks; to include the “do’s” and the “don’ts”.
In my last blog I addressed Elle Décor’s December 2019 list of “54 Outdated Home Trends That We Hope Never Come Back”, so in this blog I’m going to defend 6 of the items that they tossed away forever - but which I’m not ready to give up on. In fact, I contend they are all “Classic” trends if they are done right, and I’m happy to incorporate any of these design elements if my clients’ vision and preferences lean in their direction.
Here’s the photo from Elle Décor which dissed wicker.
I’m not exactly sure why they disliked this room. It looks okay to me, except I would have probably included a geometric rug for comfort at the sectional and certainly another accent color other than just green. But the wicker lounger is certainly okay in my book. If any of you really dislike this room, then please contact me and let’s discuss!
As a matter of fact, I just received the Spring 2020 catalog from Arhaus, and they have several furniture pieces that I love, including the Bayshore Wicker Chair, shown below:
The main reasons why I love this chair is that it feels lighter than a traditional upholstered chair, has a pretty rounded shape that will not overpower a room, and is interesting to look at from the back. You’ll have to trust me on that since you can’t see the back in this photo. The wicker also imparts some texture that is needed in this mostly monochromatic room.
Serena and Lily, another retailer I highly recommend, is wildly fond of wicker, too. It’s a west-coast company, but they just opened a showroom in Chestnut Hill, MA. Here’s a photo of a beautiful living room with the Serena and Lily Georgica Lounge Chair with a wicker back. Very current and interesting, wouldn’t you say? The stone wall, light floors, and wicker-topped table all serve to marry this blue, white, and honey color scheme together. And for my taste, it doesn’t’ look too “coastal.”
Below is the “bad example” of wood paneling from the Elle Décor article:
Yes, it is bad. It looks like thin luan, probably originally installed in the 1960’s, and the eclectic (in other words, mismatched in time period) furniture pieces in the room aren’t helping any either. This is bad wood paneling, indeed.
But, here;s an example of “good wood paneling” shown by Cindy Renfret, a superbly talented designer from Connecticut who has published many Rizzoli books and has a great website:
I resonate with Cindy’s style and love the stately look of “real wood paneling” that is most likely original to this historic home. Notice that the furniture she chose is interesting and formal, and does not have a wood tone that competes with the wood paneled wall. I do lots of older historic homes in Massachusetts, and I always have a conversation with my clients about whether they wish to preserve the good bones and architectural elements of the home during our decorating refresh. Some do, some don’t.
Here is the 1960’s “All Plaid” room from the Elle Décor article, and it certainly embodies the “One note” term very well. It’s not very attractive and kind of reads “Mayberry RFD” on the first blush. Gee…I loved that show……
But what if the comforter was a neutral textured ivory, the pillows brought in a different color for accent, and there was some interesting artwork over the bed? Would that grid of plaid on the walls be so horrible? I think not. Plaid, or tartan, isn’t itself a problem. It just has to be supported (or relieved) by more non-linear elements. And a little plaid goes a long way.
When you think of plaid in an interior, you might think automatically of Ralph Lauren, indisputably the King of Plaid. Here’s a photo of one of his interiors. In this example, putting a Ralph Lauren plaid on just one chair is perfect. Any more, in my opinion, might be too much. If you like plaid and you are hesitant to commit to it for a very long time in upholstered furniture, you can introduce it in a rug (excellent option nowadays) pillows, a tartan throw, or some other smaller decorative element. Plaid isn’t out, just don’t go overboard.
Well, you are either a zebra fan or not when it comes to interior design. No two ways about it. Here is the Elle Décor site with the “bad” element of a zebra rug:
In fact, there is the problem in this photo -- there are two zebra rugs, and this highly specific decorative element should only come in the singular form. It looks like the two zebras are having a conversation or playing Twister.
Anyway, if you like the Zebra rug look, it can be interesting in an interior that has lots of contrast—black and white - in other elements of the room. Think the new black muntined windows (where a strip of wood separates the panes of glass in a window) in a white room. The Zebra rug would bring that contrast together as a deliberate accent on the floor.
Like plaid, though, a little Zebra goes a long way. If you use a Zebra rug, please don’t overdo in many other areas of the room, unless you really have gone on an African Safari and can show photographs of the real thing. Just sayin’……. Here’s a photograph from Architectural Digest which shows designer Holly Hunt’s Chicago apartment with a discreet Zebra rug that coordinates with the other lively décor:
In fact, the whole article from Architectural Digest “Decorating with Animal Prints” is a good read:
Yes, I agree with Elle Décor that a “head-to-toe chintz explosion” reminiscent of the 1970’s is too much, as shown in their photo below. But carefully read what they said next: “Maximalism is currently on-trend so a well-placed chair or couch can work - but don’t overdo it.” Well said, right on point.
In this room, I would ditch the swagged window treatments, clear out some of the furniture a bit, and discard the pink basketball pillows. The yellow and green are enough. Maybe add woven wood roman shades at the window. The plaid carpet is perfect. Overall the room needs more “dark” in my opinion, and about 2/3 of the furniture. But I’m okay with the floral chintz fabric on some of the chairs.
What? How can Elle Décor totally dismiss all window valances in one fell swoop by showing the photo below of a dated kitchen where there are a multitude of things gone awry? Now, I wouldn’t have recommended a stripe for the window valances (since it competes with the vertical detailing on the upper cabinets), but let’s not bury all valances forever.
There are many current, fresh, and updated window valance styles that look great in today’s home. One such popular valance I recommend to my clients is the Faux Roman Shade, shown below in the photo of my client’s newly updated dressing room:
This valance style works because it isn’t too fussy, it effectively hides the shade headrail (which is not so pretty) underneath, and it only takes up a small fraction of visual space. It seems at home here, don’t you think?
Well that’s my rebuttal argument for Elle Décor’s List of “54 Outdated Home Trends That We Hope Never Come Back”. What a lot of work on their part to put the list together with the excellent supporting photographs!
My main message is this: when you evaluate a trend, think about the cost involved to implement, and the replacement cost of that item when you tire of the trend. If it’s an inexpensive item, like a pillow or throw rug, then by all means freshen it up with that new look. But if you are considering implementing a trend in a more permanent and costly application (like wallpaper, flooring, or high-end upholstery) and you have that nagging feeling it may be “out” very soon, look for other smaller and changeable opportunities to implement the trend…and remember that I always recommend going for “classic” and “timeless” on your foundation pieces.
Trends. As we begin each new year, the decorating experts invariably publish their “Interior Design Trends” list and call upon the style-conscious to “refresh and update your home to reflect the new and now.” I guess that group includes yours truly.
To that end, I’ve addressed interior design trends in the past, and I comment on current styles I like and those I think are going out of style. Really, that’s what this blog and other interior design blogs are all about.
But… there is a big distinction between “trendy” and “classic” and in this blog post, I want to address some old trends that have come and gone. To begin, let me point you to an interesting 19 December 2019 article from Elle Décor Magazine, entitled “54 Outdated Home Trends That We Hope Never Come Back”.
I think this article is 90% spot-on, and while perhaps a little long, it really does address a thoughtful, curated list of interior design features that the design community winces at and pleads, “Please, never again.” It’s also a great list to consult if you’re thinking of selling your home, and you want to get a quick up-to-date assessment on the décor elements that buyers might label as “dated” and worthy of replacement, or would force you to reduce your selling price (ouch!).
Here are some of the trends that Elle Décor and I both agree should be outlawed forever:
However, I do take exception of Elle Décor ruling out the following items in their “Never Again” list of 54: wicker furniture, wood paneling (the right kind, not the cheezy kind), plaid (in moderation), Zebra rugs (again, in moderation), chintz, and window valances. These elements can be wonderful and still fresh for today; they just have to be done right. Because my opinion is different from Elle Décor I’ll address them all in my next blog post.
So, where are the photos for this blog, you ask? Well, I am certainly not going to post photos of the “bad rooms” I am asked to redo, because that just wouldn’t be very nice, now would it? If a client has called me, and they are looking for my professional help, that’s a wonderful thing. And I am certainly not going to lift photos from the internet of more bad elements since you just viewed the list of 54. Really, you all know what a popcorn ceiling looks like. So, here are some inspirational quotes to finish up this blog and a photograph from a vacation to Hawaii that my husband, daughter, and I took a few years ago. Now that was bliss!
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
- William Morris
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes, Design is knowing which ones to keep.”
- Scott Adams, cartoonist and creator of Dilbert.
“Have a point of view, a unique perspective”
- Sarah Richardson
”Less is more.”
- Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”
- Leonardo da Vinci
“If it looks right, it is right.”
- Dorothy Draper
“Incorporate spirit, texture, and whimsy. Don’t take yourself too seriously.”
- Sarah Richardson
Bedding……..We all know a good night’s sleep is priceless…….and is a function of many variables like…the mattress, the warm body next to you…the sheets…the weight of the covers…and a million other things. To enhance your sleep, having linens that you just want to dive into, and blankets to snuggle under, makes for a refreshing “I can’t wait to go to bed” experience. I can remember back to when I was about 10, my wonderful mom bought me a pretty sunflower patterned sheet set (which was pretty radical for my practical mom), and I literally luxuriated under those sheets every night. It was the 70’s and you can imagine the loud pattern…funny the favorite things we remember.
I’m often asked by my clients for recommendations for new bedding. This is an important question, because you will spend almost 1/3 of your day in a “relationship” with your bedding, and it should be a comfortable, restful and joyful experience. So please get bedding that makes you happy!
When they talk to me my clients are generally looking for my input on a recommended pattern (yay or nay) on the bedspread or duvet cover, since it normally provides a good portion of the visual energy in the a bedroom’s décor. Here are some tips I shared with my clients. First, if my clients are starting with “no pattern” in the room yet, due to changing the bedding, and have only solid or textured fabrics on the headboard and/or chairs, ottoman and window treatments, then I generally recommend researching a ready-made patterned duvet or bedspread as a starting point. I know, I know, I’m all about custom. So how can I tell my clients to head straight to.…..Pottery Barn? But, really, it’s highly impractical for 95% of my clients to have me make them custom bedding when there are retailers with good products at reasonable process like:
If you like bold medallion-type fabrics like Pottery Barn’s Zella duvet (pink and green, sort of Christmas-y, don’t you think?), then you will probably be intrigued by PB’s many options. No, I don’t get any advertising dollars to promote Pottery Barn, just goodwill from my happy clients when they find what they want.
Here are two other Pottery Barn favorites of mine, the Jordana Paisley and the Lucianna Medallion duvet covers.
With the patterns shown above, you can choose many complementary patterns for the other soft furnishings (e.g. fabric items) in your bedroom: textures, stripes, small diamond designs, velvets, plaids.
Solid Bedspread or Duvet? If you already have patterns in your room, and want to make the bed more neutral, restful, and maybe not appear so large (really, a king bed in an apartment bedroom can almost overwhelm the space visually if the pattern is too bold), then look for either a solid color duvet or quilt. There are many options available out there. If you are exclusively shopping on-line, I recommend ordering just a pillow sham first to see how you like the colors, pattern, and the feel of the cloth.
Whatever you choose, just remember two things: 1) the bedspread will probably dominate the room’s visual esthetic, but 2) you can easily change it in the future if you find another bedspread that matches the room and pleases you more. So take a look – and call me if you need any help deciding!
Today I would like to introduce you to Stickley Furniture’s totally ingenious piece of family room furniture - “The Gathering Island.”
As you can see in the photo below, Stickley’s Gathering Island is essentially a high table, perfect for counter-height stools, that can also serve many functions in your family room. It fits behind a sectional or sofa with ease, provides extra seating with stools that tuck away, and serves a perfect storage spot for accessories, remotes, lamps, and other electronic necessities of today. The Gathering Island also comes with electrical outlets so you can perch above the sofa, with your laptop on the tabletop, and plug in all your essential devices. As important as the “kitchen island” is in today’s kitchens, this “Gathering Island” is a stylish and functional piece of hardworking furniture for your family room.
I especially like Stickley’s Gathering Island with the stone top (shown below); so much so that I recently recommended it to one of my clients. I featured that client’s family room in a previous blog post (“Backdrops for a Perfectly Styled Bookshelf”) and in that post you can see the gray Stickley Gathering Island my client eventually selected, with the stone inlay top.
Of course you can replicate this idea on your own by selecting an appropriate-height sofa table (34” tall is ideal), but such a table is not always easy to find. So, if you’re searching online, look for “sofa table” or “console table,” and then narrow down the list to options that give the proper height and have unobstructed space underneath.
Below you can see I utilized this idea in the basement of another client’s home, where the client wanted some extra seating for game-days. My client installed a stone top over the console table we selected, an Uttermost piece she purchased through me, which unfortunately is not available anymore.
However, the currently available Uttermost “Mavis Table”, shown below with a 34” high top, would be perfect for a “Gathering Island”: (https://www.uttermost.com/Mavis-Console-Table-R24894/?SelectedSKU=R24894)
You can see the full selection of Stickley’s Gathering Islands at their website:
I have to say, the term “Gathering Island” makes me smile as I sit in my design studio/workroom and look at the snow-covered scene we have for Christmas this year, since it makes me think of friends and family sharing time together.
Best Wishes to everyone for a wonderful Holiday season! May your family gather, rejoice and be happy in 2020.
Whatever you call it, “Small Business Saturday” or “Shop Sudbury” or “Shop Local”, today (30 November 2019) is the day to see what holiday shopping delights are right there at your doorstep……in the absolutely terrific town of Sudbury, Massachusetts.
Center Stage Interior Designs has had the pleasure of calling Sudbury home for 18 years, and during those years we've developed wonderful relationships with the other local business owners in the Home Décor industry - to the immense benefit of both me and my clients. Here’s a list of our favorite home-related businesses who also call Sudbury home:
Heather Garden Design: Talented Landscape Designer Heather Halsey will make all your landscape dreams come true. https://www.heathergardendesign.com/
Carpet Carousel: Shawn, Melanie and Carol will delight you with the very best in carpet selection and customer service. http://carpetcarousel.net/
Anne Hincks Real Estate: Anne is a delight and will give you expert help and advice about properties in Sudbury. A wonderful person and a wonderful realtor you can trust. https://www.kw.com/kw/agent/annehinckssudburyhomes
Kevin Kennedy, Master Upholsterer: Kevin, another Sudbury resident, offers both spectacular upholstery services and classes. I’ve taken his classes and have learned from a true master. https://www.upholsteryonbroadway.com/home and https://broadwayupholsteryschool.com/
Jana Blanchette, Custom Quilts: Jana creates incredible custom keepsake quilts with an artist’s eye.
Patti and Larry McGlynn of McGlynn Clinton & Hall Insurance Agencies: Patti and Larry’s services will give you peace of mind for your family, home, and business insurance needs. They’re my insurance company and really know their business. https://www.mchinsure.com/
I’ve been a proud member of the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce for over 12 years. If you want to check out more of the local businesses their website is a great place to see a complete listing of all of the businesses in town: https://www.sudbury.org/memberslisting
So today, and every day, before you go elsewhere - you should really Shop Sudbury!
Built-in bookcases are a custom touch in any family room, library, or living room, giving the room architecture, storage, and well…a place to put all our, ahem, “collectibles.” Stuff, as my teenage daughter would say. Usually lots of stuff.
Based on my experience I’d like you to consider one idea before you load up your brand-new built-ins right after the contractor has departed. Consider putting a textured wallpaper or an actual paint color at the back of the cabinets or bookshelves! It will make a world of difference, and you’ll be happy with the results, I promise. Seldom does the semi-gloss white trim paint that adorns a whole built-in cabinet look crisp and stunning when it’s glaring across the back of the entire bookshelf.
Pictured below are some examples of my clients’ built-ins where we put wallpaper or fabric as the interesting, but understated “backdrop” for the collectibles they chose to display. My favorite backdrop is grasscloth wallcovering. The blue Phillip Jeffries grasscloth Soho Hemp, 5508, Color Broadway Blues (https://www.phillipjeffries.com/shop/CARD-NAT-SOHOHE/5508/) shown in the photo is a perfect fit for behind the display shelves of this transitional living room. If you use this technique make sure you pay particular attention to the width of the paper in your selections since you don’t want to have any seams from the wallpaper. The Color Broadway Blues grasscloth was perfect since it came in rolls that were 36” wide, which was wide enough for a seamless application.
The next photos are of family room from my client and their beautiful slate gray built-in cabinetry. We put another Phillip Jeffries paper at the back, one that has a metallic/texture combination that is small scale (Metallic Paper Weave 3531 Chromium, https://www.phillipjeffries.com/shop/CARD-4-METWEAVE/3531/). The wonderful thing about this product is that it is an “engineered” grasscloth, so even if there are seams they don’t show very much, or at all.
My client was planning to do more styling on her bookshelves after I took these photos (during the same trip that I installed the faux roman valances I had fabricated), so I am sure the bookshelves are a lot more dressed now. Just gorgeous custom cabinetry, I know she was pleased.
When deciding on a suitable paper or color for the back of shelves, remember that the backdrop should not detract from the “main event.” Sort of like when you take close-up photographs; the background should be fuzzy and the object in front should be the crisp focal point. Your objects should pop like that. A busy wallpaper, especially a larger geometric, will fight your collectibles.
The next photo shows a current project of mine where we are currently selecting the wallcovering for the backs of the bookshelves. When you compare how the white of the shelves in this photo compares with the blue in the first photo you can see what a difference a colored background can make. I’ll update you with an “after” photo when we’re done!
Finally, here’s a photo of a project of mine where the client wanted to accent the gray scheme in red, but in an updated way. We chose to use red very prominently in the area rug (not shown), fabric on the backs of the built-ins, and the same fabric as edging on the cornices. A bold accent color can go a long way. When selecting where you will put the accent color, a bookshelf gives you the opportunity to feature that color in a ceramic or art piece, which will delight the eye as it searches around the room for the accent. As a general design rule you should always strive to use an accent color in at least 3 places in a room; preferably at different heights.
As for styling those new bookshelves with object and books, it looks easy. But it’s not. It takes time and lots of good “raw ingredients” are needed to make your built-in shelves look effortless, stylish and perfect. Unless you’re hiring your designer to style your bookcases, I would recommend you take a first pass yourself, and then invite over trusted friend to make a second pass.
There are lots of websites available that can give you good rules and tips for actually styling a bookcase or bookshelf, so I won’t go into details on that here. Just remember a few key tips as you gather your items to create your masterpiece:
I invite you to browse through my wallpaper vendors to see if you might want me to order some swatches to consider for the back of your bookshelves. Here’s a previous blog on wallpaper to get you started:
You might also want to check out my blog for a super cool idea of how to turn a stack of books into art. This is genius! https://www.centerstageinteriordesigns.com/blog/hospitality-industry-rocks-design
Whatever you do I hope that you have a good experience with your new bookcases. They really do pack a huge decorative punch in a room, and should be thoughtfully and deliberately planned.
Here’s wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend! Needless to say, I’m thankful for each and every moment, opportunity, and the wonderful people I meet in my both my professional interior decorating and personal life.
If you want to add window treatments that are cordless to your home, for either their clean aesthetic or for enhanced child safety, now’s the time because from 30 September to 7 December 2019 Lafayette Interior Fashions (www.lafayetteinteriorfashions.com) is offering free cordless upgrades. Here are the details:
Give me a call at 978-440-7264 so that we can get started.
This week I’m showcasing a guest bedroom I recently re-designed for a client who needed to convert the dual 3rd floor husband-man cave/toddler play area into a cozy retreat and guest bedroom for her mother’s visit.
When I toured one of my favorite furniture stores, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (https://www.mgbwhome.com/Natick-Signature-Store.html), during the summer, I just knew that the Celina bed, the Malibu Collection Side Table and the associated 3-drawer chest were perfect for what my client was looking for. The Bella settee, also from Mitchell Gold, provides a perfect solution at the foot of the bed for TV watching, dressing, and overall velvet plush comfort. We used the Indie Shale (stock fabric) on the Celina Bed, and the look and feel is ultra-luxurious. Makes you want to just dive right in.
This week everything was delivered so here’s the current state of my client’s new bedroom retreat. There’s still more accessorizing to be done, but the initial report was that the new setup was very comfortable for her mother’s recent visit.
Many thanks to Dave Cline and Alicia Cross, my Natick Mitchell Gold store representatives, for being such terrific designers and assisting so expertly on this project! Here’s the links to the Mitchell Gold furniture:
Celinea Bed - https://www.mgbwhome.com/search?q=Celina&lang=en_US
Malibu Bedside Tables and Dresser - https://www.mgbwhome.com/malibu-collection/
Bella Setee - https://www.mgbwhome.com/search?q=Bella+settee&lang=en_US
If you’re interested in the wall colors in the room, we didn’t need to repaint this room at all, and kept the paint colors from the previous design (Benjamin Moore Gray Owl [2137-60] and Newburyport Blue [HC-155]) that I had done a couple of years ago when we initially decorated the room as a husband-man cave/toddler play area. Newburyport Blue is a versatile navy that coordinates well with many navy fabrics.
For the window treatment, you will note that this semicircular window is huge (96” across) and really needed something to allow the occupant to get some sleep. My solution? Again, from the original design, was to put a motorized room darkening cellular shade under the display shelf.
For the carpet, I turned to my favorite carpet source, Carpet Carousel of Sudbury (http://carpetcarousel.net/) to source a herringbone bound rug. We selected a 12’ broadloom carpet, and Carpet Carousel bound it to the custom size we needed for the room. Shawn, Melanie, and Carol are simply the best, and I love working with Carpet Carousel for their selection, attention to detail, quality products and quality installation.
Do you have a guest bedroom you would like to refresh? Call me, I can help.
Every client is unique and brings with them different design challenges related to style, color, lighting, accessorizing and a whole host of other Interior Design elements. I am fortunate enough that I have all types of clients. Those with small projects and those with large projects. Those looking to refresh their environment, those looking to change their surroundings, and those starting from scratch.
In my experience some of the most interesting, and challenging, design engagements are when I work for a building contractor - since they know so much about the architectural spaces and have seen so many different layouts and design styles.
I recently completed a Sitting Room project with a wonderful couple, Katie and Chip Eibye. Here are some photos of their completed sitting room, but I can only take credit for the draperies, pillows, and the piano bench seat. Everything else in the room was designed, selected, and constructed by Chip and Katie themselves.
Chip is the Manager of Eibye & Lynch Construction out of Walpole, MA and is a fantastic general contractor – as you can see his by impeccable workmanship in the built-in shelves, fireplace, and the whole room in general. I’ve had the pleasure of working on several projects with Chip, and I highly recommend him - in the stratosphere actually!
It is indeed a pleasure to provide decorating help to contractors on their own homes. One, you know they'll have everything exactly plumb and square. Two, they appreciate detail and fine craftsmanship because that is what they provide their clients every day. Three, they get it - beautiful homes contribute to making people happy, comfortable and serene.
Thanks to Katie and Chip for selecting me to help them deck out their house!
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.