So where were we . . . . . . . . . prior to the mask making interruption. . . . . . . . . oh yes, “composing a gallery wall and installing it easily and perfectly by yourself”.
Gallery walls are very popular these days, and for good reason. It’s fun and stylish to display your favorite art and photos rather than have them sadly tucked away awaiting “the plan” and “the time.” If you have children, you more than likely have an ever growing selection of artwork that would be delightful to display (….before your children leave for college). Additionally, with open concept house plans, we tend to have large expanses of uninterrupted walls that are virtually impossible to treat with just one or two pieces of artwork.
So, let’s assume you have lots of artwork to hang, but you haven’t tackled that project yet for a variety of reasons. If you’re concerned that your current collection of art poses too much of a commitment (fearing that “once the gallery wall is up, it can never change”), you might want to check out a terrific hanging system called the Walker Display System:
I’ve posted about the Walker system before (“How to Display Your Children’s Artwork”) and especially like that it allows for the easy reconfiguration and the addition of new art. Galleries, libraries, and shops use the Walker Display System, or other similar systems, to showcase their ever-changing displays. As shown in the photo below, it imparts a bit of a modern vibe, so consider whether that will work with your décor. But once you have that top rail installed, everything is reconfigurable, so it’s a great option for most people.
If you want to go the old-fashioned route of hanging your artwork with hooks and nails (and no connecting rods), then you have a bit more of an opportunity for placement creativity. But the issues then become (1) how to arrange your artwork for an interesting effect and (2) how to actually hang the pictures without it taking forever.
For advice on arranging your artwork, let me point you to the All Modern website which gives some terrific tips in their article titled “How to Create a Gallery Wall”. Here’s some of their advice on gathering the art for your gallery wall:
“Grab pieces from around your home, ones hidden away in the attic, or art you've collected for this purpose. Take stock of what you have and consider these factors:
What I’ll help you with today is a fast (!) and super simple way for determining exactly where to put the nails and picture hooks in the wall to achieve the overall look that you desire. Miraculously, there’s very little measuring involved.
The materials that you will need are:
Step 1: Create paper templates of your artwork.
Rollout the gridded wrapping paper and randomly lay out your artwork on the gridded side of the wrapping paper. Trace around the frame of each picture on the wrapping paper. To make rearranging the art easier I‘ve laid everything out on the carpet, which enables me to get a good view of all the artwork and the overall montage. Note: In this step-by-step process, I’m using some of my daughter’s artwork. She is prolific and it’s all beautiful.
Step 2: Flip the artwork over and label both the artwork and templates.
Labeling the pictures at this stage will help enormously. In addition, label both the front and back of the template with the number of the appropriate piece of art. I suggest you also label the number on both the front and back of the picture. Next, look at the hanging device (for example, a triangular hook, sawtooth hook, or wire that will need a few nails) for each picture. On each template, mark where the nail(s) should be placed. You will eventually transfer this point to the wall, so measure and transfer it accurately.
Step 3: Cut out all the templates that you’ve drawn.
Step 4: We now have our templates.
Don’t skip this template stage. It’s very important since the templates show the positions of the nails that will eventually go into the wall. Having these templates also allows you to easily try out alternate arrangements - either on the wrapping paper on the floor - or actually on the wall using blue painter’s tape to temporarily hang the templates.
Step 5: Roll out more wrapping paper - wide enough for the gallery wall - and try out different arrangements with the artwork.
Based on the test arrangements that you made using the templates on the wall, place your artwork on the rolled out paper as it pleases you. If you haven’t tried out different arrangements on the wall, then play with different arrangements on the rolled out paper using either the artwork or the templates. For this example I’ve shown a very symmetric arrangement, but asymmetric arrangements work very well and are probably preferred if you have a great deal of artwork, perhaps more than 6 pieces.
Once you’ve decided on your final configuration, trace around the picture frames so that you’ve captured the final layout on the rolled out paper.
If your gallery wall height (the vertical distance of the pictures) is large, you might need to connect two strips of paper together. If you are doing a configuration up the stairs, you will definitely need to connect papers together.
If you would like to use computer technology to play with different layouts (instead of paper), you can take a photo of the arrangement and Photoshop or PowerPoint it onto a picture of your wall. I have rendering software that will easily do this. So, if you want some help send me a photo of your wall, the size (width) of the wall, and a photo of the wrapping paper with the pictures placed upon it. Give me the dimensions of the wrapping paper, and I will scale your photo montage accordingly and give you a rendering of your proposed configuration.
Step 6: Remove the pictures from the rolled out paper.
Remove the artwork and place the appropriate template onto that picture’s space. In the example below, I place Template 2 on top of the final desired location for picture 2. Next, use an awl (or other pointy object) to push through both pieces of paper to mark where the nail should go.
Step 7: Place all templates on the rolled out paper and mark all nail spots.
Having the paper on carpet makes this an easy exercise. If you are working on a table, you can use carbon paper between the template and the rolled out paper to record the nail marks - but please, do it gently so that you don’t damage your table.
Step 8. Now you should have all of the outlines of the pictures drawn on the rolled out paper with all of the nail spots marked.
Step 9: Hang the roll of paper on the wall with blue painter’s tape, making sure the horizontal grid lines are perfectly level.
Step 10: Now you know where to hammer the nails. Make slight indentations with a nail, remove the paper, and finish the process. Hang the pictures and you’re done. Viola!
Featured Artwork was made by My Daughter
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a fraction of my daughter’s artwork that I used for demonstration purposes in the photos for this gallery wall tutorial. We have several gallery walls in our home with her beautiful artwork in oils, pencil, watercolor and acrylic mediums. If you’d like to see more of her art and photographs, you can see it online by going to her Redbubble shop - which I previously mentioned in my “Finding Inspiration in Your Travel Photos” blog post.
On the Redbubble site you can purchase over 75+ different types of items with artwork from over 500,000 artists printed on them (e.g. mugs, stickers, phone cases, wall art prints, T-shirts, pillows, acrylic blocks, coasters, postcards, greeting cards, tote bags, drawstring bags, water bottles, shower curtains, spiral notebooks, etc.,). We’ve enjoyed seeing where my daughter’s customers are coming from around the globe.
Amusingly, with COVID-19 currently raging, people have started buying one of her photos from the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movie set located in Hobbiton, New Zealand for facial masks. The photo’s of Bag End with the “No admittance except on party business” sign. Now that’s just perfect for a mask!
Who would have thought?? In any event, you might want to check out her Redbubble shop and browse around. You will of course recognize some of the originals that I used in this demonstration.
Stay healthy and productive. Drop me a note, or give me a call, if you get stuck during your efforts to create a gallery wall. I’ll be happy to help you out with a rendering if you ask.
In my previous blog, I promised this post would be about “composing a gallery wall and installing it easily and perfectly by yourself”. Well, as all of you know, these days plans change fast!
Since I wrote my previous blog, I’ve set aside my decorating efforts for a couple of days each week to make face masks for my family and friends to protect them from the COVID-19 virus when they are out and about.
I’m not selling these masks, or making them for the general public, so why am I blogging about them? Well, in short, to offer what I found out about making masks to any other people who want to make masks themselves, so that they don’t have to go through the same learning curve that I did. The US sewing community (professionals and home-sewers) have really rallied to all the calls from hospitals, nursing homes, the Surgeon General, and the whole population of the US for fabric masks to help protect individuals (regular folks like me and maybe you) with an effective face covering. We’ve been advised that because of the current shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) the “official” N-95 medical masks should be reserved for medical workers and essential personnel on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 virus. The disposable blue masks seem to be available at the present time, but they’re really only for one-time use – not a great option. So what’s the alternative? The best alternative appears to be handmade 100% cotton fabric masks that are washable.
Let me be the first to acknowledge that there are numerous patterns out there on the internet (for free, of course) for these fabric masks. If you go to YouTube and search “fabric masks” you’ll find an amazing amount of helpful advice, videos, and patterns to hand-sew or machine-sew fabric masks. All of this advice and these patterns are probably better than nothing – but there are significant differences in the protective quality and fit of the patterns. I know, since at the start of my mask making journey, I surveyed many articles and videos, and downloaded many of the patterns. After I found what looked like the best pattern, I started producing masks. That’s when I found out that some of the patterns look fine – until a person tried to put it on only to find out that it’s too bulky, too loose, has ties that won’t stay tightly tied, has elastic that’s too tight, or has some other problem that limits its wearability or breathability, adaptability to various face/head sizes proportions, or effectiveness.
Here are some photos of the masks that I’ve made to date – from my initial pleated version (which was the initial home-sewer “design of choice” because of the ease of cutting a rectangle and sewing, but had some fit and bulkiness problems) to the more fitted version that I’m sending out now to my family and friends.
Mask #1 (version 1.0): This initial design was the best of the rectangular pleated designs that debuted on the internet in early March. It looked good and seemed to have the proper attributes. To start with, I preshrunk all of the 100% cotton fabric by washing it in hot water before starting fabrication. I then made about 30 masks to send out for the “something is better than nothing stage” and to request for feedback. On this initial version, my friends and family commented that the fit wasn’t snug enough and the ties were hard to keep tightly tied. They did appreciate the fact that the outside was clearly a different fabric pattern than the inside, which made the “contaminated” side easily discernable from the side worn next to the face. They also liked that there was a way to insert additional filtering layers inside the mask if needed and that I had added a piece of floral wire at the nose (top of the mask) so the mask could fit tighter on the face and not fog the wearer’s glasses.
Mask #2 (version 1.1): This had a much more refined mask. Instead of a pleated rectangle this mask was actually more contoured and placed the pocket for adding an additional filter on the front so that the opening didn’t rub against the wearer’s face. The biggest downside was that the twill ties were still ungainly and didn’t work well for some people based on their head shape.
Mask #3 (version 1.2): This version was essentially the same mask as v1.1, but with elastic instead of twill ties. The feedback that I received on this mask was that the fit was better and the mask stayed on better. Unfortunately, since the elastic was a preset length, some people had problems wearing the masks for long periods of time because the elastic pulled on their ears.
Mask #4 (version 1.3): This version refined v1.2 by contouring the mask even more for a tighter fit and refining the filter pocket to be more streamlined.
Mask #5 (version 2.0): As I refined my mask pattern I continued to innovate and go back to the design space based on the feedback I received from my family and friends. While I was doing this a breakthrough occurred when one of my vendors, Sailrite, sent me an email detailing their mask research efforts and their discovery of what they believed to be the “best mask pattern” (https://www.sailrite.com/how-to-sew-diy-face-mask). I discussed the merits of this new pattern with my interior design and drapery workroom colleagues, as well my 92-year-old mother who had tried out my v1.0 design. In addition to lots of great comments from my colleagues, my mom provided a brilliant suggestion to make a casing (or channel) at the sides of the mask so that the elastic could be inserted through, and tied to the best length by the actual wearer, rather than cutting the elastic to length and hoping that it wasn’t too tight or too loose for the specific wearer. Once adjusted. the knot can then be moved so that it is hidden in the fabric channel. Mom’s so clever, and is the one that taught me to sew when I was 6 years old. Thanks Mom for the great suggestion!
The photos below show my current (and probably final) mask design with a close-up of the internal pocket where you can insert any type of filter (e.g. paper towel, piece of a hepa vacuum bag, piece of air filter, etc.,). This design fits snugly over the mouth and nose, but still allows for good breathability, and has adjustable elastic.
If you’re interested in what the attributes of a medical quality N95 mask are, here’s a good article to read through:
Making An N95 Mask For COVID-19 Coronavirus? What You Need To Know
So that’s it for today. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not selling these masks, just providing them locally to my family and friends as a small effort of community service. Frankly, it has been fun to resurrect my quilt fabric stash and use up all those small bits (for good). Today I just wanted to share what I’ve learned so that others can learn from my trial-and-error process.
I’ll get to that blog post about composing a gallery wall as originally planned in the near future. Until then, stay safe and sane. We have a bright future ahead, I am sure of it, and I wish you all good health. (And wear your mask when you go to the grocery store!).
Finding design inspiration can be difficult, and the challenge is different for everyone – but luckily inspiration sources are actually everywhere. Might it be lurking in all those travel photos and mementos that you have stashed away waiting for a rainy day?
Right now we could all use some inspiration, and many of the clients that I’ve reached out to recently say that they’re using this “pause” to look at old photographs and finally organize them. What a wonderful endeavor - one that often gets sidelined after a trip or special occasion. It’s remarkable that even organizing today’s digital photographs can get set aside, even though our devices and computers make the task as streamlined as possible. Perhaps it’s that we take too many photographs with the magic of digital photography, and the sheer enormity of just deciding which of the 1000+ vacation photos to print becomes a chore for the “do it later” pile.
As you know, I love to travel with my family – to far-off exotic places, cities, national parks, grand vistas, historic sites all over the globe, you name it. Over the years, one of the things that I’ve found is that after we return home, our photographs become a marvelous source of inspiration for new design projects, both in our home and on my client engagements. For example, after we returned from a trip to Japan (you can see that blog post here – “Design Impressions from Japan”), my daughter and I embarked on a project to redesign our Massachusetts backyard into more of a Japanese garden. Ironically we happened upon more Japanese garden inspiration later that year on a trip to Acadia National Park in Maine where we found the beautiful Asticou Azalea Garden, a Japanese stroll garden built in 1956/57. I marvel at the peace and calm of the photo every time I see it. The ducks in the photo apparently appreciated the wonderful setting too.
Another inspirational trip for us was our journey to Paris, Giverny (Claude Monet’s home), Bordeaux, and Lisbon. In a previous blogpost (“A New Fabric Line That Is Perfect for Summer”) I shared some photographs from that trip where we marveled at the beautiful architecture of the churches, monuments, and all the gorgeous detail.
However, that’s not so say that you have to travel half way around the world to find inspiring sights. For example, here’s a photo taken inside a lighthouse in Maine that echoes the beauty of the architectural form I love so much, albeit in a much more rustic fashion.
In the Boston area, architectural splendor and design are all around, and in sometimes seemingly unlikely places like the Waterworks Museum in Boston, which I featured in a previous post (“Waterworks Museum: Worth Visiting for Industrial Design Inspiration”) and in trips to local area parks and preserves which have also produced an abundance of design inspiration for me. Who can dispute the beauty of the natural form in budding branches that are so welcome outside our windows right now? Here’s a photo of the Kanzan Cherry tree in my front yard from last year:
I can’t wait to see what this Spring’s display will be this year. Blossoming branches are a terrific way to refresh your interior, as shown below in a Pottery Barn photo of their Faux Sakura Cherry Blossom branch in a kitchen setting. Are your forsythias in bloom right now? Are your local pussy willows peeking out their fuzzy buds? Is your lilac bush blooming? To brighten things up you might take some of these budding branches, put them in vase with water and celebrate the resilience of Springtime inside your home right now.
Of course I’m also fortunate to be surrounded by numerous nature preserves. During a trip with my daughter to a local park in Marlborough last Fall we saw a line of trees that struck a design note with me since it reminded me of Monet’s painting “The Four Trees”.
So my message to you today is clear – if you’re looking for design inspiration you already have inspiration at your fingertips in the photos of the people and places that you hold most dear. If you see a pattern in the things you photograph (like seaside scenes, or branches, or interesting doorways) you can use these images as design inspiration to make wholesale changes in your home (e.g. paint, wallpaper, furniture, light fixtures, window treatments, etc.,) or, on a much smaller scale, you might consider developing a photo montage for a gallery grouping in your home.
But that’s a topic for my next blog where I’ll give you my advice on composing a gallery wall and installing it easily and perfectly by yourself; a great project that you can easily accomplish while you’re stuck at home. Needless to say, with all the on-line resources for printing your photos to any imaginable size and medium these days (like Shutterfly), it’s an easy DIY task to move your inspiration from your computer screen to your walls so that you can be surrounded by the images you love.
In fact, the online systems have grown so sophisticated that I’m happy to say that my very artistic daughter has been putting her own artwork and designs on-line via Redbubble.com so that other people can also enjoy her paintings, drawings, doodles, colorful "word art" and photographs by having them made into products. What kind of products - well almost anything to include: coffee mugs, stickers, phone cases, wall art prints, T-shirts, pillows, acrylic blocks, coasters, postcards, greeting cards, tote bags, drawstring bags, water bottles, shower curtains, and spiral notebooks. She even edited her photographs in Photoshop and uploaded them to as large format photos (~25 MB each) so that they can made into large products such as throw blankets, shower curtains, pillows, laptop cases and skins, scarves, notebooks, etc. The Redbubble website is really nice since it shows exactly what the product will look like with the selected artwork. So check it out! She is an amazing artist and entrepreneur. As you might guess I’m so proud of her. Here’s the link to my daughters Redbubble Shop and a few of her photos as they would look transferred to various products:
In closing, here’s a little design inspiration for you – a photo of my daughter’s latest oil painting: “Old Keys and Flowers”
One thing’s for sure - we could all use some inspiration, encouragement, fortitude and togetherness-in-spirit right now. Hang in there and God bless all of you.
Since many of you are currently either "working from home", or housebound from all the Government dictates, now might be a good time for you to address some of those home decorating projects that you have been pondering for a while. After all, Spring is arriving and that's a great time to refresh your nest - especially since you and your family are undoubtedly spending more time inside than usual.
An important note: I hope that you and your loved ones are all doing okay in this uncertain and scary time of medical crisis. I also hope that you are okay with me putting out a business blog post that deals with a very non-emergency thing like interior decorating at this time. In my business, there is no such thing as a decorating emergency, and we all know (and appreciate) that. However, like you, I’m trying to get my family through the day in a productive way, abide by all the social distancing and health rules, and support my community and neighbors during this mess. So I think this blog post is reasonable – I hope that you do too.
Thanks for understanding. Now here’s how we can work together - at a distance – over the next few weeks.
My interior design business has always supported “shop-at-home,” and my design studio is located in my home, so I am already very well postured to help you with interior design activities “from a distance.” This means that we don’t have to interact face-to-face to get things that have been on your list for a long time accomplished! Because of how I’ve always operated, I have all my tools and resources at my fingertips right now, including fabrics, paint swatches, samples, sewing machines, woodshop, and my digital rendering software. So I’m ready if you are.
Meet and Home Walk-through via Electronic Means
Normally, I would come to your home in the Boston area, meet you, and discuss the scope of your interior design needs in person. Well, with Facetime and Zoom, we can still accomplish that task exceptionally well, just from a remote stance. After these discussions, to let you know how the proposed design would look, you can email me photos of your home, and I can email you back digital design renderings so that you can envision your home in a new way.
I'm a firm believer in American manufacturing, and my 3 main fabricators of blinds and shades (Lafayette, Horizons, and Comfortex) are all located in the US. Two of these manufacturers, and 95% of my fabric vendors remain open, operating and sending out products as of 27 March 2020; so that part of the interior design pipeline is very much viable and strong. Because they are great, I would very much like these companies to stay in business (and employ their fabulous workforce who always “speak with a smile” on the other end of the phone) during this time of uncertainty. In addition, my furniture vendors are all working remotely, and I have been in contact with my representatives to keep the ball moving on designs for my client’s current projects. For more information on my support to American manufacturing, you can check out my previous blog post.
Working out the Details
Once we have sorted out a design and plan, we can move on to implementing your design vision by taking the next actions remotely:
Samples My fabric vendors are still sending out samples, so I can order samples that can be directly delivered to you. That way you can see, touch and feel whatever fabrics we determine together are contenders for your project.
Taking Measurements Well, that might be a tad more difficult to do remotely, but we can work this out via Facetime and/or Zoom. I know that we can be creative!
Fabrication I am getting lots of sewing/fabrication done while at home! You would not believe the amount of “inventory” of fabrics I have that are just waiting to be made into projects (e.g. valances, pillows, cushions, etc.,).
Dropoff and Installation I am happy to deliver items to your doorstep like the UPS or FedEx driver. I can even install your items in your home (with appropriate social distancing and sanitization protocols) – or we can get everything made and install it after the crisis wanes. Alternatively I can guide you to install them yourself – by providing you with online installation instructions and by walking you through the installation via Facetime and/or Zoom.
So, if you want to make good use of this break from “normal” life, give me a call at 978-440-7264. As always, I offer a free initial consultation, and that can be via electronic means. During our call we can chat about your needs and set up an electronic walk-through. It’ll be nice to talk to you, whether about decorating, or how fortunate we are to be in Massachusetts in the springtime, or our families, or that “elephant in the room.”
As a note of encouragement, this morning my Lafayette representative, Jackie Ibarguen, sent me a quote that I liked:
A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn."-- Helen Keller
Stay healthy! Personally I’m looking forward to our country and the world making the turn to safer times together with compassion, spirit, and dedication.
In my last post, I discussed decorating with the color Red, and I briefly touched upon the topic that decorating with Red is remarkably different from decorating with Pink. That’s curious, don’t you think?
After all, decorating with all values of a color (from light to dark) works fairly well with blue, green, and neutrals of beige and gray. But definitely not with red and its lighter companion pink. What makes pink so special? Well, I’m not sure, but perhaps because pink is inherently perceived as soft, and red is inherently perceived as loud, they are just different. So, here are some general design guidelines for decorating with pink.
I like pink. I have done numerous pink bedrooms (for little and not-so-little) girls, and it’s always a happy endeavor. And the joy of the young clients in choosing their paint color (with only a few options presented, naturally) and their fabrics is also just delightful. I’ve also done other rooms (family and adult spaces) with pink as the accent color, and they have been refreshing and happy, like in this Lexington, MA living room below:
When decorating with pink, I have always found it best to find an inspiration fabric to start the fun. Sometimes it is the motif (floral is pretty predominant, but geometrics are strong lately, and there are lots in pink to choose from), sometimes the intensity of the pink is the draw, and sometimes a fabric just starts the spark. Here are some great current pink fabrics that are available from my vendor, Greenhouse Fabrics.
Additionally, here are some excellent pinks from another one of my vendors, Stout Fabrics.
One thing you’ll notice about these designer pink fabrics is that they are generally monochromatic: pink and white or pink and ivory. If there is an accent or second color, it is usually green. From a color specialist perspective, I find that so curious because in the interior design field, we generally don’t embrace too many “complimentary color” parings like red and green. But pink and green are certainly compatible as the fabric swatches shown above attest. Pale pink goes well with green, and bright pink (hot pink or fuchsia) goes very well with blue, as they are very close on the color wheel.
Rules of Thumb When Decorating with Pink:
Well, that’s a wrap on the color pink. Let me help you navigate the intricacies of pink! As subtle as the color is, it demands a careful eye to make it sing with the rest of the décor.
Since yesterday was Valentine’s Day, it got me thinking about decorating in reds and pinks. A lovely and delicious subject for this week’s blog post! So here’s some advice about the color red. I’ll save pink for another blog, because my recommendations for how to treat pink are very different from how to treat red. Get your Valentine’s Day chocolates from your honey and sit down, read, and enjoy….
Red is bold, warm, and has a decided “point of view.” In decorating, most people think reds are tricky; probably because reds pretty much compel you to have and take a point-of-view. Not surprisingly, during the recent 8 years of the gray trend, red was not a super popular color in home decor. Some ditched the color altogether in their décor because they needed a decided change from the more Tuscan palette of golds, reds, and greens.
However, in 2018, Benjamin Moore declared Caliente Red (AF-290) as their Color of the Year, so there must have been some recent design impetus for their selection. See my blog post from 2018 on Caliente Red here. Honestly, when Caliente Red came out as the COTY, I was surprised. Now, two years later, I can truly say that I have not had one client even toy with the idea of painting an entire wall (or room) red in the past two years. And there’s a reason for their reticence -- commitment. Well, that‘s a perfect Valentines’ Day connection, right?
Personally, I like the color red. I like to decorate with it as an accent because it’s fun and bold. This leads me to an important point on the situations where I often find myself decorating with reds with my clients. Nine times out of 10, when a client expresses the interest in decorating with red, it’s because they already have an Oriental carpet that they love that has red in it. Often, it was their Mother’s or Grandmother’s, and I have to say, I have seen some incredible antique wool Oriental rugs in perfect shape that can definitely be used as the inspiration for a room’s décor. Often the Persian rug has both red and blue, as described in my 2018 Caliente Red post.
When Working with Red:
DO identify if it’s a blue red (cool), a true red, or a brick red (warm) in your Oriental or Persian carpet, and take the color direction off of that. If it’s a cool red, you can pair with grays. If it’s a warm red, pair with beige or golden tones.
For example, here’s a Pottery Barn Oriental rug that’s pretty versatile, with a very attractive somewhat “tribal” design in my opinion. I would say it’s a fairly true red, but the use of the warm beige tones in the border would steer me toward a warm color palette. So, just looking at the rug as the inspiration jumping-off point for a renovated interior, I would go for a warm color palette.
Here’s how PB used the rug in a fairly updated interior:
Note that the red door makes the color scheme make sense — hey, that color on the door could very well be Caliente Red. Please remember that any color (used as an accent) needs to be incorporated in at least 3 places in a room to have the décor work well. My guess is that the wall color is akin to Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White, a nice creamy white with a warm undertone.
DO use red accessories to bring the color scheme to life – accessories like Chinese ceramic stools, trays, ceramic lamps, pillows with red accents. Remember, a little red goes a long way. Actually, pillows that pick up the “right red” are extremely useful in interior décor. Here’s a Chinese stool from Wayfair that I’ve used with a client to judiciously bring in some red. Also, here’s a lamp from Uttermost, and I’m pleased to remind everyone I am an Uttermost dealer. https://www.uttermost.com/
DO pay attention to fabrics, that you find and love, that incorporate red AND another color. Such fabrics will be really important to bring a room to life, whether in pillows, upholstery, table runners, draperies, or other soft furnishings. Here are some red fabrics (paired with other colors) from my vendor Greenhouse Fabrics:
When looking, you’ll probably find many red and white fabrics that would easily fit into a décor as pillows. The fabrics shown below are also from Greenhouse Fabrics. I particularly like the fretwork patterns in red and white - beautiful for an upholstered chair, too.
DO pay attention to the undertone of the flooring in a room with red. If it’s mahogany wood, then you can use a red fabric successfully. If it’s a yellow undertone (like golden oak), you should be looking to use a warm red (russet, clay, or the like). If it’s a neutral walnut color, you are fine with any red. Tile presents a whole other challenge. Just remember that yellow and red undertones are tricky together - but that’s probably best demonstrated by me in your own home. With a color consultation, I can show you what undertones to use in your wall colors and flooring colors to achieve a beautiful harmonious and interesting interior.
In closing, if you like red, embrace it! Hey, that sounds like a Valentine’s Day message too……
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.
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.