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!
Blogs, Pinterest, Houzz, On-line magazines…... The on-line collection of inspirational home décor resources is astounding. And, many of my clients tell me, overwhelming. Sometimes that’s precisely why clients hire me - because in this digital age, information overload is a constant tax on our attention, time, and psyche – and they want a professional to help them sort the wheat from the chaff.
I’ve discussed this before in my blog…the dizzying array of home décor products and our impetus to track down “just the right one,” which sometimes leads to delay, procrastination, and sadly, not getting it done - except when you get that phone call that you are having out-of-town company for Thanksgiving, and now you really need to get it done.
So, in today’s post, I’d like to share some of my favorite sources of on-line inspiration, specifically other bloggers who I follow (in no particular order, they are all wonderful). The blogs of these four interior designers are my absolute favorites:
All of these women are talented designers and successful entrepreneurs. Enjoy!!!
Erin Gates, Elements of Style
You have heard me enthusiastically compliment Erin Gates, a fellow Boston area designer, for her creativity, design style, authorship of books, entrepreneurial style and all around terrific blog. What an inspirational success story on her life and her work. Anyway, check out her blog and her review of the new Serena and Lily store in Boston.
Yes!! the West-coast “go-to” furniture source has just opened a showroom in Chestnut Hill (220 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill, 617-795-5999, serenaandlily.com) I’m looking forward to checking it out very soon myself.
Tobi Fairley, Designer, Entrepreneur, Southern Style Aficionado
Tobi Fairley is one of my favorite designers and I love that she is also an entrepreneur dedicated to helping other designers find a profitable and creatively meaningful place in this digital age which has literally rocked the interior design business, good and bad.
So, we are now seeing famous designers like Tobi reaching out to help other designers through podcasts and coaching. You’ll want to check out her blog, it’s divine!
Sarah Richardson, TV show host, an all-around talented designer, and inspirational interior design professional
I have spoken before on this blog about my admiration for Sarah Richardson, and I have collected all of her design books now. I saw Sarah speak at a Design Conference about 8 years ago, when she was the keynote speaker, and I was struck by how genuine and inspirational she was. Her revamped website and blog are terrific, and she provides the sources of the products she recommends. Just lovely, all around!
Laurel Bern, Laurel Bern Interiors
No presentation of “favorite blogs” would be complete without my absolute favorite, the master, Laurel Bern! You will find Laurel’s wit, design style, and helpful advice right on target. She’s terrific, and I look forward to getting her blogs in my in-box several times per week. I especially love how she combines traditional styling (including historic art) into her posts.
You all know how much I love window treatments, and it appears Laurel does too. I am spot on with all her perspectives on what to do, and what not to do. Here’s a post she wrote that I totally resonate with:
What do all these designers/bloggers have in common? They are generous with their advice, they have all published multiple books, they are excellent designers, and they are truly inspirational. Check them out!
And if you follow other bloggers and want to compare notes personally with me, please email me from my "Contact" page. I don’t have a “comments” section on this blog, but I do respond to email inquiries, just reach out. And of course, keep reading my blog too!
Some of my favorite window treatment designs involve woven wood roman shades and woven wood cornices. Not too familiar with woven woods? Well, think rattan and bamboo, but for the 2019 home, and think of it done in wholly sophisticated way.
I really enjoy using woven woods to add texture to a client’s décor without imparting too much pattern at the window. In addition, woven woods complement patterned fabrics exceptionally well, and as a natural product made from reeds and grasses, they give an organic and cozy feel to a room.
Woven wood roman shades come in all lift mechanisms from motorized to cordless control, to loop cord control. These shades can be layered with draperies or stand-alone as the window treatment and finished “valance” in a room.
My two favorite vendors for Woven Woods are Lafayette Manh Truc and Horizon Shades. Both manufacturers produce their products in the United States (Indiana and Illinois respectively), and I have enjoyed a 10+ year relationship with each of them. As a designer, you have to vet your vendors and find companies that produce top quality products and stand behind them. Over the years Lafayette Manh Truc and Horizon Shades have proven to be great vendors for me and my clients.
One of the interesting technologies that Horizon Shades offers for woven woods is the “Operable Lining” option which you just must see in this video:
I also specialize in creating woven wood cornices like in the photo below. These cornices hide roller shades underneath for a nice option to provide cozy privacy, without a lot of complicated visual fuss.
So if you are looking for something new, call me if you would like to see the complete line of woven wood samples for Horizon Shades and Lafayette Manh Truc. This might be just the right look for window treatments to complement your existing décor or to suit your privacy needs in a beautiful and stylish way.
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.
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.