Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sweet Dreams, Baby!

It's a rainy afternoon here in Southern California.  We almost never get any rain between March and October, so this is an unusual event for us in April.  I've had my cup of hot chocolate and popcorn, filled the often-empty firebox in my fireplace with warm flames, and am thinking about how days like this make us all crave warmth, coziness.... our comfy beds!

A bed is by far the most important element in every bedroom... not just for the obvious utilitarian need of having a place to rest all night, but it's also the most important design element in a bedroom.  It is usually the largest element in the bedroom, which automatically makes it the focal point of the room.

The design statement your bed makes is enormous.  The frame itself and the way the bed is dressed and finished tell the whole story about how you unwind, what comforts you, what style is restful and peaceful for you.  Have a look at these fabulous beds by Anthropologie:

These frames provide so much impact with their intricate styling.  Just the bed frames give me a spark to start designing a fabulous scheme, each unique to the influences found in these skeleton starting points.  The bed in the top photo is an intricate lacework of larks tucked between flower blossoms - the jumping-off point for a colorful palette of florals and French toille fabrics.  The shell motif on the bed in the center photo evokes a subdued, natural color scheme of ocean blues and aquas, sandy-colored linens and decorative beach glass accents.  In the bottom photo, this white "Calligraphy" bed is pure romance, soft, textural fabrics in muted pastels.  When you look at your bedframe, or start shopping for your next one, choose purposefully so that your bed creates a visionary inspiration for your sanctuary.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Mirrors are such a simple invention when you break it down: a piece of glass with silver coating on one side to create a reflective surface.  Very elementary.  But consider the difference that grayish layer makes: literally the difference between a window to what is beyond and a reflection of what is within.

Mirrors began as utilitarian and have progressed to become fabulous design accessories.  There are a few good guidelines to follow when using mirrors as decor embellishment rather than simply functional. There are a million styles and sizes and frames for mirrors now which makes them a perfect addition to any room whether you need them to duplicate an image or simply add light and sparkle.

Hung opposite a window, a mirror can throw a lot more daylight into your room (a fantastic option for rooms with north-facing windows that get limited daylight, like in this room below that I designed).  It's almost like adding another window to the room when the outside light is reflected back into the room!

Hung opposite an exquisite piece of art or an interesting piece of furniture, it creates a duplicate view of that wonderful adornment. Placed above a fireplace mantel they add a little more sparkle and drama to that focal point.

Large mirrors on a wall will add depth to your room; hung ceiling-mounted they add height (both are great tricks for small rooms!).  As shown in this photo, I added a large leaning mirror to add depth to this dining room and bring some of the outdoor light and greenery inside.

Are there any places a mirror installation doesn't look great?  Well, just one in particular.  A mirror hung opposite a blank wall in a small space such as a hallway will look void and lifeless since it has only "nothingness" to reflect.  Even an extraordinary frame will look lose it's "wow" factor if the mirror within it has nothing interesting to reflect.

Look around your rooms at the walls that seem lifeless, flat or unadorned and consider what a mirror can do to change your view!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

High - Low Decorating

Homegoods, (HomeSense in Canada), TJ Maxx, Ikea.... or  Kravet, Elte, Century Furniture? It all depends on your style, your budget, and your desire to be design-forward or design successor.  It can be a real high vs. low price game, and what you get for your money can seem very similar or very obviously not of the same quality.

How about a show of hands for those of you who saw Meryl Streep turn up the bitchiness in "The Devil Wears Prada"? My hand is up, right here!  Aside from the parallels I was able to draw (too well, in fact) to a superior in my own work history, there is a particular scene in which Ms. Streep's character gives a sharp-tongued lesson in where the items that fill our big-box retail outlets come from.  Those shelves lined with items which we might perceive as being worlds apart from high-end exclusive designers are in fact, derived from their trend-setting designs.  As an example, watch the annual Academy Awards ceremony and then notice how many of those red carpet gowns are "knocked off" by mass retailers within a week.  The same applies to interior design products.  Our furniture styles, accessory shapes and themes, and color schemes are all very much derived from what the industry Gods have created and presented a season or two (or three or four) earlier.

All of this leads me to my point today: high or low?  Do you buy the item with the discount sale sticker from the liquidator or do you shop at the design center and exclusive showrooms for items to decorate your home?  As my husband likes to say, "how you do anything is how you do everything", so I'm probably not going out on a limb here to say that if you enjoy bargain shopping at Nordstrom Rack for last season's hot jeans style and finding them at $100 less than they were in the Nordstrom, you are likely using the same savvy shopping methods to outfit your home.  And in contrast, if you enjoy wearing pieces that most people have not yet seen in North America because Milan Fashion Week just unveiled a particular new trend a couple of months ago, you are probably someone who prefers uncommon objets d'art and choosing furniture styles which express your preference for exclusive style and quality. Neither approach is right nor wrong - they simply are whatever fits you and your budget.

To give you a quick visual example, have a look at the photos below.  Master designer and potter Jonathan Adler started this current trend displaying a cluster of small ceramic vessels.  Ikea now has it's own version for a fraction of the Adler pieces.
 Jonathan Adler 

The bottom line is to buy the best quality you can comfortably afford while getting the style that best expresses the look and feel you are after.  And remember that it is "buyer beware" out there, and if it seems too good be true, it probably is of course.  Happy shopping!