Friday, December 18, 2009

Eye-popping Blue

What pops into your mind when you think of blue?  Caribbean blue waters, the big blue sky, a trumpet wailing out the blues?

Using the color blue in a room creates an eye-popping room that dazzles.  Here's the secret.  Carefully choose a combination of uplifting, vibrant blues along with art and accessories that can intensify the impact you want to make.

Boston designer Dennis Duffy designed this spectacular azure blue dining room published in Traditional Home.  He uses the right amount of blue in combination with white.

Bradley Hughes livens it up with custom art by Donna Hughes paired with their Clint sofa dressed in a smashing navy blue velvet with Greek key pillows.  Selecting the right piece of art creates a great conversation piece for any space.  Lighting adds sparkle along with reflective qualities from the burnished gold mirrored table.

Contact me for more ways to decorate with sumptuous blue.

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Take on Christmas Color

Here's an example of giving a new mix to Christmas color. Ernest Gaspard & Associates in Atlanta infused their tree with fuchsia.  The use of a single color captured my attention and I think it's a head-turner!

Still need to decorate your tree for the holidays?

  • Consider decorating your tree with a one color.
  • Go through your collection of decorations to pull ornaments that are the same color.
  • Shop for more in the same color family if you need to add to your collection.  
  • Don't hang too many ornaments.  Simple elegance will create a spectacular focal point!

Fuchsia Facts

  • Pinkish-purple color ranging from vibrant to lighter shades.
  • Fuchsia plant with fuschia blooms originated in Central and South America.
Happy Decorating!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Table for Two or More

If you are planning a party, create a dining table around the party's theme.  Use a little imagination and inexpensive items bought from the craft store or dollar store.  To inspire you, here are some eye-catching tables that local designers created for the Atlanta DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids) 2009 event.

"Elegant Evening" designed by Habachy Designs for Moattar, Ltd.

"Picnic Anyone" designed by Kravet Inc.

"Wagon-ho!" designed by Corey McIntosh of McIntosh Interiors


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Doggie Travel Tips

My dog Paisley took her first plane trip today so I thought these travel tips might be useful for those traveling during the holidays with a pooch.
  • Get a travel bag that meets airline specifications and make sure that the mesh is strong enough to hold up to little paws wanting to get out to be next to you.  Paisley managed to make a hole in her carrier. Remember that your dog can't get out of the carrier while on the plane.
  • Talk to your vet about sedation.  My vet at Buckhead Animal Clinic recommended something safe for Paisley.  Consider asking for a stronger dosage if your dog has an anxious personality.
  • Travel early in the morning so that you can feed your dog once you arrive at your destination.  No food or water at least 8 - 10 hours before the flight.  Make sure that they go before you leave your house.  There aren't places to go at the airport.
  • Don't take your pet out of the carrier in the airport.  They might not like to go back into it when it's time to board the plane.
  • Once you arrive, give your dog a healthy dose of love.

Happy travels!

What's Your Favorite? Here Are Mine.

  • Actor - Jack Lemmon
  • Artist - Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Book - American Heritage Dictionary
  • Chair - Hepplewhite Wheel Back Chair and Mies Van Der Rohe's Barcelona Chair
  • City - Florence, Italy
  • Color - Purple
  • Flower - Camellia
  • Guilty Pleasure - Anything Chocolate (Love Mrs. Cathy's brownies with nuts!)
  • Hotel - Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, India
  • Lamp - My iron chandelier with little birds perched on it
  • Memory - Home-cooked vegetable meals with my grandma in her kitchen, fondly called Floy's Rollin' Kitchen
  • Movie - Some Like Like It Hot
  • Retaurant - Galatoire's in New Orleans
  • Singers - Brad Paisley, Elton John and Nat King Cole
  • Sport - New Orleans Saints Football - GEAUX SAINTS!
  • Time of Day - 5 o'clock cocktails with friends
  • Wine - Albarino white wine from Spain
I'd love to hear about some of your favorites.  Email me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tips for Selecting Wall Color

Trying to decide what colors to paint your walls?  Or are you considering wallpaper with color and pattern?

Here are tips that I learned from Ann Pailthorp, a color consultant with Farrow & Ball, at a recent House Beautiful Color Institute in Atlanta.

Layering Color – Consider layering different shades of the same color to help transition from one room to another.

Contrasting Color – Color contrast either adds drama to a room or opens up a space.  For a dramatic impact, paint the walls a dark color with a lighter contrasting paint for the trim.  If you want to give your space an open feel, paint the walls a lighter color with a darker trim.

Baseboards with Patterned Wallpaper – A light colored trim will draw your attention to the contrast line where the wallpaper meets the trim.  Creating a grounding effect might be a better way to draw the viewer’s eye to the beautiful wallpaper.  To do this, paint the baseboards with a darker colored paint.

Darker Walls – Paint your walls a darker color to create effect.  Go bold in a small space like a powder room.

Depth Perception – A long, narrow room might not seem as long if you paint the far wall with a color that advances towards the eye. 

Sense of Balance – The room on the right looks heavier than the room on the left.  A sense of balance could have been achieve by selecting colors of equal weight.  Try this in area where rooms connect with large openings.

Sample Paint Colors – Paint a large piece of poster board and move it around the room during different times of the day.  Display the sample vertically against the wall so you can see how light interacts with the color.  The light levels at different times of the day interact with the pigment in the paint changing the value of the hue.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Color Interpretation for Your Personal Inspiration

Why is purple one of my favorite colors while my best friend places it low on her list? We do know that color is a result of light and how each person’s unique retina interprets the color and sends a signal to the brain via the optic nerve.  But science just hasn’t identified all involved with the brain’s ability to interpret color.

Could our feelings about colors relate to the symbolism that’s been associated with each color?  Maybe it’s the meaning that cultures place on a color.  Black is associated with mourning in our Western culture.  Instead in India and other Asian cultures, white is used.

So what colors inspire you and are most beneficial in your life?

Primary Colors

Red is the color of blood which is vital to life.  Red expresses power, energy and courage.  Think about the red power tie.  Remember reading “The Red Badge of Courage” where Henry, a young soldier, questions his inner strength and courage?  Red makes a bold statement in the design of a room so perhaps consider using it sparingly.

Yellow symbolizes knowledge and wisdom and stimulates thinking.  Consider using yellow in a kitchen because it is believed to benefit digestion.  Or have your children do their homework in a mustard-yellow room so they’re at their mental best.

Blue is soothing.  What’s more relaxing than gazing at the blue sky off in the horizon or at the gentle blue ocean waves lapping against the beach!  We use water to cleanse so blue is associated with purity.  Consider painting the ceiling of your bedroom sky blue so you have a calming environment for rest.

Secondary Colors

Orange helps inspire creativity.  Place it in an office area or your workspace so you are at your creative best.  Orange is often used in settings to convey vitality and to lift our spirits. Feeling depressed?   Surround yourself with orange.

Green calms and helps ground us.  A farmer associates a green field with a bountiful crop.  Think about the rustling sounds as the wind gently blows through the leaves of a tree.  A little green in your life can help balance a stressful day and is a great color for bedrooms.

Violet was one of most difficult colors to make, according to historical records.  In ancient times it was created by squeezing the murex sea mussel called ‘porphura’ in Greek.  Because of the challenge and expense to make purple, it became associated with royalty and power.  Ranking priests wore purple vestments.  Purple also is believed to hold the power to heal.  Purple connotes valor and honor and when a soldier dies in battle; the Purple Heart is given as our military’s the highest honor.  Saturated purple walls can make a powerful statement in an interior space.

Now that you know more about the meaning of color, decide which colors are best for you and incorporate them into your environment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How to Shop for Custom Upholstered Furnishings

In today's world of shopping for bargains, you may ask, "why spend a lot more money on a piece of custom furniture when less-expensive furnishings are available?" We are bombarded with enticing deals on websites and in catalogs showing attractive, affordably-priced sofas and chairs. But what's underneath less expensive, fabric or leather upholstered goods?

I worked for a furniture manufacturer that prided itself on quality workmanship and once again witnessed the making of a beautiful, well-crafted chair. Last week Kravet's Steve Bolick, who heads quality control for Kravet's furniture division, demonstrated the work involved in creating a quality piece of furniture. Susan Lorenz, who is Kravet's vice president of sales for furniture and showrooms, filled in details about the company's commitment to building high-quality pieces.

Here's what any consumer should look for when shopping for upholstered furnishings:

  • The frame should be made of kiln-dried hardwood solids and engineered hardwoods. Using engineered wood is good and helps give added strength to the frame. Quality engineered wood is made by turning a hardwood log with machinery to cut long, thin pieces of solid wood that are stacked and glued under high pressure. (Remember that engineered wood is not the same as pressed fiber board made from wood chips and pieces. Avoid furniture that's made with fiber board.)
  • Look for an eight-way tied coil spring system. Sinuous springs can also used in areas like backs to give reinforcement.
  • Foam made from petroleum and soy-based products should be used in strategic areas of the frame. (For instance along the front edge where the upholstered frame meets the loose cushion.) This eliminates sharp edges and adds to the comfort of the piece.
  • Cotton-blend batting is added between the foam and the decorative fabric. This additional fiber helps give a luxurious feel.
  • Stretchy fabrics like chenille and silk need to be backed so they upholster nicely and are more durable.
  • Patterns should match up. There's nothing worse than stripes or patterns that don't line up from the front to the back.
  • Another good sign of a quality upholstery job, is the piece's decorative fabric also is used on the deck under the cushion. This fabric should line up and match with the other exposed fabric.
  • All fabric should be pulled tight when it's stapled to the frame. Staples should run along the frame so not to be seen.
  • Skirts on sofas or chairs should be added so they are the same length from the floor all the way around. Furniture manufacturers like Kravet make skirts to fit each specific piece. That means a skirt is added as one of the last steps in the upholstery process.
  • Decorative trim like welt is added to hide staples while giving a beautiful finished look. Look for welt cord made with bias-cut fabric. Steve pointed out that he takes care to turn hidden welt cord seams all in the same direction so that the welt stands up nicely.
How can you find out if the furniture you are looking at is well-crafted?
  • Ask questions of the representative who is helping. Do they have any literature from the maker? Visit the maker's website for more info.
  • Lift up cushions. Look under the chair. Push gently on the sides and outback to make sure they are tight.
  • Engage an interior designer who can identify the best furniture resources.
  • Designers can also help you select fabric that are best suited for your needs so that your investment holds up for years.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bananas Too Ripe?

Do you throw away bananas that are too ripe?

Stop! Peel and put them in the freezer so you can make banana bread or muffins later.

I just made two batches of banana bread with bananas that I've frozen. No one would ever guess that the bananas were frozen. My grandma Floy would be proud because she found a way to use any left over ingredients in her kitchen. Nothing went to waste -- a trait of a Depression era gal! So let me share her recipe for banana bread with you.

Floy's Banana Bread

1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
1/4 c. plain low fat yogurt (I've added this ingredient so you have really moist banana bread.)
2 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. mashed bananas (from the freezer or fresh if you like)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts) optional

Cream sugar and shortening, add eggs and beat. Add yogurt and bananas and beat again. Add sifted dry ingredients, then nuts and vanilla. (Now don't over mix your batter.) Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. You can also make muffins from the same recipe. Bake for 45- 50 minutes at 325 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Business of Aging in Place

Here's an informative article from the New York Times about helping people Age in Place. It also appeared on the Reverse Mortgage Daily web site.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Aging In Style

Design is more than beautiful rooms that are pleasing to the eye. It's also about safety, accessibility, and functionality. These are all terms associated with Universal Design -- designing for all people without need for adaptation or specialized design.

If you've helped someone you love adjust to a physical change like a broken bone or illness that effects mobility, then you've probably thought about ways to make space function better. How about living in a space where you didn't have to think about making alterations? That's the goal of "Aging in Place" or as we get older, we like to call it "Aging in Style."

Some people are being proactive and taking steps to ready their homes. It might be replacing door knobs with lever handles. Or when renovating a bathroom, building the shower with sloping drains so a curb isn't needed. What about a kitchen built with counters at differing task heights (standing and sitting)?

Design professionals like me are specializing in this area so we can assist our clients with wise design decisions that allow for "Aging in Style." I recently took several courses offered by the National Association of Home Builders to become designated as Certified Aging in Place Specialist(CAPS).

So if you are interested in ways to make your home safe, beautiful and livable for anyone, please let me know. I would love to share information about this topic so you, your family and friends can "Age in Style." Also let me know if you belong to a group who needs speakers. I would be happy to present to the group. Click here to contact me about speaking to your group.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Love New Orleans?

Dan Milham is my friend and a talented photographer. He recently retired as the chief meteorologist at WDSU-TV in New Orleans to begin his new career as a photographer capturing images of places we love to visit. Dan's company is called Picture New Orleans. He specializes in capturing images that showcase the unique culture and landscape of New Orleans. If you want to add a little bit of New Orleans to your interior landscape, let me know. Dan and I will work with you to select the perfect photograph for your space.

Italiana Design

Here are a few images I took when shopping in Milano. Of course fashion is everywhere there --whether in store fronts or on the backs of gorgeous Italian men and women.

I found an area of the city that had great Italian furniture showrooms. The showroom designers understood how important it is to create great vignettes to showcase what they are selling. Check out the vignette where papers appear to be in the process of falling from the shelves. This display catches your attention and showcases their lighting, sofa and occasional tables. The use of black contrasts with the white making the sofa pop out at the viewer. Don't you want to sit down? I sure did. Now that's design!

Lesson learned: Italians love to use the best products and are very proud that many of the world's finest products are design and made in Italy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

3 Key Ingredients to Good Design

This morning I listened to some of the top designers (Bob Brown, Matthew Quinn, Suzanne Kasler, Stan Topal aned William Peace) in Atlanta talk about Interior Design. In this complicated world, several themes seemed to prevail from the panel discussion.
  • Composition -- The right composition makes an interior space unique. It's important to have the right mixture of color, textures and proportion to make a room harmonious and unique. Understanding my clients' needs helps me create the right compostion of furnishing and finishes that suit their lifestyle.
  • Lighting -- Lighting is more than just adding lighting when the sun begins to go down. Look at the lighting in a room when the sun is up. Consider the use of natural lighting along with artificial lighting when designing a room. Proper use of lighting can distinguish different textures, enhance the values of each color in the room, and bring attention to interior focal points.
  • Editing -- Edit what's in the room. Too much can overwhelm a space taking away from the design.
Check out some of the rooms that these designers created.

Go Home -- A Cool Place

We all like to Go Home after a long day at work or a great trip that inspires us. Today at AmericasMart, I found a cool place that helped my imagination Go Home. It took me back to my Grandma Floy's kitchen when I saw a vintage sink with drain boards on each side. The showroom that caterers to the Home Furnishing market and interior designers has unique one of a kind vintage items and reproductions that look authentic. If you want to Go Home, I'll help take you there with a visit to this great showroom. What a great place to visit today!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Design Tips

Simple Ideas for Your Interior Space
  • Add Fabric Window Treatments - They add color, pattern and interest to plain windows while saving energy. Closing window treatments helps block hot sun, cold drafts and noise from the outside.
  • Paint Rooms - One of the simplest and cheapest ways to add color and contrast to rooms.
  • Declutter - Feng Shui experts advise clients to remove extra furniture and items from your environment to ensure good health and energy flow. Clutter also can be a hazard when items block traffic patterns and doors.