I just came across this image from a project in Venice that I worked on a few years ago. Fond memories!
It got me thinking about what a great solution it was to make this relatively large closet a hidden home office in my client’s den. (If memory serves, he wanted to be able to shut the door on the email and the bills when he was kicking back with his wife.) The next thing you know, I am over to Pinterest, looking for more good images of this concept.
This one was my favorite of the kind where one could actually close the doors on a little office room. The peacock-blue and tomato-red on white color combo is very much after my own heart, and I am all for the impact of pattern. The exuberant wallpaper is perfection!
via Australian Better Homes and Gardens
This is a good concept image where the closet doors are removed. Instead of a hidden office, you have a clearly defined office niche.
via Apartment Therapy
And finally, here is my favorite image of a desk incorporated into a cabinetry build-out. The plug-in sconces make it a memorable design.
via New York Times
I have a special affinity for vintage poster art. Old movies, concerts, advertising images, political propaganda – I love what graphic artists do. And I love the way this kind of art can easily give a space a point of view. Vintage poster art is usually graphic and vividly colorful. It also frequently captures the nostalgia of a bygone era, so it can bring immediate warmth and charm to a room.
I love the color combination and ruggedly adventurous feeling of this one!
When I am helping my clients find art that is meaningful to them and gives me an exciting design direction, I often like to find out about their heritage, and the stand-out places in their memories.Then I see if I can find a vintage travel poster that reflects it. An actual vintage one is great if they are looking at it is a collectible piece, but a well-framed quality reproduction will also work. For some current clients who have just doubled their square footage and are in need of a lot of new art, Hawaii is the place. I hope they can choose just ONE of these images. We want the overall vibe to be eclectic, not “Tiki Ti!”!
The image above is my favorite candidate. The bright colors and optimistic spirit of it would make it a great focal point in the Playroom that a little boy and girl will share. This blue and red one below could also work well to energize white walls.
This next image with the hula dancer is a bit more expected. The iconic symbol of Hawaii makes it a bit less interesting to me than the other choices, but I was drawn to this one by the color. We have a lot of blue in the house, and the orange would complement a couple of our areas beautifully.All images are posters that can be found at All Posters. To personalize a search on the site, type in “vintage travel” and add the location that may evoke some good memories of your own.
Rolled arms, tufting and nail-head trim are design details that generally don’t so much float my boat. But on a Chesterfield, it all works! It’s a sofa style that has a clubby charm, and probably for many, a nostalgic appeal. Use one of these big boys with some cushy pillows when you’re looking for a piece with real presence. They work for Traditional, of course, but they can also keep a Contemporary interior from looking too severe.
High arms make it best in a seating arrangement with another sofa or chairs opposite, rather than to its sides.
HIGH // Mansfield Leather Sofa // Ethan Allen // $4399
MID // Velvet Lyre Chesterfield // Anthropologie // $2498
LOW // Gordon Tufted Sofa // HDC // $1199
Unless you have a huge budget to remodel, when you move into a new house, you have to pick your battles. The Master Bathroom of my house is probably going to be the location of a staircase if we add a new master suite one day, so we didn’t want to spend much on this room when we moved in. On the other hand, this is the bathroom in our home that guests use. It had to be inviting! Here is what we did with a small budget.
We were fortunate that the lay-out was fine, and we weren’t contending with any hideous tile. There was also hardwood flooring (not my first choice for a bathroom, but it flowed with the rest of the house), Carrera marble counter-tops, unusual mid-century faucets, and cabinetry that was well-made. All of it was in good shape. Despite all the pluses, the overall “Before” wasn’t good! Challenges included blah paint, an off-center window, a huge unframed mirror glued to the wall, and a harsh light-strip.
Did I mention the suite of gray fixtures? The toilet, sinks and tub were all colored. Very 80’s!
My prescription was new paint and lighting, and an unusual mirror. The paint is two shades of gray – Flagstone on walls and Zinc on trim from Martha Stewart’s discontinued Home Depot line. Note that I did not paint the window in the trim color because I didn’t want to highlight it!
We bought a new white toilet immediately, and I didn’t care about the gray tub because I knew it was going to be covered by a jazzy shower curtain. Making peace with the gray sinks was my big compromise here. It would just wreck the marble if we took it up to install new sinks. And since I’m a bit of a Caesarstone snob, new countertops were definitely going to break the bank!
I hesitated to post this bathroom because it already looks different (I have a new shower curtain and better accessories now!), and I’m planning on replacing the lighting with something prettier. The West Elm sconces work well enough for me design-wise, but they were largely selected for value! It’s been three years now, and I’m ready to upgrade. (These white sconces may get a second life as reading lights over my daughters’ beds!)
This weekend I attended a charming baby shower with a “classic children’s books” theme. It got me thinking about one of my very favorite places to have a drink! Bemelmans Bar is at the Carlyle Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side. It is named after Louis Bemelmans, creator of the Madeline series of books. His murals cover the walls of the bar, making it a most unusual and delightful place to throw one back.
Bemelmans’ characters even adorn the lampshades on the tables! I love all the detail – there is so much to take in, but it all feels very warm and soothing.
This bar is the only place where Bemelmans’ work is on display to the public. The space has a dark, clubby feeling at all times of the day, but the whimsical scenes the artist painted on the walls make it an uplifting place to drink. Sitting in this bar for a little while, as I often do when I am in New York, puts me in touch with that part of my childhood self that wanted to jump into the books I read. Sipping an Old Cuban at the same time makes me very glad to be a grown-up! This place is a treasure.
I spend a lot of time looking at furniture online, and Anthropologie is one of my favorite sites for eye-catching eclectic pieces. These are a few chairs that I’ve been showing my clients lately.
This dining chair at each end of a table as “Captain’s chairs” alongside simple black wood Windsor chairs. They would also be fun away from the table, filling out empty corners in a dining room.
This low-slung, comfy leather lounge chair, done in an unexpected color.
This sweet little occasional chair. Again, it looks good from the front and the back. It would be so great as a pair in front of a fireplace
I’m working on a Nursery design at the moment, and something I always consider for a kid’s space is a library display wall. As in any room, books can give a space a sense of the people who inhabit it. So I think of walls like this as rotating gallery installations that can reflect whatever a kid is into for years to come. They are a sure-fire way to make a design feel personal.
Library display walls are practical – a way for little ones to easily survey and access the books that appeal to them in their height range.
Because the shelves don’t require much depth, they are a great way to make use of a throwaway space, such as a wall behind a door.
Ledges like these can be store-bought, or custom-made to fit a space by someone with moderate skills and basic tools.
Below is the “Before” picture of the little anteroom entrance to my kids’ bedroom (off to the left). There is a closet door to the right, so all I could do here was put something inviting on the wall.Books it is! Four shelves up the length of the wall, spaced about 18″ apart, each just 2.5″ depth from the wall. My husband did this project in a few hours, including shopping for the wood and painting it white. (You can email me if you want the exact specs.)
If there hadn’t been a closet door-swing in the way, I would have installed one of these swing-arm sconces above the books – in a white powder-coat finish.
Rejuvenation’s Reed Sconce
I would love to do a library wall like this in my studio one day. I will surround myself with some of my most inspiring and beautiful coffee table books and vintage magazines.
The uncredited images in this post can be sourced via my PInterest page.
Alabaster is a translucent stone. When back-lit, its swirling bands of cream and brown are accentuated. Naturally, it lends itself beautifully to lighting fixtures. Here are three sconces, all round in shape, but each one accented by a different metal. Each sconce could skew traditional or contemporary in design, but the overall effect is definitely glamorous.
HIGH // Iveala Single Sconce in hand-rubbed antique Brass // Aerin // $630
MID // Melange Sconce in Brass // Kelly Wearstler // $525
LOW // Ingram Sconce in Historic Nickel // Hudson Valley Lighting // $180
These beautiful abstract paintings by my friend, Los Angeles artist Jess Black, are the kinds of artworks that bring a point of view to a space. I would use one of these pieces in a range of interior styles, but always where the art could be a focal point.
Jess works in a large scale, so it’s hard to convey the presence of his paintings in a blog post. The detail of Warrior (below) makes it kind of mesmerizing in person.
Jess has been named the official artist of the Special Olympics World Games, taking place here in L.A. next month. He produced this painting, inspired by the organization’s Circle of Inclusion, which represents the acceptance and inclusion of all people with intellectual disabilities. (My daughter, Saskia, has Down syndrome, and Jess’ friendship with her is what moved him to donate his time and talent to the cause. Thanks, Jess!)
The painting has been sold, but affordable prints of The Circle of Inclusion are available through Saatchi Art. With a simple form but such a variety of colors to draw from, I can see this one looking amazing in a gallery wall collage-type arrangement, mixed in with other prints and paintings and photographs of different sizes.
An entry can be merely a pass-through space, or a room that says “Welcome“, and sets a warm and interesting tone for the rest of a home. I favor the latter! If the architecture allows, I like an entry space to have an inviting coziness to it.
This was a condo I decorated last year. Below is a picture of the space from my initial consultation with the client. When I saw the skylight, and she started showing me the art she had collected in her years of travel, I knew this room was going to be a fun project.
My client had a vision of a wall with a gold-leaf -type finish somewhere in her home, and I thought this room was a great place to do that. Everyone sees the hallway! But nobody spends time there, so you can afford to be bold.A wood console table with Ming feet worked well with my client’s eclectic art, and a perforated metal pendant light fixture that cast beautiful shadows around the ceiling and walls brought the magic. A leaning mirror visually enlarged the space, and along with the tall vase of branches, it turned the carved tribal chair into part of an interesting vignette.
Here is a another room I did in this home.
Photography by Ellen Smiler