Design Inspirer // Jess Black

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.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

 

Past Work // An Inviting Entry

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.

2bThis 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.
1a 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.1bA 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

Show Me 3 // X-Base White Desks

An desk with an x-base is classic, yet unusual enough to feel special. The glossy white finish on these ones makes them feel a bit luxe – this is a table that can be more than a mere desk! I can imagine one looking great as a sleek dressing table. Or in a spacious Living Room, one of these could go against the back of a sofa in a floating arrangement.

HIGH // Jonathan Adler – Channing Desk // Wayfair // $1950

Desk Mid

MID // Jett Desk // Z Gallerie // $600

 

LOW // Safavieh Paley Desk // Overstock // $280

 

Design Details // Spiral Staircase // Part 2

A few months ago, I posted about some spiral staircases that made me giddy. Here are some more inspirations, each one as clever somehow as it is beautiful in its design details.

This one is called the Vertebrae Staircase!dba1e8160f5d865aea1e77d0051c270aThe combination of beautifully grained wood and pristine white plaster (below) gets me every time. This space is the epitome of Warm Minimalism to me, and the way the whole staircase just hovers there there above the floor but doesn’t touch it is unforgettable.
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The above also reminds me of the Holy Rope installation by my favorite landscape weaver, Patrick Dougherty! The staircase in the 2 images below also remind me of vertebraeSo beautiful!8c55e168fd0fcb41fed76c9963e0f4f0 8cca9cd88354cc1ac02f77d71d056cf3Only the one on the left is an actual spiral, but either of the staircases below (with their built-in slides!), could be a dream to appeal to kids and grown-ups alike.
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Endless fun….

IMAGES // 1, 2, 3, (4 unknown)

Recently Completed // Apartment Laundry Room Remodel

This is my final post about The Virg, a 12-unit apartment building in Hollywood that I remodeled with 3SC Capital Partners. In previous posts, I have talked about what we did with the building’s Exterior, a typical Living Room, typical Kitchen, and typical Bedroom and Bathroom. The last piece was the Laundry Room, shared by all the apartment-dwellers. Our design directive was to make it feel fresh and inviting -on a tight budget! I knew immediately that we could do something fun with the stair risers to make the space memorable.1

This is what the laundry room looked like after it had been cleaned up and painted white to look respectable, as soon as the developers purchased the property. (I think the guy in the picture below is an inspector!)

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On the plus side, this was an apartment laundry room that was NOT in a scary basement! The space, though cramped, offered an abundance of natural light. My clients were ready to upgrade the laundry experience for their tenants by relocating the hot water tank elsewhere, adding a second set of washer and dryers, and putting in a little counter-space. They also needed some locked storage for cleaning supplies for this area. Here is what we did:2We painted all the railings and security “caging” the same light blue we used on the building’s exterior. (Far less prison-like than black!)  We laid new light grey linoleum on the floor. We located the washers side by side, and stacked the dryers opposite. And we added a small counter for folding clothes, with cupboards above and below.

3We gave the tenants some abstract art in soothing hues to set the tone. (Picked up this canvas for $35 at Target!. I styled it with some cute canvas laundry baskets from Target as well.)4Ilse and Anna, talented girls on my team, executed the bold “Laundry” sign and running stripe by hand, in a font and colors that were cohesive with the exterior of The Virg. The stripe gives the space energy, and connects the stairway and narrow mezzanine walkway to the actual laundry area for a more spacious overall feeling.
laundry-stairrailing I came up with the “laundry directions” to paint on the stair risers – wisdom gleaned from many years of doing apartment building laundry! Those dank, creepy laundry rooms were a far cry from this freshness.stair-overall

So fun to revisit this part of the project! Thanks, Anna and Ilse.IMG_0871“After” Photos by Caroline Froberg. Thanks, Caroline!

Show Me Three // Pulley Pendant Light

File this one under Industrial Chic! I am enjoying this lighting trend that incorporates a pulley detail into a pendant light fixture. A lot of times, I like to imagine a grouping of pendant fixtures for visual impact. In this case, one of these babies would make a memorable design statement on its own. 
HIGH // Pendant Pulley Light // Sun Valley Bronze // $2000

MID // Porcelain Lamp // Studio WM. // $475

LOW // Ariel Light Mini Pendant // Wayfair // $160

Another plus for this kind of fixture is its flexibility. It could be ideal for a space where there may be a dining table under it sometimes (in which case you would want the fixture down about 30″ from the table), but other times people would be moving through the same spot (in which case you would want it much higher).

Design Inspirer // Claude Cormier

I’m so inspired by the work of Canadian conceptual landscape architect Claude Cormier. He started out as a botanist with an ambition to create a new kind of flower through cross-breeding. Rather than making flowers though, he has ended up creating art on a grand scale with his arresting landscape designs. “Instead of borrowing and copying from nature,” he says, “I prefer to cross-breed it with culture”.

Blue Tree, a past installation at Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, is a perfect example  of what Cormier and his firm does. This once quietly majestic tree was afflicted with a terrible tree-killing disease and on its way to being chopped down.  In its final act, along came the landscape architect to give it the grandest send-off a tree has ever had by adorning it with 75,000 plastic Christmas ornaments!

 

This was executed by two men in a cherry-picker and one man on a step-ladder over 9 days.

 

Magnificent, she was! What could be better than a big open sky and the rolling hills of  Sonoma as a backdrop for this work of art?

 

Over time, the tree succumbed to its disease. Au Revoir, Blue Tree!

The Blue Tree existed between 2004 and 2007 at the Cornerstone Gardens  in Sonoma, right where that Valley meets the Napa Valley, and not too far from San Francisco.  Even though this installation is no longer there, I highly recommend a visit to Cornerstone if you like this kind of conceptual design.

Past Work // Styling Story – Before, After and In-Between

There is no greater satisfaction in my work than at the end of a project, when I get to styling! It is the final layer. Even when the clients are there all along for a project, I can still send them off for a day, work some magic with art and accessories, and give them a fun and surprising reveal of a completed design.

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Above is a feature wall in the Family Room in a Mediterranean Contemporary house I finished last year.

This is what it looked like just after my clients had bought the house, but were still renting it back to the previous owners. The style was sort of Global Goth, and I predict it was done when the Osborne Family was a hit show. (You can see more of the transformation of this house in this post.)

BEFORE DESIGN

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Below is a snapshot of the Family Room soon after my new design was almost in place, and my clients had moved in. We had lightened the walls and ceiling coffers with paint. My clients had wanted closed storage and open shelving for display on this wall. After quotes for a custom cabinetry build-out around the fireplace and TV proved to be way out of the budget, I came up with a less expensive way to fill out the niches and make the wall eye-catching. Key was this pair of media credenzas from Crate and Barrel. They fit pleasingly into the niches, and I designed custom shelves to go above them.

AFTER DESIGN – BUT NOT DONE!

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Barton Sol built the shelves, and stained them to match the credenzas for a cohesive look. I designed the placement of the shelves around built-in speakers on the wall, and a beautiful pair of horse sculptures that my clients had in their collection. We painted the back walls of the niches above the shelves blue to relate it to blues throughout the rest of the house, and to further define this as a feature wall. It worked, but you can see that something still needed to happen to bring this design together!

AFTER STYLING

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When styling, my team and I power-shop stores like World Market, Ikea, Target, West Elm and Crate and Barrel for accessories. Our haul might include lighting, vases, photo-frames, baskets, pillows and throws….fun stuff to play with! I consider all the art and accessories my clients already have, and curate a mix with the new pieces. I try to make it feel fresh and stylish, as well as personal to my clients. In this case, the design point-of view I introduced was in the goldenrod color in the accessories. It related to a big piece of art in their Living Room, and it was an on-trend color when I was out accessory shopping! I love the way it livens things up against the blue and wood tones. It’s bright, but it fits in with the California Traditional vibe of the new design in their house.

I am constantly adding styling ideas to my Pinterest – follow me!

Future Design Dreaming // Sexy Hollywood Hills Bachelor Pad

I’ve found myself designing for a series of single male clients lately. This is a favorite bachelor pad mood board from my design studio. It’s sexy! And masculine. And art-driven. And full of moody blues. And if you could reach out and touch the sensuous upholstery fabrics on the board, you could better imagine how comfortable this place would be.

board1 The blue velvet with the pajama-stripe textile is one of my obsessions here – Millbreck in Azure by Designers Guild. It is luxuriously soft. And I snuck in a piece of art (the Lone Ranger with the laser eye), by my favorite musician, Bob Schneider -because that’s sexy to me! If I were a single lady, and I walked into the home of a date to find all this, I would be relieved to know it was done by a designer – and not his ex! Then I could just admire his fantastic taste in art…

Here are some pieces you could buy to get the look.

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1. Art // Natasha Law, Blue On 2. Pendant // Honeycomb Pendant 3. Floor Lamp // Praying Mantis Floor Lamp 4. Bulb Lamp // Crystal Desk Lamp 5. Chair // Calvin Chair 6. Rug // Brazilian Cowhide 7. Cocktail Table // Pi Coffee Table

 

Show Me 3 // Bone Inlay Chairs

These are such versatile chairs, thanks to the intricate detail of bone inlay all over their wood or resin bases. It makes them look eye-catching from every angle. The first one of these examples is based on an English Regency chair, while the second and third are interpretations of Classical Greek klismos chairs. It is easy to picture them bringing some exoticism to a Traditional space, but I think the lightness of their forms and graphic impact of their patterns make them work beautifully in a more Modern interior as well.

chair-400x350HIGH // Bone Inlay Chair // Monica James // $4,420

HCH7SVM_mxMID // Femi Bone Inlay Chair // Horchow // $910

29314853_018_bLOW // Bone Inlay Chair // Anthropologie // $600

I can see a few of these beauties around a simple dining table…or a pair of them opposite a sofa…or a single one in front of a leaning mirror and a plant. It could be so pretty at a dressing table. And doing this post, I’ve realized that the middle one wants to come and live in my bedroom as a desk chair!

Catch Natasha Jansz on HGTV's "HOUSE HUNTER'S RENOVATION" October 28th 10pm/9c