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Jan 19, 2015

Hollywood Glamour, Indeed – Last Chance To See Enticing Fashion And Jewelry From Late Silver Screen Starlets

Although we’re interior designers, we naturally love everything that has to do with design. From furniture to fashion, magazines to museums, we notice the colors, the patterns, the positioning. So when I attended Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts exhibit, “Hollywood Glamour, Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen,” I was enamored.

 

As the Museum describes it, “The exhibition focuses on the iconic style of sultry starlets of the period, including Gloria Swanson, Anna May Wong, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, and Joan Crawford. Hollywood style in this era was a blend of on- and off-screen fashion and accessories, including dramatic costumes created for the screen by famous designers such as Adrian, Travis Banton, and Chanel and dazzling jewelry from makers of the era like Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin and Paul Flato. Along with eye-catching gowns once worn by famous figures and the sparkling jewels that contributed to their allure from the MFA and private collections, photography by Edward Steichen along with period photographs, film stills, and film clips capture the style of the silver screen era.”

 

What a wonderful era! The luxurious fabrics used in the gowns were enough alone to make me swoon. And as a designer, I noticed the intricate construction that went into each one – using the richest of fabrics like velvet, chiffon and silk. But there were limitations to what they could do because of the nature of the entertainment industry’s film technology at the time. For example, they didn’t wear white because it caused a halo effect on screen. The fabrics were actually chosen because of their “quiet ability.” Some fabrics were simply too noisy and would interrupt the sound quality of a film. The exhibit also discusses how much research went into these beautiful ensembles to ensure that they would look good not only on the starlets, but on the silver screen. (Not that different from today, I suppose!)

mfa

TRABERT & HOEFFER, INC.-MAUBOUSSIN, MULTI-USE NECKLACE OF ACTRESS JUNE KNIGHT, LATE 1930SPlatinum, engraved sapphire, and diamond. Neil Lane Collection. – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The shoes and the jewelry are just as divine. But the most surprising elements were unexpected. Take, for example, the “hidden platform” shoes worn by Mae West. She was reportedly only five feet tall, and so would wear these special shoes to add height, but the majority of the shoe would be hidden under her gown, with a construction that looked more like two shoes on top of each other.

The jewels were oversized – sort of like what we’re seeing in today’s costume jewelry. But, much of it was “convertible jewelry” – allowing pieces to be broken down and worn in two different ways. I thought that was amazing!

As a designer, the intricate details of what went into the design were so intriguing. But anyone can appreciate the history and mysterious glamour behind this exhibit. I highly recommend attending. But hurry, it’s only here for about another month. The exhibit ends on March 8, 2015. You may also want to check out the Artists Demonstration, “Hollywood Fashion Design,” an ongoing program where you can try creating your own Hollywood-inspired design. The next session is Wednesday, February 25th.

NOTE: The exhibit is sponsored by the ever-glamourous Neil Lane Jewelry.

- Katharine

 

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Jan 12, 2015

From “Blah” to “Spa” – A Before And After Bathroom Design Snapshot

You probably know what it’s like to have an outdated bathroom that you’ve just been neglecting, thinking “It’s just a bathroom.” But when a bathroom isn’t functional, it can cause not only an eyesore (especially if you add temporary storage), but headaches while trying to figure out where to put everything.

Such was the case with this bathroom in a client’s home in Boxborough, MA. While the original bathroom wasn’t as outdated as some that we’ve seen (no pink tiles or tub!), it was fairly plain and nondescript – and it wasn’t functional for the family’s needs. The pedestal sinks look nice, but it lacks countertop or storage space. In addition, a huge platform tub took up too much space in the room, and the shower was so small, it was nearly claustrophobic!

We conferred with the client and discovered that she really loves a contemporary look, and was looking for something spa–like: modern, organic, serene and Zen–like. She liked clean lines and wanted neutral tones so she could change up the look from time to time with splashes of color (a great idea for making a design timeless). And, as you can see from the BEFORE photos, she needed more storage, counter space and lighting.

BrownBEFORE BrownvanityBEFORE

Katharine and I got to work immediately, excited about the entire “spa” vibe. After all, who doesn’t want the feeling of serenity and pampering in their own home at all times? We designed a unique, custom Japanese Shinto-style vanity made of bamboo wood, with a Caesar stone top and under mount oval sinks. Our wonderful cabinetmaker, David Lamoureaux of Carousel Cabinetry, in Lancaster, MA, brought the design to life. The lines of the sink legs are echoed in other curves in the room.  For pretty storage, we added a small bamboo cantilevered shelf between the sinks that holds accent accessories.

BB_vanity2_after BB_vanitymirrors_after

To weave the curve patterns and organic elements throughout, we added curved floor tiles in a subtle gray stripe pattern. A shaped cantilevered shower bench also picked up the theme, along with a gorgeous, freestanding Kohler oval tub that fits elegantly into the corner of the room. Smooth pebble tiles are underneath, for an interesting change in texture and to further showcase the beautiful tub.

BB_showerfloor_after  BB_showerinside_after  BB_tub_After

The pebble tiles were continued on the shower floor – they feel great on bare feet! Because the tub was placed at an angle, instead of the previous in line position on the same wall as the shower, it allowed more room for the large open shower. And what a shower! Its larger design can fit two people (romance, anyone?). A beautiful frameless glass shower door and recessed niche shelves contrast nicely with the slate mosaic tile inside.

BB_Shower-After BB-curvetile_after BB_showerinside2_afater

Special thanks to Ken Howell, in Acton, MA - our General Contract on this project. And you can file these under things that only designers think about, but everyone appreciates:

·      Contemporary clean plumbing fixtures (these from the amazing Kohler Purist collection) in polished chrome

·      New recessed lighting and wall lights

·      Larger mirror

·      Contemporary wall lights

·      Neutral, calming grey wall paint color

The end result was a very happy client who is now discussing a redesign of her kitchen with us. We can’t wait!

 

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Dec 19, 2014

10 Tips For Easy Holiday Decorating And Instant Cheer

If you’re scrambling to get everything done in time for the holidays –and still haven’t decorated for that upcoming party – take heart. We can help! We’ve curated some of our favorite, easy-to-do tips for holiday decorating from a variety of great sources. Try any of these and your home or office will be ready in no time.

If you try some, please share your pictures with us and we may feature them here on our blog! Email: sue [at] mastandfalls [dotcom]

  1. Turn those holiday cards into decoration. Here’s a great idea to hang them from the staircase
  2. Buy some simple flowers and place them all around the house. Poinsettas are always nice, but think outside the holiday box, too. We love the look of these paperwhites at Midwest Living, and these dried magnolias in Katharine’s own home.magnolia
  3. This ornament centerpiece is so easy! Sue does this once each year herself.
  4. If you have children or grandchildren, spend some quality time to make snowflake garland with them, and hang in a casual room such as kitchen dining area or a child’s room. Some easy directions, here.
  5. This red and white candy and flower centerpiece is so easy and festive.
  6. White lights make everything beautiful. Here’s a great idea to wrap them around birch logs.
  7. Swag adds instant holiday cheer to any space. We love this one with fresh eucalyptus. Add red bows and white lights, too. staircaseswag
  8. Martha always has great advice, and these snow lanterns are easy to do as well.
  9. Add these paper cone trees or nutcrackers, like Katharine has, to the mantle or kitchen table. nutcrackers
  10. Even your chandelier can become more festive when you add hanging ornaments.

What are some of your favorite holiday decorating tips? We’d love to hear them! Happy decorating; Happy Holidays!

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Jan 7, 2013

Market Time

High Point Furniture MarketJust this morning I noticed the colors changing on the trees! It’s definitely Fall! In the design world, it means the Autumn edition of the High Point Furniture Market is almost here. Held twice per year in October and April, the next “market” will take place October 13-18th in High Point, North Carolina. Held since 1909, the market is a one stop destination for interior designers and furniture store buyers looking at the latest offerings from home decor companies. In fact, it’s the largest furniture industry trade show in the entire world, drawing about 75,000 visitors to town that week alone. There are 180 buildings chock full of wonderful lighting, accessories, art, rugs, and furniture of all kinds. (more…)

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Jan 7, 2013

The Devil’s in the Details

Furniture Interior DesignWe’ve all seen it. Two very similar homes – perhaps even side by side on the same street. Walk inside them and what a striking difference. One is ordinary. The other spectacular and special. One makes you yawn. The other is so gorgeous it makes you envious! What accounts for that huge disparity? Trust us – it’s all in the details!

We recently worked with clients purchasing a newly constructed “Spec” home – helping them add details to make the home their own. To clarify, a spec home is built to the “specifications” that a typical buyer might want. There are usually popular “big” features that buyers desire such as walk-in closets, a kitchen island, a fireplace, mudroom or second floor laundry. But these homes usually are “plain vanilla” in the style, materials and finishes categories. A builder isn’t going to go all out upgrading and customizing a home like this since they want to appeal to the widest possible audience. And, of course, they want to keep their costs down for maximum profit. (more…)

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Nov 1, 2012

The Devil Is In The Details

House and Home

We’ve all seen it.  Two very similar homes – perhaps even side by side on the same street.  Walk inside them and what a striking difference.  One is ordinary.  The other spectacular and special.  One makes you yawn.  The other is so gorgeous it makes you envious!  What accounts for that huge disparity?  Trust us -  it’s all in the details!

We recently worked with clients purchasing a newly constructed “Spec” home – helping them add details to make the home their own.  To clarify, a spec home is built to the “specifications” that a typical buyer might want.  There are usually popular “big” features that buyers desire such as walk-in closets, a kitchen island, a fireplace, mudroom or second floor laundry.  But these homes usually are “plain vanilla” in the style, materials and finishes categories.  A builder isn’t going to go all out upgrading and customizing a home like this since they want to appeal to the widest possible audience.  And, of course, they want to keep their costs down for maximum profit.

Here’s an example of a common “Spec home” mentality – the builder of our client’s home told us he spent just “ten minutes” selecting light fixtures for the 3000 square foot house because he “always uses the same ones.” Needless to say, it takes more than ten minutes to pick appropriate, high quality, beautiful items that you’ll want to live with for years.

If you want to make your home a “Wow” rather than a “Snooze”….we recommend really focusing on those details.  Every single item in your home should be viewed as an opportunity!  The key to getting details right is to first figure out the big picture – your overall design goals – and make choices that consistently reflect and support that style.  It’s simple!

What kinds of details can make a huge impact?  For permanent structural items in the home, be sure to carefully consider material details such as wood stains, woods, trim styles, stone and tiles, edging details, railing shapes, door knobs, cabinet doors, hardware, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc…  The choices are endless.  Be sure the choice you make works with your overall style and you won’t go wrong.  And once in a while, be daring!  Push your boundaries a little!  Trust your instinct! You won’t regret it.

Once the major structural elements are in place, the next choices are the furnishings, accessories and window treatments.  These have their own set of small details that can punch up the wow factor.  Designers use things like contrast welting, nail head trim, faux finishes, textural variation, shiny surfaces, tufting, mirrors, paint, complementary colors, custom uph0lstery, trims, wallpapers and more to make each furnished room unique, personal and interesting.

Need an example?  This living room photo is chock full of great details……

Phoebe Howard

Interior designer Phoebe Howard made lots of detail choices… dark stain on floors, light painted walls, two fabrics on the sofa body plus contrast welting, an accent color and organic print for throw pillows, a decorative nail head detail on the ottoman, a shiny silver tray, a geometric patterned carpet, uniformly dark picture frames, an oil rubbed bronze finish on the chandelier and custom shaped railings.  Every item here was carefully considered and it shows!

Need help punching up your home’s details?  It’s a fun and creative process – but can also be overwhelming and time consuming given our busy lives.  That’s what interior designers are for!   This is our specialty and we love doing it!  Give us a shout and let us help you make your home a Wow!

 

 

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Sep 27, 2012

Market Time!

International Home Furnishings Building

Just this morning I noticed the colors changing on the trees!  It’s definitely Fall!  In the design world, it means the Autumn edition of the High Point Furniture Market is almost here.  Held twice per year in October and April, the next “market” will take place October 13-18th in High Point, North Carolina.  Held since 1909, the market is a one stop destination for interior designers and furniture store buyers looking at the latest offerings from home decor companies.   In fact, it’s the largest furniture industry trade show in the entire world, drawing about 75,000 visitors to town that week alone.  There are 180 buildings chock full of wonderful lighting, accessories, art, rugs, and furniture of all kinds.

Highpoint humor

Heading to market is both stimulating and exhausting.  There is so much to see!  For us, it’s a fantastic way to find new sources and manufacturers, guaranteeing that we always order the best for our clients.  Market is also a way to see new product designs and trends.  Some of our favorite decor items come from vendors we learned about in High Point!  Now we do business regularly with Visual Comfort for lighting, Arteriors for accessories, or Phillip Jeffries wallcoverings – just to name a few great High Point finds.

Before you get too excited and try to hop a plane down South, know that the market is open only to the trade.  But you will get your chance to reap the benefits as designers and showrooms will soon have access to the latest wares.  Another way to stay current is to read design magazines as they also send their staff to High Point to cover what’s hot.

This October’s market theme is “Fashion Focus” showing everyone how the fashion industry greatly influences trends in home design.   One trend analyst who attended the Spring 2013 fashion shows in New York, says that looks that appear on the runways trickle down directly to what’s happening in our homes! Katharine and I avidly follow fashion, and we couldn’t agree more!  The word is our homes will see more stripes, florals, denim, the color orange, and “garden party” color and decorating schemes in the coming months.   Just as we express our personalities by how we dress, we do the same through our homes’ decor.   Fashion and interior design share a foundation of color, fabric, construction and shapes that all combine to show our unique sense of self.   I guess that’s why we are so drawn to both fashion and interior design.   And can’t wait for our next trip down to High Point!

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Jun 7, 2012

Bunk House Beauties

Group 8

School is almost out and many of us will soon be sending our kids off to summer camp.  Almost everyone has fond memories a camp’s musty wooden bunk house as a haven for fun, giggles, a few mosquitoes and very little sleep.   Simple cabins do have their rustic charm.  But did you ever wonder how they might look if an interior designer was brought into the mix?  The answer is simple – the group sleeping situation gets kicked up a notch!   Not only is the fun factor increased with creative bed design, but functionality and space planning are also professionally addressed.   If you’ve got children, or summer house guests on the way, a bunk room is a wonderful way to create special accommodations that can comfortably fit the most people in the least amount of space.   Vacation homes, lake side retreats, ski or beach houses and even a bonus room in your primary residence can benefit from the bunk house concept.

Built-in beds are a designer’s secret way of maximizing floor space in a bedroom.  Stacking the beds and going vertical clearly gets a couple extra mattresses into the room.  If you take it a step further and build the bunks right into the space, you can get all sort of added benefits – like bookcases, dressers, little storage nooks, and shallow drawers underneath for bedding.  Plus, built-in bunks just look cool!  Depending on the home’s location, you might want to add distinctive features like rope ladders, or suspended beds, portholes or individual bedside lighting that reflects the woodsy or seaside locale.

Bumper Crop

To give everyone a bit of privacy, you can outfit each bed space with its own curtain to be drawn whenever someone needs a bit of space.  While bunk rooms aren’t necessarily a grown-up’s idea of luxury accommodations, these cozy nooks will still satisfy the child in us all.   There’s something about having an dedicated “sleepover” space that makes time together with family and friends even more special.

Take a look at these amazing bunk rooms.  Makes you want to sign up for summer camp again, doesn’t it?!  Well, an interior designer’s version of summer camp anyway.

Melanie Turner

S.R. Gambrel

 

 

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May 31, 2012

Hidden Assets

Murphy Bed

Life is full of stuff.  You want or need these things in your home for their utility, but you don’t necessarily want to look at them all the time.  Designers are people too – and we certainly understand that innate desire to have – and to hide!  And so many creative design solutions exist for ways to hide stuff around the house while keeping it readily accessible.  Sometimes this means camouflaged storage areas built right into the home’s structure.  And sometimes it means  furnishings that mask storage capabilities while still looking great.  Either way, hidden storage is a win-win.

Sabbe Interior Design

One of the classic hidden design solutions dates all the way back to 1900 when William Murphy patented his Murphy bed design.  Hide a bed?  Quite a challenge, right?  But for the uninitiated, a Murphy bed smoothly flips up vertically into a recess in the wall or into a dedicated wardrobe piece.  When it’s tucked away, no one knows the bed is there and the room’s got plenty of floor space.  When you need a place to sleep,  the bed folds down and the room is transformed.  What’s handy is that the mattress stays fully made, complete with sheets, blankets and pillows.  Just pull it down and you’re ready to snooze.

Sabbe Interior Design

If you think a Murphy bed would solve a space problem in your home, check out the Murphy Bed Company that sells a variety of styles.  We particularly love stylish, modern style Murphy beds that are cool and contemporary.

If the things you’ve got to store are smaller than a bed – and most things are -  there are plenty of other spots in your home where storage can be discretely carved out.  Architects and interior designers are masters at identifying empty cavities behind hollow walls or other underutilized areas.  We’ve all seen the underside of a staircase made functional by built-in bookcases and coat closets.  Cover this same area with flat panels or doors with touch latches, and the wall magically houses the same stuff out of sight.

Drawers in Stairs

One other staircase storage idea you probably never considered is storage inside the steps themselves.  It takes some smart planning and a talented carpenter, but stair risers can actually become drawer fronts that pull out to reveal storage drawers under each individual step.  In a tiny home, those drawers could make all the difference between a cluttered or tidy home.

Virtually any space behind a wall can mask storage space hidden from sight.  Imagine linen closets, medicine cabinets, spice racks, pantries, toiletries all there behind your walls, hidden yet accessible.  Below are some photos of clever storage ideas that we found irresistible.  There’s a kitchen plan that cleverly conceals a whole pantry.  Designers tricked the eye with a chalkboard and cabinet face that appear unmoving rather than hanging yet another standard issue door.

Spice Storage/de Giulio Kitchen Design

Or what about the kitchen with a secret spice alcove right behind the tile back splash?  Wonderful!  And, there’s a bathroom with a wall of pull-out storage tucked behind the tub.  Most unique is this innovative design we saw for a built-in bath tub with paneled surround.  Pull each panel forward and you’re rewarded with all your bath necessities neatly contained in a handy location.

If your home is short on storage space, we challenge you to look around your house and see where you might be able to add it, without flaunting it!

Hidden Pantry Door/Farinelli Construction

 

 

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May 16, 2012

Look Up!

Elizabeth Gordon Studio

Will someone please tell us why walls and floors are the only surfaces that seem to get anyone’s attention?  Our homes have another surface – up above – that doesn’t get its fair share of the design action.  Say hello to the ceiling!   There are many wonderfully interesting ways to adorn this surface and add tons of interest to your room.   If you’re lying on the bed or sofa looking up at a plain flat white overhead view, you just might want to think about some of the following fantastic ideas.

Parlor Steak House/NYC

The ways to embellish a ceiling are actually quite varied.  There are classic structural elements such as coffers, paneling, beams, strapping, wood planks, tin tiles or shaped soffits.  These all are powerful additions because they are three dimensional.  Some, such as exposed beams, are in fact load bearing.  But they can also be added retroactively as a purely decorative element.

MacCaul Turner Design

If these hard treatments are painted white like the surrounding ceiling they will subtly bring depth and dimension to your room.   If they are made of wood – and are stained or left natural – they will provide contrast and texture. Both of which make for a unique space.  Painted in colors, these 3D elements can be boldly dramatic against the surrounding white ceiling.  Shimmer and pattern from tin tiles are also a welcome addition to the right space.

Tara Seawright

 

The other ways of enlivening your ceiling require less expense and commitment but can be no less stunning.  The materials primarily involve either paint or wallpaper.   A ceiling painted a color other than white is unexpected and interesting.  Your color choice will dictate how much impact it has.  Go with a soft shade in a bedroom and the effect is soothing.   A pop of bright color in the right room is whimsical and fun.  You can even go one step further – stripes anyone?   Choosing decorative paint finishes is another route to personality.  Trompe l’oeil is a paint technique giving the illusion of three dimension.  A fresco mural on the ceiling, alla Michelangelo, will catch the attention of anyone who enters – as long as it’s tastefully done and appropriate for the space.  Faux paint finishes are other possibilities that add visual depth and texture to an otherwise flat and mundane surface.

Elizabeth Sullivan Design

Finally, you’d be amazed at the transformation wallpaper can make to a room’s overhead view.  This is not a project we recommend tackling on your own.  A professional wallpaper installer is best suited to handle this tricky application.  But the results are WOW!

We hope we’ve encouraged you to consider upgrading at least one of your plain vanilla ceilings to something with more flavor.   As with most things in design, if you’re creative the possibilities are absolutely endless!

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