Designing For Romance All Year Round
While Valentine’s Day may be long gone and the buzz about Fifty Shades of Grey is calming down (a little), romance is still very much alive and well. There’s no reason not to keep it top of mind all year round. Here are a few easy tips to help you design a romantic bedroom that keeps love in the air.
- Texture and the feel of fabrics and furniture surfaces are essential for a romantic mood. Nothing is sexier than comfort – and comfort doesn’t have to be dull. Indulge in silk or satin sheets, beautiful polished wood, and other textures that feel good to the touch.
- Lighting is the secret ingredient for setting the right mood. Recessed lights that can be dimmed very low to create beautiful ambient lighting can create a nice glow. Don’t be afraid to go “old school” with an array of beautiful scented or unscented candles. (Worried about the actual flame? There are a variety of quality faux candles to choose from these days.) You can place votives on fireplace mantles, within or on a fireplace hearth, or simply around the room on tables, night stands, etc. A single beautiful fixture can also create a source of singular, soft lighting. This Pinterest Board dedicated to Romantic Bedroom Lighting can be a great inspiration!
- Ethnic or period accents are a great way to create a sensual, imaginative setting for romance. Evoking a romantic time or place can be very sexy. For example, scatter a few small oriental rugs and comfy throw pillow around the room. Choose accents and colors than reinforce the place or time period you are evoking. 30′s and 40′s era Hollywood glamour can be easily conjured using reflective surfaces, mirrors, and lacquered furniture. Animal skins and fur optional! Here’s a video with more tips on creating a Hollywood Glamour bedroom design.
- For Feng Shui believers, red is the color of passion and love, and adding this color somewhere within your bedroom is believed to enhance romance. Any shade of red, from deep burgundies and wines, to soft petal pink shades will do. Add a touch of these to walls, bedding or pillows. Just a touch will do – you want to evoke romance, not visions of Pepto-Bismol!
We’ve focused on the bedroom in this post, but for more inspiration, you can visit Romantic Homes and get ideas for the entire home. Keep the romance alive!View Post
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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. (more…)View Post
The Devil’s in the Details
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. (more…)View Post
The Devil Is In The Details
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……
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!
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.
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!View Post
Bunk House Beauties
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.
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.