Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Powder room.......change of plans

Ok, this is how things can change. After searching for wallpaper that had the perfect raspberry/fucia color that would compliment the orchid sink, we seemed to only find papers that had creamy or beige backgrounds. This created a situation. Our beloved sink only comes in white. So now we either have to find other papers or, perish the thought, abandon the orchid sink and perfect bamboo inspired faucet set. We are not exactly back to square one but I believe if we decide on one of the wallpapers we found , then we will need to select another sink and faucet.

Alas, this is the way it goes sometimes. Rest assured the powder room is still going to be sensational!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Redesigning a powder room .....wallpaper

With photos of the orchid sink and bamboo faucet/spout set in hand, Ellie and I set off for DCOTA. That is our local design center. It is 3 buildings of 4 floors each full of design showrooms. National and international manufacturers of every imaginable home furnishing are shown there. Fabrics, furniture, lighting, flooring, accessories and more. One showroom is more incredible than the next. It can be overwhelming. For sure it is exhausting. We wear "sensible" shoes and bring rolling carriers for our samples and files. Yes it is fun but it is still work. Designers spend countless hours going from showroom to showroom....we know what we are embarking on....we need to eat a hardy breakfast....and at least some strong coffee to keep us up to speed. So off we go.

Ellie and I split up to cover more territory. We confer by cell phone and meet up here and there to see what each other has found. The showroom I assume is going to have the best selection proves almost fruitless. I am disappointed. What happens to me sometimes is that I have an idea of what I think will be the perfect thing ( in this case wallpaper) but find it is elusive. Does it exist somewhere? I will search till I find it or change my mind. But I do not give up easily.

However, what I have learned is to keep an open mind because sometimes I discover something that is even better than my original idea.

What we did discover is that fuscia is a hard color to find in wallpaper. Of course we can custom but usually that requires a larger minimum than what we will need. However one showroom carried a line that did have some papers with fuscia. What I was looking for was neither too repitious of the orchid pattern or too busy which would take away from the sink. I had in mind a "silk" or grasscloth background with perhaps a design printed on top....or a scenic pattern or a different type of trellis pattern or butterflies, lotus leaves, bamboo, ....I think you get the picture. Since the sink style we like only comes in white we also need the paper to have white....not off white. We liked the idea of polished chrome with the sink as well, so that will influence the paper too. Did we find it? We found quite a few but we are not finished with our research yet.

When the paper is decided upon I will design the vanity accordingly. I have an idea already about what the hardware might be too. We will need to select a toilet, towel bars, a mirror, lighting and accessories. The floor will be a continuation of the marble floors we are installing in the main areas of the home so that will keep it simple. Keep it simple? Is that possible? There is so much to think about, even in a powder room!

I interested to know what any of my readers have done in their own or their client's powder rooms. What did you use as inspiration? Did you go for the drama or keep it understated? Did you dress it up? Did you make it fun or whimsical? Did it have a theme? It would be great if you would post a comment . I would love to hear from you!

Redesigning a powder room

Inspirations are everywhere. Have you ever seen something and thought, I would love to design a room around this?

Here is what I call a waterfall faucet. It looks like an interpretation of a piece of bamboo sliced to allow water to cascade into a bowl.
In this case a bowl of orchids.

I have embarked on a new project....0r should I say we, because I am partnering on this job with another design firm. Ellie and I have done many projects together. Design jobs frequently require more brainpower and manhours than one person can offer. She is extremely experienced in managing projects both large and small. Hooray for Ellie!

Our new endeavor is a powder room redesign. We will be gutting it and starting over. We need inspiration. We work closely with our clients so we all went on our first scouting trip together to see what would create a spark that would give us direction. There are so many choices. The first thing is to limit those choices by making a few decisions. Sometimes when that first design decision is made the rest falls into place.....sometimes it is not so easy.
Our client had remembered seeing a handpainted sink last year when we were working on another bathroom with her. Since handpainted sinks are more limited than wallpaper we decided to start with the sink and see how that would influence the rest of the room. To our amazment we found the sink in person at the 3rd showroom we visited (Although we had seen it in a catalogue it is even better to see it in person, if possible.) It is what I would call simple elegance. The design is a single stem of orchids in a fabulous fuscia color.
My mind was going in a few directions.....we could create a spa-like feel, an Asian inspired design or even a tropical garden motif. We could get dramatic with a burst of color on the walls or we could keep it light and airy, clean and simple. This is going to be fun. Powderooms are like foyers. They are a place you can do something dramatic. Because you spend little time there, they are not rooms you will get tired of easily.
I visioned a faucet with a spout like a waterfall....but not too contemporary....and the salesperson at the showroom guided us to the perfect one. It is shaped like bamboo. The spout looks like a stalk of bamboo that is cut on an angle that allows the water to cascade into the sink. It comes in lots of finishes too. I can't believe we are so lucky to find this so early in our research.

Now my vision is coming into focus. As I share this with Ellie and our client we talk about the possibilities and agree this could be the direction we want to go. Next stop.......wallpaper.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Day in a Life of a Designer

Sometimes I think there is some mystique about what designers do so I thought I would share what my typical day might involve.

It began with sketching some design revisions for a custom vanity and faxing it to my client for her consideration. Then I faxed a proposal for furniture to another client for her approval. Next off I went to meet another client and my partner for our first scouting trip. Our new project is a powder room, marble floors and more. (Follow this project in future blog.)

We went to several showrooms and amazingly we found our inspiration. We were off to a great start.

After coffee and lunch at Dunkin Donuts...we ate in the car (this is a typical designer working lunch)....we frequently do not have time to for a leisurely meal.....too much to do and too little time. We stopped at the marble vendor and found several options....loaded them into my car...who needs a work out? We made our way to a wonderful new plumbing showroom and found just the perfect thing. It was almost like we were on HGTV. We were so lucky.

After dropping off my client and partner I returned to the office. I re-faxed the sketches and a floorplan. Made some phone calls and then went to a client's office to pick up a check to take to a showroom to place an order and schedule delivery. Of course there is always motto. One item the client wanted was on the floor at the showroom so I loaded it into my car to deliver it myself. SUV's do come in handy.

This was really a typical day. Designers run run run. We consult, discuss, research, shop, pick up, deliver, fax and phone. Sometimes we live in our cars. But we also create. We get to work with incredible fabrics, materials, furnishings and more. At the end of the day I am exhausted but very happy to be doing what I am doing and very grateful for the clients who hire me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ikea Experience

Well, I have just had my very first Ikea experience. For those of you familiar with Ikea you probably can identify with that statement. Ikea is not just a store it is a destination...a total experience.

One of my current clients is furnishing a new office. Ikea offers some great solutions to accomplish this. Their style is clean, sleek, modern and hip. Luckily my client had already had several Ikea experiences so she was my guide. We followed the arrows on the floor to the areas that had what we needed. We debated and disussed. We found lots of great furniture. There were so many options. We wrote lists of parts and components. Then we took a break. It was time to eat.

Eating at Ikea is also a fun experience because most of the food is Swedish inspired! Even the soda. It was great. Swedish meatbals, almond cake, pear soda. They also had wraps and salads and mac and cheese!

We took the time to go over our choices and make some decisions. I did a layout to scale to see what would go where and then off we went again. After reviewing our selections it was time to go down stairs to the accessory department. OMG What fun. After another hour and 2 shopping carts later we were ready to approach the warehouse. Yes, warehouse. That is where you find that each and every component to the furniture has a row and shelf where it is located. You must get a cart ....flat bed cart....and then load boxes on top of boxes. We needed HELP! Luckily a very helpful Ikea-man was there to save the day. He located many of the things on our lists and filled the first extended cart full of boxes, we found some more. By the time we were done we had 5 carts full!

One thing my client had concern about was that everything would be in stock and...guess what.... it wasn't but it was due in that night somewhere between 1 am and 5 am and would be available the next morning.

We sprinted through check out in about 15 minutes and then it was on to the delivery desk to set up delivery.....for another 45 minutes.

My first Ikea experience ended just 8 short hours after it began. How can that be? Well, you have to go to Ikea to have your own experience.

Yes I did go back the next morning and basically zipped through the warehouse, check out and delivery desk. I celebrated with a tour through their little grocery market called Ikea Food, purchasing a few treats.

What's my take on Ikea as a resource? I think it is great. The look is great. The prices are great. Delivery is great. And they assemble...yes everything is KD or Knock Down and has to be put together. There is a service separate from the store that you can contact to assemble which is helpful. If you are decorating on a budget or even just want to add some fun modern touches Ikea provides alot of possibililties.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Window Treatment

Dazed and Confused in PBG asks,

I am in the process of updating the masterbath in my 12 year old house. I plan to have the cabinets refinished and to frame in the mirrors. There is one large window in the bathroom, which currently has 2" wood slat blinds. They are white and do nothing for the room. My husband and I are always at odds because I like light and he likes privacy. I was considering a plantation shutter since I could open up the top part of the shutter and leave the bottom closed. Do you have any other suggestions? The room really needs something to bring it all together and I am not sure the plantation shutter would do a thing to help that.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Window treatment

Dear Dazed and Confused,

There are so many window treatment options out there. It certainly can be confusing. While shutters are lovely they will still look much like blinds. My suggestion is a Silhouette, by Hunter Douglas. They are very functional. When the louvers are open there is a sheer fabric to soften the view and give semi-privacy. Close the louvers and you have total privacy or raise the shade and the view is totally open. There are some other new products on the market that might also be excellent solutions to your situation as well. There is a showroom in your area where you can see the products I am referring to. The best way to know what will work for you is to see an actual working sample.

Happy Decorating,

Photo: Hunter Douglas Photo Gallery

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Wow, I just bought a new decorating magazine. It was a skinny thing but seemed full of ideas. I popped it in my grocery basket. Boy was I shocked to find out it was $10! The magazine is about Flea Market finds which is always a fun way to decorate. It could give me some inspiration or even motivation to make over something a client may already have in her/his home.....repurpose, if you will.

So this brings me to a confession......I hoard my decorating magazines. I don't think I am the only one. I have piles of them. I am so reluctant to part with a single one. There could be the perfect resource, idea, photo or article that I might need at some time in the future. So, you say, why don't I just cut out the things that I think I will need? Well, yes I do that from time to time when I am urged to purge. But then I end up with a pile of now comes the organizational part. Just make files according to subject and file away. Doesn't that make sense? I will do that some day when I am home with a cold or when I am waiting for the cable guy or something.

But for now I do have a comforting pile or two or three of design magazines. So maybe I can justify my recent $10 purchase if I cut myself some slack. It is not my obsession but my security blanket, right? What can be wrong with that?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Support group

I'm just getting into the blogging world. There are so many blogs. I am going to try to follow some that focus on interior design and decorating. Anyone out there have some recommendations?

Being an independent designer can be isolating, so keeping in touch with other designers is like a life line......for resources, solutions and just sharing common experiences. In fact my friend Lucille founded a group of designers here in South Florida called Designing Women (men are welcome too but none have joined....yet.) We are open to sharing ideas and sources with each other. Many designers covet their sources etc but we are different. We can't wait to let our fellow members know what we know or cry on each others shoulders. Thanks Lucille!

For me one reason for entering the blogging world is to expand the way The Designing Women work.....for networking and support. I am hoping other designers will find this blog a way to be connected. I know I am looking forward to hearing from everyone.

This is going to be fun

So many thoughts, ideas, tips and experiences are going through my head. How do I keep everything organized? Do I keep a notebook by my side at all times? A recording device? How do writers do this?

I am finding starting a blog to be as energizing as beginning a new design project. It's hard to stop my mind from being consumed by ideas and inspirations and questions.

So I guess I should focus on first things first. I owe a big THANK YOU to my talented friend, Victoria ( who happens to be my son's girlfriend) whose patience and skills helped me launch my blog. We had talked about websites but my son, Tim, said, Mom you need a blog. It is less complicated, cheaper and you can do it yourself......well, maybe. I can't thank Victoria enough for her guidance and expertise. (You can visit one of her successful blogs,

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dear Decorator: Color schemes

How can I choose a color scheme? I like some of the colors schemes I see in other peoples homes, models and magazines but how do I know I would want to live with them in my own home?

There are many ways to begin: art, fabric, rug or photo in a magazine, bouquet of flowers etc. but sometimes inspiration is just a closet away. Go to your closet. What colors do you see? Mostly neutrals? Start there. Choose one neutral, beige, black, white, gray, cream or maybe taupe. Pair it with another color you like to wear, one that makes you feel good. Then add a splash of another color, perhaps a brighter or stronger color as an accent. You can add color in patterned fabrics, art, paint or accessories. The choices are endless.

Happy Decorating,

Photo: House Beautiful

Friday, March 5, 2010

Welcome to My Blog

I'm looking forward to sharing interior decorating dreams and schemes with you. I hope to be a resource for design information and inspiration. I'd love to hear about your own adventures in interior decorating.