Sunday, July 25, 2010

Granite, it's all natural

Choosing granite for a counter top can be very tricky. If your counter is small, like a vanity, a remnant is the way to go.

If you need more material then you will need to select full slabs. What? When you go to a showroom they will have small samples to show you but many times they are old and from slabs that are not available. Also many marbles and granites have a lot of variation and you need to see the whole slab. Some are very dramatic and have a lot of "movement" or large strong pattern. Some will have areas you do not like and many times the fabricator can work around that. Others may have flaws. It is really important to inspect every slab you are going to use.

Looking at slabs for me is great fun. It never ceases to amaze me that these slabs are cut out of the side of a mountain somewhere in the world. It is Mother Nature in her glory. When you go, bring anything that will help you make a good decision....they might even be an interior designer, a friend who has experience with choosing a counter top ....but also a drawer or door or sample of your cabinet finish, sample of your wallpaper or floor tile or even a photo from a magazine of your inspiration room. Can't bring samples? Take a photo.

Where to go? Ask your contractor or get a referral to a fabricator. Don't have one? Stop in several marble and granite showrooms and they will refer you to one. Go prepared not just with your samples but many times these granite yards are outside.....if you are wearing sunglasses....take them off when you look at the slabs so you can see the true colors. I like to bring water to drink...or sometimes they have bottled water for you to drink. Not only can it be hot but dusty.......and don't wear black, like I sometimes do, because the dust gets all over you!

Have fun! I would love to know your slab selecting stories and send photos of the end results.

Decorating with pets

I just finished vacuuming cat hair....floors, furniture, window can be anywhere. Cats, more than dogs, hang out in the tiniest of spaces where I would never think to look for fur, like window sills and sliding glass door track. We had dogs for 30 years and have recently acquired a cat, a long haired cat at that. Living in Florida we have our air conditioning on all the time. My how her fur loves to fly. Even when I just pet her it floats through the air like it had little feather wings. And what does that mean? I must have cat fur on every surface of my home. Do I dare put on my glasses and see the truth?

So this brings me to bring up the subject of decorating with pets....that does not mean using fabrics and wall paper with little puppies and kittens. Of course I am referring to how having a pet or pets can influence your decorating. There are lots of things to consider, not the least of which is fur. What kind of fur? What color of fur? Have a white cat or dog? ...don't get a navy or black sofa, rug or floor. No polished black marble or black lacquer for you! The same could be said for black fur shedding creatures and white surfaces.

I have often had clients who caution.....don't forget my furniture needs to be pet friendly. That could mean practical and easy to clean or no loose weaves that might get caught in little claws. It could mean using window treatments that can be raised up so a curious pet can look out the window or door. Or using a vertical treatment so the sliding door can be drawn open slightly so the door can open slightly to let a furry friend go outside. And, watch out for the cord operating systems that could get tangled in a frisky pet.

Got delicate porcelain figurines or personal treasures that are fragile? Best to keep them off the surfaces where kitties are prone to tip-toeing. I think the situations are as diverse as the personalities of our pets. One thing is certain, if we have pets they are part of our family and will definitely have an impact on how we design our home.

Designing for our pampered pets

Creating a fun environment for a beloved pet is a great "pet project".

I remember seeing a laundry room in a showcase house that was actually turned into a dog room. Dog dishes, dog beds, dog crate and places to store dog food and leashes, a place to give doggy baths or to groom your dog. I am going to assume that this was not a laundry room that saw much laundry being done but the idea was great.

Cat lovers might like to have a little kitty room too where they can hide the litter box or provide interesting climbing condos and scratching boards so they don't ruin your upholstered furniture. (See the "city scape" room above, or should I say "kitty scape".) Most of us don't have the luxury of having a space that can be totally dedicated to our pet but I have heard of people who have turned a spare bedroom into a haven for their pets.

The room in the photo was designed for a kitty play area for a San Diego designer showcase house.

Don't forget that dogs, in particular, may also spend time in their crates. These less than attractive items can also be large space invaders. I have been thinking of creative ways to incorporate them into a home's decor. My partner Ellie and I have come up with some great ideas. We were also selected by Pierre Deux to be in a design contest for a new pet product. We designed the most amazing convertible sofa bed....a recamier.... which is a fancy word to describe a type of French lounging sofa. There are many pet beds on the market. Some elegant canopied creations fit for a princess, a furry princess. Many are very basic cushions that come in the basic colors and fabrics. As a designer I think if a pet has a bed or a crate in a beautifully decorated home, then they should be part of the design too. I am wondering if there is a market for that? We could incorporate the fabrics and color schemes and make these items accent the decor instead of detracting from it. They would be customized to not only compliment the colors of the interior but also the style, formal, informal, contemporary or classic, coastal or country, urban or shabby chic. The possibilities are endless. This fun to think about.

I found some unique pet crates and cat beds on line...see above pics. Look how fun and attractive these pet accessories can be.
How have your pets influenced your decorating? What design challenges are you faced with as a result of having a furry friend in your family? Of course there are lots of kinds of animals besides the typical feline or canine and they can have an impact too. Suppose you have a pot bellied pig, monkey or ferret, or something a bit more creepy crawly? I hope you will share your solutions and challenges with me and my "bleaders" (blog-readers). Photos of cool pet beds and crates courtesy of