Saturday, September 10, 2011

Use what you've got decorating.... reimagine, refurbish, repurpose!!

So many times we have something old that we love but it has either "seen better days" or just does not work anymore. Maybe the finish, fabric or color is not to your liking. Maybe it does not serve the same purpose as it used to or does not fit in a new space. Or maybe you find something at a tag sale or thrift shop that speaks to you but now that you have it home you can't figure out what to do with it.

So what if your coffee table has seen better days or does not compliment your new design style. Here is an idea to convert an old cocktail table into a cocktail ottoman.
Simply take foam rubber and attach it to the top of your table using a spray adhesive. Cover the foam rubber with a layer of dacron batting and then cover that with fabric. You can wrap the fabric around the edges of the table and staple it to the bottom side of the table top. For added detail you can trim the sides with decorative nailheads or cord or fringe or braid. If you are more ambitious try tufting using decorative tacks or may have to drill through the table top and foam and fabric to do this.

You can also just start with a piece of masonite or plywood that is cut to the size and shape of your cocktail table. Cover that in the same way and then attach it to the top of the coffee table.

You can use any kind of fabric, leather or vinyl. An old rug or tapestry would be even more interesting. You have created a comfy place to rest your feet. To use as a coffee table you can use a large tray or mirror on which to place accessories or drinks.

If your table is long and narrow you can use it as a bench in a hall, at a dining table or at the foot of a bed. The possibilities are endless!

What "repurposing" projects have you tackled? How did they come out?
Check out one of my favorite blogs that have all kinds of creative repurposed things, I hope it will inspire you just as it has for me.
The photo of the above table/ottoman is from ACP Home


Window Treatments....Windows with a challenge


Architects have a way of designing homes with many styles and shapes of windows. Sometimes they use celestory windows (windows above windows or doors). Sometimes the windows echo the shape of the wall such as a bay window. Sometimes the size and shape of a window itself adds drama and interest such as a Palladian arched window. All this can create a challenge for interior designers. What the heck can we do to "dress" such windows?

Here is one solution for a tall Palladian window in a formal dining room that adds to the elegance and formality. First I hung the panels from the very top. We hung them from medallions but in order to hang them and not see the window in the dip between the medallions, I had an arched cornice made to blend with the wall behind and hung the medallions from the cornice. I trimmed the top with the same accent fabric we used in the living room and the same fringes. By tying the panels back higher up we allowed more view. If you want to minimize the light or view then tie panels back lower on the wall.

Finally for an elegant touch, puddle the panels on the floor. Of course that may not work so well in high traffic areas or with a family with kids and pets. One client said it was her cat's favorite place to take a nap!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Window Treatments.....a team effort

As an interior designer I find that designing custom window treatments is both one of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of my business. Design school does not teach much about the details of designing window treatment. I found seminars and conferences that focused on window treatment were invaluable as well as a good work room and installer. Creating a successful custom window treatment is a careful collaboration. Communication is key.

How do I begin? I use a combination of sketches and photos to help the client visualize how the treatment will look in her home on her windows. We select the fabrics that will compliment her room. Sometimes the type of fabric and price of the fabric can help decide what treatment to choose. For instance, heavier fabrics are better used for certain things like cornices. If price is a consideration, then I find ways to use smaller amounts of it in a creative way.

The next step is careful, very careful measuring. After that I work with closely with my workroom to figure yardage and pricing. Once the proposal is approved then I order the fabrics and trims, write the work orders. I make sure the fabrics are the same as the sample by getting cuttings for approval and attach them to the work order.
What could go wrong? Sometimes the fabric is discontinued, or out of stock. Sometimes it can take weeks. Sometimes it is the fringe that we must wait for and it can tie up production for a long time. Sometimes the fabrics arrive with flaws or get damaged. There can be errors in measuring or estimating the number of yards we need.

So, follow the saying, measure twice and cut once. Check and double check everything and make sure you, your client, your workroom and your installer are all on the same page. Then pray! I always get what I call stage fright before each installation, no matter how simple or how grande.

Window Treatments elegant focal point

A window treatment can enhance a focal point or it can be the focal point. In this room it is both. Window treatments can be formal or informal, tailored and simple or multi-layered and complex. They can help create a certain style or look for your room. They can add color, pattern, elegance and drama. Simply by the design, fabrics and trims you choose you can tie all the elements of your room together. It's magic.
This living room has so many things going for it. It has a high ceiling with a coffered tray that is faux finished to further accent the design. The view to the incredible pool area is the true focal point of the room. The furnishings are beautiful. The old world sofa with ornately carved frame and tapestry of fabrics and trims takes center stage. But without window treatment even all these elements seem to be detached. When we added the swags and jabots with side panels, not only did the room come alive but the view became even more important. The fullness of the fabric in drapery treatment, the attention to detail with the banding and row of double fringe and the puddling of the panels on the floor all work together to make this treatment lucious and elegant.

Completing this installation now sets the stage to add all the important finishing touches like accessories, plants, lighting and art.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ikea Kitchen Installation Begins

So the kitchen installation did not begin as scheduled last week because of contractor delays but it got off to a great start yesterday. By today I think almost all 174 boxes of cabinet parts have been assembled and installed. The installation company that is affiliated with Ikea has been great. Now there are the little details like hardware and filler strips and toekicks left to do.
Don't you love the blue accents? Not to worry that is just a protective paper used to cover the high gloss white cabinets. And what about the pendant lighting? Ha! Those are just the high hat housings that the electrician has to leave open for inspection.

You would think that would just about complete the kitchen but anyone who has ever tackled this project will tell you there is ever so much more. The appliances are a biggie. We have a wall oven going under a cook top and the wall oven is in place but not hooked up. So all the other appliances will be installed by our contractor including the beautiful stainless steel hood.
The day after tomorrow the fabricators will make a template for our quartz countertop....also purchased through Ikea. Once the countertop is installed then our fabulous white fractured glass back splash will go in behind the hood all the way to the ceiling. It will be spectacular!

Tomorrow the electrician will finish the lighting and then the electrical work must pass inspection. Yes there is still a long way to go!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ikea Kitchen Project.....Delivery Day

Bottom line the delivery did get done on Monday but not as scheduled. Our project is located in a high rise so we had to reserve the elevator, which we did for 10 - 1. We had it written all over the delivery form but when they called to confirm, they said 10-2. I corrected them but on Monday the delivery actually did not occur until almost 3 pm. I have made friends with the condo office staff, who are very accommodating. We got the elevator reservation extended so in the end we were just fine....all 174 boxes plus all the appliances! We are ready for the big day.
Oh, and did I mention, the cell phone reception in the building is spotty which added a bit of drama to the situation. Everytime we would try to check on the delivery the service would cut out. Luckily the view from the condo is absolutely spectacular so we had that to take our mind off the delivery delay.
Wednesday the installation, or should I say the assembling begins. We are having some other issues to deal with like permits. So far it has just caused some indigestion and architect and permit fees but we are going with the flow. The contractor is wonderful and he is doing his best to get the kitchen ready for the installation.

Today I ordered some incredible fractured glass tile for the backsplash. It is going to be very elegant.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ikea Kitchen .....Step Two

My client, who is my Co - PM, Co-project manager, and I spent a few hours with an Ikea kitchen consultant at their local store. You can actually go to their website and design your kitchen yourself, if you dare. Luckily we had already spent time laying out a design plan so our time with the Ikea designer went well. Still it took several hours. But when we were done we had a plan and a print out of what the kitchen would look like from various angles as well as a list and a price!

Of course the price is for the unassembled cabinets only. Add to that installation and countertops and the inserts for the cabinets and drawers and hardware, and appliances.

Ikea has an installation company that also offers great services, like measuring, picking and more. Our next step was to meet with their consultant on site to measure. She was wonderful and so knowledgeable. We tweaked our design to fit with the measurements of what Ikea carries. Next, I returned to the store one more time to make the changes in the kitchen design on the computer with the in-store consultant.

We opted for the installation company's "picking" and valet service. Picking means they will meet you at the store and go through your list to make sure everything you need is "picked" from the warehouse and ready to deliver. Valet service means they will guide you through selecting the inserts for the drawers and cabinets. But it is really so much more. We had 2 people working with us to help the whole process go smoothly, and it did! The only snag was that our cooktop was out of stock, but since it is due in on Wednesday, we will pick it up and bring it with us.

We proceeded to checkout, paid for everything and went to set up delievery and that was that. Delivery is set for Monday morning! Installation will start on Wednesday and finish on Friday.

I will keep you posted.....pun intended!

Ikea Kitchen Project

Who would think that after my last 8 hour experience at Ikea that I would undertake doing a kitchen through Ikea. But let me tell you so far, so good. They really do have a system to help you.

Here are three kitchens I saw recently at our local Ikea store. Surprisingly, they really did impress me. I love the red kitchen. It really makes a WOW statement. The white kitchen makes it's own wow statement too, crisp, clean, and elegant.

I am embarking on a new project using an Ikea kitchen and will update you on how it is going.

This could be the fastest kitchen I have ever done!

Woolly Pockets hanging garden resource

I have discovered a resource for the kind of hanging garden wall pockets can be obtained through a website called . For those of you interested in more info or even growing a vertical garden this will show you how.
I believe this is the planting system used in the Living Wall Hanging Garden I saw at the local West Palm Beach Red Cross Showcase House that I blogged about earlier.

If you do give it a try, I would love to see photos. Good luck.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Decorating with pink - It's not always too feminine

I have seen alot of articles and feature stories lately about decorating with pink. Apparently it is one of the "new" colors. This of course tickles me....or tickles me pink because I love pink. Pink is a color that is calming but it more vibrant shade like fuscia it can be exciting and fun.

The feminine is mostly associated with pink. In fact last Christmas I was debating to buy my son a pink dress shirt and it was a real struggle. However pink is a flattering color to wear whether male or female. There was a poster in the men's department that showed a guy in a pink shirt and he looked very handsome. So I bought the shirt and my son actually does wear it!

I degressed a bit. When I was looking at some of the photos of rooms that were done in pink this one stood out. This masterbedroom does not look all prissy and pink at all. This design is understated elegance, simple, comfortable, inviting. I say it is neither masculine or femine. The elements of design are such that the room would have a universal appeal. Balancing the pink with a neutral taupe and muting the pink to a soft tone makes this room hard to resist.

So, for designers who are trying to please a client who is crazy for pink but is nervous that her husband would be horrified to have a pink bedroom, here is one way to solve the challenge. Real men do wear pink and sleep in pink rooms!

Living Wall Hanging Garden

The Red Cross Showcase House I talked about in my prior post had many fabulous elements. Perhaps the most fascinating was not actually in the house but in the garden by the pool. I could call it a hanging garden but it was really a work of art. The wall was planted with various plants in many colors of leaves and flowers. It was so artistically created it was like an abstract painting.

The play of color and texture created an unbelieveably beautiful pattern. I had to walk right up to it and look close to see if my eyes were playing a trick on me. Yes, they were tiny plants in all their glory. If you look at the wall you will see it is draped with fabric that has tiny pockets. Each pocket has a little soil into which each little plant is inserted. What a delightful surprise.

So for anyone who wishes they could have a garden but have no place to put one, now you do!
I am hoping to find more about hanging garden walls on line. I would love to know if you have ever planted a garden like this or have information about them to share.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Red Cross Designer Showcase House

This weekend I had the opportunity to view our local showcase house. Showcase houses are so much fun. Of course it is a wonderful way to see what other designers are doing as well as get ideas that I can apply to projects or for others can use in their own homes. This house was inspiring. Though there were some rooms that did not quite measure up for one reason or another, for the most part I really loved it. I think because the rooms that were incredible were really incredible.
My favorite was the living room. This was a 2 story room which in itself is a challenge. The pictures I took do not do it justice. The fireplace wall was hung with round antique mirrors from
Africa surrounded by tin ceiling tiles all antiqued to blend with the aged mirrors. The curved shutters that flanked the entrance to the room were so amazing. I have never seen them before. This room was not large but the designer used dark colors on the walls but a brilliant citron fabric on the sofa. Even with the lofty ceiling the room felt intimate. The pattern play on the drapery, pillows and floor lamps is just wonderful.
Tall antique painted wood doors and carvings hung over the sofa add to the drama of the ceiling height. Antique accents give character and personalize a space. They lend a "acquired" feeling to an otherwise brand new room.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

So, your husband wants you to become a decorator!

Yesterday I saw a segment on a morning show about turning a hobby into a business. One woman said she enjoyed helping her friends decorate their homes and also loved decorating her own home. Her husband said, "You are so good at decorating, why don't you start a business?" I must say that is frequently how some women embark on their decorating career.

Whether you are a man or woman this is a business that springs from a passion. But I had to laugh. After being in the profession for over 30 years it is not a simple matter to just become a decorator.....for profit. It is in deed a business and it comes with it's share of stress as well as joy. Oh sure there are days of hanging out in beautiful showrooms, wrapping ourselves is luxurious fabrics, running our hands over incredible furniture, and digging around in antique shops. We sketch and visualize and root out the best resources to help make our ideas come to life. But there is also alot of lifting, lugging, climbing, and moving. There are days I feel like a "bag lady", toting bags of fabrics and samples to and fro. I honestly do not know how my dear shoulders can bear up. There are tedious scheduling, coordinating duties, supervising and micro-managing. And let's not forget the nailbiting and indigestion, and my personal favorite...bookkeeping. Sometimes I can be found cleaning, vacuuming, ironing and polishing so that everything looks perfect when my client arrives for the big reveal.

The reward, however, is totally worth it. We decorators can literally make dreams come true. We get to create a home that a real live person or family will enjoy coming home to for years to come. If we design a commercial space it may have a profound effect on large numbers of people too. One of my favorite experiences is returning to the home of a client years after the project is completed and seeing how wonderful everything looks. The memory of all the time and energy team, my client and myself and partners spent to achieve our goal comes flooding back. How many designers spend as much or more time in their clients home than their own? How many hours do we spend with our clients and their families? We become friends. It is quite an incredible business. So to anyone looking to turn their passion for design into a business, welcome to our crazy-amazing world.

Ralph Lauren Powder Room

What are these baskets doing in a blog about a powder room? They are our inspiration. Or rather they express the feeling that we want to have in our new project.

Yes, it's another bathroom project. This time it is a powder room and it is the 4th bathroom we are doing for our client. This is another collaboration with Ellie from Caimano Interiors. Our client has given us some great ideas about what she likes, including Ralph Lauren. What is not to like about Ralph Lauren? But we need to create a feeling that has a bit of a Florida touch.....or as we say not too northern. So far we have a color scheme and an inspiration. I will keep you the job progresses.

We are just at the very beginning. Our next step is to decide if we want wallpaper or a faux finish. Faux finishing allows us to get the exact color we want and the exact look we are going for but we will explore both options.
But who knows where we will end up. Sometimes we just have to go with the flow and see where we end up. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hip and Fresh Designs from Across the Pond

There is a new showroom at DCOTA called Andrew Martin. It is so exciting and fresh. Their designs are new and eclectic....but wait....I can also say some of their furnishings have a recycled or reclaimed feeling. I tried to get some background information on the company and was directed to which was great but only showcased the line of furniture, fabrics, accessories etc. It did not tell me much about the company itself. My efforts at research did find that the company has an international presence with stores in many countries. The Andrew Martin Interior Design Review is the interior design world's bible and the Andrew Martin International Designer of the Year Awards are like the Oscars of the interiors world. I did have a chance to see some incredible interiors designed by Andrew Martin designers and others that use their line for their projects. Many celebrities' homes are filled with Andrew Martin.

But what attracts me to the line is the total "new" feeling I get when I go into their showroom. There was a chair that was made from beaded fabric, walls in tin roofing, images of The Beatles, sofas covered in handwoven rugs, mixed with chrome and stainless steel and glass and reclaimed wood. Fabrics from prints to wovens to silks are also part of their line.

As designer I am always delighted to see something new in the world of design. But I can say not everything at Andrew Martin is new....or is it? Or is it the way they combine the old and new. It is very hard for me to put into words. You just gotta see it yourself.

You know it is not simply the specific pieces of furniture or accessories that give a room style, but the way they are used, combined with others or repurposed with a twist. That is what makes this line so ab fab......absolutely fabulous. Check them out! Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

DCOTA Beauty, Elegance and Inspiration

As a member of the design community in South Florida, The Design Center of the Americas, otherwise known as DCOTA is a major resource for just about everything I need to take my design projects from inspiration to installation.

There are showrooms for many manufacturers of furniture, fabrics, lighting, flooring, art and accessories, stone, kitchens and baths, window treatment et al. The resources are from all over the world. There are 3 buildings of 4 floors each. It can be overwhelming, (not to mention exhausting) not just for my clients but even sometimes for me!

Yesterday I attended their Winter Market. There were presentations in showrooms, keynote programs and even a gala opening of the new showcase house based on The Golden Age of Hollywood. We even went to High Tea in the new exciting Andrew Martin showroom. It is so much fun to participate in these events with my designer friends. By the end of the day our heads are literally swimming with new ideas, inspirations and resources. It is a great way to stay current on the upcoming trends and new introductions to the lines the showrooms carry.