Friday, December 27, 2013

Getting to know the incredible Lillian August

One of our local trade showrooms, Designer's Resource Center,  hosted an evening with Lillian August.  If you don't know this amazing woman I invite you to go to her website and become familiar not just Lillian but her design firm, her furniture lines and more.

Lilian August in her design studio.

I discovered that like Kathryn Ireland, Lillian came from a background in textiles and sewing.  She was originally a quiltmaker.  At one market the people from Imperial Wallcoverings approached her to design a wallpaper in a quilt pattern. It turned out to be their best seller!  She has come a long long way since then.

In this image from her website you see her classic style furniture
but with an updated edge.
The room setting above is very neutral, but neutral does not mean boring, especially when you  see how Lillian August works with it. She takes a simple pallet and brings in a variation of textures, subtle pattern, a touch of history, a bit of nature and pretty accessories. This space is elegant without being formal.  Hers is a layered look. She calls this telling a story.

Here's an image from her company's portfolio of the Clapboard Hill Home.
How is this for telling a story?  What an interesting collection of furniture and accessories. It makes me feel like I would like to get to know more about the people who live here. It seems to truly express their personalities. What starts out as neutral becomes exciting with the splash of paprika on the sofa and the accessories in the bookcases.  Look how the time worn texture of the cocktail table takes the edge off the white upholstery.

 Lillian is challenged with coming up with something new in her furniture, fabric and accessory lines each season. She told us we must learn to differentiate ourselves.  She cautions designers, we are only as good as our research.  Lillian often likes to start with color trends and stories. Color in design is influenced by fashion so Lillian keeps an eye on fashion trends as she begins to cultivate her color story. Travel is also an inspiration.  Even finishes and metals can change from season to season. Now gold is edging out silver, chrome and polished steel.

It is important to keep things fresh. Perhaps it is a new finish or new detail added to something that was part of her line before.  Maybe she takes something and tweaks it like putting a chest on a stand or using a natural Belgian linen on her upholstery. She even combines the linen with leather.  Here is  her Ally dining chair in two different looks.  It is her top selling dining chair.

This is the Nicole chair. I believe it is the one she calls her "pet"
because you can use it anywhere and in so many fabrics.

Lillian says chairs give the room personality!

You can see from just these two sofas her line varies tremendously.  Here a traditional black and white sofa gets a makeover with careful attention to the use of fabrics and detail.  The orange sofa takes traditional tufting to a new level.  What a dramatic statement it makes!

Interestingly Lillian manufactures her furniture both overseas and in the United States.  Products made overseas are only available as you see them while manufacturing in the US allows customization and flexiblity.

For many years I identified the Lillian August style with traditional and even Country French design but over the last few years her style has evolved and keeps pace with our ever changing world.  I do think she "keeps it fresh" as she says.  Even her more traditional collection is updated and even edgy depending on the use of fabrics and finishes.

The cerused oak finish on this cocktail table is accented with an additional metal detail.

A wing chair gets a streamlined makeover.

Lillian August gives us so many looks to choose from.  She describes them as follows, 1920's Glamour,
London Townhouse, International Lux Style, True Blue Hallmark, American Glamous, The Power of Plum, The Well-Traveled Man, Urban Neutrals and Black and White with a Twist.  You can see all her latest introductions on her website, 

Lillian joined in our group photo seated in her favorite "pet" chair.
My designer friends Lucille of Gianna Designs and Vicki of Infinity Designs and myself were so delighted to get to know this design icon as she presented her current line to us at Designer's Resource Center.  It is always an advantage to be able to see and sit in the furniture lines we recommend to our clients.  Her furniture is even more impressive in person.

Are you familiar with Lillian August?  Have you ever purchased her furniture?  What do you think of a layered style of decorating?  One layer often over looked  is fragrance.  How adding that finishing touch should be the subject for another post don't you think? How does your interior tell your story?

As always I invite you to share your ideas and experiences in the comment box below.  I would enjoy hearing from you .

                                Happy Decorating!

If you would like assistance with an interior design project, please contact me directly at

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Meeting Thom Filicia at DCOTA Fall Market

Guess who I met  at the Fall Market at The Design Center of the Americas in Dania Beach, Florida?  He was the Interior Designer on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, apprenticed at the legendary design firm Parish-Hadley, and graduated from Syracuse University. Now has his own line of fabrics and furniture and has authored a new book called "American Beauty, Renovating and Decorating a Beloved Retreat."  Yes, Thom Filicia, himself took part in the keynote panel discussion and signed books (and took photos) at a reception afterward at the Kravet.

The keynote panel with Thom Filicia and Campion Platt 
(sorry for the fuzzy photo)
One of the topics the panel discussed was how the internet is changing the business of interior design.  With all the various resources on line clients have access to more than ever before.  That said, it is not just about being able to purchase, our job is to create the design and bring it all together.  Being able to go to sites like or gives clients and designers a great way to start a dialogue. Then the designer takes over and and does what they do best, bring it all to life.

They also talked about the "democratization" of design, meaning with so many resources in all price points, an interior today can be sourced in so many ways that was not available before.  Bringing together a mix of high end and lower end, retail and custom, humble and refined, gives a modern approachable and liveable design.
Thom with my business partner, Ellie and me in the Kravet showroom.

We all purchased his new book.  He was charming and delighted to chat with us.
Ellie told Thom about the new design project in the owner's lounge in her condo that will be done in all his furniture and fabrics.  He was so excited! I can't wait to see how it turns out.  It will be beautiful. He told us he wants to come see it when it is installed!

His book looks fabulous.  I can't wait to read it.

Here is a glimpse inside the cover.  He wrote this fun autograph to me inside, too.

Doesn't he look like he is just so comfortable and about to invite you in for coffee?
The house he wrote about in his book is located near where he spent his childhood.

The Fall Market at DCOTA is an annual event where designers can attend seminars and listen to panels of celebrities discuss current trends in design.  They have terrific speakers, luncheons and receptions all day long.  I always come home exhausted with my mind on design overload.

Isn't this one of the most creative floral arrangements you have seen?
It greeted us at the reception desk when we arrived.

Our first presentation was at the Jeffrey Michaels showroom.  The topic was wallpaper and here 
are two I just loved.

This looks like a ceramic tile mosaic but, no it is actually wallpaper!
They had a the whole wall behind the reception desk papered in it.  What a dramatic statement!

This wallpaper is made out of grass but is certainly "not your grandmother's grasscloth".
Here is a twist on a sunburst mirror...oval.
I love the bold red wall and draperies with black and white striped lining.

Does this look like your typical outdoor fabric?

Next I went to Century Furniture for an update on what is new in outdoor furniture.  I took this photo of a fabric that was passed around.  It was so soft and draped so well I could not believe it was outdoor fabric.
They also showed us a product they called outdoor leather!  The great thing about these outdoor fabrics is that they are just as wonderful inside, too. They are practical for high use and families. So much has been done to improve the "hand" as we call the feeling of the fabrics.  It was inspiring.

As I stolled through the hallways I always like to check out the little display windows. I noticed these unusual fabrics.  They all have a textured pattern, like they have been stitched on to the top of the background fabric. The edges are loose giving the design even more interest.

The pattern on this fabric had a felted look.  So different and interesting.
It had an artisan handcrafted design.

At the Kravet showroom they showed this hounds tooth gray and white sectional with brightly colored orange pillows.
I like the mix of geometric, solid and floral (shown above).  You can see the grays do not match exactly.
Not matching perfectly is one way to make your room look like it was put together over a long period of time.
How do you feel about not matching every color?  Do you like the more relaxed feeling that creates?  When the colors do not match I think an interior looks less decorated...meaning that it was not orchestrated.  The end result is more natural and less forced.  What is your style, to match or not to match, that is the question.

The last keynote presentation was done by the design team of Hellman and Chang.

Hellman Chang are designers and manufacturers of incredible modern furniture such as this cocktail table.
Often done in a darker wood like walnut, this stunning table is in white lacquer.
This dining table is one of their signature designs and is available in console tables and accent tables too.
One of the things Hellman and Chang spoke about was how they love working in wood because wood "tells a story".  It has an organic and a romantic value. Their work is like sculpture!

I managed to squeeze in one more seminar presented by Sherwin Williams on the color red, which happens to be one of my most favorite colors.  I am making a note to write about that in a post all on it's own.

This spectacular Italian chest is one of many shown at the Decorative Crafts showroom.
They also carry incredible lighting, mirrors and more.
I wound down the day at the Decorative Crafts showroom with a glass of champagne and a book signing by  Claudia Strasser.  Claudia offers tours of The Paris Flea Markets!  They are the most fantastic places to find all kinds of antiques and treasures.  Stay tuned for more on Paris Flea Markets too.

the paris apartment book

Paris Flea Market Style
These are two of Claudia's books.  I know I will be wanting to do some
 Flea Marketing in Paris after I read them!
It can be overwhelming even for interiors designers to spend such an incredible day. Days like this always leave me wanting more.  It's a passion, you might say.  What are you passionate about in decorating and design?  What makes your head swim or keeps you up at night?

Whew, this post covered a lot of topics.  As always I invite you to express your ideas and experiences on any of these subjects in the comment box below.  I look forward to hearing from you.

                                     Happy Decorating!

If you are planning a decorating project in your home and would like some assistance you may contact me directly at

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The art of quilting on bedspreads and beyond.

The other day I brought some fabrics to my quilting workroom.  We are having it quilted for  bedspreads for a project.  The owner of the workroom, Jay, has been in business 36 years and that is all he does, quilt.  He will tell you himself, it is his passion.  I showed him a photo of a recent installation I completed with my partner, Ellie Caimano from Caimano Interiors.  Most of the time he would never see the completed project.  Jay outline quilted a sea shell fabric and also fabricated the fitted spread and shams for a pair of twin beds in a beach front grandchildren's bedroom.

The project we are working on now is contemporary. At first we were not going to quilt the fabric but then when we talked to the client he said he would prefer it.  The fabric for the master bedroom is a geometric and Jay is going to outline quilt it. Which means he picks out a pattern in the fabric and follows it with the stitching.  We will use just a 4 ounce dacron fill so the spread is not too puffy or heavy.

The other bedspread will be a special design that will quilt little circles in the center of each sunburst.
It is going to look fabulous!   I won't finish this post until I can take photos of the finished product.

Here are a few interesting quilt patterns.  These I refer to as "machine" quilt which means they are standard patterns and can be done on plain or patterned fabrics but the stitching does not follow the outline of the pattern. The stitching is in a regulated design.

This is a beautiful machine quilt pattern.  I have never seen it before, have you?

This is a basic "channel" quilt design.
A channel quilt pattern is simple and looks great on a patterned or plain fabric.  It is tailored and works well in contemporary or traditional style interiors. This one is done on a fabric called moire which has a water mark design woven into it.

"Squares" is very popular and simple.
This design is perfect for the checked fabric seen here but would work on other geometric, floral, solid or patterned fabrics. You can see what dimension just a simple square quilting can give.

Here is another geometric style. Do you like it? I think it is a variation of a hexagon. It almost looks like the fabric is shirred, but I think it is just the way this fabric reacted to the quilting.

This design is called "Ivy".
Ivy is a such a pretty style.  I think it might be difficult to use it on a patterned fabric because it is so patterned itself. So I would keep the fabric plain and let this design stand on it's own. One way to make it more interesting might be to use contrasting thread.  White would be soft but blue might be fun....or orange...whatever color would go with the colors of the room.  Wouldn't this be pretty done on white fabric with black stitching?  I will post a photo if I can find one but if not close your eyes and imagine it!

This pretty yellow quilt has contrasting stitching in blue just as I was imagining.

Here is the reverse of that quilt and just as pretty.  

Vermicelli has always been a favorite of mine.  It is a little playful.  This photo is close up but when you see it on a whole bedspread it becomes almost a lacey texture.

Clouds is a very common design. It has been popular for years. You might have had it on one of your own bedspreads.  Here you see it on a pink and white dotted fabric.  Below is "Clouds" on a colorful print. It looks totally different.

Can you see the "Clouds"?  Amazing!
Jay is a master at figuring out what machine quilt pattern would work best when done on a print such as this.  It looks even more beautiful in a person. I can only imagine the entire bedspread.

Outline quilting is perfect for this fun print.
Outline quilting is definitely more labor concentrated and is usually more expensive.  But it certainly makes a big difference for these parrots!

There are a few things to keep in mind when having your fabric quilted. One is that quilting "takes up" fabric so you might need extra yardage.  The other is the amount of fill you use.  A standard light weight fill would be 4 ounces, but for a puffier softer feel, use 8 ounces.  If you are making a comforter then you might want to increase the fill to 12 ounces. Don't forget to think about the weight of the bedspread. An 8 ounce filled king spread might be quite heavy especially if the fabric is not light weight.  I always check with my client to see if they have a preference.

Here Jay shows how each 4 ounce layer can be multiplied for extra fluffiness.
 I call it the Fluff Factor.

The dacron comes in gigantic rolls.   I wanted to jump on it and see how soft it was.
Whether the trend is to quilt or not to quilt, I believe there will always be a market for soft fluffy bedding.
Quilting  on decorative fabrics can also be found on upholstered furniture.  There are even fabrics that are manufactured already quilted like these that have small repetitive designs. They are frequently used for upholstry or bedding.

 I have seen a sofa where the seats are quilted and the frame is in unquilted fabric.  For a dramatic look try hanging a quilted panel on the wall above a bed or simply upholster a wall with a quilted fabric.  Now that would be dramatic.
Look  at these  beautiful contemporary pieces.  The quilting gives a extra dimension and pattern to each of them.  As you can see quilting is not just for bedspreads any more.

I promised I would include the photos of the custom quilting that inspired this blog in the first place.

Here is the first fabric I brought to the quilter, unquilted.

Here is the finished bedspread.

This close up shows the accent pillows with contrast trim,
contrast trim on the shams and the over scaled neckroll pillow.

You can really see how the pattern in the fabric stands out when it is outline quilted. 

The quilting on this fabric is very subtle.  You can't really see it in this photos.

Can you see a bit of quilting? Look closely.  The center of every other circle has a small circle in it.

The little circles are a little closer and easier to spot.
As you can see quilting is just one more way to add detail to your decorating.  What is your favorite quilt pattern?  What do you think about quilted fabrics on furniture?  Can you think of other places you would want to use a quilted fabric?

As always I invite you to share your answers to these questions and other ideas and decorating experiences in the comment box below.  After you write your comment it will be sent to me before it is published, so you may not see it right away.

Are you thinking about a design project and don't know where to start?  If you need some assistance with decorating your home feel free to email me at  Our full service interior design team is available for consultation or complete interiors.