Designing is great fun. But the key to completing the circle that starts with an idea in response to a need (or not) is having that design come to fruition. I am grateful  for having a great team of detailed design fabricators who make my dreams come true.  And they spoil me. I think many designers will say the same thing. What starts on a cocktail napkin,  torn piece of flimsy trace off a roll, a sheet of graph paper or more formally, working drawings, takes shape with the collaboration of designer and fabricators who are not just fabricators, but invaluable contributors to the finished products’ construction and design details. These are the seamstresses, upholsterers, carpenters, iron-workers and all manner of construction trades who bring these creations to fruition!

Several years ago we had a client who was daring in her desire to have a super modern loft. Her history of traditional furnishings and up-bringing was well in place in Washington state, but this opportunity to have a second home, an urban loft, made way for her exercising the juices that offered a new alternative lifestyle and a new “look.”

One of the many key pieces in this fabulous space turned out to be the cornerstone of a new custom collection that we fondly call PATRICIAN DESIGN’S  “Hammered Home.”

As I planned the pieces for this fun and hip urban interior, I designed painted pieces, modern tonsus,  a Nelson inspired coffee table, red and raw steel glass-topped dining table base, a new take on a drop-leaf desk and colorful mixed media end-table/chests all custom fabricated by my team, but I wanted something more, something that gave rich, detail and dimension, interest and art and this new line of custom furniture was born. The first piece, a nightstand/end table for a dual-purposed guest room/study combined clean-lined wood with steel.  So with a quick sketch of the dimensions and form, my desire to have metal legs suspending it off the floor, metal accents but not severe – I thought, hammered?

The wood tone was to be a more milk chocolate than mahogany but tight-grained and true medium  brown. The floors were an existing light engineered material and this brown contrasted nicely.

The next opportunity to introduce this combo theme of our “Hammered Home” design came with a young family’s need for a media armoire in the “family” room. Several years ago when “espresso” hit the design scene for the new trend for modern furniture, everyone  from Target to Pottery Barn to Robb & Stuckey filled their inventory with the dark coffee bean wood finish.  As a designer, I recognized the value of the trend and wanted to accept it, but take it a step further for these very smart and successful, yuppy clients.

In previous blogs, I have clearly stated that all trends are not created equal. some are passing fancies of color combinations that soon become dated or design elements that don’t leave a significant mark to pass the test of time. But the dark chocolate/coffee color enriched that which had so often been blond, light woods and cherry/cinnamon tones of recent popularity and contributed a valid alternate stain theme for wood furniture. The media armoire for a young family’s “family” room, was clean-lined and new. The bling was industrial enough not to be glitzy, but just enough silver-grey metallic to contrast against the dark wood.

The next version of this “Hammered Home” collection came in front of a stacked sandstone wall of bone white, creamy cream, a hint of gold and a tinge of iron rust. We picked the darker rust tone to contrast against the otherwise soft light stone wall colors – the rusty hue suggested a cinnamon colored alder – stain magic! This pair of low profile media cabinets housed all the components and an incredible bundle of wires streaming into the back of the cabinet from all points of the house – and it’s called wi-fi? Really? Due to the color scheme, we decided that a copper metal panel would really meld with the cinnamon-stain of the alder. So we took it a step further to enhance the copper, knock it down a bit and highlight the texture with a blackened rub that nestles into the hollows and allows the bas relief to shine. It is a warm, rich, dimensional textural wonderfulness.

So when a very fun client called last fall wanting a surprise for his wife – nightstands perhaps? I laughed because my husband often says that he’s getting me storm windows for a Valentine’s Day gift…funny – every girl’s dream!! But nightstands are at least in the realm of dreamland!!! So knowing the room and its existing color scheme, I decided upon a satin black with the same hammered blackened copper panels. The combination of the black and blackened copper was sensational. The style was more transitional than the previous clean-lined pieces – but it goes to show that this hammered metal design theme can transcend the styles…

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We LOVE working with this client as he knows that he either has an idea (a new nightstand) that we can create or he calls and asks – what can we create for the next event? Whether birthday, anniversary, Christmas, or Valentine’s Day – we have provided locally hand-loomed textiles wraps, wild embroidery throws, magnificent oil paintings, locally hand-crafted jewelry and more! How fun for him to know that each present is custom and unique, supports local artists and will be a treasure forever. Plus he doesn’t have to shop!!!!!

So we delivered our surprise cabinet last week on Valentine’s Tuesday, I stopped at a quickie store and bought some simple heart stickers – not much larger than a postage stamp, I stuck one in the drawer and one on the shelf of the lower cabinet and thought that whenever she opened this cabinet she will remember that it was her Valentine’s surprise!!! We had a key, took the cabinet to their bedroom, removed the old nightstand, replaced it with the new one…Voila! She came home to a really neat surprise!!! And might there be a matching one in the works?? We can’t say.

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Custom fun – support local artists and make your dreams come true!!!!!

We staged a house this week.  We TRANSFORMED IT! Wonderful clients for several years, who I regard as friends too, called to say they were moving out-of-state and they needed to quickly  get their house ready for sale. So many things that we had planned to do and more, deferred due to life getting in the way, all of a sudden got put on the fast-track to get finished in less than a month!

When you think of staging a house for sale, you might think of a fall scene scented with stove-top cinnamon sticks warming in a pan. In the spring, as it is now, fresh flowers with floral fragrances wafting on breezes through open windows and doorways.  We had the floral bouquets – just a couple – as centerpieces in the dining room and another game table in the family room.

But in order to really make this house attractive to the prospective buyers – millennials and their families – experience tells me that we needed to install profound punctuations of exciting  new trendy finishes and colors.

I critiqued the kitchen for its old but good-as-new solid surface countertops with a dated, tell-tale sandwich of speckled forest green in between the bull-nosed edge of solid white. The cabinets were plain slab birch yellowed by time, with hand-crafted wooden handles. To place the emphasis where we would get the most “bang for the buck,” we kept the countertops, refinished the cabinets and added new mosaic tile and paint accents. 20160424_162546

A few years earlier, we had stripped adjacent identical cabinets in the dining area and re-finished them with multiple clear-coats of conversion varnish. In place of the two-screwed wooden handles, we installed three small conical-shaped  brushed stainless pulls. By adding the third holes at each, between the existing two of the wooden pulls, the detail looked intentional and contributed to a modernized interpretation of the cabinet design.  We now finished the kitchen cabinets to match which had been  slated for the same improvements, but put on the back-burned until now. P1140111

The end wall of the kitchen, with a large pass-through opening into the dining room, leaving no significant wall space for art or other accessorizing, was the perfect element for a dramatic, eye-catching full-wall treatment. A mosaic of horizontal glass tiles in earthen blacks and beiges balanced the warm cabinets and maple flooring with a strength, pattern, interest and glossy bling.  The same mosaic tile wrapped the room filling the back-splash  between countertops and upper cabinets. 20160424_162701

Outside we painted the garage doors, wall sconce and patio trim with a new organic neutral mushroom green shade. The landscaping was enhanced with new river rock and a couple of large ceramic planters were placed by the front entry with mature plants creating a sense of establishment. The plain concrete entry porch was tiled with a dark earthy porcelain continuing up the step and into the entry foyer replacing the burnt  orange tile that had been  neglected from the decades old original finishes. 20160424_164027

Additional planters were purchased to scatter about – but a more effective idea to have a strong showing of them at the end of the pool anchored that setting with a stunning blue ceramic colonnade bursting forth with brilliant contrasting yellow Celtic Broom. Massing things can often create more powerful statements rather than sparse, weak distributions of the same.

The master bedroom suite had been remodeled a couple of years prior. Pre-fabricated white melamine closet components were replaced with custom fabricated birch closets and cabinetry to continue the theme of the original cabinets in the main level of the home. Updated granite countertops, new lighting and mosaic tiles jazzed the dressing scene and brought order for the young parents running this busy family.

Staging a home requires thinking about clearing the clutter and dressing the scene. But beyond that, looking at more powerful elements to repair and update can make an enormous difference in the appeal to potential buyers. This was evidenced by the comments that we overheard specifically about the more dramatic installations like the new mosaic wall, welcoming entry tile and effective row of blue patio planters that we decided to employ really clinched the deal.