Like bears coming out of hibernation, people start to stretch and yawn and look around and ask me “What can I do to refresh my interior for spring?” It’s similar to the fall preparation for hunkering down for the winter…”What can I do to cozy-up my house?” as the leaves drop and a chill wafts through the air.20170301_084712

Spring is the season for re-birth and starting fresh. Fresh – what does that suggest? This year we are very fortunate that Pantone set forth the color direction for the entire year – greenery. I have great enthusiasm for incorporating this bright verdant living color throughout the seasons – yes, a color for all seasons – but we are not limited to green in its various forms. I give you permission to add color that makes you feel good. Pick your favorite color…any color!

Now let’s get to that question about “What can I do to refresh my interior for spring?.” Here are 10 tips to change your world and bring joy as spring approaches.

  1. Color POP: Speaking of your favorite color…”paint magic” as its often referred is the practically instantaneous positive reinforcement that you need to make a quick, effective change in your interior! Pick an accent wall – preferably one that is framed by inside corners (rather than stopping a color on an outside corner) and take the leap of painting it an entirely different color than your norm. 20170301_085601 Bear in mind other color cues in the room so as not to create a discord of color or completion between your design elements – but don’t be afraid either. The idea is a pleasing POP! and an extra pointer, if your room is already painted a decisive color, white can be the accent. Yes, white can be an intentional color accent and not the lack of color that it can often seem to be.
  2. Live Plants and Flowers: Spring suggests flowers and greenery – to watch them grow toward the warm weather, bulbs inside can be fun, bouquets of your favorite flowers, sprigs of greenery in a small vase can even be enough. red_tulips_spring_decor-16A bud vase on your bathroom sink counter, a statement piece at your entry or coffee table, a flowering plant with young buds to last a few weeks, a fern to add feathery freshness. – any and all of these can add life to your interior spaces.  If you have flowering trees or bushes outside, this is the time to cut a few branches and bring them inside, place in a vase with water and the warmth of your interior will “force” the buds to bloom – Voila!
  3. Reupholster to Refresh: Do you have a tired piece of furniture that might deserve a new fabric? A favorite comfy chair, a hand-me-down of sentimental value, a good frame (bones) that can be salvaged to new with a change of printed fabric, leather, or woven textile. This furniture facelift is just the trick to give new life to older pieces.20170301_084752

4. Change It Up: When you move things around and rearrange your furniture, artwork              and accessories you will be surprised how you can refresh without adding anything                new. Take a look at your furniture arrange. Can the same pieces be rearranged in the              same room and create a new look?? Might you move one piece out to another room or            bring in a different piece from some other room?

5. Pillows to Toss: Throw pillows…throw them out! Well, I exaggerate a bit, but cycle                them into a bag in the closet for another time or place or “recovery” and find some fun        new pillows to brighten and refresh your interior. What an effective change a few                    colorful pillows can make in a room!20170301_084945

    6. Add Art: DIY or find something to cheer you! Dressing your walls with new work can              lift your  spirits! 20170301_152224

  1. Fresh Fragrances: Like Votive’s Pink Mimosa or Skeem’s Current Mangosteen scented candles, or Vance Kittera incense will add a dimension of sensory appreciation to refresh the stale, stagnant air of winter.votivo-czwxdsjwwaahpr_1
  2. Wipe and Dry: New dishtowels are a great and simple boost to change seasons! Find some fresh and uplifting colors to brighten your kitchen and make wiping up more fun! They make a great gift too!
  3. Stash Your Throw: What’s that afghan on your sofa or that blanket on your bed? Switch out the dark colors of winter with fresh new accents to add color and cuddle in too!
  4. Get Tidy: Marie Kondo has written books about it- she knows the “life-changing magic” that getting organized and tidy can do for you! 20170301_085323Spring cleaning is a great therapy and introspective look at the things you own, how much you have and what is clutter beyond your ability to enjoy it all.

 

Short days and longs nights…Do you find that your interior is dull, lifeless and even feels a bit cavernous after dark? As the sun  sets and the lamps come on, the effects can be horrible, adequate or sensational.

Poor lighting can have remarkable subliminal effects on mood, energy, and attitude. The subtle signs of poor lighting such as dark corners, shadows on faces, difficulty reading and dull colors are all important factors that contribute to an uncomfortable interior in these short days of long, dark nights.

Lighting has multiple reasons for being—three primary ones—to see, yes, ambient light. But to do tasks (reading, sewing, playing games), and accent lighting to illuminate artwork and other interior features. Mood lighting such as candlelight (once the primary light source – now an effect in most cases) is a lesser but effective  lighting tool.  Good lighting makes amazing differences.

Beware of down-lights. Lights that shine down from the ceiling. Although a very effective and common lighting tool, they must be balanced with good ambient light.  I have often used this example of sitting in a restaurant across from your date and their face is painted with ghoulish dark shadows under their eyes, beneath their nose, and accentuating all the folds of their features. It is the opposite of a kid putting a flashlight under their chin shining upward creating similarly haunting effects. Creepy. Certainly not flattering.

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The same unpleasant effects happen in the home. It’s such a common malady of ineffective lighting that most people assume it is a necessary evil of short days. It’s sad—no, really it’s SAD—Seasonal Affective Disorder! To treat the serious effects of this syndrome there are many studies and inventive solutions, but for most of us, the less arresting effects of poor lighting can be greatly improved and our lives enhanced.

To begin this process of evaluating your lighting an improving it right away, start with the lamps—the light bulbs! We have so many choices these days including the familiar incandescent, compact fluorescent, and the newer LED with excellent color choices and low energy usage.  We could talk about the “temperature” of light sources measured in Kelvin, but we won’t—only that it runs a spectrum of warm to cool.

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Walk around your home and look specifically at the color that glows from the various light sources. Does it look yellow? Does it look white? Does it look blue-ish? Recognizing these distinctions from warm to cool is the start.

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Where are the shadows? Are the corners dark and recessive? And, when you combine these two, do you find, for example, dark areas and yellow glowing sources? Sometimes that soft, warm yellow is preferred while other scenes are made more intentionally crisp with cooler light.

Experiment with different lamps in your fixtures – light bulbs in your table lamps and recessed cans, hallway sconces and bathroom fixtures. It’s a fun experiment and very illuminating – yes, the pun was intended.

Are your lamp shades opaque or translucent? Do the shades themselves cast a color? Do they block the light or allow it through? Do they throw the light up and down or up, down and out? This is another detail of which to take note.

If you have dated recessed fluorescent tube units – common in kitchens for example – they are often housed in a box either recessed or surface-mounted on the ceiling. Take a look at the plastic lenses – are they discolored and yellow? This aging process can dramatically affect the quality of light that is emitted. So if you are not ready to replace these fixtures with more effective modern lighting statements, try replacing the lenses.

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A similar installation is that of skylights which have fluorescent lamps up inside the wells with that same plastic lens over the opening to the skylight. The original idea was to have the natural light pass through during the day and artificial light take over after hours. The lens  was to intentionally conceal the unattractive fluorescent tubes, but it sacrificed the depth of the framed well. A quick update is to remove the lenses and fluorescents and expose the well of the skylight adding dimension to the room and eliminating the unattractive lens that conceals the dimensional cavity. Recessed can fixtures around the skylight in the surrounding ceiling are the most common solution to this transition from old to new, a cable can be strung, pendants can be hung, but if budget constraints prohibit that investment at this time, you might investigate the power source up inside the skylight well and replace the fluorescent fixture with an inexpensive, adjustable, surface-mounted spotlight – perhaps with two heads to provide light from that same source while opening the skylight well without the unnecessary lens.

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The dark pockets around your rooms can be improved with up-lights in corners and up under plants. Inexpensive fixtures are available at any lighting store or big box home improvement stores. Place one of these up-lights (remember to select the color “temperature” that pleases you the most) and see what that additional pop in the corner does to open your space. When up-lights are used beneath plants to shoot upward and cast shadows onto the walls and ceilings can create drama and exotic interest at night. This is true both indoors and out.

Torchiere floor lamps are those that face upward. Like a torch, they send the light toward the ceiling – another effective splash of light in an otherwise dark space in the room.

Colors are radically affected by the color of light that shines upon them. Therefore, an interior color scheme can be horribly tweaked to not resemble at all the actual colors chosen and combined to create the scene, when artificially illuminated after dark. Contrarily, colors can be rendered with great brilliance and accuracy when illuminated with the right combination of lighting. (although daylight contributes in these two examples).

By the same token we can have great fun and “paint” with light creating a color scheme entirely with colored lamps washing the walls, and interior elements just for the art and exercise of doing so, but I digress.

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In summary, look around your rooms after dark and look for opportunities to make changes that will dramatically affect the comfort level – the results will be startling!!! If planning new construction or remodel – have plenty of light in key places throughout the space. Think dimmers so you can control the amount of light. Let there be light in this Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ta Da! Pantone announces its color of the year for the coming 2017…drum roll please…and the color is Greenery!! Yay!!! Last year there were two  – yes, imagine that – they couldn’t decide so they slurried Rose Quartz and Serenity resulting in a pale, cool, wimpy blend of soft rose and lavenderesque shades into a blended wispy pastel dream. Non-committal, in my opinion…lacking confidence.  Last year the rationale was stated by Pantone’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman as…

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But this year they have it with this fresh organic hue in a yellow-ish shade primed for this year’s rationale from Ms. Eiseman which is:

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I have always loved green. I grew up in a Virginia jungle of a suburban neighborhood inside the Beltway surrounding my hometown of Washington DC. where the first signs of spring were the tiny tips of dogwood leaves poking forth from the delicate branches of those beautiful under-growth trees. The dogwoods were the graceful, human-scale layer beneath the towering canopy of the immense, rigid, vertical tulip poplar and white oak trees that commanded the woods.

Soft mosses, lacey ferns and perky lily of the valley carpeted the hidden pockets of our backyard. New growth is that prediction of amazing renewal and promise of the start of summer. So it is a prime observation that as Eiseman states in her 2017 rationale “greenery…bursts forth…with a reassurance we yearn for…” although I do not feel this is peculiar to this year as winter always makes me yearn for greenery and the reassurance  that spring and summer will return.

My mother also loved green and that probably influenced my childhood perception of comfort and context of it in interior design. She had and still has an eye for color. In 1959 she selected an amazing sculpted wool pile carpet in a warm, dark, neutral, taupe tone and built upon it a color scheme of pinks and greens that was subtle and relaxing, organic and contrasting, blending beautifully in our wooded setting of verdant lushness in which we were cozily situated.

That was upstairs where we felt like we lived in a flowering tree house amidst the dense collection of green leafy between the trees and surrounded by all shades of pink and white azaleas. Downstairs, where we retreated in the winter months, her greens were mixed with gold tones creating a warm interpretation of the greenery around us.

When so many in that era, between the 60s and 70s, were styling interiors with heavy oranges, browns and golds,

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my mother gravitated toward Lily Pulitzer’s fresh, tropical palette of lime green and hot pinks, clean crisp turquoise and citrusy lemon yellow – both in her wardrobe and her interior accent colors.

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Our beach house was turquoise and teal, navy and tan – the sea and the sand.

Following color trends is a slippery slope. I have blogged about it in the past. Adopting that which is often a combination of colors instantly records a place in time when everything from bath towels and shower curtains, bed dressings to draperies appears in the marketplace and inserts its predetermined obsolescent combinations into the lives of so many who would rather catch the wave – often behind the crest – to own and participate in what is conveyed by the market to be the “in” thing to do and to have.

It is best not to embrace and adopt the combinations that the market presents. It is better to select color and combinations that transcend the trends – skirt them so as not to fall into the trap of dated color schemes and tired combinations. Some avoid the trap by staying neutral. The safe, timeless colors of whites and grays mushrooms and taupes- but where is the risk and fun in that?

“Too bad for them” I often remark. It is such a missed opportunity…a limitation to select colors that you think you are supposed to like rather than those that truly bring you joy. I say “go for joy every time.” Color is such personality. It is a stage-setting element. It is a backdrop or foreground. It is a theme. It is an atmosphere.

With all that having been said, I for one am thrilled with this fresh selection for the new year. A bright beginning full of hope and new growth, fresh starts and positive forward movement – organic and life-affirming. So seek the colors that brings you joy and go forth with color in this new 2017 soon to arrive. My personal schemes will always have greenery!!!

Fun with PERF!

December 3, 2016

Currently finishing a project that has provided a great theme for incorporating metal, it seemed a worthy blog subject for it’s fun and flexibility! Perf is the product – a perforated steel that comes in several percentages of perforation.

We have used this many times for rolling window shades in a flexible coated nylon material. It is great for filtering for sunlight and privacy while allowing a certain amount of “see-through.” It has been used as an architectural screening material for years. You have probably seen it and not realized it on building storefronts and bus wraps – the perforated vinyl coatings are often used for advertisement because they read as though a solid from the one side and are transparent from within.

Here we are playing around with the steel to create cool elements that compliment the theme of this new taproom. The theme is silver and what material does bring to mind? Metallic. So by dressing raw steel with paint – we apply the silver finish and there we have it!

The required outside patio fencing was constructed with very generic square stock. I called it a hamster cage. It was a bland beige when we first arrived and, without notice, the shopping center management had it and the other structural columns lining the canopy/portico painted chocolate brown.

The plan had been to screen it with perforated panels. The darker paint color created a little better contrast and aided in providing a depth of detail to set-off the silver painted perf.

Inside we needed to fill the volume of this most uninteresting dropped ceiling. Already painted black and looking quite voluminous – but not in a good way – the empty space needed some mass. So in one of those restless, middle-of-the-night design sessions of insomnia the idea to create large drums for lighting shades came to mind.

Drums have been in vogue for several years now. Nothing original from the initial use for table lamp shades except their use was broadened to include suspended fixtures and halved for wall sconces. You’ve seen them – hip and happening – and these were quite over-sized and carried the space.

We needed to fill the void of the 12′ high ceilings in this room that had little or no comfort. All hard surfaces, it was a challenge to maintain the silver theme and edginess of a popular taproom while creating comfort. Seemed an oxymoron of a task. But the mass of the perforated drums in three different sizes grouped in the near center of the room did just that.

The addition of multiple warm white lamps inside will be the crowning touch. (photo to be added here in a week or so)

Then a third use of the perforated material came in the idea for a room-divider/hostess station.

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We needed a place to create a point of arrival. Whether manned or unmanned, this unit can have a chalkboard or other signage identifying special events or beer tastings, with a podium in front creates a translucent backdrop to partially cordon off the rest of the space until the customers are greeted and it also can divide the space for special events and table groupings. to accomplish all of those various purposes we designed it with heavy duty commercial casters complete with brakes so that it could be moved easily for its grand height and weight and  placed where needed for the best advantage.

Stay tuned for the complete un-veiling of this cool new interior in the coming weeks. And meanwhile dream of all the fun you can have with perf!

 

Fe Fi Fo Finishes

June 4, 2016

I have resisted faux wood porcelain tile, without good reason, just for the sake of installing something new. I have believed that it is great for a Long John Silver’s fast-food place attempting to convey the look of a wharf, fish shack etc…it is also good for a grocery store produce department – again, trying to depict a grower’s market with barn-wood floors while all the time being easy to maintain and virtually indestructible. But for a home (unless it too needs to be indestructible), chic restaurant, office lobby – I find it way too cold and faux. wood grained porcelian tile generic

Furthering the disdain for the material is poor specification and poor installation. Having grout joints accentuate the tile making even less believable than it already is – is the worst.

But as usual, if you wait long enough the trend will either fizzle or bloom and bloom it has- check out these really fun porcelain pieces of plank in colors – yes colors on purpose to exaggerate the idea!!! Now this is a trend with which I could have a little fun!!! 20160604_075109_resized

The first generation of the faux wood porcelain planks took themselves too seriously and so did the designers who used them (except in the smart applications aforementioned and perhaps an ultra contemporary beach house desiring an ease of maintenance flooring material). Not to mention, they were not the finest examples. But with all embracing this trend and using it everywhere – walls, floors etc…I found myself in boxes of cold wood-like tile – fun? I think not. wood-grain-porcelain-tile-floor-wall-bathroom-atlas-concorde-etic

The evolution of the product has advanced its aesthetic and applications. Inserting shocking contrasts weathered-wood-look-porcelain-tile-kitchen-floor-abk of grain and color just for the sake of design. Yay!!

So yesterday we had an all-day continuing education marathon. It was comprised of several independent  courses on a variety of interesting subjects well delivered by entertaining and informed speakers, a trade show of great design sources, a lovely lunch, and finishing with a festive cocktail hour. During the course of cruising the trade show along all the vendors’ displays, I stopped at a familiar one presenting tile of all manner – including wood-grained porcelains. I engaged in conversation with one of the reps and specifically about the tired over-use of this trend. We were in perfect harmony regarding our agreement on this subject.  While there I did admit a straying from the natural integrity of the materials that I generally embrace when recently I specified a vinyl wood flooring material in a residential application. This particular installation was prompted by the desire to have the look of wood flooring but with the resilience, durability and soft cushion that this unusual product offered. We had wet area conditions right off the pool area where traffic patterns to the restroom and kitchen were constantly traveled by adults, kids and dogs. The pliable product installed with a tight tongue and groove detailing and the remarkably beautiful faux wood-grained finish had great color, texture and dimension. To further belie the true content of the material, we placed stunning hand-knotted wool rugs on top of it making it more believable to the eye of the beholder. We have successfully fooled everyone to date while offering a water and dog toenail impervious, super easy to maintain floor!!!

So there is a time and place for nearly everything…just don’t settle because the trend is set-forth. Take each material and make decisions for the right materials in the right places – and never shy away from having a little fun!!! modern-porcelain-floor-tile-uonuon-14-ora-italiana-1

 

By total coincidence but perfectly timed for the segue from the  last couple of  week’s topics,  we attended a couple’s cocktails and canvas painting party last week.  Artistic expression and the fear of taking the leap has been facilitated by these social gatherings centered around painting and wine. You’ve heard of them, if not yet participated in one. This clever pairing has taken the country by storm. The model is to have an instructor teach a group of friends to copy a pre-selected subject and create their own interpretation on a canvas all the while losing inhibition by imbibing in a glass of wine or cocktail. Actually multiple glasses of wine and cocktails! The more the merrier! P1140371 - Copy

And merry it is. It’s fun and freeing. It’s creativity within boundaries but with enough encouragement and pretty much lack of judgment to produce some very successful finished products.  And this is where we found ourselves last Sunday afternoon. Operative word there, we. P1140384

Yes, I had attended several of these fun-filled events in the past – all women – always entertaining. But this was quite different as it was designed to be couples – husbands painting right alongside their more willing spouses were encouraged to let loose and copy the sunflowers.

Unlike other like-kinds of parties that I had attended, this gal started off each person’s canvas with a faint charcoal-transfer outline of the preliminary placement of the centers of the sunflowers. This was intended to get everyone started on the right track but also said loud and clear – this is what we are painting and deviating from the plan, changing the format or grouping was not encouraged. P1140376

That said, it was just fine that we all pursued the same clutch of gorgeously impressionistic floral explosions with bold brush strokes and colorful blotches of paint tying it all together for a happy theme. Most if not all of the men and perhaps a couple of the women had never tried their hand at painting. This might have been the first attempt at artistic expression that they had ever experienced. I know that was true for my husband!

The setting was fabulous in a private dining room of our local Greek restaurant with brilliant sunlight streaming in through the entire wall of west-facing windows illuminating large format photos of Grecian isles, ancient structures, classic white buildings with cascading brilliant pink bougainvillea set against the piercing blue sky and surrounding sea. A big screen TV mounted high in the far corner featured the very muddy Preakness followed by the Blues and San Jose dashing about on the ice. P1140374

But the attention soon turned to the canvases in front of each budding artist. Primed with cocktails, we donned aprons, selected our seats and set to work in front of our table-top easels. The paints are acrylic, water-based – easy to apply and also to clean-up during or after the session. . As the first splotches of color were applied, the comments began to fly around the room. From whining about how difficult it was to complaints about the blossoming results, the room became animated with commentary. P1140386

People began getting up and viewing others’ progress. Compliments and comparisons were a flurry as the instructor made her way around the room aiding those in duress and adding touches here and there. It was hysterical. Everyone was having a blast, creating their own interpretation of the offered subject and seeing it take shape before their very eyes by their very own hand and all the while amidst lively conversation and milling about the room. Seeing the finished products all so similar yet each very different is the marvel of this exercise.

One enthusiastic participant went out into the dining room and requested participation from restaurant patrons in the way of their leaving their tables and coming into the gallery of all of our redundant sunflowers and voting for their favorites – this added to the hysteria as they made their picks, voiced their critiques and the “artists” received their accolades. P1140402

Dinner followed taking this group of new-found friends to the dining room where everyone ordered from the menu and continued the convivial conversations into the evening. But I learned today that Don doesn’t care if he ever picks up a paintbrush again – he didn’t discover a hidden passion nor exceptional talent. He has no love for the process nor the results, but thoroughly enjoyed the party!!! Woo Hoo!! P1140406 - Copy

 

 

 

 

Design through the eyes of a 13 year old. A 13 year old girl having had her birthday just last weekend and who is immersed in the world of anime. Anime is a style of Japanese illustration and animation. An exciting world of fantasy and action, good versus evil all wrapped in color and remarkable edgy design.  Simply stated in her words “anime is a style of Japanese cartoons of many genre.” Her current favorite is Magi and the Labyrinth of Magic. Anime Magi-The-Labyrinth-of-Magic The characters have large saucer-like eyes belying their Japanese origin. Their story-lines appeal on many levels for all ages.

Katarina loves to watch the cartoons, draw the characters and learn about the world from which they originate. So one of her birthday to-dos was a visit to the Marukai Market in San Diego. Instantly, upon entering “Tokyo Central” colors and forms scream from floor to ceiling producing a sensory over-load that made me take a breath. Katarina beamed at my reaction. She said  with her subtle delivery “See?  I told you.” 2016-04-16 San Diego Hoech P1130765

It is a startling graphic design extravaganza of cellophane wrapped brands, foil metallic labels, signs and glitz and packaging that suggests advanced art classes on the subject.   2016-04-16 San Diego Hoech P1130764 From over-sized dangling flowers to disco balls sparkling from the rafters, the place is alive with static animation. Well, monitors too airing the vary anime of this initial topic!

The merchandise is displayed in such multiples that they are a design of their own. The patterns and redundancy, characters and faces peeking from every inch of space. Row upon row of stuffed animals each with adorable expressions begging to be taken home.2016-04-16 San Diego Hoech P1130767

But it’s the design on EVERYTHING that is so amazing. To see such an emphasis on design. The importance and effect on every package. When comparing to like-kind of variety stores in the U.S., this is product design gone wild. The edifice itself is  but a box. Simple, clean and attractive from the outside,  inside is nothing but raw retail finishes. But it doesn’t matter because the back-drop is invisible. It is impossible for the eye to go beyond the products. It is impossible to see anything of the space other than its intense collections of contents.

2016-04-16 San Diego Hoech P1130773From beverage bottles to bears, pink kitties to hair and make-up lotions and potions, games and costumes – yes you too can dress-up like a bowl of Ramen Noodles or an egg yolk named Gudetama.

Although this amazing chain of markets is concentrated in California and Hawaii, it is worth investigating the Asian Markets in your area especially with an emphasis on Japanese products to see these colorfully artful expressions of graphic design, inspiration and imagination. 2016-04-16 San Diego Hoech P1130775 Thank you Katrink for this amazing experience we shared for your birthday!!!