Monday, July 16, 2018

Couture For Your Chairs

I am currently at work on a whole-house project for a client who lives a literal stone's throw from the gorgeous coastline here in the Monterey Bay Area and the brief was to infuse the sense of the coastline, the ocean, and the beach into the home without resorting to "beach" or "surf" clichés.

And one of the ways we are doing that is with a limited color palette of blue, white, and gold. Of course blue and white could be considered cliché when thinking of a beach house, but my client's taste leans toward modern minimalism. When done with interesting geometric fabrics and a muted color palette, the beach factor is dialed down and the design resides in a decidedly more sophisticated area.

For her dining room, we are having a pair of custom host chairs made that will be covered in two wonderful fabrics. This is one of the advantages of working with an interior designer: we can customize and design unique pieces of furniture that you simply can't get anywhere else. I have had clients tell me that the frustrating part about ordering furniture from the big, standard vendors like Pottery Barn and Crate and Barell is that the chair or sofa they may have chosen only comes in four or six colors and perhaps four patterns. But with me, you can get chairs, ottomans, sofas, sectionals in whatever fabric we find that captivates us.

With an elegant, scoop-armed chair chosen...


...my client and I were captivated by a lovely geometric pattern that, while it doesn't explicitly reference the ocean, recalls waves or even tangles of kelp or seaweed. To further customize this chair and make is something truly unique and beautiful, we are putting this fabric only on the outside back...


...while the inside back and the seat will be upholstered in this rich aquatic colored velvet which has been specially treated to resist stains.


The fabric is on its way to the manufacturer in North Carolina and we should have our custom chairs in another several weeks!

I love creating customized furniture for clients. We can customize case goods like buffets by choosing our color or wood stain and whether there are fabric, leather, raffia, or mirrored panels. And of course we can dress furniture in nearly any fabric we wish, often with welting and nailhead options as well. There is nothing "off-the-rack" about it. It really is like having couture clothing designed for your chairs!

If you'd like to furnish your house with unique pieces of furniture created to your own taste and style, give me a call.

Happy designing!

Monday, July 9, 2018

A New Sink On The Block: Composite Granite

Much like how solid surface quartz materials took over the counter top market a while back, we now have another engineered material for sinks! Composite granite is a solid surface material made from granite stone dust and acrylic resins molded into a sink form. And I am seeing more and more composite granite sinks popping up...

While the material is made from granite, it has a uniform color and appearance, unlike actual stone. But the true advantage of this material is its extreme durability. Where porcelain can chip and stain, and stainless steel can dent and scratch, composite granite is highly scratch resistant, and in fact might break glassware should you drop any in the sink. Its non-porous nature also makes it stain resistant.

Many companies now manufacture composite granite sinks such as Kohler and Franke.


Blanco has a line of newly reformulated composite granite sinks made from what they are calling SILGRANIT®.

Features of a granite sink in SILGRANIT® :
- Rock hard granite durability
- Heat resistant up to 536° F
- Unsurpassed cleanability backed by industry leading 7 patents
- Resistant to scratches, stains and all household acids and alkali solutions


As you can see, the sinks from all manufacturers are available in many different styles and sizes, including single or double bowls, farmhouse or apron sinks, and drop-in or undermount applications.

Happy designing!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Time To Head To The Beach Cottage!

Let's take a little summer vacation and ogle some cute and relaxing beach-styled interiors!


Happy designing and Happy Summer!

Monday, June 25, 2018

History of Furniture: Directoire

I am not presenting my recurring History of Furniture postings in any chronological order, so we are free to explore styles and silhouettes without any time frame. So let's put the needle down (a reference to vinyl records that some younger readers might not appreciate) right after the three Louis of France--especially Louis XVI (previously here)--and the subsequent French Revolution. After Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed, France was governed by what was called the Directoire Executif (this executive directory was a five-member committee which governed the country from 1795 until it was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte on 9 November 1799). Therefore, this period--the last four years of the French Revolution--was known as Directoire. It was a time of great social and economic upheaval and uncertainty.

So what could this mean in terms of furniture and furnishings? Well, as is the case with most styles, "movements," and periods of history, there is rarely a clean break with what came before and what comes after. The past always has an influence and the Neoclassical structures, motifs, and lines from Louis XVI were still present in Directoire furniture but without the pomp and regality (after all, the French Revolution was all about ridding the country of monarchs and aristocrats). Pieces featured sparse carving and ornamentation, and were no longer made of exotic imported woods like rosewood and mahogany but local European woods like walnut, elm, or beech.


One of the "inventions" of the time was the bouillotte (BOO-yacht) lamp, a special fixture having two or three or even four candle arms and covered with a shade. Mostly made of tôle (painted metal) with a reflective interior, the shades could be lowered down on a shaft as the candles burned down, thus shielding a person from direct glare from the flame. The reflective interior served to amplify the light but also cast it downward onto a surface such a writing desk or a card table. In fact, the word bouillotte comes from the name of a French gambling card game that was an ancestor to modern poker!


But certainly the most iconic piece of furniture from the Directoire period is a day bed featuring ends of equal heights and a Neoclassical silhouette very much influenced by the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum several decades earlier. Once the painter Jacques-Louis David created his image Portrait of Madame Récamier, a painting showing socialite Juliette Récamier (do read about her fascinating life here) reclining barefoot and dressed in a Greco-Roman style gown on one such day bed, the furniture piece from then on was known as a récamier (reh-calm-ee-AY). It still goes by that name today. (Take a look at a past posting here where I covered fashion designer Rick Owens and his furniture pieces--he created a récamier in a modern vernacular.)


Happy designing!

Monday, June 18, 2018

San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2018 Part 2

Regular readers know that I attend the San Francisco Decorator's Showcase every May and I always look forward to seeing what marvelous, inventive interiors my fellow designers have come up with. For last week's post, I wrote about the first floor of this year's showhouse. Soooo...where were we? Ah yes, we were about to walk up the stairs...


...to the second floor of this year's San Francisco Decorator's Showcase.

First up on this floor is the master bedroom by Jeff Schlarb which he calls Ten Thousand Dreams. Walls are clad in a navy blue fringe trim--the application of which must have taken a staggering amount of hours. A bed with a custom corner bench/ottoman--something I'd never seen before--anchored the room which was full of interesting art. A ceiling treatment of a material resembling cracked stone acts as a sort of canopy over the bed, but it follows across the room and down the opposite wall, a great detail. Various sculptures around the room add whimsy: a silver blob with legs served as a mirror for my selfie, and an enormous white plaster floor lamp that looks like a double ended palm tree lent a Dr. Seuss-ian flair.


Right off the master bedroom is an alluring master bathroom that really got me. What a masterful layering of materials and colors and textures by Adele Lapointe. Notice the repeated shape of the planters, the mirrors, and the frosted glass bucket pendant lights over the vanity. Matte Hunter Green Fireclay Tile subway tiles hung vertically in a soldier lay offer a verdant, organic element while a high contrast marble clads the shower and tub area.


But the feature I just loved was high impact but low effort--wooden privacy slats in front of the glass shower enclosure. And I also loved the low shower light installed on the wet wall to illuminate the flat shower pan with hidden channel drain. The same wooden slats were installed to create a water closet.


A "Vintage Modern Styling Room" just off the master bathroom by Gretchen Murdock was full of layered textural goodness. Used as a place to lay out clothing and accessories, and to prepare for the day, this room juxtaposes blackened wood on a wall and ceiling with three dimensional handmade terra cotta tiles on the opposite wall. At the rear of the room is a custom made airy wardrobe to serve as storage and hanging space. I was drawn to the peculiar semi-flush mount light, as well as the three dimensional tiles and the rug with a Native American design.


Melanie Coddington loves her some rosé wine...which inspired her feminine and wonderfully feminist Unapologetically Pink Rosé Lounge. The homage showed up in pink walls, a pink Milo Baughman sofa, pink wall hangings, and of course an enormous magnum of pink rosé wine. A pertinent and clever hand made art object, a purse announcing "TIME'S UP" sits on a plinth.


Just off the Unapologetically Pink Rosé Lounge was a little closet that was craftily and imaginatively outfitted by Sarah Bashford to be a DJ Getaway, complete with a cool circuit board wallcovering, analog and digital mixing decks, video capabilities and an amusing tumbling bookcase.


The idea of gender fluidity was the inspiration for Roberto Tiscareno's dark and sultry Androgino bathroom. The gender neutral space of black marble, black stone, and black plaster is fashionable for either female or male to express whomever they choose to be on a given day.


Because the Ocean Retreat Guest Bedroom is a space at the front of the house, just like the dining and living rooms below, with a window framing those spectacular views of the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge, designer Eden Wright chose the tranquil, Zen-like qualities and blue and white color palette echoing the sea for her room which she envisioned as a spa-like sanctuary, a place to imagine and daydream.


A quick jog downstairs to the cooler temperatures of the "basement" leads past the In-House Wine Grotto by Lane McNab. She took a landing that could have been ignored and mulled it into an homage to Napa and the wine it produces. The wall in front of the space features hand made tiles by Forrest Middleton based on the patterns created by sound vibrations at play on thin sheets of sand.


I think of all the spaces in this year's Showcase, The Reading Room by Cynthia Spence and Elan Evans is one of my favorites. The space is deceptive at first, just seeming like a pleasantly appointed, yet shadowy room. But as I let my eyes linger on each surface, each texture, I was pulled in to the absolutely fascinating "Bohemian chic" melange that makes up this successful space. All walls and painted surfaces received treatment from Evans and Spence added layers of pattern and color in rugs and wallcoverings. The result is a room I did not want to leave...and for an interior designer who has been in a lot of rooms, that is really saying something.


The final space was by Jon de la Cruz who was responsible for the wildly successful kitchen at last year's Showcase, and which was subsequently named Kitchen of the Year by House Beautiful magazine. For this space, Jon chose to kit the long rectangular room out like a Bedouin tent. Called The Lady Cave, it is a place for the woman of the house to retreat to read, listen to music, binge watch Netflix...all while feeling cocooned, like when we used to build forts out of pillows and blankets when we were children.


Thanks to all the designers for sharing their vision and talent with us. It was another successful Designer Showcase. If you are in or near San Francisco, I urge you to attend next year. It's such a treat to be exposed to so much good design, color, texture, and pattern all at once.

Happy designing!