Monday, September 15, 2014

BIG Bathrooms

I love designing spacious, luxurious bathrooms...just take a look at these enormous, jaw-dropping spaces...

By Tim Clarke

By Alterstudio

By Khosla Assoc.

By Matthew MacCaul Turner

By Martha O'Hara Interiors

By Visbeen Assoc.

If you have the room for a special space like one of these, give me a call!
Happy designing!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Westside House by Fiorito Interior Design

After more than a decade of being bi-coastal, my clients decided to retire from the east coast to the west. But the task of packing up a whole lifetime in a home was quite daunting so they hired me to comb through their furniture and accessories to see what could fit, what should be left behind, and what should make the move. The job proved difficult since my clients have a wealth of absolutely gorgeous objects and furnishings collected from trips to exotic, far-flung locales like Nepal, or amazing antiques inherited from relatives in England. It was tough to pare down, but after hours of diligent measuring, I mapped out what would migrate west and where it would be placed once here. Several key rooms in the new house turned out to require all new furniture configurations so I then filled in some blank spaces with new, custom pieces.

They bought their recent Craftsman-style home from the contractor who had designed and built it for his family. While the house is extremely well made, the interiors were bland, as you can see from the "Before" photos below.

The only architectural work we did was to transform the den at the rear of the house into a television/garden room. My clients did not want the television to be on display, and from a design point of view, sticking a TV in an armoire just doesn’t cut it anymore. I recommended installing a hidden, mirror TV from The Art of TV, along with accompanying invisible in-wall speakers. To do this, we removed an unnecessary small door in the corner of the room (there is another existing small door right next to it leading from the kitchen to the backyard) to free up the entire wall. Now, at the touch of a remote, what looks like a beautiful wall mirror mounted over a low Japanese tansu comes to life, and theater-quality sound magically floats out from the wall around it! Since we removed the small door, we replaced an existing bank of windows with glorious French doors to allow easy access to the garden. A warm color palette in the TV room, seen below, contrasts nicely with the greenery visible through the new French doors since the garden now plays such a prominent and important role in the design and ambiance of the room.

Above, you can see the custom wall mirror as an element of decor in the room. The carved bamboo-like frame is from Larsen Juhl. The new Shinto media console is a place for my clients to display their collection of exquisite art pottery and ceramics.

Above, a SuperBright Samsung Smart television comes to life: TV when you want it, a mirror when you don't, solving the problem of "what to do with the television." The curry colored wall anchors the television within the space. My clients' striped silk and nettle woven rug is from Nepal.

Above, a large, custom sectional with nickel nailhead trim, and a leather topped/baseball stitched cocktail table add comfort and convenience. My clients can now host their movie group for movie night! Below, brightly colored custom pillows blend beautifully with some of my clients' textiles collected from around the world.

Photo by Jeff Fiorito
Photo by Jeff Fiorito
Photo by Jeff Fiorito

The warm woodwork was lost in a sea of beige. It felt heavy and clunky, and I was not at all a fan (I had actually considered painting out all the woodwork white). I knew the only way to make the woodwork succeed was to pair it with a color that would accentuate it, not make it blend. I chose a deep aqua color palette for the rooms at the front of the house which makes the woodwork sing. And we discovered a wonderful art niche over the living room fireplace that the previous owners had covered with a framed print.

The previous owners' arrangement of smaller yet oddly puffy pieces of furniture made the living room feel cramped. It may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to combat that feeling is to put larger pieces of furniture, properly scaled, in the space. When I use all the space in a design, the eye reads a larger expanse, making the room feel larger. Above, a generous three-cushion custom sofa in a luxurious Butternut chenille provides plenty of seating for guests to gather around the fireplace after dinner in the nearby dining room. And the niche above is now home to one of my clients' prized carved Asian figures.

The aqua color palette continues throughout the space, visually connecting the living and dining areas. The color makes the woodwork seem richer, deeper, warmer. It now reads as a special element in the house and not simply "trim." Even the beautifully stained concrete floors (with radiant heat) look better. I replaced the old out-of-scale chandelier with a sleek, glass and marble slab light fixture that is more appropriately shaped for the space and echoes the Craftsman elements of the home. The table runner is a vintage embroidered textile from Turkey.

All "After" photos by Bernardo Grijalva except as noted.

Help with furniture placement or new pieces? Color selection? Art placement? Give me a call!
Happy designing!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Know Your Sofas: Barcelona Couch

Although this daybed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is called the "Barcelona Couch," it was not part of the suite of pieces in the original Barcelona Pavilion at the Spanish International Expo of 1929.

It was created in 1930 by Mies for architect Phillip Johnson’s New York apartment. But just like the Barcelona chair and ottoman, it has become an absolute classic of Modernist design.

And take a look at this hilarious--and by all accounts delicious--Mies Daybed Cake made by artist Leandro Erlich and pastry chef Guido Mogni for an art happening hosted by Kreemart and American Patrons of the Tate at Manhattan's Haunch of Venison in 2009. Andrew Russeth of Blouin ArtInfo reports that the cake was "a moist, buttery layer cake with hints of cream, coffee, and liquor buried inside. The pillow was even softer, fashioned from an airy angel food cake spiked with vanilla. Viewers had difficulty deciding whether to stare or eat, but quickly settled on the latter."

The Barcelona Couch can be purchased here through Knoll, the company that holds the production rights, in black or white leather.

Happy designing!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sizzling Ceilings

In interior design, ceilings are an oft-overlooked element. But all it takes is a tiny bit of imagination to come up with a show-stopping ceiling treatment. I have a client now who has an uplit tray ceiling that is just begging to be gold leafed!

This amazing ceiling below was designed by Verner Panton (stay tuned for a post about the iconic molded plastic chair he designed, seen at the dining table below) for a private residence in Binningen, Switzerland.

This stunning ceiling treatment utilizes what appears to be a mandala type of ethnic design that feels Indian, despite the Portuguese bed. It's just gorgeous...

I am not at all a fan of cutsie-wootsie nurseries, and especially gender-specific nurseries. But this bee motif for a baby's room is clever, whimsical, and charming without being clichéd or imposing gender stereotypes on a human soul that is unformed and full of possibility.

Coffered ceilings offer the perfect canvas for stencils or wallpaper since each compartment can contain a smaller design.

New York artist David Wiseman created this breathtaking three dimensional ceiling treatment of a cherry blossom canopy.

A ceiling of flames on a gilded ground in another Indian/Moorish room...

This vaulted ceiling is made all the more special with the addition of gold leaf squares.

Interior designer Elizabeth Gordon created a simple yet supremely luxurious ceiling feature for the home of comedian and television personality Joel McHale: some beautiful, exotic wallpaper on the ceiling framed with decorative moulding, but the real attraction is the marvelously unexpected starburst mirror reigning over the cool, sophisticated space. Photo used by permission.

This fascinating design around this ceiling light fixture is reminiscent of Secessionist design from the early twentieth century (think Gustav Klimt).

Even something as simple as painting a bold color in coffered areas of a ceiling brings fun and interest!

Don't forget your ceiling and...

...Happy designing!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Provençal Style

I just came back from a few weeks in the south of France for the lavender harvest and it was glorious. I was in Provence last winter on a truffle trip—learning about truffles, hunting them (no more pigs, they now use trained dogs who are so sweet as well as smart), cooking with chefs using truffles, eating truffles in everything—and I really wanted to go back in the summer for the lavender harvest. And just like truffles last winter, I learned all about the different species of lavender, saw a harvest and visited a distillery, cooked with chefs using the fresh buds and stalks, and ate lavender in everything!

Provence in the summer is a beautiful sight with seemingly endless fields of lavender or sunflowers, greenery, and the sun warming all the galets or stones protecting the grapevines in the vineyards. I returned to the same mas I stayed in last time, a gorgeous eighteenth century farmhouse. In the Provençal dialect, mas means a farmhouse, but not in the way we understand the word here in the States. In the south of France, a mas is more akin to a villa in Italy. But not a chateau which is a much more grand type of dwelling, a manor house.

And the Provençal style is quite distinct and different from any other French style. It is lightyears away from the Mansard roofs of Paris. Because of its history (Provence is so called because it was once a province of the Roman Empire and bears remnants and echoes of that culture), and proximity to Italy, Provence has much more in common with northern Italy than France.

The first thing one notices in Provence is how much like Tuscany it all seems (or Northern California, where I live) with rolling hills, gentle (and not-so-gentle) mountains, valleys, and plateaus, all perfect for vineyards and viniculture. There's not a lot of flat land for pastures and grass, hence cattle are not really prevalent. Provençal cuisine does not include much dairy. But goats prosper in the rocky terrain, so goat cheese is important. The other feature Provence shares with Italy is olive trees! Instead of dairy in cuisine, you will encounter a lot of huile d'olive. There is a heartiness in Provence, a feeling of being truly connected to the region, the land. Stone and plaster buildings with shutters of dusty blues, pale aquas, or deep warm tones dot the countryside or cluster in ancient villages.

Photo above by Jeff Fiorito/Fiorito Interior Design

Photo above by Jeff Fiorito/Fiorito Interior Design

Photo above by Jeff Fiorito/Fiorito Interior Design

A common feature of a mas is the gravel courtyard.

When we move inside, we see the classic Provençal hues of cream, taupe, linen, and putty with a few other light, bleached out tints. White washed ceiling beams become part of the design scheme. Conspicuously absent from most Provençal interiors I have seen are antiques of the precious or delicate variety (and no crystal chandeliers!). One might see a hearty old chest or a Louis XIV chair here or there, but they are more than likely "lived in." One sees carved wood or aged metal, and a unique painted wainscoting effect (see the green bedroom below). Casual slip-covered furniture seems to be the norm.

Kitchens are generally places that did not used to be kitchens since the concept of a "kitchen" as we know it today did not really exist in the 1600s or 1700s when most of these farmhouses were built. Storage rooms or attached stables have been turned into gourmet spots. Consequently, the contrast between the rustic stone walls with terracotta-tiled floors and the sleek, new European appliances and hardware is delightful. You might even see a few tagines which speak to the influence of nearby North Africa!

This type of color and design scheme naturally makes bedrooms and bathrooms areas of ease and tranquility.

If you yearn for a bit of Provence in your life, call me... I'd love to recreate here in the States what I have come to know and love in the south of France!

Happy designing!