Monday, April 25, 2016

Sconces: Your Second And Third Layer of Lighting

If you look to the right, I have an ever-growing list of what I like to call my "Design Mantras," things I find myself saying often to clients...or to anyone nearby! And #4 deals with a subject I covered in a past post here called "Lighting Basics: How To Illuminate A Space."

For a successfully illuminated room, there are three basic layers of light: ambient, task, and accent. Ambient light generally means a light that will blanket a space, brightening the room. This layer includes recessed ceiling lights placed so that a room receives an even wash of light.

For the remaining two layers, task and accent, sconces can be a marvelously versatile lighting fixture. When used in a bathroom, and placed so the lighting source falls evenly at face level, they can function as task lighting, illuminating your face and eliminating shadows so tasks light applying make-up and shaving are made much easier. I am always irked when, for example, I'm staying at a hotel, and the bathroom only has an overhead light so that my brow, nose, and jaw cast heavy shadows on my face and neck! And a simple, well-placed sconce can erase those shadows.

I love to use sconces for that reason. Take a look at some bathrooms I've designed which incorporate the versatile and decorative sconce:

For maximum impact both in terms of light and style, I often like to use a very large scale mirror in a bathroom and mount the sconce on the surface, doubling the amount of light!

Sconces can be excellent task lighting for the bedside. Because there is no need for the foot of a table lamp to take up valuable real estate, a wall mounted fixture allows the entire surface of a night table to be used.

Sconces on a fireplace breast add an extra, alluring layer of glow and warmth!

And dinner parties in well-appointed dining rooms always benefit from an additional source of sparkling, accent light...

And most importantly, remember to put all of your lights on dimmers for flexibility.
Happy designing!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Engaging Entries, Part 3

These Engaging Entries are a continuation of previous posts, here and here, in which I remarked that every house should have an entryway that announces the personality of the homeowner... an entryway that is playful, engaging, welcoming, or dazzling.

And here is visual proof that you don't have to have an enormous entryway to create an engaging entry; an inviting tableau on a console table accompanied by an interesting lighting fixture, some art, and of course some fresh cut flowers announces that you are stepping into the home of someone intriguing...

As usual, I hope this has inspired you to create your own engaging entry!
Happy designing!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ege Carpet Atelier

Ege Carpet, designed in New York and made in Denmark have been making floor coverings for 78 years now, so they know a thing or two about it. They even have a wonderful program called Atelier that allows you to design your own bespoke product. If you can imagine it, they can probably put it on a carpet or rug. Look at some of these marvelous examples below like the sand dunes or aerial map that add interest, whimsy...creating a custom rug makes a space truly memorable.

And French fashion designer Christian Lacroix created these amazing carpets for fashion museum Musée Galliera in Paris and art museum Musée Réattu in Arles.

It is vital to incorporate pattern, color, and interest into a room with furnishings but often a floor is overlooked. Even though these photos show carpets in commercial applications, they could work beautifully in any residential setting.
Are you considering adding a special touch to your floors? Give me a call!
Happy designing!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Like Jewelry For Your Cabinetry

As a designer, I am always on the lookout for the unusual, unexpected, special little details that can take a room from being just nice to being jaw-droppingly beautiful. Especially in kitchens and bathrooms where the opportunity for furnishings is diminished, it is important to pick elements judiciously. I like to tell clients that these kinds of finishing touches are like jewelry: fine silver cuff links on a tuxedo or a beautiful pair of diamond ear rings and necklace on an evening gown. Spaces benefit from such accessories.

Enter Hardware Renaissance, a high end company that handcrafts gorgeous door and drawer handles and pulls. Started by Anagha Dandekar in 2002, the company offers an original line of hand forged iron completely hand made by master blacksmiths. In 2004, the company introduced solid cast silicon bronze hardware with a commitment to environmental responsibility. The bronze hardware is made from at least 90% recycled material.

But the thing that puts these stunning products over the top is their new line of hardware inset with semi-precious stones such as chrysocolla, rotile, and black or red jade stone. These pulls would certainly give your interior doors and cabinet drawers a special sense of exquisite modern luxury!

Happy designing!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mid-Century Modern March: Eichler Homes

What would a month-long mini-survey of Mid-Century style be without a look at Eichler homes? Contrary to popular assumption, Joseph Eichler was not an architect but a real estate developer. As a businessman, he was inspired to create modernist houses after his family spent a brief period of time living in a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home. He initially teamed up with the architect Robert Anshen of Anshen & Allen to design the initial Eichler prototypes in 1949. In later years, Eichler homes were designed by other architects like A. Quincy Jones and Raphael Soriano, and by firms including the San Francisco firm Claude Oakland & Associates. Between 1949 and 1966, Eichler Homes built over 11,000 homes in nine communities in Northern California and homes in three communities in Southern California.

The Eichler style came to be known as "California Modern" since one of the main goals in his home design was to bring the outside in, to blur the line between interior and exterior, and our mild California climate certainly allows for that concept. Flat or A-line roofs cap façades that are mostly solid; floor to ceiling windows are placed in the inner courtyard and the sides and rear of the home, taking advantage of grassy views instead of asphalt streets. The exposed post-and-beam, open plan homes featured a lot of design and material innovations at the time such as radiant heat embedded in poured concrete floors, tongue and groove siding on ceilings, pocket doors, and bespoke kitchen cabinetry that featured sliding fronts.

Nowadays, Eichlers are highly sought after. There are entire real estate network sites dedicated solely to Eichlers, and there are forums specifically for owners of Eichlers. Remodeling one can be a sensitive undertaking since the homes have not stood the test of time too well. The flat or A-line roofs tended to sag or rot. When the radiant heating coils failed in the flooring, few people wanted to jackhammer up the entire foundation to repair them. The thin, laminated cabinet doors in the kitchen tended to chip and crack. But a properly restored Eichler can be gorgeous. I recently consulted on an Eichler kitchen remodel and it is important to pay attention to period details like globe lighting hanging from the ceiling or mid-century modern sconces on the walls. Using period-correct details like Heath tiles for bathrooms will add an air of authenticity as well. And finally, a liberal peppering of Eames chairs and Saarinen Tulip tables and chairs provide the proper set dressing.

The classic Eichler design even showed up in Pixar's delightful animated film "The Incredibles!" Look at the screen shots below and notice the Eichler-esque façade, the roof line windows, the stacked stone, and the general Mid-Century vibe of the interior!

Happy designing!