Monday, November 23, 2009

When I was about 10 years old, I remember attending a family event at a local historic inn in my hometown on Long Island. There were about twelve of us there for a sit-down dinner, and we had a private room off the main restaurant. At one time, the room must have been a library because there were floor-to-12'ceiling bookshelves overstuffed with leather bound books! I remember dining by candle light in that room and feeling sooooo royal. I had never seen anything like it.

Fast forward a couple of decades (okay...three), and here we are maximizing functionality of rooms in our own (often less regal) homes. So much so, that it is not uncommon for people to utilize what is typically the most under used room in the house, the dining room, as a library/study space (when the table is not functioning as a pedestal base for a turkey platter).

Part of loving your space is USING it, and finding ways to maximize every inch of it. I started seeing examples of dual-purposing dining rooms a few years ago. It's much more common now, and we are enjoying these spaces on a daily basis instead of just once or twice a year. Makes sense since we tend to spend a lot of money to furnish it well.

Also, try not to lock yourself in to the room names indicated on your home's blueprints! One of the best things I ever did for a client was flip-flop the locations of their family room and dining room. The "family room" became a cozy, intimate space for TV viewing, and the "dining room" became the main living area of the home...complete with oval table, settee, oversized upholstered chairs...fireplace, bookshelves and French doors to a beautiful covered flagstone patio. It's definitely the most used room of the house now.

As you're gathered around the dining table this Thursday, as most of us will be, think about how you use your dining room...and what you can do to this space to enjoy it on a more regular basis!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Heather Paper and High Point Recap

Last Friday on Love Your Space, I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather Paper, Senior Managing Editor of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine. Heather brilliantly combined her loves of interior design and writing (she obtained degrees in both) to forge an enviable career in design journalism. She not only writes for the Homes & Lifestyles magazines but had a long career with Better Homes and Gardens.

She has also created two of her own books: Decorating Ideas Book and Decorating Ideas That Work: Creative Solutions for Your Home. Both are wonderful decorating resources from The Taunton Press, each page filled with beautiful photography that further emphasizes Heather’s thoughts and ideas about how to create your best home environment. I will be introducing these titles to my students, and suggest you pick up copies for your own design libraries!

Heather and I also had the chance to recap the October, 2009 market in High Point, NC. For those of you not familiar with High Point market, it is our industry’s “Fashion Week”…but instead of taking place in the pounding heart of NYC, the biggest and brightest interior design stars and manufacturers converge on a small NC town, literally taking over every building, hotel, restaurant and house in a twenty mile radius! It’s fun, electrifying, and enormously overwhelming. Comfortable shoes are a must because there are miles and miles of showrooms to visit…No one wants to miss a bit of what’s coming in the world of design!

(Speaking of comfortable shoes, Last year I worked with Jaclyn Smith’s team in High Point, launching her new home furnishings permanent showroom in the IHFC building. I watched that woman teeter on 5 inch heels each day, but she did it without wincing…only that gorgeous smile on her face! … That’s show biz training for you. We all watched with envy)!

As is being widely reported, Heather saw lots of purple this October…in all tints and shades from the wispiest lavender to the heartiest aubergine. And in everything from accents, to tiles, to wall coverings, to upholstery to case goods. I’m happy to see so much of it, as it’s one of my favorite colors. I, personally, don’t use it often in my wardrobe or interiors, but every time I see it…it moves me. Hmm…Perhaps a sign to insert more of it into my life?

Paring with purple, which is normally considered cool on the spectrum, are warmer hues like umber, gold, and pumpkin. Bridging the two temps is grey… as in charcoal wool upholstery and/or intermittent doses of pewter metallics. Textures are HUGE right now. Juxtaposing shimmer with matte is key. This adds a layering effect that can be as subtle or as in your face as you want it to be.

I love subtle plays of texture… Similar hues contrasted by levels of sheen (like the example above of the charcoal matte upholstery accented with a similar hued metallic such as pewter). This creates a depth without too much energy. It creates interest while maintaining a calming effect. Since I prefer my environments to be calm, this is how I create a sense of peace without boredom. In order to amp things up a bit, energy wise, contrast your sheens and contrast your colors. You will immediately incite a stronger, more electrifying energy into your space. The eye has more to digest, and that takes more work physiologically. Your body will feel it… in a good way!

Here are some examples of current designs using purple…
This shot is from Anne Coyle's portfolio of uber-chic designs...Check it out: