Looking Forward to Flowers!

There’s nothing like a bunch of colorful flowers or artful greenery to brighten any area, inside or out.

So far this winter, Mother Nature has spared us from a typical New England winter.  Even still, by the end of January it’s hard to avoid wishful thoughts of warmer breezes, green buds on trees, and those first flowers to signal the start of spring.  It’s the flowers in particular that I look forward to, not only for the season they symbolize but for the memories and sentiments they evoke.  There’s nothing like a bunch of colorful flowers or artful greenery to brighten any area, inside or out.

We can’t hurry spring along, but here are some examples of arrangements and flowers I love.

I love this floral composition.

 

Just greens.
Alliums are the initial start of spring for me.
Hydrangia - all time favorite!
Sunflowers remind me of my first date with my husband.

 

Hearty yet simple.
Tulips: One of my favorites in any color.

Odds are you live near a florist or flower shop, which means there’s no reason to wait until spring to enjoy a beautiful bunch of flowers.  Why not treat yourself to some cheerful blooms the next time you go out?

cover photo source

Must-Have Books

Any bookstore or website you visit is sure to have an overwhelming number of design books to choose from, but which ones are worth your time and money?

Books about interior design are definitely not hard to find.  Any bookstore or website you visit is sure to have an overwhelming number of design books to choose from, but which ones are worth your time and money?

I’d suggest you start with the designers you love.  Whose work speaks to you and reflects your own style best?  If he or she has a book, it will probably be a good investment.  You can also check out your favorite design magazines for book suggestions and reviews to get an idea where to start.  Finally, following interior design blogs or websites will introduce you to books others have found inspiring and useful.

On that note, I’d like to share some of my favorite books by incredible designers.  These invaluable resources contain so much creativity and inspiration, from the overall themes down to the smallest details.

Katie Ridder Rooms by Heather Smith McIsaac, photographs by Eric Piasecki.
Jeffrey Bilhuber: Defining Luxury: The Qualities of Life at Home
Traditional Now: Interiors by David Kleinberg
Hue by By Kelly Wearstler
Mary McDonald: Interiors: The Allure of Style
Dealer’s Choice: At Home with Purveyors of Antique and Vintage Furnishings

 

Menswear Fabrics

Conveying a sense of luxury and a gentleman’s lifestyle of elegance and leisure, this “old is new again” trend has plenty of appeal.

Holland & Sherry Fabrics

Perhaps inspired by the popularity of television shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire, the use of traditional menswear fabrics on furnishings has become an extremely popular idea.  Conveying a sense of luxury and a gentleman’s lifestyle of elegance and leisure, this “old is new again” trend has plenty of appeal.  Drawing on classic film icons and fine clothiers like Holland & Sherry, we can see why this timeless look has such appeal.

Armani Suit
Fred Astaire

Interior design with a Savile Row flair imparts a room with a sense of permanence.  Pinstripes, leathers, tweed, flannels, houndstooth checks, and colors such as camel and cigar brown all evoke the image of a stylish, well-dressed, confident man from romantic days-gone-by.

Handsomely Structured - David Kleinberg
Great combination using Holland & Sherry
Courtesy of blog 2Modern
Hudson Street Lounge by Ralph Lauren
The warmth of wool suit! by David Kleinburg

cover image via Vogue UK and Holland & Sherry

 

 

Guest Entry Nook

As a secondary, unused entrance for guests, this small space had no defined meaning. My goal was to give this entry nook a purpose of its own.

As a secondary, unused entrance for guests, this small space had no defined meaning.  In addition, this area ended up as a landing space for the mudroom below.  My goal was to give this entry nook a purpose of its own.

This family loves to cook but had no bookshelf option for their cookbooks.  Incorporating a bookshelf into the niche provided not only storage for the cook books but an additional area to add visual interest with accessories.  Framed by sconces by Objet Insolite and with a beautiful Swedish style settee, the unappreciated nook becomes a very comfortable place!

The bead board around the lower half of the nook, repeated behind the book shelves for continuity, is a great option for a secondary place.  It is also easy to wipe down for a busy family!  An antique Chinese rug ties the space together with with an additional warm, comfortable influence.  The finished nook now serves an inviting purpose.  It’s the perfect visual vignette and quiet place to read.

Sweet Paul

I love the Sweet Paul Blog because it is literally stuffed with incredible ideas for things beyond the obvious elements of interior design.

Interior design encompasses more than just walls, floors, and furniture.  It’s about turning the place you live into a home that reflects your priorities and interests in life.  I love the Sweet Paul Blog because it is literally stuffed with incredible ideas for things beyond the obvious elements of interior design.

Originally from Oslo, Paul Lowe is a food and prop stylist who now lives in New York.  His blog contains many gorgeous and inspirational photos of recipes and crafts, plus information on workshops and articles in the Sweet Paul magazine.  What better way to really personalize your home than to use it as the stage for tempting your family and guests with delicious foods or using your own creativity to decorate a table or make the perfect conversation piece?

Here’s a sample of the many splendid ideas found in Sweet Paul’s blog.

Great Britain’s Winter Gardens

Many English gardens have areas specifically landscaped to take advantage of the bare branches, snow, and ice of winter.

Have you ever watched a period piece set in England, like Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre and wished you could take a stroll through one of those elaborate gardens?  Believe it or not, those incredible gardens exist all over the UK and are typically open to the public for most of the year.  Many gardens have areas specifically landscaped to take advantage of the bare branches, snow, and ice of winter.  Even gardens not designed with winter in mind have their own chilly charm.   When you look at the photos below, it’s not hard to see why gardens have such a monumental place in the hearts of Britain’s citizens.

Stourhead Gardens
Kew Gardens, London

 

Dunham Massey, Cheshire
Globe thistle at Kew Gardens
Pagoda at Kew Gardens
Holly at Kew Gardens

 

 Cover photo (icicles) source

 

Cover photo (bridge) source

 

 

 

 

 

Farmhouses and Barns

I started looking at other examples of farmhouses and converted barns and found amazing examples of both. This style is at once welcoming and luxurious.

I recently saw a piece in Veranda about an incredible farmhouse in Wyoming.   The work of designer Barbara Barry and architect Peter Block, this home showcases the best of the farmhouse style.

Farmhouse in Jackson Hole Valley

It certainly meets the designer’s vision for “a pure and simple country home.”  Every line of the exterior is perfectly suited to the farmhouse look, including the appearance of an attached barn.

Inside the home, Barry worked with natural light and a palette taken from the great outdoors to create a comfortable atmosphere.  Traditional elements throughout the interior are consistent with the farmhouse concept but are well balanced by modern touches.

Kitchen with fireplace.
Dining room.

I started looking at other examples of farmhouses and converted barns and found amazing examples of both.  This style is at once welcoming and luxurious.

Converted barn in Roxbury, CT
Sheffield, MA converted barn from old mill

 

Modern Barn, photographer Simon Upton for Elle Decor
Modern barn interior designed by Russel Groves
Barn with conservatory
from Archtectural Digest
Beautiful converted barn by David Kleinberg

One site I love for referencing barns is Heritage Restorations.  Very cool photos and ideas!

Interesting Hardware

There’s no need to go with plain, basic hardware when the right piece could be the ideal finishing touch for furniture or a room.

Whether on a wall, door, or dresser, hardware can be very boring and generic.  There’s no need to go with plain, basic hardware when the right piece could be the ideal finishing touch for furniture or a room.  Think big, think creative, and you’ll find ways to personalize and accent a space through unique hardware choices.  For example, the hardware in the above mud room photo playfully resembles sticks and tree stumps and yet doesn’t detract at all from the simple beauty of this small space.

Take a look at these examples of different styles of hardware:

Large-scaled hardware adds interest to this serpentine chest.
Hardware from The Nanz Company
All time favorite cabinet pull from Carl Martinez - think about the ends powder coated in black.
Knob by Baldwin Hardware - very chic!
Another favorite from Nanz

 

How can your home benefit from updated, unique hardware?

 

East Asia Inspiration

The culturally exotic lands of East Asia offer a staggering wealth of design inspiration.

The culturally exotic lands of East Asia offer a staggering wealth of design inspiration.  Design inspired by China, Japan, Mongolia, and other East Asian countries is easily recognizable for its minimalist approach, clean lines, attention to space, and use of natural elements.

I like to use accent pieces and patterns with an East Asia influence.  A bold piece, like the dragon below, gives the room a focal point and a bright splash of color.  For something more subtle, look for a pattern or texture inspired by Japanese or Chinese art or design.

 Other designers I really admire have also been influenced by East Asian beauty  Isn’t it amazing how one design inspiration is realized in different forms by different designers?

by Kelly Wearstler
by Tony Duquette
by Tony Duquette

Breakfast Room

This sunny breakfast room became such an ideal spot for a relaxing start to the day.

When designing this breakfast room for a client, I fell in love with their round dining table.  It has such a simple form but with an unexpected shape to the base.  The client asked more than once if we should find an alternative table, but I truly felt it was not necessary.  The table was already an ideal reflection of their style and personality.

With the table as a starting point, we matched it with lovely chairs from Oly, upholstered in three different fabrics:  Edelman Leather for the seat, Chelsea Editions for the back rest, and Carleton V Ltd on the back of the chair for contrast.  When arranged around the table, the chairs add so much visual interest to the room simply from the combination of fabrics.  To soften the room and tie it all together, we added a rug from Patterson, Flynn, and Martin.  The chevron wall covering by Ralph Lauren provides background texture and the flower prints bring an unexpected pop of bright color.   At first glance, the breakfast room looks sophisticated but charming and welcoming with a simple palette.  However, the variety of complementary patterns and textures actually creates a more complex environment that draws the eye around the room to take in every carefully-placed detail.

The photo above includes many of the details I particularly like in this breakfast room.  The subtle pattern of the wall covering, the way the nail heads in the chair are mimicked on the nearby frames, and the shape of the flower on the chair back corresponding to the shape of the flowers in the prints.  This sunny breakfast room became such an ideal spot for a relaxing start to the day.