Gary and Luke Stretar: Artists

I recently attended an art fair at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, where I stumbled upon two wonderful artists: Gary and Luke Stretar.

I recently attended an art fair at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, where I stumbled upon two wonderful artists:  Gary and Luke Stretar.  While these two artists share some similarities in style, they each have their own perspective and focus.  Both are from Ohio, a place that seems to figure largely in their work.

Gary Stretar’s landscapes struck me with their mood and rich colors.  These large, warm oil paintings with clean lines and sparkling realism draw the eye again and again.  Conservative enough to fit the most classic decor yet intriguing enough to appeal to more modern tastes, Gary Stretar’s paintings can’t be done justice on a computer screen.  To contact Gary about his work visit here.

Luke Stretar also takes a realism approach to his oil paintings.  His work features subjects not commonly thought of as beautiful.  Under his brush, however, beauty is revealed.   His current work focuses on metal and industrial objects.  For more information about Luke’s paintings, contact him.

Garden Stools

Who says garden stools have to stay in the garden? This is a perfect example of a functional object transformed into something beautiful and given a new purpose.

Who says garden stools have to stay in the garden?  This is a perfect example of a functional object transformed into something beautiful and given a new purpose.  As a place to sit, a place to rest a book or drink, or to add a spunk of color, garden stools come in a surprising array of colors and styles.  Take a look at these fantastic garden stools and the many ways they can be used in the home.

Cover photo source

Ikat

Ikat (pronounced ‘ee-KAHT’) is a very old dyeing technique used to create beautiful patterns in fabrics.

Ikat (pronounced ‘ee-KAHT’) is a very old dyeing technique used to create beautiful patterns in fabrics.  The ikat weaving style is common to many cultures from South America to India.  The process is rather like a reverse tie-dye.  In tie-dye, the fabric is first woven, then bound, and then dyed.  When the bindings are removed, the tie-dye pattern is clear.  The process of ikat varies in that the material (silk, cotton, etc.) is first treated with wax or tied in some way to prevent all of the dye from being absorbed.  After dying, the material is woven into fabric.  The pattern and complexity of ikat varies widely, which makes it an ideal choice for home design.

 

 

 

This colorful ikat rug from Madeline Weinrib demonstrates why the classic look of ikat has endured for centuries.

 

 

Ikat also makes a stunning fabric for furnishings.  This ikat chair adds exactly the right blend of color and pattern to accent a client’s India-inspired decor.

 

One of the wonderful things about ikat is that it has more than just the usual fabric applications.  Window treatments, pillows,wall art, and even lamp shades can showcase this timeless method of producing gorgeous textiles.

My Vibe My Life by Kelly Wearstler

Kelly Wearstler is one of my favorite designers and I love her blog, My Vibe My Life.

Kelly Wearstler is one of my favorite designers and I love her blog, My Vibe My Life.

Known for her luxurious take on interior design, Kelly is an American designer who has worked with resorts and hotels around the world.  She designs home furnishings and recently turned her talents toward the world of fashion.   Enjoy this taste of her designs, then visit her blog for more inspiration.

 

The Versatile Ottoman

There’s a good reason why we associate the idea of relaxing at home with sitting back and putting our feet up, maybe with a nice glass of wine.

There’s a good reason why we associate the idea of relaxing at home with sitting back and putting our feet up, maybe with a nice glass of wine.  That level of comfort is something most people experience at home, and nothing invites you to put your feet up at the end of the day like a well-placed ottoman.  Finding an ottoman to coordinate with a comfy chair or sofa is relatively simple.  What I’d like to do is show you some alternate placement for the many styles of ottomans and the various ways they can bring more to your home than rest for weary feet.

Let that ottoman double as a coffee table!  This is particularly a good option if space is limited and can work with both modern and traditional decor.



Along the same lines, a small ottoman can act as a side table.  Again, there are many styles to choose from and placement options to consider.  At the end of a sofa or between two chairs, for example.

                    

Finally, consider adding ottomans to a living or family room to act as both decor and extra seating for guests.  They are typically smaller, lighter, and easier to move than other seating choices.  An ottoman can certainly be more attractive and stylish than something like a folding chair.


With the ability to custom-design an ottoman by choosing your own fabric, the possibilities for adding such a versatile piece of furniture to your home are limitless.  When you consider how many choices you have for patterns and texture, it’s easy to see the many uses for an ottoman besides a simple foot rest.

cover photo source

Murano, Italy

Murano, Italy has become synonymous with exquisite glass work. Few home accessories can rival the beautiful artistry of a Murano glass piece.

Murano, Italy has become synonymous with exquisite glass work.  Few home accessories can rival the beautiful artistry of a Murano glass piece.  What may surprise you, however, is the number of ways to exhibit one of these works of art in your home and how individual examples of Murano glass seem, at their heart, to contain traces of the lovely part of the world where they originate.

A vase such as this, available in different colors and styles, is an accent piece that can be a unique addition to almost any decor.

                    

Murano’s glass artisans are true artists, and their work takes many forms.  A collection of delicate, colorful goblets clearly show the skill and artistry involved in these handmade works of art.

                                

The forms Murano glass can take are limitless, and the creativity of the artists who work with it is just as boundless.  If you are looking for a stunning piece of art, exploring the work of Italian glass blowers is an excellent place to start.


Finally, for a truly stunning impact nothing compares to the graceful elegance of a Murano chandelier.

     

Chinoiserie Dining Room

When a client approached me with the goal of designing a dining room for entertaining large gatherings in a formal setting, I really enjoyed both the challenge and the opportunity to build a room around many truly beautiful design pieces.

When a client approached me with the goal of designing a dining room for entertaining large gatherings in a formal setting, I really enjoyed both the challenge and the opportunity to build a room around many truly beautiful design pieces.

The dining room originally had a generic wood mantel with very little appeal or individuality.  I also had to consider how many people would use the space and how to configure the design to appeal to both large and small groups of guests.  The bay windows provided another challenge, being difficult to treat while keeping the design and scale appropriate.

To begin, we decided on a fabulous color palette using Farrow and Ball paint in Pipe Down against a chinoiserie patterned butter yellow paper and predominantly grey curtains.  In addition, every aspect of this room was custom designed, from the walls to the carpet, for a highly individualized room.

In place of the boring wood mantel, I installed a custom, hand-carved stone mantel which provides a nice focal point for the room.  The gorgeous hand-painted chinoiserie wall paper from de Gourney gives the room a lovely backdrop without the need for paintings or decorative items.  The unexpected dark color of the woodwork is the perfect contrast to the custom panels, and the window treatments accent the large bay windows without becoming overpowering or detracting from the view.

One of the most stunning pieces in the room is the dining room table.  As the centerpiece of the room where guests will gather, the table needed to be something special.  Every aspect of the Ebanista table was customized to allow the clients to entertain large or intimate groups of guests in beauty and style.  Every small detail of the table, including the inlay, had to be carefully considered and strategically placed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The overall impression of this dining room is one of luxury and comfort, a room as individual and unique as any client could ask.  Using such a range of exquisite products and companies allowed me to give my clients a dining room perfectly suited to their tastes and needs.

 

 

Nature, More Ideas

This week, I’d like to share some more ideas on ways to bring a touch of nature into your decor. Instead of focusing on individual items, a grouping of similar natural items adds a lovely decorative touch to a space. Take advantage of shelves, walls, and other display areas to show off a collection with true natural beauty.

This week, I’d like to share some more ideas on ways to bring a touch of nature into your decor.  Instead of focusing on individual items, a grouping of similar natural items adds a lovely decorative touch to a space.  Take advantage of shelves, walls, and other display areas to show off a collection with true natural beauty.

These hand-made nature prints make a bold statement when grouped together.


Vintage apothecary jars in a variety of shapes and sizes can be filled with natural finds like sea glass, shells, or pretty rocks and displayed in a sunny location.

Pressed and framed leaves, green or in vibrant fall colors, pretty way to bring a bit of nature indoors.

At Home A-List Awards 2011 Winner

“This dining room is bold, brash, and contemporary, a perfect combination to make a traditional home feel modern,”
Eric Cohler notes.

Amy Aidinis Hirsch
For this chic Greenwich dining room, the designer paired metal-framed chairs upholstered in cowhide with a solid wood bench for seating. The dark chocolate grass cloth anchors an abstract canvas digital print on the wall. An antique Chinese cabinet adds a splash of red. “This dining room is bold, brash, and contemporary, a perfect combination to make a traditional home feel modern,”
Eric Cohler notes.

Professionals
Designer: Amy Aidinis Hirsch
203-661-1266; aahirsch.com

Attic Game Room

I love the opportunity to work on a project that provides a challenge and allows me to utilize some unique accessories.

I love the opportunity to work on a project that provides a challenge and allows me to utilize some unique accessories.  The challenge for this room came from the design of the attic space with load-bearing poles to work around and the client’s desire for three separate areas:  billiard space, television viewing space, and a bar.

To start, we decided the game room would be something of a departure from the design of the rest of the house.  It would have a more thematic, whimsical design with influences from the Far East and Indonesia.   I covered the walls with a suede paper from Philip Jeffries Ltd.  This paper gives the room a warm, luxurious backdrop.   I also chose a fantastic cotton velvet sofa fabric and beautiful in layed furniture.  To round out the room I added accessories from local artisans and wedding baskets from Simon Pearce.  Some of the best pieces in the room, such as the Indonesian side chairs with mother of pearl accents, came from local shops.   There is a lot of value to not selecting every accessory and piece of furniture for the initial presentation.  The hunt for the perfect piece is an organic process that allows you extra room for creativity and inspiration.  Plus, using local artists and retailers supports your community.

When addressing the challenge of working around the pole in the television viewing area, I had to consider the layout and purpose of the room.  Obviously, no one wants their view of the television blocked by a pole.  Also, speaking around the pole when talking to a group of friends and family would be awkward.  Choosing a sectional sofa proved to be the key to working around the pole without sacrificing comfort or style.

The final result is a room where people can relax and socialize in a sophisticated and timeless setting.  A splash of modernism gives the room just the right amount of balance, with an art deco inspired rug.  Lighting from Dennis and Leen and lounge chairs from Ralph Lauren help to round out the classic appeal of the room while the accessories and modern touches add a subtle element of fun.  What the client can now enjoy is a handsome setting for spending time with family and friends.