Tabletop Inspirations

Don’t underestimate the ability of fine dinnerware to add a special or unique touch to the table.

What do you use your dishes for?  Are they simply utilitarian, something to toss on the table at dinner, then clean up and store out of sight once the meal is over?  On most nights of the week, dinner time is more about reconnecting with family after a busy day or fitting in a quick dinner between soccer and homework than about transforming your table into a masterpiece of a tablescape.

When you have guests, however, don’t underestimate the ability of fine dinnerware to add a special or unique touch to the table.  Dinnerware can add color, interest, and style to the table.  There’s no reason why you can’t use the dinnerware as another interesting element to make your guests feel special.

Here are some examples of dinnerware I love.  They represent a variety of colors and styles, but what they have in common is a heightened level of interest or detail that can easily be carried into other accent pieces for the table.

Decorate your table with this over the top tobacco leaf plate. Keep everything else simple.
This is my mother's china - Tree of Life. I have always loved the tree of life motif - inspiration from my mother!
Match - Pewter Table Top
Jasper Conran Chinoiserie

 

Fortuny & L'Objet - Fabulous!
Haviland
Classic Hermes
L'objet - Mythologie

And of course, who says fabulous dinnerware has to be confined to a tabletop?

Cozy Chic Family Room

Our goal here was to create a comfortable, cozy environment in a livable space with absolutely nothing pretentious.

An open floor plan offers unique challenges and opportunities.  For this client, the family room opened to both the kitchen and dining area so all three spaces needed to tie together.  Our goal here was to create a comfortable, cozy environment in a livable space with absolutely nothing pretentious.  The rooms already had good flow from that open floor plan as well as lots of natural light and simple
architecture.  With these things in mind, we set out to create this cozy chic living room.

The primary color selection for this project was green.  Combined with all that wonderful light, the natural, organic color palette allows the influence of the outdoors to pour into the interior.  The resulting effect is inviting and has a simple influence but layers of warmth.   To achieve this, I chose materials like wicker, iron, walnut, and a hint of bamboo.  Since the space holds three different actions — eating, cooking, and lounging — elements had to not only compliment each other but also almost repeat to tie everything together.  For example, walnut in both the island and coffee table, bamboo on the ottomans and bar stools, and wicker chairs echoed by baskets.

Some of the items and materials used here were really enjoyable to work with.  The tile back splash warms up the white cabinetry of the kitchen while the Lamplight Designs lanterns over the island draw in that soft green color seen throughout the space.  The chenille sofa fabric from Cowtan & Tout, for example, or the John Rosselli & Associates bamboo ottomans upholstered in leather.  One of my favorite accents, however, is the Vaughan standing lamp in iron!

I think the finished room really lives up to all of its potential.  This is a great gathering area where everyone feels connected and part of the open communication of living together in a wonderfully habitable space.

House Beautiful: Bath of the Month

Being one of my favorite design publications, I was thrilled to have a bath I designed chosen as Bath of the Month!

House Beautiful magazine’s March 2012 issue just arrived in my mailbox.  Being one of my favorite design publications, I was thrilled to have a bath I designed chosen as Bath of the Month!  Here is my interview, done by Mimi Read, with photographs by Lucas Allen.  It was a true pleasure working with them and seeing the article in print!

Here is the article in full, but I suggest you pick up an issue to enjoy from cover to cover!

Mimi Read:  You do know how to frame a view.

Amy Aidinis Hirsch:  We wanted an expansive window to fill the room with natural light, and to make the exterior part of the interior.  We didn’t use a window treatment because it would have blocked the view.  Those lush green woods are like a painting for the space.

That’s a brave move, putting a tub right in front of a huge uncovered window.

The house is at the end of a cul-de-sac — my clients have total privacy here.  That’s a dual soaking tub, so it accommodates two people.  They wanted a bathroom for both of them to enjoy together — a perfect symmetry of his-and-hers everything.  He travels a lot, and it was particularly important to him to have a tranquil space to retreat when he comes home.  It’s their Zen haven.

Cladding the walls and floor in all this honey-vanilla limestone creates such a spa-like feeling.

We chose vanilla limestone because we were going for warm and simple, understated.  Marble would have had too much movement —  all that veining — and that would have competed with what we were trying to achieve here.  The driving force for choosing limestone was the previous floor.  It was Jerusalem gold marble, and it was jarring, not welcoming at all.  This is such a soft, calming color, very gentle on the eye, and also to the hand — it’s quite smooth, not pitted in any way.  And using it everywhere unifies everything.

You’ve even used tilted limestone slabs as vanities.  Why no drawers or cabinets under the sinks?

My clients didn’t want conventional vanities — they wanted something clean and minimal.  They were actually inspired by a tiny vignette of a bathroom they’d seen at Paris Ceramics.  They were there looking, and they really fell in love with the mother-of-pearl on the vessel sinks and the backsplash.  The way the light picks up on it is exquisite.  I repeated the mother-of-pearl tiles in the shower and made it thicker, right at eye level.  It’s definitely the bling.

It’s beautiful the way the mirrored door between the vanities reflects the woodsy view.

The details are so beautiful, too.  The panes frame antique mercury mirror, and the rosettes are hand-carved.  You really notice the beauty because of the sleek, angular simplicity of the vanities.  The door slides into the wall, so it never obscures either of the vessel sinks.  Those sinks are works of art.

–MR

A Jewel of a Powder Room

My goal with this project was to create a jewel of a powder room; a whimsical experience in a smaller space.

Bathrooms and powder rooms can be the best places to design.  Since the room isn’t usually directly in sight, you can be more extreme, take risks, and play with more unusual materials.  My goal with this project was to create a jewel of a powder room; a whimsical experience in a smaller space.

To start, the mohair for the wall upholstery sets a luxurious backdrop balanced nicely by the lighter colors of the hand kiln tiles by Country Floors and the Honey Onyx sink vessel by Ann Sacks.  The console table is a custom piece from English Looking Glass.

In addition, some of the wonderful products from this powder room are not visible in the photos.  A hand-antiqued map of Paris, George I Gilt Gesso Pier Mirror,  and a Piccolo Sconce by Gregorius Pineo, round out the bathroom nicely.  Finding just the right details and accents such as these is what makes a project for me!

 

 

An Unusual Wreath

When a client asked me to create a wreath for the New York Junior League’s Winter Wreath Celebration and Auction, I immediately knew I wanted to do something risky to set my design apart from all the others.

When a client asked me to create a wreath for the New York Junior League‘s Winter Wreath Celebration and Auction, I immediately knew I wanted to do something risky to set my design apart from all the others.  I felt totally against creating a typical, round, preserved green wreath.   This was a risky, absolutely unsafe approach, but I wanted something authentic and unusual that would get people talking.  Plus, I had only two weeks to pull of the entire project!  Working under pressure helps me focus pure creativity, so the time crunch actually worked in my favor.

My first and biggest hurdle involved convincing my husband to part with a trophy item from his past!  His European mounted deer skull became the centerpiece of the wreath.  I upholstered the skull in plaid fabric, leaving the antlers bare and natural.

Surrounding the European mount are real white birch branches and a combination of real and silk pheasant feathers.  McArdle’s Florist and Garden Center in Greenwich did an excellent job of providing materials to help me create my design vision.

The finished wreath completely lived up to my goal of building something unexpectedly beautiful.

 I was not at the Junior League auction, but from what I heard this wreath was the talk of the event!  Bidding over the wreath was fierce, which only goes to show that taking risks and not conforming to common expectations can really pay off!

New England Home Design Blog

As a designer living and working in New England, a resource like New England Home Design Blog is an invaluable tool.

As a designer living and working in New England, a resource like New England Home Design Blog is an invaluable tool.  Featuring categories such as Notes from the Field and Sneak Peeks, this is one blog worth following.  New England Home highlights designers, homes, trends, and events specific to New England’s unique lifestyle traditions.  Each post contains links to companies, photographers, designers, architects, and artists so that browsing your way through the articles leads from one inspiration to the next.  Before you know it, you’ve wiled away the entire afternoon exploring all the wonderful things New England Home’s blog has to offer.

Here are some of the things you’ll find when you visit this incredible blog:

Fireplace by stone mason Lew French
A table setting by Eddie Ross
Photo courtesy of Les Indiennes
I loved this cover! Well done!

For even more inspiration or to be notified of new postings, be sure to visit New England Home on Facebook.

 

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.