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.

Greek Keys

Simple and versatile, the Greek key as a design element can be implemented in any color or scale

Also known as meanders, what we today call the Greek key design appeared in ancient friezes and on pottery from Greece’s Geometric Period onward.  Most likely a symbol of eternity and unity, Greek keys are an easily recognizable pattern.

I like to use Greek keys as trim.  It brings a touch of classicism to a room whether the pattern is part of a window treatment or piece of furniture.  Simple and versatile, the Greek key as a design element can be implemented in any color or scale.  It can be paired with other patterns or used alone for maximum impact.  With so many possibilities, it’s no wonder the Greek key has endured for millennia.

When you start to look for it, you find Greek keys in all kinds of places.  It’s amazing to think how long this element has been part of architecture and design!

Formal Living Room

The vibrant colors and sumptuous textures of this living room work together to create such a treat for the eye!

This client lives in a very grand, 1920s brick Georgian home.  Her tastes run to the traditional, with a love for French antiques and feminine elements.  With all of this in mind, I set out to create a formal living room exactly tailored to my client’s wishes.

With formality as our ultimate goal, I chose important and significant antique and art pieces.  The stunning antique blue lamps are from Carlos de la Puenta and set the overall tone for the room.  They also anchor the lovely vignette of the sofa with the antique Dufar screen.  This living room is saturated with Neoclassical elements, from the hand-painted commodes to the antique ribbon and metal elements at the base of the sofa.

I really enjoy the contrast of luscious velvets against the creme grasscloth wall covering from Philip Jeffries.  The vibrant colors and sumptuous textures of the living room work together to create a complex, multi-layered experience.

Intaglios

Authentic antiques or modern reproductions, intaglios have so much to offer.

Intaglios are made by carving a design into stone or some other type of hard material.  While the art of creating intaglios is an ancient one that encompasses everything from jewelry to sculpture, what I want to show you today is a specific type of intaglio.  In the 17th and 18th centuries, wealthy young Europeans taking a Grand Tour often bought intaglios as souvenirs, mainly in Italy.  These exquisite examples of antique intaglios are still available today.

Antique World Tour Italian Intaglios

 

Antique French Intaglios

Authentic antiques or modern reproductions, intaglios have so much to offer.  When framed in groups or individually, these small works of art become striking wall art for your home.  In a neutral space, they provide texture.  In any room, they provide interest and variation.  I like how the arrangement and grouping of the intaglios cant take many forms.  One intaglio per frame or several, a couple of frames or many, on one wall or covering an entire room.  This kind of versatility in design is part of what makes intaglios so interesting.

Seashell intaglio by Karen Robertson Collection
Framed intaglio by Swedish Dekor
Intaglios fro Quatrefoil Design
Framed Intaglios: Tiberian Design Framed Intaglios
Designer Betty Burgess covered dining room walls with intaglios

 cover source

Home Theater

The client asked for a place to enjoy watching old movies with large gatherings of friends, so I set out to create a haven for just that.

This space started out as your typical vanilla box basement with no character.  In fact, the long, narrow room with two awkward access points presented a challenge right from the start.  The client asked for a place to enjoy watching old movies with large gatherings of friends, so I set out to create a haven for just that.

I covered the walls in Mahogany Yacare Crocodile by Ralph Lauren.  This rich, textured backdrop set the stage for the rest of the room.  To alleviate heaviness from the dark walls and lack of windows, I chose a zebra pattern chair and two-toned sofa.  Along with the light cabinetry and striped wool carpet, these choices keep the walls from overpowering the space.

The rug is from Turabian and Sariyan, a local carpet vendor whom I absolutely adore!  I chose this particular ottoman because it serves as both a foot rest and a convenient place to rest drinks or snacks.  The combination of materials and textures in this room ties the entire space together with an intimate, cozy feel:  suede, velvet, crocodile, and wool.  The variations in patterns, from the zebra chair to the sofa pillows, add complexity and interest.

Finally, to suit the main purpose of the room, we installed a wet bar to either side of the main entrance to the basement.  It contains necessities such as a fridge and microwave for the all-important popcorn.  The brushed counter is from Walker Zanger and is a continuation of the chocolate feeling from the walls.  As an added interesting touch, I used antique mirror for the wet bar back splash.  Not only does it look fantastic, it works to reflect light in a dark space.

The final transformation of the basement proved everything my clients hoped for and was a project I completely enjoyed!

The Versatile Lamp

A well-placed lamp gives a room a splash of color, a functional sculpture, or an interesting accent piece.

Lamps do a lot more for a room than simply provide a light source.  Light is important, but so is color and style!  A well-placed lamp gives a room a splash of color, a functional sculpture, or an interesting accent piece.

These next two lamps illustrate how a unique piece and a custom shade become a work of art.

I love the lamp below.  It’s more like a glowing sculpture, unexpected and whimsical!

 

Unexpected Dining Room

When I met with this client to design their dining room, their desire to break away from the traditional shingle style exemplified by the home’s exterior architecture totally inspired me.

When I met with this client to design their dining room, their desire to break away from the traditional shingle style exemplified by the home’s exterior architecture totally inspired me.  They wanted simple elements with no clutter or fuss.  Because the room began as a blank slate, we started with a completely fresh palette.

In this room, I truly enjoyed using so many creative and unique elements.  The cowhide chairs from Ligne Roset provided adult seating around the dining room table and, combined with a bench on the other side of the table, make an unconventional seating arrangement.  The lovely drizzle chandelier from Ochre acts as a fantastic piece of jewelry for the entire room.  On the walls, digital art prints reinforce the dining room’s modern feel.  In addition, I loved the window treatments for this dining room.  The pattern reminded me of delicate lanterns floating through the sky.  The large looped wool carpet from Patterson Flynn & Martin softens and warms the room.

I was honored to be an A List Winner for At Home magazine’s Winter 2011 issue with this dining room.  In the magazine, the dining room was described as “bold, brash, and contemporary, a perfect combination to make a traditional home feel modern.”  What an amazing experience, to be recognized for doing something I love!

Zebra Print

If you’re looking for something bold and dramatic to add to your home, zebra prints certainly fit the bill.

If you’re looking for something bold and dramatic to add to your home, zebra prints certainly fit the bill.  It’s difficult to open any design magazine these days and not see a zebra print area rug.  The black and white contrast goes well with many color palettes and looks modern and exotic at the same time.

Zebra stripes don’t have to stay on the floor, and they don’t only come in black and white.  Take a look at this nursery featuring zebra patterns in pink and brown.

 

 

 

 

 

Accents in a zebra print, like pillows or this mirror from Oly Studio, are another great way to incorporate zebra prints into a room.

It’s certainly possible to use zebra patterns in a space in other ways as well, from wall art to accent pieces.  Finding unique ways to show off this trend is a challenge that also allows you to personalize a space and make it into something unique.