Sunday, December 14, 2008

The First Gift of the Season

I just have to brag, I am sooooo excited about the first gift I have received this holiday season. Yesterday I picked up the mail and there was a small package from Kenneth Brown, you know, the absolutely extremely fabulous interior designer! Inside was this measuring tape shown in the photo...and if you have read my previous post "Shop Like a Pro" you know I always carry around a measuring tape. Now I will do so in complete style, with my new measuring tape sporting the Kenneth Brown logo. And incidentally, I will now probably find even more reasons to measure this and that while shopping, hoping someone will notice my "designer" tape measure!

Okay, now it is confession time. I unfortunately do not have the pleasure of being personally acquainted with Kenneth Brown. Rather, a year ago I joined his fan club...because I am a huge fan of his work. (In all my life I have never been a member of a fan club, so hard to believe I am now...but for him I can make this exception.) His work is modern, yet warm with a bit of his southern charm thrown in. If you have never been to his website, check it out at His work inspires.

It is snowing in Oregon today, so now heading out to enjoy this rare occurrence with my family...another great holiday gift!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Open House

The holidays are in full swing with not a lot of time for design work. Instead, the days have been filled with celebrations, (and their preparations: shopping, cooking, wrapping!) enjoying the company of friends and family, and yesterday, with clients that have become both! I was thrilled to attend an open house at a home that I was privileged to work on over this past year. It is a beautiful new construction home perched at the top of a hill with endless vistas. The owners were very smart, beginning their home building project by carefully siting the home on the lot to take wonderful advantage of the endless views.

The family room is spectacular, with full height windows, framed in beautiful stained mill work, looking out over the valley to the hills. On a clear day several mountains can be seen. I love the ceiling beams which were stained a darker color than the rest of the woodwork, becoming a dramatic detail.

The owner is especially pleased with the result of the powder bath, with it's detailed cooper sink and granite counter top, which is a beautiful match with the sink and waterfall faucet. The result is warm with texture and color. However, she is particularly thrilled because the granite was free. When selecting the stone for the kitchen island we were directed to a collection of remnants that could be had for the offering. While there were several options worth considering, this piece caught my eye because of it's color and pattern. We pulled the sink for this room out from the clients car (just happened to be stored there!) and held it up against the stone. Perfect, and an affordable selection with the free price tag, the only cost being it's fabrication and installation. If you have a project that includes finding a material for a small surface area, finding remnants can often be a great option. Companies often have smaller pieces left over from bigger projects. A resourcing tip to keep in mind when working on a bath, wet bar or other project that has a small counter top area.

Finally, leaving the open house the sun was just starting to set and I snapped this photo through the car's windshield. (I was not the driver, so did not risk myself and others to get this shot!!) A stunning view of a stunning house. I can't wait to be invited back to enjoy the views from their covered deck, which features a stunning outdoor stone fireplace. A perfect place to enjoy a warm drink, good company and the views beside a fire.

Continued Happy Holidays to All!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Shop like a Pro

Beginning a design project can be overwhelming with all the choices that have to be made. I often hear friends say they have little confidence in their decisions when attempting to select furniture, accessories or paint color for their homes. It can be a challenge. However, if you take the time to put together a plan prior to shopping you'll have the information needed to assist you in making successful decisions.

In the photo, I have shown you the plan I started with when working on the Master Bath Redesign I just completed. I started by making a quick sketch of the room. Do this by measuring the room's dimensions and drawing the space on graph paper. The graph paper makes it easy to get the room to scale. Note the specific measurements you may need to shop for your space. If you are looking for drapes, measure the width and length you'll need and note it on the floor plan, if a sofa is in the plan, figure out the approximate placement in the room and determine the size you'll need to look for. Do this for everything you'll be looking for...including art, rugs, mirrors, etc. Knowing what size you need will eliminate a great deal of guess work right up front. Also, having a tape measure on hand really helps. You may look odd to the person next to you, when you pull out your tape measure and start measuring a vase or lamp...but who cares!

After you have completed the floor plan, write up a list of everything you think you'll need to purchase for the room. How many times have you gotten home and realized you have forgotten to look for something? That is frustrating and wastes time, but if you have everything on the excuses! Note any specifics for each item, such as size, color, etc. In my plan I needed a basket for towels, but it couldn't be more than 10" tall so as to be able to tuck under the chair it sits next to. Knowing this made it easier to rule out various options as I came across them.

Then start collecting. To the floor plan and shopping list add photos of the space, along with any photos or items that have inspired your design for the room. This shopping approach is all about building a story and providing yourself with references to refer to when faced with decisions. Put everything into a large envelope and take it with you, leave it in the car so you have it when you unexpectedly find a (possibly) great item. Keep adding to the pile as you make decisions, building onto your room's story. If you have decided on the paint color make sure you have a paint chip in the envelope. If you select a light fixture add a photo to the envelope...found the sofa?, put a fabric swatch in. For the master bath "sourcing envelope", I had an extra piece of tile, samples of the frames from Mirror Mate I was considering, a piece of oil rubbed bronze hardware from a towel rod I had taken down, and the paint colors. All of these references allowed me to make good decisions, the first time around, when selecting the vanity lights, dressing mirror, niche vase and ornamentals, towels, soap dishes, fabric and paint colors to refinish the chair frames.

Essentially what this does is allow you to see the item you are considering alongside your vision/design of the room and the other elements you have already chosen for the room. That, along with knowing if it is the correct size, will make the task of making decisions not only easier but more successful. (Yes, less trips to the return counter!)

Making all the various choices to put together a space is both an art and a science, and having your inspirations and specific information to refer to helps on both fronts.

Until next time...