Monday, April 30, 2007

Mini Me - kids furniture

I've been into mini-things recently. I always loved my Dad's mini rocking chair from his childhood, then passed along to me and my brothers. It always makes kids feel so special to have furniture sized just for them.

Here are a couple of wildy different styles of kids furniture that are based on well know adult versions.

Panton Junior Chair at Genius Jones

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Little touch of spring

I did my annual "bring in spring" day trip with my lovely niece Katie yesterday. I picked her up at college in Boston and we headed up to our favorite ice cream shack Hodgies in Amesbury. It's one of those perfect side of the road joints whose opening harkens to the beginning of spring. Delicious handmade ice cream in large quantities is their specialty. [Note, a quarter-kiddie size is still more ice cream than most can eat in one sitting.]

We then meandered our way up to the outlets in Kittery and found our way to the Crate and Barrel outlet. My big purchase (ok, Katie bought them for me - thanks!) was a series clear glass bud vases for my kitchen window. Until there is actual blooming going on outside, these little beauties will have to do the trick. We finished the day in Newburyport, one of my favorite places in Massachusetts.

Visited Tendercrop Farm, where I purchased these beautiful roses and peach branches and then feasted on seafood at The Grog, a local watering hole known for its fabulous food and warm atmosphere.

What do you do to bring on Spring?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Top Design - The REAL Final Challenge - Cast Your Vote!

Well, I'm thrilled with the response to this little constest! Eight fabulous entries - all very different. I think it really shows that there are many options when it comes to space planning.

And now is the time to vote, America! (how American Idol!)


Remember, we're voting on the space plan alone, not the artwork. So, give some thought to each plan (you can click through to their original posts with plan descriptions, you can also click on each image to get a larger view) and make your selection at the bottom of this post.

The voting period ends on Wednesday, May 2nd.

The winner receives a custom made-to-order designer pillow, made by me.

Check out Eric3000's plan here:

Check out Mumblesalot's plan here:

Check out Damselfly's plan here:

Check out Editor Girl's plan here.

Check out SNF in VA's plan here.

Check out Anke's plan here.

Check out Rob O'C's plan here.

Check out Chelsea's plan here.


And the winner is...
Editor Girl
Rob O'C
Chelsea free polls

Oh, and feel free to comment below on what it was that swayed you towards your favorite space. Maybe it was a bedroom with windows, or a cocoon-like bedroom, or storage, or multi-levels...

Click here for contest information and instructions and links to all entries to date.
Click here to see my floor plan.
Click here to see all Top Design posts.

Get That Look! Down With Love - The Bachelor Pad

I did a post earlier this week on Renee Zellweger's mod white and pink apartment from Down With Love.

This time, I'm looking at the apartment of Catcher Block - "a man's man, ladies man, man about town", played by the dishy Ewan McGregor.

This 2003 movie was a lot of fun for its costumes, retro fabulous set designs and overall joie-de-vivre. Set decorator Don Diers was interviewed for this piece on the Set Decorators' Society of America's website, which is a good read.

Catcher's apartment is all about getting down with the ladies. It's masculine and elegant, but not at all personal. It's filled with hidden compartments - such as the bar and the bed that pops out from the sofa at just the right moments. Ahem.

In the SDSA article, set decorator Don Diers mentions that they based the furniture in Catcher's apartment on sofa's by Edward Wormley for Dunbar.

This original Wormley sofa is from the 1950's and is available at 1stDibs.

Crate and Barrel's Petrie sofa is a good alternative to the original.

The Metropolitan sofa from 2BMod has a fun convertible style.

The Jane chair at Spacify lends chunky comfort.

This Lublin Lounge Chair at 2Modern has some of the wooden detailing we see in the movie set.

This fabulous Lorenzo cocktail and nesting table is available at

A couple of Campbell Laird prints from 2Modern that give texture to the space.

A Danish Teak ice bucket - perfect for cocktail hour - available on Ebay.

Did I say dishy or what! There's some piece of furniture in the background, but really, who cares....

Click here to Get That Look of Renee Zellweger's "Barbara Novak" Bachelorette Pad!


Friday, April 27, 2007

Top Design - The REAL Final Challenge -Entries8

Chelsea gets her plan in on time!

Chelsea describes her space:

"I designed more from general principles than from a specific need. I prefer flexibility and I approach things from a functional point of view. I took on the bathroom because I needed to reclaim some space; I took on the kitchen because I like kitchens.

I kept the front door in the same place. There's room behind the door for hooks and a shelf for gloves/hats, so the closet can be used for out-of-season and long-term storage. The nook by the doorway is an office, for unloading all the household business that shouldn't be dragged all over the house. Across from the door, I imagine a big, squishy chair-and-a-half that says, "Welcome home!" With the side table, it's also a convenient place for a book and a cup of tea. The coat closet is handily near the door.

On the other side of the structural column is the media cabinet; the niche in front of the column is a convenient size for media storage. This placement lets the sound travel away from the entry, leaving the office and reading area quieter. I'd also be inclined to lower the ceiling in this area (between the two columns). I roughed in a sectional; I imagine it has a chaise longue against the wall for lounging and viewing.

The big, open area is for various chairs and tables, for flexible conversation groupings. The furniture here would be a smaller scale, easier to shift about as the conversational tides turn.

Next is a dressing/sitting area attached to the master bedroom; the seating here would be comfier (a loveseat would be nice) and closer together for more intimate conversation. There's a full wall sectioning off the bed. I've added an 18" deep ledge behind the bed to replace the nightstands I couldn't squeeze in. The partition wall allows privacy but doesn't interrupt the lovely wall of windows.

Between the master sitting/dressing area and the dining room is a large storage unit -- closed cabinets on the lower side (probably facing the dining room) and shelving units above, some open from both sides and some backed on one side or another. The position was dicated by the width of the bed, which is 6' wide and has 3' aisles on either side. With a smaller bed or 30" aisles, the storage unit slides next to the column, the closet walls come out (more closet space!) and the space between the closet and the exterior column is filled with a bookshelf.

Since the dining area is long and narrow, I roughed in a rectangular table. If you're a messy cook, there's room to build a wall across the end to hide the kitchen, but since lofts tend to be open, I left it out.

I wasn't specifically designing for a child, but a loft should have one enclosed room for privacy. It could also be used as a master bedroom (freeing the master suite for office/guest duty) or as an office. The little nook is not solely a function of "Oh, yeah, I need closets." All homes, and particularly wide-open homes, need the occastional smaller, enclosed space. For a child's room, this is a "secret" play space that can be hidden behind a curtain. In a guest room, perhaps a place for a chair. In an office, cover the walls with inspirational pictures (a la Carisa's cork wall) or install a bookcase for long-term storage. If you want to use the enclosed room as a master, the nook becomes the entry to a reconfigured walk-in closet. (See adjacent sketch.)

The bathroom has a lot of wasted space in the middle; there's probably room for a bench by the windows. I reserved 12" for the wall between toilet and tub to hold plumbing for the tub/shower. I'd also cut in a niche about 24" high and maybe 6" deep for toilet paper or knick-knackier things (depending on your decorative preferences).

I used a galley layout in the kitchen because I think corner cabinets tend to become black holes of hard-to-reach storage. If you like kitchens, the details are:

Left wall: 3" fill, 18" pantry with roll-out shelves, 15" cabinet (possibly vertical storage for baking sheets/trays), 36" product-placed range, 36" cabinet.

Right wall: 36" product-placed cabinet depth refrigerator, 42" cabinet, 36" sink cabinet with double sink, 18" drawers, 24" product-placed dishwasher.

I think that covers it...."

Chelsea, you get a gold star for kitchen description alone!

2.5 hours and counting... anyone else?

Click here for contest information and instructions and links to all entries to date.
Click here to see my floor plan.
Click here to see all Top Design posts.

Top Design - The REAL Final Challenge -Entries7

Rob O'C has slipped his entry in under the wire:

Rob describes his plan:

"In designing the floor plan, I wanted to incorporate lots of walkways. I don’t like rooms that have only one access or where you find yourself at a dead end. I also like a feeling of space and openness with clean lines with a minimum amount of furniture or accessories. Because there is very little wall space, color in the loft would come from accent pieces with the primary larger furniture pieces being of a more neutral color. The color palette for the loft would be centered on taupe, red, and green. Hardwood floors throughout with throw rugs. The loft was designed for me and my partner.

The front door area needed a closet which is big enough to be used for both storage and for coats. I wanted to keep the area in front of all the windows clear of furniture so you are able to walk almost the entire window perimeter. In the hallway leading to the living room I’ve added a bookcase to break up the length of the hall. From the top of the bookcase to the ceiling there will be glass block to allow light into the bedroom.

I wanted an open study area with no doors so that you get a feeling of more space and also light from the windows. The plan is for a desk to wrap around three sides and to have shelves/storage above.

The bedroom is spacious with a large walk-in closet. Bookcases are added to soften the room, give it a cozier feel, and to allow for a flat screen TV to be placed out of the way. The furnishings would be simple – namely a bed, dresser, night tables, and bench/storage at the foot of the bed. No doors in the bedroom so that it cannot be closed off but the bookcase wall adds enough privacy. As mentioned above, from the top of the bookcase to the ceiling would be glass block to let light into this area.

I wanted the main living area to be where most of the windows and light is. A flat screen TV would be on the wall adjoining the bedroom. Furniture placement would be in the center of the room so that you would be able to walk the perimeter of the living room. Furniture would consist of an L-shaped sofa, side tables, coffee table, and side chair and possibly some large vases, plants, or wooden statues to fill in corners or empty spaces.

Raised a step-up from the living room, the dining room would consist of a simple 5’ square table angled 45 degrees to the square of the dining room area. A glass block wall would separate the dining area from the bathroom, creating a more airy and light feel, more like a window than a solid wall.

I wanted to create a place where friends could sit while dinner was being prepared or where an informal breakfast or lunch could take place. Used a center Island so that there would be a continuous pathway around the kitchen (remember, I don’t like dead ends). I’ve angled the island and two of the wall to give some interest. Near the dining room, I’ve recessed the food refrigerator and the wine refrigerator. They are a little more removed from the rest of the kitchen than I would like but… The rest of the kitchen would consist of a sink, stove top, recessed wall oven and microwave, and a small shelf nook for cookbooks. Storage would be under and over the counter, under the island, and over the major appliances."

Looks great Rob! [Let me divulge that Rob is a close friend/client of mine.] Rob, a taupe, red and green color palette? Quel surprise!

OK kids. This thing is wrapping up! Anyone else? You have till midnight tonight, EST, at which point I'm posting the poll and the voting will begin!

Click here for contest information and instructions and links to all entries to date.
Click here to see my floor plan.
Click here to see all Top Design posts.

Room for Improvement - Pillows!

I've been working my way through the pillows for this project. I have two of these beautiful floral 15"x30" oblong pillows finished.

Here is a detail of the covered button closures on the reverse side of the pillows.

Click here to view all Room for Improvement posts.

Seen 'em, love 'em - Vessel Sinks

Utopia vessel sink from Bear Creek Glass

De Lino bronze vessel sink from Bronze Innovations

"Linen Vessel" sink from Bronze Innovations

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse

The 35th annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House begins this week. This is the big daddy of decorator showhouses, featuring some of the biggest names in the design industry. Benefiting the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Clubs, the designs will grace covers and insides of the top shelter magazines for months to come.

Here are some images from today's Washington Post piece on the tour:

Photos by Timothy Bell for The Washington Post

And these photos are from the 2006 tour:

I must be into pink these days because I love the top photo. How about you?

Top Design - The REAL Final Challenge -Entries6

The cat's meow by Anke:

Anke describes her space:

"I decided to design for myself, my husband and our two cats. (The box next to the couch with a “C” on it is the huge cat stand.)
We do a lot of the following: Read (met while working in a bookstore), Play board games and WoW (an MMORPG). So I had to put in a library…section marked “books” with the idea being that the top of the bookcases would be used for display of knickknacks such as my husbands every growing Lego collection. (honestly, we are both in our late 30’s)

Walking in the front door: table immediately to the right is for keys and mail and stuff. I built out the wall from the library into a coat closet. Directly across from the entrance would be our side by side computer desks. This way, the computer user/s can still be a part of the “action”. (Meaning we don’t miss anything on TV.) To the right of the computer desks is an apartment sized washer/dryer combo unit. Both the coat closet and the “laundry” area have folding doors.

The library area is slightly raised to indicate the different rooms, and the comfy chairs can be turned to participate in the conversation. If we have more guests then the couch and easy chair can accommodate.

The half table built around the support pillar holds the television set, which can be rotated for viewing in either the living room or bedroom.

There is a half wall set between the bedroom and living room. This holds a large aquarium, (yes, I know it is right next to the cat tree) and a dresser on the other side of the wall.

Between the bedroom and the dining area, there is a full wall…with a row of hooks on the bedroom side (clothing, pictures, jewelry, belts whatever) and shelves on the dining room side. There is a low cabinet across the window in the dining room where we would keep our massive board game collection.

I have used the existing closet as a clothing closet, and build it out a bit for extra storage purposes.

That’s it! Except now I kind of want this."

We can always dream, Anke!

The deadline for submissions is tomorrow Friday, 4/27. So, hurry up all you stragglers! :-)

Click here for contest information and instructions and links to all entries to date.
Click here to see my floor plan.
Click here to see all Top Design posts.

Get That Look! Down With Love - Renee Zellweger's bachelorette pad

This 2003 movie was a lot of fun for its costumes, retro fabulous set designs and overall joie-de-vivre. Set decorator Don Diers was interviewed for this piece on the Set Decorators' Society of America's website. It's a great read and I won't bother to repeat it here. One thing I really enjoyed about watching the bonus "making of" materials on the DVD was how many of the people who worked on show - from the set people and costumers to composer Marc Shaiman - all said how much they'd always wanted to do a movie set in this period (1963) with fantasy mid-century modern details, fabulous Doris Day/Rock Hudson costuming and characters.

Renee Zellweger plays writer Barbara Novak, who's new book on how woman should date like a man has turned her into a world-wide phenomenon. Her publishing company sets her up in this totally "old hollywood" style New York apartment. Overscale with an amazing view, it's poppy pink and virginal white color palette harkens back to the pajama party feel of old school "gal on the go" movies.

Is this look for you? Here are a few items to get you started:

Round contemporary sofa from Serenity International

Womb chair - available at Design Within Reach - based on Eero Saarinen's 1948 Womb chair

Metro Modern Cube at Plushpod

Open Wall Cube at West Elm

White shag rug from Chiasso
White shag rug at

Gyrofucus freestanding fireplace from Focus

Nelson Pear Pendant lamp at Design Within Reach

Paper lanterns from the Paper Lantern Store

Roslyn lamp at Crate & Barrel
Era stainless steel and glass coctail table at Crate & Barrel

Edward Wormley for Dunbar "Listen to me" chair
Unico chaise and ottoman at modernhome

Ewen McGregor and Renee Zellweger in 2003's Down With Love

What do you think? Do you want this look?

Next, we'll visit Ewan McGregor's "Catcher Block" apartment with its dark woods, hidden compartments and bachelor lair feel.

ETA: Coincidentally - Happy Birthday to Renee Zellweger who celebrated her 38th yesterday!

Also added: Check out this entry in Apartment Therapy's Smallest Coolest apartment contest. Pink and White glamour in a teeny space! Fabulous!

Click here to Get that Look of Ewan McGregor's "Catcher Block" bachelor pad!