Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mixing Styles In Interiors

Courtesy of Architectural Digest
Room by Jacques Saint Dizier
Photography by Mary E. Nichols

Are you set in one way of decorating? Are you fixated on one style or a specific period? All beautiful English country homes and estates are filled with pieces from almost every continent and numerous countries, from France to the Baltics. It is never surprising to find a souvenir from Italy nestled beside a Chinoiserie piece. Showcasing décor that tells a story, where you’ve been and where you’d like to go, is a sure-fire way to make a space your own. Incorporating antiques is a simple way to bring a rich history to a room. A well-worn and lived-in interior is often best.

In a room with multiple periods, antiques and modern pieces can work together, however there is a technique to creating harmony with different styles. The key is to take note of color, size and shape.

The room above is a Napa Valley home designed by California-based Jacques Saint Dizier, who was one of Architectural Digest’s “AD 100.” He incorporated a Mission-style desk, a William and Mary side table, a Chippendale arm chair and a 1950’s dome light fixture. For most, mixing these pieces would not come naturally. They do, after all, span almost 300 years. But the room works because the size, shape and color make for an eclectic yet cohesive room that provides function and comfort. I’ve also included below a few more rooms that demonstrate mixing styles effectively.

Courtesy of Architectural Digest
Photography by Michael Moran
Room by Shelton, Mindel & Associates

Courtesy of Architectural Digest
Room by Carleton Varney

Contributed by George Evans, Co-Founder of Bond & Bowery.
Read all of George's posts here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Introducing ::Surroundings:: Contributor George Evans

I am so happy to welcome George Evans as a new contributing blogger on ::Surroundings::!

A design-savvy entrepreneur, George has spent the last 20 years importing and exporting from Europe. He specializes in 18th- and 19th-century European furniture, lighting, objects, sculpture and fine art. George divides his time as a private New York City dealer and between his two showrooms in Lambertville, NJ—G. Evans Ltd. Antiques and Antiques on Union.

In August 2007, George launched Bond & Bowery with fellow antiques dealer Elliot Spaisman and seasoned marketer and business executive Ben Spaisman, with backing from a group of industry professionals. Bond & Bowery provides antiques and fine art businesses with a one-stop online destination for the best pieces and art works from all periods and styles. Integrating the latest technology with decades of best practices, Bond & Bowery offers buyers and sellers unparalleled access to the global marketplace.

Stay tuned for George's first post on the topic of mixing styles in interiors.

Newburyport Art Appraisal Day

The fabulous Newburyport, MA store Milieu is hosting an Art Appraisal Day on October 4th. So worth a day trip - rain or shine. I used to live in Newburyport and miss it so much!!

Proceeds to benefit the Newburyport Art Association.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reupholster

Click here to find out how this sofa....

.... became this sofa.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Interview: Celerie Kemble visits the Boston Design Center

Alexis Contant (left) and Celerie Kemble chat at the Boston Design Center, September 24, 2008.

Each year, the Boston Design Center hosts Design Boston for area professional designers. There are talks and seminars, product launches and some pretty tasty treats.

Noted interior designer Celerie Kemble shared some of her ideas and philosophies on creating long lasting client relationships by using the tools of the trade - color, texture, patterns - to create personalized spaces that truly speak to the personalities of the homeowers.

Through Q&A with Design Center VP and General Manager Alexis Contant, Celerie talked about what went into creating some truly beautiful rooms.

Here are some quick notes that I took of their chat:

• She takes inspiration from travel and, yes, design magazines.
• "Shop for the dream; create the destination". Creating destinations in even the smallest nooks seems to be a trademark of Celerie's style.
• Boldly patterened rugs will continue to be on trend.
• "Modern" means combining all sorts of elements from different periods and styles to create a space the suits our time.

Celerie is one busy lady. In addition to running a firm with offices in New York and Palm Beach and creating beautiful interiors that are regularly featured in design magazines, Celerie has also just launched a fabric line at the venerable fabric house Schumacher.

Click here to see the fabric line.

Here are some pics I snapped yesterday at the Schumacher showroom. So pretty!

And here's the lovely Celerie, who was kind enough to sit down with me to answer a few questions.

LM: What do you recommend that those on a limited budget focus their resources on when looking to redecorate a room?
CK: Color! Adding color to the walls or in the fabrics in the room will make the most impact on the space. You only need one yard of a beautiful fabric to make a pillow for the sofa. Or, you can add a trim with a hot glue gun to plain white window treatments to create a personalized look.

LM: Where do homeowners focus that is often overblown or leads to mistakes?
CK: Many people seem very attached to the rugs they already own and are desperate to see that all new purchases match perfectly. Likewise with furnishings. Insisting that the redecorating has to match perfectly with what one already owns leads us to keep doing the same room over and over. Sometimes, you have to move things out of the space to get a fresh view.

LM: Who are your design inspirations?
CK: My Mom [designer Mimi McMakin who works with Celerie]; Kelly Wearstler, Miles Redd, Eric Cohler [also a speaker at the BDC yesterday!], Alan Tanksley, Lea Jackson, and others.

I appreciate that Celerie took the time to chat with me - especially as my request was so last minute and she was heading off to LA right after the luncheon at Schumacher!

In addition to her new fabric line, line of faux leathers and furnishings, Celerie has a new book (see photo above) called "To Your Taste", coming out in November!

Thanks Celerie, so nice to meet you!

All images by Linda Merrill, except where noted.

Media Talk: Virtual Decorating in the Washington Post!

I'm very excited because I was included in a story in today's Washington Post on Virtual Decorating.

Click here to read the story! And click here to learn about my services.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oh, How the Met Sparkles!

Have you ever been to The Met? Or, like Cher in Moonstruck, do you need to ask "Where's the Met?" Whether you're an opera fan or not, anyone who is interested in interiors would thrill to the sight of the iconic crystal chandeliers at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and how they rise up to the rafters as the lights dim. I attended a production of La Boheme on a school trip in the seventh grade, and I recall gawking, mouth agape, as these amazing crystal sculptures started moving. It's not a sight, or feeling, that ever goes away! Did you see the movie Moonstruck? (I actually saw it this weekend for the first time in a long time). When Cher and Nicolas Cage attend La Boheme (they really do other works as well!), the movie totally captures the feeling I had in the seventh grade. The grandure is unbelievable.

What I didn't know, is that the chandeliers, designed by Hans Harald Rath of distinguished chandelier manufacturer J&L Lobmeyr in Vienna, were installed in 1966 as a gift from Austria as a thank you for US aid in the aftermath of WW2.

This summer, eleven of the chandeliers were returned to their birthplace – the Lobmeyr factory – for refurbishment. Funded entirely by Swarovski, each chandelier has undergone a painstaking renovation process, including the replacement of around 50,000 beautiful Swarovski crystals custom-made for the Metropolitan Opera.

Tonight is the Opening Night Gala at The Met, featuring Renee Fleming performing three of her most famous roles. The question is... who will shine brighter?

It may not be over till the fat lady sings (Renee is NOT fat, but you know what I mean), but it doesn't start till the chandeliers rise up!

Top Design: Andrea Schroder at the Emmy Awards

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello via here)

Andrea Schroder, with husband Rick (yes, THAT Rick), walks the red carpet at the 2008 Emmy Awards - wearing the gorgeous yellow Daniel Franco gown that she and teammate Preston Lee designed their display window for in Episode 3 of Bravo TV's Top Design.

Is this life imitating art, or what?!?

Meanwhile, the Architectural Digest Emmy Greenroom, designed by Mark Boone, was unveiled last night.

Will have to get Andrea's insider opinion on the room and the spectacular Hearts on Fire chandelier. I blogged about the room last month.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hue Coloring Contest

Rachel over at the color blog Hue is holding her annual color contest! Last year, she focused on interiors, this year we're heading outside!

Click here for more information. Deadline is October 31st!

Hmm... I may be inspired to get out my watercolor pencils!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Media Talk: Painting Stripes on Walls

PhillyOnline has republished an article I was interviewed for something like two years ago on painting stripes on walls. Click here to read it. Funny how these things float around!

Top Design

Have you been watching Top Design on Bravo? I've been busy blogging on the show over at Blogging Top Design and I'm loving doing it! It's a lot of work - A LOT of work - and I worry I'm neglecting things a bit over here on ::Surroundings::. But, readership is up, so I guess I'm doing something right!

During season 1 of Top Design, I did post show critiques of the designers' work here on ::Surroundings::. I enjoyed doing it and because of that, I got to know a whole new group of bloggers, including the team - Laura K, The Scarlett and Tbone - behind the Blogging Top Design site. Since I was playing role of critic, I chose not to reach out to the designers on the show so as to maintain a level of objectivity. I must say - I'm much more enjoying my current role as cheerleader for the team. They all work so hard and I'm so enjoying getting to really know them all.

One of my roles is to host podcast interiews each with the contestants who are sent home. So far, I've interviewed Serge Van Lian, Jennifer Newsom, Robert Reid and just today Kerry Howard. Click here to access the podcasts. All have been incredibly lovely and generous with their comments and time.

Given the amount of time I'm working on this show - I'm so glad that I'm enjoying it so much better this season! The producers - The Magical Elves - have really made all the right changes to the format. Season 1 was a mess - the designers limited by boring challenges and overly restrictive time limits.

Another thing I am so happy about is that all the contestants seem to be well qualified to be on the show, while still at very different places in their careers. I also love the fact that there are no crazy ridiculous ego's here. No producer stoked "I am the best - they should all just go home" type attitudes. Just a bunch of nice people who tried very hard.

In this weeks' epi #3 - the designers were tasked with creating window displays to showcase a design by a Project Runway designer. Cross-pollination of Bravo reality stars! This window by Preston Lee and Andrea Schroder for a dress designed by Daniel Franco was my personal favorite. I adore the moody ethereal nature of it. Judge Jonathan Adler thought it too dark - but since he's the happy chic guy - one can't have expected him to feel the love here. This was not the winning project, the win went to Ondine Karady and Natalie Williams whose work was lovely as well. But, Andrea and Preston's window really spoke to me. And, Daniel's dress was gorgeous as well!

Speaking of judges, Margaret Russell, Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler are back. Refreshingly - all are the same as before - but Jonathan is less self-impressed and Kelly's clothing and hair have yet to overshadow her opinions. They seem more serious about their responsibilites this year. Margaret, as always, is lovely, refined and purposeful in her judging. I've asked each of the contestants who've been sent home which judge was the toughest, and the consenses seems to be that Jonathan gets that award. Margaret appears to be the judge who focuses on the whole space and Kelly likes to see single big "wow" moments. Jonathan -on the other hand- is fairly inscruitable while viewing the rooms. He does seem to make a lot of faces - but the contestants are reporting that they just couldn't read him. India Hicks is playing the role of host and judge - but I really don't think of her as real judge, to be honest. She's not a designer in her own right, even though her father was famed tastemaker David Hicks. But as a host, she provides a calm, if distant, presence.

Last years host and mentor Todd Oldham is doing what he does best - being a mentor. He's such an incredibly nice and kind man, isn't he? Plus, he provides the designers with wonderful tips and tricks and loving support. You know - most designers don't spend a lot of time doing the physical work of creating their designs - so these contestants can be held back by not being able to pull off the vision they see in their head. Having Todd around to provide some how-to tips must feel like a life-line to the contestants!

Image courtesy of Eddie Ross.

I've definately been happy to get to know the work of Eddie Ross - who besides being senior style editor for Martha Stewart Living, is also a blogger! Eddie's blog is fairly new - but he's been quite busy filling it up with his flea market finds, craft projects, floral arrangement how-tos. His Hell's Kitchen apartment is the labratory for his design work. Speaking of blogging - did you see Martha Stewart yesterday? Her whole show was all about blogging - including an audience of bloggers doing their thing from the studio. Eddie was there too - you can read his on the scene posts here.

In Epi 2, the designers were paired and tasked with creating a comfy cozy bomb shelter in which they might need to stay for 50 years. Aside from the non-existant functional aspects here (no food storage, no personal facilities) most of the resulst were pretty good. This space decorated by Eddie Ross and Andrea Schroder was my personal favorite, and also won the challenge.

I enjoyed Epi 1 - as they had to shop in a thrift store and at a salvage yard. Unfortunately, the time frame and limited budget weren't sufficient to really pull of beautiful spaces in the two story lofts they were working in. But, the challenge tested their ability to work under pressure and make smart decisions, so it was successful. They also introduced the "Pop Design" challenge in this episode. Each designer worked solo to create an art project - similar to Top Chef's Quick Fire challenge. Unfortunately, they've only used this in the first episode. Hopefully we'll see if again at some point. Of all the PopDesign projects - Wisit Prapong's was the most successful, in my opinion. A former fashion designer - he created quick and yet still complete fashion drawings. So pretty!

The rest of the designers are still working to pull out of the pack. And oddly, Teresa Keegan is still quite a bit of a mystery as she's received practically no air time. Wonder what that means? I'm looking forward to her work, as well as more from Nathan Thomas and Shazia Kirmani.

Anyway, stayed tuned for more thoughts, and check us out over at BTD!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sneak Peak - A fantastic Boston condo for sale!

My friend and client, Rob, is selling his incredible Boston penthouse condo and I wanted to share the news.

The condo is located on Beacon Street in Boston's tony Back Bay. The back windows face Cambridge across the Charles River and the famed Boston Esplanade. On the 4th of July - his view of the fireworks was nothing short of spectacular!

Rob did a complete gut rehab of the condo and we worked together on the kitchen and bathroom, plus odds and ends like paint colors and furniture placement. We spent a lot of time finding the sleek cabinetry and granite counter tops that would create the streamlined yet warm and classic space Rob was looking for. This small kitchen includes a wine fridge as well as under mount washer and dryer. The high glass fronted cabinets work for long-term storage.

Here is a longer view of the kitchen, dining area and the hallway towards the bedroom which is in the front of the building.

This is a one bedroom condo, but the bedroom is beautiful and quite spacious. It over looks the tree lined Beacon Street. What you can't see in this photo is the view of the Prudential Center out the right window and the Hancock Tower out the left hand window.

The bathroom, like the kitchen, is cool and sleek, yet not cold. It has rich marble surfaces and a simple vanity and classic fixtures.

Here is a link to a virtual tour of Rob's unit.

Here's the floor plan:

A satellite view of the neighborhood shows the condo's proximity to the Public Gardens and Boston Common to the east (right) and the Esplanade and Hatch Shell to the north.
Here's the exteriors of the mansard roof Victorian era building. Rob's unit is the top floor, which includes roof deck rights. As is common, the original larger home was split into two separate buildings at some point. Rob's building is on the right.

Here is a closeup of two front doors, where once up a time this would have been an elegant single entrance.

Also, a little bit of celebrity juiciness - guess which famous Boston sports celebrity and his model girl friend are in the next building? I've never seen them, but Tom and Gisele have been neighborhood fixtures, playing with his son on the Esplanade. Of course, they do keep a low profile and enter their building from their private garages that run along the rear alley. Good thing Mr. Brady put in the elevator!

Click here to view the real estate listing at Coldwell Banker.

Images of Rob's building courtesy of Coldwell Banker. Images of Tom Brady's building courtesy of Boston.com.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Travel Tuesday: A weekend in Northumberland

Fellow blogger Di Overton of Designer's Block shares with us a country weekend in Northumberland, England. So, pull on your wellies and let's go on a trip!

Photos courtesy of Designer's Block

My portfolio

I just updated my portfolio and created a slideshow and thought I'd share.


Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sink Spotting

So looking for sinks isn’t a hobby on the same level as trainspotting… not yet anyway. But there’s nothing like the kick you get when your new sink fits your big spaghetti pot and you can fill it without tipping or tilting. (Well, maybe I get excited about this stuff.)

There’s more selection in sinks today, than ever before. According to Diana Hathaway Timmons, Tangerine - Appeal for the Home, “In my experience, design is the factor that most influences consumers when purchasing a sink. The appeal of a sink design is more than aesthetics, it's also about function. Because the functionality of a sink can impact the entire flow of a kitchen, consumers look at the design of a sink and how it works in the room. If a sink is gorgeous but requires extraordinary care or maintenance, then most consumers will pass on it.”

Sinks will come in many different materials including stainless (18 gauge or thicker), durable porcelain on cast iron, fireclay, composite and solid surface. Ease of care narrows the selection to stainless, cast iron, fireclay and new granite composites out on the market. Acrylic or fiberglass composites stain easily and are not recommended. Avoid stainless mirrored finishes too as they are not as easy to maintain. Look for insulation pads on stainless sinks that deaden noise.

Blanco’s Silgranit sinks resist chips, stains and are heat resistant. They also come in several colors. Blanco offers a helpful brochure online for choosing sinks under a tab called “choosing your sink.”

Quality is the key when selecting materials. “I think the perceived quality, regardless of brand, is of equal importance to the product's features in the high end,” states Susan Serra, CKD, author The Kitchen Designer. Gail Patton Gail Patton Designs, Inc. comments, “When we educate the clients to quality of the stainless and the grades, they then appreciate the difference and will invest more into the sink.”

Undermount, undermount, undermount. Is there a better way? Why overmount and have that crud catcher on the side of your sink. Wipe the crumbs directly into the bowl.

Designs are so unique – Elkay’s water-influenced Mystic series, Franke’s soft, rounded styling, Rohl’s beautiful fireclay farm sinks – that you really have to go your own way. Think beyond the traditional double bowl. What shapes are you washing? Bring your pots to the store. Why not? Bar sinks, like Kohler’s new Crevasse are so ultra cool you might want to add another prep area if you have space – and especially if there’s two chefs in the kitchen. Integrated features like cutting boards and drainers save on valuable counter space and make the sink do double time.

Since this post barely scratches the surface – no pun intended – we might have to make this a regular feature.

Caption: Franke sinks offer quality and styling.

These Rohl fireclay sinks are beautiful and functional.

The Kohler Crevasse sink has a one touch disposal and water flow for easy prep.
This stunning Elkay Mystic sink offers an integrated cutting board that saves space.

Contributed by Lori Dolnick
Read all of Lori's posts here.