Sunday, February 28, 2010

Skirted Roundtable: Chatting with Michael J. Lee, architectural photographer

This week on The Skirted Roundtable, we chatted with architectural photographer Michael J. Lee. Michael is a real up-and-comer in the New England design scene, having shot (and worked as a designer for) some of the most influential designers, architects and builders in the region. Michael's background and education as a professional interior designer influences and informs his photographic eye. I've been lucky enough to have had Michael shoot two of my projects and his process is thoughtful and boy, he works hard!!

 Charles Spada design

One of the tips Michael shared with us was the value of the close detail shot of a room. As designers, we often want to show off the whole space. However, as Michael put it, leaving something to the imagination of the onlooker, letting them fill in what's missing with their own wants and desires, can be very important when showing prospective clients your work. 

Anita Clark Interiors

 Linda Merrill/Chameleon Interiors


Michael also discusses when shots work head on or at an angle and how to shoot in different lighting situations. 

Honey Collins Interior Design  

Manuel de Santaren, Inc. design

Listen to the podcast here.  View Michael's portfolio here.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Searching for the perfect dining chair - a roundup of choices

As I wrote about earlier in the week, I am currently working on a design plan for a dining room for a lovely young family. 

The plan right off the bat was to use the Restoration Hardware "Martine" chairs, which I love for their stylish silhouette and comfortable seat and good price.

Martine Chair at Restoration Hardware - 25"w x 28"d x 39", seat height 19"

I had previously used a pair of these chairs in a bay window seating area in a formal living room.

And so, it was hugely disappointing to find out that Restoration Hardware had changed the legs to be a more rough hewn oak, dark or light stained, as opposed to the original refined dark stained finish. These new legs, which are intended to go with their new "Belgian industrial" style I guess, are pretty ridiculous looking on such a nice chair.  And so began a lot of research for suitable alternates. I figured since I'd done so much research on these chairs, I'd do a little roundup of what I found.

Of course, the leader of the pack, and the chair the rest are just hoping to be, is the Thomas Pheasant dinging chair for Baker Furniture. Gorgeous. Pricey, but gorgeous.  One thing I particularly liked about this chair is the narrower dimension. It's 5 inches narrower than the RH version. A good thing to take note of if space is at a premium. Another lovely aspect of the Baker chair is that the fabric is COM (Customer's Own Material), so the look is fully customizable. Something not possible with the RH chair. Although I prefer a quieter fabric so that the shape and detailing truly stands out, one could certainly go a little crazy with pattern.

Dining Chair #7841 by Thomas Pheasant for Baker Furniture  - dimensions 20"w x 24"d x 36"h, seat height 18.5"

The Gentry chair at Ballard Furniture is a well priced version of the chair. The shape isn't as graceful and the legs are a little too thick, but for the price, the look is there, complete with nail head and the ring on the back.  In addition to Ballard's large fabric selection, they also accept COM.

Gentry Chair at Ballard Designs - 22-1/2"w x 25-1/2" x 37h, seat height 20"

The Regis chair from Artistic Frame has a similar profile to the above chairs, but lacks the graceful look of the narrower front view. This is sort of the thicker, less flashy cousin to the Baker chair. Still good looking, but a little too stolid and sedentary looking.

Regis Chair at Artistic Frame - 22-1/2"w x 27-1/2d x 35-1/2"h, seat height 18-1/2"
(thanks for the tip Gwen at Ragland Hill Social)

The Margo Chair by Candice Olsen for Norwalk Furniture is a decent alternative. The splayed back legs and some panache and the nailhead highlights the graceful curve of the wings as they wrap around. The back height is higher than the RH and Baker chairs, but this chair still seems a little stumpy to me.
The Margo chair from Candice Olson for Norwalk Furniture - 25"w x 27"d x 38"h, seat height
(thanks for the tip Carol Ann at CAM-Design Interiors)

And finally, there is the Brooke Dining chair from Z Gallerie. Perhaps it's the dead on view of the chair, but the tufting seems to form a bullseye that I find a little distracting. But, the shape of the legs is lovely.

Z Gallerie Brooke Dining Chair - 24"w x 28"d x 38"h

And so, with all of this research, which chair has been chose? Actually, I'm not sure yet. I'll post it when I know it!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Congrats to New England Home Magazine's first 5 Under 40 awards winners!

New England Home has announced the 2010 winners of the first-ever 5 Under 40 awards, which recognize the hottest emerging talent in residential design in New England. Eligible categories include professionals in interiors, furniture, home accessories and architecture.

This year's winners are:

Hansy Better Barraza, Studio Luz Architects LTD. (Architecture)

Diva Lounge in Somerville

Meichi Peng, Meichi Peng Design Studio (Interior Design), but she also does handbags!

image courtesy of Stuff Magazine


 Patrick Planeta,Planeta Basque Boston (Interior Design)

Quentin Kelley, Infusion Furniture (Furniture Design)





Stephanie Horowitz, Zero Energy Design (Architecture)



(Zero Energy Design photos by Michael J. Lee)

The winners will be honored at celebratory reception on June 10, 2010, at the Artists for Humanity Epicenter in Boston.  Each of the winners will have the opportunity of design a custom rug that will be hand-woven in one of presenting sponsor Landry and Aracari's workshops in Nepal. The finished rugs will be auctioned off for charity on June 10th. 

Tickets to this event and more information are available here.

Congrats to all!

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Monday, February 22, 2010

The Skirted Roundtable - Jackie Von Tobel joins us!

 Last week at The Skirted Roundtable, Joni, Megan and I sat down with fabulous fellow designer and blogger Jackie Von Tobel. Jackie is a one woman powerhouse of design. After running her own successful design studio in Las Vegas, Jackie has taken her design and artistic skills an parlayed them into both book and textile design deals.

Her books on Window Treatments and Bedding are must haves for any designer's studio and her next textile line is colorful, feminine and fun!

So click on over and have a listen. You will be sure to be inspired - we were!

Jackie and Minutes Matter Studio are offering a demonstration JVT Studio, a graphic design program that translates the fabulous draperies and valances from Jackies book, The Design Directory of Window Treatmentsinto elevation renderings filled with fabrics, colors, and textures.

To register for this free event on March 4 at 1 PM EST , please click here:
for more information, please visit the Minute Matter website:

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Paneled walls - inspiration for a client project

I've been working on a design plan for some clients. Their dining room is small - approximately 13'x11'x7'6"h. A small room can be quite intimate, which can make for a lovely dining experience and I'm looking to really play this up. Since we're looking to accommodate seating for eight, there is no room for additional furniture, aside from the table and chairs. They have two things going for them. There is a deep bay window that's too high for a window seat which will work well as a sidebar when necessary and a built-in china cabinet wall right off the dining room in the kitchen.

The room needs some additional architectural interest since there is little room for decorative detail and I am planning applied moldings over the chair rail to create the feel of paneled walls. The moldings will likely be the same color as the wall, but will just add some oomph and structure and provide a place for smaller hung art and sconces. Here's a round-up of some inspiration images I've been scouting.

(I've lost the sources for the above two images, if anyone knows, please let me know)

Bunny Williams design for the Edith Wharton House - my pic taken 2009



These images are so pretty they make me want to weep -  via Trouvais

 via Diane James 

Carter and Co. design via Michael J. Lee  

Bunny Williams dining room via Diane James

Larry Laslo design via Architect Design  

Timothy Corrigan design via Decorati

Timothy Corrigan design via Decorati

Mary Drysdale design via Decorati

And here are my design ideas of two walls.

With thanks to Carol Ann for her suggestion, I changed the design for the moldings on the elevation above and it's so much better I think (see below). Thanks Carol Ann!


The chairs are the Restoration Hardware Martine chairs, but they've sadly changed out the original elegantly finished legs for these rough hewn oakey ones, which has rendered these chairs neither here nor there design wise, in my opinion. So, chairs are still be decided upon, but they give an idea about the direction we're headed in. 


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