Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Million Dollar Decorators premiers tonight!

Join me TONIGHT on Twitter #mddbravotv  ( http://tweetchat.com/room/mddbravotv ) to chat about this new series featuring the crazy lives and businesses of designers Kathryn Ireland, Mary McDonald, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Nathan Turner and Jeffrey Allen Marks. I'll be interviewing each of the designers throughout the 8 week season, so stay tuned for that. Editor at Large has already done a series of interviews, which you can read here and here.

I've seen the first episode and it's fast paced and eye opening. The entire series looks like a hoot and I think professional designers will really be fascinated, appalled, jealous and sympathetic to the real world of high-budget and high-stakes decorating. And "civilian" viewers will likely be astonished by the dollars that can be spent on decorating. This isn't your mother's HGTV, that's for sure!

So, join me on Twitter, 10PM EST tonight and every Tuesday throughout the season to share your thoughts on the show, it will be fun! Twitter hashtag #mddbravotv

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Five Trends to Watch at the 2011 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS)

By Lori Dolnick

The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas, NV was a leaner exhibition – a reflection of the economy and home building sales no doubt. But traffic and designer interest was brisk for the exhibitors present – hopefully a positive sign for the future. KBIS is one of my favorite shows. Homeowners really invest in their kitchens and KBIS is the place to see what’s new, what’s trending and where the kitchen of the future is going. Here are some of the trends I saw and hot new products coming out this year.

1.    Transitional or New Traditional
Transitional or New Traditional is here to stay - a real style in its own right. From TOTO’s new Vivian faucet

to Hardware Resources’ Lyn Design Bath Vanities in Chocolate – what’s old is new again.

Today’s Traditional offers cleaner lines, less ornamentation and a more updated, sophisticated feel.

2.    Personal Style
We’re not designing for resale value. We’re designing for ourselves – for the long haul.

Top Knobs launched their unique new Passport Collection at KBIS – inspired by global landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain, Victoria Falls, Sydney Opera House, Tower Bridge and the Great Wall of China. What could be more personal than decorating with a souvenir from somewhere special? It’s what we all do when we travel, but now you can get a free sample shipped to your home without going anywhere at all. Design meets destination.

Another example… someone at the show told me to visit the Scotsman Ice Systems booth because they love to chew ice. You can’t get more personal than that! Me – I like the big cubes in my water. But if someone needs them small and chewy – this would be the system for them. Personal taste is a trend that is hot right now.

3.    Personal Luxury

If KBIS is any indicator – toilets are the next hot new must-have gadget. INAX’s latest offering, for example, plays music, lights your way at night, heats the seat, offers a personal cleansing massage plus automatically opens and closes. Plasmacluster technology cleans the air with antibacterial ions. Never mind its advanced flushing technology, green features and sophisticated design. So when I was asked would I pay $4,800 for a luxury spa toilet, my answer was simple, “it shuts the seat?” Worth the price of admission for me!

My kids did ask if it knows to open for a boy or a girl. The INAX representative told me it opens the lid for girls. Sorry fellas, you’ll have to lift the seat on your own.

4.    Design Matters

From Michael Graves’ teapots to Poggenpohl’s Porsche kitchen, branded design partnerships are not new. Design and Designers matter to homeowners. And the elements do not have to be expensive to offer high performance or design. Dacor’s new Distinctive 36” cooktop was created in partnership with BMW Group Designworks USA and is a perfect example of an accessibly priced appliance that has name plate designer status attached.

5.    Green as a Greens Fee

OK, I’m a golfer. To me a “greens fee” means something you pay just to play. And in today’s marketplace, you need to be green to play. While it’s still not high on the consumer’s punch list, designers, architects and manufacturers recognize that they must be environmentally friendly. Products like LED lighting from Stone Lighting and

Samsung’s Radianz Quartz with recycled content, demonstrate that the building community has embraced green as a long-term necessity that won’t go away like gas rationing in the 70’s. Let’s applaud the design community for creatively leading us to be environmentally responsible instead of waiting for us to ask.

Lori Dolnick is a regular contributor to ::Surroundings::

See all Lori's posts here.

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blogfest 2011 - Traditional Home presents The Heritage Collection

Last week, one of the highlights of Blogfest2011 was the opportunity to meet with three of our very favorite past guests on The Skirted Roundtable. On Tuesday, we were bussed out to Long Island City to Mayo Studios for Kravet's launch of the Lee Jofa Heritage Collection,  hosted by Traditional Home magazine.  Six designers who have previously done lines for Kravet/Lee Jofa were asked to update a classic Lee Jofa fabric and then create a vignette around the fabric, which was photographed for an upcoming Traditional Home. On hand were David Easton, Diamond & Baratta, Eric Cohler, Suzanne Kasler, Suzanne Rheinstein and Thomas O'Brien. Each designer kindly met, stood for photographs and signed autographs with the bloggers in attendance.

I beat a path to the fan lines of SRT alumni Suzanne Rheinstein, David Easton and Suzanne Kasler, all of whom couldn't be nicer.

David Easton chatting with Kravet's Scott Kravet

All these vignettes were created in a big, cavernous loft space - it was a lot of fun seeing what these design icons could do in such small spaces.

Mayo Studios is a photography and design studio that specializes in the home design products:

 Mayo Studios image for Kravet Fabrics

All images by Linda Merrill unless otherwise noted.

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blogging on "Million Dollar Decorator" on Bravo

I just finished watching an advance screener of the first episode of BravoTV's "Million Dollar Decorator" starring LA design icons Kathryn M. Ireland, Mary MacDonald, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Nathan Turner and Jeffrey Alan Marks. The show premiers on Tuesday, May 31st and I will be blogging on it and doing interviews with all the decorators. I have to say that it's quite brave of these designers to let the cameras document their personal lives and client interactions because let's face it, we're not always ready for prime time and episode 1 is a bit of an eye opener. It's a rare world of celebrity, wealth and status that few decorators will ever know with parties, planes and anything goes budgets. That said, it's also a pressure cooker where the clientele is used to getting what they want when they want it and a disappointed celeb client can jeopardize a career. Celebrities are sure to make appearances, such as Sharon Osborne who tasked Martyn LB with decorating a new apartment - start to finish - in under two weeks. Retail shopping on a huge budget - a girl can only dream...

A little inside tidbit - last fall, we interviewed Kathryn on The Skirted Roundtable. I think we rescheduled 3 or 4 times because of her shooting schedule on the show. Oh how I wish the cameras were there when Joni, Megan and I chatted her up during cocktail hour! Now that would have been fun. Meanwhile, I have a few minutes of recording where Kathryn spoke about the show, which she requested be removed from the SRT podcast because they were still filming and it was too soon to publicly talk about it. I'll have to ask Bravo and Kathryn for permission to post it here. Hopefully they'll say yes.

Meanwhile, who wants to watch Million Dollar Decorators with me?

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Life is hard enough, but it can be balanced with beauty and gentleness" - Barbara Barry

(image courtesy of Blogfest2011)

On Tuesday of Blogfest, we were treated to a tasty "picnic" luncheon in the Lee Jofa showroom at the D&D Building. Lee Jofa is launching a Lilly Pulitzer line of fabrics and they were every bit as bright and cheery as one would expect! A really nice treat during a week of non-stop dreary weather outside and the unremitting dreariness of The Ace hotel. The luncheon was a lovely affair with fried chicken, cold roast beef and assorted veggies. We also had time to relax and chat and I spent a nice long time chatting with fellow New England designer bloggers Katie Rosenfeld, Leslie Fine, Mally Skok and Julianne Covino.

After lunch, we were treated ( and it was a true treat!) to a talk by the lovely and elegant Barbara Barry. Ms. Barry talked about her design inspirations and introduced us to her new collection for Kravet called Indochine. Here are some of my tweets during her talk:

I think the whole room was very enthralled by Ms. Barry. Following her talk, we retreated to the Kravet showroom for tea while Barbara showed off her collection to a "paparazzi" like crowd: 

Lovely. Following tea with Ms. Barry, we were bussed over to the Mayo Studios in Long Island City for the Traditional Home party celebrating The Lee Jofa Heritage Collection. More to come on that!
All photos by Linda Merrill for ::Surrounings:: unless otherwise noted.

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bloggers take Manhattan

Last Monday, over 100 design bloggers converged on Manhattan for a three-day  series of events sponsored by Kravet Fabrics. I took the 6:30AM train out of rainy New England and arrived a little before 11:00 in rainy Manhattan. In the way of modern communications, I ended up sharing a taxi with Kate van Geldern from DomestiKatedLife blog, arrangements made on Twitter.

Monday featured a day of events at the gorgeous Gold LEED certified Hearst Tower. Of course, what we hoped we'd see was this:

With a view like this from the 44th floor where we were set to have lunch:

(photo courtesy of Blogfest 2011)

Instead, our view was this:

But, that was okay, as old and new friends, those who knew people only by Twitter handles or blog names and those who had been conversing by email and phone call met and hugged their hellos. 28 US states and 5 provinces of Canada were represented in the group.  I didn't take too many photographs of the luncheon or the rest of the day for that matter. Too busy people watching and getting to know people.

We were greeted by the Kravet team, including president Scott Kravet, who told of the seven month process of creating this major event. It was certainly a huge PR coup for the Kravets and well deserved. They reported a mind-blowing statistic that every 50 tweets resulted in 100,000 impressions. After lunch, we all moved into a seminar room for a series of lectures.

 (photo courtesy of Blogfest 2011)
The first panel discussion was with the editor's in chief's of Town & Country (Mark Rozzo ) , House Beautiful (Newell Turner), Veranda (Dara Caponigro) and moderated by Kravet's VP of Marketing & Communications Beth Greene. Following this opening panel were three panels featuring the senior editorial staffs of each individual publication along with their respective eic's. They shared their backgrounds (all publishing roads lead through House Beautiful apparently) and some history of each publication. Now, there is no question that House Beautiful and T&C are storied publications. However, in general, there was little real back and forth about the relationship between traditional publishing and the bloggers in the room and it felt a bit too much like a lecture for the great unwashed. That's a little harsh, but not entirely untrue. I think it would have been more interesting and more educational for both sides if instead of panel discussions, it had been more of a roundtable set up with an editor talking to a small group of bloggers. Perhaps next year. Meanwhile Mark Rozzo, who replaced the short lived Stephen Drucker at the helm of T&C was a big hit with the ladies (all but about 10 attendees were ladies).

After an afternoon of all things Hearst, the next stop was the Elle Decor Modern Life Concept House. ED is the newest jewel in the Hearst crown, their acquisition being announced a couple of months ago. Since I skipped this event in favor of getting settled at my hotel, I'll post ED's video:

On Monday evening, Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo and Jonathan Legate who host DesignTV tweetchats on Twitter, along with Joss and Main, hosted a fun party at the Eventi hotel. My hotel the oddly dark, loud and hipster hotel The Ace was luckily only a block a way.The image below was not my room, but very similar. The rug was black, the walls were black & gray, the lights very dim and there was mere inches of surface space. But, the bed was very comfortable with pristine sheets. And, I had the most delicious baked 3 cheese sandwich at the Breslin restaurant attached to the hotel. Yum.

And so ended day 1. Day two featured a lovely "picnic" lunch at the new Lilly Pulitzer studio in the Lee Jofa showroom followed by a fantastic talk by Barbara Barry, who introduced her new Indochine fabric line for Kravet, and a tea with Ms. Barry in the Kravet showroom. More on that in my next post. To say she was a highlight is an understatement.

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Friday, May 20, 2011

10 Things I Wish I'd Been Told for Williams Sonoma Home

I was asked by the folks at Williams Sonoma to write a series of articles on the business of design. I was very flattered by this because I sometimes struggle with keeping the right balance between being a professional designer and being a design blogger. I try to do both equally well, but the blogging has so far brought me larger recognition and that is what it is intended to do. However, being asked to contribute my thoughts on the actual business of design from a designers perspective is gratifying.

My first article has been posted and it's called "10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Started My Design Business". 20/20 is hindsight and I hope this is helpful to anyone who is just starting out!

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Off to Blogfest 2011!

I am leaving on a very early 6:30 train Monday morning heading to New York for four days to attend Blogfest 2011. Kravet and Lee Jofa created this event for design and lifestyle bloggers. It's basically an all-access pass to all the shelter magazines (House Beautiful, Veranda, Town&Country, Elle Decor, Arch Digest, Traditional Home) and includes events with design icons like Barbara Barry, David Easton*, Suzanne Rheinstein *, Suzanne Kasler *, Eric Cohler, Thomas O'Brien and more.  (* past guests on The Skirted Roundtable).We'll also be visiting the Elle Decor Concept House, ICFF and Kips Bay. Whew! It's a design overdose! You can follow all the excitement through the twitter hashtag #blogfest2011. On Monday at 1:00PM EST, there will be a livestream of the opening panel discussion with the Heart magazine editors on the importance of blogs to the print industry today. Should be fascinating stuff! Posts to come!

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Friday, May 13, 2011

::Surroundings:: magazine: Behind the Cover Shoot of our new issue!

I've just published my latest issue of my digital magazine ::Surrounings:: Guide to Decorative Living and wanted to share the back story of the cover photo, styled by me and shot by Michael J. Lee.

 As we did with the last issue, the cover shot was done in a design showroom. This time, we took over The Cabinetry Kitchen and Bath Studio which is located in Hingham, MA.  I took some scouting shots to start the planning process of figuring out which of their beautiful kitchen set ups would work as the backdrop of the cover shot.  I sent the pics to Michael as well. I was leaning towards the white kitchen wall below because it seemed so classic.

From the images I sent him, Michael liked this one for the cross windows and vent-hood and that it was a stove set up, plus we thought we could use the butcher block island as a table for the foreground. 

My personal favorite was this sink and bead board cabinet set up. I liked that it had natural light coming from windows on the left, but was concerned that the gray paint would be too dull for a spring photograph. Never underestimate the power of Michael and his camera to make magic!

 Here's a shot of the big room in the design studio with all our stuff piled about. Luckily, The Cabinetry was closed on Monday (yes, we shot the cover only four days ago!) so we had it completely to ourselves.
My "story" for the shot was an indoor lobster bake with a table set up in the foreground and the kitchen in soft-focus in the background. Since I didn't design the kitchen, I wanted to focus more on the styling with the kitchen itself as a backdrop. I borrowed a some pieces of blue patterned Portuguese pottery from a friend who has a large collection and I had the red/white mini-check table cloth and toile napkins. So, the red and blue color palette was set.  We borrowed the Dunes and Duchess 4-arm Chandelier which I thought would add a unique touch to the look.  I didn't want things to be too "July 4th" since this is the May/June issue, so we skewed the accessories towards a more vintage look.

So, when Michael and I got to the showroom on Monday morning, many bags and boiled lobsters in hand, we hadn't actually finalized our shot selection. Ultimately, we did decide to go with the Medallion Cabinet set up which required us to squeeze a very, very heavy table into the room.  The problem was that the room simply wasn't big enough to accommodate the table set up and the camera. Of course, as the designer, I look at the photographer and said "well, that's your dilemma".

As you'll see below, Michael set up the camera outside the room, in a hallway, effectively shooting through two doorways.

Another issue was that the side cabinets were not the same color as the central cabinets, which looks fine in a showroom setting, but wouldn't have worked as well in a tight shot. Plus, the Dunes & Duchess candelabra wouldn't stand out the way we wanted it to. So, with the power of photoshop, Michael was able to "paint" the left hand cabinet to match the lower cabinets.

And the final outcome...

Thanks again to Michael Lee for his beautiful photography and to Marlene Ketchen at The Cabinetry!
Also, check out Michael's blog for his take on the photoshoot!

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!

 Subscribe to ::Surroundings::