Sunday, June 26, 2011

A little decorating news

It's been two weeks since my last post and I think this has been the longest I've gone between posts in nearly 5 years. I miss you all! There's been a lot of great things happening on my side of the planet which I can't wait to share!

I've several projects in various stages development. I've been working on a living room plan for a young couple who wants more sitting and lounging room in their living room, plus improved wall storage and display. Here are two of the plans for the wall cabinetry that includes a fireplace and the television and components hidden behind the cabinets on the right. Currently, all these shelves are open and the television set is above the fireplace. The first plan shows 2/3 height doors with open shelving above.

In this version, we pulled out the cabinetry on the bottom 18" to be flush with the projection of the hearth to create bench seating and hide the a/v equipment. A second set of recessed cabinets is above hiding the television set. And over top is open shelving to the ceiling for display. The ceilings are relatively low, so the floor to ceiling cabinetry will help draw the eye upwards, giving a feeling of height.

Below is a sketch I did of a custom tufted sofa with over scale ottoman to create a versatile and modular sofa/chaise.  Ultimately, this was nixed due to the high cost, but it was fun to flesh out the design and get it quoted from my upholsterer.
Another new project I've been working on is a home for a retired couple who will be using the house when they aren't wintering in southern climes or staying at their beach cottage on the outer Cape. This is part of the first floor plan. The colors are not set in stone yet, but I do like the idea of blue and cream for the sun porch.  We are selecting wall colors, ordering Plantation shutters for the windows, new sofas and dining room set, carpeting in the bedrooms and loft space. They are using some of what they already own and we're mixing in new pieces.

I've also just started a new beach house project which I am incredibly excited about. It's such a new project that I don't have drawings or floorplans done yet, but it's going to include a new kitchen, entry way, mudroom wall, lavatory, dining room and living room that has three distinct areas. One of the areas is a tiny step-down place that has a small vaulted ceiling. My plan is for a private reading nook with library shelves and a super comfy built-in day bed that will also provide extra over-night sleeping accommodations. We're meeting at the cabinetry shop this week to select styles and finishes for the kitchen and then we'll be off and running.   One thing I am loving about this project is that it's going to be comfortable and casual, appropriate for the age of the house and the beachy atmosphere of the neighborhood. Yet, with all that it will still be pretty!

I've been doing a lot of freelance writing recently and wanted to share some articles that have been published around the country:

Six Window Dressing Tips from a Design Pro - Chicago Tribune & LA Times

Have you been watching Million Dollar Decorators? I think it's a gas and, in its own crazy way, very inspiring.  It's fun to watch such high end decorators have all the same problems the rest of us do and to hear them say "I know what's right". While it sometimes sounds very pushy, the reality is that people hire design professionals because they want the job done right and said professional will stand up for what he or she feels is the right choice. Btw, I may be interviewing one of the decorators later this week, if we can make the schedule work!

What are you doing for the Fourth? I am headed out to Tanglewood at the end of this week. James Taylor is performing with the Boston Pops on Friday night and I will be there with bells on and a picnic on the lawn!

Whew. Well, hopefully this won't be my last post of the week, but if it is, you'll know what I'm up to!

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse 2011: My favorite house elements

When I was in New York last month for Blogfest, I had the chance to go to my first Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. Hard to believe it was my first one! I was able to go before the doors opened as I was interviewing Joy Light of Cayley Barrett Associates, Ltd. the design/build firm who did the master bathroom. I'll have a detailed post about that beautiful bathroom and my nice chat with Joy shortly.

Meanwhile, as there have been many other bloggers who have already posted their thoughts (positive and negative) on the showhouse (links below), I figured I'd showcase my favorite elements in the house. There was a lot to love, but also a lot to be critical of as well.

Bedroom by Amanda Nisbet Design - What I liked: AND's exhuberant "Pink Lemonade" wallpaper with the formal paneled walls.

Campion Platt's "Ode To Jock" room - love the hardware on the near-jib door.

Cayley Barrett Associates, Ltd.  - Master bathroom - love, love the waxed limestone tile installed on the diagonal 

Jamie Herzlinger Interiors's "His Master Bath" featuring a striking black and white marble tile floor and  Macassar Ebony cabinetry. 

The public restroom by Cayley Barrett Associates, Ltd. (who have long done the public restrooms for Kips Bay) featured gold painted walls using Benj. Moore's metallic gold paint over a black base. I particularly like the t.p. "cabinet".

Richard Mishaan Design did the large and exquisitely classic living room that was once decorated by Sister Parish for one time owner Jock Whitney. The 40-ft living room was filled with an eclectic mix of art, accessories and furnishings. I loved the orange trellis patterned grasscloth wallpaper mixed with the ornate millwork and the over the top ornately gilded mirrors flanking the fireplace. Apparently, Mr. Mishaan (according to an article in the NY Times) initial reaction to the mirrors was "Oh, no!"...  I said the same for much of what he put in the room. Not my favorite.

Wayne Nathan did the front staircase which featured a spectacular chandelier and a spectacularly bad "art" display by Aakash Nihalani made from electrical tape.Perhaps I'm just not hip enough, but the tumbling blocks motif was childish looking in such a spectacular space. Besides, I don't care to be reminded of things that tumble while walking down a flight of stairs.

Matthew Patrick Smyth's Dining Room featured a beautiful hand painted wall mural made in the 1970's and given to the owner of the house by the sister of Madame Mao. The entire dining room as a study in genteel elegance. I particularly loved the Jacques Jarrige chandelier which brought free-form movement to the otherwise very formal and tightly controlled space. 

Celerie Kemble's design turned the original, very masculine library into a romantic ladies lounge. The double settee in a Schumacher striped pink was my favorite!

Bilotta Kitchens did the butler's pantry and kitchen.  Both featured some to-die-for elements such as the backsplashes and countertops.

In the butler's pantry, the back splash was from Artistic Tile, the counter was Roja Alacante marble by Eastern Stone. The matching faucets in the pantry and kitchen were not listed in the resources for the room so I am assuming they are original to the house.

The backsplash in the main kitchen is also Artistic Tile. The copper countertops (featuring some gorgeous patina) by Brooks Custom.

Sadly, and embarrassingly, I missed the rest of the house. Since I was there before it opened to do an interview, I went straight to the master bath on the second floor and worked my way down from there. I wondered that it was so small, but didn't have the program guide at hand. The house opened to visitors while I was in the kitchen and from there, it was just a quick scoot out the front door (not being a fan of crowds, I was anxious to get out when they started coming in!).

Loved the facade with the tree meandering up the side of the building.

For more coverage, check out these blogs: Stylebeat, Curbed, Habitually Chic, Lonny blog, What is James Wearing, Elements of Style, Architect Design, Coco + Kelley

And stay tuned for my in-depth post about the master bathroom and interview with Joy Licht, founder of the design/build firm Cayley Barrett Associates, Ltd.

All photos by Linda Merrill.

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Skirted Roundtable: Chatting about Million Dollar Decorators

This week at The Skirted Roundtable, we chatted about Million Dollar Decorators. Check it out!

Don't forget to join in the fun on Twitter at hashtag #mddbravotv or #milliondollardecorators or #mdd while you're watching! (sorry West Coast!)

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!
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Saturday, June 04, 2011

Insider's View: Design on a Dime

As a blogger, one of the most frustrating aspects of being so keyed into the design scene across the country is the fact that there isn't enough time or money to attend all the amazing events that take place. Even though New England isn't far from New York City, it's still not that easy to pop down for an afternoon or evening event and so for many things, I must live vicariously through the eyes of others.  The "Design on a Dime" event was recently in NYC. Put on by Housing Works, which provide services for homeless and low-income New Yorker's living with HIV/AIDS, this is a three day event to raise funds for their mission. Having lost a very dear friend to AIDS twenty-one years ago, this is a cause close to my heart. The highlight of this 3-day event were the 55 room vignettes created by a stellar roster of designers and celebrities. Much of the merchandise showcased in the vignettes is donated and then sold off to raise funds. Having fun while doing good work is a win win for all.

This was an event that I would have loved to attend, but unfortunately wasn't able to get there.  I was thrilled when participating designer Patrick J. Hamilton offered to share these beautiful photographs, by Jody Kivort, of his eclectic vignette. He says of his space:
The challenge here was getting a lot of sell-able products into a small footprint, but still have it feel realistic as a stylish room, and reflect me as a designer... layers of light, a mix of eras and high/low sources... Plus, I was able to flex my color muscle, since this event calls for a bit of theatricality! The generosity of the vendors was humbling and inspiring. So many people said yes, immediately and unconditionally. The challenge after that was to get it all looking like a designed and polished room... not just a trade show booth!

As Patrick stated, the generosity of vendors who donated goods for these vignettes is always inspiring and he wanted to particularly acknowledge Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Wisteria, Currey & Company, NIBA Rugs and the Alpha Workshops for their participation.

A few bonus images provided by Larry Ruhl of High Falls Mercantile featuring their vintage inspired vignette. (images courtesy of High Falls Mercantile)

Love the vintage plates and wallpaper covered walls.

You can read more on High Falls Mercantile's blog about their vignette and get links to further coverage and here is Patrick's blog post about how he pulled his space together. Lots of work for a great cause!

Thanks Patrick and Larry for sharing!

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!
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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

La Belle France at Boutique Belle Escape

Belle Escape, a leading online retailer of hand-painted cottage style furniture, recently announced the launch of Belle Maison Francaise (Belle Maison), a new online store that specializes in stylish French furniture and decor.

“French furniture is experiencing a modern-day renaissance,” says Donna Jensen-Madier, founder of Belle Escape and Belle Maison. “Designer showrooms are filled with gorgeous reproductions of Louis and French Provencal style furniture, featuring classic shapes adorned with finishes and fabrics that appeal to today’s aesthetic sensibilities. Belle Maison makes it easy to find the most in vogue French furniture from designer showrooms right online.”
 A revival in French furniture has been noted as one of the top 2011 furniture trends by industry experts worldwide. Top interior designers agree.

The folks at Belle Escape asked my views on French style in today's interiors. This is what I had to say: “I've always found that French style is consistently popular with design clients because of its timeless classic style, elegant yet comfortable designs and how well these pieces mix with more modern furniture forms.

Belle Maison segments its furnishings by style, including French Chic, Vintage French, Versailles Chic, Old Provence, French Country and Chateau. As a full-service online furniture store, Belle Maison offers custom finish options, special programs for interior decorators, free shipping on furniture shipped within the continental U.S. and personalized consultations.


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

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Million Dollar Decorators: Episode 1

Mary McDonald and Nate Turner arrive for Kathryn Ireland's birthday party bearing quite a cake!

Okay, so my initial thoughts on MDD Episode 1: These designers all took an incredibly huge risk in doing this show. They risk looking unprofessional, ungrateful and unkempt. On the other hand, how many of us, when under considerable stress, would look and act great with cameras trailing around after us 100% of the time? When I blogged on Bravo's Top Design, the designers on those shows had relatively little public profile - the were all professionals, but not quite big names either. Twitter and FB didn't play a big role, but this time, the people tweeting and commenting are a highly professional and dedicated group of professional designers (some with as big, or bigger careers than those on the show). And, the initial commentary is a very mixed bag indeed.  Many negative comments were flying via public tweet and private message. These shows are produced because they are dramatic and there's big business in drama. Mix the drama with celebrity (Sharon Osborn plays a big role in epi 1) and million dollar budgets and BravoTV is in pig heaven. Professional designers all seem a bit leary - will this make the rest of us look bad? Will the long held negative stereotypes of our industry (stereotypes regarding blown budgets, overbearing decorators and clients not getting what they want) be reinforced? Or, will we see real people, warts and all, just trying to satisfy a demanding clientele? After all, Sharon O seemed completely unfazed at making Martyn Lawrence Bullard completely decorate a new apartment in a matter of days. And, one wonders, what other client's work was pushed aside in order to accomplish this feat? Time will tell. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Meanwhile, here's a round up of places to go to hear what others are saying:

There were three tweet hashtags going on during episode one. A little crazy, but some of the best commentary comes in less than 140 characters. I highly recommend using because it makes following all the aggregated tweets so much easier, plus, it appends the hashtag on automatically.

#mddbravotv (the one I use)

Mary McDonald is shocked that her clients are getting a divorce and are selling the house that MM not only decorated, but also considers her own.

Some of my favorite tweets: 
@amandawaas: Here's a tip: never let anyone with the word "teen" in their age plan a party. All you'll end up with is a bag of Fritos and tears. #mdd -11:21 PM May 31st, 2011

Whitney A. Westbrook

In others' words: recaps from the blogosphere: (this section may be added to throughout the week, so check back!)

Design Blahg - THE funniest captions
Raina Cox on Curbed offers her designers' eye and knows the difference between Eames and van der Rohe, unlike a certain $$$$$$$$$ decorator 

Will you be back for Episode Two?

Who is your favorite designer so far?
Kathryn M. Ireland
Mary McDonald
Martyn Lawrence Bullard
Jeffrey Alan Marks
Nate Turner free polls
Who was your favorite non-designer charachter?
Ross Cassidy (JAM's bf and assistant)
4 pug dogs (Mary McD's)
Kathryn Ireland's French Housekeeper
Kathryn Ireland's sons
Sharon Osborne free polls

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

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