Archives for September 2016

09/30/2016

Autumn Style – Let Nature Take Its Course

Nature’s pageantry gets a bit show offy in autumn. The leaves give us their fiery grand finale. Biceps get a workout from making stews thick with root vegetables. Oilcloth coats are freed from storage. Decorating for the season is at its best when following fall’s ardent spirit.

Leaves changing their colors creates their own spectacle.

Autumn saturated leaves direct the season’s decor theme.

Keep accents cohesive over competitive. Colored textiles, pumpkins and foods offer subtle highlights to a home.

A yard entry signals the season with an autumn colored bunting.

A yard entry signals the season with an autumn colored bunting.

Creating An Outdoor Table Setting:

Dine outdoors simply yet stylishly by playing off of autumn’s notes.

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  1. Dress up your outdoor table: Add a tablecloth that picks up surrounding colors with an additional blue hue for a personalized approach.
  2. Embellish: A fall bunting shows whimsy.
  3. Gather your gourds: Give pumpkins a break from your doorstep and decorate on the table for seasonality.

The Supporting Cast:

Bring in accents that share autumn’s theme.

  1. Decorative appeal: A tray of colored acorns add shimmer.
  2. Savory style: Fall themed chocolates support the look and satisfy sugary cravings.
  3. Alternative pumpkins: “Porcelain Doll” pumpkins are an unexpected gourd to soften a vignette.
Themed chocolates to indulge the senses.

Fall themed chocolates coordinate to a brown transferware plate.

The Goods:

Fall banner: Lemony Stitch

Tablecloth: Libeco Linen

Burlap bunting: Etsy

Tray: Julia Knight Collection 

Colored acorns: Woods and Whimsy

Fall chocolates: Moonstruck Chocolate Company

Porcelain Doll pumpkin seeds: Burpee

09/27/2016

Slow Luxury – Handmade Makes a Difference

Good things take time. Great things take even longer, which are early lessons learned from children’s stories about cocky hares and hard-working hens. In luxury goods a piece that is handmade, while time consuming, garners our splurge because it meets our standards.

Chez M'Lain works with over 200 artisans who have learned their hand skills over time.

Chez M’Lain works with over 200 artisans who have learned their hand skills over time.

It is hard to imagine hand loomed pieces lost as a result of a machine’s ability to replicate the production process like groceries checked from a self-scanner. That our children will only know of genuine embroidery or crafted items from paintings they learn in Art History. While the world has become clever and efficient, those who value real versus machine made are also likely attuned to vegetables being pulled from natural soil or wrinkles treated with French creams over a surgeon’s intrusion on our natural appearance. We don’t want to compromise quality whether it be something we eat, use or how we look. Such is the calling of Chez M’Lain designer Amelia Fendell.

“We are living in an interesting time,” says Amelia. “Technology has enhanced most experiences and unequivocally created a demand for immediate gratification. Whether it be quick information, a quick view of product, a quick ship item–the world has shifted into a fast gear that has created demands for fast response.”

Enjoying life at a slower pace with fine things that are handmade adds to the experience. It is these little luxuries, which make the difference between an occasion and a celebration.

Enjoying life at a slower pace with fine things that are handmade adds to the experience. It is these little luxuries, which make the difference between an occasion and a celebration.

In choosing pieces you want to live with, decorative items do not follow the assembly line process of making a sandwich. “Chez M’Lain does not operate at the same speed. We are in a much slower gear, a careful and conscious gear that celebrates the time honored skills of craftsmanship and quality material,” says Amelia.

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Why Handmade Makes A Difference

  • The cost may be higher but the value is greater. It’s a sensible purchase that will outlive trends and endure.
  • There is a singular appeal to the item that adds a quality look to your home and style.
  • You are contributing to the art form of handmade and keeping craftspeople at work.
The tension of a craftsperson’s draw or pull on the thread, the cloth or loom, is the unique fingerprints of the artisan. They give each piece their individuality and a uniqueness of its own.

The tension of a craftsperson’s draw or pull on the thread, the cloth or loom, is the unique fingerprints of the artisan. They give each piece their individuality and a uniqueness of its own.

Today’s consumers can identify dozens of logos and where to get them fast. The educated consumer is wearier to click and proceed to checkout until they truly identify with the product’s worth. “Basically, I spend on quality not quantity,” says Amelia. “I am not swayed by designer logos and brands because having worked in the industry for so many years I know the defining difference that long lasting quality comes from the designer’s choice to choose the finest materials and utilize superior craftsmanship. I know good things take time and I am prepared to wait for quality,” she says.

09/23/2016

Fab Prefabs – Luxurious and Green

Building homes so large cell phones are needed as tracking devices is one way to keep family apart. Sustainable design in prefab homes take a different approach, to utilize square footage effectively with an attention to style and comfort.

This Catskills residence by Resolution: 4 Architecture is both stunning and efficiently designed.

This Catskills residence by Resolution: 4 Architecture is both stunning and efficiently designed.

Today’s architects are attune to climate changes and an unpredictable economy. Sensible builders consider dwindling resources and how to live with the style and efficiency of a 24K iPod. Household budgets should not be squandered on heating rooms that are used on occasion. Incorporating sustainable methods to stay within budget is smart living, the premise of new luxury prefabs.

A Vermont prefab residence illustrates sustainable living via materials and design.

A Vermont prefab residence illustrates sustainable living via materials and design.

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Prefabricated homes emphasize quality while being manufactured offsite to minimize costs. Luxury prefabs layer on architectural interest, which promotes living within one’s needs rather than compete to be the biggest on the block. Every room is utilized, a practice that follows sustainable building. Joseph Tanney, a prefab architect with Resolution: 4 Architecture, merges green with superior design.

Tanney used his experience from building high-end loft spaces in Manhattan to help develop a system of design called the Modern Modular. The majority of the Modern Modular home is built offsite and then delivered in modules, like big Legos, which is less of a strain on the local ecosystem.

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Renderings of a RES4 Long Beach home

Renderings of a RES4 Long Beach home.

The new luxury prefab is one part organic and another part futuristic. “There is a strong sense of arrival, a smart transition from the automobile into house,” says Tanney. Organic symmetry happens between the interior and exterior from its use of glass, wood and earthy elements. “There is  a well designed exterior space, decks, terraces and outdoor fireplaces,” says Tanney.

Other features include state-of-the-art kitchen and communal area, built-in cabinetry for storage, low-maintenance quality materials such as bamboo floors, well-insulated windows, solar panels, green roofs and natural landscaping.

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In this Catskills residence by RES4, kitchen cabinetry has design appeal while providing ample storage.

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A fluid design via color, appliances and an artful backsplash offer design interest. Open shelving and overhead range show form and function.

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Glass windows and doors, stone fireplace and sufficient lighting, take inspiration from the outdoors.

A prefab home is comfortable, economical and allows you to live in a designer shade of green.

Joseph Tanney and the Modern Modular Advantage:
  • Modern home design can be transformed to take advantage of the economical, environmental and structural benefits of standard, proven construction techniques.
  • Advances in home construction technology have transformed the way in which houses are made, through factory assemblyderived construction techniques. 
  • Through a keen understanding of the central role that the American house plays in daily life, Modern Modular seeks to allow the home building industry to meet the needs and desires of homeowners of the 21st century.
  • A full line of houses can fit into different uses, be it a solitary residence, weekend home, or fullfamily house.
  • Houses are fully customizable to meet functional requirements of different locations and climates.
  • Homes are easily expandable and transformed, allowing Modern Modular homes to grow and adapt to its residents.
  • Using the same customizable structure available in purchasing personal computers, Modern Modular transforms the traditional relationship between architect and client in home construction.
Modern Modular home, designed by Resolution: 4 Architecture.

Photography by Resolution: 4 Architecture.

09/17/2016

Ultimate Cottage Bathroom

A true indication of a successful relationship is the ability to share a bathroom. It helps when the room has all the trappings of a great space: recessed lighting, high ceilings, chrome hardware, painted in Spirit in the Sky blue with stones that were individually plotted on a floor of gooey concrete. The main necessity is individual space, as seen with the dual sinks and medicine cabinets so your items don’t have to comingle.

My Laguna Beach cottage bath kept the family together with dual sinks and mirrors. Olivia's step stool gave a growing girl independence.

Our Laguna Beach bath kept the family from bickering with dual sinks and medicine cabinets. Olivia’s step stool gave a growing girl independence.

The Accents: Plush towels and artwork aren’t the only ways to inject style into a bathroom, treat the space with personal touches associated with common areas of the home. Family photos and jars containing finds from beach expeditions add a carefree look.

Styled Function: Vintage chairs accommodate extra items and colorful textiles. Keep items in pairs to make sharing more civilized.

Vintage items personalize and add an unexpected touch to a bathroom.

Vintage items personalize and add an unexpected touch to a bathroom.

The Goods:

University Round Knob: Waterworks

Benjamon Moore #676 Spirit in the Sky Paint: Benjamin Moore

Hotel Recessed Medicine Cabinets: Pottery Barn

Textiles: Kerry Cassill

09/15/2016

Organic School Lunch – Inside & Out

With all the parenting blogs, health sites and even a nifty little app that gives your daily calorie count, what to pack in your child’s lunch can be daunting. There’s also that moment of parental failure when your son comes home from school with part of his lunch left over. Or that Ian’s mom gives him homemade granola with dark chocolate nibs to mix in with his yogurt. (Ian’s mom does not work I have to remind). Preparing your child’s lunch is more than assembling deli meats on whole grain bread. That lunch box is dense with symbolism. It shows how we value good nutrition, the importance of an organic household and our home’s brand of style.

Reusable bento boxes with colorful lids and insulated steel are green and better looking than a Ziplock.

Reusable bento boxes with colorful lids and insulated steel are green and better looking than a Ziplock. Let the lunch goods make up for time not spent crafting food into mini art pieces.

 

Forget that my last report card was sent four presidents ago, I still feel like I am being graded when it comes to my child’s school lunch. His teacher must observe the kids who pull out bags of Oreos over those who have apples emblemed with Star Wars figures and how that translates to their behavior. In my elementary years all you needed for access to the popular table was a can of Hawaiian Punch and Fritos in a brown paper bag. (Lunch boxes were not cool). So how can you be the involved mom, prepare a nutritional lunch, not embarrass your kid, and respect the environment? Keep it simple yet styled, natural and involve your kids.

The Goods: In keeping a green household cotton canvas bags, cotton dinner napkins and Bento boxes are both a visual treat and keep food fresh and tasty. Just be sure to label them.

Nutritional Options: Consider all food groups when preparing lunch. A great way to sneak in vegetables is to add to the sandwich. Luc loves the crunch of a cucumber. Berries and fruit are always appreciated. Complete with nutritional packaged foods like raisins, vanilla flavored organic milk and graham cracker sticks for dessert.

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All food groups are represented along with packaged favorites that save crucial morning minutes. More flavor, less stress.

 

09/11/2016

Shopping Wood – Sustainable Is Stylish

You do not need to haul an ax in a flannel checked shirt to appreciate wooden accessories. In fact pieces made from reclaimed wood are timeless, green, yet very current. The material is working its way into everything from scented candles to sunglasses.

  1. Clutch purse 2. Austen clog mule 3. Wood business cardholder 4. Palms Yachtmaster glasses 5. Gemstone wood bracelet 6. Sagamore Rustic Cube Reclaimed Teak end table 7. “By the Fireplace” unisex fragrance 8. Teak cutting board 9. Clic wooden iPhone case 10. Barn door 11. Reclaimed wood mirror 12. Bergamot cedar candle 13. Serving tray 14. Montgolfier wood bag 15. Teakwood water bottle
09/06/2016

The Finer Things – Design by Christiane Lemieux

It’s hard to imagine Christiane Lemieux assembling backpacks and corralling kids for school but this is how the design doyenne lives. The mother of two resides in a downtown loft and on her time off from family duties sets the pulse in home decor. Perhaps motherhood is why her designs are spot on with her bold mix of geometric linens and chandeliers that appear modeled from Cleopatra’s jewelry box. Real people cannot worry about spillage on the cashmere throw.

boy's room designed with an attention to colors, wallpaper and fine pieces, copyright by David A. Land.

boy’s room designed with an attention to colors, wallpaper and fine pieces, copyright by David A. Land.

Lemieux’s life practices translate to her aesthetic. She values quality, sustainability and how urbanites in smaller spaces capitalize on good design. There is a personalized blend in a finer home that an interior designer cannot replicate with their paper furniture cutouts and decorator discounts at stores with their own catalog. You may find a leopard print rug aside a golden mid-century chaise or painting hung over heavy drapery. You won’t be able to go into the room and source where all the furnishings came from. In fact the owner most likely has a story on how the items were acquired to further distinguish their space. This is what Christiane Lemieux reveals in her new design book The Finer Things.

Bedroom with layered fabric treatments, copyright by Eric Piasecki / OTTO.

Bedroom with layered fabric treatments, copyright by Eric Piasecki / OTTO.

Lemieux avoids design rules but is true to a few basic principles that hinge on an appreciation of quality. “I am a Millennial at heart,” she says. “They are the generation who believes in quality.” While Millennials buy less they make the investment in quality pieces that can easily be supplemented with lesser-valued items. To Lemieux the approach is both modern and classic, like the Parisian woman who has the Hermes scarf all her life and supplements with pieces from Zara.

Dramatic use of paint and color, copyright by Eric Piasecki / OTTO; interior design by Steven Gambrel.

Dramatic use of paint and color, copyright by Eric Piasecki / OTTO; interior design by Steven Gambrel.

“People do not decorate with period end of sentence. It is fluid. A reflection as to who they are,” says Lemieux. She features a representation of rich spaces that do not follow a generic design formula but they all share an appreciation of finer things. “I found the best experts in their field,” she says. The professed researcher and “huge nerd” began the project by researching the Conde Nast archives, gaining insight on the history of quality design, the foundation of all enduring trends. For those interested in wallpaper she went to Mitchell Ehrlich who added such treatments to the White House.

Blue sitting area with upholstered furniture, copyright by Michael Paul / Living Inside.

Blue sitting area with upholstered furniture, copyright by Michael Paul / Living Inside.

In The Finer Things Lemieux guides readers to the world’s most elegant residences that feature a variety of styles. She formats the book into a design encyclopedia with supporting imagery and useful information on walls, floors, furniture, textiles, accessories and resources. Even the golden patterned hard cover has designer cred as a handsome book that will seamlessly fit on well-designed shelves or tables.

Office with salon wall, copyright by Roger Davies with permission of Architectural Digest; interior design by Kelly Wearstler.

Office with salon wall, copyright by Roger Davies with permission of Architectural Digest; interior design by Kelly Wearstler.

Christiane Lemieux’s Design Tips:

When to Invest: Put the research into strong investment pieces and where to take shortcuts.

Artisanal Approach: Pieces that are handmade by top craftspeople is a key component to quality design

To DIY or Not DIY: I love DIY but be aware of when to bring in the experts. Some things are more challenging, like wallpaper, and it will not meet your expectations unless it’s done correctly.

Comfort Is Foremost: Home is all about comfort, which loses its relaxed presence when it is overly done right down to the karate chop in the pillow.

Personalized Places: The most interesting homes are when people style it their own way.

Fashionable Features: Design is much more fluid. What we are seeing online and in fashion is all fusing into your home. Social media has blown the parameters off of what you can view. I compare design to fashion because it is much more of the moment. Once decorators were paid handsomely for projects that would be lived in for 20 years. People are now switching up their spaces more often.

Keeping It Real: I switch things up regularly due to the wear and tear from kids. I want guests to not feel they have to take their shoes off. Layers provide warmth, like throws and pillows, which can be switched out for the seasons. 

 

09/02/2016

Laura Ashley Update-Get the Look

For a girl who came of age in the 80s sleeping within walls papered with Laura Ashley’s signature pink rosebuds was a right of passage, like sipping wine coolers and flirting with the cute exchange student in class but less rebellious. Some of those pieces made it to your college dorm or the plush towels added a nostalgic quality to the pink tiled bathroom in your first apartment. (Yes, I am speaking from experience).

Two worlds collide with classic Laura Ashley prints, modernized, and accented with contemporary pieces. Sleek fixtures and glamour additions build on the theme.

Two worlds collide with classic Laura Ashley prints modernized and accented with contemporary pieces. Sleek fixtures and glamourous notes build on the theme.

Though can the unabashedly girly brand find a place in our contemporary, more experienced modern lives? It can. Classics endure but they are less frilly with the right layers. Penne Cairoli, the President of Laura Ashley USA says the latest collection is pretty and feminine but still remains smart looking.

A floral table setting is less granny china in chunkier shapes. The right accents add glamor and whimsy.

“Silver Serenity takes its inspiration from a new addition to our archives, this pretty Peony design in a wonderful palette of cyclamen and silver,” says Cairoli. “The collection was designed to appeal to the modern romantic, with blooms in neutral colours infused with pink.”

Laura Ashley’s All Grown Up: Signature florals evolved from the smaller ditsy prints Laura Ashley is famous for to more of an oversized floral that suits more contemporary designs.

Modernize the Look: Play with palette and scale. Use large floral prints together with stripes, checks and geometric prints.

Mix It Up: We’re quite fond of print mixing at Laura Ashley so as long as you keep in the same color family, it tends to work.

The Goods:

Beatrice floral cushion: https://www.lauraashleyusa.com/collections/home-furnishings-cushions-throws/products/beatrice-floral-cushion

Catalina silver stripe cushion: https://www.lauraashleyusa.com/collections/home-furnishings-cushions-throws/products/catalina-silver-stripe-cushion

Peonies floral silver cushion: https://www.lauraashleyusa.com/collections/home-furnishings-cushions-throws/products/peonies-floral-silver-cushion

Beatrice cyclamen wallpaper: https://www.lauraashleyusa.com/products/beatrice-cyclamen-wallpaper

Beatrice cyclamen fabric: https://www.lauraashleyusa.com/products/beatrice-cyclamen-fabric

Miller upholstery fabric: https://www.lauraashleyusa.com/products/miller

Bacall silver fabric: https://www.lauraashleyusa.com/products/bacall-silver-fabric

Corby check silver fabric: https://www.lauraashleyusa.com/products/corby-check-silver-fabric