06/09/2017

Decorating with Flowers – Peonies

I fall for limited editions. Perfume, ice cream flavors, printed socks–an exclusive holds cache. Peonies exude cache. Every year from late May to early June their tight fisted buds explode into feathery pink flowers that grip us with their scent and style. Part of the attraction is that as quickly as they enchant they then shrivel into the ground, like that icy beauty who will seduce and then leave town with someone cooler. Call it the limited edition flowers.

A bedside vignette takes on some va va voom with fully bloomed peonies. Note the linking colors of soft pastels, gold with a shock of pink.

Styling with flowers is a simple exercise, just allow the flowers to lead the direction. I always pick what’s seasonal and then see how they work within my scheme. Add accents, like jewelry boxes, dishes and decorative candles to build your vignette.

Even in a room with a different color scheme, the addition of a vibrant statement color through flowers contours the look to a styled direction.

Regardless of whether the flowers match your design or not, anything natural will always fit in.

A fresh bundle of peonies is so dramatic they add beauty without supporting cuttings.

Connect with color, textiles and art for a timeless look.

It’s not necessary to designate to your most public spaces–bedrooms, bathrooms, the office–all rooms deserve a floral touch.

Bring some style, and inspiration, to your work area with flowers.

 

05/26/2017

Ultimate Surf Shacks

Surf shacks bring to mind homes filled with beach finds a crusty sea captain would favor. Surf Shack//Laid Back Living by the Water by Nina Freudenberger proves the contrary. While the coastal-inspired homes do feature sandy spaces and dwellers with salt streaked hair in cut offs, they are also personal and curated.

A sunroom porch is styled with such beach staples as striped pillows and fouta throw. Blue ceiling are thought to ward off spirits but the dweller simply loves the look.

Freudenberger takes an anthropological interest in surf culture. She connects to profiles who are disengaged from mornings draining lidded coffees in pursuit of a 9:00 a.m. meeting, a dichotomy intimately understood from experiencing an east (Manhattan) to west (Venice) relocation. There is an admiration of a surfer’s daily incentive to get to the waves and not the office, cultivating a life central to that ambition. “A surf shack is not built around what you think you need, so much as it is about an understanding of all the things you don’t,” says Freudenberger.

A handprinted surfboard is at one with the artful design.

The spaces welcome imperfection–a style set around loved items over monied design. Call it relaxed authenticity. They traverse territories, ranging from California, Australia, Japan and New York. Residents are a mix of young families, creative people and entrepreneurs of a no-tie variety.

Eco-friendly fabric swatches from the Eskayel line seamlessly pair with a colorful surfboard in the Williamsburg, Brooklyn home of the Eskayel line’s owners.

5 Characteristics of Surf Shack Style

  1. Whether you are 500 steps or 500 miles from the swell, design has a connection to the outdoors through natural elements like plants and abundant sunlight.
  2. Room will always be made for personal collections and local art.
  3. Layer the look through textiles, color and materials.
  4. Impromptu guests are welcomed.
  5. Surfboards are part of the decor.

Reprinted from Surf Shack. Copyright © 2017 by Nina Freudenberger. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Brittany Ambridge. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

05/05/2017

A New Orleans’ Home Exterior Gets a Bright Makeover

A compact house in the Marginy district of New Orleans is so bright, visitors don’t need a house number to find it. Formerly in shades of green, an offbeat scheme to compensate for its lackluster, was reinvented into a sparkly gem thanks to a redesign by Julie A. Babin, Partner and Architect with studioWTA.

Babin first appraised the home as awkward and space-challenged, which she transformed into an inspired design with some clever manipulations. For the exterior the selection of festive colors is a nod to Jazzfest and the city’s exuberance, which is why the homeowner’s chose the city as their second residence.

The outdoor space’s completed redesign.

“This particular renovation was challenging because the site was extremely
small. The existing house was a one bedroom, one bathroom house,” says Babin

The home’s exterior has an inviting color pairing of butter yellow with bleached turquoise.

Babin reconfigured the kitchen and bath to include a second bedroom and detached office. They kept the existing pool in tact but removed a Jacuzzi to allot for the office at the end of the property. “We positioned both the master bedroom and office to overlook the pool creating a backyard oasis within a tight site and urban neighborhood,” says Babin.

She selected a Caribbean inspired palette for an instant awakening. “We decided to choose colors that would reflect the vibrancy of New Orleans,” she says.

While color is often viewed as a space offender, here the shades add dimension. The dramatic wall colors visually open up the pool area to provide a visually exciting contrast.  The open sky and accent lighting offer more illumination and add to the effect. “Choosing the right lighting is key,” says Babin. “For the exterior lighting of the renovation and new office we selected a wall sconce that provides a soft illumination and glow, similar to the lighting cast from the traditional gas lamps found in New Orleans and on the front of the home.”

The infusion of alteration, color and light have created a sort of Coachella in design, where the artistic mix creates a departure from the everyday. The tiny plot is treated as an advantage, cleverly contoured so all footage is utilized, with a resort appeal that captures the romance of staying in a grand-a-night island cabana.

Photography by Jeff Johnson

For more information on Studio WTA please visit http://studiowta.com.
04/21/2017

Stay Here: Luxurious Italian Treehouse

I want to travel to a treehouse and not with my child. Is there something fundamentally wrong with this? Though Casa Bartel is not your expected fort in a tree made from broken down orange crates for children enacting battles with styrofoam swords.

“No Kids Allowed.” A tree house built for romance or a creative escape, 20 minutes outside of Florence.

On the outskirts of Florence, the structure is plotted within a family compound that includes other residences, themed after the interior’s collections like the “Movie House” (decorated with vintage film posters) and “Ceramic House” (designed with handmade 18th century tiles).

The terrace acts as an additional room with views of the sublime grounds and Italian countryside.

Casa Bartel overlooks orchards, olive groves, the Tuscan landscape, pool, tennis court and a sole cypress tree. The terrace is spacious enough for dining, which you will share with the tree’s neighboring tenants of birds and the occasional squirrel. Inside and you will quickly forget that you climbed a narrow staircase up a tree to discover a room with a fireplace, bathroom and full-service kitchenette. The chalkboard wall behind the bed displays an artistic rotation of drawings and notes from past guests. The decor rivals most New York City apartments.

Travel has become a luxury service operation. We have glamping in pods equipped with wood burning tubs. Safaris where you can see wildlife outside a cabin that’s illuminated with antique chandeliers. Desert hotels with pools that can be dove into from a room’s terrace. Luxury tree houses are a natural extension for the traveler who doesn’t want to be close to nature but in it. While the sounds of birds and wildlife are engaging, there is something appealing to the swish of a running shower as well.

Creative impulses facilitated with a chalkboard wall.

Learn more about Casa Bartel at www.casabarthel.com. The owner’s design shop in Florence can be visited at www.riccardobarthel.it, www.desinare.it.

Photography by Elena Barthel

04/10/2017

Ultimate Guide to French Living

The French have their beautiful little phrases to sum up life lessons. A beloved style that somehow cannot be replicated unless your passport is from France. Their mannered customs that fail to crumble in a fast-paced world. It’s all intertwined, how life can follow a joie de vivre approach.

A colorful view of French life, as seen in France: Inspiration du Jour.

Americans have a tendency to try too hard. We purchase an abundance of things we don’t really need. Test health fads that don’t seem to work. Fall into the influence of marketing manipulation. The French aren’t as quick to change their storefronts. They market by connecting to the supplier who grows the food, sliding soil speckled produce into a reusable bag well before it was trendy.

The French find time to enjoy and reflect, which is important considering what’s involved in all the buttoning and tying when getting dressed in tailored clothing, beautifying their meals with inventive sauces, and setting a table that could stage an Old Master painting.

The artistry of a French meal as featured by Rae Dunn in France Inspiration du Jour.

Mimi Bleu of Belle Inspiration, a delightful magazine (which I happen to contribute to) and imaginative nook in the online world that interprets Paris through an American’s eyes. Mimi married a Parisian but her romantic sensibility doesn’t end there, she treats each day as an adventure and shares her city explorations with those who want to taste a sample. Mimi breaks down French living into three important segments, as follows:

Food/Markets

“The food markets are serious business here in France. Living in Paris, or even during your stay, you’ll soon get to know your local fromagerie, butcherie, patisserie and the all-important boulangerie for your fresh baguettes, croissants and sweet treats,” says Mimi.

Marketing the French way is the only way for Mimi Bleu. Photo courtesy of Belle Inspiration.

Passport to France? Bonjour

“The food vendors take pride in their products and will gladly share their freshest picks, or even the perfect recipe for the veal chop you purchased. The key is to always (did I say always?) greet them with ‘Bonjour.’ In fact, this is the golden key to open all of France – cafés, boutiques, offices–you name it, bonjour is the way to start to friendlier service. And don’t forget to leave with a merci, au revoir,” she says.

Flea Markets

“French flea markets, or marché aux puces, are truly a window into Frenchness. Again, bonjour is your key and an opening to better negotiations. The big market at Saint-Ouen (Clignancourt) is an endless display of anything you can imagine in every price range–so everyone leaves happy,” says Mimi.

Finds at a Marche aux Puces in Saint Ouen. Photo courtesy of Belle Inspiration.

“Smaller brocantes (popup flea markets) and vide-greniers (attic sales, the French version of a neighborhood garage sale) pop up all over the Paris arrondissements each month. These are a fun way to get some great deals in a relaxed atmosphere to strike up a conversation with the vendors. Don’t forget that bonjour!”

Décor

“French interior décor has many faces and styles. Today’s modern touches make sure there’s not too much gilt or heaviness. True French décor is never overdone. It’s all about subtlety…and fresh flowers,” she says.

Flowers are a main staple in a French household. Photo courtesy of Belle Inspiration.

“Authentic French pieces are almost always unpainted (except in the south of France where you’ll find more of that style), the natural beauty of the wood shines through. It seems to have two distinct looks: Traditional French period pieces from top to bottom or as I like to call it, ‘Eclectic French,'” says Mimi.

Selections at a marche aux puces. Photo courtesy of Belle Inspiration.

“Visiting my traditional French friends draws an image of true French home décor and it does still include marble-topped commodes, Louis XV a fauteuils and ornate gold frames are still surrounding oil paintings. Eclectic French is more modern, it works with touches of gilt and the classic French lines but the period pieces are calmed with modern touches. A glass coffee table in front of a carved settee. Modern lucite chairs slide under a dark wood dining table. An elaborate gilted mirror inherited from grandmother’s living fireplace sits atop a mid-century piece,” she says.

The blend, or melange, honors the past in a present day context. Photo courtesy of Belle Inspiration.

“Pieces passed down from generation to generation keeps the past alive and the French appreciate heritage. There’s a bit of a movement to move away from all that charm and beauty, to replace it with IKEA–quelle dommage! Fortunately, there are still many who insist on keeping those grand armoires, cachepots and gilted sconces.”

Louis XIV chaise is authentic with a modern sensibility from its upholstery.Photo courtesy of Belle Inspiration.

Two recently published illustrated books capture glimpses of French living. France Inspiration du Jour is a travelogue by artist Rae Dunn where the reader has a deviant feeling of sneaking a glimpse into her personal diary. Her watercolors bring to mind a fashion page that illustrates pieces on what to wear to a polo match. There are dreamy renderings of tea towels, roadways, a lot of food and the beauty found in a simple teacup. Or despite eating enough figs to warrant an Oompa Loompa cleanse she till has not tired of the fruit.

This is not a passageway. Dunn learns to navigate French roads by keeping a mindful eye on doorways that could be a safe haven from incoming cars.

With a cover designed in airmail colors and iconic city monuments, Say Bonjour to the Lady features authors Florence Mars and Pauline Leveque sketches on the difference in child rearing between New York and Paris.

Say Bonjour to the Lady takes on two great cities and their parenting philosophies.

Family

Covering such topics as school and holidays, the authors poke fun of both parenting methods in metropolitan life. There is a Manhattan home overrun with kid things aside an elegant Parisian dwelling void of any sign of children. At the beach an American toddler is seated beneath a beach umbrella, dressed in protected clothing, Swimmies and sunscreen, while the French child plays along the coast in the nude.

The French make us question our ways. If a trip the country is not in the plan, you can always take note of their customs with a bit of mind travel.

City backdrops and the children they influence.

Credits:

Belle Inspiration Magazine

Reprinted from France: Inspiration du Jour by Rae Dunn, published by Chronicle Books 2017.

Reprinted from Say Bonjour to the Lady. Copyright © 2017 by Florence Mars and Pauline Lévêque. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Pauline Lévêque. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

 

03/10/2017

Ultimate Wallpaper Guide

Wallpaper has evolved from manor house motifs and the loud prints of a Palm Beach cocktail dress (though we love those too.) Updated selections will give any room pizzazz. Choose from a colorful tableaux resembling Andy Warhol’s take on wildflowers to artistic compositions a muralist would create. Installation options also vary. There is the classic pasted paper method or–renters and dorm residents take note–self adhesive varieties.

Forget the artwork, the floral infused color of this design direct a room’s theme that is both modern and personalized.

 

  1. NYC Water Towers by Tom Slaughter 2. Parisian Dandelions 3. Connect Wash on White 4. Cloud Garden 5. Hoya 6. Hydrangeas 7. Jungle Dream 8. Small Flowers 10. Drawing Cactus Pattern 11. Lovely Gingham 12. Confetti 13. Pina 14. Cactus Spirit
03/01/2017

The Art of Adding Wallpaper – Finer Things by Christiane Lemieux Part II

Congratulations, if you read past the headline and are considering wallpaper in your home, the treatment will place you in a stylish coterie. Papered walls have glamorized rooms throughout history, shifting a functional room into a descriptive art piece. It’s not a simple addition, permanently sealing a print to your room’s wall is a decision as weighty as converting a shed or leaving the animal shelter with a new pet. While trends evolve, wallpaper styles adjust to the times but they will always add to a room’s gushing with love factor.

Fabric is used as wallpaper above the fireplace. The pattern, texture and color creates a layered contemporary classic at London’s Ham Yard Hotel. Copyright by Horst P. Horst / Vogue / OTTO / Conde Nast

In Christiane Lemieux’s latest design book, The Finer Things, she devotes a section to wallpaper. Lemieux is a proponent of quality and personalized style, dressing a room in a sophisticated look like a Parisian wearing a hat.

The Gottwald bathroom in Richmond, Virginia, is not your typical bathing experience. The addition of wallpaper with blended pieces amps the luxury factor, creating a design more expected in the lobby of a lux hotel. Courtesy of Bunny Williams.

Lemieux Guidelines: What You Need to Know About Wallpaper:

  1. History: Wallpaper descended from tapestries, which were used to warm up the interiors of those drafty old homes.
  2. Why It Stuck: A more decorative, affordable option than weighty works of art.
  3. Enduring Evolution: Still holds the same composite as papers dating back to the 17th century, just updated with the trends.
  4. Composition: When selecting papers, research on how it was made–hand painted, wood block, silkscreen techniques–or current developments like digital printing.
  5. Installation: Begin by priming the walls beforehand the way you would with paint, which allows the paper to adhere correctly. Though wallpapering a room is an intricate process that is more involved than coating a wall with paint, a project where considering an expert is a sensible expense.
  6. How Much Is Needed: While square footage in relation to the amount in a roll will make you dust off your math skills, err on over buying. Wallpaper will be cut and tossed due to the complexities of a room’s layout from the doors, windows etc.

The size and simple quality of this rouge grass cloth print by Phillip Jeffries is a simple installation that brings in a unique element to the room via the tactile feel and shade. Copyright by Benjamin Benschneider / OTTO

The Finer Things. Copyright © 2016 by Christiane Lemieux. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

02/07/2017

Floret Flowers Take the Chill Out of Winter

Winter doldrums have hit. The sad, spindly trees. Wearing so many layers I will need a reintroduction to my toes come spring. A dog who refuses to go out. While the change of seasons has its allure, I’d rather visit winter over a long weekend in an alpine cabin with heated floors. A way to beat the cold is to bring in elements that remind us of warmer days. Cut Flower Garden accomplishes exactly that with the best of the forgiving seasons without having to spend on an airfare headed south. Erin Benzakein is the master floral designer and maverick in the farm-to-centerpiece movement, sharing insight and inspiration from her farm, Floret Flowers.

Erin Benzakein gathering her tools of the trade.

From designing a flower bed to bundling a bouquet for Mother’s Day, Erin’s easy-to-follow guides enlighten on gardening and styling. The book also provides detailed information on the most popular blooms like dahlias, peonies and roses.

Erin grows around 400 rose bushes in countless varieties.

If you are at a loss on how to mix flowers ideas abound. Other insider morsels include increasing your bloom’s vase life by cutting the stem’s ends and using cool, fresh water. Learn how to make market tied bouquets, floral crowns and, as this is a seasonal guide, holiday wreath.

Lilacs should be picked early in the morning or evening to minimize wilting.

From seed to stem, lush imagery alongside expert guidance elevate the book from coffee table darling to dependable resource guide.

Cut Flower Garden has that alluring combo in being both beautiful and smart.

Photography by Michele M. Waite for Chronicle Books, 2017.

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02/03/2017

Designer Tara Bernerd’s Contemporary Style

Art Deco meets futurism in the spaces designed by Tara Bernerd, as if Jay Gatsby time traveled to the early 2000s and decorated his modernist den. In her new book, Tara Bernerd: Place (Rizzoli), Bernerd guides enthusiasts through a visual journey with a striking representation of homes, hotels and luxury interiors across the globe.

Contemporary is far from minimal in this space within a yacht.

Bernerd has pedigree. She worked with Phillippe Starck, contoured her training into her own aesthetic, and struck out on her own by establishing a firm in London. Bernerd’s layered approach respects curated pieces, an attention to art, and a genius approach to lighting.

Melding texture and tone while an attention to art and lighting add intrigue.

She understands how to make a place both inviting yet sophisticated with a clever assemblage of accents and treatments to warm up a room.

In this Hong Kong penthouse, a rich mix of textures, materials and treatments coalesce.

Subdued color schemes with the occasional injection of a statement shade, parlayed with a variety of materials, keep the designs from looking hackneyed.

A bathroom deviates from expected marble and white with an exquisite blend of color, pattern and materials, as seen in this space’s balance of brass and black with classic marble.

The lobby of the Four Seasons in Fort Lauderdale has the right combination of dramatic and comfortable.

Customized built-ins, “book-matched” walnut, and such opulent texture as leather and velvet direct the focus in this Central Park West apartment.

A mix of comfort and luxury define Tara Bernerd’s places as memorable, livable and secure their placement as architectural gems.

Tara Bernerd: Place is a rich compendium of luxurious spaces you can live in.

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01/25/2017

Ultimate Coastal Cottage Bedroom

As design trends follow the spikes and lows of a real estate graph, one style that remains consistent is the coastal cottage. Putting together a space that stirs up seaside emotions restores, makes you want to say namaste, or lie face down with warm rocks on your back. The one room where tranquility is foremost is the bedroom. As someone who can’t make it through a night without abusing my pillow, I welcome any natural based assistance. In my Laguna Beach bedroom I brought in the core elements of the beach cottage look.

Laguna Beach bedroom follows a basic scheme of a few colors and coastal accents.

Beach design is quite simple, just add these 5 basic ideas:

  1. Natural woven pieces: Anything rattan, wicker or seagrass supports the coastal look. Accent with an accessory, sisal rug or bed frame. Since “beach” and “cottage” typically equates to space challenged, rattan baskets offer both storage and style while a bamboo side table can be a catchall for your bedtime needs within the desired design.
  2. Stripes: Blue and white stripes are the unspoken uniform of seaside style. The pattern is simple and easy to pair with other like-minded prints. A basic duvet is layered with throw pillows and blanket for a styled, relaxed feel.
  3. Batik prints: Classic British Colonial batiks that conjure up faraway places are a solid investment piece. The simple indigo color and hand-printed design of the accent pillows seamlessly weave into the room’s scheme.
  4. Color: White always says cottage and creates a soothing atmosphere. Touches of blue and beach colors are the natural choices to make a room coastal.
  5. Light: Since cottage bedrooms are often smaller, keep the room paired down to the essential needs and accessories to create the illusion of more space. White walls make the room feel open and doesn’t compete with blending items. A wood framed mirror that has the effect of a window on a boat is both decorative and reflects additional light.

Storage is always needed in a cottage bedroom. A wicker hamper and pine armoire conceal belongings in a pulled together presentation.

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