Thursday, January 22, 2015

Built-in Basics
January is the traditional month to get organized.  Whether it's because cold weather keeps us indoors or we have a new year's resolution to de-clutter, we are inspired to find ways to organize our home environments.  One of my favorite aspects of interior decor is the opportunity to design custom built-in cabinetry.  They not only provide extra storage and display space, they can also add architectural features to a plain room and solve spatial problems.  The photo above features quintessential shelf and cabinet units which flank a central fireplace.  The symmetry and neutral paint color connect the cabinetry to the surrounding wall spaces and add interesting detail without overwhelming the living room.  The balance and harmony of the design are very pleasing to the eye.

 The photos below offer a solution to the problem of an existing fireplace that is off-center on the wall.  In the first one, symmetrical cabinets encase the fireplace and wall-mounted television and the leftover space is filled with seating and storage that help unify and fill the whole wall. In the second one, the extra space is filled with a complementary unit with glass doors and drawers.  These examples also show the difference between cabinetry painted to match the other woodwork in the room versus woodwork stained to contrast with the other painted surfaces.
Clients often ask what they can do to make a long living room seem less awkward and more livable. Built-in cabinets surrounding the windows at one end of a room are both useful and visually appealing. A library has been created in the first photo in a minimal amount of wall space.  The pop of color inside the built-ins in the second photo adds drama to the room.
In the two photos above, built-ins show additional solutions to design problems. In one, extra display space has been creatively arranged around a doorway and adds architectural detail. In the other,  there is an abundance of detailled woodwork so floor-to-ceiling built-ins would overwhelm the space.
Instead, the cabinets relate the fireplace to the rest of the room but only along the lower half which opens up wall space for artwork and accessories.

 The following three photos portray the versatility of built-ins in transition spaces.  Stairways and hallways are given convenient and attractive storage areas that blend seamlessly with the homes' interiors.  The first stairway unit provides display space for decorative accessories. The second unit creates a mudroom to store outdoor clothing. The third unit has blue glass sliding doors that replicate the sky in the nearby large windows so the enclosed hallway storage seems to disappear.

Master bedrooms are enhanced by built-ins to provide storage that doesn't crowd or clutter the spaces.  They eliminate the need for the variety of chests and trunks one often finds in these rooms. It's easier to organize clothing and accessories and the feeling the room conveys is more restful.
Children's bedrooms usually include both sleeping and play areas so built-ins in these rooms can be both functional and fun. Both photos below highlight how great design can take a child from a very young age through the teenage years...and beyond!
Kitchens certainly benefit from custom-designed and built cabinetry.  I really like the ideas presented in the following two images. The first one suggests installing antique doors over new built-ins and building new freestanding cupboards to replicate old ones. The second photo shows an island that makes use of built-in shelves to hold cookbooks and baskets in an attractive display...items that can look very messy in the room.  The wall units combine open and closed shelving which is much more interesting than all covered cabinets.

The possibilities for built-ins are endless. With creative and quality construction, they add visual appeal and increased value to any home.  Whether your home is traditional or modern, built-ins
are a definite plus to the interior design.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Collectibles on Display
The holidays are past and it's time to put away the treasured old Santas and other favorite  collectibles.  Many of us received gifts of to add to our special collections that we like to display year-round.  There are many ways to showcase our collectibles in fun and creative ways.   If you have just a few small pieces or large collections , collectibles look better when placed en masse as seen in the following two photos, both filling a standing piece of furniture. The first one is a display of pewter where the shiny metallic surfaces sparkle against the warm wooden tones of the beautiful antique cupboard.  The second photo is a coastal collection of seashells and coral in a light and airy painted wood and glass cabinet.
With limited wall space, portable open shelves or custom built-ins can house a variety of colorful items as well as a large collection of similar items as see in the next two photos.  Light and dark background walls further enhance the collectibles.
Larger rooms invite the possibility of full wall displays of collections.  In the next photo, the first homeowner has created a museum-like presentation of a few valuable Asian artefacts with beautiful lighting.  The library in the second photo makes use of every bit of wall space from floor to ceiling for shelves carrying many books, collectibles and artwork.
Unique collections are often skillfully displayed directly on the walls as pieces of artwork.  I love the
impact of the arrangements in the next photos. The diverse shapes and colors of the animal weathervanes are whimsical and sculptural in the first photo.  The arrangement of decorative plates in the second photo is equally dynamic even though the shapes and colors are similar.  The third photo is just a delight with the graphic arrangement of miniature cars in colors that are repeated in the room's other furnishings.

 Small collections can be effectively used to brighten a small tabletop , hallway corner, or narrow wall as in the following three photos.
Framed art, prints and photographs can be displayed in symmetrical wall arrangements that appear
carefully designed. But, a more unbalanced and random arrangement is also pleasing to the eye. I really like the following examples of both styles.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this is especially relevant to collecting and displaying artistic or mundane objects. The things we like to collect and how we live with them are key to showing our personalities and design sensabilities.  What do your favorite collectibles say about you?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ode to Gray
It's hard not to notice that the latest hot trend in color is gray.  Whether it's due to the appeal of wearing a favorite cashmere sweater or reading a certain popular book, grays are everywhere in fashion and the home.  Because it is such a versatile color and suits all moods and styles, gray
is the new neutral with a wide range of applications that can make a space seem warm, cool, masculine, feminine, cozy or elegant all at the same time.  In the following two photos, one tone of gray is the overall neutral backdrop to the spacious room where the color moves around the walls, onto the ceiling and is picked up on the two chairs.  It is also effectively used in the second photo where different shades of gray are used on the walls to separate the living spaces as well as differentiate the furnishings.
A similar contrast can be seen in the next two photos where the furniture in the first photo carries the same neutral tone of gray around the room. However, in the second photo the furnishings display many different grays in painted trim, drapery, seating, rug, lamps and pillows.
The color gray can make a room look dark and cozy as well as light and airy as seen in the
following photos of two living rooms.  In both rooms, the color white is used very effectively to
create a counterpoint to the grays.
The addition of one bright color can make a room sing with visual delight with gray as the neutral background.  I love the following examples of accent colors which warm up the cool neutrals.
Black and white mixed with gray is universally appealing as depicted in the following three rooms. The feeling conveyed is similar to that of a vintage black and white photograph.
Monochromatic grays are beautiful in elegant rooms with shiny smooth surfaces in the bedroom below.  They can also be mixed with other dark colors to showcase warm textures and richly-patterned elements as in the following bedroom photo.
A child's bedroom is a more unusual place to find gray as a design scheme but in the following photo it provides a soothing background to the other fresh and charming colors.

Kitchen and bathrooms offer endless opportunities to incorporate gray colors in both hard and soft surfaces.  The painted cabinets , countertops, tiled backsplashes and stainless appliances are beautifully synchronized in the kitchen.  The bathroom highlights the graining of Carrara marble set against the painted walls and gray towels.

The last two photos confirm for me the amazing versatility of gray in  home environments.
One room has a  traditional design and the other is more modern but the gray color schemes
give them a similar look that is both warm and casual but also cool and elegant. I'm sure there
are more than fifty shades of gray...what is your favorite?