Monday, April 14, 2014

Blue and White

One of my favorite color combinations is Blue and White.  It's a color scheme that never goes out of fashion, and I'm happy to report that it's one of the latest trends in interior design today.  Whether used in china and tile patterns, toile and floral fabrics or a wide variety of carpet designs, it represents age-old design elements from many centuries and cultures.
In the photo above, I love to see how the collection of Canton china was used as inspiration for the 
stunning fabric on the upholstered chairs.  Without the blue  accessories in the photo below,
the all-white living room wouldn't be nearly as interesting.  I think the pillows, lamps and pots add such sparkle to the design.

Blue and White can be used in many different settings.  Maybe you like the comfortable look of denim slipcovers in the family room or prefer crisp blue tiles in a  bathroom.

Do you prefer the look of a traditional bedroom with deep blue walls, warm antique furniture and the historic patterns of a woven coverlet?
Or ,  do you like the way the intense teal color in the bedroom below shows a modern approach to the classical style of the furnishings?

I especially like to work on kitchen renovations and the next two photos highlight the impact of the color blue used in these next two very different spaces.

A Blue and White color scheme is enlivened in this charming dining area with a mixture of fabric patterns on the chairs and pillows.

In the living room below, the soft blue colors of the sofas, chair and carpet convey a neutral scheme
with almost no pattern.

A friend of mine has decorated her entire house in Blue and White. In each room, she has used
different color variations of blue fabrics and accessories against walls and cabinetry of pure white.
It's comfortable and elegant, traditional and modern at the same time...everything I like in a home.

Monday, April 7, 2014

LIfe is a Beach

Life is a Beach

I have noticed that a current trend in home furnishing stores is beach style design.  Always soothing to the senses, the look and feel of beach style is especially appealing in the cold climate of a New England winter.   Warm tones and textures of the beach complement cool colors of sea and sky, as in the photo above.  I think the harmonious blend of blue and brown colors in the living room below are very beautiful.  The feeling is rich and elegant, but very comfortable, too.
This cheery dining room makes me think of a blue sky on a sunny day at the beach.

When used in soft furnishings and on walls and cabinetry, white creates a unifying background to a colorful palette often displayed in decorative accents and artwork...think turquoise and coral.  Driftwood, seashells, baskets and sisal rugs provide natural elements and add whimsy to the design scheme.  You can see below how the sisal rug grounds a family room and warms up the white upholstered sectional and chairs.

I love how the turquoise color perks up this white display area and highlights the nautical accessories.

Beach style design is not unique to relaxed and cozy settings.  It is also very effective and striking in contemporary interiors.  And, it satisfies clients who prefer a bold and bright decor, as well as
those who are more comfortable with a neutral color scheme. I want to curl up on a chair in this charming sitting area and spend the afternoon reading a good book.

This modern interior reflects a more sophisticated design. I think the neutral , warm colors create
an sumptuous space for entertaining.

How do you like the bold colors and patterns in this happy bedroom?

Even though this bedroom retreat is designed with no patterns and colors limited
to white and brown, I think it's very inviting.

Do you like this fun dining room?  I'm drawn to the bright, beachy colors in a space that is equally relaxing and contemporary.  Next time you want to freshen up the look of your home,  add some beach style design motifs .  It's like going on vacation.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Material Focus ~ Beadboard

What do you think about beadboard? I have a few designer friends and clients who wouldn't be caught dead with beadboard in their homes, but I rather like it. It reminds me of Nantucket summers - which feel so far away right about now - and makes me think of the ocean. After researching this post, I realized just how versatile it is.  Not to be confused with wainscoting, which is raised paneling that forms the shape of a square, it can be purchased and installed inexpensively, making it a quick and easy design element that can transform a space in a pinch.

There are countless uses. It is a great choice for bathrooms because it is durable and can be painted any color. If you use exterior paint, you could run it up behind a sink rather than having a tile or stone backsplash. I like how in the following bathroom images, you can see how the texture translates across different design styles- from cottage to Victorian.

Whitten Architecture

Buckingham Interiors

Supple Homes Inc.

Seth Benn Photography

Using a dark stained wainscoting on the ceiling adds drama and warmth to a space.
Fluidesign Studio
Be sure to pay attention to the height when using beadboard in place of wainscoting. 36", 48" or 60" are good heights, depending on the look you are going for.
Witt Construction
Having the boards run horizontally across a wall is a great way to make a room feel large. The boards lead your eye across the space. I like the blend of traditional and modern in this study nook below.
Erica Bierman Photography

Another fun idea if to paint beadboard in a high gloss. It amplifies it's texture and pushes natural light further into a room.
Tiffany Eastman Interiors

Used in a more traditional application, beadboard accentuates the notion of a summer home.


Finally, you could use beadboard to back shelving or cabinetry for a subtle definition between a built in and a wall.

Do you have any creative uses for this adaptable texture?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Island Life

Metaform Architects

The kitchen truly is the heart of the home- a place where families and friend gather, and where meals are prepared and shared. If you are like me, there is never enough storage, and counter space is prime real estate. The kitchen island is a design element that can serve as both a beautiful and utilitartian purpose.

One of the benefits of having a kitchen island is that it provides another eating surface. I like how counter or bar stools at an island bridge the gap between eating and cooking in the kitchen. The bench seating is a trendy take on stools that I find different and neat. Make sure you don't go wider than a two seat bench, or else the middle person gets stuck on the seat.

The Cross Design
Living in a tight space presents its own set of challenges, especially if you are an avid cook. Sometimes, I almost believe that smaller kitchens are easier to navigate, because all you have to do is make a few turns and dinner is ready. I think the mini kitchen below is quite successful. Rather than an island, a peninsula extends from the wall and is used as countertop space as well as to set the adjacent spaces apart from one another.

Apartment Therapy

The wood construction and legs give this farmhouse island a furniture feel. The wood brings a warmth, hominess, and casual air to the gathering place.

I'm pretty certain the image below is from a boutique, but I thought it interesting to share. In a larger space, a series of legged islands could work well.

Rue Magazine
A more industrial and modern approach, this island is wrapped in gray brickwork. The stone tile backsplash that stretches to the ceiling adds an earthy quality, and the light that streams through the three skylights highlights the space with natural warmth.
Don't forget how much storage you have the potential to squeeze into this design element. Whether it is with open or closed shelving, think about what needs to be stored. Is it serveware, cookbooks, or wine? - to name a few.
Something I have been seeing a lot of lately are waterfall style countertops. This means that the countertop stone wraps down from the surface of the counter to the floor and acts as support for a countertop ledge like in the picture below. It is clean and streamlined. I like the way the design tucks a wine cooler and shelving underneath the lip, and the wood ceiling that mimics the flooring.

Zero Energy Design

What homes have you visited or pictures you have seen that have a successful island design?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Mixology ~ Which Patterns Do You Perfer?

Kathryn Ireland

We all have it - a tendency towards pattern or one towards solids. Just look in your closet. If you've never taken the time to notice, I guarantee that you will see a commonality of colors or styles that you lean towards.

The same is true with decor, but it is important to venture outside of your comfort zone to create a well balanced space by using texture, color, and pattern. When mixing patterns, I like to go for a connecting thread, literally. I find a color palate that it pleasing, and use that as a jumping off point to find patterns in contrasting scales that work together.

Generally, I like to use a solid, a geometric, and a more organic pattern together, I find that works best, but it is really up to you. Isn't that what design is all about anyways?

If you are a novice to mixing patterns, why not try your hand at it using toss pillows? They are can be found inexpensively and easily changed out if you don't like them.

Which pattern grouping do you prefer?



Kathryn Ireland


House Beautiful

Friday, January 31, 2014

Operation Get Organized ~ The Closet

I like things to look a certain way, I enjoy finding a system that works and sticking to it, and my desk is never messy. Okay, sometimes it's a little messy, but I never leave the office with it looking that way.  I like things in their place and I don't like clutter.

Sometimes it is the places behind closed doors that are the most difficult to keep orderly and tidy. Maybe it's because we never expect someone to open up closet doors in our craft rooms, or go digging through our pantry that we find the excuse to not keep it organized.

Enlisting the help of a design professional can assist you in designing a functional storage system that is as compartmentalized or open as you can imagine.

Two places that I turn to for help when working on a custom closet are California Closets and The Closet Factory. Both companies have a knowledgeable and professional team who can tailor a design particular to the design needs of any client. Also, they are both ASID Industry Partners, so I enjoy contributing to their business and exposure.

California Closets New England

 I think this is a marvelous use of space. Sometimes you have to get creative in homes where there is no real mudroom or entryway near the main door, especially when the rain boots and back packs start to pile up.

California Closets New England

This laundry/craft room has a place for everything. The natural wood tone gives an otherwise sterile place some warmth.

Closet Factory

The stone countertop and mirror detail between the upper and lower storage give the illusion of more space. Vertical storage is backed with wood to give the built in a "furniture" look.

Closet Factory

Believe it or not, the framing for this closet is made out of melamine, a type of durable hard plastic. Floor to ceiling open shelving is great because you can store the less used items further out of reach, and the daily essentials at a height easiest to access.  

Gast Architects

I thought it was important to show you how a color can transform an all white pantry. The china pops off of the blue gray built in.

Closet Factory

I have a client in Weston who has children who are involved in many athletics. She was exasperated about having no place to store their gear. The utilitarian design and materiality of the storage system above is a great solution for spaces like the garage or basement, where the use of sports equipment changes with the season.

As you can see, it's easy to be obsessive these days, because the solutions are endless, and there's always a way to keep organized.

For a full list of all ASID Industry Partners, please click here.