Monthly Archives: May 2013

Inspiration Abounds: Blogfest, Jonathan Adler and Kips Bay


This week I had the great pleasure of attending Blogfest 2013, sponsored by Kravet.  I have so much to report from this fantastic conference, but for now I’ll simply give you a few highlights and later, a few more details.  Our three day tour in New York began with a kick-off party at Jonathan Adler’s fabulous Madison Avenue store.  It was a great opportunity to network with other design bloggers and take in all of the incredible inventory in Adler’s showroom.  I fell in love with every bright color and interesting texture, and between the furniture, light fixtures and textiles I could have spent an awful lot of money on that first night alone!  Mental note: must go back.


I came face-to-face with this fantastic mirror when I walked into the store and knew that I had to have it — although where to hang it in my traditional, Georgian colonial home I did not know!  I entered a drawing for $500 and knew just where I would spend my spoils.  Alas, I did not win, and the wall in my entry hall will continue to be bare (truth be told, orange wasn’t the right color anyway, but it was just such a fun, funky mirror!).  Mental note: for another day.

IMG_1147Our first stop on Day 2 was at the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse on 64th between 3rd and Lex.  I knew immediately that I had arrived at the right address once I saw how beautifully manicured the exterior of the building was!  Who knew that both the exterior and the interior would far exceed my expectations?


To my great delight, we were served breakfast courtesy of Doodle Home in this beautiful kitchen designed by Christopher Peacock.  Apologies for the crummy photos — I have learned that while my old iPhone is great in a pinch, it doesn’t produce the quality photos that these gorgeous rooms deserve.  Use your imagination:  the kitchen was stunning.  What fun to see a departure from the often-copied Peacock white scullery kitchen (a favorite of mine for sure, and of countless others)!  This kitchen was constructed of dark stained quarter-sawn oak cabinets, polished nickel hardware and beautiful caesarstone countertops.  I could have spent the morning there!

Spending three days surrounded by some of the most creative minds in the design industry is incredibly energizing — you can’t help but be inspired.  More details and images from Kips Bay, Blogfest and our private behind-the-scenes tour of Kravet Studios will follow in a post next week.  For now I will continue to be inspired by my fellow friends and bloggers, the beautiful design showrooms I had the pleasure to visit and the exciting pulse of New York City!


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Is the Kitchen Work Triangle Antiquated?



In design school, much attention was placed on the almighty work triangle as the foundation of good kitchen design.  Professors taught us the importance of ergonomics in kitchen design:  that efficiency of movement should dictate the distance traveled in the kitchen.   The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) set guidelines for the formation of the triangle stating that the distances between the three primary work centers (sink, stove and fridge) should total no more than 26′ with no single leg of the triangle measuring less than 4′ nor more than 9′.  And so, for many years, kitchen design revolved around this standard.

So why do I continue to hear that the triangle has become antiquated?  Well, consider how kitchens have evolved from  the utilitarian spaces they used to be to the living spaces that they are today.  In the past, the kitchen was typically a closed-off space where meals were prepared and then likely served in an adjacent dining room.  Today, we know the kitchen to be the central hub of family activity — it’s the quintessential multi-purpose room.  And often times today’s kitchen has multiple cooks and its overall space at any given time could have multiple users.  In our kitchens today we not only prepare meals but we also serve drinks, pay bills, oversee homework, watch TV, have meetings, enjoy meals, entertain, etc.  There is no limit to what this space can do!  In order to accommodate the growing demands of its users, kitchen design principles have evolved from a strict adherence to the triangle to a more flexible focus on work zones.  Think about it: how many kitchens have you seen with two sinks, an extra fridge, a large island, a separate bar or a desk?  Depending on the needs of the end-users, the number of potential work zones and the configuration of those zones could vary dramatically.

Today’s kitchens often dedicate a large area for cooking and make it the focal point of the room…


Today’s kitchens have separate zones for the bar and sometimes even a dedicated coffee station…

Today’s kitchens often have two sinks…

Today’s kitchens often have space allocated for a desk…
With work zones being the foundation of today’s kitchen design, should we do away with the work triangle as a driver of kitchen layouts? Not completely, in my opinion.  I still think that we can consider the triangle and the NKBA standard definition of optimal traveled distances between work stations when we begin to design a kitchen.  Depending on the space constraints, the triangle can certainly be a jumping off point and something to be mindful of when planning the layout of the space.  Careful placement of the various work zones; however, will likely be the main driver of final decisions, as accommodating multiple cooks and occupants of the space will have a direct impact on the overall design and layout.  Let’s face it, times are changing, so it stands to reason that the way we approach kitchen design should reflect and embrace that change…while not losing sight of how we got here.
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Liebster Award: Spreading Some Blog Love Around!



This past weekend I was delighted to learn that Jeanne from the fabulous blog Cozy*Stylish*Chic had nominated me for a Liebster award!  After a quick Google search I learned that the Liebster is an award given by new bloggers to other new bloggers as a way to build community, discover new blogs and hopefully attract new readers.  What a great way to spread a little blog love!  The rules are simple:

If the nominee decides to accept the award, he/she must:

1.  Answer the 11 questions posed
2.  Post 11 facts about themselves
3.  Nominate 5-11 bloggers
4.  Tell them they have been nominated
5.  Create a list of 11 questions for the nominees to answer

11 Questions for Me:

  1. How do you like your toilet paper — over or under?  Definitely under, but I’m not sure why I care!
  2. Why did you start blogging?  My friend, Angela (co-founder of the amazing blog, suggested it and I thought it would be a great way to keep fresh and current on kitchen & bath design trends
  3. What is your favorite vacation destination?  Italy
  4. What is the most “out there” food you’ve ever eaten?  Lobster (I know, not too “out there,” but a big deal for a non-seafood eater)
  5. What do you do in your spare time, assuming you have any?  Knit
  6. Vanilla or chocolate?  Definitely vanilla
  7. Do you do tequila shots and have you or would you eat the worm?  Tequila, yes…worms, no!
  8. What time of day do you write for your blog?  Morning
  9. What is your favorite flower?  Peony
  10. What is the craziest thing you did in high school or college?  Ate a goldfish at a fraternity party to impress a cute boy!
  11. Do you believe in karma?  Hmmm, sort of!

11 Questions for the Nominees:

  1. What’s your favorite season?
  2. What’s your best advice for new bloggers?
  3. Are you glass 1/2 full or glass 1/2 empty?
  4. Coffee or tea?
  5. What’s your favorite magazine?
  6. Pick four words to describe yourself
  7. List your three favorite online shopping sites
  8. Night owl or morning person?
  9. Which do you prefer: ocean or lake?
  10. Where do you get your best blog inspiration?
  11. PC or Mac?

And finally…a few things about me that you might not know:

  1. I have a bit of a paper fettish — I love pretty paper, pads, stationery…especially anything with my name on it!
  2. I have four boys, and in the fall three will be in high school and one in middle school (yeesh!)
  3. My favorite restaurant is Inn at Castle Hill in Newport, RI (I love having a drink beforehand out on the lawn)
  4. I learned to drive a car on a stick shift
  5. I’d like to be fluent in Italian
  6. Someday I plan to retire in New York City (although I’m not sure my husband agrees with me!)
  7. I’ve been knitting for thirty years
  8. Summer is my favorite season
  9. I love to cook and at one time had a small catering business
  10. I love monograms
  11. My favorite movie is Out of Africa (does that make me old?)

And my Nominees are (all new blogging friends that I met at Design Camp Seattle!):


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Ikea Cabinets: Big Design Impact, Reasonable Price

Last spring, while thumbing through both the US and UK editions of House Beautiful, I was shocked to see that both issues featured kitchens designed with Ikea cabinets.  Yes, House Beautiful…Yes, Ikea.  Further research uncovered the fact that many homeowners, when faced with the often-daunting task of budgeting for a kitchen reno, continue to turn to this well-known big box store to keep costs down.  What these kitchens, and countless others, prove is that you don’t have to sacrifice style when you’re watching your pennies.  Take this kitchen, above, designed by Mary Jo Bochner – it’s the quintessential example of combining high and low to create an impact.  Mary Jo’s jumping-off point was a pair of vintage étagères that she bought in Charleston.  Both the beautiful window over the sink and the previously owned high-end appliances from Wolf and Traulsen were purchased online from eBay and Craigslist.  Cabinets and butcherblock countertops by the range, both purchased at Ikea, combine seamlessly with this high-end kitchen design.  The money that Mary Jo saved allowed her to splurge on items such the Belgian bluestone countertop under the window, the incredible Tim Adams chandelier from Savannah’s Paris Market, and the seamless Cararra marble sink.    Mary Jo Bochner has demonstrated beautifully in this kitchen that it literally pays to save money on some design elements so that you can splurge on higher-end materials that will ultimately make a statement in the space.


The kitchen above, by Leone Design Studio in Brooklyn, shows a completely different design aesthetic using Ikea cabinets.  The open shelves, which are used as a room divider, create a clear delineation of space while still allowing the sunlight to stream through to the kitchen.  Add to that the use of an industrial table on casters as an island, coupled with the high gloss cabinets from Ikea, and you have a sleek, contemporary kitchen fit for a fabulous apartment in the city.


While there are countless examples of kitchens from which to choose, the kitchen above shows just how you can use stock cabinets from Ikea combined with carefully selected design elements to create a fabulous space. The use of clean-lined cabinets, coupled with high-end Viking appliances, Cararra marble materials and pops of bright color from accessories and fabrics, results in a beautiful space.  Jonathan Adler designed this kitchen for maternity clothing designer, Liz Lange, so it’s no surprise that when two creative minds come together big things happen.

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Design Camp: Inspiring Designers Everywhere!


Last week I attended Design Camp in Seattle and my business will never be the same.  Somehow I was lucky enough to win a ticket to attend from Leslie Wood, founder of the fabulous blog Hadley Court.  Not surprisingly, Leslie credits Design Camp with giving her the necessary tools and advice that helped her to win the Best New Design Blog of the year. When Leslie reached out to me and let me know that I had won the ticket, I knew instantly that this was an opportunity not to pass up!

Two leaders in the design industry; Lori Dennis and Kelli Ellis started Design Camp after meeting and participating in a panel discussion at the Las Vegas World Market.  These super-talented women share a long list of accomplishments including: author, TV personality, design professional, product designer and mentor (among many others).  Participants in Design Camp can’t help but be influenced and inspired by their enthusiasm and depth of knowledge of the design industry.  Together, they gathered a group of incredibly talented speakers to participate in Design Camp Seattle, each and every one of whom took to the stage to share a passion for their area of expertise.  They spoke about design trends and offered great blogging tips.  They also advised attendees on how to more efficiently run their businesses, how to take advantage of social media, and most of all, how to make their businesses grow and thrive.

Several speakers had recently published books, and many of us returned home with bags heavy laden and plenty to read on the plane.  I was so excited to hear the incredibly talented Nathan Turner — designer, author, entertainer and TV personality from the wildly famous show Million Dollar Decorators.   His design aesthetic is so fantastic and right up my alley, and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of his new book in the mail, Nathan Turner’s American Style.  Another speaker who had the audience hanging on her every word was Kimberley Seldon.  Her advice on setting goals, outlining fees and creating a process for successfully managing a project had attendees lining up to buy both volumes of her exceedingly popular book series Kimberley Seldon’s Business of Design.  The audience was also excited to hear from Ronda Rice Carman, founder of the popular All the Best Blog and author of the newly released book Designers at Home.  To hear her tell the story of how she never gave up on her dream to be published taught everyone in the room the value of being persistent and never losing your focus.

While I certainly didn’t intend for this post to be so long, there is still so much more to share.  I will highlight more of the fantastic speakers in a future post, so for now I will leave you with this thought:  Many have said that their heads were spinning with all of the information that was passed along during Design Camp.  While I agree, I have never been more focused, more inspired or more excited to be in this industry, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in such a worthwhile event.

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Making an Impact with Tile: Take a Risk!


Original content is king in the blogging world, but sometimes a beautiful picture ripped from a magazine is catalyst enough for a post — that is, if you have something meaningful to say about it!  The May 2013 issue of House Beautiful featured two bathrooms with stunning tile that I just had to talk about.  The world of tile has grown so much over the past several decades making options limitless, so it’s easy to make a big impact in your kitchen or bath with the addition of some fabulous tile.   The beautiful master bath above is from a home on Lake Michigan, designed by Martin Horner of Soucie Horner, Ltd..  This exquisite wall of tile, coupled with a classic marble tub deck and surround and handsome fixtures, is all you need to create a show-stopping bath.  Artistic Tile created this incredible pattern (called Danse Azul) using a combination of Azul Cielo and Thassos marbles.  The tension that is created by placing this tile with its organic pattern next to the hard angles of the marble tub surround, creates fantastic visual interest.

The Bath of the Month featured in the same issue of House Beautiful gave tile lovers another treat with this fantastic Manhattan master bathroom designed by Alla Akimova of ARCHIVESid.  Dark Emperador and Thassos marbles laid together in a chevron pattern on the floor help to give this sleek bathroom its modern flair.  It’s amazing that using a bold pattern on the floor of an all-white bathroom can make such an impactful design statement.  Just one element can make such a difference.  And during a presentation given by Joss & Main co-founder, Mitra Morgan, at Design Camp last week (more on that in a post next week) I learned that chevron is a trend that is here to stay.  
Yes, tile can be expensive, tile is a commitment, so why not make a bold statement with the tile that you select?  And why not choose to make that statement boldly on the floor or on an entire wall?  Sometimes design is about taking risks — and not on a whim, but with thoughtful consideration for the overall design impact that you are hoping to achieve.  One of the most important things that I learned at Design Camp is that if you don’t feel a little bit uncomfortable sometimes, then you’re simply not growing.  So, if your design decisions are always the “safe” choice, it stands to reason that you might not be growing.  When a design decision takes you somewhat out of your comfort zone, don’t fight it…embrace it.  Try something new, make a statement.  If you walked into either one of these bathrooms each morning wouldn’t you be energized?  I doubt you would have any regret.


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Kitchen by Tommy Smythe: How do I Love Thee?

This carriage house-inspired kitchen by Canadian designer Tommy Smythe has always been on my list of favorites.  Tommy is the assistant to HGTV host Sarah Richardson of Sarah’s House and Design Inc..  Showcasing homes that represent their design aesthetic alone would make for a great show, but their friendly banter as they work on design projects makes episodes featuring this duo “Must-See TV.”  So, just what is it that draws me into this kitchen?

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways…

  1. Slate floor laid in a herringbone pattern —  great visual interest!
  2. Oversized, vintage lantern (love the scale and patina)
  3. Cabinets:  white uppers and black lowers for a more casual, mis-matched look — love!
  4. Marble backsplash — timeless
  5. Mixed materials on the countertops — stainless with an integrated sink and marble for the rest
  6. French doors painted black like the cabinets = easy outdoor access and tons of natural light
  7. Cabinets that reach all the way up to the ceiling — create the illusion of height (and no room for unreachable dust bunnies)
  8. Vintage pine table juxtaposed against sleek stainless steel on counters and appliances — creates great tension
  9. Caned bentwood kitchen chairs evoke that bistro feeling

When classic materials are paired with more contemporary elements, it allows a room to keep current while managing to stay timeless.  In his carriage house-inspired kitchen, Tommy Smythe is able to create a space that is visually appealing, functional and a little bit unexpected.  To me, that’s a winning combination!

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