Category Archives: Design Inspiration

Construction Notes

 

Cabinet Delivery Day

Progress on the Calvary Church project continues to move along at a great pace.  Coordinating all of the subcontractors and city inspectors requires careful planning and great patience since certain tasks can’t be started until others are completed.  To date, demolition is complete, electrical and plumbing work has begun and the cabinets have arrived.

IMG_2723

What’s particularly exciting about this job is that our custom cabinets have been designed with a celtic cross detail carved into the doors that matches exactly to a detail found on many pews in the church.  Preserving the integrity of the church’s beautiful architectural features and overall design aesthetic is an integral part of my job, and this detail is just one example of how we are achieving that goal.

IMG_2722

Construction is often a tedious process which requires a tremendous attention to detail.  Throughout the duration of a project many decisions have to be made, and sometimes it’s tough to know the right answer.  What’s important to know is that often times there are multiple ways to solve a problem.  For example, if a subcontractor tells you that what you have requested can’t be done, and you don’t like the solution that’s been offered, it’s always a good idea to ask for an alternative.  You’d be surprised to learn that many times there are multiple solutions — you simply have to ask, and sometimes you even have to stand your ground until a better solution can be considered.  In this particular situation, wiring for the electrical fixtures was extremely complicated since the walls of the church are almost two feet thick and made of stone and plaster.  As a result, most of the wiring can’t be located behind the walls, so many  fixtures in the church are surface-mounted.  One of the greatest challenges was in trying to install the switches for the light fixtures in an accessible location.  Luckily, with the help of a skilled electrician we were able to layout the fixtures and their switches in a way that not only would satisfy the occupants of the room but also wouldn’t make it necessary to cut into my cabinets in order to do so!

We have a tight timeline that we’re following so that this space is ready for use within the next several weeks.  Follow along as progress continues (and the pictures get better!).

 

Posted in Design Element, Design Inspiration, Materials | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Add Some Independence Day Style to Your Kitchen

Traditional Holiday Decorations by Other Metro Furniture and Accessories Pottery Barn

Today is the Fourth of July, my all-time favorite holiday, so this is the perfect opportunity to talk about adding a little bit of Independence Day style to your kitchen.  Since red, white and blue together make quite a bold statement, it’s no secret to share that clearly a little goes a long way.  While these kitchens are by no means Fourth of July themed, I was inspired to find examples of kitchens that embraced any one or more of these significant colors.

souciehorner

This Lake Michigan kitchen designed by Martin Horner uses the color blue as a design element so perfectly.  When combined with perimeter cabinets painted white and a dark stained island, the use of this color in select materials adds blue in a way that isn’t overwhelming.

windsorsmith

This Windsor Smith kitchen and adjacent dining area takes a bold shade of red and employs it throughout in a series of accents.  By introducing pops of red through the chinoiserie-style chairs, lantern and pendant light fixture, tremendous interest is added to the space.  The tension that is created by the contrast between the white cabinets, dark stained floors and bright red accents is so appealing.  Notice that just these few elements of bold color are all that is needed to add a little drama to an already beautiful space.

The next time you want to add a little bit of color to liven-up a quiet space, you might consider taking some inspiration from the flag by adding a touch of red or blue.  What a great statement that would make!

Posted in Design Element, Design Inspiration, Kitchen, Materials | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

An Unexpected Bathtub

IMG_1185

 

I’ve had bathrooms on my mind lately, and coincidentally came across this photo that gave me some much-needed inspiration.  I took this picture at the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse in New York simply because it was so utterly unexpected.  Stepping out onto the terrace of a Manhattan townhouse only to find a beautiful, sculptural free-standing bathtub in a zen-like setting took me completely by surprise.  Daring design such as this by West Chin Architect clearly makes a statement.  I’m quite certain that the experience of taking a hot bath outside on a starry night in the fresh air would be a similar experience to a summer outdoor shower.  And if you are a regular reader of this blog you know how I feel about outdoor showers!

Now, let’s not quibble about the fact that this lovely, serene setting offers zero privacy.  With summer fast-approaching, I’m personally concerned about the prospect of putting on a bathing suit at the beach, so you can imagine how I might feel about soaking in a tub in my birthday suit on my not-so-very-private rooftop garden!  So, let’s suspend reality for a moment and imagine how delightful it truly would be (with the proper privacy screen, of course) to soak in that beautiful bathtub outside in the fresh air!  If you’ve heard me say it once, then you’ve certainly heard me say it twice…good, functional design can (and should) be beautiful.  Sometimes it takes an unexpected design such as this to remind us to be creative with our own spaces.  Instead of viewing your bathtub as a utilitarian fixture in your bathroom, why not consider it as a piece of sculpture that is an integral part of the overall design?  After all, while bathrooms certainly serve a purpose, they can absolutely be beautiful at the same time!

Posted in Bath, Design Element, Design Inspiration | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Inspiration Abounds: Blogfest, Jonathan Adler and Kips Bay

IMG_1146

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.

adlermirror

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?

IMG_1156

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!

 

Posted in Design Inspiration, Kitchen, Materials | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Small Space: Big Impact…Elements We Love


This kitchen certainly proves that you don’t need to have a large space to make a big impact — it’s all in the details and the careful selection of unique design elements.  I have wanted to write a post about this kitchen for a while, and just thought that I would wait until I wrote about selecting the right hood for your range — and what better example to use than this beautiful hood from designer Michael S. Smith’s home in Bel Air? The problem is that I fall in love with this kitchen for so many different reasons every time I see it, so why wait to write about it until I dedicate an entire post to hoods??

What is it about this kitchen that resonates with me so much?  Well, the hood is definitely my favorite element.  Designed by architects Oscar Shamamian and Joseph Singer, the gently curved hood, with its antique pewter finish, hangs over the BlueStar range just as if it were in the kitchen of an old British country home.  And that’s certainly in keeping with the English country style that Michael Smith was going for when designing this house.  The hood is not the only unique element in the space, however.  The use of the unexpected barrel-vault ceiling (inspired by famed British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens) draws your eye up, which when coupled with a glass-fronted refrigerator and cabinets, is such a clever way to give the illusion of more space.  The curved lines of the ceiling, hood and pendants (from Ann-Morris Antiques) are such a nice contrast to the more linear features of the cabinets, appliances and stunning wide-plank floors.  Together, they make for a much more interesting and unique space.

Another thing that I admire about Michael Smith’s design aesthetic is his belief that you should select elements that you love for your kitchen, and not just practical ones that always look perfect.  His countertops, for example, are made of Lagos Azul limestone from Walker Zanger, and are known to stain when they come into contact with certain foods.  “Every once in a while I’ll have them professionally cleaned, but I like the fact that they’re not static…If I have counters that stain and floors that need to be waxed, then I can say with great confidence, ‘Hey, don’t be afraid.  It does require some extra effort, but it’s worth it.'”  I completely agree.  When renovating my own kitchen, I wanted to use honed marble on my island.  I love to cook, and staying away from citrus, tomato sauce and red wine was simply not an option.  Everyone, without exception, told me to avoid marble since it’s so porous and prone to staining.  But I loved the marble so much.  Happily, six years later I am so glad that I went with my gut and picked the material that I really wanted, despite the warnings.  It has aged beautifully and has a patina that will only continue to improve with age.

Michael Smith’s kitchen exemplifies the fact that you can successfully use both interesting architectural features and design elements to make a space feel larger.  In his own kitchen, Michael Smith also teaches us a lesson in having what you love.  Yes, it’s sometimes a bit more work to maintain, but a kitchen is an investment, so if you can swing it, shouldn’t you have what you truly love?

Posted in Design Element, Design Inspiration, Kitchen | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nate Berkus Returns to TV: Renovation Nation

This week brings good news to fans of designer Nate Berkus.  The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Berkus will host and executive produce a new design competition on NBC called Renovation Nation.  Devotees of the designer were disappointed to see him leave the airwaves when his design show, The Nate Berkus Show, was cancelled last spring, so many are anxiously awaiting his return to television.

Nate certainly has been busy.  News of his upcoming show comes just a few months after he sat down with designer Tory Burch to discuss both the release of his latest New York Times Best-Selling book, The Things that Matter, and his recent collaboration with Target on a line of bed, bath and décor items for the home.  In that conversation they talked about Nate’s design style, which can be best summarized in his own words as “assembled and collected over time.  Not heavy on color, very heavy on layering and texture.”  

I think that the kitchen above, which was designed by Nate Berkus, exemplifies this style in how “collected” it looks.  In his design he combines classic elements, such as the parquet floor, crown molding and marble countertop, with more unexpected items such as the windowed partition between the kitchen and living spaces, the use of mixed metals (which has become a much more accepted practice today) and the rolling cart in place of a fixed island.  Most people would have left the kitchen open to the living room, but what Nate did with that window adds so much more character to the space — it’s my favorite element!

I, for one, am delighted that Nate will be returning to television.  I look forward to learning more from him and to being inspired by his design.  We all can take a lesson from Nate’s core design principle that  “your home should tell the story of who you are.  What you love most collected and assembled in one space…the philosophy that things do matter…They represent where we’ve been, who we’ve loved, and where we hope to go.  They make us happy, and I can’t think of a more beautiful way to live than that.”  Thank you, Nate, I agree!

 

 

Posted in Design Inspiration, Kitchen | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Design Inspiration: The Pantry

I set out today to write about kitchen pantry storage and I stumbled upon this beautiful image.   After doing some research I realized that I had better qualify just what I mean when I say pantry since there’s quite a big difference between a beautifully designed butler’s pantry and a utilitarian pantry which stores all of the necessary dry goods to feed your family.  But why can’t that utilitarian pantry still be beautiful?  I am a firm believer that your kitchen can be both functional and beautiful, so why not the pantry, too?

While the butler’s pantry above, complete with silver service, would make a lovely addition to someone’s home, today we’ll focus on designing a pantry to store all of the goodies that you need to get meals on the table.  Designing your pantry is just as important as planning for anything else in your kitchen.  It’s important to keep in mind how you’re going to use it and where you’re going to locate it.  Do you have a large or small family?  Do you cook a lot?  Do you entertain a lot?  Do you often buy in bulk?  Do you need to store cookie sheets, small appliances and serving trays here, or do you only have room for food?  And the all-important consideration:  will it be easy to unload groceries here?  

 

The ideal walk-in pantry:

  • Is located close to the food prep area of the kitchen
  • Utilizes a combination of storage options, including shelves of varying depth and drawers, if possible
  • Has good lighting (and maybe even some electrical outlets for small appliances)
  • Is designed so that items are easy to find and easy to access
  • Has a place for everything!

As I pondered these questions myself, I realized that many of the pantry images that I love didn’t really meet many of my design requirements.  Often times, the shelves were too deep and items were difficult to find — or the heavy KitchenAid mixer was stored on such a high shelf that it would never be used.  Unfortunately, sometimes when designing a space we pay so much attention to the aesthetics that we forget the function.  So, even though I love a beautiful butler’s panty, I think that the second pantry image would better fit my lifestyle.  And when there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place, then I know I’ve set myself up for success…and that’s beautiful!

Posted in Design Inspiration, Kitchen | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Design Inspiration: The Movies

After watching the Oscars last night, I have movies on my mind.  So, for today, I will pose a question.  What do the following movies have in common:  Father of the Bride, Something’s Gotta Give, The Parent Trap, The Holiday and It’s Complicated?  First, I will give you a hint:  the kitchen above is from the set of It’s Complicated, and the kitchen below played the starring role in Something’s Gotta Give.  By now you may have guessed that all were written and/or directed by the talented Nancy Meyers.

There is a quality about the spaces, especially the kitchens, in Nancy Meyer’s films that resonates with people.  Perhaps it’s their cozy and inviting atmospheres that draw people in.  Or maybe it’s the beautiful elements so carefully selected that together result in an unforgettable space.  While most of Meyer’s kitchen sets have high-end materials, they still appear to be lived in, not simply show pieces.  But there’s something about her interiors that people simply can’t get out of their minds.  Ask any designer and they will likely recall a client who longed for a design element seen in a Meyers film.  When interviewed by Elle Décor for the July/August 2012 issue, Meyers revealed that her set design is such an important part of her movies that she treats it almost like another character.  When asked about the often-copied kitchen from Something’s Gotta Give, she thoughtfully responded:  “It’s the story mixed with the decor that makes people like it so much…When I think of somebody’s house, I think of the kitchen.” 

Set designer Beth Rubino and interior designer James Radin are often on hand to advise Meyers and to execute her vision for these glorious spaces, and clearly that’s a winning combination.  For me, the most memorable Nancy Meyers design is Meryl Streep’s bakery in It’s Complicated, shown above.  It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Nancy Meyers movie, so when I read that she has several projects going on, I was excited that we might soon see some more of her fabulous interiors on the big screen.  Upcoming movies include The Chelsea, directed by Meyers and written by her daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, and The Intern, written and directed by Meyers and starring Tina Fey.  Hopefully one of these projects will feature another gorgeous kitchen that will inspire us all!

Posted in Design Inspiration, Kitchen | Tagged , , | Leave a comment