Category Archives: Materials

For the Love of Tile

 

It’s been entirely too long since my last post.  My excuse is simply that life has gotten in the way.  Funny how one of my many jobs as a parent is to teach my children the important life skill of time management.  Perhaps I haven’t been modeling good behavior lately as I’ve quite literally been burning the candle at both ends, and a few things have inadvertently fallen through the cracks.  September is one of the busiest months of the year, and most moms often ask one another “What’s worse:  September….or June?”  Endless meetings for school, requests to shuttle children to sports events, daily household chores and the launch of my kitchen & bath business have swallowed-up the month of September.  And it all came to a head today when I learned that I had forgotten my mother-in-law’s birthday yesterday.  Ah yes, the wheels appear to have come off the wagon.  Happily, October begins tomorrow, and with that I suspect a more normal routine of sorts will ensue.  By October we are generally in a rhythm – the kids with school and sports, and me with work and other commitments.  So, rather than feeling as though my family is spinning out of control, I am hopeful that the chaos of September is behind us, and that we will all start fresh in October!

Lately I have been spending time in tile showrooms sourcing backsplash tile.  I had the great fortune to visit the Walker Zanger showroom and I was so impressed by their beautiful selection.  I have written about tile in previous blog posts, as I’m a believer that tile is a great way to make a statement in both the kitchen and the bathroom.  What struck me during this most recent visit to Walker Zanger was the incredible variety of tile that is available today, and the countless ways these exquisite tiles can be used.  In the kitchen above,  designed by Drawing Dept. of Cincinnati, Ohio, the tile choice is so fresh and modern and makes quite a statement behind the sink.  At first it looks like custom millwork, doesn’t it?

In this bathroom designed by Tatum Brown Custom Homes in Dallas, Texas, tile is used behind the sink in lieu of wallpaper.  What a fantastic way to add both color and texture to arguably the most important wall in the powder room?  Who wouldn’t notice this bold statement when standing at the sink?

While a traditional 3″ x 6″ subway tile is a classic shape for a kitchen backsplash, the use of  hand painted ceramic tile with its depth and variety of color makes this classic shape appear much more current.  This kitchen designed by California-based Fiorella Design demonstrates that subtle color variation can add just the right amount of interest to the backsplash.  
So, here’s to a fresh start to fall and to a renewed enthusiasm for making a beautiful design statement in  your own home.
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Design Your Multi-Purpose Room Thoughtfully for High Functionality

It’s an all too common occurrence. Many homes today have at least one multi-purpose room where every activity that doesn’t have its own dedicated space occurs. So often, however, rooms that have to perform double-duty lack clear definition and as a result aren’t highly functioning.  But not this room…

This laundry room — mudroom combination designed by Rock Paper Hammer in Louisville, Kentucky struck a chord with me as it seems so well thought out. The designer’s attention to detail is evident in the careful selection of materials — high gloss paint on the ceiling and walls, brick floors sealed with a gloss clear coat to create a clean, “wet” look, and the unexpected choice of zinc for the countertops  — all blend so nicely with the rest of the elements in the room. Large cubbies for storing everyone’s belongings help to bring a little bit of order to a busy house. Additionally, having the laundry room reside in the mudroom with a nice big sink and large counter for folding certainly makes sense when you consider how much dirty laundry passes through that space daily. At least the chore of folding laundry would be a little bit nicer in that bright sunny spot looking out the window.

I am a big believer in the “if you build it they will come” theory of organization. If you can design and build a place to store everything, then you set yourself up for success. Before we built a mudroom in our home several years ago, our kids would come home from school every day and drop their shoes and belongings by the front door. My front hall was always cluttered with smelly sneakers, backpacks and sports equipment. Truthfully, I couldn’t really blame them: at their ages they were too small to reach the rod in the closet to hang up their coats, and there was simply no place for them to put their things.

When we built our mudroom, I planned a cubby for each child. Inside there are several hooks for coats, a spot for backpacks, and an area underneath for shoes that can be easily swept out if dirt or turf grit comes in from outside. An upper cabinet with a basket offers extra storage for off-season items that aren’t being used. Once the mudroom was in place it was easier to teach the kids to put their things away since there was a place for everything. Do they always put everything where it belongs? Of course not…they’re now teenage boys…but with a dedicated spot for all of their stuff they’re more likely to hit the target than just drop their things in the front hall.

The mudroom designed by Rock Paper Hammer reminds me that good design can really make life easier. If you take the time to consider how you will use a space and then plan for that, you will have a room tailored to your family’s needs, which will likely result in a little bit more order. I would certainly put this mudroom to good use if it were in my own home. The only modification I could possibly make would be to substitute my black and yellow labs for the cat…but then there would be dog hair everywhere.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Take a Risk: Make a Bold Statement with Color

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Would you consider making a bold statement with color in your kitchen?  Just how far would you go?  Few might be brave enough, or confident enough in their decision, to commit to a color-drenched kitchen such as this kelly green lacquered beauty by Miles Redd.  Some people are naturally adventurous with colors, while others are perfectly happy staying with a quieter, more neutral palette.  Do you fall into one of these two categories, or somewhere in-between?

Let’s face it:  it’s a lot easier (and certainly more cost-effective) to change an entire room by adding color to your décor with a can of paint, or a fresh batch of fabulous pillows.  Worst-case scenario: if it doesn’t work, you can re-paint or re-cover, but it won’t break the bank.  Taking a decorating risk in the kitchen, however, can be a bigger commitment and one that isn’t as easy (or inexpensive) to change.  So, how do you add color to your kitchen in a way that challenges your comfort zone a bit without sending you into a panic?

 Tory-Burch

Tory Burch added a pop of color to her white kitchen with this high gloss green floor and painted cabinet interiors.   Wow, what a statement!

La Cornue ranges come in a rainbow of fantastic colors.  This kitchen designed by St. Charles was featured in the 2012 Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse and certainly made a bold statement.  These custom, hand-made-to-order ranges and coordinating cabinetry are most-certainly an investment, so pick your favorite color and make your own statement. 

 whittakertile

Tile is a great place to add a big splash of color.  This beautiful bar designed by Ashley Whittaker uses stunning blue Aladdin tile from Waterworks.  How unexpected and beautiful at the same time!

 South-Beach

In a twist to adding a splash of color with a can of paint, House Beautiful featured a white glass-front kitchen cabinet with the interior painted in Benjamin Moore’s South Beach.  What a great way to add color while showcasing your dishes!

 tommysmythe

And if you’re not quite sure that you want to commit to something bold, how about adding some color in the form of a fun light fixture?   The custom-painted antique red lantern in this kitchen designed by Canadian Tommy Smythe is the perfect accent in this Victorian home.

Whether you just dip your toe in, or jump in feet first, why not add a splash of color to your kitchen design?  Chances are your colorful design element will make a statement and at the same time appear a little bit unexpected.

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Inspiration Abounds: Blogfest, Jonathan Adler and Kips Bay

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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.

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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?

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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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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.

Adler

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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Mad Men Inspired: Stainless Steel…Then and Now

Today I’m thinking about the season premier of Mad Men.  Devotees of the show have been waiting with bated breath for Season 6 to begin, and last night’s first episode did not disappoint.  I thought, like many other bloggers, that it would be fun to dig up a photo of a kitchen from the 60s, which I did, but I also found this great 1960’s ad from McLouth Steel Corp. in Detroit, Michigan, touting the virtues of stainless steel.  “If she takes pride in her home — give her a kitchen of stainless steel!”  Who would have known that using stainless steel in the kitchen would have lasted the test of time like it has!

HB60skitchen

The October 1961 issue of House Beautiful magazine featured this kitchen, and if you look closely you’ll notice that stainless steel is used in several different applications.  The cooktop, sink, counter tops and hood (I’m not sure if the faucets are stainless or chrome) are all made with stainless steel.  Look at the scalloped edge on that hood!

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Fast-forward fifty years to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Fan favorite, Ina Garten, chef, cookbook author and Food Network TV personality, allowed Town and Country magazine into her Paris flat in 2008 to discuss her love of Parisian life and, of course, cooking.  Photos reveal a fabulous kitchen with a stunning La Cornue range and…stainless steel cabinets, hood and backsplash!  What fascinates me is that this material that’s been used for decades, continues to be employed in many different applications.  Whether it’s used for appliances, counter tops, fixtures, cabinets, tiles or backsplashes, stainless steel in the kitchen has certainly endured.

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Design Elements: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Have you ever considered using mirrors in your kitchen?  While adding a mirror to a space to achieve a particular effect is certainly not a new trend in design, it’s one that is often overlooked as a tool in kitchen design.  Adding a mirrored backsplash to your kitchen is a great way to reflect light (or possibly a terrific view), as in this kitchen designed by Fairfield County architects Brooks & Falotico.   Not only does the mirror reflect the light, but it also adds a slightly contemporary flair to the space, and the coolness of the material compliments the warmth of the beautiful wood island.

In this elegant bar, tucked away in a family room designed by Sutro Architects (and photographed by Aaron Leitz Photography), the mirrored backsplash gives the illusion that this small interior space is much larger than it truly is.  If I had a bar like this, I think I would leave the door open, too!

This mirrored kitchen island, photographed by Pia Ulin, certainly makes a design statement!  The tension that is created when the sleek, modern cabinets and mirrored finish on the island are juxtaposed with the more traditional architectural features as seen in the windows and doors and the herringbone floor, makes this kitchen so interesting!

So, whether you choose to make a big impact, such as the one made by this mirrored island, or a small statement with a framed mirror hanging on the wall, why not try to add a mirror to your kitchen to see how it changes the space?

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