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Three Projects, Three Different Looks

Like most of the east coast my family and I made it through the earthquake and hurricane Irene without too much drama or damage.  Even though my kids' classrooms shook for sixty seconds on the first day of school, they didn't seem to miss a beat.  I was more nervous then they were.  This weekend, my neighbors had a pre-hurricane party and served us "Hurricanes" and "Dark and Stormy" drinks as we watched the white caps on the creek outside their window.  A fun way to welcome Irene.  During the hurricane, my kids thought sleeping on the first floor with mom and dad was pretty cool too.  So all and all an exciting week but I have to admit that I am looking forward to what I hope is an uneventful week.

I'm thrilled to share some photos of three recent projects.  All of them are done (almost).  They still need a couple tweaks here and there but they are so close and I just couldn't wait to share.  These three projects are so different in look...the first room is elegant and more formal, the second room is cozy and inviting, and the third is an eclectic powder room with a touch of Hollywood (I'll explain why later).

Project #1 - Elegant Living Room

The first time I visited my client's house it looked like this throughout their home...

They had asked my help to select paint colors for every room in the house.  That's a tough one as a designer.  Usually picking a paint color is the last thing you do when you design a room.  But when you custom build a house, before you know it your builder is bugging you to pick colors.  Rarely do homeowners know the furniture, floor coverings, accessories and lighting that are going in every room beforehand, so you do the best you can with what you've got.  In this case selecting a warm neutral color that sets off the gorgeous moldings and Brazilian wood floors worked well.  

After their house was complete, my client moved in their furniture that had been handed down to them from their families.   It did not represent their style or go with the look and feel of their new Craftsman style home.

They soon asked for my help with decorating their home which included designing their living room, the first room you see when you walk into the house.  Their wish was to create an inviting, elegant, and peaceful space that could be used for reading and entertaining.  A place to sit by the fire after eating a delicious dinner with friends.    

I created a space plan to determine the best furniture type and size to meet my client's needs.  Then I selected the furniture and fabrics to create the look and feel we wanted for the room.  The feature fabric, a raw silk with a painted Asian floral motif by Designers Guild, was used for pillows in this room.  The same fabric was used in the adjacent dining room for the window treatments.  For the living room window treatments, we used a simple raw silk fabric that was trimmed with a geometric woven border.  The drapery hardware includes dark walnut rods with silver painted rings and brackets.  The chairs are by Hickory Chair and covered in a soft chenille Pindler and Pindler fabric with a subtle geometric pattern.  The Davis and Davis rug was custom designed.  We are in the process of adding a few more accessories and the room will be complete.

Here's a peak at their family room.  A much more casual room that is almost done.  A few more accessories will complete the look.  This Lee Industries chair is covered in mohair and trimmed in leather.  Mohair fabric is made from Angora goat hair.  It's very durable and was supposedly used on train seats in the early 1900s so great for a modern day family room.  The rug was custom designed for the room.  I'll share more pictures when the room is complete.

Project #2 - Inviting Family Room

Like the home from Project #1 this house already had great architectural details to start with which honestly makes my job easier.  The room had a coffered ceiling, gorgeous wood floors, built in cabinets for the television, and a great fireplace.  These are all details that I can design for a client but the work had already been done by them and their renovation team before I started.  When I started this project, the room looked like this.

The only items that had to stay were the leather couches.   Also, like the previous project, we started with a feature fabric which you can see on the window treatments and pillows below.  The window treatments soften the windows and provide color and pattern.  After some space planning, we decided to replace the coffee table with a round one made from an old wagon wheel and glass.  The table's round shape fits the couch configuration well and the glass provides reflection and lightness to the room.  A custom swivel chair was added so someone can either join the conversation or turn to watch the television.  A stripped natural fiber rug was added to provide additional interest along with lighting and accessories to complete the room.  The last finishing touch will be a chunky knit throw with the same blue color as the chair for one of the couches.  

Project #3- Eclectic Powder Room

This project was for my own powder room.  I have found that if I'm going to get anything done in my own home I have to actually treat it like a client project, meaning it becomes part of my work week and gets managed as such.   I just started doing this and it's amazing how much more is getting done around here.  For my powder room, I was really liking this wallpaper called Twig Jaspe from Cole and Son.  

It has a light metallic background with teal and brown trees (there's a little "tree hugger" in me since I'm the daughter of two parents who grew up during the 60s).   But we decided not to spend the money on wallpaper since the bathroom may be reconfigured with the next phase of our renovation.

I feel that a powder room is a great place to experiment.   So I decided to do a paint treatment myself with the same colors that were used in the wallpaper.  My goal was to pull out the teal glaze on the mirror's frame that you can barely see in the picture below.

I was very intimidated to do my own faux painting.  For client's projects I hire decorative painters.  I had never done it before (I don't think using Ralph Lauren's suede paint counts) but it turned out to be a very fun project.  It's not perfect but I did it and have decided I really like it.  It helped a great deal that a good friend thought it was cool because it reminded her of the therapist's room in the movie, The King's Speech.    Turns out the wall treatment in the movie was quite the hit in the design world.  These scenes were shot in an old London building.  The bohemian styled room had a wall partially covered in peeling  oil-infused wallpaper.  The production designer loved the look and recreated it with layers of plaster and peeling wallpaper for all the walls.  

So here's my powder room, walls and all.  The sink skirt was made using fabric by Michael Smith's Jasper, called Indian Flower.  The japanese paintings I picked up at the Bethesda Fine Art Festival a few years back.  The mirror I had custom framed at Framer's Vise, a great local framer.

I have several other projects I'll be sharing soon...a cozy kitchen redo, an elegant home office/library, and lots of smaller projects too...window treatments, artwork selection, and accessories.  I'm also doing a couple commercial projects... a waiting room for a group of psychologists and a contemporary office space in Eastport.  

I can still take on a few more projects this fall so don't hesitate to contact me if you would like help transforming your home or office into a space you love.

Have a good week!


The Outer Banks, Pretty Seaside Homes, and Hunter Douglas

We just got back from a great family trip to Duck, North Carolina.   The weather, the blue ocean water, the home cooked food, and family time couldn't have been better.   I think the whole family would agree that the house we rented contributed greatly to a wonderful time!  It all started with a web search that brought us to these pictures.

We were instantly sold!  The house was even better in person.    It was light filled and simply decorated so you focused on the gorgeous view outside.  It was obvious someone put a lot of effort into creating an "effortless" look.  They created a beautiful home our whole family of 15 could enjoy!

Here's the sunrise from our bedroom window.

My brother-in-law, Rob, our resident fisherman, fished every morning.  The first thing he reeled in was a handful of shark eggs that actually had baby sharks in them.    You could hold the shark egg up the sun and actually see the little shark wiggle around.   Amazing.

We also drove my car on a Corolla beach to catch a glimpse of the wild ponies.  I admit I was a little nervous (ok, a lot nervous because my palms were sweating).  I didn't let the air out of my tires like you're supposed to and about halfway through the trip my sister-in-law discovered that the users manual for my all wheel drive SUV said it shouldn't be taken off road.  Hmmm.  Luckily we didn't get stuck and we found what we came looking for...

We walked up 214 steps to the top of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse to get an amazing view of the ocean and sound.  We did discover some in our group were afraid of heights.  So I landed up carrying one child down 214 steps.

Bumper cars, shopping, hunting for treasure with metal detectors were a few more of the fun activities we enjoyed.  Thank you Bill and Carol for hosting such a wonderful trip with memories that will last a lifetime!

In the past week I've been receiving articles and catalogs with fall decor.  Even the clothing stores in Duck, NC were carrying fall clothes.  I'm just not ready for the transition yet.  So before I jump on the bandwagon I wanted to share pretty pictures of a beach house in Kiawah, South Carolina that was recently highlighted in Coastal Living and designed by Frank Randolph.

The pillow fabrics by John Robshaw and Lee Jofa are great.  So is the industrial looking table.

A powder room that doesn't take itself too seriously with paint splatter wallpaper.

One lucky dog!

A den with accent chairs that have an artistic quality.

I wish I could see the rest of the painting.  I like how it introduces another color into the blue and white decor.

Lastly, I wanted to mention that I can meet all your window needs with Hunter Douglas products.  Wood blinds, natural woven shades, window shading, shutters, and honeycomb shades just to name a few.  Attributes of good quality window treatments include energy efficiency, privacy, furniture protection, child safety, and lifetime guarantee.  Here are a few pictures of their products to get you thinking...

Have a wonderful week.


An Affair with a Dining Room

OK, I'm not really having an affair with my dining room but I like the way it sounds.   A tweak on a title borrowed from Bunny Williams' book An Affair with a House.  Unlike Bunny Williams, I did not fall in love with my house (or dining room for that matter) at first sight.  Instead over the past 10 years I've been slowly turning my colonial style house into a home that I love.   Some rooms have received more attention then others and it's my dining room that has the most stories to tell.  So I wanted to share with you my experience of decorating my dining room over the years and a few things I learned along the way.

It all started with Hurricane Isabel, the big storm that bombarded the mid Atlantic region in September 2003 causing a four foot surge in downtown Annapolis.

Isabel also happened to cause some damage to a black walnut tree in our backyard.  So instead of chopping up the tree for firewood I decided to have the four foot sections sent to a sawmill and made into boards and then dried for 6 months so it could be used to make furniture...specifically a table and buffet for my dining room.  A good friend's dad and part time joiner, was willing to make the furniture for me.    So between waiting for the wood to dry, finalizing designs for the furniture, and having the furniture custom made it took nearly two years from the time Isabel come through to when the dining room table and buffet were delivered to my house.  It was well worth the wait.

Now for the design inspiration.  I came across this picture close to 10 years ago while looking for some inspirational images for my dining room, long before I knew who was famous in the design world.  Just a few years ago, after being a Michael Smith fan for some time, I came across this picture in my files and discovered that he had actually designed this dining room.  I loved the Regency circular table with its graceful curved legs, the Louis XVI chairs with red leather (so practical for a young family), drapery with a creamy background with pattern, oriental rug, the variety of finishes (bronze chandelier, brass mirror, and silver bowl on table), and the mix of styles used... French, Spanish, Orient.  A look that I felt was timeless.

Since the first year we've been in our house it has been used for just about every major holiday.  For Thanksgiving we have between 15-20 people visit each year.  So a table that could expand and seat lots of people was a must.  So we designed an eight foot oval table that could use two 2-foot leaves.  We also designed two pedestals to have the same leg shape and brass claw feet as the antique table in Michael Smith's room above.  Turns out finding brass claw feet in such a large size wasn't easy.  Luckily we discovered a foundry in Seattle, WA who was willing to make the mold (at no extra charge) to create the larger feet for us.

Here's the buffet that was made out of the same black walnut tree.  Aren't the turned legs gorgeous.  I have to admit that the design is a knock off of a buffet from a well know furniture company.  If you can name the manufacturer and piece I'll provide you two hours of free design services!  I'll give you one hint...their piece has a black granite top.  I opted for a creamy marble top.  The abstract painting is by Emilija Pasagic, an artist from Belgrade (formerly Yugoslavia).   A gift to myself after going part time when we started a family.

I'm a big fan of Currey and Company lighting.  So my first big lighting purchase eight years ago was this chandelier with crystal accents.  I recently added sconces to either side of the painting for additional accent lighting.

I'm also a big fan of blue and white porcelian.  Earlier this year I devoted an entire post to it which you can check out here...Blue & White Everywhere.  Here's one of my favorite Michael Smith images of blue and white.  It is so versatile.  So I've used it through out my dining room.  Coordinates nicely with the blue ceiling.

Recently, the window treatment in the dining room went through a major change.  Eight years ago I used a local designer to find me fabric for a treatment.  I had showed her my Michael Smith room and asked for a fresh floral with a creamy background.  After showing me fabrics three different times, I finally settled on something.   Not a creamy background but red.  The fabric worked ok but I was never in love with it.  Please don't ever settle!  Much prefer to have the background of fabrics match or be similar to the wall color.  I should have just waited until I found just the right fabric.  I finally decided to replace it with something I really love.  Fortunately these treatments are now in a good friend's house and they look awesome.  

I had purchased a Restoration Hardware rod above.  I was never crazy about that too.  I don't like seeing the brackets, the panels were stationary and there's nothing to provide privacy.  The window has so many lines both vertically and horizontally that using a rod just added another horizontal line making it all too busy.  So this is what I ended up with...

Actually that's Aoife who was not happy to move in order to take this shot...

Hanging the valance as high as possible helps make the eight foot walls seem taller.  A sheer linen from Pindler & Pindler was used to make panels that traverse for some privacy in the evening.  The floral print is from Schumacher, one of my all time favorite fabric companies.  A big improvement.  

Last but not least...floor coverings.  Since my fabric for the window treatments had a lot of pattern I decided to use a simple rug.  So I ordered a custom sisal like rug made of wool (so much softer to walk on and durable) that was bound in a soft black twill fabric.  I'm very happy with the rug but felt the room needed a little extra something...maybe something a little unexpected.  My very first post for this blog was on Darryl Carter.  One of my favorite rooms of his is this study with the tiger stripe rug.

So I picked up a tiger stripe rug for a very good price as a fun accent.  My mom and husband think I'm crazy but it makes me smile when I see it.  You can also see that I did go with red leather chairs, like the Michael Smith room, but with a spanish style.  They are so comfortable (in fact it's hard to get people to get up from a meal) and no worrying about spills.  

The room is almost done.  I need to start looking for a cute accent table and lamp for this wall.  

The decorating never stops...thank goodness!

I'm happy to say that I'm booked with client projects through the end of August but looking for new projects to start this fall!  Contact me soon if you want your projects completed for the holidays.  

Have a good rest of the week!