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Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece, Fallingwater,  is having a big birthday...75 years!  This beautiful home is the ultimate example of integrating a home with it's surroundings.  I have not seen it personally but that is going to change soon...a day trip with the family is being planned to Mill Run, Pennsylvania!

Enjoy these beautiful pictures taken by Christopher Little for a new book to commemorate Fallingwater's 75th anniversary.  Click on the picture to enlarge...

Have a great weekend!


Interior Design Lesson with "Sophisticated Global" Style

If you follow my Facebook Page, you already know I'm a big fan of the WSJ's Design and Decoration column.   I enjoy reading this column every Saturday and learn something new each week.  Last Saturday, WSJ highlighted designer, Jeffrey Bilhuber, who is considered one the greatest designers of our time.  

In this article, there were two quotes that really resonated with me ..."his rooms are reflections of personal histories and family life, not grand gestures of presentation.  In other words, decorating with soul."  The other quote was by one of his clients "Good decorators know how to assert their vision, but great ones know how to assert their clients".  I love this quote...a great goal to strive for!  In Mr. Bilhuber's new book, "The Way Home", every home has it's own personality.

I get asked all the time by potential clients what is my style...hmmm...I wonder, should I really tell them...will it scare them away because it's not what they like?   I'm still perfecting my answer, but it goes something like this...I love lots of different styles (the very eclectic look in my home is proof) but I try to have the client's personality, style, house and existing treasures reveal the style.  What a designer should do is apply good design principles and elements.  For instance, a designer should ensure their design follows these five (abstract) principles:  scale (i.e. your sofa isn't too large for your room), proportions (i.e. the valance is not too long for your window), balance (i.e. furniture and accessories are arranged in a way that makes sense), rhythm (i.e. there is some repetition but with an element of surprise so you don't get bored),  emphasis (i.e. every great room needs a great focal point), and harmony (combination of items in a room are pleasing).  The more specific elements of a design ensure that these principles are met.  The elements include space, shape, form, mass, line, texture, pattern, light, and color.  These principles and elements are applied universally and should be considered for every style!

Below are some rooms with a "sophisticated global" style.   This style just happens to be one of my favorites which I'll use to show how these universal design principles and elements are applied...

Katie Leede

Would this space look as good if you took away the three square pillows on the settee? I don't think so.  It would make the large painting look out of scale with the settee.  But by adding the three large pillows, it changes the overall scale of the settee so it works with the painting.  Also, the designer could have included a settee without exposed legs and fully upholstered to the floor to give the it more mass.  I'm guessing this is an entry or stair landing, so a smaller space.  The open, or negative, space below the settee keeps the space feeling more open.

Katie Leede
I would say that the emphasis, or focal point, of this room is the outside view through the window.  In other rooms, it can be a fireplace, a piece of art, or entertainment center.  I'm guessing the designer selected a more neutral color scheme so your eye would be drawn to this outdoors and not distracted by the interiors.  Even the lamp's shape and form, the side table's shape and texture, and chair fabric's pattern remind you of the outdoors, making this space harmonious.

Katie Leede
In this room there are lots of square shapes...artwork, table, chairs.  So we definitely have rhythm with repetition of the square shape.  However, the rug's irregular shape adds some variety so we don't get bored.

Katie Leede
Here's another good example of scale.  If the white chair was shorter and without arms it would look too small next to the large armoire.  The chair's white color even makes the chair appear larger.

Kristen Buckingham
Above is a good sample of balance that is achieved with the symmetrical arrangement of the beds, lamps, and artwork.   This symmetrical balance feels more formal and orderly. If you want a more informal room then use asymmetrical balance.

Peter Dunham
Here's another room with symmetrical balance.  This room also has a monochromatic color scheme for the most part.  I know the pillows bring a little color and pattern but basically the room has mostly browns.  Why does it work?  Texture.  The natural fiber shades, the wood chairs,  the upholstered bench setting, even the tufted seats add texture.  If the bench seats had not been tufted, the room would probably look dull.  If the chairs had been upholstered, there wouldn't be enough variety of materials.  Having the contrast of wood color between the chairs and table add interest too but notice the chair's wood color still tie back to the shades, providing harmony.

Katie Leede
Above, the room reminds of the land and the sea due to its colors and textures.  It's hard to go wrong when we draw inspiration for our natural surroundings.  The orchid in the clam pot is the punctuation mark for the look!

Daniel Sachs
This room has more pattern and color then I usually care for in a room.  However, the designer offsets all the pattern and color with simple white walls and artwork that visually gives your eyes a rest with the repetition of the artwork's arrangement and subdued colors used.  Masterful!

I hope I've given you some tips you can take away for designing your own spaces!  


Time to Get Cozy in the Kitchen!

I have to say with all the recent wet weather and cooler temperatures ahead I'm starting to dream about getting cozy.  Making my home cozy and eating cozy food.  Think chunky knit blankets and braised short ribs with red wine.  My mouth is watering while I'm writing this.   So I was also thinking it would be a good time to share a recent project where we transformed a kitchen into a warm and cozy place to cook, eat and entertain.  

Cozy Kitchen Project

My clients, Pat and Greg, live in a wonderful rustic cabin on a picturesque 2.5 acre lot located on a point of land that looks onto Church Creek in Annapolis.   Honestly, to call it a cabin is a bit of an understatement because my client has completed two additions which added a living room and a master bedroom making their home more spacious.  These additions were done well because they are very much in keeping with the look and feel of the original hunting cabin built over 100 years ago.  In fact I couldn't have told you where the additions started and ended until they told me.

As for the overall kitchen design, an all white kitchen, such a popular look, would not have worked in this home!  Their home is rustic, filled with antiques and many artifacts from their travels.  Very warm, inviting and comfortable.  For example, here's a pretty picture taken in their home.  Notice the log beam on the left.

So our design make the kitchen feel like part of the living space.  The kitchen opens out onto their great room so the kitchen design needed to compliment this space.  So here are some of the elements included in the design.

Yes, that's wallpaper for the walls.  Crazy, I know, but it works.   It makes the kitchen not feel utilitarian and more like an extension of their living space.  We live in our kitchens why not make it feel more like our living room!  So, we selected honed leathered granite for the counter tops.  A look that is more natural and organic (then the shiny granite), a creamy glazed cabinet finish, bronze hardware and bronze and travertine (not shown) tile for the stove back splash.  The paint chips were for baseboard and window trims painted the same background color of the wallpaper.

Here's a little peak at the wallpaper and cabinet finish after installation.  The glaze on the cabinets was perfect.  Not "goopy" (not sure that is a word).  The cabinets look like furniture.  The wallpaper looks great with the existing terracotta tiles.

When my clients first approached me about helping them with their kitchen renovation, they thought they would keep the same footprint and reface the cabinets.  But after careful consideration, we realized that some changes in the footprint would offer better walkway flow in and around the kitchen.  So new cabinets were needed.  We finalized a general floor plan design, then called Jim, the cabinet designer, to complete a design with detail cabinet configurations.  Because of the log beams in the walls and ceiling and the not-so-square walls and floors, he came out three times to measure!  He also listened to how my client used their kitchen (they are amazing cooks, no less) and came up with a plan to meet their needs.

Before we knew it, cabinets arrived and the chaos began!  My client's house looked like this for many weeks.  If you've been through a kitchen renovation you know, and if you haven't, you need to know that renovating a kitchen wreaks havoc on you life!  But the result is worth it!

Then Dave, the contractor, got busy with demo and rough in work...

And before you know it the kitchen was done.  No, not really!  For my clients, I'm sure what took many many weeks probably felt like many years to them!  With lots of hard work, blood, sweat, and I'm sure a few tears, it did eventually get done.

Here are the before and after pictures of the kitchen.

BEFORE picture

AFTER picture (click on picture to enlarge)

The counter tops turned out great.  There's enough movement in them to have interest but not too much to compete with the wallpaper.  Also, they actually feel warm to the touch.  I'm serious, natural products actually feel warmer then man made products.  

Here's a close up of the tile back splash made with ivory diamond cut travertine and bronze tiles.  The GE gas stove has six burners and the vent is super powerful but quiet.

BEFORE picture

 AFTER picture (click on picture to enlarge)

A place to eat a casual weekday dinner or for guests to talk to you while you cook.  Plus there's more storage.

BEFORE picture

AFTER picture

There was lots of discussion over whether to hide or expose the beam between the upper cabinets (it was previously hidden).  It was the right call to expose it and see some of the character of the home show through.

One last picture of the hardware.  One of Pat's favorite things about the kitchen is the hardware.  The round shape that is wider in the middle feels great in your hand.  When buying hardware make sure you like the way it feels.  It's the small things that can make a big difference!


I have to mention that Jim, the cabinet designer, worked very hard and put together a wonderful cabinet design.  Dave, the contractor, is a perfectionist and its shows in his work.    I have to say that my favorite part of this project was how closely I worked with Pat and Greg throughout the design process.  It was truly a collaborative effort which I believe ensures my clients will be thrilled with the result for many years to come!  And I'm definitely going to miss the homemade sweet treats I left with after each visit!

If you would like help creating a home that you love, please contact me!

P.S.  I almost on "My Book Stack" in the left column of my blog to see my Amazon bookstore and the design books I recommend.  They would make great holiday or birthday gifts!