June 11, 2009

Hanging Art: 3 Approaches Prefered by Interior Designers

There are as many ways to hang and display art as there are artists and art lovers. But if we try, we can boil it down to 3 basic approaches, within which you can make your own rules.

1) NEAT and GEOMETRIC…the grid:

If you like your world visually neat and organized, this is your look.

In this case the vibrant energy of the strong color palette is kept in check by the geometric installation of the art.

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Neat, but far from dull! The geometry is further strengthened by the symmetrical portraits on each side.

I couldn't resist adding this similar image of Matisse's Red Studio

I couldn't resist adding this similar image of Matisse's Red Studio

Gilded botanicals

Gilded botanicals are installed with precision, and add just the right touch in this year round sun room. (Gaita Interiors)

A grouping of small framed art can take the place of a single larger piece, as in these examples, above and below.

These pretty framed tiles from Linda Paul could fill a whole wall in a kitchen or casual dining room.

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Framed tiles from www.lindapaul.com

Life is messy! It’s nice to come home to a crisp, clean look in your personal sanctuary. The art installations below certainly add to a sense of calm and tranquility.

Neat and calming, but not dull.

A restful and elegant dining room.

White dining room

White dining room from Better Homes and Gardens

 a bedroom.

A pretty bedroom in neutral tones. Very tranquil.

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I love the calm, cool slate blue combined with a pop of bright red!

The key to this look is identical (or nearly so) frames. What’s inside the frames may be similar, related or vary wildly. It’s the frames that keep it together, and provide that clean, calm organized appearance. The only down side to this look is the installation. Precision is called for. If you’re going to do it yourself, here are some tips for getting it just right. You may consider hiring a pro for this. Many framers provide art hanging services. Or a good handy man/carpenter can do the job.

2) WILD ABANDON, or….more is more

It may be a lifetime’s collection of art and mementos, or just the result of a flea market spree… Or a little of both. There’s a fun free spirited trend toward wild, sprawling art installations for the home. Why interior designers love it? It gives the home instant and unique personality, the homeowner’s personality. You can finish a room in one big picture hanging marathon!

By Thomas Jayne

By Thomas Jayne via House Beautiful

Framed vintage wallpapers via Apartment Therapy

Framed vintage wallpapers via Apartment Therapy

Domino Magazine

Artistic collection via Domino Magazine

A sprawling collage made of art.

A sprawling collage made of art. Very Bohemian.

Tiffany Blue walls make a great backdrop for black and white photos in a variety of black frames.

Tiffany Blue walls make a great backdrop for black and white photos in a variety of black frames. (via Domino)

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I like the way the art picks up the black and white checkerboard floor.

Thomas Jayne

By Thomas Jayne via House Beautiful

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A comfy living room is personalized by

A comfy living room is personalized by a lifetime collection of art and mementos

I wouldn't call this sprawling. It's neatly organized, filling the space like wallpaper.

I wouldn't call this sprawling. It's neatly organized, filling every inch like wallpaper.

They could have just hung the orange painting over the sofa, but that wouldn't have been half as interesting.

They could have just hung the orange painting over the sofa, but that wouldn't have been half as interesting.

3) ONE IMPORTANT STATEMENT PIECE

If you’re lucky enough to own art that’s big and “important”, you can use the time honored approach of letting that piece stand alone, or even lead the design decisions for a whole space. Interior designers LOVE IT when a home owner has big art! It makes the rest of our job so easy!

The rooms below all appear to have been inspired by the one major art piece present.

Looks like this beautiful painting was the inspiration for the rest of the room, with excellent results.

Looks like this beautiful painting was the inspiration for the rest of the room, with excellent results.

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Every detail falls in line behind the stunning contemporary painting.

Black and white

Here, even the almost-black wood floor follows suit.

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The oversized art photography sets not only the color scheme but the entire theme of the room.

Expertly modulated greys pick up the shades in the art, without overpowering it.

Expertly modulated grays pick up the shades in the art, without overpowering it.

A pinch of white in teh bold painting is picked up in the chair's slipcovers.

A pinch of white in the bold painting is picked up in the chair's slipcovers.

SOME PEOPLE JUST REFUSE TO FIT IN!…the hybrids

Here are some beautiful examples of art installations that combine some or all of the above methods…or just do their own thing:

A statement piece, surrounded by small satelights, on a neutral backdrop.

A statement piece, surrounded by small satelites, on a neutral backdrop.

Soothing classic color scheme is enlivened

The color scheme in the furnishings and paint is laid back, the art pops, all to great effect.

Wall art isn’t necessarily flat! This traditional living room by Mary Anne Smiley Interiors with stunning multi dimensional glass art, combined with contemporary painting, defies categorization. I love that!!

My favorite room at the Kip's Bay Showhouse by Bunny Williams.

Grid Interrupted: My favorite room at the Kip's Bay Showhouse by Bunny Williams.

Oops I forgot my art...very pretty!

Oops I forgot my art...very pretty!

Martha Stewart

A collection of various sizes is carefully arranged inside an imaginary box to create, in effect, a single piece. From Martha Stewart

This is known as The Paris Hang.

This is known as The Paris Hang; almost sculptural.

Got art, but now walls?  Here's a solution.

Got art, but no walls? Here's a solution.

Another one

Another one

Symetrical, but complex installation complimented by subtle paint and fabric selections.

Symmetrical, but complex installation, complimented by subtle paint and fabric selections.

Remember the most important things when you’re thinking about how to hang your art:

HAVE FUN and EXPRESS YOURSELF!

My friend Kelly from DesignTies suggested a style I missed: Art leaning on shelves. As she suggests, this gives you lots of flexibility. If you get bored, you can change things around, and never put a nail in the wall! I found this pretty image from DesignHoleOnLine.

A cozy niche with artistic flair.

A cozy niche with artistic flair.

From ED Custom Designs

From E Designs Custom Interiors

And this combo, hanging and leaning from E Designs Custom Interiors

May 28, 2009

Let’s Copy a Deluxe Room on the Cheap II

Here’s another installation on how to get a rich chic look with out spending a big bundle (only a little bundle).

I was very impressed with the eclectic elegance of this family room in the Georgetown home of George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth. The interior designer, Elizabeth Martin did wonderful work here, incorporating a feeling of rich elegance with sumptuous comfort and ease.

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George and Ali's beautifully designed, very inviting family room.

I would guess that this huge double size room cost, conservatively, about $90,000 to furnish (without art) including custom wood work, window treatments and professional paint work. Most of us don’t have double size rooms, so I’m NOT going to figure on 3 sofas or 3 area rugs. I will include plenty of small tables and three club chairs, just because there’s so much great stuff out there! Let’s do this look for under $12,000. Here we go:

From Horchow Faux Zebra rug on cowhide $689.00

From Horchow Faux Zebra rug on cowhide $689.00

Helsingor Rug from Ikea $199

Helsingor Rug from Ikea $199

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I like to start from the floor up. These two rugs make a great foundation for our eclectic interior, and combined the cost is under $1000.

Benjamin Moore Bird of Paradise, Linen White and Char Brown

Benjamin Moore Bird of Paradise, Linen White and Char Brown

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Here are your paint colors. DON’T BE AFRAID OF DARK COLORS! Remember, the ceiling is WHITE! And there are lots of other light elements. The dark walls will recede, making the room look larger!!

The Carter Chair from Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams runs about $2000.00 depending on the fabric. That makes it the biggest ticket item in the room, but worth it for the dramatic impact.

The Carter Chair from Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams runs about $2000.00 depending on the fabric. That makes it the biggest ticket item in the room, but worth it for the dramatic impact.

Devin Square Leather Ottoman from Crate and Barrel $899.00

Devin Square Leather Ottoman from Crate and Barrel $899.00

Macy's Cappuccino Money Plant Accent Chair $699.00

Macy's Cappuccino Money Plant Accent Chair $699.00

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A pair of tall bookcases from highlanddesigns.com $978 for 2.

A pair of tall bookcases $916 for 2.

One tall wing chair, plus two club chairs around a square leather ottoman makes a great conversation area.

Paint the bookcases (from highlansddesigns.com)the Char Brown, just like the walls to mimic the look of custom built-ins. The Bird of Paradise coral peaking out from the interior of the bookcases, adds a surprising punch. Linen White on the ceiling will avoid a too harsh contrast with the dark walls.

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Tava Coffee Table from Crate and Barrel $599.00

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Tyler Sofa from Macy's $699.00

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The Tava Coffee Table is slightly rustic and exotic. The Tyler Sofa in chocolate brown velvet keeps the luxury going, for the right price.

Accessories, lots of them:

Crate and Barrel Tempo Pillow $32.95

Crate and Barrel Tempo Pillow $32.95

Gump's Orange Dragon Garden Stool $195.00

Gump's Orange Dragon Garden Stool $195.00

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Durham Pillow

Durham Pillow fr0m CB2 $129.00

Thomas Paul Flock Silk Pillow from Moderndesires.com $78.00

Thomas Paul Flock Silk Pillow from Modern Desires $74.00

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Crate and Barrel Firenze pillow $79.00

Firenze Pillow from Crate and Barrel $79.00

Moroccan Pouf from tazidesigns.com

Moroccan Pouf from Tazi Designs $199.00

Eggshell Lacquer Nesting Tables from Gump's $499.00

Eggshell Lacquer Nesting Tables from Gump's $499.00

Lamps plus $495

Babette Holland Ostrich Rust Table Lamp from Lamps Plus $495

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Wild Walnut Serving Tray lampsplus.com $149.00

Wild Walnut Serving Tray lampsplus.com $149.00

Pier 1 Elephant Teapot $19.99

Pier 1 Elephant Teapot $15.95

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I guess the portrait over the fireplace is one of George and Ali’s ancestors. Hey, I GOT ANCESTORS TOO! My husband comes from a VERY old Italian family. Here’s one of our ancestors. You can borrow her, if you want to! She looks great over our fireplace.

I got my pretty ancestor at allposters.com for $49.99 framed

I got my pretty ancestor at allposters.com for $49.99 framed

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Pottery barn Rustic Bench $250.00

Large Rustic Bench from Pottery Barn $250.00

Peyton Grommet Drapery Panels in color from Pottery Barn $89.00 per panel

Peyton Grommet Drapery Panels in Chestnut from Pottery Barn $89.00 per panel

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Here's the other half of this LARGE, beautiful room.

So, if my math is right,and you do your own paint work, I come up with about $10,000 for the whole room, IF you have a big enough room to hold it all!

HAVE FUN!!

May 19, 2009

Wildly Creative Ways to Use Plates as Wall Decoration

I’m so impressed with the creativity people are using in their approach to plates as wall hangings. There’s whole new spin on this time honored method of decoration. Some use plates that seem to be out of Grandma’s old cupboard, some straight from the store. Either way, the results are beautiful, and sometimes astonishing.

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This is the G rated version of Vintage Vandal's work. She's a wild woman!

Traditional, even old fashioned, these plates are given a whole new existence with a little tinkering from Trixie Delicious at Vintage Vandal. She’s brilliant! I LOVE to see something old used in a whole new way. Very exciting!

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Here, a gorgeous free form display of an array of plates gives a traditional dining room a modern, arty twist!

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This clean dramatic design makes maximal use of the contrast between the deep red and the white of the dishes. The installation is beautifully executed, with careful attention given to balance and proportions.

Venice Bieannel

From theVenice Biennale, The Collectors by Eastman & Dragset

Part of the installation”The Collectors”  by Eastman & Dragset at the 2009 Venice Biennale, a kitchen housing an eerily disturbed collection of Weimer-like plates tells a tale of turbulent family relationships.

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Black and white fabric from Marimekko

This arrangement seems almost accidental, but the careful selection of black, white and primaries belies that. The apparently random, loose installation keeps the space open, uncluttered, and modern. Which came first, the gorgeous black and white cloth, or the wall arrangement?

Lily dishes from Room Service Home, turned into art.

Lily dishes from Room Service Home, turned into art.

This goes beyond decoration, and into the realm of art. The Lily dishes are from the extraordinary catalog Room Service Home. I’m strongly reminded of the glass art of Dale Chihuly. Perhaps inspiration was taken from there.

Chihuly Dragonfly

Dale Chihuly -Dragonfly

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There’s nothing stuffy about these more traditional plate displays . There’s something fresh, unique and even extravagant in the style of each one.

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It's the teal paint against the lime color of the plates that makes this very special

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The organized arrangement keeps the vibrant colors in check.

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Stunning polychrome plates on a red wall.  The three white plates anchor the whole composition

Stunning polychrome plates on a red wall. The three white plates anchor the whole composition

A very fresh, yet traditional approach

A very fresh, yet traditional approach

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In this case, MORE IS MORE!

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Very traditional, but just perfect, from Martha Stewart.

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Fish and citris, mmm, I'm hungry!

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Vintage all the way!

Vintage all the way, and as charming as can be.

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SO LET’S DO IT! If you don’t have cupboards full of Grandma’s old dishes, here are some plates and bowls I would love to see used as wall decoration. The plates from New York Botanical Garden are truly exquisite in person. Pier 1 has a HUGE assortment of decorative plates starting at $2.00!! This is a GREAT do-it-yourself project! Click here for directions about how to hang plates.

Flower side plates from the New York Botanical Gardens

Flower side plates from the New York Botanical Garden

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Pier 1 Paisley Dinnerware

Pier 1 Paisley Dinnerware

Botanical Plate Set

Pier 1 Botanical Plate Set

Pier 1 Fish Shaped Platters

Pier 1 Fish Shaped Platters

Blue and White Rectangular Dishes

Pier 1 Blue and White Rectangular Dishes

  • There are no strict rules about plate hanging. Really anything goes. But here are a couple of tips:
  • Don’t be afraid to GO BIG! Fill the space you have.
  • Lay it out on the floor first to make sure you like it.
  • You can tape paper cut outs to the wall to mimic the plates before you hang them, so you can make sure to do it just right.
  • Have fun!!

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Plate Sources in Larchmont and Mamaroneck:


Chatsworth Auction House in Mamaroneck is a great place to dig a round for unique finds. It’s right in Mamaroneck Village, on Mamaroneck Ave. The plates are in singles and sets, mostly on the first floor, but once you get there, you’ll be drawn in. With four large floors to explore, give yourself plenty of time! More photos on the web site. Take a walk on Mamaroneck Harbor while you’re there.

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A tiny sample of what you can find at Chatworth's, in Mamaroneck, NY

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Pier 1 Imports in Larchmont, is right on Boston Post Rd. Their collection is large , and inexpensive. Buy three of each of the Fish Shaped Platters (shown above) and put up a whole school of fish in the kitchen or dining room. I had fun making a Polyvore set showing this idea. Check it out: School of Fish Dining Room

Wendy Gee’s in Larchmont, has very pretty plates, and all kinds of fresh, upbeat home accessories. Unfortunately, their web site doesn’t sell them, but if you’re in the area, it’s worth a stop. They’re located right in the heart of Larchmont, on Palmer Ave. and it’s one of the most charming spots in town!

Plates Restaurant, Larchmont,….OK, they don’t sell PLATES, they sell very delicious food ON plates (Really delicious!) However they like plates a lot, they named themselves Plates, and they own and display the most unique collection in Larchmont. The owner has collected plates from restaurants all over the world. There all on the web site, each with a little backstory. The variety alone is amazing, and lots of fun to look at. It’s a great place to eat too!

Dumpling forming plate, from Babushka's Reataurant, Moscow, Russia

Plates' Dumpling forming plate, from Babushka's Restaurant, Moscow, Russia

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So now you have lots of ways to GET plates, but don’t hide them in the cupboard!

May 1, 2009

Let’s Copy a Deluxe Room, on the Cheap!!

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This room knocks my socks off! I saw it at HGTV

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Rug from Ikea, Stockholm Rand 8'2" x11'6" for $299.00

OK, we won’t COPY it, let’s just be INSPIRED by it.

I would estimate that the room above cost about $50,000.00 fully furnished (without fine art), which is about average for a deluxe, top shelf, professionally designed room. I propose that we can get this look for under $10,000.00.

First things first, we’ll start from the floor up. Instead of wall to wall wool needlepoint carpeting which will cost buckets of money, lets use this black and white rug from Ikea.

Next we need a brilliant rich green backdrop for the walls, something not too blue and not too yellow, like this Benjamin Moore #566 Bunker Hill Green from the Classics Collections. Benjamin Moore has a color selector that allows you to test a color in a virtual room.

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Benjamin Moore Classic #566 Bunker Hill Green

The shimmery gold ceiling can be achieved with metallic paint from Modern Masters. I buy it at my neighborhood paint store, in Larchmont, NY

This is Pale Gold Metallic from Modern Masters for the ceiling.

This is Pale Gold Metallic from Modern Masters for the ceiling.

I will add later

The Miramar in Graphite, from Crate and Barrel

At $1199.00, the Miramar Armless Loveseat from Crate and Barrel is about half the price of a similar custom piece. I would like to see two of these ganged together in a row to form an extra long four seat sofa. If space is an issue, at 63″ one of these used alone could solve your problemlskjfsdf;sdfj;sdjf;sdjfs;dlfjs;dljf;sdjfs;kdjfs;lkdjflskdjflskdhfkhskjdhsk

Margarita Pillow from Crate and Barrel $19.95

Margarita Pillow from Crate and Barrel $19.95

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BranchHome.com makes this elegant pillow for $64.00

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Pellicia Pillow from Crate and Barrel $79.95

www.tonicliving.com $34.95

www.tonicliving.com $34.95

An assortment of fun throw pillows for the sofas ranging from $20.00 to $80.00 each. A free mix of patterns and textures lends an arty feel, while sticking with the black-white-green theme keeps it grounded.




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Horchow does a great job with mirrors. They’ve got one for every occasion! This one is on the cheap side, for them, at $319.90. I just think it’s very pretty and dramatic, and the right size for over a fireplace.

The Clairemont Coffee Table from Crate and Barrel has antiqued mirrored surfaces and a soft gold wrought iron finish to pick up the warmth of the gold ceiling. It looks much more expensive than it’s price of $699.00

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The Clairemont form Crate and Barrel $699.00

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From Horchow $319.90

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Add a touch of something wild with this Zebra chair from Macy’s. It’s a steal at $399.00. Use two of them, if you have the space.

The palm green Allegro Ottoman from Crate and Barrel adds another touch of green over the black and white rug. For $149.00, how can you lose!

Allegro Ottoman fron Crate and Barrel for $149.00!

Allegro Ottoman fron Crate and Barrel for $149.00!

Zebra Accent Chair from Macy's $399.00

Zebra Accent Chair from Macy's $399.00

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Greek Key

This trim added to the edge of white linen drapes would be very graphic.

Belgian Linen

Textured Belgian Linen from Restoration Hardware in white

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Here are some pretty accessories that we can’t do without.

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Don't forget the flowers. Hydrangeas in season, so fresh!!

White ceramic garden stool to use as and end table

White ceramic garden stool to use as and end table from West Elm.

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I’d love to have my very own Georgia O’keefe to hang over my sofa, but since that would really blow my budget, I’ll go for a couple of the pretty things from Pier 1 and Ikea

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Pier 1 Organic Squares $350.00 for the set.

Pier 1

Pier 1 36"x36" wall art for $185.00

Pier 1 Scroll Wall Decor $99.95

Pier 1 Scroll Wall Decor $99.95

From Ikea, Pjatteryd  $79.99

From Ikea, Pjatteryd $79.99

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west-elm

West Elm has this pretty assortment of white ceramic to display on your rattan etagere, for around $100.00

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A richly stained rattan etagere adds a bit of the exotic and tropical, retails for around $500.00

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If your room needs to serve double duty, this rattan etagere from Rattan Interiors will hold a TV. I like these modern ceramic vases for display against the dark finish of the etagere. They’re from West Elm

So, if you do your own painting, I figure you can do this whole room, including a budget for accessories, wall art, and drapery hardware for about $9,000.

In the original room, the carpet and sofas alone cost more!!

Remember, you can use the black/white/neutral/plus one color formula with ANY color you like! If green isn’t your thing, you can do it with red, turquiose, orange, whatever you like. Just stick with the black/white/neutral base,and add your own favorite hue!

HAVE FUN!!


April 20, 2009

It’s Easy to be Green! 9 Low Tech Ideas

I’ve got some low tech, time honored techniques for green interior design. Some of these methods would look very familiar to our grandmother’s, because they’re based on the old maxim “waste not, want not” Frugality is very green!

The french doors in this grand old home are probably poorly insulated.  Falnnel lined silk drapes go a long way to keep the heat in during winter, and the the hot sun out during the summer.  This is probably what drapes were invented for , way back when!

The french doors in this grand old home are poorly insulated. Flannel lined silk drapes go a long way to keep the heat in during winter, and the the hot sun out during the summer. This is probably what drapes were invented for.

1. Stop letting all that heat out through the windows by installing some flannel lined drapes. This is equally useful for keeping your house cool in the summer, because flannel lining is also blackout lining. Insulated drapes will help keep your energy usage down. Any style drape can be flannel lined. It has no effect on the appearance.

This is a sample of the goodies to be found at the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market in New York, NY

This is a sample of the goodies to be found at the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market in New York, NY

2. Get to a flea market! Buy some cool old stuff to furnish and ornament your home, instead of newly manufactured stuff! Fabulous flea markets are popping up everywhere. Nothing adds interest and charm to your home faster than when you bring in something old. The Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market in New York is the king of flea markets. Make sure to get there early before all the good stuff goes!

An elegant washable napkin for special dinners.

An elegant washable napkin for special dinners.

Colorful "easy who cares" maintenance bandanasfor the kitchen, every day.

Colorful "easy who cares" maintenance bandanas for the kitchen, every day.

3. Stop using tons of paper napkins. Instead make the investment in fabric napkins that you can use over and over again. If you wash them in cold water, with eco-friendly detergent, the environmental impact is MUCH lower than paper napkins. And after all, don’t you love a fabric napkin? So much nicer than a crunchy, crumpled piece of paper! Consider using bandanas as napkins for everyday use in the kitchen. They’re cheap, colorful, soft and very washable. You can order a couple of dozen in assorted colors. They’ll last for years!

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This old bureau was about ready for the junkyard. Now it's beautiful, useful, and of course, green!

4. Paint or refinish some old furniture, instead of throwing it away, and buying newly manufactured furniture. You can check my earlier post about the joys of painted furniture, The bottom line is, it’s cheap, it’s gorgeous, and it’s green.

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This stunning example of reclaimed wood flooring is from The Mountain Lumber Company. www.mountainlumber.com

5. If you’re renovating, consider using reclaimed wood flooring. Made from antique flooring saved out of demolished homes, old doors and barns, the effect is like nothing else. New wood flooring can never have the patina, texture and color variation of reclaimed wood flooring. And by the way, it’s as green as can be. No trees were harmed in the making of this floor!

These tiles made of recucled materials are from Bedrock Industries.  www.bedrockindustries.com

These tiles made of recycled materials are from Bedrock Industries. www.bedrockindustries.com

6. Check out the array of gorgeous glass tiles made from recycled materials. If your bathroom is ready for an update, or you’re looking for a beautiful treatment for a kitchen backsplash, then you’re probably already looking at glass tiles. I came across these pretty mosaics from Bedrock Industries on www.alternativeconsumer.com.

This classic sofa will be better than new!

This classic sofa will be better than new!

7. It’s definitely less wasteful to reupholster or slipcover an old sofa or chair, than to throw it away, and buy new. Most used furniture stores have more upholstered furniture than they can handle, and in fact, turn a good deal of it away. There’s just too much! If you like the lines of an old upholstered piece, but the fabric is tatty, or you’re just tired of it, reupholster! Plus, you’ll be employing a small local business, and keeping old craft alive.

One of the beautiful colorways available in Kravetgreen.

One of the beautiful colorways available in Kravetgreen.

8. Use new fabrics, made from recycled materials. Kravet makes a beautiful line of upholstery weight, 100% recycled fabrics called Kravetgreen. I love it, and have used it in my interior design studio, in Larchmont.

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9.These gorgeous frames from Second Line Frames are made of from re-claimed wood from New Orleans. I love the naturally weathered finish, and the soft colors. They look great used singely, or in groups. Since no two are exactly alike, you can use as many as you like wisthout repeating. I would fill them with old postcards, vintage family photos and other keepsakes in keeping with the vintage feel.

April 2, 2009

The Essential White Bed

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If I had to choose one color to use for all bedding, for all time, it would be white. A white bed is beautiful, versatile and practical, no matter the style or price point. Here are some gorgeous examples of how to use white bedding.

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Strong black and white is softened with golds and browns, retaining the drama, while avoiding the harshness of unrelieved black and white.

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This is all about contrasts. The fresh luxurious white bedding sets off the rustic surroundings. Warm earth tones with a big splash of pure cool white lends color contrast. The sophisticated crystal chandelier is nice touch too, adding a diversity of textures, shimmery clear crystal, against opaque rough brick.

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This plain white bedding creates a nice neutral center for a boldly colored bedroom. If you get tired of blue and fuchsia, you can paint, change the pillows and slip covers and put the white bedding back on. It will always look good, no matter what other changes you make around it.

84f5271eb89c6When in doubt, try white with white. It’s impossible to make a mistake combining white, cream, ivory, bone, ecru etc. Gold and silver surfaces make great accents with this look. In this case the lthe whites and tans. This technique works especially well in a bedroom, where it lends a dreamy serene quality.

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Here white bedding is used in a strong masculine setting, and it works very well. It adds brightness to an otherwise deep toned setting. There are a few small touches of pure white to pick up the white of the bedding, such as the ceramic pieces and the white in the stripe flanking the bed.

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Yes, if you have a view of the sapphire blue ocean, then you should definitely add a sapphire blue velvet pillow with pure white bedding. A touch of sheer white fabric and a fun fuchsia print finish it off. I’ll have my daiquiri now!

White bedding is:

  • Elegant and timeless
  • Dreamy, serene and fresh
  • Easily laundered
  • Easily replaced
  • Available in every style imaginable from lacey and ruffled, to sleek and modern.
  • Available in every price point and quality, ranging from a million thread count form France, to basics from JCPenney

March 6, 2009

A Fabric Draped Passageway-The Portiere

Filed under: Color usage, Fabric Usage, Holidays, Wall Decoration — Tags: , , — Leona Gaita @ 2:07 PM

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The draped interior passageway, also known as a portiere (french for door) first came to Europe from Asia in the fourth century. Made of heavy tapestry, or velvet, in was introduced to mitigate drafts.  It was used extensively in wealthier Victorian homes, for both practical and decorative purposes.

Velvets, and heavy damasks were the preferred  fabrics for the Victorians, due to their heat retaining qualities.  In our modern heated homes, we can consider the use of lighter fabrics.  A portiere can be made of silk, sheer organza, or a cotton print, as well as traditional heavier fabrics.

as seen in Metropolitan Home
A lush silk portiere defines the space in a Master Bedroom suite.  Interior design by Joy Meek, as seen in Metropolitan Home.

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A Dining Room Portiere (Dream Windows, Kathleen S. Stoehr)
A Dining Room Portiere (Dream Windows, Kathleen S. Stoehr)

In “Gone With the Wind“, Scarlett famously uses her mother’s old green velvet portieres to make herself a beautiful dress, in order to impress Rhett Butler.  Rhett’s no help, but she does come home with a new wealthy husband!

One of my favorite films (not the least because of the exquisite interior set design by Dante Ferretti and Robert J. Franco) is “The Age of Innocence” based on the novel by Edith Wharton.  There we can observe, in beautiful reproduction, the Victorian use of richly draped passageways, creating a sense of sumptuous glamour.

In one of the early scenes, shot from the point of view of the main character Archer, we go with him from one beautiful drawing room to another.  As he approaches each partially obscured  draped passageway, for a moment we are kept in suspense as to what lies beyond in the next perfectly appointed room…….the plot thickens, I’m inspired!

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A full width portiere creates two distinct spaces in an open floor plan

I love the sheer portiere I have on a gapingly wide opening in my design studio.  It really softens the space, and even absorbs some unwanted surrounding sounds, and it’s just so pretty!

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Cheerfull print portiere helps to define a space at the end of a long hallway.
Cheerful print portiere helps to define a space at the end of a long hallway.
A beautiful portiere in a fabulous bathroom.
A beautiful portiere in a fabulous bathroom.

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Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating and installing a portiere:

Excellent places to use a portiere:  between a dining room and a living

Domino
A perfect nook for sleeping and reading Domino Magazine

room, between a vestibule and a living room, between a master bedroom dressing room and bedroom etc.

  • A portiere can be used to improve the proportions of a long narrow room by sectioning off the far end and creating a windowed sitting area.
  • If you’re using a sheer fabric, neatly finished edges are all that’s required.  However, for most other fabrics you’ll want to self-line, or use a contrasting fabric to line your portiere, since both sides will be fully visible.  If you’re using ready made panels, you’ll want to double the quantity, and hang them back to back on a double rod.
  • Tie backs are an important element of a portiere.  They can be made of matching fabric, or a passementerie tie back with tassles, or even a beautiful piece of ribbon with a bow.
  • A portiere can be simple, clean and modern, or elaborate and traditional.  For a very traditional look, use a damask and add a swagged valance, and tassle fringe.  To keep it contemporary, use a sheer, a solid silk or velvet, plain and simple.
  • A portiere can installed either inside the door jamb, or on the outside wall above the passage way.  I tend to prefer to install above the opening, for a sense of height.
  • A single panel can be installed in a smaller opening and tied back to one side for an asymmetrical portiere.   A pair of panels can be used on a wider opening  and both tied back for a symetrical  effect.
  • Framed Wallpaper – Substitute for Fine Art

    Filed under: Wall Decoration — Tags: , , , , , , — Leona Gaita @ 12:58 PM

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    This may not be the right time to invest in fine art, but hey, life goes on! Until wall art is hung, even the most beautifully decorated and carefully thought out room is not complete. A splendid alternative to expensive art is framed wallpaper. Currently, many of the wallpaper manufacturers are making beautiful, graphic, large prints that are eminently frameable, and make great wall art.

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    There are several approaches to such a project. If you need a single large piece that you would use over a sofa, or fire place mantel, choose an oversized abstract design and have it custom framed. Or you can use two 24″x36″ ready made poster frames and hang them side by side. The key is to choose a different area of the print design to center in each of the two frames, so that you don’t end up with two identical pieces.

    Ready-made, store-bought frame, and attractive wallpaper

    Ready-made, store-bought frame, and attractive wallpaper

    For something medium sized, you can choose an 18″ x 24″ or 24″ x36″ ready made poster frame. Remember most wallpaper runs about 27″ wide. Many representational patterns will have central figure that you can focus in on. For example, a Chinoiserie pattern may have a perched bird. Center this figure, and then crop the wallpaper according to the size of the frame. I have a framed Chinoiserie wallpaper. One of my friends is a connoisseur of Asian art, and she was quite surprised when I pointed it out to her! She assumed that it was framed art. In any case, it’s very pretty, and it makes me feel happy when I look at it!

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    Vintage wallpapers from the Groninger Museum, The Netherlands

    You can create a grouping of three or four small pieces by choosing a thematic novelty pattern. This one has four distinctly different black chair silhouettes on a white background. Each can be cropped, and framed with a ready made photo size frame and mat to make a charming grouping.

    Thibaut- Cantonese color metallic gold

    Detail of Thibaut- Cantonese color metallic gold

    Some tips:

    • Check on the width of the wallpaper before buying large ready made frames. Some can be as narrow as 20″, though most American papers are about 27″ wide.
    • Choose a frame that picks up some of the coloring from the print, but retains contrast to the background
    • For a very large (custom framed) piece, select a pattern that will look good running sideways, such as an abstract or certain florals.
    • Remember, you don’t need A LOT of wall art, just a few choice pieces, to create few focal points.
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      Thibaut- Cantonese, custom framed

      Thibaut- Cantonese, custom framed

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    Gorgeous effect, using bits of pretty wallpaper.

    Gorgeous effect, using bits of pretty wallpaper.

    February 14, 2009

    Love in the Time of Recession

    Filed under: Color usage, Fabric Usage, Flowers, Furniture, Gifts, Holidays, Larchmont, Paint, Wall Decoration — Leona Gaita @ 5:41 PM

    Long-time New York Interior Designer Leona Gaita offers cost-friendly decorating tips for turning your domicile into a romantic get-away, and celebrating at home this Valentine’s Day.

    Larchmont, NY (PRWEB) February 13, 2009 — As the economic crisis grows more worrisome, more couples are hesitant to splurge on a night out, even on perennial date nights like Valentine’s Day. “Going out is not romantic – you’re going to a crowded noisy restaurant, you’re on a schedule, one of you has to be the designated driver, and so on” quips Leona Gaita, interior design specialist at Gaita Interiors of Larchmont, New York and Westchester County areas. “With the right atmosphere, a night at home can be far more intimate and memorable.”

    How can one achieve this romantic environment? To spice up your home, and your love life, Leona suggests making some smart, mood-enhancing additions. Most will be small investments that you can continue to enjoy long after the holiday is over.

    Lighting – It’s all about pleasing the senses. The first rule for creating a romantic environment – tone down the lighting! Every room should have dimmers installed. Bright, glaring overhead lights are not sexy; soft, ambient (not to mention energy-saving) lighting is key. This is a long term investment that is not costly: a dimmer will cost about $20 to $30, and it can install be installed by oneself. Another trick for romantic lighting – change from white lampshades to softly colored, earth-toned lamp shades for a more flattering illumination.

    Living Room – For a more intimate and cozy Valentine’s dinner, make your living room into a dining room conducive to relaxation and romance. Place a faux fur throw on the floor next to a gaming table, and voila! Put it next to the fireplace and you’ve got a night to remember – try duplicating THAT in a restaurant!

    Don’t have a fireplace? In the past, adding one was a major renovation, if even possible. Now there are many relatively inexpensive vent-less portable fireplaces available, as well as eco-friendly. It’s surprising how lovely many of them are, and there’s no surer way to add a romantic feel to a room than to light a roaring fire.

    A cashmere throw is wonderful way to show your sweetheart how you feel. Sensual, cozy and luxurious, a high quality throw makes a lasting gift of love, while adding a splash of warm color to the room. Choose red, deep raspberry, or purple to stay in the spirit of Valentine’s Day. Another way to delight the sense of touch is to bring in some soft-filled velvet pillows, in a range of different colors. Try a cherry red and chocolate brown combination – very sexy, almost edible!

    Bedroom – Try switching to lacy white bedding: it’s romantic while being practical, since white bedding is available at all price points, and easy to launder. Layer it with your cashmere throw and one crushed velvet heart-shaped pillow. A fabric canopy for the bed is easy to put up, using fabric panels and rods. An upholstered wall behind the bed makes a cushiony, luxurious substitute for a wood headboard.

    For the big day, the traditional additions of flowers, scented candles, soft music, and a good bottle of wine will complete an intimate mini-staycation for two. Dim the lights…who cares about the recession!

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