Posts Tagged ‘accessories’

Kitchen Must-Haves

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Who doesn’t love a beautiful kitchen?   Throw a little — or a lot — of function in there, and you may possibly end up with your favorite room.

I am working on a kitchen remodel right now, and there are a few must-haves I always try to incorporate.

1. Natural Stone Countertops: To me, there is nothing prettier than an aged piece of marble or limestone.   I love the texture it provides and the fact it has endured many years of the elements.

looks clean but still has texture thanks to the gorgeous marble! (Image from...)

2. Warming Drawer: Okay, not a must have, but I sure do like them.  For a family on the go, it is a wonderful luxury.

3.  Function: Yes, a kitchen can be beautiful, but if it is not functional, what’s the point?   Make sure the flow works well and that there is plenty of good workspace. After all, this may be the most lived-in room in the house, and cooking is so much more enjoyable when everything has its place and is within reach for your next great meal.

beauty + function = perfection (image from...)

 

 

4. Soften the hard surfaces: With so many hard surfaces found in a kitchen, try to incorporate ways to soften the room.  Many of you know I love adding banquettes whenever possible, as they are a great way to make a kitchen more functional and unique.

banquette design by Dana Wolter, photographed by Jean Allsopp

Also, wood is a great texture to incorporate against shiny surfaces found in kitchens. Whether on your island, on the ceiling, or as an accent, it whispers “nature” and takes the edge off all those kitchen appliances.

5.  Good lighting: Natural lighting is ideal, but a good kitchen also needs task lighting in all of the right places.  Again, think functional!

6. Make your kitchen a reflection of you: Yes, you can create a beautiful kitchen many different ways, but if it does not look like you or fit your lifestyle, what good is it?   Your home should be your haven, and your kitchen is no exception!

a little piece of heaven! copyright kalamazoo

 

Fun Fall Trends

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My segment on fall trends for the home is airing TODAY, October 19th, on NBC-13 Daytime Alabama at 11:30 AM.  I have to say, I adore this season’s looks!  If I had to sum it up in one word, I’d say — lush!

Here’s a preview for what’s in for fall 2011:

1.  Brass —  It’s back!  Whether it’s lacquered or unlacquered, this is not your 70s flashback.  The shapes are uber-modern, and the color is rich and refined.  I’m also loving bronze right now — see the large handle below.

2.  Driftwood — The gorgeous shape and color of wood touched by the sea is showing up in homes all over.  It acts almost like a piece of sculpture, and I’ve found some amazing accessories made out of it.   What better way to bring a bit of nature into your home, while still keeping it chic?  Check out the chandelier below to see what I mean…

unhung chandelier made from driftwood

The wall below makes a bold statement, but check out the crafty yet chic driftwood lamp next to it.   Driftwood in the home is definitely a trend, so a little goes a long way.

from pinterest

3.  Colors — We saw a lot of turquoise last spring and summer, but as it cools off, the deeper hue, teal, is popping up in its place, and it is beautiful!  I especially love it as an accent with warmer neutrals and even grays….  Other colors to pair with gray are the softer purples that I’ve been talking about, as well as eggplant.

Here is a great example of grays and purples by Susan Ferrier:

Another color that is a must for 2011 — saffron!

close up on fall colors!

4.  Wool — As far as materials go for fall, wool cannot be beat.  Softer wool is making its way into homes and fashion this season.  The look is draping, feminine, and sophisticated.  In homes, it is being used as upholstery as well as on pillows, rugs, and throws.

Tune in tomorrow to NBC-13 — that’s Friday, October 7th– for more on these amazing fall trends!

Dirk Walker – Birmingham’s “Landmark” Artist

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I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Dirk Walker for years now. He’s an amazing artist based here in Birmingham and also the owner of Loretta Goodwin Gallery.   If you have never been in his gallery, you must go soon!

Dirk is known for his “Birmingham Landmark Series.”  He says the works evolved “completely by accident.”  He had been doing mostly pastoral and landscapes scenes, but then one day he attempted an urban setting with some “non-descriptive figures.”

Alabama Theatre

Sloss furnace

As he puts it, “There was such an immediate appeal that I felt I had found something that allowed me to pursue a more individual style.  The flowing paint and abstract qualities also loosened me up in my brushwork.  Having grown up in Birmingham, I have [seen] so many changes to the city and landscape, so the ‘landmark buildings’  had sentimental meaning not only to myself but to my clients.”

The foundation for his artwork began with a more traditional approach called chiaroscuro, which deals with light and shadow, that he learned through the teachings of David Leffel, a Contemporary Master who taught at the Art Students League in New York City.

Today, Dirk Walker describes his approach as “Impressionistic with a slant towards Abstraction.”  He works primarily in oils for the “wet-into-wet” look and for their luminosity.

Vulcan

Below is a painting that he was commissioned to do for a client of mine.

He chose this perspective — with the driveway leading the viewer into the painting — because we wanted the piece be more “painterly” rather than architectural.  Dirk found this angle focused more on the figures in the painting rather than the structure of the house, while still leaving room for the abstract feel he leans toward.   Dirk achieves this effect by using many thin washes in the beginning stages of the painting, claiming that it sometimes creates “fun mistakes” that he leaves in the work.

This piece is an interpretation of my client’s home that they can pass down through the generations.  The palette of soft golds and blues and the watery, abstract feel is absolutely beautiful.  Isn’t it dreamy?

Here Comes The Sun

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Want to see something beautiful and learn a little trivia?  Look at this gorgeous sunburst mirror.  Talk about incredible!

from 1950s France & 49" in diameter

It’s message is boldness, glamour, and strength, and it would make an impact in any room!

Dinah Toro, owner of Charlotte Woodson Antiques where I discovered it, has an in-depth knowledge of sunburst mirrors. Dinah said many people believe Louis XIV, aka the Sun King, is responsible for making the sunburst mirror popular, but that is a myth.  Louis’ symbol was a sunburst with the face of Apollo, the Roman god of the sun, in the center — not a mirror.

the Sun God & the symbol of Louis XIV

It wasn’t until the French Revolution mirrors were added to the middle.  The reason for this is so interesting…  During that time, religious articles were being destroyed, so in order to preserve them, people would replace the faces of the Holy family (which were surrounded by rays) with other things – such as mirrors!

example of rays around the holy faces

In the 1920s, the sunburst mirror became popular in France, and they became even more en vogue across the world over in the 1950s.  Sunburst mirrors are still being made today.

modern sunburst from www.gumps.com

The most desirable sunburst mirrors, according to Dinah, are made of individual pieces of gilded wood.  Today, these type of mirrors are being made of steel, iron, bamboo, and other materials, although wood is the tradition.

Due to popularity, the new ones vary greatly in size.  Dinah buys the largest ones she can find because of the statement they make!  I’d say so!

I have been working hard the past three weeks on an exciting new project!

It’s an incredible, historical house in Birmingham — home to a fun, young family — and they hired me to work on the interiors of a few rooms.  Interestingly, as we began the project, Cathy Johnson, editor of Birmingham Home and Garden Magazine, called.  It turns out this house appeared in the magazine’s first issue, and she wanted to feature it again for the upcoming 10th anniversary issue!

While the rooms are not complete due to the quick deadline, I was pleased with how it looked for the shoot.  If it looks this beautiful with a few pieces we plan on replacing, imagine how it will look when everything is installed!  While I cannot share the final photos until the article is published, I do want to give you a little preview.

Jean Allsopp works her magic!

me with the girls who live there -- aren't they cute?!

cathy helping with placement for the angle of the shot

Thanks, as always, to Cathy and  Jean Allsopp Photography!

Five Ways to Make an Impact in a Room In An Hour

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Are you looking to update a particular room, but you (like the rest of us) are short on time?  Good news!  You can make some major improvements in as little as an hour!   Try one or all of the following tips and poof! that room that was bothering you may just become one of your favorites.

1.  Accessorize: Is the top of your coffee table cluttered? Do the tops of your end tables look messy?  Tired of seeing the same accessories?

Begin by clearing off the tops of furniture.  You’ll get a fresh look this way, and it’s easier to add to than take away!  Remove the lamps, the books, the candles, the ceramic pears, everything.  Now that you have a clean surface, ask yourself: what kind of furniture is it?  Is it a wooden chest with a marble top?  If so, begin with a wooden lamp and go from there.  Mix up the textures, materials, and styles to see what suits you best.  Be a little daring!  Playing with the hard and soft surfaces creates tension that works.

In this client’s home, I played with shiny and rough textures; metal, wood, and ceramic; and curves and lines to create the perfect combination.   Even the stick in the corner adds dimension!

notice the juxtaposition of materials in this one small corner!

 

2.  Create a Vignette: By definition, a vignette is a “small picture.”  In decorating, it’s a part of your home — say, a nook, a window, an entry way — that, after your creative touch, will tell a story and shed some personality.  Do you have a corner in your home that is empty and boring?  If so, find a purpose for it, and make every inch of your home count!  For instance, I took this bare hall in a client’s home and made it warm and inviting:

the family photos in style-y frames give it extra warmth

3.  Paint: I’ve said it before, but it’s a must for instant impact.  Paint!  Even painting one wall can create dimension in a space.  Paint also makes the space look fresh and can give a light fixture an entire new look.

4.  Clean out: Sometimes we just have to get rid of it.  Bookshelves that are overcrowded, china cabinets with plates that haven’t been used since 1977, bedrooms with stuffed animals that haven’t been played with since 1987 —  you get the idea.  Even spaces guests don’t see count!  Is your make-up drawer out of control?  Has the storage closet collected so much that you have forgotten what was in there?  When you hold onto items you aren’t loving and using, you — and your home — are being weighed down. Say ba-bye, and feel lighter!

5.  Reframe Your Art for a New Look: While you are cleaning out that storage closet, you may come across some treasures as well.  If you’ve been meaning to hang some forgotten pics, do it! Whether it’s artwork that suddenly appeals to you again, or photographs that bring back fond memories, walls welcome anything that warms the heart.  It’s good to change these things out from time to time too, perhaps using different frames or switching the bedroom art with the living room’s.

This is a room I designed for a client’s daughter.  See how the child’s owl art is taken to a new level when mounted on black?

whooo whooo!

Customizing a room doesn’t have to be over the top.  It just has to be creative and well-thought-out!  With a clean slate and a few good ideas, your home can go from ho-hum to custom in no time at all.

All photos by Jean Allsopp Photography.  Thanks, Jean!