Friday, November 30, 2012

Instant Attraction: Manhattan Apartment of Nate Berkus

The November 2012 issue of Architectural Digest ran a great before and after article featuring Nate Berkus's gorgeous Greenwich Village apartment.  I love the neutral color palette and the mix of graphic and rustic elements.  Nate is always amazing with giving his spaces character.  I've included a couple of my favorite shots here, and there are loads more over on the AD site.

Love the way he super cleverly disguised the oddly placed and proportioned windows in the office (above) (see the "before picture below).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Want This Bookshelf

I love all things adjustable, flexible, and customizable.  People's needs change over time, and it's nice to have furnishings that are able to adapt to those changes.  This bookshelf makes me drool.  The verticals are completely notched out at regular intervals, making it easy to move the shelves around and turning that functional aspect into a design element.  Such an improvement over those ugly vertical lines of peg holes running up the insides of a bookcase.

Oh, and the rest of the project is lovely too.  It is a Manhattan apartment designed by Len Morgan, featured in Elle Decor November 2012, in the article Made to Measure.  Photos by Mikkel Vang.  A couple of my favorite shots of the project are below, and more are available on the Elle Decor site.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Black and White Foyer

This lovely foyer is by decorator J. Randall Powers, as featured in Architectural Digest, November 2012 in the article Revise and Conquer.  Photos by Eric Piasecki.

Although it's a pretty traditional design, I love how it's modernized and punched up with that bright, geometric/tribal rug.  The contrast between the black and white keeps it exciting.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Apartment Challenge :: Inspirations :: part 5

Dining room by Pam Shamshiri of Commune, via House Beautiful.
Today will be my final post about the four elements that, in my opinion, make for a covetable interior.  This one is so important...personality!!!  You can spend all the money in the world on amazing furniture, fixtures, and finishes, but if your home doesn't say something about who you are, then it's just going to feel sterile.  These images show some great examples of spaces with character.  Lots of it.  The easiest way to show who you are is to display your stuff.  Photos, artwork, travel souvenirs, or other collections should be beautifully and proudly displayed.  They're also great conversation starters if you throw a dinner party for new friends.

Spoiler alert:  Displaying your things sounds so fun until you have to figure out the perfect way to do it...this is something I'll have to deal with.  I'm looking at it as an experiment.

Image via Living Etc magazine.

Home of Richard Lambertson and John Truex, via Architectural Digest.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Apartment Challenge :: Inspirations :: part 4

Home of Jenni Kayne, via Architectural Digest
This is my third post about the elements that, to me, make a successful interior.  The first two posts were about balance and natural materials, and this post will talk about contrast.  Whether it's a texture or material contrast (like in the photo below - matte vs. reflective / rough vs. smooth) or a value or color contrast as shown above (light flooring and furniture vs. dark walls), contrast is a super important part of a successful interior.  In my book, it's important not to be matchy.  That gets boring fast.  A variety of contrasting elements, and a variety of types of contrasts, will keep things interesting.  Take the coffee table shown above.  The base is a rough, very organic piece of wood, and the top is a very regular, smooth, reflective piece of glass.  Lovely.

Single Stem Vase by Heath Ceramics

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Apartment Challenge :: Inspirations :: part 3

Living room, via Living Etc. Magazine
The first element for a great interior that I discussed was balance.  Now we're moving on to the use of natural materials.  I love nature.  I live in the city so I don't see much of it out my windows.  That means I need to work to incorporate it into my life.  One way to do this is by filling my home with, you guessed it, natural materials.  Sisal, wood, plants (so important), stone, hides, wool, etc.  Beyond reminding me of nature, they also add GREAT texture, which helps with contrast (which we'll talk about later) and balance.  They just make a room feel more layered, interesting, and alive.

Look at the picture above.  They have a tree growing out of the floor in that living room.  That is pretty fantastic.  It's not really a possibility for most of us, but we can get potted plants and potted trees.  And you should.  A plant is basically a living sculpture.  Plus they help purify the air.  Don't have a green thumb?  You can find lists online of the easiest plants to care for.  Just try it.  I have plants that I've had for ten years.  They're like part of my family at this point.  ANYWAY...  In addition to that tree, they also have some nicely grained wood forming the frame of that fab navy velvet sofa (great contrast), and those pressed concrete walls.  Maybe it's a little extreme, but to me it all works and I would love a chance to explore that room.

And below we have another shot which shows a unique use of rope, another natural material.  Gives great texture.  Plus there's lots of wood, great views to lots of trees outsides, and cut flowers on the table.  I love that ceiling treatment.  Here on the excellent blog The Brick House, is another amazeballs use of rope.  I have such a crush on those rope walls.  Someday I will build some.

Home of Athena & Victor Calderone, via Elle Decor.
Now we move on to this last beauty.  The beautiful horizontal wood panelled wall treatment really anchors the room, and provides a nice contrast to the verticality that results from those high ceilings.  We have plants again, both inside and outside.  Natural fiber rug, fur pillows, rustic wood furniture, wool blankets, leather, concrete floors.  All of this makes for a really visually interesting room.  You don't have to go crazy with color to make a room really interesting.  Add on layers of different textures and there you have it.
Home of Mark Egerstrom, via House Beautiful.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Apartment Challenge :: Inspirations :: part 2

Home of Jason Carroll, via An Afternoon With
In my last Apartment Challenge post I introduced my guidelines for what makes a compelling interior (a mon avis).  The first tenet is balance.  Here I want to show you some rooms that, to me, are gorgeously balanced.  This shot of the dining area of Jason Carroll (above left) is such a dramatic little moment.  All the warm buttery neutral tones would be lovely on their own, but that deep, giant, moody canvas in the background give the space a sense of depth that really takes it to the next level.  Without it, it would be "nice."  With it, it's FAB.

Balance is kind of the master requirement for a good interior.  A balanced room knows what it is.  The lighting is right, whether it's dark and moody or bright and sunny.  Each element serves to support the function and vibe of the room.  Everything is where it should be and you know immediately that you want to go into that room.  

Here are two more examples.  They are both bedrooms.  Maybe it's because I am cold right now and I want to be under a ton of warm blankets.  Regardless, the rooms are gorge.

Home of Athena and Victor Calderone via Elle Decor.
Don't you just want to crawl into that bed with a book for a lazy weekend afternoon?  The palette in this room is so soft and light, with just enough points of darkness to balance everything out.  It's not overly busy but still has character and personality.  The rough, rustic wood pieces are balanced by layers of softness (rug, bedding, blankets, pillows, window treatments).  So peaceful.  Balance, balance, balance.

Attic room from the project Glamorous Four Square by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design.
Whoa whoa whoa.  Another bed I want to jump into and occupy.  This room feels like a fort.  The contrast between the rustic wood walls/ceiling and that chandelier is brilliant.  Keeping the floors and furnishings light and white counters the yellow/orange wood everywhere else.  The nook and cranny bookshelves add to the personality of the space.  Great balance here as well.

Up tomorrow: use of natural materials

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Apartment Challenge :: Inspirations :: part 1

Home of Frank Muytjens via Elle Decor
In my first post about my Apartment Challenge I mentioned that I feel I've reached a point where I know what I like immediately when I see it.  I really believe that if you need to think hard about whether you like something, then you probably don't like it.  Go with your gut.  Basically I either feel like "I want to be in that room" or "meh" or "that room gives me hives."  My opinion, of course, is only my opinion, and just because something isn't my jam, doesn't mean it's not a good design.  And just because I lurve something doesn't mean that everyone else will.  But I hope you do.

As part of my planning for this challenge, I've rounded up some of my favorite interiors and analyzed them to develop a sort of interior design rubric/set of guidelines to help explain what it is that I love about these interiors so much, and hence, what is important to me in a design.

Read about these guidelines after the jump...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Apartment Challenge :: Framework & Goals

Last week I posted about my challenge for myself: to make my own home into something portfolio worthy.  After thinking about it a bit, I've developed the general framework and goals below.

  • Flexibility - As it's a rental, we must be sure to employ solutions that can be easily adapted to work in future homes.
  • Budget Sensitivity - I'm not rolling in it, and can think of better uses for money at this stage in my life, so my design solutions need to be friendly on the wallet. Which means I'm gonna have to make up for the lack of dough with lots of elbow grease and time. 
  • Serenity, warmth, personality - That our home feels welcoming and serene is the most important thing to my husband and myself.  To me that means there's no clutter, but there is a place for everything that's important to us. Everything works together to make one clear statement and showcase those things. 
  • In general, make our home feel a bit more grown-up/less "Ikea." 
  • Maintain a serene and uncluttered look in the home while showcasing our collections. 
  • Develop adjacent living and dining areas to serve as a more upscale feeling backdrop to showcase our assorted artwork, travel souvenirs, and book collection. Differentiate these areas somehow, but ensure that everything works together in a cohesive way. 
  • Transform sleeping area into a more grown-up, serene environment. 
Check back soon to see find out what exactly I'm working with.  To give you an idea of the starting point of the challenge I'll include the "before" shots of our home as well as an idea of what sorts of things we have that we want to showcase.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Apartment Challenge

As an interior designer just starting my own business and working to build a portfolio, I realized recently that not having lovely, styled photos of my own home is a huge missed opportunity.  This is really the only place I can do exactly what I want, interior-wise.  To be honest, the main reason I don't have my own place in my portfolio is because there's really nothing special about it.  When we moved in we needed to furnish our whole apartment - quickly and cheaply.  So it sort of looks like an Ikea catalog.

Don't get me wrong, I really love my home (and I admit that I have a soft spot for Ikea).  We're comfy here, but in terms of decor I think it's a case of the dentist's kids having no teeth or the emperor's children having no clothes, whatever.  Plus, when we moved in I hadn't had any interior design education yet, so I was just throwing things together without a sort of overarching framework or concept.

In addition, I am an indecisive and fickle lady.  I can NEVER choose favorites and tend toward simple and understated basics to prevent myself from getting sick of something too quickly.  I'd rather leave a space spare and empty than fill it up with a bunch of stuff I know I'll be sick of soon.  But in the past couple years, I've really started to tune in to what I unequivocally like, and I think now it's time that I started incorporating this style into my home.

So now I am challenging myself to WERK and make my home something worth seeing.  Soon I'll share my framework and goals for the project, and as I go I'll share my progress and results.  Now that I am putting this out there, I'll feel the pressure to really turn our home into something I can be proud of.

Check back soon for some new posts about this apartment challenge - my goal is to post something new about the project and its progress every two weeks.