Archive for October, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

before & after: the blank slate

Ask any inte­rior designer this ques­tion: "Which is harder — to start with an empty room or to start with some­thing a client already owns?" I would answer that a blank slate is often the more dif­fi­cult assign­ment. When start­ing with a piece that a client already loves, be it art, a rug or some­thing else, the designer has clues. And clues are always help­ful in deci­pher­ing the mys­tery of someone's taste and style! Color pref­er­ences and styl­is­tic ten­den­cies can be read in a well-loved piece.

But some­times you don't get clues — you get a blank slate. In this case, a large beige box. A per­fectly ordi­nary room with absolutely no char­ac­ter whatsoever:

the blank slate home office
the blank slate home office

The charge for this space — cre­ate a home office for the lady of the house. She wants a com­puter work­space, sump­tu­ous fab­rics, lush col­ors and a place to put up her feet and chat with a girl­friend. Oh, and there needs to be some glam!

As I final­ize the design, the client and I do a lit­tle gallery-hopping and bring home this fash­ion­ista from local artist Sandy Welch:

Sandy Welch painting

Sandy Welch painting

Although she's out of frame in this next pic­ture, you can visu­al­ize how she now takes pride of place in this glam­orous home office:

the blank slate home office - transformed.

the blank slate home office — trans­formed. photo by Michael Partenio

The Bar­bara Barry desk is the state­ment piece for this room, with the Robert Allen ottoman in a divine blue vel­vet a close sec­ond. Creamy whites, deep blues, char­coal walls and sil­ver silk drap­ery are the per­fect com­ple­ment to the fash­ion­ista who lives here!



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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

cmi — in the news

Many thanks to designer and Houzz con­trib­u­tor Pan­gaea for includ­ing my room in her idea book fea­tured today on the home page!

To visit the ide­abook titled "11 Ways to Cre­ate a Mul­ti­pur­pose Office Space", click here. Pan­gaea points out when space is short, a great option is to fit a home office into a sec­re­tary desk, like the Hallings Sec­re­tary from Hick­ory Chair. This clas­sic, designed by Thomas O'Brien, melds beau­ti­fully into tra­di­tional or more con­tem­po­rary rooms.

Family Room, Reinvented #3

The Hallings Sec­re­tary from Hick­ory Chair

When more space is not an option, make the most of the space you have!

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Monday, October 17, 2011

before & after: bathtastic! powder room renovation

Pow­der rooms are usu­ally the small­est rooms in any house. Given that, ren­o­vat­ing or sim­ply redec­o­rat­ing the pow­der room can often be accom­plished on a rea­son­able bud­get and deliver impact far beyond than the expense involved.

How many of you have this exact con­fig­u­ra­tion in one of your pow­der rooms?  The light and mir­ror — seri­ously, who made these choices?

powder room before

pow­der room before

Builders are often afraid to add any sort of per­son­al­ity lest they offend a poten­tial buyer. Home­own­ers are like­wise wary of changes that might impact the dreaded "resale value". This pow­der room puts me to sleep! At the min­i­mum, a home­owner could add some color on the walls with­out much expense, then switch back to beige before sell­ing. But they did not, and this is what my client had to see beyond.

Notice in this pic­ture, the mar­ble floor is actu­ally the most inter­est­ing fea­ture in the room. The "art" slays me. From look­ing at this house, you would not think a young fam­ily lived here.

powder room before

pow­der room before

The charge from my clients after pur­chas­ing the house was to cre­ate a mas­cu­line pow­der room suit­able for the tall hus­band. The mini toi­let and low pedestal sink were not get­ting it done.

First step, replace the toi­let with a stream­lined Toto ADA-compliant model. The higher seat height is per­fect for taller peo­ple and the water-saving flush options is great for the envi­ron­ment. Next, choose a wall-mounted faucet and counter-mounted sink. Design and install a new wall-mounted counter to suit the pri­mary user. This route allows the height of every­thing to be cus­tomized — no set­tling for the stan­dard height van­ity or pedestal lavatory.

We chose a Duravit sink in tra­di­tional white ceramic — it's the shape and instal­la­tion that cre­ate the inter­est. I love all wall-mounted faucets. The sim­plic­ity of the one selected for this pow­der room is per­fec­tion. We replaced the over-the-mirror granny lights with a pair of sleek sconces. The mir­ror itself, a custom-sized beveled sheet, is under­stated. The counter is mahogany, built by Steve's Fine Wood­work­ing and stained and sealed by Sabino's Paint­ing and Wall­pa­per. A wood coun­ter­top is per­haps unex­pected, but in a pow­der room, with the proper seal­ing, it works fantastically!

The pièce de résis­tance in this small space is the wall­pa­per. Hand-painted, it's from Vahal­lan Papers. Each sheet is cus­tom made to order and fea­tures lay­ers of color and tex­ture. Adding to the tex­tural effect is the "torn" instal­la­tion (also by Sabino) , where each sheet is torn into ran­dom sec­tions and applied. This par­tic­u­lar paper has a dark core, so vein­ing appears through­out the appli­ca­tion. 

The final touch is the over-scale ante­lope wall sculp­ture. Mas­cu­line, yes?

Here is the after:

powder room renovation after

pow­der room ren­o­va­tion — after photo credit: Michael Partenio

Sim­ple, clean lines with neu­tral col­ors and a vari­ety of tex­tural mate­ri­als = not bor­ing! This space now fits the home­owner to a T, and still wows guests with its rich min­i­mal­ism. What more can any­one ask from a tiny lit­tle pow­der room?

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

before & after: Barbara Barry to the rescue

Newly-married cou­ples often must work toward blend­ing their worldly goods. There are always a few pieces embraced by one spouse that the other spouse sim­ply can­not stand to look at. Maybe it's a reminder of a for­mer life, or maybe it's just plain or ugly or both! Case in point, the sofa seen in this picture.

curved sofa before barbara barry

curved sofa before

Try not to be dis­tracted by the ghastly pink car­pet! The sofa is cur­va­ceous and fem­i­nine, but a pre­vi­ous dec­o­ra­tor chose to swad­dle it in what appears to be a bathrobe. Blah, bland, bor­ing! My client's first incli­na­tion was to replace it. In exam­in­ing the cush­ions, I noticed the high-end man­u­fac­tur­ers' label and decided to rethink the "pitch-it" plan. (But seri­ously, how is it pos­si­ble to make a VERY expen­sive sofa look so damn ugly? Same designer doubt­less chose the pink car­pet. Enough said.)

As we were work­ing through the meld­ing of house­holds, my clients pur­chased a new home. The own­ers of the home had a very def­i­nite "look" — one that involved the exten­sive use of faux flo­rals with feath­ers — six feather flo­rals in the liv­ing room alone! Yikes. Here's the before (fea­tur­ing four of those florals):

living room by the prior owners

liv­ing room by the prior owners

Frankly, I can't imag­ine any­one sit­ting in this room with­out falling over fast asleep. A snooze-fest of muddy col­ors. It looks like it came from the Bom­bay Com­pany cat­a­log. But notice the room has good bones and great light. It just needs an injec­tion of life and beauty, in other words — my client's personality!

So back to our poor, under-appreciated sofa and my glam­orous, viva­cious client. She favors blues and sil­ver with a lit­tle touch of mod­ernism. Cool, crisp, graphic but not cold. And Bar­bara Barry rides in to save the day — a match made in design heaven.

This is Bar­bara Barry's Inlay, in Delft from Kravet — a con­fec­tion of blue, cream and sil­very gray.

Inlay in Delft, from Kravet

Inlay in Delft, from Kravet

And herein our frumpy sofa sheds her ugly-duckling bathrobe, shows a lit­tle leg and cel­e­brates her curves:

glastonbury glamour living room barbara barry sofa

liv­ing room with a seri­ous dose of Bar­bara Barry glam­our! photo credit: Michael Partenio

Improved, yes? The unchanged Baker chairs and the inher­ited art­work are won­der­ful sup­port­ing play­ers, but the sofa leads this liv­ing room sym­phony! Thanks Bar­bara Barry for unmask­ing the swan!

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