September 20, 2012

Design Recipe for a Cozy Breakfast Nook

The Breakfast Nook is an ideal way to make the most of a small space!  I don't know about you, but every time we have friends or family over the kitchen is inevitably where people hover... so I might as well give them a place worthy to linger.  With a few simple steps you can create a warm and cozy seating area that might just be your new favorite space.  This is my recipe for a great nook that you might have a hard time leaving...

1 BEAUTIFUL BANQUETTE - This is probably the most key design element to make the space function well... it is the anchor of the space and likely the place most people will want to sit.  This is also your chance to create extra storage space by building drawers into the base of the banquette. The banquette is typically built into the space and softened with cushions and pillows, but you can also use a great upholstered piece of furniture.  My only suggestion is to make sure it doesn't have arms and that it fits snugly in between the walls.
1 GREAT TABLE - Round, square, oval, rectangular, wood, metal, stone... anything goes here.  Just make sure you leave plenty of space for your guests to slide past the table into the banquette.
2-4 INTERESTING CHAIRS - This is where the personality comes into play, so don't be shy!  Look for chairs that aren't matchy matchy with your table and that have an interesting shape, finish or fabric.  Or you can really think outside the box and throw in some stools or a bench in lieu of traditional chairs.
1 FABULOUS LIGHT FIXTURE -A great chandelier is like jewelry and will always make the space feel intimate and polished.  I also love the look of a pair of sconces flanking your banquette... very stylish!

Mix all ingredients together with a healthy dose of character and style.  Fold in an interesting mix of fabrics and materials.  Add a fun group of friends and fantastic food... Enjoy!

August 9, 2012

Marvelous Mix-Up: Chairs

Today I have a special treat... a post from guest blogger Mari from Design Shuffle.  It's no secret that I have an obsession with chairs, so of course I jumped at the chance to showcase these beauties on my blog... Enjoy!  - GLC
Hello, everyone! I'm Mari, a writer for Design Shuffle, the online gathering place where interior designers and design enthusiasts share projects and decorating ideas. I'm so happy to be here with a guest post about one of my design obsessions - chairs and how beautifully they mix with each other. The ideas for mixing up different styles, colors and finishes of chairs in one space are limitless so let's get right to the subject at hand and take a look at eight images showing just how marvelous a chair mix-up can look. Please enjoy!

Marvelous Chairs

White is the unifying theme of this chic mix of dining chairs in different styles. The white center of the room is simply stunning against a dark background.

Marvelous Chairs

A collection of upholstered arm chairs is beautiful and totally unexpected around a white dining table in this open living space. Different styles from traditional to contemporary are represented in this diverse group.

Marvelous Chairs

A vintage, perhaps Swedish, home includes this white dining space infused with the happy vibe of a collection of brilliant candy colored metal Tolix chairs. Red comes to join the party in the form of bright red pendant lights.

Marvelous Chairs

In a much more restrained design, two chairs create their own marvelous mix-up in front of the fireplace. There's nothing matchy-matchy about this lovely pair.

Marvelous Chairs

Six chairs in different shapes, colors and fabric patterns are lovely around the table in Tyler Florence's Kitchen of the Year.†This space is filled with kitchen design ideas.

Marvelous Chairs

The meticulously crafted spaces inside Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick's 1865 Bridgehampton house include this dining room with vintage chairs surrounding a contemporary white table. The disparate group of chairs is unified with black paint. The blue glass lighting fixture above the table is a lovely choice.

Marvelous Chairs

This marvelous mix-up actually includes two upholstered benches plus rattan and slipcovered wood chairs at the table and in the adjoining sitting areas.

Marvelous Chairs

This blue dining room is formal, but definitely not shy about revealing a light-hearted side--enter the casual chair whimsical chandelier at center stage. Doesn't this inspire interior design ideas for infusing a touch of whimsy into slightly stuffy spaces? †Images 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

As you see, marvelous chair mix-ups can turn up in just about any space. I hope you're inspired to start your own collection of these mismatched beauties.

What do you have a marvelous mix-up of at home? Let us know in the comments section! And also, don't forget to check out our Design Gallery on Design Shuffle, your ultimate source for decor mix-up ideas and inspiration!

August 1, 2012

Juggling Act - Thoughts from a Designing Mommy

As I was sitting down to get some work done earlier, this is the comical scene that unfolded...

Not exactly the kind of assistant I was looking for...
All this hard work is making me sleepy.
Which got me to thinking about some of the ways that being a mommy has shaped me as a designer.  I couldn't help but laugh at myself as I thought about the ways my "design views" have changed for clients with young children.  In the spirit of humor and humility, I'm here to share a few things I have come to learn along the way...

Yes, I do own an iron!
Three years ago I would have sworn to you otherwise.... explaining that bleach and the occasional professional cleaning will keep things looking good.  I was WRONG!  Unless this pristine fabric is far from the messy fingers of your children, don't even think about it.  The white slipcovered chairs in my kitchen are now a certain muted shade of mac-n-cheese, spaghetti sauce and chocolate milk.  And while an oxiclean wash is helpful, I failed to consider that I would need to iron them every time - and let's be honest, with 2 itty bittys, I'm just not going to do that!

The morning cereal bowl ring, and toddler "paw prints".
This is a sad one for me, because I truly love a good mirrored piece.  But toddlers hands are perpetually grimy and I promise you cannot keep up with the cleaning unless you have a live-in maid!  It's not that this didn't cross my mind when I bought our awesome new mirrored coffee table... I was just naive and thought that I would be able to set up boundaries and rules to keep it looking good.  I even rationalized that since the mirror had an antiqued finish that messes wouldn't be that noticable.  WRONG AGAIN (have you ever heard a woman say these words so much?)!  I am approximately one "lunch-in-the-living-room-please-mommy" away from stashing this thing in the attic until he is 18!

Sometimes it's just worth the risk
I have a great collection of oversize ginger jars ominously adorning my fireplace, along with a great glass lamp that I love!  All of these are in the direct line of fire of my energetic 3 year old and I have just had to be honest with myself that there is a good chance one (or all of them) will become a casualty.  I've decided I'm willing to risk it anyways, because I love them and think they add a lot to the room.  These things are precious, but not as precious as my kids... so please remind me of this on the day that I'm tearfully picking up pieces of porcelain off of my living room floor!

March 7, 2012

Young "House" Love

For couples heading down the aisle, there are a million things to think about... life as they know it is about to change and there are so many details that lead up to that amazing day!  While tons of time often goes into choosing the perfect color of bridesmaids dresses or the flavor of wedding cake... many new couples overlook much more lasting decisions like the perfect colors for their new home and the "flavor" of their first house together!  I have recently teamed up with Bella Flora Dallas, as a part of their Lifestyle Experts program, to help guide young couples through the process of creating their first home together.  

Here are a few simple tips for new couples on how to make a big impact for a reasonable cost...

PAINT & PAPER - Be bold when choosing paint colors and wallcovering... steer clear of too much beige and instead chose your palette from gray, ivory or gold tones or use a pleasing version of your favorite color.  Notice I didn't say SHOCK, I said BOLD.  Don't use overly bright colors (dark is still great though) that are going to dominate the room.  Instead use an interesting color that is subtle enough to keep your eyes moving, but bold enough that it will be remembered!  As for wallcoverings... small scale graphic patterns, woven textures and the look of hand-painted are my favorite options.

ELEMENT OF SURPRISE - Don't let your walls have all the fun... any surface can be painted to add interest (floors, ceilings, cabinets, doors, trim, etc.)   Don't be afraid to try something different.  UNLESS you are painting over stained wood floors or cabinets, you can always change it if you don't like it.  As my mom always said "Nothing ventured, nothing gained"!

WALL ART - Another great way to be bold is by selecting oversize or otherwise dramatic wall art (paintings, photography, tapestry, sculpture).  A large collection of works will give the same impact.  Natural Curiosities has a great collection of reproduction art pieces that are unique and affordable.  (Dallas shops that carry the line include Calypso Home, Gray Living, Vintage Living and I am happy to order a piece for you as well).

SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS - And I have recently stumbled on a few great local artists who specialize in contemporary pieces... you can even send an artist fabric swatches or samples of color in the room and let them come up with a custom piece tailor made for you!  Lindsey Meyer, Sonya Edwards, Carol Benson-Cobb, Charlotte Seifert are all super talented artists with approachable price points.  Check out these links to see more of their works.  And another great source for original artwork is SCAD.