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No matter what, family and guests always seem to gather in the kitchen. So make the most of the “heart” of your home with these tips for designer kitchens…on any budget. I designed this state-of-the-art space for a hip, young Prince. But whatever your resources may be, my two biggest tips for designer kitchens are always to have fun and personalize it. If you simply love looking at your kitchen, you’ll find it much easier to deal with its so-called flaws!
Problem 1: A tiny space. Jessica Alba hired me to renovate her parents’ impossibly tiny kitchen as a surprise gift for them. I immediately saw the need to knock down a major wall and fortunately, got the Alba’s on board.
The end result was a functional space with a wonderful nook for the Alba family to hang out with their beloved dogs and friends. To maximize square footage, I love to open up walls separating the kitchen from the dining room or other areas of your home, but if you don’t have the luxury (or budget) to do something this drastic, fear not.
A kitchen cart is the perfect solution for storing pots and pans, linens, wine, anything you can think of! The top can function as extra counter and prep space in lieu of an island. Get one with wheels and you can move it around your kitchen as needed and roll it out for a fun way to serve cocktails or dinner to guests.
Bar and counter stools are always cool and can make you feel like you have a new look for not much money. I love upholstering stools in chocolate brown pleather—they look really elegant and they’ll survive red wine spills. Bar and counter stools without backs are especially easy to slide beneath a counter. Make the most of your tiny space by only pulling them out as needed for seating.
Problem 2: An awful floor. One of my biggest tips for designer kitchens is installing fresh, clean flooring. I love using sustainable materials like bamboo from Bamboo Flooring Hawaii since it’s easy to maintain and good for the environment. If you don’t have the budget to rip out that outdated linoleum, area rugs in durable fabrics are a great alternative. Kitchens don’t have to be all brown and steel, so add your favorite colors. Blues and greens look great and also hide dirt better than lighter shades.
Problem 3: A dark and dreary space. Group fabulous pendant lights next to each other (try 3-6 in a row) to brighten things. I love mixing finishes like aluminum and glass. Or try installing these fun rope lights beneath your counters; they’ll not only add warmth and brightness, they’ll also revamp your entire look for not too much dough. You can conceal rope lights under the molding of most cabinets and they look especially great if you have a kitchen bar area.
Problem 4: A generic kitchen. It’s essential to add your personality to every room in your home, especially your kitchen. No matter what the size or style of your kitchen is, there’s probably at least one bare wall to jazz up with funky artwork and accessories. So whether you have the tiniest of kitchens or a vast culinary haven, accept your space and make it your own.
Images courtesy of Kari Whitman Interiors.
I just took a trip to upstate New York to enjoy some Adirondack style living for a few days. For good measure I also did a quick trip to the Catskills to visit an old friend and check out that classic summer getaway for New Yorkers. Thankfully I got out just before Irene pounded the entire east coast. As summer begins to wind down I wanted to get a sense of how I could incorporate some of the classic summer camp designs at home. When I use the word camp, I don’t mean the literal term, rather the summer homes or community of homes people visit for the summer season.
Adirondack style is synonymous with the classic All-American Adirondack chair. The wide, comfortable design looks amazing on a sweeping lawn and a welcome sight after a mean game of croquet! Upstate New York is awash in rolling hills covered with trees, jagged rock and a refreshing waterfall every now and again. As a result so much of what you see in design is natural. Rustic wood homes sport craggy porches and invite nature indoors as well. I did, however, notice two design styles at play. The first is the classic wood and flannel approach, and second, a classic New England, almost Early American style.
To echo the more natural approach to Adirondack style, try small touches such as this bark covered lamp. It’s warm, organic in style and captures the essence of a wooded retreat. It can work beautifully in a great room, boys bedroom or guest room. It’s neutral enough to work in most rooms with the exception of a formal space.
As I mentioned, the second style I encountered was more classic New England style. I loved it! It’s like have a touch of rustic sophistication in the woods. My friend’s camp was founded in the late 19th century and oozes worn luxury. I was greeted by a charming, solid door with fabulous hardware worn to a rich patina. Plus, who can resist the old paneled walls.
The living room sports a massive stone fireplace. Every room upstate must have them. Not only does it reflect the natural surroundings but keeps you warm on cold nights. I’m mad for the shiny, burnt red rattan chairs that offer some uptown glam even though you are hours from the city.
I love this cheerful red rocker which bridges the gap of town and country. It’s country in feel but is still chic for city folk. My trip may be over and while many of the trees that I looked at lovingly may now have missing branches or have toppled altogether, the inspiration will last well into the fall.
Emmy Award-winning host and best selling author, Christopher Lowell's mix of practical advice and infectious enthusiasm has made him one of America's most recognized and trusted authorities in the home improvement category. Dubbed the Doctor of Design by U.S News & World Report, Christopher Lowell believes that decorating is a form of empowerment therapy and that his mantra, "You Can Do It" is a way of life. The success of his ever growing multi-media company proves that Christopher Lowell has made a loyal connection to how America wants to live now and in the future.
Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Christopher a few questions. This is what transpired.
What or who has most influenced your own design aesthetic?First it was my years in the American theater as a set, lighting and costume designer. It’s a far more high-pressured job then any interior designer has to go through. Then it was what I learned running a successful advertising agency, telling mini-stories in 30 to 60 second commercials. But when we launched our first TV series (Interior Motives with Christopher Lowell- just a few miles away from Lamps Plus' corporate offices) and were able to really connect with millions of viewers who shared their stories with us everyday, that was amazing.
They taught us ‘who’ they ‘were’ and the lifestyle challenges they faced everyday. It affirmed to us the transformation quality of personal creativity and the fact that when the physical interior changes (our homes) the mental interior (our heads) can change too. Powerful stuff. So it’s really the viewer that motivates us to solve their problems, uncover their hidden creativity and get them to use the home as their personal design incubators to define who they are TODAY.
So it’s taught me to never indulge my artistic whims, but to work hard to put out there (through product and education) things that today’s households need in the most attractive way possible.
What are you obsessed with right now?Teaching people how to purge and re-think their homes in a brand new way. As we move through these shifted economic times, helping them to understand that a well thought-out home that pampers and inspires has little to do with money or square footage, but rather, careful thought. My 7 Layers of Organization book is a vital tool for people who are trying to purge their homes to get ready for the future.
It is also a topic that I tackle in my web series Ask Christopher, we took a small, rented showcase house and furnished it with only things I felt will endure the test of time—much of which came from mass market versus designer showrooms. In our second season, rather than moving on to a new showcase house, we decided to stay put and completely redo the home again but using the exact same furnishings. This time with the mandate that everything had to move to another location in the home.
This idea of course was to prove that if you invest in timeless, classic things, re-think your home form a new perspective and are willing to roll up your sleeves and apply careful thought, that you too can have what seems like a brand new home with what you already may own.
What is one “trick of the trade” that you implement in your designs?A technique I call color sculpting. Using three to four shades of the same color in a single room. It allows you to bring key walls visually forward and recess walls that seem to close. It creates space and depth where there often is none. Then painting your ceiling as well. Once you introduce rich wall color it’s vital that you paint the ceiling so it doesn't look unfinished or like you spread a bed sheet over the top of the room.
When decorating splurge on….Great wall color. Nothing will transform a home or pull its furnishings together better and easier then a great color scheme. If you can afford a professional paint crew, even better…Splurge on anything you deem timeless and classic. If you can ask yourself, “In a decade, will this still be in vogue and will I still love it?” and answer yes. You’re good to go.
How important is lighting to your designs?Very. My years as a set and lighting designer in the American theater taught me how vital lighting really is. Layers of light in a space, gives the room its drama. It creates shadow and mood, which creates romance and intimacy. What tip of the trade can you share about lighting?Put everything on dimmers, even table lamps. It allows you to go from tasking to relaxing with a flip of a switch. You can therefore control the mood of the room as you transition from day to night.
What do you see as the next design trend?Open spaces. Formal rooms are going away in favor of more open communal spaces that are flexible and can reconfigure easily depending on the household activity. This concept has been happening in many boutique hotels and is now moving into the home in a big way. It’s not that you won’t have the formal dining room table. It’s just that it will no longer be sitting alone in a rarely used room by itself. Same with formal living rooms—walls are coming down to open up larger flex environments that are casually elegant and put comfort before form.
What is your favorite thing at home that you didn’t design?That’s a hard one. I’ve been designing home product for 18 years so almost everything in my home has my logo on it. But I did inherit an extraordinary collection of 16th and 17th century Majolica dishes and serving pieces that I love in green leaf patterns that are amazing. I prize them. What would be your dream project?I’ve been fortunate to design almost every kind of structure over the years both commercial and residential including building homes for other clients. But I’ve never built a custom home for myself—imagine. I’m happy that I didn’t up to now because my needs, interests and goals are so different today then they would have been say, even a few years ago. Since I’ve moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, I’ve fallen in love with the traditional adobe construction and would love to design a home that is traditional adobe on the outside but modern in the inside with movable walls in open spaces with the kitchen being in the center of the largest open space. I’ve continued to refine the plans a million times and I’m sure once it finally goes into construction, knowing me, I’ll film it as a series and a book, too.
Well Christopher, when it happens rest assured we will be watching! Thank you for your time.
Are you are Christopher Lowell fan? Leave a comment and let us know!
Images courtesy of Christopher Lowell.
I love selecting table lamps to finish the lighting for a kid's room. It is fun decorating kids' rooms because you can be very creative using bright colors and whimsical elements. It is the one room in the house that can be a stand alone design. There are so many different styles of table lamps that all pull off different looks for the space. Who would know table lamps come in yellow? Jonathan Adler! featured above adds a wow factor to the space. It is very bright and cheerful as well.
The Clear Waterfall Recycled Glass Table Lamp is very soothing. When designing a space, color and textural elements affect how you feel in the space. For a younger child, creating a calming environment could be very helpful. Using neutral tones in the space, allows for the space to grow with the child over the next few years.
For a light fixture that is very unique and has a modern aesthetic, I would purchase the Lights Up! French Mod Bronze Chintz ShadeTable Lamp (featured above). I love its retro feel and the two pull down chains.
The Robert Abbey High Table Lamp comes in a lot of different colors. The modified diamond shape definitely adds interest to the fixture. Of all five kids' table lamps, this fixture is my favorite.
The lamp featured above, Jayne Artichoke Green Glazed Ceramic Table Lamp, has such a fun base shape. The color is more subdued than the other lamps, which can give the space a more traditional feel. The base is also smaller, so it can sit on smaller cabinets and work well in nurseries.
Do you have a favorite lamp in your kids' room?
Yes, it’s true, I am a Faux Bois fanatic. Faux Bois, roughly translated means “fake wood” and is everywhere these days. From wallpaper to rugs and everything in between the trompe l’oeil design is current, playful and deserves a second look. I think there a couple of ways that you can incorporate Faux Bois in a home. The first is to fully envelope a room with wallpaper. While it my appear to be a bold choice, it’s really not.
Because “wood” is natural or “a neutral,” it’s the perfect backdrop to cover walls. You may think it’s a bold choice, and perhaps retro, but this is hardly your grandmother’s paneling. Notice how this bedroom still remains calm? The pale grays and cream walls are interesting without being too busy and the elegant, monochromatic seating is perfect counter balance to the pattern.
I bet you didn’t think I was going to tell you it looks chic in a bathroom too? Now do you see why I’m mad for this pattern? I think this is a beautiful bathroom and again the Faux Bois is balanced with simple, clean colors to make it work.
If you are not ready to commit to Faux Bois on your walls, take baby steps with a Faux Bois lamp or lamp shade. Because the pattern could be a touch more bold on a shade try to make sure it is placed in front of a light colored wall for maximum impact.
Another way you can introduce the pattern to a room is through fabric. Like lamps, incorporating Faux Bois on a piece of furniture in a less permanent approach. Notice how the chair is paired with simple, monochromatic accents like the rug and pillow? It’s the same principal used when the Faux Bois is a wall-covering.
The least radical use of Faux Bois is on furniture that usually comes in wood. It’s expected and more traditional in its usage. From media cabinets to tables, you may want to consider finding Faux Bois veneer to spruce up boring oak or pine pieces in your home. Regardless of how you use it, Faux Bois is my pick for true style.
Photos courtesy of design-milk.com, flickriver.com, onegirlsstyle.blogspot.com,designpress.typepad.com, poppytalk.blogspot.com, designsponge.com
For more faux bois ideas and inspiration, check out these posts from the past - Color Chart: Faux Bois and DIY It: Wood Grain Everywhere!
It can sometimes be a challenge to design a room for a child knowing that it may need to be completely redesigned in a few years. The smarter design fits the child's current needs, but also transitions into years down the road. Below are a few tips for creating a kid's space that functions for a few different growth stages.
Purchase a Crib with a Toddler Bed Conversion Kit: It is expensive to purchase both a crib and a toddler bed. Many cribs can convert into a toddler bed (some with or without a conversion kit).
Chose a Classic Color Scheme: Incorporating classic colors and neutrals will give the nursery a more sophisticated aesthetic, so when the child grows into a toddler the space will not feel like a baby's room.
Keep Baby Themes to a Minimum: One of the main elements that sets the tone for a baby's room is a children's theme such as animals, the circus, etc. Incorporate young child elements through accessories and toys rather than more permanent decor such as wallpaper and murals.
Select Non-baby Light Fixtures: Lighting is important in a kid's room and there are many light fixtures that can translate well in a kid's space without shouting baby. My favorite example of a table lamp that would look great both in a nursery and kid's space is the Robert Abbey Delta Marine High Table Lamp. It comes in a lot of different color variations for either a boy's or girl's room.
Incorporate Neutral Drapery: It can be tempting to pick up the giraffe pattern curtains, but if you select classic neutral drapery the design will last for many years. My personal favorite drapery colors are cream, light grey, and white.
Images: Ohdeedoh, Oeuf and Project Nursery
The fuzzy pack is backy back. That's right, this November The Muppets are returning to the big screen. With their parody videos getting so much attention, the movie is sure to draw crowds of all ages. Right about now, you are probably wondering why you are on a design blog and I am talking about colorful furry creatures. Well, just for that reason. They are colorful, fun creatures many of us grew up loving. So why not draw inspiration from them. That right, we're using these loving creatures(okay I am going to focus on only two) as our design inspiration today.
Let's begin with the lady, the de-swine Miss Piggy. She is a girl who loves glamour and beauty. I think she would love the Hollywood Luxe look. This look features the luxury look of mirrored furniture to the glamour of crystal chandeliers.
Our leading man, Kermit, likes to keep it natural. (Personally I think he started the green movement, but that is for another post.) His style is purely Organic. I think he would really dig some Organic Nest Giclee Lamps Shades or perhaps take a dip in a lovely water fountain at home.
For those who made it through this fun post, a special surprise, a behind-the-scenes photo of the movie being shot on Hollywood Blvd.
Well, I hope you enjoyed finding out that The Fuzzy Pack is Backy Back! Which Muppet is your favorite? Leave a comment.
Resources: Youtube, MovieInsider and Disney
Do you think Marie Antoinette muttered those famous lines, “Mirror, mirror on the wall” as she flitted through Versailles? Well, if not those exact lines, I think probably something pretty darn close. Let’s face it, for better or worse, we love looking at ourselves. While there is a practical reality to mirrors, I also like to think of them as decorative and having the ability to reflect your beautiful surroundings.
There are some basic design rules about where one generally hangs a mirror. Mirrors are extremely decorative, can be rare and can create a depth and sparkle unmatched in interior design. Most people hang mirrors over chests in front halls and usually over fireplaces. The key is to get the right mirror for the right spot. This gorgeous Venetian Mirror works so well here because it reflects the opulence of the room. Paired with the Chinoiserie chest, it exudes a lifetime of travel and collecting one-of-a-kind antiques.
The classic starburst mirror over a fireplace is timeless, yet it becomes fresh and modern in this interior. The crisp white walls and modern furniture turn the gilt beauty into a sculptural work of art as it also reflects the simple beauty of the space.
Many of us have mirrors either attached to walls or inlaid within old woodwork that cannot be removed. A great solution to add interest to those mirrors would be to layer. Here is a great example of how to dress up a plain mirror with the use of artwork. I suggest that you not nail directly into the mirror, but hang the artwork from a wire nailed into the surrounding woodwork. Gorgeous.
Another, rather unexpected place to hang a mirror is over the bed, with one exception, in earthquake country. This round mirror could work in a traditional space or contemporary. The gold and back detailing is classic but still looks sharp against the clean, unadorned walls. It’s a great counterpoint to the rectangular headboard and adds sparkle to a romantic room.
Finally, and I digress from my discussion of mirrors on walls, to include mirrored furniture. Just like their two dimensional cousins, the mirrored chest or nightstand can be amazing. In this case, the mirror will reflect not only the other light in the room, but the objects on top which can be a glittering display. Regardless of the way you use mirrors, they will undoubtedly reflect your good taste.
Photos courtesy of flixya.com, housedesignet.com, desiretoinspire.net, evadesigns.com, decorpad.com, roys-antiques.com
Betsy Moyer is one of the authors and design enthusiasts of the Home Decor Blog: The Estate of Things. She often refers to it as TEOT. This is mostly because she loves acronyms. Coincidentally, she mentioned that it is a Finnish word that represents the plural translation of the word achievement.
She is into DIY and artsy stuff. She likes bold graphics, all things retro, and is magnetized toward anything aqua, teal, or turquoise. Her education in Art History is one of many a result from an undying need to understand the philosophy of things in life. She takes this along with a sense of humor into her design approach.
Lamps Plus: What is the best design advice you ever received? Betsy Moyer: Buy what you love whether or not it’s "in style."
LP: What is one “trick of the trade” that you implement in your designs?Betsy: Mixing in very personal and sentimental items into your decor helps to tell your story and make your home decor belong to you.
LP: When should you splurge on when decorating?Betsy: Curtains apparently. I have tons of yellow silk curtains in my apartment that cost a pretty penny, but every time I come home into my living room and catch the sunset ablaze through the glow of that yellow silk, I'm reassured that it was more than worth it.
LP: How important is lighting to your designs?Betsy: Ha!! Puts the fun in function right??? Seriously though - lighting is a great opportunity to really impress with your attention to detail. The wrong light might go unnoticed by many, but the right light will get you tons of compliments and greater sense of satisfaction.
LP: What do you see as the next design trend?Betsy: The 1990's are coming back IN like a big gust of wind. Get ready for seafoams and dusty pinks y'all.
LP: What is your favorite thing at home that you didn’t design?Betsy: At the moment, it’s this big glammy shiny barrel shade pendant light from Lamps Plus, that is hanging over my dining table, and it is soon going to be the white croc upholstered dining chairs lined up around the table underneath it.
LP: What would be your dream project?Betsy: It is always and forever going to be my own home, okay - homes. I fantasize regularly about having an old rustic craftsman charmer in an urban setting, and/or a modern urban glass box home perched in a rustic mountain setting... AND I'll pull the old refurbed vintage Shasta camper back and forth between the two.
LP: Well, Betsy, by The Estate of Things, when you start your dream project(s) there is no doubt they are going to be fun and functional. I hope you will share some images with us when you are done!
For more inspiration and fun from Betsy, wander on over to The Estate of Things.
Did you enjoy this article? Let us know by leaving a comment.
Images coutesy of The Estate of Things, Betsy Moyer and Enjoy Cupcakes.
Post addendum 8-30-11:
In response to a request asking to see the pendant light in place (see comment below), I contacted Betsy and she has provided us with the above image. Looks GREAT Betsy! Thanks for sharing. Leave us a comment letting us know what you think.
Uninspired, drab dorm spaces are never very welcoming. But if you think of the space as a blank canvas and add some of your own creative ideas and furnishings it will soon be a comfortable new home away from home. Dorm rooms are the quintessential one-room-living. So decorate it as such. Define the space it into areas: a place to study, sleep and relax. For inspiration, start with anything… like your major. No matter what your major, or even if you are not in school, these styles are sure to inspire.
You are going to dig this style inspiration. Major: Archaeology provides a sense of the past with the practically of the future.
Prerequisites: A place to work, Navigator's Ivory and Woodgrain DeskSomething illuminating, Robert Abbey Natural Brass Pharmacy Desk LampA place to sit, Zuo Metro Beige Office ChairSome stylis accessories, Uttermost Elegant Swirl Set of Three Wall Art PanelsStorage, Set of 3 Espresso and Mock Croc Storage Boxes
Your dorm mates will be green with envy with Major: Biology. This style is enjoyed by those who like structure, comfort and a touch of the fun.
Bio 101 includes: Green like grass, Movement Green Area RugGreen like Kermit, Pinguino Lime Green and White Accent LampGreen like bamboo, Hunter Lime Finish Three Panel ScreenGreen materials, Set of 3 Adalyn Embroidered Dot PillowsGreen like an apple, Shirred Headboard Apple Green Velvet Bed
For the person that admires simplicity, clean lines and hitting the books (or at least reading a good one) Major: Law is for you.
Required reading:Let the record show form and function can get along, Khaki Microsuede Tufted Bed Don't sweep the facts under the carpet, Mossa Collection Sprinkle Cream Area RugShine some light on the subject, Chrome Finish Adjustable Arm Floor LampReflect on the rules, and you new haircut, Babette Holland Burnt Orange 26" Wide Wall MirrorBooks aren't just for reading, Set of 3 Book Nesting Tables
How do you decorate your dorm or small space?
Top images courtesy of photgrapher Laurey W. Glenn.