Decorating Tips After the Cocktail Hour

Furnishing are simply a small part of the puzzle.  End and middle pieces are needed such as floor type, wall texture, and architectural details such as moldings and cornices.

 

Make sure the furnishings fit the size of the room.  Higher ceilings call for larger scale upholstered pieces while low ceilings need longer but shorter appointments.

Create fabulous groupings.  Think of different conversational areas or a nook for reading.

Start with a color palette.  Find inspiration in a fabric, a work of art, a favorite dress.  Choose a few hues and maybe only use these tones in accent pillows or ottomans.

Pull the paint colors from one room to another using accents and accessories to create a flow.

If using draperies, in particular panels, mount the rods as high as possible.

Try to avoid overhead light (with the exception of basement areas).  Use lamps and chandeliers with dimmer switches.

Small cocktail and side tables or a set of nesting tables allow guest to place drinks down without feeling overwhelmed or having to reach for their beverage.

Accessories express your personality.  A pile of old books, family photos, a glass bowl full of old keys, or anything that catches your eye.

 

Domino

Started in magazine form, initially I was a bit confused.  The front half of the monthly glossy emphasized furniture, mirrors, and the usual bric n’ brac.  The back 60 pages featured fashion, shoes, and jewels.  After a few years, I got hooked (though still too many ads, a weakness of all journalistic endeavors).  I like books.  I enjoy an iPad as well but I want to touch, feel, smell the pages of a newly minted (or better yet, original edition) of some enjoyable read.  Recently, while visiting my local Barnes & Noble, I purchased Domino’s “The Book of Decorating; A Room by Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy.”  And what do you know, the truth be told.  Full of great tips, this easy to follow blueprint takes the mystery or bullshit out of all things sacred in the world of interior design.  Deborah Needleman, one of the creative editors behind this little treasure, states very clearly that the goal was to make decorating easier for the “civilian.”  Eliminate the mystery or the 1,2,3 of all things grand and gorgeous and rush to buy this incredible group of words and pictures for all things grand and gorgeous.

Color Palette Or Warming Up A White Room

My two favorite colors are white and black.  Sounds a bit like a Michael Jackson song but my wardrobe favors black and my home prefers white.  What can a girl do?  Here a few quick tips if you feel the need to heat up a milky hue.

Metallic Mirrors

Image result for metallic mirror in a white room

Subtle Accent Pillows

Jute or Sisal Rug

Image result for jute or sisal rugs in a white room

Woven Shades

Exposed Beams

Unexpected Chandelier

Or a Pop of Black 

Give Those Windows a Double-Take

 

I Candy

Forget what your mother told you about staring.

Get interiors that you can’t take your eyes off of.  Designs that are drop-dead gorgeous.  From furniture and accessories, wall coverings to window treatments.  Laura Buhrer Interiors can help you create rooms that promise a double-take. (Jill Bagby)

 

                                                     

 

Elevator Pitch for Interior Design?

When home and not hopping a plane to Bora Bora or yachting to Bermuda, I spend a good deal of my time thumbing through style magazines and outrageously expensive interior design books.  For me, there simply is nothing better than a hot bath, a silent cell phone, a few decor mags, and a Xanax to rid myself of whatever anxiety I have self-induced.   Recently I picked up a book at Calico Corners (a warm, friendly shop that I love browsing in what must be the same way junkers feel at flea show).  Named “Decorate Fearlessly; Using Whimsy, Confidence, and a Dash of Surprise to Create Deeply Personal Spaces” (title is a bit lengthy) and compiled by Susanna Salk.  Full of interiors by top designers, the photographs create a jealousy among us mere mortals as we realize that budgets and taste do matter.  Furthermore, Ms. Salk keeps her comments short and to the point.  This lovely coffee table accessory highlights the principles of color and pattern, expressing one’s personality (as controlled by the home interior designer), as well as the limitless possibilities that decor offers.  Featuring some of the greats such as Jonathan Adler and Miles Reed, I want to emphasize a few of my favorites (shall we say focal points).

The Madcap Cottage, a fairy tale of a design firm co-owned by Jason Oliver North lives by the premise that, “a room should be dynamic and never static.”  And the gentleman, using a Vegas analogy believes in a high-low philosophy and boy oh boy does he draw attention to that blackjack table.

Doug Meyer goes for show-stopping color.  He uses all 64 crayons, creating surprising and magical vignettes of space.

“Your home should be your strength in the world” (not sure what that means) states Marian McEvoy.  A believer that design should be pleasing to not only your family but to others as well, she uses detail in a way few other do while making an impact that many others are incapable of….

Steve and Brooke Giannetti find inspiration from a bold statement.  They prefer natural materials that age over time with beauty and care.

 

Anyone that knows me well understands my obsession with the Novogratz.  Robert and Cortney create work that defies convention and blends every well-worn decor trick into a delicious strawberry smoothie.

And lastly, the photo that dominates Pinterest, with it’s incredible mix of bold patterns and vibrant palettes.  I admit that I have copied this room in several very sophisticated teen caves (you know, the kind of teenage girls with their own glam squads).  Hats off to Kriste Michelini.

JUST GO BUY THE BOOK!  AND NO, I DON’T GET A CUT OF THE ACTION THOUGH A REFERRAL FEE WOULD BE APPRECIATED.

Window Dressed to Kill or 8 Easy Tricks to Drapery Heaven

I am a cutter (and I don’t mean emotional).  I obsessively collect swatches of fabric, trim, and cord.  Some might classify me as a hoarder except that my OCD keeps everything attractively labeled and boxed neatly.  No longer able to fit in my office space, car, or guest room closets, storage space has become the viable solution.

In the last five or six years, I have noticed that most clients tend to go for a cleaner, simplified look especially when it comes to window treatments.  Gone are the elaborate chintzes and mix of prints made famous by Hadley Parish or Mario Buatta.

Instead shutters, roman shade, and fabric panels on decorative rods add a quiet enhancement instead of creating a focal point.  I am a firm proponent of curtains in certain rooms (living, master, kitchen, and always the dining).  I prefer the less is more philosophy but I do miss the swags, cascades, and jabots over a puddled floral print that dominated interior design for so many years.

If attempting a DIY project (though I think this is an area where the professionals excel), here are a few tricks of the trade to give your draperies that appropriate POP instead of that STORE BOUGHT CRAP you see at every Joann’s, Home Goods, and Bed, Bath, & Beyond.  (Nothing makes a decorator or home stylist more queasy than cheap curtains, fake plants, or wall prints hung too high).

 

1.     If choosing simple panels for your room, decide on a header such as a French pleat, goblet, grommet, or inverted.  These are usually gathered about 4″ from the top of the window treatments.

2.    Use at least 1 &1/2 widths of fabric for each side of the windows (store bought are often a width and seem incomplete especially when dealing with larger panes of glass.

3.    Make sure to add a 4 to 6″ self line to the drape.  That prevent one from seeing the white/off white of normal lining.

4.    Most fabrics are 54″ in width but don’t forget the pattern repeat.

5.    Hang them high, as close to the ceiling as possible.  This creates a more substantial look as well as the illusion of height.

6.    If putting curtains over blinds, make sure to allow for the additional depth.

7.    Don’t forget your return (whether an inside or outside horizontal blind or drape).  It completes the look by addressing the sides.

8.   Valances and cornices tend to look terrific in kitchen/breakfast areas as well as kid’s rooms.  Add cording, welting, or fringe for a finished shape. 

 

Peekabooboo

According to the great Bard, “the eyes are the windows to the soul.”  In Shakespeare’s world (or Paulo Coelho depending on the who receives the credit) that famous phrase meant that the reflection of the pupil shows one’s emotion and truth.  So if we take this analogy a bit further, could we not then claim that false eyelashes, which add mystery and sexiness, has served as one of the gateways to Kardashian success (and of course their brilliant momanger (still don’t get it). 

For design; drapery or curtains or window treatments (whichever name you prefer) frame glass and molding and tell a story.  They serve as the baby blues to your interior psyche.  Not only do they reflect your taste, station in life, childbearing years, pet ownership, and budget, they put a spin on your style (mid-century, modern, cottage, industrial, farmhouse, etc.)  

So why does fabric seem to be such a forgotten art?  Or (God help us), why do women flock in droves to Joann’s and Bed, Bath, & Beyond to buy readymade (which as a sin ranks up there with cheating on a test or a husband).  First and foremost, their colors are abysmal, their lengths are incorrect at 88 inches long which unless your home was built in pre-1972 forget about it (as they say in Jersey), and finally the widths or should I say width are laughable.  When did beautiful, plush, rich window treatments go out of style?  With the advent of blinds and shutters?  With the escalating cost?  With the difficulty of finding  competent workrooms?

Now I admit I’m a panel girl; simple, clean, and to the floor (maybe with a pinch of layered fringe), but then I have yet to learn how to put on fake lashes or contour my face.  Still a two coat mascara babe with a touch of eyeliner…You know that industrial, farmhouse, shabby, cottage, and scandi all mixed together haphazardly.  Or let’s put it in fashion terms; LBD, Chanel purse, diamond in my ears (love the pearls but necklaces, ugh), sandals or small heels, hair pulled back, and a lipstick tucked into my bra.

I tend to go for restraint but I still admire that Mario Buatta dedication to fabric upon fabric upon fabric.  It lends credibility and refinement to a living or dining room. Hell you can picture the mint juleps (or straight Bourbon) served on a silver tray by an appropriately dressed butler named Michael in Charleston (wait that’s Patricia of Southern Charm).  But my point is, every great window needs a little something; a shutter, a piece of iron, a swag with jabots, or a pair of panels that actually fit.  Windows are the portal to your décor conscious and mystery and sexiness awaits if you just play peekabooboo.  (and a little FYI to the young ladies out there; you can shop in dirty sweats, no makeup, and Target flip flops but as long as you carry that Chanel bag, the salespeople will be bouncing all over the store to help you).

 

 

Mix It On Up

A bag of tricks used by designers to create a personal space in any home tends to weave together a set of rules bequeathed by the “STYLE GODS of yesteryear.”  For example, investment pieces (those that cost more than your child’s first year in college) should be placed front and center where visitors can ogle and whisper about the price.  We learned from the great Albert Hadley that the sofa often fulfills this glorified need, so never forget to pile on the pillows for that extra luxe as well.  It also makes it simple to change out those little poufs depending on look, season, or boredom.  The neighbors will be aghast.  Also never skimp on certain items of seating or translating that into “marriage speak” means that immediately after the honeymoon, remove any item hubby attempts to bring into the home.  And by the way, you can forget contacting Goodwill; they have their standards.  For my sake, think neutral, flexibility is important in all areas.

Lush and lavish window treatments seem to be an oddity of the past.  Today, we favor simplistic panels to add a splash of color, texture, and height.  But I must admit, I find yards of pretty fabric as a compliment such as a good set of pearls used as a finish for that little black dress.  The can amplify neutrals through use of materials, provide privacy in case of nosy neighbors, add warmth on colder days, and finish a space beautifully by highlighting specific hues.  HEY DESIGNERS go to the floor with drapery (or at least a pant break) as it makes the look appear complete (no high waters for the clients).   

When painting, remember that you have five walls (in case your expensive stylist forgot).  Look up!  Embellish your ceiling with a medallion, a mural, or a slightly lighter (or darker) color than the wall.  And don’t be shy, enamel the molding, the crown, even the baseboard.  Let the space dictate the use, and your furniture determine the colors.  And always, always, always, place a rug under your dining table.

For more interesting rooms, mix and match eras, periods, fabrics, textures, and art (this precludes neutral or tone-on-tone lovers).  And here is a great big DESIGN secret, you can mix gold and silver.  Embrace the unusual.  Always follow the rules without following the rules.  Your home should celebrate how you live much like a mirror reflects light.  Don’t be nervous about a wall of clocks or mirrors or religious crosses.  Amplify small spaces by treating them as large.  Appropriate open shelves.

Use galvanized steal, shiplap, or wallpaper (yes, I said wallpaper) in unusual ways.  An empty corner makes a great little space for an architectural piece.  Take your dining room table to from a place to eat to unforgettable by utilizing different patterns of china and crystal.  While DESIGN should follow certain dictums, always remember that you are unique, SO BABY, mix it on up.

 

 

I’m Displaying My Wares As A Designer?

The two biggest challenges I find that most young designers face in their careers are groupings and displays (or is it displays and groupings).  The culprits; children, pets, functionality, cleaning, collectibles, and finally feet on the coffee table with the greasy popcorn bowl on a Saturday night.  In another words, the homeowner has opinions on this decorating dilemma and it doesn’t always include pretty.  As designers, stagers, or stylists, we push art, clocks, crosses, or plates; setting a stage that often proves difficult for even the most seasoned professional.  It’s a love that needs to be cajoled and caressed (not just with product but with the couple involved).  No matter what style; busy or clean; English country or Regency glam, a table needs to be used (and when I say utilized, I mean with a little French oil on a plate stand, two antique candle holders with pillars, and a funky riding cap just because it adds that certain je ne sais quo.  It also helps to remember that regardless of the owners taste; industrial, retro, mid-century modern, or vintage; the principals of design remain the same; create an interesting space that affords the client a chance to learn to live with their three remote controls intermixed with some non-functional yet stunning knickknacks.  Perhaps with time, little punches of glass wear, an antique clock, or coasters embossed with horse heads will fill the space without causing the owners to hyperventilate.

Included in this décor wish or pie in the sky, the design might possibly turn to the obvious built-in shelving, fireplace mantle, or sofa table (we will not yet address the bar cart, decorative ladder, or architectural salvage piece that looks oh so perfect in that corner spot by that bank of windows behind the Chippendale sofa).  This may take time but with a bit of repartee, a smattering of humor, perhaps your homeowner(s) might share some pillow talk.  Now I’m not talking sleep-over, just a form of communication that goes beyond Madison’s latest soccer game and Kyle’s guitar solo (that gave off a Jimi Hendrix vibe) at the middle school concert.  Who knows, maybe (fingers crossed) those two wonderful people might begin to enjoy some clutter.  After all a good display always exudes a touch of shock and awe.  It’s the accessories that make a house feel like a home.  So work skillfully.  If the husband is an accountant or engineer, treat the situation as a math equation.  He will eventually catch on.  Remind the wife that chalkboards enhance a wall desk and give a cohesive look to galvanized seating the same way storage tins bring her that much closer to that Chanel wallet because of the money saved at the discount shops.  Glass cloches (found at Hobby Lobby) protect precious mementos as well as the hideous bric n’ brac received by the mother-in-law brought out only on holidays.

Group mirrors of different size and shape together and see how the light becomes more reflective in both smaller and larger room.  Soon you will using blinds, sheers, and draperies to protect those Peeping Tom neighbors.  Present with great fanfare your family’s crest of honor, your Uncle’s self-published book, or your child’s spelling bee medallion.  But just don’t forget to add height by using a few coffee table books to give that extra lifts to Aunt Esther’s coffee cup collection.  Highlight that farmhouse sink, that cost way too much money, with a lovely display of stoneware, sure to make every wife jealous at the next work related get-together.  So novice designers, learn the lessons of those of us over forty years of age; by enticing, sweet-talking, even seducing because any of us in the design profession know that displaying and grouping make a room feel complete and express hidden secrets about the family who live in the house.  I’m displaying my wares as a designer, hey stylists and do-it-yourself lovers, how about you?

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