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10 posts from December 2009

December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolution Countdown

Ten Icon

Ten...nine...eight...seven...six...five...four...three...two...one...Happy New Year 2010!

December 30, 2009

Holiday Party Makeover Is Complete

For those of you who asked, I did get my chandelier in.  Just in time for NYE!!  Take a look.

Dining room lighting

I love the way the light bounces off the various crystal shapes and with this chandelier, I was able to decide the location and order of the crystals!

December 21, 2009

Holiday Party Makeover

Are you still tyring to figure out how to get your home ready for the holidays?  Between considering who's been naughty and checking those lists twice, it may seem like a crazy idea to take on a makeover job now, but with a few supplies, a couple of hints, and less than 24 hours, you can make it happen.  

We moved into our house almost a year ago and I've been procrastinating on the final punch list for just as long.  Now that the holidays are upon us, I have this sudden surge of energy and focus to get things done!  Maybe it's pre-new years resolution time, maybe it's just the self-imposed pressure of inviting over family and friends for get togethers.  Whatever it is, it's got me going. 

I often share my thoughts on color and it's impact and in this edition of my colorful diary, I thought I'd put the paint brush to the test and let you decide if color can make impact.  What do you think?


My Dining Room Before

Dining Room After

With Color Added-- the balloons were just to celebrate my overnight makeover and made my toddler very happy!


My challenge was to convert a formal living room into a dining room in time for having family over for Christmas.  I took it upon myself to make it happen over the weekend.  With a little planning, a touch of paint, and a dose of energy, I got it together! 

Colorwise, the soft gray I initially painted the room would have been perfect if it were a living room, where you often add in accessories, books, and throws .  But a dining room is simple in furniture and accents.  The lighting, table, chairs and sometimes a bar or sideboard define the room and are usually in a palette of one or two colors so the walls definitely needed a punch to make it work as my dining room.  My table is ebony and zebra wood with wood backed, black leather chairs creating a dramatic collection.  Overall, I still wanted an injection of vibrant color that encourages people to be relaxed and confident rather than formal and austere.

Here's how I went through my design process.


My inspiration came from a hobby-- Photography.  This is a photo I took at a local restaurant's foyer. To me, the family of berries, oranges, yellows was the perfect choice for a couple of reasons.  Most of my home has mid-century-modern inspired architecture and color choices.  The palette is one of calm energy and for this room, the first room you see when you enter my home, I wanted it to be different.  These colors add an element of fun to the space, creating a perfect balance to the more formal furniture in the space.



There are many strong colors in the photo above.  Even the worn blue violet in the wood is beautiful, so how do you decide?  Go with your gut and the color that makes you feel good.  The energy of the orange above is what I was craving, so I found a complimentary orange (a bit deeper than what is in the photograph) called Autumn Cover 2170-30 on two walls.  I love the way it adds jolts of energy and pairs with the original gray, Pashmina AF-100, in a sophisticated way.   The adjacent room already has hints of blue through the rug and a grayed blue on the walls to bring out. 

For my window, I decided to go with a double rod drapery solution and simple modern panels of charcoal gray in front and a soft gray sheer behind it.  I really wanted my color to live within the accent walls and the photo itself.



My room is about 20' long, so I had a big opportunity to personalize it with something special.  Many people make a major oops when it comes to scale and proportion.  Make sure to use furniture and accessories that compliment the room size.  In my case, my 10' dining table still leaves a comfortable 5' on either end of the table allowing dinner guests to circulate easily.

For the art that would anchor the space, scale was critical, too.  My finished piece is 48"H x 60"L.  It's about 1/2 the length of my table and anything smaller would have disappeared on the wall.  I decided to use my original photograph as the personal touch.  I framed my photo with paint on a canvas by mounting an enlarged print to the center of my canvas and surrounding it with a combination of Razzle Dazzle 1348 (Using three 2oz Color Samples) and Autumn Cover 2170-30 (leftover paint from my two accent walls).  Just around the photo, I used molding paste to create a textured and paintable frame that I painted using another 2oz Color Sample in the color Marlboro Blue HC-153.  Molding paste creates instant texture to the canvas.  If you're not comfortable painting on canvas yet, look into more traditional framing options with your local frame shop to bring art to life.


Mounting my photo enlargement onto the blank canvas with white molding paste surrounding it


The finished work added the needed conversation piece and vibrance into the space

Whether you create your own art or use something that's store bought, try to define your space with a touch that speaks to you about how you want to feel in the room itself. 


Lighting can be the key element in any room.  It's light that helps us to appreciate the details and color and texture we add into a space.  For this dining room, I knew exactly the fixture I wanted-- James Moder's Broadway Chandelier.  I love this modern interpretation of a chandelier with it's single chrome bar that gracefully balances strands of Strass or Swarovski Crystals.  For my very long room, it's the perfect choice.




Ahead of time:

1. Select and order the photo print

2. Select and order lighting


1. Order and pick up my paint, painting supplies/tools, and canvas

2. Friday night, tape off walls to be painted and adhere photo to canvas.


1. Paint first coat of color on walls and let it dry for an hour (Natura dries quickly and left no odor)

2. While paint is drying, start painting on canvas with wall paint around the photograph and play with it for about an hour

3. Paint second coat of color on walls and let dry.

4. Add layers of color to canvas using secondary colors.

5. Have lunch and let it all dry!

By evening, the painting is ready to hang (enlist help from family or friends!) and your painter's tape can come right off the walls before bedtime.  Voila, a very quick, yet impactful surge of color to a gray dining room.  In my world, not everything works perfectly, though.  I'm still waiting on my contractor to come install that Moder chandelier this week just in time for Christmas.  

 Dining Room Christmas Tree

My dining room all lit up for the holidays-- I clustered several strings of christmas lights around the perimeter of the room for a little glow

In the meantime, I've strung up clusters of christmas lights around the room's perimeter in an effort of improvisational cheer for the season. 





December 17, 2009

Kickoff Your New Years Resolutions In Style!

Are you whirling through the holiday frenzy? Have you found yourself tangled in tinsel and twinkling lights yet?  Do your best to enjoy it all. And when it’s done, here’s your reward.

After all the gatherings and the midnight champagne toasts, join us at a special event created just for you. You don’t have to leave your comfy chair to come, and you don’t even have to bake anything.

Ten Icon

My co-conspirator and good friend, Kathy Barlow and I have been planning ten for some time.  Kathy is the creative design blogger behind HomeWorkshop.com.

2010 is the beginning of a new year, a new decade, and new ideas for design solutions!

Kathy and I burned up our iPhones and tore through our address books. We gathered ten top (we’re talking top!) design experts.

Over the course of ten days, January 4-8 and January 11-15, ten will bring you design ideas from the experts that will help us stick to New Year’s Resolutions in style.

  • Ten Days!
  • Ten Resolutions!
  • Ten Experts!
  • Ten Prizes!

First, take a look here at who and what we have in store for you. Never before have New Year's Resolutions been so much fun! 

Then mark your calendars for the ten days, January 4-8 and January 11-15.

Each day, check in at tendesigndays.com and we’ll send you off to Home Workshop or Living In Color With Sonu for that’s day’s fun.

We’ll see you starting Monday, January 4 for ten!

December 14, 2009

Color IQ: A New Palette for A New Home

I get some great design and color questions and from time to time, I think it's something many of us are thinking about.  I call it Color IQ (Interesting Questions).  Take a look at Lauren's color dillemma.  What do you think she should do?

Color iq


Lauren and her husband are moving into their first home with a baby on the way and their dog by their side.  Here's a little of what she wrote:

"My husband and I just bought a house and are planning on having several of the rooms painted before we moved in. Our painter only uses Benjamin Moore paint, so we are excited but also overwhelmed at the number of choices available!

The two hardest rooms are the kitchen and family.  We have to match the walls to the existing cherry cabinets in the kitchen and granite countertops (not our favorite colors, but we can't change them out just yet).

We are thinking of going more modern/contemporary, but with a traditional feel.  I think we would love to create a bright, cheery space for both the kitchen and family rooms since they will be the rooms we spend the most time in.  I've never owned a house before, so I haven't had the chance to explore with colors, and like the idea of lots of colors as well, but maybe with a neutral background.  We were thinking of going with a yellow color, but are open to professional tips!"


 A first baby and a first home can become a lot to juggle (I've been exactly at that intersection of life, actually).  Lauren's color dillema is one many of us face.  Where do you begin to choose color when there are so many options? 

The first thing to identify is the style you're after.  In Lauren's case, she said "modern with a traditional feel".  After a little back and forth, I figured out that she's looking for what I call Warm Modern.  Something contemporary but not cold is what many of us are after.  Color and texture are the right tools to achieve that look. 

From a design standpoint, the best test is at your fingertips.  Literally.  Incorporate liveable, touchable, and usable finishes with soft textures like felt, leather, and microfiber.  These can be durable, affordable, and easy to maintain and can be found on a variety of modern furniture styles.  Another great rule of thumbis to keep furniture and accessories to a minimum.  A cluttered look is not a clean look.  And contemporary is about keeping things simple and clean.  Lauren is stuck with a kitchen filled with cabinets and counters she thinks are less than ideal.  Two relatively simple options for giving the space an inexpensive overhaul are to either paint the existing kitchen cabinet doors and add contemporary hardware or reface the cabinets with new doors that reflect your style.  Both are great ways to give a facelift to an older look without breaking the bank. 

Kitchen traditional before

Kitchen before- what's up with the tapestries on the counter?

Kitchen after contemporary

Kitchen after- Clean, contemporary and inviting Photo Resource


Lauren started with the idea of using a "Yellow".  I've had several clients start by saying yellow and many times, I discover that they're really saying they want to visually warm up the space.  Naturally, yellow can be a great color for many spaces, especially in low light situations, but remember that the full spectrum of colors can offer the feeling of warmth in a space.  You can actually have a space that's inviting, intimate, comfortable, and stylish whether the walls are yellow, blue, or even gray!

A few tips on making color choices:

More than likely, a color on a small chip will look very different once you've painted the wall.  Generally, any color in a fan deck will look deeper and more intense on an interior wall.  Consider that when making your final choice.  Also sometimes when painting with a bright color or bold color, the wet paint in the can look extremely bold and bright, but it will dry to match the chip you started with.  I can tell you from personal experience--I opened a can of a paint that looked like it would practically glow in the dark, but it dried to be the beautiful deep autumnal color I was after.

No matter the color you choose, I strongly suggest that you buy a 2 oz sample or quart and paint it onto a piece of posterboard or foam core first.  Let it dry and move the board around in your room so you can see how it looks in context w/your furniture, lighting, etc. in the room itself.  Make sure you look at the color at the time of day you actually spend most of your time in the space.  Don't stare at the color all Sat morning if you're usually only at home at night, for example.  Color changes with time of day and your color will probably morph along with it.  It's most important that you love the color when you're home to see it. 

If you're starting from scratch, start pulling images of what you'd like to put in the room (sofa style, fabric swatches, tiles, etc) and add your painted samples to the mix so you can start to envision your end result.

Here are the colors I recommend for Lauren:


Vellum 207 is a great modern yellow with a hint of green.  You must see the actual color chip/sample rather than this on screen representation!  It works nicely with dark woods and crisp whites.



If you want something a bit more transitional, Home Sweet Home 1088 is a warm neutral that has more of a reddish tone to it.  This color will compliment medium tone woods and upholstery that include reds, yellows, and greens.

For Lauren's color conundrum, I have a totally different option to offer, too. Green.  Green is a new neutral and that means it will work with many accessories you'll find as you're decorating your space.  Green is the color to focus on for 2010 and because of it's association to very important ideas like the environment, renewal, and growth, it's a color that will stay with us for quite sometime.  It's also a color associated with balance and rest-- ideas I find important when you're moving to a new home, having a baby, and essentially learning to juggle.  My last two bedrooms have been green & I've loved it!  Here are a few of my favorite greens for an open and contemporary space.


Keep in mind that the color makes the biggest impression, but it's not the only important thing.  Make sure you use either Aura paint or Natura paint (both from Benjamin Moore).  They're both great performing paints (will protect your walls well, won't take more than 2 coats, color won't rub off when you clean the walls, etc.).  Aura is low odor or VOC and Natura is zero VOC.  This is important when you're concerned about air quality in your home as well as durability of the paint and color.  Go to www.benjaminmoore.com/natura or www.benjaminmoore.com/aura for more info. 

I hope this is a good start for Lauren and all of you who may be in a similar situation.  Lauren, I hope you'll write in and let us know how it turned out and what you plan to do for the nursery!