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12 posts from April 2010

April 29, 2010

Learning from a Color Consultant: Victoria Burke

Stuart Creal Studio is a leading interior painting and decorative art company that specializes in color consulting, among other things.  Over twenty years, founder Victoria Stuart Burke has worked with such designers and architects as Albert Hadley, Peter Marino, Howard Slatkin, and Daniel Romualdez.  But, as we all know, color is a very personal matter, so I was curious to find out how she selects the right colors for her clients and pick up some color lessons along the way.

"We start off as diagnosticians, figuring out who our client is and how he/she wants to live,"  Torie says. Her basic questions include:  Do you like to entertain a lot?  Is this space primarily public or more of a sanctuary?  Formal or more relaxed?  What time of day are you going to spend most of your time in the room?--to help build a picture of how and when the rooms will be used. "I have clients that want a dark, moody atmosphere, that are not home much during the day, or that entertain mostly in the evening.  Others want a spa-like place where there is little distraction."


If you're going to entertain a lot, especially during the day, Torie thinks a pale neutral is a good place to start.  "Parchment is a great color for the walls when there needs to be balance all of the colors, textures, patterns, and artwork in the room.  You've got to have some yin and yang, some give and take."  She describes the owner of this home as a "youthful journalist" who loves to have friends over.

Oriole 2169-30, Million Dollar Red 2003-10

The dining room is right off the living room--very different in feeling but still connected by color.  "It's not small, but it's very intimate.  The color here envelops you so you immediately feel like you're in a room where you can have a private conversation with someone."  The finish is also unusual--it's one color stippled over another, with a clear gloss finish over that (see Paint Style for instructions) The base is a light orange color, and then there‚Äôs a layer of pomegranate on top.  "It provides a depth and mystery to the color that cannot be achieved with a solid color paint."  High gloss finishes, says Torie, are very formal--perfect for a dining room.

Winchester Sage 628, Balsam 567

For more informal places like the kitchen, Torie likes lower gloss finishes, because they're more cozy and relaxed.  The color here is a big departure from the usual white, and, because it's on the darker side, makes the large space feel smaller and more cozy.  "It'd be really simple for a consumer to rag the top color on."  (see Paint Style for instructions).  The base color is somewhere between a moss and kelly green, and top coat is a bluegrass green, all coated with a low-sheen waterborne satin polyurethane.


In the bathroom, everything except the marble floor and tub are painted the exact same color, Simply White (OC-117).  "This is the wife's bathroom, and she wanted it to be a complete getaway.  Even the bench, vanity, tub enclosure . . . everything is the same."  This lack of contrast, says Torie, equals a lack of distraction, which has a relaxing effect.  "It's calming and clean.  It's white, but it still has a mood to it."

Not everyone can hire a Torie Burke, of course, but ultimately everyone knows what they do and don't like. So, before you head to the paint store, try being your own color consultant and ask all the kinds of lifestyle questions Torie poses to her clients first.


April 26, 2010

Newlyweds: Design Your Nest With Bride's Magazine Dream Home


Where in New York can a girl go to get chic inspiration for design and life?  Between April 24 and May 22, Brides Magazine has the answer at their Newlywed Nest!  It's presented by IKEA and designed by Inson Dubois Wood.  Visit the showhome at 311 East 11th Street on Saturdays and Sundays from11am-4pm for complimentary access to a variety of events.

Brides mag 

The Newlywed Nest is hosted in a two bedroom triplex apartment at the building known as Village Green, which is targeted to be the first LEED Gold certified building in teh East Village.  The property is focused on being sustainable and innovative at the same time. Designer Inson Dubois Wood worked with IKEA and Benjamin Moore to create design solutions that mirror the same ideas of environmental and economic responsibility.

Benjamin Moore Natura and Advance create the color and paint solutions for the showhouse.  Both paints are high in quality and low on environmental impact.  Here are some of the colors he chose for the chic Scandinavian-Asian inspired designs.


Wood designed the showhome to reflect the tastes of a newlywed couple bringing their lives together, but it's full of ideas for all of us.  Here's Inson Dubois Wood's perspective as shared with the New York Times.  Known for his tendencies to "discover, reveal, and refine [your] design identities in the most tasteful of ways", Wood's natural passion for his craft is obvious.

There are so many fabulous finds at this event.  Go to bootcamp with a rooftop workout session. Sign up for one on one time with Inson Dubois Wood, design experts from IKEA and a Benjamin Moore Color Expert for personal consultations.  Meet the author of Eco Chic Home and Eco Weddings, Emily Anderson.  Purchase yummy treats from the Sweet Things Bake Shop to benefit the Lower East Side Girls Club.  Have a Girl's Night Out and preview Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier's new collection of bridal and evening gowns .  So many reasons to go and check out Brides' calendar of events!

On closing day, Saturday May 22, the Newlywed Nest will have a Tag Sale-- Cash and Carry.  Mark your calendars and get there to get great design in an instant.

April 23, 2010

Playful Grays Make Beautiful Neutrals

Gray has not always been equated with beautiful interiors. It has a history of feeling cold, stark, uninviting, and boring.  Today, Gray is being reinvented.  Design professionals are using Gray in spectacular ways that redefine the color's stereotype.  Gray can be bold, sophisticated, indulgent, feminine, and classic.

Gray As A Neutral Canvas 

Kara Mann Design Chicago Gray 
Designer Kara Mann Creates Subtle Drama in a Chicago Residence 

Kara Mann uses texture and pattern in this living room to conjure a soft sensuality using a muted palette of grays.  The gray walls are the perfect contrast against the lightest and darkest hues in the setting.  The original artwork on the wall instantly becomes the focal point and is full of vitality. 

Gray As An Accent

Elizabeth Martin Interior Gray
A Georgian Revival by Elizabeth Martin Design

This mid-tone gray has a warm undertone that is complimented by Elizabeth Martin's design concept with the warm, yet neutral stone, the brown influenced blacks, and the hint of orange in the branches and the vase on the shelf.  The overall palette makes a confident color statement with just a few brushstrokes.

Gray In Specialty Finishes

Ned Marshall Home New Orleans Gray
Entrance Hall at Designer Ned Marshall's Home in New Orleans   

Metallic glaze and paint produce a stunning stripe in Ned Marshall's Louisiana abode.  If you're worried about gray being too dark, using a silver or metallic glaze (translucent like a layer of color infused shimmer on top of paint), will help to reflect light into the space creating an ethereal effect.  This hall design emphasizes the height of the space by the use of vertical lines.  It's a great trick for spaces with lower ceilings, too.

Some of my Favorite Gray Benjamin Moore Hues



Where does Gray belong in your home?

April 21, 2010

Outdoor Fabrics: Color Under the Sun

Les toiles deck chairs

Not so long ago, there wasn't a lot to love about outdoor fabrics. They were limited to drab, canvas-like colors, a few predictable nautical stripes, and a handful of Day-Glo solids in fabrics that were usually uncomfortable.  Things have definitely changed. Now there's no shortage of bright colors, while advances in technology have also made them more durable, fade-resistant, and often antimicrobial--handy for resisting unpleasantries like mildew--a practicality I especially like.  (If you're lucky enough to have a pool, you can also toss the cushions in there for a quick bleaching).  They're much more like indoor fabrics in terms of softness and texture, too, making for less sticky situations out in the hot sun.

Les Toiles deck chair fabrics 

Les Toiles du Soleil: Riotous Riviera

Every yard of fabric from Les Toiles du Soleil, based in the South of France, conjures up a summer breeze.  Besides cloth, they make table linens, espadrilles, and tote bags that never fail to transport me to a sunny afternoon in Provence.  A couple of years ago, they introduced a line of fully waterproof and sun-resistant stripes to their line, perfect for deck chairs and outdoor cushions.  Their often riotous mix of hues reminds me that, when it comes to color, sometimes more is more.

Pollack collage

Pollack: Indoor Textures, Outdoors

In addition to bright colors, brands like Pollack have introduced textured fabrics for the outdoors that feel more like indoor upholstery--no more sticky, plastic feel many of these had in the past. Because they behave so much like traditional fabrics, you can use them to upholster entire outdoor suites--couches, love seats, and arm chairs--for living rooms under the sun and stars.  What's great is that you don't have to run outside and pull your cushions off every time it clouds over.

Sunbrella collage

Sunbrella: Beyond the Stripe

Sunbrella was one of the first major brands of outdoor fabric--in fact, they even manufacture them for other companies.  They have a good range of solids and more traditional stripes, and they've introduced an array of beautiful prints--florals, toiles, geometrics, and even a few psychedelics, for those wanting something bold.  There are hundreds of patterns available, so whatever your decorating scheme, there's probably one to suit you.  (I found these on eBay by searching for Sunbrella Outdoor Fabric).

April 19, 2010

Find Expert Design Professionals From Benjamin Moore

For all of you looking for a design professional who knows how to make a design project a success, listen up!  Today Benjamin Moore is launching The Experts Exchange.  It  gets you connected with designers, architects, color professionals, and contractors who can help inspire you to create your dream home.


Amy Lau Still 

Ralph Rossi Video 

Experts like  Darryl Carter, Jamie Drake, Brian Gluckstein, Jeff Hester, Celerie Kemble, Amy Lau, Ralph Rossi, and Vladimir Topouzanov are sharing their design testimonials here. 

Experts on Design Facebook Benjamin Moore 1

By simply becoming a Benjamin Moore Fan, you'll have access to an extended group of design professionals and their portfolios. 

Explore the Benjamin Moore Experts Exchange to get great design and color ideas, find out more about each professional, and even participate in Q&A forums with both professionals and other design-minded people like you!  P.S.  Full disclosure, here-- I'm beyond excited to be one of the design professionals you'll see in the Experts Exchange.  Tell your best friend, tell your co-workers, tell anyone who needs a dose of design in their day and I'll see you there!