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13 posts from June 2010

June 30, 2010

Sea Inspired Original Color Combinations

Are you looking for new color inspiration?  Have you exhausted all the obvious sources like art, foliage, and and personal accessories?  So I took my toddler to the zoo for a little distraction.

We entered the aquarium at the zoo hand in hand and  all of a sudden he let go and sprinted away.  I followed him and saw him standing with his nose to the glass of a beautiful, bold fish, coral, and other sea life from around the world. 

The colors were mesmerizing and I realized what wonderful combinations they reveal.  I proceeded to snap lots of photos on my iPhone so I could match colors using Ben Color Capture (free and fabulous iPhone and iPad app!) and use the many images as a slideshow to keep my little one entertained on the rare occasion that I attempt to actually get a little "me" time.  Clever, don't you think?

Iphone fish ben color capture 
I found Bronze Tone in one of the Aquarium shots I took on my iPhone

As I started to look into it, I found amazing photography of sea creatures that lend themselves to neutral, bold, and exotic combinations of color.  Take a look and see which colors appeal to you.

Pale Green Blue

Photo Source


Navy Fish 

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Tiger Fish yellow pink
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Blue Yellow Gray
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Tigerfish Mister J
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Photo Source  


What are your most unusual sources for color inspiration and how have you used them?

June 28, 2010

Learn from an Expert: Stencil Artist Ed Roth

Let’s admit it--stenciling can be scary.  It seems like something that can easily go wrong, leaving weird Rorschach blot blobs on the wall instead of nice,  crisp rows of fleur-de-lis.  And how do you choose what to stencil in the first place?  What colors will give you the look you want?  We recently got a chance to talk with stencil artist Ed Roth about his exciting new book, Stencil 101 Decor, and to learn how the whole process doesn't have to be stressful--you just need a few basic rules and a little bit of practice.  Ed gives clear, step-by-step advice on how to choose a pattern and color combination that's right for you--either a subtle accent or a bold, major statement and get it up on the wall without making a mess. 

Stencil 101 Decorcover

My first question to Ed was:  How do you pick what you're going to put on the wall?  (Seemed like a good place to start!)  He told me it's basically about how much or how little pattern is going to fit into your lifestyle.  "How much can you live with and how much do you want to come home to every day?"  There a couple of basic things that tip the scales in the bold direction:  large, over-scale patterns and high contrast.  This black and white houndstooth is the perfect example of BOLD.  But be careful!  Too much of a good thing isn't always wise.  "Putting a pattern like this on every wall in every room could feel like a madhouse!"

Hexagon stencil pattern 

If you're not feeling quite so graphic and high impact, you can tone it down some.  Smaller elements (the individual shape that gets repeated over and over again) are generally more subtle than bigger ones.  Also, making the colors of the foreground and background less contrasting is a big step, like with this pretty and low-key wall.  "With a more tone-on-tone technique like this, you're allowing people to see the rest of your stuff more, rather than the main focus being on the wall."  I love the way this looks like mod wallpaper, but it's not hitting you over the head.

Ace Hotel and EdRoth

Ed gets to work on some really high-end projects, like this one at the ultra-hip Ace Hotel in New York, where he created a really interesting look using different finishes together--in this case, matte charcoal gray walls and a high-gloss pattern of birds-on-wires.  Okay, you might not want black walls (or maybe you do), but the technique could work with any color.  "The pattern catches your eye when you move through the room, when light is hitting the wall.  It's really very tasteful, and something I've wanted to do for some time."

So how to you apply stencils without making a mess?  Practice.  For a complete, start-to finish video on how Ed makes the magic happen, go to his website.  The basic idea is that you should practice everything on scrap cardboard until you have the right feel for the brush or roller and the way the paint handles--how much you put on the roller or brush matters a lot--and the intricacies of the stencil pattern.  Start with a simple shape and simple repeat.  Once you've got your patterns and colors picked out, and you've done a few practice runs, you're ready to go!  Have fun--and don't make your home a madhouse!

June 25, 2010

Darryl Carter: Tips On Picking Color Like A Design Pro

By the time we sat down to film the second interview, I felt like I was simply talking with an old friend who happens share my belief that design illuminates space.  Darryl Carter is very forthcoming about what works and what doesn't work in these short videos.  You'll be flipping rugs and looking for antique corbels once you hear his thoughts.
I took our conversation to heart.  Even as a designer, I struggled with the idea of "ruining" my dining table with signs of wear and tear.  My talk with Darryl and his book The New Traditional made me remember that imperfections are really what make for character. 
Over the weekend I smiled to myself as I saw a big group of our friends crowded around the dining table telling stories.  Change isn't easy, but often, it's worth it.  I didn't use a tablecloth or place settings, but I have to admit, I did put out coasters.  One step at a time, I suppose...
In what quirky ways do you design or find color for a space?

June 23, 2010

Darryl Carter: Demystifies Design For All

So many people think working with an interior designer is only about deep pockets, high brow ideas, and feeling like you live in a museum.  This may change your mind. 
Of course, interior designer Darryl Carter is no stranger to exclusive clients, impressive projects, and recognition for his great design work.  But have even one conversation with him and you'll find he is also a gracious host who doesn't use coasters, that he values friendships, and that has a smart sense of humor about...pretty much everything.   
Earlier this year, I shared my opinion about his book, The New Traditional and recently, he and I sat down to talk about the designer secrets and discoveries he reveals in its pages.  Not only did he share his thoughts, he literally shared his home with us.  It was such a treat to talk with Darryl and see how his life reflects his ideas on refined yet relaxed design.

Check back in on Friday as I post more videos from Darryl Carter's home.

June 21, 2010

iPhone and iPad Apps for Color Lovers

When the new iPhone came out (yes, I really, really want one), I started thinking about all the great Apps you can get for Apple devices.  Of course, I use Ben Color Capture constantly to try out new palettes, match colors or keep a record of pairings I like. And with its large screen (about 9.5" x 7.5") I covet the iPad for running programs that let you draw, paint, or even look at beautiful photographs in high resolution.  After looking at many, I've picked three of my favorites--they help get me inspired, give me fresh ideas, and get me excited about my next project!

Brushes App for iPhone

$4.99 iPhone  |  $7.99 iPad

Brushes is a fun powerful take on finger painting, with much, much more grown-up results!  Its developer, Steve Sprang, even created several New Yorker covers using this program (and on an iPhone--I can't wait to see what the guy will do with an iPad).  Basic controls let you pick your colors, textures, and styles.  The touch-sensitive screen turns your finger into a brush, and away you go.  You could even draw a room and figure out how you want it to look.  Eventually.  (Once you've mastered tic-tac-toe, you can move on to simple fruits.  Full-on rooms [and New Yorker covers] are further down the line . . . )

Color Splash App for iPhone

Color Splash
$1.99 iPhone  |  $1.99 iPad

The results you can get with Color Splash are really artistic.  First, you take a color photo (one of your own that you’ve imported) or one of theirs.  Then you de-saturate it (a fancy term for turning it into a black and white image).  Once that's done, you use your finger to "paint" in the areas you want brought back "to life", resulting in bits of color that really jump out at you.  It's a great way to see the impact just a little--or a whole lot--of color can have.  (You'll see for yourself the valuable lesson that less really is often more!)

Dream Home HD for iPhone

Dream Home HD
$1.99 iPhone  |  $0.99 iPad

Magazine hoarders and design fanatics alike are going to flip for this.  And all for 99 cents?!  The folks who created Dream Home for the iPad collected dozens of interiors shots from various magazines (plus they add more weekly), then catalogued them by Room Type, Style, and Color.  You can pass hours browsing through the selections, and file your favorites for later viewing.  Get inspiration and ideas for a new kitchen or bedroom--or even start planning your personal dream home make-over.  It's like tearing your favorite pics out of lots of mags--but without the mess.

I'd love to hear if you use an iPad and have a favorite App that really inspires you.  (Or even an iPhone or iPod Touch--there are really great ones that work for those, too).