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5 posts from December 2010

December 24, 2010

Gift Wrap Color Inspiration For Your Home

This holiday season, before you recycle all the piles of giftwrap, let's do a little color therapy.  Wrapping paper can be a great source for color and design inspiration.  A quick trip to your local stationary store may reveal even more hidden colorful treasures.

Here are some of my favorite gift wraps of the season.  I love that each is original and beautiful.  I even look at stationary throughout the year for both inspiration and to use as artwork.  A little wrapping paper in a beautiful frame can quickly become a work of art.  Keep in mind, many of these papers cost under $5 a sheet!

Paper source indian paper

A Peacock Fine Paper from Paper Source: I went to Paper Source recently and was mesmerized by this handpainted paper.  It's great for a special gift or to use as a part of custom cards, too.

Indian color combination

Purple lotus is an almost undetectable color in the details of this paper, but bringing it out anchors the whole arrangement of color. 

Enna snowflakes paper 

"Snowflakes" by Enna (Etsy):  This wrapping paper reveals more than the typical snowflake upon closer inspection.

Snowflake color inspiration

This combination of colors is contemporary but reminds me of mid 20th century style with the crisp Waterfall.  Wouldn't that color be dreamy on a ceiling?

Kates paperie 5 ornaments

Festive Ornaments by Kate's Paperie:  This paper really combines an unlikely cast of colors.  It's rich and fall-delicious

Ornament color inspiration 

I pulled out the most pronounced color (Twilight Magenta) and supported it with a contrasting couple including Caponata and Mosaic Glass.  Caponata is actually a deep, deep plum echoing the plum undertones of the Twilight Magenta.

Oscarandollie handblocked color

Hand Painted Paper (Etsy) by Oscar and Ollie is hand blocked and uses kraft paper as the ground.  I like it's simplicity and linear design.

Gift wrap color inspiration red green 

A fresh take on the tradition of red and green, Medici Malachite and Vibrant Blush play like jewels against the serious neutrality of Kangaroo.  I woud wrap an entire room in one of the bold colors, use neutral furnishings, and have loads of flowers and accessories incorporating all the colors.

What inspiration will you find in your piles of gift wrap this season?

December 20, 2010

Quick Makeover For a Guest Bath

Getting ready for the holidays usually means there's a lot of running around every day!  We all get caught up in trying to get everything done, of course.  Well, if company's coming and you want to perk up your home with just one small design project, try something like this.  Add a touch of color, shimmer, and pattern to a powder room or guest bath to surprise your guests this holiday.

A neutral wall in a bathroom needs just a touch of color to bring in some personality.  Here, layering the metallic pearlescent Icy Mist PT-280 in a stripe and then in a stencil pattern over a base of Weimeraner AF-155 does the trick.

 Bathroom Before

While Benjamin Moore Aura Bath & Spa in Weimeraner AF-155 is lovely, a touch of color and customization is missing here.

Bathroom Stripe Prep 

Step 1:  Measure, level, and tape off two sides of a stripe.

Bathroom stripe 

Step 2:  Using any faux technique you prefer (sponge, rake, stipple, etc) or just a simple brushstroke, use a pearlescent glaze like Studio Finishes Pearlescent Metallic in Icy Mist PT-280

Stencil prep 

Step 3:  Using a gorgeous little stencil (this one is from Royal Design Studio) of your choice, tape it to overlap the stripe at the edge


Step 4: Use a stencil brush to apply a touch of Icy Mist to the stencil and remove, reposition, and repeat to create a random pattern of the stencils.  The only consistency is that they all stem from the stripe.  Get creative, turn the stencil upside down or "backwards".


Here, there's just one color used throughout, but it would render a totally different look if you overlap a combination of colors using the stencil

Tip:  The metallic is a pearlescent tint glaze.  This means it's translucent, not opaque.  The color underneath may come through a bit so it's perfect for a faux effect.  In this case, the tool of choice was a regular paint brush.  If you choose to create a stripe using pearlesent glaze like this, try and make sure your brush and your stripe are the same width.  If you want a 2" stripe, get a 2"brush so you can simply brush in one continuous motion and minimize the overlapping brush marks.

In a matter of an hour or so, you can have a great and customized look in a space.  Consider this type of a project for many types of "public areas" in your home like a hallway or foyer to add some fun this holiday.

December 13, 2010

Expert Of The Week, Alena Capra: Beat the Winter Blues With These Cool Hues

Alena Capra is our Expert of The Week.  She hails from the North, but lives and works in South Florida designing one beautiful space after another through her firm, Alena Capra Designs.  Alena's focuses We asked her how to use cool toned colors in a way that beats the Winter Blues.  Here's what she had to say:

Capra Alena 

Alena Capra

As the weather gets colder, the scenery around us begins to get a bit grey...a little less vibrant than the rich outdoor colors of fall, spring, and summer.  Although I live in South Florida, and we actually don't experience any change of season, I AM a native New Yorker, so I can relate! I've always liked having  bright, fun colors somewhere in my home to keep that feeling year round.  

So, I thought I would share with you a recent 'cabana' I designed to illustrate how to use  beautiful shades of Benjamin Moore blues and greens..to bring a little bit of vibrant, fun colors to a space to warm up your day.  Let's leave winter behind for a minute, and beat those winter blues with a little tropical punch!

"Tequila and Lime on Ice, under Blue Skies..."
Imagine yourself on a tropical beach, sipping a nice cold drink, palm trees swaying in the breeze..ahh...makes you forget it's cold outside already, right?  Well let's keep that image in mind as we choose our colors.
When beginning to choose a color palette, I often like to find a fun fabric that incorporates several beautiful colors to serve as my inspiration. The printed pillows pictured below were my starting point to build a palette of cool blues, vibrant greens, and a crisp white. I used my Benjamin Moore fan-deck to select matching colors to this fabric. The colors I decided on were:
The colors create a bright, fun space... I use them to help select other accessories and items I place in the space as well. Now it's time to add a little color to the walls...let the painting begin!
"Prime Time..."
I had the primer for the "Baby Boy Blue", (the main wall color)  tinted to be just a shade lighter than the actual paint, to ensure the best coverage and color saturation of the paint. Then, I decided to do some color blocks, alternating with large areas of blue (Baby Boy Blue) and white (Ice Mist), to add a little interest.
I separated the colors with a 1" piece of wood trim, which is painted in a metallic silver. I like the addition of a metallic hue in a room, to add a little sparkle and shine!  The trim is also a nice way to add a little dimension to the wall, as well as to cover any paint lines that are not perfect!
Now that I had the blue and white walls done, I then found some tropical wall art and a natural woven jute rug that both incorporated versions of "Tequila Lime" to pull the color through the space.  Adding in accessories with these colors in mind helped to bring punches of vibrant color everywhere. I kept all of the furnishings a simple white..to really pop against the blue walls, lime green woven rug, and colorful accent pillows.
"Spice it up..."
So, now the room is painted... and the accessories, furniture and art are selected...we're just about done, right?  Well, sometimes you just need to spice things up a little.  The white color blocks on the wall seemed a bit plain. All of the fun tropical art really works well against the blue walls....but the white walls...they needed some depth.  I found some great wall appliques from Architexture, that  can be painted any color, and quickly and easily applied to the wall! I chose a fun pattern that played off the printed pillow fabric. They were painted the same shade of "Baby Boy Blue" and put up on the white walls.  Problem solved!  The best part is, it looks like something that took hours to paint, when it was simply painted and applied in just minutes.  Truly, a great find!
"A Relaxing Retreat..."
Now the room is all finished....we have a cool cabana where you can relax and let all your troubles drift away.  The bright hues used really help create a relaxing environment, with just enough of a punch of color to warm up any day!
Winter Blues 1 
All photos courtesy Alena Capra Designs
 What colors would you use to create a vibrant sense of calm to balance the cold chills of winter?

December 06, 2010

Inspiration from Scandinavian Design


We often think of Scandinavian design in the very modern, IKEA-defined sense--all clean lines, blond wood, and white walls.  But there's actually a world of beautiful color at work in these cold climates.  People spend a lot of time indoors and have come up with ways to delight the eye and make their interiors (and sometimes exteriors) come to life.  Lars Bolander's new book, Scandinavian Design, written by Heather Smith MacIsaac, takes an inspired look at homes in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, expertly defining the major themes and palettes that make this region's design so enticing.  Lots of ideas for both interior and exterior paint, too! 


Pure White OC-64, Alabaster OC-129, Paper White OC-55

Sure, there is pale wood, much of it painted in pale hues.  It's a way to make the most of available daylight and also reflect candlelight in the evening.  "In Sweden, there's the influence of Gustav III and Versailles--elegant and light.  Soft dove grey and faint yellow.  Just to keep the rooms bright--bouncing light around, even at night," says MacIsaac.  "And 'paint it white' is a definite trick.  But 'paint it gray' is also a nice departure--slightly more interesting and unexpected.  Sweden, especially, has a palette of beautiful grays.  You have to keep the gray pretty pale."


Classic Burgundy Ext Rm

"Norway has this tradition of folk painting--they have such a raw environment, such a rough Winter--it's really rugged.  The palette--the blues, reds, and yellows--have trickled down from folk pieces.  A cobalt blue, golden yellow, and red.  These are all biproducts of copper mining that made their way into everyday colors.  They have to preserve the wood and a lot of these paints have protective qualities."


Rumba Orange 2014-20

"Painted furniture--there is so much of it in these countries because they weren't always starting with fine woods, and pieces were often mismatched.  It's really a nice look.  It really does change the formality of furniture pieces--it makes them much friendlier.  Especially something like a whole suite of furniture--it's a way to make it younger and fresher."


"The colors of old . . . they're colors, but they're greyed down.  Even though they want to bounce the light around, they really rarely use gloss paint--more matte and pearl.  The gloss is too hard, and this maintains a softness.  Gloss is less forgiving for uneven surfaces, too.  Whereas France is more fancy--and often uses shiny finishes--a matte finish is more humble."


Summer Blue 2067-50

"You can have a quiet color interior but still have great color surprises in store."  While you won't necessarily find a riot of color in Scandinavian homes, there are often little moments like this tucked into cabinets, closets, ceilings, etc.


"The Scandinavians never try to compete with nature.  You're not going to be distracted from the beauty of the outdoors.  It's more of a quiet space.  It's not about turning your back to the outside."


Definitely pick up a copy of this wonderful book and get inspired to try out some of the paint palettes you see inside.  Bet you'll learn to appreciate color in a whole new way!


December 02, 2010

Interior Design Hall Of Fame Event

What a night-- 1100 amazing architects, interior designers, and patrons of the industry gathered at the historic ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC tonight to celebrate the 26th annual Interior Design Magazine Hall Of Fame Inductees.  Editor in chief of Interior Design magazine, Cindy Allen, assembled a line up of recipients who are inspiring, well-deserved, and filled with vision into our future in design!

The ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC

Mistress Of Ceremonies, Cindy Allen, kept the room buzzing

Cocktail Hour

The new inductees-- Neil Denari, Karim Rashid, Shigeru Ban, and Paige Rense Noland-- were eloquent, funny, and spoke with sincerity.  Here are some highlights and photos:

Hall of fame designers 
Image via Interior Design Magazine

Neil Denari shared with us that he announced his plan to be an architect to his 3rd grade class.  He is an architect, interior designer, educator, and author.  His work is organic and functional.  He spoke of creating structures that can contain the spirit of spaces, which I thought was a beautiful analogy.


Neil Denari via NMDA

Highline 23 1
Highline 23 in NYC

Endeavor 1
Endeavor Screening Room

Karim Rashid wore pink tonight and claims that he has requested pink in his wardrobe since childhood.  Interestingly, they had a photo showing Karim as a young boy wearing what else but a pink plaid jacket and shorts-- now that's color conviction.

We know Karim has designed over 3000 products and 50 interior projects, but did you know that it took him ten years to actually get an interiors job and that he has lost projects from the likes of M.A.C. cosmetics?  He said it so proudly and reminded us all that sometimes you have to lose so you can appreciate a win.  He also reminded everyone that design is in everything, every place, every experience.

Karim Rashid 

Karim Rashid accepting the award


Snap chair feek karim rashid

Snap Chair by Karim Rashid for Feek


Bobble Water Bottle Karim Rashid 

Bobble Water Bottle to filter tap water

Karim rashid restaurant 1

Karim rashid hotel

Karim rashid restaurant 2

All Karim Rashid images via Karim Rashid

Shigeru Ban is a giving man who happens to be an architect.  He spoke tonight of our responsibility as design professionals to give back and help those in need and not just those with big budgets.  His message was profound.  He has worked on many projects around the world using unique materials and ideas.  One of his current projects is in L'aquila, Italy, a town that is centered around music, but was devastated by an earthquake in 2009.  Shigeru Ban is working to create a temporary conert hall and part of tonight's proceeds will befefit this project.

Shigeru Ban

Shigeru Ban accepting his award
Laquila Italy Concert Hall Shigaru Ban

Rendering of temporary concert hall in L'aquila, Italy


Centre Pompidou Metz Shigaru Ban 
Centre Pompidou-Metz

Tokyo House Shigaru Ban 
Tokyo House overlooking park

Paige Rense was a powerhouse behind Architectural Digest from 1975-2010.  She is ever-quick witted, bold, and courageous as she was in her pioneering days behind the extraordinary shift and development of the magazine.  We saw Paige's video and received a glimpse of her strength, but it's ironic that she was had to leave the event due to illness.  Robert A.M. Stern was there to accept the award on her behalf.  In the video, Paige talked about her intimidating beginnings as editor at Arch Digest.  She said she set her goal at bringing in one great design professional to the publication, with the belief that others would follow.  Her message was to create manageable goals and to focus on what is in front of you.  Once you accomplish it, go on to the next goal... Simple and profound.

Paige Rense 
Paige speaks freely about her journeys in design and the love of her life, the late Kenneth Noland

Arch Digest 1979 
Architectural Digest 1979

Arch Digest 1981 
Architectural Digest 1981

Arch digest 2008 
Architectural Digest 2008

Overall, an inspiring night that held a captive audience of 1100 design professionals, including me.  Check out all the Hall of Fame inductees over the years here.  Who's your favorite?