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5 posts from January 2011

January 21, 2011

Learn from an Expert: Lili Diallo


Lili Diallo is definitely someone you'd want to invite over for decorating advice.  As an interior stylist, it's her job to make spaces look their absolute best for photo shoots, and her work has appeared in Domino, Real Simple, Town & Country, Glamour, and Everyday with Rachael Ray, as well as on several popular websites (including Apartment Therapy).  She also lends her eye to private clients, helping them find their "design story" by focusing on colors, textures, and objects that make them feel at home.  For Lili, it’s all in the details, and she believes small changes can have a big impact. In her new book, appropriately named Details, she shows off a few of her most stunning projects and lets us in on what it took to create these incredible rooms.



This is a corner in Lili's loft in Dumbo, a neighborhood in Brooklyn.  Most of the place is white, with unpainted concrete floors, but Lili didn’t want it to feel cold and industrial.  "I love white, but you can feel a little bit lost, a little bit floaty, if everything is white."  She wanted to have one wall that was dark and earthy, which she says is grounding.  "The decorations were built around the color, to compliment it."  She found the orange U, for instance, at an antiques store nearby, and assembled objects that worked with each other and the chocolate color.  "Brown is a good color to bridge all these brightly colored objects that I have."



Although this incredible Italianate apartment in the West Village in New York City is pale, the subtle color does a lot for the room that might not be, at first glance, obvious.  "It's so much more enveloping when you have a color.  It makes everything feel more intimate.  The ceilings are so high that it would be easy to feel lost in the space.  Also, the moldings are so beautiful that they needed to show."  Lili says the pale gray with white ceiling and trim makes the space look tailored and chic, highlighting the details.  "The owner is a minimalist, so the color fills the room, makes it more dense." 



This house is in Upstate New York, and was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of the World Trade Center.  Although it’s in the woods, it's no log cabin--there are few walls and a lot of glass.  The owner wanted a palette that was an interpretation of the Hudson River School of paining, so she custom-mixed various shades of green, yellow, and brown throughout the house.  The couple also had a lot of keepsakes from their travels, primarily furniture pieces from India and Africa.  "The challenge was to make their belongings feel natural in this contemporary environment."  Neutrals such as this creamy white are the perfect choice for this situation.  "More saturated hues like blues and reds don't change so much. These colors change a lot with the light throughout the day."



For the book's cover, Lili chose the home of her photographer for the project.  The apartment is bright and open, and this bold wall has a pocket door that moves and can separate the living room from the dining and kitchen area.  The color is an reference to Yves Klein Blue (also known as International Klein Blue), made famous by the post-war French painter, who often exhibited nothing but giant canvases painted this color.  "The rest of the room is pale and very Nordic color-wise, and could get a little cold. So it's really nice here.  And instead of clashing, the sofa matches the ferocity of the wall!"

For Lili, every color has an energy: blue is serene and expansive, red is vital and warming, gray is elegant and chic, and yellow is social and charming.  "Color enhances, refreshes, and often completely reconfigures a home's DNA."  For more ideas on how you can use color (plus tips how to use texture and objects) in your home, you can find Lili's book here http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780307591517.

January 14, 2011

George Oliphant and Benjamin Moore Give Design Solutions To Those In Need

George oliphant lx tv george to rescue

Can you imagine your job involving design, helping deserving people, and having your own show to spread the word on your work? 

Meet George Oliphant...He's the namesake of the show George To The Rescue!  An Emmy Award winner, George is full of energy and excitement and has a great job with NBC.  His show, George To The Rescue, started out in New York, but is getting picked up by several NBC stations across the map. 

George and his crew receive thousands of requests from deserving people in need of design.  I had a little time to talk with George about one of his projects on site in Chicago.  It's just one example of how George and the show are literally changing people's lives.

This family has three special needs kids who were sharing one cramped room.  Working with a fun, efficient, and fabulous team, George renovates a garage into a sensory room and sleeping space for two autistic brothers and gives the third brother, a cancer survivor, a room of his own.  And on a personal note, we filmed this on a special day.  It was George's wedding anniversary and he was miles away working on this house.  I asked him if that was hard and he said it's challenging sometimes, but helping those in need is always worth it in the end.

Catch a glimpse into how George makes it all happen here.

If you're wondering what paint George used, it's Natura by Benjamin Moore-- the zero VOC paint that is zero VOC in any color.  Cleaning out our environments and starting fresh is great, and using environmentally responsible options to create beautiful and functional spaces is even better!  George was already using Benjamin Moore and when we found out about it, we struck up a great relationship with the team!

Besides George To the Rescue, George also has a segment on LX TV's (NBC in New York) Open House.  If you're in the area, tune in to George on Sundays at 8:30am, EST. 

This Sunday, George and Carl (from Benjamin Moore) will showcase a young couple's New York City apartment.  I picked the nature and sea inspired palette to help give the space youthful and energized personality that compliments how the homeowners live.  Let me know what you think!


Write to [email protected] if you want George to come rescue you or someone you love!

Learn more about LX TV"s Open House

January 10, 2011

Lessons on Design from an Expert: Vicente Wolf


Interior Designer Vicente Wolf's new book, Lifting The Curtain On Design, takes us behind the scenes and lets us in on the creative process of a master of his craft.  More than simply a lovely coffee table book of beautiful photographs (all shot by Wolf, by the way) it goes deeper, revealing what goes in to creating these wonderful spaces.  "It takes you from presenting to the client, shows what the space looked like originally, how it got demolished, how it was built up--plus renderings, fabrics, paint--the whole thing.  People just see pretty pictures in magazines, but don't have a clear idea of what it took to get there, and that's what I tried to put across in the book."  We talked with Wolf and asked him to take us through several of the rooms, giving us his insights on how to work with space, color, and accessories.



This pale bedroom with a sitting area is painted Patriotic White.  "It's a very mercurial color--on a bright summer day, the walls become almost white.  As it gets darker, they pick up more and more color.  The majority of colors I use are that way."

Wolf brings in elements to break up the perfection, what he calls the "decorative quality" of the space.  Things that make it look like something has happened, that it wasn’t all done at the same time.  Things that have been gathered over time.  "The floor has an insert in the middle with a border of a darker color.  The first impression is that it’s all one color, but the more you look at it, the contrast of colors begin to give it a depth.  The wood pieces bring warmth and earthiness to a room that’s otherwise very ethereal."

Wolf travels a lot, and likes to include pieces from his journeys.  The cube is Chinese, the table on the other side is Burmese.  The butterfly paintings are Chinese.



This bedroom is actually part of a large space, so the bed is tufted so that with the linens removed it acts as a seating area for entertaining.  "There's a lot of color here--the walls are a yellowish green tone, with teal and lime green.  It draws your eye to the window--a great view of a park in New York City.  The bed frame delineates the sleeping area within the big room.  The mirror reflects the window light, increasing the width of the space visually."

Again, Wolf has added elements from his travels--an African stool, figures from Burma (in the window), a Chinese table.  The rest of the room is done in the blue of the pillows, so this is an interesting area chromatically as well.



"Most people think that all I do are white spaces!"  In this guest bedroom, one of several, each one with a different emotion, he painted the back wall in a coral color (the rest of the room is white).  "The color threw off such a cast, it gave you the perception that the whole room was that color."  He paired it with neutrals--a paper sisal rug, the white Panton chair, the linens--materials that brought down the intensity of the back wall--the photographs, the inlaid Indian desk, even the flowers--so it's not all about the background color.



Here we have a women's lounge at the Liberty National Country Club.  "I wanted the occupants to have a sense of almost being inside a jewel box.  Gold leaf on the backs of the bookcases provide a sheen and give it depth."

He worked with a range of tones--the sofas are a darker version of the wall color.  "It has an engulfing quality to it."  Wolf added white Chinese porcelain, some Jonathan Adler pottery, and covered all the books in white.

"There's a lot of elegance.  You feel that sense of being in a separate world.  The majority of people at the country club are men, so I wanted the women to feel as if they were in their own environment.  It's feminine, but it's not overly sweet." 

Know a decorating enthusiast or someone working on remodeling his or her space?  This excellent book would make a really thoughtful gift.

link to book:

January 05, 2011

Color Combinations for 2011

Envision color benjamin moore color of year 2011

Vintage Wine may be Benjamin Moore's 2011 color of the year, but there are many other combinations that tell the story of balance as we look ahead, too.  Remember that 2011 is all about balance- work/play, nostalgia/future state, new purpose/old materials. 

Check out these color combinations for 2011 and find one that works for you.

Grape Green 

Perfect to usher in spring with touches of violet and a grounding gray.  Gray is very important in context with other colors.  This gray is a rich midtone and balances the seemingly soft palette with the outspoken Grape Green well. 

 Royal flush

Sheen and glaze is fast becoming a statement of personalization.  Adding Icy Mist PT-280, a metallic glaze, over Smoke creates an ethereal effect that is grounded by a traditional Kendall Charcoal.  The Royal Flush creates a unique color story that finds it’s true origins (Red with Jade) in ancient Asian cultures.

 Casco bay

This combination is one that incorporates sophistication into whimsy.  The jewel tones are reminiscent of fashion from decades past, but the saturation is more intense and the fresh Paper Mache creates the right backdrop for the bold hues.


Aged Bronze is a nod to the military olives we’re seeing often in 2011.  It’s alongside the very peaceful Lucerne and Gray Mirage.  Together this combination offers ironic context and an interesting color play.

See more from Benjamin Moore's color trends, Envision Color 2011, here.

January 03, 2011

Benjamin Moore Color Trends in 2011 For Your Home

New Year, New You, Right?  When it comes to the home, we sometimes feel the same way, but it's not always possible to load up our favorites (the kids, the fish, the dog, maybe the lover and a few pieces of art) and move.  So, what is a girl to do?  Focus.  Focus on what is good, edit what is not so great, and live in a way that makes you not only smile, but laugh out loud. 

We all know we feel better in a home that exudes our personality, incorporating every aspect of our style.  And guess what-- no one is perfect.  I know I'm sometimes wearing my 4" heels, my hair's done, my toddler's toys are organized, and the house smells like freshly cooked aebelskivers.  But, let's be honest.  There are times when the closets have somehow exploded, I'm looking for my other Ugg, my curls are unruly, and I wonder how much longer my toddler can scream.  Life is simply about creating balance and, luckily, THAT is what 2011 trends embrace, too. 

Balance is a great design and color goal to have, actually.  We try to prioritize everyday tasks so we're getting in both work and play.  We want all the advances of technology but don't want to sacrifice the environment for the progress.  We want beauty in every aspect of life, but only if it's real.  All these sensibilities play into the color collection for 2011 from Benjamin Moore.

Color of 2011 purple 1 
Vintage Wine 2116-20 with Wasabi AF-430 in an entry

Benjamin Moore's color of the year is called Vintage Wine 2116-20.  It's a color that's luxurious and comfortable at the same time.  Violet has always been a color linked to royalty because it was so hard to get the dye (Dye for violet was created by crushing mollusks and not everyone could get their hands on thousands of these little treasures).  That reputation followed as violet was used rather exclusively for royal garb and the robes of religious leaders (throughout European History, churches and kings seemed to have all the loot, somehow).  Vintage Wine has a layer of a rich brown which is culturally a color of comfort and familiarity.  Think of things that give us a sense of relaxation like nature (soil/wood), chocolate, a warm cup of chai/coffee... you get the idea.

When the two sensations come together, we have Vintage Wine to represent the idea of balance.

Etruscan vintage wine color benjamin moore 2011 
Color combo 1 

If you're looking for a few different color ideas on how to create balance in your home through color, Benjamin Moore offers several other choices, too.  Check back in for some other combinations throughout the next week.

More about color trends for 2011:

Elle Decor, Columbus Dispatch, Sensational Color, The Happy Home Workshop