27 posts categorized "books"

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 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:

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!


November 11, 2010

Happy Chic: New Books from Jonathan Adler


The prolific and unflappably upbeat Jonathan Adler has just published two books on Happy Chic, his guides to using Colors and Accessories to perk up, add punch to, and positive-ize your decor--and your lifestyle.  The official book launch coincided with the unveiling of his newly re-vamped (and enlarged) store on Madison Avenue in New York.  Of course, the books, like the store, are filled with colorful moments together with a wealth of useful information presented in a fun and friendly way.


Even the guests at the book launch blended well with the new decor.  The hostesses for the party (left to right): Starrett Zenko, Celerie Kemble, and Rita Konig.  At right, colorful Jonathan Adler employee Ben Brougham, who helped decorate the man cave with its gingham and animal theme.   

J. A. tip: "Every room needs a dash of Hippie . . . and a dollop of Socialite."


Need a little something to perk up the bedroom?  How about these sheets in watermelon waves or a pink armchair with an embroidered banana pillow.  As you can see, there isn't a timid moment to be found in the shop.  It's totally infectious, too.  You feel happy being there.

J.A. tip: "Pure pink is too cloying; a hint of gray or lavender tempers the saccharine froth. Apply judiciously, lest you risk a slap-happy sugar rush . . ."


Afraid of using pattern?  Clearly, Adler has mastered the art of mixing and layering.  At left, a dining arrangement with no less than five patterns.  And it totally works!  The living room area on the right has three different scales of trellis pattern on the rug, couch and throw, topped by a bunch of contrasting pillows.

J.A. tip: "Mod up your sofa, bed, shelf, or window seat with color and pattern via granny-gone-wild needlepoint pillows."


Two takes on color.  At left: Another living area has a riot of blues on the couch, with a warm wood coffee table, variations of white vases, and red flowers.  So it's ultimately red, white, and blue--but here it looks so fresh and modern.  On the right is a dark and moody man cave, with tortoise shell lamps, ceramic animal horns, and a leather hippopotamus in the corner.  The shag rug and gingham-draped walls make the whole thing feel comfy and inviting.

Three Happy Color pairings:

Light Blue 2066-70, Mink 2112-10

Eccentric Lime 2027-30, Metallic Silver 2132-60

Outrageous Orange 2013-10, Old Navy 2063-10

J. A. tip: "Vanquish the vanilla. Bold colors will make you happy!"  It certainly works for him and his shop! 

J. A. tip: "I am a firm believer in neutrals to anchor bright pops of color; a neutral palette lets you go batty with hyperbolic hues and unapologetic pattern."


Packaging in the store is particularly nice.  Boxes and ribbons are bright and bold (plus they contain all sorts of goodies like animal ornaments or elephant salt and pepper shakers).  If you want to experience a little bit of the joy of color and pattern, visit one of Adler's stores or check him out online.  You can also get your own copies of the books on his site.

Jonathan Adler
1097 Madison Avenue (at 83rd Street)
New York, NY

link to book: http://www.jonathanadler.com/content.php?pageid=booktour

"Embrace chromatic exuberance through paint color, fabrics, pillows, and tchotchkes that are easily updated so your home can evolve happily and chicly with you."

October 27, 2010

Twitter Party With Debbie Wiener and Benjamin Moore

Is your home slobproof?  Debbie Wiener thinks every home should be livable and well designed at the same time.  I love that!  So, we're teaming up to talk color, design, and how to create beautiful spaces that make sense for everyday life on Thursday, October 28 at 3pm EST!

Check out Debbie's book with "real-life" design solutions.

Meet me and Debbie on Twitter on Thursday, October 28 at 3pm EST by following #benmooreslobproof.  We're taking on questions and ideas on color, design, and everyday dilemmas.  

Share your best and worst decor stories and tell us what you've learned along the way.  We're looking for you to tell us your favorite colors from Benjamin Moore and how you've used them, too!

RSVP so you can be included in the chance to win some great prizes like the House Beautiful 500 Favorite Paint Colors bookazine and Slobproof giveaways from Debbie!  All you have to do is "like" Debbie's Facebook Page and leave a comment with your Twitter handle to be eligible to win!