Today was D-Day for my client: the arrival of furnishings and furniture for the living room. The rug padding and area rugs cover the wood floor. The sofas, chairs, ottomans and cocktail tables follow, and, voila!, the bones of the room are in place. I’ll be returning in a few days for the placement of lamps and accessories, and we’ll discuss some artwork suggestions for the walls. But for now my client and I are reveling in the joy of seeing the room beginning to take shape.
As I measure my clients living room, I’m filled with the sense of excitement that accompanies starting a new project. I’m also taking the measure of the design possibilities. The bountiful natural light, tall ceilings, generous glass area, including six French windows opening onto a terrace with ornamental balustrade, get my design juices flowing. First thoughts: remove the sheers on the upper windows, remove the appliqués on the crown molding, use one paint color for both the walls and trim, and rework the onyx fireplace with an overmantel piece. Much more to come…
It’s fun to take a substantially sized space and give it a warm, comfortable ambience. While not losing any drama or grandeur, the room gains a livable grace.
A year ago I posted about an exciting new job in Galveston, Texas, reuniting me with clients (husband and wife surgeons) I worked with 15 years ago. Since my first visit, they’ve learned how difficult it can be to renovate a historically registered home. A leaky roof had to be restored to the original specs, involving much work and not inconsiderable time and expense. This was further complicated by storms which affected the construction timetable. The work has now been completed and I’ve started the design process in earnest. I just returned from a second trip, where I fell in love all over again with the multitude of gorgeous details in the home—the stained glass, Baccarat chandeliers and Zuber wallpaper—as well as my clients intriguing art collection. The paintings are all twentieth-century American, mostly abstract, with a few eye-catching portraits. Having so much evocative art will be an important design influence, and one of my jobs will be to make sure the art and the design elevate and enhance each other. See my post about designing the home of noted abstract painter Regina Bogat, to further explore how interior design can showcase a modern art collection.
“Whimsical” is Cole & Son’s brilliant new wallpaper collection inspired by classic children’s stories. I think the designs are appropriate for more than just children’s rooms. In the right bedroom a few of the soothing, dreamlike patterns could work well. I always try to use impactful paper in powder rooms, and these imaginative designs are perfect. The charming whimsy of the “Whimsical” collection puts a smile on my face, and I’m sure I’ll find clients this year who’ll agree.
Here I am, submerged in a sea of handmade rugs. The breadth of options can overwhelm, but armed with the palette of fabrics and colors I’m using, like a good detective I search relentlessly for the perfect solution. After exploring a mountain of choices, often in multiple showrooms, I track down the rug that fits the scheme. It might be an Oushak, Sarouk, Tabriz or Peshawar, from Turkey, Spain, Pakistan or Tibet. Finding the correct size in stock is important, because custom sizes can take many months.
I spend a lot of time and effort on rug searches because they set the table for the design. Few single elements are as instrumental. Beautiful rugs are works of art, and occasionally they become the inspiration for an entire scheme. So it’s important to get this design challenge right.
I’m laying the groundwork for a family reunion next year in France, and I think I’ve found the destination. The Château de la Flocellière is located in the Vendée, near the Loire Valley, on the western edge of France. You can rent individual rooms at quite reasonable rates, but for our reunion, I think I’d choose one of the finished outbuildings, with their own kitchen, dining room and 5 or 6 bedrooms. The castle has been in the family for almost a thousand years, but since the Vendée was a hotbed of royalist sentiment, it was largely destroyed and abandoned during the Revolution. The heir, Viscount Vignial, visited the decaying ruins in 1978 and decided to buy and refurbish the property. His daughter has since converted it into a bed and breakfast. As you can see the result is a dazzling mix of authentic historic charm and modern convenience: classic, timeless, tastefully opulent.
Now I just have to convince my sister that it would make a perfect backdrop for a gathering of four generations of our family!
Just started work on a lovely apartment in a Montclair building constructed in 1901. The large windows bring bounteous light and offer an unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline. There are charming details like the stained glass above the entry to the living room, but the tall ceilings, traditional details and that knockout view make it special. Now that I’ve measured I will begin imagining the design, partnering with my sophisticated, knowledgeable clients.
Plans have been approved, orders have been placed, and it’s time for the design to start taking shape. The family room, featuring an octagonally shaped cove ceiling, is being painted in a high gloss color to reflect the recessed light around the open molding. The result will provide a welcoming glow for family gatherings.
The scratched and faded wood floors are being refinished throughout the house. Here, we’re deciding on the stain for the dining room. Every home is different, so we have to see how several stains look in the space. We chose the option with less of a red tint because the existing floor already has a reddish tint. As time goes on the red would become even more prominent. The process of refinishing is intensive—sanding, cleaning, resanding, staining, with 3 coats of oil finish varnish.
Next we install the carpets and window treatments…
It’s pool time in the Northeast, a client is thinking of installing one, so I was checking out some options when I came upon these photos. Not impressed by the décor but very impressed by the pools themselves. For underwater ballet you can’t beat the see-through version. Infinity pools are common these days, but the other two pictures are interesting variations. One is fitted to an elevated space like a tailored suit, while the other unites the pool with the surround seamlessly, imparting a restful, Zen-like ambience.
My client’s daughter’s room is starting to take shape. What had been a fairly dark, sad room is now upbeat, with bright blue walls, a soft white carpet and gleaming white ceiling. The bed frame is in, and when the bedding and lighting arrive, it will be a lively, cheerful place for a teen to hang out.