Window Dressing

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Without window treatments a room is unfinished. When the treatment works well, it adds dramatically to the look and feel of the design. The play of light and shadow on the color and texture of the panels helps define the style of the space, much as they define its outward boundaries.

From dress up swag to dress down sheer, the diversity of window treatment options is considerable. Here’s how I use this vital design element:

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The stationary vertical panels in the top photo, with a proper size rod and finials, are lined and interlined, the additional layers of fabric creating a plusher, richer look. At night the light reflecting against the gold and red colors make for a glittering display. The bottom photo features a traditional French look, an embroidered silk stripe alternating with a solid French blue.

 

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Roman shades are a treatment option that can be raised or lowered vertically, showcasing the fabric design, which always appears flat. It is a practical choice that affords privacy as well as the option of a complete blackout. Both of the pictures feature roman shades that define the style of the space, one rich and masculine, the other delicate and feminine.

 

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Sheers are vertical panels with varying degrees of opacity. They allow a delicate, dreamy glow to enter the room. Sometimes I use them purely decoratively, as in the bottom two photos, to distract the eye from large windows behind the bed.

 

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Swag panels work well in a traditional space, adding an elegant fullness and graceful symmetry to the design.

 

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Woven wood blinds come in many different shades and colors. I chose these to work with the hand embroidered stationary panels. The wood texture of the blinds and the intricate pattern of the panels go together hand in glove.

 

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A Great Setting for Reading or Chatting

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Four imposing club chairs that beg to be sat in make a strong statement in the library of a Tudor restoration I’m working on. The roman shades in an elegant paisley from Corragio and the muted reds and golds of the Oriental rug heighten the warmth of the refurbished wood paneling. The leather ottoman works as a cocktail table or footrest. The recessed lights and four sconces offer a variety of sources and intensity. The console with heavily carved barley twist legs provides a platform for books and accessories, as well as a base for the oil painting of a luminous town in the south of France. The room makes a great setting for that novel you’ve been meaning to read, or maybe that heart to heart chat you’ve been meaning to have.

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Will it Fly?

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We always find pieces at the High Point Furniture Market that bring a smile to our faces. In this case a chair with a bird’s wing design on the sides. The question is, will it fly?

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Mesmerizing Metal Flowers

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One of the joys of High Point is discovering new artists. This year I was floored by Tommy Mitchell’s metal sculptures, used as wall art, lighting, or accessories.

In the photo is a quadriptych, a four-sectioned design of flower petals against linen backgrounds. The effect is delicate, tactile and shimmering. The interplay of light on the copper, brass, and gold leaf kept me mesmerized.

The artist was an art restorer for twenty years, before turning his hand to metal sculpture, specializing in floral designs. You can see more of his work here.

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The Life and Work of Nathalie Trytell

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My daughter Nathalie suffered from Neurofibromatosis, a degenerative disease that took her life in 2011, at age 32. She was a brilliant artist and I’m thrilled that her work will appear as part of an exhibit in The Queens Museum being put together by another young woman suffering from NF2. More information can be found here.

 

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In Bed with Old Friends

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One of my mandatory stops at High Point is always Legacy Linen. I love the new blue and white design in the top photo, especially as presented with the orange accent pillow and the animal pattern fabric on the side panels. The other pic shows off a new embroidered pattern in oriental toile, which can be had in a variety of colors. All of Legacy’s bedding is beautifully made, elegantly designed, and the company is pleasure to deal with. For interior designers like me the furniture market is just as much about touching base with suppliers I have solid relationships with as it is finding new ones.

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Putting the Pieces Together

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I am a great admirer of the artistry of the cabinetmaker. The ability to create intricate designs out of wood, working to incredibly small tolerances to insure a perfect fit, is an art seemingly out of fashion in our technological age. Yet a quality cabinetmaker can do quite well, and I partner with just such a craftsman in my interior design studio. This year at High Point I was enthralled by the work displayed by the craftsman who produced the design above. Each piece of wood is separate, there are multiple species represented, including mahogany, ebony and walnut, and they are joined together flawlessly. It’s nice to know that there are still artists working with wood by hand to make pieces as graceful, elegant and unusual as this.

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All Sofas Are Not Created Equal

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During our trip to High Point we visited the factory of one of our suppliers nearby.

In the photo above the craftsman is tying springs to the frame. Each spring is tied eight times, (the process is called 8-way hand tied) to insure a solid yet flexible platform. A machine cannot replicate this. On inferior sofas the coils are attached with staples. Since the frame is hidden, prospective buyers can’t see this shortcut, but after sitting on a stapled sofa for a while, you’ll definitely feel it. The cured, quality hardwood in my supplier’s frame adds both durability and comfort. Poorly made sofas use lesser quality, uncured wood, in some cases plywood, making them brittle and prone to warping.

If you want to see how quality furniture is made, a walk around this factory is instructive. You won’t find any industrial robots. Just craftsmen and woman using time honored techniques and the finest materials to make furniture that lasts.

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Hanging on racks are wooden templates used to create frames.

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Finished frames awaiting inner construction.

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Cutting and sewing room.

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A Matter of Proportion

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In any space, proportion is one key to a successful design. Do the sizes of the various elements fit, both to each other and the room as a whole? The oversize chandelier and upholstered headboard give this large master bedroom suite I recently finished a grandeur suitable to a room of this size. The bold prints on either side of the carved oval mirror take full advantage of the high ceilings. The mirrored antique screen, kidney shaped love seat and animal throw rug make the ample dimensions appear warmer and more accessible. The marquetry night table on one side of the bed (the skirted octagonal table on the other side is barely visible) adds a classical note to the predominantly transitional design. The proportion of the interior design elements create a room that feels substantial and intimate, serene and compelling.

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