Saturday, June 30, 2007

My Designs: Thoughts on a Design Process

I had seen this picture in a magazine, it was of Atlanta's Suzanne Kasler's dining room and the lovely pink draperies struck me as such a daring choice, and yet, they were so beautiful. Several weeks later I had an appointment with a client whom I profiled earlier and I mentioned that I wanted to bring pink into her room. The walls of her living room were already painted in a light celadon, darker celadon stripe (or maybe they are more of an aqua) and she wanted to keep the stripes. Pink would go nicely with them, but the hue had to be deeper than Kasler's pink. The next time I came over I brought several taffeta samples from cerise to fuchsia and the design took off from there. We chose a large Chelsea Editions cherry check and a gorgeous Lee Jofa classic chintz to bring the deep pink in. A celadon Nancy Corzine silk grounded the custom sofa and another Chelsea Textiles seabreeze small check graced the Swedish sofa.

The crowning fabric, though, was a complete afterthought to fix a huge mistake. Originally a pale Bennison linen was to go on the skirted table. Once it arrived, it just died where it lain and at a great personal expense I added this gorgeous damask, in, of course, a berry color. The adjoining walk-in bar was repapered in a deep pink Cowtan and Tout oriental toile.

To look at the finished room it bears no resemblance in any way to the original inspiration picture, which is strange. What I do know, is, that if I hadn't originally brought this picture of Kasler's dining room to my client, her room would look completely different today.

Stalking Houston Real Estate

Whenever I'm bored (well, before I discovered design blogs) I search the MSL for Houston homes. I always start with the most exclusive neighborhoods: River Oaks, Memorial Villages, West University, or Tanglewood. It is so fascinating to me to take a glimpse inside a stranger's house. Mostly, though, I am searching for interiors that speak to me.

The biggest "find" is to see a house decorated by a designer whose work I recognize. If the designer is locally well known, they will be mentioned by name. A successful search yields an interior by Carol Glasser, Babs Watkins, Ginger Barber, or Pam Pierce, to name a few of my personal favorites. I've even spotted a few of their personal homes on the web site. Some of the houses for sale have been featured in national design magazines and finding one of these is a special high for me. I save the pictures of the homes that attract me. Here are a few of my favorites pictures from this year. Looking at the ones I picked, I realized - gee I LOVE seagrass!

Inspiring Dining

Picture from The Beach Studios via ABT

Sneak peek of Dolce & Gabbana's home scanned from AD magazine.

If we would have in the dining room a mirror wall - or at least a huge standing mirror like in the first pic - you could enjoy the view in the mirror, even when you sit with the back to the window.

Here I like the open space between living and dining. For the dining area I would like to have a long wooden table. And maybe modern chairs that are comfortable and easy with 'sandy beachwear.' I lost the source of the photo (jdesignsalon?)

And this is the view from the living area through the dining area and the kitchen at the end. We think about taking out these walls to combine all three, an open kitchen, dining and living area.

Friday, June 29, 2007

French Wing Chairs

A few blogs prior I showed you my new French sofa that's coming to live in my family room, one day soon - I hope. I've been struggggggling with what kind of chairs to go with it. I think I've finally decided: French wing chairs with a mouton leg, like the sofa. Too matching? Probably, I've given up. Here's a picture of the chair I've chosen. Also I've posted a picture from the Houston Real Estate web site showing famed Houston designer Ginger Barber's living room. She has two wing chairs similar to what I've chosen. Is this a good choice, or should I continue looking? Que pensez-vous ?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

More Terrace Ideas

We have been thinking of having big sliding doors to enjoy the sea view most. On the other hand, smaller windows keep the heat outside... what does the architect say?

And this is the situation. We could have two windows and three doors or five doors. Of course the roof needs some support too.

The Whirlpool instead of a Real Pool

This picture is from an AD magazine and the location is a Greek Island. I do not like whirlpools but this one looks nice. It could be a solution for the roof terrace because it is less heavy and less spacious.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

www.New York Social

One of my favorite web sites to read is the New York Social Diary. Not the whole site, but one part only - House. Here different designers are interviewed in their own homes. The question & answer is only slightly more interesting than the fabulous pictures. This week interviewed at his home in Paris is the designer Juan Pablo Molyneux. Can you say gorgeous? An empty space is completely paneled in red lacquer - how decadent. There are several pictures of an enfilade of rooms - oh how I want an enfilade! The interview is a fascinating glimpse into the uber cultured world of J.P.M. He defines the word debonair. If you visit this site, be sure to read the archives - they don't stay forever as I notice that the interview of Bunny Williams and John Rosselli is now gone. Still available to read are the ones of Charlotte Moss, Carolyn Roehm, and David Easton amongst others.

Want to Rent an Apartment in Paris?

I love this web site: Chez Vous Paris . If you're looking to spend a vacation in Paris but don't want to stay at a hotel, this is the place to start your search. What sets this apartment locating company apart from the others is: Myra Hoefer. Hoefer is an extremely talented interior designer from Healdsburg, California whom Chez Vous hired to redesign many of their listings. These redo's sing. So many of the apartments available for rent in Paris are dreary and without any of the charm that one would expect from the design-savvy French. It took an American to Franconize and romanticize these rentals to American expectations. Hoefer liberally uses lavish silk curtains and gray painted antique furniture to set the mood. The results are chic and understated interiors that are never dressy nor stuffy.

A game I like to play is to look at all the apartments Chez Vous offers and try to pick out the ones that Hoefer worked on. Truly, it isn't that hard a game. Unfortunately Chez Vous does not allow one to use their pictures, so the ones I show here highlighting Hoefer's designs are taken from her web site. N'importe qui veulent partir pour Paris ?

Monday, June 25, 2007

More ideas for the roof terrace

A pool on the roof terrace... would be a dream!
It will probably remain a dream as the roof will not be able to bear such a heavy weight. But the sunbeds could be realised.

Picture source: 'Basico' Design Hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico via Casa International Magazine.

My Summer Garden - My Spot of Heaven

My backyard is at its prettiest this year, I think. Pink and white caladiums are up and smiling as big as life. The multicolored impatiens are tall, almost ready for cutting back to start over again this summer (or should I not?) Newly laid gravel looks fresh and clean. The fountain is a little green from the heavy, daily deluges - but that will change next week when it will be clear and clean again. A few of the climbing roses are peeking out here and there. Everything is so pink - bright pink, light pink, coral pink - every shade of pink. The lavender lantana is not as prominent as it was during the spring, but that's ok. I'm into pink these days, inside and out.

It may not look like it from these pictures, but my yard is very small, very, very tiny. 50 x 15. I've done the best I could do with it and after 13 years, I'm finally happy this summer. The calming sound of the water falling from the urn into the pond, the twinkling lights on the arbor, the fluttering butterflies that seem to love the flowers as much as I do all combine to calm my nerves as I sit outside, day and night, usually reading design blogs on my computer. It's my spot of heaven.

Map of Calabria

click for zoom
In case you wonder where this little magic spot Pizzo (not 'pizza') is located - here is a map. It is almost at the end of the Italian 'shoe'. After the 'toes' comes Sicily. Driving from Pizzo to Sicily shows you some breathtaking views on one of the most beautiful coast roads in Europe.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The web site for the magazine Southern Accents is one of my favorite places to visit. It's an extensive site filled with pictures from their magazine plus other magazines owned by the house: Southern Living and Coastal Homes to name a few. Highlighted are separate sections on gardening, architecture, and decorating and masses of articles are reposted on all aspects of design and how to's.

One great feature of the web site can be found under the Decorating section - pages and pages of pictures organized by room. Even better, you can enlarge the pictures and save them to your own computer for easy access. Here are a few pictures from the site featuring some of my favorite designers: Charlestonian Amelia Handegan, New Orleanean Gerrie Brennerman, and Dallasite Cathy Kincaid.

The best part of this site, unlike some other magazine sites like Better Home and Gardens - it's totally free and no annoying pop ups. Compare the two sites and I think you'll agree with me that BHG has a lot to learn from Southern Accents.

New French Mouton Leg Couch

I've bought this couch! It will be coming home soon: the slip cover (white linen) needs to be made and the nailhead trim will be removed. I hate to do that but, it shows through the linen and I can't see the point of that. This couch was a special order, made in Houston and shipped out to LA. Upon arrival there, it wouldn't fit through the client's door, so they shipped it back to Houston's famous Hien Lam, upholsterer extraordinaire. At least this is the story she tells me. We've haggled over what kind of back cushions it should have - she wants to make three box shaped ones and I'm skeptical because of the gorgeous curved top. Today we decided on knife edge 26" cushions. As soon as the decision was made, I regretted it. What I don't understand is why is it so easy for me to make decisions for clients but for myself - forget it. Truthfully, the discussions over this couch have gone on for weeks and weeks. I'm trying to finalize this because I want it home with me! It's so comfortable and my current family room sofa is so uncomfortable.

Next, is what chairs? I really can't decide. I want French, of course, but upholstered? I want the comfort, but do I want the look? I'm going to search for French wood frame chairs on tonight, maybe I'll buy the chairs instead of making them. Or should I buy a frame from Savoia Chairs? This is a great company is you have a refinisher. M'aider !

Pizzo Picture Postcards

I love these two postcards!

I first bought them ten years ago, when I spent my first summer holiday in Calabria together with my husband ('il mio fidanzato' at that time). I bought them again last year. They are yellowish on the back. They must have been on stock for sooo many years...

The first one is really special. I wonder why they printed so many of it? This postcard wins a prize for 'unbelievable, strange' postcard and needs to be collected.

And the second one spreads so much charme. La Piazza Umberto has not much changed in these years. (Just a few more cars are parking on the right nowadays).

I think these two postcards show exactly why I like Pizzo. It is a picturesque, dozy little village in the South that has not been spoilt by tourism. And I hope that will never change.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Inspiring Terrace Gardens

I found the following great ideas for our garden and terrace by Mylandscapes, UK based contemporary roof garden and terrace garden design specialists via one of my favorite blogs Desire to Inspire.

The alternative is to use planter pots of different shapes and same colour, e.g. blue or terracotta. But the first solution would allow an automatic watering for the plants in the dryer summers.
In China, these pots are so cheap. The biggest would be around 12 - 18 USD. I could ship lots of them...

... downstairs, garden with grass and some tiles for the seating area...
... and as we have no space for a pool, I thought of a cheaper version ...


And this is our modest reality, the roof terrace, where you can harvest capers at the moment.

And the 'garden' viewed from above. I would keep the floor covered with grass. A purple bougainvillea, a white oleander, a lemon tree and a agave plant, maybe some cactus (outside the fence on the rock) would be typical plants from the region.