Slow Blogging or No Blogging?

I've been MIA from the blog lately.  Yes, it's summertime and with that comes a departure from the workaday routine that besets us from September through June.  I enjoy that departure.  I relish in late mid-week dinners and movies and excursions to the ice cream parlor.  Last summer, I took a break from blogging to savor those moments.

But this summer has been a little different.  My youngest graduated from high school at the beginning of June.  It was a great celebration.  My two older children came from New York and Los Angeles to share in the celebration.  My sister came from San Jose; my mother-in-law from New Jersey; and my mother from Florida.  Graduation was on a Friday evening; we had a little party the next day; and two days later, on Sunday, my mom had a heart attack.

It's now six weeks later, and I'm thankful to say that my mom survived, is slowly recuperating and may even be better once she is fully recovered (thanks to a coronary artery stent).  But, among other things, my blogging has suffered.  This has been a summer where health issues have trumped most things. 

I read a post not too long ago by Holly Becker, the Decor8 blogger, about slow blogging.  The idea of slow blogging is to put quality over quantity: it's not how often you blog that's important, but how rich the content is when you do.  That's always been my mantra. 

I aim to be back soon. 


                                                                         My Mom


First Timers at 2015 Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse -- Part 2

It's hard to believe, but is indeed true, that among the first-timers at this year's Kips Bay Decorator Show House is the designer of the Dining Room, "Up In the Villa," Mark Sikes.  It's unusual for a first-timer to be awarded such a prominent space.  Rumor has it that a lottery determines which designers are granted spaces.  But the actual decision of which spaces the lucky designers get to design is left to the Show House committee chaired by Bunny Williams.

Sikes space was a celebration of color and pattern.  A mix of red and white gingham checked fabrics from Schumacher, an Indian inspired floral from Bennison, and Sikes' favorite -- a stripe -- from Soane Britain, decked the room. 

                                                                          Photo by Rafael Quirindongo

Featuring Sikes' line of rattan furniture for Soane Britain, the room demonstrated that outdoor furniture can bring a measure of informality to an otherwise formal space.  Sikes nodded to a high-low scheme by mixing his rattan furniture and tableware by Bunny Williams for the catalog-retailer Ballard Designs with precious antiques like the 19th century crystal chandelier and Neoclassical cabinets.


Lest there be any doubt about the timelessness of blue and white porcelain, Sikes' use of it as a decorative wall accent proves that point.

First-timer Alan Tanksley also earned a top notch space . . . quite literally.  Tanksley's top floor space was originally intended as a bedroom.  But its awkward scale with dormer windows made it a perfect spot for a gentleman's study.  Paying homage to his first employer, the great Mark Hampton, Tanksley fashioned "Pavlos Retreat" for Pavlos Papageorgiou, the husband of Mark Hampton's daughter and president of Mark Hampton LLC, Alexa Hampton.

                                                                        Photo courtesy of Architectural Digest

Tanksley's design demonstrated how the elements of texture and pattern enliven a monochromatic space.  Using plush de le Cuona fabric on the sofa, walnut millwork and grasscloth wallcovering, Tanksley created a diverse yet artfully composed space.  The model of the Temple of Athena (the Parthenon) is a reference to Papageorgiou's Greek heritage.


Another grand debut was had by David Phoenix who designed the Master Bedroom.  Similar to Alan Tanksley's space, Phoenix's bedroom was monochromatic.  Awash in Cowtan & Tout muted woolen tartan walls, the room had a decidedly feminine feel.  No doubt the bed's full tester and cozy fireside sitting area added to this appeal.


                                                                                 Photo by Rafael Quirindongo


The Lounge by Bennett Leifer Interiors LLC showcased the work of another first-timer.  Just off the kitchen, leading to the back stair and outdoor garden, the Lounge was one of those awkward transitional spaces usually given to first-timers.  But Leifer dealt with the awkward features of the space with aplomb.

                                                                   Photo courtesy of Architectural Digest

Any space decorated with de Gournay wallpaper has the element of pattern nailed.  The illumination created by the gilded wallpaper and luminous fixtures on the floor, wall and ceiling planes expanded the narrow space.  Mirroring the wallpaper pattern on the opposite glazing, Leifer installed sheers with similar pastoral images.



First Timers at 2015 Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse -- Part 1

When designers are awarded their first space to design in the prestigious Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse in New York City, they often get a quirky transitional space that more seasoned participants wouldn't want. Ironically, these spaces pose the most design challenges. They prove just how talented these first-time participants are. Like Young Huh's Hollyhock Lounge in the 2014 Kips Bay Showhouse, the spaces that first-timers designed in this year's showhouse were equally stunning and impressive.


          Young Huh's Hollyhock Lounge at 2014 Kips Bay Decorators Showhouse, photo courtesy of Kips Bay Showhouse

This year's Showhouse site on Manhattan's East 66th Street is the Arthur Sachs Mansion built in 1909 for one of the founders of the investment firm, Goldman Sachs. The five-story 9,600-square-feet space features the work of 25 interior and landscape design firms and benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Kips Bay, New York.

Michael Herold, whose work I first saw in Project Design at the 2013 Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, was awarded the former laundry room of this year's site. Challenged with plumbing and ductwork, Michael skillfully camouflaged the room's quirks, creating a "Las Palmas" lounge.


What is especially noteworthy about Michael's design is the contrast of color and line. The room is grounded in neutrals: the blacks and beiges in the Cole & Son Palm wallcovering, the Rug Company area carpet and Kelly Wearstler fabric on the chair. But Michael adds pops of color in the green console, red sculpture and yellow side table to add focus and whimsy. The contrast between straight and sinuous lines -- the straight featured in the area carpet and chair fabric, and the sinuous in the palm fronds and scalloped mirror -- also sets the design apart. In Michael's Kips Bay debut, he demonstrates that his designs yield the unexpected.

Also making their first appearance at Kips Bay are the dynamic duo of Suysel Cunningham and Anne Foster of Tilton Fenwick. Suysel and Anne were faced with converting a butler's pantry into a Dining Lounge. Overcoming obstacles like a long narrow double-height space plus exposed pipes and innumerable wall outlets, the design team demonstrated that problem solving can more often drive a design than aesthetics.


Using their Zulla fabric for Duralee above the chair rail molding, the designers divided and conquered the awkward proportions of the double-height space. Large scale artworks consume volume, provide focus and furnish a springboard for the designers' palette of materials. Traditional styling, in the English Victorian Club Chairs from James Sansum Fine and Decorative Art and the ceramic lamp with pleated silk shade, aptly mix with the modern BDDW credenza and ikat carpet from Studio Four NYC. By having the credenza made without a back, Tilton Fenwick was able to camouflage decor-threatening pipes. They also cleverly used an Houles fringed trim to hide prominent power outlets.


How do you work magic into a four-story winding stairwell? Ask Philip Mitchell of Philip Mitchell Designs, Inc. of Toronto, Canada. Using 260 works of art largely from his personal collection, Philip debuted at Kips Bay with a bang. A salon-style installation of art is such a challenge on one wall let alone a spiral axis spanning four stories.

                                                                         Photo by Rafael Quirindongo

Touring the offices and mills of the Mulberry Home fabric line, Philip glimpsed a soon-to-be-released toile that became the underpinning of his design. Convincing Anne Grafton, the Creative Director of Mulberry Home, that it should be a wallpaper, Philip got his Torridon Wallcovering in time for his Kips Bay debut. Interestingly, the subtle toile in a monochromatic grey proved no competition for the art display.

Another fabulous debut was at the hands of designer Peter J. Sinnott IV of Home Works. Peter installed a stunning AKDO floor tile, part of AKDO's new Origami collection. With 12 tiles comprising a 6-sided cube, the floor looked like an MC Escher drawing.


                                                                            Photo by Rafael Quirindongo


                                                                            Close-up of AKDO Setsumi Tiles

Some nuances to Peter's design included his use of a fabulous Osborne and Little wallpaper to add dimension to the ceiling, a blue glass tile pencil liner to accent and add color to the Carrara marble wall tile, and a water-proof aluminum wall sculpture to add color and interest to the shower.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of First Timers at 2015 Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse, featuring the Lounge by Bennett Leifer Interiors LLC and Pavlos Retreat by Alan Tanksley, Inc.


The Little Table That Could

Occasional table. What a name! The perfect accent for a comfy chair. A place to rest a drink. Or a book. And a favorite in my design repertoire.

Two weeks ago at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in New York City, I found some new treasures to add to the mix of occasional tables in my design arsenal. What I love about these tables is their difference in form, color, texture and pattern. Each packs a lot of design punch in its little stature.

Tucker Robbins, whose little stools and side tables I've featured before, showed glazed ceramic stools in glossy and metallic finishes. These interesting silhouettes add contrast when juxtaposed against orthogonal forms. The colors too add light and shimmer to interior spaces.


This little side table by Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman was modeled after a chess piece. Called the Rook Table, it's shown in satin white lacquer. The pedestal adds a classical note, but the white satin finish makes the table equally contemporary.


I am in love with this Gem Table by Debra Folz. In large and small sizes, its made of laminated glass which gives the illusion of facets. The base is steel and can be plated in zinc or bronze. An added bonus is the colorful shadows the tinted glass top casts on parallel surfaces.


The Drip/Fold Side Tables by Noble Goods is a gem of another kind. Composed of bent ash plywood, the table is hand-dripped with liquid resin, creating a unique pattern on each piece. The blue pattern on the tables below was stunning, but custom colors are an option.


Another great find at the show, derivative of the ever-popular quatrefoil, was the Major Tom Side Table by Whyte. Made of bleached Linden (aka Basswood), a tree native to North America, the table looks and feels light. So sculptural in form, it makes a strong design statement for its little mass.



Surface Treatment

The array of surfacing materials that are available to consumers these days is astounding. From paper to stone and every engineered material in between, it's a veritable trove for commercial and residential designers, architects and builders and it makes the choice that much harder for our clients.

With the entry of Wilsonart -- an industry leader in engineered surfacing material -- into the mix of producers of engineered quartz, that trove became deeper and the decision-making process even more difficult. At the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in January, Wilsonart unveiled its line of quartz surfacing material which will soon be 50-patterns deep.


                                                               Photo courtesy of Chasen West for Modenus

Wilsonart drew inspiration for the line from different geographies and cultures, but organized the array of patterns into four categories based on textures and structures: 1) fine and small scale; 2) medium scale; 3) large scale; and 4) veining and movement.


                                                                                     Photos courtesy of Wilsonart

One of the great features of Wilsonart's new quartz is that it can be fabricated into 20-foot slabs making it suitable for large scale as well as vertical applications. You can see below the vertical wall installation in Wilsonart's KBIS booth and how easily Wilsonart's quartz pairs with products from its laminate and solid surfacing collections.


At KBIS, Wilsonart also debuted 27 new residential laminate designs. As explained by Natalia Smith,  Wilsonart design manager, the new designs offer recession-weary homeowners the opportunity to infuse their homes with personality in an eco-conscious and budget-friendly manner.

“While still focused on style, consumers want their home to showcase their personality. The emphasis has shifted to living in and enjoying their home, rather than improving it solely for future real estate value.”

Laminate installations in Wilsonart's KBIS booth showed the versatility and functionality of the product. The installation below combines wood grain and solid laminates in a fabulous chevron wall display. Notice the blue laminate and wood grain shelves. No ugly brown seam lines, the bane of vintage laminate countertops.


How about this installation below? It features Wilsonart's Chalkboard laminate.


And if these aren't impressive, Wilsonart has curated a collection of 150 designs ranging from geometric to photorealistic images -- even suitable for large-scale commercial murals -- in its Virtual Design Library. If you can't find anything in the Virtual Design Library, Wilsonart can fabricate your original design as part of its Wilsonart x You custom laminate program. The best part of these programs: all designs are available within a 2-3 week lead time.

Disclaimer: Wilsonart was a sponsor of BlogtourVegas and, together with other sponsors, paid for my Blogtour experience.