Look Who's Minding the Store

Ahhh, summer.  My favorite season.  Time to relish the sunshine, long hours of daylight, and relaxed schedule.  What with the Republican and Democratic Conventions here in the U.S.; the season finale of the Bachelorette (I admit, I watched this season); the follow-up season of Bachelor in Paradise (I admit, I am watching that too -- it's comforting watching other people's 'crazy'); and the Summer Olympics in Rio, I have spent most summer weeknights on the couch watching TV -- time I might otherwise have spent blogging.  As in past summers, I took a break from blogging.  This is healthy for me.  As I prepare my youngest for her sophomore year away at college, the time I spend cuddling with her on the couch, watching TV shows like the Bachelorette, sustains me when she is gone.  And that's the time I can go back to blogging.

On the subject of being an empty-nester (at least for the school year), I've done something to fill the void left by not having a child at home and a schedule revolving around the school-day.  I've gone to work one day a week and every other Saturday at a home-furnishings boutique in a neighboring town.  In summer, when design is not a priority for most clients, the office is quiet and I start to go a little stir crazy.  Rather than welcome the respite, I start having paranoid thoughts like "Why aren't I busier?" and "Why isn't the phone ringing?"  It's an occupational hazard of being self-employed.  So when I saw a "Help Wanted" sign in this boutique that I pass nearly every day, I decided to inquire.  This little job gets me out of the office and spares my brain from unwelcome thoughts.  As summer transitions to fall, clients resume their home decorating projects, and my sophomore-in-college leaves once again, I'll take comfort in being around pretty things, helping customers with design decisions and sharing the latest episode of the Bachelor with my co-workers. There's something to say about sharing time around the water cooler in the workplace.


Trend Watch Tuesday: Paint Trends for Fall 2016

While it's still the hot, hazy days of summer, it may be premature to think about fall.  But fashion and design are always a step ahead of us and create blips in our radar that our antennae can't ignore.  If you're thinking about a redecorating project, here are some paint trends we'll see as we head into the latter part of 2016.


1. Moody Earth Tones

We're always looking to nature to inspire us.  Over the last 2-3 years, the trends in paint colors have been toward less saturated pale colors -- soft greens, cool blues and pale pinks.  The fashion runways have been showing us deeper, more saturated colors and the design community is following suit.  Olive, mustard and copper are colors that will infuse interiors in the coming months.  They're especially suited to gathering spaces like family rooms, living rooms, dens and libraries because they exude warmth and coziness.  These colors work well with leathers and hides, with plush fabrics like velvet and chenille, and with warm wood tones.  They are suited to rustic and traditional decor but can be spiced up with contemporary furnishings as shown in the dining room below.

Photo courtesy of House & Garden

Photo courtesy of Farrow & Ball

Photo courtesy of Traditional Home

Photo courtesy of This Old House

Photo courtesy of Sheila Bridges Design

2. Black
Until the recent past, no one would have thought of painting walls black unless they were decorating a haunted house for Halloween.  But with the popularity of industrial decor, black walls are cropping up as an interesting complement to industrial furnishings.  Black works well in powder rooms with vessel sinks atop vanities made from reclaimed lumber.  Or in kitchens with white or grey cabinets.  Black is also interesting in masculine bedrooms.  For those not so daring to go with black walls, consider painting doors and trim black with white or off-white walls.  Used in that way, black highlights the architecture and millwork.  Because black is so universal, it goes with so many styles: modern, mid-century, rustic, bohemian, industrial.  I like black paired with global influences like African Kuba or Indian Kantha cloths, Moroccan Beni Ourain or Afghan Bukhara-style carpets.

Photo courtesy of One Kings Lane

Photo courtesy of Cybball.com

Garrow Kedigian's room at the 2016 Kips Bay Show House.  Photo courtesy of Curbed New York

Photo courtesy of Greige Design

3. White

White was the "go-to" color touted by the national paint companies this year.  And for good reason.  It's a clean, fresh look and provides an alternative to grey, the popular neutral this decade.  White looks great paired with trim and doors painted an accent color (think black or an earthy green).  With all white walls, doors and trim, the opportunities are endless for mixing colors, textures and patterns on furnishings.  White works well with modern, mid-century, rustic, bohemian and industrial decor.   I'd recommend white for homes with abundant natural light and views -- to avoid competition with the landscape -- and for open-concept homes -- to create harmony and unity from room to room.  Any room benefits from white walls, kitchens and baths in particular for a feeling of cleanliness. 


Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy


Photo courtesy of Amber Interiors


Photo courtesy of Amber Interiors










Inside the Nerve Center of Noir Trading, Inc.

When spring finally hit the Northeast this past May, I decided to head west.  I was invited to attend an open house at the headquarters of CFC and Noir Trading, Inc., sister furniture companies located in Gardena, California, right outside Los Angeles.  With my favorite (and only) son living in Los Angeles, it doesn't take much to coax me to visit L.A.  The open house was scheduled for a Thursday leaving ample time over the weekend to spend with Jordan.  I'll write more about CFC in another post, but this post is dedicated to the "laboratory" of Georg Baehler, the founder and creative mind behind Noir.

A woodworker and cabinetmaker hailing from Switzerland, Georg brings to Noir the quality and craftsmanship the Swiss are known for.  Georg founded Noir in 2004 to bring artfully-crafted, well-designed furniture to the Americas at affordable price points. 


I took this photo in the Noir/CFC Showroom in High Point, North Carolina during Spring Market 2015.

Georg personally designs each and every piece in the line -- and there are 1500 active items -- by hand, with a pencil and paper, in actual, full scale.  It takes Georg about 6 to 8 months to develop a product for production.  If one of his designs is copied by another manufacturer, it's discontinued.


That's Georg on the left, in front of his drafting table in his office at Noir headquarters.  To understand what drives Georg's prolific creativity, and eccentricity, you have to go behind the scenes to the nerve center of Noir -- Georg's office (really a loft) at Noir headquarters. 

Georg built the office largely by hand.  And it's still a work in progress.  It sits atop the business offices, separate from the more routine operational aspects of the business.  The office is Georg's laboratory.  But instead of beakers and bunsen burners, it's filled with collections . . . gleaned from lowly trash heaps to popular flea markets.  Here are several examples:


An ethnic totem in front of art and furniture tomes.  Notice the old camera and skulls.


A collection of wood, brass and iron candlesticks.


A collection of cut glass decanters and assorted bottles on the left and vintage typewriters, a vintage adding machine and movie projector on the right.


A variety of objects from vintage cameras to microscopes to weights and statues.

Many of Georg's collections become props for Noir and CFC's showroom during High Point market weeks.

Certain areas of Georg's office were captivating.  Like his dressing room, below.


And here's Georg's desk area.


Here's a casual sitting area with a window overlooking the warehouse.


Here's another seating area with theatre seats in front of books and a Roy Lichtenstein poster.


And here's the "play" area -- a foosball table tucked into a corner of the vast loft.


The office is a collector's delight and reveals those qualities of Georg that are sensitive to minute details and to creating composition.  From this hodge podge, I could see how Georg cultivated his aesthetic and where he derives his inspirations for his creations for Noir.






ICYMI -- Part 2: 2016 Junior League of Boston Show House

Before we festoon ourselves in the Red, White and Blue in celebration of America's Independence Day, let's take a look at how some of the 2016 Junior League of Boston Show House designers used color to punctuate their designs.  Color is one of my signature design elements, so it's no surprise that these rooms especially appealed to me.

"The Morning Room" was a particularly appropriate name for Kate McCusker Rosenberger's show house room given the bright, sunny colors that complemented her space.


Photo courtesy of Theodore and Company

Despite large-scale neutral upholstery, the space came alive with pops of yellow (note the ceiling plane), orange and hot pink.  Kate perfectly balanced the saturated hot colors with cool neutrals, yet she made the room feel decidedly colorful.

In a similar palette was Kelly Rogers' Mother-in-Law Suite.  Adding saturated colors to ceiling planes might just be the takeaway from these two spaces.


Lest you think that pinks and purples should only be relegated to bedrooms, take a look at Steven Favreau's Library.  Steven cloaked the walls in drapery to disguise their disrepair, but the effect was to create a soft and undulating backdrop for art displays.  Lilac trim, area rug, and upholstery fabrics are a departure from the dark wood and leather we come to expect in a library.



Bright orange was the jolt that Diana Frucci used to spice up her Family Media Room.  In addition to being an interior designer, Diana and her husband own Furniture Consignment Galleries in Hanover and Plymouth, Massachusetts (and are soon opening a location in Natick) and used furniture from their stores to furnish this space.



Photo courtesy of Furniture Consignment Gallery

Last, but not least, is the color used by Vani Sayeed to bridge the challenging height of the kitchen she designed.  Below is a "before" shot of the two-story space.


Two-story spaces pose challenging design problems of scale and proportion when the area, not the volume, of the space is small.  With on-trend gray cabinetry, Vani tackled the soaring ceiling height by applying a vivid red faux-leather wallpaper above the cabinetry and using the additional height as gallery space.


Bare windows bathe the room in natural light and modulate the red walls.  The large-scale sculptural light fixture also helps to consume the room's massive volume.






ICYMI -- 2016 Junior League of Boston Show House

Part I -- Classic Chinoiserie

The 2016 Junior League of Boston may have closed over two weeks ago, but some rooms are still fresh in my mind.  This was the 45th anniversary of the show house, the last one being in 2012.  The site this year was the Nathaniel Allen House in Newton, Massachusetts.

If you're a long-time reader of my blog, you'll remember I chronicled my experience participating in the previous Junior League of Boston Show House.  I sat out this time.  I had heard that the house was a wreck and I didn't want to devote the capital, nor did I have the mental energy to devote to what seemed like a major investment.  Being a show house designer is one of the best professional experiences I've ever had, but this year it wasn't in the cards.

My favorite rooms this year had two notable characteristics.  The first was the classic and ever popular use of chinoiserie.  The second was the dominance of hot colors. 

Chinoiserie is a centuries-old design style inspired by the influx of goods brought to Europe from the Far East during the Spice Trade.  Today, we see it represented in lacquered and pagoda-like forms and Oriental imagery adorning fabrics, wallcoverings and furniture.  At the show house, we saw the more classical interpretation in rooms designed by Boston designer Gerald Pomeroy.  And we saw a more modern interpretation in a bedroom designed by Elizabeth Benedict.  Both were such extraordinary examples of great design.

If any designer in Boston represents traditional style and fills the enormous shoes of the legendary William Hodgins, the dean of Boston residential interior design, it is Gerald Pomeroy.  His designs have a classic elegance.  At the show house, he designed the Receiving Room and the Sitting Room, both resplendent in the fine craftsmanship and quality materials his designs are known for.

Gerald's Receiving Room was adorned with de Gournay wallpaper.  There is nothing that represents Chinoiserie more than de Gournay wallpaper.  (Well, maybe Gracie wallpaper.) 


The view, above left, is as you entered the Receiving Room.  Although the de Gournay wallpaper created a picturesque and nature-inspired atmosphere for the room, the octagon center table, beautifully dressed with a custom embroidered table-skirt is the focal point.  That table-skirt was created by Ankasa, known previously for its fabrics and embroideries adorning high fashion, and now available for interiors.  To the right of the entry, was the japanned sideboard, carrying the eye into the adjoining Sitting Room.


In the Sitting Room (above), neutral upholstered furnishings, more contemporary in form, are the counterpoint to the more traditional elements of the Receiving Room.  I especially liked Gerald's treatment of the ceilings in these adjoining rooms.  The room lacked a beefy crown molding.  To give the illusion of a deeper, more elaborate crown molding, Gerald continued the paint color of the walls onto the ceiling and then added a narrower, complimentary border to outline the plane.  A beautiful way to draw the eye to the ceiling plane without detracting from the design at eye level!


In contrast to Gerald's more traditional interpretation of chinoiserie, Elizabeth Benedict gave a more contemporary version in her bedroom designed as feminine retreat inspired by her teenage daughter.


The image above shows how the room looked before Elizabeth left her mark.


Hot colors of pink and green are offset with the pastel blue backdrop.  Adding pattern with textiles, a woven area carpet and trellis wallpaper on the ceiling plane, Elizabeth adds softness, harmony and interest.  Chinoiserie accents include the lantern-adorned window-treatment fabric, Dana Gibson lamps and vases, ceramic garden stools and pagoda bookcase.


What keeps the room from being too youthful and going too far with chinoiserie is the contemporary art over the mantle, a great accent choice.