Thought you might enjoy these delightful, fantastical architectural gems (click on photos for more images):
Thought you might enjoy these delightful, fantastical architectural gems (click on photos for more images):
Are you wondering what might be a practical alternative to wood or tile for the floor of your office? How to ‘jazz up’ while quieting down the kids’ playroom? Keep the bedroom warm without dealing with carpet? How to alleviate the resonance of animated voices during a festive meal in your dining room?
As a child visiting family in their ancient Shropshire farmhouse, I was always intrigued by flooring I saw nowhere else … cork. So lovely and pliable to walk on, warm under bare feet! Cork has been used widely in Europe for many generations, and at last its many qualities have become widely appreciated here in the United States.
Most of us associate cork with the color and texture of wine bottles or dorm room bulletin boards, but there’s actually so much more variety of texture, and now with staining techniques so many colors available, the design options are almost limitless.
Whether on the floor, walls or ceiling, cork offers huge thermal and acoustical benefits, providing significant insulating properties and absorbing sound. It’s also hypoallergenic, contains a natural insect repellent and even if burned releases no toxic gases. Cork is an ecologically friendly and naturally sustainable product harvested mostly from the Mediterranean basin: it’s the outer bark of the evergreen oak, hardy trees needing little soil preparation, pesticides, fertilizer or irrigation… many 200 year old trees are still producing cork bark.
What’s not to love?
One of my favorites suppliers of cork flooring is Duro-Design in Canada (for their 6 different textures, 54 colors!), but there are many, many more.
If you’d like help with how to take advantage of cork’s many attributes in your interior design, please contact us … and if you have pictures of your own project using cork, please send them along, we’d love to post them!
An encounter with several handsome Monarchs recently reminded me of how judicious use of orange/pumpkin/tangerine can create an equally handsome – rather than ‘pretty’ – and elegant room (not to mention how long it had been since I’d updated my blog!) So I put together a few ideas, with sources indicated.
Using blue as a counterpoint seems to calm everything down:
With black the effect is classic – whether modern or traditional:
With grey, a “burnt” orange makes a crisp yet serene contemporary space (how about that handsome Miele fireplace?!):
And then there’s tangerine … cheerful, warm and fun … with dark brown it’s as luscious as orange peel dipped in dark chocolate:
Wishing you a very happy autumn!
EVERY time I’m in Nova Scotia – as I was quite recently – I’m re-enchanted by the unabashed use of color … especially on the outside. Perhaps the Scotlandish climate provokes this sort of exuberance, even among people of Celtic heritage; or perhaps it’s a reflection of French influence. But in any event, a stroll around one of the less salubrious parts of Halifax was most definitely enlivened and cheered by bright washes of color.
To pursue the notion that color is contextual, I don’t think that what works in Halifax would necessarily be successful in, say, Houston or Boulder or Moose Jaw. But the idea that the bold use of color can be cheering seems to be universal, so it’s too bad that so many of us are a bit nervous about it. At least with paint if you make a mistake it’s a relatively easy fix … and just a small area can make a big impact – it doesn’t have to be the entire exterior of your house! I think perhaps that’s why the somewhat retro concept of an ‘accent wall’ is making something of a comeback; it’s a great way to “jolly up” a room without huge expenditure of time and money.
But that’s for another post. For now, perhaps these pictures will inspire you to do something just a little bit bold.
Like liven up a handsome dark facade with a dash of vivid green…
Or brighten your entire neighborhood with a splash of orange. (What do you think … would your neighbors love it, or loathe it?!)
HAPPY SUMMER, TO EVERYONE IN OUR NORTHERN HEMISPHERE!
I’m a big fan of bright colors. Huge. In the winter, I love the warmth that shades like cranberry, orange and fuchsia bring to a room, and in the summer I like to bring the outside in with sunshiny yellow, cool aqua and fresh green. Doesn’t the thought of all that color just make you feel – well, joyful?
The thing with brights is, it’s a little too easy to cross the line into overkill. A little bit of fuchsia or chartreuse can go a long way. So I’ve found that one of the easiest (and safest!) ways to inject color into a room is through the soft furnishings. Cushions, curtains, throws, tablecloths, bedcovers – they’re all inexpensive and easy to change, so you don’t feel bad when you tire of one color and want to experiment with another.
This season I’m really loving the colors of handwoven fabric simply because it comes in such a fabulous range of colors. Handwoven material (also known as khaddar) has been a long-time staple of the fashion world here in south east Asia, and the thicker variety works great for home furnishings, with its vibrant colors and nubby texture.
Khaddar has undergone a huge revival in recent years, thanks to the efforts of a few designers who have taken a traditional technique and used it to produce high quality ‘designer’ material.
Khaadi is one such Pakistani design house. Though they are best known for their lighter cotton and silk textiles – which are used for clothes – they have a stunning range of home accessories that make the most of handwoven textures and patterns. The result: pretty yet practical pieces that combine the rustic flavor of a traditional art with the funky feel of contemporary design. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone into the Khaadi showroom just to lust after the gorgeous displays and buy yet another fabulous piece that I definitely don’t need but can’t live without once I’ve seen it!
I’ve found that a striking hot pink or orange bedcover can transform the look of my bedroom, and a red tablecloth creates an instant festive feeling on my dining table – especially when set with contrasting mats and napkins. Great for holidays and special occasions – or simply when I want to be cheered up!
What do you think? Would you take the plunge and fill your home with color…?
[All images via Khaadi.com]
It’s been a long time since I wrote a post, and some of that elapsed time has to do with procrastination … but some is legit! The latter has to do with a 3-year old grandson in hospital, including two weeks in the ICU; suffice to say it was a terrifying and painful time for him and all his family. But we’ve been blessed: thanks to the expertise, dedication and compassion of the team of doctors, nurses and support staff who worked with him at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, the little one will recover fully.
During many long, quiet hours of waiting and watching, I found myself reflecting on the colors that the designers had used in the pediatric wards. Clearly a lot of thought and research went into them, and I was reminded that the successful use of color is really contextual. Not only are space and light important factors, but the purpose of the space is probably more so. In this particular context, and especially in the individual rooms, colors were effectively mixed and matched in ways that I I’m not sure would work in any other situation. For example, something like these: (all Sherwin Williams) walls in 6633 Inventive Orange and 6673 Banana Cream, with trim in 6344 Peach Fuzz. Or 6494 Lakeshore and 6414 Rice Paddy with 6540 Starry Night. They looked great!
The common areas – marvellous, spacious playroom and cozy computer room – were more traditionally colored, but sported design touches that couldn’t help but make you smile and be glad that someone had put this much thought into them.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to this extraordinary healing place. Thank you, THANK YOU Baystate Children’s Hospital!
Some of my earliest memories are of a beach cottage near Llandanwyg in Wales; my family would go there for a few days every time my father went on “home leave” from whichever part of the globe we were living in – usually every two years, often in late autumn in the northern hemisphere. I loved what seemed to me to be a wild and woolly landscape, starkly beautiful mountains, crisp sand and grey sea, swept by chilly winds.
But my memories clearly do not reflect the true spirit Wales if the fresh, spring-like textiles from Elanbach are anything to go by! Here you’ll find a bright and airy aesthetic, with designs and colors that range from nostalgically traditional to vibrantly modern, inspired by influences from all over the globe. Of course, this is not a look that will work for everyone or in every space. My guess is that it will fit most easily into coastal lifestyles (like Maine), and rural surroundings like those in the photographs of their catalog, some of which remind me of parts of New England, such as the bucolic Berkshires of western Massachusetts. (Yes, you’re right if you’re thinking that these two areas are where my studios are located…!)
The family who owns Elenbach has a commitment to “green” practices, using advanced digital printing technology on fabrics that are woven in the UK. And a visit to their friendly website (http://www.elanbach.com) will not only allow you to browse the line, but will also extend an invitation to visit Llangoed Hall, an historic country house – now a fine hotel – that showcases the Elanbach line.
And for the best part: the fabrics are now available here in the States! Please contact us if you’d like more info.
If you’re looking for inspiration for a new floor, you might like to take a virtual tour of the UK-based Paris Ceramics website; or, better yet, go to one of their showrooms (they have several here in the USA, see Paris Ceramics USA).
Paris Ceramics offers an unparalleled supply of stone ranging from innovative applications to time-honored traditional artistry. Even if you plan on buying stone from a local vendor (always great to support them), you might find some additional “detailing” stone and ideas. I think the blue/cream limestone roundel is very elegant in its crisp simplicity, and love the extraordinary warmth and welcome in the antique Languedoc flagstones that look as though they have suffused the surroundings of generations of our forbears with their serene strength.
Oh, there are metal floors too! If you’re looking for something truly, eye-catchingly unusual, take a look at this “briquette” metal floor below with its silver patina, also available in gold or copper.
Stone need not, of course, be confined to the floor. Paris Ceramics are known for their stone carving, as evidenced in this fireplace surround, where a focal point has been kicked up a notch into pure fascination:
Most of the products are available in slabs too. A new addition to the line is Jura Green Limestone; with a honed or polished finish it would make a very handsome and unusual kitchen countertop. If you decide to go this route, please send photos – we’d love to see them!?
“The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live.” – Albert Hadley.
The words of a renowned and redoubtable designer.
You can tell, can’t you, from just these two pictures, with what care he crafted these rooms to reflect their very different occupants? Then look how differently he interprets his own!
The most recent issue of Icon (ASID’s magazine) includes an interview with Shashi Caan, the current president of the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers, and the founding principal of the eponymous Collective. Her ‘take’ on the meaning of design is summarized in this emphatic statement: “The promotion of human well-being is the end goal of design.” She elucidates: “I believe that this is not new but a clarification of the knowledge which distinguishes the expertise of the designer of interiors… It is about educated and artful decision making which shapes the intended human behavior and outcomes”. Ms. Caan has a great deal more insight than I’ve excerpted here, but I love how she explains and validates, all at once, both why one would hire a designer and why one would become one.
It’s no secret that the “built environment” design trades have been battered lately by all sorts of external forces – the Internet and the Great Recession probably being the most forceful – and there’s no doubt that all of us who practice architecture, interior design and interior decorating are reshaping how we work. However, the core premise of why we do this work, constantly challenging both the right and the left side of our brains, and why it might matter, and why our clients hire us (we hope!) is just that: a conviction that in the end, when we’re successful, our efforts promote well-being.
This is not intended as some sort of manifesto on my part, simply a train of thought triggered by those of a couple of the most inspired designers of our time. Sometimes it’s just helpful to reflect on why you’re doing what you’re doing. Maybe it’s all triggered by the recent overhaul of our website (hooray!), with many thanks to our talented and patient neighbors, Pulp + Wire!
Please let us know what you think? Best to you all.
For those of us for whom Valentine’s Day is a part of the culture, February is the month of love and passion, and since red is the color typically associated with affairs of the heart it’s fun to think about where and how to use it.
The perfect place to use red is your front door, according to Feng Shui experts, who cite its auspicious qualities in attracting wealth and good luck. (I always love the look of a front door in a saturated color, especially if it has a high gloss finish). This one might be as bright as Benjamin Moore’s neon red, but if you’d like something more muted, gypsy love is a more grayed hue that will still invite good chi, or energy.
Red is stimulating, exciting, increases enthusiasm, energy, your heartbeat, and your respiration. Maybe not a great choice for a bedroom if you have trouble sleeping…. think instead about incorporating a few accessories to add a splash of vibrancy (and of course, red roses are always an appropriate embellishment!)
Selecting a red for your dining room can encourage hearty appetite and lively conversation, but watch out for ultra-intense crimsons and scarlets…“I painted one dining room red and I must say, the conversation became very heated in that room.” – Amanda Pays. A red with a gray or blue undertone can minimize overstimulation, or you can go the other route and soften it into a more watermelon-y color… (don’t you love the black against the warmth of the walls?)
Kitchens invite red too (energy, enthusiasm, appetite). Here we used it to good effect in the form of a dark, rich red cork floor. (BTW, cork flooring in a kitchen is especially inviting … warm, easy on the feet, things don’t break as easily – and it’s very easy to take care of. But more about that another time.)
So, think about red if you’re ready to liven up your home with drama, passion and maybe even intrigue. And as always, if Penelope Daborn Ltd. can be of any help, we’d love to hear from you.
Warm wishes, and happy Valentine’s Day!
© 2012 Penelope Daborn Limited