Bespoke Details

Century Furniture has a wonderful custom cabinet program where consumers can design their own case. There are a myriad of choices for finishes, base, hardware, including finish and even placement, along with front designs for a number of pieces such as media chests, bar cabinets, dressers, and many more. On their website, Century has a new section with this bespoke program.  Simply click on it see dozens of choices after selecting a piece and selecting “Customize Me.”  For example, one may chose a bar cabinet, select an espresso finish for the box with white for the doors, a fretwork front, chow legs, and an oval ring pull in antique brass.  The visualizer is so incredibly easy to use and really fun. The dozens of choices allow for true customization. Century Furniture is high end and certainly not inexpensive, but to have these options is amazing.

Take a look at this example and then go to www.centuryfurniture.comto see for yourself.

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Two Very Different Chandeliers

We have been sourcing dining room chandeliers for two clients – two totally different chandeliers, both very good looking.  One of the clients wanted a very contemporary chandelier while the other expressed an interest in a traditional crystal one.  

Keep an eye out for a future blog where we will go into more detail about the myriad of other styles of chandeliers, about finding the right size chandelier, and also about various types of crystal.

But, for now, these are a few of the ones we found in each style. We know there is a perfect chandelier for every taste.

Tete-a-Tetes, Then and Now

When we think of tete-a-tetes, we usually think of Victorian times, but there are many more modern versions as well.  Tete-a-tete literally means head to head in French, and it is a two-seat sofa, basically consisting of two chairs joined together. Its primary use was for private conversations as its other names suggest.  The tete-a-tete is also known as a courting chair or a gossip couch. It was developed during the early 19th century in France and was popularized during the Victorian era. The Victorian ideals of modesty and controlled courtship are illustrated by the shared armrest which provided a slight barrier between the couple sitting on the sofa!

One of the most famous examples of a tete-a-tete is this one which was made by John Belter, an American cabinetmaker, around 1850-1860.  His extravagant use of carved ornamentation is typical of Rococo Revival style.  It is displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

In many mid-century modern versions of the tete-a-tete, the shared armrest for modesty is gone – in fact this Edward Wormley tete-a-tete from 1950 looks more like modern double chaises we see today.  We saw this one for sale on www.decaso.com for $15,000.

We thought this ultra-contemporary tete-a-tete that we saw on Houzz is a very unique and dynamic art piece, but we could not find any information about where it could be purchased.

The rattan Confident armchair from Maison Drucker that we saw in Elle Décor comes in a range of colorful options as a part of its outdoor bistro seating collection.  It is priced at $3912.

For some, two heads may be better than one!

Cloisonne Sinks and Faucets

Cloisonne is the art of decorative enameling, a process that fuses glass to the surfaces of copper or bronze objects.  Once fired, the metal piece becomes a bright and colorful work of art.  Beautiful cloisonné faucets and sinks can become the focal point in a bath or powder room.

We like these two from Linkasink.  For blue and white fans, the cloisonné Blue Birds Oval under mount sink would make a pretty statement while the Dragon Vessel Sink is funky and daring, and it would certainly make an unusual statement.   Linkasink individually crafts and colors their sinks to produce a functional work of art. Both of these products can be found at www.waveplumbing.com.

For those who might just want something smaller and a little more understated while still interesting and beautiful, try these faucets from Kallista.  The Script decorative sink faucet has handles that are adorned with stunning hand-painted cloisonné accents depicting a spring floral motif.

These finely crafted faucets and sinks celebrate artistry and design as well as functionality.

 

 

DeKauri Bespoke Bath Cabinet - Art Meets Utility

We noticed this piece in a design magazine, and it piqued our interest so we did a bit more research, and we found some interesting information.

If you cannot stand a cluttered vanity full of toiletries, and if you can afford to spend $25,000, this freestanding piece of furniture designed to house and conceal both the sink and storage may be just the ticket.

Renowned architect and designer Daniel Germani debuted this piece at the 2018 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show last January.  He won the 2018 NYCxDesign Award in the bath category for its beauty and functionality. Germani used Dekton by Cosentino to craft the washbasin along with Kauri wood from New Zealand for the credenza. This 50,000 year old wood is exclusive to Riva 1920, an Italian furniture manufacturer whose skilled workers transform it into furniture as true works of art. Kauri is wonderfully preserved and has an amazing rough beauty that caught the attention of Germani. Once Germani added a faucet from Fantini Rubinetti, a high-end Italian design/manufacturing company and the upscale architectural lighting from Brooklyn-based Juniper Design, his credenza was complete.

It was fun to learn about this new product!  If you know of anyone who may want to purchase this outrageously priced bath credenza, please let us know because we sure don’t!

Dark and Moody Floral Wallpaper

We have always loved dark and dramatic walls, and they are definitely on-trend now. Deep, rich backgrounds lend an air of drama and sophistication to any room and give the space a strong identity and real sense of character.  This is especially true of these moody florals which are reminiscent of still life paintings from Dutch Masters of the Golden Age.  Oversized and printed on a background of decadently deep shades, these wallpapers are not for everyone, but they are truly beautiful. Somehow, they are traditional, yet modern and luxurious, and they are clearly not your grandmother’s wallpapers.  They can make a major statement in a small powder room or can be used as an accent wall in a living room or behind a bed in the master bedroom.

Here are a few of our favorites.

Photo Credits:

This vintage-style bathroom has a feature wall that looks like an antique painting – www.shelterness.com

Dutch Love is one of Ashley Woodson Bailey’s collection of six photo-based wallpapers.  The flowers practically jump off the wall – ashleywoodsonbailey.com

Noted designer Ellie Cashman says that “her designs are meant to serve as narratives of optimism and celebrations of beauty.” She has created a series of florals including Dark Floral II Black Saturated Wallpaper – elliecashmandesign.com

A moody floral may not be the first color one would think of for a little girl’s nursery, but it is gorgeous – greenandmustard.co.uk

This floral wallpaper is lovely, feminine, sumptuous, and sexy as a backdrop for the bed in a master bedroom – www.shelterness.com

 

The Minimalist versus The Maximalist

Over the years, design trends have waxed and waned and there have been many times when minimalism was popular as well as times when maximalism was in vogue.  Today, we have been seeing both styles in shelter magazines. There are often spreads on beautiful and sleek contemporary spaces as well as wonderful “over the top” maximalist rooms.  “Less is more” is absolutely the way to go for some while others follow architect Robert Venturi’s credo that “less is a bore.”  We say to each his own.

Minimalism highlights the essence of a room, stressing clean lines, clutter-free spaces, and a limited color palette.  Designing a beautiful, functional home in a minimal way is not easy. Skill, restraint, and a great deal of discipline are needed to pull it off.  We love this living room by Tara Benet Design in New York City.

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Maximalism is the antithesis of minimalism with its audacious display of bright colors, bold patterns, and a love of artful clutter. Maximalist spaces reflect their occupants’ travels, pasts, and quirks. Exotic Bohemian glamour comes to mind when thinking about maximalist design - rather than trying to achieve a perfectly coordinated space, maximalists strive for a layered look to embrace a beautiful, cozy chaos as can be seen in this photo from Architectural Digest.

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For more examples, take a look at the White Glove section of the May/June issue of Traditional Homeor the April issue of House Beautiful which featured a home in Philadelphia.

Which style speaks to you?

 

 

Refrigerator of Art

Dolce&Gabbana, the Italian luxury fashion house that was founded in 1985, has teamed up with the high-end Italian appliance manufacturer Smeg for the design of a special edition of the FAB28 refrigerator, transforming it into a work of art.  While the two companies belong to different creative sectors, they both have strong values and a tradition of “Made in Italy” excellence.  The hand-painted refrigerators feature images of lemons, the trinacria symbol (which is located in the center of the Sicilian flag), cart wheels and medieval knights done by Sicilian artists. This colorful and super high-end refrigerator is clearly not for everyone as it can cost $34,000 or more!

If that price point is above your budget, it is possible to purchase a range of small kitchen appliances that could turn your counter into a work of art. This toaster or electric water kettle can be found at Williams-Sonoma for a mere $600!

Who can ask for anything more – Smeg quality and technology combined with Dolce&Gabbana style!    

 

 

 

 

 

Styling your Coffee Table

Think about your coffee table as a focal point in your living room rather than as a spot to put down a snack or drink or a place to put up your feet.  By using several diverse elements, you can turn this flat, plain space into a beautiful eye-catching display. Following some basic design rules should do the trick.

We suggest these ideas from HGTV.

·      Keep your coffee table balanced by varying the scale and height and by grouping like objects together.

·      The coffee table can be a great place to rotate seasonal decorative elements.

·      The rule of threes is an age-old decorating trick, but it does work its magical appeal to the eye.

·      Think about using a tray to corral your favorite small finds and make them easily removable if you need to clear the space for entertaining.

·      A bit of greenery or a beautiful floral arrangement is a way to bring the outdoors in.

·      Last, but not least, the decorative objects on your table should be special and personal – they can tell your story and express your memories and passions.

 

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Encaustic Tiles

 

We have recently been working on a bathroom remodel project and have become enamored with encaustic tiles we have seen. Encaustic tiles have been around since medieval times when they were made with two or more colors of clay inlaid together to create a pattern which is beautiful, colorful, and timeless. According to Tile-Magazine.com “this art form reached its peak in the mid-1800’s when Minton’s Ltd. began to supply them for walls and floors in churches, public buildings, and grand palaces.” Nowadays, these tiles are made with cement rather than clay. Yet, the process remains basically the same – instead of being painted with a pattern, the color and pattern in encaustic tiles are literally baked in.  Each tile is made by hand using a special frame resembling an intricate cookie-cutter. Layers of pigmented cement are then poured into the various sections of the mold.

We love the extra flourish these aesthetically pleasing tiles can add to any space.  Whether they are used for a kitchen backsplash, an entry way, or a bathroom floor, encaustic tiles are a great way to show off your personality and style. Our design advice, though, is to make sure that the style of your house works with the pattern you love.  There are so many patterns to choose from – graphic and contemporary styles, Moroccan-inspired patterns, and traditional Victorian to name just a few.

While authentic handmade encaustic tiles can be very expensive, there are many glazed porcelain and ceramic tiles that mimic the look yet are much more modestly priced.  We will post a new blog when the bathroom is complete – look for the encaustic tile in the post.

Photo Credits:

Photo of colorful encaustic flooring installed in the U.S. Capitol – www.wikipedia.com

This is an intricately patterned mold for making encaustic tiles – from Lynne Byrne’s Design Dictionary at www.decorartsnow.com

Kitchen backsplash in Kyra II Terrazzo from www.cementtileshop.com - this handmade tile is priced at $8.60 for each 8” square.

Revival Memory 8” square tiles by Merola can be found at Home Depot for $1.98 each.

And, Finally, Pantone!

 The Pantone Color Institute is a consulting service that forecasts global color trends. After numerous announcements from many paint companies, several weeks ago Pantone finally announced their eagerly anticipated choice for their Color of the Year 2018!  They chose Ultra Violet, a super-bright purple which Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Institute, says "communicates originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking."  This year's color was not chosen because it is regal, though it does resemble a shade that has historically been considered to be majestic.

As a color that can take you in so many directions, Ultra Violet makes a statement in any space, whether it’s one of tradition and elegance or unexpected boldness. While it is clearly dramatic and provocative, it is a difficult color with which to decorate, and there have been many diverse opinions expressed about this choice.

Would we choose this color in our designs?  It would certainly depend upon the client and how they feel about it. So, because it mixes well with grays, soft shades of green, and other neutrals, we would love to use it as an accent - perhaps, a soft mohair throw or a few pillows.  Ultra Violet can be softened with other shades in the same family such as mauve or lilac.  It could be pretty and feminine in a young girl's room when used in this way. What do you think of this shade?  We would love to hear your opinion.  But, just remember - no matter what our opinions may be, we will be seeing Ultra Violet everywhere in home design as well as in fashion this year.

Photo Credits:

www.apartmenttherapy.com - This purple upholstered bed certainly does pop!

www.housebeautiful.com - This living room has a lot of purple, but it is pretty and tasteful.

www.the penneyhoarder - Touches of purple in this mostly white teen room is a conservative way to use this color.

www.pantone.com - Paint chip

 

2018 Colors of the Year

Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year, Caliente AF-290, is strong, radiant and full of energy – and RED HOT!

A collision of rich blue with jewel-toned green, a color that is both accessible and elusive, Oceanside SW 6496, is Sherwin-Williams pick for 2018 Color of the Year. 

 PPG Paints,  named Black Flame (PPG1043-7) their new "it" shade. They describe it as an "unprecedented, statement-making black with deep tones of indigo." 

Meanwhile, Glidden Paint has selected Deep Onyx (00NN 07/000), which they describe as a no-fuss shade of black that encourages a "less is more" approach to decor.

Union Trust Building

While walking in downtown Pittsburgh several weeks ago, we decided to pop into the Union Trust Building to see firsthand the $100 million renovations we had heard about. Wow!  What a beautiful old building with spectacular renovations. Many of the original interior features were retained while the lobby space was updated with Pittsburgh themed artwork and a fabulous palette of bright peacock blues, purples and pinks.

This historic building was designed and erected in 1915-16 by Frederick Osterling for Henry Clay Frick.  Most Pittsburghers will recognize the Union Trust Buillding with its amazing mansard roof boasting terra cotta dormers and two chapel-like structures housing mechanicals. But, we were completely blown away by the interior lobby with its central rotunda and stained glass dome. The Davis Companies completed the stunning restoration

We applaud the architects and designers and recommend stopping in sometime if you are downtown.

Photo Credits:

 Exterior and Roof  -https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=172346

Lobby - thedaviscompanies.com

Rotunda - www.jekko.com

 

 

 

 

 

Tie Pillow

Ellen had this patchwork pillow made from her retired pediatrician husband’s old ties.  When he was practicing, he always liked to wear “kid-friendly” or doctor themed ties.  But, since he had retired, they were just hanging unworn in the closet.  Our wonderful seamstress made the pillow. It was a fun project, and a huge success with Ellen’s husband.  Let us know what you think!

 

 

Shiplap

We have never seen so much shiplap as that featured on HGTV’s Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines. Shiplap walls have been around for a long time, but we have noticed that many other designers have been using shiplap recently.  So…. What exactly is shiplap? Traditional shiplap boards have a groove cut into the top and bottom allowing the pieces to fit together snugly.  It has generally been used to construct rustic sheds or barns. Now,  it has become popular for interiors as well.  Horizontal shiplap on the walls is informal and homey, creating a warm and charming rustic look.

In the older homes that Chip and Joanna renovate, they often find real shiplap underneath drywall, but, if they do not, they have been known to add some newly planed rough-hewn boards or repurpose boards they find in old barns. If you are still not sure exactly what shiplap is after looking at these pictures, just watch a few episodes of Fixer Upper and you will be.

Photo Credits

Better Homes and Gardens – This dining area has a clean and crisp “contemporary” rustic look.

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www.mountainviewcottage.net – For DIYers, this blogger shared exactly how they achieved a shiplap look in their daughter’s nursery.  We love the juxtaposition of the rustic walls, quilt block art work, and the elegant crib and chandelier.

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www.scoutandnimbleblog.com - In this bedroom, the painted shiplap in a deep contrasting color, is a nice accent wall.

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Fancy Ceiling Fans

We have admired and purchased a number of beautiful crystal chandeliers, and we have also seen many ceiling fans in industrial or modern styles, but these two ceiling fans are really unusual.  We saw them both at www.horchow.com, an upscale online and catalogue source from Dallas, Texas.  The first one is their Julianne Bronze Fandelier (definitely appropriately named) with a cut-crystal light kit, and the second one is the Chantel ceiling fan with golden metal accents and crystals.  They are on sale for $400 and $287.20, respectively.  Let us know what you think of mixing a functional ceiling fan with such ornate elements.

 

Fifty Shades of Green (and Brown and Gray!)

While on a walk in Swallow Falls in western Maryland, we were inspired by the beautiful colors in nature that were surrounding us.  After taking numerous pictures, we immediately went to our trusty Sherwin-Williams app – Color Snap!  Using this app, it is so easy to create a paint palette for any room.  Take a look at these photos and the corresponding paint colors we pulled from them.  Very cool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fringe and Tassels

Sometimes we think we are behind the times with design trends, and sometimes we think we are way ahead of the curve.  For example, several years ago, we trimmed this sofa for our client’s very traditional living room with a beautiful bullion fringe to really dress it up.  Of course, we realized this was not a new idea – fringe was often used liberally on Victorian and Edwardian furniture and lampshades.  But, at the spring markets, fringe was back in more unexpected and bold ways.  We spied the contemporary Nicolene chest from Currey and Company in a recent article by Patricia Sheridan in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  According to Cecil Adams, creative director, “fringe is never completely out of fashion”.   He went on to say that “they chose to embellish this chest with modern brass pulls and leather tassels as a nod to handbag hardware.” On the other end of the spectrum, we found this over-the-top lampshade at www.vintageshades.com a company that specializes in making custom Victorian style shades and reproduction antique lamps. One of their lamps would certainly go well in the Gingerbread Cottages we last wrote about!  Fringe and tassels add visual interest and are always in style – from ultra-modern to traditional to Victorian, there is something for all tastes.

 

 Our client was so pleased with this beautiful bullion fringe!

Our client was so pleased with this beautiful bullion fringe!

 Contemporary take on tassels!   

Contemporary take on tassels!

 

 Beautiful, but awfully fussy for modern tastes!

Beautiful, but awfully fussy for modern tastes!

Lots of Gingerbread

 

While walking around in the quaint town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, we came upon an enclave of gingerbread cottages.  We learned that these colorful, delightful homes are historically significant, representing a unique style of architecture known as Carpenter Gothic Revival. Built during a burst of activity between 1867 and 1872, most of these homes are privately owned and have been or are currently being meticulously restored.

We have not actually had the opportunity to do any design work for a client who has a period home like these, but it would be interesting!

 

 

Earth Day

 

While we always love decorating with beautiful new high-end furnishings and fabrics, we believe that some well thought-out flea market finds can add a bit of quirkiness and eclecticism to any décor.  Reusing and recycling are always good for the environment, and especially now, with Earth Day fast approaching, we went searching for a few new/old finds!

Reuse (or Repurpose)

It is always fun to think of a creative new use for an old item.  Upcycle an old piece, and turn it into something different and new.  We discovered lots of aviaries that were made from old hutches.  Great for all those bird lovers out there!  Check out this one that was made from a traditional dark brown highboy.

Photo Credit:  We saw it on Pinterest along with a number of other creative make-overs!

Reduce

Using reclaimed materials for building projects is a great way to reduce – less energy is used, especially if the materials are sourced locally, less will end up in a land-fill, and the finished products will be beautiful and functional. 

Photo Credit:  We love Antiques on Washington in Bridgeville, PA for beautiful hand-crafted tables from reclaimed wood.

Recycle

Never pass up an interesting old chair.  As long as it is not broken, it can always be repainted or refinished, and with some new fabric, it will probably have a lot of life left in it!  (Hint: mismatched chairs around a table can add some visual interest.)

Photo Credit:  We found this one on HGTV.com

These simple ideas can help to save resources and reduce pollution, not just on Earth Day, but every day.