Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lighting Quest

I've been working with a client for a couple weeks now, trying to nail down all the lighting selections for a large home reno/addition project.  We have the bulk of the fixtures picked out, but there are still a few gaps left to fill.  As a result, I have lighting on the brain.  I really enjoy selecting fixtures, but have to confess, on a whole-house project like this, it's ALWAYS a challenge.  I'm not one to just pick a collection and stick to it (too easy!), but instead like to hunt and peck for hours on end until I find just the right ensemble of perfectly matched and mismatched pieces.  There has to be a balance between variety and harmony in the whole lighting scheme.  If you don't believe me, look at the lighting package the next time you see a really chic home in a magazine.  The fixtures never match.  Instead they are a very unique collection of pieces that seem to have been collected over time.  Think of lighting like you would jewelry--you select different pieces for different outfits.  They're all unique, but they all appeal to your personal sense of style.  When I try to communicate this to clients at the start of a project, I think they freak out a little. At first the task seems daunting and they lack confidence to mix and match styles and finishes, but by the end of the project, they LOVE the lighting and feel proud of how it reflects their own personality and definition of home.

This week's task is to find pendant lights appropriate for bedrooms that will work with very high, vaulted ceilings.  They have to be somewhat whimsical (funky is good) but also work with a 40's vintage house.  So far, on the main floor, we have a great mix of industrial-meets-classic/vintage-meets-glam, that shows off the bones of the house while highlighting the fun and warm personalities of the folks who live there.  Here's a peak at some of the main floor selections:

Capiz Flushmount
Foyer: Pottery Barn Capiz Shell Flushmount   (Petite, pretty and welcoming)

 Sparkling Light Show Flush Mount Light
Living Room: Shades of Light Crystal Flushmount  (Adult space can use a little bling, but here the oil rubbed bronze finish keeps it from looking too frilly or precious)
Paxton Glass 8-Light Pendant
Dining Room: Pottery Barn Paxton 8-light Pendant  (Looks great with the adjoining, farmhouse-like kitchen!)

World Imports 7821 Luray Wall Sconce
Dining Room and Living Room Wall Sconces: World Imports Luray Wall Sconce (Simple and understated with a contemporary edge.)

Kitchen Island Pendants: Savoy House Schoolhouse Design Mini Pendant (Classic--again, supports a beautiful, farmhouse-like kitchen.)
George Kovacs P5044 Tube LED Wall Sconce
Bath Vanity: George Kovacs Tube Bath Sconce  (A little more contemporary, but suits our other bath fittings to a T.)

The main floor has standard 8'high ceilings, so our fixture selections for those areas have been fairly modest in size.  However, the ceilings on the second floor are really high and allow us to play with scale and design a bit more.  The client really loves Monrovian star pendant fixtures and I agree that we have to put one somewhere in the house.  The question is where.  I think we've finally settled on the Master Bedroom as the right place for this fixture.  We'll put two of them up near the ridgeline, spaced in such a way that they divide the room into thirds.  I'd love it if we could do something more to dress up the vaulted ceiling, like adding wide plank tongue and groove boards, painted white, to give it that classic, cottage-loft feel.  Even if that doesn't happen, I think that two of these star pendants are going to add a really beautiful feel to the room--sort of ethereal and magical, like being in an outdoor gazebo on a summer's night.  Just the right amount of playfulness and romance.

Oversized Morovian Star Pendant
Master Bedroom: Pottery Barn Oversized Monrovian Star Pendant

Across the hall we also have a large, lofty Family Room/Kid's play area.  We wanted something fun and playful there, yet mature enough to suit adults who might be lounging and watching a movie.  These capiz pendants from West Elm seem to have just the right feel.  We'll use the largest of the three and hang it in the center of the room.  Besides just being a really cool fixture, it helps to tie in the foyer below, which also sports a capiz shade.  

Capiz Orb Pendants
Upstairs Family Room/Play Room: West Elm Capiz Orb in large size

The are still a few more gaps to fill, so I'm hunting and pecking for those last few pieces.  I can't wait to see how it all comes together.  I love that these clients want a house that is fun, interesting and truly a reflection of their personalities, not just cookie-cutter and nice-but-safe.  Should be great when it's all done!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Book-Lover's Paradise

There's something about old houses....the lovely creak of hardwood floors, imperfect plaster walls, beautiful moldings, solid-wood doors, cast iron tubs, interesting little built-in features and charming antique fixtures. To me they all say "home" in a way that new houses can't.  They have history, that have character, and above all, they have quirks.  I adore quirky houses!

My house has none of that.  Okay, so maybe it has quirks, but not the charming kind.  I saw this photo on Pinterest tonight and instantly fell in love.  This is definitely NOT a new house.

Reece Witherspoon’s Ojai, California home in Elle Décor
(Reece Witherspoon’s Ojai, California home in Elle Décor)

There are so many things to love here:  the little arched closet doors, the mismatched but very interesting light fixtures, the casual mix of pattern and color, the soft plaster walls, the arched doorways, the ceiling detail and the wide-plank hardwood floors.  What I love most though is the built-in reading nook.  Oh heaven!  I just want to dive in and curl up with a good book.  It looks so peaceful and inviting, not to mention decidedly feminine.  (My house is pretty much all "boy" at the moment.)  I think I may need a little reading nook like this.  And a little pink to top it off wouldn't hurt either.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Jazz Up That White Kitchen

It's no big secret that I LOVE all-white kitchens.  There's something very timeless about white Shaker cabinets, paired with white marble (or quartzstone) counter tops, and a white, subway tile backsplash.  As much as I like to experiment with new colors, products and finishes, the white kitchen is a look that I always come back to. Depending on how you dress it, it can be very sleek and modern, or it can be folksy and quaint.  Either way, the look is classic and never goes out of style.

The question is, how does one do an all-white kitchen and not look boring?  How can you make sure your personality and unique sense of style show through, and how do you tie it in with the rest of your home?  Consider this simple trick:  The runner.  A runner rug strategically placed in front of the sink or the cooktop will add instant pattern, color, and texture, while allowing you to make a personal style statement.  An added bonus will be the comfort it provides underfoot.  That little bit of extra cushion will help save your back when you labor over that next five-course meal. Ha! ;)  And don't worry about those occasional spills.  Just keep a little spot cleaner on hand (I like Spot Off by D. A. Burns) and you'll be good to go!

A quick look at some fun examples and you'll see just how versatile this little trick can be.  (All images from Pinterest.)  From very traditional (even antique!) to modern and edgy, the choices are endless.  1 rug = instant personality!

Cantley & Company - exterior wall vent for hood, would put pineapple on hood, subway tile up, white cabinets, nice runner
Lovely old-world feel.  The colors and pattern in the rug make the room cozy and inviting.

white, open shelving in the kitchen
Fresh, modern, and youthful.

makes me want to paint my kitchen cabinets white again and I super love the natural rug/runner.
Simple, cottage-y and a bit rustic.  The perfect beach house look.

Investigating refrigerator placement. Mainly just to piss Charles off.
Elegant without being stuffy.  Why not bring that heirloom-quality rug into the kitchen?

Small Open Kitchen | House & Home..  maybe a runner or rug to break up all the wood tones
Modern and chic-- Love how they mixed two different styles/patterns, one on either side of the island.

white kitchen with tribal accents
Can't find one, long rug in the right size?  Try if front of sink and one in front of stove.

Cute cottage, like the ceiling
Bright color and playful pattern make this room feel fun and friendly.

Country Kitchen
Interesting mix of old and new.  Stylish, effortless and very French.
Feeling inspired?  I hope so.  Even if you don't have an all-white kitchen, try a new rug and see what it does for the room.  It's an easy style trick and one that can easily be changed when you get tired of it.  Above all, play and experiment.  Bring a few home and see what looks the best.  (And don't forget a non-slip rug pad.) You might be pleasantly surprised with the results.