Friday, August 31, 2012

Strong pattern & repetition. Living room in Long Island, USA

- A strongly patterned rug,
- Crown molding in a color contrasting the walls but in a hue related to the rug,
- The repetitive design of the wall molding panels,
- A series of white lamp shades on all the table lamps throughout the room - are all elements that emphasize the unity of the room, and it feels a bit overdone.

Instead of a huge rug, a choice of several smaller rugs could break so much continuity and define smaller seating/activity areas in the room.

Although there is so much seating around, there is actually not a single conversation area – every single seating piece is isolated and disconnected from the rest.
The furniture arrangement gives you the feeling of being in a hotel lobby not the feeling of being in a home.

Living room; Long Island, USA. Steven Gambrel. Interior photo via Architectural Digest


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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Unusual building, massive windows, expansive living area. London, England

Beautiful: this living area is flooded with natural light.

The rest is on the flip side:
The inside architecture chops the main facade windows in a cruel manner (see the photos and read my further comments).
Fortunately, some original architectural details, the arched windows on the two far end sides of the space, are kept intact.
The beautiful windows are inherited from the building where this space is located, inside a former church (see the building in the last photo). border= border=

As I am not going to talk more about the newly created architecture because critiques on the architecture are beyond the purpose of this blog, there is not much left to say (or there is?) regarding the actual interior / living area:

- there is a huge L-shape sofa in a solid bold pink color;
- a few pillows in a saturated solid purple color and in the same texture as the sofa's upholstery decorate the sofa. Two additional purple cushions sit on the window sill;
- placed somewhere there is a chair in solid bold purple and in the same texture as everything else that is upholstered in here;
- placed randomly there are two ottomans in the same solid bold pink and in the same texture;
- a tiny coffee table in a transparent material (glass) is absolutely lost;
- various artworks and miscellaneous cover some wall space. The attempt is so poor, the pieces simply look scattered throughout, having bad placement also: they are placed at inconsistent heights and way too high on the walls to be enjoyed, or, just left on the floor.

The result is far from being a successful contemporary, relaxed, casual decor, but a total 'I-have-no-idea-what-to-do-with-such-a-space-so-I-will-put-a-pink-sofa-in-here.'

In other words the interior cannot carry on with the impressive shell:
- the color scheme seems incomplete: the furniture is in the form of two bold blocks of saturated hues of pink and purple.
No accent colors, no variety in texture, no pattern are present to complete the scheme.

- the same texture is repeated over and over without any variation throughout all the seating pieces and pillows.

There are some very vague attempts to bring in some texture, pattern, or accent colors - the insignificant blue pillow tossed and lost on the purple chair, the blue, or red, or yellow artwork.
These choices are totally incoherent, and they only succeed to accentuate even more the incongruence of the design decisions.

- the place has a sad generic feeling - there are absolutely no personal touches in this place (well, actually there are a couple of books left on the coffee table ...).

- the enormous facade windows provide a fantastic natural light indeed, yet the windows' size and their bareness are overpowering for a human dwelling.

The windows' impact, their massive scale could be softened from the interior though.

Not even to mention, as I have already said right on the beginning, how the new architecture / the ceiling brutally chops off the top part of the arches so their full shapes are not visible from the interior, leaving the windows in a state of mutilation.

- the artificial light seems very bad - there are no layers of light.

How does the space look and feel at night when the abundance of natural light is gone?
There is no trace that an inviting, warm, cozy, intimate, romantic, glamorous, ... mood could be created in here in the evenings.

And, following the precedent idea, how does the space feel when it rains (and it rains quite a bit in London) with all the space massively exposed to the elements via the bare windows?

Overwhelmingly empty, desolate, lonely might be some words that could describe the feeling of being in here at night or on bad weather days?

Overall, this is an expansive space dominated by mutilated windows, and without an aesthetically consistent relationship of parts.
And to miss creating any sort of interior decor connection with the beautiful exterior it's a real shame.


Very long post ... I made it way much longer and way more detailed than normal.
I suppose it's because of the disappointment of seeing that the potential of such a gorgeous and unique building was just wasted ...

Living area; London, England. DOS Architects. Interior photos via Freshome & DOS Architects.


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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pink staircase and very good use of a hidden space

There are several good things about this 'stairs-and-under-the-stairs' space.

The pink staircase is an excellent choice: it sets the tone by giving an immediate bold feeling to the interior.

Imagine these stairs in a yellowish-brown wood color that is often seen in more traditional houses.
How much such a dull color would date this space.

At the 'switch' of a color this interior is transformed into a contemporary, chic place.

The presence of the forest wallpaper in the background introduces variety in a perfect way: it is subtly colored but boldly patterned.

Very good use of space: an often 'dead' under-the-stairs area is utilized by placing three storage boxes into that recessed spot.

But the really good thing about the created area is that it doesn't look like one that you may want to actually hide it behind: what is functional looks pretty too because around the three boxes a very pleasant vignette is created.
(And note that the boxes are identical in shape but they have slightly different colors that introduce a pleasant variety).

The result is that the eyes are actually fooled into looking and enjoying the lovely display of objects without even noticing the dual purpose of storing.

I mean practical can always be pleasing to the eye.
In other words practical should never mean a chaotic mess.

Stairs and under-the-stairs. Interior photo via Marie Claire Maison.


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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Style

Wearing pink and blue, and a dash of purple in a play of shiny and matte suede textures.
The tousled hair together with the accessories relax the structured look of the clothing pieces.

I kept the lower part of the outfit simple, while adding interest on the upper part via the accessories:
- a blue sash belt connects the top and bottom pieces;
- a large purple brooch pined at the waist adds a dash of accent color;
- the belt and the flower draw the attention to the waist area and to the design detail of the top (the peplum); 
- the shoulder length earrings add further interest to the upper part;
- a large silver man's watch creates contrast and gives a subtle twist to the feminine outfit.

Shoes (not seen): a pair of heels in a color skin tone. 

Large scale mirror, bottom heavy interior - Dining room in New York, USA

The large mirror might have a grand presence yet ...

The table that has massive legs and the chairs that have thick decorative legs try to balance the effect of the massive mirror, but the result is actually the opposite.

Everything - from the massive mirror that is placed on the floor leaning against the wall, to the heavy legs of the table, to the chairs that have the horizontal spindles very low, close to the floor - drags the room down.
In other words, the room is so bottom heavy.

Although the two chandeliers attempt to bring some visual weight on the upper part too, their presence is too light and cannot compensate for the visual weight that exists on the bottom part.

Not to mention that by the way it is positioned the mirror reflects twice the objects at the floor level, adding more to the imbalanced effect.   

Perhaps by:
- hanging the mirror on the wall;
- adding some crown molding; 
- choosing taller chairs that don't have low spindles will help the room getting a more balanced look on the vertical.

Dining room; New York, USA. Interior photo via Elle Decor.


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Monday, August 27, 2012

Pattern - when too much of it is just too much?

The infusion of pattern in this interior might show that you love pattern and you are not afraid of it, but it doesn't show at all that you know how to use it well, and the result is overwhelming.

The problem is not that there is too much pattern, the problem is that the there is too much pattern in too much the same style.
The repetition of a variety of patterns in very similar floral design, very similar scale, and the same color palette is just excessive.

Do you imagine dressing yourself in a head-to-toe flowery dress, or in a flowery shirt + flowery skirt/trousers, then add a flowery scarf, a flowery bag, and flowery shoes - all of them in a mishmash of indistinguishable floral patterns? What an apparition you would make ...

Same with interiors: in order to pull a room / design right you have to introduce clear variety and contrast.

Bedroom. Interior photo via Traditional Home

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Past and present - Living room in Rome, Italy

This interior was created inside a historical shell, a 16th-century Roman palace.

The beam ceiling that is centuries old brings a beautiful patina.
Other elements - the tiles on the floor, the decorative wood doors, the very deep niches that frame the large windows give the interior the feeling of age, rough, grandeur but without being overwhelming.

Amidst these details reminding the past of the building a clear contrast makes a bold presence: the staircase.

The staircase is all about making a decisive contemporary statement: it is a very sculptural element that puts a strong contemporary mark on the place through its minimal design and its very noticeable central position.

Also, through its position the staircase acts as a clear but in a very non-interfering way space divider.
(The staircase's openness might make some people quite nervous though ...)

A mix of imposing contemporary art pieces and old and new furniture successfully reflects and embodies both the present and the past.

A wonderful room that has one foot in the 16th-century and the other in the very present.

Living room; Rome, Italy. Livia Rebecchini. Photos via Architectural Digest.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Off the ground - Raised sitting area. Dining room in white in Greece

This house immediately identifies itself as not an ordinary one.

Instead of a customary sitting area on the floor level, a platform off the dining area level hosts the benches / sofas playing with the vertical use of space and giving a cocoon like feeling to the place.
You feel like a child eager to retreat in your secret, hidden spot.
What an original nook to relax, and to savor some peaceful moments after a meal.

The painted on the ground 'rug' under the dining table and the three small chairs for kids keeps up and greatly plays with the same whimsical idea.

Dining & sitting area; Cyclades, Greece. Paola Navone. Photo via Marie Claire Maison

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dining room with patchwork wall in London

A lovely eclectic and very well layered room.

The wallpaper patchwork on the wall is engaging and delightful:
- it creates a fantastic focal wall;
- the infusion of patterns works very well because the rest of the furniture pieces are transparent, the flooring is white, and they don't demand for immediate, simultaneous attention.

After the 'wow' reaction in front of such a wall calms down a little, it is time for the furniture and furnishings that at the first glance seemed to be so quiet to arouse your attention.

And look at the pieces, each one has something to say on its own: from vintage to industrial to classic lines that are re-interpreted in a very contemporary way each piece contributes with something intriguing 'to the table'.

The dining table and the three different foreground chairs are tied by the use of materials that have a similar appearance.
The forth chair, the orange leather one, comes to spice the things up and it provides a contrast with the rest of the seating yet at the same time it creates a connection with the colors in the wall.

And another element that shows the attention to details and to how everything was incorporated into the whole is the flooring.
Look at how the planks run diagonally instead of a being laid in a more 'expected' way which might actually spoil the entire effect of the room.

A lot of visual movement that is very well controlled, and a lot of personality in this room!

Dining Room; London, England. Emily Chalmers. Interior photo via Houzz

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Living rooms with fireplaces

In the two interiors I choose today the fireplaces have completely different presence.

So, let's begin.

In the first photo the fireplace has a very subtle presence.

The white-on-white mantel, over mantel, and legs make the fireplace hardly noticeable.

The only evident elements are the firescreen and the tools, and they look delightfully graphic.

The fireplace's minimal appearance allows the beautiful windows with their black frames to stand out against the white walls, and to have a clear and strong presence in this Spanish bungalow.

- Patterns (animal print on the large ottoman / coffee table and geometric print on the decorative pillow),
- Bright colors (pink in the flowers, blue in the vase, golden-brown in the table lamp's base)
are scattered throughout the room.

Although this variety has no apparent common element the pieces work actually very well together due to the fact that they are present in small doses and due the simplicity of the rest of the interior.
Each of these pieces is very noticeable on its own yet not in an interfering, disrupting way but as a whole that together brings interest and infuse energy into the decor.

In the second photo the fireplace has a completely different dimension and impact.

The fireplace is the feature element of the room.

The wall molding together with the portion of the wall above it that is painted in a darker color play with the proportions of the room in order to humanize the scale of the space.
Opposite of the 'bringing down' effect comes the size of the fireplace that fills the wall entirely on the vertical dimension to give a majestic feeling to this double-height ceiling room.

The art collection framed similarly and the pools of light spread throughout the room keep the eyes moving around smoothly.
The mix of textures and patterns enrich the monochromatic color scheme while allowing the fireplace to stand out, to be the crown of the decor.

Living rooms with fireplaces. Interior photos via HGTV

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Penthouse in New York, USA

- for how the outdoor is literally brought in;
- for how the vegetation is incorporated as a texture;
- for how the planted zone creates a focal point in an urban loft;
- for how the central green area plays the role of uniting, yet separating and defining the other areas in the open space;
- for how the green is used as an accent color;
- for how seamlessly the interior flows.

Penthouse, New York, USA. Joel Sanders Architect. Interior Photos via ArchDaily

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Open floor plan: Living room & Dining room in California, USA

In this room the furniture that comes in two heavy sets seem so immovable, that the sensation of inflexibility is overwhelming, almost oppressing.

Not to mention that:
- two sets of furniture in the same room is way, way too much. Way more than a (any) room can bear.
In many circumstances even one set is one set too much.
- the set of two sofas is visually much more heavier than the dining room set, therefore the room feels like it visually tilts on the right side where the two sofas are positioned;
- the lack of a rug under the dining set to ground this area accentuates the 'tilting' effect;
- a color scheme comprised of mostly browns, and the added fussy swags as part of the windows treatment contribute even more to a cheesy feeling, and interior.

Although the furniture might be / seem of a certain elegance, the way everything looks together suggests another time and place, but not in a positive way at all.
This is not the right way to achieve a grand feeling.

In other words, this interior lacks texture, pattern, color, emphasis, variety, contrast, good lighting ...
In other words (yes, my repetition is deliberate) the decor consists of a dull unity given by the repetition over and over of furniture in an identical style, identical textures, and a monochromatic color scheme.

Why don't you:
- Get rid of the swags. They are perhaps the worst element in this decor.

- Replace the coffee table with one that has a pedestal base in other texture than wood (cement, brass, ... ) and a glass top.
  You do this:
   - to break down the unimaginative set of two sofas and matching coffee table, and to introduce texture, variety, contrast.

- Replace the rug in the sitting area, and buy an additional rug for the dining area.
  You do this:
   - to introduce some color in the room,
   - to give definition to the dining area.

- Re-position the dining table so its long side to be parallel with the back of the sofa.
  You do this:
   - to create a balanced furniture layout. At this moment the room is off-balanced, with a lot of space on one side of the table, and almost none towards the window.

- Find an interesting piece of art and place it above the mantel.
  You do this:
  - to create a feature out of the fireplace that looks completely neglected at the moment, and to create a focal point in the room.

- Place a floor screen behind the sofa next to the dining area.
  You do this:
  - to conceal the back of the sofa which is not very aesthetic,
  - to create separation between the two areas,
  - to make less evident the presence of two furniture sets.

- Create layers of light.
   You do this:
   - because to have ceiling light only in the form of recessed lights is the surest way to spoil any atmosphere. Place floor lamps and / or table lamps on the sides of the sofas.

Below is a collage I created as an inspiration source:

- at left, for the dining area: a blue rug in a geometric pattern and a blue chandelier introduce color, and pattern;

The floor screen creates a soft, non-intrusive visual separation.

- at right, for the sitting area: an Art Deco rug in brown, red, orange, and black introduces color and pattern. The coffee table with brass base and glass top introduces texture.
The art above the mantel creates a focal point.
The colors tie the area together.

Although the furniture sets are still here this aspect seems less evident, as the two living and dining area get to have each its own personality.

Collage: Oana Singa

My picks

At left:
Chandelier; steel, brass and crystal. At Van Den Akker Antiques, New York, NY, USA
Rug, blue and black geometric pattern. At Doris Leslie Blau, New York, NY, USA

At right:
Floor screen. At Z Gallerie
Art, 'Aggregation 12-MY030' by Kwang Young Chun. At Hasted Kraeutler, New York, NY, USA
Coffee table; sculptural brass tree base, glass top. At ABC Modern, Atlanta, GA, US
Rug; Art Deco pattern. At 46 Kloosterstraat, Antwerp, Belgium 

Although detailed, the post doesn't intend to be a thorough or set-in-stone 'solution' but rather an inspiration.
And I hope it helps!

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Friday, August 10, 2012

My Style

Strolling in the city of San Francisco ...
Wearing a mix of horizontal stripes and hound's tooth patterns in a similar color palette that unifies them.
A statement necklace in a contrasting gold gives a fanciful twist to the look of classic patterns.
A scarf worn over my hair completes the very relaxed, playful look.

Rooms in Pink

The pink rooms I choose today cover a wide range: from pink in a girls bedroom to pink in a grown-up, sophisticated glamorous decor.

So, let's start.
The first photo is a girls bedroom.

The pink color on the walls makes a statement indeed, yet the room feels that it starts and stops here, with the walls.
Many elements (e.g. texture, variety, contrast) that should be present in order to add interest seem to be neglected.
In spite of the touches of dots on the bedding, and the two decorative pillows that add some additional pattern the decor feels too safe, bland, and incomplete.

Girls bedroom. Suzanne Kasler. Interior photo via Elle Decor

The next photo is a grown-up room where the shade of pink goes towards magenta.

The pink-magenta - yellow-gold - brown color scheme is excellently pulled together, and in a very good color balance and proportion: pink as a dominant, yellow and brown as secondary, white as accent.

Very nice mix of patterns too.
The pattern on the walls makes a strong statement while the window treatment that uses solid color fabric with just an edge detail calms the things down by adding some visual lightness to the heavily patterned walls.

The repetition of yellow-gold in the window treatment, the art piece above the mantel, the ottoman, the details in the sofas' piping, and the yellow of the natural wood in the little stool in front of the fireplace keep the eyes moving around and create a wonderful unity.

Living room / Office. Katie Ridder. Interior photo via Elle Decor

The third photo is a very complex, sophisticated, glamorous interior.

Layers of different tints and shades of pink, textures and pattern, together with an eclectic selection of beautiful furniture and furnishings that range from classic to contemporary, abstract, and whimsical are combined on a highly elaborate level creating plenty of interest, variety and contrast.

The repetition of pairs - two hand chairs, two statues on the console in front of the window, two simple fabric panels framing the window, two sconces - create a welcome symmetry that brings balance in this highly energetic and engaging interior.

Home Office. Kelly Wearstler. Interior photo via Elle Decor

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cheerful simplicity - Terrace makeover

From sad and in a quite deplorable state this outdoor space became clean, exotic and cheerful.


AFTER: border=

And with not much really:

- Fresh paint for the unfinished facade / gray cement walls with attention to the details that make all the difference:
   - painting a white frame around the glass door that highlights and showcases its beautiful rounded shape,
   - contrasting the turquoise color with a white base

- A real staircase instead of a very cheesy improvisation in the form of a box covered with a flowered cloth

- Removing the bad-looking awning

- Replacing the messy and confused grouping of pots and plants on an unused concrete cube and on the floor nearby with a clean composition consisting of:
   - three herbs in small, identical pots
   - a sleek spice rack hung above them,
   - pink flowers on the floor that create a beautiful contrast with the turquoise color of the wall

- Painting a stylized olive on the wall in front of the true olive tree placed in front. 

A space that now breaths a cheerful simplicity.


AFTER: border=



Interior photos via Marie Claire Maison

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Traditional yet eclectic living room in Connecticut, USA

Well, if yesterday I posted a photo with me wearing a dress with piles of ruffles, today I take the ruffles to a next level - in this interior where extravagantly ruffled curtains frame the living room windows.
And what a statement the curtains make!

Everything else is kept pretty quiet - at least in terms of color if not in the design choices as well.

The seating is a very eclectic collection of pieces not much related in size or style: oversize, upholstered sofa and chairs sit next to slim, gracious, wood framed chairs. 
The conflict given by the choice of disparate parts tends to be the designer's signature though, as he has an inclination to like / create rooms "where there’s a tension".

The grooved plaster walls with their strong yet non-obtrusive verticals, and the neutral yet subtle patterned rug help achieve a balance.

Living Room, Connecticut, USA. Miles Redd. Interior photos via Architectural Digest

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