Let the Sun Shine In

Natural light is fabulous for homes. It is a proven mood enhancer and a great way to set a welcoming and positive vibe in your home. After such a long winter, our bodies and our spirits need a healthy dose of sunlight, and so I try to incorporate ways to allow natural light to flood in and brighten homes.

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To further reflect natural light, nothing beats a simple mirror. Hang a large mirror (or even a grouping of mirrors) on a wall opposite a window. A large mirror could actually double the amount of light in a room!

The color scheme in your home is also crucial to enhancing natural light. Dark walls can be striking, but they also absorb light. Light white or cream-based paint with a shiny satin finish will enhance reflection. Stay away from yellow tones, because although you’d think they would be an ultimate sunlight color, they actually can make a room look dingy. Whites and light grays are brighter options. And don’t forget to maintain this color scheme with the furniture and accessories, like in the fabulous sun room pictured above.

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Window dressings, such as these, allow light in while still providing privacy. The gossamer fabric reflects the light to enhance the room’s breeziness and brightness. This is also one of the reasons that I love to use transparent materials such as glass or Lucite – it catches and refracts the sunlight to further add brightness and serenity into the ambiance.

How are you letting the sun shine into your home? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

Adorn Your Home with Patterns for Spring

After a long Winter, I cannot wait for the start of Spring to enjoy the beauty of nature’s rebirth. With the outdoors blossoming anew, it’s also a great time to freshen up your indoor space.

Nature is often a bountiful source of inspiration for my designs. Bringing in organic textures and patterns not only adds visual interest and warmth, but also stimulates the senses. Incorporated strategically, they can showcase the focal points in each room throughout your home.

When working with patterns, you want to enhance — not distract — from the overall design of the room. One way to seamlessly work them in is to stay within the same color palette of the space. In the dining room below the striped plush upholstery on the chairs add sumptuous texture while drawing the eye toward the large scale artwork behind the table.

An easy and effective way to introduce patterns into a space is through accessories such as an area rug. A graphic rug not only helps tie a room together, but also makes it feel more intimate or sometimes even larger. For example, the wide-striped rug below in one section of my Westport gallery completes a cozy area for conversation and/or relaxation.

A bold piece of furniture, such as the coffee table below, can be another great way to introduce pattern or texture into a room. In this case, the table is the striking star of the room, yet the symmetry of the open wood grid structure allows it to blend in beautifully without overpowering the other elements.

What ways are you sprucing up your home design this Spring? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

 

Exploring Your Dark Side For The Ultimate in Luxury Home Design

I love a neutral palette, but I also love the juxtaposition of darker tones often found in warm woods that rev up a room’s dramatic factor. Rich, dark tones add drama, create a sleek depth, and organically complement the natural vibe and interior. To me, it adds to the sensuality of a space and underscores the luxury that every home should have.

The statement in this powder room is the reclaimed wood walls. Small spaces are often a great place to experiment with unusual materials, finishes, or colors. I like to keep it modern and sophisticated — never serious.

In the room above, I used charcoal tones on the wall to create an intimate, cozy space. The dark textured wall treatment softens the bright white upholstered chair and ottoman, petals of the vintage lamp, and the gleaming base of the side table. Black-and-white iconic photography further adds a noir atmosphere to the space. This wonderful reading corner creates a serene haven for anyone enjoying a book or decompressing in this private nook.

 

Both modern and rustic, the dark cabinetry in the sleek open kitchen above grounds the space and adds grandeur to the home’s entertaining area. The ebony stained wood is balanced by white marble counters, ceiling, and furnishings that illuminate the space and open up the room. Of course, the vintage Italian chandelier is the bit of unexpected bling that becomes the room’s showstopper.

Have you explored your darker side when decorating your home? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

The Modern Home Office

Often relegated to remote areas of the house, such as the attic or garage, home offices are sometimes an afterthought…but they shouldn’t be. Regardless of its location, if you work at home (and these days, who doesn’t?), you can have a modern, inspiring dedicated space that is both functional and productive. I spend time with my clients asking them important questions about how they work so we can come up with a design scheme that integrates into the home overall, but also so we can ensure everything has its place. Whether it’s plenty of shelving for books or personal mementos, filing systems, or the perfect desk and chair, no element is left out of the design.

In the project above, I designed an inviting modern space by keeping the lines minimal and clean while utilizing plush, functional furnishings for ergonomic energy. Abundant natural light, brightened by the white upholstered high-back desk chair and Lucite desk, streams in to energize the space and create a work environment that is invigorating and productive.

Built-in shelving provides plenty of storage for books and files as well as showcases well-chosen decorative pieces for a highly-organized and efficient space. The custom wall unit also offers a cozy reading nook under the large windows.

In contrast, the office I designed above has an intense luxury about it, and functions as part library/part office space.  It’s meant to be a more immersive, yet still comfortable, environment that allows one to get lost in their work or lost in a great book. Whether reading curled up in a leather club chair, working behind a massive mahogany desk, or sipping coffee in front of a roaring fire, such a sanctuary can serve as an escape from the rest of the world.

How do you get your home office to work for you?

First Impressions

As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. What is the first thing people notice about your home?

The front foyer is the first space that most guests experience in a home. For that reason, I love foyers that have a warm, welcoming focus, with a bit of intrigue. When I’m designing open spaces with high ceilings I keep it light and airy, usually with modern lines, softened with materials that organic or sometimes dramatic, elements. I love to play with light and art in a foyer space to create just the first impression.

 

Furniture pieces and art accessories are used to highlight architectural features. For example, in the foyer above, the organic touches of the giant clam shell and the twisted wooden bench highlight elements of nature, a sensation that is further enhanced and offset by the bright and airy space, creating an almost geometric beach scene. The modern white staircase with its glass rail system maximizes the abundant sunlight all throughout the foyer, creating a sensual and serene environment.   

Unconventionally-shaped spaces are an opportunity to create cozy nooks. In the space above, a plush chaise welcomes in guests. It is playfully skewed with the eccentric lines and shape of the staircase. Dark chocolate walls soften these lines to warm the space and add drama.

This foyer I designed is all about bringing the outdoors in. The lucite and wood bench works beautifully with the flowering branches. Through the doorway to the room beyond is large-scale, dramatic photography which pops and makes a transition space more exciting.

What first impression does your foyer make?

Shades of Glorious Gray

Long before a certain steamy mega-selling romance trilogy came along, I always knew gray was hot! As my signature color palette, I love how this sexy shade adds excitement and sensuality to any space. Its predominance in my designs — both home and furniture — has been well documented, even among top interior magazines who have published my work.

What draws me to gray is its limitless possibilities. Its a great hue for a modern home, allowing for a pure and serene display of the spectrum from black to white. All colors have ranges from white to black, but only gray has the achromatic purity that lets it truly explore the gradients of subtlety and severity.

A mix of gray shades can create a sultry, yet classic contemporary space. Darker grays can easily add drama to any room, and make the lighter elements pop out vividly.

Sophisticated and elegant, gray allows the palette to open up to subtler changes. It can create a happy medium between the extremes of black and white that adds an aura of refined drama. It also is incredibly playful with light. A middle-toned gray can change dramatically from light to dark depending on the light source.

When it comes to texture, grays in textiles add depth and sensuality to a bedroom. The leather headboard in my Bond Bed above complements the dovetail gray wood base. Metallic fabrics create a glamorous shimmer, while dark gray fur accent pillows and cool linens add color and tactile contrast.

One of my favorite things about gray is how its changing shades interact with light. While the darker shades soak up light and create beautiful black voids, the brighter shades bounce light around to illuminate the space. The combinations of these can create dramatic shapes not only with the objects themselves, but also with the luminosity that emits from them.

If you love gray as much as I do, tell me about it in the comments, or share this post with your friends! Let’s spread the Gray Revolution!

Bath, Bliss and Beyond

It’s the room that you head for to start–and end–your day. The master bathroom’s function can’t be overstated, yet its design is one that’s often overlooked. Creating a serene, sumptuous bathroom can make a difference in how your day begins and ends.

When designing a home, I want to make it a personal sanctuary for each client. This includes the master bathroom, which is an extension of the master bedroom. I see bathrooms as a haven for relaxation, rejuvenation, and even romance.

Here are ideas from some of my past projects to help you create your own peaceful retreat:

In this space I wanted to create an open, airy environment with distinct areas for bathing, showering and grooming. A vintage clawfoot tub adds romance and beckons you in for a long, luxurious soak. Natural organic materials, such as wood and straw, add texture and balance the sleek surfaces of the lucite, glass, marble and enamel. A rough-hewn wood chair and natural sponges bring the outdoors in.

 

Covered floor-to-ceiling with natural stone tile, this intimate space affords the opportunity to utilize an abundance of luxurious materials to create a calming escape.  

A wall of floor-to-ceiling windows add drama and substantial natural light, while voluminous sheer drapes soften the room with romance. Separate sinks and vanities provide each person their own space, while a freestanding tub-for-two and fireplace encourage cozy romantic rendezvous.

What are some ways you’ve made your bathroom your haven?

“Gather Round” – Did you catch my work in the January Issue of CT&G?

The January issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens featured one of my kitchens in a great article on one of my favorite spaces to design in a home. The article, titled “Gather Round” starts on page 68 and covers all types of kitchens, from Modern to Refined, Organic to Traditional. My project fell into the Organic category, which I take as a great compliment. As you probably know, I love to incorporate the natural energy of a space into my design, so I’m so glad that this organic kitchen was included in such a fantastic article!

 

Built-In Design

One challenge in most homes is maximizing storage space and minimizing clutter. This is especially true when keeping a contemporary design aesthetic, where clean lines and minimalism are hallmarks. An elegant solution is built-ins. It’s an unobtrusive way to store your things while adding architectural elements to your space.

In the home above, I used floor-to-ceiling closets in dark wood to provide visual interest as well as a dramatic backdrop to the sumptuous bed. Soft, luxurious white bed linens contrast and balance the dark wood closet doors.

Built-in storage doesn’t have to be elaborate either. It can be as simple as a recessed space in the wall. For example, in the room above, the fire wood stacked neatly and out of the way in a nook beside the fireplace not only adds room to the hearth and keeps it clutter-free, but also serves as an organic complement to the mantle above.

What clever ways have you integrated storage into your home design?

Lucite in the Sky With Diamonds

I’ve been collecting beautiful pieces of art and antiques since I was sixteen. This passion led me to start my own antiques business before expanding into a full-scale interior design career. Today, striking art and antiques are integral in my designs, and I’m always on the hunt for unique pieces that I can use in my projects.

Recently, I came across this stunning lucite bar cart, currently at its (temporary!) home in my gallery, that would add swank to any home entertaining. I stocked it with some of my favorite crystal barware to help amplify the glitter and glam.

An authentic vintage piece from the 1960s, this bar cart is made almost entirely from lucite, one of my favorite materials. Lucite, also known as acrylic glass, is strong yet lightweight and has a sturdy transparency that gives it a futuristic appearance. Although most everything on this cart is made from lucite–even the nails that hold the pieces in place–the mirror tray bottoms and chrome castors add to the Retro Modern sensibility of that time.

To me, this beautiful bar cart evokes the cool chic of the 1960s. I can see it carrying cocktails in the offices of the top Mad Men of the day, or maybe in an elegant New York City hotel suite bearing drinks for the Fab Four.

I find this piece works particularly well with my signature gray color palette. Its beveled edges and mirrored surfaces refract dazzling shades when enclosed in a gray space. It’s a truly fantastic find that just needs a room that suits it best!

Do you have a favorite piece of furniture? Tell us about it in the comments below.