Pulling it together
There are lots of great ideas to take away from the new room setting I did for the day job. First, using 2 smaller scale sofas facing each other is perfect for creating balance. This is set up works great if you've got 2 focal points across from each other (fireplace/window and TV). The sofas here are in a neutral khaki which is the perfect backdrop for the red pillows and artwork. Think of it like wearing a tan coat with a red scarf.
I updated the Retail Projects section to show a new room vignette. It features one of my favorite color combinations--red, black and tan. It's gender neutral, stylish and easy to integrate into just about any space. Think about the clothes in your closet. I bet there's a fair amount of black and tan in there. A few accents of red (high heels, a tie--probably not both) are easy to work in to add some interest. There's lots of great ideas in this space. I'll break it down in the next entry to give you ideas you can adapt into your home.
Dining Room Basics
With Thanksgiving right around the corner (stuffing! pumpkin pie!), I thought it was a good time to share some suggestions on how to design your dining room effectively for entertaining. So much of design is math (or, more correctly, proportion) so having some general guidelines will allow you to make smart decisions.
• When trying to plan how many people can fit around a table, figure at least 24" per person.
• You also need at least 24" from the edge of the table to the wall so chairs can be easily pulled out. Add more if it's an arm chair so that people can get in and out comfortably.
• Mix and match pieces to create more interest. Gone are the days of the dining room "set". Adding pieces in another finish or style are a great way to keep the look fresh.
• Chandeliers should be hung between 33-36" above the top of the table.
• Choose a chandelier at least 12" narrower than your table to avoid the risk of head bumps as guests sit down and get up from the table.
• Use lower wattage bulbs to prevent glare.
• Area rugs should mimic the shape of the table (round tables are best on round or square rugs, not rectangular) but extend about 24" wider than the table on each side.
Design Inspiration-AT House Tour
I'm frequently asked about my own personal design style and how it permeates into my projects. Well, let's take the second question first--my style has no place in your house. Unless it happens to be your style. And that almost never happens. Today, while perusing Apartment Therapy, I saw a slideshow from a home that I would very happily call my own.
Effective design with neutrals
I wrote the other day about using color to reinforce a focal point within a room. But that much color is not for everyone. There's a reason why tan, off white and beige are the most popular colors for paint and upholstery--people like them (or are afraid of the alternative). There are a few tricks to making a neutral room work.
Build it Green NYC
I don't pretend to be the "greenest" gal on the block, but I am always a fan of making the most of your money. That's why I love finding places like the Habitat for Humanity Restores I wrote about a little while back. Bargain hunting you can feel really good about. I recently heard about BIGNYC (Build it Green NYC) and wanted to pass along this resource, too. Like the HFH stores, BIGNYC also sells building materials, salvaged items and furniture. This fantastic reference desk is only $100. Wouldn't it be great in a small home office for you and your spouse to use with laptops?
Creating emphasis-on the cheap
Please pardon the brief absence. I've been quite busy with the day job and the apartment hunt (apartment #1 fell through creating all sorts of challenges). But I wanted to share some great pictures from an article in the New York Times.The designer who lives here is renting while his permanent home is being built nearby. He wanted to create something that didn't feel temporary but didn't require a huge investment of time or effort.
Design Inspiration-Raphael Vineyard
A few weeks ago, I took a trip out to the wineries on the North Fork of Long Island for the day with my parents and sister. At this point, there's nothing Mom really needs for her birthday--but everyone wants a solid day of food, laughs and wine. Fall is the perfect time to make the trip out and after a few attempts, we finally wound up at Raphael Vineyards.
Is it a dealbreaker?
This past saturday I looked at apartments and happily found one. In each place, I tried to imagine how my belongings would look--where would my sofa go? Is there room for a desk? how should I arrange my artwork? The same things that everyone does when they walk into their perspective new home--unless they run, screaming. But before you ever go hunting, it's important to take the right tools with you. Because the search for a new home is a lot like dating; it's very easy to be blinded by pretty and end up with something that's not good for you.
Habitat for Humanity Restores
Always on the lookout for a solid bargain, I was really excited to learn about a great source for an even better cause. Habitat for Humanity has stores all over the country with donated building materials, furniture and cabinets. The vast majority of the building materials--everything from trim to caulk to hardware is brand new. That means those of you thinking about redoing a kitchen or bathroom can score brand new cabinets at 50% off retail--with the proceeds going to a great charity.
Christine Schwalm is an Interior Designer and Visual Merchandiser based in Los Angeles. This space will keep you updated on what's going on with CSD along with some ideas to inspire you. Go here for more information about pricing and services and here to make an appointment.