Design Tips

 These bookcase shelves house steel plates on hidden tracks, allowing the artwork to be rearranged. Photo by Beth Singer
These bookcase shelves house steel plates on hidden tracks, allowing the artwork to be rearranged. Photo by Beth Singer

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Design Tips: Open Shelving

Open shelves can instantly update any space. Seven top designers share their styling tips for creating well-edited shelves.

“The bookcases in this living room were custom-made from walnut frames with contrasting natural Tamo ash panels. The floating shelves were designed to create an interesting but clean entertainment unit highlighting collected pieces of art. There is a steel plate on each shelf that can slide on a hidden track, allowing for a backdrop for the art pieces that can be rearranged if any items are replaced. The art ranges from a piece made of metal from space, a collection of Pewabic Pottery, to found objects.”
– Amanda Sinistaj, Ellwood Interiors

“I consulted with a custom woodworker to create these white laminated shelves that give symmetry and balance to this wood wall. They also fill the space and give some relief to the otherwise dark background of the wood.  Keeping the art pieces simple added some interest but maintained the clean, contemporary look of the space.”
– Ann-Marie Anton, It’s Personal Design

“I used floating shelves in my personal kitchen since I love the casual sophistication of a more European look that portrays real life and how you live as staged perfection. The open floating shelves, combined with ample cabinet drawers, provide plenty of flexible storage while allowing me to showcase my eclectic aesthetic. I chose to style my shelves with my everyday dishes, candlesticks, glass coffee jar, wine, and art.”
– Carrie Long, Carrie Long Interiors

“It was important to our client to have the memories of mementos that she had collected over the years. Floating shelves seemed like the perfect solution to capture our client’s keepsakes in this popular gathering spot.”
– Michelle Mio, Rariden Schumacher Mio & Co.

"Floating shelves can be used beyond the obvious storage or decoration. Here you can see we used floating shelves from Extraordinary Works to create architectural interest. The thick white shelf strikes a beautiful contrast against the wood, creating frame and dimensionality for the wine storage feature."
– Rachel Nelson and Lauren DeLaurentiis, RL Concetti LLC

“In this contemporary dining room, I opted for a floating shelf rather than a console table or credenza in order to maintain a lighter, more open feel within the space. With no need for additional storage, the shelf provides a surface for serving during dinner parties, while the dramatic grain of the zebrawood veneer offers visual interest without overpowering the dynamic Isabel Bigelow lithographs above.”
– Kevin Serba, Serba Interiors

“Floating shelves are a favorite of mine because they provide a strong linear statement that gives order to a collection of items, or emphasis on a single, minimal object. I feel floating shelves must hold a well-curated collection of objects that have a strong point of view, or common thread, such as theme, color, or material.”
– Amy Weinstein, AMW Design Studio

Laura Zender used fresh fabrics when incorporating café curtains in her clients’ bathrooms. Photos by Jeff Garland
Laura Zender used fresh fabrics when incorporating café curtains in her clients’ bathrooms. Photos by Jeff Garland

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Window Treatments

With spring right around the corner, windows take center stage as our thoughts turn to balmy breezes and the sun-filled days ahead. Top designers share their tips for creating window treatments that frame the view and finish the room beautifully.

“At Laura Zender Design, we are big fans of the tried-and-true café curtain, especially in places like bathrooms where consistent light and privacy are equally required. A café curtain is one hung only part way up the window, the way many old roadside cafes used to cover their windows, hence the name. Gone, however, are the days of your grandmother’s lacy polyester café curtain on a flimsy white tension rod. We modernize ours with fresh up-to-date fabrics (like the silky blue and white Schumacher pictured above), sleek pinched pleats, and beautiful nickel or iron rods with rings. This is a great way to add pattern, interest, and privacy while maintaining good natural light through the top half of the window at all times. There is a reason this traditional treatment endures: it’s so functional and can be dressed up or down in an unlimited number of ways.” – Laura Zender, Laura Zender Design

Tucked away in a wooded area of Torch Lake, a new-build home, designed by Jones-Keena & Co., marries rustic with the sleek elegance of modern. The combination of wood, stone, and metal textures embraces the charm of a classic farmhouse, while feeling fresh and updated. The home is outfitted with a high-performance shade system that seamlessly works with the design and architecture. Jones-Keena & Co. designers Lucy Earl and Amanda Rose worked alongside home technology specialists, Spire Integrated Systems, to install Lutron QS Wireless motorized window treatments paired with Hartmann & Forbes window covers (available at Tennant & Associates) to offer semi-privacy and block harsh midday sun. The custom woven natural fabric complements the organic aesthetics of the room. The shades are artfully concealed in the millwork when not in use.

“Open-weave sheers are a good choice for screening late-day sun from an expansive set of windows, while preserving the view beyond. The treatment can be controlled manually or electronically by remote. We selected a Kravet Couture open-weave sheer with a Samuel & Sons edge trim.

A tightly woven linen with a natural shell edge trim was selected for the adjacent entertaining space. No light filtering treatment was required here, but both fabric and trim were selected to coordinate with the adjoining rooms as well as to camouflage a structural column that interrupted the view. We chose a Kravet linen paired with a Samuel & Sons trim to provide a well-curated waterfront window treatment.” – Kathleen McGovern, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design

“Window treatments can elevate a room not only aesthetically but functionally. Natural light is a powerful part of a room and often becomes the differentiator for a multipurpose room. For instance, when addressing the needs of our client in their front room, we recognized that when being used for a casual conversation letting the light pour in is a must, but when it's time to transform into a theater room blackout shades from Hunter Douglas were needed. Windows are often dressed in layers, so the addition of the fixed panels not only complemented the arched window but also covered the light gap, ensuring a tighter light seal.” – Rachel Nelson and Lauren DeLaurentiis, RL Concetti LLC

“Once used solely to keep out heat and cold, window treatments now have both functional (privacy) and aesthetic (the pretty part) considerations. For my client’s master bath remodel, we wanted to transform the room in to a warm haven with a traditional feel. The large window is in the front of the house. Privacy was a must, as was natural daylight. Because this window is right near the tub, we chose to install faux wood blinds. The vanes resist moisture and are easily adjustable for either total privacy or to let in daylight and fresh air. For dimension, style, and softness, we echoed the color palette of the room by layering an elegant balloon valance over the blind in a cream and bronze damask.” – Linda Shears, Linda Shears Designs

“In this space, I chose wood plantation shutters to keep the focus on the woodwork and not overwhelm the space. The shutters are divided into two sections for greater light and privacy control. Keeping the lower section closed also enables the homeowners to look outside, but not the dogs!” – Dawn Jacobs, Artichoke Interiors

Pecky cypress was used on the walls throughout this Florida home by Kathleen McGovern. Photo by Jeff Garland

Pecky cypress was used on the walls throughout this Florida home by Kathleen McGovern. Photo by Jeff Garland


Thursday, January 31, 2019

Open Floor Plans

While prior to World War II, most homes had a central hallway that provided access to separate rooms with specific functions, innovations in construction materials and a more casual lifestyle have given way to homes with more open concepts. Several of the area’s top interior designers share their tips for creating functional open floor plans for their clients’ homes.

“We recently completed a vacation home in Casey Key, Florida. Off the kitchen we were able to create multiple seating areas that allowed a view of the ocean from every angle. Managing the flow of the continuing space is very important when designing and furnishing an open floor plan. The consistent use of color and material allows the eye to move easily from one space to another. Not only did we continue the use of color in the chosen fabrics but also in the pecky cypress used to cover the walls.” – Kathleen McGovern, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design

“It is important to work off the architectural features when creating a floor plan. For example, this large fireplace and pitched ceiling called for a large sectional and entertainment center that complemented the grand scale. Directly behind the sectional is a small game table centered on a narrow two-story wall. We used a textural wallcovering and three pendant lights to accentuate the wall and centered the game table on it. By working with the architecture, we were able to successfully create two distinct areas while maintaining an open floor plan. To successfully create an open floor plan you need to find ways to delineate space. Two ways to do this is through thoughtful consideration of furniture placement and rugs. By using an 'L' shaped sectional and facing it toward the fireplace, we created a natural barrier to the game table area. We then placed large complementary area rugs to 'ground' each furniture arrangement, making each space feel warm and inviting yet open.” – Rachel Nelson and Lauren DeLaurentiis, RL Concetti LLC

“My client’s home on Lake Michigan illustrates two major challenges of open floor plans – color flow and furniture placement. The same background wall color (Sherwin Williams #6128 Blonde) travels from the dining room through the great room and into the kitchen. Because of the change in ceiling height in the kitchen, we could have transitioned from the lighter blonde shade to a darker tone but chose not to at my client’s request. For the furnishings, we used an analogous color scheme of related earth tones and color mapped/repeated those colors across the entire space to create flow and unity. With an open floor plan, conversational spaces are created by floating the furniture in groupings. The sitting area in the great room illustrates this point, grounded by an area rug that defines the space and highlights our color palette.” – Linda Shears, Linda Shears Designs

The key to managing an open floor plan, per Jones-Keena & Co. principal Lucy Earl, is appropriate furniture placement to define the space. In this large open room of a new-build home, Lucy incorporated six distinct living areas using furniture alone. The modern room includes a kitchen, breakfast bar, dining area, fireside seating, entertainment/TV area and a wall-length banquette – which allows for extra dining space. The clients enjoy this room being the central hub of their beautiful new home. – Lucy Earl, Jones Keena & Co.

“It is important in open space planning that the rooms flow together by using the same flooring throughout. Don’t have wood in one place and tile or carpet in another. This new kitchen (pictured above) had the wall removed between kitchen and the dining room for an open look. All of the flooring in the dining room, living room, kitchen, and foyer were replaced with wood flooring for a continuous look. More cabinets were added along the back wall to the dining room window. Moving and not centering the dining table and chandelier made the dining room very workable with the extension table and freed up floor space. In the other kitchen pictured above a wall was removed where the kitchen separates the lounge area. A support beam column was added on the countertop, opening up the whole kitchen/entertaining area. The column is not just a column in that it has very narrow cabinets on three sides for spice storage.” – Lois Haron, Designs in Decorator Wood & Laminates Ltd.

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