Design Tips

Gail Urso chose eggplant walls to compliment the painting by Carla Mazzucato | Photo by Jeff Garland
Gail Urso chose eggplant walls to compliment the painting by Carla Mazzucato | Photo by Jeff Garland

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Color Gets Creative

While neutrals have a definite role in decorating, it is a refreshing change to see spaces that effectively use vivid colors. Whether through repeating vibrant colors from a painting throughout a space or incorporating a daring color scheme, when done correctly, unusual color combinations can make a stylish statement. From intense yellow to eggplant purple, several top designers share how they integrated color in striking ways.

“In both rooms the artwork inspired the vibrant wall colors. In the first instance, the eggplant walls provide a great background for the beautiful painting by Carla Mazzucato. The drapery fabric from Robert Allen, chair from Hickory Chair, and Conrad shades all employ a similar color palette to match the painting. In the family room, an inherited art collection inspired the rich shade of dark green that is a perfect background for the art.” – Gail Urso, Urso Designs

“About five years ago gray became the on-trend neutral color for interiors. From the cooler grays to the warmer greige tones, and the 500 shades in between, it is still a very popular neutral. Unlike beiges, which die as a backdrop for colors (especially the popular clean colors), grays really help colors pop. My client purchased a home that was very beige, and locked in the 1980’s. She is a young and perky individual who favors the cooler blue-grays and loves teal as an accent color. We cocooned the living room in grays – changing the carpet to a platinum grey, painting the walls Sherwin-Williams 7672 Knitting Needles and lightened the window treatments to white under-curtains with gray faux silk side panels. We brought the gray room to life by placing her favorite color teal on two lounge chairs, (not seen in the photo) accent pillows, and a throw. But the room still needed the spark of an exciting warm color. An obvious choice would have been teal’s complementary color, which is coral. But when we found the canvas which now hangs above the sofa, it set us on a path to use intense yellow as our missing element. In accessories and small scaled furnishings, the strong yellow creates a color path that leads the eye across the room via a method called color mapping and adds to the allure of the space.” – Linda Shears, Linda Shears Designs

“My client was searching for something unique in this dining room. Her point of reference in the past had been a more traditional aesthetic so moving into a modern prairie-style home with clean lines was a change. When she found this vintage Murano Glass chandelier, I was totally on board. She still wanted 'pretty' so this was a great way to add a punch of color into the home. It has a nice modern quality as well.  By the way, her favorite color is green!

In the young girl’s bedroom, the parent wanted to make sure it carried through to teenager and adult years.  Backgrounds were kept to a sophisticated gray palette.  The paisley on the bed from Schumacher was our starting point with its pale gray, pale blue, and yellow embroidery stitch work. We used the pale blue (In Your Eyes from Benjamin Moore) on the ceiling to create the 'sky'. It was the natural decision to frame the window in bright yellow silk from Schumacher as it frames the window perfectly bringing the outside into the room. Additionally, the draperies were mounted on the front edge of crown to hide the automated shades hidden behind.” – Ian Hartwell, Oliver Max Inc.

“Popular opinion suggests that art should be viewed on a neutral, or many times, a museum white background. I hold the opinion that sometimes the colors selected by the artist may dictate the best background, or wall color to enjoy the piece. This was the case of selecting the backdrop color for the work of local artist, James Kristich, in this apartment dining room overlooking the Detroit River.

However, the obvious wall color of blue would have swallowed up this canvas, so we pulled out the unexpected vivid orange from the boats in this piece, thereby maximizing the beauty and energy of the blue tones in the image. Per the residents, it has clearly been an unexpected (and successful) color choice for those who have enjoyed the art and the room.” – Kathleen McGovern, Kathleen McGovern Studio of Interior Design

“For the turquoise space above, we sought inspiration from the beatnik musings of the Bloomsbury Set – a group of English artists, intellectuals, philosophers and writers who worked and studied together near Bloomsbury, London in the first half of the 20th century, and whose bohemian ways greatly influenced the aesthetics of their time and beyond. Lounge-like, a bit rumpled, far less than perfect – this space is meant to be an artist's retreat. A place to bask in the morning light with time to enjoy the simple pleasures of one's coffee, the art that surrounds, and to take the time to contemplate.

While we sought to keep the design in the kitchen pictured above focused on a minimalistic color palette of blacks, whites, and grays, that can get boring fast. To counteract the simplicity of the space, we chose to give the door to the screen porch a splash of vibrant yellow which speaks to the colorful personality of the homeowner.” – Krista Nye Nicholas and Tami Ramsay, CLOTH & KIND

“Black and white each represent an extreme that is a must in design. In the home above, black is taken to the extreme in the dining room. Black gives objects perfect form, and color shows amazingly well as you can see from the portrait on the back wall and the custom white tile surround on the fireplace.  Using the ebony paint in the entire room makes a powerful and striking statement. To accentuate the compelling dining room theme, the black is represented throughout the home via the use of window trim, crown molding, quartz kitchen counters (a mixture of black and white) as well complementing accessories while blending spectacularly with the white walls and cabinets in the kitchen.” – Rita O’Brien, Rita O’Brien Design Group

This pool house was designed by Lucy Earl and Kevin Hart. Photo courtesy of Kevin Hart
This pool house was designed by Lucy Earl and Kevin Hart. Photo courtesy of Kevin Hart

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Fun Summer Hideaways

It’s no surprise that Michiganders love to be near water, and although our summers may not last long, that does not stop us from maximizing our time in the sun. If you’re fortunate enough to have a pool or water on your property, how about a cozy spot adjacent to the water to eliminate trips into the main house or simply for relaxation? Several designers share their favorite summer hideaways.

Jones-Keena's Lucy Earl worked alongside architect Kevin Hart of Birmingham-based Kevin Hart & Associates in the build of a pool house to complement a client's 1927 Bloomfield Hills Tudor. For interior specifications, it was important for Lucy to use Old World materials to capture the vintage appeal of the main house. Lucy selected Pewabic tile, ancient brick flooring, dark mahogany, natural stone, and lantern lighting to stay true to the era. Other pool house highlights include an outdoor fireplace and his-and-her locker rooms.

Designer Paul Feiten’s own pool cabana features twelve stately Doric columns and the copper-clad cupola is the crowning touch atop cedar shingles. The lightweight Sunbrella® sheers from Pindler have an open basket-weave pattern that allows sunlight and wind to filter through it. While in the planning stage for the cabana, Paul had to appear in front of his neighborhood board to receive a variance due to the structure’s proximity to the city line. When asked to provide proof of hardship he replied, “Look at me; I’m fair-skinned and need the shade or I’ll fry!”

When the clients of Rita O’Brien, Rita O’Brien Design Group, moved home after spending six years in southeast Asia, they returned with a love of the Balinese culture. To capture that feeling in their new pool house, Rita incorporated the use of natural woods and stone as well as integrating precious artifacts, sculptures, and furniture collected by the clients overseas. To create the correct look, Rita used a clean white color palette that contrasts with the dark wood beams in the 20-foot ceiling. She used a mix of tiles and textures to create visual interest, all while allowing the Asian artifacts to stand out. This pool house is not just a place to change but also a serene spot with a full kitchen and a magnificent lower-level bedroom suite.

The homeowners of a backyard pool house designed by Rariden Schumacher Mio wanted a luxurious outdoor entertaining space. Complete with all the comforts of a resort, the pool and cabana make for the ultimate staycation! To extend its use deeper into the season, a fireplace and heaters were installed to warm up the cabana, and a fire table was added for cozy lounging in the sectional space. The homeowners also enjoy the hot tub nearly year-round. For full resort effect, lighting details such as portable solar-powered table lamps and floating light globes were added. In the pool house, the custom concrete countertops and fireplace surround were the perfect addition to this mix of materials. The fabrics are neutral yet interesting, with a play on patterns. The cabana is sleek with an organic flair with its primitive cocktail table, natural wood ceiling, and accent wall.

A boathouse designed by Amanda Sinistaj of Ellwood Interiors is nestled into the landscaping, which created a cozy yet private outdoor shower. It also has a bridge that leads to a flat-roof patio garden. There is an outdoor bar/grill area made from stone and cabinetry built from old barn doors and an incredible granite that looks like birch bark. A cabana awning opens to the inside, allowing guests to catch the full breeze in the small seating area, kitchen, and small bathroom. It's comfortable and quaint, and seconds away from a paddle-board adventure.

Linda Shears with her sisters in Venice, circa 2002.
Linda Shears with her sisters in Venice, circa 2002.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Vacation Inspiration

We wouldn’t grow as people if we remained forever in our little corner of the globe. For designers, travel serves as a conduit for creativity and inspiration. Perhaps centuries-old mosaics in India, hand-blown Murano glass viewed in Italy, or the turquoise beaches of Mexico will find their way into a designer’s repertoire once he or she arrives back home. A region’s architecture, geography, flora, and even cuisine can inspire, too.

“My favorite city in the world is Venice, Italy. Venice is nicknamed 'La Serenissima,' which translates to 'The Serene One.' My parents were born in Italy, so I have traveled there many times, often visiting Venice as part of the trip. The photos above are from a trip with my sisters in 2002. There is something mysterious and exotic about this island city, this city of romance. Its interiors are grand with a wealth of detail and rich color schemes of burgundy and dark reds. The powder room above was very much influenced by elements of Venetian design. We used a rich red Venetian plaster on the walls and embellished it with embedded stencils (thank you, Barbara Johnson from Walls of Virtue). Venetians have an ongoing love affair with elaborate glass accessories and intricate mirrors to glamorize their spaces. Most of us are familiar with Murano glass made on the Venetian island of Murano. In this powder room we used a detailed Venetian mirror and provided lighting via faceted glass pendants. The vanity, with its carved elements, bows to the Rococo style seen on many commodes in Venetian interiors.” – Linda Shears, Linda Shears Designs

“I recently traveled to Rome and Montenegro and was inspired by the incredible architecture, beautiful people and the insanely delicious food. The culture put an emphasis on spending time with family, specifically over food. Also, the 'vino' has inspired a few wine rooms I’m working on right now with elements influenced by Italy.” – Amanda Sinistaj, Ellwood Interiors

“The Maldives inspired me because their airport wasn’t built until around 1975, leaving it untouched by pollution, so the water is clear and even more amazing than any water I have ever seen. The color is unreal and the most sparkling blue. The Maldives is made up of hundreds of little islands and on our island, we were the only Americans of about 100 guests.

The other pictures above are from my trip to India. The garden design seen behind me at the Taj Mahal was done 100 years ago and features a medallion pattern that is very relevant in fabric designs today. Another palace in India also inspired me as it had the most reflective mosaics that were done hundreds of years ago.” – Paul Feiten, Paul Feiten Design

“The photos above are from my two-week trip to Italy. Even though I went to Rome and Florence, it was Venice that really struck me. Venice was a huge merchant city, so it was the cross-cultural architectural details that really interested me. Most of the photos I took were of details of the stone and iron work, which I found fascinating. In my travels I really like seeing how people live in ancient environments and how modern elements are integrated. One of the best examples was visiting the island of Murano, where artisans are using centuries-old techniques to create modern pieces.” – Arturo Sanchez, Art | Harrison Interiors

“Cabo San Lucas has been a destination spot my husband and I have traveled to for years. The colorful terrain, calming organic feeling, their use of indirect lighting in landscape and architecture has all heavily influenced my design style. Probably why I love blue so much – any shade of blue, as that is the color I most think of when going to Cabo.

Additionally, we keep going back to Italy. In my opinion, there is no other culture that pays attention to detail like the Italian culture. Their fashion designs are impeccable. The boutique shopping in Italy is inspiring in and of itself for their fashion sense. And, of course, the terrain and architecture is awe inspiring!” – Cheryl Nestro, Tutto Interiors