Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More Rugs

Still on the search for rugs to inspire the decor of the living room project I'm working on. This is not one I'm considering for this room, but it is one I found that I happen to like a lot. I'm a huge fan of overscaled, graphic patterns. I also love this blue-green combo. Cool color palettes have been speaking to me lately.

Along with rugs, I'm looking for art. My firm has some great sources we frequent for nice artwork, but I also love to scout local galleries. Some of my favorite places to look for art in Memphis are Palladio, Market Central and Gallery 56, all part of the same group and near one another on Central Avenue in Midtown; and Jay Etkin Gallery. Others I haven't been to in a while but that I've loved in the past include DCI Gallery, Lulalyn Gallery and Linda Ross Gallery.

Art is a funny thing to help someone purchase, because people have different ways of looking at it. For some, art is intensely personal and has to speak to them in some way. For others, it's just decoration, and as long as it fits with the color scheme and adds the right note to the decor, it's a go. I fall into the first camp. I buy art when I run across something I can't live without - I rarely have luck finding a piece for my own home when I'm actually looking for it. Then I'll make the pieces I collect fit with the design of my home in some way. I've also been known to design an entire room around one favorite piece. At any rate, it's not an area of design that I take lightly.

Art isn't an afterthought for me - it's usually my inspiration.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What I'm Working On

I'm waiting to be inspired, that's what I'm working on. Actually, I'm actively seeking inspiration. I'm working to find a good starting point for a living room project I've got going on, and I think it's going to come from the rug. The clients purchased two sofas and a chair-and-ottoman before calling me in, so I'm working around those pieces. I've already done some space planning, and I know what I need.

Now I just have to find it.

So I'm about to hit up a rug source I haven't used before, but love. I see this source (Madeline Weinrib Atalier) in magazines all the time, and I think nearly everything in the line is absolutely to die for. Hopefully my clients will feel the same way. At any rate, better run so I can get some good work time in before starting the holiday weekend. Woo-hoo!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thinking About Wallpaper, Part 2

I'm seriously enamored with wallpaper right now. I wish every project I have going could include wallpaper in some form or fashion. An accent wall. Maybe a framed chunk of a pattern turned into wall art. There are so many great papers out there these days, modern and graphic, more art than merely decoration.

I did just see one wallpaper project come to fruition - a chocolate brown paper with a large-scale, graphic leaf pattern printed in soft gold (shown at left). It's in the dining room of a 100-year-old house, a room big enough to stand up to the dark, warm color. It's gorgeous. Now we just need to furnish the room, a project I'm seriously looking forward to.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Interior Design Society

I've been meaning for a while to blog about a professional association I've joined. I learned about IDS, the Interior Design Society, at High Point Market in October, and I think it's a great group. IDS is targeted toward designers working in the residential side of the profession, which means it's aimed exactly at me. Other professional groups offer great benefits, as well, but no other group focuses solely on the needs and work of residential designers.

There's not a local chapter of IDS, but that's about to change if my co-worker and fellow IDS Memphis Kim Hamric have anything to say about it. Kim and I have taken steps to get a Memphis IDS chapter in the works. There aren't many members of the national group here yet, just eight to 10, so recruiting will be one our early chapter-forming activities. I'm really excited about the opportunity, because I think there are a lot of designers working locally who aren't actively involved in a professional association because they don't feel any groups are looking out for their unique needs as residential designers.

Originally formed as an offshoot of the National Home Furnishings Association, IDS has expanded its focus to cater to the needs of all residential design specialists, not just home furnishings dealers. I really hope Kim and I can build some excitement for this group. Eventually, we want to have monthly meetings with an educational focus. I'd love to network with more local members of the design trade, especially as my clientele and my writing portfolio grows.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Recent Stories

Along with designing, I do a lot of freelance writing, and I've been meaning to post stories here as they come out and plan to do that in the future. For now, I'm just going to post links to a few of my stories that have already run. All these ran in The Commercial Appeal newspaper in recent months. Here are descriptions and links:

1. This one is on DIY decorating and its pitfalls. Not that anyone can't or shouldn't decorate his or her own home. It is absolutely our right and one of the major perks of having our own place. But the advice of a professional is essential in some areas, and contrary to popular belief, it can actually mean saving money, too. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2009/jan/23/diy-dreams/

2. This story is about eco-friendly lighting options - and how to get the right type of light in your home without compromising the environment or your design aesthetic. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2009/jan/02/conserving-energy/

3. This piece ran a while back, but it's a favorite. It's on decorating babies' rooms. Definitely a soft spot in my heart for this topic. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/apr/04/in-the-nursery/

4. Another old favorite. This story chronicles the city's design past and discusses its future. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/jan/11/memphis-style/

Flavor of the Day

Today I'm into this store that's only on the West Coast that is available to the eastern half of the country through the design trade. We found Moe's Home Collection at High Point Market last year and loved it for its modern collection, fantastic red leather sofas and great prices.

Among my favorite Moe's pieces, along with the red leather, is a tall, narrow antiqued cabinet with glass doors that's painted a vivid, gorgeous robin's egg blue. I can't wait to find the perfect house, the perfect client for this awesome piece of furniture. If it fit anywhere into my own home, I'd own it in a heartbeat.

I don't have a photo of the cabinet, but I do have a photo that shows bits of Moe's collection. Love the shape of that slate blue sofa - and the shape of the wood coffee table in front of it. Both pieces fit perfectly with the casual contemporary look that's so hot right now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thinking About Wallpaper

I've been thinking a lot about wallpaper lately, for a couple of reasons. One, I'm getting ready to buy some for my own home - for an accent wall in my master bedroom and master bath. It's a lovely spa blue printed with soft gold abstracted roses in a graphic pattern. I'd post it here, but there's not an accessible photo online and the book is at home, so I can't snap a photo. Soon! In the meantime, at left is a shot of paper from the same distributor, Memphis-based Seabrook Wallcoverings.

Anyway, the wallpaper will make a strong statement in the room, something that's sorely needed in what's currently a very blah space. I can't wait to get started and begin posting photos of the project!

The second reason wallpaper is on my mind is that I'm working on an article about its comeback. Yes, wallpaper is back in style! And it's not your grandma's wallpaper. Today's papers feature large-scale, graphic prints in bold colors. They're meant to accent a space, really, not to overwhelm it - hence the accent walls I'm planning in my own bedroom. I'm really looking forward to dishing on all the details of this trend. I'll post the article here when it runs!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What I'm Working On

Oh, too much on my plate right now. So I need to focus on one thing at a time, and at this moment, that one thing is a lamp. I need a tall lamp with a narrow base and a narrow drum shade, contemporary but warm, eyecatching and welcoming.

I need to go shopping.

It's a hard life, huh? Actually, it can be. Interior design is an incredibly fun job. It's also a hard job. Yes, it's true! For one thing, it's definitely a profession that has to choose you, not the other way around. It took me a long while to make the connection in my brain, but I think I was born to design and create. But the day-to-day act of being a designer is more than drawing, more than creating, definitely more than shopping. It's taking all the specialized knowledge I spent years acquiring and using it to make the individual spaces I'm working on as perfect as they can be. Balanced, harmonic, striking in places, calm in others, lovely and usable.

To achieve all of this, there are often - I'll go so far as to say always - challenges along the way. The perfect piece, in the perfect price range, is rarely available at the perfect time. When it is, man, it's great. Sometimes great design really does just happen. But more often than not, it takes a lot of work to find that perfect lamp! And a whole lot of planning to get to the point of purchasing it. I'll elaborate on that later - the life-changing concept of designing and furnishing your home according to a plan rather than taking a gamble on every new thing you bring in. It's eye-opening!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What I'm Working On

This morning I went to a client's house to deliver a beautiful console table by a great source in North Carolina that actually still makes its furniture in the United States, in its own facility. Everything is hand-forged, hand-planed, hand-finished. Beautiful, beautiful work that's just not remotely in the same league as the stuff you see at mass retailers.

It's nice to splurge on a piece like this every now and then. It might not be apparent to anyone who walks in the door that it's handmade and expensive - after all, there's plenty of stuff out there that looks pretty good even though it's cheaply made - but that's not really the point, is it? I'm happy I found a piece for my client that will hold up and that has a gorgeous finish that goes deeper than the thin veneers we've grown so accustomed to seeing.

The table shown here isn't the table we delivered this morning, but it's by the same company. I chose this photo because it hints at the depth, beauty and richness of the source's hand-finishing process - as much as can be shown in a photo, at least. It's even better in person.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Flavor of the Day

I love this bed from Mecox Gardens, a great designer source with stores in a few - a very few - locations. Unfortunately none around Memphis; however, I receive weekly update e-mails featuring all the stores' new items, and they ship to the trade. Some really great pieces, all unique.

This bed is the type of thing I'm planning for my own new bedroom, but I'm going to have it custom made locally. Something that's not as out-of-reach as you might think, by the way. The world of resources out there is amazing. Since entering this field, my eyes have really been opened to the great big world of design. Options are unlimited. And yes, they're particularly unlimited when you have unlimited financial resources, but there's a lot you can do without breaking the bank. It's the details that count.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Flavor of the Day

I just got an e-mail about a new collection from one of my favorite sources, Bungalow 5. Their Chloe side chair (see post A New Bedroom from March 17) is one of my all-around favorite pieces and I want one for myself. But their new Parsons collection is pretty great too.

I mean, come on - lacquered grass cloth? How cool is that.

Inventory Sale

Well, my firm has joined the ranks of the many, many businesses with giant signs screaming "50% to 75% off all inventory!" We do have a purpose for it, though, beyond the recession-related obvious. Once this inventory is gone, we're not planning to replace it. Instead, we're turning our underused (because we get very little walk-in traffic) retail showroom space into a larger workroom and sample room. We desperately need more work space - we designers are crawling all over each other, and there's nowhere to spread out our individual projects for any length of time.

Plus, and even more interesting, we're going to attempt to create a resource room - a design center of sorts - for independent designers working in the Memphis area. We already have freelance designers who work through our shop, but we'd like to have more, and we'd like to give freelancers more resources to work from and more space to work in. It's pretty exciting, as far as changes go. At the very least, even if it takes some time to build our design center concept, we're changing our shopping habits to become more conservative with our inventory dollars. And in these days of belt-tightening and frugality, it seems like the smartest path to take.

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