Monday, October 25, 2010

Bombay Company Redux: The Return of Reasonably-Priced Elegance

Bombay Company, once having a pervasive retail presence and then inexplicably (at least, in my mind) going bankrupt in 2007, is re-launching itself as a wholesale provider of the much-loved home furnishings and accessories for which they were well-known.  Let's all heave a huge sigh of relief.

My own history with Bombay Company is long but uncomplicated, one of decorating fidelity and trust.

When I moved into my first apartment (it was actually a rented condo), I was short on cash and long on dreams for how I would feather my new nest.  I knew I wanted something rich and traditional, but at the same time budget-friendly.  Enter Bombay Company. 

Bombay Company was always one of my very favorite places to shop for my new home and to get ideas for putting a signature style together.  They had everything:  furniture, artwork, lamps, knicknacks, you name it.  I loved it all (and I think I bought it all, too).   What wasn't actually purchased at Bombay Company was inspired by them.  I still remember fondly my first Christmas at my new apartment with my then-boyfriend (now husband), a candlelit Christmas Eve with dining table and chairs, Christmas decorations and tablescape all provided courtesy of Bombay Company.  If I had had a fireplace, I think I would have been in my idea of heaven. 

And it was all affordable.  At that point in my life, I didn't care if something was a real antique or created by a master craftsman as long as it looked good (and did I mention I was short on cash?).  Now, that's not to say that the pieces I bought at Bombay Company were chintzy or cheap (in the pejorative sense).  To the contrary.  As far as I was concerned, Bombay Company was a godsend, effectively allowing people of all levels of income to have a beautifully-appointed home with a decidedly Old World feel.  Ten years after the fact, I still have numerous pieces in my home that came from the land of Bombay and I still love them all.

In the years since those early days of furnishing an apartment on a shoestring budget, I've moved on to a house in the suburbs with my husband, but I never completely moved away from my love of all things Bombay.  If I was looking for candlesticks or decorative gold mirrors or a reasonably priced desk chair or even baroque Christmas ornaments, their website or their retail store was the first place I'd go looking.  I always knew I'd find something beautiful and affordable.

That's why I never understood how Bombay Company filed for bankruptcy and closed its retail stores in 2007.  There were literally hundreds of stores doing hundreds of millions of dollars in sales.  It seemed like every decorating diva I knew was a fan.  Nevertheless, the unthinkable did happen and Bombay Company was no more...until now. 

Recently having launched their new collection on QVC, you can start looking for their new collections in the near-future at high-end department stores and specialty shops, mid-tier home furnishings stores and discount chains.  Rumor has it that their new website will also launch in Spring 2011, allowing the faithful to purchase smaller items direct.  

Rest assured that I'll be watching for it all, with my credit card at the ready and my memories intact.
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved - Pamela Yeaton

Friday, June 25, 2010

PDQuick! Taking the Guesswork Out of Hanging Artwork and Choosing Wall Color

PDQuick Tip:  When hanging artwork, whether it's a single item or a grouping, save your walls from numerous unnecessary nail holes and yourself from unnecessary frustration.  Using wrapping paper, art paper or any other large piece of paper, trace the outlines of the item(s) you wish to hang and cut them out.  If you are hanging a group of art pieces, arrange the cut-out paper pieces on the floor until you are satisfied with the arrangement.  Then, use painter's tape (which won't damage your walls or your paint finish) to hang the grouping on the wall so that you can determine the most suitable height for the arrangement.  Once you've done that, mark the top mid-point of each piece with a pencil and then hang your artwork with confidence.

As an additional pointer, I'd suggest that when making your paper templates, you don't use newspaper or any other type of paper that could transfer ink or other unwanted color to the wall surface.

In a similar vein, when selecting paint colors for the walls, I like to create portable "sample boards" that can be moved throughout the room. Most of us will have a general idea of the color family we'd like for our walls, but the real torment comes when trying to select from literally dozens or even hundreds of varying shades from that color family.  Once those choices have been narrowed down to a handful, most people start painting portions of their walls with the sample colors until presented with an ever-more-confusing melange of slightly varying colors.  That's where the sample boards come in, and I've found them to be a lifesaver. 

When creating sample boards, try to use a good size (at least 18" x 18") piece of sheetrock for your sample, as the closer to the actual wall surface you go with the sample, the closer the paint color will be to the finished product on your wall.  Prime and paint the sample board just as you would the walls (which likely means two coats of paint) and then let dry.  That's it! 

The beauty of using sample boards is at least threefold:  1) In the (unlikely) event that you change your mind about painting the walls, you won't have to re-paint your sample brushstrokes;  2) the boards are portable, which means you can move them all around the room and observe the impact of daylight and room lighting on the paint color from all angles; and 3) when you've made your final paint selection, you can cut off a smaller piece of the applicable sample board and bring it with you when you go shopping with your "room in a bag" (see my earlier article from April 9, 2010).

Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved - Pamela Yeaton

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Functional Beauty: Unexpected Touches of Elegance

There's a famous quote by English architect and designer William Morris that goes, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful".  This sentiment has long informed my decorating style, as well as the choices and advice I provide to my interior design clients, especially when it comes to decorating the "utilitarian" areas of their living spaces.  In fact, I believe in taking Morris one step further by striving to ensure that nothing useful in the home lacks for beauty. This article will focus on two such oft-neglected areas of the home, the laundry room and the bathroom, and will provide some ideas that will hopefully inspire you to take the next steps in achieving what I like to call "functional beauty".

When I moved into my first apartment as a single woman, I remember being confronted with ugly utilitarian bi-fold doors that camouflaged the laundry area (it was nothing so grand as a laundry "room").  I was disappointed.  After all, doing laundry is enough of a chore without the uninspiring surroundings.  Still, I learned to live with the functional if unattractive feature for two primary reasons:   1) I knew that as a renter my options were limited; and 2) I knew that my presence in that apartment was temporary.

However, I had a different mindset when my husband and I moved into our first house.  This time, when I saw
the same type of ugly modular bi-fold doors closing off the washer and dryer in my new laundry room as had "graced" my former apartment, I knew that I had an opportunity to make that room my own, and that's exactly what I did.  Out came the ugly particle board doors and in their place we installed beautiful French bi-fold doors (see photos to the left and below).  These particular doors came unfinished, but with a new coat of paint, some lovely fabric to line the windows, and elegant crystal doorknobs, they became a functional AND beautiful element to what could have been a dull and dreary workspace.  As you'll note, the fabric lining I chose for the doors matches the window valance and the wallpaper in the room.  This not only gives the room a cohesive designer look, but also ensures that the small room is not crowded by a cacophany of mixed patterns.  In a similar vein, this room has white bead-board wainscoting.  The wainscoting serves the dual purpose of not only protecting the walls against dings from wayward laundry baskets and clothes hangers, but also adds some visual white space that allows the eye a place to "rest" so that the pattern in the room does not become visually overwhelming.

It's somewhat unusual to find French bi-fold doors in today's decor, but they make a really nice architectural feature and are surprisingly versatile. 
For example, in addition to their use in a laundry room like this one, consider using a single bi-fold door for a standard size closet, or double doors (as pictured here) for wider closet openings.  Or, if you're feeling creative, French bi-fold doors make a lovely room divider (or even freestanding headboard) as well.  Just hinge a couple of pairs together, paint in a color that complements your existing decor, and line with a fabric you like and you're good to go.  Or, if you prefer to forgo the fabric so as to let in more light (in the case of a room divider), then just paint the frames and mullions, or combine paint with frosted-glass window panes.  There are plenty of do-it-yourself window frosting and etching kits available from which you can choose.

The laundry room is just one of the utilitarian areas in your home that all too often is either ignored entirely or decorated with a lack of imagination.  Another area is the bathroom.  But as you will now see, that doesn't have to be the case.

For instance, the bathroom in the picture to the left is very functional but still reflects the elegant taste of the homeowner (as well as her love of long soaks in the tub).  The architectural features of the space, including paneled wainscoting, large windows, marble floors and shower stall, and gas fireplace installed right on the tub deck, all lay the foundation for the luxurious design.

But what especially sets this bathroom apart are the decoratively functional details that are
used in unusual ways.  For instance, a gorgeous Oriental area rug in muted tones (as in the picture to the right) serves as an exceptional and interesting alternative to the standard bath mat.  You'd be surprised how rugged these types of rugs actually are, but remember that they are routinely used in foyers as a place where guests wipe their wet and muddy shoes.  If a rug is tough enough to withstand such rough use, it's certainly tough enough for your bathroom floor.

Likewise, be aware that when it comes to choosing vanities and cabinetry for your bathroom, you are not limited to what is available in the bathroom department of your local home store.  Think outside the box.


The cabinetry in this bathroom (including the vanity pictured left and the armoire pictured above) is actually "semi-custom", meaning it was assembled from modular parts to my chosen design.  Elements such as raised and recessed panels, fluted pilasters that mirror those of the fireplace mantel, carved rosettes and bun feet give these pieces the look of fine furniture.  Additionally, these particular items were selected from the kitchen cabinetry collection of a local home improvement store, an added benefit of which is that the countertops are higher than is standard with bathroom cabinetry.  This bathroom originally had a built-in closet, but the homeowner elected to remove the closet and go with a storage armoire instead.  The armoire takes up less floor space (and is actually a more efficient use of space) and also serves as a beautiful piece of furniture.

Finally, the lighting in this bathroom is anything but typical and is a far cry from the "broadway marquee"
bulbs that often grace the average American bathroom.  The crystal chandelier over the tub, atypical gold-finished sconces attached directly to the oversized mirror, and art lighting are all on dimmer switches, allowing for variations in mood and impact.  Overall, the effect is an elegantly appointed bathroom whose lighting is more typical of that seen in high-end living rooms and bedrooms.

Other decorative elements that add high style to this bathroom include:

  • Architectural elements and onlays on the fireplace surround;
  • Rich chocolate-brown wall color that contrasts nicely with the ivory of the room's fixtures, architectural panels, and gold frames of the artwork;
  • Silk window treatments;
  • Gold-framed oil paintings (also a nice choice for laundry rooms and kitchens!);
  • Elegant silk drapery panel with tassel tieback on the glass shower enclosure;
  • Candles and candleholders on the fireplace mantel; and
  • Throw pillows on the tub deck.


ADDITIONAL TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS


  • If you do elect to have a crystal chandelier (or any other light fixture) above your tub, be sure to check local building codes for safety requirements.
  • Silk is tougher than you might think.  The silk window treatments in the bathroom featured above have been in place for about four years now and are still going strong.  I would recommend, however, that if you do choose to use silk in your bathroom that you first be sure that you have adequate ventilation (to prevent damage from excessive moisture) and that the silk is not exposed to excessive direct sunlight (especially late-day sun).
  • Pillows on the tub deck are a great way to soften the otherwise hard surfaces of a bathroom and add a homey touch.  If you're anything like me, you like to take long baths in the winter but not so much in the summer.  If you elect to use pillows around your tub, I'd suggest using them only during the summer months so that they don't get in your way during bath "season".  The pillows featured above are made from a paisley chintz, but there is a wide variety of "outdoor" fabric available these days from manufacturers like Sunbrella that is resistant to moisture and mildew.
  • Even if you have a glass shower enclosure and don't really "need" a shower curtain, consider putting a curtain on the outside of the enclosure to soften the hard lines and angles.  The curtain would be strictly decorative, but don't worry too much about whether or not the fabric is washable.  After all, you would be hanging the curtain on the outside of the stall and so it will be protected from direct contact with water (I'd recommend using curtain rings to hang the curtain from a swing-arm curtain rod attached directly to the wall).
  • If you elect to go with a non-conventional area rug in your bathroom (such as the Oriental style pictured above), just be sure you include a non-skid pad underneath for safety's sake.
  • Kitchens are another area that can be all too cold and uninviting.  Try warming your kitchen up by using select pieces of furniture placed strategically in combination with your more traditional cabinetry.  For instance, a client of mine has an antique maple bureau in her kitchen that houses her table linens and accessories, as well as an old painted armoire that stores her dishes.  The look is inviting and makes the kitchen's decor more in line with that of the rest of the home.
  • If your kitchen is large enough and well-ventilated, consider using an elegant and unusual fabric to cover the chair seats of your dining table.  You will eventually need to re-cover, but this is usually an easy and inexpensive task that you can do yourself.  In the meantime, the unusual and unexpected choice will look rich and scrumptious.
  • I love crystal chandeliers and try to use them wherever possible.  If the ceiling height allows, try using a petite chandelier in your powder room.  Or, you could even hang one over the crib in your baby's room!  (Believe me, she (or he!) will thank you later.)

CONCLUSION

I've always been of the mindset that there is no reason why every room in your house can't reflect your personal taste and decorating vision.  Remember that functional doesn't have to mean boring.  Try "thinking outside the box", taking some of the tips I've suggested here and applying them to your own lifestyle.  You'll be amazed what you can do.

Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved - Pamela Yeaton

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

PDQuick! Salvaging Your Sofa

PDQuick Tip:  Sofas and upholstered chairs can be very expensive to replace or to reupholster.  One way of avoiding such high cost while breathing new life into tired and worn fabric is through the use of slipcovers.  We've all seen the one-size-fits-all types of elasticated slipcovers available in home stores and these can do a good job for the money, but a nice alternative to both these mass-market covers and the expense of reupholstery is to have a custom slipcover made specially for your furniture (or, if you are especially handy with a sewing machine, sewing one yourself).  Not only will such a covering fit your furniture perfectly (and will, in fact, look like upholstery); if your sofa has loose cushions you will also be able to have them slipcovered individually, which is a much neater look and looks less rumpled than the store-bought varieties.


Additional Tips and Suggestions: 
  • Cutting the fabric for the main body of a slipcover (whether for a sofa or a chair) is an art form in itself, but if you can find someone who knows how to do it well, it is well worth the money.   In the past, I have used an older gentleman who was recommended to me by a nearby fabric wholesaler.  You can probably find your own resource through similar means or through an upholsterer. 
  • In my experience, the cost for labor to have a custom slipcover made has typically been about $150.00 (and you will, of course, need to add in the cost of fabric as well).  Your total cost for a sofa slipcover (depending on the fabric you choose) can be in the range of $300.00 to $500.00.  If your sofa is well-made and has "good bones", you might consider it worth the cost for sprucing up this way and thereby buying yourself several more good years of use. 
  • If you don't want to go to the expense of having a slipcover made for the entire sofa or chair and your furniture has loose seat and/or back cushions, an alternative is to just slipcover the cushions themselves.  This look can be very sophisticated or even shabby chic and is a good idea for a decorating change-of-pace even if your existing cushions are in good shape.  One of the benefits to covering only the cushions (besides the cost savings on the fabric) is that if you have basic sewing skills, you can make simple "box cushion" slipcovers yourself and save additional labor costs.  What makes this an even easier sewing project is the fact that you will already have a cushion (and therefore a pattern) to work with and will be spared the additional effort of cutting a cushion and covering it with batting.
  • If the furniture you are covering is expected to get normal or heavy use, you should be sure to select fabric that is washable.  One of the other great benefits of slipcovers is that when soiled they can be removed and tossed in the washing machine.
  • To avoid future problems with "shrinkage" when you wash your slipcover, bring your fabric to a dry cleaner before cutting to have the fabric washed (and shrunk) and professionally ironed.  This will probably cost you about $70.00 in additional expense, but is well worth it.  A typical sofa with cushions can require about 15-20 yards of fabric, which is way too much fabric to wash in your own machine (and probably too much for the machines at the laundromat as well).  [NOTE:  Once the slipcover is made and the sections of fabric are in smaller pieces, you won't have any problem washing in your home machine.]
  • As an additional point, if you find that the foam cushions on your furniture need replacing as well, consider having new upholstery-grade foam cut.  Again, the cost is not minimal (e.g., a 24" x 80" piece of high-density upholstery foam will cost about $85.00 to $100.00) but it is a small fraction of what a new sofa would cost you.  Just remember that upholstery for use with "heavy-use" furniture should always be high-density.  You should also be sure to cover the foam in dacron wrap, which is rather inexpensive and will "soften" the sharp corners of the foam and make it more comfortable for sitting.  All of these materials are available at any upholstery supply store or in some cases at fabric stores.
  • Even if your sofa is still in good shape, one way to ensure that you protect your investment is to invest in a yearly professional upholstery cleaning.  You can find such services in the Yellow Pages or online.  Just be sure you go with a reputable company (check with the Better Business Bureau or ask friends or neighbors to recommend someone).
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved - Pamela Yeaton

Saturday, May 8, 2010

PDQuick! Outdoor Rugs

PDQuick Tip:  To make a big impact for relatively little decorating dollar, consider using outdoor area rugs inside.  Typically made from woven polypropylene, area rugs designed for outdoor use are tough, weather resistant, fade resistant, and easy to clean.  And best of all, they're available in a beautiful and colorful array of designs for a fraction of the cost associated with more traditional indoor rugs.   More and more manufacturers and home furnishings stores are starting to recognize the market for these versatile and inexpensive pieces and are beginning to offer them in more varieties and colors than ever before.  Some of my favorite sources include Grandinroad, Frontgate, Ballard Designs, and Horchow.  You can literally get a striking rug in an 8 x 10 size for as little as $150.00.  Some stores wisely market these rugs as "indoor/outdoor", but all are equally suitable for a deck as well as a family room.
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved - Pamela Yeaton

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ceilings: The Sky's the Limit

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, painted by Michelangelo in the early 16th century, is probably the most recognizable ceiling in the world.  The celebrated ceiling depicts nine scenes from the Book of Genesis, the most famous of which must surely be the “Creation of Adam”.  Far more than mere decoration, the symbolic and metaphorical significance of the ceiling's elaborate design is the subject of numerous scholarly texts.

Even some of the more notable buildings in Washington, D.C., the seat of democracy, include ceilings rich with symbolism.  The U.S. Capitol building, in particular, is replete with densely decorated frescoes and vistas in the ceilings of its hallowed halls.  The ceiling in the eye of the Rotunda itself contains the classically inspired mural Apotheosis of Washington, depicting the ascension of George Washington into heaven, while the first floor corridors of the House and Senate wings sport ceiling designs full of intricate scenes from significant periods, historical figures, and events in American history.

Especially ornate are the so-called Brumidi Corridors in the Senate wing.  Signs of the zodiac (of all things) detail the ceiling at the north end of the corridor, while “lunettes” over the corridor's doorways symbolize the

business that was conducted in the various committee rooms at the time the murals were painted.  For instance, in the photo to the right, the Roman Goddess of War adorns the entrance to what once was the meeting place of the Military Affairs Committee.

When you look at these striking works of art, it makes you wonder why it is that the typical homeowner's ceiling remains the “final frontier” of decorating, a frontier that is usually ignored.  Most of the time, our ceilings give us no reason to look up, typically painted a plain white and completely devoid of drama or even interest.  But your home doesn't have to be a historical shrine, cathedral or palace to be worthy of stunning ceilings, and I'm here to hopefully provide some inspirational looks and ideas as well as some suggestions for how to achieve them.

COFFERED CEILINGS 


One of the most popular architectural styles is the coffered ceiling, which is characterized by a grid-work of beams or moldings that are used to create sunken panels in the shape of a square or rectangle, or even octagon shapes of various sizes.  The depth of the beams and moldings is what determines the depth of the coffers themselves and their sizes will vary accordingly.  Once the grid has been installed, the choices for how you want to “fill the boxes” are endless.   

For example, the coffered ceiling in the photo to the left is from The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.  The “St. George Hall” (also known as the “Large Throne Room”) is a sumptuous example of the unmatched opulence of Russia's imperial past, and its ceiling has large, deep coffers and gilt bronze decorations in a baroque design that mirrors that of the hall's floor. 

But even if you don't live in a palace, you can feel like you do by creating your own simpler version of this ceiling.For instance, the bronze decorations in the Hermitage ceiling can be recreated by using gold leaf or gold leaf paint with reddish undertones to stencil the design within each box of the grid (and to create the Greek key pattern on the “coffers”); or, for a more “3D” effect, by using gilded architectural onlays that you finish yourself.  While it may prove challenging to find such onlays of sufficient size for this project (not to mention expensive), try using a combination of several smaller onlays arranged together to create a larger center medallion and then using single smaller appliques in the corners of your coffers and around the edges.

Obviously, deep coffers are not a good idea if you don't have a very high ceiling (since they will effectively lower your ceiling height), but you can use smaller crown moldings or picture moldings to create your sunken panels for the look of a coffered ceiling “grid” without taking up visual space in the room.  This is also a good option for vaulted or cathedral ceilings where the ceiling is not flat or otherwise conducive to deep coffers.  It's also a good recipe for a stunning design.

As you can see from the photo to the left, the ornate molded ceiling from London's Goldsmiths' Hall obviously doesn't suffer from a lack of height, but it's drama derives not from deep coffers but from the highly-detailed intricacies of the grid design.  At first glance, the thought of trying to replicate such a design might seem daunting.  However, if you consider the design as a series of repeated elements instead of one massive work of art, it becomes definitely do-able! 

As you can see from the close-up view (see above right), those repeated elements are almost like multi-framed “pictures” separated by a grid comprising gold-leaf stenciling and multiple rows and columns of small rosettes.  Once you consider the project from this point of view, the means to re-creating such a look on your own ceiling becomes clear:  Picture frame moldings, stencils and simple architectural moldings, along with a whole lot of patience, are all you need. 

Also important to note in this design are the rich tones of the background colors.  If you were to use less

saturated tones (such as pale greens and aquas) with a silver leaf instead of gold, the effect would be lighter and subtler, perhaps more akin to the mood created by the ceiling to the right.  

Having a similar grid pattern as that found in Goldsmiths' Hall, this ceiling from the presbytery at St. David's Cathedral in Wales evokes a very different mood, due primarily to the color scheme and the almost primitive decorative pattern.  In fact, the overall design is more reminiscent of Pennsylvania Dutch than what we might ordinarily associate with a European cathedral.  For this design, it's appropriate that the background color is a pale yellow because it shows the vivid colors of the designs to their best advantage.    Replicating the design of this ceiling in your own home is as easy as using a combination of simple moldings, a lot of colorful paint, and a repeated stencil pattern.

OTHER CEILING OPTIONS

 
While coffered ceilings are a popular and traditional choice, there are many other options from which to choose, some of which will now be addressed.

Paintings and Murals

 
It's commonplace to decorate our walls with artwork and murals, but how often do we do the same for our ceilings?  The painting in the photo to the left, which is displayed in the ceiling above the staircase at
Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, shows the dramatic impact such a mural can have. Granted, a large scale mural is not suitable for every room (or every budget).  You need to have a large room with a high ceiling or a very open staircase (such as a two-story foyer) in order to afford the viewing eye the necessary perspective.  

But if you do have the suitable architecture for such a look, there are ways to achieve it at a fraction of the cost.  While most of us don't have the artistic skills to paint a mural and don't have the means to commission a masterpiece, there are wallpaper murals available at all price points.  After framing the mural with picture molding, you can give it more depth and make it look more authentic by giving it a crackle finish and even antiquing it with a burnt umber glaze for a more “old-world” look. 

If you decide to actually paint something yourself, a sponged-on “clouds and sky” look is fairly easy to achieve, as are more primitive subject matter and geometric patterns.  For example, a really
interesting and handsome choice would be to paint a compass rose.  Especially nice surrounding a chandelier or other pendant light fixture, there are patterns and pictures of compass roses available online and they are fairly easy geometric designs to re-create. 

Or, if you have the budget for it, you can also look into finding a local artist who will do the project for you (perhaps something trompe l'oeil). 


Moldings and Stencils and Tin:  Oh My


The visually stunning ceiling in the picture to the right is from the 14th century St. Mary's Basilica in Krakow, Poland.  The entire church is eye-popping, but the vibrant blue
groined spaces of the ceiling, with their fields of gold stars and stone ribs decorated with more vibrant colors of gold and red are especially arresting.  Imagine gazing up at a view like this every night before going to sleep and waking up to its beauty every morning.

If I were to attempt to re-create this design, I would probably make one large center rectangular space in the ceiling that was outlined with picture molding painted with a gold paint or leaf that has reddish undertones.  I would then create the “ribs” and groin spaces by doing an “X” pattern with more picture molding bisecting across the center of the rectangle and a rosette onlay placed in the center of the “X”, again painted or leafed with the same finish as the frame of the design.  Once you have this basic structure in place, the rest would be easy:  Vibrant blue paint and a gold leaf stencil or freestyle field of stars and you've got yourself a truly celestial ceiling.
 

Another rather simple but effective technique is to use the combination of appliques and color to
highlight your ceiling.  In the picture to the left, which is a view of the bottom of a chandelier hanging from the ceiling of the Central Club in London, a delicate blue background color and contrasting white pattern of bellflower onlays and other architectural decorations creates a look reminiscent of Wedgwood china.  Another option would be to use a decorative ceiling medallion around your ceiling's light fixture and then to complement the medallion with moldings around the borders of the ceiling and similarly styled corner ornaments.  Manufacturers such as Decorative Millwork Products, Enkeboll and Decorators Supply all carry these types of details that are designed specifically for ceilings and they also offer suggestions for how to configure them into a suitable design.

Finally, tin ceilings are another style that can add great texture and interest to a space (see photo to the

right).  Tin ceilings are often associated with farmhouses or Victorian style homes, but they can make an elegant or rustic addition to almost any style of décor.  The drama of the ceiling in the photo is created by the play of light on the burnished gold tones of the metal and the intricately embossed pattern.  Tin ceiling designs are available in very simple and very ornate styles, and your options are further expanded by the ability to paint the tin in any color you wish.  One “shabby chic” look is to paint the tins and then lightly sand so that the original metallic finish of raised areas of the tins' embossed design is exposed.  Or, for a more formal look, you could do the opposite and paint the entire tin ceiling and then highlight the raised portions of the design with gold paint.  It's painstaking work, but well worth the effort. 


CONCLUSION

Whether it's the intricate detailing of a coffered ceiling; the delicate tracery created with architectural onlays; or the vibrant combination of rich paint color and contrasting stenciling, there are many creative ideas for your ceiling from which to choose.  Inspiration is all around you; all you need do is look. 

 

ADDITIONAL TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS:
 

Coffered Ceilings:

  • If your ceilings are painted a stark white, one thing I would advise with a coffered ceiling is that you choose another background color for the inside area of your grid “boxes”.  Both the moldings that make up the grids and the decorations within will be highlighted to better effect than with a white background.  While almost any color would be preferable to white for just this reason, the bolder the better.  This is your opportunity to really make a statement, so pick a color that will really pop.
  • Other options to consider for coffered ceilings include using wallpaper with an interesting pattern to line the “bottom” of your coffers or, if you're feeling really bold, using mirror or mirrored tile.  Just be sure that before attempting to affix any type of mirror or other glass (or glass tile) to a ceiling you  research thoroughly the safest and best methods for doing so to ensure that the mirror or tile stays in place.  One place you can find directions for doing so is on the Service Magic website, but there are many information sources available on the subject.
  • Use plywood panels that have been upholstered with dacron batting and a beautiful fabric for a particularly plush look.  You can even add further detailing by attaching upholstery nail strips around the edges of the panel, or you can “tuft” the panels with fabric-covered buttons.
  • If you don't want to coffer the entire ceiling, consider creating just a central square or rectangle coffer in the middle of the ceiling (and surrounding the room's ceiling fixture, assuming it has one).  If you opt to do so, you will probably want to use a picture molding for the actual edges, as a deep crown molding would look odd.  Consider painting the inside of your single panel a rich, bold color to really make it stand out and then adding detail such as gold or silver leaf stencils, architectural onlays, or any of the ideas already mentioned here for coffered ceilings. 

More Ideas and General Suggestions:

  • If you're not ready for the more elaborate designs suggested here, you can always just paint your ceiling a bold color (or any color, for that matter!).  I'd recommend you use a premium wall paint (and not a ceiling paint), because the quality of the paint will be superior and the color truer.
  • For a small room (like a powder room), make an elegant statement by gold leafing the entire ceiling; using mirrored tile on the entire ceiling; or even wallpapering the ceiling in the same pattern as the walls.  Because the room is very small and not used for long periods of time, this is your opportunity to really experiment and try something different.
  • Use mosaic tile (glass tile is especially lovely) to create a pattern of your own design.  Mount the mosaic tiles on a piece of plywood backing and then attach the whole thing to the ceiling, with attached picture frame molding on top of the edges of the plywood to “anchor” the plywood in place. 
  •  If you are like most homeowners, your ceilings have some amount of texture to them.  Depending on the amount of texture involved, such ceilings can present some challenges depending on the decorative treatment you want to apply.  For instance, it may prove difficult to get architectural onlays and appliques to lay flat against the surface.  If this is the challenge you are facing, you have a couple of options.  One option is to smooth the textured surface (and websites such as diyadvice.com and Sherwin-Williams will tell you how).  Or, if you are only working with a small section of ceiling, attach your tiles, mirror or other applied decorations to a piece of plywood that is then attached directly to the ceiling and then further anchored by a picture frame molding.  The plywood, for all intents and purposes, then becomes your  (smooth) ceiling and you can paint and decorate accordingly.


Photo credits:


Ceiling from Brumidi Corridors, U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.  Photo courtesy of the U.S. Architect of the Capitol (or "AOC") website.

Ceiling from St. George Hall at The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. 
Photo used by permission and license of dorena-wm.

Ceiling from The Livery Hall of Goldsmiths' Hall, London, England.   Photo used by permission and license of ianvisits.

Close-up view of ceiling from The Livery Hall of Goldsmiths' Hall, London, England.   Photo used by permission and license of Martin Deutsch.

Ceiling from the Presbytery of St. David's Cathedral, Wales.  Photo used by permission and license of Diva Sian.

Ceiling above the oak staircase at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England.  Photo used by permission and license of Elfleda. 

Ceiling of St. Mary's Basilica, Krakow, Poland.  Photo used by permission and license of Lochinvar1.

Ceiling of the Central Club, London, England.  Photo used by permission and license of MindSpigot.

Tin ceiling.  Photo used by permission and license of SurprisePally. 
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved - Pamela Yeaton
 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Details, Details, Details

I once had a client who bought a very expensive lamp simply because she liked the finial.  Granted, the finial was a very beautiful and intricately carved jade bauble, but nothing that couldn't have been purchased separately and retro-fitted onto a less expensive lamp (or one that she already had in her home).  I suppose that she understands that now, but her story is a perfect example of just how important details like lamp finials can be to a room's overall design.

I myself have always been a stickler for details when it comes to decorating.  Details add personality, depth and texture to a room, enhancing your décor when used properly.  However, you need to walk a fine line with them: Used inappropriately, they'll overwhelm and be a distraction.   I often compare this delicate balance to accessorizing an outfit:  Too little and the outfit looks unfinished; too much and the outfit is a busy mess.

There is an infinite variety of detailing that you can use to add spark to your décor.  Finials, fan pulls, tassels and trims, decorative buttons, cabinet knobs, cord covers and drapery hardware are just a few of the options.  While this article focuses on only a small percentage of these, you owe it to yourself to have some fun exploring the many details of distinctive design.


DOOR KNOBS AND CABINET PULLS

Some of my favorite details for adding interest and expressing personality are door knobs, cabinet pulls and drawer pulls.  This is a great way to update and spruce up old cabinets or a tired piece of furniture without spending a lot of money.  I personally love crystal doorknobs like the one in the picture to the right and use them wherever possible to add a touch of sparkle to otherwise plain doors.

Much like lamp finials, doorknobs and cabinet knobs/pulls of all styles are readily available online and range from traditional to whimsical (in shapes like fish, eating utensils (as for kitchen cabinets and drawers) and flowers).  You can use such hardware to complement your furniture style with classic Queen Anne, Chippendale or Hepplewhite detailing, or you can use knobs that deliberately contrast with your furniture to make a bold statement.

One chic look that I especially like is using crystal drawer knobs on an old bureau or table that's been painted and then sanded or given a crackle finish.  The contrast between the weather-worn finish of the furniture and the elegant sparkle of the crystal is unexpected and enchanting.  I also like to use colored knobs for a more whimsical look.  In the photo to the left, the blue glass “melon” knob adds a bright pop of color against the white surface of these French bi-fold closet doors in a client's home office.  The deep blue also picks up the blue in the country French fabric lining the door.


TASSELS AND TRIMS

Another fun and effective way to add detail to a room is with tassels and trims of all sorts (also known as “passementerie”), and the options are almost limitless.

For instance, rope trims offer a nice alternative to welting on pillows, box cushions and table skirts and add color and texture.   Gimp (or flat trim) is a great option for use with window treatments and bedding.  In fact, I like to use gimp for areas that get a lot of incidental contact because these types of trims aren't prone to unraveling (unlike a tassel trim, for example).  Gimp is also good for use as a border for drapery panels (and requires less sewing skill than does using a contrasting fabric border).

For an especially elegant look, try a breaded trim.  In the table runner in the photo to the right, the woven trim and the jewel-like beads complement both the color and period look of the antique toile fabric.  When I designed this runner (and its coordinating table topper), I fancied it a detail that would've been right at home adorning the boudoir of Catherine the Great (or some other decorating diva!).
Besides looking great, trims can also serve functional purposes as well. For instance, the tassel trim featured on the ottoman to the left is not only timeless in its appeal; it also effectively covers the ottoman's horizontal seams.  One of the additional things I like about this trim is the way it mirrors all of the vibrant colors of the ottoman's fabric without competing with or overwhelming it.  Because the fabric is and should be the focal point of this piece, the trim's effect is subtle, serving to add depth and texture to the piece. 


 Tassels can be simple and monochromatic or elaborate, multi-colored works of art (and they are priced accordingly).  In addition to the traditional “key tassel” like that pictured to the right, one of these more elaborate “statement” tassels can be used as a drapery tieback.
For a special touch, try using chair ties and tassels on the arm chairs of your dining room set.  In the photo to the left, I especially like the way this chair tie plays off the chair's seat fabric and enhances the whole look.  This homeowner was so enamored with the look that she initially wanted to put similar ties on all of her dining chairs.  Ultimately, though, she agreed that the ties were more effective when used only on the table's arm chairs because they further set these more elaborate chairs apart from the simpler side chairs.  In decorating, as in other areas of life, it's important that you know when to say when.

Generally, the selection of trims that you will find in stock at the fabric store represents a very small percentage of the choices available through custom order.  If you have the time and patience, it's well worth the effort to pore through some of these custom choices (or have your decorator do it for you!).  Many are only available “to the trade”, but it's relatively easy to find a dealer through whom you can purchase such trims.  There are some great online sources where you can get more information about the many trim and tassel styles available.  Check out the “Resource Guide” below for a few of these sources.


CONCLUSION

Details can be one of the most fun and rewarding aspects of decorating a room.  Whether you apply these details to a completely custom design or to a mass-produced store-bought window treatment, any door, cabinet, dining chair, light fixture, drapery or upholstered furniture piece is an opportunity for embellishment that reflects your special style stamp.   Give it a try.


ADDITIONAL TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS:

  • Use cord covers on hanging light fixtures to hide the fixture's electrical cord and chain and to add some subtle drama (as with a cord cover in a sassy cheetah print).  If you elect to purchase the cord cover (as opposed to sewing one yourself), just be sure to buy the type with an open vertical seam that closes with Velcro, allowing you to put the sleeve on without having to remove the chandelier from the ceiling.
  • Where possible, install “rim locks” on your interior or screen doors.  Rim locks are locks and plates that are fixed to a door's surface instead of being mortised inside the door and they can be quite elegant for a traditional home, providing some historic detailing.  However, rim locks are not really designed for or adequate as a security lock.  Therefore, they should only be used for interior doors or for decoration on an exterior door where there is another device for security purposes (such as a deadbolt).
  • If you have bought pre-made pillows from the store that could use some pop or if you have plain matching pillows that came with your sofa, try hand-sewing or even hot-gluing on tassel trim or gimp for some added personality.
  • If you have a store-bought throw or bedspread, sew some bullion fringe around the edges for a more luxurious look.  Bullion fringe is also a great choice for trimming the kick-pleats on a sofa or for detailing an upholstered ottoman.
  • Use “key” tassels on china cabinet doors or decorative boxes.
  • Purchase inexpensive carved wood cabinet knobs and gold leaf or silver leaf them with liquid leaf.  The look will be richer and more textured than knobs with a plain metal finish.
  • Note that if you use a rope trim with a “lip” attached to it, it will be easier to sew between your seams with a sewing machine (as opposed to a rope trim without a lip, which needs to be hand-sewn on top of the fabric).
  • Use decorative buttons (store-bought or custom fabric-covered) to add detail to window treatments, to closures on duvet covers, and to tufted ottomans, pillows and cushions.
  • Use pleated trim to add nice depth and texture to the edges of duvet covers, coverlets and pillow shams.
  • Fluted drapery rods with intricately carved finials like that pictured to the left and fabric rosettes

    like that attached to the valance to the below right will add designer detail to a window treatment, taking it to the next level.  You spend a lot of time and money designing your window treatments and bringing them to life with carefully-chosen fabrics.  Add some details like these and your investment will be apparent (and well worth it).


RESOURCE GUIDE:

Knobs and pulls:

myknobs.com
coolknobsandpulls.com
Emtek (doorknobs)
Amazon
Anthropologie (great source for quirky, unusual cabinet knobs and drawer pulls).


Fan Pulls:
lampfinials.com


Cord covers:
Ballard Designs
Shades of Light


Lamp Finials:
Pronto.com
Lamps USA
lampfinials.com
Tassels & Trims (stunning selection)


Trims:
Decorative Fabrics Direct 
Tassels & Trims (to the trade only)
Interiormall.com
Kravet  (to the trade:  doesn't sell to the consumer directly)
The Curtain Rod Shop (drapery hardware, finials, trims, tiebacks)


Rim Locks:
Baldwin Brass Hardware
House of Antique Hardware
Historic Home Hardware
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved - Pamela Yeaton

Saturday, April 17, 2010

PDQuick! Designer Look Bedsheets on a Budget

PDQuick Tip:  To save money but still have your bedding look expensive and luxurious, purchase inexpensive flat and fitted sheets for your bed and then splurge on the fancier designer pillow cases.  When the bed is made, only the pillow cases will be visible, so spend your money on something with delicate embroidery or an especially pretty pattern or detail.  Or, as an alternative, you can even buy the less expensive pillow cases and then embellish them yourself with lace, appliques, needlepoint (if you're good at that) or decorative buttons.

As an additional suggestion, it's a good idea when purchasing bedsheets to buy two sets of pillowcases.  Pillowcases, because they get the most wear, are quicker to become soiled and worn out.  By having two sets, you'll extend the life of your sheets.
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved - Pamela Yeaton

Friday, April 9, 2010

PDQuick! A Room in a Bag

PDQuick Tip:  Has this ever happened to you?  You go into a store, see a fabric you love and that you're sure will complement your existing style, only to get it home and find that it clashes with the other fabrics in the room or the wall color.  Decorators know that choosing new accessories and details for a room can be frustrating if you're not adequately prepared and organized when you go out shopping, so try using a more portable version of the interior decorator's sample board.

To keep yourself organized, prepare a clear plastic "sample" bag for each room in your home (I like Ziploc freezer bags, because they're good size and re-sealable).   Label the outside of each bag with the applicable room name (e.g., master bedroom, kitchen, etc.) and any additional information about the room you might need (such as the name of the wall paint color and the paint manufacturer).  Fill the bag with fabric samples from the room, along with samples of trims, rugs, paint chips, even tile (all preferably with information about the manufacturer).  Whenever you go out shopping for your home, bring along your "room in a bag" and you'll be able to make your selections with confidence.  Also, if your home has an open floor plan, bring sample bags for the surrounding rooms as well to ensure that your choices will all coordinate accordingly.

As an additional suggestion, do collect samples of everything you can when decorating your home.  Fabric and trim samples are easy to get, but some places (especially mail-order and online sources such as Ballard Designs) will even provide samples for area rugs, while others will provide samples for tile, flooring and marble countertops.  All will help to make your future shopping trips more productive, and who doesn't want that?
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved - Pamela Yeaton

Friday, April 2, 2010

Interior Lighting Design

 Just as lighting can be one of the most significant factors in looking your best, the lighting in your home can either show your house to its best advantage or be uninteresting and unflattering.
Light can be used to banish the darkness from cold and unfriendly corners or to highlight objects of beauty.  Used effectively, creative and proper use of lighting is an integral part of interior design, providing great atmosphere and interest to any room.


TYPES OF LIGHTING

Generally speaking, the types of interior lighting can be grouped into the following three categories:  General, task and accent.

General Lighting
General lighting is typically characterized by ceiling fixtures.  This lighting is designed to provide overall illumination to an entire room, literally allowing you to move around without bumping into things.  Examples of general lighting would be chandeliers, pendant lights, flush-mounted fixtures, recessed lighting, and electric wall sconces.

Of course, just because general lighting is functional doesn't mean it can't be beautiful and allow you to put your own stamp on it.  If your style is elegant and romantic, feature a crystal chandelier.  If your home is more rustic or “country” in style, wrought iron is a wonderful choice.  Do bear in mind, however, that while general lighting is obviously functional and the fixtures themselves can be quite distinctive, such lighting can be “flat” and cast harsh shadows.  Ever notice how unwelcoming and glaring the light from a ceiling fixture can be and wonder why so much wattage still doesn't seem to be enough to really provide the light you need?  This is because in addition to the basic necessity of general lighting, your room needs additional lighting that is specifically designed to enable specific activities or “tasks”.  This is where task lighting comes in.
 
Task Lighting
Task lighting, as the term suggests, is designed to allow you to do close work that requires more focused illumination than can be provided by general lighting.  Examples of task lighting would be table lamps, floor lamps, swing-arm lamps and buffet lamps.  Such lighting is ideal for reading, sewing, needlework, doing crossword puzzles, etc.  “Spot lights” that are often found in kitchens and over kitchen islands are good task lights for illuminating food preparation.

Fixtures for both task and general lighting can be works of art in themselves and a focal point within your room.  For accent lighting, on the other hand, the focus is all about what's being highlighted and not the light fixture itself.

Accent Lighting
Accent lighting highlights the beauty of the objects in your home, including accessories, architectural features, even potted plants.  As such, it's one of the most fun aspects of decorating and can take a room from unremarkable to unforgettable.  Unfortunately, accent lighting is also probably the most underutilized by homeowners.  Anywhere in your home with an object to be spotlighted or a dark corner to be brightened is an opportunity for accent lighting.

Uplights
One example of accent lighting is “uplights”, which are portable spotlights that typically sit on the floor and send a wash of light upward, allowing the space above to be highlighted.  Uplights are often used with potted plants, but they're also nice when tucked in a dark corner on the floor behind a chair or when they are placed to highlight the fabric of your window treatments (especially nice when you have silk draperies, for instance).  Just note that uplights can get quite hot, so be sure to keep some space between the light fixture and the objects around it to allow for sufficient air circulation.

Lighting Artwork
Another great use for accent lighting is an “art light” or an “eyeball” ceiling spot light that is used to highlight artwork.  Art lights attach right to the frame of your artwork or to the wall above; they are also available in a freestanding form that sits below the painting and highlights upward.   Art lights are not only desirable but also downright necessary if you have a dark oil painting, allowing you to see the rich detail of the painting without having to turn up the wattage (and glare) on your general lighting.  In fact, at night it's quite beautiful to see a piece of artwork that is highlighted with an art light while the rest of the room is in darkness.

One of the nice things about art lights is their portability, especially if you elect not to “hard-wire” the fixture and just run the cord behind the artwork and plug it into a nearby outlet.  Just be sure that the style of the fixture itself is consistent with the style of painting (contemporary versus traditional, for example).  Also, be sure that the art light is an appropriate size for the framed painting and that its finish blends in with the frame, as you don't want the fixture to overshadow the painting.  There are many styles and finishes of art lights available.  They can run from twenty or thirty dollars to several hundred dollars.  (See the “Resource Guide” at the end of this post for information about art light distributors and manufacturers.)

A different option for highlighting artwork is with what is called an “eyeball” spotlight that is recessed and mounted in the ceiling (see picture highlighted by an eyeball spotlight in the photo to the left).  These fixtures are called “eyeball” because while they are otherwise recessed in the ceiling, the bulb itself protrudes and can be moved in different directions, giving some additional flexibility.  This is a good option for a hallway, for example, because the light fixture itself will not intrude into the visual or actual physical space of the hallway.

Do bear in mind when choosing an accent light fixture for showcasing artwork that your ultimate choice might be influenced in part by the finish of the painting (e.g., whether it's a matte or shiny surface) and whether it is covered with glass or not.  Paintings today are sometimes protected with glass that has a non-glare surface, but the overall impact of the surface can be to “dull-down” the painting itself, an effect that can be made worse by placing a light directly on the glass.  In contrast, sometimes an older painting won't have the non-glare surface on the glass, but the glare from any light shining on the picture directly makes it very tricky to light such artwork effectively.  If this is the challenge you are facing and you definitely want to use a spotlight or art light, then consider removing the glass entirely.  I've done this in the past and it was absolutely the correct solution.  When making your choice for illuminating your artwork, bear in mind the investment you have already made in the artwork itself and decide accordingly.

Other Options for Accent Lighting
As mentioned earlier, accent lighting is a great way to highlight architectural detail in your home.  If you have recessed wall niches, for instance, spotlights or low-voltage “strip” lighting will highlight the objects within.  Meanwhile, “cove lighting”, which is typically concealed within a ledge, cornice or crown molding at the upper part of the wall, is a terrific way to bring subtle light to a ceiling.  The effect is especially beautiful if you have an unusual or detailed ceiling and wish to draw attention to it.   Recessed lights can also be used to highlight the interior space of a bay window area or a window seat.

Other examples of accent lighting include lighting inside glass cabinets (see photo to the right).  I especially love to highlight beautiful dishes and stemware with “puck lights” (although if you're lucky, your china cabinet already comes wired for lighting).  Secretaries are another candidate for accent lighting (assuming the cabinet portion of the piece has glass doors, of course).  And don't forget about candles!  Candles are an easy, inexpensive way to add an atmospheric glow to any space.


CROSS-FUNCTIONS

To get the maximum potential out of your decorating, your home should include some combination of all three types of lighting (preferably in each room).  While the categories are fairly well-defined, they do in some cases overlap.

For instance, under-cabinet lighting in a kitchen can be both accent (especially if low wattage) and task lighting (helping with food preparation).  Table lamps, chandeliers and wall sconces that are typically task or general lighting sources become accent lighting (or “mood” lighting) with the combination of a dimmer switch and dark, romantic shades (as with the table lamp in the photo to the left).  In fact, I'm a firm believer in installing dimmer switches wherever possible for maximum flexibility in lighting your home.  It's an easy (and inexpensive) thing to do and the payoff is fabulous.


KEY TAKEAWAYS AND ADDITIONAL TIPS AND POINTERS
  • To be well-designed, a room should include some combination of general, task, and accent lighting.  Also, experiment with using uplights to give a room more visual interest.
  • Where possible, try to have the floor lamps, table lamps and any other task lighting within a room at the same approximate height off of the floor.  This will give a more even distribution of light throughout the room and will also appear less disjointed.
  • Wall-mounted swing-arm lamps are a great way to add light over a sofa or headboard without taking up floor space or table space, and they are often available with wall-mounted cord covers.
  • When lighting artwork, consider the investment you have made in the piece and make your choices accordingly.  Do ensure that the source of light is effective but not distracting or obtrusive.  Also, if your artwork is covered with glass, do consider removing it to enhance the picture and the effect of the lighting.
  • A small table lamp with a low-wattage bulb will add a warm and inviting glow to the hard surfaces and harsh lighting of a bathroom.  Try it sometime.
  • Use low-voltage strip lighting to add accent light to the dark spaces above a television or china cabinet or above a kitchen soffit.
  • Install dimmers for as many light fixtures as possible for maximum lighting options (including ceiling fixtures, table lamps, spotlights and sconces).
  • Do consider carefully what style and color of lamp shades to use and, where appropriate, whether to use them at all.  For instance, shades used on a crystal chandelier can be truly lovely (see the first photo above), but know that one effect of their use is that the crystals won't sparkle quite as much as they would without shades.  I'll include more about lamp shade options in a future post.
  • If you have a particularly large wall mirror (for instance, over a bathroom vanity), try mounting electric sconces directly onto the mirror for a sparkling and elegant look.   This will not only add additional illumination due to the reflection of the light in the mirror; it will also allow you to have a larger mirror while still having room for wall-mounted lights (which many find preferable for lighting above a vanity).
  • Do realize that all lighting has “cool” (meaning blue) or “warm” (meaning yellow) undertones and can have a significant impact on the appearance of the colors in your room.  For instance, traditional incandescent bulbs cast a more yellowish light, while GE “Reveal” light bulbs have a blue tint to counteract the yellow.  Likewise, halogen lights emit a clean, white light.   Whichever option you choose (I tend to prefer pure white light), try to use that option consistently throughout the room.

CONCLUSION

Good lighting is every bit as essential to interior design as is furniture placement and cohesive planning.  After all, the impact of carefully chosen fabrics, colors and accessories can be greatly diminished without proper consideration for how such details are lit.

Lighting your home effectively and creatively just takes a little thought and imagination.  I hope that this post has inspired you with ideas for your own home.   I hope you'll also take advantage of the information in the  Resource Guide below for some of my favorites sources for lighting and lighting accessories.


RESOURCE GUIDE

* = Available to the trade only (but it's relatively easy to purchase through an interior decorator).

*Decorative Crafts:  Chandeliers, lamps, sconces, lanterns.

Euro Style Lighting:  Contemporary lamps, sconces, chandeliers.

The Federalist:  18th century handmade reproduction lighting fixtures.  Very special, high-end chandeliers, sconces, table and floor lamps, lanterns, and ceiling fixtures.

Fine Art Lamps:  Chandeliers, sconces, pendants, lamps.

House of Troy:  Good source for art and picture lights; some floor and table lamps, as well as swing-arm lamps.

* John-Richard:  High-end chandeliers and lamps.


Light 'n Leisure:  Discount lighting.  Good selection.  They are able to special order a wide variety of brand name fixtures and will provide very competitive price quotes upon request.


Lighting Universe:  They have ALL kinds of lighting.

Nulco Lighting:  Chandeliers, sconces, ceiling fixtures.

Schonbek:  Stunning crystal chandeliers at a wide variety of price points, depending on quality of crystal (i.e., Swarovski, handcut, etc.).  Sconces and some table lamps.

Shades of Light:  Lamp shades, sconces, art lights, spotlights, chandeliers, floor and table lamps, swing-arm lamps, ceiling fixtures.
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved - Pamela Yeaton

Friday, March 26, 2010

PDQuick! Under-bed Storage

PDQuick Tip:  We all know that you can never have enough storage, and one of the most popular places to store things is under the bed.  Try using an old bureau drawer to make under-bed storage efficient and easily accessible.   Simply attach rolling casters to the bottom and you've got a solid, deep storage unit that is easy to retrieve when you need it.  I've seen old individual drawers at yard sales and I've even seen new drawers being sold individually at the "tent sales" of major furniture dealers for as little as a dollar each.  Next time you see one, buy it!  Now you'll know what to do with it.

If you don't have an old bureau and can't find bureau drawers and you're a little handy, you can get the same result by making your own sturdy wooden box and adding casters.

Whichever option you choose, just don't forget to cover the top with fabric or a sheet (or even an old blanket).  This will protect the garments from dust and the inevitable pet fur if you have cats that like to lounge under the bed!
Copyright 2010 - All rights reserved - Pamela Yeaton