Sunday, June 10, 2012

Deconstructing the design

A friend sent me a message on Thursday…. “I love this room!"

Ok.  I guess that she is trying to re-create it in her home.   So, the key is to “deconstruct it.”  Break it down into its component elements…. And, then decide what to you re-create and what you want to re-imagine.  This process does take some practice, but it isn’t difficult.

Interior design ain’t rocket science.  It is the simple idea of deciding what you like.  The problem is figuring out where to purchase those items that you love!

This room is actually a sophisticated study in neutrals…. with a little punch of color.  For tone-on-tone rooms to work well, they need to have lots of interesting features and tactile elements.  These rooms are some of the most difficult to do well.   When doing a monochromatic space… you’ve got to OWN it.  This is not the time for half ass.  Great textures and details will bring the space to life! 

So… where do we start?

WALL COLOR. The wall color is beige/brown. Ok… that’s easy enough. Paint store.
COFFEE TABLE.  That coffee table is dark and ornate.  Think:  Antique store, import store, or design showroom.  The look is old world with an updated edge.  Ok… that shouldn’t be too hard.  Horchow has a couple of examples. 
Stratford coffee table from Horchow

The tone of that coffee table is slightly lighter than the inspiration photo.   But, it could be restained. Huh? A couple of years ago, I saw a room that Nate Berkus did for Oprah. He took a $5000 Ralph Lauren bamboo console... and painted it blue.  Oh, Lord.  Well, that WAS on an Oprah show budget. But, the same premise holds.  If the color isn’t exactly right but the design is great, then find your favorite furniture refinisher and re-stain it! 

Check out that blue chest...

Belmar coffee table

Another option would be to pick something that is in the same color family but round in shape.  Because my friend has children, this might be more kid friendly... no sharp edges.

THE LAMP.   Simple, interesting, but non-intrustive.  Lamps are problematic.  You can spend scads of money.  Recently, Bunny Williams introduced a line of lamps starting at $1000 each.  Yikes!  Perhaps, WFH would be more appropriate.
Another option is to find a cheap lamp at one of the big box stores like Home Goods, Target, or Pier One.  They have some great lamps.  Unfortunately, the shades usually look cheap.  The tell-tale sign of a cheap lamp is… the shade.  So, to confuse people, find a cheap lamp and then change the shade to something that looks more expensive. 
To test my theory, I ran into TJ Maxx while at the beach yesterday.  Guess what I found?
Ralph Lauren lamp, silver plate and glass.
$69.99    HA....Take THAT Bunny Williams!
For that RL lamp, the shade didn't look bad.  Sometimes the shade needs to be changed.  For white and off white shades, pick a linen or textured surface.  It doesn’t cost any more, but it looks more expensive.  For dark shades, like black, choose an opaque liner.  There is nothing worse than looking at a light bulb thru a dark shade… it looks cheap.

CHAIRS.  The chairs are off white with contrasting piping or welting.  Hmmmm.   This will either be a lucky find at a furniture store or a costly custom job.  For instance...
The Haynes Chair, with custom upholstery, is $899 each. 

THE CUBES.   Fortunately, these little suckers are all over the place.  The fluted design with the nail head are a bit more high end, but can be easily ordered.  Don’t be overly impressed or concerned with the idea of ordering something “custom.”  It simply means that you have chosen a fabric and someone is nailing it to your desired piece of furniture.  The results can be amazing and not that expensive.
Courbe storage ottomans start at $299 each

Ballard Designs IS the most commonly used designer resource for “custom” on a budget.  Just FYI.  And, these ottomans are so popular right now that they even made the cover of House Beautiful this month.

GARDEN STOOL.  Like the cubes, Asian inspired garden stools are virtually everywhere these days.  Since we are not looking for some Ming Dynasty original, the key is to look around until the price point looks good.  These generally run $70-100 each in most stores and come in a multitude of colors.  Or you can find them online... like these from Amazon.

THE RUG.  It is a sisal or jute.  Those are easy to find.

THE CURTAIN ROD.   The curtain rod in that room is awful.   For quality and price, the best curtain rods are currently at Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware.  Just buy them when they are on sale.  No need to pay full price...

 THE WHITE POTTERY.    The white ceramic on the mantle screams Jonathan Adler.  Though I couldn't find an exact match online, the Jonathan Adler "Belly" vase is a close cousin.

BUTLER TRAY.  The butler tray or tray table near the window is great.  It adds some texture and some height to that corner.  They are available in price points from $100 to $1000.  The more expensive ones have nickel legs and ornate wooden trays.  The budget friendly options are usually from West Elm.

So, there you have it!  Those chairs are going to be a bear to find.  But, the rest of the room just isn't that hard to replicate.  Just deconstruct the look first... and then start shopping.


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