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A Look at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show 

New York again hosted the annual Architectural Digest Home Design Show last weekend in March 20-23rd.  Designers exhibited furniture of exquisite craftsmanship and truly unique work. 

A River Runs Through It

Shown above is Greg Klassen’s River console.  Each of his furniture is a piece of artwork and no two are alike.  Klassen hand picks woods from the Pacific Northwest with an exciting grain pattern and melds green-blue glass through it.

Origami Project

The GJ chair from Lange Productions of Denmark caught my eye.  Made of laminated wood, the chair reminds me of a wonderful origami work with its turns and folds.  More Lange furniture are available from Karkula.

The Geode Nightstand from Tucker Robbins also shows off an exciting dimensionality in its surface.  Each drawer has a slight pyramid front and is made of cerused oak.  This casepiece looks at home both in a city apartment as well as in a beach cottage.


Reflecting an edgy and cosmopolitan look, the Kyan console combines the industrial trend with a more refined touch.  The Kyan draws its inspiration from the Beijing skyline - its name the Chinese word for skyline. The console is one of many exciting pieces at Brabbu Design Forces.


Interior Design: Look Forward by Looking Back to Dorothy Draper

Dorothy Draper was one of America's most famous and influential interior designers. She pioneered the industry in the United States, created a brand name for herself long before Martha Stewart came onto the scene, influenced home decorating with her "you can decorate" best-selling books, and produced an impressive body of decorating work, from chic hotels and private homes to important commercial commissions like the interiors for jet airplanes.

Here are some Draper tips that we can all benefit from in our home decorating (and pick up a copy of her Decorating Is Fun! book for some great ideas).

  1. Draper always believed it was important to have a good time decorating your home. She warned people not to be "grim and serious," and she said, "I don't believe there is any rule in the game that can't be broken."
  2. "So many people stick timidly to the often uninspired conventional ideas or follow some expert's methods slavishly. Either way they are more or less living in someone else's house." To avoid this, she advised decorating where you live to make it "honestly your own - an expression of your personality."
  3. "You need courage to experiment, courage to seek out your own taste and express it, courage to disregard stereotyped ideas and try out your own." She particularly advises against blindly following trends, fashions, or someone else's advice. But with that comes responsibility to try to research what's available, collect color and pattern samples that appeal to you, and begin to look around and find what's appealing.
  4. "The Drab Age is over. Color is coming into its own again. Until very recently people were literally scared out of their wits by color." Dorothy Draper wrote these words back in 1939, and they are still true! Don't forget that lively colors in your surroundings are important, and she advises, "Be sure your colors are honest, fresh, and clear." She doesn't mean bright shades of color but instead, colors that aren't "wishy-washy."
  5. Get rid of "junky knickknacks" in all your rooms. In fact, Dorothy Draper always eliminated all purposeless elements from her room and reveled in the "restful simplicity" of rooms that are well decorated.
  6. Replace old picture frames with new ones to give your walls a fresher look.
  7. Don't overlook the small details in any room. "Your lampshades," says Draper, "can make or break a room." She says to consider the decorating details in your room as carefully as you consider layering your body in clothes and jewelry; accessorizing is just as important as the basic outfit.
  8. "No room can be called perfect unless it has real comfort. It must be livable for you. It must meet graciously every requirement you make of it." Take Draper's advice and look hard and long at how you're using your living room and dining room. Are these two underutilized rooms in your house? Can they be made more comfortable and livable for you and your family by accommodating more conversation groupings, spaces to enjoy media, great places to read a book, work spaces for homework and games and computer use?
  9. When considering wall colors, get a large wallpaper sample which has the background color you want. "Hang it on the wall until you find out whether you really like it. Then have your painter match that shade."
  10. Don't forget ceilings when laying out your color plans for a room. Don't just default and paint them white. "Your ceiling can be a contrast to your walls, or it can match some color in your wallpaper or rug. It can be painted shiny black, or it can be covered with the same wallpaper you are using on the walls. Just don't treat it like a stepchild."
  11. "A room that is weighted down at one end by a great, heavy sofa that is not balanced by similar weight at the other end is an uneasy room." Draper cautions against buying pairs of things to create balance. ("It would be dull if you did.") Instead, she recommends clever uses of color such as a pair of chairs with upholstery darker than the sofa being used to create that visual balance in the room. "Solid colors will usually make things seem larger and bulkier than they are. And bold, all-over patterns will reduce their size because they break up the lines just as army camouflaging does."

Interested in learning more about interior design? Take a look at Sheffield School's Complete Course in Interior Design. At Sheffield, you will learn how to transform a space, create color schemes, and select furniture, lighting, and accessories.


How to Design Small Spaces at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House

Writing Room by Stephen Mooney

Who says small can’t be beautiful and spectacular?  We have examples here of exquisitely designed small rooms in a New York City townhouse. As we all know, every large city has its share of challenging small spaces but interior designers know the secrets to transforming problems to winners.

The Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club hosted their annual decorator show house and invited top interior designers to revive a Federal-styled townhouse in NYC’s Upper East Side. The townhouse like many a home in New York had a few small, narrow rooms that were problematic to interior design.

In our first photo above, Palm Beach designer Stephen Mooney had to overcome the problem of a very narrow room.  By applying a sunny yellow color scheme and cream colored furniture, Mooney achieved a bright and cheerful space for the client to do some work in.  The designer also chose small-scaled furniture: a small desk and chairs, narrow console table, as well as small light fixtures, accomplishing a beautiful and highly functional space.

Home Office by Barbara Ostrom

Designer Barbara Ostrom also had to deal with a tight space – an alcove of about 6 feet wide by 6 feet long.  She created a home office, complete with built-in bookcase.  Ostrom also applied a light color scheme – all white with a pale yellow sisal carpet by Stark – to keep the room bright and airy.  She then installed architectural woodworking and an archway above the desk, giving the room distinction and an elegant focal point. The desk is from Dakota Jackson and the Reagan Hayes desk chair is upholstered in a leopard print Scalamandre silk.

Sitting Room by Felicia Zwebner

Almost an afterthought is this very narrow room designed by Felicia Zwebner.  Most people would probably just use this room as storage space but Zwebner imagined a luxurious and intimate sitting room – great for quiet reading or creative thinking!  To create this jewel-like space, she chose a golden wall covering from Stark and an ochre marble from Artistic Tile. The monochromatic color scheme helps create an illusion of a larger space. She also added a round mirror from Vaughan to provide reflection and depth to the room. 


Interested in learning more about interior design?  Take a look at Sheffield School's Complete Course in Interior Design.  At Sheffield, you will learn how to transform a space, create color schemes, and select furniture, lighting, and accessories.


Are You Creative? Do You Have a Head for Business? Are You an Entrepreneur?

I'm a creative person, and I know many other creative people. We all think deep creative thoughts and we love the process of making things. I like to write. Others I know are great in art, illustration, photography, jewelry making, interior design, embroidery, fashion design, screenplay writing, and product design. But few of the people I know are entrepreneurs. That means that few of us (me included) would risk their security and steady job income to open up our own businesses - enterprises based on what we create.

Yikes! Being an entrepreneur puts a completely different template over what we creatives do during the day, right? I know you're attracted to this blog because you have a love for the creative arts. You probably make something, either as a hobbyist or as a serious pro or somewhere in between, but you might not want to "risk it all" to start your own business. We've all known people who have tried and failed in such endeavors, so we don't want to be like them, right?

And deep down, are we all that confident about our creative skills? We can contribute our creativity to others in a defined job environment, but can we build a business sustained by what we dream about, make and fashion, and develop?

IF you have the guts to go for creative business glory, I encourage you. Period. I ENCOURAGE YOU. 

You heard right. I'm not going to try to talk you out of it, but only if you have the passion to pursue a creative business. Creative people are dissatisfied with things as they are. They have a strong desire to make things better, more beautiful, more elegant, more ... something! The only way to feel satisfied as a creative person is to have courage, focus, and vision - and to take action on your ideas.

Your creative outlet may be to help others make things. It could be assisting with craft time activities geared to young children or seniors. But you might want to base a business on your creativity. Mark McGuiness, the business coach pictured above, has what he calls the 5 Components of Creative Entrepreneurship. These are elements of success for any creative enterprise.

  1. Create (Don't Compete)
  2. Lead (Don't Manage)
  3. Communicate (Don't Be Shy)
  4. Automate (Don't Duplicate)
  5. Accelerate (Don't Stand Still)

Mark's creative entrepreneurship formula is also worth repeating here:

Creativity + Productivity = Success

It's helpful to visualize the end result of your creative work. Imagine what it will be like to design a new jewelry collection and have your own jewelry business. Visualize how you'll decorate a client's new living room and have your own interior design firm. Imagine how great your new photography website will look, promoting your creative services to the public. Hold that end result in your mind, and it will help fan your passion and intensity while diminishing fear and uncertainty.

But never start a business in a vacuum or, worse yet, in an atmosphere that is not supportive to you and your creative mission. Jettison your nay-saying friends and tune out the negative family members who don't believe in what you'd like to accomplish. That doesn't mean to blindly forge ahead, however! Do your research, and definitely seek out fellow creative folk in the community who can give you good feedback and criticism.

Feedback. Criticism. You need both before you plunge into any creative business endeavor. Hey, if you want to merely sell earrings of your own design at the holiday church bazaar, knock yourself out. But if you want to become Earrings R Us and open up stores across the country, then you'd better seek out friendly, but knowing feedback and criticism - the earlier in your business planning process, the better.

This means finding

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Spring Decorating is a Breeze

Bright colors are popping out all over the place – in fashion, in jewelry, and in home décor.  I’m sure you’ve already been blinded when you walked into a store and saw all that orange and lemon yellows glaring at you.  Fashion is one thing, but living in it at home day in, day out is another.  By choosing just the right amount of pops of color and mixing it with neutrals, you’re going to achieve a refreshing spring like home without all the blinding headache.

In our first interior above, we’re highlighting the color of the year, emerald, with the Murphy mid-century style sofa from Room and Board.  Our pops of color appear in deep reds, salmon pinks, and sunny yellows.  Essentially this room has a complementary red-green color scheme but reinterpreted into today’s color vibe so it doesn’t look like your grandmother’s living room. 

To successfully carry off the bright pops of color, we toned it down with a soft muted green upholstery and brown woods as in the mid-century coffee table by Pierre Jeanneret.  The Glass Pebble table lamp from Palacek shimmers in blue-green hues.  The three-drawer Ermitage chest is from Grange and the baroque Barcelona mirror is from Joss & Main

We brought in touches of spring with yellow oncidium orchids and a beautiful 18th century porcelain vase from Bardith Antiques

The second room above is awash in a citrus color scheme of soft yellows, sage greens, and chartreuse. The design features two current trends – the artisan look and the botanicals passion.  The Evie two-drawer chest from Joss & Main shows off the artisan touch – the chest was stripped down and hand-painted with tree branches and birds.  The Safavieh rug and the Simon pillow also reflect botanical prints.

Another popular trend is the craze for Chinoiserie.  We introduced Asian influences with a Chinese cloisonné dragon bronze urn from Avalon antiques.  Rounding out the room is the chartreuse Mimi chair from Christopher Kennedy and a fun cable pouf from Overstock.

With just a few touches, you can refresh any room with the colors of spring and sprinkle it with the latest trends.  Try it!



Interested in learning more about decor? Take a look at Sheffield School's Complete Course in Interior Design. At Sheffield, you'll learn how to transform a space, create color schemes, and select furniture, lighting, and accessories.