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across-the-pond inspiration

5 Aug

Celeste's room, courtesy Ohdeedoh.com

Checking out the nursery archives on Ohdeedoh the other day, I was struck by the awesome quirkiness of the child’s room shown above.   Celeste and her mum Katy live in a self-described “wonky 16th Century cottage in the English countryside,” and, despite the miles between us, seem to face the same issues as us apartment dwellers in the NYC area (non-level walls, crooked floors, and overall small spaces).

Reading on, I was initially impressed by the combination of materials, styles, and periods (e.g. Ghost chair paired with Eames rocker), but what really got me were those mad curtains.   Can you see them?

Gatsby collection, courtesy Another Shade of Grey

GP&J Baker deer close-up

Above, two close-ups of the fabric she used for curtains, by a company called GP&J Baker fabrics.  The GP&J Baker line is huge in the UK, but primarily sold through wholesalers (to the trade) in the US.  And what I learned from this blog is that the wonderful “Gatsby” line of fabrics (including “deer” in two colorways) was introduced in 2007 and may no longer be available.

But it got me thinking: what other amazing fabrics, bedding or wallpaper do those pesky Brits have up their sleeve? (Full disclosure: hubby’s British, I’m allowed to say that.)  So here are my three favorite recent finds, all from the UK but available in the United States and possibly worldwide.

Birtwell's "Beasties"

1. Celia Birtwell: Beasties

Also known as Ossie Clark’s better half, Birtwell’s textile designs are synonymous with London of the 60’s and 70’s.  Perhaps you know her patterns from a recent partnership with Express stores (I have one of her blouses) or her designs for Topshop in the UK.  I recently discovered her wallpaper pattern called “Beasties” and think it’d be perfect for a kid’s room.  Described as “a toile type print with animals, birds and plants that is almost Elizabethan in look,” it retails for 55 (pounds) a roll.

Cath Kidston "Cowboy" bedding

2. Cath Kidston: Cowboys

Although primarily known in the US for her oilcloth fabrics and flowered patterns, I found this vintage-looking cowboy print really fantastic.  Part of the Cath Kids line, the duvet is reversible; the other side features red and white polka-dots, which modernizes and cuts the potential kitsch-factor of the wild-west theme.  I believe there’s a CK store in SoHo New York, but I couldn’t find a listing online.  Will do searching if anyone’s interested (fyi: it costs less than 40 pounds in the UK).

Dragons "Soldiers"

3.  Dragons of Walton Street: Soldiers

How crazy is this fabric?  Perfect for any young Anglophile (or Beefeater fan. . . just kidding), this pattern from Dragons of Walton Street would really punch up a room.  I could see it used as curtain fabric, or perhaps just for accent pillows.  Most of the Dragons inventory is pretty traditional (see it here) but you may find something unique to your liking.

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door-free closets

1 Jun

This past weekend, I lent a hand to a lovely family – friends of friends – to kick-start a redesign of their daughters’ room.  In a future post, I’ll document some of the challenges they’re facing (it’s a rental, for starters), and I’ll share some of my suggestions with you guys.

But one of the biggest realizations we made, after discussing (among other things) furniture placement, color schemes and potted plants, was the fact that the girls’ closet was seriously under-utilized.   In fact, many of their space problems are going to be solved with a few of these:

Real Simple garment storage, Bed Bath & Beyond

Not the most beautiful, but that’s what closet doors are for, right?  Right?

I once read somewhere that the difference between minimalists and the rest of us is that minimalists have better closets. And I’m very much of the “if it can be put away, put it away” school.  That’s why I’m not so into this trend I’ve been seeing lately — people removing the doors from their closets and incorporating the ‘insides’ as part of their room design.  To wit:

Little Apple Designs

I really like the work of these interior designers.  And I appreciate the fact that they’ve gained usable space (see the changing table?) from a former closet.  But it just seems so high-maintenance to me.

Here are some more photos I’ve found.  Just check out the organization going on… (btw, I’ve collected these images over the past few months so many of them aren’t sourced.  If you recognize these images, please email me and I’ll give due credit!)

Nursery, Winnipeg Free Press

Matching yellow onesies lend a nice touch, yeah?  I do like the fact that the wall cover seems to be carried into the closet.  No reason to not paint a closet while you’re painting the rest of the room (especially if you’re using a light color).

Blue bedroom, huge closet space

I’m wondering if the above photo is  part of an ad for storage systems…  But again, it feels so – exposed.  That’s why the following solution makes the most sense to me (and is the most aesthetically pleasing).

Brown and beige nursery

By removing the closet doors, these folks were able to use half of the closet space for storage and a desk.  Then they mounted a curtain rod and hung beautiful brown grommet curtains across the entire space.  When not in use, the desk area and closet area can be hidden, adding a decorative element to the other side.  When fully closed, I’m sure the closet looks much more beautiful than the typical bifold-mirror sliding doors that were replaced.

the ‘new modern’ in textiles

21 Feb

DwellStudio new collection: Gate (left), Pyramids (right)

I’ve been thinking all week about a recent blog post by Christiane at DwellStudio, because it sheds some light on a question I’ve been asking myself recently. As readers of my posts now know, I’ve recently enrolled myself in an interior design class at Parsons here in NY. And on our first day of class, we were asked to introduce ourselves and offer a brief description of our personal style as it relates to design and decoration.

It reminded me of that famous ruling in the 1960’s Supreme Court obscenity trial. My style? I know it when I see it.

Yes, I love modern style. But, as I’m sure you’d agree, I love all kinds of modern design. Eames-era mid-century modern? Check. Formal, minimalist modernism? Sure, when it’s right. Thrift-store, folk-art, shag-carpet-and-orange-needlepoint-owls? That too. But then there’s also the soft textures, the antique aviary prints, and even a zebra-stripe pattern now and again.

Having spent many, many years in marketing, I know all about neat little boxes and the need for people to label things that sometimes defy categorization. Then I read this:

At DwellStudio we spend a lot of creative energy redefining our idea of what is current and modern. Modern to us has never meant gravel driveways and linear achitecture – modern is not a movement that can be distilled down to an iconic piece of furniture. For us it’s state of mind. For us modern is new – new ideas, new horizons, new design.

After the last year, what feels modern to us is something riffing off of the more traditional. We are taking cues from historical visual motifs and making them new. We are transforming the decorative and making it minimal. Decorative Minimal may seem like an oxymoron but we are looking to European style – it’s about the few great things that make a space well designed and the worship of quality and craftsmanship. Our geometrics have become luxurious and three dimensional, our prints more complex – the pieces have a heirloom quality and a modernity that seem to be the right balance for right now.

Although I’m not 100% in sync with the ‘decorative minimal’ style, I really appreciate Christiane’s effort to reassess what’s become a catch-all term.

So what does Modern look like to me? I’ve selected a few fabric swatches to share. Perhaps they inspire you the way they’re inspiring me. They all offer some kind of contrast, a sense of history, and a mix of science and nature. (NB: both sources quoted below offer their swatches for free or at minimal cost – definitely worth checking out).

Dotti/Harbor, Smith+Noble
Geometric yet organic, a curious mix of nouveau and MCM

Network/Steel, Smith+Noble
Strong pattern and soft color

Connected/Crimson, Smith+Noble
Confident and intricate

Brunchwig & Fils Riggins, Trellis, Fabric Guru
So old fashioned and aristocratic in a fun illustration style

Houndstooth fabric, New Green, Fabric Guru
A heritage pattern, large scale and in an unexpected color

Waverly Garden Lattice Woven, Chocolate, Fabric Guru
Bamboo cane-chair pattern reminiscent of 1930’s and 1970’s

I’m thinking of calling it ‘eclectic modern,’ but I’m open to suggestions.

the 'new modern' in textiles

21 Feb

DwellStudio new collection: Gate (left), Pyramids (right)

I’ve been thinking all week about a recent blog post by Christiane at DwellStudio, because it sheds some light on a question I’ve been asking myself recently. As readers of my posts now know, I’ve recently enrolled myself in an interior design class at Parsons here in NY. And on our first day of class, we were asked to introduce ourselves and offer a brief description of our personal style as it relates to design and decoration.

It reminded me of that famous ruling in the 1960’s Supreme Court obscenity trial. My style? I know it when I see it.

Yes, I love modern style. But, as I’m sure you’d agree, I love all kinds of modern design. Eames-era mid-century modern? Check. Formal, minimalist modernism? Sure, when it’s right. Thrift-store, folk-art, shag-carpet-and-orange-needlepoint-owls? That too. But then there’s also the soft textures, the antique aviary prints, and even a zebra-stripe pattern now and again.

Having spent many, many years in marketing, I know all about neat little boxes and the need for people to label things that sometimes defy categorization. Then I read this:

At DwellStudio we spend a lot of creative energy redefining our idea of what is current and modern. Modern to us has never meant gravel driveways and linear achitecture – modern is not a movement that can be distilled down to an iconic piece of furniture. For us it’s state of mind. For us modern is new – new ideas, new horizons, new design.

After the last year, what feels modern to us is something riffing off of the more traditional. We are taking cues from historical visual motifs and making them new. We are transforming the decorative and making it minimal. Decorative Minimal may seem like an oxymoron but we are looking to European style – it’s about the few great things that make a space well designed and the worship of quality and craftsmanship. Our geometrics have become luxurious and three dimensional, our prints more complex – the pieces have a heirloom quality and a modernity that seem to be the right balance for right now.

Although I’m not 100% in sync with the ‘decorative minimal’ style, I really appreciate Christiane’s effort to reassess what’s become a catch-all term.

So what does Modern look like to me? I’ve selected a few fabric swatches to share. Perhaps they inspire you the way they’re inspiring me. They all offer some kind of contrast, a sense of history, and a mix of science and nature. (NB: both sources quoted below offer their swatches for free or at minimal cost – definitely worth checking out).

Dotti/Harbor, Smith+Noble
Geometric yet organic, a curious mix of nouveau and MCM

Network/Steel, Smith+Noble
Strong pattern and soft color

Connected/Crimson, Smith+Noble
Confident and intricate

Brunchwig & Fils Riggins, Trellis, Fabric Guru
So old fashioned and aristocratic in a fun illustration style

Houndstooth fabric, New Green, Fabric Guru
A heritage pattern, large scale and in an unexpected color

Waverly Garden Lattice Woven, Chocolate, Fabric Guru
Bamboo cane-chair pattern reminiscent of 1930’s and 1970’s

I’m thinking of calling it ‘eclectic modern,’ but I’m open to suggestions.