Solutions for Awkward Spaces

solutions for awkward spacesOpen plan/ loft living has become increasingly popular, but this lifestyle isn’t without its challenges. These awkward floor plans often include accentuated acute and obtuse wall angles, windows that are so large they take up an entire wall, and intruding (though often times beautiful) columns. Have no fear urban dwellers! Here are some tips to work around some of those awkward details.

For corners that are obtuse, that is wider than 90 degrees, soften the angle by adding a natural element like stick screens or a tall (verticality is key here) house plant or vase. Avoid contrasting colors between the joining walls and the use of dark colors on vases or plants.

For acute corners (less than 90 degrees) you can soften the corners by adding sheer drapery around a nearby window. If there isn’t a window in that corner hang the sheer drapery from the ceiling and put a chair or stool below it. Make sure that the furniture you choose has lots of negative space and, similar to the obtuse corner, has a decent amount of verticality.

Large windows are usually a blessing, but if you’re in need of some additional wall real estate they can seem like a curse. If you have floor-to-ceiling windows in combination with high ceilings then stack your book cases and invest in a ladder! The Tall bookcases will imitate your tall windows, providing symmetry and elegance while making the surrounding spaces seem bigger (just make sure to bolt both cases to the wall). I would recommend using an orchard ladder to access items on the top shelves, they are light, narrow and beautiful so there is no need to hide them, just lean against the bookshelves and use anytime!

Columns can be tricky. I recommend designing your space around the walls and windows first, then considering the part the columns will play in the flow of your space. For example, if the column is equidistant between two walls and your space is smaller, choose a side of the column that leads best into the next portion of the room and keep it a nice light neutral color (white or tan). Paint the other side a bright accent color and block off passage between the column and wall with a bookcase or chest. This makes two distinct rooms without blocking out natural light. If your space is bigger don’t block off any side and ground the column with a house plant, some colorful floor pillows or something unique that you would like to display.

Remember, just because your space has an odd shape doesn’t mean you have to cut off corners and minimize your living space. The general rule of thumb is to use furniture that allows for light passage (lots of negative space), verticality (tall pieces) and strategic color schemes to keep your home looking and feeling spacious yet squared off.

Interior Design Trends for 2016

2015’s major design ethos borrowed from both a singular decade and an entire century. Seventies inspired palettes and lackadaisical dispositions collided with mid-century modern minimalism and stoicism. Parallels were made between groovy/ psychedelic prints, ornamental designs of the east and Native American patterns of the west. 2016 is primed for the further integration of these recycled concepts and the ultimate transformation of them into a unique style all its own. So what should you be looking for this year?

F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal Design Out Selby Object Published Credit: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

The use of iron, both for decoration and furniture will be prevalent, but think black, matte iron instead of shiny chrome. Thin, attenuated and round are the adjectives to look for in all of your furniture purchases. Neat circles will be integrated with crafted geometrical lines to at once comfort you with mid-century associations, but inspire the use of hand crafted decor with wild patterns and contrasting colors. The obsession with tribal patterns will morph into something more ornate this year, reminiscent of a Persian rug or a Moroccan tapestry. Not to get all artsy on you, but negative space is a big theme; furniture corners are cut, rounded and angled, relationships between elements in a space are carefully considered and, with both fit and function, work together to shape the air itself.

In essence 2016 will be about contrast and relationships, black with white, simple with ornate and space playing with form. I will caution though, against indulging in too many elaborate patterns or brightly colored pieces in order to keep your space classic and equipped to transform with future trends down the road. Remember, while trends go in and out of style there are some basic principles of design that should always be followed. If you haven’t already, read my post on Feng Shui to adopt an eastern approach to interior design. Welcome to 2016, both simple and elegant while implementing a sense of playfulness and comfort.

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Modern Approaches to Indoor Plants

modern-approaches-to-indoor-plantsThe rise in popularity of mid-century modern furniture has made interior decorating the job of a true minimalist, which is why, in addition to the anxiety you might feel about hosting a living decoration in your home, many have given up on the concept of plants in their space. Adding too many plants, especially in small, low pots, can absolutely cause a cluttered effect, but some types of plants can provide the warmth and natural vibe that some of you might be craving without compromising all of your de-cluttering efforts. I know what you’re thinking, “but I don’t have a green thumb!” I’m not advocating for fake plants here, but I do know of some types that are low maintenance and provide some excellent advantages to your space.

aloe plantThe aloe plant is a great start! Secreting a healing gel, the aloe can be harvested to aid your skin and digestive system. It needs minimal water (once every seven days give or take depending on its environment) being apart of the recently popular succulent family, and it loves the sun! Have an east-facing window? The aloe plant could be for you.



Snake PlantThe Snake plant is another great, low maintenance choice. Architecturally it grows tall and spiky which makes it perfect for empty corners and extreme vertical spaces. It needs little water and even less light AND it releases an abundance of nocturnal oxygen (most plants release oxygen during the day) making it a great addition for detoxifying your home round the clock.

Just remember to place your plants strategically, keeping in mind their relationship to all objects in a given space as well as their particular needs (sun, shade, dry, wet).


Home on the… Prairie? American Architecture at its Finest.

In one of my first posts I talked about the origins of Craftsman architecture and given that Craftsman homes are currently going through a resurgence in popularity, I thought I would discuss a specific offshoot of the style: Prairie architecture.

prairie-1248I often times refer to my home as a Craftsman, simply because its the most approachable term to use, but I’d like to illustrate for you what artful history my home owes its origins to. This home, built in 1910, and designed by Clyde J. Powers is technically a Prairie style home, which has a lot in common with Craftsman architecture. Both use their environment as their core inspiration, but Prairie style sources that inspiration specifically from the vast horizontal expanses of America’s mid-western fields, endless roads and highways and never-ending telephone wires. The key element is thus horizontality and line. Prairie style is a purely American style of architecture, highlighting the minimal and essential attributes its creators thought homes should be celebrated for. I too share this design philosophy, and enjoy being apart of this home’s history.



Eight Ways to Make a Kitchen Stand Out


1. Use open shelving in place of upper cabinets

This is a great option for smaller spaces, especially if you have china or fiesta ware you would like an excuse to show off! The exclusion of cabinets creates the illusion of more space while decreasing dark spaces and shadows that can make small rooms feel even smaller. I designed around a narrow kitchen for one of my clients using cabinets with clear doors, which works well too!



2. Use at least two wood finishes.

This is the simplest way to add texture to your kitchen and maintain a classic yet warm and rustic feel. This is especially true when combining these textures in the context of a clean and contemporary room.





3. Make it a galley kitchen.

Take this opportunity to think outside the box! Or in this instance outside the confines of your square footage. Use the walls to craft an exquisite way to store your treasured wine selection or install hooks to show off copper pans and cookery.





4. Leave out the hardware.

If your not in to exposing your treasured kitchen paraphernalia with open plans, try taking it to the next extreme! Remove handles and other hardware for the ultimate chic and minimal look.





5. Build in an eating area.

Everyone knows that the kitchen is the place to hang out! If your living by yourself or with a small family, consider nixing the concept of a dinning room and go for cozy in the kitchen!






6. Use furniture in place of an island.

If you’re living in a small space, or if it feels that way what with all the people constantly coming in and out of your home, make sure you are using your surface space wisely! Instead of an island, shake things up with a functional piece of furniture that can double as a space to eat off of with storage to boot!




7. Use concrete counter tops.

Utilitarian, minimal, warehouse-like loft spaces are in! Don’t live in a space that resembles a loft in anyway? Incorporate concrete countertops as a simple solution to acquire that hip urban vibe.





8. In corporate a skylight!

And of course, if its architecturally feasable, utilize as much natural light as you can. Put a spotlight on your hard work with a skylight.





Be sure to get in touch with me and share your kitchen make over concepts!



Antique cabinets, modern appliances:








Parisian apartment of Gilles and Boissie:








kitchen love the contrast of the wood against the black, and what a great wine rack:









Modern | ombiaiinterijeri:

















desire to inspire:








| P | Kitchen with concret counters + backsplash:








Love the off form concrete and the retractable skylight over the kitchen island. Cemetaries scare me, but this house which is situated on one, makes it look beautiful. Elliott House – North London, by Eldridge-Smerin Architects.:












American Craftsman Style Architecture

Our new home is often though of as a Craftsman. Given the architecture’s current popularity I thought I would take a moment to discuss how tumblr_nq5y68tQlF1ruw5mdo3_1280the Craftsman style came about. For any of you interested in an art history lesson, the American Craftsman style came out of a movement happening oversees in the late 19th century; the Arts and Crafts movement. Founded by the textile designer/writer/socialist William Morris in 1860, the movement rose from the ashes of Victorian ornate and embellished concepts. Morris felt that the industrial revolution was diminishing good design and craftsmanship as well as middle class jobs and that a return to the principles of clean, minimal, ethical and natural aesthetics was necessary.

The movement took hold in the US around 1900 when furniture maker Gustav Stickley published his magazine, “The Craftsman”. The magazine was in print for 15 years, and the style remained popular until the 1930’s. The American version of Craftsman style focused less on the social movement and more on fine quality design and construction.

While there is a certain understated aesthetic that goes along with it, what really distinguishes craftsman architecture are the thoughtful details and meticulous craftsmanship. For this reason I’m elated to own one and to have the privilege of restoring it to its former glory.