Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Amazing Grays

I have a love, nay, obsession, for gray! I find myself using gray in many of my projects right now and even buying gray clothes. I love it! It is so neutral and adds sophistication to any palette! My favorite combination, for the moment (give it a few months, I'll love something new), is gray and gold, which is executed so beautifully in the Jan Showers design below. I like gray with any version of gold, all the way into bright yellows, but I particularly love a mousy gray paired with a metallic gold. Notice the gray silk tufted sofa against the gray wall and how the texture change is ever so slight in the glint of the silk. This, paired with the gray mohair chair is superb.
All grays, all different textures.

Here is another beautifully executed gray and gold palette. The rustic design of this space works better with yellowy golds than metallics. I think that a metallic would have been too formal for this architecture.

More gray and gold to die for...

Notice the dark gray and light gray mixed on the doors. Clever!

I love the richness of the hues in this space. The gray is very deep and muddy and the creams are thick and rich.

The pattern and texture of the grays and silvers in this vignette work beautifully together. The sheen of the metallic in the base of the lamp and the mirror of the table work so well against the gray patterned paper and gray millwork.

I simply adore this kitchen. I have long been a fan of painting the kitchen base cabinets different than the uppers, and these are gray to boot! See, all you leery folks out there, it looks really good!
Or, how about painting all your millwork a sultry gray...this kitchen is so sexy!...yeah, I just called a kitchen sexy, I'm officially getting old.
Millwork looks very elegant when painted gray. This could be just a regular old door, painted the same color as the other millwork, but it has quickly become special with a little color change.
Oh, dear Jan, what I wouldn't give for just an ounce of your talent! Looky looky what she has done with this dining room. Yum!

Love the light blue gray wall and the deeper gray drapery treatment.

This living space is awash with gray! This is how you do monochromatic right! Monochromatic can often feel formal but this space appears very comfortable in an it's-ok-to-lay-on-the-pillows kind of way, because of all the textures. Simply lovely!
Again, the texture on this headboard is gorgeous. It appears to be a silk velvet or possibly mohair. Think of how boring this would be if the headboard were the same color as the wall and there were no texture change.
Just a splash of gray on the sofa.
Another space awash with grays but this time the contrast is developed in pattern.
More gray cabinets and, my favorite, cream tile with gray grout. I love the graphic it creates!
Oh...and the yummy gray-washed floors!
Gray in marble, another favorite. I have yet to meet someone who doesn't love carerra marble.
I know they're out there, I'm just sayin'!

I have several projects in the making that display my love for gray. I'll be posting some fun pics of my work as they finish up, so check back soon.
Elegant, lovely, gracious gray!

Images via Traditional Home, Steven Gambrel ID, David H. Mitchell ID, Phillip Sides ID, Kara Mann ID, Jan Showers ID

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sofitel New Zealand

Today I bring you the beautiful Sofitel Hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand. This 5 star hotel, that was designed and constructed for a cool $45 million, is centrally located and is a visual delight. This hotel truly embodies the Sofitel concept - 'art de vivre' - the art of living.

The guest rooms are exquisite. They feature the famous Sofitel "My Bed", heated floors, rain showers, personal espresso makers, and each room is outfitted with a pillow menu and a New Zealand possum throw, just to name a few.

Luxurious and extremely well appointed bathrooms.

Living area in a suite. How gorgeous is this?!
This 5 star hotel is amazing and well known for it's opulence and design but it is actually better known for one room in the whole hotel...the little boys room!
When the hotel opened it didn't gain notoriety for being the lap of luxury, it was this little room that caused a great deal of commotion, and you can see why. I've had this image on my computer forever, because I think it is hysterical!
Behind the urinals are these life size photos of models outfitted with binoculars, tape measures, cameras and some are even laughing. (you've got to expand in your browser so you can see their faces, it's funny)
The hotel manager states "Certainly it wasn't our intention to offend anybody, we just wanted to add some levity to the opulent experience". I think it's genius and wish there were more surprises like this where you would least expect them.
The hotel has received a bevy of complaints, and many people consider it tasteless but for the most part people appreciate the humor for what it is and have fun with it.
Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Do you have one of these? If you don't, and you drink coffee, tea or hot chocolate often, I highly recommend getting one. We received this little gem from my in-laws for Christmas, and my husband and I have used it at least once a day, if not more, since then. It brews a single cup and every brew you can switch out the flavor. This works great at my house because my husband and I like different kinds of coffee. He brews his cup and takes it with him to work and then I make mine. You use these little cartridges called 'K-Cups' and you just snap 'em in and brew. The whole process takes about a minute!

These are the little K-Cups, aren't they cute?!

We keep ours in this cute little box.
We recently had company for the weekend and the Keurig was a hit. Everyone picked out their own flavor choice for coffee and there was no need to keep tons of flavored coffeemate containers or brew multiple pots of coffee.
It is perfect for hot tea and hot chocolate as well. It also comes with a metal filter so that you can put in your own coffee or tea if you don't want to use the K-Cups.
I love my Keurig! Thanks Jim and Patricia!
I give it two thumbs up :-)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mini Makeover

This is a mini makeover that I completed last year. This space was a guest bedroom and the budget was small. The client just wanted to freshen it up a bit.
It is dramatic what you can do by just changing the soft goods in the room. We didn't repaint or change the furniture, we only changed the drapes, bedding, art and lighting.
Check it out.


This just goes to show that you don't have to have a large budget to get a fresh, new look.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

French Island Elegance

I am not a fan of winter. That is actually an understatement. I am downright miserable in cold weather. I look forward to the holidays and then come January 1st, I'm over it and I want my spring and summer back, STAT! On this particularly cold, dreary, gray day I found myself looking at my beach vacation pictures, which is one of the small ways that I, both, relax and torture myself. Anyhow, I came across the file that houses my honeymoon photos and was lost for a good twenty minutes in French island love. When I finally came out of my trance I thought that a little island style might be a good post, as I'm sure most people are sick of the brown, dead, cold, blah blah blah...
My husband and I had the unbelievable privilege of spending our honeymoon on the amazing island of St. Barthelemy (St. Barths) in the French West Indies. Just a fun little tidbit...I didn't know that was where we were going...my husband completely surprised me. He told me to pack for the tropics and when we arrived at the airport I found out where we were headed!
Back off ladies, he's taken!
St. Barths is a dream. It is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! Clear, azure water, unspoiled beaches, postcard worthy photo ops EVERYWHERE you look. I fell in love with the West Indies style while I was there and it will always hold a special place in my little designer heart.
"If the French Riviera were to collide with the Caribbean, the result would be St. Barths. Think yachts, dark sunglasses, and mopeds careening around jagged green hills dotted with bright orange rooftops. Add a few hairpin turns and a fleet of cessnas landing at the seaside airport and you have a scene right out of a James Bond movie - dubbed in French, of course" Coastal Living
Well, Coastal Living, you have painted the perfect picture of this caribbean jewel!
The lobby of our hotel, Hotel Guanahani & Spa
The bright colors and relaxed charm of the Caribbean are mixed with the sophistication of France. It is the perfect blend.
The hotel that we stayed at was comprised of these quaint little bungalows right on top of a crystal clear cove. The architectural details of our bungalow were so very West Indies. The gingerbread moulding along the roof line adorns almost every traditional structure on the island.
Inside of the bungalow.
The pool at our resort.
Bungalow at our resort.
The Clarins Spa courtyard...the center is a koi pond covered in lilly pads and the structure in the center is where the massage tables are.
Hotel Guanahani, our hotel, has one of the exclusive and luxurious Clarins Spas that I had the distinct privilege of visiting while we were there. The hubs had some appointments booked for me as part of the surprise...did I tell you how much of a catch he is?!
The pool at the Clarins spa. To the right of the pool is a cragged cliff that drops off into the crystal ocean below.
Some of the many breathtaking views from around the island.
Here we are, newly married and happy as clams.
Frank and I having a mid afternoon libation on Shell Beach.
Through the mangroves to one of the many unspoiled beaches. There are no structures on most of the beaches so you have to walk out to them and most of the time we were alone because the population on the island is so small. It feels like a scene right out of The Blue Lagoon :-)
The center of town where all the overpriced shopping is. It looks like a postcard doesn't it?!
The style of the West Indies, that I fell so deeply in love with, is tropical with heavy French Colonial and Swedish influences. The islanders use a lot of ultra-heavy woods, like teak, mahogany and ebony, that can withstand the tropical weather. Their designs are very clean and simple. The natural colors of the Caribbean are brought in with turquoise, coral, grassy greens, purples and pinks and they are contrasted against crisp white, all while being anchored by the earthy and rich browns of the woods used in the furniture and floors.
The structures are very un-fussy. They leave the ceiling beams exposed and the paneling on the walls uncovered.
Large windows and doors are usually the prominent aspect in the room to allow for coastal breezes to drift effortlessly through.

There is rarely a definition between the inside and outdoors. I think this is the only place where I would be considered an "out-doorsy-kinda-gal".
I love the exposed wood on the ceiling and the casual and, commonly, slipcovered upholstery.

The large four poster beds, set high off the floor are very common and allow air to circulate around the sleeping area. Notice all of the colors, that you would find alive and swimming around a coral reef, so elegantly contrasted with deep browns and crisp white.

Exotic tropical hardwoods and indigenous stone. Large doors to allow the fresh coastal breezes in, and simple textiles and furnishings.

I think this is a perfect example of the marriage of tropical and colonial. Look at the exposed teak ceiling meshed effortlessly with the colonial columns.

If you love the look as much as I do, here are some furniture selections from Hickory Chair and Somerset Bay to help you achieve the aesthetic.

If you would like to see more architecturally significant dwellings and estates in the West Indies check out this cocktail book (you know I love my cocktail books) by Michael Connors who is a West Indian decorative arts scholar.

I hope our little jaunt into the French West Indies has dragged you out of the winter doldrums if only for a bit...now back to the real world....