28 February 2011

Georgia On My Mind

Sometimes you find yourself part of an environment that perhaps you would not choose for your "real" life, but that you can appreciate none-the-less - such is Sea Island Georgia. Never, really NEVER, has a place I have been to forced so much luxury down your gullet. Our Blogstress Tracy would need salts in an ecru, linen, handkerchief to keep her upright as she l-o-v-e-s the refinement and grace of the Old South. I was a little creeped out that the maids (maids, not housekeeping engineers) wore hats and petticoats. This clearly was a dream design job as the budget appears to have been in the unlimited range. Oh, good lord can you imagine??? Even the toilet at the pool was from Waterworks! It so could have been Kholer or Toto, but, no, EVERYTHING had to be top of the line. I imagine meetings were spent with the owners saying, "But how can we spend more? Think! Think!" The designer replies "Uh, well...I guess we could pave the roads by hand????"

And so they did.......

I appreciate little details like designing a beverage station that makes me want to drink water.

And big details that make me want to swim laps.

They took the time to bring in a rain forest for guests waiting for spa treatments....

but decided to have fun where required.

Really, no expense was spared, and it shows.

The Lobby

The Solarium

If anyone knows who was responsible for this design extravaganza please let me know. I am wondering if they have any clients they'd like to pass along.

22 February 2011

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a......Painted Ceiling!

image: house beautiful

The February 2011 issue of House Beautiful featured this Painted Ceiling in a house designed by Gideon Mendelson. SO FAB.
I love painted ceilings (and floors) as a design element, and I believe they are a  fantastic opportunity to inject interest and individuality - yet they are all too often overlooked. We are forever looking for interesting ways to make our homes unique, and ceilings are  a wonderful place to do just that.
I paint the ceilings in client's homes as often as I can, which is to say I do it when I can convince them to let me. It is sometimes a difficult concept for people to accept ~ and I do admit it is an idea that lives decidedly "outside the box". Of course, it does not have to make as powerful a statement as this green and white check does. It can be as simple as painting the ceiling the same color as the walls, which is especially successful in bedrooms or libraries or dens, rooms in which we cocoon and unwind. It creates a calm, unbroken envelope around us and signals rest.
A darker color can also be a surprising and distinctive choice, raising a beautifully designed room a notch higher in style and panache. I do not subscribe to the notion that darker colors make a room feel smaller; on the contrary, a deep rich tone on walls or ceiling blurs the edges and creates beautiful depth.
Pale blue is a nice choice, particularly in the Northeast where glimpses of real blue sky can be few and far between.
And then there are the real statement choices, like the plaid and a few more shown below. OK, the last two are papered, but the FAB still applies.
Gutsy, unique, and so beautiful. Try it!

Image: unknown

image: unknown

image: country Home

Image: domino 
image: martha stewart living

18 February 2011

O Mio Babbino.....Villa

In 2008, I was fortunate to be invited to the Tuscan countryside. I pondered the offer and with a little arm twisting I conceded... Oh, who am I kidding? The word Italy wasn't even fully out of the person's mouth and I was screaming and packing. This would be my first visit to a place I had dreamed of for years. Two things always came to my mind when imagining Italy - the food and the men - in no particular order of importance. I just knew that every meal was going to be a spiritual experience and I was really hoping to be harassed by swarthy Roman gods.

I didn't ever expect that what would unhinge me most would be the villa we called home for 7 glorious days. Situated between Florence and Siena, just getting to the place was an adventure of winding dirt roads, hair-pin angles, and wrong turns. But when we finally arrived it was as if I had stepped into an interior design, x-rated, fantasy. To hell with the ravioli and the pisanos! That week my eyes feasted on sumptuous furniture and my bathroom was my lover.....

Mother Nature - the ultimate designer.

Even I put on a bathing suit for a dip in this pool.

This bedroom was drenched in baking, hot, sun all day. There was air conditioning but we never used it. The extraordinary simplicity of the interior wooden shutters, closed during the warmest times of the day, kept the room cool. At night just throw open the windows for the breeze.

The aforementioned "Lover" bathroom. I spent a lot of time in there.

Amazing that even with, literally, tons of marble, limestone, brick, soapstone, and boulders, that the space felt so warm. Only one wall in this room was plaster - even the vaulted ceiling was made of brick; and yet, it was the epitome of "homey".

Another view of the kitchen. I hate cooking but could spend my life here. The blue enameled refrigerator was modeled after an old ice box - love that blend of old and new. Unexpected and fabulous. It was virtually impossible to open, which left the men in the group wondering why in the world someone would own a fridge that requires two people to open it, but the women understood! It's stunning - it stays!

My apologies for the blurry photo but I wanted to share my favorite design of the entire place. It is a little difficult to see but the railing in the stairway is actually a very thick cord of rope attached to the wall with curtain rod brackets. Genius! I imagine trying to convince my less sophisticated clients to consider this in the proper venue. "A rope? Why would I use a rope?! Do people do that?" Oh, people....If you have to ask you just don't get it.

16 February 2011

Wish You Were There

Oftentimes, when a person excitedly tells you they can't WAIT to show you their vacation photos you may be tempted to run quickly into oncoming traffic. Perhaps I speak only for myself, but there have been too many times when I have felt held hostage over a stack of pictures of little Brody and Harper at Disney, or the oceanside family reunion - "This is the beach. Here is another one of the beach. This is granny at the beach. This is the beach on Wednesday. This was the beach but my thumb got in the way.." Agggggh!!!!

So, I hope you know that when I tell you I want to share vacation photos with you they are a-typical. You need not fret. Unlike normal people I am completely enamored with the design environment I am suddenly thrust into and my photographic collection reflects this. Take a tour with me. First stop..The Cayman Islands.

The Locker Room at the Ritz-Carlton. Now THIS makes me want to work out. The white, lacquered, lockers made me weep.

The Master Bath. To the right, enclosed in glass, is the shower.

To the left.... The "facilities". I love that they carried the mosaic throughout

The Powder Room light fixture. Fun and whimsical without being tacky. THIS is how you do "beach" people!!!!!!! Not a wicker basket of shells to be found.

The Beach Cabana. This outdoor room is fitted with music of your liking, snacks, cold drinks, and a foot bath so you don't drag all that gritty sand into your queen-size lounger bed. What a way to live. I think this is bigger than my first apartment.

See, that wasn't so painful! Next stop...Italia!

07 February 2011

Color Theory

As I mentioned in my intro, my designer friends and I can be more that slightly obsessive with regard to what we do on a daily basis. I submit as Exhibit A this photo of my iced coffee. Let me explain.
At breakfast recently with my friend and fellow Interior Designer Urit Chaimovitz, I was adding the milk to my coffee when she offered the following advice:
"Just add a tiny bit more and then it will be perfectly Bleeker Beige."
Now, Bleeker Beige is a Benjamin Moore paint color that we both use frequently in paint palettes for clients. This comment was in no way odd for either of us. In fact, I agreed without pause and added the milk accordingly.

This exchange started me thinking about paint palettes in general and the inspiration behind them in particular.  How do we avoid living for years in the "waiting room white" rooms we tell ourselves will only be temporary?

Because I choose paint colors as part of my profession, I try to stay open to inspiration at all times and from all avenues. Ideas do not have to come solely out of the existing colors of your carpet or your upholstery fabric, a trap many fall into. I have pulled entire palettes from some more unusual sources. Here are a few:

Martha Stewart famously produced an entire  line of paint, The Aracauna Collection, inspired by a bowl of eggs sitting on her counter. Talk about alternative inspiration!
Image: Martha Stewart Living

White or neutral rooms still need changes in tone to be successful. Vintage linens  fade to beautiful shades of white, gray, beige. Let them show the way.
Image: Country Home magazine
I am not above a peek into a client's closet to see what colors she enjoys wearing. A pair of turquoise shoes inspired pillows on a neutral sofa.
Nature always gets it right. Look to gardens, a bowl of fruit, autumn leaves.
Image: Martha Stewart Living
Dishes and glassware can be a terrific inspiration, particularly if you are lucky enough to have an old pattern of your Grandmother's, or an obsession with Transferware, like me.
Image: Martha Stewart Living
I love graphics in all forms. The palette of this title page could translate easily to a fabric or paint palette. I have also used business cards, wine labels, book covers.
Image: Country Home Magazine

01 February 2011

Mid-Life Liquidation

When I was 14 I had a pair of black leggings that I would wear with a big yellow shirt and a black studded belt. Looking back in my mind (as, thankfully, no pictures exist) I imagine I resembled a bumble bee. That comparison never came. However, one day, my mother (rightfully horrified), pulled me aside to inform me that the "look" wasn't doing good things for my "body". She was right and I was crushed. In a flurry of tears, screams, and slamming bedroom doors, off came the offending garments and into the trash they went.

At 23, I awoke one morning and decided the best clothes to wear on that particular sunny Los Angeles day included cream pants, brown hiking boots, and a teal sweater. I should not have left the house. But I did leave the house. I went FAR from the house. So far, in fact, that when I finally saw my refection in a store window there was nothing I could do to remedy the situation. I spent the entire day cursing my choice and vowing never to wear any of it ever again.

At 36, I had known Tracy (our lovely blog hostess) only a matter of weeks when she glanced at what I was wearing - corduroys with brown laces up the side, knee-high boots with fake fur trim, and a beige suede jacket with fake fur on the wrists and collar - and proclaimed, in her classic matter-of-fact style, that I looked like the rocker, Lenny Kravitz. Not the look I was going for. That ensemble was donated, in its entirety, to Goodwill the following morning.

I have always had the ability to get rid of clothes. If something didn't work due to size, style, or time period I could easily and joyfully say goodbye and move on. It didn't matter what I had paid or how often it had been worn - if it wasn't useful or I didn't like it, or it just wasn't "me", it had to go.

So, why, WHY am I not able to let go of my furniture? I can help you let go of your furniture. I have the precision of a surgeon when it comes to cutting out objectionable pieces in someone else's home. I led a 10 year revolt against my parents 9-foot long brown, burnt orange and cream velour sofa and love seat. It meant removing the offending beast when my dad wasn't home, but as God as my witness I was gonna' get rid of it. But here it is 2011, a new year, and in my own home I sit surrounded by ghosts of designs past.

It isn't that I paid a lot of money. The coffee table was my grandmothers (I decided to faux paint it to look like a clock..nuff said). The sofa was a floor sample from Crate and Barrel and has given me 10 great years. The 1960's faux bamboo dresser and bedside table were found on the street in Toms River New Jersey and promptly painted black. The dining table and chairs were a gift from my mother. And then there are my beloved barrel side chairs. A set of 4 in perfect condition- their only crime being they are upholstered in beige and white stripes. I think I paid $200 for the set.

Even though these items were not a huge investment, they have seen better days, and they no longer fit my personal style, I cannot seem to cut these ties. The "shabby chic" of my 30-something self wants to be replaced by cleaner lines, fewer pieces, more luxurious fabrics, and quality.

That beat-up side table is, now, just that - a beat up side table. It doesn't have a story anymore. It fit in my past life but not now. For me the clock coffee table is as"un-me" as the jellies I wore in junior high. I would no sooner keep a french country style dining chair than"rock" my purple Jordache string purse circa 1983.

So what to do?

I have not figured that out exactly but I feel a stirring inside and am reminded of a familiar quote: "When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." - Lao Tzu

Maybe that time has come. Stay tuned.

Welcome to White Dove

I am an Interior Designer and have owned my own design firm, Nest, for the past six years. I hope to use White Dove as a platform and a place to communicate with like minded design-philes and to share projects, resources, opinions and inspirations.  The occasional design related annoyance may also find its way in, and perhaps a good cocktail recipe now and again.
You will also be hearing regularly from my friend, sounding board, cheerleader, and fellow Interior Designer Dawn Royster, owner of her own unique sensibilities and her own design firm, Zinc, based in Washington DC.
Together we hope to offer a glimpse into the design obsessed conversations we have daily.
For now I offer a few images that speak to me and to who I am as a designer.
This is Nest.
Thanks for peeking in.                                                              all images: Country Home Magazine