7/23/2014

COLOR QUEUE : CITRON

I've been so excited to share this in the Color Queue! It's been awhile since anything's been posted in CQ because deadlines have been getting the best of us around here, but not to worry, the queues full and today coming down the pipeline is one of my very favorites, Citron, which can be found in our eco-chic LE PAINT line for littles (and not so littles) here.


The unexpected versatility of this bright, bold color is perhaps what I love most. We like to shoot a few of these at a time, so when this color's turn came, my first thought was something a little edgy with a youthful vibe. In fact, you'll see it come down the queue again in that style. A color this good has to be a double feature. ;)

But I was surprised to find myself pulling much more classic, sophisticated elements for this one. I think the golden tones really work well something a little more old school and when put up against some interesting, lovely patterns, textures and natural elements this vibrant hue becomes surprisingly usable.

So what do you think? Would you pair Citron with traditional elements like these? Or would you take it out to the edge?

I don't think you'd go wrong either way! 

7/22/2014

CASE STUDY: TIMELESS DESIGN [ HOLD THE TWIST ]

We hear it thrown around all the time. The phrase "timeless design" probably rears it's head in 80% of designers' bios (mine included), followed closely by "traditional with a twist." You will never hear me say that though. Sorry, but for some reason I hate using the term "[anything] with a twist" to describe, well, anything. Except maybe an old fashion with a twist of orange peel.  

Old fashioned. So timeless, and I didn't even plan that. 

Anyway.

What does timeless design really look like? And what does traditional even mean? Isn't it a sort of relative term?

I think the answer is yes. I find myself describing our work to potential clients and sprinkling in these terms as freely as Old Bay on crab legs, but this weekend at a client meeting, it dawned on me: as simple as this label is, it's often misconstrued.

Traditional doesn't mean your Grandma's porcelain doll collection (please, no), or stuffy, uninteresting spaces. And timeless doesn't mean stagnant and stuck.

I'm a visual person, and I'm guessing, since you're the type who reads design blogs, you are too. So instead of me trying to articulate this point in a million words, let's consider the following beautifully designed spaces.



What I love about these two spaces is how bold they are. And their boldness may not even be the first thing that hits you. They're done so well that their rich color and interesting elements work  so seamlessly together, that there's nothing garish or really crazy going on. 

To get down to the nuts and bolts of it, these paint colors have a timeless appeal for their interior and exterior historic use. The elements themselves have vintage appeal (many are probably genuine antiques) and chic, global textiles would be just as timely now as they would have been somewhere in the world 50+ years ago. 



This space by Nina Griscom via Architectural Digest back in February 2012 is another bold move that strikes a chord one might not always associate with traditional style because of it's saucy animal print and alluring lines, but take another look. From what I can tell, probably 80% (if not more) of that room is vintage. In other words- pretty traditional and pretty timeless if they still feel sexy after so long. 

PS- loving the loosely spaced gallery wall. It brings a certain sense of relaxedness in a room that may otherwise feel a little untouchable. 


I love this hallway in Lori Tippin's home via Tradition Home, obviously because of the chinoiserie, herringbone floors, and uh-mazing furniture, but check out those antelope antlers. They temper the femininity of the graceful gallery wall and soft blue and white with a fierce, edgy elegance that transcends any time period. Totally bad. In the best way. 


I wish this image could made the size of the others, but it gets pretty pixelated. When I started my research for this post, I pulled some pics on my iPhone and this must've been one of them, because aside from it being from Trad Home, I can't really find the source to give credit or find a bigger pic. If you know who's work this is please let me know!

But I wanted to incorporate this last space because you can see that it's decidedly more subdued than the others. And I think that sometimes when people hear terms like traditional or timeless, they think boring. What I think this space does a great job of demonstrating is how traditional, neutral design can be anything but boring. This soft color pallet is gorgeous on it's own, but I'm sure it was used mindfully to accentuate the room's very best features which are it's architectural bones. 

That stone wall and sweeping, arched window is an unmistakably gorgeous focal point and isn't overpowered by anything in the space. And the ceiling beams aren't too bad either. 

A neutral space doesn't have to be boring. 

So if you're one of those who tends to shy away from anything labeled traditional or timeless, I hope you've been able to broaden your scope a little bit to understand that timeless design really just means a space that's done so well, with such a tightly woven scheme of both old and well-designed-new, that you'll just love it for a really, really long time. 

In other words, there is no expiration on a timeless space's style. 



7/14/2014

NO CODE NEEDED!


Just kidding! Re: Evangeline pillow sale at Amen Domestics (last post), no code is needed to get the discounted price at checkout! 

Oopsies!

HBD, EVANGELINE!

My little Eva turned two this weekend! I can't believe how fast time has gone, and although it's completely bittersweet, I am so excited to see my girl grow and turn into such a funny little person.

So to celebrate...


...the Evangeline down-filled throw pillow in our Amen Domestics shop is 30% off for the rest of the week with discount code HBDEVA.

I love this pillow! When we first starting curating our Amen Domestics collection, this one jumped out at me right off the bat and it's been one of our most popular items. So grab one (or a few!), because they go quick!

Of course we did more to celebrate than run a pillow sale, but let's be honest, you want to read about a two-year-old's party about as much as you want to go to a two-year-old's birthday party.

I think this picture is all you really wanna know.


PJs, donuts, Frozen, chaos. She loved it.

Probably as much as I love the Evangeline pillow!



7/09/2014

#MCM: THOM FILICIA

It's been a crazy week y'all. We have two very unique projects going on right now that have required a lot of attention and it's my little Eva's birthday week! She's turning two and I'm running around trying to get the house in order for visiting family. 

So yesterday afternoon, I took some time off to do a really good deep clean in the kitchen. Eva was napping, I had some caffeine pumpin'; totally in the zone. And I don't know about you, but I hate doing anything in silence, so I decided to go old school and turned on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy , circa 2003, on Netflix. 

Of course this took my productivity down a bit, but who cares because I was reminded of how completely wonderful Thom Filicia is. So while this may not be Monday, I won't let a silly day of the week get in the way of professing my undying #MCM design love. 

{I just realized there's a smudge over my face in this pic, but who really needs to see me anyway.}

I'm not going to try to convince you that we're real-life BFFs, but I did get the good fortune of chatting with him at High Point last year and I have to say that what makes his work even more beautiful is that he and his entire team just seem so genuinely nice. And I think that disposition shows up in his design. 

What you'll find if you study his work is that he so aptly incorporates that unexpected in a way that doesn't jump out at you unless you really look. And I think that speaks to his genius aesthetic. 

{all pics via}

For instance, I don't think I would have really thought about the fact that there's not a mirror over this sink in the way that you'd expect. There's so much beauty, while also maintaining functionality, in this little space. 

These are some of my other favorites:



Who would expect an antique divers helmet in a dining room that (to me) feels pretty urban/glam? Or an eagle sculpture on the floor? Granted, this could have been a photo-shoot prop, but I still like the idea. Also, note the simple but interesting chair railing.

Love!



I also love the unique rug layering here (first pic). It's not something you'd second guess, but the scale is not what I generally think of when thinking of layering. But this works so well and is just enough pattern + neutral. 

And it's the seating with that last one. Yes, the sofa and chairs are pretty standard (in a good way), but I like the added interest and practicality the little bench brings. I don't know if I would have considered this, at least not in the floor-planning  stage (obviously, I am no TF;), but studying this last space encourages me to stretch myself when thinking about what works for a space, practically and aesthetically. 

Sidenote: A wall never goes to waste with Thom. Usually subtle, but look how much that texture does for a space.

So there we have it. Thom is genius. But I know you didn't need me to tell you that. 




7/07/2014

SUMMER CRUSH

I feel like things have been getting a little long-winded around here lately. Not to discount more info-heavy posts, but sometimes ya just gotta cut the chit-chat and enjoy some frivolity.

So without further explanation, here are some inanimate objects that I have a summer crush on.



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We've got some local love for Charleston artist Teil Duncan and her beautifully beachy print, a little brassy crab from one of my fav shops, High Street Market, some cherry-dipped comfort via Amen Domestics, the smells of summer by Lollia (candle called "Running Barefoot in the Grass"...duh), and a little rose-on-rosé, which I'm glad is once again chic and less "something-from-a-box-that-my-mom-drinks-in-a-coffee-mug-while-watching-Jeopardy" (sorry Mom). 

Also, I think there's a book called The Mermaid Chair, which I haven't read, but if it does exist, I think this is how such a chair would have to be described. Just seems so dreamy and mermaid-y, ya know?

Now it's your turn. What are you crushing on this summer?


WHAT TO EXPECT

Not all designers are created equal. 

This is to say that we don't all love the same the things, offer the same services, or do our jobs the same way. Some designers work only at an hourly rate, and others charge flat fees. Some specialize in e-design, while some would never take on a project without seeing a space in person. 

There are a lot of ways to design, and do it well. So what I'm talking about isn't a designer how-to; what I want to chat about is what you, the client, should and expect and look for when meeting with your designer for the very first time. 


You've done the research and shopped the market. There are so many amazingly talented designers out there and you're confident that you've found the one who can share your vision and work within your budget to make your dreams come true.

Hooray!!!

You've been emailing back and forth with them or an assistant and everything sounds great. Now you have your first real meeting. This may be in person or over the phone. Whatever the case, there are a few things you can and should expect out of your very first meeting with your designer. 

I'm pinpointing five things, but before I dive into these, let's talk real quick about what not to expect.

Generally, and especially if this is your first project with your designer, your designer may not come toting paint samples and fabric swatches. I try to make this clear to my clients up front because the tactile parts, the things you can see and get your hands on, are always the most exciting.

And if you watch HGTV long enough, you may expect your designer to come with a concept already drawn up and samples galore, but this may not be the case, and you shouldn't be disappointed. You're working with a designer for a number of things; one of them is their time. It takes time to assess a space, it's potential, and a client's needs. It takes time to create a concept and formulate a design plan.
This is part of the creative process, which varies from designer to designer, but one thing's for certain. It takes a little time.

Design shows make it seem like it's feasible to create a new space overnight. Let me tell you from my own experience with made-for-tv design...it's great, but it's not real life. There's a lot that goes into our process, so don't expect to see everything at your first meeting. 

Here's what you can expect to see or discuss:

1. Budget

If your designer doesn't ask you what your budget for your project is within the first few minutes of your conversation, this is a red flag that the designer is either inexperienced or is uninterested in your best interests. If the designer is a newbie, that's fine, just be aware.

There's no way we can give you what you want if we don't know what we're working with. Designers have a plethora of resources when it comes to furnishing + finishing your space. Your budget is the starting point for our hunt. 

*Sidenote: Budget talk is no time for fibbing. Get real with yourself and figure this out before hand. Make sure that you're being reasonable and that your project is attainable. Occasionally, we will create concepts for clients and taylor the budget to fit the concept. This works for clients who are financially flexible. If you think that's an option for you, talk to your designer about it. Just know that the time spent to create that concept will likely be billable and if you can't afford that concept, it's back to the drawing board, which means more billable time. It also helps to be realistic and knowledgable about what things cost. If you want trusted, quality brands at Ikea prices, you need to know your budget prior to your meeting and hold on to realistic expectations. 

2. Process

At this point, you're probably somewhat familiar with your designer's process. But this is when it's discussed more in-depth and specific to your project. When can you expect to see design concepts and samples? How do revisions work? What happens if something isn't what you thought it would be? What kind of time frame does the designer estimate (key word here: estimate...there are a lot of things that play into design fruition; maybe another post about this!)? 

If there's no real process, be wary. While it's not uncommon for creatives to be a little abstract, a lack of project structure is a sure sign of a bunch of things you don't want to worry about.

A clearly laid-out process means your designer and her/his team are organized, efficient, and have been around the block enough times to know what works. 

Don't get frustrated with a designer who sticks to their process when short cuts seem so easy. This is for everyone's own good, yours included. Imagine if your designer was going all outside the lines for another client she's working with simultaneous to your project. What would that mean for you? It would mean you'd be working with a crazy person because going all outside your project structure will absolutely turn your designer insane.

PS- Part of that process should be a service agreement or contract specifically outlining the process, project agreements, fees, etc. Proceeding without this is a major no-no. 

3. Get Personal

My very first client was a bachelor who'd just moved into a newly renovated townhouse outside of DC. I still remember our first phone meeting- a design consultation that was full of questions. 

"What's your favorite sport?"

"Where do you like to vacation?"

"What's your favorite drink?"

"Do you have a lot of clothes?"

"Lauren, this is starting to feel like a first date," he said. And he was right. I was asking him a lot of questions. Some pretty personal. But if you think about it, these are the things your designer needs to know.

If the goal is to make your home or space feel like a representation of yourself and be conducive and practical to your everyday lifestyle, we need to know if a few drawers will suffice for your underwear or if you need a boudoir. We want to fill your home with your sweetest memories and avoid anything that would make you feel uncomfortable.

So as much as we need to talk about fixtures and furnishings, we need to talk about the most important part of your space, which is you and your family. 

And let me tell you, we have seen a lot (a lot), and we will not judge. I once found a chicken nugget under a bed. Don't worry. We are not phased. 


4. Honesty

A good designer will be honest with you. Of course I mean that they should have integrity, but I also mean they should be clear and truthful about what may or may not be possible for your project.

If, at your consultation, you tell your designer that you need to have a kitchen remodel done in a week, he should tell you that this isn't possible, and explain why, right then and there.

When it comes to filling spaces with pretty things, designers never want to say no. We'll stretch budgets and plead with vendors and do all kinds of crazy things to make our work amazing because at the end of the day, most of us truly love what we do and want our work to be great and our clients to be happy.

So when a designer answers your request truthfully, and it's not the answer you'd hoped for, don't be upset at them. The worst thing about over promising is that the client rarely gets what they expected because the designer just isn't able to deliver something that they should have just been honest about upfront. 


5. Follow-Up

It may feel like you've discussed a whole lot during your first meeting, but there's always going to be some follow-up. As your designer embarks on the creative phase of your project, you may expect to receive a few, possibly random-seeming follow-up questions. This doesn't mean that your designer and her team were being absent-minded at your meeting or that they are inexperienced. It just means they're having a potential stroke of genius, and you'll have something really fun to check out at your concept presentation.


Whew! Does that feel like a lot!?

That's because it is. And if you can believe it, that's probably not all. Working with a designer is one of the very best things you can do to invest in your home and create a space that works for you for year and years. So you want to make sure you get it right and know what to expect, starting with that very first meeting.

If you're all excited and/or want to read more on great designer/client relationships, check out this great post by one of my fav girls, Lauren Liess.

And of course, if you think your project might be a great match for our Amen Design Team, drop us a line here! We'd love to chat!