More than any other room in a home, children’s rooms are vehicles for multi-purpose living. A child’s room is a laboratory for development and growth. It is the arena in which children live, learn, and play – the microcosm of his or her world. It is in their rooms and from their cribs that babies discover and explore their personal universe. Within this extension of the womb, babies first connect with their parents and caretakers. It is here that they eat, sleep, play and begin developing into the adults they will one day become.
Not just for sleeping, a child’s bedroom is probably the ultimate studio apartment. It is a space where the child does practically everything that pertains to his or her daily life. Its décor has to suit a multitude of purposes and offer a combination of relaxation and stimulation within the same living space.
The sleeping area often takes up the largest chunk of space in the room, with sleeping requirements varying according to a child’s age. The need for a sleep section runs the gamut from a crib for an infant, to a bunk bed or twin mattress for a toddler, to a full- or queen- size bed for a teen or young adult. Children also like to have sleep-over dates, and this means adding extra sleeping space. This can be accomplished with a bunk bed, a trundle bed, a sleep sofa, or a good old sleeping bag. These options should be considered when planning the furniture layout of a child’s bedroom.
Needs change as a child grows and matures, and living spaces must accommodate such change. In early years, the bed and the changing table are the focus of a child’s room. As the infant becomes a toddler, the living space has t suit more requirements. Storage becomes an important factor. It has always been a source of amazement that little people require so many things – and so much space for these things. The baby needs a place to play, and that means storage for playthings as well as for clothing and baby supplies. This need can be accommodated by built-in closets and shelving. A decorative solution is a shelf running around the top of the room above the windows. For a young child, the shelf can hold stuffed animals. As the child gets older, the shelf can hold books, dolls, or sports trophies.
Children need friends. That means creating space for play and for playmates. Lots of floor space is always a plus so kids can stretch out to play games. If there is room, it is great to have a table-and-chairs set for tea parties, coloring, or board games.
As children get older they want more privacy, and kid’s room becomes a hangout or a private den. Those who are fortunate enough to have large living spaces may even be able to incorporate a sitting area where they can watch TV and play video games. Plasma televisions are moving into children’s rooms along with stereos and sound systems, and must be accommodated.
With the busy lives that we lead, our homes have to serve a range of purposes. Some people are fortunate enough to live in a massive residence with a designated space for each purpose: a home theater, workout room, virtual golf room, his and her offices, and guest and servant rooms, in addition to the standard family bedrooms, kitchen, living and dining rooms, and bathrooms. Other people incorporate mini-kitchens and dining areas into large bedroom suites.
But most of us are not this lucky. We fit our multipurpose lives into multipurpose homes. Living areas can be created from a variety of spaces. What is cozy for one can be claustrophobic to another; one person’s grand space can seem overwhelming and cavernous to someone else. But whatever their size, our living spaces must accommodate our everyday needs.
By that standard, the most important room in our homes is the one we utilize with our eyes closed-the bedroom. We typically spend eight or more hours a night sleeping in our bedrooms. But these spaces are not just for sleeping. They must allow for many other functions. Bedrooms are for dressing, for doing paperwork, for watching television, for listening to music, for working on the computer, for exercising, for reading and relaxing, and even for dining. To accommodate any or all of these activities within a single area is truly a design challenge.
Designers try to create a room which is aesthetically cohesive even when it involves disparate parts. Combining numerous activities into a single room or suite requires a bit of imaginative juggling. When trying to organize the space, the first step is to create a floor plan and to figure out what goes where.
For the bedroom floor plan, the top priority is to carve out the space for the bed, because that is the single largest element in the room. Night tables and lamps are placed next to the bed. This presents an opportunity for some other options. Since night tables have grown larger than they were in the past, a pair of over sized pieces could provide clothing storage and eliminate the need for a dresser. Another option might be to eliminate one night table and replace it with a desk, thereby creating an instant home office. In this case, choose a night table and desk that are the same height, which will maintain a sense of balance even though the pieces are of different widths.
The home office has become a requirement for many of us. Even if you do not actually work at home, you probably need a place to do paperwork, pay bills, and use the computer. But a work space in the bedroom often introduces messy paperwork. To eliminate clutter, set up a shallow closet with shelves- similar to a linen closet- for paper storage. If there is no space in the bedroom for an open desk, try creating an extra closet where the desk, files, and shelving can be hidden behind a pair of French doors. Presto change-o, close the doors and the office disappears.
If there’s a television in the bedroom, it has to be positioned for comfortable viewing from the bed. There are a few options for his. The television can be hidden in an armoire, placed at the foot of the bed in a pop-up cabinet, or mounted flat on the wall above a fireplace or low base cabinet. With today’s sleeker televisions, no one has to hide the TV in furniture as if it were a dirty little secret. Televisions are open to view and can be wall-mounted like a work of art. Indeed, the latest framing systems fit molding around the screen as though it were a fine painting.
Alas, exercise equipment has not yet gone through a comparable transformation. If you want to keep an exercise bike or treadmill in your bedroom, hide it behind a beautiful folding screen which can be moved out of place when needed.
A sitting area is a lovely extra bonus if the bedroom has enough space. The photo shown here features a marble fireplace flanked by two graceful chairs and an elegant chaise. Replace the mirror above the fireplace with a plasma TV and this antique-style bedroom would meet contemporary media needs. This bedroom in a huge old house with very high ceilings and giant windows. The challenge here was the bed placement. Because there were no solid walls on which the bed could be located, it was placed in front of the window the window treatment forms an alcove which encompasses the bed and acts as a cozy canopy. It is a gracious feminine bedroom fit for a queen (and king).
The second bedroom shown here was an architecturally difficult space. The very high ceiling lends it a sense of drama. However, the room was devoid of windows. The single window is on a far wall, set into an alcove. An antique French poster featuring an outdoor screen created the feeling of an additional window, while the metal canopy bed, with its leaf motif, extends the garden mood. The antique French desk provides a comfortable but elegant spot for paperwork. Not seen in the photo are a pair of French armoires (with a TV in one), a skirted dressing table, a floor-length mirror, a cozy window seat, and a comfortable seating area. The result is a perfect illustration of how one room can serve a variety of functions-sleeping, dressing, television viewing, reading and relaxing, and home office work-and still present itself as a cohesive unit. It is elegant and calming at the same time. The soft coloration and the gracious furnishings make this space a perfect retreat for the end of a busy day.
This brings us to the most important function of the multipurpose bedroom: It’s a haven in which we can unwind, recharge, and escape from daily demands. That is why bedrooms are the definitely not just for sleeping. They are also for everything else that goes on in our busy lives.
E-mail your questions to Dr. Decorator, at email@example.com, or write to Jeani Ziering, c/o Elegant Accent Magazine, P.O. Box 309, Cedarhurst, NY 11516
Window treatments present a constant design challenge. Windows come in all hsapes and sizes; they differ from home to home and from room to room. They often vary in shape and size even within the same room. The solution that was wondrous in one space becomes disastrous in another. The variety of products and options is overwhelming; the combination is definite material for a major decorating migraine.
In addition to the plethora of possible choices, window design presents another challenge in that it must satisfy so many requirements. A well designed window treatment must not only be beautiful, but – perhaps even more importantly – it must be functional. Window coverings must control light, offer privacy and security, sometimes control heat and glaring sun rays, and – even while working hard to accomplish all these goals – make the window look good.
Window coverings can camouflage architectural flaws and complement architectural favors. With the benefit of the decorator’s magic wand, a small, awkward window can be made to appear large and glamorous. Conversely, if a window is over-scaled for a room, a few well-chosen yards of fabric can change a cold glass wall into an elegant backdrop. If you have a beautiful view, you want your window covering to frame and enhance it. If you view is less than wonderful, you want your window covering to obscure it. Installing a window valance just below the ceiling molding can give your room the illusion of added height. A small, narrow window can be made to appear wider when fabric panels are hanging on the wall to each side of the window rather than being installed directly on the glass. Well-chosen window designs can transform problem windows into decorative assets.
In designer trade lingo, window covering come in two varieties: hard treatments and soft treatments. Hard treatments are the products which cover the glass areas and are used to control light and privacy. These include such well-known items as mini-blinds, two-inch horizontal blinds in metal or wood, vertical blinds, and the ever popular shades and shutters. In recent years, the phrase “hard treatment” has come to include certain more decorative products such as pleated shades, cellular shades, roman shades, and silhouette shades. For modern décor or for very tailored spaces, the hard treatments can often be left to stand on their own. They cover blank glass spaces and also serve munch-needed functions. When the room setting is more traditional or more decorative, the hard treatments are framed by fabric window coverings, called “soft treatments”.
If you think that the variety of hard treatments can make your head spin, just wait until you are confronted with the world of soft treatments. The choices are infinite. When making selections of soft treatments, designers are faced with a variety of choice which must put together in a cohesive unit called “window décor”.
First we start with the architecture of the room, the size and location of the windows, and the style of the furnishings. Selections have to be appropriate to the space and the décor. If a room has a high-tech modern ambiance, we certainly would not treat the windows with formal drapes that “puddle,” or hang on the floor. Conversely, in a traditional space with elaborate wall molding and antique and reproduction furniture, metallic mini-blinds would be an incongruous choice.
The next step is to figure out the style of the window treatment. The phrase “top treatment” refers to the valance treatment that sits across the top of the window. These come in a variety of styles and can be made to use alone or in conjunction with the draper panels that hang along the sides of the windows.
After all this, we still have to select fabrics and trims. Fabric choices have to complement the furnishings and wall coverings in a space. Fabric and color choice make a very strong design statement, and must be carefully selected. Fabric trims are the embellishments that dress up the treatment. Fringes, tassels, rings, and all other sorts of interesting items that are utilized for window décor installations. The choices are limited only by your imagination.
The “before” and “after” photos shown here provide striking examples of the power of window design to transform a room setting. In the feminine bedroom (left), I used the window design not only to drape the window, but also to drape the bed. Because the wall space between the windows was so much smaller than the actual bed, I designed one large treatment which would take the eye away from the size disparities and frame the bed just as a canopy would. Pleated silhouette shades are the hard treatment which controls light and privacy. The window valance made of embroidered silk and the delicate lace draperies are the soft treatments which create the mood of the space. The window fabrics are repeated on the bed for a coordinated décor.
The photo of the single large window and window seat are another example of the variety of choice. A pleated shade can cover the window if needed. The view is beautiful and the shade is designed to hide behind the valance when not needed. This is a version of a layered treatment. The bottom layer is an elaborately draped and arched balloon shade of richly colored lace. The top layer is a swag overlay made of floral patterned silk, lined in a complementary silk plaid. The combination illustrates how a window can frame a beautiful view while also embracing the room’s décor. The treatment is rich and luxurious without overwhelming the space.
These are just two examples of the multitude of choices available to enhance the home. It is often said that the eyes are windows to a person’s soul. In the world of interior design, the soul of a home can sometimes be glimpsed through its windows and window décor.
Every year in towns and cities across the U.S. a design phenomenon occurs – the Designer Showcase. This is a magical event in which a building or home gets the Cinderella treatment. Interior designers and craftspeople transform banal or derelict interiors into visions of total beauty and style. I have been participating in these showhouses for about 20 years. It has been one of the highlights of my career as an interior designer. I have been honored to work with numerous wonderful and creative people.
Setting in a showhouse at historical Hempstead House in Sands Point, New York. The mix of colors and textures creates a timeless setting with french flavor and styling. Interior design by Jeani Ziering.
My admiration for the people in my industry is infinite. It never ceases to amaze me how designers can take plain empty rooms and create sumptuous spaces of fabulous beauty and elegance. Generally held in the Spring or the Fall, showhouses can take place in a variety of venues. These range from palatial country mansions to New York City townhouses and apartments, or to sprawling Hamptons beach homes. The cities and locales are greatly varied but the showhouses across the country share many common elements. They are generally sponsored by a charity such as a school, hospital, library, medical research team, or children’s group. Designers and craftspeople donate their time and talents.
Decorative painters turn plain walls into vistas of murals and faux treatments such as glazing, marbleizing, and myriad varieties of fabulous faux finishes. Manufacturers and suppliers donate or loan the varied elements that go into the creation of the rooms . Items such as fabrics, furnishings, wallcoverings, antiques, rugs, mirrors and various accessories are used by the designers like brushstrokes on the previously blank canvas of their chosen spaces.
Each house and each show has its own sense of adventure. When we go to view the new spaces every year, I feel like I am a child unwrapping a special gift. There is a sense of wonderment. What will I find here? What will the house look like? What space will I get? What will I do with it? It is like creating a Gala or a Broadway show. We have limited time in which to do our work and limited time for our display to be viewed. We get about 2 months to renovate and decorate our spaces. The show then runs anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks. Each designer is given their own individual space in which they can create their personal vision. Because they are not restricted by a client’s vision (or lack of vision), the designers can give free reign to their imaginative spirits. We strive for everything to be perfect – the background of the room, the furniture, the fabrics, the art, and the accessories. The disparate elements must work together to create a cohesive setting for the public to view and enjoy. But sadly the time passes quickly and before we know it, the show is over. All that work and all that energy and then — pouf — it is gone.
This gracious bedroom was created for a showhouse at a North Shore Long Island castle. Designer Jeani Ziering worked from the raw space to create a beautiful bedroom for the fictional princess of the castle. Walls are faux painted in a soft green glaze. Furnishings mix is classic and timeless.
Like any house, the Designer Showhouse has kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, hallways, etc. The house has all the elements of an average home but on a much grander scale. The showhouse is a wonderful event for the public to view. Manufacturers and suppliers make their products available to showhouse designers because they want the exposure to the public. At a showhouse people can see the work of leading interior designers and view the latest innovations not only in furnishings and decorative products but also in kitchens and baths, media rooms, libraries, and other wonderful spaces.
Arlene Travis and Carol Aronson are very much to be credited with having been in the forefront of the Designer Showhouse concept. Since 1971 their firm — Mansions and Millionaires – has created visions of splendor with their annual Showhouses on Long Island’s North Shore. I spoke to Carol and Arlene and asked them a few questions:
The concept of Designer Showcases is popular across the country. It is my perception that you ladies were among the initiators of this concept. Please explain what inspired you and how you implemented this inspiration.
“Living in the area called the Gold Coast among castles, palaces, and other Beaux Arts structures from the turn of the century , it became impossible not to wonder what would happen to these structures. We seized upon an article on a similar project on the West Coast and decided it would be a timely venture to combine the goal of bringing this era to the forefront while also raising money for not for profit organizations”.
Your work has helped to save many grand homes from the wrecker’s ball. Your completed projects bring people back to an era of gracious living. How do you find the homes that you feature? How do you select your designers?
“Many homes are reviewed prior to selecting a showhouse site. Some of the criteria we use include the questions – Is there a mystique about the site, did any unusual events occur in the residence, did any famous people reside there, it is architecturally significant? Professional interior designers are selected through many sources. We consult with major trade houses. We view portfolios and web sites . We review our stable of designers with whom we have worked for the past 40 years.”
Does each new home and each new show still give you the same thrill as when you started this journey?
“Each show is a different site and is a totally new experience. The thrill is always there or we would have to fold our tents and creep away. “
What is your philosophy?
“Our design philosophy has always been that yesterday’s architecture is compatible with today’s lifestyle. The room is the canvas, the design is the art. Unlike most other shows where each room seems isolated from the next, we feel that the rooms must flow with a harmonious compatibility. Our showhouses are unique in the world of showhouses.”
What are the location and the dates for the upcoming show?
“Designers Showcase 2011 will be located in Chestnut Manor in Upper Brookville from September 10 through October 30. It will benefit the Mill Neck School for the Deaf.”
For more information call Jeani Ziering – Ziering Interiors – 516-869-1049
Mansions and Millionaires – 516-671-1313
An empty room is a six-sided box comprised of four walls, a floor, and a ceiling. When a designer plans a space, the procedure is to study each of these elements.
The first step is to measure the space and create a furniture floor plan. The floor plan determines the use of the space, the traffic pattern, and any specialized needs. In the process, a shopping list of items and their sizes is generated.
The reason it is called a “floor plan” is because it deals with what will be sitting on the floor. But this does not tell the total design story. Before furniture can be set up, it is imperative to create the decorative background. The background will set the mood for a space and tell the story of the room. It is often more important and more lasting than the individual furnishings. A room has only one floor, but it has four walls. The walls envelop the furnishings, and if not properly designed can over- whelm or undermine the rest of the decorative scheme.
Color is possibly the most important element in wall decor and in creating a successful room. Color can enlarge or shrink a space, make walls or ceilings more or less prominent, and alter people’s moods. It is also the biggest decorating bargain around. Change the color of your walls and you can create a new room without changing your furnishings. Different colors set different tones. Yellow is cheerful, pastels are calming, deep colors are rich and dramatic. There is no color that is right or wrong—only what is right or wrong for the person who will be using the space.
Texture is another valuable element in wall decor. It can be created by using wall coverings or any of the multitude of decorative painted finishes that are so popular today. Like color, texture and pattern are mood creators. Linen- or suede-covered walls can give a space a masculine character or library ambience. Florals, on the other hand, will impart a softer, more feminine mood.
Moldings are an additional means of building texture into a space. The use of decorative moldings can transform a plain box into an elegant, classical space. It is another decorative bargain which can totally change the look of your home.
Flooring is another important part of the decorative palette. The floor is the anchor for the space. Flooring choices must be functional and durable,but also aesthetic. The variety of available flooring choices is mind-boggling and endless. There are multitudes of woods, tiles, stones, and carpets which can be used alone or in tandem. Again, no one choice is right or wrong—it is a personal selection that is right or wrong for a particular individual.
Windows offer another opportunity for decorating-inspired headaches. Window coverings are hardworking members of the decorative scheme. They must provide privacy and light control while always looking good. Window coverings fall into two categories. The “hard” treatments are the elements that sit directly on the window and open and close according to personal needs. The fabric coverings on a window are called “soft” treatments, and are more focused on creating a decorative mood. The variety of choices is, once again, vast and overwhelming.
The last and most frequently overlooked part of a room is the ceiling. Generally, ceilings are simply painted white and forgotten about. This is often a wasted design opportunity. Paint a ceiling in a pale yellow hue and you will feel like the sun is always shining. If a space has a very high ceiling, the use of a darker color will bring the ceiling down and create a sense of intimacy. If a ceiling is low, light tones should be used to make the ceiling seem higher.
The room photographed above in both “before” and “after” views is an example of working a decorative scheme on every level. The floor is carpeted in a wool mini-print which is dark enough to be durable, yet patterned enough to be interesting. The walls are painted a pale shade of sage green with subtle sponged shadings. Windows are treated to a layered effect. The hard treatment is a woven wood shade which goes up and down for privacy and light control. The tie-back curtain is an animal motif textured lace-type woven fabric. The top treatment is a satiny stripe which is draped over a pole for drama and elegance. The same stripe is also used as a door drape to create a peek-a-boo effect where the original wooden door was removed. One of the most interesting elements in the room is the vaulted barrel ceiling which was faux-painted in swirling shades of pale blue to create an open-to-the-sky feeling.
Furnishings are a mix of exotic textures and colors. The design intent was to create a guest bedroom/sitting room which would be tailored enough for a man but decorative enough for a woman. This was accomplished through the mix of fabrics and furnishings and the use of the British Colonial decorative scheme. Fabrics are shiny and glamorous while the furniture is English and masculine. The end result is a comfortable and inviting space which is sophisticated without being intimidating. The decorative backgrounds create the mood and set the proper stage for the furnishings to complete the space. Take the furniture out, and the decorative backgrounds will still tell an interesting story.
Long considered a secret space to be hidden behind closed doors, the plain-Jane bathroom of the past has become today’s bathing beauty. Bathrooms have gone glamorous and are being treated to a variety of fantastic finishes and fixtures, the variety of which simply boggles the mind. Most aspiring home remodelers will anticipate an instant headache when simply considering the choices of flooring, cabinets, tiles, faucets, and plumbing fixtures.
The selection process can be made a little easier by dividing the decision-making procedure into a series of steps. The first one is to decide on your aesthetic style. Will you go country or formal, contemporary or traditional? Once you make this choice, you will be selecting products based on what is appropriate for your personal taste.
The next steps involve deciding on colors, plumbing choices, and materials. Granite and marble are wonderful for countertops. Flooring choices must be easy to care for and water resistant. Porcelain, used to simulate many of today’s natural materials, is often a better choice for bathrooms than the “real thing.” It is an extremely strong surface, not porous, and maintenance free.
Cabinets should provide storage as well as utility. Unless your decor is cutting-edge contemporary, my preference is for built-in products to be timeless and dateless. If your favorite color is turquoise, for example, use it in towels, not your tile floors. Why? Because turquoise is a color you may tire of. Also, it may not be the color of choice for potential buyers when the time comes to sell your humble, but tastefully remodeled, abode.
The bathroom has definitely become one of the dressier rooms in the house. The cabinet industry is trying to play catch-up with the request for bath cabinets that look like elegant furniture instead of bland boxes. Many furniture companies have entered the bath business and are offering beautifully styled cabinets. These often come complete with countertops, sinks, faucets, and offer homeowners cost-effective and handsome option bath decor.
When a homeowner is unable find just the right thing among commercially available bath cabinets, many designers will utilize an antique or reproduction cabinet and retrofit it for bathroom utility. The photograph shown here illustrates this. An antique reproduction cabinet had just the look needed to give an old-world appearance to a newly created bath. The cabinet top was cut out to accommodate the sink and faucets. The interior drawers were adjusted to allow plumbing clearance and still permit generous storage. When enhanced with a beautiful, cut-glass, Venetian-style mirror, the bath becomes an elegant answer to utilitarian needs.
Wall decor is another important decorative element. Mosaic tiles can be used to create wall art in a variety of motifs. Metal tiles and glass tiles create interesting borders that can highlight neutral-toned field tiles. Wood moldings can be used to divide a space with chair-rail moldings or to create inset panel effects. Wall coverings offer instant character and can be combined with other materials. Applied wood molding that is used to create the look of wall panels can be further enhanced when wall coverings are popped inside the panels.
The vast variety of wall-covering motifs can instantly change a bathroom’s decor. Take a plain white bath with basic tiles and fixtures and dress it up with wall coverings. Presto chango! Toile wallpaper creates a classical French motif. A gingham check gives country charm. Damask or moire patterns offer traditional elegance. The options are endless. Wallpaper is like a magic wand which permits you to change your mind and your decor with just the wave of a hand-or a wallpaper roller.
The before-and-after photos shown here illustrate the dramatic impact of a wall treatment. A plain bath was dressed up just by changing the decorative elements. The original tub was maintained. The walls were treated with a wall covering that simulates grass cloth but is actually a heavy-duty waterproof vinyl. Above the tub is a hand-painted mural that was painted on heavy canvas in an artist’s studio and then installed, like wallpaper. The scene behind the tub creates an endless vista and transports the viewer to a Caribbean isle. Not just pretty, but also practical: the canvas is treated with polyurethane so it is protected from the natural moisture in the bath.
Fabric is the finishing touch, with tie-back curtains framing both the tub and the mural. The end result is a dramatic change from bland and boring to bold and beautiful.
All of these elements can be utilized in your home. Bathrooms are smaller spaces that you visit for limited periods of time. They can take an extra dramatic touch. Be creative-and be yourself!
Walls are the largest physical element in a design space, but they are often the most neglected. People expend a lot of time and attention in selecting their furniture and accessories. They obsess about picking just the right sofa and just the right table. Yet most of us will paint our walls white or beige and think that we are finished with our decorative efforts. The furniture will end up looking bland and boring and we wonder what went wrong. A design detective might call this “The Case of the Missing Wall Color.” Dr. Decorator calls this an overlooked design opportunity.
Furniture by Andre Originals
Underestimating the importance of wall colors or design treatments is a huge mistake. Walls are the most dominant element in your home. Colors and treatments should be carefully selected to complement your furnishings, environment, and mood. The options for wall treatments are infinite and can be limited only by lack of imagination.
Brilliant fuscia tones provide a dramatic contrast to the white furnishings.
The high contrast of the furniture and the walls provide a contemporary pop for
classic styled furniture. This is a very popular design trend — white furniture and
strongly colored walls — which will create instant drama for any setting.
Paint colors are more varied and dramatic than ever before. Paint manufacturers like Benjamin Moore offer a vast rainbow of color options. Making color selections can often be a dizzying and distressing task. Fortunately, computer technology has come to the rescue of the indecisive paint buyer. Go to the Benjamin Moore website and you can seethe effect of varying paint choices. The Benjamin Moore personal color user offers the ability to view an infinite number of choices on your own digital photos. Just click on a color and change the look of your room. There is no correct color choice, only the one that is correct for you. The same space will look dramatically different with different choices. “Pretty in Pink” could be the name of the bedroom shown here. The vibrant wall color of a fuchsia tone pink provides a striking contrast to the white furnishings. The room would be just as attractive if the accent color were blue or green or yellow. Paint the walls lavender and it could be called “Pretty in Purple.”
Decorative paint is the title given to a vast array of custom wall treatments. These include sponging, color wash, strie, marbleizing, Venetian Plaster and a number of other decorative treatments. Faux artists can simulate the sky on your ceiling, wood grain on your trim, or create fanciful murals on your walls. There is no limit to what an artist’s craft can accomplish. A simple room can be transformed into a Venetian villa with the application of the painter’s palette. The bathroom shown here becomes a wondrous retreat because of the murals that are painted on the walls. The objective was to create the mood of arched windows overlooking the vista of a tropical resort. The artist measured the space, painted the scene on canvas, and installed the canvas like wall covering. The result is a bathroom which greatly transcends its utilitarian origins.
Wallpaper is a wonderful decorating quick fix. Change the paper and the entire mood of a space is altered. Wall coverings add visual drama, texture and even durability. Textured vinyl papers can simulate any texture and pattern and add to the life of wall surfaces. In a recent project my clients had a very large stairwell and hall area. They requested a stucco type textured wall treatment for these areas. I recommended against the actual stucco treatment for a variety of reasons. Firstly, stucco that is plastered on the walls becomes a permanent installation. If the homeowner changes their décor, they will have to install new sheet rock to eliminate the stucco surfaces. In addition, the stucco can catch on clothing as people walk past it. It is also difficult to clean when soiled. All of these issues were easily resolved when I suggested a commercial quality stucco textured wall covering. The surfaces and texture are uniform across the large wall panels. There is no rough area to snag the clothing of people passing through the halls. It is easily washable and – most important – it is easily changed if and when the homeowner tires of stucco as a decorative element.
Patterned wall covering is an instant means of changing the ambiance of a space. I am particularly fond of wall covering in a powder room or bathroom. Plain tile and wood surfaces get instant drama when enhanced by the pattern of the wall covering. European toile papers create a classical French mood. Paisley and plaid papers impart an English clubby look. Library motif papers create a library look. Florals and trellis patterns will give a garden look. Pick your paper and pick your look.
The mix of wallpaper and moldings is a wonderful visual enhancement. I often use applied moldings to create wall panels into which I then install a wall covering. This creates an elegant classic décor which is suitable for hallways, dining rooms, and bedrooms. Another popular combo of wallpaper and wood moldings is to enhance a room with crown, chair rail molding, and applied wood panels below the chair rail. I then install wall coverings above the chair rail. The wallpaper makes a dramatic design statement which is balanced by the texture of the wood moldings. The dining room photograph illustrates this technique. Classical toile wallpaper is complemented by the wood moldings, classical furniture mix, and elegant window treatments.
Wallpaper patterns may change over the years, but the enhancement to the spaces they adorn is unchanging. Whether dramatic or mellow in tone, paint colors set the mood for your décor. For those who want a custom touch, decorative artists can transform dreams into visual reality. The list of options is endless. The motto is – change your walls and transform your décor.
Photo credit: Mike Dalton Photography
It is an age-old adage that the kitchen is the heart of the home. But 20th century technology is giving that theory a healthy dose of competition. The heart of the house has become the room that has the largest television in the house.
In some homes, the television and kitchen are sharing the hearth concept. The great room concept — where kitchen and family room and dining area share a large open space – has become an almost ubiquitous architectural theme in new home building. The family and their guests can focus on daily living while keeping their eye on the big screen. The open design plan allows for viewing from all over the room.
This elegant setting showcases many of the important features of a successful home theater. the plush carpet, padded walls, and curtain panels help to modulate the sound-control elements and will keep sound from resonating throughout the space.
For those fortunate home owners with the extra space, the newest “must have” room in the home theater or “media” room. It can be installed anywhere in the home in a variety of spaces ranging from a finished basement, a first floor living area, or even an attic retreat. The only requirements are for generous seating, a large screen, storage for audio/video equipment, and sound control from the rest of the house.
In many homes, the media room is the most popular room in the house. My firm recently designed a home theater in a beautiful Long Island home. The house was under construction and the husband and wife were in dispute as to whether to use a particular space as a library or a home theater. The husband wanted a library to function as his private retreat. The wife favored a media room because she felt that it would bring pleasure to the entire family. After numerous conversations, the wife won the dispute. Our firm then went to work to create a beautiful family oriented media room.
The requirements for creating a media room go beyond the audio and video equipment.
Sleek black leather is a worry-free option for the theater-style seating. Other options include a variety of leather and plush fabric coverings.
The room needs seating, flooring, and other functional and decorative elements. Window and wall treatments are needed to control light and sound. There was lots of work needed in creating this family fun space. Platforms were built and carpeted, walls were paneled in wood and upholstered in ultrasuede, movie theater style leather seating was installed. And Voila – the family had their own private movie theater. The bonus is that the hesitant husband now says that his is his favorite room in the house.
When creating a home theater or media room there are many elements to consider. Firstly, the equipment must be selected. An expert in the audio video field must be consulted because the technology changes rapidly. The next requirement is to create the layout. Ceiling heights are very important in the decision as to whether to install platforms and theater style seating. Seating is available in a variety of styles and materials and colors but leather seems to be the favorite because of durability.
This home theater features a chair-mounted control panel. This is a practical and comfortable update on the concept of the hand-held remote.
Sound control is a crucial element. Carpeted floors and padded walls keep the sounds from vibrating and modulate the tones of television viewing. Any hard surface will reflect sound. Reverberations and echoes are unpleasant distractions from serious movie viewing. The Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association recommends that 25 percent of the surfaces in a room be absorptive and 25 percent be diffusive, the latter of which helps to spread the sound around the room. Absorptive materials include carpets, padded walls, upholstery, and window coverings.
Window coverings serve a dual function for both sound control and light control. Motor operated blinds and curtains are often selected for ease of controlling exterior light sources. This is especially important in rooms where there are large walls of windows. This is great for admiring the view but not as good for watching a movie. Too much light will wash out the picture.
Cabinetry is also important to hide the varying types of equipment that are needed to create an audio video space. Another popular element in cabinetry is to install a bar or mini kitchen. Movie goers can get hungry and they don’t want to travel very far for their snacks. Cabinets can also be used to hide speakers. When this is not an option, wall mounted speakers should be painted the color of the walls to make them less visually prominent. Ceiling mounted speakers are a viable and less obtrusive alternative to in wall speakers.
Once the functional requirements have been accomplished, it is time to think about fun. The aesthetics of the space can create a showcase for personal taste. Where one homeowner wants his media space to simulate an old time movie theater, another may select a space ship décor or any other fantasy theme. This is a room created for fun and gives us the opportunity to have some fun in creating the décor. Decorative selections can run the gamut from old time movie posters to a ceiling painted to replicated the night time sky. The options are endless. Once the space is created, just sit back and have fun. You are at the movies. The rest of the world should fade away as you are absorbed in the new world being created on the screen in front of you.
Every home has a kitchen, but not every home has a kitchen that works. We have all seen kitchens that look or function like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon. Cabinets crammed with dishes and food stuffs, counters with no counter space, and cooktops brimming with pots are just some of the realities in many homes, but this does not have to be the case. Everyone deserves a great kitchen and there are so many goodies to choose from that a wonderful kitchen can be a reality for everyone.
Function is first in kitchen design.
Today’s world of kitchen design offers more choices than ever before. The options are endless. There are multitudes of choices in cabinetry, flooring, countertops, appliances, finishes and fixtures. Aesthetic options are equally diverse. In today’s design world there are a vast variety of decorative styles from which to choose. There is no longer a single accepted norm in kitchen décor. From space age modern to country cozy, every style works as long as it fits into the design dictates of an individual home.
There is, however, one rule that applies to every kitchen and every décor – the space must function well. Speak to any kitchen design professional and they will tell you that function is first. Judith Reidel, a seasoned kitchen designer known as The Kitchen Lady, says, “I come from a very functional and practical background in regard to kitchens. My clients want the pretty look but I tell them that the most important thing is that it has to be functional.” It is not only important that the kitchen looks good. Even more important is that the space works well.
A highly functional kitchen will not necessarily improve the quality of the cook but it will definitely improve the quality of their cooking time. A well organized space will offer an easier cooking space. When designing a kitchen, the floor plan plays a pivotal role in how the space will function. A flexible floor plan allows for the comings and goings of an active family. The floor plan makes sure that there is room for everything. It creates the traffic pattern and directs the work flow.
The classic work triangle is the tried and true concept of kitchen space planning. Essentially, the triangle creates an area in which the three major work centers – the range, refrigerator, and the sink – are placed at the three points of the triangle. In the classic work triangle, the distance between the three centers should be no longer than nine feet and no less than four feet. In addition, the total of all three legs of the triangle should be a minimum of 12 feet. The goal of this arrangement is to save wear and tear on the cook. Some kitchens are so large that a busy cook might need roller skates in order to maneuver the space.
To get some more insight into how to create the optimum cooking space, I decided to consult a professional who knows the most about hours spent in the kitchen – a professional chef. Award winning chef Zorko-Zoran Glavin says that he does not always agree with the concept of the work triangle. He feels that this is functional when there is one person working in the kitchen. But, when there is more than one cook, Chef Zorko prefers an L-shaped layout or a galley kitchen. A long run of counter space provides work areas for several cooks. Chef Zorko recommends that homeowners adapt the professional kitchen practice of dividing the space into zones.
Food prep, cooking, refrigeration, cleanup, coffee and beverage bar –these dedicated zones add to the flow and efficiency of cooking and kitchen work. Chef Zorko works in restaurants where he and his crew are responsible for 100 or more dinners within an evening. In order to maintain the proper work flow, the kitchen space must function with the efficiency of a scientific laboratory. Every extra step in the kitchen is time wasted. In a busy restaurant, time lost is money lost. Translated to the home, we can say that time lost is energy lost.
Professional style features have become a popular element in residential kitchen design. This is true in both traditional and modern décor. Stainless steel appliances are a very desirable decorative element for appliances and sinks. Stainless is also sometimes used on countertops, backsplashes, and even cabinets. Stainless is an instant update for the look of any kitchen. It is a beautiful element to add to a kitchen décor. The negative is that some people complain about smudges and scratches.
Wolf and SubZero are tastemakers in the world of Pro-Style appliances. They offer top of the line options in pro style cooking and refrigeration. Six burner stoves, griddle sections, and extra deep ovens are just a few of the superior cooking features. The Sub Zero refrigerators offer a wide variety of choices including refrigerator drawers, see through refrigerators, top and bottom design options, and custom sizing selections.
Plumbing choices in the kitchen are also plentiful. Sinks can come in all sizes, shapes, and materials. They can be undermounted into stone tops and become almost invisible. Conversely, farm sinks are very large with an exposed apron and make a very strong design statement. Faucets are very important. A sleek modern kitchen will need a sleek and modern faucet. A traditional country style kitchen requires a more rustic style faucet. Their function, however, is the same. Features to look for include pull out spouts, retractable sprayers, and hot and cold water dispensers. A very popularplumbing feature adapted from commercial kitchens is the pot filler. Installed in the cooktop area, the pot filler is the water source of choice for filling those huge pasta pots.
It is often said that the kitchen is the heart of the home. What is left unsaid is that the kitchen is the hardest working area of the home. It also represents the largest financial investment in the home. Our kitchens have to work well, look good, and last. This can be a tough recipe to create.
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