Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year - New Perspectives


Pantone Color of the Year

The future for 2012 is bright with the Pantone color of the year—Tangerine Tango!

According to Pantone, as read in the December 17, Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Tango is the spirited reddish orange” that will give us “the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.” It is very effective color when used as an accent wall, or for unexpected pops of color in the kitchen or throughout the home.

I’m feeling quite smug about it all - since my October Color blog was about the virtues of the color orange. I have a personal investment too, since orange is one of the colors in my business logo. Plus, it just plain makes me happy. As Cy Winship (of Cy Winship Design, Minneapolis) commented in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on December 1, “ I love it! It’s a happy color!”

This color has been on the forefront for several years now, especially in the fashion industry, however, it should be dialed down a couple of shades for home interiors.

You can take Tangerine Tango in a more traditional direction by pairing it with fall colors, or take it wilder with a bright blue or lime green pairing— my favorite color combinations. (Photos: HGTV Color Crush)

At Home with Orange

I updated my own living room for the 2010 Minneapolis/St. Paul Home Tour and added an orange palette, knife style abstract painting created by my late father, Robert Clark Nelson. It makes me smile every time I walk from my sunroom to my colorful kitchen!

2012 Minneapolis / St. Paul Home Tour

Look for the orange kitchen that I designed in South Minneapolis in the upcoming 2012 Minneapolis / St. Paul Home Tour. Click HERE to check out the website for details about the tour and how to participate.   

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November Musings

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving this month was a fun event for me because I got to cook (daughter bond) with my youngest, Maya. She researched the recipes and sent me the shopping list. I purchased the necessary items, and she showed up a couple of hours before dinner with the recipes and away we went! My other daughter, Britta, and my Mom, Carol. arrived later and they joined in too. A lot of laughing and eating completed the day! I would have loved to get out for a walk that day since it was so beautiful, however, turkey sleepiness took over.

Bikes 4 Kids

Thanksgiving always has me wondering how I can turn my thankfulness around and give to others. A program called Free Bikes 4 Kids fills the bill.
I am a member of the Major Taylor Bicycle Club and at our recent dinner/dance a guest explained that the program gives bikes to kids that are donated by various individuals and organizations. However, most of the bikes need “Spiff Ups”. He expressed a need for volunteers to come help clean, adjust and, if possible, perform bike mechanic magic – all before December 10th. Our club will be at the Midtown Bike Center on the Greenway at 2834 10th Ave. S. this Saturday and Sunday, December 3rd – 4th. Please join us!

If you can’t come this weekend – no worries. Just check out the Free Bikes 4 Kids website. There are bike centers open every day or evening at many locations. You may also donate used bikes to this worthy cause! Read more about this volunteer/donation opportunity in the November 21 Star Tribune.

Navy Makes Other Colors Pop

A recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune featured a classic color – navy blue. I love this whole idea of using navy to make other colors pop.

In the article, Washington DC designer, Zoe Feldman, says “Navy is classic, and goes with everything, it adds warmth in a room and gives depth to walls. And you can have fun with it, too.“ If you are unsure about using it on walls she recommends using it on a piece of furniture first such as a chest or drawers or bookcase. It is a color that can go in either a masculine or feminine direction. You can pair it with white, red, magenta, chartreuse, pink, purple, teal, mustard, emerald gray and black. Wow! That’s almost all the colors on the color wheel!

Clarence Johnston Retrospective

Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) produced a fascinating retrospective on the life and work of Clarence Johnston (1959-1936).

St. Paul Central High School
Johnson was a noted St. Paul architect who designed numerous buildings throughout the Twin Cities (i.e. St. Paul Central High School, Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, Burbank-Livingston-Griggs House, Eastcliff Mansion) and Duluth (i.e. Glensheen Estate). As the architect for the Board of Regions of the University of Minnesota he designed Northrop Auditorium, Walter Library, Williams Arena and many other campus buildings. TPT points out, “You’ve been in his buildings…you just didn’t know it.” Now through this well made documentary you can get to know this remarkable man. It’s must see TV for all history buffs and all exterior and interior design aficionados.

The program is called, “Gracious Spaces: Clarence H. Johnston, Minnesota Architect”. Watch for it to air again on TPT, or watch it online.

Color Splash Alert

A room makeover by Designer David Bromstad on HGTV’s “Color Splash” really resonated with me. “Modern New York City Loft Master Bedroom Inspired by Dylan’s Candy Bar” aired on November 26, 2011. (Episode HCLRS-911H)

THIS COLOR MAKEOVER WAS SO ON MY RADAR! I could envision myself in this room. Because the walls were all windows, with magnificent views, Bromstad placed the bed in front of one of them and custom made a very artistic acrylic headboard with lime green panels. He shot LED lights thru the plastic to give it a glow in the evenings. The other colors he used throughout the room were magenta, purple, more lime green, white and black. Try to catch this show when they show it as a rerun.

Now Online: My Mpls. St. Paul Magazine Virtual Tour 

My colorful orange (fall-inspired) kitchen, with handmade tile by North Prairie Tileworks, is included in a virtual tour on the Mpls./St. Paul website.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All About ORANGE—Including A Fall Inspired Kitchen


Fall is here and that means lots of orange – one of my favorite colors. It’s everywhere now. We see it in the changing leaves, lady bugs, mums and of course, pumpkins.

Orange was a favorite color of mid-century modern design, like in this egg chair by Ame Jacobsen.

Today orange is popping up everywhere once again - in advertising, furniture, clothing and accessories. Isn't this a great bag?

Who knew Home Depot would turn out to be such a trend setter?

Because orange is in the red family it causes strong reactions in almost everybody! We either love it or hate it!

Orange is fun and flamboyant. It exudes warmth and energy! The color affects us physically by stimulating activity, appetite and socialization. Let’s party!

Orange cars (I want one!) convey that their owners are fun-loving, talkative, fickle (that’s NOT me!), and trendy. 

There is no blue without yellow and without orange. 
- Vincent Van Gogh 


Orange is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow.
- Wassily Kandinsky

- Many Native Americans associate the color orange with kinship.
- In China and Japan orange is used to symbolize happiness and love.
- In early Christianity orange symbolized gluttony.

For all these reasons and more I like using orange—especially in kitchens—because that’s where families gather to tell stories about their day, share good food, and perhaps rock out with some good music and get a little silly and flamboyant. 

for more fun facts about orange.


Nothing is more glorious in fall than blazing orange foliage set against a backdrop of vivid greenery. 
Fall inspiration colors were just what my client wanted for the renewal of her 1900’s South Minneapolis kitchen. She was not afraid to use color. In fact, she especially wanted to update the orange of her old kitchen. Plus, she loves handmade tile. A client after my own heart!
This kitchen needed a color update and an entirely new floor plan to open up the space, absorb the eating area, add counter space in key work zones, and better utilize the storage capacity of the pantry – which was entirely taken over by the refrigerator. A tiny landing to the right of the existing range and an unvented microwave posed safety hazards.

Orange makes its own statement on the walls and in Roger Mayland’s stunning handmade tile details. (North Prairie Tileworks) The sea green tile backsplash perfectly picks up the green flecks in the Aquarius granite counters from Amsum and Ash. Natural maple for the upper cabinets blends with the light woods of the floor and butcher-block counter and contrasts with the sandalwood alder bases.


My clients’ eyes are the same sea green as the backsplash, and her hair is a great strawberry/red hair color. She matches her new kitchen perfectly!

All major appliances had to be relocated to improve flow in the main traffic zones. When the refrigerator came out of its former home in the pantry, much needed storage space was gained.
The appliance shuffle in the main kitchen blocked a doorway to the dining room. Solution? Refashion the doorway, keep the trimwork and create a pass-thru, making it a lovely interior window into the Fall Kitchen. 

The sink was moved to the corner to allow for prep space around the other appliances. 

The client loves her new kitchen: "I can't tell you how wonderfully the layout for the kitchen is working out. It is a dream to cook and clean in there!"

Friday, September 30, 2011

Glass, Glass and More Glass!

From beautiful public displays to tile backsplashes, I can't get enough of glass!  Of course, when I think of beautiful and colorful glass art, world-premiere glass artist Dale Chihuly immediately comes to mind.  Chihuly has truly revolutionized the art of blown glass. The scope of his work is breathtaking and his use of vibrant colors is stunning!

No visit to Las Vegas is complete without a walk through the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel, where the ceiling is adorned with an awe-inspiring display of 2,000 hand-blown glass flowers called Fiori di Como.

The Milwaukee Art Museum, a beautiful museum located on Lake Michigan, showcases a stunning Chihuly piece in its lobby. Again, the shapes and colors in his work are magnificient!

Minnesota Tile Festival

Earlier this month I participated in the Minnesota Tile Festival, sponsored by the Handmade Tile Association and held at the Midtown Global Market. Since I love using handmade tile in my kitchen and bath projects, it was a thrill to participate! It was a wonderful event and the participating tile artists were incredibly talented. One of my favorite was SIGHTline Tile. Artists Amy Bauer and Brian Bolden introduced me to their new line of web printed glass tile for residential use. I can't wait to use them with a new client!

Tile isn't the only way you can incorporate beautiful and unique glass in your kitchen or bathroom. I love local artist Wendy Mosman's gorgeous lampwork cabinet hardware.

Christine Nelson Design in Spaces Magazine!

The October issue of Spaces Magazine features a bathroom remodel that I did with the Anderson family in south Minneapolis. Like many homes in South Minneapolis, the Andersons' one small bath had many challenges that went beyond just its size. The door opened into the bath and there was a sloped ceiling.

We discovered some space behind the tall linen closet in the adjoining bedroom, as well as some space behind the slopped roof line, which gave us three extra feet and allowed up to move the sink.

I love the tankless toilet! In a small bathroom like this one, not only does it save valuable space between the toliet and tub, but it also has cool, contemporary lines. You can pick up complimentary copies of Spaces Magazine at Twin Cities' Kowalski's Markets; Bachmans; All, Inc.; Ferguson's Golden Valley showroom; Hoigaards; and Euro Nest.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tips for Remodeling Your Bath + Cabinet Lighting

Photo: Mark Lohman/This Old House

The editors at This Old House Magazine polled contractors, designers and other professionals for their top tips on remodeling a bathroom. Here’s just a sampling:

Photo: David Carmack/This Old House

Best Caulk: Use an acrylic or hybrid formula that you can remove without using harsh chemicals.

Photo: Don Penny/Time Inc. Digital Studio

Easy-Care Floors: Choose porcelain or glazed tiles over natural stone tiles like limestone, which need to be constantly sealed otherwise they’ll absorb spills and drips and become stained.
Illustration: Eric Larsen/This Old House

Light a Vanity Right: Position fixtures at eye level (about 66 inches) on either side of the mirror and ideally spaced 36 to 40 inches apart. If there’s no room for side sconces, install a long fixture on the wall above the mirror.

Photo: Andrew Bordwin/This Old House

How Much Space for a Half-Bath? Try and seek an area that’s 3 to 4 feet wide and 6 to 8 feet long for comfort’s sake (an 11-square-foot spot meets national building codes). Be sure to check local codes for specific requirements. 

Photo: Keller & Keller Photography/This Old House

Pick the Right Vent: A fan shouldn’t be an afterthought! For the master bath, splurge on an ultra-quiet fan that won’t wake up your mate yet has enough power for back-to-back showers. For a family or guest bath, a mid-range noise option works and for a powder room, install a loud fan for privacy.

This Old House

Toilet Selection: Don’t settle for less on the toilet, either. Look for a toilet with a Maximum Performance testing of 500 or higher and a high-efficiency model. Visit for information on the best options.

Photo: Muffy Kibbey/This Old House

Skip Wallpaper: Since it doesn’t stand up to humidity, instead consider wainscoting as an alternative to tile.

Cabinet Lighting

Photo: Kolin Smith/This Old House

Incorporating glass cabinets in a kitchen remodel is a great way to display collections, and the right cabinet lighting can make the right impact and draw attention to your treasures. But lighting choices can be overwhelming.

According to Woodsmith magazine, just a few years ago there were only two choices for lighting: fluorescent and incandescent. Today, the choices are endless, and different types of bulbs emit light within a certain range of the color spectrum, from warm to cool.  The writers of Woodsmith did a great job of breaking it down:

Incandescent Bulb

The Difference between Incandescent and Fluorescent: Incandescent is the oldest and common type of lighting. While it produces a warm yellow glow, it’s also the least efficient and produces a lot of heat! Not a good choice for enclosed cabinets. The much more efficient fluorescent is at the opposite end of the color spectrum and casts a blue-violet glow.


LED: For high-intensity light, LEDs are the best choice. They’re the most energy efficient and last much longer. They’re also expensive and their blue tint doesn’t give the best color rendition.


Xenon: Xenon might be the best choice for cabinet lighting. It burns cooler and still gives off a bright white light (like natural daylight).

Puck fixture

Puck Lighting: Puck lighting is a great option for a fixture because it doesn’t take up much space nor does it require venting. Other puck lights are battery powered and don’t require special installation.

Strip lighting

Strip Lighting:
To light multiple shelves with one light, mount a strip light in the upper inside of a cabinet. The fixture comes with LED, fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. A nice feature of strip lighting is that you can get linkable strips which allow you to connect multiple lights together for any project.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Northwoods Spiff-Up

Challenging surprises can always arise whenever you do a home remodeling project, whether it’s budget, space or unknown structural problems. While spiffing up the kitchen in my beloved 60-year-old cabin on Moccasin Lake near Ely, Minnesota, I was faced with a unique test: installing new countertops, cabinets and tile backsplash without running water or electricity!

It was a fun spiff-up project and I’m thrilled with the results. I had been thinking and planning the project for years and it was great fun to see my vision executed.

Here is a before shot:

And here's the after!

Even though I don’t have running water or electricity, I installed a farmhouse sink which makes washing dishes much easier!

Without question, the showpiece of the spiff-up is the beautiful lime green field tile with bubble tiles in all of my favorite colors from Mercury Mosaics. The organic yet colorful tile looks perfect in our rustic cabin.

The Details:

· Cabinets: Holiday and Ikea

· Iron cabinet hardware and rock knobs: Mealey’s Gift and Sauna Shop, Ely, MN

· Countertops: Arborite Laminate

· Farm skink: Franke

· Artistic custom tile: Mercury Mosaics

· New propane range: All, Inc.

· Amazing helpers: Pat Besanson, Peggy Magnuson, Laura Dupont, and Dave Zupec, a contractor from Ely, MN.

Now onto the next spiff-project at the cabin: the bedroom!

Color and Texture

This renovated century-old farmhouse nestled in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains immediately caught my attention. Architect Alan Dynerman kept the home’s original character and then incorporated layers of color and textures to create an inviting and relaxed space. I love the use of colors throughout the home!
I love blue! And the cobalt custom cabinetry is a warm, yet striking statement.
Turquoise trim beautifully complements the yellow stucco walls and smooth fieldstone floors.
The painted metal roof, yellow stucco siding and blue and turquoise trim fit in perfectly with its beautiful mountain country surroundings.

The Power of Red

Lex Croft
Scientists have discovered that color really can create an advantage for the wearer. The perfect example is red, which, according to Sherwin William’s Stir Magazine and other sources:

- Makes your metabolism work slightly faster

- Gives you more strength and will to get active

- Is a great color to wear if you want to triumph over a competitor or attract romantic attention

- Gives athletes a small, but important advantage over competitors

- A woman wearing the color is more likely to be considered attractive – and more likely to be asked on a date

- Is a great color to wear if you want to triumph over a competitor

- In advertising, red is used to make people take action

Use red in a room if you feel like you need to wake up and stop procrastinating!