Friday, December 20, 2013

Let there be Light!

I love these bowls from Design within Reach! Here's some info about them: 
“I am excited about shapes and structures,” says Danish designer Herbert Krenchel. “The surface on a design object is important because it makes people want to reach out for it.”
His hand-finished Krenit Bowl (1950s), with a bold colored interior that pops against a matte black exterior, serves as an inviting vessel for all sorts of items. Its utility and form are purposeful: “I also believe that there has to be a balance between function and aesthetics,” continues Krenchel. “A good design must therefore contain more than one aspect to make the perfect overall impression.” Krenchel’s now-iconic Krenit (a combination of his name and Eternit, the name of a fiber cement he used in his work) was the recipient of the gold medal at the 1954 Milan Triennial. Introduced in the early ’50s, the bowl was produced until 1966 and reintroduced by Normann Copenhagen in 2008. The Danish design company has stayed true to Krenchel’s specifications, finishing each piece by hand, but has updated the interior material from hard-to-maintain enamel to durable and lightweight melamine. “
Lately I have been very interested in the mid century modern style as it is the style I grew up with and I am working on a house of a similar era. I love the classic but fun elements of that period and it is so fun to see revival of the same pieces that I have loved for many years. 
As a new designer 10 years ago I never would have believed that lighting in kitchens, baths and other rooms is so integral in functional design. Since I work in a lot of old homes in South Minneapolis I have to look for lighting that will work in traditional settings but has installations that do not disturb the current ceilings and walls. Lighting in kitchens is so important that it is usually one of my first 5 questions to clients. Particularly as we age, we not only need adequate lighting to see where we are working but we also need surfaces that reflect good light. Black counters are particularly difficult for aging eyes and almost all surfaces should have lighter colors and possibly not an abundance of very distinct color contrasts. We still want to keep the space interesting by introducing some contrasts in a pleasing manner.
I am very familiar with the furniture featured from Design Within Reach, however, when I received the current catalog I was enamored with the traditional mid century fixtures and how versatile they are that they can be used in many different settings.
The photo at right is the famous globe light used in threes over an island in a kitchen. Also notice the stainless globe that is suspended over the table from a curved bar will be shown more and described later in the blog.
“An innovative take on a hanging glass globe, Jasper Morrison created his Glo-Ball series of lamps for Flos (1998) to provide a range of blown-glass globes for almost every imaginable situation. Featuring a clean, geometric appearance, the Glo-Ball S1 Suspension Lamp is crafted with hand-blown opaline glass that’s externally acid etched and flashed for a pristine surface that evenly diffuses warm glowing light.”from Design Within Reach

Here is that same basic globe shape placed outside near the front entry way. I am pretty sure this is California or another state when these lights would be o.k. with the warmer temperatures. However, there is probably available the same globes for outdoor use. Please check with a reputable lighting store for the proper lights for outdoor use.
I love the trio of globes (right) with different shapes placed in a living room for ambiance and a great design element.
The same oval shaped globe (below) can be used over a dining room or kitchen table. At my home in the 50's my parents used the very inexpensive white rice paper globes over the table which are still available in multiple sizes and colors. These fixtures in the DWR line are called Nelson Bubble Lights after the original designer George Nelson.

This is from Design within Reach: “Architect George Nelson, who was Herman Miller’s design director from 1946 to 1972, said: “Every truly original idea seems to find its most important expression in a chair.” And then he blew the doors off lighting design. When Nelson was outfitting his office, he coveted a silk-covered Swedish hanging lamp but found it prohibitively expensive. He then recalled seeing a photo in the paper of Liberty ships being mothballed “by having the decks covered with netting and then being sprayed with a self-webbing plastic,” said Nelson. “And then, Whammo!” Inspiration struck, and by the next night, Nelson had designed his first Bubble Lamp® (1947), using a spray coating of translucent plastic polymer over a skeleton of steel wire. “When you put a light in it, it glowed.” A wide range of shapes and sizes are now available. “

These classic floor lamps (above) are called Arco Floor Lamp, originally designed by Pier and Achille Castiglioni in the 1980’s. Achille would implore his students to “start from scratch. Stick to common sense. Know your goals and means.” The lamp was inspired by a street light. The lamp provides overhead lighting without requiring ceiling suspension. Again this is a great modern option for the older home which adding more holes to an old ceiling is not an option. 
Of course this lamp looks great and is functional in living rooms, kitchens (first photo)  and bedrooms!
I love the “fantasy feel” of a combinations of the globes and the Arco below. It is fun to see the reflections of the globes on the floor. I hope that all of these lights have dimmers which are another must for ceiling lights.

I love the overhead lamp below because it can provide illumination in and entire room with just one hole in the ceiling. This could also be used in a kitchen instead of recessed lighting.

Here's Product Information From Design Within Reach:
“Serge Mouille designed his angular, insect-like lights as "a reaction to the Italian models that were beginning to invade the market in 1950," which he criticized for being "too complicated." The Three-Arm Ceiling Lamp (1958) is a hanging interpretation of his original Three-Arm Floor Lamp, and maintains the original's kinetic, sculptural aesthetic. All of his lighting solutions feature Mouille's hallmark signatures as a designer: the way the arms are joined to the diffusers, the washer and six-sided screw hardware, the form of the reflectors, and the refined lines of the steel tubing. Bulb (not included): 75W/E26. Made in France.
  • Three arms rotates in various directions.
  • Shades are produced using the original molds, proportions, materials and techniques.
  • Each lamp is stamped and numbered. “

So as we enter these shorter days of light think about illuminating your spaces with warm glowing lights!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Make it Mid Century Modern!

The mid century modern style has returned to this century and it is a period that reminds me of my parents, who are both artists, and some of the items in my home growing up. 
Our house was not mid century modern but an old parsonage house built in the early 1900’s. My mother called it the funky farmhouse since that was her background!  They pulled down all the old wood moldings around the archways between the rooms, painted the walls all white, which my father believed was the best color on which to display art, and they painted the ceilings bright colors to get their pop of color.
Besides my Dad’s colorful paintings, that is where I get my intense love of color. The colors of my business branding are those mid century colors: lime green, turquoise and orange. I love to see them commonly used now in fashion and home furnishings!
We lived with furniture pieces designed during that period by famous designers like George Nelson, Herman Miller, Charles and Ray Eames, and Harry Bertoia (however, we could only afford the knock-offs).

This blog post was inspired from a mid century modern house I am currently working on in Falcon Heights. It is part of the U of M properties - some designed by leading architect Ralph Rapson and other professors from the U of M.
I started doing research on the colors of mid century modern and found some delightful combinations (see possible palettes below). We painted the cabinets a grey with tinges of teal to blend with a granite and painted the walls a clay orange color! We ordered some fun drum fixtures with orange mums printed on them.

As you can see and read.... I have a strong background in color and it shows in my work. My love for mid century modern is my upbringing and it is so fun that the style has made a comeback 60 years later. Whoops - I am giving away my age!  I firmly believe in the power of color to affect or change our moods and I love that part about my services. I tell my clients I want to gently take them a little out of your comfort zone if they are open to that journey with me. I strive to make people smile with delightful color combinations that brighten our lives every day!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wow - I LOVE the new bold colors by Kohler! My favorite line is by designer Jonathan Adler, who says, "One rule of color is that there are no rules." Kohler's new line is really stunning, bringing personality and bold pops of color to kitchens and bathrooms.
Jonathan Adler - Photos by Kohler
Jonathan Adler, potter, designer, and lead judge on Bravo’s Top Design, recommends peppering every room in the home—including the kitchen—with little surprises and exclamation marks of color. “It’s the surprise factor that makes color work,” he says. According to Adler, there’s nothing better than a colored sink to bring a kitchen to life. Even better, he says, “These colors work in just about any kitchen color palette to add a little punch.”
Photos by Kohler
You can add bath accessories, towels, soap dispensers and paint to freshen up the look, but these fantastic fixtures are sure to anchor the room.
Photos by Kohler
If you're considering adding a pop of color to your bathroom or kitchen, think about these things: 
How do you use the space?
What do you want to feel when you enter the room?
Are you looking for a calming effect or an energizer?
If you're unsure about how to balance these bold new hues, or don't know where to begin, contact me and let's chat - I'd be happy to help you!
Photos by Kohler

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Arizona Color Inspiration!

Summer is finally here! Since last winter, I have been dreaming about soaking up the sun and relaxing with friends outside. Last January I took a trip to Phoenix and was out in the sun every chance that weekend - it was a great way to recharge in the middle of winter! 

Here are some photos from my trip. These first three are from a hike in Sedona. The colors of the red rock against the clear blue sky just take my breath away.  Orange and blue... A great combination for a punch of color!
The middle photo is from a park where a local resident loves to place heart-shaped rocks in tree branches, driftwood and bushes. It was such a joy to find the surprises perfectly placed in nature.

These photos are from the fantastic Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. The center photo is from the entrance of the building - a beautiful stained glass cactus sculpture by Dale Chiliuly. There were other sculptures by various artists throughout the gardens. These color combinations were more related greens and oranges, especially the bright adobe wall against the prickly cactus plants. 

The last photo (above, lower right) was a very simple water feature which I might try to duplicate when I move to the fantastic sun and blue skies of New Mexico!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Not So Fancy Kitchen is on the Home Tour!

I'm excited about my project featured in this year's Minneapolis-St. Paul Home Tour April 27-28! I hope you'll stop in and see it - it's #12 on the tour and is open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. on Sunday.
We dubbed it the Not So Fancy Kitchen because the owner - a wonderful woman named Michelle - didn't want shiny granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances or high gloss ceramic tile. Instead, she asked me to make it "not so pretty"  and asked me to avoid using shiny surfaces. Her dream was to transform her 1940's kitchen into a colorful and functional space, using colors inspired by vibrant antique Uruguayan tiles from her travels to South America. 
Wanting to make the kitchen "a happy, fun place to cook in," Michelle wanted to retain much of the character of the home. Also on the wish list was additional storage and more natural light to transform the kitchen into a warm and welcoming gathering space.
Repurposing the Space:

Michelle wanted to recycle or repurpose as much as possible in the home during this remodel, so we retained the fantastic 1940's original linoleum flooring. A fun repurposing project was reusing the original ironing board cabinet into a spice cabinet.
We mixed Michelle's new modern conveniences with her collection of antique toys and colorful vintage dishware - she is a modern gal who loves old stuff - like the cracks in her plaster walls! I encouraged her to fix them, but she wanted them to stay. She likes them and says they add character to her kitchen.
New Space:
This client was fun to work with because she was willing to take risks! At Michelle's request, we didn't install any new upper cabinets, which results in an open, spacious feeling. It brings attention to beautiful details like the colorful handmade tile border from Northern Prairie and SoMi tile, chosen to blend with the existing floor. (Visit and to learn more about these wonderful artisans and their work!)

When designing the cabinets, I worked with a "blind corner" - that awkward space in the corner where cabinets meet and there is typically a Lazy Susan. We didn't have enough space for a Lazy Susan, so we built sliding drawers instead - I call them 'magic drawers'. The front drawer pulls out and moves to the right, giving room to pull the second drawer out from behind it. It takes what would be wasted space and transforms it into valuable extra storage.
When installing new countertops, the existing countertops became a potential problem. The homeowner didn't want to remove or replace them, but the current countertop height is higher than it was in the 1940's and would block the window. To solve this, we retained the original counter heights in front of each of the two windows, enabling the owner to keep her windows and create a baking center. The countertops are Carerra marble - inspired by her travel to Italy, where she toured marble pits. She loves to bake and the lower countertop level is perfect for kneading dough - she loves it!  
A small, high window was installed to bring in more light and floating shelves were mounted to display the homeowner's collections. We added specially designed spaces, such as a cabinet drawer to store their liquor bottles - we measured the bottles to be sure they'd fit - and cabinets to hold all of their pots, pans and utensils.
The task of working with "no shiny surfaces" provided an interesting challenge for me and after working on it, I'm realizing a changing trend. I think more people are moving away from shiny and embracing more of an "earthy" feeling. 
Best compliment:
"No surprise, but I STILL love the kitchen! Had friends over last night - the ones who hadn't seen the kitchen - they loved it sooooo much! They said it was perfectly me! I said I had the best team working on, so of course it was perfect. Just thought you'd want to know the kitchen is almost perfect. It would be perfect if there was some kind of pullout bed so I could nap in there too. Like an under cabinet trundle bed. . . ."  -- Michele

This home is #12 on the Minneapolis St. Paul Home Tour, running April 27- 28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. - 5 pm on Sunday.


Friday, March 15, 2013

I Love Thermador!

I have been delighted and honored to be included in the Thermador design council for the past 3 years. I have made some great new designer friends and the team at Thermador is fantastic. 

(Left) This is the largest plate rack I have ever seen! I think it looks more modern this way instead of looking kind of country. (Right) Corner sinks are not my favorite, but sometimes they are so functional for the design. The open shelves with the open ends on the left offset this space around the sink. It all feels a little off kilter, which appeals to me!

The team asked us great questions, challenges our creative juices and listens to our comments, I mean REALLY LISTENS! So much so that we have had input on some of the new and exciting appliances that they have introduced since starting to meet with them.

(Left) I like the contrast of counters and the different heights, with the wood eating area counter layering over the stone work area counter. (Right) Here are some of my designer buddies!  Left, Jennifer Allison of Jennifer Allison Design, CA, center Donna Venegas of Venegas and Company, MA, and Cheryl Parsley of Rene Products, Ohio.

Recently, Thermador moved their main showroom from Scottsdale to their corporate offices in Irvine, California. So at this year's conference, we got to marvel at beautiful vignettes, fun functional kitchens and new appliances (we even got to test them for one of our meals!). 

I love lift up cabinets! I have 3 at my cabin up north and I love the way you can open them all and the doors are not in your way and you can load them up so easily. Also notice that the bottom line of the wall cabinets is all level and no cut up over the sink. It is not really necessary to have that area higher and you do not bump it with your head.

As usual, they are charming and gracious hosts. This year is Thermador's "Year of the designer," so check out their website at and meet my design council designers! 

(Left) I had to throw this picture in because I love the colors of the bowl, fruit and tiled backsplash. (Center) I love this very contemporary look of no upper cabinets around the hood. Then the hood (and the tile, not here) become the focal point. Remember, "Less is more." (Right) Barbara Barton hand cut the beets in the Thermador fun shape, that's dedication and proper branding!

It should be a fun year to check in on their news often and notice the continuing press they receive in the publications around Design and Home Decor.

(Left) This is different for me... I am so symmetrical... But I like the asymmetry of this hood placement. I am copying this for a current client. Tiling the entire wall is also a favorite of mine. (Center) Lisa Brooks Of Brooks Kitchens and Baths, Georgia is deep frying goat cheese balls for our salad. They were delicious! (Right) Very classy and modern wine cellar.
(Left) Here are Barbara Barton of Barbara Barton and Associates, CO, and Patrick L. Borg of Neff in Chicago, cooking on the new Freedom induction cooktop which allows you to place the pans anywhere on the cooktop. I want one! (Right) This photo shows the "living wall" of herbs for cooking and the look is very interesting. It was the first area that all the designers commented about. They have a unique way of watering the plants, all plumbed into each plant. The natural green plants bring life into the showroom.