Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sketches of Frank Gehry

If you are an artist, architect, or designer looking for inspiration - I recommend the movie Sketches of Frank Gehry. I just watched the intimate portrait of him directed by the late Sidney Pollack. Frank Gehry discusses his humble background, his process, and how he feels about his projects. As a designer, it was refreshing to see some of his insecurities. His parting words in the film were something along the lines not to strive for perfection, because you'll never get there!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Design Trends Gone Bad

The Los Angeles Times featured an article in their Home & Garden section titled: "Bad design trends we hope die in 2009." They asked more than 20 Los Angeles based designers their opinions, here are some highlights:

Heavy drapery:

Fake suzanis:

Mass-produced, oversized, cheap leather club chairs:

Coral. L.A. interior designer Linda Allen says, “I’m coral-ed out. Can we date 2007 to 2008 the Coral Era, please, and get on to other organic items as accessories?”

Overly crackled, overstuffed, heavy Italian furniture:

Ornate gold frames:

Oversized sleigh beads:

Cubed ottomans and faux zebra skins. Suzan Fellman says: "How does a zebra print translate onto a cowhide rug?

Which trends do you agree/disagree with? Which trends might you add to this list?


I am a huge fan of CaesarStone for counter top surfaces (kitchen, bath, bars, etc). CaesarStone also has a line called Concetto, which consists of stone slabs of crystals and semi-precious stones. I once inquired about the product, only to discover it's several hundred dollars per square foot. However, it makes a beautiful stone top for any table or surface if you are looking for a unique stone.

CaesarStone has just launched a new website for the Concetto. The site explains everything from the essence and energy of the crystals to the process of Concetto creation to its care and maintenance.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Coast to Coast Restaurant Design

Restaurant Design: we are always looking at the interiors of homes but these days furnishings from our homes are popping up in restaurant design. Hospitality Design is a big business and it's hard not to walk by an amazingly designed bar, lobby, hotel, or restaurant. Here are some very chic spaces to dine in from coast to coast:

L'Ardoise Bistro in San Francisco. Filled with Parisian touches like flea market lamps.

Elizabeth in NYC has a noir den combining the luxury of a "Monte Carlo casino with the villainy of a pirate's lair."

The Dakota Restaurant at the Roosevelt in Hollywood. The outdoor dining atmosphere is like having dinner on vacation.

Parlor Steakhouse in NYC. Divided into a casually chic, banquetted first floor (w/ glass-enclosed patio) and a fireplace-abetted basement level.

The Stork in Hollywood is a space constructed to look like a NY loft, with walls of brick imported from an old Naval base and windows from Andy Warhol's Factory.

XIV in Hollywood is a modern European parlor (Italian swan sofas & hardwood bookshelves juxtaposed against a gleaming stainless steel wall).

Edison Downtown is a 1920's style speakeasy in downtown Los Angeles.

The new Andaz Hotel in LA: Andaz on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood features a lobby, bar, and rooftop pool as part of the new hotel.

L'Artusi in New York City. Love the striped ceiling!

Faith & Whiskey is located in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago. The bar is a 50 foot copper topped bar with distressed black oak. The decorative light fixtures consists of backlit steer skulls, antler chandeliers, and a deer's head covered entirely in silver ball bearings.

Located in Palo Alto (Northern California, Bay Area), Calafia is an 85-seat indoor/outdoor resto-market done in a rustic dairy-style with reclaimed wood ceilings and a chandelier made of old milk bottles!

(Unfortunately, I do not have all of the names of the designers who may be responsible for the interior design for the restaurants featured. If anyone has names or websites, I'd be happy to credit.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

LA Event

If you happen to be in the LA area, this event sponsored by Angeleno magazine at Walk On Tile is going on this Thursday, January 22nd from 5:30-8:30pm.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"15 + Minutes"

Thought I would feature an opening exhibition at a local art gallery here in Los Angeles. The timing of the exhibition is concurrent with the Los Angeles Art Show going on this week which is a big event for many local art galleries and artists, in addition to art galleries nationwide attending the art show.

I am a huge fan of pop art. While I feel artwork is a very personal selection per individual and I often tell my clients to purchase works they are drawn to, I love pairing pop art or abstract art with traditional or transitional furnishings. I love the juxtaposition. I love modern art in both comtemporary and traditional settings.

The opening exhibition taking place this Saturday, January 24th at the Hamilton-Selway Fine Art gallery in West Hollywood and is titled "15 + Minutes." It features the works of Wesselman, Lichtenstein, Rosenquist, Warhol and Oldenberg (also pictured above in a photograph I've never seen!).

I am looking forward to seeing some of these many masterpieces in person at the opening!

James Rosenquist, a piece titled "Communication Center."

Tom Wesselman, "Still Life with Matisse and Johns."

Roy Lichtenstein, an artist with his own unique way of creating a masterpiece.

And of course, the one and only Andy Warhol who coined their term "15 Minutes."

Hamilton-Selway Fine Art is located in West Hollywood at 8678 Merlose Avenue in the heart of the Avenues of Art & Design District across from the Pacific Design Center.

The current exhibition is also coinciding with the Los Angeles Art Show. If you happen to be in LA, the event is taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center from January 21st - 25th.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chalk That Up!

Check out these fun wall decals (especially for kids!) from Modern Dose. They are called Chalkals and are an adhesive chalkboard vinyl that can be applied to walls and easily moved around (won't damage paint). Chalk wipes on and off easily.

Hootie Includes: 2 Owls & 2 Branches ($65)

Large Owl 20” x 17”
Small Owl 14” x 12”
Large Branch 50” x 17”
Small Branch 30” x 16”

Invasion includes: 3 UFOs & 1 Laser Beam ($65)

Large UFO 37” x 21”
Medium UFO 21” x 12”
Small UFO 15” x 9”
Beam 57” x 17”

See additional wall decals at Modern Dose.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

WINNER! Design Challenge: Space Plan for your Living Room

Congratulations to Christine - she is the lucky winner of our first Design Challenge which was announced last month.

When Christine first submitted her entry, she wrote to me saying that this could not have come at a better time. Her and her husband just bought their very first home. It is a 1933 Spanish Hacienda located near Los Angeles. Christine wrote that they had been on a ten month house hunt and after seeing about sixty to seventy homes, they finally found their dream house! It's a three bedroom, three bathroom home that still retains most of it's original features including hard wood floors and a beautiful copper, brick, and wood fireplace. To the side of the fireplace in the living room are original built-ins and french doors. Size wise, Christine said the room isn't that bad, however it's the only common space in the house (if you notice on the drawings there are hardly any full walls as each side opens to another room or hallway). Christine said she would like as much seating as possible and for it to be comfortable.

While Christine did email me an inventory of some existing furnishing she would like to try to use, she also mentioned if they didn't work for this room she would be able to use them elsewhere. She said they have a 5' x 8' rug but I had to specify a larger 9' x 12' rug to define the seating grouping and to be proportinate to the room. She said she had a small 10" drink table - which I did scale in on one of the plans and a table of that size could be a "floater" and used almost anywhere. Lastly, the tv is a must for the room and will be placed over the fireplace.

Take a look at some solutions to Christine's Design Challenge:

By emailing me these pictures of the space from many angles including some adjacent rooms, I could get a good visual on the flow of the room and architectural style. These images feature the previous owners furniture. Christine wrote to say since they moved in they have been painting. I'd love to see what colors they've chosen!

Christine provided me with the dimensions of her living room with this sketch. Without ever having seen the room, I was easily able to take these dimensions to accurately draw up her living room.

In this first of three furniture floor plan layouts, I am designating the sofa in the center of the room facing the fireplace as a focal point. The seating grouping is defined by a 9' x 12' area rug (repeated in all three plans). I opted to place a side chair on one side and an ottoman or bench on the other side which can also be used for additional seating. I feel it's important not to block off the entry (which opens right into the living room) so putting a piece of furniture there that is less obtrusive (such as an ottoman or side chair). A small console table on the narrow 24" wall can function as a place to set down mail or keys and help define the entry.

As in the above furniture floor plan layout, the sofa is the centerpiece of the room "floating" in the middle of the space thus allowing for flow and around the sofa into the seating grouping and creating a corridor behind the sofa.

A console table of this scale would be ideal for the entry.

A side chair such as this one from Pottery Barn would make a great chair in any of the furniture floor plans I've drawn.

Normally, in a "formal" living room I opt not to specify a sectional sofa. However, Christine mentioned for a brief moment they had a sectional sofa in the space and liked it. She is also placing a television above the fireplace mantle and so this living room is not your typically "formal" living room. The placement of this living room is a "hub" leading to the dining room, kitchen, hallways, and other rooms - not to mention the front entry leads right into the living room. I think placing a sectional sofa in this living room can still look elegant if it's done right. The sectional I am imagining is of smaller scale with clean and simple lines. I've also indicated a sofa back table so that from the dining room one is not seeing the blank back of a sofa.

This picture demonstrates the idea of using a small scale sectional in the living room. Because the back wall of the room should be left without any furniture against the wall due to needing a corridor, the idea of placing narrow picture shelves along the wall with artwork or photos creates a focal point upon entry.

For the third furniture floor plan layout, I opted to open up the "backside" of the room by placing a sofa to one side and a pair of chairs on the opposite side. Since the front entry is on that side, I feel it is best to leave that space open so as one does not walk right in on top of furniture. It provides for better flow and circulation.

A furniture arrangement with a sofa to one side of the fireplace and a pair of chairs flanking the opposite side is similar to the layout I featured above.

Thank you for all the interest and submissions we received for this contest. Each and every one of you who wrote in mentioned you really needed the help. I wish I could have helped all of you but for the purpose of the contest, we are featuring one very lucky winner. For those of you I was not able to select, I did write back offering a coupon (promotion) for my services. I do want to let all the Material Girl readers know, us MG bloggers are practicing interior designers and do offer virtual interior design services to any of you wherever you may live. Part of the contest is to showcase our talents and should you wish to engage in any of our services we are all here to help with any of your interior design needs. If any of you would like help with space planning, feel free to email me and I would be happy to pass on the same promotion I offered the others.

And don't forget - Lauren is providing a bathroom makeover for her Design Challenge this month! You could be featured next!!

From My Aunt's House to the White House!

Congrats to Michael Smith for being chosen to decorate the White House! I've since seen the many blog posts all over the internet on our fellow bloggers' sites in addition to Domino magazine making the announcement.

Just thought I'd share a note about Michael on a personal level. Michael grew up in Newport Beach in Bayshores where I also grew up. He lived a few blocks behind where I lived next door to my Aunt Linda. His mom and my aunt have been friends for decades. A few years ago my aunt and I got to talking about Michael; she knew him throughout his childhood. My aunt, who's also an interior designer, told me Michael used to come over to her house and read her Architectural Digest magazines and that my cousin's (who are the same age as he) didn't really play with him because he was "different." I often wonder how much influence my aunt had on him! She mentioned he would ask her about her design work and projects.

For those of you who do not know Bayshores in Newport Beach, it's a small private gated community with many homes on the water in Newport Harbor. The community (used) to be full of modest size homes and some that have a very traditional east coast "Cape Cod" style. Over the years, many of the homes have been renovated and the original community has "evolved." However, there are still many homes that have kept with the tradition of the original Bayshores. If anything, I am sure Michael's growing up there has a great influence on his work today.

A few pictures of Bayshores homes below.