Monday, August 30, 2010

Color - The Series Reflections....Personalities and Pink

"The secret to good design is to put your personality in it.  If your art, accessories and furniture aren't defined by one style, then your style is simply "what I love."   This is a great quote  I found in the July/August 2010 issue of Natural Home Magazine.    It echoes my networking group elevator speech tag line..."Your clothes reflect your personal style.  Shouldn't your home do the same?"

What is your personal style??  My friend and fellow designer and blogger, Yvonne Blacker, has a blog post that relates style of clothes to styles of decor. You can read more at  I am definitely the pencil skirt/Louboutin shoes kind of girl!

When I meet with a client for the first time, a lot of the initial discussion is on the family's lifestyle - casual, formal, total chaos???  It always helps to know if I am looking for a delicate Scalamandre fabric for a chair, or one with the wearability of steel!  How do the clients like to entertain - huge family gatherings at a dining room table?  Intimate dinner parties for a few close friends?  Sundays  with the gang over to watch football?  All of the above?  If  your entertaining style is "the more, the merrier" and it involves TV and beer, your grandmother's delicate antiques just won't cut the mustard!  A house full of men will definitely not enjoy a flowery decor and "girlie girls" simply won't tolerate Billy the Singing Fish on the wall.  Truth be told, no one should tolerate Billy the Singing Fish on the wall!  Find out the personality of the family....find a decor style to fit their lifestyle.

That being said...our personalities evolve over the course of our lives.  Sometimes our lifestyles also undergo a change.  I know that the style of home I loved when I was first on my own, does not reflect the styles I currently love or the decor of my current home.  Of course, a design degree, two kids and two completely different marriages will do that to you!  Even though we change, there is still a commonality to my style preferences.  I tend to be traditional, with a lot of earthy color, but always some sort of surprise thrown into the mix!  Always a pop of a bright accent color or pattern or accessory so when someone enters a room, the "Oohhhh" factor comes into play!  Kind of like my red high heels that I use to spark neutral outfits!

My daughter, on the other hand, lives for pink!  I will call her the "Pink Child" from here on out!  Pink suits her!  She is a total "girlie-girl".  She is fun-loving.  She is cuddly and caring.   She is "pink"!  When given the choice (Mom's choice..) of colors for her childhood room, she chose an adorable shade of pink to go with the Bunny's Tea Party themed wallpaper border .

Photo courtesy of my then 9 year old daughter!

As we changed homes and changed rooms, the Pink Child was then asked how she would like to decorate her new room.  Unfortunately, Mom let her pick out her own paint color.  She was 13.  That  should have been my first clue!  She chose a neon pink so bright, it was painful.  I tried to talk her out of it.  I even thought about switching the color without her knowing.  This is the child who would notice if my eyeshadow shade changed from beige to taupe.  Switching was not an option.   We went with her choice.  About a week later, she said, "Mom, I hate the color of my bedroom.  Can we repaint it?"  That was as close to a "Mom, you were right" statement as you will ever get out of a teenager!  It was a costly lesson, but one well learned.  When Mom says it won't work, she is probably right.  When you think that Mom is wrong, refer back to previous sentence!

The Pink Child went on to pick out adorable fabric and accessories for her bedroom.

A fun set of sheets became a duvet cover and shams.

An adorable "girly" lamp shows off her fun side!

Finials in orange and pink beads from Pottery Barn Kids adds the finishing touches to sheer curtains trimmed with colorful ribbons.

The room reflected through her mirror.  You won't get a full shot because, this is, after all, a teenager's room - staged to hide the chaos!

The Pink Child is now happily living in an off campus townhouse near her college.  Her tropical pink theme has now turned to an edgy hot pink and black.  Her roommate is into black and white.  A wonderful pairing of room and roommate!

Through the years, our styles have never meshed, but you can co-habitate with different decor styles.  You just have to learn how to close the door!  After all, its still Mom's house!

I hope as she grows older and her life and living arrangements change, she will never lose the fun "pink" side of her personality!  Come to think of it, my teenage bedroom was shocking pink.  Maybe we all have a little "pink" in us after all!

"There's a side of my personality that goes completely against the East Coast educated person and wants to be a pin-up girl in garages across America...there's a side that wants to wear the pink angora bikini!" - Mira Sorvino, American Actress

Monday, August 23, 2010

Color - The Series...Rusty Robins and Canvas Floorcloths

So, what do rusty robins and canvas floorcloths have in common?  Absolutely nothing but their color for the purposes of my post!  I realize it's still summer, but since its only 68 degrees out and grey and drizzly, I'm in a "Fall" kind of mood.

Photography By Rosanne Palazola

Robins - harbingers of spring...but their coloring is more suited to autumn...rust, black and gold.  This pretty momma perches on my deck every morning and greets me for breakfast.  Actually, she usually has a worm in her mouth waiting to feed her babies in their cozy nest above my outdoor stereo speakers.  Guess I won't be cranking Lady Gaga music in my backyard anytime soon!

Momma Bird's coloring reminds me of two family room curtains and the demonstration I saw several weeks ago on creating floorcloths.  (My mind works in mysterious ways!)

The fabric of my family room curtains, Schumacher 820142 Hide and Seek in Black Stripe, takes all its colors from a robin.  The gold of her beak is the background and her rust colored breast and black back make up the other stripes on this fabric.  Just one of the many patterns I've used to "feather my own nest!"

Now to the part about the floorcloths...  Just what is a floorcloth??  Basically, it's art you can walk on!  A heavy canvas sheet is cut to size, hemmed, prepped, and painted.  Use them as you would any area rug.  They are long lasting and durable and make a great design statement!

Photo taken from Canvasworks website

A few weeks back, I attended a High Tea (how civilized!) at  Glen Magna Farms in Danvers, MA.  Part of the program was a demonstration on how to paint a floorcloth by Lisa Curry Mair of Canvasworks in Vermont.

Lisa sponging the painted canvas

Lisa gave a step by step demonstration of the techniques she uses to create the designs on her floorcloths.  Starting with a heavy weight canvas she had prepared, she painted, sponged, and stenciled.

Here she is using a stencil to create a Greek key design border around the floorcloth.

The above pictures shows samples of completed floorcloths.  Our demonstration cloth has the same design as the cloth laid out on the floor, closest to the building. 

Some close ups of finished floorcloths.  Notice the "robin theme", rust and black.  Lisa gave a very informative demonstration.  She inspired us all to want to go home and try this for ourselves!  But some things should be left up to the experts!  Just in case you want to be adventurous, visit Lisa's website at  You can view a 5 minute video on the process of floorcloth making, browse through her gallery of wonderful designs, place an order, and yes, even find out about creating one yourself!  You can contact Lisa at:

Lisa Curry Mair
326 Henry Gould Rd.
Perkinsville, VT  05151

"One robin doesn't make a spring, but one lark is often responsible for a fall."  Author Unknown

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Norway Diversion...

The blue of Norway was the subject of  the last post.  I want to continue there for another post.  Actually, I would like to BE there right now, but such is life!!
The city of Oslo - quaint, ancient, bohemian, many adjectives, so little space!  Let's focus on the bohemian.  Every view is Oslo is dominated by art. 

Whether it's Edvard Munch's "The Scream", housed at the National Gallery...

or the "living sculptures" seen all around the city.  Yes, this is a real live person!  Gold, silver, bronze...they pose on their pedestals and not a muscle twitches, not an eyelid flutters until they change position.  One quick sweeping motion and then total stillness again.  Part of the fun is watching people who don't realize that these statues aren't made of metal!  

 One of the artistic highlights in Oslo is Vigeland Sculpture Park.  Eighty acres of lush, green park that features 212 full sized sculptures by Gustav Vigeland.  Vigeland sculpted every piece himself out of clay and then they were fabricated into bronze or granite.  All the sculptures are of the human form - at play, at rest or twisted into a giant 46 foot high monolith that took 14 years to sculpt from a single block of stone.  His sculptures were without clothing because he wanted them to be "timeless".   I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

Circle of Life 

The Monolith

After enjoying an afternoon strolling around the statuary, we took a walk along the main street in Oslo.  We came upon a man, with a cloth spread on the sidewalk that was filled with spray paint cans, match book covers, ripped newspaper, sheets of blank paper and various other "stuff".  Hmmm....very intriguing!  We decided to stop and watch.  Taking a sheet of paper, he started spray painting in different colors.  While the paint was wet, he dabbed, scratched, rubbed and smeared it with his "stuff" until the picture started taking shape.

Work in progress

Still not sure what he was painting, we continued watching until the masterpiece was done!

Although this picture is not the best to showcase the piece, it was a forest scene at night looking directly at a waterfall and stream, with the moon casting a brilliant white glow!

Detail of tree
 In person, the piece is extremely detailed.  It took him about 15 minutes and he never used a brush! 

Of course, this original piece of art was the perfect shade for our "Norway Blue" theme and I had to fight off several people to buy it. I think it cost a whopping $45.00!   It now has a proud place in our home and, again, is another reminder of a fantastic vacation!  I either have to stop traveling or get a larger  home!

"I was a sculptor before I was born.  I was driven and lashed onward by powerful forces outside myself.  There was no other path, and no matter how hard I might have tried to find one, I would have been forced back again." - Gustav Vigeland

Monday, August 9, 2010

Color - The Series...Fjord Blue

Have you ever seen a view so beautiful it took your breath away?  On a recent trip to Norway, we took a ferry trip through the fjords.  The majestic mountains soaring 4000 feet straight up and the tranquil shades of aqua blue in the sky and water were just incredible!  It was all so calm and peaceful....heavenly!  And what better room to use "calm and peaceful", than in the bedroom!

The photographs of that wonderful trip served as my inspiration for the colors in my bedroom and bath.

Our first task was to find the perfect paint color!  Too blue...too green...too gray...too dark...too get the picture!  My husband and I had a difficult time deciding.  We finally landed on the perfect shades - Benjamin Moore Santorini Blue 1634 for the bathroom and Brittany Blue 1633 for the bedroom.

Duralee 41938 Sky Blue

In keeping with the tranquil theme, I decided to keep the comforter and curtains white, but I needed to add some color with pillows.  Duralee 41938 in Sky Blue, a geometric patterned cotton blend, would be great for the large, main pillow on the bed.


However, Norway wasn't all that tranquil!  Everywhere you looked, the Norway gnome was lurking!  Sprightly little people (well, figurines actually!) with pointy hats and long beards.  It is said they elevate practical jokes to an art form!  If you see that twinkle in their eye, watch out!

The bedroom was a little too tranquil.  I needed a "gnome" to liven things up a bit!

Duralee 20836

Duralee 20836 in Sea was the perfect "gnome"!  Fun and playful!  The blues matched the wall color and fabric from the other pillow.  The browns brought in the color of the furniture and the whites went nicely with the comforter and curtains.

Our project wouldn't have been complete without framing the pictures of the fjords that inspired us.  They now hang in our bathroom as a constant reminder of that wonderful trip we took!

(Yawn....)  This bed looks so inviting.  I feel a nap coming on....Until next time!

"Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true."  Lyman Frank Baum

Monday, August 2, 2010

Color - The Series...Weimaraner Grey

For all those who don't know what a Weimaraner is, it's a beautiful breed of dog with a very sleek grey-brown coat, haunting yellowish grey eyes and a crazy personality.  They are very loyal hunting dogs but they have a tendency to scale 6 ft.  fences in a single bound or crash through plate glass windows...just because they can!

Our Weimer, Dusty, had her own particular brand of quirks.  She could take a plate of spaghetti off the table, lay it on the floor and devour it without ever spilling a drop!  She also learned to wipe her feet when coming in from outside.  (Good dog!)  And Dusty always had a perpetual lipstick print on her head from being kissed all the time.  Probably because she learned to wipe her feet!


I mentioned Dusty, not because she was a wonderful companion, (she was) but because of the color of her coat - that dusty-taupey grey.  Hence, the name "Dusty"!

The color grey usually conjours up dull, dingy and drizzly, as in a "grey day".  Grey is one of those colors that has a bad rap.  Look at the architecture and landscape of a city.  Most of the colors are grey and taupe.  With the right color accents, the colors of life,  there is an energy in what you see!

Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY

On the other hand, grey is also a very calming,  soothing color.  One of my favorite grey fabrics is Travers Hornbuckle in Pebble.  The look is soft and tweedy.

The sofa shown here, in one of my favorite client's homes, looks comfortable, inviting and timeless!  This neutral doesn't have an expiration date like avocado colored appliances!

The taupe color we used on the walls, Benjamin Moore 985 Indian River, creates a nice, deep, warm  background for the room.  It lets the furnishings and accessories take center stage.

So when I look at grey, I am reminded of my childhood pet, my client's cozy sofa and a great weekend I had recently in New York City!  Nothing sad about it!

 "The photographer's palette is a thousand shades of gray" - H.E. Clark