Monday, October 18, 2010

Astroturf As A Design Influence??

The latest show in my quest to see what the fuss is all about in design shows brought me south to Miami.  David Bromstad, season one winner of HGTV's Design Star,  hosts the show in his hometown of Miami.

Photo from HGTV website
In this episode, David's clients were looking to fix up their non-descript dining room and adjacent patio area.  Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the patio area, but take my word for needed HELP!

Photo from HGTV website

Here is the before picture of the dining room.  It looks like someone's version of a neat garage after a party.  The backyard view was of  the backside of someone's fence and the only thing this fence was protecting was a square of rotting, greyed out decking.

David looked to a restaurant for inspiration for the space.  Not the actual restaurant, but a creepy dark bathroom inside the restaurant AND the stalls were totally covered with astroturf!!  If that didn't get the client running for the hills, they were either blind or in a state of shock! And he made them feel the astroturf to see how great it felt.  Pet the wall of a public bathroom???  I was gagging and I wasn't even there!   HOWEVER, I had to see where this was going... like onlookers waiting to view the grisly scene of an accident!

As the "accident" unfolded, I was very surprised to see that not only did everyone survive, but they came out of it better than before! David's "Mexican modern" style uses lots of bright colors (Hence the name "Colorsplash") .  The dining room was painted a bold shade of turquoise.  A very large sculptural chandelier was used as a focal point in the small space.  The original table and chairs were reused, but in this brightly colored room, they went from "school cafeteria" to modern day chic.  David also painted a canvas in a series of colorful, concentric squares that resembled the screens of TV's from the '50's.  A nice touch, but in real life, most of us designers don't have enough time to hang the artwork, let alone create it!

The finished room - courtesy of HGTV's website

A few more added pieces and the room was very "contemporary instead of June Cleaver".  (I believe that description was used on the show.)

So what happened to the astroturf??  It ended up as carpeting for the patio area.  Now, I prefer the real thing, but I guess when the climate does a number on your lawn, the astroturf carpet makes an ideal solution. (At least it didn't end up in the client's bathroom!)   For the patio area, David made some wood sculpture light boxes to hide the fence and provide lighting for the area at night.  He used a seating bench and two large cocoa bean chairs for a seating area done up in brightly colored cushions of turquoise, orange and lime green.  Three ceramic cubes in turquoise served as a coffee table and he had giant glass globes custom blown and mounted on the floor with lights inside for additional ambiance. Not too functional during hurricane season, but they did give the area a nice look!  Wooden planters around the perimeter housed trees that would grow to 14 ft to hide the fence and create a private cocoon for the owners.

To view the entire episode, go to and click on the arrows next to the episodes until you come to Mid Century Patio/Dining Room.

He almost lost me with the astroturf, but in the end, I liked the look!  Especially the patio that will never need mowing!  This show may be worth tuning in to again!

"The purist and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most."  John Ruskin

Sunday, October 10, 2010

HGTV - What Is All The Fuss About??

As I've said in a previous post, I don't watch design shows or HGTV.  So many of my blogger friends do and are constantly talking about "what went on in yesterday's episode".  So I've decided to watch and critique.

I did have the good fortune to see Emily Henderson, the recent winner of HGTV's  Design Star, at the taping of the Nate Berkus show.  I LOVED what she did for a military couple who were constantly moving, but were never paring down.  Unfortunately, that season is over so I'll have to check out some online episodes. But in not watching the whole season, I will miss the drama, the angst, the backstabbing and the thrill of  victory....yeah, whatever!   From what little I saw, I was impressed with her ability and I do want to see more! (But I could do without the drama, etc!)  You can follow this link to view the episode and see the before and afters. 


Emily Henderson - Photo taken from HGTV website

Design On A Dime - the premise sounded interesting - the designers  have a $1000 budget to fix up a room in a home.  The episode I watched featured a young married couple with a new condo.  Their basement bedroom was a yellow box with small windows, low ceilings and no detailing whatsoever.  Their furniture was seriously lacking - dining type chairs were substituting as end tables.  Designer Frank Fontana to the rescue!  (Wasn't he a character on Murphy Brown??)

Frank Fontana - Photo taken from HGTV website

With this whopping $1000 budget, they went to work.  An old armoir top with dental moulding found in an alley (how convenient!) was transformed into a neo-classical headboard.  They made columns for two corners of the room from plywood and footing tubes - some faux finishing and voila!..they looked like plaster columns!

Fontana and his crew found some cheap nightstands, nailed some moulding to the sides for a picture frame effect and faux painted them to give them a wood grain.  They reused old closet doors to create a built in bench, added wainscoting to the walls, painted the walls a bland almond color (to match the bland almond colored rug), added moulding to the windows, new bedspead.....yadda yadda yadda.

In the REAL WORLD, unless you are a total DIYer, the room painting alone would have eaten up that $1000 budget. The faux painting?  Unless you have some artristic talent, its best left to the professionals (again, forget the budget!)  And if you are a DIYer, you have to have the tools to perform all these miracles!  I don't know about you, but my workroom can't handle 8 ft footing tubes with ease! And my saw?...let's just say they took it away from me a long time ago!

The finished effect was nice - a little bland - but the ideas for reusing and repurposing were very good.

So not really impressed with this episode.  I think they would have benefited more from a cool color on the walls and some nicely framed artwork, task lighting and a patterned area rug.  More bang for the buck.   Unfortunately, I could not get any pictures of the episode.  Before and afters would have been very helpful.  Design is so visual, so you will have to use your own imagination this time! The link below has some good, low cost ideas for sprucing up a bedroom for under $200.

  Next up....Color Splash Miami!  The name alone is intriguing!

"The objective in times of economic restraint should be to seek excellence, not opulence."  David Craib

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Simple Pleasures and Extravagant Finds

The Sign says "Simple Pleasures and Extravagant Finds" It's the tag line of a new store opening in Middleton, MA.  And the sign says it all!  New England Fine Living has something for every taste, budget and style!

                                                                     Come on in and shop!

Linda Smith, proprietress and Divine Diva of Design has brought together an eclectic mix of vendors and consignees.  She showcases their wares in stylish vignettes all over the store!

Linda Smith (center in black) and her merry band of vendors! Photo pilfered from  Lorna Bird-Hood.


The "Glitz and Glamour" room features new and "pre-loved" clothes - cocktail dresses, purses, shoes and tops.

Need some jewelery to accent the outfit?  Vintage and handmade baubles abound!  Lotions? Potions?  Full Circle Day Spa showcases a nice assortment of pampering treats for the skin!

Artwork?  Custom framed pictures? Furniture?  Lighting? Rugs?  It's in there!

Picture borrowed from

The "Dining Room", "Gold Room", "Rustic Room" and an adorably colorful room full of ceramics and candles are artfully set up.  Their  items are waiting to be taken home and treasured.

 Did I mention that I'm one of the merry band of vendors?  That's me up top in red!  I'm showing an array of custom framed botanical prints, some accessories, lighting,  furniture and, for the first time, some of my photography! 

So, for all of my readers in and around the northshore of Boston - stop in for a real treat!  New items arrive daily and every time you walk through the store, new surprises await!  Please visit the website for a list of vendors and upcoming events!

                                                                  New England Fine Living
                                                                     108 South Main Street
                                                                     Middleton, MA  01949
                                                            Wednesday - Friday 10:00 - 5:00
                                                                     Saturday 10:00 - 4:00

"A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams." ...and really great accessories! (Unknown quote with my two cents added in!)