Inspiration

Dreaming of Summer – Florida Room

It’s been ‘officially’ Summer for two weeks now, but unfortunately, it hasn’t really been Summery here in Seattle.

Temperatures are -slowly- rising now, but it has me day dreaming of warmer climates, like maybe even moving to Florida where it is almost summer all year long. A girl can dream, right?

Because I’ve been daydreaming about living in a warmer climate, I started thinking of what I could do, in terms of interiors, Florida home, and the ocean is not in sight. So I came up with this mood board for a coastal, Florida room, that will transport me to another state – geographically – and of mind!

Florida Room

 

In my head, Florida has always been an synonym of warmth and beach. It is, after all, a multicultural state, sometimes referred to as “the capital of Latin America” due to its diversity, so I wanted to reflect this on my design.

I wanted to showcase a lot of natural fibers (the jute rug, the coffee table and the chair) but keep it clean and modern without looking too rustic. Of course, a coastal room is always associated with blues and teals, but I wanted to kick it up a notch and mix in some fire in there that would better describe the vibrant nature of the state.

So here you have it. This is the Florida living room of my dreams. Maybe I can implement some of these items in my own decoration, and have summer year-round?

*Thanks to Douglas Elliman for encouraging me to think about my ideal “Florida Room” that I can enjoy even when the weather is not perfect.

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A/NT Gallery – Commercial Project!

For about six months now, I have been a board member at A/NT Gallery, a local artists’ collective founded in 1988 that works with under represented and under served artists in the community and provides them with a space to show their art.

After many years at a location close to Downtown Seattle (and right next to the new Amazon campus), A/NT Gallery was able to secure a space at Seattle Center, home of the famous Space Needle and many other resident organizations that do amazing work and have incredible missions and vision.

Because the new location will see a much larger amount of traffic – especially during summer months – the board has decided it is time to amp up some of the operations and give the gallery a much deserved face lift.

I have been brainstorming some ideas, especially around the decoration and functionality of it all, and have been looking endlessly for ideas that inspire me in this endeavor. This cause is very close and dear to my heart, and although I am approaching this project as if it were a client, it is very low-budget and will take months to accomplish. Not necessarily a bad thing…

The space is huge and very apt for a gallery: lots of wall space and compartmentalized areas that make it great to have special exhibits or themed or juried shows. At the same time, it has a main lobby area that is ideal for a reception desk, modern storage options and a large conference table that could double (triple?) as work shop space and event setup options.

This reception space alone is about 400 sq. ft. which gives us many options in terms of layout and functionality.

Some of the images that have been inspiring me these past couple of weeks:

I don’t think that all of these spaces have things in common, but what I am drawn to is the simplicity in the design.

When you walk into the gallery through the main doors, you see a recessed nook that could potentially house a reception / greeters desk with our devices (computer screen, cash register, printer, etc). The wall is a little over 18 feet so it has potential for many things, but I am envisioning either a planked wall or some fun and modern wallpaper (like what Emily Henderson did in her studio refresh.

I came up with this mood board with some ideas, and will tackle some projects in the coming weeks.

A/NT Gallery - Commercial project

Stay tuned for more!

Sources: 1. Saville & Knight 2. Studio refresh by Emily Henderson 3. home-designing.com 4. H2 Design + Build Before and After office reveal on MyDomaine. 5. Potafiori Cafe in Milan (again! the space is too beautiful and so inspiring) 5. H2 Design + Build Before and After office reveal on MyDomaine.

Trend alert: Rugs in kitchens

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I’m pretty sure that this topic has been blogged about and talked about ad infinitum, but we continue to see more and more kitchen with rugs in them.

Having textiles on the floors of kitchens can be tricky – although they look beautiful and can add pops of color and liven a space, it is also a potential attraction for crumbs, stains of all kind and, in my case, use and abuse.

There are many options for rugs for the kitchen, ranging from neutral, natural materials to more fun and funky. I personally do not have a rug in my kitchen, but it’s because I haven’t found the right one just yet.

Here are some of my favorite uses of rugs in kitchens (sources at the bottom of the post). They definitely do make the space!

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Sources: 1. Lauren Leiss’ kitchen 2. Domino 3. Mallory and Mike’s IKEA kitchen 4. Simone LeBlanc’s home on Paige Jones 5. Barbara Purdy Design via Houzz 6. Honestly WTF  7. Playa Vista Residence by Veneer Designs

Would you use a runner in your kitchen?

Designer Spotlight – Brian Paquette

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I first came across Brian Paquette, a Seattle-based interior designer, on Instagram. After doing some research, I quickly fell in love with his style.

His eclectic style and combination of pieces shines a spotlight to furnishings – something I highly admire – and he can work around bad architecture – or complement good architecture!- flawlessly, like what he did in the Mercer Island rental by painting walls and trim and changing the look from a 90’s orange look, to a modern, crisp look.

He also combines patterns in such a unique way, it makes it look natural. As a design enthusiast, I am always impressed by the combination of patterns and mix of styles that result in breath-taking products.

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I also love, love, love that he uses Michelle Armas pieces for his projects!

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His use of moody tones, like blues, grays and blacks, complement perfectly the Seattle weather. And although it does get sunny in the city during the summer, these colors make interiors cozy and comfortable for the residents.

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This project, for a young, tech-company executive, mixes masculine touches with more classic furniture for a stunning end product.

I day dream about living in a space with velvet everything, but with a fluffy cat, this idea will take me nowhere but directly to cleaning all. the. time.

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To me, his style reads young and relaxed yet seems sophisticated and fresh, something that, according to my eye, is a welcomed combination.He is great at creating spaces that cater to families, too, and that combine style with function, like what he did for this transplanted family.

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Source: 1. Brian Paquette Interiors; all others My Domaine.

Winter blues

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It’s been such a long, long Winter here in Seattle. I can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I find myself unmotivated to do anything. No ideas on what to paint! It’s been tough.

Hopefully, Spring will be here soon (at least the trees at UW got the message!) And with it, more ideas and creativity will flow.

Photo © Maria Rigou for Groundhog Design

New Year, New Look

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I’m a homebody. I really, really enjoy being home, especially if said home is perfectly decorated. I also happen to be a very extroverted extrovert, so my best moments are when people come to my house. And said house is perfectly decorated.

I always thought I had a specific taste in mind when it came to decorating my home, but over the years, that taste has morphed into a perfectly -or maybe not so perfectly – balance of different styles. And I like changing stuff up around he house.

So this is why I have compiled this list of cheap and easy ways to change the look of your home in a cinch.

  1. Paint. Paint is one of the easiest ways to make a big impact with a little cost. If you can paint, then try it! It will change how the room feels and you can definitely try different ways: all of the walls, an accent wall, 3/4 of the way up, just the ceiling? The options are endless.
  2. Re-arrange your furniture. Moving things around can give you a fresh angle to decorating. Sometimes we move into a space and envision furniture a certain way and sometimes moving it around can work much better with how you use your space.
  3. Shop in your home. Do you have some pillows in your bedroom that you are growing a little tired of? Maybe move them to the living area! Same with throws, curtains, chairs. There are many possibilities to change the look without investing in some new pieces.
  4. Art. Art can be one of the most impactful  (is this even a word?) add ons to a space. Just make sure that you go big to fill the space and create the most impact. There are a lot of places where you can buy art at affordable prices, like Minted or Etsy.
  5. Add some texture and don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit! Texture can bring your flat space to a more 3D level. You can do this by adding a fluffy pillow, a rustic console table or even some inexpensive plants in different sizes.

What are some other, inexpensive ideas you have to refresh your home?

Source: Top 15 of 2015 by Sarah Sherman Samuel

Downsizing

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One of the only things I *enjoy* about moving is the possibility of starting fresh.

Before moving to Seattle, we were living in Ann Arbor, Michigan because my husband was attending grad school at U of M. When we accepted jobs in Seattle, we made the – almost – cross-country trek to the West Coast and I saw that as an opportunity to purge. So we (by we I mean mostly me), decided to donate, sell or toss those things that weren’t useful to us anymore – furniture, clothes, school stuff, etc and came to Seattle with only the things we loved. And if we needed more things, then we could add on as we saw fit.

Fast forward 15 months and we are still in the purging phase. When moving to the condo from the apartment, I donated 4 bags of my clothing, 2 bags of my husband’s clothing and we sold a sofa, one closet, our king size bed and a mattress.

Some of the things that I do to purge involve invoking my memory and asking / wondering if we used it in the past year. If the answer is ‘no,’ it goes to either a Donate (if in good condition) or Toss pile. Sometimes I prefer to donate instead of selling, just because I think that others might use it more and love it more than I do. We try not to hold on to things just because we love them, but sometimes it’s hard! For example, recently, my husband showed me two great coats he hasn’t worn in two years. I told him to donate them, but he isn’t ready yet. So we set them aside and in January we will re-evaluate. If he didn’t wear them by then, then off they go to someone who needs them more.

Moving reminds me of the joy of living with just the necessary. Because it’s incredibly amazing the amount of stuff one can collect in one year.

So from the move we have learned a number of things, the number one thing has been learning to acknowledge that we don’t need that much! Why store sweaters or coats we haven’t used in years “just in case I need them”? Or maybe samples of my work (I studied journalism and wrote for a newspaper) in the form of 5 or 6 copies of each edition of the paper with my stories in them? Just one is enough! More than enough.

What I am trying to say is that, yes, we moved to a bigger place, with bigger things and more storage space, but we also downsized. And now we have just what we need and nothing more. And that is perfectly OK with us.

As a side note: I’m participating in Apartment Therapy’s 2015 ‘Closet Cure’ and really excited about it! Today’s turn was sweaters. Luckily, I am good about them, but I still have a couple that I separated for donation. Hopefully, by the end of the week, we will have big piles of stuff to donate. The #bigpurge continues thanks to AT! If you would like to participate in this challenge, there is still time! Sign up here.

Source: Homepolish Mag via Instagram (don’t you love that art!?)

Hey, I could do that!

Last night, someone in one of the groups I belong to (hi Creatives Club! :)) posted this very interesting video about art and it got me thinking about exactly what is it that artists do and where we get our inspiration from.

I have written on this blog about one of my current inspirations, J M W Turner, and his strokes, combinations of color and overall composition and how I love that, even though he is “officially” a Romantic landscape painter, his art has some sort of abstraction to it – an abstraction that is usually found in nature (and that is what attracts me to his art!).

But going back to the video. The examples that she mentions are just spot on: Mondrian (Hey, I could do that!) and Cy Twombly (Hey, a kid could do that!) and it made me think of the many times I’ve heard someone tell me “well, maybe I can copy it,” or “why spend X amount of money if I can make it.”

And the reality is that no, you probably can’t make it. Every artist is unique in its own way. Brush strokes vary depending on our handedness and even on the lengths of our arms (I think this is actual, factual, technical information by the way) or how much training we’ve had and with who . Also, what are the chances that you reproduce the colors exactly as they are represented in this piece? There is also the creative thought that is moving the piece, the technique, the materials used, etc, that make this piece a whole.

But I think of the most important aspect of reproduction and it is just that, reproduction. Creating art is an art; it involves hours and hours of training and practice and botched projects; it involves many frustrations and ideas that not necessarily translate to paper as we envisioned them; it takes time and energy and materials. And it is close to our hearts.

For me, reproduction is not the same (unless your piece is meant for reproduction like a photograph or a stamp, or other amazing types of art that are out there that are meant to be reproduced!) as owning an original piece that was maybe done for your or done for others. I’m not diminishing in any way the fact that art can and will continue to be reproduced, I’m just saying that for me, it is not the same. Do you think it is the same to own an original Matisse painting vs. a reproduction that you bought at the museum shop? I still own reproductions of art because I can’t afford the original piece, but reproductions sold to me by the artist, not something that I made because, hey! I could do that.

We need to protect the artist and the art.

Although, they say that imitation is the best kind of flattery

Kitchen nightmares

Well, it’s not literally a nightmare but more like a bad dream. I guess you never notice small things that rooms are missing until you move into them.

We finally moved into our condo! After a 14-month wait, we are finally moved in and almost ready to start enjoying it fully. This coming weekend we are going to work on some little things like putting up shelves, maybe hang a painting or two and tackle the linen closet organization.

You’ll hear more about this soon, so, moving on… One of the first things I realized when we moved in is that the kitchen doesn’t have a wide enough drawer to fit all of our silverware. We don’t have a big collection, just a forks, knives, spoons and serving pieces for 8 people. It was definitely a complete shock to see that the kitchen wasn’t exactly planned for silverware, but luckily we were able to come up with an original way of storing it.

Many years ago I bought a bamboo caddy like this one that I was using to bring to the table with olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, etc. It is originally intended to be a cutlery caddy / holder, but I didn’t have the need back then. It also only has 4 official holder spaces, and I needed at least 6 to be able to fit our silverware.

So with a little help from a trusty cardboard box and some tape, I fashioned two more divisions to make a grand total of 6. It’s working out great so far, and hopefully it will hold up until I find a more permanent solution to this problem. We now keep the silverware out on the counter and the whole set up looks like it’s on purpose!

More creative ideas to store (or not) cutlery:

     

I do have something in mind as an “extension” of the kitchen, but I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Sources: 1) DIY & Crafts 2) HubPages 3) A Cultivated Nest 4) Ikea hacks via Afternoon Special

Watercolor Inspiration – JMW Turner

When I was in college, I was fortunate enough to be able to do a semester abroad and I chose to go to the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. I didn’t do much traveling while there, but I did get to go to London a couple of times – more like three – and in each and every one of those visits, I spent days and days in museums.

Did you know that National Museums in the UK are free to visitors? I think it’s because they are owned by the State and sponsored by the Department of Culture and subsidized so that both nationals and tourists can enjoy the collections. However, some special exhibits are paid.

I’m a sucker for all things modern, so one of the days I walked the Tate Modern in its entirety and got to see some Rothko upfront. And then (but not at the Tate Modern)… I discovered J.M.W. Turner – not to be confused with William Turner – a Romantic painter, water-colorist and print maker.

His paintings are so intricate and detailed, but at the same time they have a weirdly abstract feel. I fell in love instantly. And his paintings have served as an inspiration for my art ever since, although recently they weren’t really consciously present. I was reminded of him by my teacher when I worked on “The Calm Before the Storm” – which I shared with you already.

This is one of my favorites – Storm Clouds: Sunset with a Pink Sky (1833).

I have been doing some more Googling of his images and I am definitely inspired to work similarly – with a similar color palette at least – in the near future.

Stay tuned for more Turner-inspired work. In the meantime, check out my Instagram account to see the two small paintings I worked on today.

If you would like to purchase some of my art, visit my Etsy shop!

Source: Art Observed.