Oct 31, 2007

CB2 for the Holidays

As I stare at my bowl of candy and anticipate trick ‘o treaters tonight it is hard to think about Thanksgiving or Christmas. But CB2 is making me think about the holidays.



CB2, the new store and catalog, by our Crate and Barrel friends, is just two years old and gaining in popularity.

Stylish and affordable - my two favorite words together! – is the way I would describe CB2.

The furnishings are contemporary and trendy and target the loft or apartment dweller. But I see items that can work in every home.

For instance, I love their beautiful Christmas ornaments with a twist -- a candle in the middle!

Christmas ornaments are not just for your tree! Look how beautiful they look over a dining room table.

If you are lucky enough to live in Chicago or New York, you’ll find a CB2 store. Otherwise order your catalog today!

Oct 30, 2007

My Color Bible - Exploring Dana's Design Library

Ok, I have scoured the bookstores for books on color. Many are cute, offer inspiration and ideas, but most are not very meaty.

In fact, some are very disappointing. I really don’t need a book that analyzes my mood swings or checks my horoscope to help me decide what color is right for my room. I don’t find the books offering predetermined color palettes – color swatches or ready-made palettes - very helpful either. And most people have told me they are frustrated by such books.

As I prepared for my Color Confidence class, I came across a truly substantive book by Jonathan Poore, with photography by Eric Roth. Their book - Interior Color by Design - offers practical instruction for applying color theory. I found the checklist in the back of the book especially helpful.

Jonathan Poore gave me permission to use his book’s outline and photos for my Color Confidence presentation. He told me that what inspired him to write the book is that he could not find a practical book on color theory. This surprised him, but he did what every good author should do: write the book you want to see.

I have only a few design books on my shelves. I just don’t like the clutter. So what goes on my shelves must be meaty. Poore’s book is my bible on color.

I have two other books on color, next to Poore’s, but that is it. More on those later.

What design books do you find helpful or inspiring?

If you would like to schedule the Color Confidence class based on the book, Interior Color by Design, please contact me at 314-652-1759. I will be giving my next class on November 6th at 7 p.m. Please call me for details.

Oct 29, 2007

Families on the Wall

Photo as seen on Melanie Mauer's blog.

Whitney Johnson brought to my attention a blog by photographer, Melanie Mauer in Lexington, Kentucky. Melanie discusses the use of family photos to build a montage or collection on the wall, rather than the ubiquitous large and very posed family portrait hung over the mantle. Her ideas are worthy of our consideration as we think about filling our walls with family memories.

I personally enjoy the trend away from the posed and predictable family portraits of the past to the more natural and fun photos I am seeing done today. Seems that is how I really see families. Won’t our posterity enjoy seeing us how we really are? Notice the family photo on Melanie’s blog (also above). What do you think when you see this family?

This reminds me of a photo shoot Katherine Bish did with our Habitat for Humanity family. I asked Katherine to take photos of the children (see below photo) and to catch them in their normal surroundings doing their normal kid-thing. The photos turned out darling. But mom, Ursalon, was not sure at first: “If I’d known you were taking their photos I would have combed their hair!”

Photo courtesy of Katherine Bish photography in St. Louis, Missouri

We hung the photos in the entryway and encouraged Ursalon to give it some time. If after some time Ursalon still wanted different photos, then we would help her to replace them. Neighbors and family members loved the photos and begged her to keep them. After a week, Ursalon said, “I love the photos, they are the favorite thing in my home!”

Gina Adolphson hangs photos in the Berry-Crawford home with the help of Jacobi.

And here is a budget-saving tip: the frames you see in Ursalon’s home were bought at the Habitat for Humanity Restore (on Forest Park Parkway in St. Louis Missouri). All three wood 11 X 14 frames with mats and glass were bought for just $5 each (see above photo). Gina Adolphson, interior designer and my partner for the project, painted the frames with a black gloss spray paint to give them a contemporary look.

Consider catching your family on film just being a family. What spirit and fun can these photos bring to your walls? What conversations might result from looking at fun family photos?

Show us your family on the wall!

Oct 25, 2007

Stylish Stool - found it at the Big Box

Here is a fun find: a stylish rubberwood stool found at Wal-Mart (pictured below).

This stool would complement just about any style room. And you might consider painting it to match a colorful child’s room or recreation room.

Stools are highly versatile: they don’t take up much space and they can act as a place to put your seat or your drink!

And for under $40, the Wal-Mart stool is a steal compared to the Eames walnut stool that has a similar look, but definitely not a similar price at $779 as offered by Design Within Reach (pictured below)Not only is the Wal-Mart stool smartly priced, but it is good for the environment too. Rubberwood is considered the most ecologically friendly wood used in the furniture industry.

Have a seat!

Oct 24, 2007

Color First - becoming color confident

I was asked some years ago to teach a class on basic interior design. I focused on one aspect of design: color. Design does not get any more basic than in the use of color.

Why color first?

I tell people to select their color palette before their style. This is because very few people can plunk down a large sum of money at one time for furnishings of all one period or style. Most of us have a mix of furnishings inherited from grandma or found garage sales. Or our tastes have changed over the years and we have accumulated a variety of styles.

Color has the power to unite mixed-matched furnishings.

Photo Courtesy of Eric Roth

This room (above) has iron, wood and wicker furnishings. Walls, furnishings and fabrics in blues, greens and purples harmonize the look. Because the colors have similar attributes -they are cool colors and of the same value (intensity) and strength (saturation) - they bring continuity to the space.

Now imagine this room, same furnishings, but with white walls and mostly void of color. Would it have the same sense of continuity?

Or maybe continuity is not your goal? What color palette might you choose for this room and why?

We’ll continue to explore ways to harmonize our interiors by using color. Stay tuned for more on Color Confidence.

If you would like to book the popular Color Confidence class for your organization or neighborhood group, contact me at 314-652-1759.

Oct 23, 2007

Nick Olsen - a favorite!

Here is another favorite: Nick Olsen.
He’s the deal hunter of Domino Magazine’s blog, The Daily Dose.

He’s on the hunt for deals in trendy and classic contemporary design. I love that, especially since St. Louis does not have an IKEA (Calling all design conscience St. Louisans, shall we start a petition to IKEA?)

From Nick's bio: “…he’s learned a thing or two about fabulous interiors and how to make (or fake) them on a budget.”

If you are looking for contemporary furnishings on dime, bookmark: The Daily Dose

Oct 18, 2007

Picture Frames - found it at the Big Box

Have you ever wanted to create a montage of picture frames like this (above)? You can do it mixing different styles, sizes and colors for an eclectic look. Or perhaps you want the frames to be the same color and/or style. Either way, if you don’t already have the photo frames, it can be a costly undertaking.
But look at these wood frames and plastic frames (above and below) I found at Wal-Mart for between $2 and $5. You can’t beat that!

Plastic frames are especially practical in a child’s room or playroom where things can tend to get knocked around.
Looking for frames? Try your local Big Box.

What have you found at the Big Box lately?

Oct 17, 2007

Ask Alice - a favorite

I like to share my favorites and Alice Fakier ranks up there. Why? Because she follows the doable-livable-affordable approach to interior design that this blog is all about.

I love her new series, an online 12-part video series featuring practical do-it-yourself solutions for common design dilemmas. These are projects that can be done by anyone with a limited budget and time and don’t require advanced carpenter skills. This month she features easy window treatments.

Fakier says she aims to be “inspiring, not overwhelming.”

She believes design is should not be taken too seriously, "It's not like it's brain or cancer surgery," she says. "It's important but it's supposed to be fun. If you make a mistake in design, it can usually lead to some thing more interesting. Or, at the very least, it can be redone."

I agree!

Got a design dilemma? Go Ask Alice!

And/or email me your interior design questions at dana@danasdesignstudio.com. I hope to hear from you!

Oct 16, 2007

Julie's Bedroom - a study in color and design

Yesterday I met Brad, Julie’s carpenter, to go over the moldings we will use for Julie’s bedroom that will be a hybrid of "cottage style" or "English Country Style" , including wainscoting and decorative moldings and other fun details that say: "cozy".

We are working with an existing 2 ½ inch crown molding, just fine for the eight foot high ceilings in Julie’s bedroom. But we are now putting in new floors and beefing-up the wainscoting and baseboard, so the small crown molding would look wimpy by comparison.

We could pull out the old molding and replace it with expensive 5 inch crown molding, but I have a creative solution that is less expensive and intrusive and gives a more dramatic look:

We will place a 1 ½ inch base cap molding three inches from the bottom of the crown molding on the wall. Base cap is sometimes called wainscoting cap or wainscoting molding. It looks like the old picture molding, but with a flat, not rounded, edge at the top. If you are unfamiliar with types of moldings, it has a profile similar to most traditional picture frames.

Now here is where I get crazy. We will turn it upside down. Yep, that’s right.

Brad, the carpenter, asked me about three times yesterday, “Are you sure you want to turn it upside down?”

“Yes, why not,” I said.

“Well, then you can’t hang pictures from it!”

Julie and I responded, “But we don’t want to hang pictures from it!”

This is not the first time a carpenter has looked at me in unbelief.

Our goal here is to beef-up the crown molding, to fool the eye into thinking it is one large crown molding. Brad will paint the molding and the wall in between the same color - white, in this case - to make it look like one continuous molding. And by turning the base cap molding upside down, we give the edge a nice definition and finish.

You can see an example in Judy’s home:

Before (above photo), the 2 1/2 inch crown molding.

After (above photo), the beefed-up moldings and painted walls provide definition and character to the room.

See how before (above photo) the crown molding almost disappeared, providing little contrast or interest.

See (above photo) the difference beefed-up molding and paint can make! It really complements the other details in this older home, like the arch entries and niches.

You can also beef-up your baseboards this way. Many older homes have the typical 3 inch colonial baseboards. You can add about 2 to 3 inches up from the baseboard a 1 inch trim molding of your choosing, then paint the wall between the baseboard and molding to match.

Voila! You have instant beefed-up moldings that didn’t cost you an arm and a leg and are simple enough to qualify for a weekend DIY project.

What can you do with decorative molding?

Oct 15, 2007

John Beck - a favorite!

I play favorites. Every designer has them.

One of mine is John Beck, owner and chief creative director of John Beck Steel and Paper – handmade and custom steel furniture. He’s in my home town, St. Louis, Missouri, but makes his furnishings available to the world.

John proves that steel is not just for skyscrapers!

I love him not only for his designs and the fact he lives in St. Louis - though those are good reasons enough - but also for his unstudied and unassuming approach, lacking any stuffiness, he’s confident without being cocky about his popular work.

He says, “Some folks like to call me an artist because of the things I create. But I don’t think so. I’m a regular guy, just any random guy you’d see walking down the street. The only difference is I got lucky and I’m able to do the things I love for a living and I’m actually pretty good at it.”

And he practices what I call “contrarian creativity”. He even says it in his tag lines: “Rule Breakin” and “Hand Makin”.

I love his pendant lights, a new product introduced last week. For $90 this is a great price for custom lighting. Each is hand distressed and can be customized to reflect your color scheme.

His work is mostly contemporary in feel, but can complement just about any d├ęcor. I can see his furnishings working well in: a cabin, farmhouse or a loft; any room with an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary furnishings; also in a room with transitional furnishings (contemporary furnishings that lean traditional – think “Pottery Barn”).

Consider one of these pendant lights for over a sink in your bathroom or in your kitchen.

For more on pendant lighting see my blog: Pendant Lighting.

Oct 12, 2007

Mirror, Mirror...found it at the Big Box

Photo courtesy of Katherine Bish Photography.

Looking for an inexpensive mirror that won’t break your budget?

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who has the least expensive mirror of them all?

Look no further than your local Big Box.

I created a dramatic look with the use of wardrobe mirrors in a dining room of all places. Wardrobe mirrors are not just for the bedroom or bath! I placed them side by side on a buffet and leaned them against the wall. The cost for each mirror was $20 for a total of $60. Notice how the mirrors fill the space. I’d say that is a lot of bang for the buck.

Most people are surprised to learn that I found these mirrors at Wal-Mart.

And look what I found at Wal-Mart this week. Good sized (33 in by 45 in) mirrors for under $50.

While you might not find solid wood mirrors at the Big Box, it is hard to tell the difference. And a benefit to the faux wood alternative is that it is usually lighter weight and less apt to fall or break.

Check out your local Big Box for mirrors. You might be surprised at what you will find!

The dining room (pictured) can be seen at Coachlight Town Homes, by Town and Country Builders – 4390 Olive St., St. Louis, MO 63108, in the Central West End. They are open Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Let me know if you are interested in a tour for you or a group of friends and I can meet you to share other design tips we used in the home. Call me at 314-652-1759 to arrange your tour.

Oct 11, 2007

Exploring YOUR style

Website page as seen on www.danasdesignstudio.com. Go to "about" page and click on "tastes".

I was struck by Tim’s comment to me after reading Katherine’s Kitchen. He wrote, “What's the matter with me if I like the kitchen with the ceiling fan and wallpaper better than the little studio lights and the two tone wall? Isn't the latter just current design trends? I like the former kitchen better.”

My answer: There is nothing wrong with you Tim. You may like a more traditional look, a cozy, perhaps cottage or country feel. It would be worthwhile to explore what it is that you are feeling about the “before” room to help determine “your style” – what YOU like and can live with!

Katherine’s Kitchen was remade for Katherine. She wanted something up-to-date and fresh. Her goals may be different than yours.

Here is an important principle: There are many “right” ways to do a room.

If you feel like Tim, you might enjoy the blog: Wind Lost, by Terri. Not only does Terri explore cozy style, she makes the point that we may need to unlearn our notions about design in order to embrace other possibilities.

Do we sometimes feel that if our design ideas don’t match what we see the designers do then it is somehow wrong?

Do we have some things to unlearn?

Where do you find inspiration to embrace new possibilities?

Oct 10, 2007

Color, It's Personal - becoming color confident

Graphic designed by Angela Robinson (http://www.angelwingsdesign.com/) for Dana's Design Studio

I am launching yet another series: Color Confidence.

Nine out of ten calls for my services the person asks, “Can you help me select paint color for my walls?”

Color is the single most important design tool. Yet, most people lack the confidence to use it.

The Color Confidence series will draw upon my popular class by the same name. My hope is that the principles and hints and tips I share will make you brave enough to dip that brush into a can of paint and on to your white walls.

Color Confidence - defined - is knowing what colors you love and how to harmonize them.

Gaining Color Confidence is a lot like learning to ride a bike. You just have to experience it, fall a few times and get up again. Before you know it, selecting color will become intuitive.

To help you on your way, I will give you principles, hints and tips you can lean on - just as a person learning to ride a bike leans on someone to help balance until they gain confidence to ride on their own.

But once you are off and riding I want you to gain confidence to break the rules and experiment to find your own way.

This leads to the first principle:

1) Using Color is personal – it’s not a science.

It’s not what your neighbor likes, it’s what you like.

It’s not something you apply a formula to…it’s subjective, it’s creative, it’s art.

A woman in my class last week asked, “I heard a rule that every room should have a little red in it…is that true?”

Again, there is NO formula for choosing a color palette that appeals to YOU!

And here is my belief, or core value, that drives my thinking: We are creative beings capable of developing our own relationships to color and how it works in our lives.

Will we fall down in the process of building our relationship with color? Most likely.

I create a color palette for a room with a large degree of confidence. But I have developed that confidence after much experimentation – on my OWN home and art projects, thankfully for my clients! And each time I work with color I learn something new. I don’t think I will ever stop learning about color.

You can learn too. Lean on me as we develop your Color Confidence!

I offer my class - Color Confidence - to groups and organizations. Call me for more details: 314-652-1759

Oct 8, 2007

Katherine's Kitchen - a study in color and design

How do you bring a kitchen forward in time on a tight budget?

Paint it!

We did several things to bring Katherine's kitchen into the new century; paint was key to making the project affordable!

Before, Katherine's kitchen had dated wallpaper and dark cabinets that seemed to close in the room. Her breakfast nook (pictured below) had a dark wooden shelf that ran around the top of the room, making the ceiling feel as if it was coming down on you.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Bish Photography

Look at the difference now (pictured below) with the shelf removed and the ceiling and woodwork painted a crisp white and the walls painted a rich terracotta.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Bish photography

Stay tuned to watch the transformation of Katherine's kitchen.

Oct 6, 2007

Tassels - Found it at the Big Box!

This begins a series of finds from the Big Box.

Starting with tassels I found for under $8 at Wal-mart. You can find them in the same department as you find curtain rods. That is a great price for these approximately 8 inch tassels. I find similar ones other places starting at $10.

What can you do with tassels? They complement a traditional or transitional (contemporary furnishings that lean traditional) decor. You can: put them over your door knobs; use them for tie-backs for window treatments; put on Christmas wreaths instead of bows; or hang from chandeliers...the possibilities are endless.

This tassel (pictured below) is used to tie a towel to make a sling to hold another towel. What an easy and unpredictable way to dress-up a guest bath.

While you are at Wal-mart looking for tassels, you can also pick up the Little Book of Tassels, by Danielle Chiel, to inspire your tassel creations.

What have you found at the Big Box lately?

Oct 3, 2007

Julie's Bedroom - a study in color and design

I am helping Julie redecorate her master and guest bedrooms. In the master we are using Julie’s favorite color, periwinkle (a blue that leans purple), as the main color with accents in yellow and green. Our inspiration: the quilt Julie is making.

Now have you tried to find periwinkle in fabric lately? It’s a challenge. Most of what you find in affordable fabrics is grey-toned or muddy colors. For uncommon color palettes, especially bright or vibrant palettes – with the exception of children’s prints - you do best to search among designer fabrics. But they come, often, with a high price tag.

I have been a fan for years of pure and vibrant color palette of Designers Guild’s fabrics and home furnishings, designed by Tracia Guild, the United Kingdom’s master colorist. Stumbling on her books years ago inpired my serious education in color - she opened a whole new world of exploration for me.

For those on a budget, you might need to use her fabrics sparingly as they are priced on the high-end. Designer Guild fabrics are not found at retail stores, but most often only through designers or trade-only showrooms. However, if you are on the hunt for sophisticated pure and vibrant colors, they may be worth the look.

More accessible and affordable is the offering by Susan Sargent. And if you buy from housefabric.com they range from $12.95 to 16.95 a yard. This is a bargain price for designer fabric. (To see Susan Sargent fabrics in St. Louis, Missouri, check out Anatol's Fabric Outlet - home to housefabric.com -314-968-0090).

And guess what? Susan Sargent offers a delicious menu of "blues" that lean towards Julie’s favorite "periwinkle". I selected swatches (like the one pictured) that I think will make winning window treatments and pillows. Yummy!

I’ll let you know what Julie decides and show you the results! Stay tuned for more on Julie's bedroom.