I have a client who loves swans. Well, I guess I should say I inherited a client who loves swans. She was originally the client of a seasoned local designer who was my friend and colleague and when her health no longer permitted her to finish the client’s bathroom, I was asked to step in.
The entire bathroom is beautiful but the crowning touch is the etched glass shower panel of a swan in a pond. Difficult to photograph but worth the wait the swan stands proudly in this small room.
The next project on the docket was to install a hand rail at the step down leading to the living room. The original idea was a wood railing but the more we discussed our options I kept coming back to the swan. In the end we installed a brass railing, typical in other parts of the building, and in place of stiles we installed glass panels with, you guessed it, swans!
The panels are clamped in so at any time they can be removed if needed for cleaning or to change them out in the future. But the solid brass railing remains there to safely assist homeowner and guests in and out of the living room.
A few years later, when I thought we had done all we could with swans, my client came to me to assist her in replacing her dining room rug. Keeping in mind that the room was also designed by my collegue which meant furniture, wallpaper, layers of draperies, lighting and an oriental rug in colors you don’t normally see in that type of rug. But perfect for the colors of the room. So changing it out meant finding a rug that complemented the rose, teal, ivory color scheme already in place.
I approached Masland Rugs as I have in the past to inquire about having a rug manufactured because we could select the design and the yarn color. Somewhere in the design process I may have mentioned how great it would be to look through the glass top dining table and see a swan in the rug. Suffice to say there was no turning back; I made the suggestion and now I had to make the rug. I don’t think Masland Rugs took us seriously at first, but as the details unfolded they were on board and produced a stunning rug with a ribbon like border and a swan in the middle. My only regret was that I couldn’t be there when it was delivered and by the time I did arrive they had put all the furniture back so I have no photo of the entire rug.
Design will continue to enhance this home when needed but never without a swan detail involved.
I recently received a call from a client because her glass coffee table had broken and she wanted my assistance in acquiring a new one. She prefaced the request by telling me that her neighbor offered to help her look “to save her money” by not hiring her designer of many years. After all, it was only a coffee table. Wrong.
Fortunately, after looking at a few of the options she and her neighbor found she concluded she did need my help. Why? Because she realized that after having entire home meticulously designed over the years then skimp on one final piece that is sitting in the middle of the room was not a good idea.
So much of what interior designers do is small stuff. A lot of small stuff. Individually they don’t look like much but putting all those small moving parts together is the challenge we face every day. And we love it. Think jigsaw puzzle. If one piece gets lost it leaves a hole in the picture and that is exactly what the wrong coffee table would do since it the centerpiece of the living room.
There are three design tricks you should never overlook; 1. Sweat some small stuff because the personality of your space is in the small stuff. 2. Don’t be afraid to go custom, which is exactly what we ended up doing for the coffee table. Her options were narrowed down to ordering a less expensive ottoman on line, not knowing the quality or if the color shown on the website would be exactly the same in person, OR spend three hundred dollars more and get a good quality ottoman in the perfect size with a fabric of her choosing. 3. Knowing who is making your products can make a difference in how you perceive that item. There is something about spending your hard-earned money on an item that was crafted by a company or individual who cared about their work and are proud to know you wanted in your home. This certainly doesn’t apply to everything we own, but it can make a good design great when items have a story.
When I announced to my clients that I was heading to the furniture and accessory market in Las Vegas last month I was quite surprised to learn that a few of my clients did not know furniture and space planning were part of my services! Well they are and they are my favorite part of the job. So if you are interested in hearing and seeing what is new and what I find to be the best value, read on!
For starters everyone was showing metals. Polished, brushed, chrome, brass you name it they had it. And it wasn’t only used on table legs and lamp stands, entire pieces of furniture are metal and mirror. A sampling is shown in this photo from the Sagebrook Home showroom.
I must agree the metals and mirrors work quite nicely with the new upholstery colors which were mostly pale blues and pinks. I know that look is not for everyone but paired with heavier accents such as an antique armoire or colorful area rug you could really make a change in your room without looking too “glam”.
Late last year Pantone announced that its 2020 color of the year is Classic Blue. It’s a beautiful color and a few of the showrooms had pieces that were expertly chosen to carry off the color. I can certainly see how a piece like this buffet or the small cabinet with Asian accents from the Crestview Colleciton could work with our tropical hues.
Like tiny houses, I discovered a few brands showing “tiny furniture”, in other words furniture scaled to condo living, and Honolulu is full of condos. Sizing furniture to your room instead of buying off a showroom floor and making it fit is how we should shop for furniture. But being isolated with few options many people opt for the latter method. That is where working with an interior designer can add value to your investment. Paying a little extra to have furniture that fits comfortably in your room and has storage can be done. Here are a few pieces from various showrooms that are sized for condo living but are also lend a lighter feel to them so the furniture does not overpower the room and the view.
And lastly for those of you who do have space, how about this fun outdoor piece from Zuo.
Going to these shows is a creative boost for me and I hope to share these ideas with you, so give us a call!
Welcome to the new Universal Interiors website and our first blog. This new beginning made me think of my beginnings and how I landed in the world of design.
From the time I was 8 years old until I left home my “space” was in the upper left room of this house. But what I never realized was that it was also my first decorating job!
When my older sister moved out, my younger sister and I were able to have our own rooms and I was able to pick out new wallpaper and paint. That was huge! Lavender was all the rage back then, so my room was converted from little girls’ pink to a middle schooler’s lavender and green floral garden. And since you could buy fabric to match the wallpaper new curtains were in order. I can still recall standing at my father’s workbench while he explained to me what they meant by 1-1/2 fabric widths per window. By then I was sewing most of my clothes, but curtains? It sounded scary. But I did it, and of course it was so easy that my mother wanted me to make them for other rooms too. I would eventually start my first side business in my parent’s basement sewing curtains, shades and pillow covers for other designers.
Eventually grade school gave way to high school and little flowers didn’t cut it anymore. Any changes had to be superficial since I couldn’t remove the wallpaper or paint. The wallpaper was only on one wall, my first tip on an accent wall, so I covered the entire wall with strategically placed posters. Very 60’s. No black light though, that was in my brother’s room. Bold plaid curtains replaced the faded flowers and luckily me for it was time to lay new carpeting, so I picked a bright, not quite lime, green. Yikes! I couldn’t believe my mother went for it! Add one recycled wooden cable spool padded and covered in green fabric and I had myself a pad.
I didn’t realize at the time how naturally all of these little ideas came to me, only that when I redecorated or rearranged my room I felt refreshed. It was my expression, my ideas. I’m sure I inherited some of my talent from my mother even though she doesn’t agree, but she knew enough to select beds that could be configured three ways, two different sized dressers and mix and match smaller pieces to be split between bedrooms as needed. Adaptability! Never decorate without it.
And so my journey in design began, in that room on the corner, decorating or rearranging every place I lived and worked. Adaptability, flexibility and expression continue to be a strong component in all my designs….but I don’t do posters anymore.