Thursday, January 28, 2010

How to create a focal point in a room?

How to create a focal point in a room? There are many ways and one is achieved by a careful choice of objects on a fireplace mantle, a small table, a console. Here are a few examples of how to put together objects to create a powerful "vignette" and in this particular case above it consists in grouping vases similar in color or shape and visually linking the silver bowl to the silver lamp base.

Estate 2009 472
On a side table a chinoiserie style table lamp is appropriately matched by a Japanese lacquered antique tray and Japanese 1920's vases.

Estate 2009 488
A collection of precious antique boxes makes a visual impact on the hallway table.

Estate 2009 483
Another powerful vignette, also a focal point for a corridor, with two identical small lamps, a sculpture positioned on one side to become a silhouette between two antique Chinese wooden and gilded panels.

Estate 2009 486
A gorgeous XIX century painting with a more recent and inexpensive bust of a young lady in the same color of the lamp's base, again creating an harmonious vignette with similar colors and subjects.

Estate 2009 485
Not much visible in the picture is the subject on the round antique lamp screen to the left, again a young lady, same as in the framed prints on the wall.

Estate 2009 494
In a bathroom a collection of old ceramic containers and a tall glass vase filled with seashells, alternating different heights and shapes creates some interest on the marble topped console.

Estate 2009 496 

Dec. 08 Jan. 09 611

Dec. 08 Jan. 09 930
Antique metal ink containers and a bronze sculpture. Two ways of displaying them.

Dec. 08 Jan. 09 863
In a bathroom a simple trio of objects with the same hue.

Dec. 08 Jan. 09 844
Coordinating colors and shapes, a Lalique blue vase on the chest and a blue vase in the oil painting.

Work on one project at a time, complete one corner or area before starting another one. The most important thing is to put together objects that have something in common, style or material, color or provenience, subject or shape...the choice is endless and the result will be a stunning focal point.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How to create atmosphere with lights

As a follow up to my previous post The importance of lights and shadows the way we illuminate the space can create atmosphere or ruin the whole interior decoration, no matter how carefully color, style and furniture are chosen; lighting can bring a room together or make a room uninviting, unappealing and non-functional. There are three categories of lighting: General, Task, and Accent or Ambient, a room should blend all types of lighting for optimal use and style.
Accent lighting, as the one above serve to bring attention to a particular object, highlighting a collection, art and architecture and in this particular case the color for the shade of the lamp was also chosen to relate to a beautiful bunch of violets, below the explosion of mimosa; this type of illumination can soften the mood or brighten dark corners.

Estate 2009 470
Another accent lighting to appreciate the oil painting above and the vignette on the antique chest (more about vignettes in a following post)

Estate 2009 473
This can be called accent or task lighting since it highlights the objects but also it makes possible to comfortably sit on the sofa to read a book.

Estate 2009 482
General lighting: a gorgeous alabaster disk creates a warm and soft light for the entry foyer and a very welcoming atmosphere.

Estate 2009 430
In a kitchen we always need general lighting and task lighting.

Estate 2009 431
Task lighting is achieved here with some under cabinet lights and two Artemide-Tolomeo wall lamps, whose cord was exaggerated to create more interest and covered in a color coordinated with the bright red handles found at a flea market. This lighting allows to prepare food and cook comfortably and safely.

Estate 2009 433
In the same kitchen general lighting is given by a custom made ceiling light and again the red cord was purposely left dancing around.

Estate 2009 492
A fun touch of color of an old Ikea lamp standing on an antique Japanese lacquered table with mother of pearl inlays, quite an interesting contrast.

Always remember to balance proportions when selecting your lighting, the location of the lamp determines how to choose it, floor lamps need more space and the larger the lamp, the bigger the space; always consider height when it comes to table lamps, viewing the light bulb by looking up the shade should be avoided so try to use tall base lamps for low tables and short base lamps for tall tables.
I am sure you agree with me: well chosen lighting gives life to a room and creates
 a welcoming atmosphere.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to create harmony with color

A simple table runner and a floral composition, so many gradations of orange against a backdrop of peach colored wall gives you an idea of how harmony can be achieved in interior decoration. Colors mark the stages of our lives but are also an exciting way to help us in our evolution and changes that life brings us. In choosing color for our walls and furnishing there are no rules obviously, white on white or bright colors, beige on beige or contrasting hues, but the result needs to be obtained through experienced planning.
Harmonizing colors means to combine them in a way that express a vision, a feeling, interpreting the space to be decorated, there is obviously not just one way to harmonize colors, but only our "own" subjective understanding of the harmonies of color. It is important not to confuse inspiration with improvisation because the border between the fantastic and the disaster is still very thin.

Estate 2009 489
An example of coordinating warm colors, where walls are a pale peach, the chair in the foreground is a rusty red, the antique sofa is covered in apricot silk, so when you enter this house a sense of harmony and warmth is the first impression.

Estate 2009 471
Note the three tones on the sofa, from pale rosy beige to apricot.

Estate 2009 466
A few touches of the same hues are found in the dining area, which serves also as library.

Estate 2009 476
On an antique sofa luxurious damask and silk in different gradations of apricot and orange.

No matter which colors are you mostly attracted to just remember to plan them carefully and when in doubt ask a professional, to avoid costly mistakes, because your house needs to reflect the best of your personality and you must feel happy every time you return home and proud of it when you have guests.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fabulous Sixties


Was it just yesterday?
A new restaurant opened in the late Sixties in Milan and it was called "Eats & Drinks". The patron was an American stylist, Ken Scott, very well known then for his mastering of colors and floral patterns and, in tune with the revolutionary period, he revolutionized the floral style, from an old lady tea party look to a young and vibrant one.


It was an avant-garde concept in interior design, a total-look restaurant and from the picture above it could have opened a week ago and still look contemporary. What do you think? Note also the wall mounted lights, designed by Tobia Scarpa for Flos back then, timeless!
It was the first time I savored a cheese-cake and I still remember the taste of cornbread, unknown to me and majority of Italians back then.
Ken Scott was a fashion designer, a textile designer, a painter and a smart businessman, the Foundation created by him preserves the original design and now Home Collection Roma produces them.
After many years his prints for fashion and decoration are back and they had a great success at I Saloni 2009 (Milan International Furniture fair).
In Milan a new flagship store opened a few months ago and it was fun to browse and to recognize patterns I had on me so many years ago (a bag, a dress, a shirt, which I wore when my hair were much longer than my skirt! and patterns on pillows long gone from my house, which would be absolutely great to still have, but no worries... since I can buy new ones now that my hair/skirt ratio has reversed!).

A ceiling light with geraniums.

Chair, tablecloth, lamp...a cheerful vignette

Snaidero kitchen with stools upholstered in K.S. pattern.


"Velvet" chair by Poliform with hydrangeas.


Table lamps "Portofino" by Venini, Murano.

Another linen with vivid colors.

Timeless contemporary pieces coming back from the past.

If you want to be with me for "Milan Design Week" Tour, please click on "The event is back"

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Movies & Art

The set of "It's complicated"

Yesterday I have received the first comment of the year on my blog! It came from the painter Mitchell Johnson and to my surprise when I went to read his weblog I discovered that some of his paintings were featured in movies I absolutely loved for their interior decoration and their story, including the latest one directed by Nancy Meyers "It's complicated" that has three of his paintings on the walls of the dining room, hallway and living room.
This hangs over the living room fireplace.

"It's complicated" movie set

Another in the hallway.
"It's complicated" movie set

From the same artist, the painting titled "Truro" was featured in "The Holiday" a charming movie with great interior decoration in both houses, one elegant, sleek and modern, the other a warm homey cottage .

"The Holiday"

Other paintings are in "As good as it gets" and many more movies. I like the simple form, becoming abstract in its compositional balance and the subtle gradations of hues. They are certainly not just "decorative" paintings!
Johnson currently paints in Palo Alto, California as well as in Buonconvento, Italy, in Meyreuil, France and Bornholm, Denmark. His paintings can be found in over 300 private collections and 10 US Museums. His work has been the subject of solo-exhibitions in Milan, New York, Santa Fe, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Helena, Portland and Scottsdale.
What can I say...a blogger's life is full of surprises!

Images from M.J. weblog and from Traditional Home

Saturday, January 2, 2010

An Italian Christmas part II

Christmas day is gone, the New Year has arrived but the traditional Christmas holiday season in Italy lasts through Epiphany. In Italian tradition only on the 6th of January the Holidays end, and on that day all over the country there are rituals celebrating what is called "Epifania". The Feast of the Epiphany, a national holiday in Italy, and the tradition of La Befana are a big part of Italian Christmas celebrations. La Befana is an old, ugly witch traveling on a broom bringing gifts to the kids and... if they were not behaving well she would deliver pieces of coal (the coal is now made of sugar...). Epiphany commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the three Magi (Wise Men) arrived at the manger bearing gifts for Baby Jesus. Above is an image from last January of The Magi, Wise Men (Gasparre, Melchiorre, Baldassarre, bringing gold, incense and myrrh to the newborn Jesus) in a parade happening every year on January 6th in Milan.
Another ancient ritual is performed on that day in Cividale del Friuli, a charming town an hour from Venice and soon to become part of UNESCO World Heritage.



On January 6 in a context of great solemnity, a Mass is celebrated in the cathedral of Cividale: "The Mass of the great sword" (or Messa dello Spadone) and for this unique occasion the mass is celebrated in Latin.
The Deacon appears with the plumed helmet on his head, a drawn sword in his right hand and in his left a precious Gospels of the twelfth century embossed and gilded.
The investiture ceremony recalls the one when the patriarch received from the hands of the Emperor the title of feudal lord of the whole region.
After the "Mass of Spadone" the historic commemoration of the entry in the city of Patriarch Marquard von Randeck on July 6, 1366 takes place outside the cathedral.
Nobles, ladies, soldiers, knights, archers, maids, falconers, standard holders, priests, monks, hermits, the steward, the herald, the Executioner, the dean, the Captain of Cividale, the Patriarch, all appear in costumes in the principal square and later around town.






The whole event is accompanied by music echoing ancient melodies and sounds typical of the Middle Ages which create a beautiful and fascinating atmosphere.

You may also like to read:
An Italian Christmas
The end of a decade
An Italian New Year's Eve

If you want to be with me for "Milan Design Week", please click on "The event is back"

Clicky Web Analytics