It’s Mountain Day!!!

Today is Mountain Day at Smith College, my alma mater, so I’m going to take a break from the world of interior design and post photos from design’s most true inspiration. It’s a perfect Wordless Wednesday post. Thanks Smith!

In case you have no idea what Mountain Day is… Everyone at college would wait in anticipation for that perfect fall day. There was always great debate at dinner over which day it would be. Then we would wake up in the morning to the sound of the bells ringing and know that we would be free of classes for a glorious day outside and enjoying fall. There were dozens of places we could go on Mountain Day from Mt. Tom to the Mohawk Trail. No one would study that day.  Well, at least no one that I knew…

I am at my desk now with every window open – dreaming of driving up to Litchfield or some other heavenly back country place in Connecticut to celebrate the day. But we won’t be having our Mountain Day celebration until Saturday. In the meantime, enjoy these beautiful photos of Fall in New England!

Berkshires MA

Smith College Paradise Pond

Hoyoke MA

Mohawk Trail

Sheffield MA

Smith College Paradise Pond

(all photos taken from internet)

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Wordless Wednesday: Interior Design and Fall Tablescapes

This weekend we will be bringing out the box of fall decorations. We tend toward a spooky ghosts and pumpkin theme with a five-year old in our house. When we finish decorating, I will post some photos.

Meanwhile enjoy some more grown-up fall decor for those of you who will be entertaining.

Do entertain more. It doesn’t have to be a formal sit-down dinner. Pick a simple theme. Bring out your good china and crystal and mix it with some new quirky fall finds from a local store or with fresh fruit from the green grocer’s. Send your kids out in the yard to find fallen leaves and pine cones to add to your arrangement. Make them a part of the decorating process – kids love to get creative and a little bit messy in the process. Maybe they can even decorate some cupcakes or help you set the table.

I plan to invite over a few friends, set a beautiful table and enjoy a port and cheese tasting party later this fall.

fall, decor, tablescape, pumpkins, color, pinecones

fall, decor, tablescape, pumpkins, simple, white tray, better homes and gardens

I have a white tray or two in my china cabinet and am planning on setting my table with this tablescape this fall. I like its simplicity. It’s a bit modern.

pumpkin, fall, decor, candycorn, kids

This would be my daughter’s favorite! Problem is she would eat all of the candy corn.

fall, decor, pears, table setting, interior design

I love the contrast of the green pears.

fall, decor, color, better homes & gardens, table setting

fall, decor, tablescape, color, pumpkins

martha stewart, centerpiece, fall, decor, pumpkin, gourd

Never would have thought of an orange pepper in my fall arrangement – leave it to the creativity of Martha Stewart!

apples, fall, decor, carolyne roehm, color

For a different twist, what says fall more than mums and apples?

I love to hear from you. How do you set your table for fall?

(photos from BHG.com, marthastewart.com, carolyneroehm.com and general internet)

Five Interior Design Tips for Making Your Foyer More Welcoming

How do you feel when you enter your home?  Is it relaxing and inviting?  A little bit elegant and understated?  Is it dark and dramatic offering a glimpse of Gatsbyesque cocktail parties?  Or is it more practical to suit the dog and the kids?  Did you do it yourself or have the help of an interior designer?

Entries and foyers are all about first impressions, a chance to glimpse the homeowner’s unique style and taste, an anticipation of what lies beyond.  They are a great place to make a wow statement while harmonizing with the rest of your home’s interior design.

1.  First you must consider Function. Where will you put your keys and the mail?  A lovely console can solve this problem.  Do you or your guests need a spot to sit while taking off their boots?  Be sure to add an unusual chair or bench.  Ideally, your Foyer will have a closet for hanging your guests’ coats.  Of course an umbrella stand is always a great addition.  If you are fortunate enough to have a mud room, you can skip the spot for the boots and just focus on making your entryway a dynamic reflection of you.

Kristen Hutchins

I love how this interior designer incorporated a bowl for keys, a mirror to check your lipstick, a lamp for that much-needed light and ottomans that can be pulled out to put on your shoes.  This is a great use of a small space and also warm and inviting.  I want to have coffee with the person who lives here – don’t you?

2.  Make it wow with color or pattern.  A bright paint or wallpaper with amazing texture can show off your fun side.  Entryways tend to be small and can be little jewel box statements.  You can get much more creative and daring in your Foyer.

from Southern Living

I love the black chest for storage against the metallic patterned wallpaper and how the shape of the mirror and the front of the chest pick up on the repeating image in the wallpaper.

David Jimenez

More amazing trellis wallpaper but done a whole different way.  I love the cheeky bright yellow stools under the sleek mirrored console table.  This could be a busy look, but the interior designer has paired the lamps and the stools to give it a sense of harmony and timelessness.

3. Display an amazing piece of artwork or collection. Or if your space is narrow and you want to open it up, add a large mirror.  Not only will it widen the room, it will help reflect the light.  Always add a beautiful vase of fresh-cut flowers – they smell wonderful, add a fresh element to the room and are a great way to get a splash of color.

Avery Design Interiors

This is the Foyer in my own home, which is a center hall colonial.  I picked up the beautiful Chinese painting of cherry blossoms in my travels through Shanghai.  The collection of wood carvings were my Great Aunt Mabel’s.  She was an avid traveler and collector – surely it runs through my blood.  If you look closely you can tell that the wood carvings are from various church pews and doors. They are so unique.  I love my antique altar table underneath.

Yes, we do have a mud room so my Foyer is all about the relaxed elegance look I favor.  I will say that if I could do it all over again, I would buy a home that could be more contemporary.  But I believe that your furnishings should complement the architecture of your home, as well as highlight your unique personality.  I am in the process of adding an occasional objet d’art or the perfect modern lucite table to freshen the vibe in my home.

4. Make sure you have great lighting. A combination of overhead, accent lighting for that fantastic painting or sculpture, as well as even a lamp on a console is best.   It’s so important to have lighting for the stairs and any dark corners in your hallways.

Kelly Hoppen

I love how Kelly Hoppen has used practical lighting along the floor to such dramatic effect.  The lighting and the sunlight streaming in the window at the end of the hall draws me in and makes me want to find out what lies beyond.

5. Creating a sense of entry. What if you don’t have an actual defined entry way or foyer?  My Fairfield client’s entry is a straight shot into their open living space.   We plan to add a sconce by the front door and a small console table to differentiate the entry space from the dining area.  But there are so many options from bookshelves and screens to fabrics to even using lighting to differentiate a space.

Interior Staging Services

This staging company used a pair of open shelved bookcases to create a sense of entry.  I love the red door.

These LED lighted organza curtains would create a sense of drama and mystery when separating a Dining Room from a Foyer.

Karim Rashid's Cadmo Floor Lamp - Hive Modern

Speaking of light, imagine a series of sleek floor lamps dividing your living space from your front entry.  That’s a statement!

Bouroullec Brothers Algues - Vitra

Or the unusual Algues curtain from the Bouroullec Brothers.

Niels Bendtsen Index Storage

Finally, a console table can divide the space and provide storage on both sides.  This would be perfect to divide a Foyer from a Dining Room.

I love to hear from you.  What do you love about your Foyer?

Interior Design: Office Spaces

Today’s Wednesday Word is the word on office interior design.

This client’s office space was bright and open, but lacked the calm and professional feeling that he desired while he was at work.  He is a Music Director of a local church and we worked on our project in the off season this past summer.

Before

The original color was much better with his original lighter furniture.  But my client found an office closeout sale and fell in love with a mahogany desk – a much richer looking wood that required a more sedate color to offset it.

Offices should be first about function. Not only did I draw a plan, I taped out on the floor the best location for the two largest items – the desk and the sofa.  Filing cabinets are in arm’s reach of the desk, there are several options for seating, natural light streams in from the window and his view is into the Music Room.

Desk and Filing Area

Purchasing office furniture from an office that is closing is a great way to save on your office expenses.

I specified a much richer color on the wall to complement the warm wood tones of the new desk and file cabinets.  Trim and doors are a warmer off-white for contrast and warmth.

Seating Area

His gorgeous white sofa has a new home in his office where the old bookshelf used to be. It pops against the Mozart Blue walls and provides a quiet relaxing spot, tucked away from the youngest of his musical students.  We moved his bookshelf just to the right of the sofa so that he can pick out a book and relax for a moment between rehearsal and the next concert.

The area rug provides a homey warmth that we could not get with the existing commercial floors.  Not only was the rug the inspiration for the wall color, it provides a division of areas: creative relaxation separated from day-to-day work.

A few plants, some pillows, and occasional chairs, this office is ready for the creative process and demanding schedule of the musical year to come.

We had so much fun with this project that he and I are now working on the Music Room and its adjoining Library.  I enjoy nothing more than the opportunity to work with such a great client all over again.

I love to hear from you.  What does your dream office look like?

Going back in the Closet: 3 Steps to Organizing your Stuff

I am in the throes of closet makeovers for three clients.  Some require a professional organizer, others are less complicated, but all require considering function first.  In total, there are two office supply closets, three adult closets, one hall closet, a toy storage closet and two children’s closets.  I am keeping busy.

So let’s talk about the three steps to organizing your storage!

1. Closet Objective

First and foremost, determine your closet objective.  Meaning, what do you plan to use the closet for?  Is it for office supplies, linens, children’s clothing, boots and coats?

Is the closet in the right spot for that need?  You may wonder why I mention this, but one of my clients wanted the closet furthest from the front door to be the coat closet and the closet off the main hall to be the children’s toy storage.  I switched them, because the furthest closet is closest to the family room area and where their children will be playing with their toys.  The closet on the main hall is en route to the powder room and my client’s office – ideal.

Will you be storing both seasons of clothes in the closet or have out of season storage in another closet or the dry cleaner’s?

Who is going to use the closet and how tall are they?  This is especially important for children – don’t you want your children to reach their own clothes in the morning?

2. Space Needs

Now that you have determined the who and the what, you need to assess how much of what you have.

Ladies This means getting a rough estimate in inches of width of all of your long hanging: long skirts, dresses, coats vs. short hanging: blouses, slacks, skirts.  Then determine how much space you need for folded items: sweaters, casual t-shirts, workout clothes, etc.  Finally, the fun part!  Count how many pairs of shoes you have.  Ok ladies, let’s not underestimate – we all know you have a lot of shoes…  Make a note of how many of these are tall winter boots.  Take into account thick hangers if you prefer them.  I like to hang my “work” sweaters on these.

Gents You need to determine your number of suits, dress shirts and slacks – a rough estimate in inches will work.  Then you will need to calculate your folded needs: t-shirts, sweaters, workout clothes etc.  I don’t know about most gents, but mine has a lot of shoes!  So count them gentleman.  Take into account, how many are work boots.  Do you want to keep those in your main closet or in a separate space like the mud room or garage?

Children Parents, first you will need to take into consideration the age of your child.  If your children are very young, I recommend low hanging and some bins for toys/socks/shoes etc…  Have some long hanging available for the future teenage years.  Many closet systems are set up so that you can take out some shelves and reconfigure fairly easily as junior grows up.  Get a rough estimate of hanging vs. folded.  Also, take into account typical number of shoes: dress shoes, school shoes, sneakers and flip-flops are the norm in my five year old daughter’s world.

Linens, Pantry, Office Supplies Have more than one height of shelving if possible.  It never hurts to measure what is going in the closet.  For example, how wide are your towels when they are folded?  What height is your tallest bottle of olive oil?  How tall is your largest magazine rack?

3. Closet Design Rules of Thumb

This is my favorite part!

Man's Walk-in Closet

For this Man’s Walk-In Closet, I provided plenty of hanging for suits, shirts and slacks and just enough space for shoes.  My husband would need twice as much space for his shoes – many of them boots.  As a landscape architect, he is frequently measuring outside and needs work shoes that can go from office to mud.  This gentleman only has three pairs of shoes, so we may eliminate the shoe shelves entirely.  His wife joked that her extras could fit there.  Note how there are lots of shelves for sweaters and gym clothes.  They did not want drawers as they have a large dresser, but as you can see in the first photo, drawers are an option in closets.

Plans are drawn from precise measurements of the space. This is so important.  I used easyclosets.com for all of my drawings.  Note that there are three walls and one wall is not as deep so only could accommodate shelves.  You need at least 22 inches of depth for hanging.  Allow 39″ in height for a typical man’s suit.

Woman's Walk-In-Closet

For a Woman’s Closet, I allow much more space for shoes (and this client loves shoes), lots of short hanging for blouses, skirts and slacks and I add long hanging for dresses.  36″ is a good rule of thumb for short hanging and 66-67″ for long hanging.  Remember to take into account shelf space for handbags and hanging space for belts, scarves and other accessories.

Small Teen's Closet

This Small Reach-In Closet was a design challenge. The teenage daughter in the family is not super tall, so I was able to reduce the height of the long hanging to about 53″ to allow for some shelf space.  Her mom said she doesn’t have any dresses, but Prom is not far away, Mom.  Sorry did I just freak you out?

Think I forgot her shoes?  I am putting a hanging rack on the back of the door.  I could not sacrifice hanging space in less than 36″.  She will have a bureau for her folded clothes, so did not need much shelf space.

Larger Reach-In Closet

This larger Reach-In Closet was much easier to configure.  Two girls share this space as well as a large dresser.  The youngest will have the low hanging to the left hand side and the older will have the medium hanging to the right.

All still seem overwhelming?  Interior Designers work with space planning and closet planning every day.  Please let me know if you need help with yours.  I’ll be in my closet, straightening out my sweaters.  LOL!

I love to hear from you.  Are your closets tidy and a dream come true or are you struggling to find that favorite blouse? Let me know!

Why I did not Finish Writing my Post Today

Sometimes, it’s just not about interior design…

I could have finished my post about closets this afternoon, but instead I chose to do this.

Can you blame me?

Until tomorrow.

Refreshingly yours,

Catherine

Wednesday Word on Interior Design from a Graphic Designer

There are days when you are a solopreneur that are so hard – an onslaught of no’s or missed opportunities,  space planning frustration and then to add insult to injury cutting the bottom of your foot while organizing the supplies closet.  Did I mention bleeding all over the recently professionally cleaned carpet?  Yes, interior designers have to have their carpets cleaned too.

Of course, my planned reward for all of today’s hard work was a long overdue visit to the spa for a pedicure.  But no one in their right mind would get a pedicure with a foot injury!  That’s just asking for a foot fungus.

And then just when I wanted to throw in the towel and get a real job…  I came across a blog post from my client that’s all about me!  And in a good way!  And so I had to share the highlight of my day in a most unusual twist on Wednesday Word:

I’m going to have to warn you folks: traciedesigns is about to take a very sharp turn towards interior design for a while. See, renovations are humming along nicely (this week, they mentioned the P word: PAINT. As in, we’re going to PAINT THESE PRETTY WALLS WE PUT UP. Do I sound excited about this? Just a tad).

Anywho. I am so very fortunate to be working with my awesomer-by-the-minute-friend Catherine Avery (of Avery Design Interiors) and she. is. the. bomb. This weekend, she actually assigned us homework–remember that show Trading Spaces? It was very Trading Spaces of her. Our assignment was to pick up samples of the colors for each room upstairs, and paint a big piece of posterboard, and hang it in the room to be painted that color.

Problem was, we didn’t have any clue what color to paint our bedroom–because we had no bedding. I searched the internet. I searched Fairfield County high and low. And where did I finally end up finding our bedding? Homegoods. (note from Tracie’s interior designer aka me:  Calvin Klein bedding in a pale grey with just a hint of the new ‘in’ mauve – to. die. for.)

Oh, and Catherine’s whole paint on the posterboard on the wall? Brills. We nixed a potential color for one of the girl’s rooms, and lightened ours by a shade.

And our Homegoods comforter? The more I have it, the more I love it. I CAN’T WAIT to post pics of the real deal room all finished and put together.

I can’t wait to post photos either – my tweeps are already asking to see them.  For the record tweeps, I have seen the painted walls in the still empty upstairs rooms and the colors are great, but the rooms are still empty…

Bottom line – this made my day.  I love working with this client.  Tracie is so much fun, open-minded and patient.  Good thing as we are spending a lot of time together in her upside down total renovation home.

Tracie, I know that it’s going to be amazing when it’s done!

I love to hear from you.  What’s been your lift on a difficult day?

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