Monday, June 30, 2014

Thomas Jefferson: Author of the Declaration of Independence, President, and Interior Designer

My family and I spent last week in Virginia, and one of our stops was Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. If you ever have the chance to visit, I highly recommend it. Monticello and its surroundings are absolutely beautiful.
Jefferson was not only a founding father of our country, author of the Declaration of Independence, and our third President, but he was also the architect and founder of the University of Virginia, a philosopher, scientist, inventor, and spoke five languages. I am amazed at all his accomplishments, and that he still found the time to oversee the design of his home down to the smallest detail.  
My daughters and I found it interesting that he chose a pink silk fabric and tassels for his bedding. We learned pink was popular with men in Jefferson’s day because it denoted wealth. Many wealthy men wore pink and used the color in their bedrooms. Goes to show you color trends have been around for centuries.
Another design choice Jefferson made was to use alcove beds. He saw them when he was in France and incorporated them into the bedrooms at Monticello. Jefferson felt like putting a bed in the center of the room used up valuable floor space. I have to agree with him! There are times when putting the bed in the “usual” place takes up so much room that there is little space left for anything else.

For one of my design projects in Florida, I placed twin beds against perpendicular walls to create the look of a sectional. It allowed space for a TV on open shelving, and the room now functions as a den as well as a bedroom.
Jefferson’s entrance hall displayed Indian artifacts, natural history specimens such as antlers and bones, maps, paintings, and busts of men he admired. When visitors walked into the entrance hall, they would immediately see Jefferson’s passions and interests.

Jefferson showcased what was important to him in his home, and I think that is a wonderful example to follow. Display what you love…incorporate it into your home’s design. It could be maps of your favorite places, photos of your family, seashells from trips to the beach, or any type of collection you may have. These are the things that give life to your home’s design and make it special.
I have clients who are avid bird-watchers. We were designing their dining room and looked for a wallcovering that had birds in it. We couldn’t find one we loved, so I found a wallcovering that had all the right colors, vines, and butterflies. We then brought in an artist who painted my client’s favorite birds onto the wallcovering. It was a subtle but fun way to bring their personality and interests into the design of the room, and their home was featured in Atlanta Magazine Home.

I’ll bet you never thought of Thomas Jefferson as an interior designer, but he was quite the Renaissance man. The next time you are working on the design of your home, don’t go to Pinterest for inspiration.  Ask yourself, “What would Jefferson do?”

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Power of Paint

I am currently working on a design project that demonstrates what a little bit of paint can do for a room.
Here is the before shot:
And here is the after shot:

This mantel practically disappeared when it was painted white.  It blended in with the white tile and white trim, and the detailed carving was lost in all that white. Painting the mantel several shades darker than the wall color makes the mantel really pop and become the focal point it needs to be in the space. I had the walls painted a pale gray that makes the room lighter and is a much fresher look than the original paint color. When selecting paint for a space, ask yourself what you want to highlight in the room. Some architectural details need to be painted a different color from the trim so they stand out. It could be the ceiling, the doors, or in this case the mantel.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The perfect accessory is right outside your door.

This is the time of year when a lot of people entertain. From graduation parties, engagement parties, baby showers, end-of-school dinners, even just having friends over to enjoy the beautiful weather, so many people are opening up their homes and looking for ways to spruce up their interiors.

I think one of the best ways to add color and interest to a room is with flowers. There was a time when all the questions involving a flower arrangement put me into a state of panic. Did I want to go to the expense of having a florist create an arrangement for me? What should I order? Should I try to run to the local grocery store and attempt to make something myself?

Over the last several years, I finally realized the best flower arrangement I can find is right in my own yard. Don’t get me wrong, I still break out into a cold sweat when the ladies in my garden club have a meeting that involves creating a flower arrangement.  These women know what they are doing, and pull all kinds of flowers together to create absolute masterpieces. I am not in their league, and I don’t pretend to know what I am doing. Instead of creating masterpieces I have to rely on simple, basic arrangements that generally involve one type of flower and one type of greenery.

These pictures are of my living room, and all the flowers and greenery are from my own yard. I literally put all of these together in about 15 minutes. There is nothing elaborate about these pieces, and anyone can create them. I used day lilies, magnolia leaves, hydrangea blooms, azalea leaves, cast iron plant leaves, and shells we have collected over the years.
The next time you are thinking of adding to your home’s landscape design, ask yourself what types of plants would not only look great in your yard, but also work well inside your home.