Getting Down to Brass Tacks about Brass

December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

What a difference a decade makes. What used to be the lighting Imagefixture of choice in upscale homes is now (still, even after several years out of favor) being tossed in a dumpster by young home owners who view the shiny yellow metal as the equivalent of how we viewed our grandmother’s dark brown paneling. Of no value.

Instead there are dozens of metal choices and finishes for lighting and other home accessories like light switch covers and doorknobs. So anti-shiny-brass are today’s home buyers that some are just shy of insisting that even all shiny brass door hinges be switched out to something else.

Note: these design trends may be regional and they don’t apply to historic homes so don’t panic if you love your brass chandelier and it fits your home’s decor perfectly. But If you are not happy with your shiny traditional yellow brass chandelier in your dining room or kitchen, you have three options:

1) Thumb your nose at metal color trends and simply wait for shiny yellow brass to come back in style. Kind of like you kept your go-go boots and bell bottoms from junior high. Yes, both trends came back around but not quite the way they looked in the late 60s. But still,  doing nothing is always a design option.

2) Paint the shiny brass chandelier a different color. I once stood on a ladder, leaned over the dining table and painted my client’s brass chandelier first with a base coat of matte black to cover all the sheen and then a faux finish of browns and oranges to simulate a rustic bronze finish. It worked. The house sold.

3) Replace the old chandelier with a more current brass option like this one. The metal is toned down (antiqued) and the candelabra bulbs are covered with contemporary silk drum shades — a traditional yet updated look. Honestly, the antique brass has been around forever, and it went through a period of disfavor right around the time the shiny metal took over. But the muted finish, with updated shades, is back and looking good.


Design Star 2011 Finale

September 12, 2011 § 1 Comment

Okay HGTV fans. This is it! The finale between Meg and Karl is on tonight. For those who don’t follow Design Star, it’s not too late to check in. Design Star has spun off several excellent designers (David Bromstad, Kim Myles) and like them or not, these designers influence TV viewers and their expectations. I see that all the time.

So who is it going to be? Meg has a lovely fresh preppy style and a bubbly on-air personality. Karl’s architectural background gives him a very professional, big-picture design. He nailed the small-cottage challenge!

Move over Candice. Here comes a new face on HGTV!

Color Your Spirits for the Holidays

December 12, 2008 § 3 Comments

gingerbread21 Remember when the Grinch stole Christmas? All the trees, lights, stockings, and gifts —  the trappings associated with a wonderful holiday celebration– were suddenly gone? They had vanished during the night while everyone down in Whoville slept. What happened next in this wonderful Dr. Seuss tale was even more remarkable for its simplicity. Despite losing everything, Whoville didn’t seem to care. All the Whos down in Whoville celebrated anyway.

Of course, the story has a happy ending, but for many people this year,  the heartwarming bedtime story has led to a nightmare from which they cannot awaken fast enough. This year it truly feels a little like the Grinch has been here again. With the world-wide recession, job loss, and home foreclosures, many of us around the country are struggling to find that holiday spirit that we used to have and that we desperately want our children to experience in the midst of all this mess.

If you’ve had to cut back this year from your more typical shopping, decorating, and holiday festivities, you are not alone. Keep in mind that gifts can be simple (like homemade cookies), acts of kindness can mean more to people than more stuff,  and spending time with our kids is ultimately the gift they’ll remember long past any particular disappointments on Christmas morning.

And to lift our spirits and with the festival of colors inspired by a child’s gingerbread house, let’s all go a little crazy with color this Christmas.

Dig out that snowman sweater from the back of the closet and wear it. Often. It’s going to bring a smile to somebody’s face and that’s a good thing.

String a row of colorful neckties, like garland, from one end of the wall to the other. Your kids will think you’re nuts but who cares?

Fill a big bowl with scraps of colorful ribbons and little balls of leftover yarn and a few silvery mismatched ornaments and display it in the middle of the coffee table. Now you’re getting the idea.

The holidays don’t have to be the way we knew them as kids. Times are different now. But you don’t have to spend much, if any, money at all if you dig deep into your hope chest of creativity for some colorful decorating ideas that will raise your spirits and everyone else’s too.

How Current Events Affect Color and Decorating

September 18, 2008 § 20 Comments

For the past several years, post 9-11, we’ve cocooned in our homes painting them rich warm cozy colors like dark chocolate and rich rusty red, colors that evoke warmth and safety and home. Lately, we seem to be moving out of that intense color phase and into a new light phase with wall color being the first casualty. But I think we’re seeing more than just a design pendulum swing.

Those of us listening to clients and observing the trends are seeing a design fork in the road. One goes to neutral walls (there are millions of “whites” now) and pops of brightly colored hues, a la 1970s for those around then. One example of that is a spectacular room by HGTV’s color guru David Bromstad shown here.

The other is a move toward a palette of soft sophisticated hues all in very light values and all the same value from room to room. The hues may include grays (very hot this year) but also gray greens, warm beiges, light taupe and lavender, and very soft delicate colors that almost defy description. These breathless tints are paired with lots of white and often dark floors, like the photo below of one of designer Chris Barrett’s fabulous bedrooms.

My theory is that people are craving an uplifting light-filled, relaxed, decidedly happy-looking environment to come home to instead of the cozy dark cocoon look from years past. With everything awful in the news, from hurricanes to the stock market, people need visual relief if that’s all the relief they can get. And creating a light cheerful backdrop for the family may be one of the few things left under our control. And paint is relatively cheap when it comes to redecorating.

Note that in many traditional homes where antiques and fine furnishings are featured and where design trends come and go unnoticed, the wall color has always been creamy beige. Providing a very light neutral backdrop to show off all the wonderful items in the room is a traditional approach that will never go out of style. But for those of us who get inspired by color and who feel color and what it does for us and who change wall color almost as often as we refresh our wardrobes, I’ve had it with dark, at least for now. I need light and I’m off to buy primer. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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