Tag Archives: high-end interiors

Windows on the World (and Home)

Recently I enjoyed an unusual, solitary experience on a day in San Francisco when shops were closed because of a holiday.  This allowed me to wander undisturbed down one of my favorite streets in Pacific Heights.  The area is predominantly residential with many beautiful Victorians and some modern lofts perched above the occasional boutique.  A neighborhood most of us can only aspire to, the shops cater to the most sophisticated and high-ticket clients.

An antique tobacco rack makes a wonderful contemporary window dressing

When but on a day like this could I peek and peer to my heart’s content without anyone thinking me strange?  I could easily take photographs as well, which on busy days could rouse a shop owner to become suspicious of my motives!

Repetition of the same type of item – like these wood utensils – makes a bold design statement

I was looking for MARCH, which reopened last year in a new incarnation focusing on kitchen, pantry, table, and open plan living.  The windows display rustic, yet elegant and minimalist pieces.  (My favorite “glimpse” was an oversized, hanging, tobacco drying rack.) It feels very contemporary but with large scale, hand-hewn items like butcher-block tables, and classics like a huge AGA cooker.  The interior space is light and bright, with white subway tile and woodwork creating a clean, minimal canvas to display the fabulous items here – practically like visiting an art gallery!  The furniture and accessories seem to float in space.

The ordinary, everyday kitchen objects are not only functional, but exquisite.  And they seem to resonate with historical significance.  I particularly loved the display of wooden utensils hanging along one wall.  MARCH also boasts a “Pantry” section with a signature line of jams, vinegars, and spices.

Sam Hamilton, the owner of MARCH who once interned at Chez Panisse, wanted to use her shop to highlight San Francisco’s contribution to food culture — slow food, locally sourced – and to draw attention to the independent, stylish shopping of Sacramento Street.  Mission accomplished… this is sophisticated design right in the heart of San Francisco!

At ANTHEM, a family owned shop with a whole team of design professionals, founder Janelle Loevner has created a wonderful gallery of eclectic items gleaned from all over the globe.  There is something here to inspire the designer in everyone!

ANTHEM facade offers its own design inspiration

Based on its façade, ANTHEM feels very neoclassical, but with clever twists on old classics.  It, too, had a bright white interior — a backdrop that allows the impact of the antiques, furniture, and accessories housed within to shine. The emphasis here is on neutrals, natural materials, and layered metallics.  Loevner has added exotic details to contemporary design and displays items ranging from African kudu horns to Spanish hand-woven textiles.

   Next trip I’ll definitely poke around inside these stores to explore more thoroughly, but as I suspected, even window shopping at unique and trend-setting boutiques offers its own design inspiration!



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I’d Like to Thank…

Award Winning Kitchen

Award season is nearly over; we’ve made it through the Grammys, the Golden Globes, the Oscars and, of course, the Annual Design National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). I’m thrilled to report that StoneWood Design was awarded 1st place for “Open Design Kitchen.”   

 Established in 1963 as a network of kitchen dealers, NKBA today boasts more than 40,000 professional members.  And while I’ve been a member for years, and have won several awards from them along the way, I’m particularly proud of this year’s recognition.  Winning this year’s “Open Design Kitchen” award after 25 years in the business is acknowledgement from my peers and other professionals that says, “Your design and work is noteworthy.”  It means a great deal to me. Plus, it’s such a joy to be noticed for something that you love to do as much as I love interior design.  As long as I continue to feel excited and confident in the work I do for my clients, and gain the recognition of my peers, I can’t see myself ever stopping, so here’s to another 25 years!

Fobes Laundry

Also, beyond this most recent recognition from NKBA, I’m pleased to share that a laundry room designed by StoneWood Design is featured in this month’s edition of Sacramento Magazine.  If you have a copy of the magazine, flip to pages 70 and 71 to see the functional, airy and delightful space I created for the Fobes family.  I love seeing the pictures of my client, Cathy, enjoying the space with her three daughters, Kate, Allison, and Emily.  It’s always a pleasure to see clients using the space you’ve designed for them.  If you don’t have a copy of the magazine handy, you can check out the online edition at www.sagmag.com

 Finally, in addition to liking what I do, I’m blessed to work with many, many wonderful clients.  For the “Open Design Kitchen” I’d like to thank my clients, the Plumlee/van den Akker family for the opportunity to work on this amazing and fun project.   Not only are they the perfect clients, whom I have been privileged to work with on a number of projects, but we also make a good team.  They know what they like and expect from their space, and it’s my job to execute that for them.  I’m hopeful that we’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with each other again in the near future.


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Designer vs. Decorator

Functionality is the key to any space, but especially in the bathroom. If in order to achieve better functionality you need to make major structural changes then you are best to hire an interior designer.

Documentary film producer, Jason Cohn, recently shared one of the primary lessons he learned about interior design while making a film about famed, interior design icons, Charles and Ray Eames, “It’s not a surface gloss you put on a product.  When it’s practiced correctly, it’s about problem solving at a deep level.”

As an interior designer with more than 30 years experience, I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Cohn’s assessment of what constitutes good design.  Clients and curious friends often ask me what the difference is between a designer and a decorator.  My answer often is as simple as:  “it’s surface versus substance.” What I mean by this is that a good decorator can help you create a new and beautiful “surface” for your space by helping you decide what color to paint the walls, what type of window treatments to use and how best to position your belongings and furniture so that it is pleasing to the eye.  On the other hand, an interior designer is often called upon to go well beyond the surface, which means a designer needs to be able to deconstruct a room and know structurally how to put it back together again—often in a whole new way–so it will function properly.  As a designer, my primary duty is to help my clients conceptualize, from floor to ceiling what their space could look like, create the design and then manage the design execution.  I love that my work requires me to be both creative and strategic in order to create a space that is functional, structurally safe and aesthetically pleasing to my clients and all who visit their space.

Knowing the difference between a decorator and a designer can save you time, money and a lot of headaches.  So remember, if you were thinking about hiring someone to help give your master bedroom and bath a two-dimensional facelift (i.e. change the paint color, buy new bedding, change the furniture placement) then you would be wise to hire a decorator. However, if instead of a two-dimensional facelift, you want to knock out a wall, add some new French doors in place of a window then you are better to hire an interior designer who can consult with you about how to creatively get the look you want and also advise you on what is structurally and functionally possible in your space.

At the end of the day, neither one is better than the other, but knowing whom to hire at the unset of your project is important.  The next time you are considering taking on a design project think carefully about the scope of your project, what needs to happen in order for you to realize your dream room or home and then hire the right designer or decorator for the task.


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London Calling – Travel Entry #5

One of the most breathtaking and beautiful accessories I saw while visiting the Maison & Objet show last week in Paris were  colored vases and bowls that were cut in such a manner that they made dynamic and illuminating patterns on and around any nearby surface.  Some of the pieces I saw sparkled so brilliantly that I could have sworn they were gemstones.  The colors were fantastic and I adored them for their beauty and purpose.

To my amazement, as I moved onto London earlier this week, and continued to tour multiple stops around the city, including a museum or two, I came across a display that essentially mirrored the pieces I had seen the week before in Paris.  On display in London, an ancient, incrusted bowl, and right next to it,  a modern-day re-creation of what the piece would have looked like when it was newly minted–thousands of years ago–before it became a victim of time.  The craftmanship on the replica gave me a good idea of how the piece would have appeared in the home of someone who lived in ancient times.  All I could image was how treasured and admired such a piece much have been to its owner.

Having seen the beautiful glass in Paris, and now standing in front of this display in London, reminded me of the old adage: everything old is new again.  And of course it proves to all you pack rats out there that if you hold onto something long enough, in this case thousands of years, you are likely to see it come back into vogue like the pieces seen in the picture below. 

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London Calling – Travel Entry #4

We recently arrived in London, and took a stroll down the Portobello Road. The pastel colors on the buildings seem to make this gloomy day a little brighter.

We recently said “a bientot” (see you soon) to the “City of Lights.”  We had such a beautiful time that I hope we will get to see Paris again soon.  I love all the inspiration and ideas I got while exploring the sights, landmarks, and of course, the Maison & Objet trade show, which I posted and shared about in my earlier travel entries.  My mind is swimming with so many fabulous ideas for my clients back home that part of me wants to rush back home now and start working immediately, but alas, we have a quick stop over in London.

While Paris was inspirational, as only Paris can be, London holds equal appeal for me.  Yes, it’s a totally different culture, ambiance and design scene when compared to Paris, but it’s still London and I’m looking forward to soaking in all the sites and sounds of another European experience.  During our first day walking through the damp and chilly streets, we visited many shops on the well-travelled Portotbello Road.  While meandering from store to store, I gleefully came across Cath Kidston’s Shop.  Ms. Kidston is a British designer who specializes in many things one of them being in retro-print fabrics.  I found all her design charming, colorful and whimsical.  Most of her prints consisted of  flowers and polka dots, which in this designer’s mind is a can’t miss when you are attempting to create a lasting and timeless style statement.   While we were visiting the shop, I was elated to learn that Ms. Kidston’s retro fabrics recently have been released as furnishing fabrics for upholstery.  Are you interested in seeing more of her designs including wallpaper, fabric, oil cloth and cushions?  Visit her website at www.CathKidston.com.

In the meantime, for a quick view of her work, here’s a picture I snapped of one of the displays in her shop.  

Cheerio from London! I hope to share more photos and design inspirations throughout the week, and then it’s back home to put all these design ideas to work.  What a field trip this has been!

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An Interior Designer in Paris – Travel Entry #3

Direct from the floor of Maison & Objet show in Paris, this silk worm cocoon shade was divine.

There is something apropos about shopping for lightning while visiting the “City of Lights.” My experience at the Maison & Objet show in Paris continued to excite and delight me as I discovered one section of the show that was completely dedicated to lighting. As even the do-it-yourself designer knows, lighting is extremely important to any room–it not only serves a functional purpose by supplying the light we need to see, but it also plays a pivotal role in setting the mood in any room. Lighting can make a room feel warm and cozy or bright and expansive.

I could get lost (and did) in all the beautiful lighting installations I saw while exploring the trade floor of Maison & Objet. Like the “Ethnic Chic” section I wrote about earlier this week, I found the lighting section truly illuminating. Wandering through this area gave me plenty of ideas to bring back stateside with me. There were so many different, dreamy variations of illuminations that I wanted to be sure and share some pictures here.

I desperately wanted to go up and run my fingers through this heavenly looking sheep's wool shade.

There was one booth, called Cocons de Soie, which displayed two fabulous examples of lights that do more than light a space they make it heavenly and airy. The silk worm lamp (seen at the beginning of this post) and a sheep’s wool lamp, seen here, were two of my favorites.

This beautiful floor lamp reminded me of a tree after an ice storm.

Additionally, I came across this fantastic floor lamp that reminded me of a beautiful tree after a wintry, ice storm.  I loved how the light reflected off the long hanging drops of crystal.


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An Interior Designer in Paris – Travel Entry #2

While at home in the states, one of my favorite ways to see firsthand what’s evolving in the world of home decor and design is to visit a handful of trade shows every year.  Walking through row after row of these massive shows often provides me with a renewed love for my profession, plenty of inspiration, and of course, exercise.  This year I’m so thrilled that one of the shows I’m using to fuel my insatiable need for all things “new in design” is the Maison&Object Show in Paris.  In English that translates to: home fashion showcase,  but doesn’t it sound so much more intriguing and inviting in French?  If you’d like to learn more about the show and I would encourage you to do so, it’s truly a feast for the eyes, you can view pictures of the show’s collections by visiting www.maison-objet.com.

Pieces made from many different types of recycled materials could be found throughout the Maison&Objet show.

During my time at the Maison&Objet show, I was particularly taken with one section of the show that was dubbed “Ethnic Chic.”  Geared toward a more environmentally-consciencous, bohemian, and often younger crowd, these designs are creative, unique and earth friendly.  While walking through this section I saw one of a kind furniture like the piece seen here on the left.

Old textiles made new again.

This was by far my favorite part of the show and apparently the Obama’s designer, Michael Smith of Los Angeles agreed with me!  He just purchased the piece seen hanging on the wall for his showroom from a Belgium exhibitor who collects antique textiles and then “edits” them into her own beautiful and colorful items. I loved them!

After a fabulous day walking the floor,  I was exhausted, but also very grateful that I had the opportunity to see all the items that will dominant interior design in 2012.  If you’re ever in Paris in the winter, I highly recommend you bring an interior design friend along (the show is only open to people in the trade) so you can see for yourself this amazing show!  And in case you’re wondering, I will gladly make myself available to be your travel companion.

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