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ATTENTION! to detail…

March 23rd, 2011 1 Comment

– By Ashleigh, The MTM Interior Decorator

I am still blown away at how just the smallest bit of architectural or design detail can really make a space.  I was struck the other day by this beautiful riser on a set of stairs.  What a lowly place the stair riser, yet this designer has taken an overlooked space and made it sing!

Here’s a close up:

Here in Los Angeles, many of the city buildings were built at a time when detail was expected, architecture was appreciated by the masses and the government had the money and the desire to make their facades something worth building.  These days it is not always so.  Particularly I love the old DWP buildings around town that are such banal unused places but are often beautifully crafted!

Fall in love with Lucite.

February 9th, 2011 1 Comment

Mary Note: I’m a huge fan of lucite!  So simple and sleek.  Ashleigh has some great tips here on how you can incorporate it on a large or small scale.

– By Ashleigh, MTM Interior Decorator

Lucite, also known by uglier names such as Acrylic and Polymethyl methacacrylate, is my little love muffin these days.  Once considered the material of the future back in the 70′s, when it first came to be popular, it is now used in such a myriad of ways because it’s so a versatile and dynamic.

Designer Tip

Seek out pieces that also include wood, metal, fabric, glass, and natural materials and you’ll see it adds a whole new depth and style.

In My Home

Over the holidays, while my father was here to help, I put up these lovely shelves in my bar area that were custom made for me locally.  They are 3/8″ thick Lucite with a polished edge.  I plan on wallpapering inside the bar but for the meantime, these shelves have made a world of difference.

I used Lucite wall brackets as well so that it has a seamless look to it.  For this project I used three brackets for each shelf, one on each side and one in the middle.  The total width of the shelf was 42″ so if you are going to try to do your own shelves I would suggest using more brackets along the back (long) edge if your shelves are longer than mine and also I would consider a thicker shelf.  I had my shelves made for me at Hastings Plastics here in LA.  I will update you when the wallpaper goes in!

Another Furstenberg With A Flare For Style

Alexandra von Furstenberg, a modern furniture designer, makes her pieces entirely of Acrylic.  I love the simple lines, bright colors and clean aesthetic of her work.  Certainly the daughter in law of the great Diane von Furstenberg has something of her own to say in the design world!

I love the sawhorse legs on this desk.  The black legs with smoky grey top would make such a statement in just about anybody’s office but I particularly can see this piece in a man’s study or top floor corner office.

This piece is so amazing as it is clear except for the hot pink face edge.  I have no idea how this is done as I have never seen anything like it.  Brilliant!

Who would not want to have dinner at this outstanding table?  The chairs would have to be equally chic.  I imagine something upholstered with a neon pop art fabric like those from Elitis!

The Starter Kit

Finally, a seemingly banal product, the lowly magazine holder has been brought to new standards of style and function with this Lucite Magazine File from The Container Store.  They have a large array of desk organizational products made in this line but I particularly like these as they make the storage of Mags look cool, easy to find and are non invasive.  For example, take a look at my office bookshelf where what you see really is the magazines, not the holder which was exactly my plan!

Object of Desire

February 9th, 2011 No Comments

– By Ashleigh, MTM Interior Decorator

I have totally fallen for this lamp from The Conran Shop.   Unfortunately there isn’t a store in LA, but you lucky New Yorkers have one!  I am planning on using the floor lamp version in my client’s Family Room.  I really love the whimsical birds, the clean lines of the frame and even the exposed bulb!  Sometimes design is too serious and full of itself.  This, luckily, is not!

Mary Note:  Hmmm…Definitely a piece I’d have to trust my decorator to place.  This is WAY out of my league, but I’m definitely intrigued….  What do you think??

Revive Your Home In The New Year!

December 29th, 2010 No Comments

– Ashliegh, Your Interior Decorator

MR Note:  My apartment might not be filled with furniture and the drawers are certainly not filled with junk, but I need to use this list in my house.  Admittedly, there is dust under the bed, I could use a few friendly faces in frames, and artwork would really make me happy.

Everybody talks about “Spring Cleaning,” but honestly I’m with Andrew Woj on this one. Let’s get it done now! I have some extra time (and helpful relatives) on hand.

The New Year is a time for me to review, renew and reinvent myself and my lovely little nest. Here are my top 5 ways to start the New Year with a fresh perspective.

1.  CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN!

I can never say enough about how far a clean house goes towards a beautiful house.  Now is the time to wash windows, send your drapery out to be dry cleaned, and move the big pieces of furniture to clean underneath and behind them. Get into the really nitty gritty of keeping the place sparkling. Ceiling fixtures can be taken down and gently dusted/washed, base boards can get a good scrub and don’t forget to replace the filters in your heating system, they will catch all the dust that gets thrown up into the air and help with that winter cough!  Since opening the windows when it is frosty outside isn’t really an option, try using aromatherapeutic products like Mrs Meyers.

2.  Re-Accessorize the Whole House

Here is a great project for you and a few of your favorite relatives.  Take absolutely ever accessory, book, candle, and nick nack from it’s current “place of residence” and compile the group on a large open space like your Dining Table or Kitchen counters.  Now, re-imagine where things go. This can be difficult sometimes when things have been sitting in the same place for so long and so having some fresh perspective of your close friends or relatives, maybe a bit of Champagne and some great music to get you in the mood can make this task a fun event and a way to make your spaces feel brand new without spending a dime!

3. Change Your Photographs

Your life in the past year has included great moments, big and small.  Do the framed photographs in your house reflect this amazing life you are living?  So often we save digital photos on our computers never to be printed and placed around the house.  Go through your digital library and pick out your favorite moments and print to size for the frames you have OR, if you don’t have many frames, now is a great time to go out and buy some during the sales!  I also recently went through a file of old family photos and exchanged some pictures of recent family outings with ones of my Father when he was 9 and my Grandparents on the cruise where they met and other wonderful memories.

4. Time to Recycle!

I always go through my old books, my closet, the bar area, kitchen, just about anywhere and everywhere to see what I have NOT been using over the last year and then I donate it.  A great way to keep your storage areas from exploding and get a few more bucks written off of Uncle Sam’s bill for the year, donating is a feel good way to clean and organize.  Simply put, get rid of the stuff you are not using. It makes space for new wonderful things in your life and gives somebody else the opportunity to have that thing that they will use and love!  Once you have been through all of your closets and cabinets, lay out everything you are donating, photograph it (proof in case you ever get audited!) and then drop if off at one of the MANY second hand shops that abound right now.  If you have high end clothes/handbags/shoes, you might even get a few bucks back by taking them down to a second hand shop!

5.  Treat Yourself

I am an avid fan of treating yourself like the King or Queen that you are!  Whatever that means to you, whether it is giving yourself the time to finish your “Martha Stewart” DIY project or replacing the boring ceiling fixture in your bedroom for one with more personality or simply creating a beautiful space in your bathroom so that you feel like you are at the spa when you are there.  It is not about spending a lot of money, rather it is about giving to yourself that thing that will make you the happiest.  This year I am creating a trio of lights to hang over my bed—a bit of DIY combined with these lovely amazing dynamic Artenica pendant lights that I purchased recently on GILT.com in their home section for 70% off!

Have you done any of this thus far?  Thought about it at least? Or are you just enjoying the time off :)  Try not to see this renovation as a burden, but a process that will make 2011 so much brighter.

Art you don’t hang on the wall! How to find the right area rug.

December 15th, 2010 1 Comment

– Ashleigh Underwood, Your Interior Designer.

MR Note:  When I moved into my apartment, rug shopping was hands down the most frustrating part of designing the space.  Area rugs define the room and are soooo expensive.  I couldn’t take the plung in an online store because I could only imagine the hassle in returning it.  Ashleigh has great options here to consider when you’re ready to decorate.

Area rugs are art on the floor.  They will make or break your room.  As most good designers practice, I choose one as the color and design inspiration for my clients spaces.  But because of price, material, style, color and availability, few decor decisions are as daunting as selecting an area rug for your space.

YOUR BEST BET

Although they come in a huge array of styles and materials, you should know that most worth purchasing are fairly expensive.  I always recommend wool to clients as it is the most common and surprisingly easy to clean.  The price is determined by the type of wool used (and of course the brand), but I know that sinking some cash into a beautiful rug is one of the best monetary outlays in any design scheme.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Synthetic fiber rugs can be fantastic to look at and in certain situations are ultimately the best choice for high traffic areas like the kitchen or hallway. (I have an area rug in my breakfast nook in my kitchen!)

Silk is outrageously beautiful and expensive so I recommend you use one in an extraordinarily special place like the living room or master bedroom.  Just not in a place where it is likely to get damaged.

Cotton rugs, as far as I am concerned, are a big no no.  They don’t wear well and are very absorbent which can lead to issues like mold. Plus they soak up stains like it is their job.  Luckily they are inexpensive so you could replace them fairly often or if they are small enough, throw ‘em in the wash!

Here are a few of my all time favorites.

Paul Smith’s Iconic Swirl Rug for The Rug Company is hand made of Tibetan wool and is sure to be a family heirloom in years to come.  It would work just about anywhere in a Modern, Contemporary or Transitional design.

Thakoon’s design for Elson & Company is also made in Tibet of its finest wool and ten percent of the sale from each carpet sold will benefit the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Fashion Targets Breast Cancer initiative.  I love this rug for it’s artistic sensibility and slightly wild child attitude.

Like everything Diane von Furstenberg does, the Climbing Leopard is class and elegance itself.  Made of Wild Spun Silk, its luster and brilliance can only be seen in person.  This is an amazing piece because it could be easily used in a Traditional design as well as a purely Modern one.  I love that The Rug Company has brought together the artistry of design with that of manufacturing to create this most unique of rugs.

As I sit in my office writing this blog, the Safari Rug from West Elm is keeping my tootsies warm.  I get so many complements on this rug and I giggle inside because I know how inexpensive it was.  The color of the Zebra stripes varies from light purple to heather gray depending on the light and time of day.  A little animal print goes a long way but in this case, it is just the right amount!

I just discovered this rug from Elson & Company and fell in loce.  Two days later I spotted it in my favorite online magazine, Lonny.  Designed by Cynthia Rowley, I think that it would be satisfying to men and women alike and the greyed out colors would make it a prize piece in any room that you want to feel really relaxed.

I was disappointed to see that Design Within Reach was not carrying this rug anymore but luckily it is still available directly from it’s inspired designer, Angela Adams.  It comes in several different colorways but I find this one the most pleasing.  I just want to drift away on the froth and foam and find myself on some wild island in the Caribbean.

I have not had a nursery to work on recently but as soon as I do, I am desperate to use this magical and whimsical rug.  At 60″ round it would fit just about anywhere and the unique wool crewel work creates textural interest as well as the vibrant colors.  I have found the rugs from Anthropoligie to be of high quality and fantastic design.

Also found at Anthropologie, this Fireworks rug comes in several different sizes, including a pretty fantastic runner.  The exuberance of this rug just crys out for a dynamic and bold person to use it in their eclectic space.

Often hallways are overlooked as spaces to create a design statement, but I think  they can be little jewel boxes to really show your personality.  Rather than lead you straight down the hall, the twitsts and turns of the Anni Albers Rug could lead the visitor to take some time and check out your amazing collection of….family photos, framed antique stamps, shadow boxes filled with little trinkets you have collected on your travels.

Whatever you choose, let your area rug be an extension of your personality, laid out there for all to adore just as much as they do you.

Getting Creative and Colorful to Refresh Your Holiday Decor

December 8th, 2010 No Comments

– Ashleigh, Your Home Decorator

MR:  I could not agree with Ashleigh more on the subject of color for the holidays.  Red, green, and blue gets old pretty quickly.  Under my tree you’ll find packages wrapped up in every shade of the rainbow.  What’s not festive about that?!

As much as I love the tradition of Christmas, I enjoy taking it on in new ways every year.  Who says you MUST decorate with red and green?  Why not purple or yellow or pink! Every year I decorate for Christmas using a new and inspiring color scheme. The new look keeps the holiday decor fresh and exciting.

Usually, I donate last year’s baubles and buy new inexpensive trinkets to decorate the house in a new style.  Sure I keep a collection of Santas and such, but as I said, I like to change it up.

Last year my scheme was Smokey Gray, Silver and Purple so this year I decided to go color wild and do NEON!  Of course this needs to be tempered with silvers, golds, whites and crystal.

Here’s a little insight into livening up your holiday decor.

The Basics

My first stop is Michael’s craft store for the ornaments to replace last year’s.  These are very inexpensive and can be bought in bulk 12 packs.  Buy a lot as you can use them on the tree, the wreaths, and on any garlands you have on your fireplace, stair or even around the chandelier!

Adding Character

Since my place is quite small and does not have ANY of those things I just mentioned, my dining table becomes the centerpiece of the holiday.  I fell in love with these delightful plates and decided to use them on top of my everyday white dinnerware as a topper rather than the traditional decorative server plate.  I love the bright colors of the wreath around the neck of the Buck and the pale blue background tempers the bright colors elsewhere in my scheme!

Pouring Holiday Cheer

Holidays would not be complete without some Mulled Wine, Egg Nog or a bit of bubbly.  I particularly love the Iittala “Essence” wine glasses for their soft sensual style.  Designed in 2001 by Alfredo Haberli, a South American designer based in Zurich known for is energetic and timeless designs, they are a great year round addition to your home.

Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am

For a big explosion AND pop of color, I use poppers because they’re easy, cheap, and fun.  A traditional English addition to the table, they are rarely used in the US but add a little excitement to any party!  These handmade poppers from The Conran Shop (a fantastic English online and retail store) are decorated with multi-colored sweeties, and equally colorful gadgets and gifts are enclosed inside.

Simple and Sleek

With all of the color going on, you need simple pieces that can go with anything.  For this purpose I enlist contemporary pieces which I usually find at museum shops. Not just a place to find tweedy needle points of the Mona Lisa, these days Museum shops are a great place to find all varieties of styles of small goods.

I particularly like the MOCA shop, Getty Shop and the Detroit Institute of Arts shop, where I found these Loop Candelabras.  They can be used individually as candle sticks or looped together in sets of 2, 4 or 8.  The glow of candle light is key when you are entertaining.  Sometimes I arrange so many candles that we can turn off all of the lights and just revel in the glow.

There is Always A DIY Element

To top off my table, I picked up a bunch of Pine Cones while I was at Michaels, some Silver spray paint and a bit of Silver Glitter.  Simply place the pine cones on a newspaper (always paint outside, even if it is in a ventilated garage for you folks in snowy regions) and spray them gingerly with the silver paint.  Once the paint has started to dry you can lightly pick them up and sprinkle them with the glitter.  It will stick to the paint and so you don’t need any additional adhesive. These are something I will keep for years to come, maybe next year they will become ornaments in the tree or get applied to a wreath!

Bringing light into the dark

November 27th, 2010 No Comments

– Ashleigh, Your Home Decorator

MR Note: Watch at least a minute of this video.  Amazing how the whole place is black but still looks so big due to how they use light and color.

To those of you living in a world of white walls, time to reconsider…

You’ll be amazed when you see Cindy Gallop’s “Ultimate Bachlorette Pad” in NYC’s famous Chelsea YMCA.  To feature her wild collection of art, accessories, glassware and lifestyle pieces as well as remind her of a nightclub in Shanghai, the decorator used Midnight Black high gloss from the floor to ceiling.  Th paint job makes the walls glitter!  I just love everything about this apartment and the video says the rest.

Have you checked out CB2?

November 22nd, 2010 2 Comments

– Ashleigh, Your Home Decorator

MR: Ashleigh’s intro for CB2 even gets me excited about interior decorating.  I love simple and sleek pieces that make a statement without screaming “look at me.”

“An easy way to start your collection.”

All design aficionados need to collect and treasure both modern design as well as classic pieces.  CB2, Crate & Barrel’s modern furniture and accessories store, has been a great resource since it opened 3 years ago.  Originally only available in store at their NYC store, they have now branched out across the country as well as online.

This Fall/Winter collection is no exception!  The bold use of color, dynamic shapes and interesting one of a kind accessories are just the type of thing that modern hip young things are looking for.

For example, these enameled mid-century inspired tables with handmade iron pedestals come as a set of three in dijon, orange and grey.  They would look amazing in a guest bedroom, living room or any place you need a shot of color—-which as far as I am concerned is everywhere.

I dream about these delightful bee hive shaped storage boxes to create a Ligne Roset style storage wall.  They’re so interesting that anything you put in them becomes a piece of art, no matter how simple it is.

Finally, these little vases make my heart sing. The inspiration from the Chinese design collective, Spin, and their honoring of 13th Century porcelain making traditions. Unfortunately they’re sold out, but they prove that CB2 isn’t just another Ikea.