Archive | July 2012

Provence, Part I: Virtual Design – Embrace it with Passion!

July 23, 2012


One of the great things about interior design is that I get to become a part of my clients’ lives. I love being a trusted part of their extended circle of friends. You can imagine how thrilled I was when one of my Chicago-based clients told me about their vacation home overseas, and asked me to spearhead its re-design – ooh la la!


It was a “magnifique” opportunity to help my clients create a getaway place in Provence, or as it is also known: the South of France. This was a team effort with the client, the designer (me : ) and an American contractor working together along with some French locals. The project took about 18 months to complete.


Working internationally was quite an experience. Logistics came into play with a lot of “how tos” and “when”, but we persevered and the end result was very satisfying for us all. We filled our 40-foot container with both construction materials as well as all of the furnishings. This was all carefully orchestrated and timed.


Some of the construction materials included doors and flooring from an Amish supplier, tile, kitchen and bath cabinets, and much more. The furnishings sat in storage in Marseille while the rehab took place. Measurements were taken to perfection. How? We chose to send our contractor there in advance so I could create accurate space plans.


Our vision was to preserve what we could of this 500-year-old building located in an 1,100-year-old village and replace what was required. The beams, fireplace and a few other things were kept including most of the walls. We added new flooring, doors, and kitchen and bath cabinets, along with tile and paint. The staircase was also replaced, including new iron balusters.


My clients already knew they wanted a soft palette for their French getaway. The color scheme of pale soft aqua blues, seafoam greens, butter cream and caramel were inspired by the area rug and the desire to create a restful retreat.


Space planning the living and dining room was quite the challenge. This was a long, narrow room and we wanted to make the most of the space. Placing the table against the wall and under the mirror was my first suggestion. The rectangular shape maximized the space and the mirror gave it some depth. I did not feel a rug was necessary under the dining table so we chose upholstered chairs for texture and warmth.


Since the fireplace was a focal point and the room had an existing angled armoire, we decided short-backed swivel chairs would be great for additional seating without taking away from the fireplace. So basically we created a conversation area across from the sofa while still maintaining the ability to look at the television and enjoy a fire during the winter months.


The secret I have is that I did not go to this project until it was completed! I successfully did all of this work and planning with great “before” pictures and video … so you might say it was my “virtual project.” Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I will tell you about my visit to the project to see the results in person!

Here is the front entry of the 500-year-old home that was redesigned in Provence, France. The rich, chocolate brown-colored entry door was one of the items we shipped overseas from the United States.

Shown here is the narrow dining room in my client’s vacation home in the South of France. I love the combination of muted aqua blue and seafoam green with espresso brown. Notice the original beams in the mirror’s reflection.

For the living room, we continued the color scheme of pale soft aqua blues, seafoam greens, butter cream and caramel, which were inspired by the area rug and the desire to create a restful retreat.

Here is one of my favorite images from my client’s vacation home in Provence, France. What more tranquil a feeling is there than sipping French wine next to a warm, crackling fire?

Shown in this image is the front patio table of the retreat in the South of France.

Here is another view from the front patio.




Design Plea: In Defense of Drapery

The color palette and draperies in this air-conditioned sunroom reflect this client’s fearless desire for color. We delivered with a bold scheme of persimmon, orange, lime green, and fuchsia and turned this room into a favorite gathering place for entertaining and TV watching.

Draperies for Sunroom

It was a challenge to find durable fabrics that were also playful with deep vibrant hues. I chose an ultra-suede for the lower portion of the drapery and contrasted the top in an indoor/outdoor colorful plaid. The weight of the fabrics draped well together and the satin finish of the ultra-suede worked well with the soft finish on the acrylic plaid. The casual ripple fold allowed for a minimal stack back that was easy to operate.

There are so many aspects of design I love: from designing a bathroom and space-planning a room to creating custom drapery and selecting the perfect furnishings for clients – and everything in between.

Having a passion for fabrics and a background in textiles, it’s natural for me to want to create beautiful window treatments. On the other hand, perhaps it was that scene in “Gone with the Wind” when Scarlett dramatically ripped down the drapery that piqued my interest!

Over the years, I have found that just the right drapery can become the connecting design element that is needed to complete a space. Of course there are times when doing nothing on a window may be the best solution, or something as simple as installing a shutter. In most settings, drapery can be like underlining a sentence and punctuating what’s in the room. Generally I find that drapery fabrics and style evolve after other elements of the room have been determined. Draperies can be strictly decorative by adding color, texture and warmth to a space. They can also be functional by blocking out light and helping with energy consumption.

Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of receiving national awards for some of my drapery designs. In the sunroom picture below, the lime green ultra-suede fabric along with the colorful indoor/outdoor plaid are resistant to sun damage and can open and close depending on television viewing. In addition, the color pulls together all the other elements in the room.

My design in the elegant condo photo creates strong vertical lines with an architectural presence giving both warmth and color to the space without interfering with the view.

And in the traditional terra cotta-and-gold-toned room, the oversized quilted cornices and panels (nearly 20 feet tall), transformed the space adding warmth, texture and color.

Each room with windows has its own drapery design story that ultimately depends on the view, the size of the window, the function of the space and of course the client’s taste.

This living room’s draperies are elegant and work perfectly with the layout of the space.

The draperies in this great room are dramatic and beautiful, and follow its existing architectural features. The end result provides a true “wow” factor!