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Monday, December 12, 2011

How Flowers Can Be the Perfect Addition of Color for Your Home

The busy rush of the holiday season makes blogging a challenge to fit into the hectic days.  As a treat, I'm happy to have London based florist, Patricia Hall, take over for me this month to discuss the importance of flowers in adding color to your home.  I'll be back in January to show you one of the many kitchens I worked on in 2011.   I'm excited to show you the inspiration that my client and I worked with on the path towards the color palette for his family's dream kitchen.  Until then, happy holidays and enjoy this lovely post from Patricia!

 No matter what the decorating style of a home is, adding the touch of flowers brings a new feeling of freshness, cheerfulness and peace. 

Each variety of flower and way of arranging fresh cut blossoms has its own touch of flair and way of setting the atmosphere. They bring a splash of color and brighten the appearance of any room in a simple, natural and unpretentious way. Instead of worrying about redecorating or repainting a room, focus on bringing flowers into your home to add the desired pop of color. 

Flower Personality - Use the Common Impressions of Color to Create Atmosphere

For centuries, flowers have been prized for their beauty and color. Whether from the formal Language of the Flower, which attributed certain emotions to each variety, or simply from hours spent in a grandmother's flower garden, flowers have come to have special meanings. Much of this has to do with the unconscious part of the mind that attributes feelings to colors and shapes. Sunflowers give people an impression of cheerfulness because of the big size and bright yellow petals. A bouquet of baby's breath and white roses is romantic and subtle. These associations with certain flowers makes choosing the flowers to display easier, by turning the focus on the desired feel for the room.

  Keep these common impressions of flowers in mind when you order flowers for your home. What atmosphere do you want the room to have? Do you want to keep in style with the decor of the room or would you rather spice things up a bit? If you aren't sure, try lots of things. 

The wonderful thing about the short lifespan of flowers is that it gives you lots of room for change and different arrangements. To add excitement or cheerfulness, order flowers that are red, orange, bright yellow or hot pink. For a more peaceful atmosphere, choose soft pink, pale yellow, purple and blue arrangements that have lots of white and green in them. 


  For a room that feels bland and boring and that needs a touch of cheery color, choose arrangements of bright, big flowers. Simple, symmetrical bouquets of daisies in bright pinks and oranges are stunning in the minimalist, modern room. If your decor isn't quite as simple, pick arrangements of flowers that are big combined with a few other varieties of complimenting blossoms. 

 Placing Flowers - How to Use Bright Color to the Best Advantage

Once you've chosen your flower arrangement, it is key that you put it in a place in your home where they can shine. Pick a central location to display the flowers. The middle of the dining room table or a coffee table is a great choice. To let the flowers bring their perfect splash of color, clear clutter away so the eyes are naturally drawn to the arrangement. Think about pulling a few buds from the arrangement, cutting the stems and putting them in a tiny vase in the bathroom or on a windowsill. Having flowers in more than one place around the room spreads the color and warmth. 

If you don't want the flowers to be the centerpiece, pick a dull corner. Balance the color in the room by putting the flowers where there isn't much brightness. Keep in mind that they'll flourish more near a window and the light will shine through the petals, but don't be afraid to brighten a darker part of the room with colorful flowers.


Instead of stressing the need for a change in decor, enjoy the effortless beauty of flowers. Flowers bring bright spots of color to rooms that need change. The freshness and natural beauty adds life and interest. Taking note of the atmosphere desired and flowers' natural personality will simplify the process of choosing flowers and changing the feeling of a room. Knowing where to place the arrangement will make the flowers change the room completely. Whether you want to brighten your own home or send flowers to a friend to share some color, don't settle for the first choice, but think about what feelings you want the fresh picked decor to bring and how you can make them a beautiful focal point in your home.

 About the Author

Patricia Hall of Serenata Flowers works part-time for a London based florist but loves to surround herself with flowers at any given point of time. Even in her free time she loves to involve herself with everything flora and fauna. 'To me there is nothing more beautiful and global as the language of flowers - it is the easiest to understand all around the world in the same way. That is one reason why I truly admire flowers for what they represent in some ways - unity of all mankind!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Color for Unoccupied Commercial Buildings

The economic downturn has obviously had far reaching effects in local communities.  One of the noticeable signs of the recession is the number of unoccupied retail/commercial spaces I am seeing in towns all over the Bay Area.  

Even upscale shopping areas are having trouble keeping and leasing out store fronts.  In my home city of Oakland, there are shocking numbers of unoccupied businesses and buildings all the way from the Montclair District down to Alameda.  A side effect is that long term vacancies tends to produce deferred maintenance and vandalism issues on buildings that bring the entire area down.

 Rather than feel helpless when I encounter some of these buildings month after month or even year after year, I decided to see how they can be recolored to be a little less depressing.

This unusual building has been unoccupied for the pretty much the entire decade I have lived in Oakland.  Right down the street from the prestigious College of Arts and Crafts, it has an interesting facade of navy and burgundy tile.  This picture doesn't reflect that it's also currently tagged with graffiti.

I chose this building, first of all, because I've seen it nearly every week for 10 years!  Also, it presents an interesting challenge with the navy blue and burgundy fixed elements of tile that need to be worked around.

  My main feeling about this building was wanting to keep with a more neutral palette of grays and a few details to support the tile colors.  I played around the the architectural details for bring in different types of contrast.

 I also had fun doing one outside the box by adding a more unexpected color into the mix:

This next building is another unusual building.  A building wanting to be Deco but again with tile that needs to be considered. Here is how it presently looks: 

 Another great challenge working around the turquoise tile and also the fact that Miami Deco type colors can look pretty strange in the Bay Area light! With that in mind, I did a more subdued palette a little more in context with the area:

 Again, I wanted to fit in one a little more colorful:

A fun exercise in what can be done with run down, unoccupied buildings.  I often wonder if more attention to these exteriors could play a role in getting spaces leased and occupied faster. In that case, a little paint can really go a long way as well as ease the eyesores for those of us who encounter these buildings.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Orinda Mid-Century Modern Jewel

I know Mid-Century Modern is The Bomb these days, but I've been a fan long before it was the current flavor of the design world. Through the tunnel, as we locals say, lies the small town on the other side of the Oakland Hills known as Orinda. I usually think of cute 60's and 70's ranch houses and newer "executive" homes when I think of Orinda. 

Driving way up to the top of the hill, to an area of Orinda I'd not been in, to discover this jewel of a client and her mid-century home was a true wonder. "Lucky me, Lucky me!", I said pulling into the round driveway

Back View

It reminded me of something you'd see high in the LA hills. Look at this view!

As if the views weren't enough, you can enjoy them from the pool:

This home was built in 1950 and has only had a small handful of owners. Many of the original features were intact including lighting and built in bookshelves.

 My client had certainly done her homework. She had amassed a folder of furniture/home pictures of similar homes and was ready for change. The strong, teal blue had been there since she and her husband had purchased the home many years prior. While this bright blue may work for more of what I think of as a Palm Springs type of mid-century home, this was overwhelming all of the home's natural brick and wood.



The homeowner didn't want to lose the teal completely.  So while we batted around the idea of adding in a grey into the mix, she really liked Deep Creek from Benjamin Moore, she decided to back off from that. The yellow is Waterbury Creme HC-31.


 The entryway was another fun project.  We ditched the teal again and highlighted the door framework with Sangria and Quincy Tan from Benjamin Moore.



After painting was complete, she purchased new furniture and arranged it around this spectacular Roman brick fireplace.



Next on the list for this jewel is a guesthouse and an update for the early 90's kitchen.  A huge thank you to these homeowners for letting me come along on the journey!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Colorful Interior Design Inspriations of Artist Susan Seegert

  In a sea of beige/neutral interiors, it's exciting to see bright, Technicolor exceptions. You can always count on the artists of the world to color their own worlds unique and bold.

My mother-in-law, Susan, is one such lady. She's an artist and expert in many different mediums, a lover of all things San Francisco (her hometown) and grandma extraordinaire to my kids. Down to her red hair and fun loving personality, she is anything but boring!

Susan, her husband, Bob and my kids, hanging out at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

My family had a chance to visit her recently at her townhome in Vancouver, Washington. We hadn't visited for a couple of years and I was eager to see if she had added more colors and details. Sure enough, there were even more bold touches and color.  I think one of the reasons that we have clicked for the 25 years I've been in the family is our unique, "color outside the lines" approach to life.

The living room was a cheerful mix of oranges, reds, greens and yellows.  All kept within relatively the same values with touches of white for visual relief are what make these colors sing for me. The artwork on the back wall were both painted by Susan:

Each day we came back, I noticed new, fun details I had not noticed before.  The curio cabinet had been around for years, but she switched it up by painting it a bold, glossy red.

 Susan has many fascinating collections which she switches out. A somewhat newer one is vintage, metal dollhouses displayed in her family room on glass shelving salvaged from a local Mervyn's after the company went out of business:

Wall of Mirrors-Using stairway walls are a great way to capture often ignored display space:

Desk area with vintage typewriter and Hummel collection:

Downstairs, her art room is brimming with creative supplies and energy.  I was in awe of how organized she is:

I left Vancouver and Susan's townhome with so many different creative ideas for my own home.  Maybe this will be the kick-start to get my home office in better shape? What a treat to see bold color embraced and used so well!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Guest Post: Amazing Outdoor Color and Ideas From Susi at DesignShuffle.com

I'm one of those firm believers that summer is NOT over until I put on my Halloween costume in October.....OK, maybe just a little earlier. Those of us in California are lucky enough to enjoy our outdoor spaces well into late October. In fact, here in the San Francisco area, September and October is when we get our best weather! I am excited to introduce a guest blogger for this post. These photos really capture the kind of outdoor color I LOVE! A big welcome to Susi from DesignShuffle.com! OK Susi, take it away:

Hi all! I’m Susi and I write as a guest blogger for DesignShuffle.com, a fabulous social media site that promotes interior designers from around the world and their work. My writing focuses on things I'm passionate about: interior design, decorating ideas, home furnishings, gardening, travel and art. I get to look at gorgeous things all day and write about them—I'm a very lucky girl.

I was excited when I saw Marie's topic for me to write about. Let's Go Outside and Color sounds like so much fun! We're not talking sidewalk paint or chalk, but colorful outdoor living spaces. Inspired by the riot of colors in a perennial garden or even kitchen garden, these colorful outdoor living spaces are bursting with color and interesting. I hope you are inspired to go outside and add color to your outdoor living areas. Thanks to Marie for letting me guest blog at Color Marie!

House of Turquoise (via)

Outdoor fabrics have come a long way in the past few years. Great patterns and bold colors in upholstery and pillows add color to outdoor living spaces.

Coolest Gadgets (via)

Not only is this outdoor furniture colorful, it glows! So even at night you can have a colorful outdoor living space or personal outdoor movie theater. Very cool.

Plain Air (via)

Fantastic, colorful outdoor furniture from Plain Air that looks more like mid century modern living room furniture than patio furniture. I'm thinking this might inspire some decorating ideas for living rooms inside. I do love the colorful planters too.

Pinterest (via)

Bright, bold colors cover the walls of this porch. Love the blue, green and rose pinks. They feel so tropical.

Pinterest (via)

What a glorious riot of color! This outdoor bed and yellow mosquito netting would liven up any garden or outdoor living space.

Pinterest (via)

Even an urban roof top living space benefits from bursts of color in aquas and greens. Rich green plantings create a living wall and help soften the city view.

Design Sponge (via)

A single bold color, like this apple green, can make a strong design statement outdoors. Break up the bold color with accessories and plants to add more punch.

Maison Marigold (via)

A colorful outdoor living space can be created with textiles, an colorful outdoor rug and even colorful lanterns. It does not have to cost a lot to make an outdoor space colorful and interesting. Think about taking some of your favorite living room design ideas outside.

This post comes courtesy of Design Shuffle, where you can find top tier interior designs from around the world – from New York interior designers, Los Angeles interior designers, and more, check out the latest at Design Shuffle.