of my design clients are women. I love collaborating with them because I know I
can make an impact on how they live in their homes. For some uncanny reason I understand
the style they’re after through what I can only describe as a kind of mental telepathy.
Friends and clients ask how I’m
able to create such different looks for individual clients and I’ve tried to
understand it myself. The short answer is I don’t know. It just hits me, like
one eleven month project that’s now almost completed.
But let’s regress for a
moment because here is where the confusion starts. When you ask people what style
they like, they’re not always able to give you a reliable answer. I hear terms
like cozy, or classic, or fresh which give me nothing to go on because one
woman’s fresh is another woman’s salad. Classic can be used to describe a
blazer. And cozy in my terms means wrapped up in a blanket by the fire. These
are hardly terms to describe a design style so that leaves me to figure things
out with my own devices.
Initially I spent an hour or
two with this particular client in her Saratoga, California home, discussing
the usual things like scope of work, color preferences, scale and some things that
are very important to her such as her music collection and extraordinary career
as former head of worldwide HR at a powerhouse tech company, as well as being a
noted soprano. I love it when a client can offer me such a rich and personal
backdrop. It lends itself to a better project.
The drive home from her home
to mine is 3 ½ hours at best. On this day it took five. Within the first hour of
the drive I had the major elements of the scheme in my head: fabrics, furniture
style and colors. Another week to ten days and I had the specifics flushed out
We did the living room,
breakfast room, entry, hall, two bathrooms and some pieces for the master
bedroom. I also consulted on the music studio downstairs though my designs
weren’t brought to fruition.
The home’s architectural
style is “arts and crafts” and falls under the traditional heading but the
client prefers contemporary furnishings.
I chose large scale furnishings
for added comfort and also to match the scale of the home. The 97 inch bench made,
pillow back sofa, the 37 inch armchair and 40 inch ottoman were covered in a
soft and durable Pindler upholstery fabric in a color called Chai Latte. I did
the pillows and cushions in a Fabricut zebra print and the welts in a Stroheim
and Romann red velvet. There was also a wood framed accent chair the client was
particularly fond of so I had it refinished in an espresso stain, and recovered
the seat in the red velvet and the back in the zebra print.
The cocktail table took some time
to find but when I finally saw it, I knew it was perfect. It’s a 40 inch round
drum style carved mango wood with a white marble top and an ebony finish from
Selamat Designs. The carvings are pomegranates.
In the breakfast room I did a
round, very contemporary table that looks a bit like stone. It has a cone
shaped base and a carved-look surface. The upholstered breakfast room chairs
from Lazar have metal nail heads around the perimeter. The fabric is kind of an
oyster colored texture with bits of metallic fleck in it. The client wanted to
keep the little sitting area by the breakfast room window so we kept the
existing Restoration Hardware armless chairs and round aluminum table and added
20 inch throw pillows in the red velvet with a mustard velvet welt to pick up
the little mustard colored tufted ottoman that’s nearby.
In the entry, which is almost
done we did a gorgeous hand knotted area rug with reds and blues, a huge midnight
blue hand beaded mirror and a burnished iron and marble top console.
In the bathrooms we
wallpapered and did wall to wall mirror over the vanities. One wall paper
reminds me of a Keith Haring painting. It’s in burnished gold and cream colors.
The other wallpaper, shown only in the powder room, is an amazing silver metallic
cork. In the long narrow halls I did zebra print runners and a gorgeous framed
mirror that looks like melted gold cutwork.
My vision of this design scheme
was inspired by the art filled bungalows of Berkeley, California. The craftsman
architecture and contemporary furnishings were brought together by one common
thread: the look and feel of hand crafted, high quality products.
Live beautifully, eat