Saturday, January 29, 2011

So....Is Brass Coming Back?

"So, is brass coming back?", the contractor on this recent bathroom remodel asked me this past week. We were in the midst of a photo session and homeowner, contractor, photographer, and I were discussing the project and the materials I used. My answer was not a succinct yes or no, it was one of those, "It depends."

First I want to say that this photo above is just my shot with my Iphone. The pro shots will make that brass sing! Frankly, I don't think anything really goes "out", it just becomes so badly and cheaply repeated that we tire of it and shun it for a while.

Cheap, shiny brass faucets, hardware, and lighting used in a lot of homes built in the 1990's should never have happened anyway. Something about when a cheap product is bright and polished, it catches the eye and just screams, "Hey, look how cheap I am!"

Faceted plastic knobs also do a little screaming.

Quality, however, is not a trend and will never go out of style. The faucets and fixtures we used in that brass bathroom remodel will last as long as the homeowners will live there and have a timeless look that fits with their personality and style of the home.

Bathrooms and kitchens are a different type of design challenge than other rooms in the home. They must serve their functional purpose first and are therefore less decorated and furnished than other spaces. A metal finish is a key design statement in a bath and kitchen. Fixtures and hardware are the jewelry and play a more substantial role in the design. The bathroom above needed the definition that a dark bronze finish gave to the curves of the sconces and faucets.

The dark bronze in this bathroom provided a masculine look the client wanted and relates to the dark mahogany used for trimwork and cabinetry.

Dark bronze here works well with the dark emperador marble tops and adds interest, especially in the chandelier, to an otherwise neutral space.

The copper sink and faucet used in this kitchen remodel added lovely color and a French look that the homeowner desired.

The black faucet, sink, and hardware repeat the black in the tile backsplash and relate it to the black kitchen island in this space.

When I toured this home at the beginning of the job, I noticed all the brass. There were beautiful, heavy, antique brass candlesticks, chandeliers, and door hardware throughout. None of it was cheap and it spoke to the traditional feel and the warm, cozy atmosphere created there. I didn't want this bathroom to feel out of place just because brass wasn't "in" now. I chose an antique brass look because I thought it caught up with the other metal finishes and had the same subtle, warm feel that was the look of this home. It also enhanced the other finishes used, especially the onyx mosaic tile, with its warm undertones. Can you imagine if I'd gone with chrome? It would've all gone flat.

So, is brass coming back? I really think it depends. It depends on the homeowner, the home, the other finishes to be used, the overall design statement. What do you think?

If you would like help deciding what metal finishes would work best for your home, contact Aston Design Studio today!

If you have a design related question or need some advice on any aspect of interior design, e-mail me HERE. I might feature your question in a special Q and A blog post!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dallas Home and Gift Market

I visited the Dallas Home and Gift Market last week and found a few things for some of my projects and a few things to keep in the file for future use.

In the temp section, I found these great indoor/outdoor wicker chairs (above), perfect for a client of mine. The gray wash on the chairs will work perfectly with our gray limestone table top on the patio outside. They are just the right size, most arm chair like these are quite wide. These are just 23" and sit beautifully! This way we can pull more people to the table.

I also found a new chair supplier, beautiful Italian frames and many finishes and fabrics to choose from, mostly in stock in Dallas. They had some nice bar and counter stools too, not clunky looking or too ordinary, but elegant and beautiful!

I headed up to the 5th floor of the WTC to Codarus to see all of their lovely bedding suppliers. Designer's Guild has beautiful bedding and pillows using their colorful fabrics.

Pretty pinks!

Now for some stronger color! Pine Cone Hill had a bright color story.

I love this bedding from John Robshaw above.....great details. Notice the blanket stitch (it's real, not printed) on the edge of the sheets.

Then I met Jill McCrae from Archival Decor. She has a striking line of pillows with patterns created from black and white photography. Textural and graphic, these patterns are quite at home in Texas!

Love these antlers! This "all over" pattern is also available in a great little ottoman.

Since I'm working on a teen girl bedroom in a Showhouse, I had my eye out for some young, modern accessories. Stray Dog Designs has such a wonderful story, all their products are handmade in Haiti and Mexico, employing local artists and craftsmen, and for every item sold, they donate to charitable organizations, including dog charities. Everything is eco-friendly, even painted with low VOC paints.

Cute lamps!

I love this little side table! They come in all kinds of bright colors, matching Benjamin Moore paint colors.

I'm thinking I must have this for the Showhouse to hang some jewelry and scarves on. This is made of paper maiche.

Taylor's on Ten is another favorite of mine, with the new Ralph Lauren lighting (through Visual Comfort & Co.) in their showroom.

Love these oversized lamps!

Love the brass! I'm ready for a brass comeback. High quality only, please, like this!

These bubble vases from Sklo, modern Czech glass, had such beautiful color and shape! I want all of them for my dining table!

It's always fun to come to Dallas market. Dallas is where I worked as a "younger" designer, fresh out of school, and I love to come back and see how things have changed and where things are going!

If you would like help finding interesting, beautiful lighting, accessories, and bedding for your home, contact Aston Design Studio.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Loving a little more EMERALD

I was in Dallas this weekend for my mother's 85th birthday and the Dallas Home and Gift market. (Happy Birthday, Mother! :) My sister and I took my mother to the Stoneleigh Hotel for her birthday lunch, a real Dallas landmark, renovated just two years ago. The lobby has lovely emerald green accents in the draperies and pillows.

This is not your Mother's "jewel" tone color scheme, mind you. The modern emerald green is a graphic punch of color in a neutral environment....white, gray, black.

When I got home, I'd just received my Traditional Home magazine in the mail and there was a beautiful white and black kitchen with these bright emerald green pendants.

Then I checked my Facebook page and had seen this gorgeous fabric on Ceylon et Cie's post. Michelle Nussbaumer commented that she recently had dinner with Elle Decor's editor-in-chief, Michael Boodro, in Paris who said that emerald was a big color trend in Paris right now.

Hopefully we'll have more beautiful emerald fabrics and wallpapers to choose from in the near future!

If you would like help creating a color scheme that reflects your style and personality, contact Aston Design Studio for a consultation.

If you have a design related question or need some advice on any aspect of interior design, e-mail me HERE. I might feature your question in a special Q and A blog post!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Loving the Color Emerald

A noted and experienced designer once told me that if I wanted to see the next trend in home design, look to the red carpet. I do watch with that in mind and this year at the Golden Globes, the color emerald to me was the most eye catching moment of all. Most critics loved these three looks, with their outstanding color. Angelina Jolie looked wonderful in this color.

Mila Kunis's dress was beautiful on her.

I love Catherine Zeta-Jones in this gown, a little darker emerald, but definitely not "forest".

What woman wouldn't just love to have Kyle Richards' emerald earrings.

Blenko glass defines the exact color of emerald above. Emerald has a bit of a blue in it.
Love Blenko glass!

Love the emerald green sofas and pillows here, image from House Beautiful.

Fabulous headboard! I think emerald goes really well with white. Image from Decorpad.

Another great headboard in emerald with white bedding from Sarah Richardson.
Decorpad image.

One of my favorite spaces by Steven Gambrel as featured in Elle Decor. Wouldn't this space have been boring without the emerald!

I love tape trim. Here is a nice emerald one above from Kravet.

Kravet wallpaper......wouldn't this be rich in a powder bath?

Silk velvet by Thomas O'Brien for Lee Jofa. I could see some stunning dining chairs upholstered in this luxurious fabric.

Last but definitely not least, Schumacher's Nanjing. The color here is just brilliant. Perfect for pillows, a bedskirt, headboard, and on and on.

I've moved! Come and visit me at my new blog, Designed w/Carla Aston!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Flowers and Greenery in Your Home

Adding the finishing touches in an interior can be challenging. Flowers and greenery or interior plants are the final flourish that adds your style and personality and can bring life to a room.

Fresh is always best. I love to use white tulips in my photo shoots of projects, like the one above. Tulips are not a "busy" flower with lots of detail, contrast, or varying colors. Those types of flowers are visually distracting and I'm a huge fan of simplicity in anything botanical in a home. My feeling is that flowers should appear as though they were just cut from the garden or brought home from the market and effortlessly tossed into a vase to enjoy in their least contrived and most natural state. Cut branches are also a favorite of mine to add drama and height to a space. They also have that natural, effortless look that brings such life and beauty to a room.

Many people like to use silk because they can keep it a long time, they don't have to water or tend to it and well......many times that's just what it looks like. I see many silk arrangements that have lots of dust on them, are faded with age, and just are too busy and dated (because they've been kept way too long). I understand the need for ease of care. Silk or dried botanicals can be beautiful if they're maintained well and are properly selected. Remember.....simple.

If you have an "arrangement" like this, it's time to update.

A little busy, wouldn't you say?

I think this looks a bit contrived.

Not my favorite type of botanical addition to a room.

Silk ivy trailing up on cabinet tops is very dated and the dust up there could probably fill a sandbox!

In this image from House Beautiful, one type of flower is used to create a low mound of softness on the table. It brings the white wall color down to the brown table. Simple and beautiful!

In this image from Elle Decor, an elephant ear plant acts as a living sculpture in the room. I often use philodendron leaves or ginger plant leaves in water for a long lasting fresh botanical in my home. I have three of those plants in my garden and all I do is go out and clip.

Love the branches in these photos from Elle Decor.

Look at how light and dramatic the branches are in this space. Image from House Beautiful.

Another interior above from House Beautiful using interesting, sculptural branches. They really complete this room and are the perfect addition because of the contrast they provide against the light walls.

The fresh flowers used above are of all the same color and type and again have that effortless, uncontrived look. From House Beautiful.

Beautiful blooming branches in an interior from House Beautiful.
These magazines are arbiters of good taste and style. Do you see any of the "arrangement" type of botanicals in any of these interiors?

I used all the same type of flower in this photo shoot of a powder bath.

I picked up a few sunflowers at my grocery store for this photo shoot of a kitchen remodel. They add just the color and life that cabinet needed. These could be silk, but you don't need all that excess greenery and other botanicals stuffed in the vase to make it successful.

These pussy willows (I love pussy willow branches) provide the height and drama needed for the corner of the cabinet above. They dry and last a long time. I also like stuffing small potted plants in baskets like on the table shown above. Those are geraniums. They bloom for a long time and when they are done, you can plant them outside!

Again, my favorite white tulips and branches. The tulips here are fresh and the branches are fake bamboo look alikes. Carefully chosen botanicals can enhance and bring life to a room. Take a moment to look around your home and see what looks tired and dated. It's such an easy fix and will make a huge difference in the look and feel of your home.

If you would like help deciding what kind of flowers and greens to add to your home, contact Aston Design Studio for a consult.

If you have a design related question or need some advice on any aspect of interior design, e-mail me HERE. I might feature your question in a special Q and A blog post!
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