A Man Cave that Won't Break Your Marriage

Interior designers sometimes have to mediate differences in taste between clients on the same project. Often that means a couple disagreeing on one design element or a whole plan. Is the room going to be a guest bedroom or an exercise room? Do we put a huge television over the fireplace, or try to hide it away (or banish it altogether)? In my case, there was a disagreement with my husband over two leopard print pillows I desperately wanted. (I got the pillows, but he has a giant TV over the fireplace.)

Without indulging stereotypes too greatly, some men want a “man cave,” or a place where they can go with their friends to relax, play poker, drink, snack, watch sports, play video games, etc. (This post is focusing on the archtypical “man cave” but I realize many women want similar “caves” and not all men want a “man cave” as described. Don’t @ me.)

What do you picture when you think of a “man cave?”

Mancave1.jpg

A lot of ladies would not appreciate this aesthetic (although some would). A little less knotty pine and moose, maybe? Huge brown leather recliners with cupholders are not everyone’s cup of tea. So maybe let’s find a compromise everyone can live with.
I propose a man cave that is more “cool lounge” than Elk Lounge. A few suggestions:

You don’t need huge bloated furniture to feel comfortable. Much of the “comfort” factor in seating lies in the pitch of the seat (a.k.a. the angle of the seat back), back height and seat depth. As opposed to how much Dacron can be stuffed into an animal carcass.

Examples? I thought you’d never ask. (And I don’t get compensated for these suggestions, in order to remain unbiased.)

Man Cave Seating:

Rejuvenation Thorp Leather Manual Recliner

Rejuvenation Thorp Leather Manual Recliner

Rejuvenation Glenn Walnut Leather Recliner

Rejuvenation Glenn Walnut Leather Recliner

Rejuvenation Clinton Upholstered Recliner

Rejuvenation Clinton Upholstered Recliner

Pottery Barn Irving Roll Arm Recliner

Pottery Barn Irving Roll Arm Recliner

CR Laine Nathan Recliner

CR Laine Nathan Recliner

CR Laine Malcolm Recliner

CR Laine Malcolm Recliner

Lee Industries Relaxor Swivel

Lee Industries Relaxor Swivel

Lee Industries Relaxor Swivel

Lee Industries Relaxor Swivel

Hooker Furniture Kandor Sofa

Hooker Furniture Kandor Sofa

Hooker Furniture Chester Sofa

Hooker Furniture Chester Sofa

Jonathan Adler Alexander T-Arm Sofa

Jonathan Adler Alexander T-Arm Sofa

Crate and Barrel Petrie Loveseat

Crate and Barrel Petrie Loveseat

Also consider a stylish bar cabinet or bar cart:

Lexington Cheval Bar Cabinet

Lexington Cheval Bar Cabinet

West Elm Midcentury Modern Small Bar Cabinet

West Elm Midcentury Modern Small Bar Cabinet

Arteriors Connaught Bar Cart

Arteriors Connaught Bar Cart

Crate and Barrel Marin Bar/Media Cabinet

Crate and Barrel Marin Bar/Media Cabinet

See? With a few stylish touches, a “man cave” can be a classic, grown-up retreat that everyone can be happy with.

Till next post!

Five Quick Ways to Freshen up a Room

Your best friend’s coming for a visit. Or perhaps it’s a shot of summertime inspiration. Whatever the reason, you want to make some changes in your home but they need to be pretty quick and relatively easy.

I’ve got your fixes here.

And not one of them is “new throw pillows” because that’s obvious and I shoot for extra, not basic, advice here, people.

1) Change out your lampshades

Oh! You didn’t think I was going to talk about lampshades, did you? Because who thinks of lampshades? This guy does:

Miles Redd House Beautiful.jpg

That’s Miles Redd’s home. He’s a design genius, no big deal. Picture this room with standard off-white shades and it isn’t nearly the same.

Too much for you? What about the work of the handsome Nate Berkus? He uses black to punctuate the spaces. It’s subtle, but swap out the black for white or ivory and it isn’t the same.

Nate Berkus.jpg
Nate Berkus 2.jpg

2) Swap out old hardware for something new

Change the look of your stock bathroom vanity, your closet doors, your dresser—you name it. Instant update for not a lot of money.

3) Add a new light fixture or two

I am amazed at the way a great lighting fixture can transform a room. First, the presence of an additional lighting source can make a big difference in the space, whether it’s ambient lighting or task lighting. Want to make your space more modern, more glamorous or more romantic? Add sconces, a chandelier, a sculptural floor lamp or even a cool-looking flush mount, and see what a difference it makes. Just make sure the scale is right. If you’re not sure, usually it’s better to go slightly too big than too small.

4) Put fabric under glass tops

Find a fabric, cut it to size, and have a custom sized glass top made from your local glazier. Bonus: the glass tops help protect furniture. Just make sure the glass is large and heavy enough not to slide around on the fabric. Or secure everything with velcro pads and/or clear anti-skid material you can find at the hardware or fabric store. And use common sense — please don’t do this adjacent to, say, your toddler’s bed.

5) Add fretwork

I know of one company that makes decorative fretwork panel overlays to add to case goods, desks, mirrors, and other furnishings. It’s called O’verlays —and NO, they are not compensating me to mention them! There may be other businesses that offer similar products, or you could have a finish carpenter or woodworker make overlays for you. Anyway, here is the website I found:

https://www.myoverlays.com/

They offer tutorials and lots of pictures. Apparently you can add the overlays to IKEA furniture to nice effect. No matter where you go to get these panels, isn’t it a great way to spruce up your existing furniture? I would like to try this on a decorative screen/room divider or in a powder room to spiff up an existing plain wood vanity.

Here are pics from their website:

overlays1.jpg
overlays2.jpg
Overlays4.jpg

Enjoy your summer and send me your pics if you try any of the above!


Stop trying to make "fetch" happen (a.k.a. a lesson in continuity)

This post will be a bit off-putting to some, but I’m going ahead.

Let’s start with a personal story. When I was in high school, like most high schoolers, I wanted to wear all the clothes that were in fashion. I couldn’t tell you today what those clothes were, but I remember the feeling as a very short kid that I looked terrible in most of the really trendy looks. I couldn’t pull off some of the fashions like the tall, lanky models and some of the other girls in my school could easily do. So I decided to wear clothes that were still current, but actually fit my body type, rather than try to make a square peg fit in a round hole. And I looked and felt much better.

So it goes with houses. In my opinion, if your home is a red brick Georgian in suburban New York, I can’t understand how “industrial farmhouse” or “Spanish colonial” could play any significant part in the design of your interior. It doesn’t fit.

A beautiful kitchen by Emily Henderson.

A beautiful kitchen by Emily Henderson.

I could picture this kitchen integrating beautifully in a bungalow in California. Otherwise, I’m not sure I’m on board. Instagram is great for making us believe we can achieve anything. It also, unfortunately, makes us believe we can achieve anything.

I am a proponent of considering a holistic approach to the interior design of a home. That means looking at the overall geography, history, architecture, and neighborhood to inform major decisions. This takes a serious moment of truth for the homeowner who is enamored of a style that just doesn’t fit the big picture. Once we embrace what we have, we can make it look its best.

Anticipating some pushback here…We’re not talking about limiting ourselves to only period furniture like a museum exhibit. I’m not against (for example) some midcentury modern furniture or lighting fixtures in a prewar Manhattan apartment. Not at all! But if you want to take that prewar apartment and put in a rustic fireplace, or tile the kitchen floor in handmade Mexican terracotta, that isn’t going to work. You’re not putting in a sliding barn door and shiplap like on Fixer Upper. You’re just not. I (or your neighbor on the co-op board) will kill you if you try :)

Likewise, if you have a Craftsman in Chicago, please don’t put in a neoclassical-looking fireplace. Gold leaf baroque sconces aren’t going to work, either. But your beautiful Craftsman can pull off things that another house can’t!

So in summary, please embrace the aspects of your home that make it special, and help it look its best by staying true to its most essential elements.

Thank you, Regina.

Thank you, Regina.

A Day(bed) in the Life....

Lately, I’ve been really drawn to daybeds. I’m not necessarily talking about the flowery, feminine daybeds that were really popular decades ago. You know, like this:

girly daybed.jpg

I’m talking about tailored, sophisticated daybeds for a living room or home office. One of the benefits of a backless daybed in a living room is an opportunity to provide seating without obstructing a sightline. It also divides a large or long room into conversation areas without closing anyone off.

Meghan Shadrick Interiors

Meghan Shadrick Interiors

Elle Decor

Elle Decor

Architectural Digest

Architectural Digest

(Original source unknown)

(Original source unknown)

Markham Roberts created a cozy nook in a client’s study, should a need for a nap arise:

Markham Roberts.jpg
(Original source unknown)

(Original source unknown)

Is a daybed the solution for your layout? Let me know your thoughts!

Really Tied the Room Together....

The Dude’s rug from  The Big Lebowski.  It really tied the room together.

The Dude’s rug from The Big Lebowski. It really tied the room together.

Anyone who’s seen The Big Lebowski can understand the importance of a good area rug.

There are lots of places to begin when decorating a room. I frequently start with an area rug. It informs the mood and style of a room, and offers an opportunity to easily develop a color palette.

One of my favorite floor coverings is a one-of-a-kind, handmade rug. Today’s savvy consumer is—and should be— looking for items that are handmade, unique, and come with an artisan tradition. What many design clients don’t realize is that the world is smaller than it used to be, and many rug sellers can work directly with the source, so clients can get a unique, handmade rug of extremely high quality that isn’t as expensive as it used to be.

Not only that, but as I’ll discuss further on, it is possible to custom make exactly the rug you want. That means the material, the color palette, the pattern, and the size.

I have a one-of-a-kind, hand-knotted Pakistani wool rug in my dining room, and almost every time I see it, I think about the people who made it. I will never meet them, but they made something I love and see every day. The sheen is beautiful and it will get more beautiful over time.

There’s a human component to handmade rugs that I find to be very special.

Turkish weaver creating a traditional rug

Turkish weaver creating a traditional rug

Weaving a rug for Fayette Studio of Greenwich, Connecticut

Weaving a rug for Fayette Studio of Greenwich, Connecticut

Washing a custom rug for Fayette Studio

Washing a custom rug for Fayette Studio

Weaving a rug by hand is a very time-consuming process. Here’s a chart I found on another blog:

NWRugs.com

NWRugs.com

One of my favorite looks is mixing a traditional rug with contemporary furnishings. It looks collected and interesting, like you decorated over time with objects from travels or maybe inherited a few special pieces, instead of buying everything all at once. (Even if that is exactly what you did!) For instance, check out the beautiful rug below with two contrasting modern Barcelona ottomans.

Elle Decor

Elle Decor

Source unknown

Source unknown

The juxtaposition of traditional rug and other furnishings with the ghost chairs (above) is beautiful and creative. There’s a saying that timeless rooms have a bit of “yesterday, today and tomorrow” in them.

There are also plenty of options that are a bit less traditional in design. For example:

Source; Exquisite Rugs

Source; Exquisite Rugs

However, if you can’t find what you want, make it. While custom isn’t right for every situation or every client, it is an amazing option I don’t think everyone knows about. If you know the right sources to use, it can be a very gratifying experience.

I had a discussion about custom rugs with Cyrus Ahmadi of Fovama, in Scarsdale, New York (www.fovama.com). Cyrus has 40 years’ experience in the rug industry and while it’s clear he has an affinity for all handmade rugs, he referred to a custom rug as “something you have created with other human beings and is memorable.” With today’s technology, he said, it’s very easy to edit a design until it’s exactly what you want. He has helped many clients make their dream creations, some of which were very intricate:

3 3‘x5'.jpg
Concept to product: Above and below images courtesy of Fovama Oriental Rugs & Carpets of Westchester

Concept to product: Above and below images courtesy of Fovama Oriental Rugs & Carpets of Westchester

Kyra Schulhof, who owns Fayette Studio in Greenwich, Connecticut (www.fayettestudio.com), shared with me how a painting by Jenn Lewis (www.jslewisarts.com) was turned into a custom rug. Fayette Studio sells a vast array of lighting, furniture and accessories and carries its own line of rugs, but notably specializes in bespoke furnishings, including custom rugs and carpets. Here’s the beautiful painting by Ms. Lewis:

Painting inspiration.JPG

And here are the strike-offs (pre-production samples) and finished product:

Strikeoffs from painting.JPG
Photo courtesy of Fayette Studio

Photo courtesy of Fayette Studio

I hope this has opened your eyes, broadened your knowledge, and encouraged you to consider an artisan piece for your home made possible by centuries of tradition and craft.

If you want some assistance realizing your vision, or need help figuring out what exactly that vision is, I’m happy to help.

Cheers,

Dana

Timeless (yet trendy) black and white

I LOVE BLACK AND WHITE. Since my last blog post was about the black and white “trend,” I wanted to make it clear that black and white is not really a trend; it is a timeless combo experiencing a turn again as the “popular girl.”

I was recently at a new construction home in Greenwich with a beautiful black and white checkerboard floor in the foyer. The buyers bought the house on spec and I was delighted to see the builder had selected this flooring. What a good choice. So dramatic but classic! Here are a few examples of beautiful checkerboard (harlequin) floors. You can see the same type of floor taken in different design directions:

Greg Natale

Greg Natale

Summer Thornton

Summer Thornton

Dana Gibson

Dana Gibson

Black in a kitchen? Absolutely, but notice it’s judicious and the countertops and cabinets are timeless white and white marble. Also, if you introduce black, repeat it (but not too many times!) Here the trim is black, the range, and the coffee maker are black. That’s about it. And these are things easily changed down the road if the homeowner doesn’t want it anymore. (I have a feeling the owner of this beautiful kitchen could probably afford to gut-renovate in 10 years, however.)

Madeline Stuart in Architectural Digest

Madeline Stuart in Architectural Digest

Traditional herringbone wood floors, brass and butcherblock warm up the black and white below:

Nate Berkus’s kitchen featured in Architectural Digest— I love that he put a picture light over the upper cabinet, above the fridge.

Nate Berkus’s kitchen featured in Architectural Digest— I love that he put a picture light over the upper cabinet, above the fridge.

Careful to be judicious and balanced with black, or it heads into late 1990s territory. Sorry, that white ceiling and trim (and pantry door) aren’t balancing the black hole under the cabinets there. And all this similar wood is the kitchen version of a Canadian tuxedo.

Looks a bit like my high school biology lab…

Looks a bit like my high school biology lab…

Black and white bathrooms are a good choice if you want drama and contrast. But sometimes black and white are surprisingly relaxing. What about this masculine one? It might be too moody for many people, but it’s balanced and, arguably, calming at the same time because of the strong forms but lack of color.

HGTV

HGTV

This powder room floor (below) will never be “out.”

Houzz (ignore the photographer in the mirror, LOL)

Houzz (ignore the photographer in the mirror, LOL)

Black and white gets playful here….

Houzz

Houzz

I hope this clarifies that often trends are actually a resurgence in popularity of an atemporal concept.

Until next time!

Dana

Trends!

Grey had a turn in the spotlight, but black has overtaken it as the in neutral. Almost always balanced by white (so maybe it’s better explained as a black-and-white trend), we’re also seeing it as a great counterpoint to intense jewel tones like emerald green.

Source: HAR

Source: HAR

Source: Jamee Rose Interiors

Source: Jamee Rose Interiors

Source: Ore Studios

Source: Ore Studios

Source: Tobi Fairley

Source: Tobi Fairley

And check out the cover of Elle Decor’s April 2019 issue!

ElleDecor4-19.jpg




What if you just re-decorated, mostly in various shades of grey, and now you’re hearing black and white are *the* thing? Do you have to start over?


Of course not. You don’t have to start over now any more than you had to decorate in grey (or insert other color scheme here) when it was really popular.

Ask yourself why you chose grey and the answer will probably be one of two things. Either “because I love it,” or “because I didn’t know what else to do and it was the trend.”

Ladies and gentlemen, you must have a talk with yourself before committing to a design choice. Decide if it’s “you” or you are actually being told you’re supposed to love it and you guess you’ll go along. Sometimes we see so much of something —in stores, in magazines, and on HGTV—that even if we hated it at first, it starts to seem like a great idea.


Next point: If you love something—a color scheme, a style of decorating, you name it — it doesn’t really matter if it’s in or out. If it’s executed thoughtfully, you’ll be happy for a long time. 


But... Be judicious. Especially with the expensive, fixed items.


Whether you’re planning a gut kitchen renovation, or just installing new floors, for example, you probably want your choices to look “current” and stay current-looking as long as possible. Labor and materials aren’t cheap, and who wants to do major projects over and over? So how do you freeze time?


You choose fixed materials that are as “timeless” as possible. Keep your countertops, backsplashes, floors, and fireplace surrounds “quiet” and they will play nice with your decor for decades. White (and sometimes black) is your friend if you’re concerned about longevity or planning to sell in the near future.


Isn’t that boring? Not at all, if you keep the big picture in mind. Arrange simple tiles in an eye-catching pattern if you want visual interest. Vary their scale and shape. Add trendy hardware that you can change out easily. A fabulous mirror and sconces go a long way. Rely on fabrics, art, paint, wallpaper, and lighting to make your whole home interesting. 


Of course, even the most timeless materials go through trends (dark vs. light stained hardwood floors, for example) but re-staining floors or re-painting your cabinets is way less traumatic than ripping out and starting over.


“But Dana, you just told me to decorate with what I love. I’m in love with a fabulous tile that isn’t quiet at all. It’s a star!”

Artistic Tile  Fan Club Blue Ombre with Brass  glass mosaic tile

Artistic Tile Fan Club Blue Ombre with Brass glass mosaic tile


I agree, it’s beautiful. If you really want to incorporate that beautiful art deco tile, do it in a powder room. It’s a small space begging for dramatic design.


There will always be lots of exciting new arrivals when it comes to flooring, tile and the like. It can be a rush when you see a showstopper! However, choose carefully based on where it’s going, and ask yourself if it’s a fling or a long-term romance. If it’s the latter, you won’t care when the next trend comes.


If you are in the Westchester County, New York or Connecticut areas, I am happy to help in person. If not, ask me a question and we may explore it in a blog post!

Dana

Welcome to my blog!

Dear Design Friends,

This is my first blog post, so it's going to be about a topic that relates to decorating as much as to starting a blog: Feeling overwhelmed.

Do you ever put off a big project because it's too overwhelming? You don't know where to begin? You are worried you'll fail? You may end up spending a ton of money and regret it?

I understand. These are all reasons I hesitated starting my own interior design business.

These are also reasons I've heard from people who are unhappy with their home's interior design but are paralyzed by doubt.

They feel their home is not comfortable, relaxing, or reflective of their personalities, but are stuck.

You can do something about it. I’m going to be your partner and guide.

I am a problem-solver. I am a former litigator, but I am also a mother, wife, daughter, sister and interior designer who will guide you through various interior design questions.

What do you want to know? Some possible topics to start us off:

  • Trends-- how long do they last? How do I keep up?

  • Interviews with artisans and contractors--What makes for good workmanship? What makes their craft special?

  • Tips for being truly happy with your interior design-- and your interior designer.

  • Where to spend, where to save?

  • How do I incorporate antiques/hand-me-downs/ugly items my significant other can't part with?

  • When should I hire an interior designer? (And no, the answer isn't "always...keep one on retainer".)

You can Google a lot of these answers, as well as plenty of others, but the results aren't always helpful or consistent. The advice out there is sometimes excellent, sometimes ridiculous or misleading. Sometimes it belies an agenda.

In future posts, we'll dive into educational topics like furniture manufacturing, window treatments, historical styles and trends through the years. But we’ll also get into the burning questions that affect you most, like how do I choose paint colors??

Send me questions at dana@danaminteriors.com

Till next installment!

Dana