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This stylish white kitchen is the Room of the Month in our current issue of RoomPlanners magazine.  If you’d like to read more about this white kitchen makeover, check out page 37-39 of the current issue.

We’d like to know which dining chair you’d put in the neighboring dining area beside the kitchen. Cast your vote, or just check out the results!

This fall’s color options are expanding from simple red-and-green, and even sophisticated silver-and-gold combinations. New favorite color combinations are emerging… from plums and purples with gold to sophisticated light and dark neutrals to pale baby blues with white and silver. 

We’re polling our readers to see which they liked best. Cast your vote below, or check the  poll results so far!

Alyssa, by Ashley Furniture

This pretty dining room furniture (Alyssa, by Ashley Furniture) makes a nice choice for a small dining room or even a dressy kitchen. Its design also offers some clues to guide color and accessory choices.

Our first home decorating clue is all the curve on this dining table and chairs! Curves are especially French, and there are plenty of them here!

dining chair can help set the entire home decorating direction for a room, and the Alyssa chair is no exception.

The metal legs are modeled after the French cabriole leg – that S-shaped French leg that always suggests a refined, elegant and slightly dressy room.

The shiny damask fabric on the chair seat has inspired many dressy dining room tablecloths and linens… and French ones in particular! Damask is typically paired up with the fancy glassware and the good china, so that’s an important clue too.

Then there’s all that scrolling metal.  You can almost pick out a fleur de lys pattern in the chair back….that popular French design of a lily that’s inspired many a formal, French pattern over the years.

The round metal ring above the fancy wood base on the dining table sort of resembles a corona, or the base of a crown and the braided edge of the table resembles the edge of a pie or braided French bread.

With all the fancy details on this dining room, a French-inspired decor seems to be in order! Here are two schemes… one that’s a little on the formal side… one that’s just fun.

First, a very classic, very dressy French option.

The interior paint colors here are delicate and muted… dusty rose, coral and champagne tones. Artwork and accents look suitably French – but that doesn’t have to mean ornate curves, scroll or flowers are a pretty good bet. The chandelier on the right is elegant with all those French-looking crystals, but notice it’s also long and narrow rather than wide  – that’s to keep it in scale with the smaller table. The single bowl-shaped pendant on the left is a more current choice. It picks up on the scrolled metal, but it’s simpler against all the curves in the  furniture.  Dressy fabrics are in order here – for windows and walls, use simple sheers, a delicate stripe or even a damask pattern that’s lighter or darker than the chair seat. For an elegant, no-fail French effect, run curtains from the floor right to the ceiling.

 A second option is more casual, but equally French.

The paint colors here are natural and organic…. muted greens and yellows that remind us of chardonnay wine and olives.  Artwork could include scenes of the Paris streets – casual shots of store windows, bistro cafes or even French people.  Drawings of French food or wine bottles are good choices… so are French words included on the art. Not to worry if you can’t pronounce them – they just need to add a little French culture and sophistication! Clocks also make a nice accent – especially ones that looks like they might belong in a Paris train station – large, with an antique face and curved numbers. To keep that Paris neighborhood feeling going, use a French lantern rather than a chandelier. Fabrics can be more informal, but still with a bit of a sheen. Draperies could cover the entire window… or just the lower half if you’re up for the French café curtain look.

To see interior paint color numbers (Behr), click on the photo to enlarge it. For more home decor ideas, visit www.roomplanners.com. To receive our free room design magazine, sign up here.

Left, Loreen Epp (Editor-in-Chief, RoomPlanners magazine). Right, Jane Seymour.

I had a chance to speak with renowned acress and artist  Jane Seymour about her new furniture designs last month in High Point, North Carolina.

Seymour premiered a trio of furniture collections a year ago, including Palace Gates, Cobblestone Road and Hollywood Swank. This fall, her Grand Shore ( inspired by grand hotels of bygone eras), and Lakeshore Retreat (inspired by dreamy summer vacations by the lake) were introduced.

Seymour’s designs are inspired by her passion for art and design. (Seymour also recently designed an Open Hearts necklace for Kay Jewelers)  She feels strongly about developing unique and versatile furniture collections that offer consumers affordable elegance. Her style is decidedly nostalgic and romantic, though her Hollywood Swank collection below has a fair bit of glam!

Hollywood Swank is one of Jane Seymour's furniture designs, by AICO/Amini Innovation Corp.

Ever wish you could take your favorite 5-star hotel room home with you? You’re not alone!

Luxurious hotel suites are designed to help us sleep and relax well. So it’s worth knowing the room design tricks of professional hotel designers! Here are 10 tricks that really work!

 1. Use a monochromatic color scheme, or the same (or similar) color on the wall, ceiling and floor for a ‘cocoon’ effect.

 2. Use neutral colors for large areas and for smaller accents. It creates a quieting effect, with no jarring contrasts. Choose chic (cool) or organic (warm) neutral colors.

 3. Choose contemporary furniture; it takes less effort to clean, or look at.

 4. Eliminate clutter and put away knickknacks. Use large accents.

 5. Add a comfortable place to sit (… that’s not the bed)!

 6. Lean an oversized floor mirror on a wall next to a window. It reflects relaxing daylight into the room (and is a luxurious place to get dressed!).

 7. Invest in high-thread-count white sheets; you’ll notice the difference in the quality and white always feels indulgent.

 8. Make your bed the way hotels do…. pull the comforter halfway back and stack (instead of propping up) a double set of pillows. 

 9. Create long, low horizontal lines; they simulate the horizon line and feel relaxed and stabilized

 1o. Use a plush carpet underfoot, or a plush area rug

For more information on creating a hotel-style bedroom (and lots of other sleep-better tips!), check out RoomPlanners’ special Sleep issue. Click on the photo to the left, or visit www.roomplanners.com to download it free.

To subscribe to our free online home decorating magazine, subscribe here.

Modern Craftsman, by Stanley Furniture

As if there’s not already a lot of reasons to love Craftsman style… here’s one more. The style is easily updated for a more urban look. That’s right! A style that set out to be sturdy, simple and smart can also be stylish!

More than a century after the first William Morris wallpapers and Gustav Stickley chairs, Craftsman style is anything but yesterday’s news! Seems sturdy furniture, smart features and simple, organic materials are just as welcome today! In fact, as rustic as it’s perceived to be, Craftsman style shares DNA with modern style! Beliefs that less-is-more and form-follows-function actually inspired Craftsman furniture designers before they did modern furniture designers.

So if your tastes run a litte more urban than rustic (but you love the warmth of wood!), check out these six ways to update Craftsman-style room designs!

  • paint the walls white or a cool, pristine off-white color; rustic, grainy woods look fresh and updated against very light colors
  • keep walls bare; use large, minimal accessories above furniture and keep the wall spaces     between pieces of furniture empty
  • add touches of black or iron on picture frames, lamp shades, chairs or placemats
  • hang botanical prints or black-and-white artwork in dark or light frames 
  • use polished hardwood floors in a light or dark finish
  •  lean rather than hang pictures; prop them up above mantels, ledges or sofa tables

Check out some updated Craftsman and Mission furniture collections in our roomplanners magazine.  

(If you’d like to receive our free online magazine every month, subscribe here).

Craftsman style is a much-loved American furniture and room design style… valued for its association with sturdy, smart furniture,  natural materials, simplicity and easy integration with Mission styles of the American southwest.

But Craftsman style wasn’t born in America. The style originated in England… near the end of the Victorian era.

By the late 19th century, a movement was afoot in Britain to return to simplicity and authenticity. The elaborate, over-stuffed, over-the-top look of Victorian interiors had become just too much, at least for some.

William Morris championed the cause to eradicate Victorian excess. At a time when machines and synthetic materials were taking over, Morris argued for a return to hand crafting and nature-inspired aesthetics. Better quality, he believed, would equate to better morality and healthier homes, communities, and lifestyles.

Morris formed a company and a movement to produce simple hand-crafted textiles, ceramics, furniture, wall hangings, metalware, stained glass, wallpaper and furniture. His home, the Red House, became a poetic icon of the movement. Its rough-hewn red bricks and high hedges blended into the countryside; the picture of security outside a modern new world.

The term, Arts-and-Crafts, was coined in 1888, after Morris and friends were rejected by The Royal Academy. Much like professional artists frown on macrame hangings and folk art, this high-brow art institute frowned on ‘craft’ as inferior to ’art’. Undaunted, Morris promptly created an Arts & Crafts Society to revive  interest in hand-crafting skills using local materials and medieval building techniques.

But Morris’ simple, honest, undecorated looks found their greatest audience in America. In 1897, Chicago established its own Society of Arts and Crafts. A year later, American Gustav Stickley began production of settles and sideboards that featured the hallmarks of the style, including visible peg joints and flat wood slats. Stickley promoted the new look in a new monthly magazine, The Craftsman.

Frank Lloyd Wright also found inspiration in the style. His Prairie Style architecture and fascination with simple Japanese design inspired a use of natural materials and flat, horizontal lines.  Both were dramatic contrasts to elaborate Victorian architecture with its pointed turrets!

The simplicity of Arts & Crafts in America also meshed perfectly with hand-crafted native and Spanish-inspired Mission furniture.

Today, Craftsman furniture and room designs are uniquely American in their use of sturdy, smart and simple products. The style may go by many names… Mission, Arts and Crafts, Craftsman or Southwest. But whatever you call it, one thing is for sure: it’s still one of America’s favorites.

Want to learn more about how to create a Craftsman style home? Click on the magazine to the left, or on this link to open: http://roomplanners.com/pdfs/07-2010.pdf (You can also subscribe here to receive our free online magazine every month).

Or check out our Craftsman RoomCue. It includes ALL the information and inspiration you need to pull together a Craftsman room like the pros!

 

Few books have captured the beauty of New Orleans interiors and Creole-style design quite like Richard Sexton’s New Orleans: Elegance and Decadence. Published in 1993 (Chronicle Books) and again in 2003, the book was dubbed “the best photography book ever done on the city.”

A resident of New Orleans, Richard Sexton is a noted photographer, artist, writer, critic, teacher and author. Sexton specializes in photography of architecture, design and landscapes.

Several of Sexton’s photographs are featured in this month’s roomplanners magazine.  We dedicated the entire issue to New Orleans homes and his shots helped us capture the flavor of this unique city and its one-of-a-kind interior design. To find out more about eclectic New Orleans interiors and Creole-style room designs, furniture, paint colors and architecture, click on this link to open the magazine: http://roomplanners.com/pdfs/06-2010.pdf

Richard Sexton’s photographs have also been featured in The Cottage Book, In the Victorian Style, American Style: Classic Product Design from Airstream to Zippo, in addition to books profiling New Orleans’ architecture and interiors, Louisiana plantations and the Gulf Coast. 

New Orleans: Elegance and Decadence. Richard Sexton, photographer

If visiting New Orleans isn’t in your immediate travel plans, check out these movies! They capture the street scenes and interior design of this charming city and style. (To read our special issue on New Orleans, including photos, furnishings, paint colors and ideas for recreating New Orleans’ interior design style, click on the magazine cover to the right, or on this link:  http://roomplanners.com/pdfs/06-2010.pdf ).

Here are our top movie picks for capturing New Orleans interior design, past and present:

* A Love Song for Bobby Long. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s worth a watch. Apart from being a really good movie… it offers a charming look inside a Creole cottage!

* Interview with a Vampire. Ok, a little blood to deal with on this one, but the interior shots from the 18th century are rather spectacular.

* Double Jeopardy. Good New Orleans interior design scenes toward the end of the movie. Also good outdoor scenes in and around the French Quarter.

* A Streetcar Named Desire. Even in black-and-white, this movie captures the languid heat and interiors of French Quarter homes.

* King Creole. You get to see and hear Elvis Presley and see scenes inside his character’s French Quarter home. 

 

A Love Song for Bobby Long

A Love Song for Bobby Long

Interview with a Vampire

Double Jeopardy

A Streetcar Named Desire

 

King Creole

Designer BathroomThe choice of colors in this bathroom design is all modern, but it’s the placement of those colors that make it spectacular. 

The first bit of room design genius is the bathroom tile… sea glass-colored mosaic tiles on the foor that perfectly simulate the  unspoiled tropical waters of an idyllic island (if you’ve ever been to BoraBora, this is the actual color of the water). Running the same tile up the bathroom shower wall would transport you to the sea while showering!

The second bit of genius is all the white paint everywhere else. Walls, ceiling and fixtures disappear around so much of this head-clearing hue. The trick here is to use not just a version of  white paint, but a pure, unadulterated white (Behr #1850 is the purest white paint color I’ve found).

The bathroom shower wall is all-glass. Light fixtures are simple white glass globes on the ceiling and there’s nothing fancy or distracting about the mirror goes on the full length of the wall. Towel racks are simple stainless steel and white towels would be a requirement.

The pedestal sink lets us see more of the bathroom floor, makes the room look bigger and creates the illusion that the uninterrupted floor is the sea itself. A storage shelf beneath the mirror is discreet and if other bathroom cabinets were needed, they’d need to be white.

Even if you don’t have a bathroom design as streamlined as this one, the same scheme would work in any bathroom.

For more home decor ideas, or to download our free magazine, visit www.roomplanners.com

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