Friday, July 31, 2009

Hampton Designer Showhouse: Great Room by KA Design Group

The Great Room designed by KA Design Group at the Hampton Designer Showhouse was also one of my favorite rooms. I think mostly because the design is what I wish we could have done to the Hamptons house I worked on last summer. It's full of really great textures and colors that act as a wonderful backdrop to the drop dead gorgeous art! According to the designers Kenneth Alpert and Andrew Petronio, they designed the Great Room in a style that is the "softer side of modern."

I really love the center table in the room that seems to anchor the room and can be used for meals or games as well as display.

The color scheme is chocolate brown and white with pops of pink. The walls are a beautiful Venetian plaster that reflects the light while the chocolate brown upholstery on the chaise chairs has a great nap that absorbs light. The pink curtains are a hot pink taffeta that help set the stage for the "eclectic blend of modern antique furniture."

Here a small Julian Opie sculpture perches a top a marble topped side table.

My absolute favorite aspect of the room are the three large Bing Wright photographs that extend the room like windows. The wicker furniture also reminds you that you are near the beach.

The designers were able to borrow an amazing collection of art from Salon 94 including two Marilyn Minter photographs, one of which is seen in this vignette.

You can see an example of another natural and traditional material used in a novel way in this room. The grass cloth was cut into squares to cover the cover ceiling and is juxtaposed with a very modern light fixture.

This room is probably not what people would immediately think of for a beach house but it illustrates that there are different styles for different people. I like to think of this room as what an art collector who lives in Manhattan might want live when they are away for the weekend. And you can certainly take a lot of great ideas from this room for your own home. Bon Weekend!

Photos by Heather Clawson

DIY hacked cold frame for the garden

Lorene presents us with her "urban hillybilly chic" hack - a cold frame to protect your vegetable patch from chilly weather. Anyways, if you're one with a green thumb, better start scoring some cheap Gorm shelving from the as-is. You'll probably be wishing you did in ... er ... Jan?

She says, "Cold frames are devices to protect your tender vegetables from wet, chilly weather. They are a god send in cool climates when you’re itching to plant and Mother Nature thinks winter is not quite over yet."

See her instructions for the DIY cold frame for the garden.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Get dirrty.

Sorry, I couldn't resist channeling Christina for a second. I have so many little projects I have wanted to share with you, but when I asked on Twitter -- the vote was for the outdoor project, so here. we. go.

This one isn't nearly isn't as fabulous as the deck, and again, I feel like I'm probably preachin' to the choir. I'm sure most of you already know these tricks, but I like to share with the group. I'm nice like that.

When you buy your hanging baskets or plants, you can make them look like a million bucks by just replanting them out of the cheap plastic containers and into your own.

OK, they won't like a million bucks, but maybe $20.

I showed you these planters for the deck from Goodwill last week -- a steal at $2.99 each:
I had a vision for them, so I spray painted them and then wasn't sure if I was going to plant anything for the rest of the summer/fall. Who was I kidding. Unfinished projects make me twitch. Shake. Shudder. Itch.

I found some beautiful plants for cheap and got moving. Most of the time, your decorative pots will have holes on the bottom, but if they don't, or if you'd like to put more in them, all you need is a drill and a large drill bit:

Just put a few holes in the bottom -- for plastic containers, any drill bit should work. These planters are a weird fiberglass kind of material, so I used one made for cement. I put five holes in the bottom of each. As is mentioned, even if your planters have holes, you'll probably want to put a few more in. It never hurts to have a little more drainage. (I feel like I just said "holes" 15 times.)

Anyhoo, after that, instead of buying a ton of of expensive potting soil -- try this little trick. Keep the plastic planters from the plants you plant, (wait, huh?), and before you put the soil in, put the old plastic planters in first:

This is great for two reasons -- you'll use half the soil, at least. And they are soooo much lighter to work with when you're done. My grandma used to use charcoal on the bottom of her planters. I've also heard of using the foam packing peanuts. Those peanuts are expensive though -- so just use what you have!

AND, please don't buy the expensive potting soil they put out right up front at the nursery -- go to the back and use the cheaper bags -- they are harder to find but are about two bucks and change for a bag. You can sprinkle some Miracle Grow on the plants after if you want that in the soil. I've even used the cheaper top soil and mixed that in as well, and those are only a little more than a dollar a bag.

If your plant is a hanging basket, take the little clips off the planter first:
Then, to loosen the plant up to get it out, roll it around on it's side a few times, then shake it a bit and it should come out easily:

The great thing about this time of year is finding plants for el cheapo -- they are clearancing them out for the fall plants and you can find major deals. I found some Coleus plants at Menard's last for only $3.99 each -- SCORE!!

I have never planted Coleus before -- I wasn't sure about them at first. I walked right by and left them there, but they were are oddly beautiful to me. Kind of wild looking but I was a bit mesmerized -- I had to go back for them:
Gorg!! Hopefully they'll hang in there for a few more months!

Remember, fall is a great time to plant bushes and trees! I have no idea why it's a great time to plant bushes and trees! But it is!! Really, I think it's something about roots, before the cold hits, yadda yadda yadda. So keep in mind even as fall nears (YAY!!!!!!!), you can still work on the landscaping for a couple more months!

So glad you all loved my hole patchin' post. Please check out the comments for some really great tips -- you are all so brilliant! Sorry I have no clue what to do with plaster though -- anyone know how to patch that up?

My consult rates will be $20 starting Monday, so if you are interested, let me know before then! I'm thrilled to be working with so many of you -- thanks for your patience. Any new consults may be about two weeks out before I can get to you, but I will as soon as possible!

Bachelorette Pad Update

We interrupt our Hampton Designer Showhouse coverage to update you on what 's been going on with my bachelorette pad. I was there today to accept delivery of the new faux-bamboo etegere that I found last week at Elizabeth Bauer. The original plan was to replace her existing short bookcase with a taller one and we discussed the Oly Stella Shelf but this one was less expensive and works perfectly with the artwork. Sometimes it pays to wait until you find the right piece.

A few people have been asking me to post more about my work and I'm going to make more of an effort going forward but it's hard to show photos if you have any hope of getting a project published. Someone actually stopped by the bachelorette pad today to scout it for a photo shoot so hopefully you will be seeing the entire finished apartment published in a few months. I don't think this photo will ruin anything though because we still need to buy accessories and I will restyle the bookcase. A decorator's work is never done!

bachelorette pad before

Billy bird

Handem tips me on this hack found on the Blog on the Bookshelf. Thanks Handem!

Dan Black and Martin Blum of design consultancy Black + Blum, do their thing on the ubiquitous Billy bookshelf. They say, "Our main priority was to give this piece a bit of character. In its basic form, it is very recognisable as the cheapest bit of shelving you can buy from Ikea, so we wanted to give it a new identity as well as a function by turning it into a self-contained home-office unit."

I thought it was smart of them to add a work surface by joining two shelves with hinges, resulting in a neat, compact workspace. Better yet, it can be folded up to hide a laptop when not in use. What I am not so hot about are the magazine racks on the sides and top, which are supposed to give Billy the appearance of a "winged creature". Huh? It would be like working in the belly of Big Bird."

This Billy hack is part of an article by the Independent, "Pimp my Ikea: How to bling up your 'Billy' bookcase."

Hamptons Designer Showhouse: Rooms by Katie Ridder

Sometimes it is the smallest rooms in a showhouse that make the biggest impact and that is definitely the case with designer Katie Ridder's butler pantry and bathroom in the Hampton Designer Showhouse this year. She is lucky that she had her own great line of wallpapers to choose from but how many people would really wallpaper a butler's pantry in real life? Usually they are such a small room that they get overlooked in the design process but with this bright cheerful paper, it becomes a jewel box.

One of the other designers in the house mentioned that she at first felt sorry that Katie Ridder got such small rooms but clearly she managed to do a lot with the wallpaper and accessories.

When you walk down the hall, the room makes you smile as you walk past it.

It's hard to photograph powder rooms well but you can get a sense of how cute the sailboat paper looks in a house by the beach! Small rooms are great places to make a big impact with wallpaper and take chances with pattern because there is less of a chance of a homeowner getting tired of the design since they see it in small doses.

Photos by Heather Clawson

What to do with the ugly side of things

Andy shares a very useful fix should you screw up putting together your Billy Bookshelf and end up with a shelf with the unfinished side out.

See more of Andy's quick fix for Billy bookshelves.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hampton Designer Showhouse: Dining Room by Marshall Watson

The dining room at the Hampton Designer Showhouse is directly to your right when you enter the house and Marshall Watson has created a fabulous room to greet visitors! According to his description of the room, his firm decided to take the architectural details of the room down a notch by adding "rustic textures and natural linens, accompanied by both vintage and antique furnishings that command a strong presence."

There were a lot of wonderful details in this room including the English oiled walls, the monogrammed slip covers/place cards on the Spanish chairs, and the natural edged table.

I often see dining rooms in real life that look unfinished because no thought was ever really given to them since they are rarely used but this room doesn't leave any wall empty. The art and furniture around the sides complete the overall design wonderfully and make it look like a room you would want to use everyday!

There were a lot of lovely flower arrangements in the showhouse.

The most unique element in the room is the light fixture that lighting designer Mark Figueredo (MF Custom Lighting and Design, 631-329-5033) created from "bee skeps." It adds that natural element that any house near the beach should have to make it feel a little more casual.

At first I thought the wired flatware was part of the design until I remembered that sometimes showhouse visitors think they should be able to take home a souvenir. That happened to designer Garrow Kedigian at the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse this year and he was very upset because the item taken was a sentimental object picked up in Paris. So this is a good time to remind everyone that the designers who participate in showhouses often borrow items from showrooms or their own homes and they must be returned so please do not steal anything! If you need a fix, you can always buy something at the gift shop!

UPDATE: I came across this great article today by Marshall Watson that describes exactly how much work goes into participating in a showhouse!

Photos by Heather Clawson

Hampton Designer Showhouse: Plans

The Hamptons aren't like any other place in the country. The houses are not only bigger and more expensive but even the ones not actually on the beach are expensive! I thought before I moved onto to any other rooms, you might want to see the actual house and it's plans. For those who aren't familiar with showhouses, all of them are put together to benefit a charity. The Hamptons Designer Showhouse this year benefits the Southampton Hospital. They are also always staged in a house that is for sale. In this case, it is a 8,500 SF spec house that was designed by Farrel Building Company. Oh, it can also be yours for $8,450,000.

Joe Farrell had always dreamed of building homes and in 1995 he left his lucrative position on the New York Mercantile Exchange to start Farrell Building Company. They are committed to superior craftsmanship and it definitely shows in this house. This house on Davids Lane in Water Mill is slightly smaller than the Hamptons house I worked on last summer but this one is much better thought out and has much more reasonably sized rooms that actually feel cozy. We all agreed that they did a great job with the bathrooms too.

Just wait until you see inside the two floor pool house that was completely designed by Lilian August!

The pool is a little small but I could make due with it! You might notice that the house abuts a corn field. A lot of the farmers sell their land to developers for more than they would ever make farming.

The first floor has a great entrance that allows you to see straight through the house when you enter. It does have the screened in porch but no other covered porch areas which would have been nice.

The second floor is made up of a master bedroom suite and four bedrooms. When I post the rooms from the Showhouse, I will try to match them up to the bedrooms on the plan. There is also a finished basement with another six rooms. Sigh. The rich sure do have it nice! I wonder if they noticed if I moved in for the rest of the summer!

Ikea PS locker into litter box

Hiding the cat litter is really no big feat. All you need is a metal cutter and a steady hand to cut a hole, big enough for kitty to crawl in and out.

Ben says, "My girlfriend recently moved into my loft with her cat and her great dane. I needed a solution that would both hide the litter box from view and keep the dog out of the cat’s food and litter. I first bought the Ikea PS cabinet, which perfectly fits the alcove inside my front door. Then I used metal snips ($15 or so) to cut out a hole for the cat to enter through the bottom. This was easier than you’d think, because Ikea already has holes punched in the bottom for cords, so it was easy to start cutting. I filed the edges to make sure no metal splinters would harm the cat, and then covered them with red electrical tape. The cat took minimal training before she learned to crawl in and out of the bottom. The litter box is to the right, food bowls to the left.

You may also want to check out these other cat litter hacks:
- Entryway cat litter and bench
- Flaren stealth litter box
- Quick and easy cat litter box
- Snack cat litter boxes
- Compact kitty box
- No pooper cat litter
- More pet hacks

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hampton Designer Showhouse: Screened Porch by Brad Ford

This year's Hampton Designer Showhouse was very impressive and inspiring! We kept declaring each room we visited our favorite and the screened porch designed by my friend and fellow blogger and designer Brad Ford was declared a favorite by everyone who has seen it according to the ladies in charge. I spoke to Brad and he said that when they were walking through the house looking at the rooms before they were assigned, he knew right away that he wanted the screened porch since it reminded him of his home in Arkansas. He said, "I've always been influenced by nature and natural resources and the room really resonated with me."

After he officially had the room, he began to think about what classic ideas are associated with a porch and his first thought was a porch swing. But of course since it was not only for a showhouse but a showhouse in the Hamptons, he had to take it to the next level. He custom designed the upholstered swings and even though the concept is very strong, it's also very simple and elegant. Brad also said, "I didn't want to take away from the amazing view." The soothing neutral colors definitely don't interfere with the view outside and along with the gentle movement of the swings, they make the room very relaxing. Exactly how you want a house in the Hamptons to feel!

The second idea that came to Brad's mind when he was thinking about a summer porch was wind chimes. And again, not just any old wind chimes, they needed to make a statement! He remembered an artist, Jennifer Prichard, who worked in porcelain and contacted her to see if she would be interested in working on his idea and she immediately jumped on board. She agreed to make about 800-1000 cones that would be hung from simple twine. If you visit the house and look at Brad's original concept in the program, he designed the wind chimes to hang from the ceiling but once the swings were in place, he didn't want to take away from them so he decided to move the chimes to the back wall. They were to be assembled on site so it was easy to make the switch although it took them a day and a half to actually install them all. They look like a fabulous art installation and do actually chime if the wind blows.

Brad added a lot of thoughtful details throughout the room that he said really came together at the end. The mirror which is wrapped with rope was designed by Christian Astuguvielle and is available through Holly Hunt and the sea grass area rug add more natural elements, as do the wooden tables from Tucker Robbins. He had also seen the photo of the Tribesman (below) at the Clic Gallery in New York and knew he wanted it for his room. The photo and the Tucker Robbins tables that were made in Africa, started to lend a primitive feel to the room but all of the elements work perfectly together. A couple of other designers have African pieces and great art in their rooms so this year's house has a really great flow and I can't wait to post more of the rooms!

Brad Ford is not only a wonderful designer but a really wonderful person who has stayed true to his Southern upbringing and he will also be featured in the September issue of Country Living! Look for it on newsstands soon and please stop by the Hampton Designer Showhouse and see his beautiful room!

Hampton Designer Showhouse
179 David's Lane
Water Mill, NY
July 26- September 6, 2009
11:00am - 5:00pm daily

Photos by Heather Clawson

Got Holes?

I almost titled this post, "The most boring post ever in the history of mankind," or, "Read this to your kids to help them fall asleep tonight." Or, "Warning: Drowsiness may occur as a result of reading this post."

But instead, I came up with "Got Holes?" Works, eh?

So if the builder in your house was towel rod happy like ours was, you've probably got lots of these:

I mean, they were giddy with these things. We had a loooong one in our powder room -- for bath towels. And there's no bath in there. Or shower. Giddy.

First off, if there are anchors in the wall (and builders are anchor-happy too), it's pretty easy to get them out. Take a pair of needle-nosed pliers and get in there and grab the anchor:

Pull it and it should come out fairly easily. If it won't, try pounding it back into the wall and through. Either way you'll be left with a massive hole. It will be way bigger than the anchor seemed to be, but just relax peeps! I got your back!

Next is my little trick I learned awhile back. If you go to fill the hole as is, it will take a ton of spackle to fill it in. Instead, before you fill, take some thick paper -- I've used grocery bags and lately these little annoying-as-crap mailers that come out of the magazines:

Tear off little pieces and stuff them into the holes:
This gives the spackle something to lay on and grab ahold of. (By the way, the fun little ring around the holes happens when you have zero patience after painting a wall and are dying to get the rods back up. Yeah. Don't do that.)

Then take your loverly spackle that you mostly use for these (textured stencils) and not what it's intended for:

And frost the holes with it. It's fun. Try it.
Keep frosting till you've covered the holes, using the scraper to take off the excess and then reapplying a few times. I like to leave a little smudge of extra on top so the holes are covered really well:
After it's dry sand it down a bit and reapply if needed. Wipe down after sanding well, wiping off all excess spackle you can. Then find your paint, freak out when all you have is the eggshell finish and not the semi gloss finish you need, say what the heck, no one will ever notice, and use a small foam brush to paint over the spots.

I have to tell you -- be very selective where you put anchors in your walls. Generally you will ALWAYS see where they were, no matter how well you patch them up. Anchors tend to pull the drywall up around them a bit, so the drywall is never quite flat. But I promise unless you are really looking, you will never notice them again:
See?? Told ya! If you are patching small nail holes, just use your finger and put a little smudge in the hole. Just a little dab. Just a smooch. Like you're kissin' your sister. (Name that movie!!)

It may just be because I'm the freak I am, but even the smallest changes make a huge difference to me. Before, the towel rod was the first thing you saw in our bathroom:

Now, it's my pretty little bench and my enormous shower curtain:

And the iron scrolly jobby isn't hanging at giant eye level anymore, it's at human eye level. All is right with the world. I filled about 14 holes yesterday, and it only took an hour, total, to do it all.

Easy peasy Squeezy! You go by Squeezy now. Just so you know.

Any other good patchin' tips? Share them in the comments!