Fall Fashion 2013

- Friday, September 27, 2013

My how this year has flown by. The temperatures have dropped, the leaves are beginning to turn, Halloween is over, and Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Autumn is here!

For many reasons, this my favorite time of year here in the Lowcountry. I welcome this break in the weather from our long and often sweltering summers. When tourist season is over, I appreciate the (slightly) less congested traffic on the roads and the increased elbow room on the beaches. And I enjoy the long shadows of the afternoon light that embellish the vistas of our beautiful landscapes in this part of the country.

But one of my favorite reasons to look forward to in fall is attending the semi-annual High Point Furniture Market in North Carolina. With 11 million square feet of showrooms, this event showcases the absolute latest trends in home furnishings and accessories. Attending this event is both invigorating and inspiring. Designers, manufacturers, marketers, and trend-spotting, blogging journalists descend upon this furniture mecca to view the future of home fashion and have a little fun. I think of it as a sneek-peek into a crystal ball for upcoming interior decor.

So, what did I see?


You won't be singing the blues when you view these beautiful and intense hues. After years of seeing watered-down aqua and washed-out turquoise the tides of trendy tastes have turned to deeper waters for inspiration. Cobalt, cerulean, indigo, and that good old standby, classic navy, make new waves in home decor and capture the calming currents of the aquamarine ocean.


There is a reason purple is associated with royalty, it is rich, regal, and ready to rule. Drop something purple into a room and watch it command attention. Look for all shades of this intriguing combination of racy red and blissful blue to find its way into your future interior design palette. It is a color that can be masculine or feminine, loud or soft, bold or subtle, but it always makes its presence known.


Gold tones are coming back strong. After a very long run, the popularity of oil-rubbed bronze is waning, and so too are the silvery tones of chrome and nickel. Muted, dusty, matte-finishes in soft gold and champagne are turning up on everything from furniture to fabrics to accessories. Lillian August introduced a simply scrumptious metallic finish for casegoods called blah blah blah that had the slick look of metal but still allowed the warm, welcoming, weathered woodgrain to shine through.


Who says recycled chic has to look old and time-worn? After way too many seasons of fifty-shades-of-gray, reclaimed materials have revived and reinvented their appeal. At one showroom I saw area rugs woven from recycled Indian silk saris. These beautiful designs were boldly colored and abstractly patterned. A visual feast for the eyes these exotic beauties are also a luxurious tactile treat for your bare feet.


Bars are popping up everywhere. From mobile carts, with their slick, chrome-y legs, glass surfaces, and demure casters to full-scale armoires fitted with mirrored innards and lighted, translucent shelves, these pieces celebrate the art of the libation and facilitate our love of entertaining. As well as functional these pieces are practical since many of us do not have the budget nor the dedicated square footage for a full-scale, built-in wet bar.


Lacquer was everywhere this year, from small "martini" tables to consoles to chests of drawers. A rich, lustrous, painted finish can transform even the most humble of of objects into something fun and unexpected. It is luxe personified.


Upholstering something in velvet does not have to mean it is off-limits. In fact, it is just the opposite, what more welcoming and relaxing textile is there? Whether a pillow, a chair, or an entire sofa, velvet beckons a sit-down-and-relax-a-while invitation to chill and unwind.

After my week of sensory overload I am ready to crash on a sapphire blue velvet sofa, ensconced in an aubergine room, with a plush silk carpet beneath my feet, and a shiny, sleek bar cabinet nearby.

Streamline Your Design

- Thursday, September 05, 2013

“You will have to excuse the state of our kitchen,” my hostess bashfully told me as we toured her home last weekend. “We have not renovated it yet and it is not very pretty.” Her husband and my partner are both professors at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and this was my first time visiting her exceptional 1840’s Greek Revival-style townhouse in downtown Savannah. Having just learned what I do for a living, I think she was having second thoughts about offering to show me their home before we headed out to her courtyard for an al fresco dinner by the pool. “I promise I will not be critical,” I assured her with a smile.

And what a great space it was, with soaring ceilings, two generous sets of south-facing French doors filling it with light and offering a commanding view of the enormous courtyard outside. These are coveted attributes in any house and especially difficult to find in an older home downtown. I barely even noticed the dated 1960’s era cabinetry, the older appliances, and the awkward layout of the work surfaces. What I saw was lots of potential.  Lots!

“We have done the bathrooms and laundry room already. I am just not sure what to do in here, but I have ideas. I want modern, clean, minimal. Is that wrong to do in an old house like this?” she asked.

“Not at all. In fact, several recent clients have opted for more contemporary kitchens in historic houses in Savannah and new construction on Hilton Head and in Bluffton.”

Streamlined, modern kitchens do not have to appear stark or sterile. The trick is to employ rich finishes and materials. Glass, man-made engineered stone, and stainless steel may seem cold and uninviting at first, but when combined with rich wood tones and subtly patterned travertine and other natural materials, the effect is alluring.

An example is a remodel project in Wexford Plantation for a young couple relocating from New York City. Here I collaborated with kitchen designer Gregg McLain of Advanced Kitchen Design to reinvent the kitchen. The clients desired a contemporary, open, loft-like feel that would extend to the adjacent family room. Sleek, stylish, functional and not too fussy were the adjectives they kept repeating.

To keep the slab-fronted cabinetry doors from being too stark, we decided on using two shades of gray stain, a lighter one for the upper wall cabinets and a darker one for the base cabinet doors. Stainless steel framed glass doors, two of them opening garage style, frame the sculptural exhaust hood. Gregg cleverly designed a Parsons-style “table” extension on the island for interest, and suggested using Wenge wood. The rich wood grain and warm color serves as a welcoming buffet. A simple, flat molding on the top of the wall cabinets caps the doors yet does not compete with the larger, more traditional crown molding of the room at the ceiling. And to offer a patterned relief to the solid white Caesar-Stone countertops I used a mosaic tile backsplash in a brick pattern of white and stainless steel.

 The clients are thrilled with their new kitchen. They may now be living in the Lowcountry nearly 1000 miles away from Manhattan, but their slick and modern space would be right at home in a chic, urban loft in Chelsea.

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