Blog

Holiday Decorations

Gregory Vaughan - Sunday, December 27, 2015

So, when, exactly, is the proper date to take down the holiday decorations? The day after Christmas? New Year's Day? Even later than that? Listen, I am all about stretching out the holiday cheer but when do I cross the line from being fun and fabulously festive to sad and psychotically slacker?

My colleague's husband, much to her dismay, can't wait to snatch down the tree and all its accoutrements on December 26th. Her hours upon hours of meticulous handiwork assembling the various components gets disassembled in a matter of minutes. Poof. Gone. Finito. The holiday is over. This is a bit too soon for me.

I want to enjoy the fruits of all that hard labor. I am, in fact, sitting by the tree right now writing this column. I have lit a fire in the fireplace (it is one of the two cold days this month) and the dog is at my side. I am still enjoying the glittering shimmer of lights and ornaments twinkling on the towering fire hazard erected in my living room. But there is no doubt, this room truly shines at the holidays and I am soaking up every bit of that magical light.

How long will it stay up this year? This remains to be seen. My household typically hosts a small gathering on New Year's Eve, so we like to have all the ornamentation still intact to ring in the New Year. And, I know I am not alone. I have clients in Sea Pines who have hired me every year for the past 10 years to deck their beach house out for Christmas even though they rarely arrive from before the 28th of December. They still want the tree by the fireplace, the wreaths on the doors, the mantels decorated, and the reindeer on the front porch for their annual family gathering to celebrate the New Year.

Since I do indulge in some New Year's Eve cheer, taking down the tree and its glitterati the next morning is usually not high on the priority list. However, New Year's Day is on a Friday this year, so chances are the stuff will start coming down on Saturday; start being the operative word. If you read my column regularly, you know the holiday decorating process is quite a production around here. This is no easy feat, going up or coming down.

Don't get me wrong, as much as I love the way my home looks decorated for the holidays, I do give a big sigh of relief when the decorations do finally come back down and packed away. My house is small in and already full of decorative objects, so the tree and its supporting embellishments take up what little extra square footage there is. Putting the decorations back up in the attic for another year really makes my life feel much less cluttered. It is almost like starting that New Year's diet and seeing instant results.

So, we usually start with dismantling the tree as it is the biggest task to conquer. The ornaments get organized and packed away, the tree gets placed in the alley for mulching. Once that process is completed, the other stuff seems like a cake walk. The wreaths come off the door, the mantles get stripped of their greenery, the poinsettias get composted. I swear I can sometimes hear the whole house thanking me for giving it some room to breathe.

This year I plan to keep decluttering even after I take down the holiday decorations. I want to take a good look at all the stuff that has accumulated on bookshelves and table tops over the past few years and really streamline things. At least this is what I am thinking. It could be a liberating way to start fresh and bring in the New Year. I will let you know.

Happy New Year everyone!

“HOLIDAY DECORATING FROM SCRATCH”

Gregory Vaughan - Tuesday, December 01, 2015

“Shiny or matte-finish balls?”
“Definitely shiny! Well, no. Maybe matte?”
“OK, what about this, too whimsical?”
“No, that fits the theme of the house, so let’s use it.”
This was the banter recently between my co-workers and me in the office. I was working overtime this particular weekend to get all the details just right, putting together holiday decorating schemes for two different clients.

One project is in Hampton Lake (for a sales model my firm designed and installed earlier this year) and the other for a part-time resident from Canada who will be spending the holidays with family and friends in his new home in Wexford. With a variety of seasonal gatherings planned at both houses, my goal is to have each reflect the décor of each home and be a natural extension of the finishes, fabrics, and accessories found inside. One is contemporary and brightly colored, the other one more traditional and subdued. The homes are polar opposites in style but one thing they both have in common is the need for each to be welcoming and warm, to capture that festive holiday spirit.

In order to accomplish this, I had to start from scratch. Obviously, the sales model does not have a real family inhabiting it, so there are no boxes of treasured family heirloom decorations stored in the attic to use. Nothing to start with, add to, throw out, or send back to the attic. Zilch. The same is true of the Wexford client, whose primary residence is in Toronto and who has not yet spent much time in the house, much less ever decorated it for the holidays. In fact, my firm has been asked by the daughter of the Wexford client to decorate the home as a surprise gift for her father. Talk about a thoughtful present! This is a great inspiration for me to make it special.

For an interior designer, holiday decorations are yet another layer in the interiors scheme. I approach the challenge in the same way I address other décor issues – determine a design direction and target the areas that need attention. Prioritize these areas and go from there. Your decorations can be as simple or as elaborate as you tastes or budget and timeframe will allow.

Usually a tree takes center stage and will be featured in a prominent location in the home so it may be viewed and enjoyed by all. Then consider the front door and entry, a stair banister if there is one, and the dining room table and other surfaces where people will gather for entertainment and meals. Outdoor spaces, which are such a part of our lifestyle here in the Lowcountry need attention as well. And, even powder rooms can benefit from the display of a few greens and a holiday scented candle or two.

So, how did I differentiate the two projects? Dusty gold and bronze feathered pheasant ornaments for the Lowcountry themed tree at the Wexford project and watery-blue and green blown-glass balls for the tree at the contemporary Hampton Lake sales model. I employed a gold velvet, diamond-quilted, round tree skirt trimmed in faux leopard fur at Wexford and chose an unusual, square-shaped, Granny Smith apple green ultra-suede one for Hampton Lake. A whimsical Santa, dressed in a burgundy suit, pops out of a bronze velvet stocking on the traditional wood mantle at Wexford while a trio of icy, cool, mercury glass Christmas trees adorn one corner of the sleek cast-stone mantle at Hampton Lake. Christmas china sets the formal dining room table for a holiday feast in Wexford while a few morning coffee motif ornaments hang from a gold nugget-encrusted, cone shaped tree as the centerpiece on the casual breakfast room table at Hampton Lake.

As for the question of shiny or matte-finish? In the end I decided a mix of both would work quite well for each home.

Trends from the Fall 2015 High Point Furniture Market

Gregory Vaughan - Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fall is in the air, can you feel it? No? Well, to be honest, me neither.

But I do know the fall season is well upon us. The kids are back in school, the ghosts and goblins have trick-or-treated, local oysters are popping up on restaurant menus and we have just turned back the clocks. Do you know how else I know it is actually fall? I recently returned from the High Point Market, my industry’s bi-annual tradeshow.

For me, Market exciting because for me it is a time of inspiration and discovery. It is my chance to re-visit favorite showrooms and seek out some new ones. I love to see what the big name designers have been creating in their studios and scoping out the up-and-coming trends. High Point Market is like the Fashion Week of the furniture and design world. With 11.5 million square feet of showrooms and event space to meander through, there is no lack of visual stimulation – and no way to see it all!

As with each season, there are trends and fads to be found. Which ones will endure for a while and which ones will quickly fade away? Only time will tell.

HEAVY METAL

Shiny or matte, polished or brushed, hammered or smooth, all things metallic were haute, haute, haute this season. Gold and brass tones were still dominate the market but chrome is reappearing here and there. A comeback? We will see. Interestingly, mixing different metal finishes on the same piece is even more on point, so look for more of these combinations in the future.

SCULPTURAL SILHOUETTE

Not all furniture is created equally. For example, many pieces are not designed to “float” in a space or be viewed from multiple angles. With the proliferation of open concept plans and free-flowing rooms, furniture is more often being placed away from walls and visible from all sides. This provides opportunities for manufacturers to create interesting sculptural pieces - whether it be an intriguing back on a lounge chair or an unexpected flourish on a console table.

NATURAL ELEMENTS

Leather, hemp, limestone, and agate are among the materials being used in new and interesting ways. I found beautiful table lamps in the John Richard showroom that showcased clusters of real geodes, quartz crystals, and seashells artfully attached to the base and crowned by simple and elegant silk shades. In the Cyan Design showroom I bought a gorgeous small side table for a client that features a polished, silver travertine stone top that rests effortlessly over a nickel-colored metal base in the shape of a cluster of twigs.

HANDCRAFTED

Highlighting the artist’s hand was evident this market, especially in textiles. Phillip Jeffries, a manufacturer of exquisite wallcoverings, introduced a new series aptly named Fade. These painterly panels feature a graduated saturation of color printed on grounds of silk, paper weave, or hemp. The stunning visual punch of an entire wall covered in this product is similar to the “ombre” effect of graduated dye we have see on fabrics, and what we have seen in hair salons and runway shows the past few seasons.

DIMENSIONAL FABRIC APPLICATION

Tufted upholstery application is nothing new and a classic tufted Chesterfield leather sofa will certainly always be in style. However, sleek linear channel tufting, and slightly gathered and sewn fabric (a.k.a. ruching) are techniques popping up everywhere, adding visual interest to upholstered pieces and dressing up plain fabrics. Channel quilting gives a retro nod to Art Deco or can be totally modern. Ruching adds a softer, handcrafted touch.

So, that’s my two cents on the High Point Market show for this fall. Trends will come and go. Interior designers can help you sort through these emerging styles and fads to help you determined the right ones for you. I think the whole point is to have some fun and keep it fresh. You will always want some timeless classics accented with something new and exciting.

Outdoor Living Space

Gregory Vaughan - Wednesday, July 01, 2015

“Wow, that’s a gorgeous fabric Vicky!” I exclaimed as I helped my friend distribute cushions for the built-in benches on her rooftop deck. We had just been out with our other halves to try a new restaurant venue in town and had come back to their loft for a nightcap under the stars. “Thanks,” she replied, “I brought back yards and yards of it from Kazakhstan when I traveled there on a rug buying trip years ago. I thought it was a fun pattern but I admit I did not know what I would use it for when I bought it, I just had to have it.”

Vicky, who deals in fine rugs, has an eye for the exotic. The loft she shares with her husband Denny in a converted bakery in downtown Savannah is filled with unusual treasures gathered from their many travels. And the rooftop deck that crowns their jewel of a home is no different. It is the perfect exterior extension of the interior space below, offering an outdoor entertainment space for family and friends not usually associated with a converted loft in an urban setting.

A ring of built-in benches surrounds a pair of marbled-topped bistro tables, providing places to eat, drink, or spread-out the New York Times on a Sunday lazy morning. A gas grill and small counter with a sink serve as a simple prep kitchen for Denny’s barbeque creations. Potted plants of all sizes and shapes provide punches of color and shade from the mid-day sun. In the evening the aforementioned cushions make the perfect spot to lie down and catch a cool breeze while gazing at the stars. It is an exotic oasis in the middle of a southern downtown.

Vicky and Denny’s rooftop retreat is fabulously chic and highly personal but the concept is not so uncommon these days. It seems that almost overnight outdoor living spaces have become all the rage. We have gone from the traditional ground-level patio or wood deck or small balcony as almost an afterthought to the point of creating state-of-the-art luxury living spaces right in the backyard.

Here in the Lowcountry, our wonderfully mild climate means there are plenty of days to use and enjoy outdoor spaces. And, I am happy to report, our local architects, builders, and homeowners have embraced this fact and are taking full advantage of it. Outdoor space is being incorporated into the design concept of our homes like never before. The inside has gone outside, literally.

Fireplaces, water features, full kitchens, and electronics are being incorporated outside with comfortable furniture and accessories to create al fresco rooms. Whether it is all about outdoor opulence, backyard entertainment, or simply a daily escape to reflect and enjoy tranquil moments away from it all, these spaces are becoming our favorite areas of the home.

Creating an outdoor living area that serves as a personal retreat or functional entertainment room will not only change your lifestyle but might just change your life. Outdoor living areas provide space to entertain, spend time with family and friends, and to simply enjoy ones natural surroundings.

Linda and Larry’s courtyard

Every imaginable indoor luxury is outside – comfy furniture, rugs, accessories, a full kitchen and bar, fireplace, spa and pool! A true oasis! Ultimate space to entertain family and friends or to just escape from the day-to-day.

1960’s Style is Swinging Again

Gregory Vaughan - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I think I may be feeling a bit depressed. Tonight one of my favorite television shows, Mad Men, is coming to an end. After 7 seasons, the stylish series is wrapping up just as the decade in which it is set, the swingin’ 60’s, also comes to a close.

There are a lot of things I enjoy about this period drama. I appreciate the slow pace of the action, multitude of colorful characters, the exciting time period of Madison Avenue advertising, and the moody tone (which may have gone hand-in-hand with the full bar in every advertising executive’s office). But I think what really drew me first and foremost was the way the set designers and costumers captured the decade so brilliantly.

 My fascination of mid-century modern design and pop culture is never ending. Perhaps it is because I was born then. Most likely it is my fixation - or should I say appreciation - for the clean, modern, efficient and optimistic design ethos of that period. This is why I feel so many of the elements of mid-century modern design can work with our lifestyles right here in the Lowcountry.

 Dare I say, super groovy.

 So while I may be sad to see Don Draper and his cohorts fade into television history, I am very excited to see the ideas, themes, and characteristics of mid-century modern have been rediscovered in the world of home furnishings and décor. My trip last month up to High Point, NC, for the semi-annual International Furnishing Market confirmed it!

Vanguard Furniture was one highlight. I felt like I was in the same cocktail lounge with Angie, Frank, Dean and Sammy! All tweaked-out in colors and patterns like the Las Vegas vibe we remember, the showroom played classic movies on big television screens atop sleek entertainment consoles. Those bulky, old school TV armoires are so square, man.

Next door at the Hickory White showroom, acid-hued colors exploded on the walls in the Lillian August Collection. Like the joke wall from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, audacious aubergine, pumped-up puce, and shocking chartreuse all mingled comfortably together like the bold patterns you would find on a Pucci dress or a Merimekko shower curtain. Chunky, stylized, gilt hardware dressed drawer fronts and doors like a piece of Henry Moore sculpture. The showroom just dazzled.

Across town, typically traditional Hickory Chair had embraced the trend too. Here consoles with tapered legs, low-slung sectionals, and exotically patterned textiles graced the showroom and recalled the work of decorating guru David Hicks.

Don’t get me wrong, the Mad Men aesthetic is not for everyone.  But I like the way it has added a renewed nostalgic dimension to design and glamour. Think of the classic Lincoln Continentals of the 1960’s, minimal, elegant, effortlessly stylish. Maybe a welcome alternative to all the large scaled and ornamented faux-chateaux interiors or those pining for a change from the “Pottery Barn/Restoration Hardware” rustic chic salvage look. And as much as I am drawn to our nature-inspired palette of earthy browns and mossy greens, sometimes I just crave a punch of psychedelic saffron or outrageous orange thrown in to spice it up a bit.

I am excited at the new opportunities to employ some of my favorite mid-century modern motifs in upcoming projects for my clients. It will be a chance to look toward the future while giving a nod to the past.

 I hope tonight’s martini will help me get over my Mad Men is ending funk. By the way, how long until the next season of Downton Abbey begins?

Sweating the Details

Gregory Vaughan - Sunday, March 01, 2015

I had several of those “what were they thinking?” moments last weekend during an open house tour.  One came while I was standing in a hallway leading to a master bedroom just off the entrance foyer.  As if on cue a woman behind me exclaimed, “why on earth did they put those there?” I turned and said “you took the words right out of my mouth,” while we shook our heads a grimaced. She continued, “and this is a million dollar house!”

We were staring at the double electrical panel for the home that were inexplicably visible in this vestibule area separating the master bedroom suite from the laundry room - all within view of the foyer. I suppose you could attempt to camouflage them with a piece of art. Unfortunately the panels’ awkward position in this recess would dictate that anything large enough to cover them would appear to be shoehorned into the space without any “breathing room.” Not an ideal look - but perhaps the lesser of two evils. Evils!? Always remember, the devil is in the details!

The placement seemed completely avoidable to me; careful planning during the design process should have presented different solutions. For example, why not located them in the adjacent laundry room, also off this vestibule? A better spot for the panels could have easily been located across from the washer and dryer above the built-in bench and storage cubbies. Here a large piece of art could have easily screened the panels from view and added a little finishing touch to what was already a rather nice space.

These electrical panels were not the only offenders during my tour. In another home, the transom windows of the commodious master bath shower offered unobstructed views directly to the second floor of the house next door. Howdy, neighbor! While I assume the home I was touring had been built first, didn’t anyone think, gee, somebody may someday build a house on that lot next door?

In another home the “great room” was anything but. Here the placement of the chandelier dictated a table would leave little room for any seating near the fireplace. Furthermore the adjacent “media room” was so small that a single lounge chair and ottoman would fill it up. I wondered why there was a wall, for without it there was an opportunity for this room to be great.

Another “miss” presented during the tour were examples of poorly placed light fixtures in several bathrooms. This is a pet peeve that can make my head spin. If you are going to have two light fixtures over two sinks on a double vanity, they need to be centered. Period.  If you are going to use decorative framed mirrors, center the lights. Please. Not even the most expensive wallpapers can diminish this mistake.

I don’t want to sound harshly critical.  Interior designers are trained to look beyond the pretty paint colors, polished granites and hand-scraped walnut floors.  In addition to the aesthetics, I focus my attention on form and function – working to ensure the devilish details are not missed. An additional set of professional eyes are crucial when planning a new house or remodeling an existing home. These are reasons to consult an interior designer during the planning phase. A successful designer will take a good, long, look at floor plans to make sure furniture groupings will work, electrical switches are where they should be, floor outlets are well positioned, lighting is placed correctly and electrical panels are inconspicuous. You need to pay attention to these details so your home can look like a million bucks.

Making a Dreamy Master Bedroom

Gregory Vaughan - Thursday, January 01, 2015

I did some shopping for beds over the weekend for my absolute most difficult client. Myself.

You see, I decided it was time to take a good look at my house and make a list of the things that needed attention and freshening. My list was rather long and included all sorts of issues ranging from a new faucet for the kitchen sink to a complete remodel of the laundry room. Some of the tasks to be addressed were relatively easy and inexpensive, some much more involved and costly. But none, I felt, would be more greatly appreciated than an overhaul of the master bedroom. As I have said before, it is where you begin and end your day. It needs to be special.

The master bedroom in my old house is actually the largest room in the house. Located on the second floor, it boasts several interesting features including twelve-foot high ceilings, 125 year-old heart of pine floors, a bay window and a fireplace. So, architecturally, it is not lacking any charm or detail. As the saying goes, it has good bones.

However, having lived there for thirteen years now, I’ve grown tired of the wall color, window treatments, the rug, and, especially, the bed. The décor needs a re-vamp to freshen it up a bit and make me fall in love with the space again. I am simply bored with it. And, I am not alone.

I recently completed a master suite renovation for my clients Linda and Joe. You may remember I wrote about their wonderful master bath transformation in this column at Thanksgiving. Well, that extensive bath remodel included a complete redo of the adjoining master bedroom too.

Linda was feeling the same way about her bedroom as I now do about mine. She and Joe had lived in the house for quite some time and she was sick of the golden-yellow walls - remember our Tuscan fascination of the 1990’s? The triple window overlooked a very private and park-like back yard but was obscured by utilitarian venetian blinds. The carpet, a typical builder-spec, contributed wall-to-wall blah-ness. Her red mahogany bedroom furniture was a matchy-matchy suit of very dark, traditionally styled pieces that moved with them from their former home up north. The bedding was a heavy and formal looking damask-patterned coverlet hovered over an ill-fitting bedskirt. “I can’t stand bedskirts! That thing has got to go,” Linda declared.

Except for one piece of art, we got rid of everything within the four walls and started from scratch. The art, a fabulously vibrant watercolor, served as the inspiration for the color palette and I knew I would prominently feature it over the headboard of the new bed. And since the bed is truly the key piece in a bedroom, we began there. Linda wanted something soft and light, which lead to our selection of a fully upholstered king bed in a textured, off-white woven fabric. Upholstered side rails and a low-profile footboard keep it tidy and eliminated the need for a bedskirt. Topped with a crisp matelasse coverlet and slightly decadent accent pillows, the bed sets the tone for luxury and comfort.

A warm blue hue, borrowed from the watercolor over the bed, became our choice for the walls. Nightstands painted in a distressed ivory keep the mood relaxed and were paired with a non-matching fruitwood dresser. A comfy reading chair, stolen from Joe’s office where it was never used, beckons you to bring a book. Gauzy, semi-sheer drapery panels hang from grommets on a satin nickel rod and fold back to let the light and view in. A linear textured wall-to-wall carpet now anchors the space and is about as far away from boring beige as you can get.

Linda and Joe love the new space. You can just tell by the way she lights up when asked about it. Will I do the same? I'll let you know. Sweet dreams!

Branch out from the traditional Christmas Tree

Gregory Vaughan - Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Those of you who follow my column regularly know that when it comes to the holidays, I am all about decking my halls to the max. There is nary a corner in my home that escapes some special sparkle and twinkling tinsel. Subtlety and restraint are not words anyone would use to describe my holiday decorating.

Of course, my holiday decor revolves around my towering Christmas tree. Each year my partner and I erect a giant Frazier fir in the living room on the day after Thanksgiving and then begin the weekend-long process of festooning it with all its shiny accoutrements. It is an arduous process that is at times fun and at others, not so much. However, come Sunday evening when the empty boxes have been put back into the attic and the dining table is no longer the "ornament staging area" we can relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the view. For us, the tree signals that the holiday season has officially begun.

As much as I (mostly) love putting up my tree, I do sometimes wonder when I will simplify the process. Last year we decided to "downsize" it a bit from what we used to do and we chose a 9-foot tall one instead of our usual 11-foot monster. We meant to do the same this year but I think we failed as we needed a ladder and not just a step-stool to string the lights and hang the star on top. Could I still have fabulous and festive holiday decor without my gargantuan, traditional, live tree?

Let's face it, not everyone has the time, motivation, or the space to put up a tree. Unlike me, you may not want to spend a weekend lugging boxes down from the attic, rearranging furniture, and borrowing a friend's truck simply to create a month-long fire-hazard installation in your living room. Does this make you a Scrooge? Of course not. Many people who celebrate and decorate for Christmas choose to forgo the tree.

My dear friends and neighbors Barbara and Ralph turn their beautiful Victorian home into a virtual winter wonderland every season, yet there is not a single Christmas tree to be found at their house. Outside, they have the front doors elegantly festooned with the most amazing fresh greens and garlands you have ever seen. This year metallic plaid ribbons and bows are woven into the wreaths. Both the front porch and a large crepe myrtle tree out front are meticulously outlined in twinkling white lights. It is postcard perfect.

The embellishments continue inside as well. On their living room fireplace mantle a collection of European Santa statues are displayed, each one a cherished treasure from a lifetime of travel. These Santas gaze out across the room to a most unusual Nativity scene perched on the console table behind the sofa. From the dining room chandelier hang glass ornaments, suspended from colorful ribbons. And they always have the most amazing fresh floral arrangements on the table and sideboard. When we gather at their house for Christmas dinner there is no mistaking which holiday we are celebrating despite the complete absence of a tree. In fact, I do not think anyone really notices that there isn't one.

So, will I ever be able to fully give up my tree? Perhaps, but I can guarantee you it will certainly be a gradual tapering off and scaling down rather than quitting the tradition cold turkey. However, when I think of how quickly I assemble and decorate the 5 foot tall frankly faux silver tinsel tree I place in my foyer, I am tempted to give a tree-free holiday season some serious consideration.

More to Holiday Decor than just the Tree

Gregory Vaughan - Monday, December 01, 2014

Those of you who follow my column regularly know that when it comes to the Christmas, I am all about decking my halls to the max. There is nary a corner in my home that escapes some special sparkle and twinkling tinsel. Subtlety and restraint are not words anyone would use to describe my holiday decorating.

Of course, my Yuletide decor revolves around my towering Christmas tree. Each year my partner and I erect a giant Frazier fir in the living room on the day after Thanksgiving and then begin the weekend-long process of festooning it with all its shiny accoutrements. It is a labor intensive process that is at times fun and at others, not so much. However, come Sunday evening when the empty boxes have been put back into the attic and the dining table is no longer the "ornament staging area" we can relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the view. For us, our glittering tree signals that the holiday season has officially begun.

As much as I (mostly) love putting up my tree, I do sometimes wonder when I will simplify the process. Last year we decided to "downsize" it a bit from what we usually do and we chose a 9-foot one instead of our usual 11-foot monster. We meant to do the same this year but we failed the eye test at the tree lot. We ended up needing a ladder and not just a step-stool to string the lights and hang the star on top.

Could I still have fabulous and festive holiday decor without my gargantuan, traditional, live tree?

Let's face it, not everyone has the time, motivation, or the space to put up a tree. Unlike me, you may not want to spend a weekend lugging boxes down from the attic, rearranging furniture, and borrowing a friend's truck simply to create a month-long fire-hazard installation in your living room. Does this make you a Scrooge? Of course not. Many people who celebrate and decorate for Christmas choose to forgo the tree.

My dear friends and neighbors Barbara and Ralph turn their beautiful Victorian home into a virtual winter wonderland every season, yet there is not a single Christmas tree to be found at their house. Outside, they have the front doors elegantly festooned with the most amazing fresh greens and garlands you have ever seen. This year metallic plaid ribbons and bows are woven into the wreaths. Both the front porch and a large crepe myrtle tree out front are meticulously outlined in twinkling white lights. It is postcard perfect.

The embellishments continue inside as well. On their living room mantle you will find a collection of European Santas, each one a cherished treasure from a lifetime of travel. They gaze across the room to a most unusual lighted Christmas village perched on the console table behind the sofa. From the dining room chandelier hang glass ornaments. Suspended from colorful ribbons they float above the most amazing fresh floral arrangements. And on their dining room mantle an army of glittery snowmen keep an eye on dinner guests. When we gather at their house for Christmas dinner there is no mistaking which holiday we are celebrating. In fact, I do not think anyone really notices that there isn't a tree in sight.

So, will I ever be able to fully give up my tree? Perhaps, but I can guarantee you it will certainly be a gradual tapering off and scaling down rather than quitting the tradition cold turkey. However, when I think of how quickly I assemble and decorate the 5 foot tall frankly faux silver tinsel tree I place in my foyer, I am tempted to give a tree-free holiday season some serious consideration. After all, when Barbara and Ralph call to say "Happy New Year," I realize they don't have a tree they have to take down.

Fall Fashion

Gregory Vaughan - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It’s that time of year again, change is in the air. Well, almost in the air, but I am not going to complain about these recent 80 degree temperatures at the end of October. Summer is definitely over, the kids are back in school, and the holidays are rapidly approaching.

It is also time for the Fall Furniture Market up in High point, North Carolina. Think of it as the bi-annual fashion show for the home where manufacturers and exhibitors showcase their latest collections so that designers like myself can catch a glimpse of the future trends in home decor.

This year I saw a revival of several themes from the past but as always these styles were tweaked and twisted like we have never seen before. The results were some fresh interpretations of familiar elements, sort of a look into the future with a nod to the past.

Here are some of the trends that caught my eye this market:

(NOT SO) TRADITIONAL TUFTING – Tufting is not only for Chesterfield sofas and leather ottomans, we are seeing it pop up all over the place. On seating, headboards, even some case goods, this traditional detail gets a twist with contrasting color or even metal buttons. It is a luxe detail that adds texture and dimension to solid fabrics and leather and can take a print fabric to the next level.

BOLD BRASS – It is coming back on everything from light fixtures to furniture to accessories. However, this is not the cheesy, shiny, polished brass of yesterday (like the outdated door hardware I recently talked my clients into replacing), but richly grained and brushed giving it an understated patina and allure. It instantly adds warmth and glow to a space.

PLENTY OF PIPING - contrast piping is showing up on a lot of upholstery - this time around it is done a little differently with brighter colors and new materials like metallic threads. It highlights interesting shapes and silhouettes and adds another layer to the design.

STATEMENT TABLES – Who says a table has to have 4 legs, straight edges and, well, just be plain and boring? No offense to the classic Parsons table but sometimes you just want to make a statement. Whether it is a live edge dining table that showcases the natural beauty of the bark of a tree or an unusual sculptural coffee table base supporting a floating glass top, tables are making their own statement.

DUAL FABRIC UPHOLSTERY – I am not talking about those patchwork quilt, shabby-chic style chairs and ottomans that were (unfortunately) in vogue a few years ago. This new trend is a much more sophisticated look which typically pairs a textured or patterned fabric with a solid one. Sometimes the pairing is more about subtle contrast material such as smooth leather on the outside back of a piece with a velvety chenille on the inside cushions.

BURLED, BLONDED, and CERUSED – after years of being drowned in dark stains or covered with paint, wood grain is again being celebrated for its natural beauty and warmth. Exotic inlays of curly maple evoke Neo-classical influences while honey toned veneers hint at Mid-Century Modern. My favorite is the French cerused finish which is a liming technique used on oak to elegantly highlight the linear grain. The technique is not new but the look is fresh, understated, and simply divine.

BRING THE INDOORS OUTSIDE – Manufacturers are really blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor furniture. Durable plush fabrics and intricately detailed weatherproof finishes will provide you with comfort and style you never thought possible for outdoor furniture. Given our wonderful climate here in the Lowcountry (80 degrees in October!) and the proliferation of outdoor rooms and entertaining spaces, these innovative all-weather products will serve us well.

So, is your home going to fall behind with the times or fly towards the future with the new trends? Remember, it is OK to pay homage to a classic look but infuse it with some contemporary flair for a fresh look and feel.


© Kelley Designs Incorporated/Website by Hazel Digital Media