The Drama of Black

So this is a bit of a selfish post.  My husband was being forced to watch one of my (many) PVR’d design shows not long ago and when it came to the reveal, he really didn’t like the black walls the designer had chosen to create and proceeded to tell me that he didn’t like black walls, period.  I was vociferously opposed to his view as I had been quietly harbouring dreams of painting some black walls in whichever new place we may be moving to in the near future.  He said absolutely not, he just doesn’t like them.  I said I would show him some fabulous rooms with black walls and convert him to a hip, black wall-lover.  So this post is really for him.  With some stuff for you thrown in there too!

What I love about black is that it is so dramatic and sophisticated.  It can instantly add strength to a space and it is classic.  Just think about all those LBDs us gals have been wearing for decades.  The black in this room is softened by the use of the natural materials in the blinds and the basket and by pairing it with a warm wood desk.

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This space is just so glamorous with the contrasting black and white decor and the use of timeless furniture pieces.  Really nicely modernised with the cowhide zebra stripe rug and the slipcovered chair.

glamourous Black Walls

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This black entranceway designed by Kelly Wearstler allows all the graphic patterns and metallic finishes to shine while creating a striking backdrop.

kelly wearstler black entrance hall

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Black absorbs light, so black walls work really well in a space that receives a good amount of natural light. Though if you are aiming to create a warm, cave-like feel, black walls will make a calming choice.  In her book All About Colour, colour guru Janice Lindsay identifies that ‘black can feel like a security blanket, private and safe.’ Paint with a sheen to it will help move the light around the room, whereas a matte paint finish will fully absorb the light.  Matte paint will also hide more imperfections in the wall than a glossy finish will.

This space feels a bit cave-like to me.  Enveloping and cozy and inviting and what a beautiful creative space it would be to work in!

black office

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Here’s another warm and inviting space with very saturated hues mixed into the black room.

saturated red chair with black walls & fireplace

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This inviting black and white kitchen was posted by House Beautiful nearly 10 years ago and because of it’s ageless design and colour scheme it is still looking current.  To update this kitchen in the future, all you will likely need to do is change the pendant lights and a few accessories.

black & white kitchen

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Here is another classic kitchen design, but with a modern black ceiling.  There is much talk about what a black ceiling will do to a space.  I feel like it makes the ceiling disappear and therefore makes it seem much higher.  Others say the opposite, that it can bring the ceiling in and make the space feel more enclosed.  What do you think?

white kitchen with black ceiling

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Of course we all have black workhorses in our wardrobes – those outfits or pieces we turn to time and again because they work with everything.  I love this classic Chanel inspired boucle jacket paired with an edgy pair of leather skinnies and open toed boots.  Very chic.

All Black Outfit

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Model Karlie Kloss puts a spin on the classic black pants and white top by reversing it and wearing it for winter.

black top white pants winter

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How pretty is this elegant black party dress with the crushed velvet bodice and tulle skirt? It could easily have come out of the 1950s and would be a perfect Christmas or New Years party dress.

Classic black dress

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Marilyn Monroe wears a great little black dress here that is still fashionable today.  And aren’t those seams sexy?

marilyn monroe little black dress

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So what do you think about dramatic black?  Will it make the transition from your wardrobe and onto your ceiling or walls? Will it become as classic as it has in our wardrobes?

What’s the Difference Between Turquoise & Teal

Some friends and I were talking about colour the other day and all of a sudden I realised that we weren’t necessarily talking about the same colour.  Turquoise and teal seemed to be referred to interchangeably.

Since I’ve long loved both colours (though I hold a special kind of obsession for anything turquoise!), I thought it was a good excuse to dive into a turquoise & teal design world and so I began a little research to resolve the difference between the two hues. (Besides, the paper company GF Smith recently announced that Marrs Green, a very rich teal colour, is the ‘world’s favourite colour” after conducting an international online survey, so it’s good to know what everyone is loving so much!)

The Camgridge Dictionary defines teal as ‘a dark greenish-blue colour’, which, for any trivia buffs out there, I learned on wikipedia is named after the deep green-blue found around the eye of the common teal duck.

How gorgeous is this rich teal velvet sofa with that patterned wallpaper in the same hue? Hits of acid yellow and red punch up the colour scheme.

teal velvet sofa

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I love this classic entranceway in Paris with its dramatic teal door.

Paris door teal

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This is a beautiful teal wall colour paired with a more true-blue sofa, which helps create a layered feel. This pic also illustrates how teal can work with many other colours. And oooh that llama!

teal velvet sofa & teal walls

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This floral print wallpaper with its warm teal background is the perfect way to add some life to a small powder room.

teal floral wallpaper in powder room

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Teal vs Turquoise

Colour Experts Pantone describe turquoise (Pantone 15-5519 colour of the year in 2010) as ‘combining the serene qualities of blue and the invigorating aspects of green’. This colour is still going strong in its popularity.  It’s named after the turquoise stone often worn as jewelry.

This is such a pretty turquoise and white kitchen, which looks amazing with those hexagonal terra cotta floor tiles.  Turquoise with corals and reds is such a great, welcoming colour combination. The hint of industrial in the stools and cement countertops keeps it feeling modern.

turquoise kitchen

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I feel like this dining room is channeling a little design icon Dorothy Draper with the use of the ornate, oversized white mirror, the large leaves and the cheerful turquoise walls and seat cushions.

turquoise dining room

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This is a happy little spot in a house with a turquoise cushion on the old rustic bench. This works particularly well because the turquoise is repeated in the artwork.

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I’m in love with Kay’s pretty turquoise front door that she shares on her Instagram page @onceupona1912. It’s such a lovely colour to greet people with (Sherwin Williams Waterscape) and it looks great styled with the purple & pink flowers.

turquoise door onceupona1912

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Teal appeared on the red carpet a few years ago, which is why we are seeing its increased popularity in decor.  It seems to have some longevity in fashion though, perhaps because it is a universally flattering colour.  I love this teal print dress that Sarah Jessica Parker is wearing.  It is again paired with acid yellow, which really brightens it up.

Sarah Jessica Parker in teal dress

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This is a well put together outfit with the teal shirt dress and brown leather accessories.

teal tunic long boots outfit

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This teal jacket & blouse look so fresh paired with white pants.

teal jacket, teal blouse with white pants

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While I think this sweater comes more under the category of mint, it is in the turquoise family and the light shade looks so good paired with a pinky-beige jacket and white jeans.

mint pullover white jeans

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I love this icy combination of the turquoise knit winter coat with the white pants & blouse.  So pretty.

turquoise coat with white pants

So are you a teal lover or a turquoise gal? I have to say I really love both and they are such versatile colours that will go with just about any other colour in the spectrum.  Since they are flattering on every skin tone, I see their popularity lasting a long time. What about you?

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Design Project Miri, Malaysia

What a fun project to be a part of at the Piasau Boat Club in Miri, Malaysia!  A regular hangout for locals and expats, the Boat Club is a unique place on the Miri landscape.  Its beautiful sunset views, great outdoor children’s play area, water access and water sports facilities are all part of its draw.  While all these things are enjoyable, the restaurant and bar were badly in need of an update.

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The Club called out for an interior that reflected its landscape – something bright and beachy.  Fantastic contractor Simon Clarke-Ward put the  bar together, including the facing with reclaimed wood, which adds great texture to the space.

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The space was previously dark and felt heavy. It was definitely outdated with all the dark wooden furnishings and orange floor tiles.

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After Photo by Patrycja Ryba

The space wanted to feel more open and cohesive, to be welcoming.  With a coat of warm white paint and new floor tile, the bar and dining room are now visually linked.  The white-washed tables add a hint of the beach, while the wide blue stripes are a nod to the nautical.  Above, I included a member’s gallery wall containing photos from parties and events held over the years, which can be regularly rotated to showcase new pictures.

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A gloomy and dated children’s play area was located in a prime piece of real estate in the club.

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After Photo by Patrycja Ryba

Now this is an inviting social spot in which a group can enjoy a meal and a few drinks with friends and family.

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The beautiful mosaic above was created by Joyce Redpath, one of the Club’s members.

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Now a much brighter and open space, this is an inviting part of the restaurant overlooking the water.

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The Piasau Boat Club is now a cheerful and welcoming place.  Its unique position at the Miri seaside is enhanced by its warm and inviting interior.  It’s a special place in which to enjoy a meal, a few drinks and one of the many beautiful sunsets.

 

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Sophisticated Office Style

I spend a lot of time in my home office.  I love my little lair where rarely anyone treads aside from me and the cat.  I like it to look pretty and to be comfortable.  Pretty much how I would like my office attire to look (if I was going to an office), but there are always times when you need to dress for a meeting or work even if you aren’t going to a conventional workplace everyday.  Below some inspiration for our home offices as well as our work (or meeting) clothes.

I love this combo of classic grey dress with an edgy leather jacket and oversized pearls.  The pop of colour with the clutch is fun too.

Grey dress with leather jacket

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This is a great simple black on black work look worn by Victoria Beckham.

 Victoria Beckham

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This mix of navy dress with neutral accessories of brown boots and grey handbag modernizes a tried and true work look.

Navy dress with brown boots office look

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This classic black & white outfit is updated with a graphic print on the top and the beaded collar worn with an oversized bag.

Black & white office outfit

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This is a great look if your office allows for a smart casual dress code. Super simple, but professional.

smart casual office

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This home office is a real space for the girls!  There are lots of feminine shapes here, but the black accents keep the scheme grounded and adds drama to the room.

black, white and pink home office

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This white on white office is very chic.  Lots of interest added with the constantly changing mood board. Having it in a frame makes it more special and contains the visual busyness of it.

white on white office

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This is great use of a corner space for a home office. The navy, grey and white colour pallet is really sophisticated with a pop of yellow.

home office

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If you read my blog regularly, you will probably know that I love the look of natural wood mixed with black accessories.  Add a hit of grey, as below, and you have a magic combination. The huge pendant lights are a cool play on scale.

oversized pendant lights over desk

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This is also a good solution for a home office if you are short on space. The metallics reflect light around the room, which helps with the feeling of space.  And the mix of black and metallics and that gorgeous black and white picture against the textured grey wall is just gorgeous!

black and metal office nook

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What is your favourite office look?  Do you have room for a home office?  Is it a corner or do you have space for a dedicated room?

Add Character with Vintage

It’s no secret that vintage is back.  It’s been back for a while, which is making it particularly difficult to find authentic vintage pieces in stores or online, so lots of replicas and copycat designs are cropping up all over the place.  I’ve always loved the look of mixing old with new to create a completely modern and unique style – what woman doesn’t love having something no one else has?  Here are some great vintage-inspired looks both for the home and the closet.

Rachel Zoe dons retro from her hat to her shoes.

rachel zoe vintage style

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This is such a flirty 50’s look.  So pretty.

vintage party outfit

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Katy Perry is queen of vintage style. She has that sexy, pinup look down to a fine science.

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Love these vintage-style stripes!

vintage stripes

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In interior design, it’s always great to have something vintage in your space as it adds a sense of history and tells a story about you and your world.  Vintage pieces, particularly mid-century modern pieces, are classics and will never go out of style.

I love Emily Henderson’s cooky style.  She mixes odd & interesting vintage pieces with such flare and her rooms are so alive because of it.

Emily Henderson's retro house

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This room has a lot of vintage and classic elements happening.  The neutral colour palette allows them all to work well together.

vintage style interior decorating

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This is a classic retro Scandinavian look – teak cabinet, Saarinan Tulip table, teak and leather chair.  You can’t go wrong with wood and black and white. Clean and timeless.

vintage home decor

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This room is filled with lots of found treasures. It looks comfortable, casual and welcoming.

vintage interior design

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So what’s your take on the vintage vibe?  Are you up for adding a little retro to your home or wardrobe?

Creature Comforts – Animal Prints

Well, it’s been a while, but I’ve recently been inspired to renew my blog and what better time to start than in the New Year? And what better thing to start it off with than one of my favourites – animal print.  It’s sexy and a little bit daring and if used properly at home and in an outfit it can be classy too.

Adriana Gastelum makes leopard print casual with cut offs and a safari style shirt.

Adriana Gastélum in leopard print top

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These skinny snake print pants are gorgeous with heels and a fitted jacket.

snake skin print pants

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Gwen Stefani, always the style icon, adds a little leopard print with a fedora

Gwen Stefani in leopard print hat

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Sarah Rae Vargas is rocking this leopard print dress!  Beautiful with a pop of red in that clutch.

Ravings by Rae leopard print

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This zebra print coat is gorgeous with those orange heels!

zebra print coat

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I love to see a little dash of animal prints in interiors.  It reminds me a bit of the 5 years we lived in South Africa.  My personal belief is that a little goes a long way in a room.  It can easily look cheap, so you have to be careful how you apply it, but I think the following are great examples of the successful use of animal prints.

This subtle zebra print wallpaper adds nice interest to the space without being aggressive or overwhelming.  The cowhide reinforces the subtle theme.

zebra wallpaper

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It’s unusual to see a dalmation-like print, but this really works.  The gold book case and simple pallette add class to this vignette.

dalmation print wallpaper

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I like this hit of Zebra print on the ottomans in the room below.  It works well with the other black and white elements in the room and the bright green print keeps it fresh and modern.

Zebra print ottomans

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I’ve had a hard time finding a picture of leopard print used in home decor that doesn’t look a bit cheap, but this ottoman works.  I think it’s because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s been made to look a bit more casual with the piping and surrounding decor elements.

leopard print ottoman

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So, are you bold enough to try animal print in your closet or interior? How will you pair it with your wardrobe or design?

Interior Designers’ personal style vs. fashion sense

I’ve always been fascinated by what Interior Designers wear; if their wardrobe reflects their design style, if it’s trendy or classic, colourful or monochromatic, etc. (even more fascinating to me are those in the design world who don’t seem to have the ability to dress well, yet are able to create the most gorgeous spaces.  But I’ll leave that for another post).  So today I bring you a comparison between some well known interior designers and the way they style themselves…

First up, girl-next-door Sarah Richardson:

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Sarah tends to wear casual, classic items with a bit of a funky touch to them, which definitely reflects her love of vintage inspiration and the use of second-hand finds in her interior design style, though I think her interiors generally tend to be more formal than the way she usually dresses (this picture being from her relaxed cottage interior and therefore the counterpart to her usual jeans attire).

The beautiful and talented Kelly Hoppen:

Kelly Hoppen style

Kelly Hoppen interior

I think Kelly’s slinky, retro outfit perfectly reflects the sexy, vintage style of her living room design.  That hit of yellow in the space mirrors the vibrancy of her dress. And that gorgeous hanging chair is the living room’s chandelier earrings like those peeking out of her wild curls.  Kelly definitely likes to add an element of surprise to her often monochromatic interiors and appears to replicate that in her clothing as well.

Fellow Canadian Candice Olsen:

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Candace Olsen Kitchen design

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Candice has a way of making a room really captivating, adding layers and using pieces that will see you through years of enjoyment without requiring an update.  She dresses similarly, always adding an interesting element and mixing her timeless pieces with something that pops, in this case her top.

The super smily Nate Berkus:

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Nate Berkus hallway design

Nate’s personal style preference appears to be a smart-casual look – sports jacket or shirt and tie – quite tailored and classic, yet comfortable.  His interiors definitely have a masculine touch with tailored elements and there is often something that makes you smile about them too, so that reflects his personality.

What do you think?  Is the interior style of these designers comparable to their taste in clothing?  Tell me what you think in the comments section below.