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High Low Design Philosophy

Weekend Recap….

Did you have a good weekend?  We had a low key one around here but it was productive.  On Saturday a friend and I went to that Blue Print sale I mentioned on Friday.  We parked in front of a consignment shop and decided to take a twirl through on the way out.  Look what I scored, I couldn’t believe my luck….it was on hold but I learned later in the day that the person decided to pass.  My luck!

The duo is in excellent condition and will look even better when I’ve got it recovered in my own fabric.  Do you see the striking resemblance to the chair and ottoman I’ve been coveting but hesitating on ordering because it is so costly….

I couldn’t believe my luck!  Then we headed over to Nick Brock Antiques where our builder (and now friend) actually sells some pieces and I spotted these, which are hers.  Sold in a pair.  You may recall that I’ve got a little obsession at the moment.  Need to show my husband….when he is in a good mood!

On Sunday we spent most of the day in the yard.  My husband was working on one of the garden beds in the back yard and I was working on re-finishing the chairs and table for our front porch.  I still have a light sand and one final coat of paint to go.  But, much more fun than seeing a set of in process chairs…..Harry decided to make a pool out of a bucket.  Silly boy!  He must have spent an hour getting in and out of this bucket!

Throw in a date night and a trip to the pool and all in all it was a nice weekend.  Did you do anything fun?

PS–Check back later today I am going to try to list some more fabric remnants.  I am trying to get my office cleaned out and organized as I have some changes in the works for Maddie G later this summer…

High vs. Low….Can you tell????

Did you see this feature in the latest issue of Style at Home?

Version One

Photograpy, Andrew Grinton

Version Two

Photograpy, Andrew Grinton

One version cost almost $16,000 while the other, closer to $6,000.

Can you spot the difference?

What gave it away?

I’ll post the answer later.


UPDATE:  Those of you who guessed that the “High” was the first photo were correct.  For me, the Madeline Weinrib pillow and the side table helped give it away.  But, I think the look for less shows very well how you don’t always have to spend a fortune to get a great look.  Thanks for all of the comments….it’s always fun to know people are reading.

High vs. Low? Can you spot the difference?

I used to love the High vs. Low features in Metropolitan Home magazine.  Can you spot the high vs. low in the similar items below?

image from Midwest Home Magazine

Can you believe the “high” in the above retails at over FIVE times the “low?”  I’ll update this with the answer tonight.

[Update:  Well, you all got it right.  "A" is from Century Furniture and retails at over $10K.  "B" is from Jardins en Fleur and retails for almost 5 times less!]

Bone Quatrefoil Mirror Look for Less

Last week, I enlisted the help of my readers, here, to help me find a mirror I have been obsessing over for months.  Holly from Things that Inspirewas kind enough to email Suzanne Kasler (how lucky is she to be working with her on the design and decorating of her own home?) and learned that the mirror I love is a vintage piece, but may show up as a reproduction in one of her many (Hickory Chair, Ballard Designs, etc.) lines in the future.  I am still waiting to hear back from Veranda magazine to see if they have a source from the Kathryn Ireland feature…but I am guessing this version is also an antique.  Fingers crossed, though.

Holly also suggested I look at a Quatrefoil shaped mirror from Ironies, see below.  This polished, pieced-boned mirror is exquisite.

Ironies Quatrefoil Mirror

The Ironies mirror measures 48”W x 48”H x 1.5”D.  Unfortunately, this is a bit large (height) for my space.  It would literally be within an inch from the crown molding and mantel if hung centered over the mantel.  I am not positive on the color either, especially since this is the wall (open hallway to the sunken family room) facing the mantel….

Niermann Weeks Sample Sale Balustrade Lamp

Of course, anything from Ironies can be customized….so the option is there….the door open…..

As luck would have it, my Ballard Designs catalog arrived in the mail yesterday and guess what?  Yep, they have their own version of this mirror.  It measures 36”W x 36”H, so it would theoretically work in my space.   And, it would cost a few thousand less than the Ironies version, making this the “look for less” in the title of this post!

ballard designs quatrefoil mirror like ironies araby mirror

While I think the Ballard version  is nice, I am still holding out hope I’ll find my first love, the wood sunburst mirror I’ve fallen so in love with.  And, my husband is holding out hope that I’ll forget the whole mirror-over mantel vision.  We’ll see.


Still Inspiring the Second Time Around

Last month, I posted here about one of the winners of the Winter 2007 Oprah at Home magazine reader design contest.  Nate Berkus surprised three readers in their homes to let them know they had won the contest. 

Another winner was Kirsten Hollister from Minneapolis, MN.  She and her family had lived in Switzerland for three years and her style evolved over those years.  According to the article, she became fascinated with Northern European design, especially how to meld modern with traditional and how to make a small space work for a family.  She reportedly acquired a number of pieces during their three year stay.

Imagine my surprise when I was flipping through the current issue of Cottage Style magazine in the grocery line last week.  I immediately knew I had seen this home before.  A different title “Tour of Europe” but the house was unmistakably the same. 

I was surprised at how little in the home had changed in the three years between publication dates, yet how current and fresh the home’s designs remained.  It was also fun to see a few new glimpses into her home in the latest feature.

Dining Room Then

 Nate Berkus and Kristin Hollister Home

Photography by Björn Wallander for Oprah at Home, Winter 2007

Dining Room Now

Cottage Style 2010 Minnesota Home

Photography by Kim Cornelison for Cottage Style, 2010

Other than different table styling and different flowers in the urn on the console, the room looks nearly identical in the two features.  The Cottage Style photo shows a bit wider view, and we are able to see how she installed interior lattice “shutters” for visual effect.  They were also handy for hanging sconces and for drawing attention to the framed prints.

The lighting flanking the buffet is an interesting blend of traditional shape and modern materials.  Designed by Ferruccio Laviani for Kartell, these lamps are adjustable to three different heights, making them suitable for use as both a decorative table lamp or a desk lamp.  A quick Internet search shows these lamps retail at just over $350.

Instead of using dining chairs, Hollister used slipcovered storage benches (Ikea).  She uses the same benches in the breakfast nook below.

Breakfast Nook Then

Breakfast Area Nate Berkus Kirsten Hollister

Photography by Björn Wallander for Oprah at Home, Winter 2007

Breakfast Nook Now

Cottage Style Tour of Europe Breakfast Nook 2010

Photography by Kim Cornelison for Cottage Style, 2010

Again, it does not appear that a lot about the breakfast nook has changed in the past three years.  The Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams striped chairs appear to have been replaced by slipcovered Parsons chairs.  However, the striped counterparts still flank the buffet in the dining room in both images. 

It looks like the floating Ikea shelves have acquired another flea market painting.  I still love the framed chalkboard (this is the feature I spotted in the grocery store that reminded me I had seen this house before).  According to the O at Home feature, Hollister purchased the mirror from an antique store, where the owners had broken out the mirror and sprayed the backing with chalkboard paint.  The table, a reproduction of the iconic Eero Saarinen design, was also from Ikea.

Thankfully, the two magazines did feature a few different rooms in this house.  From the Oprah at Home magazine, we see a guest room/study, a close up of a vignette from the living room, and a bathroom, respectively.  I love the ingenuity here, the footstool is covered in a re-purposed pillow sham.  Perhaps a bit of a surprise the crowns, sea shells, butterflies and bird print all work together in the living room vignette.   In the bathroom, I love how the installation of bead-board and a decorative mirror and sconce gave a small bathroom an updated and cozy feel.

Nate Berkus Kirsten Hollister Oprah O At Home reader contest

Nate Berkus Kirsten Hollister Oprah Magazine Reader Contest Minnesota

Nate Berkus Kirsten Hollister Oprah Reader Contest Bathroom Beadboard

Above Photography by Björn Wallander for Oprah at Home, Winter 2007

And, in the recent Cottage Living feature we are introduced to the living room, which consists of  more slipcovered Parsons chairs, in the feedbag look that is so popular at the moment.  The nesting tables that function as a coffee table are reportedly from a discount chain.  And, if you look closely it looks like two identical rugs are placed side by side  creating a seamless look (and probably saving some $$).  The tightly slipcovered sofa (not fully pictured here) was found abroad for a mere $25!

Kirsten Hollister Cottage Style Living Room

Kirsten Hollister Living Room Minnesota 2010

Above Photography by Kim Cornelison for Cottage Style, 2010

And, while not specifically mentioned in either article, I have a feeling that the simple Venetian blinds used throughout the house could be from Home Depot.  I love to use these blinds when budget is an issue– they feature a grain to give the look of wood, are easy to install and can be cut to your particular window dimensions by Home Depot personnel.  (I’ve used them in projects previously and currently have them on the Spring project list for three windows and a door in our garage.)

Design View Blinds from Home Depot

I really love the opportunity to view good examples of high-low decorating style.  You would never know this home was only 1,700 square feet.   This homeowner has such a great eye for what will work and I love the eclectic mix she used to pull it all together.  Today, with sites like craigslist, etsy, and ebay finding unique items at good prices is relatively easy.  Having the eye and the skill to pull it all together, therein lies the art!

High Low Style from Winter, 2007 Oprah at Home Reader Contest

Last Friday I posted about the foyer and living room of a Highland Park Dallas home.  My post, here, highlights the key elements the designer used to create a one of a kind room.  I love that you walk into the home and it is not as if you are walking into any other house on the block, where it could have been decorated by anyone who had access to a Pottery Barn catalog and a credit card.  Nothing against Pottery Barn, I shop there myself (as evidenced by my recent post on my daughter’s nursery).  But, I do not want to want to feel like my home could easily be my neighbor’s.  I want my home to reflect my family’s personal style.

The Highland Park home is obviously extremely high end.  And, in this economy the average person likely does not have the inclination to spend such a large sum on one room alone.  I, myself, am struggling with the decor in my living room.  I’ve had the room painted and purchased a custom sofa, Conrad shades and curtains I love.  But, I keep dragging my feet on ordering the rug, appropriate chairs, tables, etc.  I’ve got furniture in there….but it isn’t the look I want at all.  Like many others, I am trying to prioritize my budget and something somewhere has to give.

As I was thinking about priorities I remembered an old O at Home Magazine article from Winter 2007.  This house must have been featured on her show as well, because I am not seeing as much of this home in the magazine as I had remembered.  In any case, that issue featured the homes of three readers.  These homes were not designed using only high end “trade only” pieces or the services of professional interior designers.  But, rather, they were designed by normal, busy women who found it important to make their houses “home” for their families.

I enjoyed all of the homes.  But, particularly remember that of Jenn Feldman and her husband.  According to the article, after relocating from NY to Beverly Hills to be with her then fiance,  Jenn gave herself a deadline of 30 days to spruce up their new condo.  I love how she managed to create a high end look using her budget wisely.

All images from www.oprah.com.

Flea Market finds, staircase, blue, black console table, interior design, interior decorating

Jenn made the most of the odd shaped space above this buffet by hanging pictures in descending size to mimic the stairway.  Her collection of glass decanters look organized on a silver tray.

to the trade, trade only, O at Home Magazine, JC Penny, monogram

Nate Berkus, picture book, interior design, trade only, to the trade, interior decorating, jc penny

While the bed may be high end, the blanket is from JC Penny and the bench, a recovered flea market find.  The monogram gives a custom look to an ordinary piece.  The framed botanical prints are from a book…she tore them out and framed them.  The pillows on the bed are from Target and Restoration Hardware.  In her living room (not pictured) she has Jonathan Adler stools atop a rug from Lowe’s. 

Nate Berkus, interior design, to the trade only, trade only, interior deocrator, sea fan, linen, blue

Nate berkus, interior design, blue, beverly hills, interior decorating, blue, high low decorating

To pull the above space together, Jenn painted the ceiling and the floors the same blue.  Strategically placed vases and art keep the eyes moving.  With an attention to detail, Jenn spray painted the sea fans blue before framing them on a linen background.  The Ikat pillows in contrasting colors help perpetuate the blue and white theme of this space.  Again, the monogram on the pillow offers a custom touch.  The ottoman doubles as a coffee table when not needed for extra seating.  I love how well this small space is used.

I also love how she continues the color scheme out on the porch, creating an extension of the indoor space.

Nate Berkus, O at Home Magazine Contest Winner 2007, powder room, jane churchill, trade only, interior design, interior decorating

Finally, the powder room is another example of the high-low style of this home.  Jane Churchill wallpaper covers the walls, while the vanity, sink and mirror are from Z Gallerie.

I love peeking into the homes of “real” people and seeing how a beautiful home can be pulled together through hard work and vision.  Can you believe she created this space in 30 days?

I’d love to hear how you have incorporated a high-low philosophy into the design of your home (or that of a client).  In these tough economic times, I think the ability to accomplish this this shows true design ability.