26 August 2009

Style List #5 - The $150 Max Library Edition

I love home libraries, or studies, as they're sometimes called. These are relaxing retreats from the madness of everyday life. In her game-changing Not So Big House book, architect and author Sarah Susanka coined the term "Away Room" for a retreat that can be closed off from the home's hustle and bustle. My Away Room would be a library, filled with my favorite art, collectibles, family photographs, music and, of course, books!

Those are the elements that make a home library your personal sanctuary. What are the elements, though, that make it workable and comfortable?

A great library incorporates all five of these Style List components:

1. Comfortable seating
2. Excellent lighting
3. At least one terrific table
4. Stylish bookcases
5. Inspiring d├ęcor

Let's take a look. And let's do it with the Recession in mind. As in all of the Style List postings, none of the items included here costs more than $150. Many are less than $100. All can turn that spare bedroom or even a corner of your basement into the library of your dreams.

Comfortable Seating

You probably aren't going to find a leather Buster recliner or Eames lounge chair for $150 or less, unless you're a very lucky flea market shopper. If you already own such a classic, your new library can be its new home. If you don't, here are a couple of seating substitutes that may warm your fanny, if not the flames in your heart.

Ektorp Tullsta from Ikea offers different slipcovers to match your decor.
I like this neutral one that can be dressed up with colorful pillows and throws.

Ikea also offers the Poang Chair and Footstool, which would look great in a library with rich dark, wood cabinets.

Other great resources for finding the right chair for your library include Craig's List, Freecycle, local thrift stores and ebay. (I spotted two sets of Poang armchairs with footstools for only $165 on the site today.) I believe strongly that you should be able to sit in a chair before you buy it, so I'd avoid situations where you can't do that, unless you've already tested that model for comfort elsewhere. I'd also inspect any wood for termites and store your chair in the garage until you can have the upholstery professionally cleaned.

Excellent Lighting

You're going to want at least two types of lighting in your library, (possibly three). The two essentials are ambient/room lighting -- most likely a ceiling fixture -- and task lighting. The latter will be floor and/or table lamps to read, study or work by. The third possible lighting type you might incorporate is accent lighting. This might highlight a favorite painting or sculpture, or even uplight a small tree in the room's corner.

I like this pair of coordinating Regatta II Polished Steel lamps from Bellacor for your floor and table or desk.

This Gotham Bronze Five-Light Chandelier, (also available in a smaller Three-Light version for smaller rooms), also from Bellacor just says "library" to me!

These Photographers Lamps from Pottery Barn can both illuminate and update your library.

Here's an old-world style accent light with new world technology: The Natural Daylight Cordless Gallery Lamp from Hammacher Schlemmer works on long-lasting LEDs.

Terrific Tables

You don't need a large table for a library, just a small surface to park the book you're currently reading and maybe a cup of tea. Some larger home libraries can accommodate a large table for spreading out papers or enjoying a hobby. Many more won't. Here are some smaller tables to consider, the first three from Cost Plus World Market, the last from Ballard Designs.

Each one of these Ajara tables costs less than $150. Choose which one suits your needs the best.

These charming Moroccan Painted Tables will add a touch of the exotic to your library.

This Puri table is probably my favorite. I love the versatility of tray tables and already own one for my future library.

Ballard calls its tables, cloths and glass tops "Terrific Trios." The cover on this one reminds me of Cote de Texas' guest blog post on burlap last month!

Stylish Bookcases

Libraries just wouldn't be libraries without books and bookcases! And a beautiful wall of built-in bookcases, like the one shown top right featuring KraftMaid cabinetry, can cost many thousands of dollars. (I know. I've designed them for custom homes.) You don't have to go bankrupt to get great-looking units. Here are some affordable solutions, any one of which can hold your books, collectibles, family photos and CDs. (I'm not a fan of TVs in a library, so I'm intentionally not mentioning DVDs and other video storage.)

Ikea's Billy Bookcases come in multiple finishes, sizes and with accessories like glass doors, for the most versatile, affordable library imaginable. Add your own crown molding for a traditional built-in look.

I love the look of white built-ins, which these free-standing Do Your Room Bookcases from Target mimic. They come in multiple sizes, each one for less than $150.

Pier1's Fretted Folding Shelves hold books and collectibles in transitional style.

Ikea's Expedit bookcases come in light, dark, stained and painted finishes. They also come in low, shown here, and tall units. What I really like is their open backs, which can help you carve a library out of an existing room.

Target's X-Text Three Shelf Bookcase brings modern style to a library that wants to break away from the traditional.

Inspiring Decor/Part One - Incorporating Your Personality

Because a library should relax and recharge your personal batteries, I believe they should host your favorite family photos and collectibles. Your new bookcases can house your pottery or crystal. They can also show off your favorite photos, as can your table tops. Your walls can display your travel mementos and other memorabilia. This is all about reminding you of the best in life as you unwind at the end of a tough day or week.

This handsome Parchment Paper Globe with Stand from Cost Plus World Market will remind you of your favorite vacations.

These stylish Everglades Frames from Z Gallerie will make even ancient Uncle Edgar look amazing.

Celebrate your favorite books with jacket-inspired posters. This Harry Potter title comes from Posters.com. Dress it up with a coordinating frame.

Fill these Hayden Hurricanes from Williams Sonoma Home with your favorite flowers, scented candles or even shells from your list beach trip.

Inspiring Decor/Part Two - Adding Creature Comforts

Your library should be a space you feel comfortable enjoying, not just a storage spot for your books. Consider these additions to enhance the homey quality of your retreat.

Toss a cashmere throw onto your favorite armchair for added coziness and luxury. On sale at Restoration Hardware, these fit our Style List budget.

Soften your space with one of these French Vintage Pillow Covers, also from Restoration Hardware

Put your feet up in style on American Signature Furniture's Taos Coffee Ottoman

Enjoy your favorite tunes with JBL's On Stage III Speaker Dock for your iPod, available on Amazon.com.

Inspiring Decor/Part Three - Toss in a Few Classics

Show off some classic details with these library additions.

Enjoy this handsome Editor's Desk from Levenger, a retail resource for serious readers.

Brighten a row of books with these Crystal Ball Bookends from Restoration Hardware

Vent your style demons with these 20th Century Scroll Register Covers, also from Restoration Hardware.

Give your ceilings old-world charm with this Victorian Effect Paintable Wallpaper from Grandin Road.

Enjoy the entire Style List - $150 Max Edition Series

Home Office

18 August 2009

Color Notes: Orange Crush

Welcome to the latest Color Notes posting. The purpose of this series is to share inspiring products and helpful ideas for the many hues you might want to incorporate into your home's design scheme. One of my colleagues - the talented and lovely Nikki Harmon - is planning colors for her new apartment, so I asked her whether she'd prefer to see Orange or Green noted next. Her answer was a resounding "Orange," so here you go!

Why orange?

Orange blends the warmth of red and yellow, the two primary colors that come together to create it. So you can pretty much use it in the same rooms you'd use either of those shades - e.g., kitchens, dining rooms, home office, study, laundry room.

A deep pumpkin will enhance a library or study. A bright citrus can add a kick to a teen's room or a man cave.

Where not to go orange

I'd avoid orange in a bedroom, as its red tones might cause sleeplessness. I'd also avoid it in a bath or study intended for relaxation. I also wouldn't pair orange with mid-tone woods like golden oak, as the look will just go muddy.

I love orange with...

Pink and purple

As seen in this Monkeyin' Around Sun N Shade fabric from Waverly

Olive, brown and cream

Shown here in Modwall's Lush Tile blend

Navy and pale green

Seen here in this reproduction poster

Organic Matchstick Sateen Shams at West Elm

Orange you excited?

How daring do you feel today? Here are some awesome orange goodies to consider for your favorite room in the house...

Sit pretty on this Egg Chair at Design within Reach

Or on Pottery Barn's Olivia Sofette

Or in Z Gallerie's Soho Pavilion

Go exotic with Gump's Orange Dragon Garden Stool

West Elm's Embroidered Ethnic Duvet Covers

Or Wisteria's Moorish Chest

Go retro with Urban Outfitters' Jet Set Storage Bench
(Reminds me of the 1950s sofa and chairs I grew up with!)

Pottery Barn's Argyle Knit Euro Shams

An Authentic 1960s Phone from Naked Decor, (formerly Home Republic)

Or Urban Outfitters' Velvet Pouf Pillow

Go mod with Jonathan Adler's Capri Bottle Lamp

This surprising Jupiter Bistro Table on Bed, Bath & Beyond's site

An Orange Lacquer Bath Ensemble, also at Bed, Bath & Beyond

Target.com's Pod Chair

Caesarstone's Warm Red Countertops

Enjoy the entire Color Notes series...

Color Notes: A Red-time Story
Color Notes: A Room Full of Blues
Color Notes: The White Album
Color Notes: Purple Haze
Color Notes: Orange Crush
Color Notes: Green Day

11 August 2009

Sensible Style: 10 Small Kitchen Tips

Sensible Style launched last month in this space, and on Kitchens.com, to answer your questions about how to get the most out of your kitchen. This second posting covers the topic of small kitchens, which so many of us have. Written by a professional designer who has worked on hundreds of condo and cottage kitchens, this will tackle the two most vexing issues associated with small spaces.

Part One covers how to maximize your storage capacity. Part Two covers the aesthetic side - i.e., how to make a small kitchen look great.

Part One - How to maximize your storage capacity

Small kitchens never seem to have enough cupboard space for all the items their owners want to store. After carefully culling to make sure you're only storing regularly-used cooking, meal preparation and clean-up gear in your kitchen, you can increase your storage capacity in several ways.

Tip #1 - Use your backsplash

Backsplashes offer dozens of square feet of untapped storage potential. Usually considered only for decorative purposes, these 18 inch spans between your countertops and wall cabinets can be put to great use as zoned, organized storage. For example, you can clear some counter space by installing a backsplash-mounted utensil crock near your cooktop. You could also mount a spice organizer in your meal prep zone, freeing up some cabinet storage.

Backsplash organizers, like these from Ikea, take advantage of untapped space in your kitchen and free up countertops and cabinet space.

Tip #2: Use empty walls or ceiling space

Even small kitchens typically have an unused wall or ceiling space above a peninsula that can be tapped for additional storage. By adding a pot rack to your kitchen, you can free up base cabinet space that would otherwise hold your cookware. There are racks available in almost any style and size to accommodate your needs. Small kitchens typically lack islands, but a peninsula housing a cooktop can be a good spot to tap into added storage potential.
This wall-mounted pot rack by Enclume lets you take advantage of unused wall space in your kitchen for both hanging and shelf top storage.

Tip #3: Use the back of doors

Another way to add organization and storage capacity to your kitchen is to install accessories on the backs of doors. For example, you can hang an organizer for your cleaning supplies on the back of the cabinet holding your sink. Additionally, you can add pantry capacity by putting a canned goods or food wrap holder on the back of its door. There are numerous options that can add to your kitchen's efficiency, as well as its storage potential.

This behind-door organizer by Rev-a-Shelf can be added to your pantry to increase its organization and storage potential.

Tip #4: Get Rollin'

Replace base cabinet half shelves with full-depth roll-out trays. Most builder-installed base cabinets have a shelf halfway between the bottom and top that is only about 12 inches deep. This means that a good amount of storage space is unusable. Replace this half shelf with a roll-out tray and you could gain close to 25 percent more storage capacity in that cabinet. This tip works best with cabinets 18 inches or wider. (Narrower cabinets can benefit from replacing the half shelf with one or two dividers to store flat items like trays, cutting boards, pizza stones or cookie sheets vertically.)

Increase base cabinet storage by up to 25 percent with roll-out trays. Shown here is one you can add to your kitchen from Rev-A-Shelf.

Tip #5: Add baskets

If you have at least eight inches between your wall cabinets and your ceiling, you can add storage capacity - and style! - to your kitchen with decorative baskets. Shelf baskets can easily accommodate small items that you want to keep in the kitchen area, but don't use on a daily basis. They can add a splash of color or neutral texture, depending on the look that works best with your space.

Baskets can add style and storage to your kitchen in a wide range of colors and textures. This selection is available at Michael's.

Part Two - How to make a small kitchen look great

Tip #6: Minimize contrasts

Compact kitchens tend to look smaller and choppier when there are too many colors and patterns running through them. Minimizing contrasts, on the other hand, makes them feel airier and spacious. You can achieve this effect by selecting solid-colored countertops, for example, and maple or painted cabinets, rather than oak, hickory or glazed finishes.

This New York City condo kitchen looks larger because its base cabinets match its flooring and its countertops, appliances and wall cabinet frames all coordinate to minimize contrasts.

Tip #7: Add glass

Replacing solid door fronts on your wall cabinets with glass fronts can also make your small kitchen look larger and brighter. To enhance the space-enhancing effect, you can paint the insides of your cabinets the same color as your walls.

This kitchen by Westlake Village, Cal. designer Laurie Burke looks larger and brighter, thanks to its glass-fronted wall cabinets.

Tip #8: Light it up

Kitchens look better - and bigger! - with great lighting. When I take on a kitchen design project for my clients, I always look for every opportunity to add lights to the space. This includes ceiling-mounted fixtures or recessed cans, under-cabinet lighting and, where applicable, island or peninsula lighting. Sometimes, above-cabinet and in-cabinet accent lighting are also applied. This layered approach to lighting makes working in the space easier and safer. It also enhances the beauty of your countertops, cabinets and flooring.

This small kitchen by Arlington, Va.-based Kitchen & Bath Factory features three layers of lighting, plus natural rays streaming in the large windows, to enhance its beauty and spaciousness.

Tip #9: Open it up

Open shelving can make a small kitchen feel larger, too. It also shows off your pretty serveware, making it a well-deserved element in your room's style. One other organization benefit offered by open shelving is making it quicker and easier to find things in your kitchen!

Small kitchens, like this one from the Kraftmaid gallery, look larger with open shelves, rather than closed wall cabinets.

Tip #10: Minimize countertop clutter

Countertops loaded with accessories and other items will make your kitchen look cramped and cluttered. That's why real estate agents always advise you to minimize what sits on your tops when you list your home for sale. Larger kitchens are more appealing to home buyers - and homeowners! The backsplash system, storage baskets and door organizers will help in reducing countertop population. So will prioritizing the small appliances that need to remain accessible. For example, if you only serve coffee when guests arrive, keep the coffee maker in a remote storage area when you're not entertaining.

Minimal countertop clutter makes this petite kitchen from the National Kitchen & Bath Association Inspiration Gallery look larger!

Visit the Sensible Style box on the right column for links to all the posts in this ongoing series.

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