31 July 2009

Guest Post: Cote de Texas Blog

Gold Notes wraps up its first anniversary coverage with a guest post from one of my favorite design blogs, Cote de Texas. Joni Webb, CdT's creator and author extraordinaire is also a terrifically talented interior decorator.

As the blog's name implies, Joni lives and works in the Lone Star State -- the greater Houston area, to be specific. Her blog, however, casts its discerning eye across the pond to France, covering all things French Country and French Country-inspired.

Since I'm an enthusiast of European country styles, I just had to ask Joni to share some of her Cote craft with Gold Notes readers.

Merci, merci, merci!

Joni gets bullish on burlap

In honor of Gold Notes' one year anniversary, blogger Jamie Goldberg graciously asked me to write about a trend I see for the upcoming year. Well, this trend may be still be upcoming, but we are actually in the throes of its tidal wave right now. Feedbag chic, burlap design, grain bag fashion - call it what you want, but call it hot, hot, hot!

Everywhere one looks these days, there are signs of it: burlap is used for curtains and pillows, lamp shades and beach totes. And following right behind all the burlap are feed and grain bags! Yes, all those bags that are used to hold beans and coffee are the chicest things on the market today. The bags are being used to upholster chairs and settees - both new and antique; pillows, bolsters, mattresses and rugs are being made out of them. The more valuable vintage bags are framed and hung on the wall. The older the bag, the more expensive it is, but older pieces are also rare and not quite as hardy.

To deal with the demand and the scarcity of vintage feedbags, entrepreneurs are now manufacturing faux bags stamped in Eastern European lettering to lend a degree of authenticity. It's true the vintage materials are softer and faded, but the newer versions are cheaper and in most cases, better for upholstery purposes.

A pillow on your sofa tomorrow, perhaps?

People are wondering if feedbag chic is tied to our faltering economy. No, it's really not. These materials were becoming popular before our stock market took its nosedive. But it does make for a better story: we're so poor now, we are being forced to use burlap to upholster our furniture. Sounds good - but it's just not true.

Vintage bags on vintage chairs

As does Elle Decor

Feedbag chic used in interiors is either beachy or dressy. Yes, it CAN be dressy. Antique French furniture is now sporting the lowly material on its gilt frames. The burlap craze is found both in the living room and the laundry room - there are no rules when using it. Whatever your application is -- curtains, pillows or sofas -- just don't go overboard with it. As fast as you can say "feedbag" - we're all going to be staring at it, wondering, "what we were thinking? Feedbags? Were we crazy?"

This summer Elle Decor magazine got on the feedbag bandwagon, big time. Here - a bench is loaded with several different types of feedbag pillows.

Elle Decor: Burlap curtains are dressed up with black grosgrain ribbons.

And, again Elle Decor - this living room is trend central with its grain bag hemp pillows, large peacock, railroad luggage cart, train station sign, black and white photographs, finials - wow! The only trends missing are zebra and coral.

And her designer colleagues and sources

Dan Marty has championed this trend in his new showroom in Los Angeles. Marty is now synonymous with the chic grain bag look. Here, faux vintage bags with foreign print are used on dining room chairs.

Hemp grain bag pillows and rail station clocks - another hot trend

Settee covered in vintage red gunny hemp - Dan Marty Design

German grain bags? I doubt it! But they are great looking, nonetheless.

Old or new? Hard to tell these days.

Definitely new - the art of lettering is a related trend

Feedbag framed to hang on the wall Vagabond Vintage sells these to use as runners or rugs.

Joni expounds

There are many different bags, totes, cushions and other shapes made out of burlap feedbags on the market now. When Target gets into the trend, sell!

This is how chairs used to look before they were upholstered - burlap is used to hold the horsehair cushioning in. Suddenly, this looks fresh! Picture from Shawn of Country French Antiques blog.

Again, is this finished or ready to sell? Hard to tell.
From Shawn, Country French Antiques

In the Tanglewood House, I used vintage grain bags I found on Ebay for pillows. But, the client also received pillows made out of the Ikat fabric to use when the trend has passed.

Over a decade ago, Houston interior designer Carol Glasser used burlap in a way that had never been seen before. Today, it's common place.

Aidan Gray is one of the hottest decor companies -
this chaise, half burlap, half linen is OUT OF STOCK. What a shock.

And concludes

How long is the burlap/grain bag trend going to last? No one can say for sure. But if you love it, go for it. Just remember to go small, and don't make a huge investment. This way you won't be out of a lot of money when you retire this to where your put your suzanis and faux deer head!!!

29 July 2009

Guest Post: Kitchen and Residential Design Blog

Gold Notes continues its first anniversary celebration with a guest post from another of my favorite designers and bloggers, Paul Anater of Kitchen and Residential Design. Paul offers his perspective on trends, as Amir Ilin of European-Kitchen-Design did in this spot yesterday, and I think you'll enjoy reading it, as I did. Paul is not only a terrific talent; he has also become a terrific friend.

Thanks for contributing! I'm honored and touched.

Paul prognosticates...

The last year featured a tremendous upheaval in the way the entire financial sector works. People seem genuinely concerned about the near term, but still pretty confident in the prospects for the long term. Predictably, all of this uncertainty has a lot of people turning inward and seeking comfort in their routines and in their lives at home.

And predicts...

So generally, I'm predicting a continued march toward home as things kind of recover, but not really. I see it every day as a kitchen and bath designer. I'm fielding calls from people who want to increase their comfort as much as increase their equity, and I'm noticing a reticence when it comes to paying top dollar for luxury goods that were a standard item a year-and-a-half ago.

With that said, I see the high end of the market moving away from obvious consumption. There seems to be a conscientious attempt to pull back from the appearance of wealth. So far as kitchen and bath design goes, I see a continued move away from the "Tuscan" styles that have dominated new home styles and interiors for the last ten years. Truly modern styles were beginning to make some inroads before the economic trouble started, but I see them making another retreat as people seek comfort and familiarity.

Paul takes on Peacock

There was a third big direction out there -- but in a nascent form -- when all the trouble started. I see it becoming the de facto look of this decade. For lack of a better term, I call it Peacock-light, so named for the kitchen designer and cabinetry manufacturer Christopher Peacock.

Here's a Peacock original.
This kitchen would cost well into the six figures.

Peacock's original designs are strictly high end, but his signature aesthetic, (sort of an early 20th century manor house crossed with an East Hampton casual flair), is trickling down all over the place. Peacock's aesthetic is pure nostalgia and represents a longing for a time in the past when life was simpler. Like all nostalgic movements, it's not based on a real time, but a dream time.

This neo-manor house aesthetic allows for an ability to hide modern kitchen technology inside the trappings of tradition. What it does, too, is seek to recreate the service kitchens of old. In that regard, it's a perfect disguise for ambitious consumption.

And tweaks it for the new economy

This is Peacock-light, shown here in mid-market Medallion Cabinetry.
This kitchen would cost between a third to half of what a Peacock original would cost.

Expect to see more of this style in the coming year and in the years to follow. Wood stains will remain dark and will be broken up with light painted finishes. I don't see a move away from brushed nickel finishes on cabinetry hardware or plumbing fixtures any time soon. Glossy finishes on counters will start to fade as people strive to emulate the matte and honed finishes available on natural stone surfaces like marble and soapstone.

Here, a honed finish is achieved with Silestone's Leather series countertops.
Butler's pantry designed by Roos Kitchens & Bath Design Studio in Ellicot, Md.

Paul concludes...

So there's my prediction. I see an embrace of an aesthetic sensibility that conjures images of solid tradition... while still leaving room for a 60" Wolf range.

Many thanks to Jamie for allowing me the use of her forum, and many congratulations on the anniversary of Gold Notes.

28 July 2009

Guest Post: European-Kitchen-Design Blog

Gold Notes continues its one-year anniversary celebration with a futuristic guest post. Award-winning kitchen designer, owner of New Jersey-based Kuche+Cucina and design blogger extraordinaire Amir Ilin of the european-kitchen-design blog predicts hot trends for 2010 -- yes, next year! -- in this humble space.

You may have seen Amir's award-winning designs in Signature Kitchens & Baths magazine. They'll knock your socks off. I also love how Amir always has his talented finger on the pulse of the global design scene. In fact, his top-notch blog has the most comprehensive list of European kitchen companies -- organized by country, for heaven's sake! -- to make it incredibly easy to find the look you love.

I truly appreciate his contribution, and hope you enjoy this walk through his trend predictions as much as I did. Thanks, Amir!

Trend #1 - More Baths, Tighter Budgets at Lower End

Clients with lower-end budgets are going to be doing a lot less kitchens than before and more bathrooms -- as they are less expensive.

Kenmore mainstreams stainless steel

In the kitchen, they'll be looking at mainly Chinese import cabinetry and very low-end American products, where the raised panel and shaker door styles in cherry and maple are basically it. Stainless appliances and granite tops will continue to be popular.

Trend #2 - Mid-Level Clients Pare Down Details for Transitional and Contemporary Kitchens

For mid-level price point clients, though, we'll still be seeing a lot of the paint & glazed finishes, with lots of ornate moldings and carvings. People will be moving more and more towards the painted white cabinets and medium to dark stain woods, (a la Christopher Peacock).

Beaded inset and 'toned-down' architectural details -- i.e., less ornate, more clean and simple -- will prevail. Appliances are covered with panels and less stainless. Quartz and non-granite stone tops (marble, travertine, soap stone and such) will show up more in this range.

Pedini Kitchen, Designed by Amir Ilin

Another trend, in the mid-level price point, will be a shift to modern, European kitchens that are clean and minimalistic in design. In terms of colors, glossy white and darker wood tones, with aluminum accents will be popular.

Trend #3 - High-end Clients Go Modern

High end consumers will be going back to basics with plain cabinetry, minimum details and kitchens that look more like furniture -- lots of inset and fully integrated paneled appliances. Medium to dark toned stained wood and some painted white finishes will dominate. Marble and quartz will be the tops of choice.

Dune Series Cabinets from Pedini

The strong shift to the European kitchens will continue, especially in the 55-plus age group. They are already leaving the center hall colonial with the traditional kitchen. Now that the kids are gone, they want something new and exciting... The exact opposite of their last kitchen.

Dune Series Cabinets from Pedini

They're looking at very clean lines, integrated appliances and almost a 'cube-like' kitchen design -- no handles, counters with zero overhang and even counters that go down to the floor, instead of the finished ends of the cabinets. Look for lots of glossy and matt lacquer, glass, aluminum and dark woods.

27 July 2009

Guest Post: DesignTies Blog

Gold Notes continues its one-year anniversary celebration with another of my favorite bloggers, Kelly James of DesignTies and Jax Decor & Design of Ottowa, Ontario, Canada.

Kelly and her design/blogging partner Victoria Lambert are incredibly fun to read, and definitely have their fingers on the design world's pulse. I asked Kelly to contribute a guest posting and she said yes! Yeah, Kelly!

I really appreciate her contribution, and was inspired by her post myself!

I hope you'll be, too. The purpose of guest posts is to bring Gold Notes readers a fresh perspective, and to pass along some great writers and resources that I hope become your favorites, too!

Kelly cools down with grey

Grey... Gloomy or great?

My cousin is moving into a new house and will be doing a lot of repainting. I suggested she paint the common areas grey with off-white trim and dark brown doors...

She said she thinks grey is gloomy and it makes her think of rainy days...

But I think grey is soft and soothing and beautiful!!

It's funny how people perceive colours differently.

Grey 101

Did you know...

  • The first recorded use of grey as a colour name in English was in 700 AD.
  • The more common 'grey' spelling became the established British spelling in the 20th century.
  • The 'gray' spelling is primarily found in parts of the US.
  • Grey is created when two complementary colours are mixed together - for example, yellow and violet, red and green, blue and orange.

Grey is cool... And so very hot for 2009!

However you look at it and however you spell it, grey is a hot colour in 2009. It's a wonderful neutral that goes with every other colour. It can be warm or cool, dramatic or demure. The Color Marketing Group named cooled-down and greyed-out browns and grays a top colour trend for 2009.

Complex neutrals satisfy our urge toward classic colors in an economically-challenged time. They also bridge the area between black, which seems harsh, and brown, which doesn't seem strong enough.

Karen Wistrom, ASID, Vice President of Marketing for Dura Supreme cabinetry and a member of the CMG, says:

"The global color palette has been drifting toward the gray hues for some time now. Blues and greens have become more subdued and instead of showcasing their vivid hues, they have become more of a subtle blue-gray or green-gray. The wise investor is careful to select colors that are up-to-date and yet will be timeless classics in the years ahead. Gray has become that timeless classic."

Two new DuraSupreme cabinetry finishes:
(L) Graphite with Country Traditions detailing
(R) Cobblestone with Charcoal Glaze

Without even realizing it, I've been on-trend with grey -- the last six rooms I've painted in our house, I've painted a shade of grey!!

Kelly's Grey Faves

Here are some of the beautiful grey rooms I found searching the net. Love the combination of warm, rustic wood with grey in these first two...

Photo from Willow Decor blog

Photo from Flickr

A wood-paneled wall painted charcoal gray is a pretty and soothing backdrop in this living room. The white ceramic horse stands out so nicely against the wall.

Photo from Decorpad

Gray can be airy and elegant...

Photo from Flickr

Or fun and punchy with hits of bright pink...

Photo from HGTV.com

Here's a dramatic dark grey living room in The Charles Condominium in New York City. Designed by David Collins, the grey, purple, and blue colour scheme is elegant, but not stuffy.

David took the grey palette outside onto the patio as well.

Canadian designer Sarah Richardson often uses soft greys in the rooms that she decorates.

And always finds the most beautiful tiles!!

Photo from Decorpad

Love this lovely diamond tufted chair in a formal living room.

This is probably my most favourite room ever -- and it just happens to be grey! It belongs to designer Monique Lhuillier and was featured in the January/February 2008 issue of ELLE Décor. Doesn't the grey sofa look like a great place to sit and relax?

Final thoughts

Thanks to Jamie for letting me share my love of grey with you. If you thought grey was gloomy before, I hope you think it's great now. And if you thought it was great before, I hope you think it's even better now!!

Jamie's Dedication

I've never dedicated a blog post before, and I hope Kelly doesn't mind that I'm dedicating hers. (I hope she's honored, in fact, as that's the spirit in which it's being made.)

Today would have been my mother's 73rd birthday and she would have loved this posting. She favored classic rooms in cool colors in her own restored San Francisco 1880s Victorian. (I think she had my dad paint it several times before she landed on the perfect shade. I think he didn't really mind too much as it made her happy!)

Sondra D. Trief
1936 - 1996

We miss you!

22 July 2009

Guest Post: Susan Palmer Design Blogs

Gold Notes celebrates its one-year anniversary this month, and I invited some of my favorite design bloggers to the party! So... For the rest of the month, this space will be mostly filled with their brilliance, not my usual banter!

I'm so grateful for their contributions.

I hope you're as excited as I am about these design celebrity cameos. Guest posts give readers the chance to discover voices, resources and talent that may be new to you. Each of these bloggers is also an incredibly-talented designer who could be of tremendous service to you, your friends or your family. In each posts are links to their blogs and their design sites. Please take the opportunity to browse both. You'll discover a wealth of ideas from Hawaii to the Northeast, Florida to Canada. It's like traveling the design world without jet lag!

Introducing Susan and Adrienne Palmer...

Today, we'll start our anniversary guest post series with the phenomenal mother-daughter team of Susan and Adrienne Palmer of Susan Palmer Designs, Inc. The Palmers live and design in Honolulu, Hawaii, and publish the Susan Palmer Design Blog. Susan is a Certified Kitchen Designer and Certified Bath Designer, a multiple design award winner and a college design lecturer. Adrienne is working toward her AKBD certification and is a product specialist, blogger and partner in the firm.

When I asked my contributors to tackle one of five questions for their guest post, this dynamic duo leaped in and tackled all five. Over-achievers!!! That earned the Palmers the first posting of the anniversary-edition guest series. Thanks, ladies!

Favorite design find of the past year

Sara Baldwin / New Ravenna Mosaics -- New Ravenna Mosaics, headed by the über-talented Sara Baldwin, not only revives, but takes mosaic tile art to the next level. Every single item and design theme offered by New Ravenna is simply amazing, from the field patterns such as Thatch, to the glass fields such as Brighton Wave. All are just beautiful. Commissioned works and larger mosaics such as Twiggy, and the complex Peacock or Paisley designs, truly show off what Sara and her talented team's expert use of color, materials, and design combine to create beautiful works of art in tile form. We think we will be seeing a lot more of her work in the future and that is really exciting!

Brighton Wave by Sara Baldwin for
New Ravenna Mosaics

Prediction for next year's top design trends

* I think we will continue to see the addition of alternative finishes like oil rubbed bronze, platinum, and distressed nickel in fixtures for both the kitchen and the bath from manufacturers.

* For the clients who want modern style kitchens and baths, I see a trend moving more towards kitchen cabinetry as furniture integrating with other rooms, utilizing horizontal wood grains, and a focus on White Oak and Teak woods.

* For clients who want a more traditional style of kitchen, I see them moving more towards rustic, natural finishes on woods like Knotty Cherry, paired with interesting toe kicks and furniture style legs and details.

* In general, I expect to see more ethnic or vintage materials and techniques revived and used in modern applications, such as mosaics that utilize stained glass in abstract styling, or regional textiles from Africa used in poly-resin architectural panels.

This Susan Palmer-designed kitchen showcases
many of the latest design trends!

Favorite Gold Notes post of the past year

Definitely had to be Top 3 Kitchen Remodeling Mistakes. It's simple, straight forward advice that so easily answers and explains some of the more complex questions and issues facing clients when remodeling their kitchens.

We also loved reading all of your new product finds from KBIS. Since we don't always get the chance to go, it's great to read Gold Notes and find out first hand from someone who has the knowledge and the experience to help filter out the good from the bland!

Favorite post from your own blog

This one: Rustic Asian Modern Faucets and Plumbing Fixtures Here in Hawaii, we have so many different cultures that overlap and blend into each other, it is a true melting pot that yields to a particular style of design. The Japanese furo style bath tubs made of concrete are a perfect example of east meets west and old meets new! We were really happy to see the positive response locally, and that the post excited other design bloggers as well.

Oil Rubbed Bronze faucet and Furo Tubs
by Sonoma Forge

Coming next... Guest posts from these top design bloggers

Paul Anater - Kitchen & Residential Design Blog
Joni Webb - Cote de Texas
Kelly James - Design Ties
Amir Ilin - European-Kitchen-Design

14 July 2009

Design Center of the Americas (DCOTA) Trip Report

I had the opportunity of visiting the Design Center of the Americas in Dania Beach, Fla. yesterday, capping off a fun trip to the Ft. Lauderdale area. DCOTA, as it's commonly called, is a trade-only complex of home design-related showrooms. Most of the stops I made were specific to my kitchen and bath design specialization. Here were some of my favorite finds.


I'm absolutely in love with Allmilmo's latest offerings! This German cabinetry manufacturer's latest catalog is called "Modern Art" and it's a fitting title indeed! I loved their integrated room design concept that lets your kitchen disappear behind sleek veneer panels. I also loved the Wave components, that add texture along with style.

Wave in Black and White
(Look closely at the rippled ridge texture!)

Allmilmo will be introducing stone cabinetry soon, adding a whole other level of design to your kitchen possibilities.

Another great German cabinetry line - this one for the bathroom - is Keuco. I wasn't familiar with their products before, but discovered them at DCOTA's Designer's Plumbing Studio, an incredible treasure trove of fixtures, fittings, bath furniture and accessories.

Shown here is their Edition 300 series
(and their very cool towel hooks, too!)

I also really liked Villeroy & Boch's Viva Classic series, especially for a transitional or spa-inspired bath.


Here were some of my other favorite items from the DPS showroom:

Neo Metro Mini Loo wall-hung toilet.
You love stainless steel in the kitchen... Why not the bath, too?

Victoria & Albert's Amalfi freestanding tub lets you soak in style and comfort

Americh's Clearwater series Shower Tray - on clawfeet!
How charming with a circular shower curtain bar for tiny vintage bathrooms


I had tremendous fun at the Walker Zanger showroom. This line has always had gorgeous offerings. Their new series continue to inspire.

Shown here is Waterfall,
a slate and glass combo inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright

I also love that their glass tiles come in gloss, matt or textured finishes, allowing for a dynamic blend and more timeless look. Here is a sheet of one-by-one Vintage Glass tiles in a matte finish.

In the ceramic arena,
I particularly adored their Studio Moderne series

The Tile & Marble Collection at DCOTA was showcasing a twist on traditional travertine. Rather than the warm golds we're used to seeing in this natural stone, T&M is featuring Silver, cooling down the stone with more contemporary-feeling soft grays.

T&M also carries a line of quartz countertops I hadn't seen before called Compac. What caught my eye were two pink offerings, pale Flamingo and intense Fucsia, (shown here), just in case you were wanting something quite different for your home!


I'm rather fond of unique wallcoverings, so I had to stop into DCOTA's Innovations in Wallcoverings showroom. I was not disappointed!

I love the Murano glass beads for a shimmery powder room

Innovations' Japanese-inspired Origami also delights!

I was also quite taken by the magnificent stained glass domes created by the Selecta Fine Woodoworks & Design showroom.

If your home has high ceilings and old world grandeur, this may just be the addition you've been seeking. Or maybe you've been wanting to add some grandeur currently lacking in your home. The Selecta designers can customize a piece to fit the scale and color scheme of your residence.

You might also enjoy these trip reports:

New York Design Trip Report
Kitchen/Bath Industry Show 2009 - Kitchen Spotlight
Kitchen/Bath Industry Show 2009 - Bath Spotlight
Kitchen/Bath Industry Show 2009 - Style Spotlight

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