Monthly Archives

April 2008

Designers + Stylists

L.A. Design Concepts

April 4, 2008

When I was in Stockholm this past Fall I mentioned here on decor8 that I continuously found quality fabric that wasn’t to the trade only as the Swedes believe that good design should be available to all, with or without a designer. As I investigated this further by researching how to the trade works in other countries, I found that most don’t have such a thing, that to the trade just may be uniquely a North American thing — I think they do this in Canada but maybe my Canadian readers know better and can leave your thoughts here.

L.A. Design Concepts Ironies is one of the many to the trade showrooms
that you can have access to with a designer.

This leads me to telling you about L.A. Design Concepts and you’ll see why in a moment. I’ve been in conversation with Frank, owner of L.A. Design Concepts, because he contacted me via email and I had to get on the phone and learn more about the services his company provides. When he first wrote in stating that he has the first company of its kind offering national access to designer furniture without having to hire an interior designer, I was a bit skeptical. Now I’m a believer as this really does open up good design to all in a sense, of course with a fee.

To sum up our conversation, L.A. Design Concepts offers direct access to design centers throughout the United States and via their website to over 300 to the trade only manufacturers — all without having to hiring a designer to work with you. In other words, anyone can get in on so many products you crave that you couldn’t purchase otherwise from either the convenience of home or they offer a letter of introduction where consumers can shop any design center in the nation without having an interior designer present.

What about fees? They offer a processing fee of 20% above designer wholesale cost. This represents a large savings compared to the traditional 30-40% designer mark-ups, plus hourly fees charged. So you can pretty much bypass the designer and get your goods on your own. Or if you wish to have design help, they offer a complete range of interior design services for a fee.

So I have my opinions about this and I’ll state them here. If you need a lamp, a coffee table, or some accessories this may really work. If you are going to purchase an entire room, I still would consider hiring on a decorator or designer and work through them because you don’t want to make huge costly mistakes. Designers aren’t hired merely for access to trade only items. They are hired because they, or shall I say we since I work with clients myself, understand how everything works together from proportion to color, and we do all the run around work for you so you can sit back and just watch your room come to life with little vendor involvement. Consider that while you can save money in some areas, you risk to lose more if you install that $180 per roll wallpaper-of-your-dreams only to realize once it’s up that you hate because it’s out of scale and looks horrifying in your entryway. Then you have to spend days removing it then more time ordering something else. But I think that so many amazing talents are running around out there who are perfectly capable of decorating their homes without professional help so if you consider yourself in this category by all means, consider L.A. Design Concepts. If you are willing to admit that you have a terrible time pulling together a room, then go the route of hiring a little help.

And thanks Frank for taking the first step to open trade only products up to all because I still think good design should be available to everyone especially here in America where freedom is something our country was founded on. Shouldn’t we have freedom in what we’re purchasing as well?

(image from ironies)

DIY, Inspiration, Objects

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}

April 4, 2008

Time for a little Bemz-spiration.I’ve talked about Bemz a few times here, they carry slipcovers that fit IKEA sofas and chairs so that you can customize your IKEA finds turning them into something more personalized. They just launched a section on their site called “Lifestyles” where you can view different collections of Bemz’ fabrics in real homes. Seeing some of their fabrics living in a real environment is really helpful. Currently there are 6 Bemz Lifestyles and more will follow later this year.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*} This is my favorite of all the rooms. I’d have a little more in this space (a rug, a few chairs, etc.), but I really the cool colors and the mixing of florals with stripes in a way that looks very stylish, like a fashion designer would live here.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}
I found their break down of the various styles they’re trying to mimic helpful since we often try to define our look to friends and don’t know what to call it, there are so many styles and definitions floating around. As I look at these definitions along with the Bemz images I realize that they are based purely from a Scandinavian perspective, as they’re Stockholm-based and this is their own take on these looks. In other words, I don’t think Country Romance or Downtown really looks like the typical country or downtown style that we’d see here in America.

Fun exercise: As you read through their definitions below, examine the images shown as examples and consider how each style would be interpreted in your part of the world.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}
1. Bohemian Chic – Aimed at people who love combining old and new to add unexpected contrasts to their home. This Lifestyle employs a palette of dark, intimate colors, with elements of brown, mauve, black and pink.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}
2. Country Romance – Is Bemz’s modern interpretation of a delightful past: elegant and graceful, romantic and playful, while not coming across as cute. Shades of white anchor this Lifestyle, thoughtfully blended with pale pastels, gentle florals and muted checks.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*} 3. Downtown – This look pays tribute to city slickers, people who are energized by the skyscrapers and pulse of a big city. Downtown draws from an urban palette of black, grey and white, combined with discrete patterns and bright accent colors.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}4. Nordic Home – Embodies a clean, simple and harmonious backdrop for the changing seasons that can be highlighted with materials such as cushions and curtains. This 5. Lifestyle features some of Bemz’ distinctive Scandinavian patterns.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}5. Playground – For those homes where the walls are white and it’s the furniture and art projects that add color. Red, green, orange, blue and black are combined with strong graphic patterns and bold horizontal and vertical stripes.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}
6. Swedish Grace – Features clean lines, natural shapes and understated tones, inspired by a legacy of classic 50s Scandinavian design.

How would you define your style?

(images from bemz)


Budget Decorating

April 4, 2008

Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive. I pulled together 10 of my own tips and tricks for decorating on the cheap that I think you may enjoy reading here at Real Simple. It includes coupon tips, the best way to shop stores like Anthropologie, and advice on how to get free color help online. It’s a good way to kick off the weekend — you just may feel charged up enough to tackle a project around the house!


Things Are Better With A Parrott

April 3, 2008

Things Are Better With A Parrott is the stationery design studio of Sarah Parrott based in Providence, Rhode Island. Sarah is a RISD student studying Print Design Process and Production in addition to her small business making gocco cards, flat notes, and prints. In delightful hues to welcome Spring, these screenprinted and handmade paper goods get me in the mood for sunshine, color, and times spent outdoors. Yes, a card can do all that — visual inspiration is an amazing thing. A single image that resonates with us can elevate mood and motivate us to get out there and do and see and create things for ourselves. That’s what I love about design in all it’s forms, it’s energizing!

Things Are Better With A ParrottThings Are Better With A ParrottThings Are Better With A Parrott
Bright images against crisp white are so appealing to me, and the lighting in her studio makes it appear as quite an inspiration spot to imagine new motifs and put them onto paper. Sarah also offers customized stationery if you’re interested, you can contact her directly for her price sheet. I’ve had her bookmarked for nearly a year and I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned mentioned her work on decor8. Boo to me. Sarah you’re doing great things, I bet many of us wish we were creating at this level while still attending college. Great work!

(images from things are better with a parrott)


Owl Umbrella Stand

April 3, 2008

I usually don’t share things I win on eBay here but this just makes me so happy that I must show you my winning item! But first a little story time. Okay, so I’ve been wanting to find a new umbrella stand since my current vintage one ended up becoming the storage bin for my rolls of wrapping paper. After seeing this fish in Domino magazine this month, I was inspired to get out there and start hunting for the perfect umbrella stand.

Owl Umbrella StandOwl from Burke Decor, $96

Also considering that we’re in the month of April, “April showers bring May flowers”, it’s the perfect season to find a replacement. I don’t have a thing for fish as a design motif so I decided against the one in Domino. I can’t imagine spending nearly $300 on something I’m not bonkers over. I thought of the many DIY solutions, how I could make my own by decoupaging a tall glass vase, etc. but I really wanted something ceramic and white and my heart was dead set on some kind of creature. Just not a fish. I thought about what my perfect stand would look like and I kept envisioning an owl. A glossy white owl with a mid century vibe. So I searched and searched and came up with this one from Burke decor for $96 (free shipping). But it’s a reproduction piece and I reallllly wannnntted vintage. Yes, whining exactly like that.

Owl Umbrella Stand My mid century vintage owl from eBay.

Meet my new friend Oscar. Maybe I’m nuts but I confess my illness — I name many of the creature objects that live in my home. Perhaps I miss having pets. Maybe I need to invest in a solid rocker, Velcro my remote control to the side of my television, and start highlighting episodes of Murder She Wrote in the TV Guide while I’m at it. But really, I’m not a crazy old lady. I just like to name stuff.

Oscar is my latest find, a vintage owl umbrella stand, white, and glossy ceramic circa mid century. He’s so handsome. If I ever decide to host a swanky soiree, I’ll add a black bow tie around his neck for the occasion. Perhaps once I tire of him holding umbrellas, he’ll become a vase for displaying pink quince although something tells me he’s too manly for flower holding and won’t go for that . eBay I love you today. Thank you for making this crazy shopper happy and for confirming that you can truly find anything on eBay.

Looking to spruce up your entryway for Spring? Visit A Grand Welcome, a recent decor8 article all about how to welcome your guests in style.

(images from burke and ebay)

Arts + Crafts, Shopping + Products, Travel

Herzenart by Sandra Monat

April 3, 2008

One thing I’d love to do this summer when I spend it abroad in Germany is to meet with artist and designer Sandra Monat of Herzenart and chat with her about her work. She’s only a few hours away by train from where I’ll be based, so perhaps I can arrange a visit… If I have time. There is so much work for me to do there this year — my head is spinning! I still cannot figure out so many things about furnishing a German apartment. It’s such a new, exciting, sometimes frustrating experience because here I know all the shops to hit for what I need and have my favorite eBay sellers and Craigslist standing by, and know where all the area flea markets are, and rely on places like Target, Anthropologie, Homegoods, the Boston Design Center, and most of the online shops I frequent (who won’t ship to Germany). Living in two parts of the world is completely new to me but I hope it will force me to learn more about my new country and Europe in general when it comes to the best places to find what I need to furnish an apartment from scratch. Currently sitting in my flat over there is our television and some of my design books, a few boxes of clothing, and china passed down to us from oma.

If you live in Germany and can suggest any online stores that would be lovely. Now on to Sandra because it’s not nice of me to talk about myself here in a post about lovely Ms. Monat now is it?

Herzenart by Sandra Monat
I’ve been watching this German artist since early ’06 (mentioned here), and I’m encouraged by the progress she’s made and the international exposure she now receives and for good reason, her handmade art toys are unique and extremely well made. One of many things that excite me about blogging is that after a few years at it, you start to notice change more — either some who fade away and move on to other goals or those like Sandra who experience steady growth and become successful small business owners through patience and a constant keeping at it. Much like the storybook most of us were raised reading, The Tortoise and the Hare, don’t you think?

(images from sandra monat)

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