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L.A. Design Concepts

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.

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)

Posted in designers, furniture on April 04, 2008

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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)

Posted in diy, furniture, inspiration, textiles on April 04, 2008

Budget Decorating

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!

Posted in uncategorized on April 04, 2008

Things Are Better With A Parrott

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!


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)

Posted in stationery on April 03, 2008

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