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August 22, 2006

Clearing Up Contemporary


We often discuss the differences between modern and contemporary with readers, and thought a recent newsletter from Moen helped to clear things up a bit more. It does mention their Icon Collection (pictured) as an example of a contemporary accent (the newsletter is, after all, marketing material) but we don't disagree, and a shameless plug is a small price to pay for the solid advice this little article packs in.

So click the link below to read the article and to check out related stories from Behind the Curtains.

Confused by Contemporary?
New Products Create Modern Looks You Can Live With

North Olmsted, OHIO–– Mixed up by modern? Confused by what’s considered contemporary? With more emphasis on home design today, it can be difficult for homeowners to distinguish between the array of design styles.

Contemporary (or “modern” as some may call it) is characterized by clean lines and smooth surfaces without intricate details. But that doesn’t mean your home will look stark, cold and sterile. Long gone are the days of boxy furniture and eccentric decorating. Today’s updated contemporary look is a blend of comfortable, livable elements that create a sophisticated, fresh feel.

To create this look in your home, start by incorporating these five key elements: color, metal accents, texture, wood tone and lighting.

Contemporary design is offset by neutral color palettes. When painting the walls, choose shades of brown, taupe, cream or pure white. However, neutral does not mean boring, so be sure to infuse the room with small splashes of a more vibrant, bold color. This may include painting one wall with an accent color, adding a bold red sofa, or adding vivid accessories, such as decorative pillows, towels, rugs or art. Just be sure not to over-accessorize—the key to contemporary design is simplicity.

Metal Accents
Stainless steel, nickel and chrome metals are prevalent in contemporary design, providing a decorative framework of sleek finishes. Furniture, end tables, lamps and even bathroom fixtures featuring beautiful metal accents provide this look in all rooms of the home. In the bath, Moen’s new Icon™ suite features clean, geometric lines, a high-arc spout and Chrome and Brushed Nickel finishes. Plus, with accessories, such as a robe hook, decorative tank lever, towel bars, and glass shelf, it’s easy for homeowners to coordinate the urban, stylish look throughout the entire room.

To offset the clean, smooth lines of the metal accents, use fabrics such as silk, crushed velvet, linen or wool, in your room to add texture and create a more natural, inviting feeling. In the bathroom, this may include fluffy rugs, towels or fabric shower curtains. In family rooms, this could include over-stuffed pillows, window treatments, or the furniture upholstery. Texture can also be added to walls. New wallpapers made of linen can be an interesting way to add depth to the vertical surfaces of the room. But, one word of caution—stay away from elaborate patterns or intricate details when choosing fabrics, as this will confuse the clean, contemporary look you are trying to achieve.

When it comes to wood surfaces, contemporary designs bring out the extremes, featuring very light or very dark tones. When incorporating woods into your design, look beyond the coffee table and utilize wood surfaces in accessories such as picture frames, large dramatic flower pots, or shelves. Feel free to mix the design styles of the wood accessories, but be consistent with the wood tone and carry it throughout the room for a professional appearance.

Lighting is extremely important in contemporary design, often seen as the key in illuminating the room’s design. When choosing lighting for your home, there are many new choices available that provide interesting, clean lines. Track lighting or floor lamps are popular in contemporary design and often utilize metals or bold colors to reinforce the other metal accessories or splashes of color incorporated into the room.

By looking at these five different elements and incorporating them into your home décor, you’ll be on the path to creating a sophisticated, yet contemporary-styled home. Just make sure that you choose items that you love and elements that inspire you and you’ll be on the right path to a beautiful and inviting room.

Related story from Behind the Curtains...
Modern? Contemporary? What's the Diffference?

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August 17, 2006

Home Makeover--Why it Works

Redesigning an unbalanced space, designer Leonard Braunschweiger focused on natural materials and proportion to restore unity. He ended up with a minimalist look in natural maple and walnut with wool and leather accents. The neutral color scheme and straight, pared down lines could have made these rooms look a bit on the cold side, but Braunschweiger prevented that.

Here's how––

Pure_contemporary_copy_1It's Only Natural
Woods, wools and leathers are warm, materials people respond to in a positive way. We equate them with nature and think of them as welcoming.

Loosen Up
Curvaceous shapes add character and a lighthearted affect to the minimalist straight lines. See them in the Joy Brown sculpture, undulating cabinet pulls and organic objects in the dining room.

Color Me Happy
Unexpected jolts of color let us know this space isn't too buttoned up. Check out the hand-painted chandelier from Peter Mangan--just like those he created for Wolfgang Puck's restaurant extraordinaire Spago–– and the bunch of huge green leaves on the storage cabinet.

See the whole makeover from before to after in Balancing Act.

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August 16, 2006

Deck Eco in Style


The reedy rattan has always had a very casual look, but we are loving the split rattan look that is being offered. Two companies that come to mind are Oggetti and Demex Rattan. Both have their product manufactured in the Philippines -- but they offer two very distinctive looks. The American company Oggetti offers a decidedly more modern look with its pronounced patterns, undulating shapes and poly-coated finish.

Oggetti_merella Conversely, with its molded curves, pecan or fruitwood finishes, the Philippines-based company Demex has a much more earthy and mid-century modern feel. With either collection the reaction is as tactile as it is visually pleasing. I couldn't help but glide my hand over the forms -- they are that appealing. And despite both collections being fairly oversized for someone of my size, I didn't find them uncomfortable or overwhelming. For those of you who like to deck eco but don't want to compromise on sophistication and style, consider split rattan

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Frank Gehry Tiffany Jewelry

Frank Gehry's turned his obsession with metals to a new venue, at Tiffany & Co. The household name architect created an amorphous looking line of jewelry in a variety of materials––from opal to ebony, granite, sterling silver and gold. The pieces reflect his signature style and, we note, the prices his work so consistently demands. The Gehry Collection ranges from about $145 to well over $6,000.


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August 14, 2006

Grate Designs from Fu-Tung Cheng


We caught up with renowned kitchen designer Fu-Tung Cheng at the Kitchen & Bath show in Chicago where he was touting his line of kitchen ventilation designs for Zephyr. The hoods were delicate and exquisite, although perhaps a bit more urbane than we are used to from Fu-Tung what with their stainless steel frames.

A street artist at heart, Fu-Tung Cheng typically forages the street -- or even the woods -- for elements to be used in his designs. It wasn't surprising then that a little barbeque display he cooked up for the Zephyr booth was both innovative and worthy of a Cheng Design stamp of approval. The cooking element was a from-the-street grate laid in Fu-Tung's trademark concrete.

The grates came from Urban Accessories, and are perfect for grilling because they are cast iron. Pleased with the attention his ad hoc grill received, Fu-Tung confided that he is actually thinking of making a "poor man’s Fuego." "You get the grates, put a little cement around it and just add charcoal!"
Trenchtitlewaves Poor man’s Fuego indeed.

The grate pattern used was the "Title Wave" and would cost about $75 for an 8' x 18" section. 

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DWR Opens First Outlet Store

Dwr_1Secaucus, NJ will be home to the first Design Within Reach outlet store - providing New York and East Coast area residents with furnishings and accessories from the biggest names in modern design at up to 60% off retail prices.

The 22,000 square foot Annex will feature overstocked, discontinued and returned inventory items, as well as the full product catalog from DWR at 10% off of regular retail prices. The Annex complements DWR studios around the New York metropolitan area.

"The opening of The Annex is a coup for modern design enthusiasts," said Arwen Schreiber. "The Annex is a one-stop resource for some of the most innovative modern design of the past and present, only with a few of life's dings and dents," said Arwen Schreiber, Proprietor of The Annex. "We are excited to offer the best value in modern design with this unmatched assortment of product."

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August 11, 2006

Jonathan Adler Lamps

Jonathan_adler_1 A new lamp collection designed by Jonathan Adler caught our eye. Metal screens perforated with a square pattern -- similar to his Kensington duvet from his bedding collection -- dance around frosted white glass, casting an interesting shadow. The Parker Collection, manufactured by Robert Abbey, follows on the heels of the Carlisle and the Maurice (do we note a theme of luxury hotels?). Prices range from $140 for the Wall sconce to $650 for the floor lamp, and are available in polished nickle or in a deep patina bronze.

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August 08, 2006

Rethinking the Umbrella

Every year, 33 million umbrellas are sold in the U.S. while a good portion of those that flipped inside out the year before flutter around the country's landfills. Umbrella skeletons and their tattered skins may become a thing of the past though, since Treehugger, I.D. Magazine and the Sustainable Style Foundation teamed to sponsor the Umbrella Inside Out Competition.

Entrants to the competition can solve the umbrella problem one of two ways, either by creating a "Cradle to Cradle" umbrella; or by using old umbrellas to make a woman's couture garment.

I'm looking forward to seeing the finalists but can't imagine a better use for an old Paracuina2_1umbrella than "Paracucina," by Marc Ayats. It takes about a half hour to make, once you've got the parts--an umbrella, aluminum foil, scissors and few other items--and, it can cook your dinner. Paracucina is a solar cooker, and the best use for an old umbrella I've seen yet.

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August 07, 2006

MaudeDècor Canvas Rugs

Once a staple of Victorian design, canvas rugs are laying on style in modern homes. Vancouver-based artist Patricia Baun revived the form with bold geometric shapes and muted organic designs inspired by nature and from artists like Piet Mondrian and Frank Stella.

Baum's works on canvas are floor art in the most accurate sense. She prepares each thick, custom-painted canvas sheet for paint then applies three layers of latex topped with four of polyurethane. The layers make the canvas rugs durable, easily cleanable and even hypoallergenic.

The rugs are available from $50 per square foot. MaudeDècor also makes tiles and wool rugs.

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Harry the Messy Organizer


I wanted to love Harry, afterall, it won a Design Plus Award. But there is just something about Harry that is .... a mess! These little aluminum alloy & PVC wires stick straight up -- picture a shaving brush -- and then whenever you want to "secure" an object, you bend or hook or pin under one of those tentacles. Maybe it's the color -- the black just looked so hairy! The pink wasn't bad, sort of like an anemone, the white was fine -- possibly because it was against a white surface and it was covered in blingy jewels. The Yellow looked like worms, or being generous, spaghetti. And the blue was just blue. Harry mounts on any flat surface and comes in two sizes.

Harry is a neat concept -- that I just didn't find neat. To me the crux of an organizer is to leave me with less clutter than when I started.

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