Tuesday, December 6, 2011

One Of A Kind Show At The Chicago Merchandise Mart

earth; without art, life is just "eh"... I'm not sure where I got this quote from, but I love it.

Last week, I had the priviledge of attending Chicago's One Of A Kind Show at the Merchandise Mart. Although pressed for time, I got to see some of the best crafters that I have ever seen. I'm spotlighting some of them here. I only wish that I could have spent a few days there to see all 600 exhibitor's creations. I'll link to each website for more info on each artist. Kudos to etsy, an unbelievable online marketplace showcasing artists from all over the world. On their site, you can read their blog, see thousands of artists work, sell your own stuff, buy from others, or just get inspired! As they say, there is something unique for everyone.
me at the etsy booth

I can't say enough about etsy, so please check them out at www.etsy.com They had a make-your-own paper ornament table that was so creative and fun.

Goods are made from recycled bottle glass

Bentbottle's owner, Bryan Northup, is based out of Oak Park, IL. His company fabricates beautiful home furnishings such as lighting and bowls made of colored recycled glass bottles. www.bentbottle.etsy.com

Michael Szabo's beautiful metal vases
Michael Szabo, based out of San francisco, is an incredibly creative sculptor. The medium he works with inludes stainless steel and bronze metals. His work ranges from these beautiful vases to large commissioned works, such as a large fountain design at the California Avenue Caltrain Station in Palo Alto, CA.
waterfall metal sculpture by Michael Szabo
Kristen Kruchowski's tree stump furniture
Kristen Kruchowski creates tree stump furniture that she sands down giving the stumps a smooth finish and coats the tops with a metallic silver paint. I love the eco-glam combo! (She's also based in Chicago, another fact that I love; local) Her products can be seen and purchased at www.TheElizabethElement.etsy.com
Tom Sourlis is the creator of beautiful glass pieces that are one-of-a-kind with an organic vibe. He designs a plethora of products; from lamps to architectural tiles to jewelry bits. Very stunning pieces! To view more, go to www.sourlisglassstudio.com
Sourlis Glass Studio

 You just can't get any greener than this! Great gifts for the holidays or any other time, just because.          
May the holidays bring you close to your family and friends. Wishing you all peace and happiness. Until next time,  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!                                                                
                                                                                     ~ Stephanie

Friday, November 11, 2011

So Very Thankful for Family, Friends, Colleagues and Readers

I'm so thankful for so many reasons. Too many to list, in fact. I'm working on some exciting projects! So when my friends at Hooker Furniture asked if I would share this holiday blog by Wanda Horton as my guest blogger with my readers, I was more than happy to. I'll take a break from blogging myself and resume in December. Until then, a very happy, healthy Thanksgiving to you all.
                                    ~ Stephanie

To view the full blog, go to:   http://blog.hookerfurniture.com/2011/11/delicious-thanksgiving-dining

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How To Cheer Up A Sad (or Boring Room) With Patterns

With the holidays coming up so soon, take a look around the rooms in your house. Are you bored with them or do they need some cheering up? Maybe it's time to add some excitement to the mix. You can achieve this by adding PATTERN to your walls, ceilings, fabrics, art, etc. to bring some life into your space! Patterns are everywhere and they're HOT... Here's some tips on finding them and how to incorporate them into your interior:

{ Graham & Brown's Diva/Beige } 

{ MDC Wallcovering's Kimora/Beige }

I Love these wallcovering by MDC, Graham & Brown and Schumacher 

Many wallcovering companies are offering exciting patterns that you can install on one accent wall or all of them if you are so inclined to do so.

{  Schumacher fabric and wallpaper, Imperial Trellis by Kelly Wearstler }

The Stark carpet can be bound and made into an area rug or installed wall to wall. A bound rug looks great if it's going over a nice wood or tile floor.

Patterns can be tone on tone or more neutral with a pattern; they don't have to be colorful, as the pattern makes a statement in itself and creates visual interest.
{ Stark patterned carpet, Hadera White/Bay Sand }

Shown below is a custom wallpaper that I designed to go along with the curves in the custom carpet installed on the client's stairs. The soft pastel pattern on the walls mirrored the more intense colored curves in the carpet. They're actually two separate photos; one to spotlight the wallcovering, the other to zoom in on the carpet. This is an example of a more permanent design statement {and a bold one at that! I design for my clients and work with their taste}

{ Custom wallpaper designed by Stephanie and hand painted by Designs By Michael  (Now Transitions Studio) Custom carpet designed by Stephanie and fabricated by Custom Carpet Artistry }

I'll have to showcase art in a future blog as it is so integral to a room and can be the "icing on the cake"; the artwork here is fabulous with the decor. And, of course, art is all about pattern. (In most cases)

{ Custom rug designed by Stephanie and fabricated by Custom Carpet Artistry }
{ An array of pillows; design and photo by Stephanie Nickolson }
{ An eclectic mix of pillows by Duralee }

love mixing different fabrics in the way of pillows strewn across a chair or sofa. It's a creative way of making a statement and not following the norm of two matching pillows on either end of a sofa. It can tie a variety of colors into the room and highlight a piece of art or other focal point in the room.
Pattern  includes, but isn't limited to: stripes, damasks, florals, geometrics, flamestitch, herringbone, trellis, animal prints and much more. Be creative!

* FYGI { For your green information } : I can provide a list of wallpaper and paint companies who manufacturer eco-friendly products that do not outgas in the air, use vegetable dyes and no formaldehyde in their composition. I can also suggest no VOC adhesives for wallpapers and non-PVC (vinyl) alternatives for the walls.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Create An Oasis In Your Residential Bathroom Spa

outdoor bath
It wasn't that long ago that the meaning of the word "spa" conjured up an image of traveling a distance, to escape to a destination, a resort or spa or other place away from home to enjoy relaxation or spa-like treatments. Today, you can create your own respite or spa retreat in the convenience of your own home. It can be done in many varying degrees; from the fully-loaded spa, equipped with the latest technology to simply wrapping your body in the softest bamboo or 100% organic cotton towel or bath robe to be comforted. For the sake of this blog being technology-free, I'll save the tech part for another blog, another day. (For example, the mirror that turns into a TV when turned on...ok, no more) This blog is more about relaxing, connecting yourself to nature, using water and energy-saving products; eliminating technology and just clearing your mind from clutter and stresses of the day.

What exactly is the meaning of an "eco-friendly" bathroom spa? There are many factors that contribute to this meaning, but a few examples are: environmental codes are dictating that brass fixtures are now lead-free. Plumbing companies are manufacturing toilets that are as low as 1.2 gallons a flush, down from 5 gallons. Basically, it means using water and energy saving fixtures, incorporating green products that don't harm your health or the environment, while relaxing, enjoying silence and being connected with yourself and nature. I'll break it down here:

                                ~ Water and energy-saving: 
 WaterSense label: Established in 2006, this is an unbiased, 3rd party certification developed by the EPA for fixtures, toilets and shower heads that save water by 20%, thus saving money. Bathrooms, by far, use the most water in the house. So if you're interested in saving water and money, look for this label. Water is elemental and essential and has the power to soothe, heal and rejuvenate our bodies. Ancient cultures in Greece, China and Japan were among the first to develop hydrotherapy, which is the practice of submerging your body in water for medicinal purposes. The natural minerals in water help to detoxify the body, and in general,  help relieve pain and sore muscles. Some companies offer bathtubs with everything from massaging air jets to hydrotherapy and LED chromotherapy. Chromotherapy is a method of treatment that uses the visible spectrum of colors' electromagnetic waves to heal the body. The hues include blue for serenity and calming, white for clarifying and green for balancing. One of the leaders in eco-friendly bathroom fixtures is the company TOTO,  http://www.totousa.com/ which manufactures baths with air jets that provide massages with different settings from a gentle massage to a more vigorous one. It has an integrated silencer on the motor so that you can enjoy a quiet bath.

MTI Whirlpools' Elena tub
According to the company MTI Whirlpools, http://www.mtiwhirlpools.com/, "simple is good", offering a freestanding tub called "Elena" from their Boutique Collection. According to MTI, the water of the bath relieves some of the gravity's stress on your body, and the heat helps create deep relaxation, slows internal organs and increases circulation in the body.

Native Trails copper tub

Offering artisan-crafted, earth friendly, freestanding tubs made of recycled copper melted down from electrical wiring, pipes, etc is the company Native Trails. This company suggests that copper has anti-bacterial properties. (I didn't know that!) The copper products often show nicks and other imperfections since they are made by hand by these skilled workers.You can learn more at http://www.nativetrails.net/

More on water: Also certified by WaterSense, the company Jaclo http://www.jaclo.com/ offers the true spa experience with their Quadrato showerhead which has 350 jets that stream a rain shower from the 16" metal plate mounted from the ceiling. You have the option of going from one color to the changing color mode of all 12 LED lights; once again, incorporating the chromotherapy treatment into the total shower experience.
                                                   Chromotherapy rain shower offered by Jaclo

                                   ~ Bathroom Vanities:
Replacing the wall to wall counter tops with single or double sinks are the furniture style vanities. Some have elaborate carved legs while others are simpler styles; they range from rustic to glamorous and everything in between, but the bottom line is that freestanding bathroom vanities are in. Exciting combinations of wood, bamboo and metal bases support these glass and stone vessel sinks as well as solid tops. Again, Native Trails offers great products in this category. Their 36" wide Chardonnay Vanity is made in the U.S.A. of reclaimed white wine-stained oaking staves, used for flavoring wine during the fermenting process. The result is, it infuses tannins and aroma, giving it a grape-colored, natural stain.
 An example of a glamorous style spotlighting MTI's mirrored vanity
MTI's 36" transitional vanity with antique mirrored door panels

Native Trails Chardonnay Vanity

Xylem's bambu vanity is part of a collection with an eco-renewable bamboo veneer over solid poplar wood that can be wall-mounted or floor-standing. It comes equipped with two large drawers. Xylem uses a finishing process that reduces waste in manufacturing and eliminates harmful chemicals from the staining and coating process.
Xylem's bambu vanity

~ Faucets:
Delta Faucet offers Touch2O technology (this is the only time I'll mention technology here) You can touch it to make it go on or off, and after seconds of removing your hands, automatically shuts off. It senses your presence within 4" and helps conserve water. If your hands are messy, you simply tap it with the back
of your hand. Great for kids!

~ Materials:
Walls and floors: stone, glass, porcelain or slate are other natural materials that look beautiful and are durable and offer practicality for bathrooms which inevitably get a lot of water. Mosaics are very popular now and natural scenes using mosaic tile designs such as flowers, leaves and birds can be installed to help bring the outdoors in. Mixing glass and stone enhances a room with color and natural beauty. A great company for no-VOC paints, formaldehyde-free caulks and adhesives for your spa retreat is http://www.afmsafecoat.com/

~ Other suggestions:
Bamboo or 100% organic cotton towels and bath robes
Radiant heat flooring (easier to have installed prior to tile flooring installation or best during new construction or renovation)
Candles, candles and more candles
Towel warmer racks; freestanding or wall mountable.
Shower sprays
Steam Room and Sauna Room additions

~ Enjoy your peaceful, sensory spa experience!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Express Yourself ~ Designing With Typography

L'Inspiration Script chest by Hooker Furniture
TYPOGRAPHY stems from the Greek words (typos)=form and (graphy)=writing and is the art of arranging type. It includes different size letters, fonts and adjusting the space between letters and pairs of letters. 

In design it relates to graffiti and other expressions of lettering on walls and wall coverings, print on fabrics, directly painted onto furniture, tufted into area rugs or painted on canvas for wall hanging. It's a style that may be trendy, but I hope it's here to stay. I think it adds comfort to a room and of course, personalization to a space.

The "Inspiration Chest" here is offered by Hooker Furniture company, one of my favorites, and has a nice story behind it. Cindy Hall and Erica Wingo, two Hooker Furniture employees, spent hours searching through magazines and shopping boutiques and art galleries internationally to create the Melange Accents Collection for the company. Each unique piece has it's own inspirational story. L'Inspiration Chest is covered with French script describing the nature of the collection, with such descriptive words as "witty, edgy, pretty and bold." See the entire collection at http://www.hookerfurniture.com/

Manuscript rug by Joaquim Ruiz Miller

Talented architect, writer and designer, Joaquim Ruiz Miller has created this rug made of New Zealand wool. Written in Catalan, the inspiration is from a page from a novel that he is currently working on.

Another rug, also inspirational, is a more contemporary version, shown below. It's from Prudelskern. A rose infused and dyed rug, the color and scent is meant to complement words of Shakespeare's Sonnett 54. The letters partially fade and blend into the background, as it's meant to give the illusion of an aged parchment. Very neat!

Shakespeare's Sonnett 54 rug

A true artist and talented decorative painter, Kristin Korjenek will customize inspirational typography for residential or commercial applications based on the mood or theme of that client.
Flourish Decorative Painting inspirational wall typography

Always one of my favs, Etsy, the online artsy site sells these 12" x 16" pillows with a french theme. You can order it at   http://www.reneesfabrics.etsy.com/ as shown below. Other very cool products can also be viewed and purchased on this site.
Etsy's French Script Accent Pillow
I think that it's really interesting that typography traces its origins between 1850 and 1600 BC. The principle was that letters were all identical characters and was realized back in Crete, Greece. Originally, punches and dies used to make seals and currency were used in ancient times and now we are using this concept today to furnish our interiors.

FYGI ( For Your Green Information):  You can go greener with typography and create your own products by using natural fabrics such as hemp, burlap, cotton or linen and stencil onto them using vegetable dyes.

Until next time,

~ Stephanie

Friday, June 24, 2011

The 10 Commandments of Good Interior Design

The 10 Commandments of good design according to Stephanie :

1. Thou shalt not select a paint color based on the teeny fandeck colors supplied by paint stores. (Stephanie can order 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of color to tape to your wall).
2. Thou shalt not let an interior designer dictate trends or their taste upon others. Everyone has their own individual taste and their home should be a reflection of them.
3. Thou shall minimize the different transitions in flooring throughout a space. The more different types of flooring used, the eye will stop at each transition and make the space appear smaller.
4. Thou shall always maintain a sense of humor and add something whimsical to every serious room.
5. Thou shalt not allow an interior designer to select artwork for one's personal space. Art is very personal and should be a reflection of oneself. An interior designer should never tell a client (or friend) that the artwork doesn't "go" or "match".
6. Thou shalt not always believe that ceilings should be painted white. Dark colors can add drama, a shade in the same color family can add depth, and ceilings painted in metallics, faux finishes or embellished in painted designs add excitement and sophistication.
7. Thou shalt not only consider interior decorating but exterior decorating as well, especially now that it's summer!
8. Thou shalt not feel the temptation to decorate their dwelling in a hurry or all at once. Take your time, find treasures that you love, decorate slowly and if necessary, in phases, but with an overall design concept in mind.
9. Thou shalt try not to line furniture up along one wall. Angle it, if the room allows, center it in the room and create individual conversation areas.
10. Thou shall think twice about discarding unwanteds. Repurpose, reuse, donate, recycle...everything looks beautiful in the right place. (If not, donate or recycle)

Among all, have fun! CELEBRATE SUMMER!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Not Just Your Boring Everyday Wall Coverings...

Bisazza Showroom Chicago
  Gone are the days when the mention of "wallpaper" conjured up the image of small country floral patterns paired with coordinating borders for the kitchen walls.  In this day and age, they just keep getting more and more exciting and unique... A plethora of awesome choices awaits the creative decorator. I'm talking about wall coverings here; wall paper and wall tiles that decorate, make statements and allow a room or wall to come alive!

I just had the opportunity to attend Chicago's Neocon, a world trade fair where manufacturers unveil their new products. Wall coverings were hot!
Shown above are gorgeous mosaic designs created with tiles by Bisazza, an italian company known for their unique blends of pattern, design and color varieties. The chest, stools, wall and lamp are all made with interspersed metallic, iridescent and solid tiles.
Glass tiles are so hot now; the color and pattern choices are so vast and they're a recyclable product, another advantage.

Capiz Shell wallcovering by Maya Ramanoff
One of my favorite wall covering companies, based here in Chicago, is Maya Ramanoff Wallcoverings. This capiz shell product gives a wall such an intense iridescence to it, it makes a room glow, creating such a calm beauty to a space.

Candice Olson's Brilliant sand wallpaper
A leader in the interior design arena and very talented product designer as well, Candice Olson adds a beachy feel to this new line of wallcoverings, designed for MDC Wallcoverings, called Brilliant. I think the pattern is stunning and would punctuate a wall in an enclosed porch or sun room beautifully. By pairing this with glass jars filled with shells, it would create such a great summer look.

Bird feathered wallcoverings by MDC Wallcoverings

Yes, these are REAL bird feathered wallcoverings! How do you clean them? Very carefully! The best way is to use a vacuum attachment and carefully vacuum them. For dirt or stains, an extremely mild soap and water solution would work. Never rub, always blot.

FYGI: (For your green information) Vinyl wallcoverings have gotten some very bad press due to their non-green characteristics. Now, the first company to change this material is MDC Wallcoverings. They're introducing new technology built into the product with their "LEN-TEX". They call it Clean Vinyl Technology, or the next generation of vinyl wallcovering. It is free of:
Phthalates, heavy metals, arsenic-based biocide, antimony (used as a flame retardant and harmful!) and formaldehyde. Very exciting news!

Until next month, happy hanging! Please contact me if you need a professional hanger.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Curve Appeal

Did you ever stop to wonder if you're a geometric, straight, linear design kind of person, or a curvilinear, more rounded type? Well, me? I love anything curved, loopy, rounded, swirled...you get the idea. I do appreciate geometrics and linear design elements, however, for me to find balance in it, it must be infused with some type of rounded element. Take a look at some ways I've added curve appeal to my interiors that I've designed (and an interior that I just love, but didn't design):

Photo by Artografi
Custom carpet designed by me and fabricated by Luzern Carpets. Installed by Floor Decor, Lindenhurst, IL. The installer inset the  wavy patterned carpet into an installed stone tiled border. The faux finish on the wall is a painted frame around a framed piece of art. Artist is Art View, Wheeling, IL.

Photo by Artografi
Custom area rug that I designed and had fabricated by Custom Carpet Artistry, Arlington Heights, IL. The hand carving and curved edges mirror the scalloped sheer draperies. Private residence.

 Photo by Stephanie Nickolson

Bedroom furniture and decor at Christopher Guy showroom, Winnetka, IL. I didn't design this room, but ask me about how it can be yours! Take a look at their other collections at www.christopherguy.com     gorgeous stuff!
Photo by Stephanie Nickolson

 Another custom carpet that I designed and had Custom Carpet Artistry fabricate and install on a staircase. Private residence.

Photo by Artografi
Same artist, Art View, painted a curved faux finish accent on wall to delineate the office/loft area. 

Photo by Stephanie Nickolson
As you can see, I do have a lot of fun with carpet~ Same designer, same rug fabricator!

And now, I'm running out of time and I haven't mentioned anything GREEN in this blog, so here's FYGI: (for your green information) I attended Chicago's Green Festival this past Sunday and it was really a great show. So many products were labeled as "fair trade". To define what "fair trade" really means, it's products that were produced under socially, environmentally, environmentally and economically sustainable conditions. TransFair USA is the only independent, non-profit certifier of Fair Trade products in the U.S. The Fair Trade Certified label provides a way for consumers to know that these products meet these global standards. Oh, and yes, I bought a cool, curvy cuff bracelet!

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Celebrate Earth Day in the outdoors!

This is a really exciting time for me now; this month marks the 2nd anniversary of my design blog on my website. I first started blogging the week of Earth Day, how apropos. Even though it's cold and rainy here in Chicago, almost all of the snow that fell the other day has almost disappeared and the first flowers of the season are optimistically trying to lift from the ground. The season of lounging around outdoors in the sun is looming ahead. Thoughts of entertaining friends and family, eating delicious grilled food, sipping festive drinks and the music of chirping birds fills my mind. Whether acres of land surrounds your home or you live in a dwelling with a small patio or deck, there are so many ways to celebrate spring and decorate your exterior sustainably and comfortingly. The white furniture shown above is newly introduced and
available through the company Trex. You may be familiar with this company, as it's known for it's outdoor decking products. Recently, they've introduced outdoor furniture into the marketplace. It's made of 90% recycled content, incorporating the use of recycled milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles.

Shown above is a rug to add pattern and color to your deck or patio, giving a warm feeling of indoor coziness. It's offered in two colorways; Rust (as shown) or Aqua. These decorative rugs are reversible, handcrafted by Thai artisans who receive fair wages for their craft and made 100% of recycled soda bottles. They're durable, just need to be hosed down to clean and come in sizes 4' x 6' or 6' x 9'. They are available through http://www.gaiam.com/

Also through Gaiam, is a line of furniture which is actually made from recycled wine barrels. The chair shown here is part of that collection.

Who wouldn't want to be enveloped in the hammock shown above? (OR any other hammock for that matter) This hand-woven option is available through The Hammock Company and is called Pawleys Island Presidential Size Hammock. This, along with other eco-friendly styles, can be seen at http://www.hammocks.com/ I would love to be resting here right about now!

How ever you choose to decorate the exterior of your home, whether it be a living area, fully furnished with furniture, rugs and a hanging light fixture, or it includes an outdoor kitchen, fully equipped with a stove, or you simply use a grassy area and punctuate it with a small bistro table and chairs, it's the season to be outdoors and celebrate time with friends and family.

Are you into gardening? A great book titled "Organic Garden" authored by Christine and Michael Lavelle (shown in photo above) offers great tips on this topic. It also makes a great coffee table book!

What ever way you choose to celebrate Earth Day, I hope it includes some outdoor activity or something that includes being kind to our earth. Please share your ideas, questions or thoughts on how you'll be celebrating it.

Until next month, CHEERS!

~ Stephanie

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Forward...Fall Back Into RETRO!

Pendant light fixture by Nuevo
Rug offered by The Rug Market, Kathy Ireland Young Attitudes, "Love Safari Ivory Coast/Sandy Beach"

Butterfly Chair by RALPHLAURENHOME, called " New Safari Camp Chair"

Bar stool by Nuevo

Fabric by Mod Green Pod Wallpaper by designer
While we've all sprung forward, let's take a moment to roll back in time. I love some of the old design eras, including the one from the '50's that evokes a feeling of happiness; simple floral designs (ones that I used to doodle on paper when bored) sunbursts and overlapping large-scaled geometric shapes...flourescent colors were trendy during this era; shades of yellows, greens, turquoises, oranges and pinks were all hot...

According to Urban Dictionary, the term retro is a style from the past representing something nostalgic such as an article of clothing or decorative item. It gives me a warm feeling, thinking of these sunbursts and floral motifs, a period of time that I enjoy revisiting...

These products are all retro, cool and current. They can be intermixed into different styles of design as a focal point or as an accent.

* FYI: The Butterfly chair was created in 1938 by the architect Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy and was originally called the Hardoy chair. Now, the popular style's frame can be covered in everything from hot pink faux-fur to polka-dotted and canvas fabrics. I really like this Ralph Lauren version of distressed-rustic-goes-great-with-turquoise look.

A lot of these products look great in teenager's rooms as well as rec rooms or basements. Pottery Barn does a great job of offering these products for teens. Check them out at: http://www.potterybarn.com/

* FYGI (For Your Green Info): Mod Green Pod manufacturers fabrics and wallpapers that are ALL eco-friendly. Check them out at: http://www.modgreenpod.com/