Accessorizing your home can be an overwhelming task. If we aren’t world travelers with fabulous souvenirs to showcase or super-rich art collectors…it’s tough to gather a collection of special pieces that finish off a room while giving it an individualized touch. I think many people end up frustrated and run to HomeGoods or someplace and rely on “made in China” to accessorize their home. Don’t do that! Please, don’t. There are so many other options out there! Also, don’t think you need to have tons of accessories everywhere…a few special and significant pieces that are unique are all you really need.
Amidst my craze for shiny gold things and white pottery, I’ve developed a love of collecting rocks and crystals. Yes, nature. I don’t have plants…I kill them. It’s easy to bring in some of nature’s beauty with rocks…they don’t die. I’ve collected specimens on vacation, and I’ve even purchased on Ebay. They’re not really an inexpensive accessory, but they do pack a lot of punch…so money well spent in my opinion. Take a look at some of the pieces in my collection, and be inspired to start your own!
(Above: Large selenite specimen from Rocky Mountain National Park. Displayed on a stand, specimens become very decorative.)
(Above: Large brown dogtooth crystal specimen. The color is great, and there’s subtle sparkly flecks throughout. Nature looks pretty refined in this example!)
(Above: Pyrite cluster with quartz crystals. I bought the largest size I could afford. These go for tons of $$$ in large sizes!)
(Above: A pretty large quartz crystal prism. This was found at an antique shop in Milwaukee of all places!)
(Above: Ok, this isn’t natural, but it’s inspired by nature. It’s a crystal sculpture from the 80′s that mimics shards of quartz.)
(Above: I love malachite, but it can get pretty expensive. I’m still on the hunt for the right piece, but for now I’ll enjoy my morning coffee in my vintage malachite-patterned Christian Dior mugs.)
What better way to end a cold workweek than a post about sex!
We’re all pretty well conditioned to what’s considered masculine or feminine in terms of design. I’m not just talking about pink for girls and blue for boys. I’m also talking about shape, texture, pattern, and mood. An intriguing interior must have a carefully considered balance of both masculine and feminine design elements.
My concept of “Sexy Modern Men’s Lounge” is starting to get a little heavy on the masculine elements. Many straight lines, many dark colors, many cold hard edges, and a very masculine mood throughout. By default, I’m drawn to masculine pieces. But, feminine design elements and objects mixed in creates warmth, sensuality, elegance, and softness. All too important to ignore. I have a few elements throughout the home that embody a feminine element…such as my curvaceous Piretti chairs, my collection of white porcelain pieces, and my floor-to-ceiling draperies. However, they’re all pretty masculine-ized (it’s a word)! To keep the balance successful, I want to start adding some elements that provide more contrast and punch…creating personality through their unexpected-ness.
DESIGN LESSON 1003: Create a thoughtful balance of masculine and feminine design elements…however YOU find appropriate.
I’m going to embrace this concept of sex balancing in a pretty edgy and literal way. I want to spice things up a bit. I don’t want to run the risk of my place looking boring! I’m starting in the corner that I blogged about last week. Yep, I’m finally filling that acrylic frame that’s appeared in so many of my photos! I told you, this year I’m getting s#@t done!
DESIGN LESSON 1002: Don’t be afraid to take a risk or two…it keeps things interesting.
(Above: From this…)
(Above: to this…)
(Above: to this…)
(Above: to this!)
Now, you don’t have to be as literal as I am when adding in some feminine elements to a masculine design scheme. I decided to have a little fun with the concept! Inside the acrylic frame, I’ve floated a photograph by my partner, Eric. It couldn’t a be more appropriate mix of masculine and feminine…all with an edginess that keeps things hip. A bit unexpected, right?
(Above: I don’t think I’ve gone too far with the risk. I’ve made sure to keep my elements of contrast and surprise very restrained. That’s the key to balance.)
(Above: You don’t have to frame all your art in a traditional way. I had this photograph mounted to white sintra board and floated it with spacers off the background in this acrylic museum frame. Keeps things modern and fresh!)
(Above: Vern seems to be OK with another female in the house.)
I’ve been bad. Now that we’re well into 2013, I’ve been reflecting on my business’s successes and failures of 2012. We all learn from our mistakes, right? A new year…a new leaf, right? I’m very proud to say that 2012 was a great year for Sean Michael Design. Starting the year off with recognition in House Beautiful’s “Next Wave” feature, winning the Fashion Group International “Rising Star” award in the interiors category, and being named one of “10 Emerging Designers to Meet” by House Beautiful certainly boosts my esteem. However, despite my achievements in 2012, my motivation for inspired design quickly dropped off halfway through the year. Why?
I’ve always had a passion for design and interior decoration…it’s why I am what I am today. Work never felt like work, because I was happiest being completely immersed in inspiration and design ideas. Before 2012…design concepts came easily, every night I’d fall asleep reading my shelter magazines, and free-time was spent checking out new stores and sources. I even found enjoyment through designing my own home and blogging about it! What happened?
Life happened. More clients and work happened. More business responsibilities and pressures happened. When design is simply your passion, your escape from your usual routine, it’s something you make time for. When design is your business, business quickly pushes design aside. Perhaps it’s a case of ‘burnout’. Design solutions lost inspiration due to deadlines and budgets. Finishing the design of my home and blogging about it eventually became work…not pleasure.
Perhaps you can relate. Perhaps we need a renewal of inspiration. We need to open our eyes again, and find the joy in the work for which we’ve received such fulfillment.
I’m not punishing myself for being bad…no telling myself to “sit in the corner!”. However, if I were to sit in the corner…it would be no punishment! I’ve made major changes to the living room’s underused corner, and I’m sharing the transformation. Did you notice how I totally transitioned this post to something about my home? Good. Read on…
(Above: Remember this? This is the corner in my living room that I thought was finished.)
The problem with this corner? No one used it. Despite the Lamino chair being totally gorgeous, it certainly isn’t the most comfortable seat in the house. Not inviting at all. And, nothing against West Elm, but having the black Martini table next to the chair didn’t really fit with my mission of having unique and/or vintage pieces in my design. Bye bye Lamino and Martini table! Oh, don’t email me about buying these because I already sold them!
Design Lesson 1001: Don’t be afraid to change something that’s not working! Made a mistake? Fix it and move on. Don’t hold on and regret it.
(Above Images: New chair, new concept!)
You’re probably thinking I’m nuts for selling my Lamino chair in favor of this ugly thing. Just wait…as I’ve said before, you need to be open to the potential! It’s pretty ugly as-is…there’s no denying that. However…the angular frame is a great shape, the chair is comfortable and nicely scaled for the corner, AND there’s an ottoman. I decided to take a risk with this one.
(Above: Although I loved the brass-plated frame, the condition was terrible. Several hours of stripping the brass later, a polished steel frame in perfect condition emerged from the fumes. As you can see, the Martini table still clings to the possibility of being used.)
(Above: The semi-attached, loose cushion design was changed to a tight cushion on both the chair and ottoman to modernize the look. The back was raised 5″ to create a higher profile in the corner and provide a headrest. Sitting in this corner is no punishment now. The chair’s scale fills the space much better than the Lamino did.)
(Above: The polished steel frame is sexy, yet subtle with the selected Kravet fabric.)
(Above: A detail of the chair’s shapely side profile. It’s an important thing to consider when you have a chair angling into the space from a corner.)
(Above: Now, with a one-of-a-kind chair, the black Martini table didn’t make the cut. I opted for a vintage Knoll Platner side table with glass top instead. Much more sexy, and very fitting with my design mission.)
When you’re on a roll, you can’t stop! Keep the focus, and keep up the momentum. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing with the master bedroom’s finishing touches. It’s nice to see the room quickly take shape, as opposed to waiting around with unfinished projects hanging over my head! So, here’s another bedroom post…a finishing touches post if you will. Don’t worry…the room still isn’t done! I still have to reupholster a chair and install cabinet hardware…so you’ll see more of this room in the future. I guarantee it!
Last week you saw the installation of the artwork above the headboard, and how it dramatically affected the room. As in many cases, the new artwork looked so darn good that it created a domino effect for other areas in the room. One in particular was the rug. The existing rug is made of wool Flor tiles. Don’t get me wrong, I love Flor tiles very much, but I was craving something more luxurious and sophisticated now that the artwork amped up the room a bit. The tiles just looked a bit casual in comparison. I don’t like casual. Here’s a refresher of the room with the carpet tiles.
(Above: The master bedroom photo from last week’s post. All looks great, but the carpet tiles don’t seem up-to-snuff with everything else now. Agree?)
When creating a mostly monochromatic (or muted color) scheme, the success lies in the textures and subtle patterns used in each of the elements considered. I was living with wool-overload in this room pictured above. Drapes? Wool. Euro shams? Wool. Blanket? Wool. Carpet? Wool. You see? I needed a texture that would contrast from all the wool. What better solution than a silk rug! A silk rug, however, could cost more than the entire room. I opted for a viscose rug that closely resembles silk, but with more durability. The luxurious sheen creates pattern as you walk all over it…it looks better and better as the days go by. You simply can’t beat the sexiness of a silky rug…especially when contrasted with coarse wool bedding. It’s a lovely combo.
(Above: A peek at the new rug’s silky texture. Simply luxurious.)
Also involved in the domino effect of the artwork’s installation is the additional wall art required above the dresser. One large piece of mixed media artwork with a busy, linear texture above the headboard certainly creates a powerful statement… and it should remain a focal point. Supporting artwork should contrast dramatically in material, scale, and even shape. I stumbled on a hand-made, brutalist-inspired piece made of patinated copper. It has subtle colors I wanted. It has the smaller size I need. It has a round shape that sets it totally apart from the rectangular art above the headboard. It has a rough, slightly grungy texture that contrasts beautifully with the new silky rug.
(Above: Now you see how the silk rug transforms the room to an overall more sexy look. You see the beautiful clashes of texture throughout the room. You also see how the brutalist wall piece holds its own in the room, but doesn’t overpower the art above the headboard.)
Your accessories selected for a room are great opportunities to mix textures into a successful design. Here are a few shots of my eclectic mix of accessories I’ve chosen for the room. A unique mix of materials, shapes and textures give a room its personality.
(Above: The new viscose rug.)
(Above: The Baker cable-knit mohair Euro shams against the subtly textured leather headboard panels.)
(Above: A close-up shot of the bench’s upholstery fabric by Clodagh for Duralee. The velvet pattern is slightly raised from the woven background for an interesting, tactile experience.)
(Above: A close-up of the artwork above the headboard.)
(Above: A faceted crystal bowl by Orrefors on the bronze mirror media cabinet creates a beautiful reflection.)
(Above: The subtle, shimmery pattern of the Christian Liaigre fabric on the bed’s accent pillows.)
(Above: The smooth, slick lines of a thick crystal bowl made in Poland.)
(Above: A close-up shot of a vintage sculpture from the 80′s made entirely of smooth black, speckled Corian.)
(Above: A close-up of the frosted Murano glass lamps on polished chrome bases.)
Let’s chat about the bedroom. For a while, the room has felt a little naked…a little unfinished. I wanted more personality, but I didn’t want to destroy the calm, sexiness the room exudes. Brace yourself, this post contains a few changes to the room you’ve viewed many times before!
It’s all about relationships and scale when considering art and other items that finish off a room. The photo below illustrates my testing of scale for the proposed artwork above the bed. Instead of a wooden door, try cutting cardboard in various sizes and putting it up on the wall before making decisions about art sizes…it really eliminates the guesswork. I’ve said it once…and I’ll say it again, “bigger is better.” With a headboard that’s nearly 10′ long, I need a piece of art that relates in scale with strong impact. The multiple vertical panels creating the headboard become a strong design element in the room, and multiple smaller pieces of art above the bed would have complicated its beauty. One large-scale piece in the proposed size of 80″ x 32″ strikes the perfect balance and relationship with the headboard.
(Above: Here’s the most recent version of the room you’re familiar with.)
With the size of the art decided, another relationship must be addressed. As much as I love my lamps, they aren’t high enough to relate to the artwork above. Their relatively short height seems to ‘weigh the eye down’, creating a disconnect between the headboard and bed with the artwork above. Taller lamps would bridge that gap and begin to relate to the art above. This brings up an important point when designing your home…it’s a big one…
It doesn’t matter how much you like something. If it’s not working…get rid of it!
(Above: Check out those new white Murano glass lamps! See how they reach upward to the top of the headboard? Now the room is simply screaming for art.)
Of course I decide the artwork should be 80″ x 32″ in size. Of course I didn’t think of where I might find something that large. Of course I haven’t budgeted $10,000 for this. Of course I must make it myself…what other option do I have? Sometimes you just have to get a bit creative. I’d much rather see an ORIGINAL attempt at artwork than a mass-produced print or digital canvas. Just try something! I’m not going to lie, I’ve done many pieces of my own artwork before…but never this large.
(Above: I decided on an art technique I’ve been doing for many years, but never in this scale.)
I worked every evening for nearly 2 months to complete the piece. It’s composed of precisely 3,880 strips of paper carefully arranged, trimmed, adhered and varnished to the board I had hanging above the headboard. Quick tip? After pricing out canvases at art supply stores, I was happy to discover that a hollow-core door from Home Depot can surely be the perfect canvas at under $30!
(Above: It’s amazing…that art is 80″ wide, but it doesn’t overwhelm the wall. Why? Besides the fact that my amateur photography can’t fully capture the perspective the human eye sees, it’s due to the art’s relationship with the headboard below. The scales are balanced. In addition, the lamps bring the eye from the bed up to the art and back down again. Relate, relate, relate.)
I’d love to say the room is done. I’d really love to. However, stay tuned because I’m getting a new rug to richen the whole look. Now that the art is installed, I feel the room needs a darker rug. Sexier…darker…richer…silky…
Sometimes you just have to take a break! Summer in Chicago is simply glorious…hence my not blogging for quite a few months. In addition to the relaxing beach days and rejuvenating vacations, Sean Michael Design has been busier than ever with some new, exciting projects that will soon be featured on seanmichaeldesign.com. Now that fall is upon us, I’m returning to the blog…and returning to home projects. I mean, it’s been nearly two years in this new home…I think it’s about time to finish the damn thing! To kick off the ‘season premier’ of the blog, I have an exciting transformation to share with you.
As a designer, I look forward to designing foyers and powder rooms. They’re the most important spaces in the home, and ironically…usually the smallest! They’re places you can be a little more daring and take some risks. Unfortunately, I have no foyer…but I do have a powder room. However, it’s been the project that kept getting pushed to the back burner. Perhaps it was the pressure of the importance of this room’s design that fueled my procrastination. It’s unfinished state had been a source of embarrassment when entertaining guests that eventually end up needing to relieve themselves. Take a look at the before.
(Above: It’s a small room, and there’s absolutely NOTHING interesting about it. The new wall sculpture was discussed in a previous post.)
I’m sure many of you can relate to this basic, blank canvas of a powder room. I want people to enjoy being in this room…I want it dramatic…I want it to be special. Usually, I’m not a huge fan of “accent walls”. I feel like that concept (and term) is horribly over-used. I feel like many people make the mistake of creating an “accent wall” out of a wall that isn’t proportionally attractive…or significant. In my case, I decided to isolate the rear wall of the bathroom (in direct view when the door is open) as an accent wall. The wall terminates into inside corners leading to two adjacent walls. The perfect method of separation and focus. To isolate it more…I painted everything around it dark bronze. Even the ceiling. Even the doors leading to my laundry machines.
The drama of the accent wall comes from the metal foil wallpaper I selected. It’s distressed with acid spots all over, which adds an organic quality. With the walls and ceiling painted dark, the metallic paper shines insanely with even the smallest amount of light. I’m still working on the mirror and lighting above the sink…I’ll share that in a later post. The success of this room is due in large part to the simple isolation of the accent wall. Everything else was kept simple in order to keep ONE focal point in the room. It’s a small room, remember…too many focal points will create chaos. Simplicity can be dramatic, don’t underestimate it.
This summer has been very busy here at Sean Michael Design! My client work leaves me very little time to do things around my house and blog about it. I also don’t have as much time to spend with Vern and Vera as I’d surely like to. However, they keep themselves busy by continuing the hunt for interesting vintage pieces to share with you. This week’s pick is a very versatile piece that can be used in many rooms of the house. I’ve never seen the design before, so I’m giving them extra doggie treats for finding something truly unique! Do you want to furnish your house with things that everybody knows where you shopped, or do you want to be a trend-setter and break away from the chain stores? I know my answer. Take a look!
(Above: If you can squint to blur the pattern of the crazy fabric a bit, you’d see the beautifully simple lines of this unique piece. Imagine this in a luxurious solid-color fabric with amazing texture. The modernist, Bauhaus-inspired steel base is really a detail I have yet to see when researching this daybed. Pieces like this are great because they can enhance a living room seating group nicely or float in the middle of the room. It would be great in front of a window or in a library perhaps. Endless possibilities for this one!)
What: Mid-century modernist daybed with Bauhaus-inspired steel base.
Where: Local Chicago Ebay listing. Pick up locally and save!
Compare: I haven’t seen anything similar to this! Isn’t that a beautiful thing? Perhaps it was custom made…even better!
(Above: Check out the potential! Reupholster this baby for sure…it will update it and keep the focus on the beautiful proportions. Shown here with a rosewood drum table designed by Milo Baughman, a Serge Mouille floor lamp, a photograph by Trent Mitchell, and a sculpture by Kelly Wearstler.)