Whether your are an accomplished gastronomer or someone who catches meals on the fly, a kitchen that functions smoothly and pleases the senses is probably at the top of your design wish list. What design tactics should you follow - beyond the ‘work triangle’?Read More
Over two decades of working in the design industry, I've learned a few lessons to better navigate the rise and fall of trends.Read More
There is something about the mantle that inspires us to be expressive and creative. For centuries the hearth has represented the essence of comfort and security, keeping the cold at bay even as it draws friends and family together in a shared experience.Read More
Upholstery is the most hard working furniture in the home, providing enduring comfort and establishing the personality of the room through its stylings and fabric. No one wants to regret this choice either on delivery day because the fabric doesn't compliment the room or a couple of years down the line because the sofa hasn't held up to wear and tear.Read More
After almost two decades in design, I have become an expert at intelligent space planning, but as the owner of a modest home, the tricks I've learned for making the most of tight spaces are particularly close to my heart.Read More
When you strip away the frills, my design expertise essentially revolves around recognizing and solving problems. Large rooms are usually considered ideal, but they also require smart space planning to assure comfort and functionality.Read More
One of my personal favorite traditions this time of year is shopping downtown. Perhaps it was ingrained in me as a child, this love of the holiday bustle, following along as my family tucked into the little stores along our main street, their arms growing fuller with bags as lunchtime approached.Read More
From the start, it was my goal to buck the trend of less choices by providing more. Rather than offer greige groupings that one sees everywhere, I want my upholstery to allow patrons to get creative as they select the perfect details for their space.Read More
This beautifully curated collection of vintage hand craft clothing shows the creativity of an emergent generation of free thinkers in San Fransisco's Haight Ashbury district and New York City's Greenwich Village during the 1970s.Read More
Paul Miller named Hot Talent in Home & Design Magazine!Read More
Perhaps one of my greatest passions is visual composition. In our Loudoun Row project we employed rugs, art, lighting, and accent furnishings to add drama and warmth. In the dining room of this historic house, a custom American-made rug softens the acoustics and provides tonal contrast to the pumpkin pine flooring. The center hall is grounded by a steel and marble accent table with explosive lines. Cheekily we placed an over-scaled hourglass just outside the powder room. A found abstract painting from a regional artist in the front entry provides a bold organic graphic and a spectrum of tones to evoke the comforting energy the client gets from the color orange. We heightened the drama of the dark grey mantle with a pair of limed oak pedestals and dynamic orange and clear glass vessels. - PM
On our trip to the High Point furniture show this year, the MakeNest team focused on education and research, visiting our favorite sustainable makers in between a number of seminars covering everything from the lifecycle of trends to the latest perspectives on color theory. We rounded out our trip with a visit to the venerable Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library, where the history and craft of furniture and design is reverenced with near monkish devotion. Here we highlight a few of the big takeaways from our journey and discovery.
There are a number of lifestyles for which mass customization in home furnishings can help solve problems and create opportunities. For the millennial setting up their first apartment and the baby boomer down-sizing from a larger home, modular furnishings can make hard-to-furnish spaces into peaceful oases of organization. In commercial applications, modular units make office planning flexible and efficient.
Upon meeting a new resource this market, we are now in the beginning stages of collaborating with an Ohio-based maker who can create modular collections that MakeNest will design in-house, based on our aesthetic style and what we know is appealing to our clients. The technology that our maker has developed makes optimal use of each sustainably-harvested unit of hardwood, all but eliminating waste and driving down costs to make custom an option for a greater number of clients.
The fabulous Jenna Hall, a legend in international furniture design circles, places Art Deco style on the trend forecast. Just before the advent of what we generally identify as mid-century design, there was an entirely unique period inspired by advances in furniture production. Mechanized technologies for adhering veneer led to supple waterfall fronts on dressers and sideboards. Exotic and contrasting hues of wood veneers defined the proportions of doors and drawer fronts. Then-new developments in plastics allowed designers to produce drawer pull styles that had never existed before.
As with all appropriations of an established aesthetic, the new trend will be interpretive and not a carbon copy. As a designer, I can imagine how the satin glow of Art Deco finishes would offer a welcome contrast to the cerused woods of recent years - and how those same cerused finishes would compliment the fluid curve of Art Deco's waterfall fronts. Thinking of the options opened up by 3-D printing, I see designers customizing hardware in ways that will bridge the divide between mass production and the consumer's desire for bespoke details.
At the Pratt & Lambert presentation, four highly-conceptual palettes - each based on a distinctive perspective - revealed dozens of new colors that will play a role in design in the coming seasons. We studied a palette called Enigma, which embraces the power of deep and muted tones to convey mystery and even melancholy romanticism. Through a collection named Intrinsic, we explored the use of saturated hues with strong dark neutrals to capture the immediacy and vivacity of nature. In eight peaceful hues that take their cues from clay and minerals, the Purpose palette studies the use of gentle tones to produce a contemplative space for revery and self-exploration. Driven by a point of view that celebrates innovation and altered realities, Pratt and Lambert's Convergence palette is a poem of pleasing demi-saturation and complimentary colors.
From my own perspective, and judging by the textiles that have been most inspiring to me recently, I feel that design is veering away from isolated pop colors and into complex blends of hues that exchange energy while creating more layered environments. Pattern-makers are creating modernized florals and geometrics that provide a variety of tones all in one field. From a design era that has embraced white space with a singular energy color, we will see a return to the vibrant multiple hues one finds in traditional printed goods. This shift plays to the idea of environment as expressive and dimensional rather than austerely curated and Instagram-ready.
A new era in design is emerging, one in which the styles of the past are remastered, color looms large and diverse, and technology is bent to offer more options to a greater number of niche markets. We're excited to be debuting designs we're developing with the many makers that contribute to our Nestology collection. More inspirations are coming soon from MakeNest, so keep in touch to follow our design journey. - PM
For our Snowshoe Condo project, two chairs in vibrant blue from our Nestology collection are as refreshing as sparkling pools of water. A colorful rug from Company C offers up a contemporary spin on a classic tapestry motif, while a collection of found art pieces over the sofa gives this vacation home the personality of a much lived in and cared for everyday oasis. The coffee table in soapstone on reclaimed fir wood is a study in natural contrasts. We worked with one of our commercial furniture makers to add a dining table made from reclaimed barn wood and used graphic pillows from Arnge to give the fabric story a little more edge. This project took us through some beautiful stretches of heartland through West Virginia, so we threw in a few images from the road trip to help illustrate this design journey. Enjoy! - PM
How does graphic design, architecture, and interior design strengthen a brand and lay the foundation for business growth? And how did Dolly Parton and Andy Warhol help me find the right balance in a local hair salon design?
In collaboration with architect Leesa Mayfield and graphic designer Emily Christiansen, I set out to answer these questions at this year's Shenandoah University Business Symposium. The overarching symposium topic was Your Business Legacy.
One of the uniting themes between interior design and marketing is that both aim to express the point of view of a business. In our break out session, Emily spoke about her use of positioning statements to help develop a marketing strategy for her clients. This was an eye-opener for me, because it helped to highlight the intentions in design that I have always called 'telling the story'.
Howe Hall Astro Lounge
We were approached by Shenandoah University to transform a careworn space into a sleek and inspiring area where students could participate in professional mixer simulations to develop networking skills. Every square foot of real estate on campus is vital, so the space would also need to function 24/7 as a study area. From the talk:
We wanted to work with the brutalist vintage of the building and play to the popularity of mid-century design.
The salon had earned a good reputation as much because of a warm and inviting vibe as it had for providing quality services. With a gorgeous historic building on Main Street, we wanted to connect to our local roots, while doing so in a way that spoke to the dapper style of the principal owner, my husband, Ed McKee.
That was where the Dolly Parton-Andy Warhol Venn diagram came into play.
Read a transcript of the MakeNest portion of the talk here.
Visit our studio to have a conversation with our sales experts, choose from our fabric and wood samples, and feel the superior construction of pieces made by artisans across the United States. Find your heirloom here - buy local, support artisans, go green.
Our passion for quality and sustainable living really comes to life in our studio as we listen to the wants and needs of our patrons and guide them to the products that best suit them. We take a hands on and empathetic approach to sales - something that can't be executed online.
While competitors both online and regionally want to sell you something right now, here we want to help you select the right thing for a life time. That means we do the research and legwork to present only the best. Direct relationships with makers ensure quality. American artisans guarantee a small carbon footprint and sustainable resourcing. MakeNest staff promises an exceptional fit for the functionality and aesthetic of your home.
What is gained in this model is an element of longevity for the consumer that is more valuable than the 'fast fashion' options available en masse through cold online retailers. Here in the sanctuary behind the bricks, construction and style are upheld in products that last a lifetime.
There are many things to consider at the high level conceptual stage of an interior design, but one of the most expressive fundamentals is crafting the color palette. Here are two palettes from recent projects that, while distinctly different visually, rely on a similar theoretic principle. Each palette was based on the decision to promote artistic drama rather than the oft over-prescribed notion that spaces should be made to seem larger.
The Garret Room
When we began to noodle the best approach to a family media room in an attic of an historic home, we rejected the obvious choice of painting the walls in light, bright hues to make the space appear larger. In this home, we had already created fresh, sunny palettes on the main and second floors, so we felt the attic could be better served is a deeply-shaded and cozy away space. We theorized that the value of visually expanding the room was not trumped by the greater goal of giving the homeowners a nurturing and even theatrical sense of place.
Because the house has a classic mansard roof, the walls slant on four sides as they approach a narrow jot of ridge at the middle of the room. Two dormers - one tasked for window seating and the other for a modest custom bar - provided a fair amount of natural light. By painting the walls from base to ridge in a dark blue, we promoted a cozy sensibility for the attic. The rather beaten up original wood flooring we had painted in a green hue equal in saturation and value to the wall color, so that while there was some variation, the floor and walls had minimal visual distinction; our goal was to keep the eye moving fluidly with the architecture instead of the gaze hanging up on sometimes awkward transitions. A large sectional in dark chestnut leather further promoted the rich palette, while accents in bright yellow and taupe provided points of brightness and chilly contrast.
The Jewel Parlor
There was something about this parlor in another historic home that seemed to be waiting for dramatic wall color. And our client has a peaceful and yet magnetic energy that we felt would be nicely expressed in a space with muted variations of jewel tones. Starting with a jade lamp the homeowner wanted to use in the room, we built an analogous palette that moved away from blue-greens and toward yellow on the color wheel. The use of a rich plum on the walls managed to serve both a warm and cool helping of wow factor.
Because the parlor had a large vista onto a sunny, off-white dining room at one end, and a large, off-white builtin at the other, we knew that there was plenty of lightness to offset our wall color choice. We had purposed a boxy turret space adjacent to the builtin for a handsome Japanese travel bar; we opted to carry the soft whiteness of the trim onto this alcove to further contrast and highlight the plum tone of the primary space - and to frame the bar for emphasis. Using dark emerald velvet on a tufted accent chair and a geometric woven in chartreuse and cream to wrap the outside back of the sofa, we pinned down our progression of green to yellow-green hues.
We're big fans of white-wall decor and recognize the place it has taken in contemporary interior design, but our opportunities to work in dark hues are always a welcome change of pace. The important things to consider when deciding whether or not a room should go to the dark side is how the color choice will serve the overall purpose of the room and how you will construct a palette with enough variation and contrast to not be flattened out by the weight of the main color itself.
- Remember that the walls will be the background of the canvas, and the furnishings will create the layering towards the foreground. If larger furnishings have sufficient lightness, they will alleviate the heaviness of the wall color.
- Darker rooms swallow light, so consider using a paint finish with a bit of sheen to help bounce both natural and artificial light. Know that sheen will highlight imperfections in the wall surface, so we recommend a professionally applied skim coat to make the walls picture perfect.
- In a room where the wall color is more assertive, the textures of fabrics should be far bolder and the scale of prints riskier. The beauty of starting from a place of intentional drama is that boldness is welcome and necessary for harmony.
- Consider how a dramatic paint color will impact the visual rhythm of a space. If there is a series of awkwardly placed closet doors, it is sometimes advisable to paint them out in the same color as the wall. The same can be said of a chair rail, which becomes a light belt around a dark room, often cutting the perceived height of the walls and pulling attention away from more important elements of the design.
- Before panicking when the paint is half up and you begin to waver in your resolve, pull a few pieces into the space and view them against the walls. You'll never feel more vulnerable about your choice than when the room is without any of the components that helped inspire the color.
The new year opens up before us like a clean white canvas. Our wish for the design professions is that we keep what works - negative space, clean silhouettes, user-friendly materials - even as we shape the look of the next chapter. It can have escaped no thinking person that 2016 was rife with social tensions and polarizing messages. What we who love the comfort of home know is that there is no greater balm for the spirit than breaking bread with people whom we hold dear in a warm and cared for space. With a great deal of hope in the power of home to reset and renew the spirit, here humbly is our design forecast for the season ahead.
The return of prints to drapery fabrics and wallpaper is a welcome addition to designs that have been centered around angular geometrics in recent years. Classic subjects like leaves, butterflies, and birds are being colored vibrantly and writ large to pack a punch. Use prints that are deconstructed or exotic in style to create a fresh and memorable space.
While open floor plans have justly earned their popularity, they do present challenges, such as allowing noise and food odors to travel through a house unchecked. Additionally, a home with too few walls can ignore a fundamental human need for solitude. We anticipate seeing a more conservative approach to removing walls in 2017 renovations and look forward to designing those cozy, tucked away spaces that allow us to escape for a quiet read or meditation.
From wall coverings to upholstery fabric, we're predicting densely textured fabrics this year that will rival your favorite cable skit sweater for comfort. More and more we're spending time in front of computer screens; designs that are alive with tactile experiences helps us to better connect to real space. Our favorite 'goes-with-anything' fabric this year is striae sculpted velvet. It feels fantastic to the touch and stands up to the every day tests of active home life.
Near and dear to our own hearts, there is a growing trend toward artisan-made home accents and furniture. Supporting craftspeople who are carrying on traditional skills or developing the classics of tomorrow has numerous advantages, from knowing that your home has interesting and storied pieces, to helping to revitalize industries in your own back yard.
This year isn't the starting point for this journey, but in 2017 we expect to see bold emerald and rich plum move from accent to backdrop, as milk white spaces make room for daring accent walls. Perhaps the best lesson in color from almost two decades in design is to be a good editor. Thoughtful placement of color will add spirit and sensuality to any home; white space and negative space - as in graphic design - are important palette cleansers to help sharpen the impact of hero colors.
The beautiful glow of copper, gold, and brass finishes will continue to accent anything from tabletop decor to cabinet hardware. This year will see a return of bronze and raw iron to add the deeper notes that have been less present in metals in the last couple of years. Expect to see metal used in fresh ways, like brass inlaid in marble or copper trimming on earthenware goods.
A client's gathering room in their historic home in Winchester VA. We furnished this space with a combination of American made and vintage goods. Built-ins provide a clean space to showcase our client's collection of art and artifacts. We visually merchandised the collection so that each vignette is a punctuation of beauty making up the canvas of the entire wall display.
Moody and sultry, Benjamin Moore's Vintage Claret comes to life in the lamp-lit corners of the room. We chose the palette to compliment our client's collection of Asian art.
We sourced the furnishings from our favorite North Carolina makers. Just out of the frame, the client's own lamp and artifact perch on a vintage Brandt octagon table we picked up in western Maryland - not far from its original manufacture location.
In this happy gathering room on a creek side property, one can experience the joys of each season through large wood framed windows. A pair of American made swivel rockers from our maker out of High Point, North Carolina wear a vibrant, meandering (and sun-safe!) print.
On the American made sectional and ottoman, we selected our fabrics for a posh pairing of hardworking velvet and a colorful woven. We made our overall choices light, bright, and colorful for this room, bringing out stunning contrast in the architecture of the space.
As a whole, the room has the play of masculine and feminine, light and dark, textured and smooth, effectively balancing the design.
"A massive custom shadow box was key to transforming the dense collection of small treasures into a single graphic monolith. " -PM
Welcome to Ed's Heads Hair Salon on historic Main Street in Stephens City. The dapper collector's look was largely inspired by the owner of the salon. Perfection is found when the large comercial-friendly Spicher Co. vinyl rug, American made sofa, and a pair of fabulous vintage redux chairs make friends.
We played boldly with pattern at Ed's Heads. The vinyl rug is custom made to order in Pennsylvania and we paired it with a Californian sofa frame upholstered in a soft plaid flannel to make the lively combination.
We got our hands dirty making this custom shadow box for the waiting area. A classic green off sets the glazed walnut stain for a been-there-forever look that is perfect for the salon's quirky collections. Just out of view, are spectacular felted light fixtures dotting the high ceilings over the workstations.
Hospitality accents like flowers and mementos add personal flair to this locally owned salon.
We chose joyful and expressive fabrics to keep this classic design upbeat.
A traditional project in Lake Frederic called for fresh fabric choices, highlighting the rich wooden pieces in the space. Crisp contrast welting in a dark teal outlines these custom made cushions. A perfect pair for cozy reading in the sunniest room of our client's home.
The transitional frames of the artisan made sofas in this room wear a practical upholstery that will be loved for years to come. Bright custom pillows and warm brass and wood tones provide an ambiance of coziness to the space. Mirrored tray tables work double duty to reflect light in the space, and to hold our client's treasures.
For this project, we took design inspiration from our client's heirloom mid-century dining set. From color palette to accessories and material choices, we love how this space came together around a treasured piece. We used a combination of our client's keepsakes and accessories from our sources to round out the design.
In the same home, the breakfast room carries on the mid-century thread with a vintage hutch. We painted the find in a Benjamin Moore color to freshen the look.
A sunshine colored Company C wool rug anchors the room and provides a point of dramatic lightness on the dark floors.