Design Snapshot: Loudoun Row


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

Surreal Journey

One of our many short summer trips took us to the gorgeously curated Hi-Fructose art exhibit at MOCA in Virginia Beach. Each artist tells a different story - from nightmare scape to upside down fairy tale - with refinement and stunning potency.  This art merges our ideas of the sweetly precious with the murkier matters of the human inner world. Here are a few among many at the exhibit that roused our curiosity and fed our visual appetite.  

Mark Ryden,  Rosie's Tea Party  

Mark Ryden, Rosie's Tea Party 

Mark Dean Veca,  Madder Hatter

Mark Dean Veca, Madder Hatter

Tim Biskup,  Asylum #1  

Tim Biskup, Asylum #1 

Kris Kuksi,  Eros at Play  

Kris Kuksi, Eros at Play 

Martin Wittfooth,  Incantation  

Martin Wittfooth, Incantation 

Summer Prints

As the sunny days of summer continue to unfold in an endless splash of blooms, we're taking inspiration from some of our favorite prints.  The craft of printing on fabric dates back to China in the third century and has spurred a world of gorgeous graphic imagery ever since.  Many of the 20th century's most prolific designers - we're thinking of Dorothy Draper, her protege Carlton Vernay, and The Prince of Chintz himself, Mario Buatta - have used prints to stunning effect in some of the most iconic spaces in design history.  Follow us on our indulgent journey through five glorious prints.  To keep up with our fabric obsession, check out our Fabric Friday hashtags on Instagram.

This Jacobean-inspired print is a classic, rendered in bold indigo on an ivory field.  There are few punchy pop colors we'd hesitate to mix with this beauty.

Drawing inspiration from the primitive forms of South Pacific heritage art, this playful print is the perfect foil for its warm plum and oyster white palette.

The art style of this bold tropical print has all the innocent charm of a children's coloring book, yet the thoughtful mix of blues and greens keeps the palette tight and polished.

The whimsical waves of this cheerful print cannot help but uplift any space they wash over.  A toothy linen weave adds dimension to the block-print styling of this design.  

Perhaps our favorite motifs in prints are ones that speak to the Asian origins of the art form.  This gentle and joyful garden scene invites us to take a journey into a serene state of mind.

Design is so Manipulative

choosing_color_design_tips

One of a designer's tasks is aligning the physicality of a space to the principles of good aesthetics.  At times, creativity and skill can make the space as pleasing as architectural changes.  What follows are a few general insights to alter the perception of space.  

Large spaces lacking intimacy can become more welcoming when the furnishings are arranged in a central, conversation nest with space all around, rather than spread out merely because footage allows.  In such rooms, medium color values are often the most satisfying, as light, mild tones recede from the eye, implying vastness, while dark, shadowy tones suggest greater depth.  A medium shade pulls the walls in without fooling the eye into thinking the corners are farther away than they are.  Remember that artists use deeper values in landscape painting to create depth and know that this effect is equally true in real space.

One persistent myth about small spaces is that the walls must be pale for the room to feel larger.  In truth, the space feels larger when the eye can pan over it without jumping from dark to light values too often.  A small space painted even a rather deep tone will feel more open if the strongest elements, such as window treatments and large furnishings, contrast only minimally with the wall color.  A narrow hall with numerous doors becomes a messy jumble of forms when the walls are dark and the trim white.  Resist the craving for color in such an area and tone it down- another opportunity for splash will present itself.  

It is true that a quantity of objets d'art can make a room feel small, but this can also add a lot of character and story.  The trick is to display art and accents in tight, visually harmonious compositions with open, uncluttered spaces between to give the eye rest. As with so much in life, success in design is less about what we do and more about how we do it

-PM

Order

There are many simple methods for creating memorable and pleasing areas of focus within your spaces.  Here are some principles to follow for great results...

Bring together objects of like purpose, such as small clocks or boxes, to make a collection.  It takes three or more to look like a grouping and not an accident. As in planning a garden, think in layers of height and fearlessly experiment with creating variation.  When many objects of like color are grouped which can be lovely, mix it up by alternating shape or texture.

Look to nature for simple objects that add spontaneity to a vignette.  An orphaned branch or a handful of cleaned oyster shells make great friends with even the loftiest accents.

Peek into your cupboards for forgotten objects.  Pieces deemed unworkable in the past may now have a new chance due to subsequent changes. Relax and enjoy- all can be arranged and re-arranged infinitely.

-PM

Warm & Cool

In recent design projects, we have been put to the task of infusing warmth into our clients homes. Traditionally, either warm or cool neutrals predominate a space. Cool tones like grays, silver, and washed wood tones still find favor with many homeowners due to their modern and understated sensibilities. Even so, warm neutral tones are making a comeback from their several year hiatus.  

We remember looking through resources during this peak in cool tones and wondering if everything warmer than taupe had  become extinct. Embracing warm tones comes naturally to us as they add a wonderful comfort and richness to a space. We love encouraging a mix of neutrals as we have found that it creates a sophisticated and unexpected palette that our clients love.

One of our favorite examples of a piece that brings in warm wood tones while still being harmonious with predominantly grey toned elements is this beautiful tusk table. Don’t underestimate the power of accessorizing to enforce the striking balance of warm and cool as well. From rugs and gimp tapes to wallpaper, we find that this trend is really taking off within the design community. 

Here at MakeNest, we love a confident mix. Just like wood tones and upholstery, try mixing neutrals in other materials too! We are looking at you, gold and silver.

-PM