Design 101: Perfect Drapery

One of the most impactful features of a room can be window treatments.  The most classically appealing of these is drapery.  Whether fully operating or stationary, drapery adds pleasing vertical lines while providing additional expression to the design through textiles. 

To help demystify these treatments, here are the factors I keep in mind as I design drapery for my projects.

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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.

Scene Stealers

As much a character as any populating the pages of Daphne du Maurier's novel, Rebecca, the lovely seaside estate of Manderley epitomizes English grandeur.  Under the skilled hand of its former chatelaine and story namesake, until her death before the story opens, the vast manor was the setting of the most coveted soirees of 1930s society.  As the tale unfolds we follow the shy, inexperienced second mistress as she navigates the trappings of her new life with wealthy, handsome widower, Maxim de Winter, all the while reminded in countless ways of how short she seems to fall of his first wife's success.
 

The setting of the film had to meet the expectations set by the novel and those of director Alfred Hitchcock who was familiar with the kind of homes Manderley was based upon. The decoration demanded both opulence and restraint, and could not be a Hollywood fantasy of the era.  The architecture needed to convince audiences of the house's age and most importantly from a story-telling perspective, it needed to dwarf the young female protagonist.  The smooth and slow roving camera of photographer George Barnes earned the film an Oscar and lovingly shows the fine work that set decorator Howard Bristol brought to the production.  

A secluded morning room, boasting deep window seats and diamond mullioned windows, is dominated by a hearth vast enough to gobble up the timid young woman.  Yet due to the intimate scale of the room and the heft of its appointments, we understand that while she may not craft lofty correspondences here, as did her predecessor, she still feels more at home in this space than in the grander ones beyond.  Across the house in a wing overlooking the sea, the suite where Rebecca slept helps to fill in blanks about the first wife. Here the ceilings are higher, the architecture more contemporary and the textiles as supple and transparent as a fine peignoir.  That the fabrics suggest a seductive garment is no accident, for the story that unfolds reveals that Rebecca was as sure-footed a paramour as she was a doyenne of the haute ton.  

The modernity here separates the first Mrs. de Winter from the moorings of the past, indicating her freedom from passe expectations.  Furthermore, the design shows that Rebecca felt enough ownership of Manderley to transpose her personality unabashedly over the antique tastes of her husband's ancestors.

Watching this 1940 film is a pleasure on many levels, as the story adaptation, production values and performances are all stellar.  Yet in creating a character out of a house, Howard Bristol certainly deserves his own portion of the praise.

-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