What is Nestology?

We believe our patrons deserve furniture built to last, with style that always looks unique and fresh.  Every piece in our collection is selected by our designer, Paul Miller, twice recognized by Washington-area Home and Design magazine for superior design vision. Beautiful, functional, and sustainable upholstery should compliment your home for years.   

We know that Nestology upholstery makes any room better.

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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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A Designer Guide to Buying Upholstery

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. 

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The Dark Side of Color Theory

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.   

Tips

  • 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.  

Timeless Choices

As we prepare for our Fall upholstery launch, dozens of fabric swatches are passing through our hands, swimming in our heads, and making their way into the latest offerings at the boutique. A few stalwart heroes have survived from the previous season - a testament to picking classics over fads - but we're excited to share our predictions for the next chapter in textiles.

Lux Velvets

While buttery poly-velvets have been a practical family room fabric for a few seasons, we're watching an influx of classic cotton velvets return to the mix.  These beautiful fabrics have a denser weave and a warmer hand.  And cotton receives dye better than polyester, yielding richer colors - a boon at a time when jewel tones are poised for a comeback. 

Woven Geometrics

Unlike their printed cousins, these woven patterns employ the loom to produce their dynamic look.  While we are huge fans of printed fabrics -  see our summer print blog -  we think this variety produces a more refined character.  Depending on the thread content, the durability may also be better than print on lighter weight goods, making these great bets for high-traffic upholstery.  

Haberdasher Texture

The worst excesses of Herculon fabric in the 80s and 90s sent designers fleeing for the supple simplicity of micro-suede earlier this century, but we find that coarse wovens are enjoying a timely comeback.  The light and shadow on the surface of a toothy fabric helps disguise normal wear and tear, an advantage in high traffic areas. Mid-century design continues to gain appeal and a hallmark of the era was textural solids, fueled in part by innovations in raw materials that were developed during WWII and throughout the Space Age.    

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

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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.

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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.

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