Chocolate Oasis

Design legend Billy Baldwin had it right.

Chocolate is as delicious, sensual, and rich in interiors as it is on the dessert trolly.  Yet browns come in varieties that can change the flavor of a room.  Here are three of our favorites from Benjamin Moore:

  1. North Creek Brown : #1001 This mossy infusion is perfect for the design that wants to mix warm and cool notes and needs an ambassador to seal the deal.  Many browns have red undertones, but this subtle reserve delivers a wallop without blushing.  An elegant tone to use against classic blue and white, it can change course and play backdrop to pop colors like coral and kiwi as well. 
  1. Raisin : #1237 As its name suggests, plummy notes flavor this robust brown.  We love it because it has the impact of a mahogany-lined space without the architectural narrative of wainscoting.  Paired with analogous tones ranging from camel to clay, this hue is the weight to an earthy setting.  Upscale metallics like brass and pewter are equally flattered in a room where Raisin establishes the backdrop.
  1. Van Buren Brown : #HC-70  Perhaps the most earnest brown in Benjamin Moore’s collection, this shade is one hundred percent rich Mayan cocoa.  It is satisfying enough to be served as the main event: the walls, the ceiling, or the floor.  Or it can be used minimally as a painted accent, slipping into any color palette under the sun to dazzling effect.

They say the best way to appreciate good chocolate is to let it rest on your tongue, while the warmth of your palette uncloaks the complexities of the recipe.  Bring any of these delicious hues into your space and enjoy the chocolate that never melts away.

Preserved Arrangements

As the cool tones of winter paint the landscape, we find inspiration in bringing the vibrant colors and textures of preserved botanicals, twig, and feathers into our designs. Dried botanicals are an honest and elegant representation of natural elements and stay beautiful even after the last bits of glitter and spruce needles make their way out of your home.
A handsome arrangement of cardinal red foliage and golden pheasant feathers (above) is perfect for hearth or hall table.
Blog Caspia
Wispy caspia in a vintage pottery vase congers memories of wind-scrubbed stretches of summer beach.
When creating seasonal arrangements, explore your home and use your imagination to find vessels with personal meaning. From favorite pieces of pottery to a kitschy cookie jar, gather up items that inspire your soul or carry heart-warming memories.

Gratitude

Every holiday asks questions.  In in the Dickensian tradition, the questions of Christmas are of charity and kindness.  On the 4th of July, we ask ourselves what freedom means to us and what it has meant to those who’ve defended it in our names .  And at Hallowe’en, we may no longer ponder on life and death as our Pagan ancestors did, but we at least bite down on the central question of costume: to wig or not to wig.

Thanksgiving asks us to pause and consider gratitude and to count our blessings. There is a great deal of heart in the holiday. In the practice of being grateful one finds oneself grounded and humbled.  There is a quiet joy in feeling appreciation for opportunities, for the love of others, for shared enjoyments and even for personal vision.

At MakeNest, we’ve had a remarkable year of growth, fueled not only by exciting projects, but by the coming together of a remarkable team around shared visions. After ten years of largely flying solo as a business owner, the time had come for my work family to grow.  With this change, we’ve seen our business become more organized; our perspective has broadened; the burdens are shared; and the afternoon brownie is split three ways, showing that in all greatness there is sacrifice.

We’re thankful for our work family, our continued passion for design, and for our community of loyal and supportive clients.  Every day when my staff heads out the door, I tell them thanks for the work they’ve done, because most of the questions that holidays ask should be answered in practice all year long.

Gratitude

PM

 

Warm & Cool

In recent design projects, we have been finding ways to warm up the cool palettes of the last few seasons. Traditionally, either warm or cool neutrals predominate a space. Cool 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.

Cool Warm Mood Shot

One of our favorite examples of a piece that bridges warm and cool wood tones harmoniously is our beautiful Tusk table.  Don’t underestimate the power of accessorizing to reenforce the striking balance of warm and cool as well. (above). From rugs and gimp tapes to wallpaper, we find that this trend is really taking off within the design community. We had fun arranging a group of our favorites below.

Warm & Cool Collage

Warm & Cool Collage

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

Jewel Tones

Inspired by our tour of parts east, our love affair with jewel tones has gone from slow burn to colorful blaze.  In the semi-precious stone floors at Cappelle Medicee’s Chapel of the Princes and again in the crimson damask at Windsor Castle, a rich rainbow of tones affirm that great palettes are always in style.  And in humble taverns and cozy teahouses, we were reminded that European design has long celebrated dynamic color. Even in the modern aesthetic, pops of kelly green, coral, and cobalt punctuate spaces designed around light-handed neutrals.

Here is a smattering of the colorful treasures we toured; view more by following our gallery on Instagram here.

prince chapel floor

Ruby and Emerald, Semiprecious Stone Floor, Chapel of Princes, Cappelle Medicee

Sapphire and Gold Heart, Milan

Sapphire and Gold Heart, Milan

Mosaic, St. Peter's Basilica

Vivid Azure, Mosaic, St. Peter’s Basilica

Inner Courtyard Ceiling, Rome

Pungent Yellow, Inner Courtyard Ceiling, Rome

Santa Maria del Popolo, Florence

Sapphire and Crimson Robes, Santa Maria del Popolo, Florence

Heraldry Reds, Fischer's, London (David Collins Studio, Designers)

Heraldry Reds, Fischer’s, London (David Collins Studio, Designers)

Blood Ruby, Renaissance Religious Art, Musee Accademia, Florence

Blood Ruby, Renaissance Religious Art, Musee Accademia, Florence

Sapphire and Terracotta, Pop Art, Murren

Sapphire and Terracotta, Pop Art, Murren

Arrivedarci,  Auf Wiederluege, and Au Revoir!

-PM

Design Checklist: Guest Rooms

As of this writing, I’ve determined to overhaul our guest room this fall.  It won’t be an easy project because the floor needs to be replaced as well as the bittersweet work of painting.  However, it is exciting to me because the room has become an island of misfit pieces over the years.

In its way, the guest room is charming, an attic of disparate pieces, all storied and meaningful.   Nonetheless, as a designer, I also know the value of allowing a guest room to be a simplified take on the rest of the home.  This is one of those rooms where you can allow fantasy and beauty to take the lead.  Here you are not beholden to the placement of the television set, nor must you consider how a light rug will withstand the march of daily traffic.

So how do you unpack an over-furnished room, laden with mementos from the past, to make it a soothing oasis for guests, even an afternoon retreat from the rest of the house for yourself?

Start with a checklist of needs only.  For the guest room, it should be as simple as: settle in; sleep; freshen up.

Settle In:

This would have been merely unpacking clothes in the not so distant past, but today it includes making sure your friends know where to plug in their chargers and have your wifi password.   We have guests who need a moment each day to check in on the rest of their world.  And while the etiquette-keepers will remind us that in company we should turn off our phones and shut our laptops,  I feel that whatever my guest wants to do once they retire for the night is purely their concern.

In the vein of more traditional unpacking, however, it is good design to provide a space adequate enough for a guest to open their toiletry bag and loot through it to their heart’s content.  This may be a dresser that is not over-done with accents, or a desk or console table equally uncluttered.

Sleep:

This is not where I opine about bed size or style. The most important thing is to make the bed both cosy and easy to use.  After years of “pillowing up” the guest room, I’ve learned that guests want pillows for two things: head support and snuggling.  No one wants to cuddle up with a pillow they assume is irreplaceable to you, so opt for comfortable, washable goods on the guest bed.  That thread-worn antique bolster is charming, but stressful when a guest is looking around for a place to stuff it during their stay.  And resist the urge to put out too many pillows.  When in doubt, the perfect sum is five: two fluffy ones for sitting up to read, two sleeping pillows, and a small accent pillow for color and snuggling.

A bed without bedside amenities is as senseless as a dining table without chairs.  An important part of enjoying the bed is feeling like you’ve arrived once you’ve gotten under the covers and arranged things just so.  This means provide bedside tables and lighting. Even if your room is a tiny New York apartment, you can hang a wall shelf beside the bed large enough for a book or a glass of water. And a wall-mounted sconce will serve your company perfectly if they need to catch a little Jane Austen before sleep.

Another important component to guest room design is knowing that privacy and light control are hugely important to many people.  If you have windows in the guest room (and we hope you do), make sure you’ve dressed them to moderate noise and light from outside.  There are many shading systems and options for drapery that will not only shut out the glare of a street lamp or the morning sun, but also blanket noise to provide a better oasis.

Freshen Up:

The best practice regarding “welcome” setups is to opt for less is more.  I’ve been placed before baskets so laden with travel-sized lotions, sanitizers, and mouthwashes that I’ve felt more like an impulse buyer at a Rite-Aid checkout line than a guest in a friend’s home.  And that pricy lotion you bought at a boutique may please one guest, but turn off another with its posh lavender scent. Trust that your guest has brought their preferred toiletries with them.  It is sufficient to lay out clean towels and wash cloths and to show guests where they may find emergency toiletries (out of plain sight) should the need arise. There is a fine line between charming a guest with your attention to detail and overwhelming them with just plain stuff.

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Once you start organizing your thoughts around the function of the space, as I’ve outlined above, it’s easy to see that the room really needs simple basics to start: bed, bedside tables, dresser or table top, lamps, and window treatments.

Surely rugs make it cozier, and art adds interest, but lean toward simplicity when adding the decorative elements.  The degree of simplicity is determined by your own style.  If you’re already a minimalist, our list of basics may be asking you to put more in the room than you might otherwise. Conversely, to the collector of many things, the imperative is to use restraint to keep the room from feeling over-saturated with your sensibility. After all, the guest holds you in high esteem, but this space should give them a little neutrality, a time out from one another.  Tone it down just a notch, by curating the collections in this room.

I hope to share before and after pictures in the weeks to come and look forward to practicing what I’m preaching as I renovate the guest room in my home.

Cheers!

PM