Contributing Writer

Modern Trends in Lighting

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Many of you know Michelle of Ten June is a monthly contributor here, and today she’s back talking about a subject that I adore, trends in modern lighting.  I am such a fan of so many of the modern fixtures we’re seeing today, some of them throwbacks that are definitely channeling a retro vibe, others showcasing natural textures in new ways, and better still, new designs in fabulous shapes that become a focal point in a space. 

Please welcome back Michelle and her fantastic insight on modern trends in lighting:

“Truly well designed rooms are always always accentuated with good lighting.  The lighting in any space holds the power to illuminate and define all of the other elements in the room, as well as set the proper mood.

While lighting is important, it doesn’t have to be taken so seriously that the fixtures are simply functional and therefore boring.  A modern trend in home decor is incorporating the use of fun, make-a-statement fixtures that bring a punch of style, whimsy, or even humor to a room.  Whether you are searching for a table lamp, a floor lamp, or a chandelier, different styles of modern lighting are that last final detail not to be forgotten, and today, our choices in fabulous fixtures are endless!

One of my favorite trends in modern lighting is the vintage, industrial chic look. Modeled from factory furnishings and rusty, exposed materials, industrial lighting reflects a bare, repurposed and utilitarian design.  Oh, and perhaps you’ve noticed, industrial lighting is all the rage!

modern lighting 3

industrial task lamps, Pottery Barn; vintage inspired industrial pendant, Thomas O’Brien; bare bulb pendant, West Elm; exposed wire table lamp, West Elm; studio floor light, Restoration Hardware

 

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Secrets of a Successful Terrarium

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

One of the nice things about contributors is how much they teach and inspire me.  This month, Courtney is back and he is talking about his personal experience with a project I’ve long wanted to try: a terrarium! 

Placing anything organic under glass is a hot trend right now.  We’re seeing these mini ecosystems pop up everywhere in design, and more and more terrarium vessels available at stylish retailers.  They were big in the 1970’s and now they’re back!

james modern bespoke terrariumI learned with a little research yesterday that the art of a successful terrarium is not a new discovery by any means.

The history of the terrarium dates back to the 19th Century, and grew in popularity in the Victorian Era in England.  Their origination is credited to surgeon and gardening enthusiast Dr. Nathanial Ward. 

An amateur botanist, Ward was conducting an experiment on protecting plants from the polluted London air, and observed how certain plants could thrive and be kept healthy under glass. 

An added bonus to his 1827 discovery was that horticulturists could use glass vessels to protect tropical plant species in ‘Wardian cases’ from sea air on long voyages returning by ship to their homeland. 

I am fascinated by these ‘Wardian cases’ which we now call terrariums, and so is Courtney.  He recently attempted to create one himself, and learned a few things in the process.  

Please welcome back Courtney Lake on the topic of successful terrariums!

“Terrariums are the flora equivalent of a ship in a bottle in my opinion. They are beautiful living sculptures that can serve a multitude of purposes from table centerpiece to anchoring a mantel vignette. The terrariums of today are not the ones we crafted for school science fairs.  Modern terrariums combine form, texture and color to create living works of art.

Yet for many, including myself, creating a successful environment can be intimidating.  Every time I see one, I think to myself “How did they do that?”  It amazes me that people have mastered the art of how to create what are essentially miniature gardens within the confines of a glass vessel.

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Breaking Design Rules

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

A reader recently wrote in and asked an important question when it comes to designing a space.  Leah W.  wondered whether some design rules were made to be broken and were there a few examples or illustrations for successfully breaking those rules? 

I asked Courtney to tackle this topic, and he is back this month with his fabulous insight!  Courtney asked a group of designers to look at issues that they encounter on a regular basis with their clients, and asked what are those design rules or commandments that are made to be broken?

Design Commandments Made to be Broken, by Courtney Lake

“When I was researching this article, I was reminded of the countless essays I wrote in high school where I used the definition of a word or phrase to introduce an idea.  Strangely, using this clichéd approach makes sense when you are writing an article on breaking design rules.  There are some deeply held beliefs that have engrained themselves within our design psyches.  For better or worse, they prescribe how we have decorated our homes for decades. So when you “break” them, what exactly are you doing?  Well according to Webster Dictionary you are breaking:

One of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere…..

Design rules give guidelines for how furniture, lighting and accessories should relate and interact within your home.  But what if you “rocked the boat” as every good designer does, picking those which make sense for your space and tossing out the rest?  Before you break these design rules, it’s best to understand why they are important.

A solid understanding of the principles of design is crucial if you want to break them successfully, so I asked four design experts their opinions on what design commandments should be tossed aside.  They each gave insight on some old and new rules that we all should gleefully break to get the homes we want. 

Design Commandment #1: Thou Shalt Not Place Large Furniture in a Small Room

Common sense tells us that if a space is small, we should scale the furniture to fit the room.  Wrong!  Design legend John Dickinson built a career out of placing out of scale furniture in rooms.  A large bed can easily be placed into a small bedroom or a large couch in a small den.  The tricks to bending this design commandment are placement and color.  As long as the furniture doesn’t block the natural sightlines of the room and is within the same color palette, the furniture will read as a unified whole, tricking you into thinking the room is larger.

Image1_FreshHome

Freshome

Image2_CandaceOlsen

Candace Olsen

 

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