Archive for March, 2012

Water. Color. Walls.

As I was walking to see my friend Daren at And Beige this weekend (where I picked up a lovely Voluspa Orangerie candle), I was stopped in my tracks by the current exhibition at Morton Fine Art Gallery. From outside, I was taken back by the serene images through the front window. I had to go in and see these large scale canvases up close. And now I want them all.

Choichun Leung has created these magnificent creamy, watery, glittery paintings by pouring diluted pigments and acrylic paints onto canvas. The water moves about and freely designs itsself. Sanding down and painting over again reveals calligraphic scripts and memories. They are absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking. I am currently selecting living room art for a client and found these to be perfect for the lofty space.

The artist explains this process in a way we can all relate:

 Our memories are not historical accounts of what happened but what we choose to extract, interpret, retain or forget and is a key aspect of our personal identity. How we remember the past is how we propel ourselves into the future, it moulds our interaction with people, current events and experiences. Some memories are shaped by language, others by imagery, some are deeply suppressed through trauma. Yet they emerge consciously and unconsciously in our everyday lives without us oftentimes noticing. They are clues to what was, a blue print of our past selves.  My work is simple traces of that activity- in the faintest of watermarks symbolic of the fading and passing of time and in the improvised scripts where subconscious thoughts emerge and are obscured.

Born in the UK and living in Brooklyn NY (where so many cool people live), this self-taught painter earned a degree in 3D Design from UK’s Loughbourogh College in 1988. Since that time Choichun has shown her talents at numerous exhibitions across the world. The mouthwatering paintings featured in this post will be on the walls at Morton Fine Art Gallery in Adams Morgan until April 11th.

DC Design House 2012.

2012 DC Design HouseA right of passage for any interior designer is to visit and get inspired by local show houses. Maybe even be involved in one (I am hoping this or next is my year!). Not only are they complete eye candy to look through, but proceeds benefit worthy charities – improving the lives of many in need. One of my favorite events, the DC Design House is hosted again this year by Skip and Sherry Singleton, raising monies for the Children’s National Medical Center, the only exclusive provider of pediatric care in the Washington metropolitan area.

What began in 2008 as a unique design show house event for the DC Metro area in which top area designers showcased their talents into a “flowing design home” to raise funds for a local charity, the show house has developed into the region’s foremost annual residential design attraction and as a leading annual fundraiser event. This years Spring Valley house was built on a one-half acre site in 1956 by W.C. & A.N. Miller for Dr. Francisco and Gladys Aguirre, who raised six children in the 10,000 square–foot, seven bedroom, and seven bath estate. The home became known as the “Blue House” for the family’s 40-plus year tradition of adorning the exterior in thousands of blue lights during the holiday season. =)

Check out the Before photos of this property and interior at Washington Post.

2012 DC Design House

This years designers include Brian VanderFleet, Nancy Twomey, Nadia Subaran, Victoria Sanchez, Kelly Proxmire, Daniel Proctor, Christopher Patrick, Susan Nelson, Shanon Munn and Amanda Welsh, John Matthew Moore, Marika Meyer, Allie Mann, Elizabeth Krial, Sharon Kleinman, Tricia Huntley, Annette Hannon, Lorna Gross, Blake Dunlevey and Gina Benincasa, Wendy Danzinger, Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey, Christopher Boutlier, Steven Wlodarczyk, Elizabeth Boland and Carolyn Wilson. All so talented!

The DC Design House opens to the public on Saturday, April 14 and remains open unSl Sunday, May 13. If in the DC area, plan to visit Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door, $20.

The home is in Washington Fine Properties Private Placement Program. For more information on this residential estate, contact Daryl Judy 202-380-7219 or go to

House Beautiful and the Green Chair Hunt. It’s on.

Kate in her Kravet Parisian Side Chair  - Green Chair event by House Beautiful

Kate in her Kravet Parisian Side Chair - Green Chair event by House Beautiful

It’s day two – and the last day – of the House Beautiful Green Chair Scavenger Hunt. I had the pleasure of finding out yesterday morning via Twitter that there was going to be a green chair sitting in the sidewalk just under a mile from my home office. This was at 10:17. Chair drop was supposed to happen in 3 minutes! What did I do? Yes, I ran. I ran like the wind. I ran like a herd of cattle being chased by a hyheana (wait, does that happen?). And full speed at that. It sure showed afterwards. Imagine dizzy spells and panic attacks while driving down I-66. It’s been a while since I went for a run. Ugh, I was ridiculous. But back to the Green Chair story.

I did not get the chair. Kate did. I was damn close however. She was perched dead front of The Phillips Museum where the Tweet hinted we should be on the lookout. As I arrived, several 20 and 30-somewthings were waiting around, uncommunicative, as if there was gong to be some special secret drop off for each of us but we pretend to not know what that might be as if to elude the others. All of a sudden, Kate runs, I see the chair and if I still had enough wind in my lungs by that time (I was almost wheezing), I may have been able to sit on that green throne. But, alas Kate made out to the finish line and was bombarded with House Beautiful peeps hurling up video and still cameras to get the right angles for the magazine. There she sat, large smile and beating heart, on a Kravet Parisian side chair upholstered in a celadon fabric. I’m a bit envious at this point. But it’s okay. It’s was the thrill of the hunt for me. I did walk away with a neat canvas bag from a Benjamin Moore rep who appeared out of thin air. In the bag were some top notch paint brushes and the Aura line fan deck. I already have two but hey, three is a great number.

I walked home with a skip, not a sulk. And am excited for all of the other chair winners throughout Washington DC. If only I was 19 and ready to chase down a chair all day with some friends. And fight to the finish to get the throne. Without breaking a sweat. Or shortness of breath. Furniture fans will do anything.

There is still time to win a chair  – even if you’re not in the DC area. Go to House Beautiful to learn about the online version of a scavenger hunt! 

DreamHome 2012… Crafty Creatives!

DreamHome Washington Design Center 2012 Art Renwick

I had the lovely pleasure of attending a media event this morning at the Washington Design Center for the very upcoming 2012 DreamHome: Design Craft. This genius event celebrates the next generation of design in Washington DC with a teamwork approach to show house design. Eight emerging designers were hand-picked to create rooms inspired by works featured in the Renwick Gallery exhibition “40 under 40: Craft Futures“, which opens this summer.

In this years show house, which will be open to the general public starting March 16th and continue  through November 30th, interior designers explored color, texture, space, and their own unique interpretation on how a single art piece from the Renwick collection, whether it be sculpture, negative film, or yards and yards of floral fabric, is represented as a completely and spectacularly designed interior room. From wall, to floor, to acrylic baby grand piano, nothing was left undiscovered when it came to the designers energies put into making each room an evolution of each artistic craft chosen. Check out the renderings and art pieces that inspired them before the rooms were completed.

Drawing Room by Kori Keyser of Keyser Interiors

Drawing Room by Kori Keyser of Keyser Interiors

In the drawing-room, Kori and her associate Andrea Pompei eagerly showed me the luminescent fabrics and custom wood table that played off of the glass and wood spinning wheel beautifully. A built-in bench framed by trimmed out columns gave the space some symmetry. Their energy was contagious and further added to the unique sculpture they chose for their room.

Modern Lounge by Jeff Akseizer and Jaime Brown of Akseizer Design Group

Modern Lounge by Jeff Akseizer and Jaime Brown of Akseizer Design Group

Jeff, Jaime and I hit it off immediately. As a past advertising agency employee (eons ago), I related to their aesthetic. Their Mad Men-esque room featured so many fantastic mid-century advertising relics like Playboy dishes, rotary dial phones and the most amazing lucite piano on loan from one of their very own trusting clients. All pieces pulled shapes and spark from the art piece they embodied. The streaming music and fav Boyd wall sconces was a great added touch.

Living Room by Scott Cooke of Scott Cooke Design

Living Room by Scott Cooke of Scott Cooke Design

Scott truly felt the e,motional tone of the Cristina Cordova sculpture for his symmetrical design. The grayness of the piece was played out in the enveloping grey walls, floor and trim, all percentages of the same Stark paint color (and hand painted by Scott himself! Kudos Scott!). The splashes of color in various accents lifted a quiet peace and glammed up the large room.

Dining Room by Catherine Hailey of Hailey Design

Dining Room by Catherine Hailey of Hailey Design

Catherine and her associate Amanda used a furnishing piece as art inspiration in their own dining room. I loved the picture of the chair broken up into individual square canvas-like pieces on the wall over a walnut credenza. The geometric lines and shapes were played out in the modern custom white chandelier and materials throughout the contemporary space, a glimpse into the beautiful designs she’s created for many well-known local eateries and bars.

Breakfast Room by Christine Philp of Palindrome Design

Breakfast Room by Christine Philp of Palindrome Design

I loved the light in this breakfast room. Now if only I could really wake up and dine in this spot! Christine, who once worked alongside the talented Thomas Pheasant, took the blue and grey colors of the glass and steel wire twisted art concoction and brought about the organic feel and instead of cooler colors, chose warmer counterparts. Warm metals are a fav of mine at the moment and the natural materials and to-die-for Baker table lamps really struck a chord with my inner design beast.

Modern Study by Mariam Dillon of Barnes Vanze Architects

Modern Study by Mariam Dillon of Barnes Vanze Architects

The first room of the house was of three walls until Mariam built a fourth wall of various shelves and openings framing a tea-stained linen “screen” for the filmography that was projected from within the room. Her inspiration stemmed from the artwork created with numerous film negatives and color made into a patchwork like piece that to me read Americana. I loved the deep blue-green wall color and angular shapes throughout the room. And the beautiful bar cabinet (in fact, most all rooms has some kind of libation tray or bar cabinet. I think those Mad Men were a wee bit influential, no?).

Bedroom by William McGovern of McGovern Design Studio

Bedroom by William McGovern of McGovern Design Studio

Although William was not present today, his knowing associate was there to describe this amazing sculpture that needs to be seen to truly understand the complexity behind its creation. Seriously, I was like, I have to see this egg! William took this “human Faberge-like egg of fabric and human models” and turned it out into woman-esque details and loads of fabric that envelope a standing model, dressed in black and white. Friends with benefits applies here…. a good friend of theirs who used to work in merchandising for Burberry actually dressed this model and created the details on the dress. Bonus!

Office by Shanon Mun of AMBI Design Studio

Office by Shanon Mun of AMBI Design Studio

Shanon really found creative ways to bring in the laser-cut and engraved plywood chair into her office space. Although more like a sitting room with a desk and shelves, this lovely fresh space has a hand-stitched area rug made of remnant carpeting and custom metal and wood shelving units. Very resourceful! I fell in love with the tripod table that featured inlaid mosaic that picked up on the diamond-like lines from the “crane” detail on the plywood chair. She thought of Very Wang when she pulled together the elements of this room. All women love to hear (and wear!) a little Vera now and then.

For those of you not yet brushed up on our city’s wonderful art galleries and institutions, The Renwick Gallery, a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, features one of the finest collections of 19th century to today in American craft. Visit the Washington Design Center starting this week to get a glimpse of the culmination of great young artists in the interior design field and the crafts.

The DreamHome Floorplan on the 5th floor of the Washington Design Center

The DreamHome Floorplan on the 5th floor of the Washington Design Center

The New Kind of Parquet.

Warmer weather means bare feet and outdoor adventures. I imagine relaxed interiors with natural materials infused throughout. Now I’m staring at a beach. Ahhh… where are you summertime? In the meantime, while I wait to wear my British tan leather sandals I picked up  in St. Tropez, I’ll be specifying the new Laguna Parquet collection at Patterson Flynn and Martin, a collection of  100% abaca fiver rugs that mimic the look of classic parquet flooring.

Laguna Integration in Natural

Laguna Integration in Natural

Laguna Octagon in Natural/Black

Laguna Octagon in Natural/Black

Classic French parquetry, introduced in 1684, involved using a geometric mosaic of wood pieces for complete decorative effect. The designs in the Laguna Parquet collection are similarly geometric and abstract but classic in an area rug style. Hand woven with careful attention to detail, the finished product is a thick abaca rug with pattern that can not be replicated in machine-made rugs.

Grand Parquet – Natural

Grand Parquet in Natural

MPS Preston – Natural

MPS Preston in Natural

Coiled and hand-woven abaca fibers are some of the strongest natural fibers available on the market. It’s indigenous to the Philippines and is related to the banana tree (did you know that a banana tree is actually a herb, and not a tree?). So there’s no doubt that these beautiful floor coverings will deliver years of comfort and visual beauty for your urban city home or ocean front retreat.

Laguna Integration – Natural

Laguna Integration in Natural

I Spy: Gold Table Base. Get out your Paint Cans DIYers!

I came across this image of Manhattan Next’s kitchen on their blog the other day (shout out to them for being tops in the Apartment Therapy Homies competition! Whoot Whoot!). I love gold finishes and thought this was a nifty way to address any scratched up table base or a simple change of attitude for your interior.

Check out the gold table base in the background (yeah, ignore foreground incompletion).

Check out the gold table base in the background (yeah, ignore foreground incompletion).

I know there are quite a few budget knock-off reiterations of the classic curved all white table Saarinen Tulip table and Ikea is at the top of that list. I have seen a few used tables on (two showing up on the DC search today!), and for the most part, they might have their fair share of scuff marks and chips. But, for $50 plus plus about $15 of good durable gold paint, you can get yourself quite the gilded bargain for under $100! Ikeas’s Docksta is similar to the above table but the CB2 Oddessy table could work as well (sadly, the Oddessy does not have that great curve in the bend of the base as shown in pic above). Both retail for under $200 brand new. Purchase a can or two of gold spray paint, either Krylon’s Bright Gold  or Rustoleums Metallic Finish. It’s good to have a primer applied prior to application of finished paint unless the primer is already in the can as i(s with the Rustoleum). Try to cover up the top part if it’s attached. Blue painters tape and newspaper works. If you can separate base form top – that’s the easiest way to go about this project. And get painting!

Vote DC Design Coop top Home Design Blog!

Apartment Therapy has a very long list of nominees for best home design blog  – adorably called The Homies 2012. I JUST found out about this today – AND it’s the LAST day to vote. Go figure. Busy gal over here. =) I know it’s last minute,and we were just nominated today- but I would be thrilled to not be hanging towards the bottom of that lloonngg list of blogs. I know quite a few of them myself and have a hard time deciding on a favorite. But if you care too – feel free to vote for ME!

Click here to Vote for DC Design Coop {scroll down to find me!}

The Homies 2012 Best Home Design Blog Awards

Thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of my bloggin’ heart!


Free Tickets for the Washington Home & Garden Show!

DC Design Coop is giving away a free pair of admission passes to five lucky winners for this years 2012 Washington Home & Garden Show being held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center this March 9th through the 11th. This is your chance to score some great home makeover ideas with Todd Davis of HGTV Room Crashers and Extreme Home Makeover’s, Ty Pennington.

To get your free tickets, leave us a comment on this blog post and let us know what you why you want to attend the Washington Home & Garden show!

We’ll raffle off the tickets this coming Wednesday, March 7 and contact the winners to let them know how they can get a hold of their winning pair! I had the opportunity to interview Todd Davis this week and am so excited to meet him face to face at the show! Read more about my conversation with Todd Davis here!

Washington Home & Garden Show tickets

DC Design Coop Talks with HGTV’s Todd Davis.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of talking with Todd Davis, of HGTV’s Room Crashers and previous contestant on Design Star. This is the kind of guy that exudes charm and whimsy with California coolness. He’s vibrant and confident, much of what viewers had the opportunity of enjoying while watching his creative 3-day challenges for unsuspecting homeowners. Todd’s surprised hand-picked couples are sure to never forget his interactive interior designs and absolute love of his craft. With a degree in Landscape Architecture and owner of landscape architecture design build firm Epic Spaces out of San Francisco, Todd is passionate about interiors as much as he is about the outdoors.

Todd Davis Epic Spaces

Once a paid stuntman, Todd weaves his design profession with outdoor adventures {during our phone chat, he was driving north on route to do a little kite-surfing}. During his stint on Design Star, many viewers will recall his Surf Room design and his shirtless rushes to the finish. I got a first hand glimpse into how he got to where he is today.

design star todd davis

I asked Todd how his degree in landscape architecture brought him to designing interior spaces. After graduation, he traveled the world spending much time in the winter climates of Argentina and Panama, sometime Chamonix in France, finding any cliff to jump from and any packed powder to compete on. A few commercials and high-flying stunts later, he was back in California purchasing his first home, a large loft with 16 foot ceilings and all white walls. While remodeling it to his liking, including 4 x 8 foot size hand paintings interjected throughout, Todd knew that designing interiors gave him the same gratification and satisfaction as designing outdoor living spaces. When I asked about his outdoor influence on the interiors we see on his TV shows, he told me that the 3-day events are “monumental efforts that change people lives in a very short time”. On that last day, he finds so much pleasure in the appreciation the homeowners have for what he was able to active creatively and functionally.

I wanted to know if he would recommend homeowners spending money in the current economy, upgrading a bath or creating an outdoor living space. Todd suggested making a “change to rooms with $30 can of paint to make a difference”. He suggested “blurring the indoors and outdoors with the inclusion of wide openings consisting of accordion doors {for instance} between the interior and exterior”, so that you could get the best of both worlds. Nothing surprises him when it come to use of materials in projects. From chicken wire, to felt, to any handmade contraction, Todd will as he states “embrace the chaos” and do with what he has to make a vision happen. In one of his clients homes, he brought movement to the indoors with “streams” coming down from a framed image on the wall, flowing imaginatively though rock boulders and past two raised beds. In his endeavors, he focuses on creating interactive spaces while finding “the soul of the room” and making it shine and inviting for the person who lives in it.

Todd Davis Epic Spaes rock boulder interior

Todd’s adventures continue with his book called 25 Projects for Kids: Handy Dad in the Great Outdoors. A father of two young boys, he is constantly inspired though them as well as by his own childhood. Readers and fans can learn how to make fake blood for a pretend bear attack or crafting their very own Viking Ship. Things are bright for this California kid at heart. When asked where he wanted to be in 10 years, he told me “doing the exact same thing as I am doing today”.

Handy Dad

Get inspired by his enthusiasm, great hand-on talent and warm personality at the 2012 Washington Home and Garden Show  located at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center – March 9th through the 11th. Todd will be on hand Saturday and Sunday alongside Ty Pennington, who he told me he was “so excited to meet”. I have to say I am thrilled to meet Todd in person – his excitement and happiness is contagious. And with this warmer DC weather in the skies and flower buds on the trees, I’m ready for a little blurring the lines with indoors and outdoor ideas at the Washington Home & Garden Show.

Early Spring Blooms: Indoors.

I love to see blooms indoors. I’m not a fan of house plants sitting in dark corners or dropping dead leaves all over. So naturally, forcing branches into full-on flowers indoors is a simple garden fix for the last days of winter. And it’s not at all hard to do. Branches from almost any Spring flowering shrub or tree can be used. Consider forsythia, red bud, pussy willow, quince, crab apple and cherries to bring inside for a forced flourish.

indoor blooms forced gardening

Choose branches that are at least 12 inches long (I prefer at least 20 inches) and should have several tight but plump buds on the branch. Carefully cut the branch away from the parent shrub or tree with a sharp clean knife. You may want to take a few more branches than you need, just in case some fail to bloom properly indoors.

indoor blooms forced gardening

Carefully split the base of the branch about 4 inches up the branch and then trim 1 inch off the base. Place the whole branch in warm water. After the branches have soaked overnight, remove them from the water and place them immediately into the container or vase where they will be displayed, preferably in a room that’s between 60 and 7 degrees. Large clear glass containers look great with dark branches immersed in water.

Branches from almost any Spring flowering shrub or tree can be used. Consider forsythia, red bud, pussy willow, quince, crab apple and cherries to bring inside for a forced flourish.

The flowering branches will need bright, indirect light in order to bloom indoors properly. Direct light can be very intense and may burn the branches or flowers. Like any flower bulb, your branches should bloom within one to 4 weeks. Make sure you change out the water to keep it fresh to help flowers to last longer.

Just a Thought.

"A person should design the way he makes a living, around how he wishes to make a life" — Charlie Byrd

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