Monochromatic Paint Palettes

Author: Sydney Piwowar

Something designers across the board talk a lot about is color depth. Whether that is in space, graphics, photography, fashion, etc. it is all very similar. In interiors, people often confuse color depth with having lots of colors. The more is not always merrier people! These monochromatic palettes have me falling in LOVE. Despite each room essentially being painted shades of the exact same color, it creates a sense of visual and architectural depth to a space in a way that just painting it all one color wont do. Take a look at these Inso images to see for your self!

Image Courtesy of Casa Vogue

Image Courtesy of Casa Vogue

Photo Courtesy Casa Vogue

Photo Courtesy Casa Vogue

I absolutely love the way these different paint colors highlight the architectural significance of this wall. Traditionally, people would choose a floral wallpaper to pop in these panels. I have never been a fan for the obvious choices though - be bold, be different.

Designed by Rasmus Larsson

Designed by Rasmus Larsson

This picture needs no introduction. What a great way to highlight the unique arch of the ceiling without drawing the attention up and away from the bathroom features.

Photo Courtesy Casa Vogue

Photo Courtesy Casa Vogue

5 Tricks to Make Your Sofa Last Longer

Author: Sydney Piwowar

Bacharach sofa by Jonathan Adler

Bacharach sofa by Jonathan Adler

Early in our lives have we all overpaid for a sofa that barely lasted 5 years. We all felt the cushions start to cave in after a year in our favorite spot… its heart breaking to waste the money. As designers, we have been trained in this knowledge to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck in both aesthetics and quality. To help ensure your sofa will withstand the test of life, I have curated a list of 5 Tricks to Make Your Sofa Last Longer.

Milo Baughman, Chrome Sofa

Milo Baughman, Chrome Sofa

  1. Quality Framing

Be sure to look at the materials and reviews. If you are working with a designer like us, you can be sure we are considering these things when we source for you. That cannot be said for all decorators though so be sure to as blatantly. 

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2. Cushion Fill 

Not all sofa cushion fills are made equally. If you read one of my recent posts, you will see my review of RH’s Cloud Sofa. Though harsh, it was true. Some cushion fills require much more maintenance while others synthetic blend of fibers are self sufficient. Not to say that poly blend it better though - once you find a compression in the cushion, it is not repairable. You will continue to develop a sink hole till you replace the cushion. This is why it is important to find a balance of the two. I prefer a down feather wrapped poly core with more feathers than synthetic fibers. For everyone the ratio of soft to firm will vary with preference though. 

Budapestair by Paola Navone

Budapestair by Paola Navone

3. Check the Upholstery

Faux leathers will age the fastest and the worst in my opinion. Once you form cracks or minor holes from regular use, there is no going back. The second worst is linen. I love linen to death - I love the way the fabric softens with age, the relaxed and welcoming texture it provides… But I do not have kids yet. One drop of mustard, coffee, tea, or red wine and it is game over. There are several fabric lines, like Perennials, who are creating linen look-alikes that feel and appear to have the same texture, but are far more durable. You will find these synthetic blends are farm more stain resistant, resistant to fading, and easier to clean. 

Tactile by Vincenzo De Costiis

Tactile by Vincenzo De Costiis

4. Rotate Your Cushions

Some cushions are made reversible so that you can flip them over should there be an issue with the upholstery on one side. This is also helpful to do for maintaining the rate of age. If you are able to rotate the cushions, you will be able to stop the one cushion that gets sat on the most from getting trashed before the rest of them. 

Philippe Malouin, Group Sofa

Philippe Malouin, Group Sofa

5. Ask the Manufacturer

Many furniture manufacturers offer lifetime warranties on their products. Even if there is something outside of your warranty, like your dog urinates on your sofa, many offer replacement parts at a fraction of the cost. It is always worth checking with them first before trashing your perfectly good sofa and purchasing new. 

Loft Living- Adams St Install

We are so excited about our recent install- we can barely contain ourselves. The space previously was a dated space stuck in 90's, with rounded walls and random suspension cable tracks lights. We gutted the loft, including every bathroom, ripped out the old gym style railing with a fresh clean modern version and replaced a curved wall leading into the master bedroom with a open concept steel and glass wall- punctuated by a dramatic white curtain.

We still have yet to professionally shoot the space. Stay tuned that is slated for end of August!

 

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How to Decorate with Plants

Plants are often overlooked as a potential element to design a space. Plants not only bring in needed color and life, but can be integral in finishing a space. Plant life is also a great way to keep the space fresh visually and satisfy the need to mix it up.  One of the most popular "designer" plant trends is the Fiddle Fig tree. It has big waxy leaves on a long stem and is very sculptural. 

Below are a couple examples of plants being used in the designing of the space. Imagine the rooms with out the plants or hold up your finger to block out the pops of green and see how different the space would feel without. 

I love plants and find it relaxing to do my Spring plantings, but I also understand are not for the fait of heart and not everyone has a green thumb or patience to care for a plant.  There a several companies that are doing a great job with high end artificial plants. They are not cheap, but the investment is a pay off verse killing a $180- $250 Fiddle Fig tree several times over. One of my favorite companies is here

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A Stylish Shelf- Best Practiced for a Perfectly Styled Shelf

For some reason people commonly struggle with how to style a shelf and make it look natural and an organic collection. The key is actually collect personal items from travel or a particular memory- over time. If everything is purchased at once or at one store, it starts to feel artificial and not personal. The trick is a happy balance! I always tell clients I love "shopping" at a clients home. I get the advantage of seeing their items with fresh eyes, which helps reorganize and edit. Then we can determine if we need to sprinkle in a few new items- which is often the case for a refresh. 

There are three things I keep in mind when I am working on a styling project:

1. Be sure to incorporate a mix of types of shapes. For example, be sure to include solid vases- NOT glass. Open or woven elements, medium and small shapes. Be sure that all the shapes are not the same thing- not all circle, square, etc. And I always include several good coffee table books. Leaning small picture frames are also a great way to bring in another element.  

2. Make it look natural- but not messy. The goal is always asymmetry. Balance out the each side with colors and shapes not completely opposite, but try one shelf down. The hardest part for most people is to not make it symmetrical. Humans naturally wants things in order. It should look curated and thoughtful.

3. I always start with a couple grounding areas, such as I map out where my book vignettes will go in the overall composition. Then I start to work in the shapes- working quickly I try not to think too much and over analyze. You can do that later. Also this quick approach allows this first pass just the "setting" phase. After I have gotten about 50% of the selections up, I step back and see where I need to fill in the whole and what shapes I need. 

4. Another tip, walk out of the room for 10 minutes and then come back. Letting your mind and eyes visually rest, allows you to see things fresh when you return to the room. This is when you can start to analyze what is working and where some items need to get moved. If you get to a standstill- just start over. Take everything off the shelves, and start fresh. If needed rinse and repeat. 

5. Lastly, do not be afraid to edit the items that are not working, even though it was passed down from your Grandma or a memory from your first trip to Paris. If it doesn't work, find another special place for it. Clients often get to emotionally attached to an object that may just need a new place to live in the home. 

 

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West Loop Project- Office Shelf Styling

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Westhore Dr Project- Kitchen Shelf Styling

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West Loop- Bar Cart Styling

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Elmwood St Project- Office Shelf Styling

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Kenwood Manor- Bar Built In Styling

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Westshore St Project- Library Built In Stlying

How to Add Color in Your Home, Naturally

In the last several years, I've noticed a trend in the striping of color from wardrobes and adding it to environments. Color can be tricky and much harder as a sweater paired with someones complexion. In art school students are first taught to draw in pencil, only using black and white- in order to understand highlights and low lights.  If color is introduced too soon students are not able to get a full understanding of how light affects a shape and ultimately affects the color when finally applied.

The same rules apply when adding color into your space, be thoughtful and selective about which colors and how much color to add.  Pick two colors and keep with those two mixed with neutrals. Feel free to use a variation on tones of the color you picked- meaning not all blue need to match to feel cohesive. If you mix the tones of blue, it will make the space feel more natural. Often times the use of selective color can make that highlighted color stand out more than if a multiple of colors were combined together. 

Be Brave! xo, Jen

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Dark Painted Cabinets

Dark painted cabinets are having a moment. A moment that I think is going to stick around for a awhile. We have spent 20 years in the beige range that dulled our senses and put us to sleep. It is an exciting time to be in design and see the marketed shift in peoples comfort zone. It's not like this is our first time in history experiencing dark cabinets. They pull from points in history of old drawing rooms and English libraries, which are rich, warm and inviting. For your first dark cabinet plunge, start with a dark neutral tone paint color, such as gray, blacks or navy.  I couple of my go to favorites are Benjamin Moore Hale Navy, Farrow & Ball Hague Blue, Benjamin Moore French Beret or Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray.

 

xo, Jen

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West Shore Dr Library

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Hyde Park Butler Pantry

Hyde Park Family Room Built In

Favorite Chairish Picks

I surely hope you have discovered Chairish, the fabulous curated vintage marketplace from vendors across the country. Think of 1st Dibbs meets Etsy, which is a happy mix of vintage retailers and every day individuals that have an amazing piece to sell.  It's a great place to find an original pieces to introduce in a unique element in to your to space to make it that much more personalized. 

It also can be a huge time saver, not having to drive around to all the local places that may be a big miss depending on the current inventory. The only draw back is you have to pull the trigger fast on finds from Chairish because they sell out quick. 

Here is my current favorite round up that would be great for a modern living room.

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Best Up & Coming Artists

Author: Sydney Piwowar

Finding affordable, art can be hard.. it's expensive! To find affordable art that is original, is even harder. This is one of the main reasons why I love to embrace new, up and coming artists. Often these artists have not only a fresh, new look, but more reasonable prices too. It's a natural blend from my background in art installation, and I'm always on the hunt for the talented and promising artists.  Here is a quick list of a couple of my current favorite up and coming artists. 

Fate #2 by  Carson Ellis

Fate #2 by Carson Ellis

Awakenings #4 By  SARINA DIAKOS

Awakenings #4 By SARINA DIAKOS

Small Works #37 By  Ky Anderson

Small Works #37 By Ky Anderson

Untitled 2.16 by  Elizabeth Thiaucourt

Untitled 2.16 by Elizabeth Thiaucourt

The Decision by  Kai Samuels Davis

The Decision by Kai Samuels Davis

Chicago Design State of Mind

This lovely writer, Michael Shannon OKeefe, reached out to me via email and said he was on the Homepolish website researching designers in the Chicago area for a piece he was working on. Every room he gravitated toward happened to be my work. Incredibly flattered, he asked to permission to use my work in his upcoming feature on Chicago, design in the city and fun things to do on the weekend.

Check it out. 

https://www.consumersadvocate.org/features/chicago-design-state-of-mind

 

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