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Yellow Trends

Bright yellow seems to be making a fashion statement this year. I started seeing yellow everywhere after first noticing a yellow dress in the window of the Carolina Herrera store while walking down Madison Ave. one February afternoon.  The fabric was bold yet delicate like a daffodil poking its head up through the ground in the early days of spring, but the black detailing was distinctly reminiscent of the Art-Deco era.

Art, fashion, and design often inspire one another, but it is difficult to discover where the initial spark of inspiration begins.  It is also difficult to understand the seemingly random cycle of what comes in and out of fashion.

The following images are subjectively placed at random:








Images clockwise:   Dress by Carolina Herrera spring collection 2012, Georges Lepape Vogue coverMay 1928, Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann from “Harmonies” INTÉRIEURS DE RUHLMANN originally published in 1924,   Erté (Romain de Tirtoff) Design for Yellow Coat with One Sleeve and Trim in Black and White Fur for “Manhattan Mary,” Majestic Theater, New York 1927 , Erté Shoe Design for Delman’s Shoes, New York 1934, Interior by David Hicks 1970s, Reed Krakoff spring collection 2012,  Ellsworth Kelly, “Yellow/Black” 1970, The Great Gatsby book cover design by Aled Lewis,  The Viceroy hotel, Kelly Wearstler,  Erté, Harper’s Bazaar, November 1933, Victoria Hagen interior, Nancy Lancaster’s eponymous yellow room by John Fowler 1957, Vanessa Bell, Abstract Painting, c. 1914, Writing room by Andrew Virtue for the Greystone Estate showhouse ( inspired by Nancy Lancaster’s drawing room)

Shades of grey

Grey is a versatile neutral with a broad tonal range from silvery white to charcoal. While grey may have immediate associations as being a cold and dreary hue, it can quickly move into the warmer tones with even the slightest touch of red or yellow. Grey is also a shade that is very sensitive to the quality of light surrounding it.  In a northern facing room with little natural light, it will lean toward the cooler side of the spectrum.

Photo by Jonathon Kambouris
















The Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) painted with a palette comprised mostly of grey tones.  He is best known for his paintings of interiors, which are spare and quiet, often with only the back of a lone figure. He was known to have reclusive tendencies, so most of these paintings take place in his 17th century house in Copenhagen, and the figure is usually that of his wife Ida.

Hammershøi expressed the elusive quality of light and shadow with subtle gradations of color.  While he seemed to rarely veer from his grey palette, the range of tonal variation and intensity feels infinite.  These paintings remind me of the intricate link between light and color.















Paintings by Vilhelm Hammershøi in order:  

Dust Motes Dancing in the Sunbeams 1900, Interior Strandgade 30 1901, The Tall Windows 1913, The Sunny Parlor 1901, Sunshine in the Drawing Room III 1903

Shades of grey in today’s interiors:















Interiors in order:  John Saladino  via Splendid-Sass, photo by Tria Giovan, via 1st Dibs Introspective magazine, Mathew Patrick Smyth, Jean Louis Deniot,  Tom Fox and Joe Nahem of Fox-Nahem Design via Elle Décor, Steven Volpe via Elle Decor


Kitchens; a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll

When kitchens are, “ a little bit country, and a little bit rock-n-roll,” they marry rustic and contemporary elements without hitting any false notes.  The look is unique and timeless.  It is not simply about the choices in materials, but the way the finish details pull everything together.

S.R. Gambrel design

In this Steven Gambrel designed kitchen, the stainless steel on the traditional La Cornue range recurs in the the industrial style refrigerators, while the brushed brass finish is balanced by the creative touch of the nail head trim around them.   The yellow-gold of the brass is subdued by the juxtaposition of the muted wood cabinetry, and the soft finish of the wood floors.

The cabinets in this island have the look of an old-fashioned ice box with the modern twist of stainless steel feet.  The black hinges integrate with the dark finish of the traditional style bridge faucet, and the top of the range.

Ken Pursley design

This kitchen by architect Ken Pursley has what he called, “an early american language,” (via article from House Beautiful) with furniture like details on the cabinetry.  While Pursley references the style of  a colonial kitchen, nothing about the design feels like a textbook imitation.

Ken Pursley design

The antique style sconces above the range look right at home under the contemporary hood.

Ken Pursley design

Michael S. Smith design

Bates-Corkern design

photo by William Waldron

Barry Dixon design

via AJ Barnes blogspot

Mick Jagger's Paris kitchen




























Pain Relief

Quiet elegance

Rose Tarlow

These spaces have a quiet elegance about them.  They are simple, restful compositions with  a finely tuned  balance of shape and scale.  Subtle variations in tone and texture allow the details to play off one another in a way that feels effortless and inviting.


Photo by Richard Powers

John Saladino

Axel Vervoordt

John Saladino

John Stefanidis

























Axel Vervoordt












Bobby McAlpine

Bathtubs that soak in style

The ancient Greeks and Romans had advanced plumbing methods and made the rituals of bathing a true luxury.   These ideas and advancements were brought to a halt in Medieval times when the early Christians believed that bathing had deleterious effects.   As the plague spread throughout Europe in The Middle Ages, so did the idea that bathing actually encouraged disease.

“The best policy was to plug the pores with dirt.  For the next six hundred years most people didn’t wash or even get wet, if they could help it—.” Bill Bryson, At Home; A Short History of Private Life

So eventually we said, “That does it, Calgon take me away….”1980 Calgon bath soap commercial

Credits: 1. via Nate Berkus Design, photo by Roger Davies  2. Canadian House and Home via alkemie.blogspot 3. The Hempel hotel London, design by Anouska Hempel 4. via my design chic.wordpress , photo by Andrew Twort   5. via divine distractions blogspot 6. interior design by Barbara Colvin, Veranda magazine Sept./Oct. 2006, photo by Alec Hemer  7. via chameleon interiors blogspot, interior design by Michael Smith, photo by Simon Upton

Mossy shades of green

The hazy, earthy color of moss is a yellow-green with grey undertones.  While it is a color often found in nature, it is a difficult color to capture inside the home.

In an updated 1950s villa originally designed by modernist architect Harwell Hamilton Harris, interior designer Kay Kollar used many tones of this color to great effect;  ”…..her vision of a subtly varied palette of earthy greens and browns, which would articulate the structure, strengthen the sense of enclosure and bring the outdoors inside. She tried out 250 tones and selected 15 to use consistently on walls, ceilings, mouldings and frames.”

Harwell Hamilton Harris was an architect born in southern California in 1903.  While his name may not be widely known, his work was influential in the world of modernist architecture.   He designed houses, ….” that straddle the divide between the organic expressiveness of (Frank Lloyd) Wright and the machine imagery of Neutra.  None better achieves that fusion than the bold composition of interlocking volumes he created in 1950 atop a ridge in Beverly Hills.”  all material in quotes written by Michael Webb

1.  Little House in a Garden by Charles Lacoste, 1905 2.,3. and 4.  from The World of Interiors, June 2008, Photographs by Richard Powers, Chu and Gooding architects, interior design by Kay Kollar 5.  Office by Martyn Lawrence Bullard 6.  via photokunst, photographer unknown  7.  Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana Thomas House, Springfield, Illinois from Carol M. Highsmith archives




The front porch

“Porches are as synonymous with American culture as apple pie. While not unknown in colonial times, they rose to nationwide popularity in the decades before the Civil War, and remained in fashion for almost one hundred years. Ironically, the very social and technological forces that made them both popular and possible were eventually responsible for their decline.”   from Preserving Porches, by Renee Kahn and Ellen Meagher 1990

The front porch in its heyday seemed to foster a sense of community, acting as the transitional space in a house  where neighbors would socialize.  It was also a place to have an iced tea and catch a breeze in the days before air-conditioning.  Today outdoor living spaces are popular in the world of design, but are usually created in the back yard. But if you are lucky enough to have a front porch, there is no better place to while away a summer afternoon.

credits in order: from Coastal Living via love of the sea blog, from Martha Stewart magazine September 1999 issue, via Southern Living, Evan Sklar photo  and Martha Stewart Living porch via musings of a night owl,  Annie Kelly and Tim Street-Porter’s Connecticut house via Country Living

cvs Triphala 1 pc

Coral in color

Coral is a pinkish orange color that hints of the tropics. A color that has a luminous affect when used in the home.  It has a wide range of tonal values depending upon the amount of white or yellow used.  When shades of orange and pink are used together, they are an alluring and unexpected combination.

credits: India Hicks’ Bahamas home from (House Beautiful, June 2002) via hibiscus hill harbour island designed by her late father David Hicks, the  british interior designer (25 March 1929 – 29 March 1998)  who had a striking way of using bold and intense color combinations in his interiors.  His work greatly influenced modern design and continues to inspire..   Bedroom also by David Hicks via decor 8 blog.

Painting,  Shapes of Spring, 1952 by Milton Avery (American artist, 1885-1965) via bjws blogspot.  Avery was influential in the world of modern art, “…the gift of being a great colorist is not a matter of selecting beautiful colours but rather of selecting a range of colours…which cohere and complement each other like notes in a chosen key.” as quoted in Adelyn D. Breeskin, Milton Avery (Washington, D.C.: The National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, 1969) via tfaoi.

Circle Work, print from Castle and Things.  Fendi runway from spring 2011 ready to wear collection via  Color swatches from the varese design fabric collection from Designer’s Guild.