Alayne Patrick

Chicago Project…Inspiration Photos for the Office Guest Room

Those of you who know me a long time know I’ve been pitching for years that you should always save inspiration photos (and have the bulging tear sheet folders to prove it). These days it is so easy – Pinterest being the key tool – that everyone knows what their dream bedroom/bathroom/renovation/house looks like. As a result, it has become so easy to work with people long distance in that ideas for spaces can be communicated visually almost instantly.

Case in point. Claiborne Swanson Frank’s study was one of those most pinned rooms from Elle Decor back in 2011. I think it was the combination of affordable mass market items (like the Ballard Louis Daybed), the absolute “it piece” (Madeline Weinrib’s Indigo Brooke rug) and the fresh mix of accessories combined with the effective and functional use of a small space that made this room popular. Who doesn’t need a space like this, especially when it is so recreateable?

Claiborne-swanson-FRAN ED11-2011-06 pc Simon Watson

In the Chicago project I’ve been working on this past year, we found just such a need. Two apartments had been combined to make one, so there is both a formal living room and a large den, but no guest room or study. The living room was long and awkwardly shaped, with a separate square area set off at one end. It was an easy decision to simply put up a wall with French doors, adding bookshelves for display on the living room side, and enclosing a study. My client adored the room above and had saved it in her inspiration photos, so we turned to it for the design. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Since then the Louis Bed has come from Ballard and the Madeline Weinrib Brooke rug is on order. The room is basically square and the desk will go opposite the daybed in the window.

Chicago study

Weinrib’s Brooke dhurrie, particularly in Indigo, has become almost ubiquitous, but I would argue that it has crossed the trend borderline to absolute classic (I can see them being avidly searched for in vintage stores 50 years from now). Among others, Emily Henderson keeps featuring them in her designs, not because she suggests it, but because everyone keeps asking for it!

Emily Henderson rachnas-house

We are shopping for a desk in glass/lucite to keep the room airy, much like in the inspiration room. One of the issues we are facing is the daybed cover and bedskirt. Swanson Frank’s has a custom cover in a Rogers & Goffigon linen, but we are trying to keep this as one of the low-budget items on our list.  We’ve scanned all the catalog/internet options, but no one seems to have anything we like. Suggestions? If you have any please let me know.

The reason to keep the cover price to a dull roar is the key to accessorizing the bed and bringing the space to life is gorgeous pillows in antique and special textiles. From previous posts you know I am obsessed with the daybed (and striped dhurrie) in Alayne Patrick’s Brooklyn apartment, which is piled with amazing pillows from her shop Layla.

We love the pillows from Turkey (and frankly everything else) in Claudia Benvenuto’s guest room. Because our space is also tight, we are thinking of some small moveable side tables. I love this bench!


Designer Karen Cole has a tight little guest space with pocket doors out onto the stair landing.  Again, I think it is the exotic textile mix that makes the room (and a little base of ticking never hurts either).

Our answer may simply be to find a reasonably priced fabric and have a custom cover made -“couture” details to dress up an off the rack piece. Then the pillow fun can begin!

Image credits: 1. Elle Decor November 2011, photo credit: Simon Watson, 2. client’s snapshot, 3. Emily Henderson, 4. Bringing Nature Home by Ngoc Minh Ngo via Style Court, 5. Elle Decor September 2012, photo credit: Joe Schmelzer, 6. Canadian House & Home March 2011, photo credit: Angus Fergusson.

Found! Kilim Footstools in Tokyo and Decisions on the TV Room

In response to my Junking in Singapore post, a Tokyo reader emailed me this photo of her kilim footstool, bought at Persian Abrisham, in nearby Higashi Azabu. I stopped in to check it out and they had quite a few. While this is great news to Tokyoites, it doesn’t help me get a few back to America!

They had square…


…and extra covers.

As previously mentioned, I had been planning to buy the ubiquitous Moroccan poufs, sold and seen everywhere, like these in Candace Bushnell’s apartment, for the TV room/guest room in our beach house in New Jersey. The room gets piled with kids so we need extra seating, but it needs to be lightweight and moveable when the room becomes a bedroom. They seem like a sensible and stylish solution.

The kilim footstools push the TV room in a more sophisticated “library” style of decorating and I am still not 100% sure that is the way I mean to go. Originally, the room was used as a laundry room, a real waste of space in a house as small as mine where one of the main goals is to sleep as many people as possible, particularly as the room is decently sized. It was painted a bright yellow with a childish border around the top. Here is a taste of the ugly…

We cleared it out right away, but there wasn’t any time to consider how I wanted it to look. The key piece of furniture is from my parents, an amazing bamboo daybed with the old-fashioned 33 inch wide mattress, instead of the modern 39 inch, a more graceful and space-saving choice, to use as the couch and to sleep guests.  It really is a shame they don’t make that size any more. It has a simple creamy matelesse coverlet, basically Benjamin Moore’s Linen White, so I had the painter just go ahead and paint the room that color. Now, I am not normally a Linen White kinda girl, preferring instead pure cool whites to the yellowy beige of Linen White. But in such a cramped space, I do like how the daybed basically disappears into the wall. And all the accessories at my fingertips seem to work with it. My best friend bought me the amazing John Robshaw bolster pillow in the photo below, which started to clinch the deal. I pulled out my framed butterfly book-plates, planned for curtains in a Brigitte Singh block print (shown to the left) and headed down a path that would look great with either footstools or poufs.

As usual, the best way to get ideas across is to use photos of existing rooms. This cozy niche by Stephen Miller Siegel has the look that my room is starting to have. Muted colors, Indian prints, almost a masculine style.

The cane daybed piled with pillows in this living room by Chris Barrett has that same feel. I wish there was a way to rotate the photo and look at the sofa head on.

But there is another version of this room floating around my head. one with a soft white feel, with throw pillows in cool brights. The perfect example is Alayne Patrick’s apartment – she even has a dhurrie, albeit pink and white instead of blue, and some colorful poufs.

This is an outdoor version of the daybed, but has a similar feel.

Sometimes I think I want it even purer than that – all lacy and white. Theoretically hard to keep clean, but bleach does wonders. I have loved this photo for years.

Again, lacy whiteness, in this case set off by all the green. I could paint the walls or wallpaper them to make the space cozy which is sometimes the best strategy in a small room.

I’d really love opinions. Poufs or kilim footstools? Or something else entirely? And what about color schemes? The summer is fast upon me and I need something to distract me anyway right now – there were quite a few big aftershocks today. So what would you do?

Image credits: 1. L. Twaronite, 2-4, 6-8. me, 5. Elle Decor September 2005 photo credit: William Waldron, 9. Elle Decor, date and photo credit unknown, 10. House Beautiful January 2009 photo credit: Victoria Pearson, 11. Domino May 2007, photo credit: Melanie Acevedo, 12. House Beautiful June 2006, photo credit: Ray Kachatorian, 13. credit unknown, probably House & Garden or Architectural Digest, 14. credit unknown, probably House & Garden.

Ume Blooming…Maybe Pantone Should Have Called Their Color of the Year Plum Blossom?

Perhaps I am a little late to the party as many bloggers have commented on Pantone‘s choice of a bright pink called “Honeysuckle” for Color of the Year already, but nonetheless, I cannot resist commenting. I don’t really see honeysuckle in the vibrant pink – usually I associate it with yellow or golden orange. Instead, I am thinking of the mid-winter ume (plum blossom) opening now against the cold, the first sign of winter’s turn towards spring. That is the bright pink they are talking about!

I think this kind of plum blossom pink looks best with the colors it appears with in nature – the blue and white of the sky and the dark brown of the branches. Decorating with pink has to be handled carefully. Pink unmoored, or paired only with white can look little girlish or nursery-like. But handled correctly, it can be sophisticated and warm. In this post I think I’ll start out as saturated as it gets and slowly take it down….

Mary McDonald is a master of intense color and in this bright pink hallway she pulls out all the stops with walls and upholstery covered in matching shades. The key to making all that pink work? The contrast of the gleaming mahogany, the zebra rug and all the blue and white porcelain. The golden chinoiserie mirror doesn’t hurt either. This is an entry that lets you know you’ve arrived!

Jonathan Berger uses Benjamin Moore’s “Razzle Dazzle” in this Brooklyn entryway. It’s a bold move that not all could live with, but it certainly jazzes up this small space. Note the blue and white porcelain (again) and the brown needlepoint upholstered chair, white paneling and dark stair risers, all of which help to balance the brightness of the shade.

This Windsor Smith living room, featured in the September 2009 issue of House Beautiful is one of my absolute favorite rooms, both in terms of the colors and the furniture. I have been tracking that scroll arm sofa and painted Indian coffee table through many variations in her homes and designs…Click here to see an earlier incarnation.

In the course of writing this post over the last weeks, I heard through the grapevine that the March 2011 issue of House Beautiful was going to feature pink. Guess how surprised I was to see this same living room as the cover feature! Am I wrong in thinking it is fairly unheard of for a major publication to feature the same space twice, without any major design changes??? Of course the issue has been on the newsstands for days now in the US, but I have yet to see it. This post may need a follow-up once I do! [Quick addendum: I got my hands on a copy and it featured “Ten Rooms They Couldn’t Forget”, so it was the exact same room from the original photo shoot. I guess they wanted to do a “pink issue” but it must be difficult to rustle up many new projects with pink in them. It actually made the magazine feel more like a blog post…kinda like this!]

Too much pink for you? Moving the pink off of the walls and onto the major upholstery and fabrics might be the way to go. Here, in another interior designed by Mary McDonald, pink fabrics play off the soft blue walls, and lots of wood furniture softens the design. Gotta love those bamboo armchairs, and, once again, the blue and white porcelain. [In reality, this room is red, and only looks pink in the photo. But lets all pretend anyway, since I think it is softer and prettier in pink!]

This Schuyler Samperton designed project has heavy wood beams that balance the vivid pink fabrics…or perhaps it is the other way round and the vivid pinks brighten and lighten up a heavy beamed space. Here turquoise has been used as the major accent color, along with woven rugs from Texas as a throw and upholstery, giving the room an updated ranch feel, slightly Southwestern. See Style Court for more photos of this room.

Another home that has influenced me and scores of others is Alayne Patrick’s Brooklyn home. Using amazing textiles and colors from India, she has put together a pink and white dhurrie, dark tropical feeling blinds and a cane daybed piled with pillows. I’d love my TV room/guest room at the beach to have this kind of feel.

Patrick’s Brooklyn shop Layla has the same vibe as her home. I spent quite a bit of time there over the holidays searching for the perfect throw pillow. They reopen today after renovation and I really recommend a visit!

Sometimes a little goes a long way, as in actress Rashida Jones’ Manhattan studio, cleverly made over by Domino. The antique Persian helped set the palette with magenta and blue accents. White paint ties otherwise disparate furniture together and the wood edge of the sofa and touches of black ground the color scheme. Pale blue walls give the tiny space an expansive sky-like feel.

Would Rita Konig’s chair and her entire apartment actually, be the same without that shot of magenta? Again, a pale grey blue wall, soft as a cloud white window treatment and bits of dark wood in the frames.

And finally, for those too afraid of a real pink commitment, I give you Deborah Needleman’s bedroom…All the components are there, it just takes that pink scarf to pull it together.

This can also be done with flowers, particularly a big bunch of pink peonies or some beautiful branches of plum blossom. I am cheating here, as these are actually redbuds, but you can get the idea…

The only downside to picking a “Color of the Year”? Calling anything “in” always implies that there is an “out” coming…

Image credits: 1. Pantone, 2. me, 3. Mary McDonald, 4. House Beautiful July 2009, photo credit: Francesco Lagnese, 5. House Beautiful September 2009, photo credit: Victoria Pearson, 6. House Beautiful March 2011, 7. Mary McDonald via mydeco, photo credit: Miguel Flores-Vianna, 8. Schuyler Samperton via style court, photo credit: Lisa Romerein 9 & 12. Domino May 2007, photo credit: Melanie Acevedo, 10. The New York Times, 11. Lonny Magazine October/November 2009,  photo credit, Patrick Cline, 13. Domino March 2006, photo credit: Mikkel Vang.

Tokyo Jinja

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