Monday, February 29, 2016

Help me one-stop shop this eclectic ‘boho naturalist’ room

I’ve stared at this photo over and over again, ever since first seeing it in Emily Henderson’s book Styled. When I saw it again recently, in one of Henderson’s blog posts, I thought it would be fun to try to shop the look.

David Tsay

It’s the home of designer, blogger and macramé artist Emily Katz. I’ve tried to analyze why it pulls so on my heartstrings. It's not exactly “me,” though I'd do the textiles and the natural objects in a snap. But I'm at that age when furniture with more support and padding are called for.

I think what keeps bringing me back to it is the evidence of life and lack of pretense that radiates from it. Genuine, real people live here. It’s what Emily Henson in Bohemian Modern calls “anti-styled.” (I promise, that’s the last “Emily” I’ll name-drop.)

I also decided to try to shop this look at just one store, and I chose Target because of the wide array of stylish home furnishings at reasonable prices. I have not been compensated for this post (if only!!). Of course my room won’t look identical to the inspiration room, but if I focus on warm wood tones, ethnic patterns, natural materials, and lots of texture, I should end up with the same feel.

First up: furniture and major accessories

/ 1 /    / 2 /    / 3 /    / 4 /    / 5 /    / 6 /    / 7 /    / 8 /    / 9 /

Here’s how looks so far:

Not too bad. My sofa is faux leather, and my rug is Southwest rather than Moroccan. The coffee table legs are a little different, but close enough. Target had one closer in design to the inspiration table, but the legs were MIRRORED, which just wouldn’t fit in this room. All in all, I think I did okay.

Next up: textiles

/ 1 /    / 2 /    / 3 /    / 4 /    / 5 /    / 6 /    / 7 /    / 8 /    / 9 /

See how these items bring the look along?

Not bad, don't you agree? The two throws I found will make the room look more like the inspiration room when they’re unfolded and draped over the sofa, which I couldn't really emulate here. I was a little disappointed I couldn’t find a Mexican serape-type weave, but I think the “Troy” throw will work out, especially when it’s layered over with the patterned pillows.

I'm sure the wall hanging isn't anywhere nearly as beautiful as the ones this homeowner makes, but it at least goes with our room.

All that’s left now are finishing touches

/ 1 /   / 2 /   / 3 /   / 4 /   / 5 /   / 6 /   / 7 /   / 8 /   / 9 /   / 10 /   / 11 /   / 12 /   / 13  /   / 14 /   / 15 /

A tchotchke here, a tchotchke there, and we’re done!

Honestly, when it comes to table/shelf décor, Target has soooooo much that it’s downright painful to choose. Since I knew I’d never find triangle artwork, even at Target, I opted for the honeycomb shelves that suggested the shape of the art. The shelves could be styled with small photos, paintings or prints on stands. 

I chose artisanal pottery for that handmade look, natural objects like the geode and biosphere—who knew Target carried stuff like that!!—and natural materials like wood, leather and rope. Target makes it easy to shop home decor by collection, and I pulled many items from the Mineral Springs, Industrial, Mudhut/Global, and Artisanal shops. Many of the items were also on sale.

Now all we need is a funky boho family to make this place look as lived in and as loved as the inspiration room. And if they were willing to take on the DIY branch chandelier, I'd say it was a match made in nirvana.

Take one last look at where we began

David Tsay

Does my version pass muster? Tell me what you think in the comments. 


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Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday READ: Speaking of El Niño...

“In the midst of winter, 
I found there was, within me, 
an invincible summer. 

—Albert Camus 

Admittedly, this winter has been one of the mildest in recent memory, but it also has been one of the most erratic, thanks to El Niño. One day the temperature’s in single digits and the next day it's a balmy and spring-like 60 degrees. Unruly winds and uproarious thunder punctuate each transition period. To hear tornado warning sirens in January and February should be odd, but it has become commonplace.

While winter’s (hopefully) last hurrah pummels the Midwest with rain, ice and snow (all in one day!), it’s comforting to know, as Camus says, “an invincible summer” lives within each of us. But it also helps to know that somewhere, spring, too, is alive and well, and, eventually, on its way here.

Check out this video of the “super bloom” happening in the deserts of Death Valley, Calif.:

The Atacama Desert in Chile experienced a similar phenomenon last fall (spring in the southern hemisphere). Follow the link to see a video of that super bloom.

Reportedly, heavy rainfalls caused by El Niño that flooded many areas are also responsible for super bloomsa reminder to us all to be careful what we curse.

Speaking of California…

Apartment Therapy

The Apartment Therapy tour of the mountain home and studio of sculptor, photographer and cinematographer John Frame and wife Laura in Wrightwood, Calif., will warm you up as well. And if the weather’s lousy where you are, just pretend you’re tucked up there.

The sculpture pictured above is one of the few pieces of his own that John displays in his home. But not to fret, there are all his collections of other people’s work to see, as well as one of the warmest, most story-filled mountain cabins I’ve seen.

And his studio? Well, it’s a curiosity cabinet all its own.

Speaking of art…

Mashable chats with artist Missy Dunaway, who illustrates her travels in Moleskine journals with acrylic inks. After you read her story and get a sampling of her art, check out her blog and peruse the prints for sale in her Etsy shop.

Speaking of journals…

If journaling intrigues you, you won’t want to miss “16 Famous Designers Show Us Their Favorite Notebooks” on Fast Company Design. My favorite of the favorites profiled? The journal of Raul Gutierrez, founder of Tinybop, shown above.

Speaking of hands (what you draw and write in those journals with)…

Hired Hand: A Day in the Life of a Parts Model,” which ran in The California Sunday Magazine left me chuckling a bit and counting my blessings. Only in California, right?

Speaking of hands, here are 5 ways to use yours to spruce up your digs…

Here’s hoping something in this post helps you tap into your 'invincible summer'...

Or at least, your determined spring.

And as the snow continues to fall, now is perhaps as good a time as any to read that quote AGAIN, THIS TIME in its entirety, which seldom makes the meme cut…

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger—something better—pushing right back.” 
—Albert Camus
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This week on BoHo Home...

Bring on the verve
with sofas that
sway and curve
Is that a loaf of
banana bread in
your pocket, or..?
To chalk or not
to chalk? That is
the inspiration
Designer Kit Kemp's
London home holds
own against LFW

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Designer’s boho chic London home holds own against LFW runway

Though Kit Kemp designs interiors, she and her work could stand up against just about anything that worked the runways at London Fashion Week, which wrapped up yesterday. Kit’s London chic boho townhouse, located on a private square near historic Hyde Park is a case in point.

If you can drag your eyes past her snazzy, lavender suede go-go boots and that jazzy yellow scooter Tim buzzes around London on, check out the front door—an arching bronze piece that dates from the 1950s.

It looks just as gorgeous from the inside—the door, that is, though “gorgeous” applies to the entire interior. “I like to create interiors with a sense of adventure,” Kit says. “With every room, I want to pique people’s curiosity, to encourage them to come in and enjoy poking around.”

As you can see, she kicks that aesthetic right off with an antique Swedish mirror, French beeskep and Italian commode.

Getting the light right

“My first consideration in designing any space always starts with how the light comes into the room,” she explains. “How light reflects at certain times of the day really affects the way color in a room changes.” 

With that in mind, the couple renovated the house a few years back. The biggest change? The drawing room moved to the front of the house, while the kitchen and conservatory/dining area moved to the more private back, where there are views of and access to the garden.

“My style is carefree and colorful—color always makes me want to smile—but this is balanced with neutrals because I need it to feel calm, too,” Kit says. “I want to be able to come in, shut the door, and for my home to feel magical. It’s important that where I live feels extremely personal to me.”

Though Kit admits they don’t use the drawing room so much, it’s still chock full of her finds, such as the antique wood panels seen behind the artwork. She cleaned them of their grime and hung them in strips throughout the drawing room.

“The room is somewhere else to put beautiful fabrics and flowers,” she says. “Every time I get a new fabric, I stick it over the arm of a chair…I love fabric and texture and fabulous pieces of art, not necessarily expensive.”

“I am always playing with a collage of color, pattern and texture, with handcrafted details such as appliqué and needlepoint,” she explains. “I love details that give the sense of the hand of the person who made the stitches in a cushion or carved the curves of a table leg. It makes an interior feel more human, and these pieces help to tell a story.”

Living spaces

Kit says the pink pop of color in the foyer makes her happy as soon as she opens the door. And the clock, which she admits is falling apart, she keeps because she loves its shape.

What stands out to me here is how the view into the living room is staged to create a figurative, terraced garden. Standing in the foyer with the floral walls is like one tier, seeing the floral sofa in the next room is the second tier, and beyond it, out the French doors, is the actual garden. Breathtaking!

“I like to fill a room with whimsy and curiosity,” Kit says. “But it always has to feel more than a sum of its parts. Even something simple, such as a little collection of hairpins found in Africa or a few children’s toys, still has to look glamorous as well as being calm and personal. It’s this mix that makes my house feel like a home.”

The sofa fabric continues onto the dining room walls, where it lends a whimsical touch to the collection on top of an antique console table. “I try to weave a thread of a story through the collections I group together,” Kit says. Paintings are by Meninsky, Winifred Nicholson and Max Ernst.

Kit and Tim chose this informal, sun-filled area to function as their only dining space since they mostly entertain at one of their hotels. You can see why they wanted to renovate the home to take advantage of the great view here and the garden access. Did you notice that the dining room wing chairs are upholstered in the same pattern as the foyer wall treatment?

Kit relaxes at home by cooking, and Tim gets to watch (and taste) from the wing chair that’s upholstered in French tea towels, of all things. A local carpenter custom-built the oak kitchen to fit its barrel-shaped proportions.

I don’t usually drool over kitchen design—I like mine modern, clean and functional—but I could make an exception for this kitchen. It’s absolutely one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. And I’d kill for that Aga stove, wouldn’t you? The chandelier is pretty spectacular, too.

“Whatever materials you design with have to feel good,” Kit says. “You can't go wrong if you design with your five senses. My style is about achieving a balance between what's colorful and what's neutral and restful.”

An evolving canvas

“I'm more of a showman in commercial properties,” Kit claims. “At home, I'm a little more reserved. But I also use it as a bit of a laboratory.” 

These two photos of the same space are the proof in that pudding. See how the room has evolved: different chairs by the window, different pillows, and a throw draped over the sofa in the left-hand photo that’s missing on the right.

And here the change is bigger still. It's the same room as the previous photo, but the sofa, chair and coffee table on the right are completely different. The area rug is gone, but some of the pillows and art stayed. “It’s always changing,” she admits. “It’s a complete indulgence, and I’m all for indulgences.”  

Me too. I just wish my pocketbook would learn to keep up!

Kit’s addiction to experimentation doesn’t stop with the drawing room, however. While Anna Raymond’s art hangs in both versions of the living room, all the upholstery changes. Some pillows have moved, while others have been switched out. The coffee table retains one sculptural element but has been otherwise restyled.

And what happened here? The chairs in the right photo are from Kit’s Anthropologie collection, so my guess is they were only brought in for this shoot as a way to plug her line when the photo ran in a London newspaper. But it’s fun to see how the room looks with vastly different pieces, isn’t it? Kit often dresses as vibrantly as she decorates, and the sweater she's wearing fits right into her collection.

The designer explains her obsession with textiles: “When I was young, my mother had these great big drawers of fabrics. She taught me how to sew when I was 11 or 12, and I was off. When I left home it was with a sewing machine under my arm and not much else. I'm always learning and constantly curious.”

And her curiosity is an inspiration to the rest of us. I never tire of looking at Kit Kemp rooms.

Kit likes to decorate with seasonal flowers, so this sweet bouquet of hellebore, muscari and fritillaria is just the ticket for late February. But if, like me, your bouquets are hidden under mounds of white stuff, this picture will have to do. I hope a visit to Kit’s bright and colorful abode tides you over until spring. (PS: 23 days and counting!)

All information and quotes for this post were drawn from the following sources:

Get more Kit!

Kit’s first book, A Living Space, features her London townhome, while Every Room Tells a Story, her latest book, profiles her Barbados vacation home. Both books feature interiors from Firmdale Hotels.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

To chalk or not to chalk? That is the inspiration

This room in the March 2016 issue of House Beautiful absolutely takes my breath away.

Paul Raeside

Yes, I know—chalk paint is passé. 

But surely the people who make those pronouncements weren’t talking about this room, this “writer’s room,” as it’s called, in the Montreal townhouse of designer Garrow Kedigian?

I remember reading in one of those end-of-2015 articles about what would be hot in 2016 and what was on the way out that chalk paint had worn out its welcome—not because Americans don’t like the look or idea of it, but because they don’t like their handwriting.


No handwriting here to worry about. Just swirling acanthus leaves, shadowed lines punctuated by diminutive rosettes, and a frieze of egg-and-dart delightfulness—classical lines opulently etched in a transitory medium, something that never goes out of style.

Garrow Kedigian

The only handwriting we’re apt to see here is something on paper, done at this desk, though it doesn’t appear to be the desk of a serious writer—too small, uncomfortable seat, and where’s the laptop? Or paper and pen for that matter?

Garrow Kedigian
Aha! Here are some pencils, placed here when we weren’t looking. (Actually, this photo came from Kedigian’s Instagram account, rather than the HB shoot.) 

But are these chalk pencils? Is this entire room a pun?

You know that Bible story about Belshazzar’s feast? The arrogant king of Babylon held a party and drank from the temple vessels. A disembodied hand appeared and wrote on the wall. The prophet Daniel was sent for to read and interpret the message, which was basically that the king had been weighed in the balance and found wanting. He lost his kingdom to the Persians shortly after.

Garrow Kedigian

There's no impending doom here that I can see. But what I wouldn’t give to read the title of that book on the table!

Puns aside, the only person “wanting” here is me. Something in me wants this room, impractical though it may be for me. I’m incredibly clumsy. I’d have the chalk embellishment marred beyond recognition by the end of the first day. And the chalk dust would make me cough.

Paul Raeside

But you have to admit it’s beautiful.

Paul Raeside

I could stretch out on that chaise longue right now, wait for the words to take shape on the walls or the ceiling or in my head...

Or not at all, and be happy as a clam either way.

For more info and more stunning photos...

Paul Raeside

Follow the links to see more of Kedigian’s gorgeous townhouse and read the House Beautiful interview with him. Both are part of a color issue focusing on neutrals. 

Most of the designers featured favor whites and beiges, but Kedigian shows darker, moody, and often pigmented neutrals—a murky teal, a smoldering umber, a spicy terra cotta, and yes, a dusty matte black. Here's what he had to say about that:
“What is a neutral? It’s just something that’s not jarring. I want the colors to be dramatic but not overwhelming. Everyone always wants white walls, but I think white makes it much harder to design a successful room, because the palette is so stark. For me, white is jarring.”

Susan Lawson / BoHo Home

One thing you will miss if you don’t check out the HB print version is the little bubble on the last page of the spread, which directs you to “the best room in the house, page 77!”

Paul Raeside

Which is, of course, this room whereof we (I) speak (pontificate), embellished by New York artist and sometimes actor Rajiv Surendra.

Rajiv Surendra

Here is Surendra at work on Kedigian's room. Remember him from Mean Girls?

He played Kevin G, a math geek who raps in the school talent show. The Toronto native now owns a bustling calligraphy business in the Big Apple.

Rajiv Surendra

Here are a couple more examples of his work. You can also follow Surendra on Instagram

Beautiful stuff, no?

Paul Raeside

Indubitably! But this one is still my favorite. I think I’ll settle into that chalk room in my head and wait for some words to materialize. Wake me when my novel's written. ;->

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