Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mad Men Design Style SO in Vogue

I know it’s been a while since I last posted on this Blog but that has been primarily due to the fact that I’m in the throws of home renovations of my own. Our kitchen is now almost done! More on that later.

I’ve been watching the show “Mad Men” and not only do I love the story line, but the decor used on the sets is amazing! My mid-century modern tastes are finally paying off in Hollywood. If you’re ever looking for some inspiration for your projects, I would suggest watching this show.

The office interiors scream 50’s – 60’s minimalist. Saarinen inspired tulip tables and Eames chairs are plentiful at the offices of Sterling Cooper. I just love the modular shelving used in the commercial for Nutz starring Jimmy Barrett.

 modular shelving

When Don’s wife Betty begins seeing a shrink you get a real glimpse into the minimalist styling of a therapist’s office. Notice the chaise lounge and tulip side table.


The over the top plush blue velvet tufted headboard in the bedroom of Don and Betty Draper represent the upper class lifestyle of which they live. Don being a successful ad man brings him in a high dollar salary. Gotta love the smoking in bed!


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chalkboard Paint

I’ve been researching different options for wall coverings in our kitchen. Do I paint it? Wallpaper? Hang a big picture?

I then came across some great photos where people have implemented a chalkboard wall, or section with paint.

This seems like a definite possibility for our kitchen. Since our layout is galley style, we have one end wall that isn’t huge and doesn’t really standout in any way. If we were to paint it with chalkboard paint – think of the endless possibilities?

I’m going to seriously consider this option for our kitchen. What do you think?


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Saarinen Tulip Table

The kitchen renovations are coming along and now I’m beginning to source for a kitchen/dining table. In keeping with our contemporary design I’ve decided that a Saarinen Tulip Table will work perfectly.

Tulip-Dining-Set-ArmChairs-and-Saarinen-Dining-Tables-Interior-Dining-Room-Furniture Eero Saarinen's pedestal collection first received critical recognition for his tulip chair in the late 1940’s. Adding to this collection was the “Tulip or Pedestal” group, which featured side and arm chairs, dining, coffee and side tables, as well as a stool. His theory behind this collection was to "clear up the slum of legs in the U.S. home.” 

saarinen tablesWhat I like about this table is that it has great lines, can seat multiple people without table legs getting in the way and the design is iconic of the mid-century modern era, thus it will never go out of style. It comes both in a round or oval top, which can be the original white, walnut or marble. The pedestal is available in white or black. 

Now I just need to find some great chairs!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Kitchen Countertops

Today we had the countertop installer come to do the final measurements so our new kitchen countertops can be installed. I’m very excited for this phase to be completed - once this happens we just have flooring and a few other small pieces to finish before the project is complete!

We decided to go with Quartz for our countertop. There are MANY choices out there today when it comes to kitchen counter surfaces. Here are some highlights for some of the more popular high-end choices:

Engineered Stone – Quartz
This relatively new countertop material is a composite of rock aggregate (makes up 90% of its mass), resin and pigments. Engineered stone is sold under brand names called Silestone, for example and will commonly be referred to as quartz. Available in dozens of colors, it is non-porous and scratch-resistant. Because these stones do not contain fissures or veins, the strength of a slab may be more consistent throughout than that of natural stone. This consistency also makes seams easy to match.

quartz countertop

Pros - Easy to maintain; resistant to stains, heat, scratches, and acid. Sealing is generally not required. Color is consistent throughout so scratches are less noticeable than with other materials. The most durable of all countertop materials.

Cons - Expensive; less natural looking than marble or granite.


A popular countertop choice because of its appearance and durability, granite is siliceous stone made from an extremely hard volcanic rock. It is available in a range of colors and is often flecked with bits of minerals that produce a salt-and-pepper look. There are two types: consistent; which has the same pattern throughout, and variegated; which has veins.

granite countertop Pros - heat resistant, beautifully colored, each slab of granite is unique; good surface for working with pastry dough, since it doesn't conduct heat.

Cons - Expensive; requires regular maintenance, including periodic sealing, stains; can crack; can be tough on dishes and glassware; variegated granite pieces are hard to match.


Marble countertops are beautiful but because it is a calcareous stone, marble is softer and more porous than granite. Its permeability makes it susceptible to scratches, chips, and stains and its lustre can be dulled if not properly cared for. Many homeowners choose to confine it to an island or baking center.

Marble CountertopPros - holds up well to heat; beautiful and luxurious; ideal for rolling out dough since it doesn't conduct heat.

Cons - Expensive; must be sealed to protect it from stains; requires regular maintenance; very soft so it scratches easily; Can be tough on dishes and glassware.


To create countertops, concrete is mixed with pigment, then poured into molds on-site, or pre-cast in a workshop. After it is troweled smooth, it takes several days to dry and harden. It must then be sealed to guard against stains. Concrete counters can be as thick as desired, although anything more than four inches could strain supporting cabinets and floors.

concrete-countertopsPros - heat and scratch resistant; can be tinted in a wide range of colors; can be molded into different shapes to accommodate integral sinks, drain boards, and decorative edging.

Cons - Expensive and very heavy; cracking is common so make sure you hire a professional to pour. Very porous so it stains unless not sealed very well. Tough on dishes and glassware.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kitchen Lighting


We are still in the process of renovating our kitchen. Now that some of the cabinets are in and drywall is ready to be installed its time to look at our kitchen lighting. Lighting for your kitchen is probably one of the most important considerations when changing the layout or even enhancing the kitchen you currently have.

There are three categories of lighting to consider whenever you are renovating or designing any room.

General Lighting

This lighting is designed to brighten the room enough to walk around safely. Commonly this will be ceiling fixtures, track lighting or recessed lights.

Task Lighting

This is the most important lighting in a kitchen. You will want to install it anywhere you have a working surface. For example, counters need lateral light for food preparation, and sink and stove areas need down light for more precise tasks.

Decorative Lighting

A kitchen may not require this type of lighting, however; if you have have wall sconces or other ambient light, it would be considered decorative, meaning it does not provide specific lighting for a need, but more for the look and design of the room.


Our kitchen will have both General and Task lighting installed. Since opening up our ceiling would add many more hours to the renovation, we our going to utilize track lighting for the ceiling. Each fixture provides 4 directional halogen bulbs that we can direct to different areas of the room.

With no upper cabinets being installed the kitchen will be brighter, with less shadows on the countertop. However; having task lights for working surfaces is very important. We will be installing 2 small halogen puck lights underneath each open shelf, a pendant light above the sink, and our new hood fan has integrated halogen lighting for the stove top.

The Most Common Mistakes

Many of my clients that have attempted to create there own lighting plans for kitchen renovations encounter these three common mistakes.

Attempting to light the kitchen with one ceiling fixture mounted in the middle of your room. Not only does a single light source become “glare” any time you look into the kitchen, but also you don’t get the light you need on your countertops. Every time you bend forward to do work on your countertops you are working in your own shadow.

Planning a recessed lighting layout in a grid pattern without any relationship to your cabinet plan or lighting needs. The first question to ask when planning your lighting is: "why light?" Once you know why, then you can plan the type of light you need.

Not planning for adequate wall space to locate your lighting controls. Many times a full height refrigerator end panel is placed too close to a room entry. Other times there is a tall cabinet placed nearest to the entry. In each of these examples there is no room to place the lighting controls.