Strange design ideas…the perfect ending for a long week.

Every week brings lots of new challenges, deadlines and usually a few laughs.  Since our design team got through the week and we got our workload done a little early, I thought it would be fitting to end the week with some fun stuff.

I’m always combing the net for one thing or another and when I come across things that are interesting, I just pop them in my dropbox for later use.  Today, I bring you some of the designs that were floating around in my “Wierd” box.  Good or bad, you be the judge.  At the very least, you have to admit there are some unusual designers out there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little social commentary on the smoking room.  Subtle but spooky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain Cook or Captain Kook?  But seriously, what kid wouldn’t love this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Odd but cool.  Now that’s a nest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I’ll sleep on the sofa tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WILMA!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tommy, go clean your tree!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably looks really cool going to sleep but I can’t think of a single client    who’d be willing to sign off on this one.  Flood insurance, anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is more like Alice in Neverland.  To each their own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If this kid grows up to be anything else, there’s gonna be hell to pay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound….a dimension of _____________(you fill in the blank).

Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Can Be A Real Beach, If You’re a Celebrity

These pictures really don’t require much writing to accompany them.  I always like to snoop around the net to see how different celebrities and designers live.  It’s nice to admire someone else’s work and imagine everything they went through to get there.

After doing a little research, however, I was a little surprised to find a lack of well designed beach houses owned by celebrities or designers. I’m guessing that’s mainly because most of them chose to live in New York, Paris, Milan, and LA.  While the LA and Miami area had the greatest amount of them, it was still not quite what I had expected. Some of the interiors were either dated, worn or so trendy that they would be out of style by the time you read this.  Others just seemed uninteresting, given the scope of the inhabitants.

So I picked the ones that I personally felt were the more tasteful.  I thought this was a good selection of beach homes that showed a personal sense of style.  Of all of them, I think Ralph Lauren’s and Tina Turner’s are the clear winners.  Google them if you want to see the rest of the pictures.  They are pretty amazing.

 

 

 

Ralph Lauren(Jamaica)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlize Theron (Malibu)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell (Malibu)

 

 

 

 

Chris Wink /Blue Man Group Founder (Hamptons)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgio Armani (Antigua)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ricky Martin (Golden Beach, FL)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lil Wayne (Miami Beach)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katharine Hepburn (Long Island Sound)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Lopez (Hamptons)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tina Turner (Nice, France)

 

 

Hopefully one of these may inspire you to follow your dreams and enjoy the life you’ve always wanted.   But don’t forget your suntan oil.

 

House Broke

There’s only one thing worse than coming home to find a little “surprise” that your pet has left you.  And that is coming home to a beautiful new house that’s empty or unfinished inside.

As more and more people are jumping back into the real estate game, it’s easy to want to get the most house for the money.  To some, that means getting the biggest house possible and sinking the majority of their finances into the purchase of the home.  Restraint takes backseat to conspicuous consumption and before you know it, those larger than life mortgage payments are arriving in the mail.

We’ve all been around this barn before.  It got us, as whole, into the mess we’re into today with no room for any downward mobility, whether in the real estate market or our personal lives.  Straddled with a monster mortgage often dictates how the rest of our “new home story” plays out.

As a designer, I see it happen to the smartest people.  They’ve just purchased a new house that is the home of their dreams. They’ve stretched to buy the biggest house possible thinking it represents the biggest potential in future value.  However, many homes need a lot more work before they become that warm, family gathering place that they’ve envisioned.  Often, the homes that are the biggest bargain require some updating and renovating to bring it into the present.  And if you’ve haven’t left yourself enough money in the bank to cover these costs, there’s a good chance you could find yourself “house broke.”

From a designer’s viewpoint, it’s better to have a smaller home and have it be well maintained and furnished.  From the exterior landscaping to the interior design, it can create a lifestyle of its own.  It’s not necessary to buy that lifestyle if you can create it yourself.  With the right detailing, millwork, updates in certain areas like kitchen and bathrooms, new lighting and a fresh eye for design, a simple house can be converted into a designer’s bungalow.  Creating character on a smaller scale is much less expensive allowing for more indulgences.  Of course, having a good relationship with an interior designer and a landscape architect wouldn’t hurt.

So if you’re house-hunting, keep a few things in mind.  It’s just not what the house looks like on the outside that counts.  People are going to be coming into your home and what the inside says is more important that the outside.  The old days of “keeping up appearances” has been replaced by having style and good taste.  If you’re going to splurge for that luxury home, leave yourself room to finish the job.  That may require another 25% for furnishings and, if the home needs work done to it, up to another 30-40% for the renovations and customizing.   Anything short of that and chances are you’ll find yourself on the same side of the fence as the seller of your new house…having to offer the house at a bargain in order to sell it in the future.   Done right, however, you’ll probably get a premium for it.

Buying a new home should be an exciting time.  A little careful planning will ensure that when you’re all said and done, you’ll still be in a position to enjoy the lifestyle that you’ve created.

 

A Closet Worth Staying In

America is obsessed with being organized.  We want a place for everything and everything in its place.  So it’s no wonder that closet design has become a huge factor to new home buyers and those looking to renovate.

Gone are the days of those wire shelving components.  You know, the ones that eventually turn into virtual glue sticks that are impossible to clean.  And the idea of a single rod with a storage shelf above is about as current as an avocado refrigerator.

Most people are now familiar with closet systems and how to get the most use of their space.  Double hanging rods, shoe shelves,  tie racks, built-in valet bars, belt racks, laundry bins, dressing islands,  etc. have all become part of the expected closet.

Laminates are clearly the most popular choice primarily due to the cost savings.  Although somewhat limited in colors and styles, the laminate units provide a sturdy, easy to clean product that appeals to a wide variety of clients at different price points.

So where does it go from here?  Well, if the budget exists, new closets are taking it to a different level.  Custom closets start out with real wood products which give the consumer endless choices of finishes, styles and hardware.  What used to be simple square boxes has become high quality furniture.  Clothing, which used to be exposed, is being stored behind doors as a protection against dust.  And every article of clothing is given its own designated space.  From shoes to sweaters to handbags, organizing a closet makes it easy to see what you have and keeps everything in mint condition.  And the gadgets, well they just keep getting better.

Some of the newer gadgets you might find can include hidden compartments accessible only by rubbing a key across an invisible lock mechanism, hidden safes for organizing valuables and jewelry, breakfast bars (for the early morning coffee without leaving your room), automated lighting systems that turn on and off with the opening of doors, flat panel televisions, and the list goes on.

Sometimes a closet just isn’t big enough no matter what you do.  As they say, go big or go home. In some cases, clients have turned entire guest bedrooms into luxury custom closets making them a room unto themselves.

Closets have come of design age, requiring as much thought and planning as a modern day kitchen.  No longer considered just an necessity, it’s become a coveted design element of the home.

 

 

Designer or Onliner?

Giving credit where credit is due, one of my coworkers, Mary Nowak,  presented this concept to me this week.  It seems in this digital age, everyone is trying to reap the rewards of shopping online instead of enlisting the advice of a designer or a local showroom.  Apparently it’s just as easy to get a sofa online as it is a date.  But just how much are we willing to sacrifice to save money? And who really looks like their online picture.  In the past, hiring a designer was a luxury few could afford or so they thought.  Many people found it intimidating as their designers suggested items that were priced well outside their comfort zone.  It was a time when it was more about the name than the style and that usually meant a hefty price to go along with it.  High priced designers were making a killing…and it was our profession they just about buried.

Hiring a designer is no longer just for a lucky few, it’s now for the savvy.  Over the years, scores of well-established design schools and universities have churned out a sufficient number of talented individuals to make access to a designer more reasonable and in a more consumer-friendly environment than ever before.  This, in turn, has changed the way many people approach furnishing a new home. Designers have the ability to negotiate wholesale pricing and even with their fees added, the price is still less than retail.  Plus you have a designer on your side to help avoid mistakes.

But still there are those who feel compelled to shop online, forfeiting any type of personal guidance or service in hopes of saving a few dollars.  For smaller, disposable items, it can make good sense but buying an item of value online can be a little like Russian roulette.  Who cares if the sofa you ordered online doesn’t fit?  Just put it in your next garage sale. What if the fabric looks terrible in person?  If there’s a defect or damage in shipping, or if the item breaks after only a few months, you will probably wish you had someone local to call to make the problem go away.  And the only person with a vested interest in your happiness other than yourself is your local designer or showroom.  I have a feeling when you call them that your call isn’t going to get rerouted to a customer service department in a third-world country.  (Peggy, can you hear me?)

Many better quality retail stores and design firms are eager to work with clients on smaller projects.  And this isn’t just because of the economy.  It’s because we have all gotten a little smarter over time.  We realize that helping a young couple with their first home and developing a relationship with them often results in future homes down the road.   It’s become the building block for smaller firms and for designers who are in the business for the long haul.  It’s residual business.   I have personally had clients start out with just a small living room and, over time, grow into several jobs for their relatives and also larger homes for themselves as their careers have blossomed.  When it comes to clients, a good investment always grows.

Onliners pride themselves on savings but in many cases, item for item, the prices end up about the same.  And if you have a problem once you get it home, you can usually resolve it easily and quickly.  Online companies often had hidden charges such as crating, in-home delivery, etc. that add to the price.  And it’s funny how they make you pay for it in full before you even take delivery.  Hmmm.

We all use online services for something.  Electronics, games, reviews, news and yes, even dates.  But a sofa or dining room set?  What if I answered the door and the sofa didn’t look anything like it did in the picture?  Ah, the date from hell.

 

First Impact-Making The Right Impression For Whom?

It’s not really something you learn in school, nor is it the kind of thing most clients would be willing to admit when furnishing their home.  But believe it or not, other people make their first impression of your home within 10 seconds of entering it.  And sometimes that impression is difficult to change   So the question is…should we be concerned with what they think?  To answer the question, we have to look beyond purely our own ego.

Drawing on my previous years of doing some high-end model homes for a couple of Florida’s leading builders, one of the key elements in home sales was the point of impact.  What does the potential buyer see as soon as they open their door?   This created one of the contributing factors to what has become a standard in home design…the open floor plan.

The open floor plan can easily make a home feel larger and customers can immediately envision a family-gathering lifestyle.  The cooking/eating area exposed to the entertainment area speaks of family meals and movies, weekend BBQ’s, birthday and holiday parties, and a place where the world is safe.  These are powerful mental images that turn lookers into buyers.

Keeping that in mind, it’s important to plan your furniture layout not to obstruct the view, especially if your pool or view lies in the background.   Furniture with it’s back facing the entry should be the smaller, lighter pieces such as chairs, and not your sofa.   Brighter homes give a sense of good health and well-being.  Colors, textures and styles all play an important role.  And don’t forget to dress the windows.  They are the frames for your picture.

So, first impact has an affect on sale/resale.  It also has an affect on value.  A home that has been well designed and furnished, more often than not will sell faster and for a higher price.  When people are buying a new home, they are not looking for the added expense of renovations or trying to figure out how to use the space.  It’s more than just a kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms to them.  It’s how they imagine living in it.  Or what it will be like to wake up to it on the weekends.  And trust me, the more beautiful and interesting it is, the more desirable it becomes.   So while you may think it’s not important to you what other people think, the day will probably come when you may want to rethink your position.

With the price of homes being what they are, who wouldn’t want their investment to look like more than they paid for it?

So it’s not really caring what other people think about your home but rather how they will subconsciously respond to it.  And if they can feel it, trust me, you can feel it.  And if there’s one person you should care about how your home makes them feel, it’s you.

 

 

Design Project Gets Published

For the most part, the business of interior design is just that.  Business.  Calls to vendors, making selections and reselections for clients, hours spent at the drafting table pulling your hair out wondering if the client will be on board with the concept, and phone calls.  Lots of phone calls.  Pricing hundreds of items from wallpapers to fabrics to furniture.  Reviewing construction plans, selecting finishes, hardware, lighting fixtures and window treatments.  And more phone calls.

It’s kind of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  Hours of planning and organizing and fitting the pieces together to make an overall picture that hopefully your clients will love.  Sometimes the pieces just fall into place and sometimes those last few pieces seem to elude you until you’re about to put the whole thing back in the box and start a new one.

As an owner of a design firm, there’s a little added pleasure to the business to make sure that not only your design team is in sync with the client and on schedule as well as budget, but you also have to keep the business machine running…negotiating with factories, buying inventory, showroom issues, maneuvering the world of insurance and licenses, invoicing, payroll, and worrying about little things like work schedules, credit standing, advertising, internet marketing, building maintenance, etc.  Lots of fun stuff.

But like any other business, there is definitely a reward to the business.  It’s that magic phone call you receive from a publisher letting you know that the hard work and talent of your design team has paid off and your firm’s project is going to press.  It’s a nice recognition from the design community since it’s not the kind of media coverage you can buy.

Recently, one of Retro Interiors’ projects that was completed earlier this year was published by Gulfstream Media, owners of Broward Design, Boca Life, Fort Lauderdale, Gold Coast and Miami Design magazines.   While we are very proud and thankful to receive this type of notoriety, we are the most proud of our designers and staff, creative and dedicated individuals who continue to work each day giving their best, helping our clients realize their dreams and expectations,  and who make coming to work each day a pleasure.  And of course, our extremely grateful for our really great clients…who trust in our vision and who make all of this possible every day.

Here are some pictures from our published project.  I hope you enjoy looking at them and find a little inspiration of your own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Is The Future

 

First, let me apologize for taking so long to continue this blog but as some of you may not be aware, our entire showroom was flooded on Halloween night.  What ensued was a day-after-day process of cleaning, repairing, rebuilding, repainting and restocking.  The mess is finally over and the showroom now looks better than ever.   It’s now time to get back to work and bring you up to speed on what’s going on in the market.

The 2011 Fall Furniture Market in High Point showed continued growth in the abundance of natural products coming into the marketplace as demand for casual and relaxed interiors takes an even stronger foothold.  This trend, due in part to the largely successful transformation of Restoration Hardware under the guidance of Gary Friedman and Carlos Alberini, their executive officers, continues to influence the market in a direction with such a force that even the stodgiest of companies are succumbing to the pressure.

While previous market trends were based on limited time fashions, this trend will probably see a much longer lifespan because it is based on something a little more important…sustainability and the future of our planet.  Sustainable products such as reclaimed or recycled wood and materials not only add interest and texture, they make a statement of what we want for our future.   And companies are able to bring us these products in a way that ensures durability, quality and affordability.

Market attendance appeared to be lower this year, however, those who did attend were buying as if the economy is making a strong rebound.  Some older showrooms have disappeared and some of the new ones are bringing new products and new blood into the business.  So without further jibber, let’s take a look at some of the new items that I found interesting.

“Vintage” seems to be popping up as a look by itself and also as an accent to tone down the contemporary.   I also noticed some occasional “industrial” themed pieces that showroom salespeople said were selling like hotcakes to the designers.  The pictures, although I’m an amateur, speak for themselves.  Feel free to browse through the following images and get your insider access to the furniture market.   In my next blog, I’ll cover some of the more interesting contemporary introductions as this style is still dominating the market.