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When we can’t dine out at restaurants, we can always “go out” to eat in our own three-seasons rooms and patio spaces, though we may need to wear jackets sometimes. Photo by Matt Warren Photography

When we can’t dine out at restaurants, we can always “go out” to eat in our own three-seasons rooms and patio spaces, though we may need to wear jackets sometimes. Photo by Matt Warren Photography

Shaking Off Cabin Fever

Are you ready for outdoor living? I am, and I think a lot of us are developing cabin fever given the precautions we are taking to forestall the spread of the corona virus. Spending time in our own backyards has become increasingly important. I thought it would be a nice escape for everyone if I shared some photos of lovely patios we have designed recently so we can turn our thoughts to warmer weather, greener landscapes and rejuvenating time spent outdoors. Although we just had a snow storm, now is a great time to start working together if you want to complete a patio or terrace project by the time warm weather sets in for good. We can get started with “virtual” planning sessions to move the design process forward, and of course, all work would be done outdoors! Please phone our studio at 847-358-7734 or connect online at IEG Contact.

How Do We Begin the Design?

To start, we take a holistic view of the outdoor areas available. We find out how our clients want to use their property, and then we create separate “rooms” to fit their wish list – outdoor kitchen, dining, relaxing around a fire pit, a cozy spot where they can curl up with some summer reading. We need to know our clients’ entertaining style as well. Do they host cookouts for a lot of people, cater cocktail parties for smaller groups, invite families over for casual meals and games of bocce ball, bean bag toss and badminton?

The three-seasons porch in the photo above is an extension of a lovely residence on a spacious property farm from the bustle of the city and suburbs. Our clients wanted a seating area that is somewhat protected from the elements as well as a fully outdoor dining space that you can glimpse through the windows. For the three-seasons room we chose woven dining chairs that are not only attractive, but with their cushioned seats and high backs, they encourage people to linger over a relaxing meal. The earth tones of all the furnishings allow the gorgeous landscaping to take center stage.

 

Designed to resemble an indoor great room, this seating area is inviting and comfortable. Photo by Matt Warren Photography

Designed to resemble an indoor great room, this seating area is inviting and comfortable. Photo by Matt Warren Photography

Interior and Exterior Design Must Flow

Creating a design that flows smoothly and logically from the interior of the home is always our goal. In recent years, outdoor spaces have come to resemble indoor spaces to a greater extent. Because we chose a very relaxed, organic design for the interior, natural textures and a neutral color palette, we extended that to the outside. This area in the photo above is opposite the dining table in the previous photo, and is designed to evoke an al fresco family room, down to the area rug, accessories and accent pillows. Our clients can use it as an inviting spot for an after-dinner beverage or dessert and coffee, a comfortable place to sit and catch up on email or chat with friends and family.

 

The rustic grain of this carved-wood piece references the scenery beyond the windows. Photo by IEG

The rustic grain of this carved-wood piece references the scenery beyond the windows. Photo by IEG

Outdoor Accessories Are a Must-Have

Indoors or out, accessories are the punctuation that completes a room, beautifully. Again, we opted for organic materials, using this wooden trough as our back drop for natural greens. It fills a corner of the three-seasons room with character and authenticity.

 

Thoughtfully chosen accessories arranged on an artful tray adds a touch of casual elegance to this outdoor family room. Photo by IEG

Thoughtfully chosen accessories arranged on an artful tray adds a touch of casual elegance to this outdoor family room. Photo by IEG

Choose a Pretty Tray

Gathering a collection of interesting pieces in an eye-catching tray is one of our favorite ways to accessorize a room. We always mix materials, textures and colors, and we love finding just the right tray to display them. An added bonus: the tray is easy to move when you need the space for other uses such as snacks or a big jigsaw puzzle. This outdoor composition reflects the way we accessorized the interior of the residence, creating a conversation between the two.

 

Location, location, location. Photo by IEG

Location, location, location. Photo by IEG

Traffic Flow Indoors and Out is a Priority

This dining table and chairs is the grouping you caught a peek at in the first photo of the three-seasons dining area. We love the view of the old silo, which we also updated with a spa-like space at the top, overlooking the magnificent property. When we design outdoor settings we always keep traffic flow uppermost in our minds, including access to and from the house. Issues such as distance from outdoor grills or game areas and the ability to move around the outdoor and indoor areas in a logical manner are priorities, too.

 

Comfortable seating, convenient tables and a striking view make this balcony a great place to renew and refresh. Photo by IEG

Comfortable seating, convenient tables and a striking view make this balcony a great place to renew and refresh. Photo by IEG

Balconies Are Your Own Private Patio

With its orange cushions and woven frame, this love seat is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the view over this spectacular property. A pair of vintage-looking lanterns are tucked into a corner, referencing the history of this land – who might have lived in this area before the days of electricity and high-tech devices? The side-by-side tables are a must-have for beverages, cell phones and other electronics. But wouldn’t you rather just drink in the scenery? I would!

 

Swivel chairs ensure that everyone can turn to enjoy the water wall and fire place or join the conversation. Photo by Matt Warren Photography.

Swivel chairs ensure that everyone can turn to enjoy the water wall and fire place or join the conversation. Photo by Matt Warren Photography.

Fire and Water

Human beings have always been drawn to fire and water, which are beautifully combined on this elegant patio. When laying out this space, it was important to ensure that everyone is able to view the elements while enjoying some face-to-face time outside. The color palette references the natural tones of the slate deck and the stone fence and water wall. Of course, we included our signature tray of accessories, a lantern and a rich blue throw whose color is a nod to the water element. And who doesn’t love a throw available when the temperatures drop and you just aren’t ready to leave the tranquility of this outdoor space?

 

This screened porch is perfect for “me” time. Photo by Matt Warren Photography

This screened porch is perfect for “me” time. Photo by Matt Warren Photography

Enjoying Some Private Time

Ahhh! That hammock looks so inviting. When you’re ready for some quiet, me time, this is the spot. We positioned the hammock to take advantage of view of the beautiful ponds on this property and the sky overhead. The semi-private nook blends the best of feelings of being somewhat protected by outdoors at the same time. Oversized planters, brimming with life, establish a smooth flow to the yard.

 

Weather resistant accent pillows elevate your outdoor style. Photo by IEG

Weather resistant accent pillows elevate your outdoor style. Photo by IEG

S’Mores and More

Energetic accent pillows enliven this semi-circular sectional while pulling together the neutral color palette. We have developed connections with several lines of wonderful outdoor fabrics and pillows that we go to whenever we’re working on outdoor spaces. The fabric of course is weather resistant and the pillows come in handy when you want to stretch out and read or take an afternoon siesta in the fresh air. The sectional provides a lot of seating and encourages conversation in front of the fire when friends and family gather. Is anyone else thinking about s’mores? Have you tried them with a fun-size Milky Way or Snicker’s bar?

 

You may not have an old silo on your property, but you can appreciate the blend of old and new in this remarkable setting. Photo by IEG

You may not have an old silo on your property, but you can appreciate the blend of old and new in this remarkable setting. Photo by IEG

Contrasting Old and New

We felt honored and excited to create several different “rooms” in this vintage silo area for a client with a large property in the country. The conversation area is one “room,” and there is a dining area not pictured. The combination of old and new makes me think of a European café set in the midst of ancient ruins. The contrast is so appealing, and truly unique.

Are you planning to update your home’s exterior spaces? And you can see more of our work here: IEG portfolio.

With its understated fabric and updated tufting, this bedroom bench is a subtle counterpoint to the texture and shine of the glam of the throw and coverlet. Photo Courtesy of IEG

 

Six Reasons To Love Bedroom Benches

Like the perfect pair of shoes to complete your favorite outfit, the right bench at the foot of a bed adds essential style and function to a bedroom. We consider them a must-have for almost any bedroom with enough space to accommodate one. Why? Bedroom benches are a multi-purpose piece of furniture. Here are six reasons to love them:

  • Bedroom benches give you a comfortable spot to sit when you are are pulling on slacks or tying shoes.
  • They are a handy place to toss those layers of decorative throw pillows when it is time for bed.
  • Because of their cushioned tops, bedroom benches are a welcoming rest stop when you need to check text messages or take a quick look at the weather app before heading outside.
  • If it is a bench with a back, you can linger longer while reading a book or doing some quick work on your laptop.
  • If it is a bench with built-in storage, so much the better! Who doesn’t need more storage space for spare blankets or throws?
  • From a style standpoint, benches are another way that designers add texture and interest to a bedroom and “accessorize” the bed. Like any other piece of furniture, we can create the perfect design and fabric for your bedroom bench.

How We Chose This Bench

In the glamorous bedroom pictured above, we selected an elegant, clean-lined, upholstered bench whose frame and fabric are from one of our favorite vendors, www.kravet.com. The understated style allows the silver-gray coverlet from www.sharris.com to shine through, literally and figuratively! We opted for a polished chrome base to echo that gleam, and quiet tufted cushion for subtle texture and comfort.

What’s the Proper Size?

Dimensions are an important consideration when choosing a bedroom bench. We often choose a width that is slightly narrower than the bed for the correct scale, and we adjust the height according to the bed height. Typically we want the bench to be a few inches shorter than the top of the bed. The proper depth depends in part of how much space you have. We always leave enough room for easy navigation in the room.

 

Mixing rustic and refined elements in a room makes it more layered and interesting. The pine storage bench with faux fur cushion includes storage for this guest bedroom. Photo by Matt Warren Photography.

Finding a Modern Farmhouse Bedroom Bench

Doesn’t the faux-fur cushion on that pine storage bench give this bedroom a super cozy look? Because this property is out in the country, we chose a modern farmhouse look for the bedroom. The rustic textures of the bench feel right at home in this polished yet casual space, and hidden storage is always welcome. We paired it with a window-pane plaid comforter that echoes the mullioned windows, and a deep pile rug from Loloi Rugs. Here again, you can see that the bench is narrower and shorter than the bed, and sits well within the border of the rug.

 

The horizontal stripe in these window panels from Romo enlivens this masculine bedroom. Photo by Larry Malvin Photography.

A Sophisticated Upholstered Bench

When our clients’ children moved out, they commissioned us to update their bedrooms with a more grownup aesthetic that would reflect each child’s personality. For their son, we created a modern and sophisticated look with accents of lively pattern, rich texture and shine. We chose an espresso finish for both the bench and the platform of the bed. The color combination pulls together the room’s palette while the clean-lined style is a smooth transition from the bed. Both bench and bed are from Kravet. Every room needs something unexpected. In this case, we chose a pair of polished chrome lamps from Arteriors Home and a heavily textured urn filled with bamboo and succulents.

 

A bench with a back that’s decorative can stand in as a footboard while offering back support.

A bench with a back that’s decorative can stand in as a foot board while offering back support.

Bench with a Back

Drenched in glossy white, lilac and champagne, this dramatic master bedroom has one-of-a-kind detailing, including a bench with a back built into the bed. We upholstered the seat and back with fabric from Robert Allen Design to provide a comfortable place to perch. The regal color was inspired by the stately, carved millwork, reminiscent of a stage. Because the bench is elevated a few inches, it is an inviting place to sit and spend a few minutes contemplating the scenery through the glass doors or jotting down a to-do list for the day.

 

To maintain the tranquility of this peaceful bedroom, we chose a low-key chevron pattern for this bench with storage. Photo by Matt Warren Photography.

To maintain the tranquility of this peaceful bedroom, we chose a low-key chevron pattern for this bench with storage. Photo by Matt Warren Photography.

Upholstered Storage Bench

As I discussed in my earlier blog, Boosting Energy with Iconic Chevron, this much-loved zig-zag pattern brings life to a space, whether the design is big and bold or soft and subtle, as in this organic and refined bedroom. The understated grey and soft white pattern from Kravet is perfect on the storage bench from Cox Manufacturing – we didn’t want to distract from the texture and beauty of the organic stone wall accents or the lovely view of the property. Likewise, to open up sight lines to the stone accent walls, we chose open-shelved nightstands.

Interested in finding the best bench for your home? Please contact us at 847-705-9569. Same number, new studio in Barrington at 130 S. Northwest Highway, Barrington.

To pull together the color palette of this bedroom, we custom designed blue and gold pillows. Photo by www.lmphotography.com

To pull together the color palette of this bedroom, we custom designed blue and gold pillows. Photo by www.lmphotography.com

Custom pillows add so much pizzazz to a bedroom, don’t you think? A magical kind of design chemistry occurs when we mix fabrics and trims, shapes and sizes, colors and patterns to design one-of-a-kind pillow displays for our clients. Does it sound like fun? It is. But it does require a lot of planning, creativity and quality materials from our go-to vendors. Our bespoke pillows are pure luxe, often with multiple trim details fabricated by our custom work room. But we also design via ready-made lines that can complete a room beautifully as well.

 

Pillows can be easily swapped out to change the look and mood of a room. Photo by www.lmphotography.com

Pillows can be easily swapped out to change the look and mood of a room. Photo by www.lmphotography.com

Where Do We Start?

To begin, we carefully select a grouping of fabrics as options to use within the room. The fabrics for the custom pillows are chosen most often from those and are used to tie together the color palette in the room, as in the bright, cheerful bedroom above. The refreshing blue of the bed and warm gold of the window treatments come together at the head of the bed in a one-of-a-kind display. For this grouping we combined the crisply tailored window frame insets of the Euro pillows with a hint of glam in the beaded trims. We chose an unusual wooden bead trim from www.kravet.com for the accent pillow, with diamond-patterned fabric from www.duralee.com. The blue inset for the Euros is from www.romo.com while the yellow inset and beaded trim are from Kravet. Our vendors can customize trims for us, sometimes with all crystals or beads. They ensure that each piece is triple knotted so they won’t become loose or fall off.

 

Why Are Pillows So Powerful?

Pillows may be one of the smaller elements in a room, but they are powerful sources of color, pattern, texture and personality. They give us an opportunity to introduce just the right punch of color while allowing our clients the option of updating their room easily. You can easily go from tailored and understated to more elaborate and bold without changing any major elements in the room.

 

What should the well-dressed bed wear? Layers of gorgeous custom pillows. Photo by www.lmphotography.com

What should the well-dressed bed wear? Layers of gorgeous custom pillows. Photo by www.lmphotography.com

What Should the Well-Dressed Bed Wear? Custom Layers!

Nothing says elegance like regal burgundy and gleaming silver custom pillows, in rich layers of pattern and texture. Mixing shapes is always important. At front-and-center on the bed above is a large rectangular pillow with gleaming silver fabric from www.margecarson.com and beaded trim from www.samuelandsons.com. Behind that is a generous 70-inch bolster pillow with face fabric from www.sharris.com. The narrow bands of trim are from www.osborneandlittle.com and the large bands of trim are from Samuel and Sons. To anchor the layers we chose a rich, large-scale print fabric for the Euros from www.hollyhunt.com.

 

A Bit of Puzzling History

I must admit, I was surprised to learn that many of the earliest pillows, dating back from 7,000 B.C. to 500 or 600 A.D., were actually made of stone, wood, bamboo, jade, porcelain or bronze. That doesn’t sound very comfortable to me! However, the ancient Greeks and Romans had another idea – they introduced softer pillows stuffed with cotton, reeds or straw. However, only upper-class people typically owned these (somewhat) more cushy pillows.

 

Pillows for a Masculine Mood

For this young man’s room we wanted pillows with energy and a masculine vibe. Say hello to chevron stripes and an accent pillow whose trim resemble metal studs. We limited the number to three because of the smaller, twin bed, and also to simplify the bed-making process for this youthful client. We sourced the chevron fabric from Duralee and the trim for the accent pillow from Samuel & Sons.

Pillows are an opportunity to use bold patterns without overwhelming the room’s design. Photo by www.mattwarrenphotography.com

Pillows are an opportunity to use bold patterns without overwhelming the room’s design. Photo by www.mattwarrenphotography.com

Bold chevron stripes and a trim with stud-like accents pack a punch in this young man’s bedroom. Photo by www.mattwarrenphotography.com

Bold chevron stripes and a trim with stud-like accents pack a punch in this young man’s bedroom. Photo by www.mattwarrenphotography.com

 

How Plump Should Pillows Be?

Extra plump! You might have noticed that our custom pillows look irresistibly squeezable. We always choose a filler that is a size larger than the pillow form for that optimum fullness. The inserts are typically a down mix or faux down mix, based on our clients’ preferences and allergies.

 

Creating custom pillows is a little like decorating pastry – details make the cake.

Creating custom pillows is a little like decorating pastry – details make the cake.

Ingredients for a Stunning Pillow

We combined six ingredients to create this sophisticated pillow: face fabric, taupe fabric inset, a lace-like inset band, cording and fringe, plus insert. The blend of textures and the warm color – think red velvet cake – yield a delicious result! It is sure to be a treasured accessory for years to come.

 

Going Glam with Pillows

Make no mistake, this is a bedroom with glamorous color, mixed patterns, sparkle, shine and texture. We referenced all of that in the sumptuous display of pillows.

We designed this bedroom for a client who appreciates sparkle, shine and plush texture. Photo by www.lmphotography.com

We designed this bedroom for a client who appreciates sparkle, shine and plush texture. Photo by www.lmphotography.com

Mixing patterns and textures builds a lot of interest in this pile of pillows. Photo by www.lmphotography

Mixing patterns and textures builds a lot of interest in this pile of pillows. Photo by www.lmphotography

We pulled the lighter shade of plum from the color-block window treatments, as well as the taupe and soft white, and we added hints of grey and gold. To keep it interesting, we mixed three different patterns – a contemporary floral toward the front from www.kravet.com, color block behind that from www.romo.com and squared-off chains anchoring the back from www.thibaultdesign.com The soft white pillow not only adds shiny texture, but we customized it with a www.swarovski.com/en-us crystal brooch instead of a button. Yes, we love the details!

 

We also work with high-quality, ready-made pillows like these. Photo by www.mattwarren.photography

We also work with high-quality, ready-made pillows like these. Photo by www.mattwarren.photography

Going Casual

With their more casual patterns and understated colors, these pillows from www.easternaccents.com supply the laid-back comfort we were aiming for in this guest bedroom. We chose a similar colorway for all of the pillows but mixed contemporary patterns for bit of zest.

 

Romantic red pillows heighten the drama of the quilted head board.

Romantic red pillows heighten the drama of the quilted head board.

These ruby red pillows radiate warmth and elegance paired with a sophisticated grey backdrop and a dramatic headboard. The red accent fabric for the bolsters is from www.robertallendesign.com and the inset is from www.kravet.com. The sparkly trim running across the king shams is from www.pyarandco.com. We couldn’t resist adding a red shade on the crystal, tableside lamp to carry the color scheme one step farther.

 

How Many Pillows for a Bed?

There are no hard-and-fast rules for how many pillows to use on a bed. We have done everything from one to four layers of pillows, depending on the size of the bed and our clients’ preferences. Some people enjoy having a lot of pillows because they create a deep-layered look and an opportunity to incorporate added color, pattern, texture and exquisite trims to their bedroom design. Others prefer one or two layers. Either way works, but we always include a designated spot to store the pillows at night, such as a long bench at the foot of the bed.

Want to add some pillow pizzazz to your bedrooms? Contact us at our new Barrington studio – 847-705-9569.

statement mirror bathroom

The sparkling pendant lights, geometric cabinets and specialty wall treatment work with the Lalique mirror to create an elegant mood. Photo by Larry Malvin

Think of Mirrors as Works of Art

Statement mirrors are a beautiful way to add excitement – and so much more – to a bathroom.  I often think of them as works of art that go well beyond their basic function of reflecting our image as we style our hair or compare one pair of earrings to another. For one, mirrors of all kinds produce the illusion of space, which is particularly important in powder rooms, such as the one pictured above.  We also believe that powder rooms are an opportunity for an impactful design.  Our friends and family see them when they visit, so for this space we chose a custom Lalique mirror with elegant frosted crystal scrolling the border. We love the way it reflects the sparkling pendants from FineArtLamps,  in effect doubling the impact of that fixture.   Whenever we place a mirror in a room, we always ensure that it reflects something attractive. Getting all the details just right is our goal. For this space, the rounded swirls in the mirror design are echoed in the spherical pendants and the hardware on the cabinet with metallic finish from ExclusiveWoodworking, custom designed by IEG.

mosaic tile bathroom mirror

Instead of tile backsplash, we layered a mosaic tile-framed mirror on a full-wall mirror.

Dial Up the Brightness

Mirrors dial up the brightness in a bathroom, not only by reflecting light from fixtures but from natural light coming through a window, as in the master bathroom above. Instead of installing a tile backsplash, we layered this mosaic tile-framed mirror onto a full-wall mirror, where it becomes the center of attention.  The other elements in the space – cabinets, countertops, window treatments – are deliberately understated, so they don’t detract from that focal point.

black leather bathroom mirror

A black, leather-wrapped mirror pulls together the masculine design of this ensuite bathroom.
Photo by Larry Malvin Photography

Integrate a Room with a Statement Mirror

Statement mirrors can unify the design of a room, as in this masculine, ensuite bathroom above. The black leather wrapped mirror, from FriedmanMirrors, is simple yet dramatic. It magnifies the masculine vibe while anchoring the black and soft white grain of the granite countertop and the sophisticated backsplash, made of a mix of ceramic and glass mosaic tile. The sleek cabinetry, from AbruzzoKitchenandBath has a custom finish that complements the wall color.

A Short History of Mirrors

The history of mirrors is fascinating – ranging the early origins of mirrors and the superstitions that have developed around them. Who hasn’t heard the old adage that a broken mirror brings 7 years of bad luck?  The earliest known manufactured mirrors date back 8,000 years – yes, all those zeros are correct! Those primitive pieces  were discovered in what is now Turkey and were made from volcanic glass, or obsidian. More recently – in relative terms – mirrors have been unearthed in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China and America, dating back to 2000 BC. Not until the Renaissance, between 1300 and 1600, did modern mirrors make an appearance after the Florentines invented a process for making low-temperature lead backing. That is another discovery for which we can thank the Italians, in addition to pasta, pizza and gelato! If you want to know more about the evolution and beliefs about the power of mirrors, check it out at  HowStuffWorks.

gold embellished bathroom mirror

Mirrors are reputed to improve the “qi” of a space, affecting health, wealth and more. Photo by Larry Malvin Photography

Use Mirrors to Create Feng Shui

Did you know that mirrors are important in many feng shui arrangements, too? They are said to improve the “qi” of a space, which is believed to affect health, wealth, energy level and luck, among other things. Whether or not that’s true, the elegant flow of the gold embellished mirror  in the ensuite above does make me feel sophisticated and energized. It’s the “wow” factor in the room, and it references the circular gold-toned cabinet hardware. The mirror also reminds me of a woman’s face, framed by her hair on top and a casually twisted neck scarf.  You can learn more about mirrors and feng shui here: TheSpruce

rectangular bathroom mirror

In a small powder room, a mirror can create the illusion of more space. Photo by Larry Malvin

Make an Impact with a Large Mirror

To make an impact in this first floor powder room, we chose a large rectangular mirror with a lightly antiqued, silver finish in a pebbly texture. We like the way its tailored style meshes with the clean lines and light colors of the space.  The reflection of the wall art and the roman shade directs added attention to those pieces and increases the effect of their colors and patterns. A large mirror in a small room also creates the illusion of more space.

Would you like to find the perfect statement mirror for your home? Contact IEG at 847-705-9569.

 

great room fireplace

Did you know that sitting by a blazing fire on a cold winter’s evening lowers your blood pressure? I discovered that healthy tidbit in this Huffington Post article by Carolyn Gregoire: EvolutionaryReasonWeLoveFireplaces.  Carolyn says the answer may lie in our evolution, dating back to  prehistoric times, when people gathered around a fire to stay warm, cook food and socialize. Hundreds of thousands of years later, people still love to relax in front of a fireplace for similar reasons, though most of us don’t cook food in our fireplaces! For me, fireplaces always bring to mind cozy, lazy evenings chatting with loved ones, enjoying a glass of wine or hot chocolate in front of the dancing flames.

Fireplaces Boost Home Values

Because fireplaces are so popular, they increase a home’s value as well. A 2016 Angie’s List survey Popular-home-updates-that-are-worth-the-money of real estate agents in the U.S. – revealed that more than 83 percent of agents believe a fireplace can add up to $5,000 to a home’s value.

Six Fireplaces, Six Designs

My team and I had the opportunity to design six fireplaces for suburban Chicago clients who were not only updating their home but constructing two large additions. These fireplaces truly symbolize their desire for a home that would have the warm, peaceful environment of a retreat for themselves, their two junior high-age children and their extended family and friends. Because they are very generous people, they love to entertain and create a welcoming environment with flickering fires. Our challenge was to give each fireplace a unique look that fits the purpose and tone of its surroundings.

home office fireplace

A stone slab with the look of petrified wood gives his study the rugged, masculine look he envisioned.

A Rugged Look for the Husband’s Library

To differentiate the husband’s home office fireplace, above left, we selected a stunning, solid-surface stone slab to place between the ashlar stone columns. The slab, which we discovered at LurveyLandscape  in Volo, has the characteristic grain and well-aged appeal of petrified wood. To unify the look, we used the same stone for the floating hearth. As we did throughout the house, we layered in casually refined elements such as the tufted  leather arm chairs and the taupe and cream, hair-on-hide rug in a geometric pattern from www.loloirugs.com.

 

She wanted a fireplace with feminine flair for her master bedroom sitting area.

A Refined Look for the Wife’s Sitting Room

A case in point is the wife’s master bedroom sitting room, above right, which she calls her “spiritual retreat.” To achieve the feminine, calming atmosphere she desired, we chose ledger stone for the fireplace, which is clean-lined and has a less rugged texture. The soft taupe and grey-blues of the stone “bricks” enhance the delicate feeling while the colors complement the custom grey cabinetry by AbruzzoKitchenandBath.

Taking inspiration from the clients’ beautiful wooded property, we chose a large-scale, leaf-and-branch rug from www.davisanddavisrugs.com that contributes pattern, extra warmth and comfort to the room.  To encourage many hours of contemplation and meditation, we chose comfortably cushioned furniture and fabrics from www.kravet.com. One of our client’s favorite pieces is the oval ottoman with its gently curving shape and multi-purpose function as a foot rest, table or extra seating.

 

library fireplace

The fireplace in the husband’s library has a clubby, masculine look.

Channeling a Men’s Club

This handsome stone fireplace is a striking contrast against the beautiful fit and finish of full-wall, cherry cabinets in the husband’s library. We gave this space the look and feel of a men’s club with the masculine details our client visualized for his personal get-away. Among them, leather and striped fabric chairs with nail head detailing from www.taylorking.com, a nail-head studded leather ottoman from www.leathercraft-furniture.com  and a hair-on-hide rug layered over a wool boucle rug, both from www.davisanddavisrugs.com.  The animal hide not only contributes cattle-country ambience but a casual, irregular shape that is pleasing against the precise lines and angles of the cabinetry and coffered ceiling.

 

lower level, lodge-like fireplace

Steel and aged wood combine for a lodge-like look in this lower level, game room fireplace.

For the Lower Level Game Room – a Lodge-like Fireplace

The lower level fireplace looks like it might have been transported from a ski lodge in Aspen or Vail. We chose a steel surround and added columns of naturally aged, reclaimed wood in various lengths and shades of caramel, grey and tan. The river rocks lining the firebox floor are a subtle reference to the rushing streams our clients love when they vacation out West. The black and white pillows flanking the fireplace are actually pods by CRLaine that are designed to sit or lay on in front of the dancing flames.

 

great room fireplace ashlar stone

Create a smooth progression from exterior to interior of a home by choosing the same accent stone for the fireplace and accent columns.

Ashlar Stone Fireplace References Exterior Stone Finish

For the great room above, we chose the same ashlar stone from the exterior of the house for the fireplace surround and columns to establish a smooth progression from outside to inside. Ashlar is a natural stone finely honed into squared pieces for a more tailored, finished look. I will never forget driving up to Wisconsin with the builder, VandeLogtConstruction, to hand-pick the stone slab for the  hearth and a reclaimed beam for the mantle.  Because these clients love to entertain, we provided extensive seating: a pair of leather and fabric sofas and four chevron ottomans from www.kravet.com, plus two wing-back lounge chairs from www.taylorking.com.

 

Project in process: Fireplace before refacing.

Before refacing: Irregular, large stones gave the fireplace a rugged, highly textural look.

 

fireplace refaced with white birch ledger stone

After: White birch ledgerstone transforms the fireplace into a refined presence in this suburban Chicago home.

Updating an Existing Fireplace

We think you’ll agree that we achieved a fabulous transformation of this fireplace in collaboration with www.doomisbuilders.com.  The  asymmetrical fireplace wall was refaced with white birch ledgerstone from www.tilegallerychicago.com. To update the hearth, we replaced the existing rough, chiseled edge limestone with a smooth eased edge. The result is more subtle and refined, in keeping with the scheme throughout the home, and our clients are delighted.

Ready to update or add a fireplace to your home? Please contact me at 847-705-9569.

Photo by Interior Enhancement Group

Thanks, Dering Hall!

Many thanks to the editors at Dering Hall for including one of our luxurious suburban Chicago dining room projects in their photo feature 25 Beautiful Spaces Featuring Chevron Patterns. Check it out and enjoy all the creative ways designers are using this versatile pattern! We chose a tailored chevron fabric from Kravet, for the dining room chairs featured in the article, above. It provides a boost of energy and a feeling of welcoming elegance.

Rich and Textural Fabric

The gray and soft white design is eye-catching but not overwhelming because we chose a solid complementary fabric for the fronts and seats of the chairs. While some chevrons are very simple, this fabric is more complex, not only in the shadings of color but in the narrow, vertical pattern that runs behind the zig-zagging horizontal stripes. The result is rich and textural, and it blends beautifully with the rug because we chose a larger, more free-form, branch and leaf design from DavisandDavisRugs.

custom wine storage in dining room

Custom illuminated wine storage is another sophisticated accent in this elegant dining room.

Chevron Balancing Act

Because chevron is bold and lively, the biggest challenge is balance. It’s a jazzy variation on stripes that creates the illusion of movement, so it’s important to anchor the room with more relaxing elements, as we did above. Mixing the tailored chevron pattern with the organic elements in the room – the agate chandelier, stone fireplace and unusual custom wine cabinet from Wood-Mode  – contributed to the casual-luxe tone our clients wanted as well. As a side note, we were able to fit eight chairs comfortably around the table because we chose a square style that allows for two chairs on each side. Our clients love this two-by-two arrangement because it encourages conversation during dinner parties.

chevron in fashion dress

Italian fashion designers Ottavio and Rosita Missoni revived the classic chevron pattern. Photo courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue.

 

A Little Chevron History

People have had a love affair with chevron dating back at least to 1800 B.C., when the pattern was used on ancient Grecian ceramics, pottery and rock carving. The zig-zags were popular on 12th Century heraldry, too, decorating European shields and banners. You can find chevrons on military insignia and high-fashion designs in modern times as well. But the word chevron, whose roots are French and Latin, doesn’t appear until the late 14th century. It derives from the similarity of the pattern to building rafters. The Art Deco movement https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Deco from 1925 to 1940, with its emphasis on bold, geometric forms, reignited interest in the chevron pattern. That attention was carried forward in 1958, when Italian fashion designers Ottavio and Rosita Missoni revived the classic pattern with a line of knitwear that was the talk of the Milan runways. Today the Missoni fashion house still embraces chevron, as in the classic, calf-length dress above that we discovered at SaksFifthAvenue.

chevron pillows

From Kravet, tiny tangerine throw pillows in chevron mix well with other patterns and colors.

Where to Use Chevron

My team and I think chevron is a timeless look that will never lose its appeal. It is constantly being updated with new colors, fabrics and patterns that run at angles or in a more free-wheeling style.  Chevron can be thick, colorful and bold or delicate, neutral and subtle. It can be blended into a variety of interior design styles and in a wide-range of furnishings. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Think small. If you’re hesitant to make a big statement with chevron, start with a decorative pillow, such as the petite tangerine rectangles in the photo above from

    Kravet. Notice how easy it is to pair chevron with other patterns? Picture frames and trays are other good ways to introduce chevron in small doses.

chevron pouf missoni

Casual chevron pouf from Missoni.

 

  • Tone down the energy. This casual pouf from Missoni  combines muted colors with a lively pattern.
  • Floor them. A chevron rug or tile floor makes a dramatic statement but doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Control the impact by going all-out with big, brightly colored styles or choose smaller patterns in softer colors. Either way, pair chevron with more reserved furnishings and let it shine.
  • Deck the walls. Chevron wallpaper or tile backsplash is another way to make an impact in a room. You can choose to do one wall or more, if you’re feeling splashy.
  • Treat your windows. Chevron can be an accent on a chevron cornice board or a focal point as Roman panels or full-length draperies.
  • Brighten a vignette. An accent chair or bench with a chevron upholstered seat can enliven a foyer, a hallway nook or a makeup vanity.

Want to know more? Contact us at 847-705-9569.

 

 

The family that plays games together, stays together.  At least, that’s what this family of four believes, and I think it’s awesome.  As part of their whole-house design, they asked us to provide a number of game tables throughout the house to encourage interactions with family and friends. If the games are in sight, they told me, people would play more often. I admit, I wondered if those tables would be used, but when I visited their home recently, the family had games going on every table!

 

Suburban Chicago rustic luxe design

Scrabble Anyone?

This cozy corner is a quiet spot for playing one of America’s most iconic board games. We selected a banded steel edge wood table to reference the rustic texture of the stone accent walls, and added four upholstered chairs that are comfortable enough for extended rounds of this challenging word game. The glass pendant lights were chosen specifically because they not only direct light downward but outward.  Now I just need to find out if “erg” is really a word.

 

Checkmate!

Across from the Scrabble table, we positioned a customized chess table with recessed holders for game pieces, drink holders and a drawer on either side. The quiet grain of the alder wood and the industrial-esque,  decorative nails (called  clavos) at the corners contribute to the Great Room’s homey, rustic vibe.

 

suburban chicago rustic luxe design

Jigsaw Jumble

You may remember me writing about my annual treks to the Round Top Market  in Texas, here https://interiorenhancementgroup.com/discovering-new-artisans/.   Well, here is another one of my fabulous finds: a girder-like iron table base made of reclaimed metal from a vintage machine. I knew it would look great in someone’s home as soon as I spotted it! My team and I turned the piece into a table by adding a galvanized, sanded steel top, banded with nail heads, to complete the industrial look of this lower-level  game table. Of course, great lighting and comfortable seating are essential for assembling a complicated jigsaw puzzle.  We chose a trio of customized, blown-glass lights from Hubbardton Forge that have a vintage feeling and can be adjusted to direct light wherever needed.  To finish the vignette, we upholstered the chairs in durable  washable fabric. They are super comfortable for extended hours of puzzling.

 

suburban chicago rustic luxe design

Monopolizing the Table

This custom banquette and pine-topped dining table serves as a game table, too, just off the lower-level kitchenette. You can’t see it, but the table base is an old wine barrel, another great find from the Round Top fair. These vintage pieces add so much character, authenticity and a sense of history to a home – I always feel like I have discovered treasure!

 

suburban chicago rustic luxe design

Connect Four Fun

The iron-based bistro table and stools in the lower level family room are the right size for some exciting rounds of Connect Four, and they evoke the same vintage, rugged charm evident throughout the space.

 

Suburban Chicago rustic-luxe design

Come Play With Us!

I couldn’t resist sharing this adorable photo of our clients’ very well-behaved dog. He looks like he’s waiting for friends to drop by and play. I’m game!

Round Top Antiques Fair in Texas is one of the highlights of my year. Located in the tiny town of Round Top – population 90 – it attracts thousands of visitors annually to its spring and fall shows. This 50-year-old show has become one of the most respected and largest fairs of its type in the country. Plus, it has evolved into so much more than antiques. I’m always on the look-out for new artists and unusual pieces with a “found” look that work in our clients’ homes.

Discovering New Artisans – Texas-Style

Exploring For Days

Here is a glimpse into just one of many pavilions I visit during three days of exploration. Hundreds of vendors fill the 30,000-square-feet of exhibit space with unique furnishings ranging from art, architectural remnants and furniture to rugs, lighting, yard decor and much more. You might be familiar with Round Top if you have ever watched the popular HGTV show, “Fixer Upper.” This event was a go-to destination for hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines, who often discovered the ideal pieces for their renovations.

Must-Have Tables

The agate-topped metal tables (above left) were must-haves. The industrial-organic vibe works well with the chiseled stone and hand-scraped wood ceiling and beams in this client’s family room (above right).

Discovering New Artists

I have discovered many new artists at Round Top, and some have become favorites. But it was exciting to wander into a corner of a large pavilion and find a new metal artisan with the perfect piece of wall art for one our clients. This expressionist painting (above left) was leaning against a wall, intermixed with live-edge tables and metal pieces repurposed as light fixtures. I felt like I had discovered treasure! I knew it would be perfect for a client’s cozy study (above right). The artwork ties together the gray armchairs and the stained-wood floor.

Something Unexpected

You won’t find these exquisite, antique wood and mirrored sconces anywhere else! The vintage-refined look really called out to me because I often like to add something unexpected to a home or business. These fixtures would be excellent with a variety of home styles, or perhaps in a charming clothing boutique.

Rugs with Some History

Round Top also is a great resource for rugs that have had some life experience already. Intricately woven rugs like these give a home an authentic, lived-in feeling and a sense of history. We use them as an accent in bathrooms and sometimes as the focal point of the room. Just where did those rugs live before, and who walked across them?

Discovering New Artisans – Texas-Style

At the end of long days of shopping, Melanie, my Texas BFF, and I retreat to her Airstream, where we live during the show. It’s nice to put our feet up, have a glass of wine and prepare for the next day’s explorations.

Maybe we’ll see you next spring!