Sunday, July 31, 2011

Window Treatments Part 1 - Color and Contrast

Kelly Hoppen - Elle Decor website

Beautiful window treatments can add so much to a space.  Drama, color, pattern, softness.  See how the window treatments below all make a significant design statement in each environment. They've all been used to add color to an otherwise white space.  

 Elle Decor

Mmmmm - malachite!

Christopher Maya - House Beautiful

Amanda Nesbit - House Beautiful

House Beautiful

Mary McDonald - House Beautiful

Drama with high contrast in Mary McDonald's work.

Robert Courterier - Elle Decor

Milly de Cabrol - House Beautiful

Jonathan Adler - House Beautiful

Lynn Morgan - House Beautiful

The woven woods in this project above add warmth and a casual vibe to the space.

Contrasting, colorful window treatments can liven up a space and add so much personality to a room.  Do you have any in your home?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Carrying Wall Finishes Up on the Ceiling

Windsor Smith - House Beautiful

Carrying a wall finish up on to the ceiling is a wonderful trick used to expand a space and make the planes of the walls and ceilings disappear.  It's very effectively used with low ceilings, oddly angled ceilings, and in spaces where the intent is to wrap the room in an envelope of sameness so that objects and furnishings stand out.  I love how Windsor Smith, above, used the patterned wallpaper to visually raise that ceiling.

Leslie Klotz - House Beautiful

Imagine how low this ceiling would have felt if there had been contrast between the upper wall and the ceiling. What a great use of this little trick.

Barbara Westbrook - House Beautiful

See that little odd angle in the left corner above?  It would have been accentuated if there had been a difference between the wall and ceiling.  As it is your eye goes straight to the artwork, then the marble below.  That funny angle is hardly noticeable.

Amanda Kyser - House Beautiful

Imagine the low angles painted in a different color as the "ceiling". It would've sliced into that space and drawn your attention away from the vibrant rug and interesting wall of books.

M. Elle Design - Elle Decor

This space soars all cloaked in the same color wood.

Leslie Klotz - House Beautiful

Skye Kirby - Traditional Home

Tom Scheerer -  House Beautiful

Keith McNally  - Elle Decor

Healing Barsanti - House Beautiful

How effective was it to paper the soffit running around the room?  It visually raised the ceiling another foot. 

Another fabulous design tool that makes a big impact!

Please excuse my absence this past week.  Many projects are on the boards and under construction!  I'm looking forward to sharing lots in the fall!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Flokati Giveaway Winner!

The winner of the flokati rug is Kate! I used for the raffle. Thanks so much everyone for entering and for following my blog.  It's so nice to meet new people this way.

Kate, send us a pic of the flokati in your home!  Send me your address too, so I can get it sent asap. 

Thanks again, everyone!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Contrast = Drama

Contrast is one of my favorite tools in design and one I feel makes the biggest impact visually in a space.  This photo above from Traditional Home, designer - Melanie Elston, demonstrates the drama created by the high contrast between the lights and darks in the space.  The curves and beautiful shapes of the chair and sconce really pop off that dark color.

You often see drama in foyers or entrance halls. People like to wow their guests when they come into their home, so high contrast is often used here.  The dark railing and dark wood treads on the stairs highlight that graceful curve and really add drama in this space.

Hortenisa Vitale - Elle Decor

Those fabulous light fixtures really stand out against the dark chocolate walls.

Courtnay Daniels Haden - Elle Decor

The dark rich, lacquered doors and newel post in the light environment really make for a dramatic foyer.

Kerry Joyce - Elle Decor

Contrast is best used when you want something to stand out and other elements in the room to take a back seat.  These beautiful balusters and the art really stand out in the light environment.  In a wood paneled space, they would have all blended in and been hardly noticeable.

Vicente Wolf - Elle Decor

John Saladino - Architectural Digest

I love the simplicity of this stairwell.  He used the same material on the stair and the wall beyond to add drama and make that stairwell go on forever.  The contrast between the wood and walls focuses your eye and leads you up the stairs.

Martin Lawrence Bullard - Architectural Digest

Lots of drama here in Ozzy and Sharon's home.  Of course!

Michael Formica - Elle Decor

The chest and walls all blend together to make a nice backdrop for the objects and lamp base in this tablescape.  Not only the contrast in value, light/darkness, but the contrast in texture makes these pieces stand out.

E. Claudio Modolo - Architectural Digest

Drama in the bedroom.  Those fabulous carved headboards make such an interesting pattern against the light walls.  It really telegraphs the location of this property on an island off the coast of Kenya.

James Radin - House Beautiful

The high contrast of the dark Windsors in this white kitchen calls attention to the traditional style of this home. They become sort of delicate sculptures in this space.

Michael Graves - Traditional Home

I love how the contrast of the dark window frame firmly establishes the grid pattern motif used in the cabinet fronts and really draws your attention to the view.

Suzane Kasler - House Beautiful

Contrast doesn't have to be just black and white.  It's about the difference in value.  This vibrant red background helps this collection of pond yachts to stand out in their case.

Juan Montoya - Architectural Digest

The distinct X pattern in the windows and the wood trim and furniture are highlighted by the use of high contrast here. 

Gary McBournie - House Beautiful

Do you think this incredible ceiling would've been noticed as much if the cabinets and walls were a wood tone? 


The high contrast of the trim on the white bed linen highlights the detail.  Headboard and lamp are subtle repetitions of the trim detail's shape.

Mary McDonald - Veranda

I've always thought of Mary McDonald as the queen of contrast.  Her interiors are always full of drama!

Mary McDonald - Veranda

Mary McDonald - Veranda

Susan Tully - House Beautiful

I love how the similar shape of these light fixtures and stools are highlighted by the contrast between them and the envelope.

Healing Barsanti - House Beautiful

The beautiful wood finish on this island with it's curvy rope legs stand out in this creamy kitchen.  If the floor had been a dark wood, it would not have been such a strong visual.

I've been wanting to do this post for some time.  Contrast and other tools used to create the desired end result in a space always fascinate me.

Don't forget to leave a comment on THIS POST for my Flokati give away!  Drawing will be done next Friday!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Flokati Give Away!

I'm giving away this 8 ft. round wool flokati rug that I used in my Showhouse space this past spring.  Premium quality, Greek, 3000 grams/m2, my cost was $765.00. Color: Natural.  Shipping is free in the lower 48 states.

Flokati rugs have an interesting history, dating back to the 5th century AD.  Originally from a village in Greece, where shepherds wove the wool from their sheep for blankets to keep them warm.  The story goes that one day, the shepherds left a blanket in the waters of a stream and when they went back to get it, they found the backing had felted together and the wool had unraveled to create the pile.  Word spread across Greece and the Flokati became a popular product, used in all kinds of ways.

Flokati rugs gained popularity in America in the 70's when shag rugs and carpets were in style.  Now it has become popular again, bringing a luxurious, retro feel to modern interiors.  To get more information on flokati rugs, see

It was so funny to see the reaction to the flokati in my Showhouse room.  Some people had no idea what it was and then there were people who commented that their mother or grandmother or aunt had one years ago.  One middle aged man commented that he took his mom's flokati to college with him for his dorm room/bachelor pad.  He said that rug saw some great times!  

Flokati rugs come in varying pile heights or weights.  You may find an 8 ft. rd. flokati at a much cheaper price, but if you look at the weight, you will see the difference.  There are also a lot of imitation wool rugs out there too, but a real flokati is 100% wool.  It does not have a stiff backing, they are actually quite lightweight, and fold up like a bath mat. 

Here's an example of the pile height/weight difference in quality levels.



 3000 - (This rug is 3000!)


You can't vaccuum them, you just shake them out. For a deeper cleaning, wash them in the tub and then hang to dry. You can even comb them with a dog brush to separate the fibers and fluff them up. More details on cleaning a flokati can be found here.

To Enter,

FOLLOW this blog publicly with Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs

LEAVE A COMMENT that you are a follower.

LIKE Aston Design Studio on FB to get another entry and LEAVE A COMMENT that you have done so.

Drawing will be done on  Friday 7/15/11 at noon, central time.

I'm looking forward to meeting some new followers and having this luxurious rug go to a happy home!