I Dream in Technicolor

When the weather gets worse and the mood strikes low, my mind drifts to images of impossibly beautiful places. This post is dedicated to those visions that have served me so well in letting me relax, think of good things only and revel in the wonders of life. I find that the common threads which attract me to the images are simplicity in colors, single mindedness in theme and calmness in composition. I love imagining myself inside them, savoring the weather, the light quality and the soothing impact. How therapeutic, how lounge-lazy is that? The most obvious theme would be nature. Nature brings us back to our inner instincts of self preservation. Images of immaculate natural settings do wonders to spearhead movements to save the earth. The following are my dreamscapes…

Trees- Save a tree

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Actually, while we are at it, we should save the forest- why stop at a tree.

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After the trees come the waterways. I am always attracted to waterfalls with its epic power, silent swishing and constancy. Their loneliness seems to permeate their surrounding  and accentuate their majestic existence.

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d8c477c5f5354fc22b6137a3b5aed199Beyond waterfalls, there are caves. One chances upon a cave as one opens a surprise gift. Caves are nature’s gift boxes. Handle them with care!

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312b8f5aaf7f7e624315f59868f68c2f 820d62ef8e58d513e9e93913ad628983 Rocks. Rocks are not that hardy. They can erode, people can blow them up in quarries. We have to got to see them before they no longer grace our earth. fdfc62b3b80fcc6b70deff68ca2bd386 0c3125b38b1b4db9edb47341a11004cf 0ba5a6abf7ded45e40c9ca2fe1411695 c4b10e4afae25d6547aaad8655ae2ba4 a790fdacec8094b31b52a64ac9267fb9 e4d5864bfb7836a18cb0a963a3f44d8d d5d539e137c2a0b37a989d5e9f099f28 da6c969b92eb862674fb8ed16c247f77 We must not forget how seasons affect our landscapes and really appreciate the various caprices they offer. GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2013 7506b997a74a4cb015a0bac0a8a46802 4b8a1985b82f533961e5c69294b5950f

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To travel  in one’s mind: perchance to dream- ay, there’s a rub…

Click on photos for sources.

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Counter Striking Stools

I have done quite a few kitchens now and the one thing that I strive for in all my kitchen designs is the island with seating on one side. It is as simple as that. Give the kitchen an island with seating on the long side away from the center of the kitchen triumvirate (range, refrigerator and sink) and voila, the first step to successful kitchen planning. When a kitchen project is done and it’s time to decorate, the first question had always been what kind of stool would go with the island. Counter stools generally come in two kinds: with back or backless.  If there is enough room, a stool with back is more comfortable.  When there is barely enough space to walk around the island or when the kneespace is too shallow, a backless stool is in order. Below are images of some of my favorite kitchen counter stools. I won’t have too much explanation for these stools as they would speak for themselves.

511dca1bd2fbe304a3661f34a4af73a02edbbeb4ab5dae65e90193a6fb5d9353Henson Wood Stools

0f5a3c5fff3d35f3214ab4e3eeebe93ede1b59efc2f8bbb5a9b7fe4e09218e0fSimple  iron zinc stool from India.

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aba5eb18f7ab952dd33e10e4ebd1dc49Rustic counter stool from West Elm

c9103cb2deb208330f8cd5c6fe65f3721f13bf01d93b0f62d28fd09f9c4a0aafChase stool from World Market

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Backless counter stool from AG Modern

Calligaris_Online_Bar_Stool_CS1002e30ca7c6fe6e7208ca0521e89cccca6bCalligaris On Line Counter Stool

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Marius counter stool

bdfc64a5aee7e3cfdee630bd8f0b83bdOviedo counter stool from Restoration Hardware.

b2ca694f41d195c5b8a793c334b896abYvonne Potter stool.

a6e1f2cf344bdac6c320992e7e621f3eeva_stool_1_bontempi_mediumBontempi Eva stool

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calligaris-even-leather-counter-stool-9Calligaris Even Leather stool

cb6fda779bed757b975fa9e989f84541Hay Hee stool

mood-stoolb5b28b5652e9ccadc28d981debc035dbCalligaris Mood Stool

picturecalligaris_air_counter_stool_cs57_01_1Calligaris Air Counter Stool.

c9b2202bd97c93699b1be1d14666f38c628d1f4a03c46e6622e3c13dfbfbcaefCherner Counter Stool.

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15df08c0bd7a52b6821f5870fcaeede8Series 7 Counter Stool.

a768d7d5ac71dd89afbb03a3f8971d2481856b020c1c1abb7cfe2afd0255f87bOnda Stool

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lem-stool-wood-seat-2.jpgLem Piston Stool

dc65495fed48fcd028d91e36fad00384knoll-jamaica-barstool_im_366Jamaica Stool.

82b45b37c869f00b08c3b73a32db9415705859Radius Counter Stool.

And then, there is always those wood block stools. Quite heavy to maneuver but, hell, they look good!

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Click on photos for source.

Ranging over Greige Kitchens

Greys, greige and grays seem to be everywhere nowadays.  Grey kitchens seem to be the rage as well.  How to do a great grey kitchen that would look enticing and not dull?  Cool grey or warm grey? Would that work in any style of kitchen?  The answers to these questions are this post’s tackle.

Rustic Kitchens lend themselves so beautifully to grey tones. These can be achieved in the wood of the cabinet, the concrete of the countertops, or the plaster of the walls enhanced by all the nuances and shades of greys. The key is to provide some contrast or accent amongst the sea of grey cabinets. It’s a feat to pull it off with just greys.

5288c6332b534637e86d9e2b25c38091Warm greyed wood made even warmer by the use of stained wood.

english-thumbLight cool grey and white accented by a dark grey countertop.

b5920c636a4ade88b6747218feb4463bChalky grey all throughout.

ca670ff77055d26403c3901fc07c94c0Warm grey with a little blue accent at the range’s backsplash.

3448fec678d6ae6e36baa6b7862f41a0Dark grey wood cabinet accented with white marble countertops.

92a80ffd135f876c559e4a07ed091492Dark greyed wood with copper accents.

Modern Rustic Kitchens– This trend is responsible for the latest grey craze.  An entire post should be dedicated to modern rustic kitchens- so wabi sabi- the contrast between simple lines and roughened wood textured results in such an alluring play of materials for a kitchen. What I would do to get one of these projects. I am particularly drawn to the simplicity offered by flush cabinet doors with only textures for demarcation-  to design kitchens by just textures and moods.  What fun!

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Modern Kitchens- Flush cabinets, open shelves, slick appliances, cool light fixtures. What’s not to like?

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Traditional  Kitchens– White kitchens are still the more popular choice but a touch of grey here and there has begun to infiltrate the all white cabinetry.

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Industrial Kitchens– Here is another trend where grey is right at home. Grey in the stainless steel finish, dark grey metal finish, weathered grey wood and grey floors.

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Material Use – Grey in  wood cabinets is the most obvious solution to achieve a grey kitchen. Some of these woods receive a lime wash. Some others get tannic acid and ferrous sulfate wash.  Some got a dose of bleach or lye water.

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Grey painted cabinet will do when showing wood grain is not important.

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Grey in concrete work and countertops.

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Grey in backsplash and or walls

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Grey in flooring.

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Kitchen designs that come together well don’t follow any specific set of rules. They dwell in the clever use of materials, colors and details. Spatial qualities also come into play.

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b989a51f4e3bfcf26a719701fc318327An understated design eliciting more oohs and ahs than an elaborate kitchen.

And then there is the kitchen I designed for a very dear client.  Any takers for the next grey kitchen in the Bay Area?

Donato kitchen 183

Looking Through Glass Houses

Ever since I peeped at Philip Johnson’s glass house in New Canan, I have wondered how really comfortable it was to live there.  How would one do a glass house nowadays?  What kind of site is required to justify the expanse of glass?  How tall a glass wall would I have before thinking it’s too much?

The first thing to consider is where the glass wall should be gracing.  While it is obvious that most glass houses would save the expanse of glass for the living areas, one might think that circulation areas such as stairwells are as conducive to having a glass surrounding.  The view out from inside should dictate how much glass to dedicate to.  Where the view is 360 degrees is where we find our glass houses.

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The shape of the glass house. Is it always box?  Thinking back the original glass houses- the conservatories-  They took on the most elaborate shapes with curving roof lines, intricate roof shapes and patterns.  The Crystal Palace had a barrel vault central space.  How ingeniously done, Mr Paxton.

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The modern glass houses however are mainly squarish and rectangular in shape.  There is something quite poetic in the simplicity of glass cubes or rectangular boxes.  The focus is then on the glass when the shape is “nothing to write home about”.

Before Philip Johnson’s Glass House, we also have the Barcelona Pavillion and the  Farnsworth house by Mies van der Rohe.  Both buildings explored the absence of walls – the first was about continuity of spaces while the second was more about non confinement of spirits.93b12f2349a7f93b6e21ed37286baf1b

Projekt: Farnsworth House Architekt: Mies van der Rohe

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Some glass houses add on roofs for practicality as well as for giving them a more homey image.

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Sometimes,  a large  flat roof overhang would do to keep the house looking throroughly modern while keeping mundane things like water out of the picture…9e507b0e8089d9364c7ca7022ed4f468b44023109cdbeb0f6fd888e27d4b66f5

A curved roof cures it all.  After all, curved roofs lend themselves to modern homes quite well especially when they are of one generous swoop.

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The division of glass is where most efforts are concentrated as we can’t have too large a sheet of glass.  Working with the curtain wall pattern is never more crucial.

90fdd90aba2c98498fc4af66ef41b65fOne can go seamless.

417e93ee647b499ddac4a5418fdf3e52Banding can be so attractive.

4fdc410e696c4c90c89486c03a2d2a05A simple grid would do.

988011865b53bba4a6f60eb980d52992Horizontal slats in various spacing are quite effective.

The issue of privacy. One can compose the facade with a few solid blocked walls for private rooms such as bathrooms.

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c5dde5c8caa13f21512f4e580a5555d5Use horizontal slats where transparency is not relished.

6234ebd666d0f1d6b116a635a7c68840Privacies afforded on a lower floor.

7fface0e57e32310530da6e15a9bc77dTake it further- Privacies on the lower plinth.

5f236ce79f2a1729ad1e3a14136603e1Movable screens are another solution to the question of privacy.

294849cff4bccbd0872b4a0c26eb0ed1Philip Johnson had an inner circular core saved for the bathroom.

Any glass house worth its glass should have a view to kill for – otherwise having glass would have been a moot point.  The view from inside should explain it all.

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If  only we could live in absolute transparency, forever forego subterfuge and embrace clarity…

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Why ever not?

SOFA Chicago 2013 Notes

I had an eye opening experience at the SOFA (Sculpture Objects Functional Arts & Design) exposition in Chicago the first weekend of November.  My first time at this world’s foremost fair for art objects was beyond any expectations I had.  My focus for this post is mainly on the somewhat functional objects such as vases, vessels, cubes and spheres  etc…

In my humble opinion, the most lyrical group of work  had to be works in ceramics while the most delicate intricacies were found in wood turning art and the most intriguing works lay in art glass objects.  I had a blast zigzagging through the exhibits and found myself tremendously energized as the first day at art school being surrounded by the wonders of  much gifted artists and their arts. There I was, a novice in this world of art objects, enthralled by their art forms, curious of their techniques and most of all at awe by the purity and singularity of thoughts that went through in their making.

Ceramic Works –

Ceramic and porcelain works excel in their inherent wabi sabi nature- the perfection is found in the elegance of the shapes and the beauteous imperfection graces in the lines, textures, and glazes.

Dutch Ceramicist Henk Wolvers produced paper thin porcelain bowls and cups. The fragility of the pieces was even more pronounced when they were perforated. I wondered if the pieces would dissolve if I touched them.

henk4Swiss artist Arnold Annen had his own touch of thin porcelain by giving it a translucency with moon like allure.

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I have always been a fan of Jun Kaneko and was thrilled to see more colors in his recent works.

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Carved clay vessels by Halima Cassell exuded an earthiness quality that’s unsettling at the same time.

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Elizabeth Fritsch’s vessels defining elegance in elongated necklines.
Elizabeth Fritschturquoise450Texture and luxury in one scoop. Takeshi Yasuda juxtaposed subtle celadon with vibrant gold.

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Patricia Shone gave us earthy textures with her raku fired pieces.

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Wood Turned Art-

Wood turned art has reached a zenith with artful combinations of techniques and visions – a long way from the Egyptian wood lathe.  In these art objects, I detected  more the level of control and precision when much of the art involved subtraction rather than building. The play is in understanding the wood species, the grains and textures and the wonder is in the geometric exercises conjured by the most creative minds.

J Paul Fennell managed to make organic shapes mysterious.

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Christian Burchard defined ethereal with his white baskets made of bleached madrone burl wood.

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Philip Moulthrop engaged us with mosaic turned wood bowls.

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Ron Layton created thin vessels of lace like repetitive motifs.

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The artist with the most appropriate last name – Neil Turner used carving and wood turning techniques to achieve an eerie skeletal mesh sculpture.

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Artist Binh Pho gave us the most intense intricacies with his turned and sculpted vessels. The forever consummate artist chronicled his life journeys,  mythical dream places and tales through precision in the cut work and transience in the fragilities of his art pieces.

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Glass Works –

In this field, one saw an explosion of colors and layering. The wonder never ceased with the creativity among the artists being so relentless in their pursuit of poetry in art forms.

Keith Clayton’s pate de verre pieces were a hit.

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Glass artist Wilfried Grootens amazed us with optical glass that were painted, laminated and out of this world.

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Niyoko Ikuta wowed us with spiraling sheets of glass of such ethereal beauty, the pieces seemed ready to take flight.

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Argentinian artist Edgardo De Bortoli’s cube were meshed like glass with a side “peeled” out.

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Masaaki Yonemoto’s architectural pieces were of cut and polished sheet glass that mirrored themselves.

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If laboratories have specimen jars like Steffen Dam’s work, the world would have more scientists than any other professions.

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Streetscape dioramas by Mikyoung Jung brought smiles to all audiences and voyeurism to a delight.

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The Italian maestro of glass Lino Tagliapietra hypnotized us with swirls of colors in the most sensual shapes.

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Midori Tsukada combined glass casting, blowing and cutting techniques and came up with grace in texture and layering.

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Kiln casted glass “blocks” by Hyewook Huh took advantage of the glass translucency to show off depths.

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Good old hand blown glass never looked better in the hands of Australian glass artist Noel Hart. I have lived too long in urban areas and couldn’t fathom that the inspiration of his works comes from birds’ plummage. Maybe a trip to the Marquesas Islands is on order.

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The Ensemble –

There were many other mediums such as metals, jewelry art, painting, sculptures that I didn’t cover in this post. It was one thing to gaze at an object of beauty. It was quite another experience when one got the thrill of being in a hall full of these objects or seeing the work of one artist en masse. The analogy of being a kid in a candy store didn’t even come close. It was like having all of our senses being confronted, challenged and questioned in a most wondrous way. I got lost in that hall of Wonderland and was pleasantly assaulted by a buzzing energy that could only have come from the all that’s good and beautiful in the human mind.

5632 Arnold Annen

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I anxiously await to see how the artists’ work will evolve in a year’s time. See you next year!

Grounds for Coffee Tables

Against competing features such as  the fireplace, the large heirloom painting, and a view beyond, the coffee table serves to refocus our attention to the center of the living room. By size, it’s also among the more diminutive must have items in the room. It is also surrounded by taller furniture such as the sofa and the armchairs or even the side tables and yet, such a piece occupies the center of the seating group, the center of conversations and could very well display the center floral arrangement or the conversation piece coffee table books.   It’s ironic that such a tremendous position is given to a “lowly” object.

The term “coffee table” might have made its first debut around 1868 in “Victorian Furniture” by R. W. Symonds and B. B. Whineray and in “The Country Life Book of English Furniture” by Edward T. Joy.  These forefathers of the modern day coffee table were probably taller to really serve tea and coffee at a height more suitable for straight back, prim and proper ladies.  Lower coffee tables probably came forth with the influence of Japanese low tables.

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Most famous architects had at one time in their career designed coffee tables to adorn their projects.

The 50’s gave us quite an array of classic coffee tables.

Noguchi table

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Modern day designers and architects came up with their fair share of coffee tables.

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A cursory browse at popular web sites and magazines gave me clues of today’s trends in coffee tables.  The rage is all on the raw wood look championed by Restoration Hardware.

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Then there is the live edge slab tables.  Nothing like letting nature do all the talking.  I myself would breathe out various sighing curse words in various forms of inappropriateness every time I see one of these tables.

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There is nothing wrong with wanting a wood table.  Wood coffee tables can be quite sculptural and beautiful.

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The glass coffee tables never went away.  There is the seamless modern glass table that is so versatile and there are others that takes on the  more classic motifs and shapes.

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One doesn’t mention glass coffee tables without mentioning their distant cousins, the lucite tables. They can be quite attractive, definitely higher than the rank of a poor relation.

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Glass and lucite… What come next are mirrored tables. I prefer the antiqued silver finish for mirrored tables.

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Lacquer finishes on coffee table often exude elegance. Let’s hope the finish is durable enough to avoid scratches.

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Stone tops are sturdy and add a cool touch to the room.  Most of the stones used behave well as neutral colors such as White Carrera, Calacata Oro or Asher Grey  with the occasional greyish lines.  Greige is so in right now. For warmer climes, travertine and Crema Marfil are the thing to go to.

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For a more casual look, rattan or woven natural materials are used.

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The industrial look is not far behind among the hotties. The coffee tables come with greige woods, metal legs, casters and mechanical fasteners.  I love this look especially when the tables are equipped with wheels. I get under the illusion that I can move them somewhere else when I decide to clear the living room for such things as dancing…

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Chinoiserie is quite timeless when used sparingly.

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One should also list the proverbial tray table. How appropriate it is to serve tea or coffee on a tray table! These tray tables come in all the styles and types mentioned in this post.

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The ottoman coffee table. What a concept. The ottoman gives us the option of putting our feet up and getting even more comfortable. If coffee or tea is served, we just have to add a tray on top of it.

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Coffee tables double serving as storage are great for the efficient minds. This is where trunk coffee tables work best.  We see wood chests, storage trunks, and travelling trunks. The travelling trunks fuel our imagination with exotic souvenirs being kept inside the trunks.

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I see the coffee table as a calm island amidst a sea of tumultuous beauties – a couch begging us to lounge and stretch our legs, the side tables with the pretty lamps, the rug that spreads warmth throughout the room and the armchair that offers cozying up.  The coffee table is where I would anchor the room.  For that reason, I like it to be of a simple – no fuss swooping gesture.  I like my coffee tables bold, to the point and unique in its statement.  Below are some of my favorites.

The half logs.

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Oval coffee tables are the epitome of grace.

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A modern metal tray table.

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A marble top table with walnut base.

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The most beautiful are usually the purest in form.50a0b781cde1e4997e4d2a4e6c6146aa

The lacquer table in the simplest form.

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Last but not least.  Splurge and don’t feel guilty: pure silver on reclaimed timber.  Have some tea on this piece de resistance and wonder about the dichotomy between luxury and recycling…

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Click on photos for sources.

Name that Greige

Greige and grey and their derivative taupe are so fashionable these days.  I had posted “Greige is the New Beige” post some time ago and thought to complement it with a look at the application of colors for the effect of Greige rooms.  We can browse the paint fan decks and can see quite a few options from which to choose our paint colors.  The new questions seem to be which greige?  Is there an answer to that simple question?  How does one go to choose a greige to answer all greige questions?

As the color specifier to all my projects, I do have a few favorites.  Do I start naming them and be done with? Or do I attempt an entire post dedicated to the selection process?

To be careful, I should also have a disclaimer: the beauty of colors is in the eye of the occupants and in the light of the room it graces.

I sometimes wish I have outfits of the same color I love for a room. It is a rare occurrence since fashion moves with seasons and I, for one, cannot keep up with fashion’s capricious muse. I looked up Design Options, an LA based color forecasting company, and found that the company packages color palette cheat sheets and sells them.  Wow.  I wonder who buys these.  How effective are the cards made for home design trends? I must admit I like some of the color cards that they put together.

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I found a site that explains the mix of colors that can be found in greige colors.  I must say my ideas of greige might not meet the correct mix of colors but then some eyes see more colors than others’…

greige mix

I went to Benjamin Moore’s color trends. They seem more relevant as a more precise color guide.  They also give us the actual names of the paint colors which takes all the guesses away from our constant search for the perfect color.  For 2013 color trends, I especially like the “Urbanite” trend’s “Sparrow” color and from the most searched Benjamin Moore colors, I am drawn to “Ranchwood”.

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I found these Benjamin Moore greys as the more popular greys from their best sellers colors:

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Since Benjamin Moore came out with Color Stories, I have never chosen colors without first consulting that CSP fan deck.

My favorite greige colors are Cathedral Gray, Gothic Arch and Urban Sophisticate.

csp 205 Cathedral Gray

Gothic Arch  CSP 80

Urban Sophisticate CSP 160

Let’s not forget the most ingeniously named paint color: Farrow and Ball’s Elephant’s Breath!

Elephant's Breath

The Color Association gave us “Urban Grit” for 2011-2012 interior color trend. I particularly like this group of colors as it pertains to our search for Greige albeit the colors are on the cooler side of greys.

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The Color Marketing Group names ReBlue as the It color for 2014. So  much for greige…

Of course, one must not forget Pantone which announced Emerald as the color for 2013. I went back to the years before and couldn’t find any greige as color of the year according to the world of Pantone.

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My search continues… and finally, Sherwin Williams pinpoints “gray as the new black” for 2014 color trend. It is a relief to see confirmation that gray is not yet a thing of past seasons.

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So much for greige color search among the paint companies. Their color trends involve many colors such as paint companies should promote. I went back to an outfit that can’t afford change their look every year: Restoration Hardware.  It is a comfort to find their Spring 2013 inspiration looks still filled with grey and greyer images.

c3fa3a305a55c0b05214b286a7443223I decided to double check with Crate and Barrel and was happy to report the same coloring graced their inspiration section.

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Then there are those must go to interior designers.  Candace Olson has her pick in Gray Mirage. Darryl Carter likes Asford Grey.

Asford Grey. Benjamin Moore DC 20

Mary McDonald’s favorite is Benjamin Moore HC166 Kendall Charcoal when dramatic effects are called for.

Kendall Charcoal

Barbara Barry loves BM 976 Coastal Fog.

Coastal Fog

Several blogs and websites have their take on favorite greiges.

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Will we ever be tired of Greige? Global Color Research has predicted a way to wean out of Greige:  Dusky Berries for 2015… It seems that we might be leaning toward a greige berry trend.  I will have to revisit this romantic color trend in 2 years…

Dusky Berries

Click on photos for source