Now don’t kill me, summer lovers, but it’s time to face some facts…..in a little over a week, the official first day of fall will arrive. However, for many of us, the autumnal season begins with Labor Day, or the first day the Pumpkin-Spice “insert any food item here” lands on the shelves. And as quickly as the leaves change colors and float to the ground, it seems as though the holiday season is upon us. With that in mind, it’s never too early to start planning for your holiday entertaining. Vendors show seasonal merchandise early and I even placed orders for some of my clients earlier this year.

 

Now I know it’s tough to be proactive when the season is just getting underway, but that’s where having a designer on hand is useful and time-saving. Using your china and flatware in addition to fresh florals, festive napkins and maybe a new beautifully draped tablecloth, we can create the perfect table top settings for your holiday party.

Or maybe you are a mom with four children underfoot so the thought of decorating your home for the holidays seems daunting. With a little pre-planning, we can turn your everyday living space into a festive atmosphere quickly and easily.

In the next couple of weeks, we will be unveiling some quick tips and tricks to make your home feel warm and inviting for the holidays so stay tuned but in the meantime, if you need some help, please feel free to reach out to us by clicking here…and the sooner the better!!

Cheers!

Tori

All photos by McBrien Interiors except Birch Trees (from Pinterest).

It’s here! It’s here! The September issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens is here!!

You might remember my blog post back in May about the trip I took with a few antique hunter friends to Mercanteinfiera in Parma, Italy. (If not, click here to brush up.) Since then, we’ve been dying to see what CTC&G editor, DJ Carey, would choose to portray from our three day experience abroad. “Italian Treasures” from the September issue, which happens to be appropriately titled “Curated Style”, was worth waiting for.

I truly dislike the question: “What is your design style?” but if I had to choose a label, “A Curated One” is what I would select. I think the best designers are inspired by different sights, sounds, smells, colors…everything in their environment, including, what interests their clients. Why do you think so many designers showcase their travels on Instagram? Each new hotel, restaurant, garden, museum or antique market is inspiration. And this being inspired is what fires our creativity. It allows us to hone our ability to mix furniture from different periods or draw together unexpected colors. It is this curiosity in our environment that enables us to create unique spaces for our clients. For me, Italy, and more specifically, Mercanteinfiera, was an amazing way to immerse myself in new sights, sounds, and feels…not to mention the tastes and smells. For more about our trip to Italy, pick up a copy of the issue.

And again, many thanks to Toma Clark Haines, The one and only Antiques Diva, Margaret Schwartz and Kelly Maguire of Modern Antiquarian, and of course…DJ Carey of CTC&G.

“Italian Treasures” was originally published in Connecticut Cottages & Gardens September 2018.

Sometimes picking the right white paint color is tough because white isn’t just white. The options are seemingly endless: optical white, off-white, linen, snow white, and the list goes on and on….which is why paint suppliers like Benjamin Moore provide a specific paint deck of white and off-white colors for those of us in the trade. It is one of the tools I use most when helping my clients choose the right shade for their project. Below I’ve shown a few of my favorite whites to  point you in the right direction but don’t just choose one based on the way it looks online. The best way to test a paint color is to get a small sample and paint it in multiple places around the room. Then live with your new polka dot walls for a day or two. This allows you to see the shade(s) in the changing light throughout the day and in artificial light whether it be incandescent or LED.

Paint Colors from Left to Right:

First Row: Benjamin Moore – Simply White, Benjamin Moore – White Dove, Farrow & Ball – Wevet

Second Row: Benjamin Moore – Navajo White, Benjamin Moore – Lily White, Benjamin Moore – Chantilly Lace

As some of you know, my family and I have recently moved into a new home which is not only exciting as we have more space for the kiddos to run around but it is also incredibly inspiring for me. Because I didn’t have much time to think about the design of our home prior to moving in, we are living with the previous owner’s color choices, fixtures and lighting. Everything is certainly livable…no key lime shag carpeting or Laura Ashley wallpaper to be ripped out but things are certainly not my taste. And now that we have been settled for about a month, my creative juices are simmering and I’m beginning to envision how each space will look on it’s own as well as flow together. This is one of the parts of the design process that I love the most….finding inspiration and curating ideas to create a space that is unique.

 

One of the components I’ve been researching is painted millwork. Many people think of millwork as a traditional feature of a home but there are amazing ways to modernize it. You can paint the walls one color and the millwork another. But what colors should you use? Should you choose all white millwork and a contrast color wall? Or how do you feel about the cleanliness and serenity of just all white everything? OR you can paint the millwork but choose to wallpaper above the chair rail. This leads to more decisions…should the millwork be something bold and modern like a pomegranate red with a matching patterned paper? Or classic and traditional like a soft powdery blue and neutral textured paper? The one thing I’m finding as I do my research is that I’m loving strong colors AND wallpaper is back in a big way. See the images below for what’s inspiring me…..

Picture Credits: Atlanta Homes, Charles Spada Interiors from Dering Hall, Lindsey Coral Harper Interior Design from Dering Hall, Elle Decor, Patrick J. Burke from Architectural Digest, Kathy Marshall Design from Dering Hall, Pinterest, Pinterest, House & Home

First of all, I must apologize for my lack of content recently. It has been a whirlwind here in all aspects of life but particularly because we sold our house (within 2 weeks no less…hurray!) and were scrambling to find one that fits our precise definition of “home”. And as the owner of an interior design firm, I have some very exacting standards. However, we’ve had success and have been furiously planning, measuring furniture, packing and all of the minutiae that comes along with a move.

On the other hand, I have recently given a few paint consultations for clients wanting to spruce up various rooms inexpensively. It’s well known that a can of paint can do wonders for a tired space. Therefore, here is the first “blog-isode” of “Curated Color”.

Living in Fairfield County, CT and minutes from the shoreline, many homeowners look to the sand and sea for inspiration for their home decor. With that in mind, I’ve chosen the below beautiful image of wave-worn sea glass from which to inspire a collection of some favorite paint colors.

I love not only the various hues of color in sea glass but also the assortment of saturation within those hues. Bits wash ashore ranging in color from the palest cornflower to deep royal blue or soft sage to evergreen. The inspiration you can pull is endless. For this post, I’ve curated nine of my favorite Benjamin Moore paint colors to help inspire your vision of your latest project.

(1) Rose Blush

(2) Nautilus Shell

(3) Jasper Opal

(4) Serene Breeze

(5) White Rain

(6) Palladian Blue

(7) Summer Shower

(8) Yarmouth Blue

(9) Wedgewood Gray

Any one of the above colors would be beautiful in a bathroom, mud room or even a serene bedroom. If you are ready to make a switch, make sure to paint test swatches in different places on various walls to see how the color appears. I recommend doing this in every project, large or small, as the light, flooring, scale/size of the room, and many other factors change the way a color is perceived.

Cheers to a great weekend….and maybe a new paint project!

 

For today’s blog post, my intention was to showcase some of my favorite floral wallpapers in honor of the start of spring but I just can’t get into that mindset as I sit here with yet another Nor’Easter swirling outside my windows. So…I’ll save those for another week. Instead, I’m returning to my trip to Parma but this time, in much more detail.

The doors of Parma captivated me. I didn’t realize it at first but as I started my self tour of the city, I realized I had taken multiple pictures of these ancient architectural forms. Arched doorways, iron strap hinges, rivets (like those in the door pictured above) and more grabbed my eye. Any local probably thought I was a little cuckoo for walking up to almost every door and running my fingers over the aged wood. But when you are surrounded by this kind of beauty everyday, I’m sure it is easy to pass by. For me, that was not the case.

Another amazing door and a close-up of it’s door knocker.

From the ancient doors of the Baptistery surrounded by pink verona marble to burgundy velvet draped doors leading into the Cathedral, each one has so much character and history that they were hard to pass by. I could’ve spent a full day looking at just these monuments of history. Yes…doors are made to serve a very practical purpose but they can also be handcrafted pieces of art made by the hands of skilled artisans.

Since it’s the week of leprechauns and gold coins, I thought I’d share some of my favorite green and gold interior image from Pinterest.

  1. A chinoiserie-inspired kid’s room.
  2. Schumacher’s Nanjing wallpaper in Jade.
  3. A Palmer Weiss designed key lime master bedroom.
  4. Spotted walls in a bath.
  5. Chartreuse chic in a Alessandra Branca designed master bedroom.
  6. Sicis mosaic tile.
  7. A pineapple printed wallpaper in a McBrien Interiors designed powder room. Photo by Scot Zimmerman Photography
  8. Evergreen ceiling fan.
  9. A greek key and geometric wallpaper.
  10. Tory Burch’s office in Manhattan.
  11. The most amazing terrace.

All images courtesy of Pinterest unless otherwise stated.

Last week I had the great pleasure of visiting the Downton Abbey exhibition in New York. I have been a fan of the show since first hearing the opening theme song and the beautiful Jacobean home we now know to be Highclere Castle filled the screen. And while the show is no longer in production, getting to  witness the craftsmanship of the costume and set designers made me “feel the feels” all over again. Below are just a few of my images of the interior sets and a few antique pieces I’ve curated from 1stDibs that emulate the spirit of Downton Abbey.

 

Downstairs Kitchen

The stove and ovens….complete with real steam!

A close up of the copper bakeware. What a functional yet attractive way to display your favorite bundt pans!

Distressed cabinetry laid with the practical yet beautiful crockery on display.

Antique Farmhouse Table – Perfect for prep work or gathering a family for Sunday breakfast.

Farmhouse Dresser – A handsome piece to display your creamware or blue and white serving pieces.

 

 

Carson’s Office

The exquisitely crafted costumes of Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes on display in Mr. Carson’s office. An amazing partner’s desk was used on set for many of the scenes depicting life below stairs.

Edwardian Mahogany Partners Desk – Beautiful in a man’s library.

 

Upstairs Dining Room

If only I had a room large enough to seat this many people, I’d pull out all my silver and china and host a dinner party every night with a table set like this.

Set of Hepplewhite Style Dining Chairs – The shield back is classic and would never go out of style.

 

Lady Mary’s Bedroom

A bedroom fit for a lady…A luxurious bed, the warmth of a fireplace and an exquisite antique vanity.

Parquetry Empire Style Bed

 

Louis XVI Style Vanity

 

There are so many rooms we didn’t get to see at this exhibition and even a larger number of iconic pieces from the show that weren’t displayed. While I wasn’t disappointed by what I was able to see here, it left me yearning for more. I guess I’ll just have to plan a trip to Highclere in the future!

 

 

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As an interior designer, it is extremely important to be up to date with the latest design trends for all things home whether it’s the newly named Color of the Year or the latest home automation innovations. Last week, I was able to attend the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Orlando and was granted VIP access to tour some of the top exhibitor’s booths with the Editor of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens, DJ Carey. What an amazing experience for a KBIS newbie like me! Take a look below to see a few of the pieces that inspired me during the tour.

FANTINI

 Love the Murano glass faucet handles in the Venezia collection.

The Fukasawa collection was inspired by the oversized volume knobs on stereo equipment from the 80’s.

COASTAL SHOWER DOORS

 This collection reminds me of Japanese shoji screens. Beautiful, clean & simple.

 Just a small sample of the color options available.

 

ROHL

“Bubble Girl”

Beautiful rock crystals knobs in the Lombardia collection.

An example of the Perrin & Rowe “English Gold” Finish which is plated with 14K gold. So luxurious!!

Black Stainless Steel finish in one of their classic sinks.

 

GROHE

Just before the show, the Northeast experienced a deep freeze phenomenon called a “Bomb Cyclone”, during which I personally had a frozen pipe issue. With this so prominent in my mind, the product that stood out the most to me was the Grohe Sense Guard. See the video below…

 

FLORIM STONE

The options are endless.

The “Black Gloss” finish reflects like a mirror.

Walls, countertop, sink and flooring are all created using Florim’s product. Beautiful!!

 

KOHLER

The most amazing new “Ombre” finish combines metals to transition from light to dark. Two fabrications are available: Vibrant Rose Gold to Vibrant Polished Nickel & Vibrant Titanium to Vibrant Rose Gold. While there were lots of new finishes debuted at the show, this was the most unique. 

Stunning alabaster walls from Ann Sacks lit from behind.

One of my favorite installations using all Kohler family products.

Another installation using all Kohler family products.

 

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