Tips for an inviting kitchen

Apr 27, 2012

We are always looking for ways to update different parts of our home. But when it comes to kitchens, sometimes we just don’t know where to start. Here are some great and simple tips from interior designer Marc Thee on what to do when you want to make your kitchen more inviting.

  • Replace all fluorescent lighting with incandescent or halogen fixtures.  Ideally, all kitchens should have three levels of lighting: 

  1. Overhead task lighting: Recessed cans

  2. Under-counter task lighting

  3. Decorative lighting: such as pendants or island lighting. 

This example from Better Homes and Gardens gives us an idea on how light works on a kitchen. The yellow colored area are the overhead task lighting, the orange ones at the left are the under counter task light while the pendant above the island are the decorative. The purple area above the paint in the wall (far right) is considered to be an accent light.

Be sure to light your glass front cabinets with small puck lighting, and use glass shelves so the light carries to the bottom of the cabinet. 

  • Because kitchens can feel a little utilitarian—especially when the counter tops are granite—add useful accessories that feel a little time-worn or antique.

Candles and antique architectural fragments add softness to this interesting blend of contemporary and traditional styles. The screen can be pushed open if the cook wishes to see the guests in the family room. Note also how the tile backsplash continues along the entire back wall to unify the breakfast room with the kitchen. The shelves in the same stain as the kitchen are an additional unifying element.

  • Display in the kitchen an assortment of olive oil, vinegars, and salt and pepper grinders on a big tray.  The tall bottles serve to disguise the electrical outlets, so buy some larger bottles to anchor the back of the grouping.

Following these great tips for your kitchen, here are some excellent examples of modern trays and pendant lamps from… to give that final touches to this space.


       Shelton Cylinder Seedy Irregular Glass Pendant    

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Sabrina Soto's new book "Home Design"

Starting tomorrow, and for sale at Target, the Sabrina Soto’s book “Sabrina Soto Home Design” where she shares with us a step-by-step on how simple it can be the process of designing a space. 

The TV personality from HGTV’s The High/Low Project (with new season premier on May 8, 2012) explains the “how” to develop a design vision in this great manual. Each chapter on Sabrina Soto’s book, is a representation of a “layer” in the process of designing (color, furnishings, etc.).

Here is a great video interview with the author from A Bullseye View from Target. Enjoy!


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Apr 22, 2012


Happy Earth Day!!!

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Window installations in London

Apr 21, 2012

Anthropologie window installation from Gort Scott at Regent Street London W1 

I’ve always admired those window displays that makes you want to transform into a mannequin and live there for a while. Like for example the ones at Fifth Avenue in New York, or any of the windows of Anthropologie stores (my favorite store in the whole wide world). I’ve fancy myself thinking how creative are the artists behind the making. What were they thinking or where did they tranported their minds when doing these windows. It if just so fascinating for me to dream about these works of art. Now celebrating the art of window display and from April 16 to May 6, Regent Street London W1 will be showcasing a number of inspiring architectural installations created by some of the world’s best up-and-coming architects in partnership with RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects). On its third year, this initiative fuses cutting edge architecture with unique retail design to create a street wide outdoor exhibition. With the title “Play” as their main theme; Riba London and Regent Street, London W1 have matched the following retailers and architects for this years prestigious Regent Street Windows Project:

Banana Republic by Ushida Findlay Architects and Visitor Studio

  • Ferrari by Feix & Merlin

  • Bose by Zero Zero

  • Reiss by De Matos Ryan

  • Folli Follie by Egret West

  • TM Lewin by Liddicoat & Goldhill

  • Anthropologie by Gort Scott

  • Moss Bros by Delvendahl Martin Architects

Here are some great examples of this year participants:

Antropologie by Gort Scott Based on the theme of play, Gort Scott are teaming up with Anthropologie to create a playful animation of their Regent Street windows. Through the geometric arrangement of simple painted sticks, a visual trick of shifting and transformed patterns will catch the attention of passers-by. The sticks also combine to create a hedge-like structure as a backdrop for the display of mannequins.

Banana Republic by Ushida Findlay Architects and Visitor Studior Ushida Findlay and Visitor intend to create a fluid form that captures a frozen moment in time. The splash-like form exposes a wildlife scene as it meets the glazing. This form is to be constructed out of small plastic safari animal toys cast in clear resin, recalling childhood memories whilst capturing the theme of Banana Republic’s forthcoming collection of Safari.

TM Lewin by Liddicoat & Goldhill Named “High Fliers” this window display is a mix of the theme of ‘play’ with TM Lewin’s brand concept of ‘performance’, Liddicoat & Goldhill’s London skyline plays host to a cluster of serene origami balloons. Using the shirtmaker’s crisp folding and cutting techniques, fabrics in multifarious patterns & hues will be reshaped into high-flying lanterns.

Folli Follie by Egret Westet West Studio Egret West’s playful intervention takes form in a series of coalescing smoke rings, which suspend a variety of Folli Follie jewellery, watches and small accessories. The structure occupies the entirety of the window, artistically leading the eye towards the back of the shop. The receding and expanding rings create organic conical recesses that contain and focus our attention on the showcased objects.

Reiss by De Matos Ryan The aim is to create a playful and kaleidoscopic space within the depth of the window that blurs the traditional distinction between passerby and mannequin. In doing so it hopes to affect a momentary and surreal daydream, full of aspiration and reflection. The retail ‘Hall of Mirrors’ will also playfully present a periscopic insight to the otherwise typically concealed grade 2 listed interior and shop beyond. Participants both inside and out will find themselves caught in a perceptual conundrum.

Here is a video from last year Regent Street Windows Project (2011): [youtube]


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Safari decor

Apr 16, 2012

Photos by Thomas Whiteside for Elle Magazine

Last week while reviewing Elle magazine, I noticed a new fashion trend. And I’m not talking about flowers or neon colors, this trend as they called it Urban Jungle, is coming to a Summer near you. I was instantly captivated by the simplicity and textures of all these pieces and decided to convert and transform this tendency into a decor statement.

To resume this hot trend, here are some key words that better describe it: burlap, olive green, khaki colors, strong fabric, wood, snakeskin, scales, pearled, scales, white.

I’ve collected a couple of great interior examples displaying some characteristics of this “out-of-the-oven” trend. 


From Ashley Stark’s apartment on Elle Decor Magazine, beautiful snakeskin bench from Karl Springer. (Right) Snakeskin planter from I Want Plants. See the detail at the lower right corner or the photo, just fascinating.


For the wall, astonishing snakeskin wallpaper (left) and snake tiles (right) which come in different colors and can be combine in other forms.


Safari styled room from Ulusaba Private Reserve.

Another impressive room in the middle of the savanna.

And now, here is my version of a room design with some of the characteristics presented above and from Elle’s Urban Jungle trends. Each item is identified so feel free to click over the ones you like to be taken to the website that carries each one of them.

Burlap lampSafari desk chairIvory Handcarved MirrorConsoleVitage RugKevin O'brienSnakeskin pillowSnakeskin PillowWoven BasketsIridescent Vases
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Beautiful happenings

Apr 10, 2012

Part of the process of Eskayel, her paintings. Source

Last week was a great one for me! It was full of new and exciting surprises, a visit  from dear friend and huge huge news! Weeks like this don’t come by that often, so I’ve been perplexed but enjoying every minute of it. Also its been long since this cyber walls been full with new people so I welcome each and everyone of you with a huge smile and a BIG HELLO!

With all this emotions and happenings, today I’ll present to you Shanan Campanro a great artist and founder of Eskayel, a Brooklyn based design studio focused on interior surface design. Her breathtaking wallpaper images consist on creating beautiful paintings and digitally transform them into patterns. Her new line called “The Poolside Collection” is so well-timed for Summer which is just around the corner. Campanro’s work is eco-friendly and a “visually inspiring option”. Here are some great examples of Eskayel’s wallpaper and its new line.



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Scandinavian art inspiration

Apr 4, 2012

Le Maison d'Anna G.

The other day on one of those night shifts as a Pinterest addict; I found an interesting piece of art that left me breathless for about .753 seconds! The beautiful metal work piece is part of a studio flat in Göteborg, Sweden.

You have to love the Scandinavian taste for decoration. Their clean lines and the use of natural light is always a must. They use white, beige and black with vibrant accent colors such as red, royal blue, pine green or yellow in their surroundings. Their furniture is simple, yet very functional. If you don’t believe me, go as IKEA! If you are planning on converting an area into Scandinavian, read this article for more hints about their style. Here are the rest of the pictures via La Maison d’Anna G.

Now, back to that beautiful work of art that took my breath and sleep; I think is doable. The metal plank on the Göteborg flat seem like it’s been left to rust. I’ve been searching the web for techniques on how to make metal rust but they all seemed to involve some kind of acid (a.k.a. toxic fumes). So I found out that maybe if it is acid that makes metal rust, some lemons and vinegar should do the trick. Another thing I found out was that not all metals are easy to rust for example galvanize and stainless steel. Here you’ll find some great ideas on how to use household products to rust metal and also here.

For this project I used 12”x12” 22-GA weldable steel sheets with a mill finish. I’ve combined some of the household products mentioned on the previous links: lemons, vinegar, water and salt but I added Rust-Oleum Hammered Spray Paint (how ironic!).


The first thing I did was to set my three metal planks over plastic bags. Although I  used non-toxic products, the reaction of the metal tends to tarnish the surface of the floor beneath. After this I squeezed one lemon sparingly over these planks. Rapidly, I sprayed some vinegar I had previously poured on an old spray bottle. Let this rest for a day and this is how they ended up looking.


I had to make sure the metal planks were all dry before I sprayed paint them with the Rust Oleum. When applying the color, at the same time I sprayed some water since I wanted the look of dripping liquid instead of a “blob”. To break a little the sprayed color I also drizzled a little vinegar.

I continued adding some more water, vinegar, another lemon and a pinch of salt here and there until I acquired a convincing result. This project was like making a new food recipe where you just have to keep trying until the taste is just right.

To clean the metal planks, I used vegetable oil and a soft old sponge. This got rid of many small particles left by the paint. Afterwards I wash them with dish soap and water and let them to dry.

Here is my final art all mounted on my wall. I think that for an inexpensive project like this, it turn out nicely (sadly, not like my Scandinavian masterpiece art!). What do you think?

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Flowers are in the air

Apr 3, 2012

Inspired by Spring and all its hues and textures; today I’m going to show you how to convert an everyday item like a wine tumbler into a beautiful and colorful flower vase.

In this tutorial, although I’m using some inexpensive plastic wine tumblers, any plastic or crystal vase would do just fine. Besides this all you’ll need is leftover paint (I just love how many things I’ve done with a couple of Behr paint samples), a glue gun and a brush.

The first thing to do is the outside design of the tumblers. With the glue gun I placed different sizes of glue drops and let them dry. Just remember not to burn yourself and that this type of glue dries quickly.


Materials from left to right: leftover sampler Behr paint; Martha Stewart’s chalkboard paint for the outer part of the tumbler; sponge brush and glue gun.

When the glue was completely dry, I started painting the inside of each tumbler. I pour about a 1/4 cup of paint and started twisting and turning until the inside was completely cover. To help eliminate any leftover paint inside the tumbler, I place it upside down on top of an empty can. After this I place the vase on its side in front of a fan to help with the drying time. 


When the inside of each tumbler was completely dry, I started painting the outside with the Martha Stewart’s chalkboard paint. I used this paint because when dry,  the resulting effect is a matte rustic one (kind like ceramic) which I just love. I gave each piece three coats of paint. 


Here is the final result. As always, with a little paint, you can do tons of things. 

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