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laying out a room

Last week I had dinner with a friend of mine from Parsons - we took Color Theory together.  She's actually a fashion designer, and was in LA for work.  She was telling me that sometimes she gets overwhelmed when arranging furniture in her apartment, so here are general tips for laying out a room.

First, think about the primary uses of the room.  These functions should determine where the most important pieces are located.  Start with that and then fill in the rest.

For instance, in a Den maybe the two primary functions are watching TV and reading on the sofa.  This would make the TV placement and sofa placement the most important.  Then, add side tables, coffee tables, and comfortable lounge chairs that support these uses.  Put in some bookshelves, make sure there is plenty of reading light available for the reading spots and there - you're done.  Den.  On the left is an example.

Another example: the bedroom.  In the bedroom, it's mostly about sleeping.  So the bed should be the center and focal point of the room.  Getting dressed is also a big part of the room, so easy access to clothing and space to get dressed is important.  The bed should feel tucked away from the front door, (not facing it) and not crammed into a corner.  Provide space around the bed to access it from three sides.  Making the bed will be easier and getting into it from both sides is possible.  Example on the left.

This should help get you started.  Again, if you are confused about your room, email me a photo and I'll sketch up a floor plan .


inflatable Chesterfield sofa

My Friend Tiffany, an accomplished interior designer, makes a really useful inflatable sofa that's available for sale here.
Here is the description from her website:
"Mobile, stylish and simply marvelous. The new ChestAIRfield has all the benefits of a traditional Chesterfield-style sofa without the disadvantages. The ChestAIRfield Inflatable 3 Person Sofa was designed and engineered as a modern interpretation of a traditional classic style. These sofas can be used indoors for elegant and stylish living or outdoors on the patio or by the pool while "chill-laxing."  The ChestAIRfield sofa is a high-end inflatable, constructed of durable PVC. It can be inflatable in just two minutes with the included external A/C pump. If you've spent the evening on your ChestAIRfield with a loved one and a bottle of wine and gotten a little "too romantic", a patch kit has also been included to extend the life of your sofa."

It is also going to be available in white soon - which I think will look really good! 
Sofa $170  Chair $120


iPod player

This Vers iPod player is great-looking, compact, has radio + clock + alarm, and sounds awesome.  The walnut version is especially attractive.  Great for a bedroom.

The Vers products are available in Cherry, Natural Walnut, Dark Walnut and Bamboo. Finished by hand, each Vers system takes over a week to build and each one is unique. It sounds as good as it looks; there's simply no substitute for the rigid, 9 mm thick walls of a Vers cabinet for accurate sound reproduction.
(from their website)

They have another version that just plays an  iPod and also looks awesome!


design term - "scale"

Factoring scale into your design is very important.  Scale refers to the relative size of something to another.  (The lamp on the left is at a giant scale relative to a person).

For example: if you are designing a room with very low ceilings, furnish with low pieces.  If you use very high furniture, it will make the ceilings seem even lower (because it reduces the space between the furniture and the ceiling), and the room will feel smaller.  Lower the plane of the upper boundary of the furniture to allow for more air above it that is unoccupied.  That equates to additional space.

By contrast, if you have massively high ceilings (like a double height room) using higher elements in the room will help make it look proportional.   Furnish with higher-backed seating, tall floor lamps, and taller accessories.  Then, drop in pendants from the ceiling that can bridge the gap between the floor and ceiling planes.  This will unite the room and make it feel like one environment, rather than a room that expands infinitely upwards.

Use small scale furniture in a small room dimensionally - stay away from big, bulky pieces if you don't have a lot of room for them to breathe.  Again, using smaller and lower furniture will make a room feel larger.


ottoman to extra seating

Need extra seating in a pinch?  This furry little sweater ball from CB2 adds a fun burst of color to a room and  its shape is reminiscent of a beanbag chair.  $79.95


plastic bottle (Onion article)

The following brilliant article is from The Onion:

'How Bad For The Environment Can Throwing Away One Plastic Bottle Be?' 30 Million People Wonder

January 19, 2010

BottlesWASHINGTON—Wishing to dispose of the empty plastic container, and failing to spot a recycling bin nearby, an estimated 30 million Americans asked themselves Monday how bad throwing away a single bottle of water could really be.
"It's fine, it's fine," thought Maine native Sheila Hodge, echoing the exact sentiments of Chicago-area resident Phillip Ragowski, recent Florida transplant Margaret Lowery, and Kansas City business owner Brian McMillan, as they tossed the polyethylene terephthalate object into an awaiting trash can. "It's just one bottle. And I'm usually pretty good about this sort of thing."
"Not a big deal," continued roughly one-tenth of the nation's population.
According to the inner monologue of millions upon millions of citizens, while not necessarily ideal, throwing away one empty bottle probably wouldn't make that much of a difference, and could even be forgiven, considering how long they had been carrying it around with them, the time that could be saved by just tossing it out right here, and the fact that they had bicycled to work once last July.
In addition, pretty much the entire states of Missouri and New Mexico calmly reassured themselves Monday that they definitely knew better than to do something like this, but admitted that hey, nobody is perfect, and at least they weren't still using those horrible aerosol cans, or just throwing garbage directly on the ground.
All agreed that disposing of what would eventually amount to 50 tons of thermoplastic polymer resin wasn't the end of the world.
"It's not like I don't care, because I do, and most of the time I don't even buy bottled water," thought Missouri school teacher Heather Delamere, the 450,000th caring and progressive individual to have done so that morning, and the 850,000th to have purchased the environmentally damaging vessel due to being thirsty, in a huge rush, and away from home. "It's really not worth beating myself up over."
"What's one little bottle in the grand scheme of things, you know?" added each and every single one of them.
Monday's plastic-bottle-related dilemma wasn't the only environmental quandary facing millions of citizens across the country. An estimated 20 million men and women wondered how wasteful leaving a single lightbulb on all night really was, while more than 40 million Americans asked themselves if anyone would actually notice if they just turned up the heat a few degrees instead of walking all the way downstairs and getting another blanket.
Likewise, had they not been so tired, and busy, and stressed, citizens making up the equivalent of three major metropolitan areas told reporters that they probably wouldn't have driven their minivans down to the corner store.
"Relax," thousands upon thousands of Americans quietly whispered to themselves as they tossed two articles of clothing into an empty washing machine and turned it on. "What are you so worried about?"


swivel lounge chair

This is a great looking and comfortable lounge chair from Ikea.  It comes in very soft and cozy 100% wool (gray or orange) and a matching footstool is available.  Wool is very durable and is considered a "green" material because it is rapidly renewable (sheep grow their fur back, right?).  It's very similar to a gorgeous chair from B&B Italia, called the Metropolitan (in the high back version).  But it's available for far less at Ikea $399.


yellow vases

These vases are stylish, bright and cheerful from Crate & Barrel.
$9.95 to $24.95


tea kettle

This is a great little tea kettle from Chantal, available through Crate + Barrel.  Chantal is an excellent, high quality manufacturer of tea kettles.  This one is perfect for your daily cup of tea, in a green that is very popular this season.


mid-century inspired sofa

 The Corona Sofa from Macy's is a beautiful mid-century-modern style sofa at an excellent price, $699.  The chair in the collection is nice too, $569.  It also comes as a love seat, $669 for smaller scale rooms.  I'd advise against doing all three together.  The room can look  stale and uncreative; it's more interesting to have different pieces that coordinate, rather than match exactly. 
However, if you're going for a very formal look, it could work to use two pieces of the same collection together. 
The colors  I like most are Cappuccino, Fawn and Natural.


my own advice

I wanted to share an experience I had recently with following my own advice.  I was emptying out the garbage cans in my house and realized most of the trash in my office was paper.  Instead of throwing it all in the trash, I went through it and removed all of the paper to recycle it.  I ended up recycling about 97% of  the total amount!  It really felt like doing something good for the planet and changed the way I typically do that chore.


Tolomeo Floor Lamp for Sarah

If you are set on a designer piece, but it is out of your price range, you have two options:
1. look to lower priced retailers (CB2, Ikea, West Elm, Overstock) for a similar piece
2. buy a reproduction

Sarah and her husband John want the Tolomeo Mega Floor Lamp for their living room but the price tag is a bit high ($670).  They already tried a similar lamp from CB2 and it didn't work in their space.  I did a little research online and found a site that does a reproduction of the lamp for $228 (plus delivery).  I think this could be a good option for them if they are sure this is the piece they want.  

PS - Sarah, I think this type of fixture might work really well in your office too (with the shade suspended over the desk), and solve the issue of the ceiling being overcrowded (more to come later!!).


affordable arc light

This lamp is a great option if you are looking for a fixture similar to the Flos Arco Lamp designed by Castiglioni in 1962.  Available from Crate & Barrel.  It would work really nicely over a sofa, and could possibly work over a smaller dining table.  Just be careful of the way it's configured - make sure it doesn't block easy access to sitting at the table.


movie watching sofa

The Piazza Sofa from CB2 is a really nice, unique design.  It has a very deep seat cushion, no arms, and is made for comfortable lounging.  It would be great for watching TV or overnight guests.  It comes in two color options.


Green Tips - paper

Everyone is talking about how we can be more environmentally conscious.  This series, called "Green Tips," provides suggestions on how to reduce our carbon footprint.  

We'll talk about the Three Rs:
- Reduce
- Reuse
- Recycle

This first entry is about paper.  There is so much paper we use daily in our lives that goes straight into the garbage can, but really every single piece should either be reused or recycled.  Better yet, reduce your use if you can.  Think of each piece of paper as part of a tree in a forest, and that might help promote doing The Three Rs.

Remember to recycle:
  • all magazines + newspapers (or subscribe to them digitally instead -  reduce)
  • all catalogs (if you don't read them, contact the sender and request to be removed from the mailing list - reduce)
  • junk mail (fliers, promotions, coupons, junk, etc.)
  • shopping bags (bring your own reusable grocery bags to the grocery store!)
  • shoe boxes
  • toilet paper + paper towel cardboard tube
  • tissue box
  • envelopes
  • scratch paper / post-it notes
  • phone books
  • tags on clothing
  • booklets in CDs + DVDs
  • cardboard boxes from shipping
  • milk cartons
  • anything paper!  It all counts!
If you move, try to use recycled newspaper as protective padding for your delicate items.  When you're all finished, most cities have a recycling location where you can drop off all of your moving boxes to be recycled.  When I moved from New York City to Los Angeles, I did this and had a mostly green move.! Other times I've reused boxes and that's a good strategy too. 


Lumen by Adam Frank

Lumen by Adam Frank is a very cool decorative feature that uses a small flame to project  a shadow.  They are acid-etched stainless steel and sold on$48.

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