timber + snow

December 29, 2012


Well, today there is snow outside my window (and a roaring fire inside).  And it brings to mind one of my very favorite “color” combinations —  a background of white with touches of warm brown. The warm neutrals found in natural wood finishes, usually flooring and furniture, accomplish this best.  Those ‘Swedes’ are masters of this yin/yang aesthetic and DC designer Darryl Carter also does this well.

Here are some fabulous images I’ve pinned over the past year, showing the beauty of white walls paired with simple natural textures.

Enjoy ~


via Darryl Carter




via Cup of Joe



via Houzz




via The City Sage








via Ruth Burts




via we are super famous



via Ben Herzog


via the design files




Stay cozy and warm today dear readers.  And raising my glass to another colorful year of sharing!




A Seductive Bachelor Pad in ~Blue~

December 21, 2012



Made a trip up to The Guggenheim last week and was wowed by the show “Asterisms” by the Mexican-born artist Gabriel Orozco. He has created sculptural and photographic installations from rubble he gathered on two sites in New York and in Baja California, Mexico. Got me thinking about something amazing I had encountered years ago while living in Australia– the lair of a male blue Satin Bowerbird .



photo Tim Lanham



Long story, but while living in Sydney, my sister (an avid bird-watcher) visited and arranged a day-long excursion with an ornithologist. In a quiet little patch of urban park land we came upon the most bizarre work of nature I have ever encountered– a field of blue “stuff” scattered in a large circle with an elaborate thatch structure in the middle (think Blair Witch Project for birds).



via rezinate

Bowerbird males are masters of seduction who lure their females into elaborately built bowers where mating will take place. Their favored color is blue and they collect and decorate their “pads” with all sorts of blue colored detritus– most of it, small found objects of plastic like bottle caps, clothes pins, straws. If you are dying to know more, tune into this little video  “Bower Bird“.



Which brings me to the Gabriel Orozco Asterisms  exhibit at The Guggenheim– similar to the Bower Bird “show” but  a bit more organized. The artist actually found these tiny bits of detritus in the astroturf of a field near Pier 44 in NYC.  The ~beauty~ is in the arrangement– objects carefully spaced and organized by size and color.



No purposeful “mating” motive here, but seductive nonetheless.

And on to the display of objects found in the waters of Baja Mexico (photos below). Again, Orozco has placed the objects in a large field decreasing with size and organized by color– an amazing collection of driftwood, stones, floats, lightbulbs, bottles and even toilet paper rolls encased in plastic.












And there are other artists who work with “found” objects and “everyday trash” .  Take a look at the work of Portia Munson:




via beautiful decay




via Brooklyn Imbecile




via beautiful decay



What do you think of this aesthetic?  Heaps of rubble… found objects…litter…lovely trash?   Or as Ken Johnson, in his review of Asterisms in the New York Times remarked, “The idea is that something greater than the sum of its parts will emerge.”




Pantone’s ‘Emerald’- 2013 Color of the Year

December 17, 2012


Pantone recently announced ‘Emerald’ as its ‘Color of the Year’ for 2013:



via Pantone



According to Pantone, “Most often associated with brilliant, precious gemstones, the perception of ‘Emerald’ is sophisticated and luxurious. Since antiquity, this luminous, magnificent hue has been the color of beauty and new life in many cultures and religions… Symbolically, ‘Emerald’  brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.”






Last week I was fortunate to get a closeup look at one of my favorite paintings, ‘The Dancer’, by Gustav Klimt, at The Neue Galerie in Manhattan. The colors in the painting (above) are so lush, but my eye was immediately drawn to the green with both yellow and blue undertones in the upper third of the painting. ‘Emerald’ came to mind.



via National Geographic



According to  Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, “Green is the most abundant hue in nature – the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum”.



via National Geographic



I had to include this fabulous image of a house in Vietnam, painted an intense green.



via the a estate



The color is showing up everywhere… from handbags to cars.   This jewel-toned green can be fabulous as an accent color but could be a bit tricky on walls.


And there is always one way to inject a bit of  “green” into your home this time of year:



via yvestown







Holiday Doors ~ Au Naturel in Old Town

December 13, 2012



Holiday Tradition  {Old Town, Alexandria,Virginia}




























Cranberries, kumquats, pinecones, laurel, heather, magnolia, pine, lemons, apples, oranges, cloves–the colors and textures of nature, rendered on holiday doors are, well, pretty perfect.


And HAPPY HAPPY HOLIDAYS  to all of my friends out there!  Thanks for all of your eyes, comments and support over the past year. XO XO XO from The Painted Room  ( me, Jean).



Respect the Architecture

December 4, 2012



I think for just about every designer, there is that queasy wait after a new paint color goes up– for the panicked phone call from the client. It happens often, with lots of reassurance and hand-holding needed until furniture is moved back into place, art work hung, and heart rates returned to normal.


via Tackorama


But there are also those calls from clients instantly ecstatic over the transformation– ” The house looks great… you have to come over to see. We love it!”


via Tackorama


I got one of those calls yesterday (the nice kind) and just returned from the project… no tweaking needed, every single color (10 rooms) pretty much spot on.  #happydance.

Now on to the more serious “respect the architecture” bit.




I loved this house– a cozy, traditional Cape Cod with great bones. It had been remodeled by the previous owners with care.They had preserved the cozy scale and original pine flooring but had updated the space with clean lines, good lighting, a streamlined white galley kitchen and ordered, contemporary maple built-ins. The owners had lived with the existing colors for several years but were ready to make a change. The challenge was to transform the space to reflect the clients’ tastes without compromising the strong architectural elements already in place.


There was a slice of  free-standing wall off the main hallway (visible from the dining room) that was the very first thing that caught my eye (potential color plane). There was a central hallway running through the middle with the stair case just inside the front entry (above).


Dining Room BEFORE:







Two rooms, the living room and dining room, flanked the entry. The living room had little natural light and both rooms had been painted an anemic pale green and grayed white. I settled on one of my favorite Benjamin Moore warm neutrals for both rooms- ‘Honeymoon’ from the Affinity Collection. It is the perfect mid-tone camel/gold and washes a room with warmth– a cozy and happy color, perfect for this active, young family. The slice of  wall, visible from the dining room, was painted a saturated  blue, ‘Cambridge’ from C2 Paint and is a great backdrop for a bold black and white print.




The bright white contemporary kitchen informed the color choice (Benjamin Moore Super White ) for the center hall walls and all trim throughout the house.  It was visually important to balance the “weight” of that kitchen’s white throughout the rest of the first floor.




Along with the clean contemporary lines of the interior, the white kitchen and warm wood floors,  I was working with other fixed design elements.  The owner had lovely chocolate brown linen window treatments in both living and dining rooms and rugs, pottery and textiles with accents of brown, blue, lime green and orange.







Living Room AFTER:





Accents of brown, burnt orange and blue.





This is the view from the entrance.  The stair risers were painted out in white to create graphic interest and movement.  Glimpses of strong color planes of white, gold and blue draw the eye through the white hallway.



Above, the owner’s favorite “color vignette”.




Benjamin Moore’s Metropolitan, a cool mid-tone complex gray (with a blue undertone) was the perfect choice for the family room (flooded with natural light) to balance the warm tones of the maple built-ins and floors.




A lively large-scale brown and white print and lime green accents enliven the white kitchen.





The finishing touch:  a powder room in a deep saturated burnt orange– C2 Roasted Tomato.






Let me know what you think!