While rattan always strikes me as a decorative accent best showcased somewhere down south, I find I long for it when the weather even hints (as it does here in New England, in fits and starts) of becoming warmer. It feels right that furnishings should get a little lighter, allow a warm breeze to pass through them – even if they are indoors.
Now if you have begun to conjure images of the Golden Girls in their Florida condo, let me stop you right there. This isn’t bamboo and peach palm fronds that I’m talking about. Rattan can be sophisticated, elegant even, and I am here to prove it.
Rattan is derived from the Maylay – Rotan, which consists of an old world species of climbing palms, which in turn, belong to a sub-family known as Calamoldizae, which is Greek for reed. Now we are getting somewhere, so stick with me here. Those reeds are woven into cords, which are wrapped around a wire frame, allowing the decorative object or piece of furniture to take shape. It’s an art, and oh boy, are there ever some designers that elevate the form.
Mario Lopez Torrez is perhaps my favorite for his cheeky use of monkey’s. A Mexican Artist known for his mid-century creations – though it is believed he still produces pieces today in his village – Ihuatizo. If a visual examination of the intricacies of his designs don’t convince you of his status, perhaps the price points at which his pieces sell will.
City or seaside, north or south, I have a hankering for rattan.
If you’re like me, you admire perfectly upholstered pieces with their pretty piping, but think them just outside of your realm of sophistication. Now of course I have upholstered pieces, and some of them even have piping. I’ll even go so far as to say – it’s contrast piping, which means it is in a different color than the base fabric. You knew that though, and if you didn’t, it likely means you go for more modern lines. It need not be persnickety though. It can be cool, and tie disparate elements in a room together.
I guess the bit about tying different elements together is what has me most interested in piping right now. Having spent a boat load of money on No.5, little of which the viewer will be able to appreciate. Boo hoo, but which was necessary nonetheless, I will be forced to re-use much of what I have. Cue the violins. I know none of you are feeling sorry for me. Perhaps we can all learn something from this experience.
It occurred to me that I might get a little daring and add a true contrast to the base fabric. After all, there’s no law that says it must pick up one of the colors in the pattern, or be a boring neutral. Why not have a double row of piping. Why not make one of those rows an entirely different color – why not I ask you – why not?
Designers are always making up rules and then turning around and breaking them, and then calling that rule that they just broke, the new rule that everyone should follow. I’m not blaming them for creating confusion, or design chaos, in fact I encourage it. Get after it. Just understand that even if we don’t have a host of IIDA initals after our name, doesn’t mean we can get to experimenting on our own. I plan to do just that. If I fail, I’ll be prepared to accept the I told you so’s.
Photographers live for “the golden hour” that time of day when the light is glowy and romantic, and casts a shimmer and sparkle on those that are bathed in it. It’s sequins and fireworks, and candle light. It’s dew drops, and effervescence, and youthful sleepiness. It’s first bloom, it’s a Florence skyline, it’s perfection. I want perfection for a moment. There…I said it. I want it in that moment when the light sheds years from your world weary skin, and plumps your heart to overflowing with happiness and possibility.
I think I may be on my way to achieving it in my living room. I went for the pastels and the peaches, the blush and palest of the cream white tones. I blanketed it in a backdrop of Benjamin Moore Sand Dollar. (oh Ben, we’ll get to you tomorrow – you’ve stepped up your game yet again – how you do please me).
Pastel puddles under toe (not to be confused with undertow which sweeps you along and spits you out if you know how to work with it, or has disastrous ramifications, if you don’t) We won’t think about that now. We’ll think about the luscious Landry and Arcari Turkish Oushak that tickles my toes, and my fancy all at the same time. Though I wasn’t sure it achieved my bright side fantasies, it is well suited to the setting and I have grown very fond of it.
Achieving lighting levels that will flatter you and your guests require some simple rules of thumb.
Bulbs: Say no to Florescent, yes to LED, and don’t be afraid to strategically employ soft pink bulbs,
Dimmers: yes please – have an Electrician install them everywhere, variety is key to achieving a sultry smolder or a blushy beam,
In-direct: keep them guessing. From what point does the light emanate? Hide it behind a plant, beneath a molding, allow it to splash a wall or painting rather than direct it’s beam toward some Bell in a Ballgown.
Oomph Slipper . Bungalow5 Side Table . L & A . Turkish Oushak
I’ll be bringing back an Electrician – a fourth time. There’s work to do yet, but my furnishings and art are working hard to do their part.
None of my properties have broken the 1000SF mark. The largest at 935SF wasn’t the one that felt the biggest and the smallest – 525SF didn’t feel the smallest. Layout is everything when it comes to the livability of a space. Natural light and high ceilings also contribute to a feeling of expansiveness even if you don’t have a sunroom off the kitchen or a game room for the kids.
Pint Sized . 525 SF
At 708 SF property No. 4 feels smaller than I’d like. The living room is petite and as I have mentioned there is no room for a dining table. All around, furniture solutions will play a big role in my comfort and overall happiness in the space. Fortunately I have learned a thing or two about furnishing small spaces, and new clever, creative and well designed solutions for those of us that choose to live small, arrive like welcome house warming gifts to the market all the time.
Tried and true small space hacks include:
Lucite Chairs – they stack, disappear, and can be used in endless ways from desk chairs, to living room seating, at the dining table, or tucked into a corner of a bedroom. I also use mine as a stepping stool – it supports up to 300lbs.
Barely there. The Louis Ghost . Phillip Stark for Kartell
Side Tables – placed side-by-side they eliminate the challenge of a large single coffee table, and can be broken apart and moved around to accommodate a guests cocktail or an Hors D’oeuvres platter.
Suzanne Kasler’s Living Rm. uses upholstered stools and small coffee tables for interest and versatility.
Stools and Poufs – seating in small spaces is always a challenge. Multi-purpose furniture is a must. Whether you choose an inexpensive garden stool, upholstered piece or a pouf, whether you display a flower arrangement, a stack of coffee table books, or rest your weary legs after scurrying around the kitchen preparing cocktails for an impromptu get together, I take seriously the adage – you can never have enough!
Pouf an extra spot for someone to sit.
Some of my favorite new to market finds include a modern take on an old European favorite – The Gossip Chair by Oomph. Oomph really understands how to design these tiny little petite-fours that they call chairs and have them comfortably accommodate a a 6′ tall, 285lb man. No small accomplishment. Having used their Slipper Chairs in two separate applications – both in narrow living room spaces – I can attest to their elegance and functionality. If you must gossip – do it in this chair.
Oomph . Gossip Chair $3630.
CB2’s Recluse Desk is contemporary cool – hung on a wall, and disguised as an objet d’art. Clever and functional. Now that’s sexy.
CB2 . Recluse Desk $449.
In my hunt for a dining table solution, my friend recommended a company called Resource Furniture. Who knew a 17″ console table could expand to a 115″ dining table. Now that’s brilliant.
Resource Furniture . The Goliath Console . price upon request.
As I prepare for another busy week, I’m hoping for a dash of that inspiration to float my way. Happy Sunday.