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Highlights. Trends. Insights. We’ve got the scoop on everything you need to know about interior design right here in one tidy space!

Monochromatic Makeovers

People who go monochromatic often do it because they get tired of things quickly. They need something that is very timeless and will work forever. If you did something like a red sofa it can look really cool, but a lot of people will just get tired with such a strong color after awhile. People like their basics to be neutral. Before you know it you have a neutral scheme. Then you can just add beautiful neutral looking throws, pillows and art. Successful ones are typically in warm tones. Your browns, golds and taupes. If you do something like all blue, with baby blue walls and denim fabric it gets overwhelming. If you are someone who likes to entertain and throw parties, remember your guests will look good in the backdrop of a neutral color scheme. It will make for better photos!

One thing to remember if you are afraid of the monochromatic is that even if you have a mono color scheme you really don’t. You have plants, you have the flooring and even the food and people you have at your parties has varying color. You can change out your accents with the seasons with a pop of color, too.

These contemporary pieces from artist Dan Sayes are examples of neutral accents that would look beautiful as part of your monochromatic decor:

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How about you? Any monochromatic successes or flops?

After the Honeymoon: How to Marry Your Decor

As marriage season is in full swing, after the parties and honeymoon the happy couple will go back to their home. And what awaits them? Stacks of gifts and two lives that now have to be merged. This includes furniture and home accessories!

Luckily for today’s couples, eclectic styles are really in. “Marrying” more than one style is what the art of interior design is about right now. You will need to think carefully how to best incorporate all of your stuff, especially when it comes to beloved pieces you may not agree upon. Bringing in a “mediator” like an interior designer can really help to figure out how to solve disputes over what goes and what stays. It’s not uncommon for interior designers to say they are also therapists- we’re skilled in handling these types of disagreements.

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

  • Think about this when you register.  As you are selecting items to build your home together, this is a great time to start thinking about what pieces each of you already own, that you’d both like to keep.  This will also help to ask for things that will  look great in your home, and compliment what you already have.
  • It’s not up to one person to decide.  More and more the idea that the woman is the one who dictates style is becoming an antiquated notion. Men care too. That’s why the whole house should be a collaboration with input from both sides. Sometimes men will say they don’t care or are fine with anything, but even in those cases thought should still go into what will make them happy, even if they don’t vocalize it.
  • You both need your space. While the whole house is a collaboration, you should still have places in your house where your personalities can shine and you can get things done. It might be a craft room/area for her, or a special space in the garage for him. Whatever you do, try to carve out “his” and “her” spaces where each of you can explore your own interests and enjoy your personal style.
  • Expect the unexpected. Doing an eclectic style right is all about releasing the need to be too matchy matchy. You want there to be an element of the unexpected.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Does he really love the neon beer sign he’s had since college? Can she not live without her cat figurine collection? If it really means that much to the other person, find a way to make it work. Put the beer sign in a discreet spot at your home bar or create quirky places where the cats seem whimsical and playful.

Remember, marriages are forever but couches and the latest styles are not. Learning to embrace your partner’s design perspective can be a first step in many of the compromises you will be making in your happy life together!

Doing the Home Bar Right

Recently I did a series on “What We Love About Home.” One of the things I’ve noticed in the last few years is that people are really investing in their homes. They are really focused on putting love into them and making them spaces where people want to gather. Why go out when staying in is just as fun? One of the ways to really complete a home for entertaining is making a great home bar. If you do it right, friends and family will always want to return to your cozy cantina.

The first thing you will want to do is make sure you are stocked with the right supplies. Here’s a good checklist:

-Ice bucket and tongs: no finger picking, please!

-Bottle coolers: keep your Chardonnay & Champagne at the perfect temperature without the fuss of ice

-Cocktail shaker: Make sure to get a large one since this is for entertaining (at least 2-3 martinis per shaker). The small, personal ones won’t cut it.

-Decanter: let your wine breathe a little!

-Barwear and glasswear

-Coasters: Ack! Rings on your wood are no good.

-Rings for wine glasses: so your Pinot doesn’t get picked up by the wrong person

-Wine fridge: Even for the smallest bar, you will want your wine at the perfect temp.

We have a variety of beautiful decanters in-stock that will fit the style of any home.

Now that you are stocked, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the right furniture. Whatever you are using as your prep station, you will want at a bar height which is at least 36”. This is so you stand and prepare without hunching over. I really recommend that even for the smallest bar you want to get a wine fridge so everything is at the proper temperature, unless you are fortunate enough to have a cellar! Also, you want to make everything really accessible. An icemaker drawer installed in your bar is great to keep you from running back and forth to the kitchen. When you entertain you need a lot of ice, and the freezer is usually already full with party food!

If you have cabinetry, you will want to use for hard liquor and to keep mixers there. Storage for all of this requires a decent amount of space. If you don’t have a lot of space in your bar area little, think about keeping all of your items like glass wear and mixers elsewhere. You will really want to think about how to maximize your space no matter how much you have. Hiring a designer for a couple hours to help you plan the space will be a GREAT investment.

What other things do you find essential for creating a great home bar?

Under the Sea: Oceanic Offerings for the Home

Beneath the waves are crawling crustaceans waiting to inhabit your home. Luckily, our Bone Crabs and Bone Lobsters are easy to care for and will be a welcomed addition. Each is handcrafted with lifelike detail, including moving limbs. No worries about your wallet feeling “the pinch,” the small ones start at $225.  Buy a few and start a family!

Two fab crab! All of our sea creatures are handcrafted and made of bone.

Rock lobster! Made of bone, with the look of ivory.

Make your new family of undersea creatures feel at home with beautiful ocean views by artist Deborah Brenner. Her minimalist design creates a serene beach scene.

Deborah Brenner’s Coastal Shore 1 (16×20) and Coastal Shore 2 (20×16) take you to seaside escapes.

Summer Space: A Tour of Eve Lowey’s Backyard

I’ve tried to make the rooms in my home live up to my motto of relaxed elegance. The biggest compliment is when people tell me that they want to just linger in my home. But in the summer, my backyard is where grown-ups and kids all like to gather. Here’s a tour of what you’ll find if you visit.

A colorful one-of-a-kind planter with mosaic tiles near the front door exemplifies my love of childhood creativity. It was designed and facilitated by my son’s fifth grade class for his school fundraiser. I also have antique spring playground animals that are the epitome of fun. They bring out the kid in everyone. Adults and children love sitting on them!

 

My backyard/entertainment area also has a fireplace, barbecue area with bar seating, and table seating for eight along with bar height tables for more entertaining. The pool and spa have cuddle chairs and ottomans, where friends and family gather to share stories of summer fun. Along one side of the pool house, facing the pool, are four life-sized, marble carved statues, each “lady” representing one of the four seasons.

If you search the plantings you will find an Indian head carved out of slate or hand-blown glass flowers in the midst of real ones. A mushroom-shaped small statuette is in the garden (another is at the front of the property). These 18th century pieces were made to hold hay bales in the barn to prevent molding. All of these touches are unexpected artifacts waiting to be uncovered.

The side yard is earthy and peaceful with a vegetable garden, grape arbor, seating area and a fountain off the guest room. Off the office, another side yard has a fireplace. All of the gates are from Europe, adding rustic enchantment.

The pool house—added on after we moved in—is a retreat for visiting guests. It contains all you need to feel like your vacationing in comfort with a bedroom, bath, living room, and a spiral staircase to the sun deck on the top.

There is no specific “style” I have tried to claim for my outdoor space, only that being outdoors should always embrace nature, celebrate the nostalgia of childhood and create opportunities to make new memories.

The Perfect Porch: How to Welcome Guests Before They Ever Set Foot in Your House

Many people don’t realize the importance of the porch. The very first experience someone has of your home is when they are standing outside your front door, waiting for you to answer. It’s the first point for making guests feel welcome. So if you do a lot of entertaining, you really need to put some thought into it. At a time when you aren’t preparing for guests, spend some time thinking about how this often neglected area of your home represents your style. Here are some of the ways I’ve made my porch inviting.

Eve’s porch

1) Make a Green Scene. Plants are great way to create interest and character at the front of your home. My porch has succulents that are arranged in a succulent wreath that doesn’t close the loop. They are easy to use and you stick the succulents into the mesh/felt material to create your own design. It frames my door. The front of my home and entry are also covered in ivy that has been grown and trimmed into a grid pattern. I think that a big blank wall is too much, even if it’s completely covered in ivy, it can still seem blank because it’s all one color. I like the look of the grid because it feels like outdoor art.
2) Have a Seat. Having some kind of seating in your front looks warm and inviting. It’s great for staging things like placing candles or seasonal decorations, but also an everyday use for placing groceries on or packages. Think about a little bench seat. I have two benches. One out by the driveway because it’s so long. The other is under a window near the porch. It’s really become something we use all the time.
3) Light the Way. If you are having a party in the evening, use votives in the entry and lining the walkway if it’s dark. I recommend finding outdoor votives and placing them in a glass or stone container. If you need more light, go with glass. If you are having a summer party that goes into the night, don’t light until the sun starts to set. I’d assign someone to do the lighting—like one of your girlfriends who is reliable. When not entertaining, think about the lighting in general. I have my entry lighted with sconces and placed in different areas. They are not just over garage but also in other places to create a lot of ambient lighting.
4) Put Out the Welcome Mat. In my entryway I have a bright and modern Chilewich rug (available at Studio Chameleon). They are great! It doesn’t shed, doesn’t feel too hard and they are fun to look at. They come in different colors and patterns. People really love them. The ones with bold stripes pair well with a more traditional exterior.

I hope these tips give you some ideas about making your porch a welcoming place. Remember, put yourself in your guests shoes and think about how your porch will appear to them!

Poolside Entertaining for Day and Evening

Gathering poolside is a great summer tradition. It’s great for cooling off or as ambiance. Here’s some tips on making a great time for those in and out of the water.

1) Fabulously furnished. Outdoor furniture will be the foundation to any poolside entertaining. You will want to invest in quality, which will wear better and last longer as the years go by. Make sure to have seating that is poolside so guests can enjoy being near the water. Having pillows and blankets on hand are also a great way for people to set up seating wherever they’d like.
2) Flotation devices.  If it’s evening, floating candles or lanterns in the water are always great, but you might also want to think of some nontraditional floaties. Giant beach balls, floating fountains and fake flowers (look for ones that are meant for this sort of thing) make great decor.
3) Made in the shade. Your guests will want to escape the sun. Umbrellas, awnings and portable cabanas help guests beat the heat.
4) Extra! Extra! If guests will actually be going for a dip (even if just in the spa), you will always want to make sure you have extras on hand. This includes towels, sunscreen, floaties and even loaner swimsuits (the ones from a couple seasons ago work great). You don’t ever want to someone to feel like they can’t be part of the fun just because they’ve forgotten something.

Eve’s elegant poolside space for entertaining.

Summer Entertaining: How to Throw the Perfect Summer Party

Summer is

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my favorite time to entertain. It’s relaxed, the weather’s great and there’s so much great food. Here are a few tips for the perfect summer party!

1) Plan ahead. While spontaneous get-togethers are great, a planned party always feels like something special. Make sure to give yourself a couple weeks to think about location, guest list, budget, if it will be day or evening, and if there will be some sort of theme.
2) Invitations. Depending on the kind party you will be hosting, invitations can be a phone call, Evite or a card in the mail. What matters most is that it is personal, timely and done all at once (no one likes to feel like an afterthought!). Aside from date, time and place, you’ll also want to make sure to let guests know how to RSVP, if kids (or even pets) are welcome and if they need to bring anything (games? drinks? food?).

Eve’s home in Newport Coast is ready for guests.

3) Outdoor considerations. I’d encourage you to take advantage of the great weather summer has to offer! This could be in your backyard, beachside or at a park. But make sure you think of how that will affect guests (they will need shade!), food (drinks need to be iced, chocolate melts, dairy spoils) and if bugs will be bothersome. And if you are in a place with extreme heat, make sure guests are hydrated with lots of water and consider parties when it starts to cool.
4) Food. If you are planning something elaborately catered or just doing a simple potluck food is often the start of the show. Make sure to think about how guests will be eating—if they are standing up or balancing on their lap you will want to avoid a knife and fork. Kabobs work great and there many different possibilities including veggies, fruits and fish. Also, as someone with food allergies, I’m always excited when people have considered if there are things for me to eat. As hostess, you may want to check with guests if there are special food considerations.
5) Music. This will get the party going and keep it alive! Depending on your soiree, it can be upbeat or mellow. I always think a good summer mix should be fun, but not something that will overwhelm and dominate (like something with a heavy beat).
6) Signature cocktail. This is easier to do than it sounds and also will impress guests! Considering adding mint, basil or other herbs to a cocktail you already love. A sangria with a twist, like using white wine or summery fruit, is also an easy drink. You will want to experiment before the party to taste test—which I’m sure some friends would love to volunteer to help!

Wedding Gift Ideas

Wedding season is upon us! There’s always pressure to find the right gift for the bride and groom for their new life together. Get them started right with gifts from Studio Chameleon. We’ve also got great shower gifts, too! If you’re a stickler for sticking with the registry, consider a registry gift plus a small, unique item from us to show your thoughtfulness!

Petrified Wood Cheese Platter: A gift that’s great for the couple who loves to entertain.

Fossil Box: An elegant and very distinctive box that holds whatever you want, but makes a statement wherever it is.

Custom Art: A great way to celebrate the bride and groom is through a one of-a-kind piece of art that is special to them. We offer custom framing and can help you think of the right item or items to frame into art. Perhaps seashells from the beach where they were engaged? Or commission one of our celebrated artists to create something as unique as their love.

Frames: A great item to display memories. Tip: Find photos of the happy couple online or ask their family to have the frame already filled.

Stone and Agate Druzy Hearts: These are great little something to add to shower or wedding gifts, but also a unique reminder of the couple’s love.

Quick Fix: Easy Kitchen Upgrades

Last week we talked about how to upgrade your bathroom. This week we’re tackling the kitchen. The kitchen often becomes a gathering place when company comes by. Food and drink tends to draw people in! Here are some ways to help keep the kitchen fresh.

1) Hardware Care. This one is pretty easy is to upgrade and can make a real difference. Replacing knobs, hinges and pulls is fairly inexpensive and can take an afternoon to do. Just a word of caution: make sure the new hardware matches the existing hole locations. A good polishing of existing hardware can also help to brighten the space.

2) Floor Fixers. If you’ve got great hardwood floors that have taken a beating, refinishing them will restore their former glory. For the quickest and easiest of all fixes, look into rugs that will add personality to room, while protecting floors.

3) Cabinet Creativity. There are lots of ways to make your cabinets look better. Of course refacing is great for a redo without completely ditching the old cabinets, but it might still be too time and money intensive. Consider instead repainting, changing only the doors or adding molding.

4) Exciting Lighting. Again, like with bathrooms, lighting makes a huge difference. If you’re fixtures are newer, an install of dimmers can also add to the ambiance for dinner guests. Even if you don’t upgrade, a good scrubbing can make a world of difference!

5) Backsplash Beauty. An easy way to get current is to focus on redoing the backsplash. The “in” styles for these change every few years if you are looking to stay modern, but backsplashes can also get grimy quickly so that’s another good reason to change! Subway tile has been all the rage and also has a classic look, but other options are ceramic or glass tile, beadboard or even stainless steel.

6) Fancier Faucets. There are some really amazing faucets out on the market right now. Ones that seem to do everything. A new faucet can go a long way in making dishes feel less like a chore.

7) Get Organized. Have items started to drift from their proper places? Has the utensil holder on the counter become a catchall? Get everything back in its proper place! This is especially a must in the kitchen as it will save you time when cooking or just looking for the bag of Oreos.

We also loved the very thorough list from Bon Apetit on “Fifty Instant Kitchen Upgrades.”

Don’t forget—Studio Chameleon’s design services also extend to kitchens and we’d be happy to help you figure out what upgrades would be best for your kitchen!