Category Archives: Style

Beautiful Cause, Beautiful Design

My daughters and I are fluttering the month of September.  We move around fluttering dragonflies and a sign on pediatric cancer, to yards of neighbors interested in this cause, and collect donations.  It’s been a great way for my daughters to help with a meaningful cause and get involved, along with making more ties with our local community.  I found this infographic on the donation site (, which is testament to the effectiveness of good design.  While my work centers on residential design, I am passionate about good design everywhere — in experiences, media, software, cars.  What a perfect way to inform and express and inspire awareness and participation in such a worthy cause.

Unravel Pediatric Cancer

Unravel Pediatric Cancer

Balancing Bolds

I’ve fallen for a stunning hand-me-down dress gathering dust in my five year old’s closet.  Whether I doubt it will ever be worn before it too gets passed along, due to her very particular fashion and texture sensibilities, I’ve begun daydreaming about its colors defining a space.  A pumpkin orange, teal, and olive brown.

First, some field rules to help any bold color mix succeed:

  1. Balance the color mix.  When using a big color, like red or orange, find an equally powerful color for balance.  In this case, the teal contends against the orange, as it’s a near inversion on the color wheel.  This is also known as a complementary color scheme.  Yellow and purple, and green and red are other popular examples.
  2. Ground the big colors.  Olive is an earthy, warm hue, but a rich chocolate or a pale linen could provide calm and support the loud dynamics.
  3. Watch the noise.  Dive in, and go big — but mind the chaos.  In other words, it’s best to use a bold color on a big surface, rather than lots of busy, chaotic bits of color.  Think confetti wallpapers or circus stripes.  Paint the wall(s), stain a piece of furniture, choose that rug.  Use decorative accents – curtains, pillows, decor – to coordinate it all.

Here’s a take on this mix, applied to a living room:

A pumpkin, tufted chaise, natural fiber rug and basket, fun star pedestal table, and sky blue walls and throw.

Here, the turquoise pop of the chair upholstery is as saturated as the bright orange table, but neutrals surround and support these contrasting stars.

Everything about this picture makes me want to drink a sangria and enjoy some tapas bars with friends…  The wispy, sheer curtain diffusing light, the hexagonal tile, lovely light fixture, and last and most — the brilliant intensity of color.

Fun Kids Furniture

I recently was introduced to Magis Me Too, an imaginative Italian children’s brand (of larger Magis producer), through this wonderful piece:

Le Chien Savant, by Philippe Starck

Any small child would have a blast coloring or reading at that station. Some products are available through online retailers, but still looking for that puppy.

Another favorite is this modular shelving system, that creates castle towers for toy storage. What a fresh approach to the toy storage cubby and shelf options out there!

Eur -- by Magis Metoo

Finds at EQ3, Nido, and HD Buttercup

With my talented and fabulous designer pal Mari Ines Woodsome, I enjoyed a lovely visit to several perimeter posts near the SF Design Center: the new EQ3 showroom, Nido, and HD Buttercup (across from Caltrain).  Here are a few lovely finds — mostly lights.

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Loved the dazzle of the tensioned wire mesh against the bulb’s glow — a perfect light for a more contemporary space, maybe juxtaposed against a rustic dining table, or above a simple upholstered bed. [HD Buttercup]
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Love the texture of this metal, and the three different pendant shapes.  Any, or a combination, would work well over an island, or in an entryway. [HD Buttercup]
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I am smitten with this desklamp — I think it may be the curve of its arm, the finish of its metal, its simple shape…  I don’t know, but would love to have it on my desk this very moment. [HD Buttercup]  
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Love these oblong mirrors with thick bases, that come in white and grey toned sides. [Nido]

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Just stunning, beautiful pendants to make a striking focal point for a high vaulted entry. Especially drawn to the silver and rose gold. [Nido]
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Plush underfoot, a tailored rug with neutral palette. [EQ3]
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An Eames design, like the lollypop colors on this entryway hook rack. Would liven up a neutral palette. [EQ3]
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Such a comfy chair, and love the marled fabric — very practical for covering up spills&stains over time. Clean chrome legs adds visual space to a room. [EQ3]
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Like the marble base, simple curves of this lamp. [EQ3]
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Nice entryway/mudroom storage series. Like the shallow 14″ bench, good for tight spaces. [EQ3]

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Love this expandable wall organization system, that’s a series of simple white magnetic bases, and containers that magnetically adhere. Think incoming/outgoing mail, catalogs, some plants or flowers, pens. All set! [EQ3]

Review: Decorist

This Sunday’s SF Chronicle mentioned a new site,, that has an interior design profiling quiz… I gave it a try tonight, and was impressed by the quiz design.  The quiz has you visually select from the classic elements of a living room: couch, coffee table, side table, lamp, mirror, rug, and wall color.  As you browse through all the options, those selected are added to a pretend room.  It’s fun, although I can’t say I chose my ‘favorite’ pieces, but rather had a good time choosing different options to see how they’d work together.

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When I was done trying stuff out, the site generated a ‘profile’ as follows, which impressed me as an accurate read on my selections.

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From there, you are directed to your dashboard, where you can see a list of items filtered to your tastes — which in my case, wasn’t exactly accurate due to my design play during the quiz, but I was happy enough with its determination, and was certainly intrigued by what items would be suggested.  You also were asked to specify your price range for a sofa, which presumably is used to then filter recommendations by cost as well — interesting idea.  This page was a huge scroll, but had a nice layout and form, and could be filtered by category.  I like that it pulls from a broad resource set, including flash sites like OneKingsLane and unique stuff selling on EBay, and it did have a great range of interesting pieces, along with some weird stuff that if nothing else was fun to see.  Sort of pinterest-style eye candy.

For folks looking for small, targeted help with a specific room in their home, their ‘mini-makeover’ option seems like a good deal.  You get several room boards and a shopping list, in response to uploaded pictures and your notes on challenges and hopes for the space.  I think this would be perfect for a home shopper that needs a little aesthetic push in the right direction.

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Sightseeing: SF Design Center

Below are a few interesting pieces spotted on my last several trips to the San Francisco Design Center.