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Small Spaces Big Personality

Daniel VanHall “The Design Escort” shares a small home office that Shields & Company Interiors completed on one of their luxury turn-key residences in New York City. Daniel explains that just because spaces are small the design decisions should not be timid. Every opportunity must be taken to imbibe the space with design and functionality.  Elements such as Japanese grasscloth wallcovering, an executive scaled glass desk, a sculptural desk lamp and a large abstract painting make this home office exciting with lots of personality.

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SOUTH OF THE BORDER DESIGN: SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, MEXICO

I take a trip to Mexico every year and often visit with my dear friend, Ariane Dutzi, who designs fabulous bags made with materials indigenous to the Yucatán region (Dutzi Bags). This year we began our trip in San Miguel de Allende, a beautiful Mexican town smack dab in the middle of Mexico…no sandy beach  or blue ocean in sight anywhere!

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HOTEL MATILDA  ARTISTIC ENTRANCE

But what San Miguel de Allende is famous for is it’s thriving art scene and for being the home to many American ex-Pats that started moving there after WW II.  This influx of Americans has upped the ante of life in San Miguel de Allende, making it is easy to find numerous boutiques selling glorious clothing or dishes or furniture…as well as many yummy restaurants to dine in.

LOBBY MATILDA HOTEL

LOBBY HOTEL MATILDA 

The architecture throughout the town is classic Mexican and totally enchanting, with narrow cobblestone streets and a fabulous gothic church…La Parroquia… facing  El Jardín, a beautiful  square with trees and flowers and benches to sit on and watch life go by.

DINING ROOM MATILDA HOTEL

DINING ROOM MATILDA HOTEL

We stayed in a gorgeous hotel called Hotel Matilda that was designed like a dream and furnished likewise.  I would call the decor “south of the border meets contemporary luxury” and exciting huge paintings and quirky tables and chairs make the mix unbeatable.

PATRICIA LARSEN'S LIVING ROOM AT SOMOS GALLERY

ARTIST PATRICIA LARSEN’S LIVING ROOM AT SOMOS GALLERY

I’m a sucker for anything ethnic or  unique and one can find such items here as well.  And if you want a contemporary feeling, there is plenty of that to choose from in the stores and galleries.

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I think the trick is to mix it up.…Buy some charming dinnerware from Trinitate at their fabulous shop and also some of their outdoor planters. Put in a huge sectional sofa. Throw in a few gold finished lighting fixtures. Pick up a mid-century modern chair and recover it in an outrageous fabric to give it new life…maybe even in cow hide that looks like zebra. Look for an antique armoire that will give your room some relevancy.  Select a rustic table, newly constructed out a thick slab of exotic wood. Go to the market where the locals shop and purchase some of the colorful blue and white ceramic dishes made by a local artisan. Got the idea?

Her are a few “sightings” as I went tooling around San Miguel de Allende:

GREAT LOUNGE CHAIR

GREAT LOUNGE CHAIR

 

FABULOUS CONSOLE MADE OUT OF A SLICE OF A TREE

FABULOUS CONSOLE MADE OUT OF A SLICE OF A TREE

 

TABLE MADE FROM GORGEOUS CHUNK OF A TREE ON ANTIQUE METAL BASE

TABLE MADE FROM GORGEOUS CHUNK OF A TREE ON ANTIQUE SEWING TABLE BASE

 

STUNNING CONTEMPORARY CUSTOM METAL DOOR

STUNNING CONTEMPORARY CUSTOM METAL DOOR

 

TRADITIONAL MEXICAN POTTERY IN THE LOCAL MARKET

TRADITIONAL MEXICAN POTTERY IN THE LOCAL MARKET

 

THE TRINITATE STORE

SHOP AT TRINITATE FOR WONDERFUL PLANTERS & DISHES

I think you get the picture: artistic, classic, sophisticated, vintage…all of the appropriate buzz words for a beautiful interior design in your serene Mexican getaway!

 

Ciao, ciao ’til next time!

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Design On A Dime In New York City

Daniel VanHall “The Design Escort” shares his tiny pad in the heart of New York City. The unique space was created on a dime using finds off the streets of the city in an effort to make an inspiring environment for himself and his airbnb.com guests! The sharing economy and airbnb.com, an online home sharing site, have enabled Daniel to share his design sense with his friends and family from all over the world.

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Luxury Turn Key Residences… Design Made Easy!

Daniel VanHall “The Design Escort” discusses the design service of luxury turn-key residences that Shields and Company Interiors provides to clients. The design process is streamlined by partnering with the multi-brand showroom Mondo Collection and other high end industry vendors so that the firm can pre-design and photo realistically render each residence down to every last detail in order to save the client time and aggravation involved in the traditional design process.

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SUN VALLEY DESIGN: VISITING THE SUN VALLEY LODGE

Every January my husband and I take some time off and spend a few weeks in our favorite ski resort, Sun Valley, Idaho.  We always mix a little business with pleasure, so this time around I decided to check out the recently renovated Sun Valley Lodge, a place we had stayed at several times in the past.

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Sun Valley was developed by Averell  Harriman, chairman of the Board of the Union Pacific Railroad and was America’s first ski resort, opening in 1936.  The Sun Valley Lodge has always been connected to movie stars and famous people visiting there, and has several hallways lined with wonderful pictures from way back when.

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AND many a to-be-famous ice skater has practiced on it’s outdoor and indoor rinks located behind the hotel. Even we have done a few revolutions around  the outdoor rink when the mood strikes us and we are not challenging ourselves on the ski slopes nearby.

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The Lodge has always exemplified mountain elegance…traditional leanings with sophisticated rustic pieces made from wood, wrought iron and horns.  The colors are warm and dark and the upholstery pieces large and comfy looking.

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I had been hearing that Mountain Minimalism…think Mid-Century Modern/ late 20th Century design and contemporary architecture…had finally caught up with  the interior design and architecture of Sun Valley.  I was curious and wanted to see for myself if this new trend had manage to take over the recent renovation of the hotel, so I convinced my husband to join me for a quick tour.

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Well, The Lodge hasn’t quite caught up with true Mountain Minimalism, but it certainly has expanded it’s look and services and gotten rid of a lot of the dowdy/ dreary aspects that had made it look time warped…think elegance gone shabby. The fireplaces are simpler and more monolithic…there is even an ultra-modern gas fireplace in one room. The old photos in the corridors have all  been reframed and have been curated down to a group more oriented towards the new generation of guests.

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The main lobby has been deposed of Harriman’s portrait, which used to hang over the fireplace…although, I did find it hanging on a corridor wall. I mean, the man is the original juice behind the development of Sun Valley, so we can’t disrespect him completely, right?

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The accessories and lighting are more contemporary and a bright new glass walled sitting room area faces the skating rink in the back.  There is also a very chic new bar, which has a dark seductive kind of a vibe to it…much sexier than the one my husband and I used to call “the wrinkle room” because the decor and the patrons all seemed so very old!

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The big highlight is the new Spa, which has a beautiful store attached to it, replete with very high ceilings and interesting marble wall decorations and lighting.  I have to admit that I adore the addition of copper to the front of the building and the entry door to the Spa.

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Unfortunately, I did not get to tour any of the rooms, which I have been told have also been renovated and updated to go with the lovely new lobby areas.  My memory recall of those rooms when we stayed there was that they were pretty ordinary for such a fancy place. However,  you can check them out on line and see what they look like today for yourself (Sun Valley Lodge.)  My take is that they pretty much match the feeling of the public areas down stairs…light traditional…but they are all definitely fresh, new and comfortable looking.

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My walk away interior design rating was “good job!”  The Lodge has managed to maintain its feeling as an institution in the hospitality industry in Sun Valley and add just enough new bells and whistles to make it appealing to the ever younger guests visiting the area.  Most importantly, they have kept the sophistication level high and one still senses the history and significance of this wonderful old hotel located in glamorous Sun Valley.

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 FOR THE FUN OF IT: Here are a few of the photographs of famous people lining the walls of the lobby  area…See how many you can recognize:

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Ciao, ciao ’til next time!

 

 

 

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REINVENTING PAINT: DRIKOLOR REAL PIGMENT PAINTS

 

I think we should start out the year with a post about a wonderful new product I unearthed quite by accident. On my last trip out to the West Coast, I was introduced to Rachel Lacy, a neighbor of my son and his family in Los Angeles. She is the creator of Drikolor, a totally new and fantastic way to make and mix paint colors…and I love this product.

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Having played in the interior design business for almost 30 years, one of my tenets as a designer is the belief that a great paint job makes a very big difference and is worth it’s weight in gold.  I always insist on hiring only the best painters available since there is no doubt that a great painter makes a major difference in the final results.

 

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I have tried everything from faux painting…which, I must admit, is effective in the right environment…and expensive European paints…which permit one to create a shellacked finish to walls and ceilings…as well as troweled finishes and the like on walls.  Now I have the opportunity to create with Drikolor!

 

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According to Lacy, all paints available in the market today use synthetic substances to create colors. Drikolor, on the other hand, utilizes natural pigments found around the world to create the colors in their palette.  Think of such exotic pigments as Champagne Chalk from France, Ochres and Umbers from Cyprus, Ultramarine Blue from Lazurite in Afghanistan, Bone Black from North America.  It all sounds pretty fantastic to me!

 

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Drikolor uses only the best quality materials to produce their richly pigmented palette of colors. Using these artisan pigments and combining them with other substances through their patented technology, they have produced paints with intense colors that can be used in home interiors, as well as on exterior walls of buildings made of cement and plaster.

 

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Not only are Drikolor paints  manufactured in such a fashion that they turn out to to be more economical than standard paints but they have also been given the blessings of several global organizations as safe for the environment.

 

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All of the pigments are packaged in simple, award winning white containers, surrounded by eye catching colorful packages.  These pigments are subsequently added to a base paint from a regular paint company recommended by Drikolor in order to guarantee the best results. The colors are guaranteed to be richer and stronger than ordinary paint and to react better with the different types of lighting in any room.

 

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Lacy and her team have given a great deal of thought to color theory and interior design theory which you can read about on www.drikolor.com.  Their approach to paint is so much more scientific and intellectual  that it captivates your interest and you begin to wonder why someone hasn’t done this before. They have even developed a unique palette of paints based on Le Corbusier’s architecture and designs.  Now, we are talking absolute chic…paint with a historical design reference!

 

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Although, Drikolor offers several white colors, they emphasize using stronger colors to create interest in small places, such as hallways and stairways.  I’ve always believed that people who use white paints for their walls are just lazy or afraid of color. Truth be told, color pulls together the elements of a room, as Drikolor  so clearly states on their website, and white does just the opposite. Hmmm…something to ponder…

 

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I am really looking forward to trying out Drikolor paints in my next project.  BTW the company has a relationship with Dwell and has developed a whole line of paints with them.  However, you can buy any one of their products directly on their website and they offer great customer support to help you find your comfort level with their fabulous paints.

Viva la differénce…especially in paint!

 

Ciao, ciao ’til next time!