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4 MOST INSPIRING HISTORICAL PERIODS FOR INTERIOR DESIGN

Premium interior design is always a result of myriad influences and sources of inspiration. In my own work, I’ve always drawn on history.

You can do the same. If you try to copy a period’s look wholesale, it will come across as an imitation. The trick is to get familiar with a broad range of historical periods known for fabulous high end interior design and to pick, choose, and combine your favorite parts to come up with something new.

Here are four to start with…

1. 17TH CENTURY FRANCE
The French have always had a flair for style. Nowhere is this better reflected than in their high end interior design.

Romance is an important part of this era. Typical of French style is ornate designs using intricate patterns from talented craftsmen. Think of Baroque ornamentation in ceiling  and mirror molding applications. Colors are subdued to reflect a conservative setting.

Typical are light interiors dominated by white, cream, light grays, light blues greens, and pink. As the French would spare no expense in their furnishings, we also see large “French” doors, high ceilings, and ornate pattern work, expensive tapestries, and elegant fabrics. The high end interior design style from this period in French history is extravagant in the best possible way.

Your eyes are immediately drawn to the importance of the fireplace, mahogany doors, limestone and lavender touches equally share in deign and incorporates the elegance of the other furnishings. Today, by incorporating elements of this style with modern furnishings, you can do amazing things.

2. THE ROARING 20’S

The Roaring 20’s, also known as The Jazz Age, was the period in American history; beginning shortly after the end of WWI and lasting until the beginning of the Depression.

This era is reflective of good times, increased prosperity, and brand new high end interior design trends. The recent movie version of The Great Gatsby captures the essence of interior design that was typical of this age.

What is called the Contemporary style of high end interior started in the Jazz Age, both in its streamlined elegance and use of new materials like linoleum.

Some of the elements I like best from this era are the colors of the time, such as the striking highlighting use of  black, white and gold in combination with pastels like pink, purple and light yellow.  I also love the use of glass and mirrors to reflect lighting, provides a hypnotic effect.

One of the most enduring interior design legacies of the Jazz Age is the Art Deco style. As Miami interior designers, we’re fortunate to be near the Art Deco capital of the world—South Beach.

If you want to get some really great ideas from this era, then South Beach is the place to go. You can even take a guided tour and spend walking around South Beach and read the many books that have been written about this vibrant area to get some ideas.Art Deco style hotels welcome visitors inside their lobbies.

You’ll encounter terrazzo floors and neon signs—chic, eclectic, vibrant and airy interiors with tropical flare that is reminiscence of our proximity to the ocean. Light color pallets on walls and stones flooring are are favorite choices. I’m thankful that this historic part of Miami interior design has been preserved for us to admire and to learn from.

Here are a few ways you can start incorporating Jazz Age interior design into your home:

Try linoleum flooring. A black and white checkerboard pattern would be a good start. Classic furniture typical of the time can be found in thrift stores for a good price or at your local antique stores. Use plenty of mirrors and chrome to get that extra edge.

3. MID CENTURY MODERN

 I really enjoy the mid-twentieth century interior design style. It’s a modern look with streamlined looks and organic shapes. Scandinavian furniture is a favorite trend of this era and influenced the American way of design thinking for years to come.

The style gives everything an open, airy feeling. It’s a fresh look that is soothing and comfortable. Visitors to homes from this era are always impressed by people who can maximize the look of this era with carefully placed fixtures such as lighting, and clever use of decorations such as animal skin carpeting.

This era shows that you can do a lot of design with just a little input. Exotic woods such as teak and mahogany are incorporated in all aspects of the furniture and in wall units.

Truly this is a classic look that remains very popular to this day. 

4. 21ST CENTURY NEW YORK

There are fantastic things happening in design right this minute. And just as in so many other things, when it comes to interior design New York City is making it happen.

When I think of New York, the first thing that comes to my mind is a place that is historic, iconic, timeless, diverse, artistic, evolving, always fashionable and a relevant cultural capital of the world. In one place, we find classical, avant-garde, eclectic architecture and design style that combines vintage and modern elements.

And that New York is prime real estate, they tend to be masters at maximizing every single inch of a space.

Here are some elements of New York interior design you might be able to borrow:

Spectacular views of the City are enhanced by the use of large glass windows that give an open airy space providing a feel that more space actually exists.  As a nerve center to the arts, interiors reflect an artsy, intimate surrounding that tune out the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Hardwood floors, counter stones like marble, granite and onyx, brick , and concrete walls expose the building structures’ popular design elements. Neutral palettes accessorized with vibrant colors on the walls can make artwork stand out but not so much that would take away from the spectacular views of the City.

By looking beyond your on era for inspiration, there’s a great chance you’ll end up with a home that you’ll be thrilled with for many years into the future.


OUR NEW FAVORITE HIGH END INTERIOR DESIGN SERIES

For those of you who drop by often, you probably know that I regularly sing the praises of high end interior design blog Quintessence. Stacey Bewkes and her crew have a knack for pairing the most stylish images with some of the most insightful commentary about the premium interior design world.

Well, they have truly outdone themselves this time.

The folks at Quintessence have just launched their brand new “International House Guest” video series, and it’s a real winner.

The first episode is hosted by high end interior design expert Susanna Salk, who receives a personal invitation from designer and author Timothy Corrigan to his restored Chateau du Grand-Luce.

You’ve got to watch this video if you want to find out what true luxury means. As Timothy says, “any home can be the coziest of homes, it really is all about making it a place of comfort.


WHAT’S HIGH END INTERIOR DESIGN’S HOTTEST MATERIAL? (HINT: YOUR GRANDMA USED IT)

Among high end interior designers, porcelain is hot! Before you check your vision, keep in mind that this versatile material has come a long way from the days of your grandmother’s pink-tiled bathroom floor.

Miami interior designer Steven G. talks about why you might want to explore porcelain for yourself.


WHY OBSERVATION IS THE SECRET TO GREAT INTERIOR DESIGN

The story of how I chose high end interior design as a career has many twists and turns. But looking back it seems inevitable because of one trait I’ve had for as long as I can remember.

In short, the thought of becoming an interior designer never entered my mind until I reached a professional turning point at age 28 (another great story, actually, but I’m saving that for a future post!). The reason was simple.  I had zero exposure to the world of interior design.  It was as if it didn’t exist at all.  However I always observed my surroundings without knowing where it would lead.

I grew up in a very small New England mill town, in a remote part of the city, in the woods, on a dead end street, with a nuclear family that stayed at home and rarely left the neighborhood.  This probably sounds like a lead in for a bad Lifetime movie, but this underexposure did have its benefits.

Being forced to be a “loner” taught me something fantastic; something that has been a key ingredient to my success.  I became an observer.  A silent outsider looking in.

It wasn’t until I entered the premium interior design world that I found that I had learned how to store visual stimuli into a mental idea book through the art of observation.  I found that as I needed inspiration, a stored image would come to the rescue.

So here are some tips on how to harness your own power of observation to empower you to pull from the “files” within your mind.

OBSERVE WHAT’S OUT THERE
By nature, we have the ability to enter a space that we have never entered before and map our way through it.

For example, let’s say you’re on a road trip.  You need a break so you take the exit to “multi-plex” rest stop.  It’s a place you have no former knowledge of.  Subconsciously your mind immediately starts to drop pins to establish where you parked (second row next to the trash can, third spot by the tree), where the entrance is (by the knock-off sunglass cart and bank of vending machines), where the coffee is (next to the cheesy display with brochures of what to do while in the area).

You established where you were within a new space while being completely unaware you were doing it.  Steve Jobs and Apple didn’t invent this idea of dropping pins.   Your brain did.

We all have the ability to be in the moment.  It’s just a matter of reigning in that power to observe, learn, and gather ideas.  How?  When you enter a space, when you take a moment to really look at it, use the reactions that you feel.

If you feel that “something”, take a minute to soak it in.  Drop your pins.  Don’t just feel the “WOW” of the space.  Understand it.  Examine the shapes.   Examine the scale.  Look for repeated themes and what they are.  Look for the message because usually there is one.  The space is speaking to you.  The challenge is this: are you listening?

OBSERVE OTHERS
When a space feels special, chances are that others are experiencing it too. When you observe not just your surroundings but how others are experiencing it as well, you will see how you are not alone in your reactions. This will help you crack the code.

Observe body language.  Do people seem comfortable?  If the answer is yes than try to see why.  Is it the lighting?  What area are people drawn to and what is the reason?  How are people moving through the space?  Is it effortless or does it seem staggered?  If staggered, what are the obstacles causing the backup?

What seems to work and what doesn’t?  Remember, the décor isn’t the only factor that can establish the mood of the crowd.

Listening is key.  Do the acoustics add or subtract to the space?  The roar of the crowd is great for football games but not so much for a nice dinner.  A dance club is great to feel the bass, but not great when you want to pull off and have a sidebar with a friend.

If a crowded room doesn’t seem overpowered by the sound, observe why.  Are there upholstered walls?  Drapery as dividing walls?  Millwork screens?  Do these tricks help or hamper the space?  Look to see if people seem enthralled in conversation or preoccupied with their IPhone.  The way others react will tell a big story.

OBSERVE YOURSELF
Listen to your innermost thoughts.  If you feel uneasy, there is a reason.  If you feel like you want to stay and unwind, then get inspired by that.  Observe your reactions.  It’s different for us all.  But when something speaks to you, listen to it!  Get intrigued.  Get curious. Get mischievous. Dig down deep.  Have fun with it.

I usually take about 5 minutes upon entering a new space and “semi” zone out if I am with friends or fully zone out if I am alone.  It’s ok that I look like a lost tourist sometimes. My eyes and my mind are working in tandem by speaking to each other.

It is possible to look and not think.  Have you ever looked for your keys to find that they are in your hand?

If I am having a strong reaction to a space (that WOW), I must devour it.

I am a visual junkie and proud of it.  After all, that is what’s so magical about any art form.  It has the power to alter the way people feel.  Once you understand what visually speaks to you, your experiences will take on a whole new level. You will discover how interior design is a very powerful art form.

Hey, it’s not for everyone but if you’re still reading this, chances are there’s a silent observer in you too.


THE BEST LUXURY TRAVEL ARTICLES OF THE WEEK

This week I was catching up on my favorite high end interior design blogs and noticed a common theme…travel.  

So I thought it’d be nice to share the joy with you. Here’s a short list of the best articles this week on the topic of how to live luxuriously when you’re away from home.

Click the headlines below to see the full articles.

Recreational Island the Yacht Floating Plateform

There are yachts…and then there are yachts. This article is all about a new yacht by Henry Ward Design that includes a platform that both lets you relax and lets you land your private helicopter.

The 10 Most Luxurious Cruise Ships in the World 

“Forget the corny magic shows and nightclubs—these cruise ships offer five-star accommodations for an elite group of travelers.”

All Aboard the ‘Sumptuous’ Yacht From The Wolf of Wall Street

No matter how you feel about Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in The World of Wall Street, he certainly had a taste for luxury. This article explores the real life yacht made famous in the movie.

The Best Spa and Wellness Centers in the World

After a long day cruising or yachting, who doesn’t need a spa day? Find out where you can visit the most luxurious spas and wellness centers wherever you are in the world.

What’s your favorite way to introduce luxury into your travel?


HOW CUSTOM FURNITURE CAN TRANSFORM THE LOOK OF YOUR HOME

Watch your favorite Miami interior designer talk about the pleasures of featuring custom designed furniture in your home.

THE ONE MISTAKE NOT TO MAKE WHEN PLANNING YOUR HOME INTERIOR

Clients often come to us because they are dissatisfied with the interiors of their homes. Some redesign their home every few years because they never seem to end up with an environment that makes them feel good. This typically happens when an interior decorator focuses entirely on looks at the expense of the most important thing of all…emotion.

WHY THE MOST BEAUTIFUL HOME CAN MAKE YOU UNHAPPY
I’m not saying that having a beautiful home isn’t important. It certainly is. But beauty is only the beginning.

Our home is where we hang our hat and is escape from the everyday hustle and bustle. It is our sanctuary where we should feel safe to live how we want and represent who we truly are. After all, your home is where most of life’s memories take place. So shouldn’t your home should evoke a part of you?

If your shelter does not fit the details of the life you live, it won’t feel like a home. A house that does not represent you will lead to discontentment and can eventually cause one to perceive the most beautiful home as ugly.

QUALITY INTERIOR DESIGN IS MORE THAN SKIN DEEP
People think about home decoration as all about cosmetics and trends. We often gravitate towards a particular look that we have seen and think we like. Many clients make the mistake of choosing a full service interior design firm that has one style they are good at and replicates the look time and again, thinking this is what the client wants regardless of how the client actually lives.

The key to successful design is to start with lifestyle and work backwards. It is important for you first to figure out how you want to live. From there, a quality interior designer will be able to help you choose the beautiful furnishings that fit into your lifestyle instead of you fitting the designer’s vision.

A simple way of doing this is to dig deep within inside you for the answers. I typically like to have my clients do an inventory list of their lifestyle. Do they enjoy entertaining? Do they have children? Do they cook a lot? The list goes on.

I like to learn as much as I can about a client’s daily lifestyle in order to create the perfect home for them. It is important to be yourself with your designer so that they can focus on what it is that you truly want. This will allow them to design a beautiful and functional environment that you will be happy to live in and enjoy for years to come.


DESIGNTV WITH STEVEN G – MEL BOCHNER

In today’s episode, Miami interior designer Steven G. talks about American conceptual artist Mel Bochner.

WHAT FINDING THE PERFECT PAIR OF SHOES CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT DECORATING YOUR HOME

I have loved everything about shoes since I was a little girl.

I remember my very first ballet class when I was 5 years old — how I fell in love with those plushy pink ballet flats. And nothing was more fun than playing in my mother’s closet for hours trying on all of her heels.

There’s a reason so many great fashion designers have focused on shoes.

Manolo Blahnik with his classically elegant stilettos.

Christian Louboutin and his perfect red soles.

Dior with his feminine, edgy signature heels.

As a high end interior designer, it’s no wonder that shoes have influenced me. They’ve taught me about style, craftsmanship, quality and detail.

As for you, picking out the right pair of shoes can provide wonderful lessons about the design of your home.

Just like shopping for a pair of the perfect chairs, it’s not just how beautiful they are but how well they sit. The pitch must be absolutely right—are you leaning forward too much or ready for takeoff? Is the seat too shallow or too deep? Are the arms too high or low? Does your tush feel the springs as you sit or does the seat create a permanent indentation?

And are you assured of quality that will last?

SIMPLICITY WINS EVERY TIME
A luxurious pair of shoes is all about the lines, cut, details and comfort.

So is quality interior design.

Think of the lines in terms of how they flow fluidly without being disjointed front to back and side to side. The cut should be tailored and proportioned with unique detail that sets apart from the rest.

These elements could be in the stitching, seaming, texture or hardware accents.

There should be a common thread that flows room to room. The furniture should be in proportion to the size of the room. The style should look timeless with accent pieces that complement each other.  Lighting should be strategic to help create a harmonious environment.

CRAFTSMANSHIP IS KING
Premium craftsmanship is often handmade and invested with time and clear vision.

Manolo Blahnik has been known for perfecting the sexiest and most comfortable pair of stilettos. He spent years studying the ergonomics of women’s feet and perfecting the arch for his famous shoes. Each pair of shoes are crafted by hand to perfection.

Similarly, in home design, great craftsmanship trumps bells and whistles every time. A premium interior design professional studies a space as if it is a woman’s feet, and creates an environment perfectly suited to it.

IF IT’S NOT COMFORTABLE, PRETTY GETS UGLY REALLY FAST
Everyone has had the experience (or knows someone) who hardly wore beautiful shoes because they didn’t fit well. This is the same as sitting in a chair that does not meet its function and comfort. Or having a room with poor lighting that becomes a distraction and destroys the overall ambiance.

If your home doesn’t fit who you are and how you live, the design is a failure.

Luxury is wonderful, but comfort is what makes every day livable—whether it’s the shoes you walk around in or the place where you kick up your feet.


MY FAVORITE BLOG POSTS OF THE WEEK

Below are my favorite high end interior design blog posts of this week (other than The Psychology of Design, that is 😉 ).

Click on the titles below to take a look at them…I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Elements of Style – “Feminine Touch”

Premium interior design blogger Erin Gates walks us through a baby nursery that uses of the new, old, and everything in between to make those first precious years as beautiful and memorable as possible. Taste not trends.

COCOCOZY – “$20 Millon Dollar Estates For Sale – See This House”

Coco takes us on a cross country tour of some of America’s most luxurious, tasteful…and yes, expensive homes. Fun fun fun.

Houzz – “Binge on the Design of ‘House of Cards'”

Those of you who know me well know what a big Sopranos fan I am. The rest of you will soon find out. Still, it was a lot of fun learning about the premium interior design choices the creators of this new TV classic are making.


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