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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jet Set: Babington House

Just the other day, Oliveaux posted a few pictures from the idyllic Babington House in Somerset, England. I was instantly smitten and wanted more! This is the type of place you go to get away from the stresses of everyday life. The estate is located on 18 acres of pristine Somerset parkland and is comprised of a Main House, Coach House, Stable Block, Lodge, and a Walled Garden. You can spend your time playing tennis or cricket, or you can choose to relax at the hotel's famed Cowshed Spa. The small village of Somerset also has several area attractions including the Roman Baths, Jane Austen Centre, Glastonbury Abbey, Wells Cathedral, and several historic castles and museums.
Just this year, the Babington House was named to Condé Nast Traveler's Gold List for Best Ambience / Design 2009. The centuries-old estate is now home to thirty-two beautifully-appointed rooms, twenty-three of which are located in the Main House and Coach House. There are five rooms in the Stable Block, three in the Lodge, and three rooms adjacent to the Cowshed Spa with views of the walled garden. In addition, the property also features several dining options including The House Kitchen, The House Bar, and The Log Room. The beautiful Orangery is the most beautiful of the dining spaces and is frequently reserved for wedding receptions and other special events. In addition to its restaurants, spa, and outdoor activities, the hotel also features a cinema, library, pool room, and study for further relaxation. Like its sister property, the SoHo House in New York, the Babington House and all of its amenities are available to guests and members of the elite Every House Membership Plan
Another View of the Stately Main House

The Log Room

The Orangery

The House Kitchen

The House Bar
The Study

Cowshed Spa

A Second Look at the Cowshed Spa
A Lovely Room in the Main House
Main House Attic Bathroom

A Beautiful Room on the First Floor of the Main House
A Sleek Bathroom

A Romantic Bathroom in the Coach House
The Playroom is the premier guest room at the Babington House. It is located on the first floor of the Main House.
The Playroom's Luxurious Bathroom

I am not sure what would be more difficult; choosing a room or leaving at the end of one's holiday!

All images via Babington House

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Personal Style, Defined.

David Jimenez's living room is one of my favorite spaces ever. I think it is very "me" because of the subdued colors, mixture of styles, and hints of glamour. I think it encompasses my style the most out of any of the rooms featured in this post.

I recently came across the most interesting topic on Decorum. If someone asked you to define your personal decorating style in three words, what would they be? This may be a no-brainer for some, but a challenge for others. Whether you know it or not, your sense of style is probably very well-defined, but if you are like me, it may be easier for your friends to come up with three words to define your style than it is for you to describe it yourself. Because I have a design blog and the type of personality that analyzes everything, it is hard for me to take my own home and say "this fits precisely in this category", especially when my home is a work in progress. For that reason, I have gathered some of my absolute favorite pictures that are completely in line with my design sensibility.

1. I suppose the first word to describe my personal design style would be "glamour". I hesitate to say that because I am not one of those people who believes their own hype and goes around thinking they are just "fabulous, dahling". That is not who I am. I shop at Target! Despite the fact that I tend to like more masculine styles in décor, I do like hints of glamour here and there, especially when paired with a dark, subdued color, like in both of these rooms. I love beautiful mirrors and chandeliers and believe in having beautiful lighting in every room.

A nook in Lisa Epley's Home

Molly Sims' SoHo apartment is one of my favorite homes ever.

2. My second adjective would be "subdued". I tend to choose neutrals for most furnishings and then build the overall look through accessories and textile like pillows. The subdued look really applies to the bedrooms and bathrooms in my home. I like white linens. I just love how crisp and clean they look. My bed has a a white duvet and pillows, but I add color through throw pillows. I love how both of the rooms pictured below feature very simple bedding, but incorporate color, texture, and patterns through the other elements in the room.
A Bedroom by Mary McGee

Jennifer Alpeter's Beautiful Bedroom

3. My last adjective would definitely be "eclectic". I really love when a home looks and feels layered and collected. These rooms all feel very put together, but they feature a variety of design styles, as well as new and vintage or antique items. I think it is super important to have some vintage and antique items in your home in order to add character and personality. Otherwise, no matter how beautiful, rooms can look sterile if they resemble a showroom. I am constantly looking for ways to achieve this in my home.

Tori Mellott's Living Room

Katie Lee Joel's gorgeous home is another personal favorite.

I love Ron Marvin's apartment. He packs so much style into that little space! I really like his use of neutral colors and the fact that he adds interest through patterns, like the zebra rug and pops of color through accessories. Given my husband's profession and our love of lighting, I definitely see eye to eye with Ron, the self-professed "lamp tramp".

I also have an exciting announcement! Over the next few weeks, I will be featuring profiels of some of my favorite bloggers as they describe their personal style. They will be sharing their favorite room and describing how it personifies their personal design aesthetic. Look for the feature entitled "Personal Style" beginning early next week!

Now, I would love to hear from you. What three words would you use to describe your personal design style

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Going to the Dark Side: Kitchens

Houstonian Lisa Epley used a mirrored backsplash and Calcutta Gold countertops to balance out the darkness of her cabinets. You can see the rest of her fabulous home in my post, The House of Mirrors.

I have been keeping a file of black kitchens since I first saw the kitchen in Gwyneth Paltrow's Hamptons House in House & Garden a couple of summers ago. I remember thinking that I really liked the look, but being on the fence about it. It seems like darker kitchens are starting to gain in popularity now that some people are growing tired of white kitchens (I for one, have not). However, I do think that a lot of the black kitchens I have seen look pretty fabulous. I can't help but feel a little nervous about it, though. Not only does it take moxie to own a black kitchen, you really have to consider how black cabinets will affect the overall space. It is imperative to have an abundance of natural light from windows to counteract the darkness of the cabinets. What do you all think? Is this something you could envision in your own home?

This kitchen has all of the basics: a nice layout, fantastic cabinetry, hardware, and appliances. However, it feels a bit sterile. I would change the pendants over the island and infuse some color into the space, but overall it does feel bright. Unfortunately, I must have saved this photo in a frenzy and do not know the source. Any ideas?

Gwyneth Paltrow's black Hamptons kitchen as featured in House & Garden

This cool kitchen is from Farmhouse Modern.

This kitchen by Betsy Burnham features an interesting backsplash.

Kelly Wearstler's glamorous take on the black kitchen features black cabinets, black countertops, and a black backsplash.

This image comes from Alkemie and features shiny black cabinets for a more modern approach. The crystal chandelier keeps the space from looking too stark and gives it a hint of glamour. I love the industrial faucet!

This image is from Shelter. This kitchen must be in Europe or New York because it is so tiny! Despite its size, it is very stylish and organized. Check out the cool display with the glasses and bottles of Pellegrino.

Windsor Smith's kitchens are a favorite amongst bloggers. She frequently opts for a dining table in the middle instead of an island, as you can see here. This kitchen features black cabinets, walls, and mouldings against Carrara marble. Does the pot rack make anyone else feel anxious? I am so OCD!

This cool kitchen was featured in House Beautiful. The flooring is very cool, but I would have preferred Carrara marble instead of black on the island.

Erinn Valencich designed this lovely black kitchen. I love that she infused it with color! Notice the turquoise backsplash and flooring.

Angie Hranowsky's gorgeous kitchen feels very bright despite the use of dark cabinetry. Aside from the abundance of natural light in the room, she opted to use only lower cabinets, and chose Calcutta Gold marble for the island and reflective stainless steel countertops for the rest of the kitchen. I love the Mother of Pearl backsplash tiles and lucite stools! All of these elements make the space look vibrant and keep it from feeling cumbersome.

Lindsey and Kristin Buckingham's kitchen features cabinets painted with Benjamin Moore's "Night Shade". The kitchen has the same bohemian vibe as the rest of their home.

I really do wonder if going to the dark side is better if done gradually. Is it best to start off with a nice shade of grey and eventually make it to black, or should one just dive right in? I think I am still partial to white kitchens and would probably do grey before black. This home is from a post I did on this house entitled, "The Lovely Bones".
The builder opted for a greyish-green hue on the cabinets with a dark wood island.

The gold hardware in this kitchen by Katy Elliott gives the space such a glam 1970s feel, don't you think? I really like the color of the cabinets.

This kitchen is from Things That Inspire. I believe it was from a real estate listing in Atlanta. I love the library style ladder along the back wall! The owners of this home opted for a blue-grey hue for their massive island.

I am in love with this kitchen by Baden and Baden. The paint color, the counters, the shelving, faucet, appliances, and abundance of storage...perfection!

So what are your thoughts on black kitchens? Do you think they will be the next hot thing (i.e. today's white kitchen with carrara countertops, stainless appliances, and scoop hardware)? I do think that they will increase in popularity, but believe that if the masses do decide to move away from white kitchens, they will probably gravitate towards grey rather than black. Personally, I do think that white can be timeless if done tastefully and grey kitchens are usually quite lovely. I think the black kitchens would require meticulous planning because one misstep could lead to a design disaster. I think it takes a lot of gusto to do it but when done correctly, the result can be fabulous!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Colorful Disposition: Palmer Weiss

I am really sad to have missed this year's San Francisco Decorator Showcase, especially because Palmer Weiss decorated one of the bedrooms. Her work is so fresh and chic. I would have loved to have seen it this year, but alas, we don't live anywhere near San Francisco, and being able to attend last year's showcase was just a lucky coincidence. Still, I wish that we had showcases of the same caliber of those in San Francisco or New York here in Houston. We certainly have some fantastic local talent and I can't think of why designers from other cities wouldn't want to come here. Unfortunately, most of the showcases in Houston tend to be in the faux-Tuscan, model home category, so thanks, but no thanks.

I'll stop myself before I really go on a tangent. Palmer Weiss is an unbelievably talented San Francisco-based interior designer with Southern roots, which are definitely evident in her work. She has been featured in numerous publications, including Domino and Traditional Home. Weiss' work is ideal for the way people live today. Not only does it look beautiful and chic, it also feels inviting and comfortable. Her use of color and pattern adds a sense of warmth to every space. You won't find a single sterile-looking space in her portfolio.

Take this room for example. Design purists might hate the fact that the focal point is the mounted plasma, but this is the way most people live in America! Palmer understands that, works around it, and the result is both stylish and livable. I love the colors used in this room. There are lots of trendy pieces which makes it feel current. Again, purists might argue that these things will look dated in a few years, but isn't that the case with everything? And let's face it, anyone who is even remotely interested in design is going to want to make some changes for the fun of it sooner than later.
This room makes me happy. Honestly, I can't help but smile when I look at it. The citrus colors are bright and cheerful and make for a very inviting space. I only wish we could see more of the kitchen!

I believe this beautiful nook is part of a sitting area in a master bedroom, but I think the chair and drapes would be gorgeous in a nursery. The colors work for both genders, and again, it just looks so darn cheerful. How great are these built-ins?

This bed is insane! I love the upholstered headboard and matching bedskirt in the funky fabric. The linens are gorgeous and from the looks of the monogram, I am inclined to say they are probably from Leontine, but I am not certain. The ceramic turquoise gourd lamp is lovely, too.

I love that Palmer can take something like a skirted table and make it feel young and almost funky! Isn't this great?
This is a more traditional take on an entry way, but again, the skirted table feels fresh here. I think it is all about the clean lines. I also like that it is paired with a traditional antique, gilded mirror. How about the zebra runner on the stairs?

This room was recently featured on the cover of Traditional Home and for good reason. All of the individual components are quite formal and traditional, but Palmer's use of color and method of styling breathe life into it and make it elegant, without feeling stuffy.

Again, Weiss takes some very traditional elements but keeps them from feeling too museum-like by infusing the room with elements like the greek key upholstered setee.

This lovely dining room features an eclectic mixture of styles. Present in this one room are Asian garden stools, Louis the XIV style chairs upholstered in Kelly Wearstler's Trellis fabric, slipcovered chairs, an antique gilded mirror and matching chandelier, and a pair of Foo Dogs.

This skirted table, in David Hicks' classic La Fiorentina pattern is a fabulous option for a desk. Think of all of the things you could store underneath, especially if you have limited space! The chair is beautiful and the lamp provides a hint of color.

P.S. If you were able to attend this year's Decorator Showcase in San Francisco, or if you find pictures, please share! :)

All images via Palmer Weiss Interior Design