Friday, July 24, 2009

The Challenge of Built-ins

Trying to design a piece of built-in furniture to blend seemlessly into the existing architecture of a space is not an easy feat. Luckily, I have a very talented contractor who just installed these built-in bookcases and window seat (with storage) with a fantastic eye for detail.

He was able to match the existing molding by utilizing San Francisco Victoriana, who carries a variety of architectural ornamentation, including many traditional moldings used in San Francisco buildings. If they don't carry the specific molding you are trying to match they can make it for you.

Update: Check out the finished project on my San Francisco Interior Design Portfolio under "Forest Side Bungalow"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Design Icon of the Week: Eileen Gray

Above: Rue de Lota apartment designed by Eileen Gray.
The tubular shaped Bibendum chair is shown, one of her most recognizable designs.

Eileen Gray has always been a favorite of mine. Maybe it's the fact that she was a woman in a male dominated field, or maybe because flexibility and function were at the forefront of her furniture designs. Here is an excerpt from the Design Museum about Gray:

Neglected for most of her career, EILEEN GRAY (1878-1976) is now regarded as one of the most important furniture designers and architects of the early 20th century and the most influential woman in those fields. Her work inspired both modernism and Art Deco.

In the August 1917 issue of British Vogue magazine a writer described the work of Miss Gray, a lacquer artist who had fled her home in Paris to seek refuge in London during World War I. “Influenced by the modernists is Miss Gray’s art, so they say,” it began. “But is it not rather that she stands alone, unique, the champion of a singularly free method of expression.”

Her design style was as distinctive as her way of working, and Gray developed an opulent, luxuriant take on the geometric forms and industrially produced materials used by the International Style designers, such as Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand and Mies Van Der Rohe, who shared many of her ideals.

Her voluptuous leather and tubular steel Bibendum Chair and clinically chic E-1027 glass and tubular steel table are now as familiar as icons of the International Style as Le Corbusier and Perriand’s classic Grand Confort club chairs, yet for most of her career she was relegated to obscurity by the same proud singularity that makes her work so prized today.

Above: The adjustable E-1027 table, a modern classic. Reproductions now available at DWR.

Now, you can find me at the Examiner! Check out my page for more interior design articles, tips and local sources or visit: for more info.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Serving up the succulents

Being new to the gardening world, I started my path to a green thumb by planting succulents years ago. They thrive well on sparse water and care, and there are endless varieties in beautiful shapes and colors. I spruced up the pots with new varieties this year, my latest favorite being Echeveria Metallica shown above.

We also decided to plant a vegetable garden this year. (Growing the vegetables has been easy compared to building and installing the planter boxes on the edge of our patio deck.) The green onions, garlic, and tomatoes are thriving well from seeds, and the basil plant was added after the red peppers didn't take off. Nothing is ready to harvest yet, but hopefully before the end of the summer we will have a home grown salad. We used redwood (cut to size at the hardware store), deck screws, and metal brackets to create simple planter boxes to fit between the posts on our patio fence.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Design Icon of the Week: Alvar Aalto

I spotted an Alvar Aalto vase at the flea market this weekend and the dealer thought the designer was from Mexico. That made me laugh a bit, and prompted the idea of featuring a design icon every week. Here is a short bio from the Design Museum about Aalto:

The most important Finnish architect of the 20th century, ALVAR AALTO (1898-1976) was a central figure in international modernism. His greatest buildings, like the 1927 Viipuri Library and 1928 Paimio Sanatorium, fused the naturalism of Finnish romanticism with modernist ideals: as did his influential furniture and glassware.

Here are a few of his most recognizable designs. And yes, the forms in his designs are evident at IKEA today.

Stool 60, designed in 1932. Stackable and constructed of Birch wood.

Savoy vase, designed in 1936 for a competition at the World Fair in Paris. Still produced today by Iittala.

Paimio chair, designed in 1931. Made of bent plywood and birch.

For more info visit:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Peonies vs. Tulips

These Peonies are challenging Tulips position as my number one flower.