Le Decor: The Importance of Being Green

April 11, 2014

Just as Kermit the frog explained, it’s not always easy being green. Still, with a growing planet and shrinking resources, it’s important to do your part. One way to reduce your carbon footprint is buying furniture made of ecofriendly materials. Furniture retailers are doing their part by offering certain products made from reclaimed or sustainable materials. Below are just a few eco-conscious options for your home. [gallery ids="101692,143965,143958,143961,143945,143950,143953" nav="thumbs"]

Le Decor: Le Decor: Modern Inspirations

Art is one of the best way to inspire a space in your home. After reading through the February 26th Arts Preview issue of The Georgetowner, I was inspired by the current “Gravity’s Edge” exhibit at the Hirshorn (February7- June 15, 2014). The vibrate colors and abstract method of detecting the force of gravity, allows for one to experimental and free to mix traditional with modern works of art. There are many ways to introduce invigorating contrast into a space, and art is one of the best. Here are some examples where modern art breathes life into traditional rooms. [gallery ids="101669,144642,144646,144637,144651,144654,144659,144666,144662" nav="thumbs"]

The Power of Color

March 13, 2014

Color surrounds and enlivens our lives. The appropriate use of paint color in the interior of our homes can give the illusion of elongating walls, reducing corners, raising ceilings and expanding the overall room size. The colors we select not only affect our sense of the space but can profoundly affect our emotional state. When working with color, note that paint is one of the least expensive ways to artistically set the stage of our interior spaces.

The natural light coming into a home through windows and glass doors make subtle changes in the colors in each room. In Georgetown, a pink-red hue is reflected into the rooms from the brick side walks and buildings. In suburban Maryland and Virginia, green is reflected into the homes from the larger green expanses of trees and shrubs.

Here are some questions that we receive most often from clients:

Q. I am moving to a large house in this area. I am worried that the rooms will look empty. Is there any remedy by using color on the walls and ceilings?

A. Absolutely. Color can effectively change our perception of the size of a space. One example is to use accent colors that are well lit to draw the eye away from empty space to the complementary color, making a large room cozier.

After looking at the furnishings and art already in their home, we ask about the clients’ color preferences. Warm grays or beige, and creams are the most popular neutrals for providing good backgrounds. An entire house using only these background colors, however, can be boring. If the main floor is large, we recommend that one of the rooms, such as the dining room, features a contrasting color that is complementary. For example, if the other rooms are beige, we might recommend a red or terra-cotta for the dining room. Green is also a good counterpoint color. From hunter to celadon and khaki, green is the best color to show off wood surfaces such as trim, molding, and wood furnishings. We might use accents of red and green (complementary colors) on upholstery and pillows in each of the other rooms to unify the entire space.

Q. How do I know what intensity of color to use in a room? How bold can I go?

A. How intense the color can be depends a great deal on the light in the room. Choose three close but different saturations of the color you want. Paint these colors on pieces of cardboard. Place the colors close to the natural light by a window and also in a far corner that receives the least light. Then try your three different intensities of color on large patches on the wall opposite the windows. When the paint is dry observe the colors at different times of day and evening. This will save you time and money before you paint the entire room. Various finishes can be applied to enliven or soften bolder colors. Glazes can soften the color as well as give it liveliness and transparency. Sponging, ragging, and washes give texture to the walls.

Q. I love the architectural details in my apartment. It has great ceiling moldings and mill-work on the doorways. I would like to feature these elements without bold, garish contrasts. What colors should I use?

A. Ceiling moldings frame a room nicely, which is wonderful. The moldings work best when they are lighter than the wall color, although the contrast need not be great. Similarly you can show off the mill-work with a contrasting color. Follow these rules and choose a wall color that pleases you.

Q. What about white? Should all ceilings be white?

A. Ceilings do not necessarily have to be white. When choosing a ceiling color, consider the color of your walls and the size of the room. If the ceiling height is low, a soft white or cream can be the best choice. A bedroom with cream walls and blue furnishings can look lovely with a pastel sky blue ceiling. If you have a high ceiling, a faux finish such as tortoise shell or a textured color can add glamor and drama to a room for entertaining.

As for whites in general, be cautious. White is less neutral than you think. It contains all the colors of the spectrum. Art galleries paint their walls white to make a strong statement that says, “Come look.” In a residence, white is not as neutral as beige or gray. There are blue-whites, yellow-whites, pink-whites, and green-whites. A brilliant white can create eye-strain and give off glare. Whites show up paintings and picture frames, and the eye is more aware of the rectangles and squares breaking up the wall. Warmer neutrals such as beige and gray say, “Come look, relax, and stay.”

If you love white on the walls, go toward the creams. Rooms using the natural palettes of cream, beige, warm gray, and taupe can be both sophisticated and calming. Plants and flowers will soften the neutral palette. Pulling in different textures for the rugs, upholstery, and accessories can make the room more interesting. Small accents of black and navy, can add to the elegance of rooms mostly defined by the neutral palate.

Dena Verrill and Alla Rogers are principals at Dena Verrill Interiors in Georgetown. Their practice serves the metro area and anywhere their clients take them. Both Verrill and Rogers are Georgetown residents. Contact them at dena@denaverrillinteriors.com or alla@denaverrillinteriors.com . Learn more at www.DenaVerrillInteriors.com.

Kitchen Chic

February 27, 2014

Kitchen Chic. [gallery ids="101370,153195,153182,153191,153188" nav="thumbs"]

Le Décor Middle Kingdom Porcelain: Born in Georgetown

January 17, 2014

Alison Alten Jia was home for a snow day on Wednesday, March 6. While the precipitation outside was quickly turning into the “rainquester,” she and her three children were inside. Her husband, Bo Jia, was far away, hard at work at their kiln in Jing De Zhen, China. Alison Alten Jia and Bo Jia are the founders of Middle Kingdom, designers, manufacturers and importers of handmade Chinese porcelain. Since being officially founded in 1998, the company’s colorful pots, bowls and vases have become popular among decorators and house ware dealers across the country. With a vertically integrated company that spans two continents, Middle Kingdom fits just fine in Georgetown where it was founded.

Alison Alten Jia and Bo Jia met in China in 1987 and moved to a house on 35th Street in Georgetown at the end of 1993. After having three children and officially starting Middle Kingdom in 1998, the family moved to a larger home on P Street, east of Wisconsin Avenue. The row house was formerly divided into apartments. The Jias have worked hard to turn it into a peaceful home and a beautiful one, too. The house is filled with antiques has been featured on twice on the Georgetown House Tour.
Middle Kingdom’s products are made in Jing De Zhen, as Alison Alten Jia calls it, “a small town with about 500,000 people” in southeastern China that is known worldwide for its porcelain. The city “really is a Mecca for people involved with ceramics,” said Alison Alten Jia. Bo Jia makes a few trips a year to Middle Kingdom’s kiln there. Right now, he is there working to source Middle Kingdom’s blue and white porcelain.

Although Middle Kingdom porcelain is popular among interior decorators, the Jias are not trying to move fashion-forward with their designs. “We’re not out there chasing trends,” said Alten Jia, who hopes that with time, they have been “refining our own ideas.”

In addition to their own designs, Middle Kingdom has also collaborated with artists to create different pieces. Foekje Fluer van Duin, a Dutch artist, designed vases out after plastic containers she found on the street. The company also makes pottery for Cultivated Gardens and are beginning to sell original source pieces from China and printed silk.

Alison Alten Jia is a member of the Georgetown Garden Club and has worked with the Georgetown Garden Tour in the past. She likes to support conservation and greening efforts in the neighborhood.

“We grew up in Georgetown, and so did our business.”

Items are available through Bernhardt & Reed 202-841-1924.
Prices start at $35. [gallery ids="102588,119580,119586,119593,119600,119605,119613,119620,119631,119642,119636,119573,119565,119505,119497,119512,119518,119525,119532,119538,119545,119552,119559,119626" nav="thumbs"]

Pantone Designs

If it’s not in a Pantone, the color does not exist….
Pantone, Inc., is a company best known for its color labeling and propriety. To every interior designer, it is the bible of color trends. Earlier this year, Patone released their 2012 fall and winter colors that are the hottest new thing from finish to accessories in color. In a recent poll of designer and recent reviewed orders, Patone has created a pallet for what is popular for both men and woman this year. [gallery ids="101089,137730,137696,137724,137719,137703,137714,137709" nav="thumbs"]

Fantastic Fall Thanksgiving Tablescapes

Thanksgiving is truly a time to appreciate everything and everyone that helped to make the quickly ending year of 2012 memorable. If you are hosting the holiday this year, there is still time to create a captivating table-scape. Bring the bold red, orange, and gold of fallen leaves indoors as the inspiration for your table. These colors, considered fall staples, will be a sure-fire way to make a beautiful table that your guests will be raving about until next year. [gallery ids="101054,136895,136889,136882,136906,136876,136911,136869,136916,136923,136900" nav="thumbs"]

Paying Tribute to Papa, Fab Finds for His Day

Father’s Day is right around
the corner and what better way
to show your old man just how
much you love him than with a
gaggle of gifts? Whether he’s an
easy-going executive, a modern
maverick or a snazzy socialite,
he’s sure to enjoy embellishing
his man cave, work space or outdoor
sanctuary with any of these
thoughtful presents. [gallery ids="100848,126574,126549,126568,126557,126565" nav="thumbs"]

Spring Is in the Air, and So is Garden Care

With wonderful days of spring ahead of us, why not use the nice weather as an excuse to spruce up your outdoor areas? Whether you have a nice, big garden or a cute, little balcony – here are some ideas for turning it into an even more inviting, tranquil place for relaxing, entertaining guests and enjoying the fresh air. [gallery ids="100768,123415,123383,123409,123390,123403,123397" nav="thumbs"]

Modern Wings

With their traditional high backs and winged arms, wingback chairs provided much needed warmth but very little eye catching creativity. Yet there have been a few designers (past and present) who have taken liberates with the body hugging silhouette and created pieces that will not only stand beautifully by any fireplace, but provide the perfect conversation starter. From investment pieces to functional art, a modern wingchair can add not only comfort but be the perfect place to curl up and read this year’s first issue.

Wegner Papa Bear Chair – Designed by Hans Wagner
World renowned for blending a variety of natural material in his classic designs, Hans J. Wegner has received many international accolades for his work. Like many other Wegner chairs, The Teddy Bear Chair seems to refer to the animal kingdom with its characteristically playful and organic design. The chair received its name after a critic had referred to its armrests as, ‘Great bear paws embracing you from behind.’

The Egg – Designed by Arne Jacobsen
The Egg sprang from a new technique, which Jacobsen was the first to employ: a strong foam inner shell underneath the upholstery. Like a sculptor, Jacobsen strove to find the shell’s perfect shape in clay at home in his garage. The cooperation between Arne Jacobsen and Fritz Hansen dates back to 1934. Fritz Hansen products, including The Egg, can be found at Furniture from Scandinavia by Annette Rachlin in Georgetown.

Metropolitan Chair and Ottoman – Designed by Jeffrey Bernett for B&B Italia
In 1996, Jeffrey Bernett exhibited his first collection at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York and was honored with the Editor’s Award for “Best of Show.” The Metropolitan is an inviting swivel armchair and ottoman. Its high back is the perfect mix of Italian sophistication and comfort, while the neck rest is held in place with magnets to make it adjustable for people of all heights.

Klasse Wing Back LoungeChair- Designed by Polly Westergaard
The Klasse wingback chair is based on the traditional iconic British wing back chair, which has been used and adapted through centuries. The sleek finish of this adaptation combined with the natural materials used ensures a contemporary, eye-catching piece. Polly Westergaard explores elements of past trends in her work, updating traditional designs for contemporary living, drawing on the influences of historical pieces and examining the ways in which these designs can be re-invented to function in today’s interiors.

Wingback Chair, Black Legs Designed by George Smith
A series of upholstered furniture inspired by the 18th Century British Gentleman’s Chair. The frames are made of wood from sustainable forests and stuffed with layers of natural cotton and boar bristle. The chair comes upholstered in one of 15 colors of mohair velvet. The British designer, Tom Dixon, a designer, a brand, and a personality, has been a fixture of many a design show. Dixon established his namesake design firm in 2002. Tom Dixon recently teamed with the traditional British upholstery company George Smith to create this one of a kind piece.

Big Chair- Designed by Jens Risom
Built on a walnut frame with unusual angles and three peg legs, Big Chair still provides the body hugging effects of any wingback chair. Risom was highly influenced by his father, an award-winning architect who encouraged Jens to pursue academic studies in business and contemporary design. Jens Risom is regarded as the last bastion of mid-century modernists.

Star Treck Chair – designed by Roberto Lazzeroni
Built of either American Cherry or Walnut, the Star Trek chair takes on the fimialiar form of a traditional wingback chair. The chair defies all logic of the material its constructed from. With basic elements of the classic, Lazzeroni takes liberties by using heat resistant materials and plywood to create the frame. The chair was designed for Ceccotti Collezioni. Lazzeroni has had a very dynamic career, in which he is engaged on several fronts today, with prestigious collaborations, art directing and designing of interiors and contracting throughout different parts of the world. [gallery ids="100456,115490,115481,115443,115473,115465,115458" nav="thumbs"]