A blog from Visual Jill, East Bay Interior Design

A blog from Visual Jill, East Bay Interior Design

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays

All of us at Visual Jill wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season. This photo from the late 50's shows Jill (left), her older sister Julie, and her lovely mom Brita, who passed away this past May. We'll be thinking of her on Christmas Eve, when her family will open presents and eat lutefisk -- a Norwegian tradition.
May your days be filled with family, friends and peace.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Festive Holiday Table

Setting the table for guests is perhaps our favorite part of holiday decorating. It's so fun to put all the pieces together -- the place settings, place mats, and of course the centerpiece. For our own holiday table this year we chose to balance bright colors with natural elements, along with a bit of gold (to compliment the rest of the decor in the house).

We found our fabulous succulent centerpiece at Flowerland, and placed it over a runner made from a folded piece of gold fabric. Then we lined up simple colored balls along the base of the wooden box.Our place mats are thick felt circles in the same bright colors, and we used simple white Norwegian plates that Jill inherited from her  mom. The silver is also from Jill's family. It's always special to incorporate some family tradition.
This photo shows the delicate pattern on the plates, and the colorful eclectic ornaments we used as napkin rings.

There are so many other great ideas out there in design blogs and magazines. Here are some of our favorites:
Pinecones become tiny trees when put in silver cups and topped with a star! (via kirtsy, from Good Housekeeping)
White and green are always a powerful combination. (via lolalina, via Fryd + Design)
Old funnels make beautiful candle holders, especially when placed on antique lace. (via Poppytalk, via Sjarmermende Gjenbruk)
And what could be cuter than using alphabet soup letters for your placecards? (from lolalina via Oh Happy Day)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Little Luxe in our Holiday Decor

Our 2011 Holiday theme is "natural + color" . . . but that doesn't mean there's not room for a little glamour. Inspired by the holiday bling in the fashion world (like this spread from Harper's BAZAAR), this year we decided to mix in just a touch of gold to raise the sparkle quotient.
On our tree, we purchased some gold chain at the hardware store (thanks for the tip, Emily Henderson and HGTV) and turned it into a festive garland, hanging it right next to the color pop garland purchased at Anthropologie. Then we bought some shiny gold fabric and bunched it artfully into our tree skirt. It's all topped off by our golden moon (a nice alternative to the traditional star).
We wove a similar gold chain into the garland that decks our stairwell.
We love the juxtaposition of the shiny gold with the natural greenery.
Top: you can see how simple twinkle lights enhance a rustic straw wreath. Bottom: The gold chain appears once again above our bench . . . leopard + gold + green = subtle holiday glamour!
We added mini-trees made of different materials all around the space. Left, feather trees offset a vase of glowing branches. At right, a rosemary tree sits next to a tiny pine cone tree. The bright turquoise wall, fuchsia ornaments, and red table bring merry shots of color to the scene.

When you're decorating this week, don't be afraid to combine materials and colors. We created a mix of color, rustic textures and a touch of gold . . . what can you create? Let us know in the comments below!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Outdoor holiday decorating -- Berkeley style

There are so many ways to decorate the exterior of your home for the holidays. Some people are fond of inflatable Santas, others favor lots of sparkle and shine, and still others hang hundreds of lights. At VisualJill, we're taking a more natural, low-key approach.
The front of the house greets guests with a simple evergreen wreath, large green ceramic pots, and our favorite stock tank, filled with cyclamen, cabbage plants and a tiny pine tree right in the center.
Small pots of pansies and succulents adorn the steps, which lead to our front door. We hung the succulent wreath from burlap to add a rustic appeal, which goes nicely with the simple juniper garland.
On the porch, we featured a humble little cypress tree on one side of the bench and a blooming aloe vera plant in a cool bow bin on the other. The fountain is from Flora Grubb.
To make the tree feel a little less "Charlie Brown-ish", we put it in a galvanized pot and tied a wooden star on the front.
Finally, a simple straw wreath hangs on the inside of the porch window -- bought at Flowerland.
We kept it simple and natural, yet festive -- in true Berkeley style.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Warm and Wonderful Winter Fantasy at Anthropologie

Leave it to Anthropologie to come up with a fresh take on Holiday decorating! We walked into our local Berkeley store yesterday and were awestruck by the clever merchandising and styling throughout.
The ceiling is covered with curly strips of white, silver and bronze paper that hang down to give a snowfall effect, and complementary ivory items are showcased on beautiful tables. There is a touch of sparkle everywhere.
We loved this juxtaposition of the blue chipped painted wheelbarrow with the ethnic-inspired frock. Brilliant!
And check out this original display -- glass globes are suspended on long metal spikes to suggest snowballs.
Of course, since it's Anthropologie, there has to be a few pops of color . . . like the orange wall showcasing these modern-yet-folksy Christmas trees:
We are so inspired by what we saw. Congratulations to the Berkeley Anthro team for creating yet another incredible store environment. Now, time to get out our own Holiday boxes . . .

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Discovering Maui's coolest little town

There's nothing like Hawaii to calm your senses and relax your soul. Last week Jill took a vacation to Maui, enjoying the sun, surf and tropical lushness that the island is famous for. She fell in love with a cool little beach town called Paia, on Maui's north shore.
Paia is full of great restaurants, bars, and boutiques -- you can find everything from hip beachwear to handmade jewelry here. One of her favorite shops is called Indigo, which features "some of the most beautiful tribal arts, antiques and rugs from Central and Southeast Asia." The selection is fabulous . . . here's just a taste of what they offer . . .

Luckily for those of us who can't hop a plane across the ocean, Indigo has a website and online store too!

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Colors from Benjamin Moore!

Last night we attended an event at the SF Design Center premiering Benjamin Moore's newest colors -- Color Stories. According to Benjamin Moore, "Color Stories' 240 full-spectrum colors are clearer, richer and more vibrant than conventional colors."
These color formulas are created using between 5 and 7 pigments (traditional methods use just 3 pigments). The result? More depth, overtones, nuance and luminosity, which means the shades actually change according to different light. They are gorgeous.

Monday, October 31, 2011

London Shops: Decorated for Fall

by Lauran

I just returned from a week in London, taking in the markets, favorite retailers (and maybe a few pub visits too!).  The weather was crisp and it was fun to bundle up in scarves, sweaters and boots -- a nice change from our own local October heat wave.

The autumn chill set the stage for a trend I noticed in shop windows: dining tables fully decorated for inside, colder-weather entertaining. For example, The Conran Shop (one of Visual Jill's very favorites) carried out a "Dinner Is Served" theme with two very different displays: one more rustic and utilitarian (note the simple wood table, aluminum chairs and crusty bread), the other much more sleek and glamorous in black and white (complete with Saarinen Tulip Chairs and Round Table and white ceramic accents).
Another store in the Marylebone district, Skandium, showed a clean, casual table setting with a great mix of textures, colors and materials. I love the pillows displayed in the big baskets -- as if inviting us to grab one, fill our plates, and enjoy our meal on the cozy carpet.
 And inside Marylebone's La Fromagerie, I spotted this clever presentation of the season's pumpkins and gourds:

With such wonderful displays, it's a shame those Brits don't get to host Thanksgiving dinners!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Using Autumn Colors in a Modern Way

Even though it's close to 80 degrees right now in Berkeley, there's no doubt that Autumn is here. The leaves are changing colors and there are pumpkins everywhere. If you want to incorporate the gorgeous Fall golds, oranges, greens and browns into your home decor -- but dried corn husks and squash centerpieces just aren't your thing -- try these more modern ideas.
On your wall: the classic George Nelson Spindle Clock adds just a pop of orange; artwork such as Homage to the Square 1964 by Josef Albers radiates warmth.
On your floor: the on-trend chevron pattern in rich autumn colors. (From Home Decorators Collection)

Above are our own fall-colored treasures . . . throws, pillows and little accessories that we have collected over the past few years. Notice the modern mix of patterns and textures.
Finally, the October 2011 issue of Elle Decor shows the power of persimmon -- on textiles, tableware and even lamps. You can see these items online at Elle Decor.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Using What You Have (and Love)

Nothing makes your space more personal than showcasing the things you love. Artfully arranged collections of items you already own can make a big impact. For example, we recently styled a client's mantle to spotlight his fabulous collection of bells:
And in this shot from Elle Decoration, various wood and rustic objects are grouped together to form a sculpture-like display:
photography by Debi Treloar

You can also group your treasures by color, as this shot from Apartment Therapy shows:

There are no hard and fast rules for building your displays, but one helpful tip: don't try to cram every single item in a collection onto your ledge, mantle or wall. Select just enough items to be balanced within the room, and then rotate in other items every month or so to keep your collection fresh.

The next time you feel an urge to change up your space, don't buy something new; instead, take a new look at what you already have. Challenge yourself to put together a display that shows your guests who you are and where you have been.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Inspiration: Charles and Ray Eames

Here at Visual Jill, we are fans of many designers, past and present. But the duo of Charles and Ray Eames holds a special place in our hearts. The Eames' core philosophies -- that design should be for the masses, not for the elite; and that good design is important for the commonplace as well as the complex -- are truths that we try to adopt in our own work. We also use the Eames beautiful, functional pieces in our own homes and design plans.

The Eames are famous for their innovative molded-plywood techniques that led to the design and manufacturing of a line of chairs, tables and screens. While these are valuable vintage items today, they were affordable and accessible when originally created in 1945. Below, top is the Molded Plywood Lounge Chair, and bottom is the Leather and Molded-Wood Lounge Chair and Ottoman.
Here we've used the same two chairs in our design work.

Below right, you can see the Eames molded-plywood screen. On the left is another design revolution: the fiberglass-reinforced plastic armchair. It was the first one-piece plastic chair with an exposed, rather than upholstered, surface.
These plastic chairs were eventually offered in vinyl and upholstered versions as well. Below is one of our coveted blue vinyl Eames armchairs, in front of our beloved screen.
When it comes to good design, Charles Eames said, "The real questions are: Does it solve a problem? Is it serviceable? How is it going to look in ten years?" By creating furniture that could be easily mass-produced, was comfortable and still looks good over 50 years later, he met -- and surpassed -- his own requirements.

Note: If you're in LA, be sure to catch the "Living In a Modern Way" exhibition at the LA County Museum of Art, which studies California mid-century modern design -- including pieces from the Eames collection.

Eames furniture images from The Work of Charles and Ray Eames: A Legacy of Invention, published by Harry N. Abrams Inc.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Local Hero: Chez Panisse

Chez Panisse, and its founder Alice Waters, are known around the world for celebrating food (and those who grow it) in an original way. We feel lucky, and proud, that the revered Chez Panisse archway is just around the corner from us. Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, this restaurant and cafe offers a dining experience that is truly intimate, special and pampering.

The history of those 40 years, including celebrations, wine collections, and the sustainable food movement, are well documented in the gorgeous new book 40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering. Featuring photographs and profiles of the various chefs and supporters that make up the Chez Panisse family, celebrity guests, and the beautiful linocut artwork of Patty Curtan, the book is a feast for the eyes.

Pictured below are two pages from the book, featuring  a menu created for the (then) first ladies and some scrumptious food shots.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A First Apartment

Is there anything more exciting than moving into your first apartment? A new start, a fresh perspective . . . but what to do about those bland floors and white walls? Just take the stuff you have, mix in some new accessories, throw in a few vintage pieces -- and you've transformed a sterile, ubiquitous space into a pad that reflects your personal style.

For example, take this living room: it started as a basic box, but styling magic changed it into a comfortable, colorful hang-out spot.
Sources: Ikea lamps and couch, West Elm rug, vintage flea market art, Crate and Barrel Marimekko pillow, handmade leopard pillow.

And in the bedroom, a happy color wall makes the other accessories pop!
Sources: vintage mid-century chair, CB2 bedding and side table, Ikea lamp, wall color: Bali Hai from Glidden.

Since the dining room is also serving as a home office, we chose to paint one wall a warm red to help differentiate the two spaces.

Sources:  Ikea chairs and tables, CB2 clock, wall color: Old Glory from Glidden.

And don't overlook the entryway! This is a great focal point for colorful accessories, as seen here:
Sources: Vintage stool from Mignonne, plexi console from CB2, pop art from Ikea and our personal stash.

Although the results look like weeks of work, we pulled together this apartment in one weekend! Your first apartment can be your first interior style statement -- just try different combinations, mix old with new, and introduce some color to your world.

All styling by Allie and Jill McCoy.