Archive for : April, 2020

Interior Designers Reveal The Most Common Design Mistakes

Slide 1 of 16: Decorating your own home is a lot harder than it seems. Putting together a cohesive design among various rooms can be a struggle, and even just making one room look photo-ready can take longer than you'd think. Between choosing the right furniture pieces, the perfect paint colors, the best decor accessories for the space, the ideal lighting, and nailing the proportions, there are a lot of mistakes to be made. Interior designers have seen it all, so they're more than familiar with the common design mistakes people frequently make. Quick fixes are available most of the time...And these small tweaks can make a huge difference in how a room looks. Make your space more aesthetically pleasing by identifying any of the mistakes you may have made yourself and then adjusting them. Here's what interior designers have to say:

Decorating your own home is a lot harder than it seems. Putting together a cohesive design among various rooms can be a struggle, and even just making one room look photo-ready can take longer than you’d think. Between choosing the right furniture pieces, the perfect paint colors, the best decor accessories for the space, the ideal lighting, and nailing the proportions, there are a lot of mistakes to be made.

Interior designers have seen it all, so they’re more than familiar with the common design mistakes people frequently make. Quick fixes are available most of the time…And these small tweaks can make a huge difference in how a room looks. Make your space more aesthetically pleasing by identifying any of the mistakes you may have made yourself and then adjusting them. Here’s what interior designers have to say:

Kathryn Ireland’s cozy, bohemian aesthetic may seem effortlessly curated — accessible, easygoing and affable, like the designer herself. But a stint on her most recent interior design retreat (or boot camp, depending on your outlook and intention) unveils the 30 years of nurtured relationships, tailored creative instincts and astute business prowess it took to become Kathryn Ireland.

Over one weekend before the coronavirus stay-at-home orders, seven eager participants (and me, a fly on the wall) experienced Ireland’s favorite places to shop in Los Angeles, an insider’s scoop on tricks of the trade and a rare glimpse of her at work (and off the clock).

Six of the women were friends from Tallahassee, Fla., while the other was from L.A.; only three were actual interior designers. One of those, Floridian Elizabeth Fearington Diehl, said she came “because I like to see new vendors, resources and places to tap into for unique things. The only way you find that stuff is by traveling.”

Ireland’s design-tasting tour began at Dos Gallos, a shop offering ceramics, custom goods and an impressive collection of 18th and 19th century furniture, all curated by owners Gail and Charles Boswell, whose business Ireland said she’s patronized for 25 years.

“I like working with people that I know, are responsive and stand behind what they do,” she said. “They’ll go out of their way to help you.”

For Ireland, whose career includes six books, a TV show and a catalog of celebrity clients that extends to Steve Martin and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, it’s all about the service and good relationships with design dealers. Access to such connections, secured by a career of nurturing and loyalty, is perhaps the biggest prize for weekend campers.

“Because I brought them here,” Ireland said, “people will extend the same courtesy that they give to me.”

The next stop was Lief, a sprawling warehouse filled with vintage and outdoor furniture, wallpaper, squawking cockatiels in a large cage and antiques, including a pair of $37,000 gold-embellished mirrors from a 1700s castle that Diehl was eyeing for a client.

The group’s non-Floridian was L.A. Local Heather Bath, a volunteer at her kid’s private school and a longtime Ireland fan. She was also the lone participant who came ready to work.

“I have a whole notebook I put together and I walked in and all the gals were like, ‘You have a notebook?’ I thought I needed to come prepared,” said Bath, who’s remodeling her home and met the designer by chance at a farmers market.

During a 1½-hour design marathon, Ireland and Bath turned simple plans for an unfinished decorating job into a two-phase project of repainting, removing walls, adding a basketball court and turning the narrow, cloistered entrance of her house into a “great square.”

We then visited a clutch of La Cienega design shops including Pat McGann’s textile gallery, Richard Shapiro Antiques, Christopher Farr’s custom handmade rugs and Harbinger, with everything wallpaper, fabrics, vintage furniture and antiques.

“There aren’t any stores like this in Tallahassee,” said Darcy Cavell, another interior designer and alumna of a 2018 Ireland retreat in Toulouse, France. “Everything is so outside of the ordinary from what we have, which is what I really love.”

One piece captivating the group was a blue-ash glaze ceiling fixture by Ryan Mennealy Ceramics for $16,000; it spelled out “equality” in Morse code.

A retreat with Ireland wouldn’t be complete without friend and fellow alum of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Decorator,” Martyn Lawrence Bullard, who welcomed us into his Melrose atelier with champagne and hugs.

“It’s always so nice to meet new design enthusiasts and share some knowledge with them,” he said, adding that the camaraderie and creative energy “inspires not only them but also us.”

For interior designer and artist Terra Palmer, meeting Bullard was one of the main purposes of the trip. “I just presented some of his light fixtures to a client; not a lot of people know about them yet and they’re beautiful and on the cutting edge of what’s new and fun,” she said.

The next morning at Ireland’s 4,200-square-foot Santa Monica home, where the participants also stayed, the group delved into serious shop talk — budgets, letters of agreement, presentations, fees, etc. — with the hostess balancing levity and gravity.

“Whether you’re going to hire a decorator or you are a decorator — especially when you end up working with friends — you’ve got to have that letter of agreement. You must,” said Ireland, who’s adamant about transparency with her clients, clearly delineating mark-ups, taxes, fees, budgets and schedules in all her agreements.

Conversation then shifted to marketing and styling e-commerce vignettes, little decorated scenes with items for sale, akin to Ireland’s design and shopping platform, the Perfect Room.

The weekend culminated with a feast at Ireland’s home honoring the participants, joined by her family, friends and fellow designers.

Though there’s “only so much you can do in a short visit,” Ireland said, the experience offers an exclusive “taste of all these great places and people” that inhabit her world, while creating “memories and relationships that I hope last a lifetime.”

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ZeroEnergy Design: Leaders In Zero Energy Architecture

ZeroEnergy Design is an architecture firm creating high performance homes and buildings, while also offering energy consulting and HVAC design for other professionals through the firm’s mechanical design practice. The company has received numerous awards, including Best of Boston Home® 2020 Best Sustainable Architect, Sustainable Design Award 2019 from the Boston Society of Architects, and many others. The firm was founded with a commitment to deliver ecologically sensible design for all clients as a best practice.

I had an opportunity to interview Stephanie Horowitz, the Managing Director of ZeroEnergy Design Architects.

Kitchen/dining area in a Zero Energy Certified home in Lincoln, MassachusettsPhoto by Chuck Choi

How did you first become interested in establishing an architectural company focusing on energy?

We felt the need to establish an architecture firm that offered sustainable design as a matter of course, not an optional checkbox to be selected by some clients and value engineered by others. Considerations for energy, occupant health, durability and beauty are part of our holistic approach to design. We couldn’t see practicing any other way. Yet there were many firms at the time, and still are, that let client or up-front budget dictate the inclusion or exclusion of these critical attributes to every project.

Historic super insulated home in Boston’s Southend neighborhood.Photo by Eric Roth photography

How do you think your company is different from other architectural companies?

Energy efficiency, health, and comfort have always been baseline attributes of our projects – these are a given. This means our design time is actually spent on creating spaces that are beautiful, functional, and durable – striving to make positive contributions in the owner’s life and the environment.

What have you learned about saving energy in homes over the years? Design, then enclosure, systems, and finally renewables. Energy conservation starts with good design – with right sizing a home or building, responding to site conditions, factoring in the occupant’s needs, etc. Then we can focus on the building enclosure – making it air tight and super insulated, in the cold climate in which we practice. Efficient consumption comes from a well matched mechanical system, efficient lighting and appliances, and even a conscientious user. Only then do we look to offset the drastically reduced energy use with renewable energy like on or off site solar (PV) panels.

Renovated kitchen in Boston townhome with triple pane windows and super-insulationPhoto by Eric Roth photography

This approach addresses many of the things we care about – energy, durability, health, comfort and of course beauty. Energy is expended in the production of a home or building, sometimes call the embodied energy or embodied carbon, as well as during its operation. The approach I previously described focuses on the operational energy. In the past decade, we’ve also begun to focus on embodied energy, but it wasn’t something that was on our radar when we first got started.

Renovated Boston townhome with continuous exterior insulation, air sealing, triple pane windows, and … [+] electric car chargingPhoto by Eric Roth photography

What have been some of your most interesting projects?

The Lincoln Farmhouse has a traditional, recognizable aesthetic. It produces far more energy annually than it consumes – enough to power 25,000 to 35,000 miles of annual driving in electric cars. The SouthEnd RowHome is a historic two-family home in downtown Boston that we renovated to modernize and tailor to our client’s lifestyle and to address thermal comfort, sound attenuation, improved indoor air quality, and of course, vastly reduced energy consumption. The Dartmouth Oceanfront is a modern net-zero energy home that features exceptional performance in a harsh coastal climate. Collectively, these three projects span traditional, modern, and historic aesthetics, suburban, urban, and coastal project sites, and both new construction and renovation. Exceptional energy performance is achievable for nearly any building in any location – with the right timing and planning.

Modern green home in Dartmouth, Massachusetts with super-insulated building enclosure, solar panels, … [+] and electric car charging.Photo by Greg Premru

What have been your biggest challenges as a firm in getting very energy-efficient houses built (clients, red tape, builders)?

We’ve found that with the right team in place, there aren’t any insurmountable challenges. We’re clear with our clients about our approach from the start and it’s often a reason they seek us out. When we bring a contractor into the fold, we’re looking for someone with their own expertise in building and the right attitude. We’re likely going to ask them to do something they haven’t done before, like wrap a house in insulation, or heat a home with heat pumps.

A contractor with an eagerness to do something new and to follow our direction, paired with good communication is a recipe for success. What do you think is the major error people are generally making in building new homes? The biggest issue remains a lack of focus on the building enclosure. Exceptional performance of the building shell is vital, and this, in turn, justifies a smaller HVAC system and a smaller amount of renewable energy to offset consumption. Improving the performance of the building enclosure later is difficult – much harder than targeting an efficient new or renovated enclosure when the opportunity arises.

Indoor-outdoor living in a modern green home. Lift-slide triple pane door system, super-insulated … [+] building enclosure, solar panels, and electric car charging.Photo by Greg Premru

How do you see the future of energy-efficient homes?

We envision a status quo of healthy, comfortable, energy-positive, carbon-neutral buildings made of biodegradable and recyclable materials. Not only will they entirely avoid fossil fuels onsite and sequester carbon in their construction materials, but they will also produce enough clean renewable energy to offset the energy consumed in their construction, operation, and by the owners’ vehicles.

What changes do you feel are necessary for everyone to have an exceptionally energy-efficient home?

Changes in the building code are needed to really move the needle, specifically that address major renovations and new construction. These big improvements might look like: improved insulation and airtightness requirements, the prohibition of fossil fuel combustion on site, required planning for future solar electric systems, material labeling for carbon intensity, and planning for use of electric cars as battery backups for home. Some of these steps are being implemented currently in progressive communities, but a national push is needed.

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Mercedes-AMG G63 Receives Opulent Wood Interior From Carlex Design

a wooden bench sitting next to a suitcase: Carlex Design G-Yachting Limited Edition

 © Motor1.Com Copyright Carlex Design G-Yachting Limited EditionIt’s designed for “luxury and marine style” enthusiasts.

Mercedes-AMG models combine the best of Mercedes luxury and performance all in one package. There are upgraded materials, more features, and plenty of power under the bonnet, too, but Carlex Design takes that a step further with even more lavish materials inside. The company’s latest offering is a marine-themed AMG G63 called the G-Yachting Limited Edition, which the company says it created for “enthusiasts of luxury and marine style.”

Carlex announced the new yachting model on Facebook, released several images of the SUV’s two-tone, silver-painted and brushed exterior, which isn’t overpowering, either. Big, 22-inch wheels sit at all four corners. The G63 is still imposing, but it’s the Carlex-installed interior that shines.

Inside, the aftermarket upfitter replaced several trim components with their own, previewing two colour schemes. One is a bright white-and-grey interior with light-coloured wood throughout. The seats, headliner, and centre console are all white with a silver/grey dashboard. There are touches of light-brown wood on the steering wheels, door panels, and dash.  

The other interior features darker materials with deep, rich browns used on the seats, headliner, and dash. White– different than the white used in the other interior – acts as a stark contrast against the darker materials, which is used on the centre console, doors, and the lower part of the dash.

While the interiors are distinct, both feature wood cargo spaces behind the second-row seats with a hint of wood visible in the front footwells, too. Both also feature a sizeable G-Yachting emblem embossed into the headliner.

Carlex didn’t announce the new package’s price, though a stock 2020 AMG G63 from the factory starts at $146,490. That gets customers the boxy off-road performance machine, which packs a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 that makes 577 bhp (430 kilowatts) and 627 pound-feet (850 kilowatts) of torque. If that’s not enough oomph, customers can seek out an aftermarket tuner.

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