Luxury Homes Feature Cozy Winter Gardens – WSJ

This concept is intriguing, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Would you implement a winter garden in your house?

Posted on January 30, 2017 at 11:33 pm
MJ Steen | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Ways to Decorate Better Kids’ Bedrooms


Being sent to their rooms will hardly be punishment for your children If you jump on these four décor trends—from bold graphics to innovative sleeping arrangements.



The Open-Plan Storage PlanENLARGE
The Open-Plan Storage Plan PHOTO: TODD WRIGHT




EVEN THOUGH SHE’S only 18 months old, Willa Kenner has already been immersed in her fair share of high design. Metallic wallpaper adorns her nursery’s ceiling, pillows in natural fabrics are piled high and a surfing photograph by Michael Dweck hangs over the changing table. “I treated her room as any other in my apartment,” said her mother, Ashley Stark Kenner, senior vice president of design at Stark Carpets. 

Often an afterthought, the children’s room can easily be the coolest part of the house. And a “well-designed” one doesn’t have to be a Philip Johnson-worthy temple to minimalism. Simply passing on overly sweet graphics for those that are more stimulating—and abandoning old notions that baby blue is for boys and pink is for little girls—can make a big difference. 

“Monochrome décor is a big trend,” said Ashlyn Gibson, whose new book “Creative Children’s Spaces” ( Ryland Peters & Small) is out next month. “It is non-gendered, so [it’s] perfect for nurseries and uber-cool for tweens. It forms a strong palette that you can add to with pops of color.” Chelsea Reale, a co-founder of children’s interior design studio Sissy+Marley, is excited that parents are starting to embrace black and white: “It’s playful and chic and always creates a drool-worthy space,” she said. 

Other small revolutions include swapping ABC blocks for wares by Danish label Design Letters, which applies a vintage font by Arne Jacobsen to cups and storage containers, or combining investment pieces from the likes of French brand Perludi with whimsically illustrated pillows by Colette Bream.

On a practical level, this approach means that the rooms can remain functional for longer than usual. “People do not want to have a nursery for two years and then have to do it again,” said Ms. Stark Kenner, who’s now expecting a little boy. Read on for more transformative solutions that go beyond child’s play. 

The Open-Plan Storage Plan

“Children like to see their play options,” said Manhattan designer Erica Silverman, who advises her clients to use storage that offers “an easy peek into what’s inside.” It could be as simple as clear plastic bins purchased from your nearby hardware store, but peg boards from companies such as Land of Nod “are also great for hanging art supplies, play jewelry, hats and completed artwork.” Parents Sherry and John Petersik, whose forthcoming book “Lovable Livable Home” (Artisan), also endorse rescuing toys that have been banished to the bottom of a trunk; shelves like those shown here can function as a decorative feature and give kids a place to display their most prized possessions. “Pieces that mix open and closed storage are [also] great for kid-friendly living rooms,” they advise. “Rely on the concealed areas for toys and games, and use the open shelves to showcase favorite accessories.”



Beyond ‘Blue for Boys’ENLARGE
Beyond ‘Blue for Boys’ PHOTO: BEN ROBERTSON



Beyond ‘Blue for Boys’

In the book “Creative Children’s Spaces,” by Ashlyn Gibson, out next month, simple white walls provide a neutral backdrop for one boy’s sprightly collection of green objects, a refreshing palette that defies conventions. “The move away from the gender stereotypes of blue for boys and pink for girls opens up a whole world of design,” said Ms. Gibson, who suggested that parents pass on what she describes as “limiting” gender assignments in favor of “kaleidoscopic color and pattern.” 

Designers across the board agree. “We’re finding our clients want more sophisticated designs for their children’s rooms, something that they can grow into,” said San Francisco-based interior designer Steven Volpe. “Color palettes are more neutral whites and grays, or toned-down shades of gray-blue or gray-lavender.” Sasso Sidi Said, founder of children’s design boutique Dodo Les Bobos, said combinations of mustard and gray are proving quite popular as are older favorite colors. Vieux rose, she said, “is soft but not your classic baby pink.” 


Go Bold, Even For the Not-So-OldENLARGE
Go Bold, Even For the Not-So-Old PHOTO: BEN ROBERTSON



Go Bold, Even For the Not-So-Old

The wall-size jungle scene pictured here “gives a room a modern edge,” and is “more likely to keep your children enchanted,” according to Ms. Gibson. Charming illustrations cover storage bins and pillows as well, and paired with the colorful rugs, clearly announce that this is no ordinary kid’s room. For the slightly less adventurous, the industrial and interior designers of New York-based Material Lust create accent pieces with bold graphics. “We love using Rruka textiles in children’s rooms for pillows and throws at the end of the bed,” said firm co-founder Lauren Larson. “They’re incredible robotic patterns that inject high design in the simplest form.” Ms. Larson is also partial to works by Kinder Modern, for whom she and her partner recently designed a line of black-and-white children’s furniture based on Egyptian hieroglyphics; Kinder Modern’s new line of modular carpeting for kids rooms, which features interlocking geometric shapes in an array of vibrant colors, is another favorite. Don’t forget the walls, though. “We have been seeing a lot of fun wallpaper being used,” said Sissy+Marley’s Chelsea Reale. “It’s a commitment, but it finishes a room and makes a great statement.” 


Sleepover MakeoversENLARGE
Sleepover Makeovers PHOTO: LAUREY W GLENN



Sleepover Makeovers

It’s never too early to show kids how to be a good host. The Florida-based studio Tracery Interiors designed a special loft in the living room of a Cinnamon Shore, Texas, beach house as a retreat for children. But rather than install standard bunk beds, principal Paige Sumblin Schnell and the architects of Dungan Nequette decided to tuck the beds into the roof line of the house. “It creates ‘train car’ spaces for children to gather and play,” said Ms. Schnell. “Kids like something that feels like a tiny playroom that they can crawl into.” The bright aquas and greens are also gender-neutral for friends and cousins of both boys and girls.

For those with limited space, a bunk bed can create a similar effect. Dodo Les Bobos’s Ms. Sidi Said recommends the Perludi Flora in the Sky bunk bed. “It can be used as a loft bed, meaning the lower part can be used for [something] other than sleeping, like a play area where you can throw pillows and make it a very cozy space to read.”




Posted on September 2, 2015 at 11:09 pm
MJ Steen | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Home Buyers Embrace the ‘Contemporary Craftsman’ Look

Stephen Francis Jones, a restaurant designer in Los Angeles, initially had trouble describing the 3,000-square-foot Manhattan Beach house he built for his family. While its copper flashing, exposed trusses and cultured-stone exterior pay homage to craftsman style, the house’s huge windows and open floor plan reflect the architect’s love of light and flowing spaces.

“I came up with ‘contemporary craftsman.’ I describe it that way because that’s what people understand,” said Mr. Jones, 52.

Purists may scoff, but buyers and builders are mixing and matching craftsman elements, such as exposed rafters and natural stone, with contemporary floor plans and high ceilings.

Craftsman is a term given to homes largely built between 1905 and the early 1920s, said Ted Bosley, director of the Gamble House, a National Historic Landmark in Pasadena, Calif., that is considered a prime example of craftsman architecture. Craftsmans were the American expression of the Arts & Crafts movement that originated in England as a reaction against the perceived soullessness of the Industrial Revolution, Mr. Bosley said. The movement placed high value on handmade work, uniqueness and natural materials.

These values are seen in craftsman architecture by “articulation of structure,” such as exposed rafters and beams; abundant use of stone and wood; and a connection between the interior and exterior, often through porches and terraces, Mr. Bosley said.

Craftsman houses fell out of fashion in the 1920s, but became trendy again in the mid-1980s, Mr. Bosley said. Today, the style is growing in popularity:, a large online seller of blueprints, said 25% of the plans it sold in the last quarter were craftsman, compared with 19% in the same period a year prior.

“In the last five years, I’ve seen this style explode on the East Coast,” where it was previously little-used, said Tim Gehman, director of design for Toll Architecture, a unit of luxury builder Toll Brothers .

Beth Dotolo was hired to create a contemporary interior design for this newly rebuilt craftsman in Dallas.Beth Dotolo was hired to create a contemporary interior design for this newly rebuilt craftsman in Dallas.

Real-estate agents credit craftsman-loving celebrities for at least part of the style’s resurgent popularity. Actor Brad Pitt and singer Sheryl Crow are craftsman fans who have owned houses in the style, said JB Fung, director of the architectural division of the John Aaroe Group, a Los Angeles realty. The style is prevalent where Hollywood stars abound because the craftsman era occurred at the same time as a building boom in Southern California, Mr. Bosley said.

Many buyers and home builders want certain aspects of craftsman style—stone and woodwork, decorative rafters and beams, built-in cabinetry—but not others, such as low ceilings, dark colors and closed-off rooms. So they are picking and choosing between styles, as Mr. Jones did, and describing the results as “modern craftsman” or “contemporary craftsman.”

When Francine Ehrlich, an agent at Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwich, Conn., rebuilt her own 9,000-square-foot house in 2008, she wanted craftsman elements such as “high wood fireplaces,” referring to elaborate woodwork around and above the fireplace. She also wanted “7-foot wainscoting,” and a diamond motif repeated throughout the rooms.

“But I like it to be light. I don’t like the dark aspect of that period,” said Ms. Ehrlich, 67. Three rooms have 25-foot ceilings, and “the spaces are flexible and open,” Ms. Ehrlich said. The house is listed for $5.995 million.

The pool room. Ms. Ehrlich said she wanted craftsman elements such as “high wood fireplaces,” referring to elaborate woodwork around and above the fireplace. She also wanted “7-foot wainscoting,” and a diamond motif repeated throughout the rooms.
The pool room. Ms. Ehrlich said she wanted craftsman elements such as “high wood fireplaces,” referring to elaborate woodwork around and above the fireplace. She also wanted “7-foot wainscoting,” and a diamond motif repeated throughout the rooms.

Traditional craftsmans continue to attract a niche of buyers, said Mr. Fung.

“A typical craftsman buyer has a bit of nostalgia,” and is willing to do without popular modern features like open kitchens and huge windows, Mr. Fung said. The only updates traditionalist buyers want to see are modern bathrooms and kitchens, he said.

The exterior.  For mainstream audiences, however, builders are adjusting to current tastes. About two-thirds of its designs labeled “craftsman” have “contemporary interiors,” said Jamie Roche, chief executive of Houseplans, based in Petaluma, Calif.

“Homeowners want it to look like a craftsman on the outside, but they want the new floor plan for the way we live now,” said Mr. Roche. The most commonly sold floor plan features a combined kitchen, family and dining room and a large master suite with walk-in closets, he said.

The term “contemporary craftsman” is favored by builders and real-estate agents because, as Mr. Jones noted, people tend to understand the amalgam it represents. But not everybody embraces the phrase.

Mark Stapp is building a community of homes in Cave Creek, Ariz., designed by students and faculty of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. Some of the renderings of the homes, which will cost $750,000 to $1.2 million, show long, flat roofs with large, overhanging eaves; wood and stone exteriors; angular lines and earthy colors that evoke the craftsman style, with a distinct modern look. However, “craftsman” won’t be part of the description when the sales process begins in the fall of next year.

“Contemporary craftsman is oxymoronic. Please don’t call me that,” said Mr. Stapp. President of Cahava Springs Development, he was for a decade chairman of Taliesin Associated Architects, which was the successor to the late architect’s practice. Instead, the homes are best understood as contemporary in the vein of Frank Lloyd Wright, who can be most accurately viewed as a “bridge” between the craftsman and modern eras, Mr. Stapp said.

The greenhouse entertaining area. Whatever the label, craftsman architecture’s hallmark straight lines create a kind of blank canvas for interior design, said Beth Dotolo, co-owner of Pulp Design Studios. She was hired to create a contemporary interior design for a newly rebuilt craftsman in Dallas.

Ms. Dotolo said her main task was “a lot of softening.” She chose modern, light-colored and asymmetrical furniture. Eschewing traditional earth tones, Ms. Dotolo went with a light blue for “a fresher take,” she said.

Mr. Jones, who has designed restaurants including the original Spago in Beverly Hills, as well as more recent restaurants in Kenya, Japan and Los Angeles, completed his home in 2003. He paid $414,000 for the lot and spent around $500,000 to build, acting as his own general contractor. Teles Properties agent Tony Martinez estimated the home’s market value at around $2.5 million.

Mr. Jones said he found he had to become a craftsman himself to create some of the authentic features, because it was too expensive to buy the elements ready-made. Under his guidance, a framer built a set of v-shaped trusses on the site for a fifth of the cost of buying them, Mr. Jones said.

“That’s why craftsman design doesn’t happen that often,” anymore, Mr. Jones said. All that handcrafted work “is definitely expensive.”


Posted on December 8, 2014 at 9:43 pm
MJ Steen | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

Home Building’s Future

Current trends in today's new homes

Sauna Fever

The sauna market is heating back up following the housing crash as higher-end buyers splurge on the heated rooms most associated with spa culture. Finlandia Sauna of Portland, Oregon allows buyers to select their size and wood type and decide if they want the unit incorporated into a bath or pool area or to function more as a standalone room. Price: Starting at $5,000

The Hot Fridge

GE Appliances says its Café French Door refrigerator is the industry’s first fridge that can quickly heat 10 ounces of water. There’s also a filter that promises to remove traces of pharmaceuticals. Price: $3,200

The Wall Street Journal


Posted on February 8, 2013 at 8:30 am
MJ Steen | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,