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This is for those of you who are passionate about color. Christian Zuzunaga is a graphic artist who uses pixels to create stunning visual designs, usually representations of cityscapes.

Zuzunaga’s designs have been turned in various textiles, including rugs, scarves and cushions, many of which are available for purchase in his online store. My favorite are these cushions. Such a simple concept yet it needs flawless execution and artistry to work – both of which these textiles clearly have. There are several collections: Fire, Soul, Spirit, Luna, Venus and Mercury. I’d opt for the warm and harmonious tones of the Soul collection (above and below):

Zuzunaga has also designed unique textiles for brands such as Ligne Roset and exhibited his work in galleries as prestigious as the Tate Gallery.

If you’d like a little pixel art in your living room, this is an affordable and unique option. Personally, I will be finding a space for the cherry red and pink versions as soon as possible…

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I find architects’ web sites to be a great form of escapism. Who wouldn’t appreciate the fabulous images of pristine homes, just ready for the owners to move in and make their mark? But, despite all the soaring ceilings and glossy kitchens, the images are often rather soulless. Just that little bit too perfect, perhaps. That’s why it’s such a delight to explore the portfolio of Feldman Architecture, a San Francisco-based firm which consistently delivers sustainable, beautiful, yet personal homes. Its pages are filled with images of furnished houses that display the interests and styles of their owners. At the moment, I’m particularly captivated by this gorgeous home in the hilly neighborhood of Bernal Heights.

The house was a dark, near-derelict 1860’s cottage. The challenge was to maintain the rustic charm, while opening up the space and injecting it with light.

I love the use of rough stone and wood, with more polished glass and metal – and those enormous sliding doors opening directly onto a deck.

The house is filled with quirky art and furnishings – those chairs are a surprising combination with the modern sofa.

The house seems to have two office spaces. This light-filled area would provide plenty of inspiration for working.

More skillful combinations of materials: rough-hewn wood, slate and lucite.

I love the red, gray and white of the master bedroom. The shelf above the bed is a really simple way to add interest – something I think I might do in our guest room. I must also make it a life mission to track down those lamps!

To my mind, this is the perfect chill-out bathroom.

The nursery is, as you’d expect, a departure from the rest of the house aesthetically-speaking. But it still has a cool vibe and clear sense of personality. Having nurseries on my mind, I’m appreciating the child-friendly storage ideas and the way the brown puts a grown-up twist on baby pink. Shame I’m having a boy, otherwise I’d pinch some of these ideas!

And just to prove this house has everything – a fabulous double-height library!

This home is a wonderful combination of old and new, inside and outside, cool and quirky. You can see more of Feldman Architecture’s work here.

A few years ago, my husband and I were on our way out for dinner when we spotted this stunning woodblock print in the window of a local gallery.

It’s of a Japanese dogwood tree and is by Hajime Namiki. The background is gold leaf and the tree itself and all the blossom is the most wonderfully-detailed woodblock print. Needless to say, I was smitten. Lucky me, a few weeks later, on my birthday, I was delighted to receive that very same print as a gift from my other half.

That first purchase started a small obsession. The next year we bought a small print of snow-covered alpine trees on a silver leaf background – unfortunately the only picture of it I can find isn’t great but you get the idea.

Then my sister spotted the dogwood print at our house and fell in love too, resulting in the purchase of this absolute beauty for her home.

I find these images so still and calming – they work perfectly in so many rooms and I find I never tire of them. If I had endless cash and space, I would buy a hundred more! Seeing as that’s not possible, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you.

I found all these images on this site, where you can buy the prints. But they’re all over the Internet so you won’t have much trouble tracking them down. (I said I loved them, I didn’t say they were exclusive!) These are all from the tree series, but there’s also the Fuji series with spectacular images of Mount Fuji, and a stylized dragon series.

If you’re tempted, perhaps there’s still time to drop a hint to loved ones looking for the perfect Christmas gift for you!

Since I started blogging, I’ve gained an appreciation for the importance of personal style in interior design. Even the most flawlessly-executed design is incomplete without the owner’s unique mark. There has to be a sense of history, a character, a feeling that life is lived within those four walls.

So today I’m starting a new series that peeks into the real life homes of our friends and family and appreciates not only some wonderful design choices, but also their highly individual styles. When you ask people about their homes, you find that there are stories behind almost every item. It makes you realize just how valuable our homes are to us – and not only in financial terms. Something worth remembering, especially in times like these…and especially for those of us obsessed with interior design and all the materialism that goes with it.

Anyway, enough of the philosophy and onto the houses. In this first post, I was lucky enough to be allowed to take photos of a fabulous San Francisco house that combines great taste with a highly personal twist.

Living room

The house belongs to friends of ours, Alison and Eric and their two kids. It is an Edwardian home built in 1917, not dissimilar to ours in layout. It survived the 1989 earthquake intact so has nearly all its original moldings and rooms. This is the living room. The bookshelves were installed a few years back, replacing some very 90s granite, to cope with the family’s growing collection of books, games, art supplies etc. A wood fireplace surround was removed at the same time and the simple stucco one put in its place. This is pretty much the only significant remodeling that was done – and although it’s clean-lined and modern, it works because it still keys with the style of the house.

Living room

You can tell this is a creative, sociable family that loves art, music and travel (if you’re on their holiday card list you’re left in no doubt about the creative part!) The print above the fireplace is from a Louise Nevelson show that Alison’s father curated about 35 years ago – and it’s signed by the artist. I love it because it echoes the bookshelves perfectly.

Bookcases

The chairs either side of the fireplace are a stroke of genius. The red one is from IKEA. But the yellow one is actually a piece of art acquired in Germany over a generation ago. It’s made of an industrial spring and apparently is wonderful for lulling babies to sleep (as several babies in the family have discovered over the years). All I know is that these chairs are not good for the later stages of a party: after a few drinks the red one is impossible to get out of and the yellow one is impossible to stay in!

Bookcases

The painting over the sofa was another one from a show curated by Alison’s father more than three decades ago.

Living room

Here’s the dining room. This is a real lesson in color. The walls are a beautiful, vibrant green. The color has been continued onto the ceiling to show off the moldings, wainscoting and coved ceiling. You find these in a lot of the Edwardian houses in the area, although this is a particularly good example. The two Asian posters were from a flea market in San Francisco and are reproductions of pre-Mao Chinese advertisements, while the Air France one is from Paris. I asked about the tablecloth too and apparently it’s from Cost Plus!

Dining room

The stunning lamp was made by Alison’s step mother, Dez Ryan. You can see more of her lighting designs here. There are some real stand-out pieces – check out the Mint Condition collection. I like the way this particular one looks so perfect alongside the Nelson Saucer Bubble Lamp over the table. Here’s a closer look.

Dining room

Like our place, this home has a sunroom at the back of the house. Here the space has been painted this glorious sky blue. My photography really doesn’t do it justice (I’ve said before that these rooms are impossible to photograph). But you can get a hint of the architectural detail in these pictures below. There’s beautiful wainscoting all round the room. Often, homes in the area have this left as dark gumwood, but I think the white is much nicer.

DSC_0434

Many of the photographs here were taken by Alison’s sister during her travels in India.

Office

The stove and cabinets have all been left as they were when the family moved in. But the cabinet doors were all refaced by KitchenWorks. I love all the pots hanging down – I’ve only ever seen this done in enormous country kitchens with a central island but it works here.

Kitchen

From the kitchen you get a good view of the stained glass above the door. Again, this is original to the house. You can’t see it all but it depicts a windmill and hillsides. Apparently there are very few in the city that had this type of bucolic scene.

Hallway

Lots of the houses around here have these carved details in the stair railings. Ours has heart shaped cut-outs (Pennsylvanian apparently)! I’m guessing they’re influenced by the Arts and Crafts style that was popular at the time, even for Edwardian style homes.

Stairs

So, that’s the end of the tour. Hope you enjoyed it. I think this house just has so much personality. You can see how it would work for kids as well as entertaining (and, having experienced both, simultaneously, here, I can vouch for that!) This is not a place to tiptoe about and whisper in shushed tones. It’s a place to yell for more gravy on the table, thump out a few tunes on the piano (visitors that is, I believe this family is actually quite talented in the music department) or to help yourselves to cocktails. And here’s to that kind of interior design!

And, speaking of entertaining, I’m off to Julia‘s blog party again to see what everyone else has been up to this week.

I’ve finally done it. I’ve introduced some yellow into our house. If you recall from this post, yellow has been my nemesis for years. But, I’ve taken the plunge and bought……..

….a pillow and a poster.

I know, pathetic isn’t it? It’s just a color so why all the drama? But, before you give up on me for good, hear me out. I tried for ages to find a Chinese cabinet in bright yellow lacquer – to no avail. Then I realized it probably wasn’t smart to splash out a ton of money on something I might very well want to smuggle down to the cellar and bury among the recycling three months later. So I’ve take some baby steps instead. Here’s the result.

DSC_0536

The poster in question is an original, advertising the 1963 movie Charade with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. We found it in Westhampton. It’s a bit battered – it still has tape on the corners, presumably from when someone once stuck it to their bedroom wall. The pillow is from Target.

This is actually our sunroom – all the Edwardian houses in the area have this senselessly tiny room at the back of the house. It’s impossible to decorate and even harder to photograph. We use it as a playroom in the day and a kind of reading area in the evening (the toys are all stashed in the cube on the left and the baskets on the right). It has to be able to withstand a toddler hurling himself at full force around the place. (Yet another reason why a pricey chinese cabinet probably wasn’t a good idea – best to stick with the IKEA bookcase).

Anyway, so that’s my first foray into yellow. Hope you like it!

Here’s why I enjoy blogging: Last week I received an email from a gentleman named Chris Hankey. He’s an artist, and he painted the seascape that we have hanging in our living room. It’s a piece of art that means a tremendous amount to us as it was a wedding gift from all our friends and family. It turns out that a reader had spotted a photo of my living room on this blog, fallen in love with the painting and contacted Chris. As a result, Chris got to see where his painting ended up and I got to hear from the artist whose work has been so prominent in our lives for the past six years. How great is that?

And so you can see just why we’re so crazy about this artist’s work, here are a few of his latest pieces.

Chris Hankey

Portheras Cove

Chris Hankey

Sunset Gwenver

Chris Hankey

Evening Calm Portheras

And here‘s the picture that started it all (second photo from the top).

You can check out more of Chris’ work at his site.

We’re back from vacation now and trying to settle into the old routine. I know my posts have been rather sparse in the last week – I just had to be offline for a bit in order to relax.

We spent quite a bit of time visiting some of the Hamptons’ famed galleries. We even made a couple of (very small) purchases – more on that later. But it was the Mark Humphrey gallery in Southampton that really drew my eye, with an exhibition of work by Donald Baechler.

Donald Baechler

I love the bold form and simplicity. But what you can’t appreciate from the photo here is the stunning shimmering silver background and the sheer scale. I’m glad I had a chance to see it in person, albeit briefly.

Even if you’re not an art aficionado, you might well recognize Bachler’s work. His graphic, sometimes humorous, but always arresting, depictions of flowers, faces and other objects are in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Centre George Pompidou in Paris.

But, even if it still isn’t ringing any bells, you’ll certainly recognize the painting that graced the front cover of this month’s Elle Decor. Baechler’s bold floral silhouette is a major feature of Aerin Lauder’s East Hampton living room.

Elle Decor

And so we go full circle. How very fitting.

Every so often I post something on architecture, as opposed to interior design, just because it’s so stunning and inspiring that I can’t resist. So when I spotted these videos of buildings that move, and even dance, via Fast Company, I had to cover them. They are truly amazing.

The first video shows an art installation called Articulated Cloud, by Ned Kahn, that forms the facade of the Children’s Museum in Pittsburgh. The building is covered in a ‘skin’ made with thousands of white, translucent tiles which move in the wind. It is meant to resemble clouds.

Kahn has a fantastic portfolio online which shows his other work around the world, using fire, light, water, sand, fog and wind to create stunning effects in conjunction with architecture. I particularly love this one, called Wind Silos, in North Carolina.

Ned Kahn

It’s just a parking structure, but it’s covered in these undulating metal screens and then a 16′ ribbon of wind-activated stainless steel disks. Call me shallow, but it looks like like this rather fabulous Tiffany bracelet to me….

Tiffany bracelet

The next one is just an artist’s impression. It’s called the FLARE Facade and is designed by White Void. The facade is like a membrane made of thousands of ‘flakes’ which can be programmed to move in any pattern. It looks like some amazing light show, but it’s really just reflected light. It’s almost as if the building is alive.

Finally, check out this one for a bit of humor. It really is a building that dances! The building was covered in shutters (of a kind that I think are actually quite common in Germany) and then the movements were choreographed. It almost has a personality!

Don’t think my house will be looking like this any time soon. But pretty inspirational stuff all the same.

My other half is trying out more of his macro photography technique (not exactly sure what that is, but I like the end result – especially because it gives me an excuse to splurge on flowers!) Here’s the latest subject: multicolored parrot tulips. I think these photos are pretty good. In fact, I’m thinking of printing them onto a roller blind for our bathroom, but I’m not sure if he can handle this much flower every day!

Tulip

Tulip

When artist Neece Clark commented on this post about wallpaper alternatives (I mentioned her lovely murals), she sent in a link to her latest paintings. I’m glad she did because they’re absolutely stunning.

This one is entitled ‘stars’.

Neece Clark

This is ‘hot pink peonies on honey’.

Neece Clark

The descriptions of the paintings are almost as tempting as the works themselves. Here’s how this one is described on the site:

“These three panels carry a sensual field of hot pink peonies with deep gold and saffron centers. Petals layered with translucent magenta and fuschia washes drift over a metallic background resembling honey-colored raw silk; like a silk persian carpet the metallic background changes ever so slightly with movement and light.”

I want, I want! Check out more of Neece’s collection and her shop here.

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