When beginning a design project for a client’s home, I ask myself, “Who lives here?” It’s important for the design to tell the client’s story, not my own. With that in mind, I keep myself open to what my clients bring to the table. There is beauty in collaboration, and although I am surrounded by my own favorite and trusted sources, I appreciate being introduced to great resources by my clients. It broadens my horizons and adds to what I have to offer my future clients. Here are some examples of products, artists, and other resources I’ve learned about from clients.
Stocking a library or extensive bookshelves with antique books can be expensive. You also want to collect books you would actually read. However, putting together a set of books that also looks great with the room around them can be more of a challenge. A client introduced me to Books by the Foot, where you can order books by color, in matched sets, vintage books, wrapped books, and even faux books. This makes it possible to achieve just the pulled-together look you want in any style. This is an amazing site, even offering coffee table books and sets for commercial interiors!
Art changes the dynamic of a house and makes my work speak better. It creates a visceral reaction that varies from person to person, which is why art choices sometimes have to come from the client and not from the designer. When a client introduces me to an artist I am not familiar with, it’s such a gift! The photography of Ben Ham (who I’ve written about in the past), Eric Zener’s paintings, and Vik Muniz’s eclectic modern art, were all brought to my attention by clients. Expanding my knowledge of artists and having a relationship with a local gallery such as Samuel Owen Gallery, helps me collaborate with clients to find just the right art for each project.
A client from London who bought a house here in the US sent me a link to Trainspotters website and I fell in love with their amazing lighting. They have great scale and colors — I’d use these products in my own studio! This lighting, salvaged from a huge variety of places around Europe, are authentic and interesting. We used lighting from Trainspotters in my client’s kitchen and the results were fantastic!
This book is a great resource I first learned of from a client. As a guide to color and creating a palette for a room, it’s an invaluable resource to share with clients. With actual paint swatches from a variety of manufacturers and beautiful examples of rooms, Colors for your Home makes it easier for clients to visualize an unlimited number of color schemes.
There are so many online magazines, blogs, storefronts, and websites dedicated to the world of interior design that it’s often a daunting task to find a consistently reliable source of information and inspiration. Add into that the possibilities of social media and apps, and the idea of staying on top of changing technology and online resources begins to feel like a full time job! Like any other resource, however, the internet is something each of us can find just the right way to use depending on our needs. As a designer, there are six online resources I find myself regularly using for different reasons. Throughout the upcoming year, I know I will utilize these sites and tools to enhance my business and the options I can offer to my clients.
2. Interiors Magazine An international design magazine, Interiors is a unique voice among design publications, featuring designers and products I don’t often see in other magazines. Their website allows you to browse digital versions past issues and is great for sourcing product. For example, I discovered Kyle Bunting Rugs in Interiors Magazine and am really excited to keep them in mind for future clients.
3. 1st Dibs I could submerge myself for hours in 1st Dibs. Once a source for great furniture and lighting, you can now shop for jewelry, vintage fashion, and even real estate. With designer highlights and options for shopping local, 1st Dibs is a worldwide market you can browse without ever leaving your home or office.
4. Pinterest Pinterest is a great organizational tool for categorizing thoughts and ideas. I love seeing what other people are doing as well! Having the Pin It button right on my toolbar makes it easy to go back to products and inspiration I find anywhere on the web.
5. Color River App from House Beautiful Color River is a beautifully done app that I have on my iPad. It’s a great tool to use with clients for choosing color and coordinating palettes.
6. Dering Hall Dering Hall is a favorite source of high end furniture and products from a huge collection of designers and storefronts. Users can follow favorite designers, browse portfolios, and read about current design trends and happenings in the DH Blog.
Since founding Bilhuber and Associates in 1984, Jeffrey Bilhuber has earned his place as one of the world’s top interior designers. He’s been published in more than 50 design books and been featured in every nation and international design magazine. He’s completed projects from New York to London and exudes such an accessible philosophy that he’s been invited to appear on shows such as The View and Conan O’Brien as well as HGTV. His Bilhuber Basics line for Stark Carpets increased his name recognition as did the success of his first book, Jeffrey Bilhuber’s Design Basics, as well as his next two books, Defining Luxury and The Way Home: Reflections on American Beauty. Jeffrey is known for blending traditionalism with modern sensibilities to produce beautiful and practical interiors uniquely suited to each client. His career and clientele so far have been really amazing so far!
I adore Jeffrey Bilhuber for so many reasons. Each of his spaces is the perfect collected mix of details and fearless, unexpected, fascinating touches. His designs feature vivacious colors and timeless, sophisticated beauty. He implements top-notch finishes and creates these layered interiors that I really admire. Everything from his color selections to the way he uses big plants or bunches of grapes to bring a human element to a room resonates with me and certainly inspires me. When I find a stack of new design magazines in my mail box, I can’t wait to see Jeffrey Bilhuber designs among the pages.
My own designs have definitely been influenced by Jeffrey’s work. He inspires me to use the unexpected but still be timeless. I know when I give my clients examples from Jeffrey’s designs, we build a relationship of trust and confidence to maybe take design risks they might not otherwise have considered. I wouldn’t copy Jeffrey’s ideas, of course, but reinterpret elements and make them my own. The magnitude of his design is so big, other designers can learn so much just from just from taking a bit here and there to adapt to their own style and their clients’ needs.
We all have our favorite day-to-day items, our go-to gadgets and accessories that help us stay organized, keep us on track, or simply make us feel good and lift our spirits as we get through each day. Here’s a list of things I simply can’t live without!
1. My Camera
I love my camera! Photography is definitely an art form and I love photos. I’m not a sentimental person at all, except for my family photographs. If my house was on fire and my family was safe, I would run back inside to rescue my photo albums; they mean that much to me.
2. My Watch
3. The Beach
4. Lip Balm
5. My Hermes NotebookI have two of these great Hermes notebooks that I use for work and, of course, in my favorite shade of orange! I’m a bit old school; I still prefer to write things down instead of using my phone or a tablet. I keep one notebook for my own notes and one for my calendar. I use them every day!
6. Helmut Lang
7. Picasso Etchings
8. Tom Ford – Black Orchid
9. Ochre Chandelier
10. Amalfi Coast and My Italian Heritage
My Italian heritage definitely defines a bit of who I am. Being able to visit Italy as a child also exposed me to traditions that influence my family life.
12. High Heels
High heels are a signature of my everyday dress code. I am crazy for shoes! Contractors are used to creating planks and walkways for me to get around when I enter a construction site. I am not practical by far!
Earlier this week I had an incredible time at the Jeffrey Bilhuber Lecture and Luncheon, hosted by the Greenwich Historical Society and exclusive media sponsor Connecticut Cottages and Gardens. Jeffrey Bilhuber has long been one of my all-time favorite designers. I find his style so inspirational, with his use of amazing color combinations and his knack for layers. He has such an extravagant, eccentric design flair and a fascinating personal story. When I heard about this event to benefit the Historical Society, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear Jeffrey Bhilhuber speak and showcase his new book, The Way Home: Reflections on American Beauty.
Jeffrey’s lecture demonstrated his mastery of design and set my mind spinning with ideas and possibilities. His creative design concepts never fail to amaze me. One particular highlight of the luncheon was the chance to meet Jeffrey and speak to him face-to-face. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to meet someone you’ve long looked up to as an inspiration and icon, you can imagine how I felt at that moment!
Photo by Neil Landino
I loved this brochure handed out at the luncheon. Titled “Jeffrey Bilhuber Unedited,” it listed Jeffrey’s responses to 14 prompts about his favorite things and places, featured a very cool design, and included references to unique Greenwich spots!
Les Arts Decoratifs, or the Museum of Decorative Art, in Paris holds more than 350,000 works in its collections. I recently came across these images of the 2010 Les Lelanne exhibit at the museum and was entranced.
Les Lalanne is an artist duo comprised of French artists François-Xavier Lalanne (1927–2008) and Claude Lalanne (b. 1924). The married couple co-created projects, with Francois focusing on animal sculptures and Claude preferring vegetation. Their works have been exhibited in various venues, but I particularly love these exhibits at Les Arts Decoratifs.
The appeal of this exhibit, for me, is the effect of the whimsical animals seeming to wander around in this vast architectural space. Displayed in an area with minimal color, the exhibit produces a visceral reaction.
What do you use your dishes for? Are they simply utilitarian, something to toss on the table at dinner, then clean up and store out of sight once the meal is over? On most nights of the week, dinner time is more about reconnecting with family after a busy day or fitting in a quick dinner between soccer and homework than about transforming your table into a masterpiece of a tablescape.
When you have guests, however, don’t underestimate the ability of fine dinnerware to add a special or unique touch to the table. Dinnerware can add color, interest, and style to the table. There’s no reason why you can’t use the dinnerware as another interesting element to make your guests feel special.
Here are some examples of dinnerware I love. They represent a variety of colors and styles, but what they have in common is a heightened level of interest or detail that can easily be carried into other accent pieces for the table.
And of course, who says fabulous dinnerware has to be confined to a tabletop?