How to Use Rhythm and Harmony to Design Great Rooms by Margaret Chambers

The words “rhythm” and “harmony” likely bring music to mind, but these are also terms that interior designers like myself use to describe our work. If you’re a Dallas homeowner and have ever wondered about what it takes to design a room that is both cohesive and interesting, you’ll want to study up on both of these design principles.

Many homes have architectural details that add built-in rhythm to the room. This is the foyer of the SMU Theta sorority house in Dallas, which was designed by Fusch Architects, Inc. and decorated by us. The elegant staircase curves as it rises up, inviting the visitor’s eye to follow along with it. Gold and yellow accessories create another kind of visual rhythm in the sitting area below.

Many homes have architectural details that add built-in rhythm to the room. This is the foyer of the SMU Theta sorority house in Dallas, which was designed by Fusch Architects, Inc. and decorated by us. The elegant staircase curves as it rises up, inviting the visitor’s eye to follow along with it. Gold and yellow accessories create another kind of visual rhythm in the sitting area below.

Rhythm:

You can lead a viewer's eye throughout the room by repeating a pattern or color among your furnishings and accessories. This kind of visual flow is called rhythm. The use of rhythm can be subtle: for example, a particular shade of yellow in a painting could be echoed in the pillows on the sofa. By distributing that color or pattern throughout the room, you are creating visual "movement" and balancing your color scheme, too.

The owners of this home we designed in Kessler Park displayed their collection of African artifacts in the kitchen. The pieces are united in color, but have slightly different shapes and sizes.

The owners of this home we designed in Kessler Park displayed their collection of African artifacts in the kitchen. The pieces are united in color, but have slightly different shapes and sizes.

Any repetition of elements in a room can create rhythm. For example, a group of art prints along the wall, a series of matching lighting fixtures, or a row of candles on a mantle all establish rhythm through repetition. However, not all of your repeating accessories need to be identical.

You can also create interest through progression, in which you line up your accessories from large to small, small to large, or even from light to dark in tone. A series of similar but differently-sized vases in an entrée way is a charming example of progression. Featuring a basic shape throughout the room is another opportunity to create rhythm. For example, an oval-patterned wallpaper can be accentuated by an oval-shaped mirror.

Keeping repetition and rhythm in mind will guide you to make smarter purchases as you furnish your home, because it encourages you to create cohesive groupings. If you’ve tried to incorporate rhythm, but the room still feels “off” somehow, remember to step back and let your eyes naturally follow the lines of the room. This can help you identify where changes should be made.

A pink, toile-patterned wallpaper adds movement and rhythm to the walls of this formal dining room in University Park, Dallas. This dining room is part of a home decorated in a traditional English cottage style.

A pink, toile-patterned wallpaper adds movement and rhythm to the walls of this formal dining room in University Park, Dallas. This dining room is part of a home decorated in a traditional English cottage style.

Harmony

Another way to achieve balance in your interiors is through harmony, in which all the elements of your space relate to each other in a pleasing way. When there are too many different colors, shapes, or textures in a room, the result is visual chaos. A room has harmony when almost everything in it is part of the same color family: in other words, a monochromatic color scheme.

The living room and dining room shown above are from a transitional home we designed in Plano, Texas. The color scheme for this house is made up of calming neutrals, while a variety of textures and patterns add interest to the space.

The living room and dining room shown above are from a transitional home we designed in Plano, Texas. The color scheme for this house is made up of calming neutrals, while a variety of textures and patterns add interest to the space.

While a room with contrasting colors and rhythm is exciting, a room with harmony is especially restful. So monochromatic color schemes are a great idea for rooms you want to be able to relax in, such as the bedroom. A symmetrically designed room will also feel more harmonious than an asymmetrical room.

If you are just beginning to furnish your Dallas home and aren’t sure how to proceed, pick one item or visual element you definitely want in your room, and then design around it. Be careful not to get too carried away, and make sure to leave room for ‘negative space.’ Negative space gives interiors a calming quality, and too much clutter can take away from that.

This Dallas dining room is a great example of a room where negative space makes the room feel more open.

This Dallas dining room is a great example of a room where negative space makes the room feel more open.

You don't have to make everything in your room all of one color to achieve harmony. Distributing similar textures throughout your room will achieve a similar effect: from coarse textures like brick and timber paneling, to smooth textures like polished concrete and glass.

The danger in creating a harmonious room is that without the right amount of contrast, you can end up with a boring design. A smart designer will know how to add just the right amount of variety while still maintaining a balanced look. If your monochromatic color scheme feels too “matchy-matchy,” you’ll want to introduce other colors.

Here is the formal living room from SMU’s Kappa Alpha Theta house that we featured earlier. We used a bright multi-color scheme for this room: golds, greens, and aquas are found throughout the room, and echoed again in the large floral painting over the sofa.

Here is the formal living room from SMU’s Kappa Alpha Theta house that we featured earlier. We used a bright multi-color scheme for this room: golds, greens, and aquas are found throughout the room, and echoed again in the large floral painting over the sofa.

When it comes to multi-color schemes, many interior designers follow the 60-30-10 rule. This rule is designed to guide you in distributing the right amount of color in each room. 60 percent of the room should represent your dominant color, 30 percent should be your secondary color, and the last 10 percent is for accents.

Now that you've read about a few examples of rhythm and harmony, hopefully you can approach your interiors with a fresh eye and see where you can make improvements. If you’re overwhelmed by the size of your project and could use an expert opinion, consider reaching out to our interior design team for a free consultation.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

An Interior Designer’s Guide to Preparing Your Home to Sell by Margaret Chambers

Are you preparing to sell your Dallas home? If so, you’ve probably already begun your own to-do list. While some strategies for showing a home are common knowledge (“clean up,” “make repairs,” “spray air freshener”) there are other ideas you might not have considered. In this guide, we’ll cover all of the essentials involved in selling a home. We’ll also include some tips from our interior design team that your real estate agent may not think to suggest!

We redecorated this 1927 Spanish colonial house in Kessler Park, Dallas. Lee Roth was the landscape architect. New landscaping gives this home plenty of “curb appeal.”

We redecorated this 1927 Spanish colonial house in Kessler Park, Dallas. Lee Roth was the landscape architect. New landscaping gives this home plenty of “curb appeal.”

First Impressions

Real estate agents stress the importance of “curb appeal” for a good reason. If your home doesn’t make a great first impression, your prospective buyers may never even step out of the car to see it. This is the time to make your yard and front door as presentable as possible. Trimming the bushes, mowing the lawn, and weeding are must-dos. You may also want to plant some new flowers and add fresh mulch.

A quick and easy way to boost your home’s curb appeal is to put a new coat of paint on the front door. Select a color that stands out from the rest of the home, but isn’t too strong, either. If you have lots of decorative items on your porch, you may want to declutter by removing any items beside a welcome mat and a potted plant or two. Make sure that your house numbers are clear and easy to see from the street. If your window trim is fading, repaint that too. You can also pressure wash the siding of your home and the sidewalk.

When you’re wrapping up, step back and take a look at your own home from the street. If you were a buyer, would you want to tour the home?

Tackle Your Repair List

Once you’ve decided that you’re going to sell your home, make a list of all the repair projects you’ve been putting off, and their potential costs. Focus on projects that are either inexpensive, or that you can do yourself. It’s better to take care of all these fixes before the home inspector arrives.

As for more expensive repairs, some are more necessary than others. A leaky roof will definitely turn away buyers. However, while you may be tempted to renovate your outdated kitchen, proceed carefully. A full kitchen renovation can cost as much as $65,000, and it’s estimated that sellers only make back about 60% of their investment when they sell a home with a renovated kitchen. It may be more worthwhile to simply make small repairs to the kitchen and do a deep cleaning.

Your to-do list should include patching holes in walls, fixing doors and drawers that don’t close properly, replacing kitchen cabinet hardware, replacing light bulbs, and fixing leaky faucets. If your flooring is worn out, replacing your carpets and refinishing wood floors can have a higher cost upfront, but is almost always worth the investment. Replace ceilings that are water-stained, even if the plumbing issue was fixed long ago.

Create a Blank Slate

We repainted the walls in the Kessler Park home with mostly neutral colors. In the dining room, beige is a calming backdrop for the gold-framed antique prints. Before, the ceiling was also a dark terracotta color. Covering it with a light wallpaper helped the room feel more expansive.

We repainted the walls in the Kessler Park home with mostly neutral colors. In the dining room, beige is a calming backdrop for the gold-framed antique prints. Before, the ceiling was also a dark terracotta color. Covering it with a light wallpaper helped the room feel more expansive.

You have probably heard that it’s important to depersonalize a home for sale. Potential buyers have trouble imagining their own family photos on the walls when yours are still hanging there! Don’t store personal items in the closets, however: buyers will be opening those to see how much storage space you have. Although it’s not necessary to clear them out completely, you’ll want your closets to look tidy. The more organized your closet is, the more space you’ll appear to have.

Instead of putting photos in the closet, rent a storage space for oversize furniture, collectibles, family heirlooms, and photos. Homes that are clean and open will fetch higher prices than excessively cluttered homes, so a storage unit is a smart investment. If you do want to hang something on the wall, scenic pictures and mirrors are just fine. It would also be wise to remove religious items or political statements from your home for now, as these can distract buyers. Once you’ve moved into your new home, you can proudly display them once again.

If you have the time, it’s also worthwhile to organize your pantry and refrigerator. Some buyers will open everything they can to peek inside. You can declutter your pantry pretty easily by moving anything you aren’t planning on using the next few weeks into storage.

We updated this Plano home with transitional style in mind. Before, the walls were painted red. The metallic gray wallpaper we put up is a good example of what’s considered current in wallpaper today.

We updated this Plano home with transitional style in mind. Before, the walls were painted red. The metallic gray wallpaper we put up is a good example of what’s considered current in wallpaper today.

As gorgeous as your dark red bedroom may be, the paint color may be divisive for your buyers. Large, brightly colored furnishings (like upholstered couches) can be off-putting to some as well. You don’t want to provoke too much conversation about your unique taste in interior design. So, if your Dallas home is filled with bold colors, we strongly suggest repainting the walls with a neutral color. Good choices include white, cream, khaki, or gray, depending on what you have in the room. It’s also a good idea to remove any old wallpaper, which may make your home feel more dated than it actually is. You can read more about which wallpaper patterns are trendy, and which are considered out-of-date, in our blog about wallpaper.

The more light you can let into the room, the better. Turn on all the lights and open the draperies. Speaking of draperies, it’s better to just remove heavy draperies before a showing.

These curtains are sheer, allowing lots of natural light into the room.

These curtains are sheer, allowing lots of natural light into the room.

Clean Like You’ve Never Cleaned Before

Be prepared to do a deep cleaning of your home (or hire assistance to do so). After you’ve taken the time to make the counters shine and clear away dust bunnies, you may find rooms getting dirty again with surprising speed. As potential buyers tour your home, your floors and carpets will be tracked with dirt. You won’t need to do another deep-cleaning for a while, but start vacuuming more frequently than you used to. If you have children, ask them to put away their toys each night.

If you have built-in bookshelves, don’t fill them entirely with books. Instead, leave a small selection of your most attractive books and accessories to showcase them. This photo is from the Theta house library we designed at SMU in Dallas.

If you have built-in bookshelves, don’t fill them entirely with books. Instead, leave a small selection of your most attractive books and accessories to showcase them. This photo is from the Theta house library we designed at SMU in Dallas.

A bad odor is an immediate turnoff for buyers. Pet owners will need to take steps to eliminate pet odors. While you’re in the thick of showing, you might also want to avoid cooking meals that leave a smell lingering the next day. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to fill the home with a more inviting scent. Fresh flowers, scented candles, and freshly baked cookies are all safe bets.

Begin the Purge-and-Pack Process

Decluttering goes hand in hand with cleaning. Since you’ll be packing up all of your belongings soon, you should take this opportunity to purge items that you don’t want to take to your next home.

On the other side of the coin, you should ask yourself: “Is there anything in my home I could never part with?” Whether it’s a family heirloom, a custom light fixture, or a favorite piece of artwork, you should consider moving it to storage before buyers can see it. It will hurt negotiations if your buyer covets a beautiful painting by your late grandfather, and is told that she can’t have it. Everyone is happier when your buyers never know what they’re missing!

Clearing knickknacks off of counters and shelves will immediately help your home look neater. After decluttering this house, you’ll have more motivation to keep your next house organized, too. This will save you a lot of time if you need to move and sell your next home suddenly.

For now, you can organize items that you use every day, such as your toiletries, in small boxes and put them out of sight. If you have a storage unit, you should go ahead and move out both your books and your bookcases. Homes will also show better with no rugs rather than with outdated rugs.

Most homes for sale will benefit from having some furniture moved to storage. Focus on moving out any pieces that block pathways, whether they are large sofas or extra dining chairs. Reducing the amount of furniture will help to make each room feel larger.

When it’s time to sell, even looking at your own to-do list can feel intimidating. Just remember that every repair you make, and every item you purge, will increase the value of your home and make your next move easier. If you’ve accomplished all of your to-do’s and are ready to take your home sale to the next level, consider hiring an interior designer to stage your home. A clean home will sell better than a cluttered one, and a professionally staged home will sell even better.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

Why Neoclassical Architecture Never Goes out of Style by Margaret Chambers

With its combination of clean lines, imposing scale, and stately details, Neoclassical architecture always makes a statement. Here in Dallas, our historic courthouse and the Dallas High School are both examples of this timeless look. Although many people associate Neoclassical with government buildings, it’s also a popular style for traditional homes.

lexington-1-1.jpg
Architect Robbie Fusch designed this home on Lexington. Like any Neoclassical home should, it favors symmetry over asymmetry. (This photo and drawing are copyright of  Fusch Architects, Inc . Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature these images).

Architect Robbie Fusch designed this home on Lexington. Like any Neoclassical home should, it favors symmetry over asymmetry. (This photo and drawing are copyright of Fusch Architects, Inc. Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature these images).

History

Neoclassical, or “new classical” is the revival of ideas and culture from ancient Greece and Rome. True classical architecture was built between 850 B.C. and A.D. 476.

By the late 18th century, architects and interior designers throughout Europe were beginning to tire of Rococo style. Excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum inspired designers to return to the simplicity and elegance of the ancient past. Neoclassical became so popular that by the year 1800, almost all British architects were using it.

During the 19th century, US architects defined the aesthetic course of the nation by designing universities and government buildings in a Neoclassical style. This was intended to suggest similarities between the new republic and ancient Rome. Today, Neoclassical buildings can also be found in France, Russia, and Latin America. Some famous examples of Neoclassical design include the U.S. Capitol, the Panthéon in Paris, the Prado Museum in Madrid, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia.

Le Panthéon de Paris as painted by Jean-Baptiste Hilair, 1795. (Public domain)

Le Panthéon de Paris as painted by Jean-Baptiste Hilair, 1795. (Public domain)

You might wonder if Neoclassical is too ostentatious for residential architecture. Not so: Neoclassical homes are still being designed and built all across America.

Characteristics

Some of the key tenets of Neoclassical architecture include symmetry, dramatic columns, domed roofs, and triangular pediments. Columns are built according to the Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian orders (classical style guidelines) and will always be placed in even numbers. Unlike British Neoclassical homes, American Neoclassical homes are often built with a double portico. Some Neoclassical homes also have a balustrade along the second story porch.

This Turtle Creek home by architect Richard Davis has both a double portico and a balustrade. The columns here follow the Doric order, meaning they are simple and streamlined in design. (This photo is copyright of  Richard Drummond Davis Architects . Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

This Turtle Creek home by architect Richard Davis has both a double portico and a balustrade. The columns here follow the Doric order, meaning they are simple and streamlined in design. (This photo is copyright of Richard Drummond Davis Architects. Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

An aerial shot of a Neoclassical home with a double portico in Fort Worth, designed by Ralph Duesing. (This photo is copyright of  Ralph Duesing Architect, LLC . Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

An aerial shot of a Neoclassical home with a double portico in Fort Worth, designed by Ralph Duesing. (This photo is copyright of Ralph Duesing Architect, LLC. Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

The thought behind Neoclassical is that pure, simple forms should be the basis of great architecture. However, there is still room to include some ornamental details. Examples include dentil moldings (rectangular blocks along the roof line or below the cornice) and Corinthian columns, the tops (capitals) of which are densely decorated with scrolls and foliage.

In this photo of a home designed by Paul Turney, you can see examples of both dentil moldings and Corinthian columns. Dentil moldings line the pediment over the front porch. (This image is copyright of  Turney & Associates, Inc.  Chambers Interiors & Associates was given permission to feature this image).

In this photo of a home designed by Paul Turney, you can see examples of both dentil moldings and Corinthian columns. Dentil moldings line the pediment over the front porch. (This image is copyright of Turney & Associates, Inc. Chambers Interiors & Associates was given permission to feature this image).

Many American Neoclassical homes are constructed using Flemish Bond red brick and limestone corner stones called quoins. Door and window trim, columns, roof-line balustrades, and shutters are all made of either limestone or wood. The brick exterior walls and wood ornamentation of a Neoclassical home help to give the building its sense of solidness, but the wood ornamentation also needs to be carefully maintained over time. Anything made of wood should be repainted or re-stained once in a while, as well as inspected for rot.

Fountains and abundant greenery give a restful quality to this Neoclassical outdoor area. Paul Turney was the architect for this home, while the landscape architect was  John Armstrong.  (This image is copyright of  Turney & Associates, Inc . Chambers Interiors & Associates was given permission to feature this image).

Fountains and abundant greenery give a restful quality to this Neoclassical outdoor area. Paul Turney was the architect for this home, while the landscape architect was John Armstrong. (This image is copyright of Turney & Associates, Inc. Chambers Interiors & Associates was given permission to feature this image).

Unlike casement windows, traditional double-hung windows do not have an airtight seal when closed. They also tend to leak more air as they age. If you buy an older Neoclassical home, you may want to have the windows inspected. Repairing or replacing these windows with modern replicas can help you save money on your energy bill.

Windows in Neoclassical homes, such as this home designed by Richard Davis, have double-hung sashes with shutters on either side. (This photo is copyright of  Richard Drummond Davis Architects . Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

Windows in Neoclassical homes, such as this home designed by Richard Davis, have double-hung sashes with shutters on either side. (This photo is copyright of Richard Drummond Davis Architects. Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

Interior design in Neoclassical homes

When it comes to color, Neoclassical rooms tend to have a light overall color scheme, with a few dramatic or darkly colored accents. For example, one room may have an overall black-and-white scheme with geometric patterns; another room could use softer cream, pale blue or pearl as its main colors. Popular accent colors for these rooms include navy blue, terra cotta, gold, and wine red.

Cobalt blue is the accent color of choice in this room from a Neoclassical home by Robbie Fusch. (This photo is copyright of  Fusch Architects, Inc . Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

Cobalt blue is the accent color of choice in this room from a Neoclassical home by Robbie Fusch. (This photo is copyright of Fusch Architects, Inc. Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

In the 1700s, designers who worked in Neoclassical style chose furniture that balanced clean lines and Greco-Roman details. Antique furniture from this period often had tapered or fluted legs, scrolls, lyre backs, and rosettes. Upholstery was usually in colors like rose, white, gray-blue, and striped or toile patterns. Gilt accents on mirrors and furnishings are also quite common. Since this style is associated with luxury, you may want to splurge on high quality fabrics such as silk, linen, brocade, and velvet.

In a Lexington home designed by Robbie Fusch, this mirror with a gilt frame makes a stunning statement piece. (This photo is copyright of  Fusch Architects, Inc.  Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

In a Lexington home designed by Robbie Fusch, this mirror with a gilt frame makes a stunning statement piece. (This photo is copyright of Fusch Architects, Inc. Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

One key difference between Neoclassical and other traditional styles is that Neoclassical has less clutter. Of course, there are some accessories that are a must for this look. Busts, statues, obelisks, urns, large mirrors, crystal chandeliers, and classic art will help cinch the style.

Crystal chandeliers, crown molding, and painted walls give elegance to the dining room in this Turtle Creek home by Richard Davis. (This photo is copyright of  Richard Drummond Davis Architects . Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

Crystal chandeliers, crown molding, and painted walls give elegance to the dining room in this Turtle Creek home by Richard Davis. (This photo is copyright of Richard Drummond Davis Architects. Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

Since Neoclassical rooms tend to have a “clean” look, some Dallas homeowners are combining elements of Neoclassical with modern and contemporary design. Be careful to not include too many accessories, especially in rooms that already have busy patterns. Just a few pieces will go a long way to getting the glamorous look you want.

smu-theta-exterior.jpg
Chambers Interiors & Associates was the interior design team for the new SMU Theta sorority house (exterior and interior photos shown above). We chose a transitional style that would please both older alumni and current students. The new building was designed in Neoclassical style by  Fusch Architects, Inc.

Chambers Interiors & Associates was the interior design team for the new SMU Theta sorority house (exterior and interior photos shown above). We chose a transitional style that would please both older alumni and current students. The new building was designed in Neoclassical style by Fusch Architects, Inc.

Like many famous Neoclassical buildings, this home by Ralph Duesing in Westover Hills has a large triangular pediment. (This photo is copyright of  Ralph Duesing Architect, LLC . Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

Like many famous Neoclassical buildings, this home by Ralph Duesing in Westover Hills has a large triangular pediment. (This photo is copyright of Ralph Duesing Architect, LLC. Chambers Interiors & Associates was granted permission to feature this image).

Whether you prefer traditional or contemporary, Neoclassical style has a lot to offer. If you own a Neoclassical home and are not sure how to balance this style with your other furnishings, consider enlisting the help of a designer familiar with the style.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

How to Capture the Classical Regency Look in Your Modern Dallas Home by Margaret Chambers

“Portrait of George IV of England.” Painted by Thomas Lawrence in 1816.

“Portrait of George IV of England.” Painted by Thomas Lawrence in 1816.

When you think of England's Regency era, a few things probably come to mind. Extravagance, high fashion, romance, and exoticism: any of these words can sum up the national mood and aesthetics of this era.

For those unfamiliar with this period in history, the Regency era gets its name from George IV, who was chosen to be Regent after his ailing father, King George III, was declared unfit for rule. The Prince ruled as Regent from the years 1811 through 1820, when his father passed away and he was named King George IV.

The Cultural Influences Behind Regency Style

As Prince Regent, George IV was a patron of the arts, and had a major influence on the interior design style, fashions, and architecture of the day. The Royal Pavilion in Brighton was built to be his personal retreat and directly reflected the Prince's tastes as well as the changing world around him.

Ancient Empires

Regency style is an extension of Neoclassical style from the 1700s, so columns and domes continued to be popular architectural features.  Furniture makers of the 1800's also copied Greek and Roman furniture styles even more closely than Neoclassical designers had. Some of the ideas they borrowed included chairs with animal legs, couches with scrolled ends, and decorative lions and griffins.

This Regency-style convex mirror is sold by English Georgian America and features two gilded serpents.  Click here for more information.

This Regency-style convex mirror is sold by English Georgian America and features two gilded serpents. Click here for more information.

Another Regency reproduction by English Georgian America, this mahogany chest of drawers has both lion mask drop handles and lion’s paw feet.  Available from their website.

Another Regency reproduction by English Georgian America, this mahogany chest of drawers has both lion mask drop handles and lion’s paw feet. Available from their website.

Napoleon's campaign against the English in Egypt created renewed interest in Egyptian art among Europeans. Motifs taken from ancient Egyptian artifacts were incorporated into both the English Regency style and the French Empire style. The most popular motifs were crocodiles, birds of prey, and sun discs.

Asia

Where Neoclassical and Regency style differed was that Regency incorporated more visual ideas from Asia. The British East India Company, established in the 16th century, continued to import goods from China, Southeast Asia and India in the 1800s. Chinoiserie, which we covered in a previous blog, became even more popular in the Regency period.

An illustration of the the banqueting room at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. This drawing is from John Nash's ''Views of the Royal Pavilion'' (1826). Images of Chinese domestic scenes line the walls.

An illustration of the the banqueting room at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. This drawing is from John Nash's ''Views of the Royal Pavilion'' (1826). Images of Chinese domestic scenes line the walls.

Before the Prince Regent's time, Chinoiserie style was usually reserved for bedrooms and tea pavilions. But that didn't stop George IV from filling his Royal Pavilion with Asian wallpaper, decorative dragons, paintings of Chinese domestic scenes, imitation bamboo, and lacquered furniture. Meanwhile, the exterior of the Royal Pavilion featured domes and minarets based on Indian architecture. At the time, many visitors found the Royal Pavilion's extravagant Asian decor shocking.

Modern Regency Interior Design

Decorating a home in Regency style today might seem intimidating. However, it can be done if you shop with the right kind of furnishings in mind. For those who don't collect antiques, there are many fine reproduction pieces available.

Furniture

Regency furniture was usually made of woods such as rosewood, zebrawood, or mahogany, and finished with beautiful veneers. Brass inlays became a popular feature, as did ormolu, or imitation gold. Pieces that were less expensive were often repainted in black lacquer.

While English Regency furniture is not as curvaceous as French Regency furniture from the 1700s, English designers did incorporate some curves, especially in the legs of furniture.

Regency-Inlaid-Tilt-Top-Breakfast-Table-A112_2000x.jpg
188-002_2000x.jpg

Above, left: This stunning breakfast table by English Georgian America has an intricate, geometrically inlaid tilt top. Go to their website for a closer view.

Above, right: Black painted furniture is commonly seen in Regency style rooms. This Regency style dresser is also available in white from English Georgian America.

Colors

Neoclassical tended to have understated color schemes, but Regency style was more flamboyant. This is not a style for someone who doesn't love color.

The Royal Pavilion was heavily decorated in reds, pinks, greens, and gold. If you don't want to work with multiple bright colors in a room, pick just one and design the room around that color. For example, you could complement a pair of blue-and-white china pieces with cobalt blue drapes in the same room.

The blue silk pillow on this double chairback settee can add a touch of color to a space.  This is another piece available at English Georgian America’s website.

The blue silk pillow on this double chairback settee can add a touch of color to a space. This is another piece available at English Georgian America’s website.

Many Regency homes will have a bold accent wall with an exotic Chinoiserie pattern. Another option is the stately "Regency stripe" pattern, which alternates between light and dark stripes of the same width.

Accessories

An etagere resembling a Pagoda, such as this piece by English Georgian America, would have fit right in with the Brighton Pavilion’s Asian aesthetic.  Currently in-stock at their website.

An etagere resembling a Pagoda, such as this piece by English Georgian America, would have fit right in with the Brighton Pavilion’s Asian aesthetic. Currently in-stock at their website.

Accessories are another area where you can add a multicultural touch. In a Regency style room, it's not unusual to see foo dog statues, or Roman busts, paired with European style furnishings.  Finally, make sure to have an eye-catching chandelier in any room that needs it. The more unique and spectacular the design is, the better.

When you set out to recreate Regency style in the modern day, there is no need to turn your Dallas home into an opulent English palace. Instead, study the color palettes and furnishing choices you see in modern and classic Regency interiors. By drawing inspiration from what you see in photos, you can rework Regency style into a comfortable environment for yourself or your family.

If you're still stumped on how to combine the many different features of this style, seeking out an experienced interior designer should be your next step.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

5 Indispensable Benefits to Hiring a Registered Interior Designer by Margaret Chambers

--by Margaret Chambers, RID, ASID

--Chambers Interiors & Associates Inc.

When it comes to interior design, the best value for your time and money is hiring an ASID certified designer for your project. I am not only a member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), but I am also also a Registered Interior Designer (RID). This means that I maintain a strict standard of ethics and professional conduct which brings five major advantages to you as a customer.

1. Education

You may have wondered about what makes an interior designer different from an interior decorator. In order to become a professional member of ASID, an interior decorator must attend an accredited school, have design and full-time work experience, and pass a three-part examination admitted by the National Council of Interior Designers Qualifications (NCIDQ). Only then can they officially call themselves a ‘registered interior designer (RID).’

2. Connections

Registered Interior Designers like myself have the training and expertise to plan, schedule, execute, and manage your project from start to finish. We know and work closely with many vendors, contractors, architects, and artisans. The ASID’s industry partners include more than 2,500 different companies.

In addition to our knowledge of products, materials, and finishes, designers know exactly where to procure the furniture, accessories, and art for our design team. Some of the services and products we can purchase are not accessible to the general public.

3. Safety and Accessibility

Another advantage to working with Registered Interior Designers is our knowledge of public safety. For example, if you have fallen in love with a particular fabric, I would make sure that the material meets fire code and durability standards.

An RID will also know how to properly plan a house for someone who is handicapped. For example, for a homeowner using a wheelchair, handlebars may need to be installed in the shower walls. Interior designers will check and make sure that the architect has included these items in the overall plan.

4. Sustainability

An interior designer’s education doesn’t end once they are admitted into the ASID. Once qualified, members must continue to take a minimum of 12 continuing education courses annually in order to maintain their membership. These classes include green sustainability, ethics, and accessibility.

ASID designers work with green materials and can help point out green options for their clients. Examples of environmentally friendly materials include recycled bamboo flooring, or paint that doesn’t give off toxic fumes.

5. Expertise

One of my recent design projects was SMU’s Theta sorority house. I was personally recommended by the architect of the new building, and chosen out of seven designers. Without my certification, the Chambers Interiors team would not have been considered. Almost all commercial design projects are helmed by Registered Interior Designers. Our training and background are considered to be indispensable in this area.

You may be interested to know that I have published blogs on a variety of design topics at the Chambers Interiors website. Some blogs cover historical design trends, such as Swedish style or Chinoiserie, and offer tips on how to recreate those styles authentically. Other blogs discuss general design advice, such as updating a home with antiques, or mixing wood tones. Reading a Registered Interior Designer’s blog can help potential clients get a sense of their expertise.

Finally, an RID designer is knowledgeable about lighting, sound, and acoustics—all of which are especially important for office spaces, condominiums, and apartments.

If you haven’t already hired an interior designer, take the advantage to hire an RID designer. You can feel confident that your project is in good hands and off to a fabulous start.

Written by Margaret Chambers and edited by Caitlin Crowley

How to Decorate with Faux Bois, the Classic That’s Making a Comeback by Margaret Chambers

This garden bench by Currey & Company resembles wood branches, but is actually made of concrete. For more information on where to buy Currey & Company pieces, please contact us.

This garden bench by Currey & Company resembles wood branches, but is actually made of concrete. For more information on where to buy Currey & Company pieces, please contact us.

Even if you’ve never heard the term, “faux bois,” you’ve almost certainly seen it used in interior design. Faux bois means “false wood” in French. It can be any kind of decorative item, but when people talk about “faux bois,” they usually mean the cement, stone, or cast iron furniture that is shaped and patterned like wood. Though faux bois fell out of favor for a few decades, interior designers here in Dallas and elsewhere are seeing it make a comeback.

The first example of faux bois was a garden bridge created by Joseph Monier, a Frenchman, in 1875. Monier layered concrete and sand over metal rods and sculpted them to look like wood branches. In recent years, faux bois has remained an important tool for interior designers as certain woods have become more rare and expensive.  

Examples of Faux Bois

We decorated this outdoor patio with faux bois benches by Currey & Company.

We decorated this outdoor patio with faux bois benches by Currey & Company.

Faux bois furniture is traditionally used for the outdoors. For example, faux bois is a great choice for patio furniture, bird fountains, gardening tables, planters, and more.

The latest trend in Dallas and elsewhere is bringing faux bois inside to pull a touch of nature into the home. A popular accessory is the faux bois mirror, which is bordered by interlocking imitation tree branches.

Other examples of faux bois can include dinnerware, wallpaper, lampshades, and fabrics with a painted or printed wood grain pattern. Even glass can be crafted to have a distinctive wood grain look.

Faux bois cement pieces are much more durable than real wood, and can last over 100 years. Unfortunately, newly produced cement faux bois is becoming rarer and rarer. If you want to buy antiques, you can start by looking at the differences between European and North American faux bois and decide which style you like best.

Faux Bois Furniture Traditions in America

The frame of this mirror is surrounded by faux bois branches and leaves, which resemble carved wood.

The frame of this mirror is surrounded by faux bois branches and leaves, which resemble carved wood.

In the 1920’s, Mexican-born artist Dionisio Rodriguez developed his own take on faux bois. The Mexican style of faux bois is called “El Trabajo Rustico,” or ‘the rustic work.’ Trabajo rustico furniture were usually tinted and given highly naturalistic details such as lichen, peeled bark, and knotholes.

Today, Rodriguez’s largest pieces are kept in the Brackenridge Park in San Antonio. Carlos Cortes, Rodriguez’s great-nephew, continues the tradition using steel-reinforced concrete in his studio in San Antonio.

Another designer who made faux bois a hit in America was John Dickinson. In the 1970s, Dickinson’s design collection included faux bois lamps and mirrors with cast concrete “twigs.” He used a distinctive chalk white finish for many of these pieces. John Dickinson’s furniture and accessories command high prices from collectors today.

Now that it’s the twenty-tens, faux bois is probably enjoying another resurgence in popularity because of Martha Stewart, who fell in love with Rodriguez’s pieces in Brackenridge Park and released her own line of faux bois bath items.

Faux Bois Design Tips

Because faux bois has been around for such a long time, you don’t need to worry about it being a passing fad. It also has the advantage of blending with either rustic, shabby chic, or upscale contemporary rooms.

This accent table by Currey & Company is well-suited for the indoors, too.

This accent table by Currey & Company is well-suited for the indoors, too.

If you want your faux bois pieces to have their maximum impact, limit them to one or two per room. Visitors will enjoy the surprise of seeing tree stumps as low tables, or wood branches as hanging rods. You can mix these pieces easily with real wood and other organic textures, such as a sisal rug.

Introducing a bold graphic wood-grain print is one example of how faux bois should be used in modern interior design. Faux bois wallpaper can come in playful colors, and there are a variety of options for the scale, texture, or subtlety of the pattern too. One smart way to update your kitchen cabinetry is to find a painter who’s experienced with a faux wood painting finish.

Our design team at Chambers Interiors in Dallas has personal experience decorating with faux bois. Whether you already own faux bois and could use some creative ideas for decorating with it, or you’re interested in buying faux bois furniture for the first time, Chambers Interiors can help you bridge the gap between your vision and your next home.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

Incorporating Mirrored Furniture by Margaret Chambers

If you've ever shopped in Dallas and seen mirrored furniture on display, you may have wondered: is mirrored furniture in style? Or out of style?

Back in the 90's, mirrored furniture was overused in interior design, so it went out of style for awhile. However, mirrored furniture started to come back steadily in the early 2000's. Most interior designers now believe that it's a trend that's here to stay. 

To some people, mirrored furniture has a classic look that will always bring a touch of glamour and elegance to a room. Others believe that these pieces work best when they're used with restraint.  By following some basic guidelines, you should have no trouble finding the perfect place for these pieces in your home.

History of Mirrored Furniture

This 3-part mirrored desk by Bungalow 5 commands quite the presence with its high shine and ample storage space. If you’re interested in purchasing Bungalow 5 products, please feel free to reach out to us.

This 3-part mirrored desk by Bungalow 5 commands quite the presence with its high shine and ample storage space. If you’re interested in purchasing Bungalow 5 products, please feel free to reach out to us.

The earliest examples of mirrored furniture date back to the 18th century. At that time, mirrored woman’s dressing tables were especially popular. However, most of the new mirrored furnishings you find today are actually inspired by pieces from the Art Deco period in the 1920's and 30's. 

That's why when people see mirrored furniture, they might think of old Hollywood interiors. Mirrored furniture can feel both glamorous and retro at the same time, so it works best when mixed with other styles.

MC-4 (edited).jpg

Pros and Cons of Mirrored Furniture

One major benefit of introducing reflective surfaces into a room is that it gives the illusion of extra space. While a wooden armoire with dark staining feels visually "heavy," the same armoire with mirrored panels will actually "recede" by reflecting what is around it.

Although mirrors can bounce light around a room, they also make a room feel cool instead of warm--much like metal furnishings. The high sheen of this furniture can serve as a bridge between classical and contemporary elements in a room.

Bungalow 5 has also released this stunning 7-drawer storage piece. Its overall structure takes inspiration from Italian midcentury design, while the rippling wave pattern is a stylish addition.

Bungalow 5 has also released this stunning 7-drawer storage piece. Its overall structure takes inspiration from Italian midcentury design, while the rippling wave pattern is a stylish addition.

The downsides to owning mirrored furniture include their cost of repair. Fixing any damage made on mirrored furniture can be a challenge. Also, keep in mind that you'll need to wipe away fingerprints, dust, splashes, and stains regularly. While cleaning may be frequent, however, it is also much easier to clean than wood. For instance, a wet glass that would leave on ring on wood furniture wouldn’t do the same on mirrored furniture.

Where to Put Mirrored Furniture in Your Dallas Home

Pictured above is the Cecilia center/dining table by Bungalow 5. It is made of wood with a mirrored surface.

Pictured above is the Cecilia center/dining table by Bungalow 5. It is made of wood with a mirrored surface.

The best kind of mirrored furnishings for bedrooms include wardrobes, chests, side tables, and dressing tables. A bed with mirrored frames makes an especially dramatic, more contemporary statement. For your living rooms, consider having a mirrored coffee table, end tables or sideboard. Mirrored folding screens can also add a touch of style to a large room.

Of course, you don't have to commit to a large statement piece. Chairs with a band of mirrored glass around the frame, or a small mirrored bedside table, can also add just a touch of sparkle.

On the other hand, you'll want to avoid putting this kind of furniture in busy rooms that already have a lot going on. A good rule of thumb is to have no more than one or two pieces in the same room.

Don't forget that mirrors can also be made with gray finishes to tone down their shine, while antique patinas give mirrors a unique "smoky" look.  Unless you're after an antiqued patina, there's no need to track down real period pieces, however. Antique mirrored furniture was often cheaply made, since it's easier to glue on mirrors than staining or carving a wooden piece of furniture. We have the ability to help you find newer pieces that have this same, antiqued look.

As you can see, mirrored furniture is surprisingly versatile. When placed with care, these captivating pieces can make the whole room feel larger, bridge the gap between classical and modern, or add a glitzy shine. If you want to make sure that you're bringing out the full potential of your mirrored furniture, here at Chambers Interiors we often use mirrored pieces in contemporary, transitional and traditional spaces. If you're starting from scratch, we can also help you locate a wide variety of mirrored pieces in the Dallas Design District that are perfect for your interior.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

Buying Your First Antique Grandfather Clock by Margaret Chambers

Although most people nowadays use their phones to keep time, there are always going to be people who appreciate the beautiful design, and charming sounds, of an antique clock. After all, a clock is one of the only kinds of antique furniture that can still be used and enjoyed as it was originally intended.

The following guide is an introduction to the tallest and most impressive kind of clock, the grandfather clock. Whether you're trying to start a collection, learn more about your family heirloom, or buy the perfect grandfather clock to complete your interior design, this guide can help you get started.

History of the Grandfather Clock

116D723A-8DC5-47F3-9A79-6CF5BB9A9D33.JPG

In the 1660’s, English clockmakers discovered that a long pendulum could keep time more accurately than a short one. This new kind of clock needed to be at least six feet tall to hold the three-foot long pendulum and weights that made it work.

Today, English longcase clocks that were made during the "Golden Age" of clock making (from the 1660s to 1730s) are extremely valuable. These early clocks were made in London for the wealthiest nobility, so their craftsmanship is particularly beautiful. Only a handful of these become available for sale each year, so most English clock collectors buy clocks made in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Eventually, tall clocks were produced in America as well. Metal was scarce before the Industrial Revolution, so in 1815, clockmakers in Connecticut developed wooden gears that were a less expensive alternative to traditional brass gears. As tall clocks became more popular and affordable, American clockmakers designed unique regional varieties that remain very collectable today. 

In 1876, Henry C. Work, an American songwriter, published a popular song that begins, "My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf / so it stood ninety years on the floor." This song, "My Grandfather's Clock," is why longcase clocks are often referred to as grandfather clocks.

England and America weren't the only countries that produced grandfather clocks. Other varieties include the French Comtoise clock, which has a rounded "port belly" case, and the Danish Bornholk clock, which usually has a square head and tall, boxy case. 

D51D8338-FDCD-44D3-BFDD-A94BC49572FB.JPG

The Benefits of Owning a Grandfather Clock

Grandfather clocks can have a high investment value as long as they are maintained and restored carefully. A high quality, working antique grandfather clock rarely costs less than $3000. The rarest grandfather clocks, such as those made during the aforementioned Golden Age, can be worth as much as $100,000.

That said, most people who are interested in buying a grandfather clock simply enjoy having a clock in their home. While an antique clock will never be as accurate as a modern digital clock, your grandfather clock should keep good time each week, with a difference of maybe a few minutes.

Since purchasing or restoring a clock requires careful research, clock collecting can be an excellent way to learn more about history. Most grandfather clocks can be dated to 10 or 15 year periods by their design alone. Each decade of clock making was influenced by the design styles and taste of that period.

Because of their regal appearance, grandfather clocks also make excellent centerpieces to your room's interior design. Finally, many homeowners enjoy the musical chimes that announce each hour, while for others, the quiet ticking is enough to add life to an otherwise silent room.

How Grandfather Clocks Are Priced

If you browse the online listings for clock shops in Dallas, you might be surprised by the dramatic price differences between one clock and the next. Like other antiques, grandfather clocks are priced by age, condition, and rarity.

Almost all antique clocks have been altered in some way. By the late 1800s, grandfather clocks were not considered the valuable heirlooms that they once were, and those who inherited them felt free to replace the inner workings or repaint the dials. 

When a clock is sold with replaced parts, it is referred to as a "marriage." This kind of clock may be great for your interior design, but not for investment. Collectors see a marriage as a "collection of parts" rather than a valuable antique. This is why it's important to do your research before you go to an auction house or clock shop in Dallas. Research can help you learn to ask the right questions and avoid clocks that are an unwise investment.

When a clock stops working, it's either because of neglect, damage during moving, or poor repairs with ill-fitting parts. If you buy a "project" clock for cheap with the intent to repair it, be prepared for the possibility that repairs may cost more than the clock itself is worth.

030893A0-78C6-496A-B908-0F98B3F3DDFF.JPG

Starting Your Collection

The best way to start your search is by asking yourself, "Why do I want a grandfather clock?" Is this the start of a new collecting hobby? In that case, you'll want to spend some time looking at clocks across history to see if one particular clockmaker or regional style, attracts you. Do you just want one for aesthetics? Choosing a clock that harmonizes with your interior design style will help you narrow down your options.

Or, are you buying a grandfather clock as an investor? Clocks of this quality will never be made again, so buying the right clock is important to making a great investment.

An investor and a collector will each approach clocks from different angles. Once you've identified your reason for buying clocks, the next step is to connect with clock shops, antique dealers, or interior designers, whether in Dallas, around the country or overseas. Whether you want to get a great deal on an antique or complement your home's style, Margaret Chambers and her team can provide you with the guidance to find the perfect clock.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

Decorating with Chinoiserie by Margaret Chambers

What is Chinoiserie?

Chinoiserie, a French word for "Chinese-esque," refers to European decorative art that was inspired by objects and stories brought back from the Middle East and Asia. It was most popular during the 1600s and 1700s, but there are many Dallas interior designers who are fans of this style to this day. Although Chinoiserie sounds like it should be primarily based on Chinese design, the style also owes its look to Indian, Persian, Korean, and Japanese art. 

History of Chinoiserie

Trade between Europe and Asia was open through the Silk Road beginning in the 1200s. Hand-painted porcelain, wallpaper, silks, and lacquered furniture were among the items brought back. In the year 1292, Italian merchant Marco Polo left China, where he had lived for 17 years, to return to Venice. Although Marco Polo was not the first westerner to travel to China, he was the first person to publish a manuscript about what he saw there: The Travels of Marco Polo. Europeans were astonished by what they read.

For westerners, owning expensive fabrics and ceramics from Asia became a status symbol. The demand for Asian imports outstripped the existing supply, so European artisans learned to make their own imitations. These pieces were a mixture of actual Asian design features and pure European whimsy. One example would be pastoral scenes, which are typically a Rococo motif depicting European nobility; in Chinoiserie, the artist would illustrate the Chinese Emperor and court instead. Since Chinoiserie was in vogue during the same period that Rococo was, the two styles share some similarities: asymmetry, scroll forms, and fantastical imagery. 

The earliest examples of Chinoiserie were Italian, such as the silks produced by Lucca factories. Over time, different countries in Europe popularized different kinds of Chinoiserie. Germany specialized in porcelain figurines. The Netherlands are still famous today for their Delft pottery factories. Meanwhile, England produced silver, tapestries, and embroidery with Chinoiserie motifs.

Chinoiserie's popularity reached its height in the mid 1700s, eventually giving way to neoclassicism's cool restraint. One hundred years later, the style made another comeback during the Rococo Revival. European nobility commissioned interior designers to create entire rooms for displaying their Chinoiserie porcelain and fabrics.  

How to Spot a Chinoiserie Piece

There are many different images and motifs that characterize Chinoiserie. In patterns and painting, you will often see scenes of Chinese men with Fu-Manchu beards and long robes, and courtly Chinese women, in water gardens or pagoda pavilions. Landscape paintings were mountainous and misty, with bamboo, lotus flowers, and weeping willows in the foreground. The most popular animals in Chinoiserie art were a mixture of real and fantasy: fantastical birds, peacocks, elephants, foo dogs, and dragons of all colors.

Chinoiserie is not all flowers and dragons, however. Geometric designs are important to this style too. Thomas Chippendale, an English cabinet maker, took inspiration from Chinese fretwork when he made his famous lattice-back Chippendale chairs. Furniture makers also incorporated pagoda shapes to their designs--for example, in headboards, bed canopies, chests, and secretaries.

Though black lacquer and white porcelain are common in Chinoiserie interiors, this style can also be extremely colorful. Red, orange, teal, turquoise, pink, burnished gold, cobalt, and green can all be found in Chinoiserie interior design.

Decorating with Chinoiserie Today

Chinoiserie blends well with other styles because it brings a touch of worldliness and history into a room. Since this style is considered to have a feminine touch, and is maximal rather than minimal in detail, it's best to use it with restraint by using a few well-chosen Asian accessories. If you want to go bold, an accent wall with Chinoiserie wallpaper will transform the whole look of a room.

Blue and white porcelain is beautiful in both traditional and contemporary interiors, so it's one of the easiest ways to add a little Chinoiserie. Since these ceramics share the same colors, you can mix and match different patterns without worry. 

While lacquer furniture is typical of Chinoiserie, not every furnishing in your room needs to be coated. Some pieces with Chinese fretwork will look best with their natural wood. Mixing natural wood and painted or lacquered furniture helps to create more visual variety in a themed Chinoiserie room.

If you're going for a more subtle touch, focus on details and accessories rather than furniture. Examples include tableware with bamboo-styled handles; small lacquered boxes; ginger jars, or lamps shaped like ginger jars; figurines of Chinese characters or foo dogs; or decorative mirrors and chandeliers with pagoda shapes.

Although over-the-top Chinoiserie rooms are not as popular today as they were in the 1700s, interior designers are still often asked about incorporating Chinoiserie in a room. If you need help tracking down the perfect antique pottery, wallpaper pattern, or Chippendale furniture to complement your contemporary or traditional space, Chambers Interiors - a Dallas-based interior design firm – can help you achieve the look.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

Swedish Design by Margaret Chambers

Achieving the Swedish Design 'Look'

When most homeowners in Dallas hear the words, "Swedish interior design," they probably think of the internationally successful furniture chain, IKEA. Of course, there is more to Scandinavian design than just modern-style furniture.

Among interior designers, Swedish style is known for its soothing colors, painted wood furniture, and lack of clutter. This style became more popular in the US during the 1950s, because it shared traits with midcentury modern design. Today, Swedish design style still has plenty of fans. Younger homeowners are often attracted to the style's marriage of "shabby chic" and traditional elegance.

The Style of Swedish Interiors

Swedes live with long daylight hours in the summer, and long, dark nights in the winter. During the winter especially, they want to bring as much light into their homes as possible. Floor-to ceiling windows, crystal chandeliers, and gilt mirrors help reflect light around the room and make winter days a little more cheerful.

Another design choice that helps make Swedish interiors feel more open and airy is wood flooring. The wood is almost always either white, pine, or birch. Carpeting is nowhere near as common in Swedish homes as it is in other styles that can be found in Dallas.

Although Swedish design is best known for its palette of whites and grays, many Swedish interiors have an accent color as well. Robin's egg blue is a popular color throughout Scandinavia. The preference for blue is one thing that makes Swedish style stand apart from American midcentury modern.

Swedish Antique Furniture

To design a Swedish style home, especially a traditional or transitional home, it helps to know about Swedish antique furniture. These pieces are often referred to as "Gustavian furniture," named after King Gustav III, who reigned in Sweden from 1771-1792. Gustav spent a lot of time in Versailles with King Louis XVI, which is where he was exposed to the neo-classical style growing popular in France. 

Gustav loved what he saw and brought elements of it home with him. Swedish handmade furniture produced during his time borrowed forms from the French and English, but left out hand-carved Rococo details. The result is furniture with artful, but clean lines. Gustav's taste trickled down to the gentry, who in turn influenced the lower classes.  Swedish country homeowners would paint their wood furniture because they could not afford the expensive woods Gustav used in his palatial homes.

Many interior designers associate Swedish style with white and gray painted furniture, however some true antiques were actually painted in pale blue or green. Blue and white gingham was the usual pattern for upholstery and linens.

There are a few furniture styles that were unique to Sweden. One of these designs was the iconic Swedish Mora clock. Mora clocks were produced in the town of Mora, in the Dalarna province, from the late 1700s through the 1800s. Some desks were produced with a built-in Mora clock on top, but these are hard to find today.

IMG_9217.JPG

Buying Swedish Antiques

Be warned that Swedish antiques can be difficult to authenticate because some of them look newer than they actually are, or have been repainted since they were first built. That is why having an expert in antiques and buying from the best dealers is so important. If you do want to start collecting authentic, high-quality Swedish antiques, connecting with a dealer in Sweden can help you secure them.

At Chambers Interiors, we offer a European buying trip service called Tour Decor we use our close relationships with top dealers overseas to help you find the best antiques at wholesale prices. With an itinerary just for Scandinavia, Margaret Chambers works alongside her partner, Lea Barfield, to find the perfect pieces. If you are interested, visit Tour Decor's site to learn more and see photos from our latest trip - www.tour-decor.com

Written by Caitlin Crowley

Antique Tea Caddies by Margaret Chambers

Today, you can inexpensively buy tea from China, India, Vietnam, or Africa even here in Dallas. But when tea was first brought to Britain in the 1600s, it was an incredibly expensive commodity. This is because the Dutch East India Company held a monopoly on the tea trade from China.

Among those who could afford it, tea was popular for its taste, therapeutic quality, and the ceremonial way with which it was prepared. It's understandable that after paying a hefty price for these rare leaves, people would want to store them with special care. This is how the tea caddy came to be.

6C080080-21DF-4069-B144-64E66EE7F800.JPG

The First Tea Caddies

The very first tea caddies only had one compartment, and were shaped like a bottle. The cap on top was removable and could also be used to measure out the tea. As for the caddies themselves, they were often made of silver, china, enamel, glass, or metal covered with straw-work.

Tea Caddies in the 1700s

In the 18th century, the British government issued a tax on tea which made it even more costly to keep. Tea caddies from the 1700s had a lock, paper lining to protect the leaves from moisture, and two to three compartments. It was popular to offer guests either green or black tea, hence the separate compartments. Sometimes a glass bowl was set between them; historians believe this bowl was used to either mix the different teas or store sugar.

Unlike the early bottle-shaped caddies, 18th century caddies were commonly made of wood, usually mahogany, walnut, or pine. Excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum inspired designers to use more straight lines, concave and convex shapes, and motifs such as urns, flowers, and festoons.

Designers became more creative with decorating the outside of the caddy as well. Painting, marquetry, and rarely, carving, were used to decorate the wood. More unusual materials for caddies during this time include ivory, tortoiseshell, and papier-mâché.

C49A6789-8FE1-45FC-93F3-4984ED37DEF5.JPG

1800s Tea Caddies

As England was exposed to other cultures, tea caddy makers began to experiment with the traditional forms. Some tea caddies from the early 18th century have 'pagoda' shaped tops, or sides that slope upward and taper like the Egyptian pyramids. Another popular design from this period is like a sarcophagus, boxy with a rectangular lid. Many of these caddies also had metal or wooden feet.

19th century tea caddies have less marquetry, as the form of the tea caddy was intended to be striking on its own. The more detailed pieces incorporated brass inlay, floral designs, and penwork. If you search for tea caddies online, you will occasionally come across pear and apple-shaped single compartment tea caddies. Tea caddies like these were produced into the early 1800s. These command high prices because of their novelty, and reproductions are often passed off as the real thing.

Tea became increasingly accessible in the 19th century after India entered the tea trade. Loose leaf tea was soon desired by all classes of people, and as demand rose there was pressure on the English government to reduce the tea tax. Naturally, storing tea carefully became less important. In the 1880s, pre-packed tea was finally available in grocery stores. This marks the end of tea caddy production.

4C819EDE-B196-4D69-8C4D-9D336CE134C9.JPG

What to Look For When You Buy

Once you've identified your favorite styles of tea caddies, you'll want to start searching for them online or in Dallas antique shops. Refurbished tea caddies are common, but most collectors prefer a tea caddy in its original state, patina and all. If you want to avoid refinished or reproduction antiques, look for the following signs of age:

  • Surface defects such as scratches and dings

  • Wooden veneers or marquetry on the outside should have faded or changed color due to exposure to sunlight

  • The lead lining on the inside of the compartments should be flaking off or falling apart

  • Wear on the base of the caddy

  • Check the condition of easily-replaceable parts such as feet, handles, and hinges

You can tell that a wooden caddy is authentically from the late 18th century if the wax or turpentine finish has built up a patina. Feeling along the edgings and inlays with your hand, you should notice some unevenness. Often these antiques have been refinished with a glossy polish, but many collectors feel that this ruins the piece.

Today, the rarest kinds of tea caddies are ones made of ivory and tortoiseshell, or shaped like wine barrels and fruit. Silver is the most valuable material.

If you're completely new to the world of antique collecting, you might find the prospect of tracking down the best antiques for the best prices daunting. Chambers Interiors has years of experience sourcing tea caddies for numerous clients and can provide you with the perfect piece to suit your tastes.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

Guide to Collecting Imari Porcelain by Margaret Chambers

9EC12372-71F8-42A5-8ADE-A187A15F4BA9.JPG

Our last interior design blog took a look at the current market for antique collecting, specifically for antique American furniture. In this blog we'll explore another hobby that has remained popular for decades: collecting Imari porcelain.

History of Imari

Imari porcelain can be Chinese or European in origin, but was first created in Japan. In the 17th century, the town of Arita became Japan's porcelain production center because it was near Izumiyama, a quarry rich in kaolin clay. The wares were then shipped to the West from the port of Imari, hence the name.

Imari featured images of cranes, fish, beautiful women, flowers and gnarled tree branches. These were the most popular images in Japanese textiles at the time. Pieces were under-glazed in blue first, with the blue used to delineate borders and backdrops. Afterward, other colors such as rust red, green, and gold were added and fired at a lower temperature.

Imari's iconic color combination proved to be very popular in Europe. English factories such as Royal Crown Derby, Minton, and Worcester produced their own versions of Imari. Other European factories included Chantilly in France, Meissen in Germany, and Holland's Delft factories. Chinese potteries also began to release high-quality Imari pieces for export, which flooded the market and drove up prices for scarcer Japanese Imari.

F18B0FEF-80D6-4B39-A7F7-BD07EA3B3D51.JPG

Regional Styles

The most valuable and sought-after kind of Japanese Imari is Kakiemon porcelain. Kakiemon is named after Sakaida Kakiemon, who discovered a new technique for applying enamel decoration to porcelain.

These pieces were more sparsely decorated in asymmetrical designs of subdued red, blue, yellow, and turquoise green. There was no blue under-glaze and the design of the piece emphasized the fine "milky white" background of the porcelain.

Royal Crown Derby, which produces English Imari to this day, is known for using intricate borders and an abundance of gold detail. French Imari is designed in a similar way. Meissen Imari from Germany are less cluttered than either Derby or Japanese Imari, and feature comparatively simple designs.

You can identify Chinese Imari by its brighter white and more purple-toned blue. The red over-glaze is also thinner and closer to orange than in Japanese pieces. Chinese Imari is generally more finely potted than Japanese, with a very even glaze.

Reading Marks

As you begin to research different types of Imari, you may be drawn to one factory's particular style. You can usually identify which factory produced a piece of porcelain by its mark on the underside. However, don't be surprised when you find antique Imari without any mark at all.

Before 1890, imports to the US were not required to be marked by country of origin. Those that were marked usually listed the name of the importer or manufacturer. Japanese Imari is especially difficult to date. Marks on these pieces can vary from personal signatures, the name of the customer, or the exporter and importer. Sometimes even pieces within the same set can be marked differently. 

If you want to become a serious Japanese Imari collector, you'll need to learn to read the names of cities and kiln areas where Imari was made. An English/Japanese dictionary may be required, but there are also handbooks such as Japanese Marks and Seals by James Lord Bowes that you can consult. Imari marked with "Gold Imari, Hand-painted," are vintage Arita wares produced between 1959 and 1984.

Chinese Imari were always given an imperial mark that was either written in normal script or drawn in a special style of seal script. The 'handwritten' script was harder to fake because differences in penmanship would give away a forged piece.  Modern Royal Crown Derby pieces are always marked with a crown, the name of one of three factories, and the year the piece was produced. Meissen Imari are marked with crossed swords; the style of the mark determines the age of the piece.

Enjoying Your Collection

88CBFF88-5967-4925-89D5-87C761F7CFD0.JPG

Since so much Imari was produced to be exported, you don't have to travel to Japan to find authentic antiques. Even here in Dallas, Imari can be found for fairly competitive prices. And due to their history of craftsmanship, these antiques will continue to rise in value.

Asian antiques have come back in style and can serve as statement pieces in homes ranging in style – from English to French to American. This fine porcelain can add color to your walls in lieu of a painting. Consider also using Imari pieces for table presentation. In addition, a small collection of Imari can mix beautifully with leather-bound books in a den.

If you're shopping for fine porcelain, consider adding Imari to bring a beautiful piece of history to your home, whether in Dallas or wherever you may live. 

Written by Caitlin Crowley

Collecting American Antiques by Margaret Chambers

Get Started Collecting American Antique Furniture

Given the popularity of contemporary interior design, it might seem like now would be a odd time to start collecting antique furniture. Many new homeowners in Dallas are choosing to sell their family heirlooms and start over with brand new, factory-made furnishings. However, it is actually because of this downward trend in antique collecting that savvy collectors are finding amazing deals.

American antiques, which are the most valuable and collectible in the world, are selling for historically low prices. If you've long admired the craftsmanship of antique furniture, but feel like you need a degree in art history to navigate the marketplace, this guide can help you get started.

Why Buy Antiques?

Since 1890, furniture in America has been made by factories rather than by hand. If you want handmade furniture that was built to last generations, you'll want to buy antiques. These days you can potentially get a high-quality antique with a unique patina and character for the same cost, or less, than you would pay for a mass-produced piece with a "distressed" finish.

Because design trends run in cycles, it's likely that these low prices for antique furniture won't last forever. The popularity of different kinds of furniture also fluctuates over time. For example, in the past ten years many kitchens were designed with an "open" plan, connected to dining and sitting areas. This made formal dining room sets less desirable. However, more recently we are seeing separate dining rooms come back as homeowners decide they don't want their guests to see dishes piling up near the sink.

Learning about American Antiques

The American antique period starts in the mid 1600s, with very simple and utilitarian furniture, and ends in the early 1900s with Art Nouveau style. An antique is by definition at least 100 years old, so any furniture created after this period would be referred to as "vintage" instead of antique. Since America is a "young" country with only 300 years worth of handmade furniture to go around, American antiques tend to command higher prices than European or Asian antiques.

Buying antiques as investment

If you're buying antiques as an investment, spend your money on a few high quality antiques rather than on a large collection of inexpensive pieces. Antiques will always rise and fall in value. But when prices fall, the value of high-quality pieces will be affected the least. Also, remember that it could be at least 10 years before your prized antique appreciates in value significantly. So make sure to buy pieces you will actually use, or at least enjoy looking at in your home.

When an appraiser evaluates a piece, he or she assesses how close the item is to its original condition, its provenance (history of ownership), size, rarity, and quality of construction. Contrary to what you might expect, most antique collectors desire an aged and well-used surface to a refinished one. It's a furniture's patina that gives it character and history, so even a cracked and fading paint job is preferable to stripping the original paint away.

Refurnished pieces sell for much lower, even if the repairs were necessary or desirable. For example, new feet on a desk can reduce its price by half or more. If you're not buying to invest, and just want an antique you will enjoy for its own merits, you can get very nice refinished furniture for very low prices.

Keeping Antiques

Many collectors today mix and match antiques from different periods. You can easily bring these antiques together by choosing matching wood tones. Small antiques should be grouped together as a collection, rather than scattered throughout the house.

If you want to keep an antique in the best condition, research the best ways to take care of its wood and finish. Beeswax is considered the best polish for antique wood. Carefully dust the piece-preferably with a soft cloth or brush rather than a feather duster--  before applying any polish. If a piece of the antique breaks, hold onto it until you can find a repairer to restore the piece for you.

A professional interior designer with experience in traditional design can help connect you with respectable antique dealers in Dallas.  At Chambers Interiors, we have our own collection of antiques for sale, and we also offer private antique buying trips to Europe. Whether you're interested in American antiques or those from the Old World, an interior designer is a valuable resource for locating the best pieces at the best prices.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

How to Mix Different Wood Tones and Finishes by Margaret Chambers

As a Dallas interior designer, one of the questions I sometimes hear from homeowners is, "How do I mix and match different sets of wood furniture?" Gone are the days when everyone bought complete sets of wood furniture in the same finish, sometimes even matching their hardwood floors. Today, it is more common - and economical - for people to layer different furnishings they have collected over the years. If you're a Dallas homeowner who finds the idea of mixing different woods daunting, here are some suggestions to get you started.

First of all, if you do have one of those "all-matching" sets, there's no need to throw it all out. Consider painting one or two of the pieces to create variety. You should also distribute the pieces throughout the room instead of putting them together on the same side. Imagine a room with a set of light-colored wood on one side and a dark set on the other. The room will surely feel "unbalanced" to anyone who enters. To combine two different kinds of wood, you will need to break things up.

IMG_5196.JPG

One of the ways interior designers balance different woods in a space is by creating visual buffers. For example, if you have a large table in one wood, and floors in a different wood, the contrast between the two can be jarring. Place a rug under the table to make a softer transition. White paint and exposed wood are a classic combination: spacing out your wood furniture between white areas can either break up a matching set, or create calm between contrasting woods. If you suspect that you might actually have too much wood in one room, introduce more hard surfaces like metal, glass, and acrylic.

What if you want to actually highlight the differences between your wood furniture? A key point to remember is that some contrasts are more 'acceptable' to the eye than others. Interior designers usually contrast light versus dark, or smooth versus rough, but not 'warm' versus 'cool.'

A warm-colored wood will have undertones of orange, red or yellow. Meanwhile, a cool colored wood will usually have a grayish cast. If you have trouble identifying a piece's color, find the lightest tone in the grain, or try looking at the piece from a distance. Generally warm colored woods, like yellow pine or dark red cherry, will go together better than they would with gray woods, regardless of finish. 

This master bedroom has a very harmonious color scheme, but on closer inspection, there is a good deal of contrast introduced in the different wood finishes and colors.

This master bedroom has a very harmonious color scheme, but on closer inspection, there is a good deal of contrast introduced in the different wood finishes and colors.

If you have a wood furnishing that you want to highlight, like a coffee table, armoire or buffet, you can surround it with a different kind of wood to turn it into an impact piece. Besides color, texture is an opportunity to create contrasts between woods: smooth versus rough, painted versus unpainted, or fine grain versus large grain. The shape of wood furniture pieces can also create cohesion or contrast. Smooth lines contrast against curves, while simplicity contrasts with carved details.

The checkered wood floor provides a striking geometric contrast to the ornate curved furniture over it in this French Country home.

The checkered wood floor provides a striking geometric contrast to the ornate curved furniture over it in this French Country home.

If you're building or remodeling your Dallas home and haven't chosen your hardwood floors yet, here are some things to keep in mind. Generally, a lighter wood will make for neutral flooring, as long as it isn't too red or yellow. The advantage of neutral flooring is you can introduce medium or dark-toned woods without worrying if they will clash too much. Similarly, dark toned woods without a strong color can help to ground a space.

As a rule of thumb, you should not use more than three kinds of wood per room. The "80/20" rule we interior designers use can be useful here. 80% of the wood in your room should be of a similar color or finish, while 20% can be a contrasting accent wood.

Hopefully you can now look at your wood furniture with a more exacting eye, and see combinations - or potential contrasts - that you couldn't see before. Otherwise, an interior designer can always help you bring out the fullest potential of your wood collections.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

Tips for Designing an Indian-Inspired Home by Margaret Chambers

Recently we published a blog about Chinese and Japanese influence on interior design. This follow-up blog covers the unique ways Indian design has also inspired Dallas interior designers. If you've ever wanted to incorporate the beauty of Indian patterns and furnishings into your home, here are a few suggestions.

9C56D666-0C1B-44B3-A823-AB7295432D4F.JPG

When you think of India, certain colors probably come to mind. India has culturally embraced an abundance of colors, including both jewel and burnt tones. Burnt oranges, terracotta reds, and ochres can all be main colors. If you prefer something more understated, warm neutrals like taupe and sand will work too. Pure white is a color associated with mourning in India, so you will not see cool whites in traditional Indian homes; however, westernized homes will often incorporate warm and creamy whites. 

As for jewel colors like turquoise, green, purple, and magenta, these colors are usually reserved for accents. Common Indian accessories include statues of Buddha or Hindu gods, mirrors with carved or forged frames, and ornaments covered with small pieces of mirror or tile. Don't forget to fill your sofas and beds with lots of colorful embroidered pillows. For a truly traditional Indian look, you should use lamps, sconces, and lanterns for lighting rather than chandeliers.

04926954-7696-4FE9-B33B-1ED0D2E1BEC1.JPG

An Indian room isn't complete without furniture made of exotic woods such as ebony, rosewood, and teak. Antique pieces will feature beautifully intricate carvings, but Indian furniture is not dainty-- these are sturdy pieces meant to last a long time. Seating tends to be low, and a sitting area will often feature an ottoman or pouf. That said, you don't need to buy a whole new set of furniture to get an Indian look.

IMG_4756.JPG
CA8CB768-79C2-4AAC-A570-4445C7524511.JPG
IMG_4903.JPG

You can also layer Indian throws, rugs, and textiles over what you already have. Consider using silks or even a sari as a sofa throw. Tablecloths patterned with woodblock prints and bedspreads with beading or metallic thread will immediately bring India to mind. Common Indian patterns for wallpaper and textiles include paisley, floral, swirls, birds, and elephants. 

5F5CEEEB-361A-4161-AEFF-E547BD82DC97.JPG

Written by Caitlin Crowley

Holiday Decorating - Do's and Don'ts by Margaret Chambers

If you're still perfecting your home's holiday look for Christmas 2015, here are some do's and don'ts you can keep in mind. We've included photos from a home we decorated in Highland Park in Dallas which is featured in a 16-page spread in the Christmas issue of Southern Cottage.

A red ribbon gives this tree an abundance of color. Notice how many of the ornaments are in matching shades of gold, too.

A red ribbon gives this tree an abundance of color. Notice how many of the ornaments are in matching shades of gold, too.

Lanterns are another mantel accessory that you might not have considered.

Lanterns are another mantel accessory that you might not have considered.

To start with, you can give your Christmas tree a cohesive look by choosing ornaments that complement the rest of the room's colors. Varying the ornaments in three basic sizes will also create interest. Ornaments with metallic finishes scatter light and create a feeling of depth when mixed with matte finish ornaments. Even if your ornaments are coordinated, don't forget to include at least a few unique ornaments you treasure. Adding a garland draws a viewer's eye across the tree and up to your prized tree topper. Extra ornaments can be used to fill decorative bowls.

Garlands can also create a focal point across mantels, stairway banisters, and over doorways. Embellish your greenery with ribbons, flowers, faux berries, and hanging ornaments. When decorating your mantel, don't overlook your all-season accessories like candles, porcelain, and crystal. Wintry accessories include pinecones, vintage ornaments and tree toppers, and cedar greens. Regardless of which accessories you choose, you should make sure to vary the height of the objects to create interest and rhythm. 

No matter what style of home you have, a wreath is a must for holiday decorating. But a wreath doesn't have to be traditional in its colors and materials. Paint a variety of globe ornaments in the same metallic color, then hot-glue them around a wreath of wire or grapevine for a modern alternative. Mixing different kinds of greenery in the same wreath is a more organic tone-on-tone look.

When choosing your table decorations, be careful not to pick tall accessories that could block conversation between guests. A single pillar candle flanked by smaller candles is enough. Meanwhile, a wreath displayed flat on the table and adorned with bells or bows is a classic Christmas centerpiece. Consider buying charger plates, and take out any nice glassware out of storage if you have it. If your dining ware is colorful, you will want to make sure your centerpiece complements those colors.

The candles in this Highland Park kitchen are tall, but not tall enough to block the view between guests.

The candles in this Highland Park kitchen are tall, but not tall enough to block the view between guests.

There's no need to go all out in every room. Instead of spreading your Christmas collectibles throughout the house, group them into smaller vignettes for impact. While you should focus your decorations in high-traffic areas, you can also add small red and green pillows to some rooms for an inexpensive holiday update. Soaps and towels in holiday colors can be used to make the downstairs powder room feel more festive.

It might seem like Christmas decorations need to always be the same colors and imagery, but you can evoke holiday nostalgia in unexpected ways. A rustic Christmas home could feature real boxwood garlands, wooden candle holders, cedar branches, and figurines of woodland creatures. Meanwhile, a contemporary Christmas home might use decorations in icy blue, black, and white, with mercury glass and metallic reindeer figures.  Not all Christmas decorating needs to be red and green. Jewel tones, metallics, and rich colors like deep purple and blue will be right at home too.

As you can see, it is more important how you display your collectibles, than what those collectibles are. There are many different ways to use the collections you already own to make a perfect holiday home.  

 

Our client's cross-stitch hobby provided us with tons of Christmas art to display

Our client's cross-stitch hobby provided us with tons of Christmas art to display

It might seem like Christmas decorations need to always be the same colors and imagery, but you can evoke holiday nostalgia in unexpected ways. A rustic Christmas home could feature real boxwood garlands, wooden candle holders, cedar branches, and figurines of woodland creatures. Meanwhile, a contemporary Christmas home might use decorations in icy blue, black, and white, with mercury glass and metallic reindeer figures.  Not all Christmas decorating needs to be red and green. Jewel tones, metallics, and rich colors like deep purple and blue will be right at home too.

As you can see, it is more important how you display your collectibles, than what those collectibles are. There are many different ways to use the collections you already own to make a perfect holiday home.

Written by Caitlin Crowley  

Asian-Inspired Interior Design Trends by Margaret Chambers

Many interior designers and homeowners in Dallas today look to Asia for stylistic inspiration. "Asian-style" can refer to interior design with an Indian, Chinese, or Japanese influence, but here we will focus on Chinese and Japanese design specifically. Asian decor continues to be popular for a few reasons. Asian accessories or design elements can instantly bring tranquility into a room. Japanese style also blends very well with contemporary rooms, since both styles emphasize clean lines, open space, and neutral colors. Meanwhile, Chinese accessories, with their sense of history and craftsmanship, are well suited for traditional homes.

Curved, intricately detailed furniture is associated with Chinese style rather than Japanese. In a traditionally decorated Chinese home, it's common to see furniture with gilt details, hand-painting, carvings, and ornate handles. If you own a statement piece with these features, make it the center of attention by surrounding it with simpler furniture.

Oriental rugs, fine silks, and tasseled draperies are also characteristic of this style. When you're picking fabrics or patterns for wallpaper, keep an eye out for common Chinese motifs. Fish, flowers, dragons, monkeys, and tigers are all examples. Unlike the soothing earth and gray tones in Zen homes, Chinese style homes are more dramatic, with gold-painted walls or patterned wallpaper. 

A traditional oriental rug can still belong in a contemporary setting if its colors and pattern complement the rest of the room. The mirrors in this bathroom are also inspired by Indian design.

A traditional oriental rug can still belong in a contemporary setting if its colors and pattern complement the rest of the room. The mirrors in this bathroom are also inspired by Indian design.

Some Asian accessories, such as blue and white china and chinoiserie, are also at home in a traditional room. Blue and white china pieces were imported to Europe as early as the 15th century. Chinoiserie, a French-term for "Chinese-esque," are traditional decorations that draw inspiration from Asian art. Examples of Chinoiserie include paintings, pottery, textiles, wallpaper, and decorated furniture that depict a fanciful version of China. 

Blue and white china adds refinement to this transitional home in Plano.

Blue and white china adds refinement to this transitional home in Plano.

A Chinese design philosophy that is sometimes utilized by Western interior designers is feng shui. Feng shui, when applied to interior design, is a very exacting style. Every piece in the room must serve a purpose. The choice in natural materials becomes incredibly important, as wood, water, fire, earth, and metal-- and the furnishings associated with them--create their own distinctive energies. By hiring an expert in feng shui design, or studying up on it yourself, you can carefully reconstruct the emotional quality of each room.

If you enjoy modern design, but also appreciate traditional rooms with a sense of culture and history, Japanese design could be the best of both worlds for you.

Japanese-style rooms are often described as having a 'Zen' quality. A Japanese school of Buddhism, Zen teaches that its followers must experience enlightenment for themselves, rather than simply memorize a list of teachings. Living a simple life, experiencing the here-and-now, and disciplined meditation in a calm environment are said to be the path to results.

When it comes to interior design, Zen-inspired rooms usually feature low furniture, natural materials, lots of light, and very little clutter. Common natural materials include stone, bamboo, rattan, earthenware, and dark woods. Designers will often recommend neutral cream and beige for the walls, and restricting dark colors to the furniture. Red and black accents-- such as lacquer pieces-- can add a dramatic touch to an otherwise even-toned room. Furniture should also have clean, simple lines, as in modern and contemporary design. Avoid pieces with ornate details and asymmetry. 

Whether you're adding Asian influence to a traditional or a modern home, you don't want to overdo it. Including even just one or two Asian symbols or accessories transforms the entire feel of the room. For example, a Buddha statue brings with it a whole history of cultural and religious associations. Paper lanterns, silk screens, and lacquer jewelry boxes will also immediately give your room an Asian feel for visitors.

Small Buddha figurines are just a few of the multicultural accessories we used in this eclectic downtown Dallas highrise.

Small Buddha figurines are just a few of the multicultural accessories we used in this eclectic downtown Dallas highrise.

Because of this, Asian can be an inexpensive style to emulate. Swapping in red accent pillows, a calligraphy scroll, or a religious icon can all help you achieve the style. A very casual room can still benefit from the surprise and cultural flair Asian design brings. Try adding potted cherry blossoms or bamboo window shades to bring both nature and an Asian influence to your informal setting.

Regardless of whether you're only including a few Asian accessories, or having a designer redo your whole home according to Zen or feng shui design philosophies, Asian influence will add culture, harmony, and worldliness to your home.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

Wallpaper is Back by Margaret Chambers

There's nothing dated about the metallic, cool gray wallpaper in this home in Plano.

There's nothing dated about the metallic, cool gray wallpaper in this home in Plano.

Wallpaper has been making a comeback for the past five years, and interior designers in Dallas predict that it will be more popular than ever this year. If you've spent hours applying or removing wallpaper in the past, you might be wondering why homeowners would choose wallpaper over paint. This is partially thanks to improvements in technology. Wallpapers with vinyl coating will resist the effects of shower steam and are easy to wipe clean. Wallpaper today is also easier to apply and remove without damaging the wall; some kinds are even self-adhesive. That said, hiring a professional to do the job will still save you hours of tedious work.

Wallpaper, despite its drawbacks, has a few clear advantages over paint and faux finishes. Covering your walls with an artistic design can add the elegant touch (for more traditional patterns) or the 'wow' factor (for overscale modern designs) that your interior design needs. Wallpaper is less expensive than other high end materials such as textile fabrics and stone. Simply put, a pattern can do more for your room than a coat of paint alone. The trick is to identify which rooms can benefit from wallpaper, and which patterns work best with each space. Wallpaper is most helpful when it complements the architecture of the room.

Today's wallpapers designs are not what you'd find in your grandmother's kitchen. Visual effects that were difficult to reproduce before can be easily created with modern screen printing techniques. At the same time, hand-printed or painted paper with a personal touch is enjoying new popularity. 

Trendy patterns interior designers are using today include Asian patterns, large geometrics, and traditional patterns like floral and damask in an updated color. Gray wallpaper is the most popular of the neutral colors. Some homeowners buy photorealistic wallpaper that mimics the look of natural materials, such as brick, stone, and wood. While mid-century interior design traditionally features unadorned white walls, fans of this style today are incorporating exciting new wallpaper patterns.

Large rooms and high-ceilinged rooms can feel cozier with wallpaper. Choose soothing colors and patterns so you don't overwhelm. You can also try using vertical stripes in rooms with low ceilings, or horizontal stripes in narrow spaces. If you discover a busy or unusual pattern you love, but are hesitant to commit, try putting it in a small space like a powder room.

For any rooms you spend a lot of time in, pick something you'll love for a long time. Stay away from any colors or patterns that are out of your comfort zone. You should also make sure to complement your wallpaper with painted walls, as a home where every wall is papered can be a turnoff to potential buyers.

If the latest designs in wallpaper today have caught your interest, but the time involved in putting them up makes them a hard sell, consider having a professional install them. An interior designer can work with you to pick out the best designs and the best contractors at the same time.

Written by Caitlin Crowley

A subtle, tone-on-tone pattern in this Highland Park, Dallas powder room keeps the wallpaper from overwhelming the small space.

A subtle, tone-on-tone pattern in this Highland Park, Dallas powder room keeps the wallpaper from overwhelming the small space.

How to Update a Home with Antiques by Margaret Chambers

There are many reasons Dallas homeowners today love their antiques. Original antiques are usually hand-made with high-quality craftsmanship; with proper care, an antique can last for generations. Antiques also bring their decades, or even centuries, of history into your home. Ask any antique seller about their wares and you'll hear the story behind each piece. And unlike many other used furnishings, an antique will only go up in value over time.

That said, the most popular styles of interior design today are contemporary, modern, and transitional. Rooms are increasingly becoming simple, light, and airy. Some collectors worry that filling their home with antiques can make the space feel too dated. If you've been meaning to update your traditional interior design, here are some tips to help freshen things up.

We incorporated antiques into this University Park bedroom while also using simple drapes, clean lines, and neutral tone-on-tone colors. The result is a room both classical and refreshingly modern.

We incorporated antiques into this University Park bedroom while also using simple drapes, clean lines, and neutral tone-on-tone colors. The result is a room both classical and refreshingly modern.

If you have heavy drapes with ornamented rods in your home, it's probably time for an update. The current trend is to use very simple rods with little ornamentation. Curtains and drapes should be in solid colors or subtle tone-on-tone patterns, with simple trim. Meanwhile, antique upholstery with solid color fabric, or a geometric design, will fit in better than upholstery with a traditional pattern.

An oriental rug with vividly contrasting colors will usually be out of place in a modern home. Roll up your older rugs for now and replace them with sisal rugs, which are popular for their textural quality, or muted oriental rugs.

This sitting room features a sisal rug with a geometric design.

This sitting room features a sisal rug with a geometric design.

Lamps should have clean silhouettes and simple shades, preferably in white. Lucite bases are also a popular choice for lamps in contemporary design.

White, tan, and gray are common neutral wall colors, but if you prefer color, go with pastel shades. Lacquered walls with bright colors are a bolder new trend, and wallpaper is coming back as well. Make sure to choose a contemporary, graphic print for wallpaper instead of a traditional pattern.

For today's transitional and contemporary homes, decluttering is key. Pare down your collections to your favorite statement items, displaying only one or two on each surface. You can always put away your other collectibles and cycle them back out when the seasons change.

You can highlight the craftsmanship and classic design of your antiques by contrasting them with modern pieces. A brightly colored piece of contemporary art will play off wonderfully against an antique chest, sofa, or mantelpiece beneath it.

This contemporary painting in a downtown Dallas high-rise matches the earth tones of the items and chest of drawers beneath it.

This contemporary painting in a downtown Dallas high-rise matches the earth tones of the items and chest of drawers beneath it.

If all of these suggestions make you feel overwhelmed, try looking for inspiration in magazines. Save photos of rooms that combine antiques with modern design, focusing on your favorite elements. Instead of updating one item or area at a time, plan out your overall color scheme for each room. You can then use your color scheme as a guide for picking wall colors, fabrics, accents, art, and rugs.

In this process, you will probably find that you cannot keep all of the antiques in your collection. Hold onto your favorite and most valuable pieces, then store, pass down, or get rid of those that are too dated. You can always reupholster furniture to update its look. Also consider that some styles of antiques will fit in better with modern surroundings than others. Asian, Swedish, and Neoclassical antiques are currently in style, for example.

Even if contemporary and transitional interior design are all the rage, antiques add just as much charm and classical detail to a room today as ever. An experienced designer will know how to incorporate your best antiques into a room, while appealing to modern day design trends.

Written by Caitlin Crowley