Featuring classic patterns, dynamic modern designs and a mix of materials, wallpaper -which dates back to Egyptian and Roman wall paintings – is back.
Wall coverings in homes emerged in Europe during the Middle Ages, when the upper classes used intricate and decorative tapestries as décor and to minimize drafts.
The use of wall coverings boomed during the Renaissance with beautifully woven fabrics used as decoration on walls, tables and doorways.
Around this time, paper was introduced as a less expensive, more practical alternative to fabrics and tapestries.
Eventually, wallpaper was de rigueur in Western Europe. Patterns emulated scenic tapestries and brocatelles – and Americans often imported these papers. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, wallpaper grew in popularity, with manufacturers creating block-printed paper squares and designers adapting varying patterns, including chinoiserie, flocking and scenic papers.
By the 1920s, futurist and cubist designs hit the market. Industry innovations continued – including vinyl wallpaper in 1947 and pre-pasted papers during the 1950s.
More recently, wallpaper has enjoyed resurgence and is now available in a diversity of styles, materials and patterns – with natural textures and patterns typically overriding ornate designs in popularity.
Following are some wallpaper basics:
Vinyl/Vinyl Coated. Vinyl is the most widely used wallpaper on the market and is just that – pure vinyl. Vinyl coated is paper coated with vinyl. Both options are durable and easy to clean.
Embossed. The design side of the paper is raised and the reverse side is hollow – creating a raised textured effect. Anaglypta – the granddaddy of all wallpaper manufacturers – creates beautiful embossed designs.
Metallic/Foil. A polished metal ground is used to create shiny metallic wallpaper – then a design is printed on top of the metal.
Satin. Sheen is achieved on the paper from polishing or glazing the ground before applying the design.
Traditional Print. Hand blocked wallpaper is prized for its beautifully crafted designs. Traditional printing is done with custom-made, wood-faced printing blocks. Examples of this include wall coverings by Schumacher.
Digital Print. The evolution of digital printing has enabled wallpaper designers to go in wild new directions. Options abound – digital prints can replicate foil, lacquer, flocking, grass cloth, wood and more.
Flock. This has a luxurious velvet-like texture, with a three-dimensional effect. It is fabricated by dusting powdered silk, wool or flock onto a patterned surface paper, creating a piled effect.
Mural. A mural is an expansive depiction of a landscape or specific scene.
Grass Cloth. Woven from a range of grasses, this classic choice lends a subtle texture to any space and is now available embroidered with diamond grids, studded with nail heads and even stenciled with allover patterns.
Moiré. Moiré originally referred to the shimmering quality of French silk – moiré wallpaper emulates that look with an irregular wavy finish which creates an elegant water silk design.
Bamboo. Made by applying bamboo reeds or vines onto a paper backing, this style is typically handcrafted and environmentally friendly.
Silk. Threads are applied to a paper backing, creating a light elegant texture. This style is very delicate and not for high use areas.
Beaded and More. Wallpaper manufacturers are increasingly adding ornamentation like recycled glass, metallic highlights and beaded embellishments to their designs.
One of our favorite wallpaper designers is Thibaut. In celebration of its 125th anniversary, the company has unveiled a beautiful anniversary collection – from damasks and florals to embroideries and Jacobean reveries.
We love that wallpaper is back – and that the onslaught of new materials and patterns is encouraging homeowners and designers to make a bold statement with vibrant prints, vintage looks and whimsical patterns.
If you really want to wake up a room – wallpaper it.
Whether you use subtle glass accents or vivid pops of ceramic, the tile you select can define your space – infusing style and texture into a previously bland bathroom. The downside? Today’s tile options are endless – and selecting a material can be overwhelming. To help narrow your choices, following is a brief primer highlighting a selection of tiles you can use in your powder room.
Glass. Decorative glass tiles – pigment-stained glass or clear glass with the back of the tile painted – are an exciting component of bathroom design today. While especially popular now, glass tiles have been used for centuries and come in a wide variety of different sizes, styles, shapes and colors. They are especially striking when used in combination with stone, ceramic or porcelain tiles. Glass tiles are a great option for bathrooms with minimum natural light – as the reflection lightens and brightens a space.
Porcelain. Made from clay and other naturally based materials, porcelain is fired at ultra high temperatures. Many homeowners prefer porcelain as it is amazingly versatile, durable and easy to maintain. Today’s porcelain can be made to emulate an array of natural materials, such as wood, stone and more. An example is Daltile’s San Michele series, a glazed porcelain that looks like travertine.
Ceramic. Many homeowners confuse ceramic and porcelain tile. Both are fired at high temperatures and are manmade of natural materials. Porcelain is denser and more durable than ceramic, but clay-based ceramic is easier to cut into intricate, detailed designs. There are of course endless variations of ceramic tile, including Portuguese, Italian and Mexican – and its use dates back to ancient Rome and Egypt.
Glazed tiles. These are ceramic tiles with a thin coat of liquefied glass applied over the top – the glazing process is added after the tile is fired allowing them to be created in multiple vivid colors. Glazed tiles are impervious to water and stains.
Wood. Ceramic and porcelain tiles designed with a wood grain texture are soaring in popularity. More cost effective and durable than its natural counterpart, wood tile is available in a variety of colors and installation options.
Marble. Synonymous with luxury, this versatile natural stone is created from limestone and has been used for centuries. With varying patterns and colors, real marble has a classic look unlike any other.
Other natural stones. Granite, quartzite, limestone, slate, travertine, soapstone, onyx, river rock – natural stone options run the gamut, and each has unique characteristics and maintenance requirements. All have a warm, earthy feel, bringing an element of nature into a space.
Subway. A longtime bathroom standard, beveled ceramic subway tiles infuse a clean classic look. The tiles – typically 3 by 6 inches – are often a crisp white, but come in varying shades as well. A popular trend is to use white subway tiles with dark grout to enhance the pattern, creating a retro look.
Mosaic. Bold and bright mosaic tiles add pattern and pizzazz. Typically less than six square inches and made of porcelain or clay, mosaic tiles come in varying shapes – including squares, octagons and hexagons – and are offered in pre-mounted mesh sheets. Use mosaic tiles sparingly if simplicity is your goal. But if bold colors and intricate patterns suit your style, have fun with vibrant mosaic designs.
Metal. Small metal tiles are ideal for creating different patterns and designs and are often used as accents with other types of tile. Stainless steel lends a contemporary look, while bronze or copper tile adds a more traditional, timeless appeal.
While many options are listed here, I have only touched upon a few when it comes to bathroom tiles. More tile alternatives to consider include Saltillo, terracotta and concrete.
Other things to keep in mind when designing with tile include sizes, styles, finishes, maintenance issues and patterns.
Different tiles appeal to different tastes – and there is something for everything. But for each and every type of tile, there is one truism: don’t do it yourself. Even the most expensive tile will look unattractive if installed incorrectly. Hire a professional – and get it right the first time.
The last recession gave many designers – myself included – the time to contemplate and re-examine the future of our industry.
One sector that has emerged as an important new design tool is new materials. The flooring industry, in particular, has unveiled some wonderful and inventive options – especially related to wood look flooring.
While many traditionalists would turn up their noses at anything other than real wood, in some instances an alternative material makes good sense. Solid wood is not always functional – especially because it does not hold up to high moisture content. Wood floor alternatives offer a more sustainable, cost-effective option. Because of the growing restrictions on – and extinction of – some exotic woods, installing a true and authentic three-quarter inch thick wood floor has soared in cost. What used to $6 to $10 a square foot has skyrocketed to $21 – $ 28 per square foot. To put this in perspective, the installation of wood flooring for a typical 1,000-square-foot kitchen and family room could now cost up to $21,000 to $28,000, depending on the amount of space covered.
The good news: the economic downturn has caused manufacturers to rethink their product lines and determine how they can become more competitive as well as conserve the earth’s limited resources resulting in many new flooring options.
Among the many new products on the market:
- Porcelain tiles. Shaped and textured to resemble wood plank flooring, this product is hard as rock. It will never need to be refinished and resists most abrasion or scratches. Adding to its appeal, the wood grain pattern is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
- Select Step. A new product by Mohawk Flooring, it was originally developed for the commercial industry. This luxurious vinyl tile is a great product for residential applications as well. And it is very reasonably priced at under $6 per square foot installed.
- Direct print bamboo. This product takes strand-woven bamboo boards and overlays a hardwood pattern and color range directly onto it, resulting in an exact replica of a real hardwood species. This flooring is highly durable and inexpensive.
There are many other alternatives to hardwood flooring – from vinyl to laminate to engineered wood. Again, while there is nothing quite like real wood, in some scenarios it may be cost prohibitive or simply not functional for your home. So before you take the time to install new flooring, take a close look at all your options – there are plenty of them.
Known for its spectacular views as well as its rich history, La Jolla is truly a jewel of the Southern California coastline.
Our firm has done quite a bit of work here, so I like to think of this seaside village as my home away from home. I especially love La Jolla’s casual but sophisticated oceanfront ambiance and vibrant heritage. Real estate developers first took an interest in this coastal town in the 1890s, and some of the original cottages and bungalows still dot the landscape, interspersed amongst outstanding restaurants, elegant boutiques and world-renowned art galleries.
Visiting the many special places in La Jolla is a lovely way to spend a sunny summer day, so in this blog I will share with you some of my favorite spots, many of which evoke the lively history and heritage of this colorful beach town.
I suggest starting your La Jolla day with a hearty breakfast at The Cottage. Housed in an original turn-of-the-century beach bungalow, this charming spot features breakfast, lunch and dinner, but is especially famed for its breakfast spread with favorites such as eggs benedict and lemon ricotta pancakes.
Next, wander down the street to K. Nathan Gallery, with an excellent collection of early American and early California art, including works by artists such as Anders Aldrin, Brian Blood and Maurice Braun.
Nearby The Grande Colonial is La Jolla’s oldest original hotel and a member of the Historic Hotels of America. In addition to its classic architecture, it is located in the heart of the village near the area’s best beaches. In anticipation of the hotel’s 100th anniversary last year, we were charged with enhancing its still intact turn-of-the-century architecture, redoing all public areas. Stop by for a drink in the elegant lobby and take in the spectacular ocean views.
Also on your list should be Prospect Street, a hub for fine shops and dining. Fortunately for both locals and visitors, the talented Chef William Bradley has brought his culinary prowess to the area with the newly opened Bijou French Bistro – featuring his preferences for tried-and-true classic French bistro favorites. We are proud to have played a part in the design of this new venue, which is casual and comfortable in an elegant European style.
Next stop: Girard Street, home to original La Jolla shops such as the Ascot Shop, a La Jolla tradition since 1950 and originally founded as a men’s haberdashery. It now has a more modern bent, but continues to offer fine men’s clothing and services such as wardrobe consultation, tailoring, reweaving and more.
Another La Jolla original is Meanley & Son Ace Hardware, in business for 65 years. This classic hardware store has it all – from kitchen gadgets to plumbing supplies to gardening gear – and is a must for anyone with an interest in home repairs.
A visit to La Jolla is not complete without a stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The Museum was founded in 1941 as the Art Center in La Jolla, and was originally the 1916 Irving Gill-designed residence of philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps. A true local treasure, it features evolving exhibitions, such as the current “Treasures of the Tamayo Museum, Mexico City” with fine art from Mexico’s foremost museum of contemporary art. After perusing the galleries, stop by the Museum Café for a bite to eat and a cool libation. And don’t forget to check out the museum’s X Store, known for its collection of books on contemporary art, architecture, photography and culture.
Your final La Jolla stop will involve hopping in the car and taking a ten-minute drive to La Jolla Playhouse on the UC San Diego campus. Founded in 1947 by Hollywood icons Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, the not-for-profit playhouse has impressive credentials – creating 24 productions that have gone on to Broadway to earn a whopping 35 Tony Awards. Even if you don’t have time to take in a play, walk the grounds and check out the four theatres: Mandell Weiss Theatre, Mandell Weiss Forum, Jacobs Center & Potiker Theatre and the Theodore and Adele Shank Theatre.
What do you love best about La Jolla? I feel I have barely skimmed the surface, so please send me your ideas and suggestions for must-visit spots in La Jolla – so I can write a “part two” piece that touches on more that La Jolla offers.
Since most spas are carefully designed to soothe the mind, body and soul, incorporating certain spa design elements can turn any room in your home into a serene sanctuary.
When we designed the 21,000-square-foot Spa at The Grand Del Mar we created rich, opulent interiors that reflect the beauty, grace and culture of the Renaissance period and epitomize the soothing qualities that characterize spa design.
With that in mind, following are some pointers for incorporating elements of spa bliss into the interior design of your home – or room.
Mood Lighting is an integral part of creating the right ambience and should be soft and indirect. Previously restricted to commercial environments, LED lighting is often used in spas for cove lighting, corridors and bathing rooms, and is increasingly prevalent in homes. LED lights have been re-engineered to replace Zenon lighting – not only as cove lighting at ceilings, but also in vertical strip light applications in bookcases and étagères, under cabinets, at the toe kick of furniture pieces, beneath platform beds and as night lights underneath vanities. Ultimately, spa lighting should lend to a soft, dreamy atmosphere.
Color Schemes should be simple and soothing – but never bland. The color scheme at The Spa at The Grand Del Mar features earthy creams, warm slate colors, ecru, French beige and their derivatives – but a soft azure blue accent color lends energy and life. In the Women’s Lounge area of the spa, we used a pleasing larkspur accent color on the back wall and incorporated snippets of that same color family in the accent sofa pillows as well as in a drapery pinstripe.
Restricting the use of color to various shades of the same color scheme imbues a relaxed feeling – and this is certainly a technique that can be used at home.
A casual ‘California Style’ with indoor/outdoor furniture and fabrics is a great way to create an informal, comfortable atmosphere in a spa – and at home. You can use outdoor furnishings inside your home, as we did in the adult lounges at The Spa at The Grand Del Mar. By using hand-forged iron outdoor furnishings in tandem with classic European motifs reflected in the stone fireplace and coffered ceilings, we created a juxtaposition of the two styles.
An inventive designer who has broken the mold when it comes to outdoor fabrics, Joe Ruggiero, has created a vibrant, durable line of outdoor fabrics for Sunbrella that can easily be used inside. Nearly all the fabrics in his line are designed for indoor/outdoor use.
Flat, one-dimensional ceilings do little for a room, while Detailed Ceilings lend depth and interest. With this in mind, we incorporated considerable detail into the ceilings at The Spa at The Grand Del Mar – designing a large circular dome with cove lighting that mimics the shape of the oversized Jacuzzi below. Within the dome, we added our creative input through stenciling that follows the shape of the dome. We often use similar techniques within a residence – creating detailed, intricate ceiling designs to add dimension to what otherwise would be an uninteresting surface.
Use Natural Elements such as eco-friendly materials like bamboo, hemp, jute area rugs or pieces/furniture made of grainy wood. Flowers, plants and fresh fruit add beauty, bring the outdoors in and engage the senses with a fresh scent. I have always believed that a living space should evoke qualities of nature.
When you look into a forest, you become fascinated with the visual landscape, yet at the same time it has a calming effect. A home – and a spa – should evoke that same feeling.
Which room in your home would you like to feel spa-like? Share your pictures and ideas on our Facebook page or comment below.
Stenciling is the age-old technique of transferring a single pattern or multiple designs onto the surface of an object, door or wall, with paint or ink. Typically, it is done using a thin sheet of material with a design cut out – through which a different colored paint or ink is carefully applied.
Dating back thousands of years, the Egyptians used stencils to decorate tombs, while the ancient Greeks utilized them to outline mosaic designs. In recent years, the art of stenciling has reemerged as an intriguing way to liven up and add warmth and dimension to a room, and it can be a more cost-effective alternative to wallpaper.
In addition to walls, try stenciling ceilings, furnishings, doors and even glass, lampshades or the back plates of wall sconces and watch as new life and color is added to previously tired surfaces. Stencil designs, including classic motifs, floral and leaf patterns, abstract or geometric designs and Asian-inspired patterns, will personalize your space or object.
Like so many design techniques, moderation is the main rule of thumb to how and where stenciling should be applied. Stenciling is ideally used as decorative border on ceilings or at the top of walls, placed an inch or more under the crown molding. The colors used within a space can be incorporated into the stencil pattern. Another interesting technique is to mute the coloration through a process called “aging,” which is accomplished by applying a tinted oil-based glaze on top of the painted stencil design. Stenciling is especially nice if walls have been originally painted with a flat paint in hues of brown, beige or blue.
We’d love to see what you’ve created already, or what your next stenciling project might be. Please share your ideas and pictures with us by posting them on our Facebook