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.

Stenciling is often applied as a decorative border on ceilings and at the top of walls (Courtesy of The Grand Del Mar)

Stenciling is often applied as a decorative border on ceilings and at the top of walls (Courtesy of The Grand Del Mar)

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.

Stenciling accentuates any area, as well as brings color and design to previously drab surfaces.

Stenciling accentuates any area, as well as brings color and design to previously drab surfaces.

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.

Stenciling is especially useful if walls are painted with a flat paint in hues of brown, beige or blue.

Stenciling is especially useful if walls are 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

page.

 

With glimmers of optimism in the economy, homeowners are more confident and ready to change their homes and experiment with different colors and design styles that reflect the following trends emerging in 2014.

Back to basics. Black and white will be popular for 2014. Both are timeless classics and can be easily juxtaposed with different colors and textures. Charcoal will remain de rigueur.

Pops of color. Vibrant hues such as coral, yellow-green and bright blue and green will dominate infusing vivid accents into neutral palettes. You can never go wrong with a blue and white combo.

A crisp blue and white color scheme is always in style, especially along the coast.

A crisp blue and white color scheme is always in style, especially along the coast.

Old-school symmetry. Humans are inherently comfortable with balanced spaces. With this in mind, a longstanding element in traditional interiors returns in 2014 – symmetry.

Open it up. Instead of adding square footage, homeowners are redesigning their layouts to provide an open design that is visually appealing and more functional. Rather than specific rooms, think in terms of creating zones – for example a cooking, eating and lounging zone, and a living room/dining room as another zone.

Combining different areas in one space is becoming more and more popular. For example, this space combines a game table, reading and sitting area with a bar and outdoor patio. (Photo courtesy of The Grand Del Mar)

Combining different areas in one space is becoming more and more popular. For example, this space combines a game table, reading and sitting area with a bar and outdoor patio. (Photo courtesy of The Grand Del Mar)

Countertops count. A new generation of resilient, easy to maintain materials is emerging as an alternative to polished granite for countertops. Surfaces like ceasarstone and recycled composite materials are ultra-durable and impervious to stains and scratches.

Backsplashes. Adding a backsplash is an easy way to update your cooking space, and for this reason, kitchen backsplashes continue to be popular with subway tiles and metal finishes prevailing. Artistic materials – such as mosaic and glass tiles – are in high demand too.

Bathroom finishes. Tile is popular in bathrooms, replacing marble and granite. Instead of standard 12 by 12 inch shapes, 12 by 24 inch tiles – set vertically – offer a compelling new look.

 Black and white is a timeless classic and will be big for 2014 – both colors can easily combine with other hues and various textures.

Black and white is a timeless classic and will be big for 2014 – both colors can easily combine with other hues and various textures.

All about texture. Natural fabrics like corduroy, linen and velvet continue to create a fashionable, warm and inviting setting. Try accents like fabric window treatments, corduroy upholstery, velvet over-stuffed pillows and linen wallpaper.

Light up. Lighting is fundamental as it illuminates your design. LED lighting is increasingly popular and because it is long lasting, offers a cost-effective, sustainable alternative. And it is aesthetically appealing. Colored LEDs create beautiful, dramatic color changing effects from a single light source.

A touch of metal. Copper and brass were hot in 2013 and will remain in style through this year. Metal continues to be a key home accent. Consider using it for furniture, lamps, artwork, accessories and more.

Vibrant hues such as coral will prevail this year.

Vibrant hues such as coral will prevail this year.

Go green. Sustainability continues to reign in interior design. Reclaimed and repurposed materials – among them rustic wood planks, bricks, glassware, metals, wall coverings, natural fiber materials – remain popular. Repurposing brings old furniture and other materials to life – revealing intriguing new details.

What are your design predictions and goals for the coming year? Please share your thoughts and ideas – I always love to hear from you!

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Today, anything goes in holiday decorating. Gone are the days of simple red and green décor. While these colors are still important, holiday accents now run the color spectrum from amethyst and deep blue to metallic to bright white and ivory.

Our mantra this holiday season? Keep it simple and ultra-chic with a personal flair. Read on for timeless decorating tips that will add fun and festivity to your holiday home this season:

  • Always use fresh items in your décor like evergreen and tuberoses because the scents of the season are as important as the visuals.
  • With this in mind, use scented candles and fragrance diffusers throughout your home – cinnamon sticks also add a wonderful aroma.
  • Create a vignette of your favorite ornaments, photos or mementos. This works well in an entry hall, sitting area or front porch.
  • Consider reducing your color palette to one color plus a metallic such as gold or silver. For a modern look, a cool white pairs well with many colors.
Consider simplifying your color palette to one or two colors plus a metallic such as gold or silver. (Photo courtesy The Grand Del Mar)

Consider simplifying your color palette to one or two colors plus a metallic such as gold or silver. (Photo courtesy The Grand Del Mar)

 

  • White in the winter is always elegant – and makes color pop. As an example, use a bright white tablecloth with colorful accents.
  • Change or add lampshades with a vibrant holiday motif.
  • Show off large red and white poinsettias wrapped in silver or red foil tied with red or silver bow.
  • Decorate a staircase banister with an evergreen garland accented with plaid bows. Add miniature pinecones with tips dipped in Bic Wite-out or Liquid Paper and sprinkled with silver glitter for a snowy effect.
  • Spray glitter to greens for an extra sparkle, especially when evergreen branches and boughs become dry.
  • Fresh flowers are an important element of your décor any time of year, but especially during the holiday season. In addition to tuberoses, white lilies are striking when paired with evergreen. Fresh red roses are always beautifully festive.
  • Add clusters of gold or silver balls to floral arrangements.
  • Colored ribbon is a fabulous way to decorate the tree, mantel or banister.
  • Create a theme and incorporate into your wrapping, table settings and overall décor. Whether it’s a ribbon color used for packages and napkins or a particular style of font on your place card and gift tags, this will help create a cohesive look.
Use plenty of white miniature lights and don't restrict them to the tree – incorporate into garlands, centerpieces or wreaths, such as this one at The Grand Del Mar.

Use plenty of white miniature lights and don’t restrict them to the tree – incorporate into garlands, centerpieces or wreaths, such as this one at The Grand Del Mar.

  • Change out pillows, throws and other room accents with more festive option for the season.
  • Conserve, reuse and upcycle. You certainly don’t need to buy new decorations every year. Use a scarf as a table runner or a blanket as a tree skirt. Pull out and polish heirloom family silver to use as sparkling silver accents.
  • Skip basic ornaments such as glass balls. Instead add your own personal touches such as vintage ornaments, personal cards and clusters of miniature ornaments.
  • Use plenty of white miniature lights (minimally 150 lights to one foot of Christmas tree height), but don’t restrict them to the tree – incorporate these tiny twinklers into garlands and centerpieces as well.
  • Collections are always a fun way to add a personal touch to your décor – especially during the holidays. Collections of vintage toys or ornaments, nutcrackers, stockings and photos make distinctive holiday accents.
Decorate a staircase banister with an evergreen garland accented with plaid or striped bows. (Photo courtesy The Grand Del Mar)

Decorate a staircase banister with an evergreen garland accented with plaid or striped bows. (Photo courtesy The Grand Del Mar)

 

  • To mitigate clutter, stow away non-holiday accessories and other items for the season.
  • Remember that LED lighting is beautiful and saves electricity.
  • And always hang mistletoe above a focal doorway!

However you decorate, have fun with it and make it a team effort. Put on your favorite holiday play list, pour some champagne and invite your friends and family to help transform your home for the season.

Ribbon adds a festive accent to the tree, mantel or banister. (Photo courtesy The Grand Del Mar)

Ribbon adds a festive accent to the tree, mantel or banister. (Photo courtesy The Grand Del Mar)

And please share your own holiday designs, decorations, front entries and trees. Upload your pictures of your holiday décor to our Facebook page. And visit our Pinterest board where we’ve set up beautiful seasonal design ideas to inspire you.

 

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We love classic architecture and especially enjoy the thought and detail that goes into preserving history. So it was with great pleasure that we recently took on the refurbishment of the Grande Colonial hotel – La Jolla, California’s oldest original hotel. 

The Grande Colonial, which celebrated its centennial this year, opened in 1913 as the Colonial Apartments and Hotel.

The Grande Colonial, which celebrated its centennial this year, opened in 1913 as the Colonial Apartments and Hotel.

The hotel, which celebrated its centennial this year, was opened in 1913 as the Colonial Apartments and Hotel. Originally a white-frame structure, it was designed by famed San Diego architect Richard Requa in a classic colonial-revival style.   In 1928, a massive remodel was completed and the Requa structure was moved to the rear of the property. A four-story concrete structure added 28 apartments and 25 single hotel rooms, as well as the first sprinkler system west of the Mississippi.

Comfortable fireside seating accommodates visitors in the lobby of the Grande Colonial, a recently redone historic hotel in La Jolla.

Comfortable fireside seating accommodates visitors in the lobby of the Grande Colonial, a recently redone historic hotel in La Jolla.

In anticipation of its 100th anniversary, we were charged with enhancing the feel of the hotel’s still intact turn-of-the-century architecture.

With this in mind, we redid all public areas, including the entrance lobby, the lobby lounge and meeting rooms of the 93-room, ocean view boutique hotel, a member of the Historic Hotels of America and recipient of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s seal of approval.

Our goal was to speak to the hotel’s colorful past by creating a strong juxtaposition of old and new. The refurbishment of a historic hotel like this certainly had its challenges. Most homes and hotels constructed before World War II were built with lath and plaster – as opposed to today’s drywall construction. Thin pieces of cedar (called lath) were nailed onto the two-by-four framing; then wet plaster was applied onto the lath in one to three applications. Changing the walls or restoring/removing the lath and plaster is a painstaking process.

The Grande Colonial is La Jolla’s oldest original hotel.

The Grande Colonial is La Jolla’s oldest original hotel.

We worked carefully to showcase original architecture by enhancing historic fine details – such as the classic Georgian style arches, ornate cast plaster crown moldings and lead glass windows – with modern elements. Clad in detailed millwork, the original lobby columns are now adorned with antique mirrored insets, infusing a touch of whimsy and glamour. In a nod to the Grande Colonial’s beachfront locale, we created a palette of vibrant shades of azure and Mediterranean blue and warm golds, accented with soft white, platinum and bronze. New Giallo Royale and Calcutta white polished marble flooring, inset with black Galaxy granite, accentuates fine accessories and handsome furnishings, including antique reproductions and contemporary pieces. 

We also incorporated intricate hand-stenciled ceilings, rich textured fabrics, refurbished traditional chandeliers, art commissioned from Europe, walls upholstered in crème brûlée-colored linen weave fabric with gold embroidery and vintage photography in each of the areas.

The end result? The Grand Colonial now features elegant European residential-style interiors –with a bold color palette, fine finishes and subtle contemporary nuances. Ultimately, the sophisticated new décor – which can be described as new traditional – reinforces this boutique hotel’s enduring historic appeal.

We worked carefully to showcase he Grande Colonial’s original architecture by enhancing historic fine details – such as the classic Georgian style arches and ornate cast plaster crown moldings – creating a transitional style.

We worked carefully to showcase the Grande Colonial’s original architecture by enhancing historic fine details – such as the classic Georgian style arches and ornate cast plaster crown moldings – creating a transitional style.

The next time you are in La Jolla, please stop by. This lovely seaside property offers a small snapshot of La Jolla’s colorful past. We would love to hear your thoughts on its new look.

 

 

 

I love LA. Isn’t there a somewhat satirical song to that effect? I was born in Los Angeles, studied at UCLA and worked in LA, and I do love LA – this city is part of me. I love the rich Hollywood history, the beautiful beaches and the temperate weather. And, of course, I am partial to the shopping and dining in this City of Angels.

“I love perusing all the beautiful options in the many design shops in Los Angeles.”

“I love perusing all the beautiful options in the many design shops in Los Angeles.”

For drinks and great food, a longtime hot spot is Trader Vic’s Lounge at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. With a decidedly Polynesian theme, Trader Vic’s is “Home of the Original Mai Tai” and a great place to relax and enjoy a drink. Part of the historic chain founded by Victor Bergeron in 1944, it is known for exotic cocktails and lively ambiance.

Another not-to-be-missed eatery is The Ivy Restaurant in West Hollywood. This popular spot is a longtime hub for Hollywood elite with its cozy French country-style interior, sunny patio and regional American classics.

The Ivy logo

The La Cienega district is, of course, also a favorite haunt of mine, especially since our firm was on Melrose Ave. for years. The district – located on La Cienega between Sunset Blvd. and Melrose – has attracted top interior designers for decades. In more recent years, the area has gained fame as a top destination for great products and design inspiration.

With its outdoorsy, walkable allure, this creatively influenced district is booming with dozens of design stores recently opened – the majority selling high-end furniture and accessories.

Especially appealing in this district is Melrose Place, a charming tree-lined street home to fabulous antiques stores and designer boutiques.

Formations Logo

Another lively spot is the Melrose Design District in West Hollywood between Robertson and San Vicente boulevards. One of my preferred places to shop here is Formations, which for years has produced collections of historically inspired items such as lighting, furniture, planters and accessories. All items are beautifully handcrafted in Southern California.

I love David Jones Custom Florist – around the corner from Formations on Robertson Boulevard – recognized for its creative and original floral arrangements. This high-end studio has catered to clients from presidents to Hollywood stars to royalty.

And what’s a visit to LA without stopping by one of its storied hotels? My favorite property is the luxurious Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, a beautiful oasis in the heart of Beverly Hills. With a classic renaissance inspired motif, the hotel has the warmth and appeal of a private residence.

Spending a day shopping in LA’s Melrose Design District takes determination and a good pair of comfortable shoes.

Spending a day shopping in LA’s Melrose Design District takes determination and a good pair of comfortable shoes.

The Beverly Hills Hotel – with its distinctive pink stucco façade – is a vibrant slice of history on Sunset Blvd. Dating back to 1912, this venerable spot is home to the legendary Polo Lounge, a top power-dining venue for decades. A famed retreat for movies stars ranging from Marlene Dietrich to Marilyn Monroe, this iconic property oozes old Hollywood glamour, style and romance – and to me offers the quintessence of LA.

What do you love about LA? Please share your thoughts. I always love to read your comments below.

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As the sister venue to Amaya restaurant at the award-winning San Diego-based The Grand Del Mar, Amaya La Jolla boasts many of the same fine design details as the resort.

One of our most recent projects, Amaya La Jolla is housed in a former art gallery encompassing 10,000 square feet. We designed it to complement the distinctive European style of The Grand Del Mar, looking to decorative Italian palazzos for inspiration.

Amaya La Jolla Veranda

The Veranda, with its open airy feel, evokes the ambiance of a coastal European town.

Palazzo style refers to an architectural style of the 19th and 20th centuries based upon the palazzi (palaces) built by wealthy families of the Italian Renaissance. The architects of these buildings at times, however, drew details from sources other than the Italian Renaissance, such as Italian Romanesque or the French Beaux Arts movement, Empire and Venetian styles. For example, the hand-carved arched lunettes above the outside windows exemplify the Beaux Arts movement, as do the decorative ironwork at the entry doors and the gates into the wine cellar. The hand-troweled plaster throughout replicates finishes found in Venice, as do the mosaic tiled floors in the front veranda.

The restaurant encompasses an airy, light-filled front veranda with an indoor/outdoor feel; an adjacent wine room and wine cellar; a main dining room; a private dining room; and a bar/lounge area featuring nightly entertainment.

Amaya La Jolla Wine Room

In the wine room, doors paneled with oil paintings of St. Mark’s Square in Venice, as well as a hammered tin ceiling, add to the room’s European feel.

Two of the most notably similar design elements found at both The Grand Del Mar and Amaya La Jolla are the abundant use of hand-carved stone and polished marble. The restaurant’s exterior features stone-carved arched pediments, and the interior entry vestibule features hand-carved stone columns. We worked with the same four-generation family of Italian artisans – used exclusively by Warren Sheets Design, Inc. – that we collaborated with for The Grand Del Mar.

Other design elements common to both entities include elaborate coffered ceilings, hand-painted frescoes, wrought iron doors, stenciled accents, custom iron and crystal chandeliers, mosaic stone flooring, hand-troweled Venetian plaster walls, hand-applied 18 karat gold leaf finishes from Germany, intricate hand-woven carpets and detailed millwork. Additional highlights include doors paneled with oil paintings of St. Mark’s Square in Venice and a hammered tin ceiling with hand applied bronze finishes in the wine room all constructed by personally selected top artisans with years of experience and stellar portfolios, as well as the very finest products and materials.

To further the restaurant’s warm, residential ambiance, we used an array of rich hues, including gold, ochre and aubergine, contrasted against rich cardamom rose and French plum colors – colors seen in vibrant and beautiful sunsets of the Umbria region of southern Italy.

Since Amaya La Jolla is located in a seaside village, we added coastal-inspired elements including oil paintings imported from Western Europe. The artwork has an airy, impressionistic feel and vibrant colors that tie into the restaurant’s beachfront locale.

Amaya La Jolla Vignette

Oil paintings imported from Western Europe accent the decor at Amaya La Jolla.

If you’re in La Jolla, stop at Amaya La Jolla for a delicious meal or simply pause in front to enjoy its detailed exterior. And then let us know which dining area, piece of artwork or design detail is your favorite.

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