Being an interiors journalist has given Claire Bingham insider access to many incredible homes, and she’s learned a thing or two about great design along the way. In her new book, Modern Living: How to Decorate with Style (TeNeues, $55), she reveals how to think like the top interior designers whose work she’s witnessed. “Yes, you can devise a scheme based around a gorgeous new cushion, but it is best to think less about colors or details. Focus more on the mood and emotion, instead. Homes should make you happy,” Bingham writes. She walks us through the decorating process room by room, with tips and tricks for overhauling a space or just making a few quick upgrades. Here, we share some of her most memorable pieces of advice.
Once you’ve come up with an overall idea for your living room and determined your furniture needs (and where those pieces will go), it’s all about adding character, says Bingham. Here, an old sofa was reupholstered in a funky floral fabric that matches the wallpaper.
“Comfort comes first in the bedroom, so make your bed the priority,” writes Bingham. “Go for extra wide and get the best mattress you can afford. To make your bed extra inviting, introduce an extra set of satin pillows to crisp white cotton linen and layer with velvet and wool throws.”
Give your work space just as much attention as the rest of your home, Bingham says. And while an aesthetically pleasing spot is important, the real must-haves are a tidy surface, good task lighting, and a comfortable chair.
From John Robshaw’s exuberant block-printed fabrics to Madeline Weinrib’s hand-woven dhurries, Indian motifs—particularly florals—have long flourished across the design world. Now, Floral Patterns of India (Thames & Hudson, $55), explores the flower’s rich history in the nation’s ornate architecture. The compilation of dazzling images snapped by photographer Henry Wilson showcases a selection of breathtaking buildings from a cliffside 16th-century palace to an 18th-century terrace overlooking mountains and sea.
Shaded with hand-block-printed fabric displaying floral motifs of the Mughal and Rajput people, a window reveals the lake view from a pavilion at the Jal Mahal, or Water Palace, in Jaipur.
n the elaborate ceiling of the 18th-century Jal Mahal, flowers are set in an ornate trellis.
The Narain Niwas Palace in Jaipur, which was built in 1928 as a country retreat for General Amar Singh, has since been transformed into a hotel designed by Marie-Anne Oudejans in a palette of energizing azure-blue and white.
The interior of Bohra house in Siddhpur is blooming with floral motifs—they emerge within the intricate plaster ceiling, burst from the carved-wood molding and shelving, and repeat in the pattern of the tiles.
In a grand reception room in the Raj Niwas Palace in Dholpur, the top of the wall is tiled with a row of lemon trees.
Embarking on a custom kitchen renovation? Before you drive yourself crazy with cabinetry fittings and countertop consultations at stores all over town (or the Internet), consider the benefits of a ready-made kitchen. Convenient and in some cases surprisingly affordable, all-in-one kitchen designs can be customized to suit any-sized space (measurements are key) and come in a variety of sizes, colors, and styles, from Italian modern to country traditional and everything in between. Here, AD rounds up 17 stunning examples that let you choose every element—think hardware, finishes, and more—in one shot, streamlining the design process without compromising on beauty and functionality.
The brand provides an extensive range of kitchen components, including these Modena cabinetry doors in a milk-paint finish and a handsome credenza in wire-brushed oak.
The sleek new Principia kitchens by Italian architect and designer Antonio Citterio for Arclinea feature handsome wood-grain cabinetry and specially treated stainless steel in three finish options.
LOOK by Snaidero was designed as a canvas that allows homeowners to create their unique kitchen vision. The wooden worktop has adjustable heights and widths, while pantry units come in several sizes to accommodate different layouts.
It’s no secret: The blogosphere has become obsessed with tiny houses. Blame it on skyrocketing real-estate prices and shrinking city lots, but skinny, mini, and smartly designed have suddenly become serious selling points. With eco-friendly building simultaneously on the rise, it’s no shocker that Ryan Adams—the Charlotte, North Carolina blogger behind The Tiny Life—has released a new book called Tiny Houses Built with Recycled Materials (Adams Media; $27) that catalogues minuscule homes, from a corrugated metal-clad cabin in the mountains of Colorado to a mud hut in Oregon.
Architect Aaron Maret used reclaimed barn wood for the façade, a salvaged door from a 1920s farmhouse, and recovered sheathing from an art studio, but he did buy a few new fixtures, such as operable windows, wiring, and plumbing.
Natalie Pollard’s 265-square-foot house in Asheville, North Carolina, was built from locally milled lumber, with accent walls sheathed in reclaimed materials from a Civil War–era cabin and flooring from a local salvage store.
Inspired by old railway cars and shepherd’s wagons, Kate Fox and Andy Gill devised a house on wheels that accommodates their nomadic lifestyle. They used reclaimed Victorian-era wood for the floorboards and salvaged barn wood for the studs in the walls.
Naomi Watts has one. So does Patrick Dempsey. But star power aside, there are plenty of reasons to install a banquette in your kitchen or breakfast nook. More than just a bold design treatment, the cozy construction makes for a seating arrangement that’s more conducive to intimate conversation than the traditional table-and-chairs setup, much like the corner booth at your favorite restaurant. It’s also a great choice for families, as anyone who’s ever tried to get a squirming kid to sit still in a single seat can attest. Whether upholstered in a cheerful patterned fabric or classic leather, banquettes can even make a big impact in smaller spaces, where there’s limited room for a full dining area. Here, we’ve rounded up 12 stunning banquettes that will inspire you. From modernist benches to cushy booths, there’s one to suit every style.
Designed by Campion Platt, the sunny breakfast nook in a Hudson Valley, New York, home features a banquette in a Kravet vinyl, leather chairs from Ralph Lauren Home, and a custom wood-grained-vinyl area rug by Patterson, Flynn & Martin.
In the kitchen dining area of a New York townhouse designed by Delphine Krakoff, the table by Paul Evans is accompanied by a Pamplemousse Design banquette, upholstered in a Holly Hunt fabric, and Erwine and Estelle Laverne chairs; the pendant light is by Tom Dixon, and the marble floor is by Exquisite Surfaces.
In the dining area of a rustic home in New York by Francis D’Haene of D’Apostrophe Design, Tom Dixon pendant lamps are grouped with Hans J. Wegner Wishbone chairs and a custom-made table and banquette.
Easter eggs aren’t the only things that look good in pastels—your interiors are a natural place to experiment with springtime shades and pale hues. Once confined to nurseries and tropical spaces, pastel colors can be surprisingly versatile: Pink goes from baby-doll to boho-chic thanks to woven textures and grounding neutrals; paired with clean lines and tailored upholstery, a plum room feels contemporary without being intimidating. What’s more, the understated color profile of pastels creates an adaptable backdrop that holds up against bold prints and patterns in a more interesting way than plain-old white, and a more subtle manner than statement-making jewel tones. Perhaps that’s why softer palettes have made a comeback in recent years. With spring just around the corner, Architectural Digest has rounded up 30 pastel rooms to lighten your mood and get you ready for the season.
Shown: In the master bedroom of designer and architect Dmitry Velikovsky’s Moscow duplex, the ornate piece atop the headboard was originally the back of a 19th-century Burmese monk’s chair; the lamp is by IKEA. The Indonesian mask on the side table is surmounted by a small landscape painting by Nikolay Dubovskoy and a photograph by Nikolai Kulebiakin; the walls are sheathed in faux suede.
Interior designer May Daouk’s late-19th-century villa in Beirut is oriented around an expansive antiques-filled living room painted a striking lilac. The table at left displays ceramics found at John Rosselli Antiques. The purple armchairs are from Ann-Morris Antiques, and the large Oushak carpet is 19th century.
“Often when I flip through a catalogue, it would appear we live in a world of beige, a great big bowl of coffee ice cream,” says Redd. The designer prefers to embrace rich hues, as in this windowless entryway “where it appears glittering rather than dull like dishwater.”
Rule to break: Scale back in small rooms
Over the last few years, the rise of online decorating services has made a once-rarefied world much more accessible. Companies that offer personalized, virtual interior design ideas—Laurel & Wolf, Home Polish, Decorist, and Havenly, to name a few—have made hiring a decorator as easy as shopping for shoes online. It no longer requires deep pockets, a lengthy research process, or even an in-person meeting. But is online decorating right for everyone—or every room? We turned to a couple of experts to find out how to get the most out of the experience, and get the (real life) space of your dreams.
DO the groundwork
The more information you can provide from the outset, the better. Complete the online quizzes and style assessments to hone in on the look you’re going for. And when it comes to describing your current space, go overboard. “More is more when it comes to working virtually,” says Kimberly Winthrop, a designer with Laurel & Wolf. “The more communication, photos, measurements, and inspiration references, the better your designer will know you and the better your project will flow.” In addition to taking full-room shots, “take photos of details that make your space unique, like moldings, so that your designer can factor them into the design,” says Emily Motayed, co-founder of Havenly.
DON’T be a stickler
The decorators working with these services are vetted—a great reassurance that you’re working with a pro. Look through online portfolios to get a feel for a designer’s work before you hire him or her, but keep in mind it’s better to see that they can work within a range of aesthetics rather than deliver a highly specific look. “Their style may not be exactly your style, but any good designer should be able to deliver what you like,” explains Winthrop.
DO be brutally honest
This process is one of give and take. If your decorator floats an idea that you hate, say so. “A common mistake that people make is not expressing their true opinion on a design or item out of fear of hurting a designer’s feelings,” says Motayed. “Don’t be afraid to be honest.”
Virtual decorating services are best for spaces that have fairly straightforward needs and don’t require a renovation, such as living rooms and bedrooms. “When you get into kitchens and baths, where the main elements of the space are built-in or custom, it can be a more challenging project,” says Winthrop.
Prince of prints John Robshaw knows a thing or two about mixing patterns. For almost a decade he has trotted the globe sourcing a wild range of fabrics—from Indian block prints to Uzbek ikats—that, once incorporated into his ever-expanding home and lifestyle brand, are adeptly thrown together atop kaleidoscopic beds and elegantly eclectic tablescapes. Now, as Robshaw’s signature exotic look comes to an even wider audience with his recent product launch—a bedding collection for Target—a knack for pattern mixing has never felt so, well, necessary. Wishing you could pair prints with the flair of the master himself? Architectural Digest is here to advise.
Think about scale.
A garage is a natural place to hide away anything you don’t want cluttering up the inside of your home, whether it’s a box of holiday ornaments or outgrown clothes. The problem is that over time, the space can start to look like a dumping ground. “If you can’t fit a car or two in the garage, you need to reassess what you’re keeping in it and how it’s organized,” says Amelia Meena, owner of Appleshine, a New York–based organizing service. She recommends doing a thorough garage reorg twice a year, as your storage needs will change seasonally. Here’s her five-step plan for getting the job done.
Put it on the calendar
While you can probably chip away at cleaning up your closet, tackling an organizing project like a garage is better handled all at once, says Meena. For most people, she recommends setting aside a weekend for the project. “If you commit to overhauling the space and setting up a system, any future changes become much more manageable.”
Consider your ideal layout
Before you start organizing, set your priorities for the garage, says Meena. “This will help you figure out how to best divide up the space.” For some people, the main goal may be to clear it out enough to park two cars inside; others may be looking to set up a dedicated area for tools or garden gear. Determine whether you need everything to be easily accessible or are okay with a stacking system that may leave less frequently used items difficult to reach.
Home in on a strategy
To kick off the project, Meena works with clients to determine how they work best: Some people prefer to start with the hardest organizing tasks, to get them out of the way; some people like beginning with the easiest job; and some choose to focus on the spot where change will make the biggest impact. “Figure out what would be most motivating for you and keep you going,” she says.
Sort, purge, repeat
Now comes the hard part: figuring out what to keep and what to let go of. “You have to differentiate between what really belongs in a garage and what’s just taking up space,” says Meena. For most people, tools, outdoor gear, bikes, and seasonal decorations all make sense in a garage. What doesn’t? Anything you put out there because you didn’t know what to do with it. “Often people decide they have too much stuff, box it up, and just put it in the garage,” she says. “Those items—books, old clothes, decor items—are typically ready to be put out to pasture”—i.e., donated or recycled.