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This episode, I answer questions about…
[6:26] Incorporating sculptures and paintings into interior design (Sarah)
I am looking to add some art to my home. When googling modern interior design, I often find myself in awe of the way designers seamlessly weave in sculpture or paintings. Do you have any tips on how to do this? And in what scenarios are sculptures better or worse to incorporate in a design than paintings? Attached are the styles of sculpture I hope to include in future design projects.
So the first sculpture that Sarah sent in is probably 3-4 feet high and it looks almost like a ribbon of very shiny polished gold on a black pedestal. Altogether, I would say it’s between 5-7 feet high because the pedestal is quite tall. I love the shiny, almost reflective surface. I love the movement and the curves, because it’s in a hallway that has a lot of rectangular moldings and doorway openings. The curved lines really break up the moldings and the trim, and I love that it adds a pop of metallic in this space that has stone marble gray walls and white trim. This beautiful ribbon of gold really warms up the space and enlivens it.
The thing I love about sculptures is that they are kind of special chotchkies. They are things that don’t really do anything. They don’t typically serve a purpose, but they’re that visual interest. Unlike a painting that can fill an empty wall, a sculpture fills an empty surface, shelf, or in this case, floor space.
The other sculpture that Sarah sent in is one that would rest on a tabletop or a console. It’s a bronze sculpture, and again features curving lines with a black rectilinear base. This one is much smaller, and it almost makes a teardrop. It’s easier to incorporate because it’s smaller, and you can put it on a surface rather than having to put it on the floor.
The thing I love about sculpture, or sculptural objects in general, is that it is something unexpected. The bigger it is, of course, the more “wow factor” it has. I love combining the ideas of sculpture and art with sculptural wall art. This is something three-dimensional that you can hang on a wall, popping out of that two-dimensional surface. It has kind of this fluctuation, and maybe even casts some interesting shadows when a light is turned on.
Sculptures are tricky, because finding unique sculptures can be very expensive. It can also be hard to ship these big, bulky, heavy things, and it can be hard to find something that doesn’t feel played out. If you’re going to Homegoods for a sculpture, you’re probably not going to find anything very luxe or sophisticated looking.
That is why art is easier. There are lots of places to get it, it doesn’t have to be very heavy, and it can be rolled up to ship. There are so many options with different shapes, sizes, and price points. The thing I like about using paintings or 2D art is that you can use it as an inspiration piece for the room. It can have a lot of color inside one frame, and you can just pick out two or three colors to use as the entire color palette. Sculptures typically aren’t that colorful, and therefore need to be cohesive with the rest of the room rather than serving as an inspiration piece.
The two pieces that Sarah sent in, one in bronze and one in gold, are not giving the room a color palette. They do, however, need to work with the metal finishes in the room. For instance, if you are using all silvers or cool metals in a space, I would not want the big gold sculpture in there. It will feel really out of place in a scenario where there are a lot of cool metals in use. Bronze is a very flexible material in terms of mixing with metals, and of course dark metals can stand alone. I think there will be more versatility with the smaller sculpture – not only because of the size and shape, but also due to the metal finish.
The other thing I remind people is that lamp bases, whether it’s a floor lamp or a table lamp, can be really interesting. Sometimes they can be just as interesting as a sculpture, and a lamp also lights itself up. It draws attention to itself, especially if you choose a base outside of the typical column structure. A lot of us are afraid to pony up in terms of price or our surface real estate for a sculpture, so a lamp is a perfectly safe way to try this new sculptural idea.
[14:00] Natural rugs and materials for families with young children (Bailey)
Where do you recommend looking for natural rugs, and what materials do you suggest for a family with a two-year-old (i.e. jute, sisal)? I am wanting to purchase a large rug (larger than 8×10) for our great room.
When you have a little one at home who falls a lot, and may have exposed skin on the rug as they are crawling around, I would not use a natural fiber rug at all. Natural fibers like jute and sisal tend to break off. They tend to be a little scratchy, almost like a loop. They tend to have small, basket-like fibers that can easily penetrate or scratch delicate baby flesh.
I would recommend some kind of natural texture rug with a little one crawling around. I love jute and sisal for a beach house or a lake house – a place where maybe sand and dirt are coming in. I love the durability for a sunroom or even an outdoor space. But it’s not soft, plush, or comfortable to play on. I wouldn’t sit on it in my bathing suit and make a puzzle with my baby. I just wouldn’t use this material in that way.
I would imagine that in your great room, you want to be playing on the floor. You want your baby to be crawling around. So, I would look for something acrylic, wool, or a blend. I would highly recommend that you go touch it in person. In most applications, I don’t feel like you have to sit on them or touch them in advance. If you’re going to be playing on the rug for extended periods of time, however, it’s a good idea.
When I had new little babies, I got a rug off Overstock because of the price point. I didn’t want to splurge, and I got a wool rug because I just really loved the pattern. Well, I had these little babies in their onesies on the wool rug with their legs and arms totally exposed, and I would pick them up and their skin would be all red. It was because, just like with a wool sweater, sometimes 100% wool rugs can be uncomfortable. I quickly realized that this was not for us, and I rolled it up and gave it away. I instead looked for something that was a blend of both wool and a synthetic, so it had a softer feel.
This is not going to be the be-all end-all rug. This is not the rug that you want to spend a lot of money on due to spills, spitting up, and all things that come with little ones being little. So it’s important to think about it in that context when you are looking to invest in a new rug for your great room space.
[17:39] Statement chandeliers (Betty)
I was wondering what your thoughts are on what I would consider “slightly out there” statement chandeliers. In theory, I love them, but I struggle to imagine them in my home.
Betty included a picture of a large, almost dandelion looking chandelier. It has a Sputnik in the center, or a kind of round globe with projections off it – it gives me a dandelion effect. I love a statement chandelier, and as I said earlier this could be like a sculpture that lights itself up and draws attention to itself. I think of a chandelier as a really cool sculpture, and you can take risks. You can do something dramatic. You can make a bold choice.
The thing to keep in mind is that your chandelier will not be to everyone’s tastes. You want to make sure this statement piece is for you. It should be a matter of what you really love, as well as of the space.
There are also mathematical equations to keep in mind when selecting a chandelier, so I’m going to share them here in the hopes that it will help you narrow your choices and choose the perfect chandelier for you. First, when choosing the size of a light fixture for your room, you take the length and width of the room and add them together in feet. That is roughly the diameter of the fixture you should be getting. So if you have a 12’ x 12’ room, you add 12 and 12 together and find that you need a 24-inch diameter chandelier (or flush mount) for that room. If it’s an open living/dining space, you’ll only want to measure the area that the chandelier is going to be in.
In terms of height, you are supposed to do 3 inches in height for every foot in your room. So for instance, if your ceilings are 8’ high, your chandelier should be 24 inches tall because you’re multiplying 8×3.
I don’t always follow these rules, but these are some designer guidelines to keep in mind. I definitely follow this one: when you’re hanging a chandelier above a dining table, the distance from the top of the table to the bottom of the chandelier should be 30-36 inches. Almost all of the time, I see people hanging their chandeliers way too high. In addition, you want to make sure that the width of your chandelier is a foot less than the width of your table. If you have a 36-inch table, your chandelier should not exceed 24 inches because you don’t want people hitting their heads or hitting their faces when they get up from the table. Above a kitchen island, your pendants or mini chandeliers should also be 30-36 inches from the top of the island to the bottom of the fixture. Typically, you hang the pendant lights or the mini chandeliers 30 inches apart from each other. So from the center of one to the center of the other, you want to leave at least 30 inches.
The great thing about light fixtures is that you can find them at so many different places and at so many different price points. There are also a ton of knockoffs, so even if you found that aspirational chandelier at Room & Board or Restoration Hardware, you can definitely find something similar just by doing a Google image search. There are so many light fixtures to choose from, and so many stores that do a very good job. Make sure you hunt far and wide to find the perfect light fixture for you.
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