Throw Pillows: Are They Really Necessary?!

I call this the Throw Pillow Debate.

At one point or another in the design collaboration, we will enter the accessories planning phase. We enter the “pillow conversation”. I explain they will add color, texture, warmth, personality to the space. They will cushion the room and tamper down echo, as do the window treatments. Pillows also serve a function, improving back support and comfort, especially for shorter people who need to have their feet touch the floor and for anyone who suffers from a sensitive back.

Rare are my female clients who do not understand the value of the decorative pillow. Most men, and pardon the generalization, tend to find them fluffy and unecessary. I hear strong words about clients’ distaste for pillows: “my husband hates them!”, “they are non functional!”, “why do we need them?”, “I’ll just throw them on the floor!”

Allow me to illustrate my line of thought.

This beautifully upholstered bed by Bernhardt  feels blah. It’s a bed with white linens. Period. 

Now look at what happens when color and texture is infused on the bed with the use of interesting pillows. Image courtesy Bernhardt.

Let’s look at one of my designs:

Detailed View

The bed before. 

Barbara Elza Hirsch | Elza B. Design IncThe dressed up bed after: linens and 2 decorative pillows leaning against white shams. Note how the custom fabric tells a story: the colors and texture add depth and warmth, coordinating with the wall and accessories. Designed by Barbara Elza Hirsch of Elza B. Design, Inc. Photo Rosemary Fletcher.

Decorative pillows on a bed need not be overdone, I usually recommend 2 or 3 on top of sleep pillows, which I cover with shams or pillow covers. The sleep pillows usually go in pairs to hold everything up but also add adequate back support when reading.

What to do with the decorative pillows at night? They can plopped on the floor against the wall, or simply laid on an armchair. Not as complicated as one would think!

What about the sofa pillows?

Gunner Sofa

I love this velvet sofa found via Jayson Home. But it feels so naked. 

cozy and sophisticated:

Rooms cannot be fully inviting without color, texture and  layering of mutiple fabric accessories, such as the sofa pillows above. The art piece adds a lot to the space as well. Photo : Interiors Magazine.

Beautiful yet bare sofa from Cisco Brothers with no pops of color or layering that make it inviting.

Traditional Media/Game Room by CarolEgan Interiors and Andre Tchelistcheff Architects in Water Mill, New York: Carol Eagan Interiors room offers inviting seating options with colorful pops of pillows.

Many people, including myself, welcome back pillows on seating. I frankly cannot enjoy my evening if there is not something soft and cushy to lean on and allow my feet to reach the floor, especially with a deeper sofa.

Guests or family members who do not find pillows comfortable can simply move then to the side or put on the floor. There is no need for guests to feel uncomfortable : I always make everyone at ease in my living spaces and let all know pillows can be moved around or put on the floor.

Scale and texture of pillows is very important as well. It’s nice to have a blend of squares and a rectangle or two. Make sure you let your designer know if you prefer down or poly inserts. Down allergy considerations are important as well. Down feathers will feel soft and pliable. Polyester feels firmer but can be very useful for the pillows in the far back position to creative supportive layering.

So the next time the designer talks pillows, please keep an open mind and remember this blog post.

Custom pillows are an investment, but they really truly make a space and bring it to the next level!

Wallpaper in the Bathroom!

Is it a surprise I should be daydreaming of vibrant and colorful wallpaper prints and florals in bathrooms? Not really. You may all know my secret love for bathroom design by now…if not, refer to some of my past blog posts or my collected images on my Pinterest board.

And, it will come as no surprise that, in desperate need of SPRING weather and color (I keep on looking outside my window with sad dog eyes) I want flowers!!!

What happened to the weather this year, folks? Seriously, a coat in May???

I will not be stopped by grey skies and apathetic temperatures…

Working on a recent powder bathroom wallpaper project, I sifted through endless possibilities and wanted to share a few inspiration bathrooms I love :

Tilton Fenwick Downtown Loft Powder Room photo: Trevor Tondro

This fabulous and daring print from Osborne & Little used by the talented designer duo Tilton Fenwick created a snappy little powder room. And all the brass fixtures are so in right now!

Kate Simpson.

This powder bathroom designed by Kate Simpson is defined by the wallpaper and those elegant monogrammed towels. The wallpaper gives an immediate zesty and refreshing vibe to the room. Photo via Lonnymag.com

A Gracious Home by Suzanne Kasler

 I love this bathroom by fave interior “grande dame” Suzanne Kasler: Katie Ridder’s exquisite wallpaper designs always add so much to a room, don’t you think? Suzanne creates a seemingly effortless blend of elegance and comfort, striking the right balance between color, textures and styles. A bit of this and a bit of that always goes a long way in my view! Photo via Architectural Digest

Stark Wallpaper. Design by Rafael de Cardenas.

This art nouveau style Stark Wallpaper instantly defines the room, giving it distinctive and dark appeal. Sumptuous against a rasberry glass vase and two slender purple flowers. Design by Rafael de Cardenas. Photo via ELLE DECOR

Wallpapers In A Bathroom

This green and white floral wallpaper screams SPRING! via Shelterness 

For a recent powder bath project I designed, we decided to go moody and very bold. I also knew wallpaper would make the room.

The bathroom originally looked like this :

Ugly Bathroom-1A much improved bathroom looked like this:

Photo and Design Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAnd I want you to see how the final Cole & Son wallpaper selection will look (mirror is awesome but a little small, may be changed):

Photo and Design Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaIn progress design project by Elza B. Design, Inc | Photo Chez Elza

ColeandSonWallpaper-SummerLilyThis breathtaking Lily print Cole & Son is pretty cool, no? Stay tuned for AFTER pics of this project in the year to come. Photo via Lee Jofa

Life is short, have fun…wallpaper possibilities are endless:

Groundworks-KWearstler-WallpaperCrescent by Kelly Wearstler wallpaper via Lee Jofa

 

Wallpaper-C&SonNuvolette by Cole & Son via Lee Jofa

Wallpaper-CS-Geisha tealGeisha by Cole & Son via Lee Jofa

A bientot!

 

 

 

Two Jaw Dropping Museum Collections in Boston

Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaThe Harvard Museum of Natural History is a wonderful gem  located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

With a mission to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the human place in it, the Harvard Museum of Natural History draws on the University’s collections and research to present a historic and interdisciplinary exploration of science and nature.

I try to go once a year to take in some of my favorite museum collections. Today I am sharing two of my favorite permanent exhibits. What is really wonderful about these is you can see them anytime, they never go away…

The Ware Collection of Glass Models of Plants are the most delicate and exquisite glass models of botany ever seen. These unique pieces were commissioned by Professor George Goodale, founder of Harvard’s Botanical Museum, who wanted life-like representations of the plant kingdom to teach botany in his classrooms.

From 1886 to 1936, father and son glass artisans team Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka of the Blaschka Studio, Hosterwitz, Germany, made these beauties entirely of blown and fused glass, with wire reinforcements hidden inside the glass as needed.

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaRows and rows of plants in gorgeous polished wood and glass cases adorn the exhibit. Above, a glass banana plant and fruit. Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAbove, a glass water lily. Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaTools of the trade used to make the glass plants. Colored glass was used for many pieces and, in some cases, some plants were enameled with a thin wash of colored ground glass or metal oxides and heated until the material fused to the model. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

In another room, is the extraordinary museum collection of rocks and minerals. This renovated gallery displays thousands of rare minerals and sparkling gemstones in both rough and cut examples, including a 1,600-pound amethyst geode from Brazil. Exhibits highlight new research and offer a broad overview of the dynamic processes and events that formed our planet and that have shaped its continuing evolution.

To visit this room for someone in love with nature, color and texture, is equivalent to dying and going to heaven:

Photo credit: Barbara Elza HirschPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza HirschPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Photo credit: Barbara Elza hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza HirschPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did! Happy weekend!

Barbara

Brizo In Memphis and a Powerful Partnership for Children

This summer I had the opportunity to gather with an extraordinary group of people, all “alumnis” of the Brizo Blogger19. As you may remember from my January and February blog posts, I had the fantastic opportunity to attend a workshop organized by Brizo-creators of stylish plumbing fixtures- in New York during Fashion Week, where we also discovered Jason Wu’s glorious designs. Since 2010, Brizo has been inviting an elite group of designers, architects and influencers, which has since grown to include nearly 130 leaders in their fields, and from all over the globe. While diverse in their aesthetic, the Blogger 19 are all united by a shared experience at New York Fashion Week, hosted by the premium faucet brand Brizo.

A primary sponsor of fashion designer Jason Wu, Brizo believes high-style applies not just to the clothes we wear but is a lifestyle that extends to our aesthetic at home. Hence their innovative creations in stylish plumbing!!!

It was quite moving to be reunited all together at once, and we met many peers we had only spoken to long distance, via social media. I cannot stress enough the importance of a community in the Design Industry. We help each other grow, learn, think, exchange, and everyone benefits.

Memphis, as seen from Peabody hotel | Chez Elza                

View of Memphis from my Peabody Hotel bedroom. Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza

This trip was particularly meaningful to me.

We learned about Brizo’s ongoing partnership with Memphis’ St Jude’s Children Research Hospital : Since 2010, Brizo has been a national sponsor for the St Jude Dream Home Giveaway, donating more than 1 million dollars to date in furnishings and fundraising efforts.

We were invited by the Brizo management to visit the hospital on site.

A few notes about the hospital:
-St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® opened in 1962 and was
founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas.
Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza
A small exhibit on Danny Thomas is hosted inside the Arabic inspired cupola. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch
Photo Credit Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza
Thomas was of Lebanese origin and Lebanon was extremely supportive of his project. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch
PhotPhoto credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza
Beautiful detail of the cupola where we listened to speakers and had breakfast before the tour. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch 
-St Jude’s mission is to find cures for children with cancer and other deadly diseases through pioneering research and exceptional care.
-No family ever pays St. Jude for anything.
-In 1962, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, was 4 percent. Today, the survival rate for this once deadly disease is94 percent, thanks to research and treatment.
-The daily operating cost for St. Jude is $1.7 million, which is primarily covered by public contributions
-St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world
-St. Jude is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted to children.
-St. Jude researchers are published and cited more often in high impact publications than any other private pediatric oncology institution in America.

We spent a day visiting the hospital with Brizo managers and employees, touring the facilities, even meeting with patients and families.

It was hard. It was moving.

http://www.stjude.org/stjude/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=4f7df38c84209310VgnVCM100000290115acRCRD

The hospital’s multidenominational chapel.

All of us have been touched by cancer directly or indirectly: to witness the spirit of St Jude’s daily battle and incredible tenacity and optimism is truly a gift. Nobody wants to hear about illness or dying, but the reality is, it’s part of life.

As a designer reporting about the hospital, I tried to also approach this visit from a design perspective. Color and architecture, space planning and art were central elements all around the hospital.

Some say design is superfluous. It’s not. It is a central element in our surroundings. Appealing and inviting spaces make us feel loved and comfortable.

I commend St. Jude hospital for designing facilities that make being sick a little less grey and scary:

Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza

A colorful playgroundPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

rbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Art tables await much anticipated artistic expressions.

Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza2013-07-17 11.29.53

Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza                  

Above : Hallway exhibits, murals and messages abound at St Jude’s Children Research Hospital. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch.

Below, common rooms and family apartments at Target House, where some of the families are lodged:

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza

Above: The Brad Paisley common room. The artist donated the room and its decor. Like many artists, celebrities and sponsors, everyone becomes part of St Jude’s  community. For example, artists will come regularly and spend time with the children, or play music outdoors for the families.

Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza

An outdoor common area at St Jude’s. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch.

Photo credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

The Shawn White Family Room. Photo credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza.

Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza

Messages of hope abound at the Target  House. Photo credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Later, we were allowed to interact with some of the children patients and their families to work on an art project. Understandably, photos were not allowed to respect the families’ privacy.

This was truly a very awe inspiring visit and experience and I felt privileged to  have toured such a unique research hospital.

Thank you, Brizo, and thank you, St Jude.

 

 

 

 

 

The Case of the Embarrassing Shower -It’s all in the Construction!!!

We purchased our little farmhouse knowing some rooms needed work. We loved that there was a master bathroom, complete with rain shower head. The colors and tile were not to our liking but we had to live with it for a while. Well. It’s official: I hate my bathroom!!!! This was bound to happen, when you consider the color scheme in this bathroom :

The Embarrassing Bathroom- Evidence piece number 1. A milky pinkish, beige color scheme with a greyish patterned granite vanity counter top.

You heard well. Too many “ish” in a description to define color is a red flag.

We used to live in a house with one bathroom for a family of four. I know we are blessed to have 2 1/2 now. The square footage in this bathroom is decent for an old New England home. I love that we have a window.

But my eyes hurt.

And now, for the worse part: The shower was not constructed properly. This past year, the paint has started to peel.The clear door sweeps have started to yellow. Yes. I kid you not.

The Embarrassing Bathroom-Evidence piece number 2- No need for words. Same problem on the other side…

So There. My Secret. Shared. I am sure you have a few embarrassing secrets of your own. Life happens.

I resolved to solve this. I spoke with Shahab Shokouhi, a Writer at Dulles Glass and Mirror — a manufacturer of commercial and residential glass products including tempered glass, replacement glass, and shower doors.

Shahab shared some wonderful tips for a well constructed frameless glass shower enclosure:

 

When designing one’s shower door enclosure, Shahab explains there are several tips to follow to avoid leaks and mold. Following are four helpful tips that will keep the outside of your shower dry, and the installation of your shower enclosure, seamless.

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Tip 1: The Showerhead Position

To minimize leakage, you never want your showerhead positioned facing the opening of the shower door. You want the showerhead to be facing the tiled walls or fixed panels. This will help keep the water inside the shower enclosure, and not on your bathroom floor. In the illustrations above, the first two examples are ideal. Avoid what is shown in the third example.

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Tip 2: Raised Tiles and Overhangs

When dealing with odd overhangs and raised tiles, one might wonder the best way to keep the water in one’s new shower.

For one, to avoid gaps between the wall and the glass, use a fixed glass panel in your shower design and notch the tile so that the panel can be lined up flush against the wall. The maximum width and depth for notching raised tile is ¾” (depth) and ½” (width). To notch overhangs deeper than ¾” depth, you will need to consult a tile professional. Keep in mind that the enclosure may in some instances still require the use of a metal filler (pictured above right) between the glass and the buttress wall.

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Tip 3: Curb Tops

To decrease the likelihood of leaks in your shower enclosure, make sure that the curb top you use is a solid piece of tile, marble, or granite. In the event that a shower curb is tiled with small horizontal tiles, the grout joints become an area where water collects and ultimately, mold and mildew forms. Having one solid piece for the curb top (without any grout lines) alleviates this potential problem. See the third picture above, to see the ideal curb top for your glass shower enclosure.

And here I am adding another image to demonstrate Shahab’s point:

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Tip 4: Pipes and Wiring

This tip is especially helpful if you’re installing a shower in a new section of your home, perhaps an unfinished basement. Be wary of any plumbing pipe and electrical wiring where you will be anchoring your shower enclosure. Anchoring screws may puncture anything behind the studs or walls.

These tips will ensure your shower enclosure avoids leakage and mold, and is easy to clean and maintain. Not to mention, being diligent in your shower enclosure design, ensures that the installers run into zero problems come installation day.

Thank you, Shahab, of Dulles Glass and Mirror , for assisting me in presenting construction tips on a seamless shower!!!

I will be busy re-designing my bathroom in the following year and I will make sure to follow these important pointers!

Enjoy your day! A la prochaine!

 

 

Aha Moment ?!!!

While at Blogfest, we were encouraged by House Beautiful editors to write about what inspires us, what might have been the moment in our life that prompted us to choose this profession, or what “AHA moments” we encounter in our daily work.

I have to say Aha Moments abound in my life. Like the time I realized very early on I was happiest creating and working with COLOR.

A little French girl growing up in Washington DC, bound to the rigid system of the French School I attended, I quickly found the freedom and joy of color in illustrations I created inside my French “cahiers” (notebooks) :

Illustration in my “cahier” at the French School.

Later as a brooding teenager, I perfected my craft to include realistic illustrations of other brooding creators (here Baudelaire, as a child):

Illustration of Baudelaire, enfant, by Barbara Elza Hirsch

I fancied myself a talented designer in the making: my goal was to be a fashion designer. From age 10 on, I had developed a mad crush on FABRIC and spent my time making little outfits for my barbies, or inventing little bags and decorative boxes out of Marimekko fabrics.

A vestige of my passion for fabric and creating (note the little ruby stone patiently sewn on to the bustier):

After high school, I moved to Paris and went to Art School, and later, to Studio Berçot, one of the top Fashion Design Programs. I madly scribbled and created designs for diverse collections:

Fashion Illustration by Barbara Elza Hirsch
Sweater line created by Barbara Elza Hirsch back in the 80’s.
Little summer bags created by Barbara Elza Hirsch while a student at Studio Bercot.

Alas, my career as fashion designer was never to be. I HATED the fashion world! If you’ve ever seen The devil Wears Prada, you know what I am referring to.

Little did I know that somewhere deep inside, was an interior designer in the making. Years later, as a wife and mother still enamored by COLOR and passionate about DESIGN, I found my true calling : Interior Design!

Interior designers were a friendlier bunch, and the freedom I encountered in creating designs was thrilling. Aha! I thought! It’s all coming together:

My love of fabric:

Windsor Smith fabric for Kravet on wing chair with contrasting piping. Custom creation by Elza B. Design, Inc.

My love of color:

A color scheme on a current Elza B. Design project. Inspired by a beautiful painting my client owns.

And just the joy of seeing it all come together:

Living Room created by Elza B. Design, Inc

But, wait! Look at what I just found in my childhood notebooks:

“Life is a Big Room” by Barbara Hirsch, done as a child.

Aha! I should have known :-) There was a room in me after all.

Feeling Blue

Sometimes we just feel a need for BLUE.

And right now I want to totally surround myself with it. I find I am craving all types of blues, especially rich saturated royal and peacock blues. It could be because it’s winter and the cold season is starting to feel endless, or it could be because over the past year I’ve lost so many loved ones, but, yes, I admit, I do feel slightly blue…

There is something completely pure and soothing about blue, like a warm and cozy blanket. One of the three primary colors, blue is a cool color, said to give an impression of calm.

See for yourself and let me know how this BLUE post affects you!

 

BlueFlowers via purpletugboat.tumblr.com
Peacock Blues via LittleBlueDeer.com

Blue also has mysterious and mystical connotations. The darker blues remind one of the deeps of the ocean, where hardly any natural light passes through. Mysterious sea creatures live in these depths. Lighter blues are associated with the purity of a clear blue sky or the transparent qualities of water. In Christianity, The Virgin Mary is often associated with the color blue. Many Gods in Hinduism are depicted as having blue like skin. In Judaism, tips of the fringes of the prayer shawl include a blue thread. In these three examples, the color blue serves as a vessel to bring one closer to the sky (Where the Spiritual is believed to reign) and the clear transparent waters (purity).

Ocean and Sky via Xantheose.tumblr
Blue skinned VishnuBlue skinned Vishnu via Google.com

One of my favorite winter season pleasures is the blue and purple shadows cast against white snow. Alas, snow has not been a part of our winter here in New England this year.

Chen Chun Zhong Painting via http://www.inkdancechinesepaintings.com

 

Winslow Homer Painting, “Sleigh Ride” (reproduction) via http://www.1st-art-gallery.com

And now, blue used in interiors:

Axel Vervoordt Dining Area via axel-vervoordt.com

 

Martha Stewart via marthastewartweddings.com

 

Old World Tapestry on English Settee via http://eclecticrevisited.com
Liza Bruce and Nicholas Alvis Vega Morrocan bathroom via ELLE DECOR
Blue Living Room via House Beautiful.com
Designers Carrier and Company via ELLE DECOR
West Elm Assortment of Blue Objects via West Elm

I enjoyed sharing my BLUE crush with you and hope this post will inspire you to add some blue to your surroundings or color palettes.

Warm wishes!