Getting Ready for my Spring Intern!

Such an exciting weekend for me! Getting ready to greet my new intern this Monday! Last fall, I volunteered at the local High school to speak at the Job Fair about my job as an Interior Designer. I had a wonderful time. What a joy to share my passion with eager students wondering if this could be the field for them! Little did I know that the school would ask me if I would be open to welcoming an intern in the Spring! Of course, said I. What business owner does not need an intern? And what a wonderful opportunity to mentor a young student, set the right example and show her what an exciting profession this is! Today, the office is all abuzz with lists of ideas and tasks for the internship, fun things to do together, but also more menial tasks that are part of having a business.

My office is a bit tight and I was in dire need of a comfy desk for my temporary assistant. It could not be too big. It could not be too expensive. It had to be hip. Found it! This weekend, I am going to West Elm to get this lovely mango wood bistro table:

West Elm Turned Pedestal Bistro Table

I can’t wait to set it up. Now all I need is a nice chair to pair it with.

Something like the Hans Wegner Wishbone chair could be a nice contrast, but, yikes, it’s pricey :

Hans Wegner Wishbone chair at Room and Board

Or maybe a simple modern Windsor chair such as :

Modern Windsor Chair by West Elm

Mmmh, this one by Pottery Barn is fun! but is is it comfortable? :

Soleil Chair by Pottery Barn

This Louis XV inspired design would be perfect, if only I did not need to fly to France to purchase it :

I will keep you posted! Choices abound! The most important is that the intern feel welcome and that we get down to business! Because this design firm is busy and ready to share the magical, exciting, exhausting world of interior design!

Bon weekend!

Death, Life Goes On, and Musée D’Orsay

You may be wondering where this blogger was…

Earlier this month I left Boston for an unexpected trip to France. Or, rather, I should say this was an expected trip with no pre-determined date…My father in-law, ailing with cancer, passed away. I adored him. The circumstances of his death were such (a year after his wife)  that the whole family left for Paris on Passover/Easter weekend. The boys, my husband and I simply had to say goodbye. Goodbye to an era,  to a wonderful and joyous man-the family rock-, goodbye to a beloved home, a source of happy memories for our boys and family. How many BD or “bandes dessinées” (Graphic Novels are an institution in France) were read in the attic, nibbling on crunchy “cornets à la pistache” (pistachio ice cream cones), sprawled out on the floor? How many times did we sit out on the bench in the yard to enjoy the magnolias, the collection of roses, the lilacs, the lovingly cared for garden of this retired couple?

The house was like an empty seashell. No one to greet us, no more smells of delicious meals being prepared in the French kitchen, no laughter, no naps with les “mots croisés” (crossword puzzles) seated next to grandpa and grandma. We went through the motions, buried our beloved, met with family, and tried to drink in the home one last time. My teenage son took detailed photographs of every possible angle of the house, from the views from the windows, to the cherished furniture to moss growing on the stone steps.

Outside the family home. Photo Julien Herpers.
View from inside the family home, upstairs window. Paris Suburbs. Photo Julien Herpers.

We had one uplifting goal: After the funeral, we would all go to Paris spend the day.      We had a fabulous day! Nothing like Paris to uplift the spirits. Such beauty!

Entrance hall of the Musée d’Orsay. Check out the light fixture! Photo Julien Herpers.
Another view of Entrance hall of the Musée d’Orsay. Photo Julien Herpers.
Stunning view inside the Musée d’Orsay. 2012. Photo Julien Herpers.

As I take you along this tour of the museum, note the gorgeous and gigantic “horloges” (clocks). Of course trains needed to be on time, and horloges such as these gigantic ones helped travelers but also Parisians check the time.

On the Musée d’Orsay website, one can find this bit of history: In the centre of Paris on the banks of the Seine, opposite the Tuileries Gardens, the museum was installed in the former Orsay railway station, built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. So the building itself could be seen as the first “work of art” in the Musee d’Orsay, which displays collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914.

© Musée D’Orsay Gare D’Orsay as it was in the early 20th century.

 

Stunning architectural details inside the Musée d’Orsay. Photo Julien Herpers.

We were not allowed to take photographs of the art, but it is well worth a detour next time you visit Paris.

Upstairs, there is a gallery with a gigantic clock offering breathtaking views of Paris:

Inside and through l’horloge géante at the Musée d’Orsay. The musée has views of the Seine River. Photo Julien Herpers.
Another view from the clock of Musée D’Orsay. Photo Julien Herpers. Note the tourists at bottom of photo, allows you to see the proportions of this “clock-window”.
View from a large glass pane at left of “clock-window”, from the 5th floor of the Musée d’Orsay. Photo Julien Herpers.

And now, for the grand finale! We were able to go eat at the Café Campana, a superb contemporary space created by the Campana Brothers, a Brazilian Designing duo, to replace the Café de l’Horloge, which was originally in the space.

Imagine an esoteric, whimsical design, with gigantic bell shaped golden light fixtures hanging from the ceiling, strange, curly red metal partitions, another massive “clock-window”, upright sea blue metallic sheets acting as walls here and there, unusually shaped chairs and simply delicious patisseries:

Café Campana designed by the Campana brothers, 5th level, Musée d’Orsay. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch.
Café Campana at the Musée d’Orsay. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch.
Café Campana at the Musée d’Orsay. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch.

I could not stop raving about the designs! Such whimsy brought smiles to our faces and were the perfect antidote to our mournful spirits.

The author enjoying an amazing Café Liégeois at Café Campana at the Musée d’Orsay.
Is this even possible????Giant Pistachio éclairs on curly gold trays in the Café Campana. Muséed’Orsay. Photo Julien Herpers. (a bit blurry but hard to focus as the line of tourists behind us was pressing for their turn to sit and indulge in these fantasy-turned- reality éclairs!)
Chair design at Café Campana at the Musée d’Orsay. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch.
Another view of bell shaped pendants. Musée d’Orsay. photo Barbara Elza Hirsch.

 

Detail of light pendant at the Café Campana, Musée d’Orsay. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch.

Au Revoir, Paris!

 

Station de métro Solférino. Paris. Photo Julien Herpers.

 

Boy, Oh Boy, New Interior Design Photos Are In!

Last post, I discussed the process of working with a designer. But how does a designer showcase his/her work once a project is completed?

Interior Designers depend on good photographs to be able to show their hard work. We could not work without qualified and talented photographers. They are the window to our work! I personally tried to take my own interior design photos years ago when I started in this field, but I had to give up. My photos were frankly ugly and dark. They did NOT do me a service :-)

One of the most exhausting and rewarding part of our profession is getting those photos made. I say exhausting because photo sessions require a lot of work, involving staging the photos. One has to make sure no lampshade is crooked and no kleenex box has been forgotten on the window sill. Fabric on upholstery and pillows needs to look plumped up and not crumpled. The space has to  feel inviting and not too busy.

Last week was one of those weeks. After months and months of fine-tuning two rooms, making sure the client and designer were satisfied with the end result of the designs, I was ready to come in and shoot with my photographer, Boston based Dan Watkins.

On a sunny and unusually warm March day, we met on site to get started. I brought in props (flowers, vase, trays, throws, etc) and started prepping the rooms while Dan tested them for light. It is not unusual for use to move furniture around: dog beds and extraneous items need to be temporarily removed. Dan takes multiple shots with shades and curtains opened and closed so to photoshop the rooms later and edit sun spots, shading, light, window views.

Paying attention to so many little details is very trying. I get very tired and can’t wait to be done after 3 hours of constant vigilance. We wrap up and go for coffee. A week or so later, we agree on the right shot selections to edit. I am always overjoyed to see the results! All that hard work payed off!

Below are a few selections:

Media Room designed by Elza B. Design and photographed by Dan Watkins.

 

Media Room-Back detail of Wing Chair. Design by Elza B. Design, photo by Dan Watkins.

And another space:

Sitting Room designed by Elza B. Design and photographed by Dan Watkins.
Sitting Room designed by Elza B. Design and photographed by Dan Watkins.

 

For more photographs, make sure to visit our website at www.elzabdesign.com

Thanks for visiting, hope you enjoyed :-)

 

Design 101: Working with an Interior Designer

How does the process of designing a room work, you ask? How does it all start?  Let me show you how it works.

1-The First meeting is key

I will have my prospective client do homework to prepare for an initial meeting. This allows me to better grasp the client’s needs and style. Even if you can’t put your style into words, I can put it together for you from examining your photo selections and asking precise questions! Everyone has a style: it’s just a matter of having someone help you express it. For this, I have my clients clip images from Design magazines or select some of my pins on Pinterest. On Pinterest, I have filed over 1400 images to use for inspiration, keep track of projects, sort colors, fabrics, and beautiful interior design images. Prospective clients can create a board of interiors they like and present them to me at our meeting.

So a more traditional client drawn to earthy, warm tones may select something like this:

Via Pinterest. Designer unknown.

 This inviting warm color infused space was found on Pinterest. Designer unknown.

Somebody who likes a more elegant/glamour look may be drawn to this:

Suzanne Kasler ELLE DECOR

This refined interior was created by designer Suzanne Kasler. Via Elle Decor.

While a photo of a more masculine, relaxed and eclectic interior will draw others in:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/250372060504067613/

Designer unknown. Via Pinterest.

A selection of a dozen or so photos by the prospective client are essential and tell me so much! I also like to look at images of things they don’t like, as those tell me a lot as well!

I will also present prospective clients with a questionnaire before we meet. Questions I ask include:

What will the rooms be used for?

Do you have any family heirloom or special item, such as a rug or painting you want me to showcase in this space?

What colors are you drawn to?

Have you worked with a designer before?

What is your budget?

After the meeting, I go to the drawing board and present clients with a follow up letter explaining the next steps as well as a contract.

2-After the contract is signed, we can get down to business!

-Measurements, photos are taken on site. These take a while, as we look at placement of outlets, vents, space around and under windows, etc. All of these will allow for information on where to position lamps, height of furniture, space in recessed areas, etc.   I will take photographs and measurements of all the pieces that are to remain as well (such as a treasured rug, painting, chair…) so to incorporate them in my plans.

-A few CAD drawings are prepared to offer different furniture placement options:

-Some sketches may be presented:

And of course, color schemes! Usually 2 or 3 selections. In this scenario, the client wanted me to work with three existing cherry red walls and two existing white roman shades. I created with the contractor a shelving system all around the bed. An  incorporated platform was designed with hidden drawers under the mattress, as well as two night stands and lighting above the headboard. The goal was to create something a bit eclectic and contemporary. The colors and fabrics we ended up selecting were reds, blacks, greys and whites. A few examples of fabrics used for this room:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After hours and hours of research for all elements, meetings, scouting the best fabric, lighting and furniture matches, more measurements, coordinating and waiting for all the items to be fabricated, I came up with a design that worked very nicely for my clients.

3-Grand Finale

This is the Before Picture:

Voilà, hope you enjoyed my friends! See you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

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!