About elzabdesign

Barbara Elza Hirsch is an Interior Designer based in the Boston, MA area. French is her mother tongue and she tries to visit her home country every once in a while. Barbara believes in eclectic design: variety in texture, colors styles and eras make for design with a bang! In no particular order, she loves design of all sorts, has wonderful 2 boys, enjoys visiting museums, painting, gardening madly when the weather allows it, cooking a tarte Tatin for her friends and family, running after her cat to get him to sit still for a brushing, twittering and moodboarding and just curling up with a book.

Designer Insights-Interview with Elza B. Design, Inc

I was recently asked to answer some questions for a DESIGNER INSIGHTS interview by a  firm called Terry’s Blinds in the UK. They appear to be a company similar to Smith and Noble here in the USA. Tudor, their social media person got in touch with me and asked if I would participate.

I love that a window treatment company is so in love with design that it motivates them to go the extra mile on their blog and create a design interview concept that brings to the wider public the behind the scenes of interior designers and other design creators (landscape, architecture, etc).

Designer Insights

Tudor is actually taking the time to interview dozens of designers to find out what inspires them. What a fun idea! It’s also a great tool for a young adult wondering if this is the field they want to enter. In Designer Insights, designer wannabees can find out what creators have inspired designers, how they got to this place and what they recommend.

Here’s my interview (click anywhere on article to see expanded view):

Designer-Insights-Barbara-Hirsch-Preview

I thought I’d turn tables on Tudor and let him answer a few questions!

Tudor Davies of Terry’s Blinds

1) What is your role at TerrysBlinds?

TD: I work on the online marketing of the website, specifically this means making connections on Twitter and developing new and unique content ideas, such as the “Designer Insights”. I try to come up with features like this and get people interested in them and involved. It’s amazing to take an idea from the drawing board and test it in the real world to see whether industry professionals like it. 
 
2) Is Terrys Blinds the equivalent of a company like Smith and Noble in the USA? Tell me more about the firm.
 
TD: I suppose we are. I’ve just looked at the website and we seem quite similar. The only difference being that they sell curtains as well. 
The company is relatively new, and we only really starting trading January of this year. However our sister company (Terry’s Fabrics) has been trading for 40 years. Since January we have been growing the company by improving website visibility and increasing awareness on social media. We have done some amazing things on Twitter and connected with some amazing contacts, such as yourself. We have launched “Designer Insights”, an astounding interior designer interview feature. All of this has increased brand awareness and helped to establish the company as a brand. We have a lot more to do but the progress in the last 8 months has been amazing.
 
3) Why and when did you decide to create Designer Insights?
 
TD: I came up with the idea back in February 2014, after carrying out a similar idea asking 15 designers their golden rules of interior design. I really liked that idea and was surprised at how many people wanted to get involved. After it was over I realised I could refine the idea, by making the final feature more personal to each designer and something that they would love to share online. I wanted to make a feature that was of value to the designer being interviewed and that looked like a high quality magazine feature.
 
4) What is your wish with this project (such a cool project by the way)?
 
TD: At the moment we have interviewed over 100 interior designers (about 130 so far), so I just want to build upon this and get more designers involved. Our next target is 250 and from there who knows? Getting requests to be featured is also a goal, as at the minute I invite people to take part. We have had a few inbound inquires but I just want to make the feature more popular to get even more.
 
5) What have you learned about doing this project?
 
TD: That you can create an amazing piece of valuable content that speaks to an individual person. Most content marketing involves sharing content with hundreds of people at a time, which has limited results. Whereas my approach is a one-to-one approach, it is much more rewarding for both parties, giving us both something of value. It also allows me to get to know designers on a personal level, to learn something about them that no one else knows. It’s very rewarding.
 
7) Were there any surprises? 
 
TD: I suppose the biggest surprise was how well the “Designer Insights” feature has taken off. When I started I never imagined I would get to interview over 100 designers. The first interview I carried out was a complete experiment, after that people just kept saying “yes” and wanting to take part. It was quite flattering and rewarding really.

Thanks to Tudor for allowing me to interview him and for the lovely interview feature on their site! I enjoyed doing this tremendously!

 

 

 

Kitchen Design Planning : Reporting back from JENN-AIR

This summer I had the amazing opportunity of being invited by the JENN-AIR brand at the gorgeous World of Whirpool Corporation in Chicago. Other design specialists and myself were flown out to the windy city and treated to an intensive training forum on state of the art kitchen technologies. Chicago Airport | Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch   I was mesmerized by the psychedelic lights in the Chicago airport corridors! Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch

Whirpool clearly knows how to treat their guests. They have their own chef on site and employees get to eat gourmet meals every day..Sigh. Delicious lunch on the rooftop terrace at Whirpool Headquarters | photo Barbara Elza Hirsch 2014-07-08 19.55.52 All dishes prepared by Whirpool Chicago’s Corporation chefs | Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch

It was a good thing the food was nutritious as there was a lot to learn about in a short visit. Here’s what I learned. JENN-AIR was founded in 1947 and is the inventor of down draft technology, a form of ventilation on the cooktop. They are also the first brand to have offered convection ovens in the USA. After going through a dark phase, it was aquired by Whirpool in 2006. Relaunched in 2009 as a luxury brand, JENN-AIR is considered a step above the Kitchen Aid, Maytag and Whirpool brands. Whirpool did some strategic thinking to figure out hoe to define and place each of their brands so as not to compete with each other. It was great fun to walk through the Whirpool training center and showrooms and see Maytag washing machines, Whirpool fridges or Kitchen Aid mixers. 1919 Kitchen Aid Mixer | photo Barbara Elza Hirsch The first Kitchen Aid mixer (1919) came attached with this cabinet and was wheeled by saleswomen door to door! Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch

JENN-AIR now offers a full suite of beautiful streamlined appliances. General Manager Steve Brown-an architect by trade-brings to the designs European flair and a great sense of clean and appealing design. Kitchen Design Considerations: Ellen Cheever of Ellen Cheever & Associates was a tremendous speaker and source of knowledge. I’d like to share some tips she shared which are essential in today’s kitchen design. -Kitchen planning standards have changed. Start with selecting appliances before you select cabinets. It helps with issues such as clearance rules or installation differences which one wants to be prepared for before specifying cabinetry. -As much as possible, try to select a suite of appliances so to offer clients a cohesive design look. -Two sinks is ideal but if there is not enough room, try to specify a multi-configuration sink. -As much as possible, try to invest in a small under counter ice machine. It makes the best clean ice, at an ideal temperature. -The height of appliances is extremely important. Design with your client in mind. -People are interested in new technologies such as an integrated coffee machine, a steam oven, induction ovens, etc.

Below are a few features on some of the newer technologies I saw in action and was most impressed with:

Induction cooktops have made tremendous progress. In the 80’s and 90’s induction burners used to steal power from each other. Modern induction burners offer a very responsive source of heat and offer the advantage of doubling up as an extra work surface. Today’s induction cooktops are 90% efficient compared to electric (60%) or gas (40 to 50%). Jenn-Air Induction Cooktop, 36" JIC4536XS JENN-AIR offers an induction cooktop that has a sensor boil option: it boils the water automatically for you and lets you know with a beeping sound when it is ready. The induction cooktop has elements below the burner surface that send electromagnetic forces to heat conducive pots. This allows for a safe cooking surface, as human hands being non-heat conducive, they cannot burn. Middle burners are today’s prime piece of real estate on any cooktop. It’s where the strongest heat source is located. JENN-AIR offers an exclusive 5000 wattage (36000 btu) middle burner.

Another fascinating technology was ventilation:  This Jenn-Air® luxury telescoping downdraft ventilation offers minimal design and powerful performance right at the cooking surface. The sleek telescoping downdraft vent appears at the touch of a button, and elegantly retracts back into the countertop when not in use. An unexpected refinement in ventilation, each Accolade™ Downdraft Ventilation System is individually crafted and hand-polished. Its graceful movement is matched by its singular performance: It powerfully, quietly, beautifully clears the air, then disappears on command. It’s truly at the forefront of design and performance. JENN-AIR has beautiful ceiling ventilation such as this beauty (offering high clearance, ideal for taller individuals): JENN-AIR ventilation | photo Barbara Elza Hirsch  The average home kitchen releases 1 to 5 gallons of grease per year, hence the importance of ventilation! One should never underestimate the importance of adequate ventilation. Ideally, a ventilation system should be 6 inches wider than your cooktop. it is ok to have it the same width, but some states have different code regulations regarding this matter.

I was pleased to hear downdraft vents (vent is on the cooktop and vents downwards) have much improved over the last few years.

Steam Oven cooking grabbed my attention and I sure wish my kitchen had room for this 24 inch Steam/Convection oven: Jenn-Air 24-Inch Steam and Convection Wall Oven JBS7524BS This versatile wall oven uses steam to preserve nutrients in vegetables and tenderness in meats, and convection for evenly-baked pastries and roasts. One can use steam and convection together for food that’s tender inside and roasted or crisped outside.

The steam/convection oven offers 11 preset food categories in its steam options, 89 presets in all! These can be used manually or automatically. It operates with a water reservoir that needs to be refilled (but never mid cooking). With steam cooking,  there is 0% odor transfer between foods being cooked. This means you can easily cook salmon, baked beans and dessert all in one!

The eco-focused Whirpool facility we trained in was built at this Chicago historic landmark building using locally-sourced construction materials; materials made from recycled, renewable and/or recyclable content; low-flow plumbing fixtures; and low VOC coatings. Even the construction waste was carefully recycled throughout the project. The location uses extensive day lighting, and includes a large outdoor space with an herb garden providing fresh ingredients for cooking demonstrations and events. Housed in Chicago’s Reid Murdoch Center, it offers a fantastic clock tower with offices inside the tower: Inside the Whirpool Tower, chicago | Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch

Views from the tower were amazing:

Chicago | photo Barbara Elza Hirsch  | photo Barbara Elza Hirsch The outdoor terrace of the Whirpool Facility as seen from the tower.

A really cool brick detail of the inside of the renovated tower:

Inside Whirpool Clock Tower | photo Barbara Elza Hirsch

I’d like to share a final fantastic new JENN-AIR product called the obsidian refrigerator:

Obsidian fridge

 The Obsidian Refrigerator by JENN-AIR: The duel evaporator system creates two distinct and independent climates for enhanced food preservation. Offering LED lighting throughout the interior, the Obsidian minimizes shadows and reflects against the black interior to dramatically display ingredients. Saw it in person: as cool as it sounds!

Technologies are constantly evolving and it is so helpful for us to see what is out there. I truly enjoyed my time in Chicago, the kind hospitality of Whirpool and JENN-AIR. I came back with a better understanding of what one needs to consider in today’s kitchen designs.

Demystification of a Design Collaboration

Today I’m sharing a behind the scenes of the designer/client collaboration.

Soooo, how does working with us REALLY work?

1/Good designers are not out to exploit you. They care. They have a strong work ethic and they work very hard.

2/Hiring a designer requires a budget, you can’t hope for a total redesign and not spend more than $1,000 on designer fees for your living room. That is, simply put, unrealistic. Imagine how many hours it takes you to select one wall color when you go to the paint store! Now multiply that task by 50. Imagine selecting furniture, lighting, rug, at, accessories, wall color, tile, flooring options for a project. Add to that the hours spent meeting on site with you and or the builders, the preparation of powerpoints and budgets, the travel time and the custom selections of fabrics and design of bespoke items, communication with vendors, orchestrating deliveries, creating designs and drawings. Designers easily reach 30 hours on a room design depending on the scope of the project.

Inspiration Board by Elza B. design, Inc.Inspiration board section detail by Elza B. Design, Inc. This board helps the client and designer make sure the client is on board with the vision for the project. Each board takes several hours to research and put together.

3/A good designer will be super organized, prepare a contract, and take time to go through important steps of preparation. Tip: Never work without a contract.

Contract-Elza B. Design, inc..Extract of a contract from Elza B. Design, Inc.

4/Preparation: Designers need to build the backbone of the design project before you can even start designing. CAD drawings, vision plan, color schemes, measurements, photos.

Example of an Elza B. Design Package.Example of the type of work we prepare at Elza B. Design, Inc  before even starting any research or purchasing for our clients. This can take 15 to 20 hours prep work.

5/Trust: Once you select a designer (and we recommend you do your research), please trust they know their craft.

6/Hire someone with excellent client satisfaction reviews, a great portfolio, strong communication and organizational skills. This person should be someone you can relate to and trust to listen well : after all, they are helping you create a space YOU will love.

Designer's Office board for a Project. Elza B. design, inc.Back in the office, each client has a board with all the items, colors, fabrics, info on hand. Elza B. Design, inc.

8/It may seem scary to entrust us with your home or space, but we will do everything we can to make you happy with the outcome. We wear multiple hats, including overseeing shipping and custom fabrication : we are problem solvers and our goal is to deliver.

Elza B. Design Sketch for Custom Pillows.Sketches by Elza B. Design, inc.Custom sketches like these are prepared to communicate with you and the specialists who work with us to ensure a seamless production and installation. Elza B. Design, Inc sketches.

9/Yes, there can be issues but we will solve them! Like when the fabric comes in from the mill at the workroom and it’s defective. We’ll take care of returning it. Or when that glass lamp shade arrives broken. We’ll organize the exchange.

Elza B. Design, Inc | Chez ElzaExample of resolutions we take care of at Elza B. Design, Inc.

10/If you can trust us, great things will happen, and both parties will enjoy the collaboration. If you hold back, and begin to see us as the enemy, a good partnership cannot flourish. Please express your concerns. But please trust you have hired a professional who will steer you in the right direction.

11/Collaboration is KEY. A good designer will want to communicate. He or She will love it if you can say “I don’t like that because…” “I really like that color but I would prefer…” Your constructive input is needed and appreciated.

12/Please let us know when you are happy. Do send photos of the space to share your excitement when the sofa has been delivered or when the kids are happily enjoying the new family room! We love it when clients share the joy! Makes our day!

13/Budget? Why are we asking about your budget before the contract is signed? It’s very important for a designer to know beforehand if the budget is realistic. Our goal is to meet the client’s wishes: if we know what the budget is, we will know if we are a good fit for you, what solutions to come up with and which stores to shop.

14/Do designers work on weekends? Would you ask your electrician to come during the weekend? Probably not unless it was an absolute emergency. Designers take weekends off like everyone else. I will occasionally do a weekend visit but there is an extra fee for that.

Elza B. Design Board of Design Elements put Together.Here is an example of how all can be decided prior to any purchase. We are able to show clients what they are buying with the help of new technologies. Board by Elza B. Design, Inc.

15/The big reveal? If you want a custom designed space, please don’t have unrealistic expectations. We simply cannot deliver awhole room redesign  in three weeks when a simple sofa takes up to 12 weeks in production! Expect the project to last months. If you want a big reveal, we can have our receiving warehouse inspect and hold all the items, and then deliver and install all the same day with our assistance. There is an extra fee for that, but some clients say it’s worth it!

16/”I want an IKEA priced sofa!” Imagine a dish (we’ll call it A) made with fresh herbs, fresh mushrooms and a homemade tomato sauce. Now imagine the same dish (we’ll call it B) made with dried herbs, canned mushrooms and a jar of inexpensive store bought tomato sauce. Dish A make look as good as dish B, but A is going to be tastier and pricier if you order it at a restaurant than dish B. It goes the same way for furniture. It may look good but the craftsmanship and quality of components is what you pay for. IKEA is a great place to start when you’re out of college or on a budget, but you will find the quality is not as high. Designers know all about quality and where to get it. Ask us. We’re happy and proud to explain how the items are made.

I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes and found it educational!

A bientôt!

 

 

 

 

Hotel Gritti Palace Renovation (Swoon!)

I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Chuck Chewning speak at the Boston Design Center about the complex renovation he supervised for the Gritti Palace.

Santa_Maria_del_Giglio_Square_EntranceThe Gritti Palace Entrance. Photo courtesy the hotel’s website.

Photo Courtesy Gritti Palace Website.Hotel Gritti Palace Entrance looking towards the canal. Photo courtesy Gritti Palace.

Chewning is a highly talented interior designer from Georgia who majored in Historic Preservation of Architecture and Interior Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He is the current creative director of Donghia and director of design at Studio Rubelli. Chewning offered an intelligent, beautifully articulated presentation (and I loved how accessible and down to earth he was) on an enormously complicated renovation of one of the most famous buildings of Venice. US based Save Venice Inc. helped fund the project and the renovation was launched shortly after the palace closed its doors in 2011, after having been flooded no less than 24 times in 2010!

Chuck Chewning. Photo courtesy Donghia.

Chuck Chewning. Photo courtesy Donghia.

The glamorous 16th Century Palace was in dire need of help. Chewning and his team dug 8 feet under the foundation to create concrete basins to capture the water excess and counterweight the foundation. Local artisans were brought in to create historically accurate terrazzo flooring. Marble waiscotting was used on the lower levels to conceal the concrete foundation. The original 91 rooms were reconfigured into 82 grander rooms offering proper bathrooms with modern amenities.

Once the building was structully habitable, the designer sifted through all the original furniture and realized only 50% of the original pieces were salvageable! Chewning and his team drew sketches in order to create replicas. Months were spent collecting art and accessories around Europe.

My favorite part about the building is that Chewning named the bedrooms in honor of past famous lodgers and worked tirelessly to re-create a bedroom they would have loved. My two favorites are the Peggy Guggenheim Bedroom Suite and the Somerset Maugham Suite.

Photo courtesy The Gritti Palace.The Peggy Guggenheim Bedroom Suite, named after the famous art collector and her epynomous museum across the Grand Canal. Beautiful 1930’s inspired furniture adorn the space, and the eclectic and highly original details (the cornices!) make for a stunning space. Photo courtesy Gritti Palace.

Photo courtesy Gritti Palace.The Peggy Guggenheim Bedroom Suite. Photo courtesy Gritti Palace.

Photo courtesy Gritti Palace.Bathroom in The Peggy Guggenheim Suite. Photo courtesy Gritti Palace.

Photo courtesy Gritti Palace.English novelist and playwright Somerset Maugham’s Suite. The 81-square-meter suite is adorned in luxurious 18th century inspired fabrics and antique furnishings, interesting curiosity objects and offers a scattering of the author’s novels. Photo courtesy Gritti Palace.

Photo courtesy Gritti Palace.The Punta della Dogana Patron Suite. Stucco and Murano glass fans, you are authorized to drool!

Another wonderful part of the renovation was the Redentore Terrace Suite with its private 250 square-meter terrace:

TheRedentoreSuiteTerrace2Gritti Palace Epicurian School. Photo courtesy Gritti Palace.The Gritti has its own Epicurian School where up to 12 students can learn the art of fine cuisine and then sit down to enjoy their hard work!

The Palace opened its doors in 2013 to great acclaim and Chewning is happy to share there have been no floods since the renovations!

A masterpiece!

 All photos of the hotel courtesy www.thegrittipalace.com

Clark Gallery Offers Engaging Art in Boston Suburbs

I recently had the pleasure of discovering an interesting art gallery in Lincoln, MA, The Clark Gallery owned by Dana Salvo and Dawn Southworth (both established artists). Nestled near the railroad tracks in a quaint New England small town, this gallery showcases unique and contemporary art works. A well established gallery (1976), that partners with 1st Dibs and Artsy, Clark regularly renews its exhibits and represents a wide selection of contemporary artists.

I recently dropped in as I was scouting a piece of art for a client, and was wowed by Clark Derbes‘ sculpture work. A self taught sculptor, Derbes (born 1978 in New Orleans, now based in Vermont) recycles weathered wood and creates enigmatic illusions with his colorful and geometrically patterned sculptures. I love how the linear patterns react on the weathered and highly sanded wood shapes : imperfectly perfect! Derbes’ work has a modern folk art vibe, and his highly contemporary pieces would look great on a wall, shelf or a pedestal…

 

Clark Derbes sculpure | photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Clark Derbes Sculpture | Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch for Chez Elza

Clark Derbes Sculpture | Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch for Chez ElzaClark Derbes Sculpture | Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch for Chez ElzaClark Derbes Sculpture | Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch for Chez Elza Clark Derbes Sculpture | Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch for Chez Elza Clark Derbes Sculpture | Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch for Chez ElzaAll photos of Clark Derbes’s works by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Another artist on exhibit is actually also one of the gallery owners, Dawn Southworth. Her mixed media works is arresting : composing a multi- layered and finely executed body of work, Dawn is constantly tapping into embroidery, sculpture, drawing, writing, painting, cutting (even burning!) as she works. It’s as if she can’t get enough of any one media, and deliciously indulges herself in as much as she can along the road of the creative process!

Dawn Southworth | Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch for Chez Elza Dawn Southworth | Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch for Chez ElzaDawn Southworth | Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch for Chez Elza Dawn Southworth | Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch for Chez Elza Dawn Southworth | Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch for Chez Elza Dawn Southworth | Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch for Chez ElzaAll photos of Dawn Southworth’s works by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Looking at art will invigorate your mind, take a break and make sure to check these out, fellow Boston area residents!

 

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!

 

 

 

All About Houzz : The HOUSE Go-To Site

Houzz.com, also known as Houzz : you’ve probably heard about this website by now. But WHAT is it?? And why do I like it?

The “Hou” in Houzz is pronounced “How.” Houzz is a combination of the words “House” and “Buzz”.

Houzz is “the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to get the design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews they need to help turn ideas into reality” (Houzz)

Houzz-info-2Infographic from Houzz.com

Houzz-Info-1Infographic from Houzz.com

Clients have been finding me on Houzz for a few years and as a designer, I find it to be a fabulous platform. Professionals who are in the home improvement industry can benefit from a beautiful platform to showcase their work and reviews about their work.

Houzz-My profileAnother exciting aspect of Houzz has been the opportunity I’ve had to contribute articles for which I curate products I want to share with readers. My instructions are to always scout for new products, and try to write about them from an interesting angle. I tend to be bit tight with deadlines, which is actually really good for me as I tend to write better under pressure! Writing in the present also allows me to be very spontaneous, like when I selected items to pepper a mudroom and got to vent about New England’s lovely winter weather:

Houzz-Guest PicksHouzz’s very friendly interface was dubbed “Facebook for Interiors” by  Apartment Therapy in a 2009 article. Time magazine wrote in 2012 :Houzz is “a photo-driven site that’s become the poster-child of the post-recession renovation frenzy”.

The platform (which is also available as an APP for your smart phone or I-Pad) allows anyone to sift through articles on specific home improvement questions, search for inspiration or simply shop for home products.

Homeowners can also create ideabooks where they can file images of designs or products they like. A lot of my clients have worked with me this way when I first start the collaboration. If they are doing a bathroom remodel for instance, they can save images of bathrooms, tile, lighting they really like and send me the whole ideabook for me to review!

Houzz-Ideabook exampleAn example of a Houzz ideabook (I used one of mine to respect my client’s privacy). Note you can put your own comments under images. Pretty cool, no?

Consider Houzz.com as a source next time you’re looking for a home improvement specialist, need to research an article on a specific topic or just want to pop in and read my articles ! Do say “Hi” if you  do :-)

 

My Mother: An Inspiration

My mother is someone very special in my life: a strong and creative woman, a nurturing figure, a source of inspiration and laughter.

My mother and IMy mother and I

These past few months have been difficult for me on a personal level. Raising a son who has special needs can be exhausting, and I can thank my mother for being there for me as my husband and I battle the system to help our son reach his full potential and be happy. Some of you may wonder why I have not blogged as much: I have been focusing on my youngest son and my design business. I put the blog on the backburner…

As long as I can remember, I lived in a creative home. In fact, I learned to sew and draw at a very young age, modeling after my mother’s creative energy. I remember falling asleep to the sound of the sharp blade of a pair of sewing scissors, gliding along confidently on the hardwood floor, as my mom cut large slabs of fabric pinned to patterns to make dresses for us (at midnight!).

Fabric was a soothing and happy word in my household.

As a little girl, I saw my mother become a Montessori student and then a teacher. I would go to her classroom to help on my days off school, and hold the colorful beads, cherishing the colors and shapes. I would position the pink tower blocks carefully one above the other or arrange the little trays with the small pitcher and cup on their shelves.

Our house accumulated oriental rugs my parents shopped for; I remember we could spend a whole weekend driving around the country searching for the perfect antique corner cupboard. My mother would take an antique quilt and repurpose it as a curtain between two rooms, or she would make a patch work art piece for my younger sister’s bedroom, using scraps of fabric.

Color, texture, beauty, in infinite details of objects or in a carefully cared for garden, continue to inspire my mother to this day:

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaMy mother’s collection of antique chess pieces. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaMy mother’s assortiment of little boxes and “chinoiseiries”. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza Books and picture in my mother’s living room and below, her wingchair- Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

GH-wingchair

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaMy mother’s glass menagerie Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaHer silver cups…

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaA fun vignette, I love the stool with the embroidered seat under the English table…Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaMy mother has style everywhere, including in her garden! Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaDid I mention she is a painter nowadays? Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAnd to top things off, my mother takes me to strange and totally cool stores when I visit, like this escapade we made to Vermont, just to check out this quirky shop, The Owl’s Nest. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

 I’d say my passion for interior design and the creative process was inspired, day in and day out, by my mother.

Interior Design, after all, is about the loving juxtaposition of items, gathered together to create beauty and comfort.

 

Friday Yellow or the Fight Against Gloom

January GLOOM is upon us. When sunshine goes in hiding, do not despair. I recommend fighting it with lots of golds and yellows.

Fight the gloom…Photo courtesy wearcolor.tumblr.com

Lorenzo_Castillo_Hola

An elegant and classic walk-in closet dressed up with a bang, bathed in pure yellow light, infused in old world style. Lorenzo Castillo.

Downton Abby‘s Dining Area. Gloriously sunny and at its best in the morning light.

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A stunning gold splashed staircase via Architectural Digest.

Yes, please!!! My mood is already perking up. Sofa designed by Arne Jacobsen.

A breathtaking design created by the famous designer Elsie de Wolf. Shown here: Villa Trianon

Designed by design’s Grande Dame, Elsie de Wolfe

Yellow building

I love how this yellow Madrid building pops out.

This spunky and inviting room was featured in Country Living magazine.

In the hope I have brightened your day, I bid you farewell until next time. May the force sun be with you!

Moving Away From An Ugly Bathroom-Design Project

Remember my embarrassing shower post? Well, that bathroom is no more…

I am documenting here a new bathroom I am designing in its place, an eclectic mix of more organic materials, such as slate tile and weathered wood, with elegant yet low key details.

Before Picture-Master Project | Chez Elza

Before Picture of The Farm House Project Master Bathroom, Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

FarmHouse Bathroom Project | Chez ElzaInsulation has been blown in, sub-floor installed and copper pan is ready to receive the shower. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Floor tile is down, walls are up! | Chez ElzaFloor slate tile freshly installed, walls as well! Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

And now for the glass tile wall in the shower! | Chez ElzaThe beautiful glass tile wall goes up, but alas, the installer does not butter the backs of the tile, and the translucent nature of some of these will force us to redo the installation in a few weeks.  Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Honed Carrerra Marble | Chez ElzaBeautiful honed marble top over a custom vanity designed by Elza B. Design. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

The Brizo faucet | Chez ElzaBrizo “Baliza” Faucet, a sinuous design ideal for an older home. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Master Bathroom-Progress PicsAlmost ready! Waiting for pulls, glass shower door and redo of shower tile. Toto toilet. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

Note how I went from a one sink vanity to a double sink vanity. Even in a smaller bathroom, it’s well worth the splurge and actually makes the whole space seem bigger. I used the weathered wood mirrors to blend in with the old farm house character of the house and help tone down the fancy details.

Hope you enjoy this!