Practicing Design Instinct and Inspiration

Photography is a lot like interior decorating in regards to working or not working with color.  Design instinct and inspiration guide the creative process. Light, forms, tone and balance optimize not only the shot but the space. Forgive my simplistic explanation, but plainly put, some photos only work in color and others only work in black and white.

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Simon & Garfunkel 

Since finding a renewed popularity complements of a current political campaign, the Simon & Garfunkel 1968 single “America” is once again on my playlist.  The impact of a great hook paired with powerful lyrics mirrors the impact of classic design coupled with an impressive decorating style.

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While discovering “America” I rediscovered another Simon & Garfunkel favorite, “My Little Town.”  You may be wondering what possible connection there could be between a couple of Simon & Garfunkel songs and design and decorating.  Design instinct and inspiration, my friends. One never knows where one will find it.  I hit the streets of my little town photographing local landmarks.  Although photographed in color, a monochromatic color scheme captured aspects of the images that color failed to.

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Photo editing, enhancements and touch-ups generate a refined result. It’s the same with decorating.  Editing, enhancements and touch-ups help to achieve a polished look.  Making pretty is an exercise in trial and error, correction and confidence.  Gorgeous isn’t always achieved right out of the gate.

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Going with your first design instinct, or at the very least a tweaked variation of it, proves visually successful more times than not.  I failed to practice what I preach with this chandelier.  I was convinced a pop of designer color over my first choice of painting the fixture white would put to rest any doubt my decorating choices were in a rut or unimaginative. Fan deck after fan deck, I could not get a peace about any other color choice other than white.  The lyrics from “My Little Town” kept running through my mind.

And after it rains
There’s a rainbow
And all of the colors are black
It’s not that the colors aren’t there
It’s just imagination they lack

The pieces of the color palette puzzle finally fit when I decided to go with my first instinct.  I remembered one of my standard decorating solutions- the color white never fails to make a classic statement. The color is there, and imagination is not lacking.  I showed decorating doubt the door and practiced my own brand of design instinct and inspiration.

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House of Cards Inspired: A Haven Within A Haven

A phone call from my son earrrrrly Friday morning led off with the question asked round the streaming world, “Do you remember what March 4th is?”  For the Netflix loyal, March 4th is the highly anticipated and touted premier day of House of Cards season 4.  I haven’t decided if I will be staying in for a weekend marathon or settling in on a weeknight for some must stream TV, but Francis J. Underwood has granted full pardon unto any House of Cards fan for any important meeting, activity or appointment missed during the period from March 4, 2016 until whenever they finish Season Four.

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The opening credits featuring Washington, D.C. landmarks and the House of Cards main title theme music by Jeff Beal hits a haunting note that lingers in your mind and thoughts.  Captivating, to say the least.

House of Cards Main Title Sequence from Drew Geraci (District 7 Media) on Vimeo

Popcorn makes a delicious case for the ultimate binge watching snack. I will be popping up a batch of Rosemary and Sea Salt popcorn for streaming sustenance.

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Rosemary and Sea Salt Popcorn

Ingredients

½  cup popcorn kernels
¼  cup canola oil or grapeseed oil (or other high flashpoint oil)
1  tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon fresh minced rosemary
3  tablespoons unsalted butter
½  teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat the oil large pot over medium heat. After the oil is hot, add the popcorn kernels and the 1-tablespoon of rosemary, and then shake the pot to gently toss the kernels until they are all coated with oil. Cover with a splatter screen or a lid that is placed slightly ajar to allow the steam to escape.  Cook until the popcorn popping frequency slows to several seconds between pops. Remove from heat, allow a minute or two for any final pops, and then pour into a large bowl.  In a small saucepan combine the butter and remaining ½ teaspoon of rosemary.  Melt the butter over medium heat.  Drizzle over the popcorn and season with salt and pepper, tossing occasionally as you butter, salt, and pepper the popcorn.

~Food & Wine

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Our gift giving millennial on board with the newest and greatest gadgets son insisted we accept his gift of Roku so we could get our House of Cards on. Streaming and binge watching entire seasons of television series and series made for Netflix, HBO, Showtime and the like in an entire weekend is how several million people watch television these days.  I was a slow convert, but House of Cards, how you draw me in.

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No streaming spoilers here, but as it plays out in the House of Cards game, Frank Underwood & Co. prove the more things change the more they stay the same.  Never in a million years did I believe I would be enthralled by a fictional series.  Let’s face it: House of Cards mirrors the nonfictional times we currently find ourselves living in.  See what I mean?

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Cunning characters with a penchant for political advancement veiled in brilliant plot twists play to the camera and today’s political climate with art imitating life inside the Beltway mastery.  Makes for excellent viewing.  I’m the type of viewer who doesn’t immediately realize how much of an impression fictional and nonfictional scenes and characters are making on me. It’s the same with inspiring and impressive interior design and decorating. Impressive interior design and decorating has the same effect on me.  There are spaces that grab the eye at first glance and others with a wash over you presence that slowly and surely draw you in.

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The brilliant writing, captivating story lines and foreboding theme song make me sit up and pay attention, but it is the sleek set designs of House of Cards that impress.  Somewhere between an obligatory nod to traditional Washington, D.C. townhouse decor style and an overly emphasized attempt to marry modern to minimalist is a space found in many a home sweet home- a haven within a haven.

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For those of you who are familiar with the show I don’t need to explain. For those of you who are not familiar with the show, a quick synopsis to put you in the loop…

The married Washington, D.C. insider powerhouse couple, Francis  and Claire Underwood, come together at the smoking window (as I referred to it all weekend long). Cutting deals and stabbing backs on a daily basis is not for the faint at heart. When the proverbial house of cards begins to fall, and the weight of the Washington, D.C. world becomes heavier than usual, the cooler heads and blacker hearts of Mr. and Mrs. Underwood divide and conquer the day over a shared cigarette.  Harm to the body is trumped in favor of this downtime ritual set with Frank and Claire seated atop a radiator and a shutter framed window. An otherwise forgettable and basically unimpressive space suddenly becomes a design focal point.

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The forged alcove serves as a small space of shelter and refuge from circadian shenanigans- an in-house haven to vent away the foul of the day.  I am by no means advocating smoking, but I do suggest if you do not already have a haven within a haven space entertaining the thought of getting one. I am, however, a huge proponent of recharging one’s battery.

Grandin-Road- Rebecca-Swivel-ChairGrandin Road

A couple of years ago I won a Rebecca Swivel Chair after entering the Beautiful Black and White Pinterest Sweepstakes from House Beautiful.  This is my “in my own little corner, in my own little chair” chair.  It resides in a haven within a haven part of the house where downtime meets me time and helps me lose track of real time for a short period of time.

haven within a haven

A phone call laaaaate Friday night led off with the question asked round the streaming world, “Have you watched it yet?”   To quote Frank Underwood, “I’m only getting started.”  Dave the Builder’s man cave will pull double-duty as both screening room and a haven within a haven over the next few evenings.  Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home to stream and decompress.

Love your style!

 

Icons of Individuality

Did you know Elvis and David Bowie share the same birthday?  I find this information strangely fascinating in light of recent events.  On more than one occasion David Bowie’s musical masterpiece “Changes” has played over and over in my mind as I make ch-ch-changes to a design and decor space oddity.  Shocked and saddened by the news of David Bowie’s untimely passing, I began a session of connect the dots to the similarities and commonalities between these two icons of individuality.  There is no mistaking the contribution these larger than pop life figures made to the world of music, fashion and design.  The art of reinvention is the cornerstone of relevance, and Elvis Presley and David Bowie mastered the art form in a style all their own.

Icons of Individuality

The King’s kitsch jumpsuited his flamboyant taste to a tee, while David Bowie’s penchant for brilliantly navigating the waters of fearless originality placed his persona in a time capsule of out of this world self expression.  Individual style and taste is often influenced by the nouns of notion- the people, places and things we come into contact with that make a thunderbolt impression upon us.  Sensory experiences inspire the brushes we use to paint the canvas of our life.

David-Bowie

Elvis and David Bowie prove moxie mixed with just the right amount of nonconformity produces heroes and icons of individuality for so much more than just one day.

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Look to the “stars” for inspiration as you master the art of individual design and decorating style.

Love your style!

New Year, New Home Decor Trends 2016

A new year inspires fresh beginnings and clean slates. The Places In The Home New Year, New Home Decor Trends 2016 is complete and ready to inspire.  You will spot several carry over trends from last year’s list, perhaps question the prediction of renewed interest in decor trends of decades past, and hopefully agree with and look forward to implementing one or more of the new introductions making a big style splash into your decor.

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Decade Design

Interior design and decorating loves a good comeback story.  In the world of trends, a revival of styles in an everything old is new again manner is inevitable.   Early home decor forecasts show decade design on trend for 2016. Dynamic colors, textures and patterns of the glam 1970s and the large floral prints reminiscent of the 1980s are inspiring home decor accents and home furnishings lines.  Gold drenched metals, geometric patterns, bold floral pattern- all present and accounted for.

and now for the granddaddy of decade design …

Mid-Century Modern

Didn’t you just cover Decade Design?  Yes, but Mid-Century Modern design is a design marvel unto itself.  When it comes to mid-century modern home furnishings, Eames and Nelson set the standard and Herman Miller brings it all home and office.  Vintage period pieces and pieces in the style of  from the decade of clean lines, nontraditional materials and modern utility complement most of today’s decorating styles.  It’s a Mad Men mixed material modern world we design and decorate in.

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Tile Pattern at Play

Play with your pattern.  You’ll be amazed at the statement it can make.

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Mirrors

Discovering or rediscovering a classic home decor accent that brilliantly reflects decorating fabulousness is always on trend.  A mirror is the ultimate home decor accent master of illusion.  Spaces devoid of size, light or depth become prime candidates for the presence of a mirror or mirrors.  Mirrors cast the illusion of depth which contributes to opening up the space.  Placement is key when using a mirror to bring more light into the space.  Place, hang or prop a mirror perpendicular to windows in order for the light to saturate the space.

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Mirror, Mirror on the Kitchen Wall or Backsplash

No smoke but definitely decorating with mirrors in the kitchen is gaining trend traction.  In the pursuit of openness and light, a strategically placed mirror in a kitchen solves the issue.  Now for the part I love about using a mirror(s) in the kitchen- decorative oomph.  

mirror-backsplashPinterest

All traditional, transitional, modern, contemporary, urban, farmhouse, eclectic, coastal, antiques or vintage runs the risk of the decor style of the Jack or Jill decorista being categorized as unimaginative, dated and boring. Throw the eye a curve ball and the space a pop of personality by mixing styles.

greekmodern_3Apartment Therapy

The success of a trend is often measured by the acceptance of the designing and decorating public, ease of functionality and implementation into established decors and the decorative ability to show staying power.  A passing fad, epic fail, emerging classic or blast from the past must try- what’s your opinion of the New Year, New Home Decor Trends 2016?

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Our Home For The Holidays

Happy Holidays friends!  We are T-3 to Christmas 2015, and the joy of the season is electric by way of white Christmas lights and treasured traditions.   Welcome to our Home for the Holidays where the theme of comfort and simplicity is well represented.

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Our tour is of the dining room and the part of the foyer decked for the holidays. The dining room, a forever work in progress, has seen several design and decor changes in 2015, and will continue to see more in 2016.  The walls are devoid of artwork (the piece you see in this photo is part of the kitchen gallery wall) and the style jury is unable to reach a unanimous decision on accent rug vs. hardwood floors.  The dining room isn’t the only space getting a makeover.  My Mother’s Day gift from our son was paying for the new wallpaper I fell in love with at first sight but took several months to decide if I really had to have it. Turns out I did. Dave the Builder began the project, but real life obligations and unexpected circumstances stepped in and halted the foyer beautification project.  Patience is not only a virtue it is a necessary tool of the trade in design and decorating.

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On the Monday before Christmas, my true love gave to me.  A single Santa leopard-ing

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and a Christmas goose in the foyer displayed in front of the new zebra wallpaper sitting pretty (pronounce it prit-tee and it rhymes with tree.  Get it?  Partridge. Pear Tree).

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A  holiday table centerpiece of magnolia leaves and holly is indeed so Southern, so holiday, so easy and so beautiful.

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Bob’s Sweet Stripes as swizzle sticks and crystal finial ornaments as wine charms? You bet!

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I purchased these vintage mini framed Madonna prints for my kitchen gallery wall.

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Inspiration is everywhere.

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The subject matter is holiday appropriate, and the petite size of the framed prints sealed the DIY deal.  Napkin rings it is!

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I have collected Victorian inspired Santa Claus figurines for years.  Due to the epic move aka the gift that keeps on giving, combining two households into one and the renovation of my childhood home into our new to us home, most of my Santa collection now resides in climate controlled storage.  These inexpensive stand-in Santas have no great provenance or famous artist signature assigned to them, but I do love the colors and facial features of these old world replicas.

Santas

A picture is worth a thousand words, and this perfectly imperfect image serves as a visual reminder of my personal design and decorating philosophy.  Perfection, style and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  The life lived within a home comes alive through personal style and taste, and there is nothing more gorgeous than a home that beautifully illustrates personal style lives here.  Design and decorate it with a sense of you!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark Interiors

Dark interiors make a dramatic, commanding and intimate statement. Dark interiors are coming out of the shadows and into the trend spotlight.

Halloween-DraculaTurner Classic Movies

Although black is not the only dark color choice associated with dark interiors, it does seem to be the basis for dramatic back in black magic. Black is the new black- a perennial color classic and decorating color essential. What oomph the perfect little black dress lends to a fashionista’s wardrobe, a space dressed from floor-to-ceiling in the color black speaks to a decorista’s personal interior design and decorating style.

dark interiorsAtlanta Homes & Lifestyles 

Visual allure produces a theatrical statement.

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donna-mondi-interior-design-portfolio-interiors-stylesDonna Mondi Interior Design

Dark interiors keep beautiful company with deep accent colors rich in palette intensity, and therein lies the secret to the perfect design and decorating marriage.

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My initial thought when sourcing the Vertigo pendant by designer Constance Guisset for Petite Friture?  Haute witches hat.

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Dark interiors introduce a sophisticated warmth to the space.

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Dark interiors.  What say you?

Love your style!

Curling Up With Good Interior Decorating, Home Decor and Architecture Books

Curling up with good interior decorating, home decor and architecture books in the name of all things house that make a home is always in style. Today I am sharing a short list of a few interior decorating, home decor and architecture books I am looking forward to reading cover to cover.

Mrs.-Howard-Room-by-RoomMrs. Howard, Room by Room  by  Phoebe Howard

I love a gorgeous read with an equally attractive jacket for bookshelf, coffee table and bedside table accessorizing.  I believe that’s what they call an interior decorating win-win.

Carrier-and-CompanyCarrier and Company: Positively Chic Interiors by Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller with Foreword by Anna Wintour 

apartment-therapy-complete-and-happy-homeApartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home Hardcover by Maxwell Ryan and Janel Laban with photographs by Melanie Acevedo 

This eclectic and dynamic fall reading list promises to deliver impressive interior decorating eye candy and inspire interior and exterior creativity.

design-booksHome by Ellen Degeneres

 French Accents: Farmhouse French Style for Today’s Home by Anita Joyce

Eclectic Country by Mary Emmerling with Photographs by Reed Davis

Life|Style: Elegant Simplicity at Home by Tricia Foley with Foreword by Isabella Rossellini

It’s never too early to think about the holidays!

Country-Living-Christmas-JoysCountry Living Christmas Joys: Decorating * Crafts * Recipes  by Country Living – 

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The Decorating Way, Way Back: Decorating With What You Love

Lost, destroyed, misplaced. These are not the words we want associated with the photos of our lives.  A couple of weeks ago I received an email from my have camera, will photograph uncle with these blast from the past photos attached. Tears rolled down my cheeks for the memories and thankfulness to have these back in my life as we know it photo file once again, grainy finish and all. I have titled this blog post the decorating way, way back.  For the hip and happening hashtag crowd, let’s go with #WaybackWednesday on this #ThrowbackThursday eve.

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These photos were taken at our old house. Originally we purchased this house as an investment property, but it made financial and logistical sense (and cents) to just move into the property while we were in all out renovation mode with our present home.   On this particular afternoon in early 2000 when these photos were taken, family and close friends gathered back at our home after the funeral of my maternal grandmother.  My grandmother, a self-made woman and antiques dealer extraordinaire, taught me the world of antiques.  I see her everyday when I glance at the many items given to us by her and proudly displayed throughout our home.  Dave the Builder and I have always been big on including family mementos into our decor.  Decorating with what you love makes a house your home.

Bob-Dylan-quoteThe decorative anchors of the fireplace mantel consist of two of my most treasured treasures.

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The vintage rose bowl was an anniversary gift from Dave the Builder.  I spotted it in a friend’s antiques store and commented to Dave how I wished I could find one similar to it in our treasure hunting rounds.  As soon as I opened the anniversary gift and saw the rose bowl I knew its new home would be on the fireplace mantel. Of course, this was before my graceful handling resulted in its chip and crack demise.

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The Hull Magnolia ewer on the other end of the mantel was Dave the Builder’s paternal grandmother’s.  When Dave and I first started dating he was using the ewer as a doorstop.  A doorstop! Dave, this is an exquisite, mint condition piece of American pottery.  Please visit your local home improvement store for all your doorstop needs.  It is a sheer miracle the ewer did not end up like the rose bowl.

hull-magnolia-matte-ewerLive Auctioneers

The design of the house was a natural fit for our American antique pieces .

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The dining room was painted in Sherwin Williams Mint Condition.

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The den was painted in Sherwin Williams Fired Brick.  The photos cast an altogether different color.

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This is the dining room in our present home painted in Fired Brick.  Lighting is key to true color reads.

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Addresses, hair colors, waistlines and fashions have changed over the last fifteen years. Trends have ushered us toward painted furniture, neutrals as color and new traditional modern.  If I had to do the interior of this particular style home all over again, I don’t believe I would change too much of the original interior selections.  They say you can’t go back, but you can remain true to your personal interior design and decor style without apology or comparison.  It’s called decorating with what you love.

Love your style!

Louisiana Gulf Coastal Style

Certain decor styles have a season.  The decor style displayed throughout your home is a 365 day a year love your style affair, but at certain times of the calendar year the appeal of particular decor styles is heightened. Coastal design and style, stand up and take a bow.

Brown_Pelican3The Brown Pelican ~ The Official State Bird of Louisiana

Louisiana is a mixed bag of decor styles, dishes and dialects.  Among the Victorians, Acadian, Creole, French, Spanish and European influences is the Sportman’s Paradise belle of the decorating ball, Louisiana Gulf coastal style.

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Cue the magnolias, John James Audubon prints, pelicans, oyster and turtle shells, eclectic objets d’art of beach and bayou and blue and white porcelain.

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coastal-palette-fSherwin-Williams

Louisiana Gulf coastal style blurs the lines of traditional coastal style in a let’s build upon a classic way.   We take just enough decorating liberty with traditional coastal to make it our own, enhancing the look with a dash of native to Louisiana flavor without walking too terribly far way from the core notes.

Audubon-blue-heronAudubon Oppenheimer Octavo Edition, Pl. 369 Great blue Heron

A maddening search of warehouse and storeroom for my Great blue Heron John James Audubon print got this Louisiana Gulf coastal style party started.  Hanging the Great blue Heron print in the dining room is under decorative consideration, and the best way to rule it in or rule it out is to actually hang it before the second and final coat of paint. I do this often when it is convenient.  If I decide against the piece, Dave simply caulks the nail hole and we are on to bigger and better items.

coastal-paletteSherwin-Williams

The natural color palette so beautifully present in shells found along the sands and waters edge of the Gulf Coast inspires the softer shades of traditional coastal colors.

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Gorgeous!

shell-chandelier1Silvio Chandelier Design by Currey & Company

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I believe we can all agree that summer is the season of coastal decor style, and the popularity of Louisiana Gulf coastal style is simply experiencing its day in the sun.

Love your style!

Sink Oh D (as in Design) My Oh: Kitchen Sink Styles

In interior design and decorating celebration of Cinco de Mayo on this 5th day of May, I am featuring five stunning kitchen sink oh d (as in design) my oh kitchen sink styles.

marble-kitchen-sink Remodelista

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 Lonny

First up we take a look at our house favorites, the marble and natural stone kitchen sink.  Marble and natural stone sinks impress the eye with a timeless and tasteful touch of luxury balanced with performance capability.  The porosity of natural stone makes this material easily susceptible to stain which gives pause to some when considering the use of these types of sinks.

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Vintage Compass Stone Kitchen Sink ~ House Beautiful

Acidic and oily substances will penetrate the surface of the natural stone leaving a stain to deal with.  Over time the patina of these sinks “rests” and becomes a perfectly imperfect design feature, one that accentuates the natural beauty of the stone.

sink-metalJohn Derian’s Collected East Village Apartment

Everything old is new again chic is in with kitchen sink styles.

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Salisbury Artisans

These sink options show what one person considers functional obsolescence another considers a distinct design feature.

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Garden & Gun Magazine

Vintage beauty merges with modern function in the home of Braxton Dixon, the master builder behind the iconic homes of country music legends Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette.  Implementing one-of-a-kind architectural elements into the design of his houses sets these works of building and designing art apart from other exterior and interior standard house designs.  This is most prevalent in Mr. Dixon’s choice of a kitchen sink in his Tennessee home.  A vintage copper candy kettle becomes an architectural showpiece, kitchen sink and unique focal point all-in-one while remaining true to the original integrity, storied provenance and design style of the home.

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Better Homes and Gardens

What do real estate and sink placement have in common?  Location, location, location! The optimum placement for a prep sink is adjacent to or across from the stove and refrigerator and for good reason- that’s the area of the kitchen where the prep magic happens.  The prep sink is the single most helpful kitchen design feature I have ever become dependent upon in the context of cooking, baking and recipe creating.

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Home Bunch

The look, the style and the focal point fabulousness of metal.  The big brass band makes a beautiful case for kitchen sink styles.

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Convenience and usefulness alone make it easy to understand why I am a huge fan of the prep sink and consider it a kitchen design necessity.  I look forward to the addition of a prep sink coming back into my kitchen culinary life sooner than later.

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Better Homes and Gardens

Apron-front sinks combine utilitarian practicality with decorative adaptability.

stacked-kitchen-cabinets-brass-dual-apron-sinkDecorPad

The look is yesteryear traditional, but the appeal is all modern day kitchen sink styles must have.

farmhouse-sink-push-out-casement-windows DecorPad

Although these sinks come in both single and double bowl models, the features of the single bowl model seems to make it the most preferred, especially when it comes to the ever popular farmhouse design style. Sink size does matter in the day to day KP duty routine we all endure, and the width of the farmhouse sink is a natural fit feature able to hold dishwashing court with pots, pans and bake ware of varied sizes.

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Marble Apron-Front Sink

Let me also clue you in on another well known design advantage of the farmhouse sink. When there’s too much dish at the end of your I’m pooped out day, the depth of the apron-front sink works fabulously to your advantage as it conceals many a dirty dish.  That’s my kind of sink oh d (as in design) my oh kitchen sink styles celebration!

Love your style!