26 January 2013

Time for a rant


In the United States, we spell "color" as "color" and "favorite" as "favorite." Few things work my nerves as much as my fellow citizens affecting British spellings. Unless you were born north of the 49th parallel or on the other side of the Atlantic, write the way Americans write. Affecting British spellings makes you look like a pompous ass, not the erudite thing you imagine yourself to be.

24 January 2013

As if to prove my point

This e-mail just arrived:


For starters, what color grout to use on your back splash is not a huge dilemma. Deciding to take a loved one off of life support is. Let's try to work on getting some perspective.

For seconders, your dilemma would be solved best by the designer you're working with or the sales person you're working with where you bought that tile.Posting photos on Houzz and asking me for advice on grout colors I can't see is how you end up in real trouble.

If you're working with a designer or a reputable salesperson, he or she will ask your installer to do two mock ups. Each will use your back splash tile. One will have your tile with Pewter Waterfall gout and the other will have Silver grout. Once you see how those two different grout colors affect the color of your tile in your own home your decision will make itself. Do not buy tile from someone who won't do a mock up for you.

You're welcome.

Houzz.com you're killing me

I haven't written for Houzz.com for a year and a half, yet every day I wade through no fewer than five e-mails from Houzz members. To a one, those emails are asking questions that can be answered by clicking on the "more info" link next to a photo I posted, or they're asking unanswerable questions such as "what color is that?" or "what's the name of that granite?"

Again, judging precise color based on an internet photo is impossible, especially if it's in a product photo. Product photos tend to be heavily Photoshopped and actual colors get lost in the mix. Never mind that you're viewing everything on an uncalibrated monitor.


What prompted this post was an e-mail I received a half an hour ago. Here's the question and the photo:



Clicking on the "more info" link would have told this person that what's in that photo is a cork floor from US Floors in Atlanta. Those floors aren't sold retail and are only available from a showroom at around $8 a square foot. I get it that most people don't buy things like new floors every day and that the general population doesn't have the product knowledge that people like I do. But still, think and be respectful. Houzz's links are clearly identifiable and they're there for a reason.

Aside from that, the colors and patterns you see on the internet aren't real and the only way to select a color for anything is by looking at a sample in real life.


This vignette is from a showroom where I once worked. The cabinetry colors are Oyster Vintage over Maple and Harvest Bronze on Knotty Alder from Medallion Cabintry. The wall color is Sherwin-Williams 7037. The back splash is two colors of mother of pearl. The hardware on the cabinets is from Schaub and the finish is oil-rubbed bronze. The faucet is from Rohl and the counter is Tusk from Avonite. I know this because I designed this display.

However, this vignette was shot by a professional photographer who flooded the whole showroom with artificial light. In your home, colors such as Oyster Vintage, Harvest Bronze and Sherwin-Williams 7037 will look nothing like they do in this photo. Asking for their names is irrelevant  Ask instead for a white-ish paint color, a rich brown color and a strong neutral for the walls, because trust me, the colors shown here look very little like this in real life.

Similarly, natural stone patterns don't have formal names. What's Labrador in your market is Uba Tuba in someone else's. Not only that, those patterns change, often radically, over time. A stone labeled Crema Bordeaux today looks nothing like the same stone from the same quarry in Brazil five years ago.

I get a lot of e-mail from people who describe a room and then tell me about their dilemmas about how to furnish or paint said room. While I appreciate that strangers see me as an authority, I won't answer a question like that out of principle. My training as a designer taught me early that I need to see and be in a room before I can figure out what to do with it.

A designer sees things from a dispassionate, removed perspective and it's a designer's job to a) plan a space, and b) save you money in doing so. If you have a difficult room or if you've hit the wall, hire a designer.

Good design advice is never free in the same way that legal, medical, real estate or tax planning advice is never free. Designers make a living from their expert opinion, the same as any other professional. It's as true in real life as it's true online.

Houzz.com has done amazing things in providing the public with a library of inspirational photos. They've done a great job of designer outreach too. But there's a disconnect in there somewhere. The people who write for that site aren't there to offer free advice. They're there to increase their presence on the internet and they do it for very little money. Please respect that. What you see on the internet isn't real and there's no substitute for a design professional. Hire an independent designer.

09 January 2013

Blogtour's coming!


Sung to the tune of "Something's Coming" from West Side Story:


Could be!
Who knows?
There's something due any day;
I will know right away,
Soon as it shows.
It may come cannonballing down through the sky,
Gleam in its eye,
Bright as a rose!

Who knows?
It's only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Under a tree.
I got a feeling there's a miracle due,
Gonna come true,
Coming to me!

Could it be? Yes, it could.
Bogtour's coming, Blogtour's good,
If I can wait!
Blogtour's coming, I don't know what it is,
But it is
Gonna be great!

With a click, with a shock,
Phone'll jingle, door'll knock,
Open the latch!
Blogtour's coming, don't know when, but it's soon;
Catch the moon,
One-handed catch!

Around the corner,
Or whistling down the river,
Come on, deliver
To me!
Will it be? Yes, it will.

Maybe just by holding still,
It'll be there!

Come on, Blogtour, come on in, don't be shy,
Meet a guy,
Pull up a chair!
The air is humming,
And Blogtour's shortly coming!
Who knows?
It's only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Maybe next week . . .

Apologies to Stephen Sondheim for massacring his lyrics, but I'm on my way to Germany and The Netherlands next week as part of the latest iteration of the international sensation, Blogtour.


Endless thanks to Modenus for making all of these arrangements and none of this would be possible without our Sponsors: Blanco, DuVerre, Mr. Steam, Axor by Hansgrohe, Miele and the NKBA.


This will make my second Blogtour and I am honored; thank you again to the gang at Modenus.

Blogtour Cologne kicks off at the IMM, known in German as the internationale möbelmesse.

IMM is one of the world's largest design trade shows and it's held every two years. Two years ago I attended IMM with over 100,000 other attendees and this year's show promises to be even bigger than it was in 2011. Blogtour sponsor Blanco had me there last time and it will be great to reconnect with friends at Blanco again.

I'll be joining the amazing Veronika Miller and Tim Bogan from Modenus, Michelle Alfano the Mod Design Guru, Lisa Smith the Decor Girl, Brandon Smith from D'Scoop Media, Courtney Price, Darren Morgan from the Kitchen Design Think Tank, Alexandra Williams from Fun and Fit, the hardest working man on the internet, Todd Vendituoli from Building Blox, Kathy Sandler from Live the Fine Life, Sarah Sarna from Life the Life you Dream About, Tina Ramchandani from Life in Sketch, Carmen Christiansen from Time 2 Design, Katie Treggiden from Confessions of a Design Geek and Stacey Sheppard from The Design Sheppard.

I know most of these people already and when you throw in a bunch of my fellow old guard members from the Blanco Design Council who'll also be attending the show and this promises to be quite the event. Imagine that: Susan, Jamie, Andie, Cheryl, Nick, Kelly and Leslie, we're the old guard.

After a few days at IMM in Cologne, we're boarding a train bound for Amsterdam to meet up with more bloggers and to see more cool stuff. Next week's going to be amazing and I'll be posting updates both here and on my other site, Back Where I Started.




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