SIZE MATTERS!

 

You walk into a furniture showroom and see the perfect sofa.  You’ve been looking for a new sofa for months and this one is everything you imagined.  You buy it.  You wait two months for it.  It arrives, FINALLY.  The delivery guys bring it into your living room and….your jaw drops.  IT’S WAY TOO BIG!  Ever happened to you??

 

 

 

I happened to drop by a friend’s house recently at a rather fortuitous moment and saved her from just such a mistake.  She showed me the terrific sofa she was all set to order (and no, not all my friends buy their sofas through me, but the should!).  She’d sat on it in the store, she liked the fabric options and was good to go – until I happened to bring to her attention just how far out into her family room that lovely sofa would protrude.  Who thinks of that?   Interior designers think of that!  Most people shop for furnishings by look and comfort, which is fine, but SIZE MATTERS!  Interior designers shop by size, then look and comfort, and so should you.

I was explaining my design process to a new client a couple of weeks ago and explained that I first measured and drew the rooms I was working on to scale, and then figured out what the optimal size of each furniture piece needed to be.  Only then did I start to shop.  She responded with “OMG!  No wonder I always buy the wrong piece!”  “I shop for what I love and then try and make it fit.”

I always think in terms of size, scale and proportion.  The furniture does need to physically fit in the space (and don’t forget it has to be able to make it through the door or elevator too) with enough room to move around without constantly banging your shins into the side of something.  Once you know the pieces are the approximate right size, my mind moves to scale and proportion to make sure the piece I have in mind plays well with the pieces around it.

So that’s my insight for today, and if you’re going to be off looking for a new sofa this weekend – happy hunting and make sure you know the size sofa you need to make your space sing!

 

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People are often looking for that great new piece of furniture to turn their interiors from ho-hum to amazing, but I always urge them to stop and take stock of the room as a whole.  In times past, many homes were constructed with beautiful architectural detailing and mill work.  Crown moldings, wainscot, door and window casings, fireplace mantles were often substantial and beautifully crafted.  Add a rug, sofa and a chair or two and the room invited you to come in and take a seat.  Unfortunately, today, especially here in Southern California where track homes reign supreme, few if any architectural details remain.  Even into the $1,000,000+ market, acres of drywall, short base moldings, narrow casework around windows and doors, a 12” wide slab of granite, tile, or whatever slapped onto the drywall outlining the fireplace, often with no mantle above, is the norm.  You can fill your room full of beautiful furnishings and the room is still sort of ho-hum.  So what’s the answer?  Casework and mill work!

 

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Starting out life as a tall, narrow drywall box with no crown molding or window casing, this back stair went from boring to amazing with a little bit of well designed casework.  The wainscot detail we designed here would look every bit as good in a dining room, library or study. In a more traditional space, or if you’re aiming for a more formal look, you can layer on the detail in the moldings.  Here we used the classic reed and ribbon molding to add additional detail.  A simplified molding could be substituted for a more transitional space.

 

 

 

Here’s another example of using the classic wainscot design for a more transitional interior.  We installed mirror behind the fretwork to bring extra light and sparkle to this breakfast room designed for a client in yet another builder basic home.

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We love helping our clients make their interiors unique and gorgeous.  Who would guess that this room was once your basic (albeit in that $1,000,000+ market) track home? Classic casework, mill work and a custom shattered glass wall panel created a luxurious, timeless environment our client loves!  If a room like this doesn’t fit your budget, you can apply moldings over drywall, paint the whole wall out in a semi-gloss paint for a WOW! look at a budget friendly price.

 

So next time you’re ready to run out and grab some new piece of furniture, STOP!! PLEASE!!  Take stock of your whole room and think about using those dollars in a way that adds a real wow factor,turning builder basic into custom.

Don’t know where to start?  We specialize in designing beautiful casework and mill work and would love to help you personalize your space.  Give us a call!

 

 

16 Mar 2016

Have you ever stopped to think about the number of times you move through the hallways of your home?  You head to the kitchen for your morning cup of coffee and once there remember your reading glasses by the side of the bed.  Back down the hallway.  You yell to your teenager to get out of bed and getting no response, head down the hallway to his room for the fourth time that morning.  You’re heading out the door for work and realize you left your suit coat in the closet….

We really use our hallways.  We pass up and down countless times a day.  I’m wondering; do you enjoy moving through that space?  Is there anything in that long passage that makes you smile as you pass by? With all the attention we give to our living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens, maybe we ought to spare just a bit for our hallways.

lighting design exampleGranted it’s a bit hard to get inspired over a space that may be no more than three feet wide, often with short expanses of wall broken by doorways.  But really, if you have to travel through it many times a day, it’s definitely worth your effort.  Here’s five design ideas that can turn your ho-hum hallway into a space that’s worth passing through.

1. Lighting.  If you’re lucky enough to have hallways with ceilings high enough for pendant lighting (say 9’), use a succession of pendants to pull your eye through the space.  I love pendants that throw shadow.  They add instant drama.  If your ceilings are a bit lower, you use ceiling mount fixtures for the same effect.

focalpoint design example2. Create a focal point.  Draw your eye straight to the end of the hallway with a great focal point.  The one shown is a dominated by the gorgeous sconce, but it could just as easily be a piece of art, a mirror or a beautiful piece of furniture.  I’m currently ripping out a closet at the end of my hallway and plan to install a chest with an eye catching mirror that will pull the eye straight to the focal point, missing the fact the hallway is narrow and the ceilings are low!

library design example3. Create a library.  Hallways are a great space to create a library you might not otherwise have a place for.  If your hallway isn’t wide enough to accommodate adding a built-in bookcase or shelves, consider stealing the space between the studs and recessing most of the bookcase into the wall. In this project we painted the back of the bookcase a deep navy.  The eye gets pulled to the back wall of the bookcase effectively making the space feel wider than it really is.

artphotos-design-example4. Art and photos.  If your hallways are narrow, keep the size of the art or photography in mind.  Large scale pieces require you to step back to view the full piece.  In a narrow hallway, you won’t have that luxury.  This is a fun spot for family photos, but an art or photography series would be another great option.

color pattern design example5. Color and pattern.  Wow!  What a difference this pattern makes to this hallway.  Try a bold wall covering keeping in mind the scale of the pattern.  Like art, when you’re standing or moving through the space, you want to be able to see the full pattern.  Painting your doors something other than white is another way to add color to the space.  Black doors give a very European feel, but a bright bold color just might make you grin every time you walk down the hall.  If your ceilings are low, or the space feels choppy, try painting your walls and ceiling the same color.  Your eye loses that definition between the wall and ceiling plane and makes the ceiling feel higher than it actually is.

At RJohnston Interiors we believe our homes should be the space that relaxes, rejuvenates and refreshes us.  So put that hallway to work and call us if you need a hand!

14 Feb 2016

rough luxe interiorIn our last post we talked about some of the interior design trends for 2016. Here is part 2 with some additional trends.

Rough Luxe.  Add depth and texture to your interiors with products that add instant age to your interiors.  But slow down on the industrial look.  It’s been around awhile and saturated every coffee house in America.  This one may have run its course, but adding texture almost always adds interest.

Retro Tech.  Remember when TV’s were integrated into the furniture?  No – I can’t say that I distinctly remember them either, but just take a look back at TV’s from the 50’s in their own custom cabinets.  The hard edge of modern electronics is getting a softer touch with the latest devices that become part of the furniture.

Seamless Functionality.  Home is not what it used to be.  Remember that living room you were never allowed into?  We don’t want to live that way anymore, and as our spaces become smaller, we don’t have extra rooms that can stand to go unused.  Today’s furniture needs to be able to adapt to numerous different activities.  Think of floating beds with an integrated desk and shelf area on the back side.  Induction charging stations are gradually being integrated into furniture and lighting designs.  IKEA just introduced a series of lamps, bedside tables and desks that are able to wirelessly charge any portable electronic devices that are placed on top of them.  How cool is that!  No more tangle of cords all over the bedside table.

70’s inspired.  The fashion industry has been loving the relaxed free spirited nature of that era, and where fashion goes, so follows interiors.  Take a look at the new CB2 line by Lenny Kravitz inspired by the 1970’s New York club culture.

What else might be a hit in 2016?

Black Metals – Think past your back yard and outdoor furniture here, and we’re not talking the raw industrial look.  Black metals are quiet, but can pack a design impact.  We see it appearing as simple hardware, bathroom fixtures and even flatware, but I personally love it pared with more refined woods (not the industrial look) and glass.

Rounded Furniture – think soft rather than hard edges that soften hard materials like stone.  Touch is an essential part of design, so look for pieces that compel you to run your hands along their shape.

Old -World Ornamentation – Contemporary/modern lines are here to stay but mixing them with period furnishings and details creates warm eclectic spaces with a lot more interest.  Add Grandma’s antique chairs around your new modern dining table.  You can soften the austere lines of modern upholstery with cording, or add fringe to your pillows and gorgeous tassels to your drapery.

Mexican Mid-Century Modernism – In the quest to recreate the set of “Mad Men”, Mid-century modern has become ubiquitous, but we’ve missed out on some of the more interesting variants of the style like Mexican Mid-Century modernism where the clean lines of American and European midcentury modern are often paired with a mix of material – wood, metal and stone.  I’ve never been a big fan of any space done entirely in one design style and it’s time to end the full court press on mid-century.  If it’s a look you love, think about integrating a piece or two into your interiors and looking further afield than what you find in every furniture store in America.

What’s out?  What you don’t like or doesn’t work for your lifestyle!  If you like to be on trend, generally speaking you’ll know what’s out by what’s available everywhere at every price point.

What to do when you can’t figure it out for yourself or are afraid of investing in the wrong piece?  Call an interior designer who has the knowledge, skill and experience to make it happen!  RJohnston Interiors specializes in helping our clients create rooms they find hard to leave.  Spaces that suit their unique aesthetic and lifestyle.

Email us at info@rjohnstoninteriordesign.com or give us a call at 661-678-0034.

sample of design detox styleIt’s the new year and with a new year comes new year’s resolutions.  Maybe it’s time to finally get your home updated, or at least tackle one space in your home.  But what, you ask, are the changes to make that won’t look dated next year?  The good news is, that while interiors follow the lead of the fashion industry at what seems like an ever quickening pace, great design transcends time.   Here is what the experts have to say about what’s hot for 2016 that won’t immediately be out in 2017.  Who are those experts you ask?  Top design professionals and product designers who make their living knowing what trends are in, and what is sure to be a losing proposition.

Design Detox.  This trend moves us away from the growing emphasis on being connected at all times (to our phone, our iPad, our computer, Facebook, Instagram…) to a quiet simplicity amidst the noise.  Think of using warm and calming colors such as Sherman Williams color of the year Alabaster (SW 7008), Benjamin Moore’s color of the year Simply White (BM OC 117) or the Valspar Comfort Zone palette.  If you happen to have tons of intricate molding in your space, painting it all out a warm and quiet color creates a unified and calming space.  Pantone’s colors of the year, Rose Quartz (a pastel pink) and Serenity (blue) back this new trend of quieter, warmer colors.  Pantone chose these new hues as “a more unilateral approach to color.”  A commentary on the current societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity.  Think about incorporating these colors in great wallpapers or accent pieces.

warm metals design styleWarm Metals.  OK this is interesting.  I always say design is personal.  I tell my clients, if you love it – go with it.  It’s your house and you want to love the things that surround you.  Some of my esteemed colleagues say this is totally on trend for 2016, and great use can be made of warm metals, particularly in the kitchen and bath, when paired with raw, natural materials like marble and wood.  The other side of the house says Rosy metals are out.  That they made such a splash in 2015, they will always be identified with that year.  Here’s my advice.  If you really love the rosy metals like copper and rose gold, invest in a quality piece.  Quality stands the test of time.  Moderately priced pieces run the risk of hues that can go garish and look cheap.  Brass and gold tones are definitely hot for 2016.

What’s out?  What you don’t like or doesn’t work for your lifestyle!  If you like to be on trend, generally speaking you’ll know what’s out by what’s available everywhere at every price point.

Top Design Trends for 2016 – Part 2: We will be continuing this topic in the next couple weeks with additional trends and design ideas for 2016. Be sure to check back.

What to do when you can’t figure it out for yourself or are afraid of investing in the wrong piece?  Call an interior designer who has the knowledge, skill and experience to make it happen!  RJohnston Interiors specializes in helping our clients create rooms they find hard to leave.  Spaces that suit their unique aesthetic and lifestyle.

Email us at info@rjohnstoninteriordesign.com or give us a call at 661-678-0034.

What it is, who it is, and why the trade is so integral to the world of architecture and design

When flipping through interior design and architecture magazines it is easy to simplify a design down to a single firm- or even worse- a single designer. This is however never, ever, the truth. Design is a culmination of a multitude of practices ranging from carpenters to installers and all the important trades people in-between. One of our favorite things about being designers based out of Los Angeles is the quality of work produced by the trades’ people we are fortunate enough to work with.

The term “Trade” is often thrown around without much thought or care- most homeowners and business owners only know loosely what defines the trade as ‘The Trade’. In the Los Angles county alone there are thousands of trades people working within the architectural and design platform.Trades people are the workhorses of our industry- they are the ones who take our vision as designers, our scribbled out napkin style ideas of details and connections, and turn them into beautiful works of art. As much as we love coming up with one off details for a cabinetry piece—we are perfectly happy handing it off to someone with the actual skill set to pull it off. However—this is where designers often make a grave mistake—just because you don’t know how to do it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand how it is done on some level.


Custom designed railing by RJI. Built and installed by Swaim Metal INC. It was quite a beast to install, but smiles all around. Thanks Swaim Metal INC for seeing our design into reality!

Design is all about the details— one of our favorite slogans because it couldn’t be more on point.  Read more!

Life in Southern California is split between the interiors of our homes and the exterior. Blessed with sunshine and blue skies, warm days and cool breezes, our homes becoming living breathing entities of our lives. As you look up into the hills of LA each night or down from the airplane window as you land at LAX, take a moment to see the lights coming from all the homes and stop to take it all in. Los Angeles appreciates great architecture, great design, and great environments—but there is one element in design that we often forget about—electric lighting and lighting design. Lighting design is apart of our everyday movements and it is crucial to curating great design. 


Custom designed railing by RJI. Built and installed by Swaim Metal INC. It was quite a beast to install, but smiles all around. Thanks Swaim Metal INC for seeing our design into reality!

Lighting Lesson #3: Principles of Good Lighting Design

Play of Brilliants

It is exactly what you’re thinking— Read more!

Life in Southern California is split between the interiors of our homes and the exterior. Blessed with sunshine and blue skies, warm days and cool breezes, our homes becoming living breathing entities of our lives. As you look up into the hills of LA each night or down from the airplane window as you land at LAX, take a moment to see the lights coming from all the homes and stop to take it all in. Los Angeles appreciates great architecture, great design, and great environments—but there is one element in design that we often forget about—electric lighting and lighting design. Lighting design is apart of our everyday movements and it is crucial to curating great design.

Lighting Lesson #2: Principles of Good Lighting Design

Focal Glow

Focal Glow refers to accent lighting. This level of lighting is used deliberately to convey information by visually accentuating significant areas and allowing the insignificant areas to recede into the background. Read more!

Life in Southern California is split between the interiors of our homes and the exterior. Blessed with sunshine and blue skies, warm days and cool breezes, our homes becoming living breathing entities of our lives. As you look up into the hills of LA each night or down from the airplane window as you land at LAX, take a moment to see the lights coming from all the homes and stop to take it all in. Los Angeles appreciates great architecture, great design, and great environments—but there is one element in design that we often forget about—electric lighting and lighting design. Lighting design is apart of our everyday movements and it is crucial to curating great design.

Lighting Lesson #1: Principles of Good Lighting Design

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is your overall lighting, it’s the lighting level that creates the general mood of the interior, be it bright and open or dark and moody, think ambiance. The purpose of architecture and design is to form an experience, a particular feeling or mood that guides us through a space and transforms the user.

Read more!

“my wallpaper is killing me,

one of us must go”

– Oscar Wilde 

We all have our ideas of what is out dated, out of style, and should perhaps never be brought back again… but if there is anything we have learned from the fashion world, nothing ever truly goes out of style. Almost everyone has memories of floral, pastel, and out of date wallpaper hanging in their grandparents… and dare I say, parents house. However, if you have been out shopping lately, or even just opened a magazine, then you know; what’s old has been made new again! In the glamour of Beverly Hills, Malibu or the Hollywood Hills trending fashion is a must, why should our homes be any different? It is time to bring wallpaper back into luxurious living!

A Brief History:

“Wall-paper” enters the English language in 1827, having begun in the Middle Ages with a much different purpose. Apart from technological concerns were aesthetic ones; wallpaper fashion moved from its earliest religious emphasis towards a constantly shifting taste for flowers, repeating geometric patterns, political and artistic scenes and even, at the end of the eighteenth century, to panoramic and landscape wallpapers. The 90s saw the advent of the feature wall in strong bold colors but today it is all about the glamour, luxury and style made simple by wallpaper.

Read more!