Monday, June 27, 2011

Viva Porte Italia!

Hi, Monika again! Kathryn and I went on a fun little field trip yesterday morning. We went to the preview for Porte Italia, a company available to the trade that does beautiful custom painted interior arts that just expanded into the U.S. market this past December. The idea for the company, which was founded 25 years ago, was first conceived when founder and head designer Ann Graham was on a trip to Italy and found herself inspired by the ornate Venetian furniture she saw there. Now, Porte Italia is a thriving business that prides itself on its fine craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail.

The company specializes in hand-painted furnishings such as doors, panels, bed frames, mirrors, sofas, chandeliers, etc, all inspired by old world Venetian furniture; in their own words, their furniture pieces are "modern presentations of that timeless golden age of painted furniture centered in the 18th Century". True to tradition, all of the handiwork is done in Venice, and the artisans they employ are amazing! They have a line of stocked pieces, but they can also create a custom piece, from frame to paint. They can even take a wallpaper or fabric sample and create a custom finish to match it--any interior designer's dream :) We got to see some truly stunning pieces at the preview, some of which are pictured below.

We were lucky enough to meet Ann herself, as well as Cindy Schwartz, the U.S. National Manager (and Ann's goddaughter!) They were both so incredibly sweet and gracious, and told us they really enjoyed the "family" feel of the company. Kathryn and I absolutely loved all of their beautiful work, and definitely plan on using them as a source in the near future! If you're interested in possibly purchasing a piece from them, feel free to get in touch with Kathryn.

Here are some of our favorite examples of their amazing work:

(all photos via Porte Italia)

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Magic of Mirrors

Hi, Monika here! By now, I'm sure almost everyone is familiar with the mirrored furniture trend. However, done wrong, it can look tacky and a little dated--after all, no one wants their living room looking like a ballet studio. Using antique mirror is an elegant, textured twist on this overdone trend. It is a unique way to add age and personality to any room.

Recently we used antique mirror in a client's home. We decided to move an existing cabinet from the bathroom into the kitchen, painted it white to match the rest of her kitchen cabinets, and had the standard glass replaced with antique glass. Not only does this add a beautiful decorative element to her kitchen, it has several practical pluses: 1) the opacity conceals all of the dishes, bowls, etc. behind it, resulting in a more clean look (and you don't have to worry about messy cabinets!), and 2) using mirrors is a great way to make a smaller space look larger.

Before, and...


We also added the same antique glass to her other kitchen cabinets to maintain the mirror look throughout the kitchen:

What do you think? Here are some other great examples of antique mirrors being used in cabinetry:

Photo Credit: House Beautiful

Photo Credit: Apartment Therapy

Like I said before, using a plain mirrored wall can run the risk of making a room look like a ballet studio. However, there are many creative ways to pull off a mirrored wall. Again, texture can play a huge role; antique glass is a great way to go (or safety glass, like in designer Thom Filicia's own living room the last photo!). You can also try breaking up the space by using multiple smaller mirrors so it's not so overwhelming (see photo 3; very visually arresting, don't you think?). Here are some of my favorites:

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit: Elle Decor

Photo Credit: Apartment Therapy

Photo Credit: Thom Filicia

Don't forget they make a lot of great furniture in antique glass as well! Check out this great antique mirror console table by Schumacher we found on our latest trip to the DC design center:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Hi everyone!

Just wanted to quickly introduce myself. My name is Monika, and I’m going to be interning for Kathryn at Haddon Interiors this summer! :) I’m fresh out of college and have decided to change paths and try my hand in the interior design business. I have always had an innate passion for all things interior design (you should have seen how long I spent perusing Craigslist for those perfect pieces of furniture for my first apartment) and finally came upon the realization that it was possible for me to turn that love into a career. I stumbled upon the Haddon Interiors website and immediately knew Kathryn was someone I’d love to work with; the rest is history!

I will be blogging occasionally for the rest of the summer so keep an eye out. I could not be more excited for this internship! It’s already off to an amazing start, which is to be expected when you have such a great boss ;) Thanks everyone and see you back here soon!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fun With Paint

I'm currently working with a really fun client (and good friend of mine:) on redoing her main floor. She and her husband have a great sense of style and an adorable 2-year old. This project has been particularly exciting because she and her husband really value wanting their house to project who they are creatively and as a family, and so they are willing to take some "risks." I put " " around risk, because it's been an interesting process to see how different clients define that word. Let me give you some context.

We've decide to use the infamous Schumacher pattern Chiang Mai Dragon in the alabaster colorway as the jumping off point.

The pattern and colors definitely define this couple's bold, spunky flair. We have just finished painting the living/dining area, and lucky for me they decided to do a more unconventional paint job.

I pulled out the gray-blue color in one of the flowers in the pattern and used Benjamin Moore's Iced Slate in a high gloss finish for the crown molding, baseboards, doors and window trim. I used Benjamin Moore's Decorator's White on the walls. I couldn't be more excited about the finished product! My client's house is a row house that has an unusual floor plan that is long and narrow. She wanted to brighten, freshen and open up the space but also wanted to do something a bit different than the traditional white trim and this color scheme certainly does the trick.

In my own home, I wanted to do something a bit different with my paint scheme downstairs. I chose to paint the walls white, the ceiling a light blue and my window trim black. Trust me, my husband gave me a few dubious looks, but once the paint was applied he fell in love with it.

Paint is a great, inexpensive tool as it can mask, emphasize, obscure, widen or narrow a room. Farrow and Ball is one of my favorite paint companies, and they are a company that really understands the magic of paint.

As my client and I were deciding on our paint game plan, it was interesting to hear the feed back she got from many of her friends that came over. She said she got a lot of weird faces when explaining what we planned to do with the paint, which brings me back to my earlier point of how one defines "risk." I think most people default to the traditional paint scheme of white on the ceiling, color on the walls, and white on the trim. This isn't a bad look, but there are more options, ways to manipulate and apply paint to transform a room. However, if you aren't exposed to what those options are or have never seen it done, it most likely doesn't make sense in some one's head or they have trouble visualizing it. This is where an interior designer can be extremely helpful - especially if you are wanting to do something a bit off the beaten path - we are here to help create the overall vision and to give you confidence that it will work as I assured my client that I would never suggest an idea that I didn't think would look good.

My client was thrilled how it turned out, and at the end of the day the room looks and feels like she and her husband, and that is the most important thing.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Diamond in the Rough

It's been a year since we purchased our house, and this time last year the Mister and I were sporting goggles, masks and crow bars knee-deep in dust, sweat and lath and plaster as we began to gut our house. Oh, how I don't miss those days. I love that we put blood, sweat and in tears into renovating our home as our house feels somewhat like someone we took under our wing, cared for it and helped transform it into the person it was meant to be. However, aside from the sentiments we feel, we are so thankful that we can spend this summer enjoying our hard work and actually see the sun!

Although phase 1 is over, we are now embarking on phase 2 which includes smaller interior projects (replacing doors, hardware, adding bookshelves, etc.) and focusing on the front and back yard. It's been a bit of a tease for us as we walk around the neighborhoods oohing and aahing over our neighbors beautifully maintained yards with bouquets of every flower imaginable and then returning home to this (prepare yourself, it ain't pretty):

If you can believe, it looked worse about 3 weeks ago until the Mister took a jack hammer and removed the broken sidewalk/patio that was back there along with pulling up arm fulls of weeds. I actually felt encouraged by the scene above once all that was done.

I am thankful that God gave me vision as I think a lot of people would give up on a backyard like that. I do envision a space where we can sit outside on summer mornings, drink our coffee and read the paper and entertain late into the night. I've come to realize that living in a row house in the city where your neighbors are literally attached to you on either side creates an intense desire to have an outdoor space where you can stretch your legs and breath a bit. So we plan to build a wooden fence around the perimeter adorned with ivy and other vine-like plants, and then either brick-in the space or use stone. Grass isn't worth it for the small space we have. We plan to remove the current rusty stairs and relocate them alongside the house to create more space. So by the end of it our yard will look similar to this:

(via Domino)

As I was brainstorming about our backyard plan, I came across a few other images I had to share of outdoor spaces that were incredibly inspiring.

(image unknown)

I love the intimacy of this dining area. It reminds of Alice in Wonderland.

(image unknown)

(via Veranda)

Clever use of strategically sized and placed stone to make this garden seem ancient.

(via Veranda)

LOVE the potted hydrangeas lining the driveway - brillant! I plan to do this at our future home in the country - ha!

(via Veranda)

I have a brown thumb so this is the perfect use of a greenhouse for me!

(via Elle Decor)

You can never have enough arches in a garden.

(via Costal Living)

And this is what I plan for our future house on the Mediterranean. I'm sure I'm giving the Mister a heart-attack by now:)