What designers know: how they take your home from blah to wow!

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • September 2,  2017

Clients always assume that interior designers have perfect homes.

That somehow we have been blessed with unlimited budgets, endless sources waiting to give us things at cost or less, contractors who do perfect work and always come in on time and under budget.

But in reality, designers and decorators are like everyone else.

We shop for the best pricing for our homes. Search the internet for deals.  Get two or three bids for any project.  Do our best to hire contractors who will come in on time and under budget with amazing work. Just like we do for our clients.

Bring vibrant color into your home with a focal point gallery wall designed with Frontgate’s tropical art. These heirloom-quality prints are from the horticultural and botanical works at the New York Botanical Garden. Photo: courtesy of Frontgate.

Bring vibrant color into your home with a focal point gallery wall designed with Frontgate’s tropical art. These heirloom-quality prints are from the horticultural and botanical works at the New York Botanical Garden. Photo: courtesy of Frontgate.

As a Fort Myers interior decorator, I have my new clients fill out a brief questionnaire so I can get an idea of what they want and their level of expectation. Two questions are: How do you want your home to feel when you walk in the door? AND Are you more concerned about budget or quality or both.

Create a vision board like this one that I designed for a client's new living room. It helps to visualize the pieces for a room and to show how they will look together.

Create a vision board like this one that I designed for a client's new living room. It helps to visualize the pieces for a room and to show how they will look together.

Most clients answer “both” to the second question. Because they are just like me. They want the most quality for the best price.

Fair enough. Now, tell me how you want your home to feel and we will figure out how to get there.

So, exactly what do interior designers and decorators know that will get you from the dreaming stage to the reality stage?

Here are a few of my tried and true tips. Give them a try before your next project. You may not be a design professional but they will definitely take away some of the stress. And after all, I use these in my own home and they work!

·       Set a realistic budget. Don’t fool yourself with this. Be honest.

·       Create a vision board for your project. The one shown here is one that I did for my new living room. It helps to get everything out where you can see it.

·       Don’t be afraid of your decorating instincts. I find that most homeowners have great taste and just need a little direction on how to pull it all together.

CREATE A VISION BOARD LIKE THIS ONE THAT I DESIGNED FOR A CLIENT'S NEW LIVING ROOM. IT HELPS TO VISUALIZE THE PIECES FOR A ROOM AND TO SHOW HOW THEY WILL LOOK TOGETHER.

CREATE A VISION BOARD LIKE THIS ONE THAT I DESIGNED FOR A CLIENT'S NEW LIVING ROOM. IT HELPS TO VISUALIZE THE PIECES FOR A ROOM AND TO SHOW HOW THEY WILL LOOK TOGETHER.

·       If budget is an issue and you can only do one project: paint. Even if you can’t change the furniture, a new color palette makes everything new and fresh. And it will make you feel good.

·       Don’t rush and don’t settle.  Most of us can’t do everything at once. It’s all about priorities.

·       Put the majority of your decorating budget into: sofa, comfortable chair, rug, dining table.

·       Consider your lifestyle: It may be pretty but is it practical?

·       When making new purchases, remember: Comfort first. Classic style. Less is more.

·       Determine your style before you purchase. Think you have no style? Call a designer.

Do this:

·       Create a gallery wall and let it be a focal point in your home.

·       Use painter’s tape to mark off art and furniture.

·       Have one spectacular piece that you can’t live without.

·       Buy at least one great accessory that makes you happy every time you see it.

·       Invest in custom drapes. It looks like you hired a designer!

·       Spring for a beautiful wallcovering for an entire room (powder room) or as an accent (bedroom behind bed).

·       Paint the ceiling a color. Try it and see what I mean.

Pick out a favorite accessory like this capiz pendant with hundreds of shell petals from a luminous lotus flower. Photo: courtesy of Pottery Barn.

Pick out a favorite accessory like this capiz pendant with hundreds of shell petals from a luminous lotus flower. Photo: courtesy of Pottery Barn.

Not this:

·       Trends. They will be over soon.

·       Slip covers. Especially for dining room chairs.

·       Rugs that are the wrong size and float in the middle of the room.

·       Purchasing furniture that is too small.

·       Don’t be afraid of making a change.

·       Don’t scrimp on lighting/lamps. They can be very affordable and no home has enough!

And remember: your home will never be perfect. But it’s yours and that’s what should come through. Your personal style.

 

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her article appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog

 

The Pink Home in Giverny: Monet's Best Work

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • August 12,  2017

It was an overcast day with a splash of light rain as I ventured 40 miles from Paris to the small medieval village in northern France.

Giverny.

Claude-Monet's-home-in-Giverny

Where Claude Monet, master of color and interior design, and great impressionist, lived in a cherry pink home with emerald green trim. Surrounded by brilliant colors in his gardens. It was here that he relocated his wife, two children and six step children from Paris in 1883.

“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.” Claude Monet

And color surrounds you in this pink masterpiece at Giverny. Lots of pops of color and wow factor, as designers today are so fond of saying.

It was here that Monet created a world surrounded by color with a palette of daffodils, tulips, narcissi and forget-me-knots.

It’s a home that was filled with love and a complicated unconventional family. And it was here that Monet created his beautiful gardens.  And in 1914, while mourning the death of his wife as World War I was getting close, he painted his “Water Lilies.”

Claude-Monet-home-at-giverny

We're accustomed to seeing Monet in a straw hat sitting at the three-legged stool at his easel under the beautiful Normandy sun.  For me, Monet’s home and beautiful gardens overshadows his famous water lilies for which the impressionist is best known. It’s where you most feel the spirit of the artist and it follows you back to Paris and then home.

Claude-Monet's-Giverny-kitchen

With vibrant wall colors and tile, light gently streams through the windows enhancing the brilliant colors throughout the home. Monet supervised every detail of the renovation of the home himself and even selected the china. It’s filled with blues, bright yellows and white lace curtains.

The kitchen and dining room were the heart of the home and Monet’s daily life. He didn't care for fashion, which was very dark and heavy in Victorian times, so he had it painted in two tones of yellow. This vibrant color enhances the blues of the dishes on display in the buffets.

Claude-Monet's-home-in-Giverny

The walls are packed with Japanese engravings that Monet chose with an expert eye. For fifty years, he collected the prints by the best Japanese artists, especially Hokusai, Hiroshige and Utamaro.

The dining room is connected to the kitchen to make service easier. Monet wanted a blue kitchen so that the guests would see the right color in harmony with the yellow dining room when the door to the kitchen was open. The floors were red and white. Family lunch was served each day at 12:30 p.m.

The walls of the kitchen are covered with tiles of Rouen and copper pots. The coolness of the blue contrasts with the warm glow of the extended collection of coppers. You can bring a bit of Giverny into your own home with Annie Sloan’s popular chalk paint in the color, “Giverny.” It’s described as a “cool, cheery, bright blue that was popular in the 20th century. “

Claude-Monet-Giverny-studio

Monet’s drawing room and his first studio, filled with reproductions of his work, is a shrine dedicated to his paintings. “A painting from every stage of my life,” he said.

Like the rest of the home, the furniture and the objects in the studio are still exactly the same and this gives great authenticity to the home.

“My heart is forever in Giverny,” Monet said.

Claude-Monet's-Gardens-at-Giverny

It was here that he found his inspiration, a permanent home and gained recognition as a major artist after so much rejection.

As a designer, I have to wonder if he used the bright colors to balance his gloomy, tormented moments. We will never know for sure but one thing that is certain, the pink house in Giverny is a home that has been loved.

Fortunately, it is cared for today by the Claude Monet Foundation. It is a major tourist attraction that has been lovingly restored. A priceless jewel that is, in my mind, his best work.

 

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her article appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog

 

 

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • July 8,  2017

In organic architecture … it is quite impossible to consider the building as one thing, its furnishing another and its setting and environment still another.” Frank Lloyd Wright

It was on my bucket list for a long time. A trip to Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s most iconic design. And with so much press surrounding his 150th birthday which occurred in June, this seemed like the right time.

Photo: Wrenda Goodwyn

Photo: Wrenda Goodwyn

As a Southwest Florida interior decorator, I had been curious for years about this home built over a waterfall. I gave Loving Frank another read to try to have a deeper understanding of America’s greatest architect before embarking on trip to the beautiful Laurel Highlands, the setting for this symbol of modern architecture.

One much-told tale that has endeared me to Wright, claims that when a client complained that a Wright-built roof was leaking on his desk, Wright retorted, "Move the desk!"

 Somewhat of an arrogant genius and we must respect that.

And there are other stories. Like the one about how he sketched the design of Fallingwater in two hours. Hmmm.

So, I headed to this home, 90-miles from Pittsburgh to learn why he built Fallingwater over the waterfall where you can’t see it, instead of across from it where you can. And I found out. That and a lot more.

The spirit of Fallingwater follows you around the house and stays with you for a long while. By the end of the tour, you are captivated. It’s in perfect harmony with the setting. It celebrates nature and takes its visitors along for the fascinating ride.

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Designed as a country home for Pittsburgh department store owner, E. J. Kaufmann and his family, construction began in 1935 and was completed in 1938. Wright was featured on the cover of Time that year and the magazine called Fallingwater his most beautiful work.

To begin with, there is the waterfall. You hear it everyplace you go. Wright wanted to make the home part of the waterfall instead of using it as a backdrop. It’s true, you really can’t see it but you hear it and it’s part of the fabric of the home and of its occupants. Because of the waterfall, the home is in constant motion.

“Study nature. Love nature. Stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” Frank Lloyd Wright

There is no grand entrance to 5,300-square-foot home that includes a guest house and pool.  It’s built of concrete, steel, stone and glass. The hallways are narrow and dark. The ceilings are low. Almost cave-like. No wasted space here. Wright wanted the occupants to get outdoors.  Who really needs spacious hallways?

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

And if you are looking for the traditional garage, think again. Wright saw them as something to house clutter so instead, he built carports in many of his homes. And he came up with the “living room” at a time when houses were not so open and spacious.

The open living room has windows on three sides. There is a small kitchen. The bedrooms all have terraces. The cornerless windows open outward so they won’t impact the view. The glass hatch in the floor of the main level opens to the staircase that leads to the stream. It’s a home that draws you outdoors. Perfection. Almost.

Suspended over a 30-foot waterfall, there have to be some issues. Especially in 1938. Fallingwater was called “rising mildew.” The skylights leaked.  The steel eventually had to be reinforced. Details that we don’t see.

Wright did not just design a home. He also designed the décor and everything else. Two colors are predominant: light ochre for the concrete and his signature red for the steel.  PPG Paints created an eco friendly product to withstand environmental challenges and there is actually a Fallingwater color palette. 

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

He also designed the home’s furnishings. Most attached to the home so they could not be removed or replaced with lesser quality pieces. The rooms are simple but smart. A built-in dining table for six expands to accommodating 20 people. The master bedroom has swivel lighting that was way ahead of its time.

The home’s art collection has more than 1,000 original paintings, murals, sculptures, busts, frames, lamps and various household items. Artists include Diego Rivera, Louis Tiffany, Pablo Picasso, John James Audubon and Richmond Barthe. Stunning.

Completed at a cost of $155,000, the home today is worth around $2.7 million. It is a National Historic Landmark and is meticulously cared for and watched over by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

So, just how is Wright relevant today and what can we learn from him in relation to our own homes?

Fort Myers interior designer Ruth Condit of Ruth Condit Interiors, says that his startling innovations of the 20th century are the “truisms of the 21st.”

“Homes that honor their natural site and offer functional interiors that enhance the lives lived inside, owe a debt to this transcendent genius."

Following a visit to Fallingwater years ago, Condit’s younger brother was so inspired by Wright that he went on become an architect practicing in Colorado. And Wright’s inspiration carried over to his daughter who is also an architect. Two generations.  

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

My takeaway as far as how we can incorporate some of Wright’s ideas into our own homes. These tips are especially applicable to our homes in Southwest Florida:

·       Let the outdoors inspire the interior design. Think of the outdoors as another room. 

·       Carefully pick a color palette compliments the natural surroundings.

·       Bring the outdoors inside through color, accessories and artwork.

·       Go for simplicity and comfort rather than complicated décor that isn’t functional.

·       If your garage is a storage place for items that no longer serve you, declutter. Now.

If, like me, you are entranced by Wright’s style of celebrating nature and creating beautiful homes, you may be interested to know there are currently at least six on the market. Check them out here. And please let me know if you purchase one!

 

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her article appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog

Yellow: a burst of sunshine for your home

Yellow: a burst of sunshine for your home

If you’ve seen any of the award shows lately, you know that one color has popped up all over the red carpet: yellow. Muted. Cobalt. Sequined. Think about the gowns worn by Viola Davis and Natalie Portman. And there is Bella’s unforgettable gold/yellow ball gown in Beauty and the Beast.

And that means one thing: home interior colors follow fashion so here it comes into your home. For many, it never left.

Because I believe that current color follows what is happening in the world, it’s no surprise that yellow is popping up everywhere. A little yellow may be just what we need right now.

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Color Me Pink: a splash of happiness

Color Me Pink: a splash of happiness

It’s everywhere: Pink. The color.

Fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer said that “Anything is possible with sunshine and a little pink.”

We are tickled pink. In the pink. Pretty in pink. And there is pink champagne.

And it’s no wonder we are seeing so much of it in home decor. It’s a happy, light-hearted color. It makes us feel good.

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Spring refresh for home and spirit

Spring refresh for home and spirit

Ahhhh. Spring.

When I was growing up in Virginia, it meant that you could open the windows, flag down the ice cream man, go barefoot and stay outside an hour later. My mother always gave the house a “spring” cleaning and then we always rearranged the living room furniture. She said that the change was almost like having a new room. And she was right.

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