Archive | January, 2013

Lake House of our dreams

With summer still lingering, and with us all being back at work, it’s easy for our minds to slip away to dream of quiet escapes where we can revel in the heat while we still can.  Such day dreams can sadden and frustrate those of us that are office bound, but it can also result in wonderful discoveries like this breathtaking lake house.
Albeit visually dissimilar at first, architect Andy Ramus took full advantage of the scenery in this glass encased masterpiece, ensuring that nature takes the lead with 180 degree views.  Amazing to think that this contemporary glass building is actually structurally based on the on the renovated barn and main house – the space has been designed bearing the same materials and specifications in mind.
The architect has built the structure over the water as an extension of the main house, since they were unable to install such large glazed windows in the original, historic house – this was the compromise, allowing for a lounge that embodied just that – large glazed windows that clearly take precedence in the design.  It’s this precedence of the windows in the design that allows the building to appear light and airy, as if it was simply floating over the lake – a requirement included in the clients brief.
Having juxtaposed the older, existing structures with this new one on the property, both are allowed to shine without trying to compete with each other.
The kitchen and bathroom is toward the back of the building, opening up onto the lounge and dining areas and wraparound balcony, “so the client can revel in the pristine setting.”
“Set off to the side, a glass cube surrounds Adirondack chairs as an ultramodern version of a gazebo. The gazebo provides completely open views of the surrounding landscape and protection from the weather. The all-glass structure has no visible fixtures or fittings; it’s held together with industrial glue.”
The architect wanted to maintain the serenity of the setting and didn’t want the contemporary structure to disturb the effect of the beautiful surroundings, so allowed for a simple pathway leading up to it, with minimal other interferences.  After all, the building itself seems to have no other interferences either, appearing to rather levitate above the landscape.  The use of glass also reflects the moods and atmosphere that the water provides.
While the growth of the estate has somewhat hampered the overall privacy, natural vegetation does help keep out prying eyes, which allows the integrity of the initial design to be maintained without the need for window treatments.
Privacy or not, we will gladly trade our office chairs for a lounger on this particular balcony!  We can only assume that the inhabitants of this property must be the calmest, happiest people alive – how could you be anything else when surrounded by so much natural beauty and wonderful design?  And so we sigh, take one last lingering look at the images, and turn our heads back to our work.

Images and information courtesy of Houzz

All about slipcovered sofas and chairs

When one mentions a slipcovered couch, the general reaction is a sloppy, stretched and faded couch, full of stains and wrinkles.  In fact, they can be quite the opposite if you choose the right fabric and style, and they are extremely practical when it comes to children and pets.

Slipcovers have been around for ages. Initially fine fabrics like silk and damask were used to upholster couches and chairs, and as you can imagine, faded and wore fast when used on a daily basis. Hence, the invention of the slipcover came about to preserve the chairs, and when guests arrived, they could be easily removed. Now-a-days, the use of slipcovers have somewhat changed dramatically.

Here are some suggestions and helpful hints that will hopefully steer you in the right direction and help clarify any questions.
Some things to consider:
-what is your style preference eg: tailored, country, traditional, eclectic, contemporary
-will this style relate to the rest of your room decor
-what fabric do you want, patterned or plain
-consider embellishments: cord, ties or buttons, pleats, skirts
Choosing the right fabric for slipcovers:
-it must be upholstery grade fabric
-machine washable
-preferably a closely woven fabric so that the threads don't pull out easily when being washed over and over
-100% Cotton or 100% Linen are generally the best fabrics to use. However, can shrink and crease or wrinkle 
-pre-shrink fabric prior to making up slipcovers 
What style is not suitable for slipcovers:
-anything that reclines
-couches or chairs with big puffy attached cushions
-and/or heavily rounded or curved arms and back 
-anything that lacks crisply defined edges
Lastly, the general rule is that an upholsterer will upholster a newly made up couch in a lining of sorts and then make up the slipcovers in your fabric of choice. That way, the expense is kept to minimum as lining is reasonable. However, this is completely dependent on whether your prefer a lining underneath or a fabric.

I hope the hints and suggestions above are going to be of help.  If you are still unsure or have any questions, pop us a comment and we would be happy to help.

Che’ x

All image sources via Pinterest

Decore how-to: Principles and Elements Part II

Continuing on from Part One, we continue with our message (and the message of million’s of others) that good design is founded on principles and elements.  They “describe fundamental ideas about the practice of good visual design.”  After covering Principles in Part One, we’re on to Elements.  But before turning to Elements, I found this quote by William Lidwell that I found quite interesting, stated in “Universal Principles of Design:”
“The best designers sometimes disregard the principles of design. When they do so, however, there is usually some compensating merit attained at the cost of the violation. Unless you are certain of doing as well, it is best to abide by the principles.”
The elements of design are:
  • Line
  • Colour
  • Texture
  • Form
  • Light
Line is defined as the starting points of shapes and form, seen as moving points in space – they create different effects as the eye moves from one point to the next.  They can be described as curved, straight, vertical, horizontal, diagonal, organic, masculine, bold – they can communicate concepts and atmospheres, like daintiness, boldness or grace.
Curved lines can be viewed as more playful and informal, although the controlled curves found in objects like furniture can be more formal than free flowing curved lines found in plants or the folds of curtains.  Diagonal lines can increase visual width, and are also less formal – however they are sometimes difficult to apply successfully.  They appear strong when in opposition to each other, but weak when portrayed individually.
Straight lines express force, with verticals appearing strong and dominant, drawing the eye upward and adding height.  It has a formal effect, and seems active, where horizontal lines seem restful.  Horizontal lines also give the effect of width.
While we have covered colour in more depth previously, we have to reiterate its importance as a design element.  Beside the obvious design influence that colour has, we must also realise the unconscious influences that it has.  It arguably has the most important role in obtaining elements and principles – for example, objects arranged with correct proportions can suddenly appear incorrect when the colours are changed, seeming unbalanced.  If a stronger colour is introduced, the object or area may seem heavier.  Should there be a lack of balance, there won’t be any sense of harmony in the design, which is the ultimate goal of any design.  While there are no firm rules, the effect of different colours should be considered due to their ability to create atmospheres and influence moods.  It’s wise to always bear the intensity of a hue in mind.
Texture is the surface quality that deals with the sense of touch – we appreciate it in a tactile/physical sense, as well as visually appreciating the effects that it may have. (For example, the highlights and shadows that are caused by a specific texture – the surface patterns my change with changing light.)  Certain textures also communicate certain messages, like that of something sheer and light giving the impression of something dainty.

Rough textures such as wood or wool appear to be warmer and more informal, and absorb light, whereas smooth, fine textures reflect light.  These textures more easily suggest formality and a cool environment.  Coarse textures tend to diminish colour, so are often most effectively used in conjunction with dark colours.  However, pile fabrics such as corduroy and velvet both reflect and absorb light.  Therefore combinations of textures can create a colour scheme even if the overall colour scheme is monochromatic.



Form can be two or three dimensional – two dimensional forms are defined by lines, whereas three dimensional forms are defined by volume.  Form should contribute to harmony in the space, with the basic building blocks being square, rectangular, triangles, and circles.Square forms are viewed as regular and stable, but can become monotonous when used alone.  Rectangles add visual length or width and triangles are visually interesting and draw attention to corners.  Circles and ovals can seem formal and self contained – they keep the eye within their borders, as well as creating intimate environments.



Hugely important, artificial and natural light contribute a great deal towards focal points and balance.  Design should be approached in such a way that natural light should be able to create balance unaided, and when it becomes dark and that light changes, artifical light must then restore that balance.  This allows an opportunity to switch between day time and night time focal points.  Light can completely change the atmosphere of a room.


As mentioned in Part One, the place to check out for design and decor information and courses is the Design School South Africa – for information about their open days, check here.

Always remember though, that knowing the rules well means you can break them well!  And if you’re confused or stuck, there’s always Portfolio.

– Lee

2013 in Colour

To start off the new year, we thought that it would be a good idea to get to know the years colours forecast a bit better.  As Nicola Hadfield mentioned in her trend talk, colours are becoming more muted this year.  Pantone launched the 2013 Colour of the Year, Emerald, with a bang, but there’s a whole range of other colours working with it.  We have sourced some stunning visuals as examples, which will hopefully inspire you all, and keep you bang on trend this year with the top ten colours presented in gorgeous collages:

Personally, I adore this years colours – I feel like there’s a return to more natural hues, and while I may be no expert, I believe they’ll continue to look great in any context long after next forecasts are announced.  I especially love Grayed Jade, Poppy Red (especially since I own a pair of those gorgeous Vivienne Westwood/Melissa Love Heart heels!) and Linen.

– Lee

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