Friday, September 30, 2011

Composing a photo of vignettes or details.

This is my third post on the subject of photographing interiors, all written with the aim of improving my own photos.

Lately, I've noticed that I am particularly attracted to photos of rooms where the details, vignettes, or one wall of the room is photographed like the pictures I am about to show you.

Let's look at these photos.  Where is the photographer in each shot?

Now that you've had a chance to look at a few, what do you notice?

I see that the photographer is at a 90 degree angle to the subject being photographed.

Source: None via Camille on Pinterest

This is not a sideways glance.  It's like someone looking you straight in the eye.

It is straightforward and studied look which gives the feeling of honesty.

The photographer holds the camera lower than eye level as evidenced by the amount of table or other surface one can see in the photograph.

And for me at least, the fact that the picture is taken low to the floor gives an impression of intimacy, as if I am the one standing in the room viewing the scene. 

These shots are taken further away, but they still achieve the same effect for me.

Some are symmetrical.

Others are not.

But they are all, in my opinion at least, beautifully composed.

* * *

And just to make a point, let me point out a few pictures, ones that I love, which I feel could have been more successful if taken with the above ideas in mind.

I love pretty much anything by designer David Jimenez, and as much as I really like this vignette, I do wish the photo was taken head-on.  While sometimes it is nice to get part of a piece of furniture in the corner of the picture, the amount of the pillows, couch, and vase we see is not enough to let us get a feel for the room. Also, the light is on.  Natural light and no flash seems to work better in photos.

Here's another I really like, and while I realize it's hard to take a photo of a mirror without taking a picture of yourself, I think this would have also been better composed with a straight-forward approach.

If I could have this entire vignette somewhere in my house, I'd take it in a second. 
 I just don't think the photograph does it justice.  Too high, too much of an angle maybe?

While sometimes it would be preferable to take the picture head-on, you need to show a detail that cannot be captured that way.  Like the antique mirror disguising this medicine cabinet.

Just so you don't think I'm being a huge photo snob,
Here's a picture I took a few months ago.  In fact, all you need do is scroll down to previous posts to see that I have a lot to learn still. 

Long-winded enough for you?  Are you asleep? 

If not, here are some more posts on photographing interiors, should you want to read them.

Art Print Giveaway Winners!

The winners of the art print giveaway from FauxKiss were comment numbers 5 and 25.  
(I'm not tech savvy enough to show the screen-shot at  Sorry!)

So, that's Jessie of Llamas and Lace, who liked this print:

Jessie recently moved to my home state of New Mexico and I'm guessing she chose this one after recently hearing elk bugle in the woods near her house.  Am I right, Jessie?

Julie turned out to be #25 after discounting a number of commentors who did not enter the giveaway.  Julie chose this one.

Congratulations to you both! I'd love to see how they turn out in your space if you get the chance!

And a special thank you to Jean for providing two prints for the giveaway.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Leah and Stephane's Dining Room

  My friends Leah and Stephane just bought a classic row house in San Francisco and have asked me for help with their dining room.

This is their entry, which I think is a good example of their eclectic, worldy decorating style.  She grew up in New Mexico, though we didn't become friends until after moving here.  He hails from Senegal, and in addition to having lived in Paris, both have collected items from their extensive world travels.

This is Leah and Stephane's dining room, looking out toward the bay windows in the back of the house.  The overall goal is to finish up the room while cozying it up a bit.   Wouldn't hanging high curtains between the windows achieve that goal?

Here is their new dining table from Eq3.  I love modern furniture paired with classic architecture.

The original thought was to put a rug under the dining table to provide contrast between the floor and the table legs, which are almost the same ebony color.  But the irregular shape of the bay window makes that difficult.

Instead, Leah and Stephane have chosen these red leather chairs from Crate and Barrel. I think it's a great choice to warm up the space.   Plus, there are touches of red throughout the house.

 Looking back from the table there is a niche, in which they plan to build a storage cabinet near the bottom and shelves above for a small library.

Notice the green leather chair that belonged to Leah's grandfather: 
 Do they not have some fabulous furniture and art?  Most art pieces in the house are original.

The red and green chairs might drive the color palette of the room.

Something like this:

Although, Leah also sent me this picture of some lavender sachets she bought as another possible color palette.

Centered in the middle of the room is this fireplace.
Because the bay window prevents rug placement under the dining table, we have planned to center a 5x8 rug in the middle of the room near the fireplace to cozy things up a bit.

Here are some possible contenders.
Source: via Camille on Pinterest
Source: via Camille on Pinterest

 Across from the fireplace and to the left is this wall.

We're going to move the above table across the way where the chair and plant now live and replace it with with this buffet,  which I found on Craigslist.

I sent Leah and Stephane this picture of a tag sale buffet recently redone by the talented
Fran of Green Street

Leah and Stephane bought the buffet the next day.
Here's Leah being a good girl and wearing a mask and safety goggles while she sands. 

Back to the dining room.
We're also thinking about a chandelier or a pendant over the dining room table, but haven't 
gotten that far yet.

So, my fellow design lovers, do you have any suggestions?  Curtain color, lighting, general arranging?  

Also, if you haven't entered the art print giveaway, you can do that here.  Tomorrow is the last day to enter.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Five Fall Arrangements

Today, you can find me at Loft and Cottage where I'm featuring five different autumn-inspired arrangements, including this last-all-season-long fruit and leaves display.  It's not fake.

To see the other arrangements along with tips and tricks for bringing foliage indoors, click here

Linking to Small But Charming's Flower Party.

Also, if you'd like to enter an art print giveaway, you can do that here

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Giveaway Art Print from FauxKiss

Comments are now closed.

I am excited to announce my first giveaway of two beautiful prints from Etsy seller FauxKiss.  

Here are three I'm particularly enamored of:

Looking for something nautical?

Maybe something whimsical for a child's room?

Perhaps you need a butterfly to add to your collection?

Artist, Jean Cody, prints these vintage images on pages from an old dictionary.  They are sized for a standard 8x10" mat with an opening for a 5x7" print. 

Wouldn't one of these be perfect for a gallery wall?  I plan to order one or two for myself and will have a very hard time choosing.  But I think I have to have the heron.

To enter:
1.  Visit Jean's Etsy store here and choose a print. 
2.  Come back and comment with the name of the print you'd like, making sure to leave a way to contact you by email or blog should you win.

The giveaway will be open for a week and there will be two winners selected at random and announced on Friday, September 29th!

Comments are now closed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Creating a Fall Bouquet

Happy Tuesday, Friends! 

Today, you can find me at one of my favorite blogs, My Many Moments, where I'll be sharing a tutorial on how to create this Fall inspired bouquet.

To see the tutorial, click here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rockridge Kitchen Tour 2011: The Clever Details

Every two years, my neighborhood planning council puts on a kitchen tour, featuring walk-through tours of kitchens recently remodeled by homeowners in our historic Arts-and-Crafts neighborhood of Oakland, California.

This year, I am featuring some of these nine kitchens, which run the gamut from contemporary to traditional, in a before-and-after-event post.  

So as not to give away the entire tour before it actually happens, this is one of the few full kitchen shots I'll show until after the Rockridge Kitchen Tour has taken place.  Just a teaser!

For now, I'm going to show mostly tight shots of the clever ideas thought up by homeowners and their architects to solve some of the problems one might encounter in daily meal preparation.  I hope you get some great take-away ideas!

Let's start with the above kitchen.
I love this use of the small amount of space next to the fridge for cookbooks.  Books add warmth to any space, and in this case, lots of wonderful color.

If you look at both of the above photos, you'll see light streaming in above the cabinets.  The homeowners added clerestory windows above the upper cabinets for a light-filled kitchen.


The homeowners in this kitchen wanted to make use of every inch of space in their custom-built island, so they turned the leftover six inches on the backside into a place to display cookbooks in an unusual way -- so the covers can be seen.

In the front of the island, the down draft for the cook top might normally prevent storage issues, but the homeowner asked the architect to design a drawer to get around the problem.


Don't forget the pets!   In this kitchen, the homeowners had a drawer insert designed specifically to fit a bin of dog food.


Installing a power strip under the cabinets lets one place appliances anywhere on the counter top.  For DIYers, this would also be an easy way to avoid working around outlets while installing a backsplash.


Do you not love the apothecary cabinets that sit directly on the counter top in this kitchen?  Beautiful symmetry and light-filled storage.


Near the second of two sinks (this one closest to the pantry and fridge) there is a pull-out for large appliance storage.  

This kitchen was recently featured in Sunset magazine.  Here, the homeowners used open shelving to the left of the range for an aesthetically pleasing way to display dishes.  What makes it clever is that it's a cost-saving alternative to installing upper cabinets.

If you are local, there are plenty more clever details in these beautifully designed kitchens to see in person. 

You can pre-purchase tickets to the Rockridge Kitchen Tour which takes place Sunday, October 2nd from 12:30 to 5:30 pm. Proceeds will benefit the Rockridge Community Planning Council to support a variety of community activities and improvements.

For those of you who can't see it in person,  I'll do another post of some of my favorite kitchens after the event is over.  

Thank you to Natalie Mehta for providing photos!

Update:  To see more pictures of these kitchens post-tour, click here.