Friday, December 30, 2011

Interview with David Jimenez

Today, I am thrilled to tell you that one of my favorite designers, David Jimenez, has graciously agreed to do an interview for The Vintique Object.

David is known for his role in developing a visual aesthetic for Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware.  He currently lives in Kansas City where he is vice-president of visual merchandising and store design for Hallmark.  

Do you recognize his work?


During my research for this interview, I kept coming across people who commented that you are a favorite designer.  What is it about your style that you think is appealing to so many people?

Great question!  I have been told that my spaces are stylish, livable, and timeless. The kind of place that invites you to prop your feet up on an ottoman and make yourself comfortable...and I can't imagine a better compliment. I enjoy creating spaces that are warm, collected, and personal. I am bit of a romantic too, and love including nostalgic and vintage furnishings, art, and accessories in my homes. I think people resonate with my projects because they see something familiar in my rooms that speaks to them in a personal way.

(KC bedroom, sitting room, guest bedroom)


Your House Beautiful interview, mentioned that you had amassed a collection of 9 sofas and 65 lamps from flea market and thrift shopping.  That's a pretty astounding collection!  I'm guessing that many readers of The Vintique Object love to scour for vintage and antique finds too.  What advice can you give about making a decision to buy a piece, even if there is no immediate place to put it? 

 I am laughing out loud! Nine sofas and 65 lamps seems excessive (and a little like I have an editing problem), but the house actually had four levels, a portico, carriage house, and sat on three city lots so it required a lot of furniture. I recently downsized to a condo in an historic building on the Plaza in Kansas City . What I've found is that when you purchase something you love, it can travel with you and withstand fads or trends. For example, I originally spotted the 1960's sofa that now sits in my living room, covered in badly worn orange crushed velvet at an antique shop in Indianapolis, over ten years ago. I wasn't shopping for a new sofa at the time but fell in love with its lines and length (95"), and had to have it. I reinvented it with fresh upholstery and silver nail heads to accentuate its sleek lines and it's traveled with me to two cities, three homes and counting. I have found that buying vintage is a terrific way to pick up pieces that have great style without breaking the bank and have had similar success with lamps, side tables and small accent chairs. If you find something you love and it fits in your budget, buy it! You'll find a spot for it later.

(KC living room photo, carriage house buffet)


On your website, you have photos of your carriage house decorated in a modern and again in a classic style.  Similarly, there are separate photos of your Palm Springs retreat decorated in mid-century and Hollywood Regency styles.  What inspired you decorate the same space in two different styles?

Upgrading my 1906 home in Kansas City took a lot of work and I lived in the carriage house while improvements where under way. When it came time to move from the carriage house into my newly renovated home, I took a lot of the furniture shown in the "classic style" photos with me to the main house. That gave me the perfect opportunity to recreate the carriage house with a slightly different look which was more modern in sensibility. It was a fun project and I had the carriage house photographed both ways for my website.

The houses in Palm Springs are actually two separate homes in different parts of the city. One is a vacation rental and the other is my vacation get-away. I wanted the houses to have a nod to the past and set one up with mostly mid-century furnishings and the other one is distinctly rat pack swank.

(photos of Palm Springs mid-century and regency)

I have read that you only use 15 to 30 watt bulbs to achieve a warm, romantic glow -- it's a kind of signature look for you.  What do you have in mind now that the incandescent light bulb is being phased out? 

Dim lighting creates a warm glow, puts you immediately at ease when you walk in a room, and let's face it, it makes everyone look better! I outfit all of my lamps throughout the house with a mix of 7.5, 15 and 25 watt bulbs. The mix in wattages creates pools of lights instead a consistent, even glow throughout a room. I was horrified when I heard that incandescent bulbs are slowly being phased out and am hoping that fluorescent bulbs are enhanced to emit similar light as incandescent bulbs. Meanwhile, you'll find me stockpiling bulbs at my local big box retailer!

Update:  I'm guessing David is relieved to know that Congress has defunded the ban on incandescent bulbs.

(KC dining room, media room )

I wonder if you would take a moment to discuss the use of black in your spaces.
I love classic, neutral spaces that are richly layered and have found that black has a way a way of punctuating a space and enhancing a sophisticated, retro vibe. Whether its black shades on lamps, an eclectic mix of black and white photography and charcoals on a wall, a zebra or cowhide rug across a floor, or an ebony baby grand piano, black keeps a room from becoming prosaic and creates instant chic.

(KC Carriage House bedroom, study, living room)

As a child growing up in New York , you rearranged your parents' furniture and used black and white photos from calendars to decorate your room.  Do you believe that your interest in interiors is innate, or do you think that you learned by example?
There was a great quote by the indomitable romance novelist Jackie Collins in Vanity Fair recently who said she became a writer because her husband gave her a typewriter. And then she added, "If he'd given me a violin, I'd be performing at Carnegie Hall." I think we all have gifts that can be nurtured but some are innate. For example, I've always had a passion for the piano but after years of classes and practice realized it wasn't meant to be, but even at a very early age, I was keenly aware of my surroundings and understood the impact of lighting, music and furniture placement in rooms. I have been asked if my design style was inspired in part by the home retailers that I've worked for in the past, but the reverse is true. I've been able to bring Pottery Barn and Restoration an aesthetic that is uniquely my own. I have a passion for interiors and am inspired by magazines, design blogs, and books on decor but the thing that drives my choices for colors, furnishings, and finishes is how I want to feel when I walk in a room...a space that speaks to my soul and makes me smile when I walk in the door.

David, I am so grateful to you for your graciousness and generosity of time. What a huge treat this has been for me!  

Be sure to check out more pictures of David's interiors on his website.  His Kansas City carriage house is pretty much my idea of a dream home.  Cozy, classic, neutral, layered, and perfect.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thank you!


What a nice surprise (and an honor!) to discover that 
The Vintique Object has been included in 
Desire to Inspire's Christmas Reading Guide 2011.   
A very nice Christmas gift.  

Thank you to Jo and Kim!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas in New Mexico

I haven't been able to post any pictures of our Christmas decor because we've been in New Mexico visiting family since the middle of the month.

In New Mexico, we have many of our own Christmas traditions.  

I thought I'd share a few with you.

Luminarias are lit on Christmas Eve.  The tradition began as a way to light the path for baby Jesus to find his way into each home.  

One can find whole neighborhoods lit with luminarias on Christmas Eve, along with families bundled up and out for a walk to enjoy the sight.

Like so much else in New Mexico, this decoration is simple and rustic.  Luminarias are made from brown lunch bags, with sand in the bottom and a candle nestled down into it.  The top of the bag is folded over so that it stays open.  
When the candle burns down far enough, it extinguishes itself in the sand.

Now for food, which is a very big part of the culture here. New Mexican food is a distinct cuisine -- a blend of the Mexican and Native American cultures.  The star ingredient is the red and green chile pepper. 

In fact, it is our state vegetable. 

 Posole is a stew that is a traditionally eaten at Christmas time.  It is made with hominy, red chile, pork, and various vegetables. 

On Christmas Eve, it is the custom to eat New Mexican food.  Enchiladas and tamales are usually part of the menu.  In New Mexico, we eat our enchiladas with the corn tortillas stacked on top of one another like pancakes, rather than rolled.  

If you visit New Mexico and want to sound like a native while ordering both red and green chile (pictured above), you order it "Christmas."  You don't say, "I'd like it Christmas style."  You just say, I'd like the chicken enchiladas, Christmas, please."

The chile is such an important part of our culture, we use it for decoration too.
This wreath is made of dried, red chile pods.

But one is more likely to find the red chile pod in a ristra, hanging on the wall or under a portal near the entrance of the home.

Many people confuse New Mexico with Arizona (Phoenix, Tuscon) and think that it doesn't get very cold here, but that is not true. 
As I write this, there are a few inches of snow outside.  

Looks like we might have a white Christmas.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my readers!   I am grateful that you take the time to stop by this blog and hope that this season is full of beauty, tradition, and time spent with those you love.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fill in the blank.

I laughed out loud when I read following comment in regard to this project:

Super cool custom-covered tissue box cover  by Ashley of Meet Me in Philadelphia.

casey at loft and cottage said...
Um, this is so incredible! I really love it because I have a panic attack every time I have to buy tissues looking for just the right patterned (and it is never right) box. Will definitely have to put your tutorial to use very soon. 

I laughed because I can stand there for 10 minutes trying to decide which is the least heinous of the tissue box choices.  

So Casey's comment inspired this thought:

You know you are design obsessed when ________________________________.
(fill in the blank)


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Composing Photos: Styling so the Eye Travels

My mother is an artist and while I wouldn't call myself one, I have taken a number of art classes. So "the movement of the eye" has sort of been drilled into me.

 When I look at the above obviously styled photo (I mean, do you really put a basket exactly where you stand when brushing your teeth?),  the first thing my eye goes to is the basket.  For me it has the most presence because of the shape, the color, the texture.  So I see the basket, and then my eye travels in an arc or curve up to the top of the picture.  I see the black and white art, the chair, the towel, and then the black vase of lilacs, which could be another focal point.

It doesn't really matter where your eye starts, as long as it follows a line, or curve to allow you to look the whole photo.  The stylist who places the basket under the entry table is allowing a continuation of the eye from the top to bottom of the photo.

The above picture is a beautiful example of gorgeous styling.   From the detailing at the top of the mirror, the eye can naturally follow an almost stepping process down to the black lampshade, the pedestal bowl of presents and the letter U.  

If the tray on this table, the chair, and the pendant where all lined up, the photo just wouldn't be as interesting.

The focal point here are the wheel like shapes.  The pumpkins at the bottom of the photo draw the eye down through the shelves.  The two pumpkins nicely echo the wheel shapes near the top of the photo.

This photo does a nice job of allowing your eye to not only travel up and down, but also from background to foreground.  My eye easily follows the large topiary down to the table, Bertoia chair, and pouf in the foreground of the picture. 

Same with the above photo.  What does your eye see first?  Where does it travel?  Does it follow a curve?

I've noticed that photo stylists often use branches or flowers to help the eye flow from one part of the picture to the next.  Notice how the branches help connect the lantern to the table, yet they don't get in the way of fireplace.  Again, the eye travels in a curve.

An Urban Cottage
When I look at the above photo, my eye travels in a C pattern from the bookcases to chandelier, to the grouping on the table, and then finally to the chair and fern.  

Do you see the C pattern here? Why was the candlestick placed on the left side of the picture?
Ottomans, baskets, or stools are often used to bridge the gap between the middle of the picture and the floor.  I believe there is a reason that stool is sitting in front of the island.   It helps take our eye down to the floor, where that super awesome striped rug lays

 If you regularly take photos of interiors and like to style them, one thing you can do is take a look at the view finder and ask yourself if objects are placed so that the eye can travel in a curve to see the entire thing from top to bottom.  Even from foreground to background.  

Food for thought:  How is styling a photo similar to creating a vignette?

P.S.  As usual, I need to follow my own advice when taking pictures.  I'm doing this little series as a way to help myself learn to take better photos!

P.P.S  I'll be back soon with the four elements of design I had to leave off of the list for my guest post at Haus Design.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Design in Five


Today you can find me at Haus Design where the uber stylish Barbara is hosting a series called 

If you got to start with a blank room and had to pick your top five favorite elements to add, what would they be?  
The above picture includes all of my five.  To read about that, click here

P.S.  When you are there be sure to check out Barbara's post on A European Christmas.  She's an American who has lived there for four years.  What she has say about it is so enticing to me!  Plus, Barbara always find the most interesting interiors to post.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Photo Prop Giveaway Winners

Today, I'm announcing the two lucky winners of the Christmas Photo Prop giveaway from Etsy seller,  
They are:
Kristy from Hyphen Interiors

  Congratulations to you both!  I'd love to see what you do with them, if you get the chance.  A huge thanks to Simply Silhouettes for generously offering two printables.

Here's a a sample of what else they do:

This plate would make a cute personalized holiday gift, but it could be used year round too. 

In other holiday news, I think these projects are going to be on my list this week:

Our door front only steps from pedestrian heavy sidewalk, but I wouldn't be heart broken if this wreath made from paper cups was ripped off of our door since it requires very little time, money, and effort to make.

 We have a boxwood hedge.  How pretty would a pair of these be in front facing windows?

 This would make such a cute Christmas picture/card.

Christmas memories are made with all of the senses.  How great is this stove pot potpourri?  It can be saved and used over again by simply putting a lid on the pot and putting in the fridge.