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Spruce Up Your Space
— Napa, Sonoma, & Marin


"Escape the beige! We all deserve to live in surroundings that make us feel good, bring a smile to our face, and reflect us and our tastes. Maybe you have just moved and want to create a space that’s all “you.” Maybe you are considering a significant remodeling project and are looking for trends. Or perhaps you are stuck in an uninspired rental unit or are in temporary quarters due to a flood, fire or other calamity. The Essential Guide: Napa • Sonoma • Marin sat down with designers Jennifer Jaques and Frankie Dziedzic of DZ Design + Interiors to get these insiders’ views on design fixes that can help you achieve instant oomph in your living space.

Spruce Up Your Space

"Escape the beige! We all deserve to live in surroundings that make us feel good, bring a smile to our face, and reflect us and our tastes. Maybe you have just moved and want to create a space that’s all “you.” Maybe you are considering a significant remodeling project and are looking for trends. Or perhaps you are stuck in an uninspired rental unit or are in temporary quarters due to a flood, fire or other calamity. The Essential Guide: Napa • Sonoma • Marin sat down with designers Jennifer Jaques and Frankie Dziedzic of DZ Design + Interiors to get these insiders’ views on design fixes that can help you achieve instant oomph in your living space.

If you have the resources to change only one room, which room should it be?

Designer Jennifer Jaques says that the kitchen ranks top on the list of rooms people are likely to remodel. All-white kitchens have been the rage, but she believes the time is now right for homeowners to add some color. Painting your kitchen cabinets is an easy, low-cost way. Bolder, richer color palettes, from deep charcoals and other neutrals to luscious blues and sage tones, are on the rise. Or to add a bit of punch, create a color focal point by replacing a neutral oven or refrigerator with one in rich royal blue, apple red or sunny yellow; if pastels are more to your liking, one in French blue or mint green. For those who like retro styling in awesome colors, Jaques recommends Big Chill’s line of major kitchen appliances. Those who want the look of a professional kitchen can’t go wrong with La Cornue or Viking’s professional series.

Are stainless appliances a thing of the past? If so, what’s the new “it” finish?

For at least a decade or two, stainless steel has reigned supreme as the appliance finish of choice. Sleek looks and modern industrial flair have kept stainless in step with mid-century remodels, urban lofts, the minimalist" movement and all-white kitchens. Stainless goes with everything and pairs well with other kitchen elements, such as cabinet pulls and kitchen fixtures.

Thanks to celebrity chefs and cooking shows, stainless will always be associated with professional kitchens, but it is no longer the final word in contemporary kitchen design. “Stainless is classic,” says Frankie Dziedzic, a past winner of the SubZero/Wolf National Kitchen Contest. “But if homeowners are looking for something beyond stainless, they have access to a whole host of hot new neutrals and color alternatives.” In the neutral tones, he suggests new whites, charcoal, matte black and even black stainless. Those interested in using color to give the kitchen a bit of pizzazz can choose from colors that range from Easter egg pastels (such as La Cornue’s “Roquefort” and Big Chill’s “buttercup yellow” and “beach blue”) to gleaming enamels in bold, bright hues (such as Viking’s professional series in “cobalt blue,” “racing red,” and “wasabi,” to name a few).

What’s the best way to establish the desired mood or ambiance of a room?

The hands-down answer from both designers is interesting lighting, specifically, chandeliers or pendant fixtures. Chandeliers are not just for formal dining rooms anymore. “These days, chandeliers are being used to elevate the look of bathrooms, bedrooms, entries and even kitchens,” says Dziedzic. “Virtually any living space can be improved with the addition of a chandelier.” With the many styles and options available, chandeliers have become the lighting of choice in homes, tasting rooms, bistros, offices and other businesses. Whether the décor calls for traditional or modern, large or petite, glitzy or rustic, today’s chandeliers have it covered.

Traditional chandeliers, such as those found in formal dining rooms, are typically larger in size, gold or silver, and often ornately adorned with crystal prisms and pendants. As a rule, the more crystals, the more dazzling and light-reflective the fixture. Consequently, such chandeliers are excellent choices for darker spaces or rooms with high ceilings. While traditional crystal chandeliers add glamor and elegance, there are other styles for every taste and décor. Which one works best depends on the size and character of the room and the owner’s personal preferences. Dziedzic says tiered chandeliers can fill a large space without looking heavy or overpowering a room, and ones with a few crystals add extra sparkle and illumination. Contemporary chandeliers are often made of nontraditional modern materials such as acrylic, chrome or wrought iron, and from natural materials, such as elk or deer antlers.

According to Dziedzic, each of these styles can be at home in the right setting, but you need to pay attention to balance. Wrought iron chandeliers are heavy and look it, so they work best in a large space and paired with substantial furniture, such as a wood slab table or oversized leather sofa. Smaller-scale chandeliers can a fairy-lights touch to bedrooms, bathrooms and smaller spaces. For appropriate scale and functionality, and to avoid interfering with diners, a dining room chandelier should be about 12 inches smaller in diameter than the width of the table over which it hangs. To gauge of appropriate size for other living spaces, add the number of feet in the length and width of the room. The resulting number is approximately the diameter of the chandelier in inches.

How does one transition from early-marriage or post-kids décor to a more refined look?

“Invest in a single piece of statement furniture in a classic design or shape, and build the room around it,” says Dziedzic. He suggests the Eames Chair and Ottoman, the classic lounger that husband-and-wife designers Charles and Ray Eames introduced 1956 as their version of the club chair. Other can’t-miss designs that have withstood the test of time are the Barcelona Chair (Mies van der Röhe, 1929), the Noguchi Table (a triangular coffee table by Isamu Noguchi, 1947) and the Wassily Chair (Marcel Breuer,1925, although modified slightly in 1950), which is instantly recognizable because of its clever configuration of leather straps and chrome tubing. As a testament to the perfection of their original design, these classic styles have remained in virtually continuous production since their inception, making them some of the most identifiable icons of the modern furniture movement. No need to search for vintage versions of these: many classic designs are available at design centers such as Design Within Reach, Cantoni and Knoll furniture distributors.

If timeless modern furniture is not your taste, you can up your quality quotient by incorporating handcrafted furnishings in your décor. At Dovetail Collection Gallery in Healdsburg, you will find superb handmade furniture and home goods. Founded in 2003 by husband-and-wife team Patricia and Steve Kirkish, the gallery’s collection of American, handcrafted items features fine wood furniture by master craftsmen from Northern California.

If you’re partial to beautifully up-cycled and vintage-sourced goods, check out the offerings at Sonoma Nesting Company in Guerneville. There, along with a wonderful assortment of vintage curiosities, artwork and ephemera, co-owners Dax Berg and Christopher “Smitty” Smith showcase distinctive vintage and antique furniture pieces, many of which have been given a fresh look with artisan-applied paint in festive color combinations. These reclaimed treasures are both beautiful and solid, exhibiting the fine craftsmanship characteristic in quality vintage furniture. Unique light fixtures can instantly — and often less expensively — elevate the look of a room, so while you are at Sonoma Nesting Company, check out the chandeliers and midcentury treasures. Quality artisan-crafted goods add texture, depth and interest to a room. Jaques points out that even if your budget is not large, you can still choose and display handsome handmade baskets, handwoven throws or handloomed rugs.

What is your go-to solution when the budget is tight, tight, tight?

“Splash on the color,” laughs Jaques, “and lots of it!” If you want to spruce up a room without spending a lot of time or money, you need only add a burst of color. Jaques cites several color-rich decorating strategies that reap considerable visual bang for the buck. To brighten the interior of built-in open shelving or bookshelves, highlight the accessories they hold, and focus the eye, add a contrasting paint color to the inside back. To warm and soften the look of hardwood and tile flooring, and brighten hallways and other utilitarian spaces, use colorful rag rugs or kilim runners. Give roll-up window shades a dash of interest by lining them with patterned wallpaper or painting on colorful designs. Jaques’ favorite easy fix is to accessorize with throw blankets or pillows in vivid, cheerful colors, such as spring green, sky blue, sunshine yellow or tangerine orange. Use complementary colors to make the color scheme pop.

What is your top recommendation for bedroom updates?

Of the many style elements that come together to create sleep retreats, the easiest, most cost-effective one to update is the bedding. Dziedzic favors a tailored look, but he counsels clients to mix it up. If your bed linens are simple and unembellished, add a touch of luxe with pillow shams and a high-loft down comforter. Or if your go-to is a puffy duvet, try a clean-lined quilt or bedspread — both of which are now enjoying a resurgence in popularity — for a completely fresh look. There are patterns and designs for every taste, from high-contrast colors to serene monochromatic palettes. Perk up your bedroom with big, bold botanical prints or a pop of 70’s-throwback geometrics in eye catching colors. Jaques believes, though, that you can’t go wrong with a classic black-and-white combination, but she also encourages clients to consider white-on-white options or to combine several shades of gray. A sure-fire way to add style and color to the décor is with toss or scatter pillows,” says Jaques. To successfully decorate with throw pillows, however, you need to consider more than the punch of color they bring: they can be used to create visual balance and highlight other design elements. So, while color is a key element, you should also consider size, fabric, pattern and loft when accessorizing with pillows.

Play with pillow sizes to find the right mix of pillows for the furniture they are intended to complement. A good rule of thumb is that when in doubt, go bigger rather than smaller. Another rule is to go with more pillows rather than fewer. On a tailored sectional sofa, add a pillow or pillow set for every section. For a large sectional, nest a set of pillows in each corner, using similarly shaped pillows in two sizes, one a couple of inches smaller than the other. To heighten visual interest and add textured depth, mix coordinating fabrics, prints, patterns and shapes.

To give pillows a full look and to help them keep their shape, use sufficiently large pillow inserts. To a bedscape, add an oversized bolster or neckroll pillows to balance out the rectangles and squares. To achieve a harmonious look, choose a theme color and then add complementary and coordinating colors and patterns. This keeps the interest high, yet pleasing to the eye. Most importantly, advises Jaques, is to have fun experimenting with sizes, patterns and shapes until you hit on the right combination.

What is the easiest way to update an interior without the trouble and expense of a complete make-over?

Jaques and Dziedzic agree that one way to freshen a living space without replacing a major piece of furniture is to change the floor coverings. Add an area rug or replace an existing one to re-set a room’s entire look. Consider choosing a rug with one of today’s versions of stripes: tone-on-tone, variegated or contrasting, or choose a textured weave or chevron pattern.

Delineate a seating area or visually group an arrangement of furniture by anchoring it with a traditional Persian or Moroccan rug. Lighten up for summer by replacing heavier textiles with sea grass, bamboo or jute rugs. Warm up for winter with deeper tones in wool, silk or other rich textiles. Jaques notes the trend of layering two rugs in an area. The larger, base rug defines the boundary, while the top rug adds color, texture, contrast and interest. Moroccan or Turkish rugs, such as kilims, layer well since they are generally flatweave, pileless textiles in rich, beautiful colors and unique patterns.

Are trends worth following?

“If you’re starting from scratch or about to undertake a major remodel, current trends generally are something you will want to pay attention to,” says Dziedzic, “especially in more permanent features like kitchen design or major furniture purchases.” In his experience, though, most people will not go to the trouble and expense of redecorating every time a new decorating idea comes into vogue. However, occasionally incorporating a trendy element into existing décor can give a room a fresh look. Jaques finds this strategy works best when the main furniture is neutral and the trending color or style is introduced via easy-to-change elements, such as accent pillows, throws, wall art and accessories. She recommends slipcovering furniture to create a neutral palette and then adding your favorite “trend” element for instant, contemporary flair. She cautions, though, that slipcovers are not for everyone or every room, and that’s fine: your living space is about you. Trends can keep your space looking current, but more important is that your home reflect your personality, how you live and what you love.

If you try any of these suggestions, keep in mind that your living area should express your personality and design preferences. Your mood and sense of well-being are enhanced when you are surrounded by colors that resonate with you, by accessories that hold meaning for you, and by furnishings that comport with your lifestyle, be it casual, traditional, fun or elegant. You need to be able to relax and feel comfortable in your home. And the best way to do that is by living out loud, with colors, patterns, textures and furnishings that are all “you.”

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