Monday, August 30, 2010

Architectural Design

Fish House Built on Water Takes Eco-friendliness to the Max

If you love water and nature in general then you'll love the Fish House in the pictures below. Designed by Guz Architects in Singapore, this spacious house seems to be built on water and it's definitely fun to live in.

Besides the impressive pool that seems to endlessly revolve around the Fish House, you also have a spectacular view of the ocean that's just outside. Moving on we find a great interior dominated by wood finishing and plenty of natural light that comes in through those impressive windows. And yes, that's a green patch of grass on top of the Fish House that will let you enjoy some time outdoors without actually leaving this ingeniously designed house. So if you live in Singapore and you're looking for a great house idea then I think this Fish House on the beach is just what the doctor ordered.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dorm Rooms

Chic, Functional Dorm Room

With expertise in dorm makeovers, Alabama-based designers Katherine Bailey and Melissa Manifold of Moxii Design Studio share their secrets on maximizing style -- and square footage -- in a typical dorm setup. Plus, they give us the scoop on dorm essentials and need-to-know info, regardless of your school’s locale.

 I commend all the designers for this dorm makeover!!! BRAVO!!

Hide Dorm Floors

Provide panache underfoot. “Don’t be afraid to add personality from the floor up,” says Melissa. Decorative rugs, carpet squares, or bound carpets make an eye-catching focal point and bring warmth. Be sure to leave clearance for door swings, allowing air to circulate. Insufficient ventilation quickly causes condensation and mildew, which are common visitors to campus housing.

Layer Linens and Bedding

The designers chose heavily textured fabrics for bedding and headboards because they hide dirt and disguise stains. Katherine and Melissa advise purchasing two quilts with a washable layer of sheets underneath because dorm occupants have little control over the room’s temperature. “You can layer according to the indoor season,” says Katherine. Additional bedding also separates sleeping from lounging activities. Love the colors and design mix they have chosen for the room.

Elevate the Bed

Raise the standard. The Moxii design team suggests elevating beds onto risers, allocating a minimum clearance of 24 inches above the floor. The added height allows space for storage bins underneath the bed. Plan on purchasing an extra-long bed skirt between 24 and 30 inches in length to hide risers and storage containers.

Moxii design team conducted this interview with My Home Ideas, where you will find more details about their linen, and accessory suggestions,as well as how to make the headboard. Again, I commend their excellence in the design challenge!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Entertaining/Soft Black Bean Tostados

This hearty Mexican meal has countless variations. Fix the salsa and bean spread separately for snacks, roll the tortillas burrito-style, or make this dish vegetarian-friendly by omitting the chicken.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 tostada)



1/2 cup chopped peeled avocado
1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Remaining ingredients:

2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast (Optional)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) preshredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream


Preheat broiler.

To prepare salsa, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Toss gently, and set aside.

Combine 2 tablespoons water, lime juice, cumin, salt, ground red pepper, and black beans in a blender; process until smooth.

Place tortillas on a baking sheet, and spread about 1/4 cup black bean mixture evenly over each tortilla. Top each evenly with 1/4 cup chicken and 3 tablespoons cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and tortilla edges are just beginning to brown.

Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup lettuce, 1/4 cup salsa, and 2 tablespoons sour cream. Cut each tortilla into 4 wedges.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Design Styles/Part 3 of 3

Today, we are continuing Part 3... About design styles and everything you always wanted to know about design but were afraid to ask.


A heavily layered look consisting of intricately patterned fabrics, colorful mosaics, metal lanterns, textured walls, bold, jewel-toned colors, layers of Oriental rugs and pillows in luxurious fabrics and ornately-carved wooden accents. Design by David Bromstad. LOVE David's creativity and his program (Color Splash)!!!!

Shabby Chic

Coined in 1980 by Rachel Ashwell, this cottage-inspired look includes weathered white-painted furniture, painted motifs, floral prints in muted colors, white slipcovered sofas and vintage accessories. A sense of brightness and airiness is always evident in these interiors. Photo Courtesy of Miles Talbott's Shabby Chic® Collection.


Furnishings are usually 18th-century English, 19th-century neoclassic, French country and British Colonial revival. Use of classic styling and symmetry to create a calm, orderly decor. Color palette is usually in the mid-tones and fabrics are muted, usually simple florals, solids, stripes or plaids. Design by Tracy Morris.


The transitional look bridges contemporary and traditional design. Offering a deep rooted sense of history in some pieces, while furniture often gets an update with cleaner lines. Leather ottomans used as coffee tables is very popular in this decor. Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn could be considered transitional looks. Design by Tracy Morris.


A look inspired by beaches of Hawaii, French Polynesia or other tropical destinations. Thatched furniture, heavy prints of palm leaves and bright colored flowers find their way onto upholstery. Muted colored rugs or sisal and seagrass carpets cover the floor. Design by Linda Woodrum. Soooo fabulous and fresh!!!! Great job Linda.


Raw, rough hewn woods, inviting fabrics or cozy plaids play up the Western look. Worn leathers mixed with stone hearths or walls and other natural elements. Furniture is usually large scaled and wooden. Design by Shelly Riehl David.

Designer Appreciation Day

Designer Appreciation Day Set for Sept. 8

Thought I would display my own family room in honor of this tribute. The High Point Design Center has planned a Designer Appreciation Day for Wednesday, Sept. 8. Events include a complimentary lunch by E. Ellingtons at The Atrium on Main, 430 South Main Street, in High Point, N.C., and a presentation by Terri Maurer, ASID National Past President and co-author of Interior Design in Practice. All High Point Design Center Showrooms will be open for shopping throughout the day, including Swaim, Christopher Guy, and The Atrium showrooms. Host showrooms include Bernard Christianson, Christopher Guy, Swaim, and Durham Furniture. For more information, go to

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Design Styles/Part 2 of 3

Today, we are continuing Part 2 About design styles and everything you always wanted to know about design but were afraid to ask.


This catch-all style borrows from several other design styles and evokes a sense of imagination and surprise with unexpected contrasts. The style is not simply throwing together everything and anything, but rather relies heavily on the building blocks of design (color, pattern, texture, composition) to make the space look cohesive. A multitude of fabrics is characteristic, whether patterned, textured, solids or all three. Design by Andreea Avram Rusu.

English Country

A feminine look, with lush rose patterns, extensive uses of greens, reds, pinks and blues are characteristic of an English Country home. Ornamental, fine carved wood furniture, overstuffed sofas with tufting and skirted furniture mix with antiques and lots of small decorative accessories. Design by Phyllis Harbinger.


An ornate, fanciful and decorative style is characteristic of this look. Colors range from rich, sun-drenched Mediterranean hues to softer, muted shades. Often, one color or fabric is repeated throughout the space. It's characterized by rich details and extensive use of gold, bronze and gilt. Antique or heirloom furniture, layered dramatic window treatments and abundant fresh flowers fill out a French home. Design by Camilla Forte.


Inspired by the coastal regions of Spain, Greece and Italy, this look favors colors that echo the sea and also include terra cotta, yellow and lavender. Furniture pieces are short with ornately turned legs and feet; hardware is heavy and often burnished. Velvets, linens and textured fabrics mix with textured walls. Design by Ammie Kim.

Mid-Century Modern

A look originating in the '50s and '60s and epitomized by the Rat-Pack days in Palm Springs. Scandinavian designers and architects were very influential at this time, with a style characterized by simplicity, functionality and natural shapes. Architecture shows off its minimalist design with walls of glass. Pops of deep colors such as orange, yellow, olive green and chocolate brown add to decor. An updated version of this look is found at stores like Jonathan Adler, marked by fun, colorful and quirky furnishings.


Rooted in minimal, true use of material and absence of decoration. A clean, streamlined furniture and architecture style from the 1930s. It's characterized by a neutral color palette, polished surfaces, strong geometric shapes and asymmetry. Design by SPI Design.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Entertaining/Pear Tree

Pear Tree

A tart, refreshing, nonalcoholic drink that's appealing to mojito fans.


1 cup ice
1/3 cup pear juice
2 tablespoons Lemon-Lime Juice (see "Bar Essentials," below)
2 tablespoons Simple Syrup (see "Bar Essentials," below)
4 fresh mint leaves, plus 1 mint sprig for garnish


Put all ingredients except mint sprig in a cocktail shaker and shake until well blended, about 10 seconds. Pour drink with ice into a tumbler or a snifter. Garnish with mint sprig.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per mocktail.

Bar Essentials: Have these on hand for mixing great mocktails.

Simple Syrup: Equal parts sugar and water, heated until the sugar dissolves. (Your yield will be the same as the amount of water you use.)
Lemon-Lime Juice: Equal parts freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice, for adding acidity in a flash.

Fresh Lemons, Limes, and Oranges: To make juice, wedges for squeezing or moistening the rim of a glass, or twists of zest for extra citrus aroma.

Superfine Sugar: Dissolves easily and makes a nice garnish on the rim of a glass.

Fresh Herbs: Basil, mint, and tarragon add complexity, texture, and visual appeal.

Purchased Ice: For a big party, it's hard to make enough ice at home. Besides cooling, ice helps blend flavors in the shaker.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Design Styles/Part 1 of 3

Every thing you always wanted to know about design styles, but were afraid to ask.

Art Deco

Streamlined, geometric style of home furnishings popular in the '20s and '30s featuring rounded fronts, mirrored accents, sleek lines and wood furniture with chrome hardware and glasstops. Design by Erinn Valencich.

Arts and Crafts

Arts and Crafts style furnishings became popular in the United States between 1910 and 1925. The focus was simple in form, without extraneous decoration, often showing the way pieces and materials were put together. Architecturally speaking, Arts and Crafts covers Craftsman style, work by Frank Lloyd-Wright as well as the bungalow style popularized by Greene and Greene. "Truth in Materials" was very important to Arts and Crafts designers, who often used local materials. Design by Thomas A. Conway.


Inspired by the design elements from Japan, China, Vietnam and Thailand. This look fuses natural fiber elements, bamboo and colors taken from nature to create a serene, calm environment. Furnishings may be lacquered or handpainted with ornamental designs, punctuated with brightly-colored accessories or statues of animals or mythical creatures. Design by Erinn Valencich.


This look is inspired by the ocean. It evokes a light and breezy feel by way of airy fabrics for window treatments, and the emphasis on nautical or beach-themed accessories such as lighthouses and seashells. The classic Ralph Lauren-inspired palette of navy and white with gold accents is a striking look for any home. Design by Layla Palmer.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Edible Living Wall

Restaurants love the idea of growing their own vegetables. But in an urban environment where space is tight, the typical garden has to be rediscovered to operate in a small footprint. Tournesol Siteworks is a commercial-grade sitework company that manufacturers irrigation systems, site furnishings and planter systems. A recent example of their work can be seen in Los Angeles, at Pizzeria Mozza. The living wall grows lettuce, peppermint, celery, parsley, sage, and other edible plants. The area of the wall is 10’ by 12’ and protrudes roughly 15 inches from the surface. Apparently the staff is enjoying the wall so much, they have picked some of the plants clean.

Tournesol VGM Modular Living Wall consists of recycled plastic planting modules and powder-coated hanging rails. The wall comes pre-grown to provide instant coverage for any vertical surface, and can be used with a variety of plants suited to any climate or situation. Each VGM module has a possible depth of 4.5” or 8.5” of soil which promotes healthy plant life. The modular planting boxes take from one to three month to grow prior to installation.
The concept of having active plan life integrated into architecture and design is common. Tournesol’s edible living wall is exciting for its ability to provide not only aesthetic value, but also healthy sustenance.

Entertaining/Creamy Tomato-Basil Pasta


3 cups Farfalle (bow-tie pasta), uncooked
1/4 cup KRAFT Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing
1 lb. uncooked peeled deveined medium shrimp
1 cup Fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp. each garlic powder and black pepper
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese
2 cups Grape tomatoes
1/2 cup KRAFT Shredded Parmesan Cheese
8 Fresh basil leaves, cut into strips

COOK pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. dressing in large skillet on medium heat. Add shrimp; cook and stir 2 to 3 min. or until shrimp turn pink. Use slotted spoon to remove shrimp from skillet; cover to keep warm. Discard any drippings in skillet.

ADD remaining dressing, broth and seasonings to skillet; cook 2 min. or until heated through. Add Neufchatel; cook and stir 2 to 3 min. or until melted. Stir in tomatoes; cook 1 min.

DRAIN pasta. Add to ingredients in skillet. Stir in Parmesan and half the basil; top with shrimp and remaining basil.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Paris Art

One of my sons travels with his firm, as a Senior Consultant for Cooper Design Group, based in San Franciso.

Chris Noessel is a senior consultant at Cooper. His industry experience ranges from owning a small, museum-focused company in Houston to working with Microsoft's futures prototyping group in Seattle. For marchFIRST he was Director of Information Architecture, conducting research and design for notable web sites such as Apple, SEGA, and Harmon Kardon. He was one of the founding graduates of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. He is currently writing and speaking about a work being coauthored with Nathan Shedroff about how science fiction and design influence each other.

Chris, sends me gifts from many of his travels from around the world. He will be leaving for Asia soon, OH, do I love...Asian anything!!!!! FYI, he also designed the logo for "Serenity In Design" which you see at the top of my website.

I had the art framed at a local frame shop in Charlotte. Judy Horn at, fast frame, was able to assist me by selecting a matt that would not cover the signed writings and brought the colors together beautifully.

Be sure to click all of the links in the article for a little history of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. The other links allow me to introduce my son to you. If you live in Charlotte the link for the frame shop will show you directions and services at Judy's website.

Minimalist Kitchen

What are you looking for in your kitchen? The sublime new shapes and styles of La Cucina Alessi? The eco-durability of new materials as in Silestone’s Countertops and Kitchen Surfaces? Or perhaps you prefer the modular disappearing trick of the Logica Kitchen System? If, however, you’re after a subtler kind of prestidigitation (as in shrinking costs), you should have a look at Pedini’s Magika. This kitchen was conceived with an eye to the easy balance between a buyer’s bottom line and the demanding aesthetic imperatives of what some might rightfully claim as the birthplace of the modern kitchen.

Magika is handsome minimalism on a budget. The kitchen combines the sleek lines and handcrafted finishes of Italian cabinetry with economical production and fast delivery times, thus making the divine and desirable touch of designers like Domenico Paolucci more accessible to the masses. We last saw the work of Paolucci back in October with the extraordinarily colorful and highly-textural Outline Kitchen. That scheme—with its dashing touches of rich green and deep wood striations—spoke to me of autumn change. Magika, to the contrary, is light and lithe like a summer breeze. It’s so efficiently arranged as to be all but invisible. Because Magika knows that, in the kitchen, negative space means room to roam—room to coordinate the particular choreography of your culinary magic.

Optional features for Magika include vertical handle or hand-less channel openings with an aluminum profile. Choose your finish from textured melamine (white, red, cream, or dark grey); wood (grey oak, dark brown pine, or teak); or glossy white lacquer. Cabinetry plinths come in white, gray, black, and matte silver. These attractive options enable a great degree of personalization, but the bottom line with Magika is its admirable fusion of affordability and aesthetics: “featuring simplicity with a high degree of practicality and quality, Magika combines innovative features with conventional uses, representing a synthesis of inspiring form and rational layout solutions.”

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cottage Style Decor

Creamy white wainscoting, painted shutters, sumptuous linens, and an upholstered headboard make this Southampton master bedroom luxurious. Get this look!!!

I love this fresh feeling, the colors are cool and the setting is sumptuous!!

Entertaining/Spaghetti with Creamy Spinach

Cream cheese melts in the heat of the pasta to form a luscious sauce. The fresh spinach called for here provides a delicate flavor that frozen spinach just doesn't duplicate. For speed, we recommend the prewashed kind available in supermarkets.

Servings: 4


10 ounce prewashed spinach
2 tablespoons butter
3 scallions including green tops, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound spaghetti
5 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper


1. Remove any tough stems from the spinach. In a large frying pan, melt the butter over moderately low heat. Add the scallions and tarragon and cook for 2 minutes. Add the spinach and salt and stir until wilted. Simmer until the liquid evaporates from the spinach, about 5 minutes.

2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti until just done, about 12 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the spaghetti and toss with 3/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, the spinach mixture, the cream cheese, parsley, Parmesan, and pepper. If the sauce seems too thick, add more of the reserved pasta water.

Spinach Options: You can buy fresh spinach in various forms, depending on how hard you want to work.: · Salad bar: Weigh out 10 ounces of spinach from your supermarket's salad bar, and you're ready to cook--no rinsing or stem removal required.: · Prewashed bags: Supermarkets carry 10-ounce bags of spinach. This has been cleaned of all visible sand, but we would still give it one final rinse before cooking.: · Bunches of fresh spinach: You will need 1 1/2 pounds to equal 10 ounces of packaged cleaned spinach. Remove the stems and then wash the leaves several times to get rid of the grit.

Wine Recommendation: Chenin blanc grapes make a wine that is fruity but bursting with acidity--an excellent match for tarragon. Try either a bottle of Vouvray from France or one of chenin blanc from California.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Cork is a material best known for preservation. It salvages our delicate wines when the air would otherwise spoil them, would have kept our memos safely tacked onto it’s board - if not for the invention of email - and when utilized by Daniel Michalik, helps sustain our environment.

Based in Brooklyn, Michalik has developed a highly-evolved design of cork furniture that reuses the non-toxic material to create a handful of different items including the Cortiça chaise longue and the Sway stools. Indeed the reuse of materials is one argument for green design, but besides that, a Cork Oak tree lives for 200 years. After it’s approximately 25 years old, the cork can be stripped off of it’s trunk every nine years.

But not only is a cork tree long-lasting, the material it sheds is buoyant, elastic, and fire resistant. This is no secret to Michalik who says, “Knowing that cork is naturally 100% waterproof, I decided to tackle a little experiment. With two intrepid stunt pilots, I took the shop chaise down to a local beach, and rode it right out into Buzzards Bay! Floats like, well, a cork—only more ergonomic.”

All of his designs are handmade from reclaimed waste material directly from the bottle-stopper industry. Naturally, all of his furnishings are non-toxic, made with a marine-grade adhesive and a small amount of polyurethane that makes indoor or outdoor use possible.

The Cortiça chaise is full-sized at 72” x 20” x 26”, making it spacious and comfortable besides being buoyant. It’s form balances itself to support your weight while offering a certain amount of pliability to allow for rocking and relaxing.

With a solid cork central column and perforated sides, the Sway stool was designed to do exactly as its name suggests. It leans slightly with the natural movement of your body and even adds to your health by calling upon stabilizing muscles that help to keep good posture and circulation. Many who own a Sway stool give it’s use as an office chair substitution rave reviews.

If an investment in cork comes as temporary delight in bottle form, the streamlined innovation of Michalik’s cork furnishings will prove both satisfying and long-lasting.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tiny Travel Spaces

When it comes to accommodations, does size matter? It does if you’re trying to save money. Explore some of the world’s cutest and coziest hotel rooms with prices to match.

Cedar Creek Treehouse is perched 50 feet in the air in a Western red cedar tree just outside Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. And the view can’t be beat: From these heights, you can see Osborne Mountain and the Sawtooth Ridge Peaks. Amenities include a loft with futons and skylights, gas stove, water, sink, icebox and a half bath. Leave your laptop behind; the treehouse is powered by solar.

If you find yourself stuck at London’s Heathrow Airport or Schiphol in Amsterdam, check out Yotel. This pint-sized pit stop offers an affordable place to crash. Inspired by business-class airline cabins, Yotel designers created their own two-tier cabin system. Cabins are available in premium with either full-size double bed or standard with large single bed. Both options accommodate two people and include en-suite bathroom, flat-screen TV, pull-down working desk and room service. (Bonus: Yotel is also at London Gatwick’s South Terminal.) Amsterdam Schiphol Yotel is within the secure transit area, minutes from the departure gates.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world’s busiest airport, but travelers can now find a quiet place to work or nap amid the chaos. Minute Suites opened in 2009, offering tiny rooms in Concourse B, adjacent to Gate B15. Each room includes a daybed sofa, sound-suppressing system, high-definition TV, Internet access, desk, phone and office chair. Rooms do not have restrooms, however; you’ll find them in Concourse B.

The Pod Hotel in New York’s Midtown East neighborhood offers tiny rooms close to attractions such as Radio City Music Hall, The United Nations, Times Square, Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick's Cathedral. Room styles include bunk, single, double or queen, and all contain an MP3 player docking station, free Wi-Fi and an LCD TV. The hotel also has a restaurant and rooftop garden bar.

Launched in London, this budget hotel chain has spread across Europe and will soon take hold in the Middle East with one opening in Dubai in August. The no-frills rooms include TV, Wi-Fi and luggage storage. EasyHotels can be found in Basel and Zurich, Switzerland; Berlin; Budapest, Hungary; Edinburgh, Scotland; Larnaka, Cyprus; and Sofia, Bulgaria.

At Dasparkhotel in Ottensheim, Germany, clever ecologically minded people have converted drain pipes into hotel rooms. The rooms contain nothing more than a bed and a lamp and might not be much to look at, but they are in a scenic location on the banks of the Danube River. It’s a short walk to toilets, showers, the city center and restaurants. Sorry, I could not do this one!!!! 

Japanese capsule hotels were designed to give Tokyo business people a place to spend the night when they worked late and missed their trains. Now these little boxes attract tourists, too. A typical capsule hotel has a private space with sleeping rooms and a public lounge that includes a place for bathing. The capsule unit is made of reinforced plastic and designed in the image of a jet airplane's cockpit. Each unit contains a TV, radio, alarm clock and adjustable lighting. via