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How to Nail that Maximalist Interior Look

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that this chat about maximalism is long overdue. I’ve been wanting to delve into how to embrace allll the thangs in your home, while still maintaining a sense of order and intention. Striking that kind of balance isn’t easy. But it can be done. Here’s how.

a neutral wall, duvet, headboard and nightstands set the tone for pops of color

First things first: we need to make a distinction between maximalism and clutter. I think the biggest misconception when it comes to maximalist interiors is that they are filled to the brim with “stuff” – but maximalism isn’t always about having loads of items scattered about. The most important thing to keep in mind is that maximalism is curated. Clutter is….clutter. This is something that we non-minimalists struggle with in our homes, and it takes a lot of practice to be able to discern the difference.

As a vintage dealer, I constantly have loads of vintage items entering and exiting my home. In fact, that first thing I do when I come home from sourcing these items is style them. I do that for two reasons: 1. to shoot photography in order to list the items and 2. to decide if these items are something that I may not want to list at all, and instead keep in my own home. I used to live with nearly all the items I had for sale, and would desperately search the house for corners, nooks and crannies to style them in so I could appreciate them before they were sold. Now, I walk through my home and ask myself what can be taken away and stored until that sale is made. The result has been a much more cohesive look that has allowed the items that I DO decide to live with really shine. Instead of asking myself what I can add, I now ask myself what I can take away while still maintaining a varied interest in the space.

a busy wallpaper is scaled back with molding and white paint on bottom half of wall

The second topic I want to talk about is not a tangible item, but something that is aesthetically crucial to nailing that maximalist look: color. After all, maximalist interiors are often not just maximizing decorative items, but are featuring a mix of color, patterns and textures in a way that is visually cohesive. We want to use these design tools to add interest, contrast and depth to our spaces, while avoiding clash and an overwhelming of our senses. While there is no single formula that will be universally appealing (after all, the disparity of tastes amongst humans is what makes humanity interesting), I find that creating a neutral backdrop helps. In most rooms, I paint my walls black or white and add pops of color from there. In other rooms, loud wallpaper takes on the lead role, while the rug, furniture and/or art become secondary players. Overall, it’s important to remember that if we want certain items to shine, not everything can be the star. Treating color and pattern as intentional tools in a space, rather than using them with abandon, will help minimize a sense of clutter and will add to the room’s dimension.

neutral walls and floors allow gold features and that bright boucherouite to pop

Which leads to this idea of having negative and positive space in your rooms. Any good painter knows that the canvas needs to have balance. Even when we look at a Jackson Pollock painting, which may appear to be pandemonium at first glance, you will notice that his drips and streaks have an expert intentionality to them and his canvases are amongst the most compositionally balanced in the post-modern era. Pollock chose to go wild with movement and texture, and consequently, used symmetry and a very limited palette to allow the eye to focus on that fluidity and texture. The overall point here is this: we need to choose which design tropes we want to focus on, and allow the others to play supporting roles.

neutrals all around allow that wallpaper and dresser to pop. pattern mix with scaled back palette on the door.

I think a good exercise in maximalism is to take everything we want to put into a space and, well, just put it into that space. Then, we need to subtract. Take things away from the space until the things that we really want to draw attention to grab our attention. I also love using things in groups. For example, I have been a bit obsessed with porcelain busts as of late, and have a group of three of them placed on my piano. And that is all that is placed on my piano. The different heights and facial expressions add dimension and a diverse expressivity, but allowing them to be the only items on that surface allow them to shine.

neutral walls allow the art to pop while neutral floors allow the colorful rugs to play the leading role. the group of three busts creates interest without overdoing it.

Nailing maximalism is tough. Like any artistic endeavor, it’s a style that needs to be practiced and it’s something that I’m still working really hard to perfect. I also try to remind myself that perfect is boring and, unlike with minimalism, imperfections are at the heart of a maximalist style. But beyond the obvious differences between a maximalism and a minimalism, these two styles are truly not polar opposites. Like any interior that has a sense of artistry, it all comes down to curating with intention. And that is truly what both maximalism AND minimalism are all about.

XO,

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One Room Challenge Week 3 | Sourcing Materials for a Bold Boho Kitchen

We SEE YOU week 3! And you’re only giving us mild panic attacks because deadlines don’t stand a chance against Team KPV! [insert hyperventilating cries here]. As always, be sure to check out the progress of all of the other incredible room transformations over at the One Room Challenge!

This week I want to talk a bit about materials and give you a sneak peek of our floor. Then I want to take you through the first steps of the construction process post-demolition. We were super lucky to hook up with some amazing sponsors for this kitchen renovation, and I need to be perfectly candid with you about how they came to join us on this journey. In short, we chose THEM, not the other way around! So when I tell you they kick so much a$$, I want you to really believe me.

our Hallman blue range (photo credit: hallmanindustries.com )

As I mentioned in the previous post, the first part of the kitchen that was chosen was that dreamy blue stove and we were so grateful to get Hallman to come on board as a sponsor to make that stove even more special with some great features. So, consider this stove as our jumping off point for the rest of the kitchen. I have spent the 17 years of my adult life dreaming of kitchens, and the first thing that always came to mind when dreaming was that statement stove, but did that mean that every other element in the room would have to bow down to that splash of blue? Hell to the NO.

The next crew to come on board was Boho Luxe Home. I had worked with them and their gorgeous pillow line before, and I was beyond excited when they offered their stunning fabrics for our Roman shades. We put a lot of work into the windows in this space by not just adding completely new windows and new locations for them, but by more than doubling the size of our main window. It was so important to us that this kitchen was bathed in as much natural light as possible, and we wanted to draw the eye to this element, and balance that blast of blue in the stove with another gaze-attracting feature. We decided to go with their Moroccan Knot fabric, and I am super stoked to see them completed when they get installed next week!

insulation begins!

So, bright blue stove, wild Moroccan fabric…. now where do we go? My overall vision for this kitchen was to have some strong boho eclectic vibes, but there are so many directions to go beyond that point: gold glitzy ritzy eclectic? Or earthy, hippie boho? I love both of those extremes so much, so I wanted to try to meet somewhere in the middle. If I could choose a single sentence to define my entire interior style, it would be that I don’t like settling for ANY single style. The main challenge is making totally disparate styles work together in a cohesive way. And that, in a nutshell, is what this kitchen is striving for.

Our next sponsor, Build.com, helped us add a little bit of that glamor I speak of. We decided to go with a brushed gold faucet, with a matching pot filler, to pull from those brass elements on the range, and to add a touch of high class to the space. We chose the Moen line for their stellar track record and their beautiful finishes. We can’t wait to see them installed tomorrow!

the flooring arrives and the walls and ceiling are ready for sheetrock

It was at this point in the process that I decided to step back and really take a hard look at the direction I wanted things to go. I am NOT someone who plans an entire space in a CAD program before breaking ground. That just doesn’t work for me. I always start a room by choosing the element that is most important to me (perhaps a bed frame in a master bedroom? or a rug in a living room?) and then I work from there. I find it to be a much more organic process, but the downside is it takes much more time. I like to SEE certain features in a room before adding to the layers. And oftentimes, inspiration comes from a visit to my local thrift store, and not from a West Elm catalog. The unpredictability of the process is what excites me most about designing spaces.

Although I wasn’t able to visualize almost any elements before having to choose nearly all of them, I was still able to move through the process by being intentional about every step, and decided to add layers in the order of what was most important to me in the room. I knew I wanted those glitzy fixtures, but in order to counter those pops of gold, that bright fabric, and that fancy stove, I knew we needed to tone it down somehow. In order to achieve this, we decided to add some authentic reclaimed wood to the room. I love the versatility of wood, and it can really work in almost any type of space. I’ll get more into how and where we decided to add these touches of reclaimed wood next week. For now, I’ll let you know that we decided to go with a dark, sumptuous stain to allow the wood to dance alongside those more glamorous elements, all the while allowing the rusticity of the wood itself to make the entire space more approachable.

the walls and ceiling finally get sheetrocked

This was about where we stood half-way through the process on the design end, so now let’s chat for a moment about what started to evolve on the building side, post-demolition. Once our two month (plus)-long demo process was complete, we needed to sheetrock the entire space (ceiling included). As I had mentioned in the last post, the entire space was plaster and lath, and we opted to tear all of it out to make the electrical work more seamless. Now, this is where we struggled a bit being an essentially one-man team. Billy (my builder hubbie) did not have the proper equipment or man power to sheetrock a ceiling, so we decided to give the man a well-deserved break and hire this one out. Our contractor did an amazing job bringing this room back from the dead, and we were finally able to take a few deep breaths after seeing the walls and ceiling replaced in the room.

The next obstacle? FLOORING. Now, these floors are possibly my favorite element in the room, while my husband has come to abhor them after they took an obscene amount of time to install. I might remind you that we had three layers of floor to demo before reaching our subfloor (which needed major repairs), so finally seeing a beautiful floor under our feet was INCREDIBLY rewarding. And I have to give a MAJOR MAJOR shoutout to the hubs for making my herringbone floor dreams come true. I was a big brat about the floor. It was herringbone or the highway for me, and he didn’t even argue because he must have just known how amazing they were going to look too (love yah babe! 😉 ).

our herringbone white oak floors get installed

So, this is about where we were mid-construction and mid-design, and we had all kinds of wonderful and terrible surprises in store for us in the coming weeks…..

STAY TUNED.

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One Room Challenge Week 2: Demo Mode

Here we are in week 2 of the One Room Challenge, but really week 15 for us (yes it’s taken that long to overhaul our kitchen, and we’re still crossing our fingers to be complete by the ORC deadline). I’m going to begin with some real time updates, and then dig into some design hurdles…and then chat about how fun it was to smash all the things in the kitchen to tiny little pieces.

It’s a family affair! Our 6 year-old, Eva, helps demo walls

I was super excited when Becca of June and Blue reached out to me last week to ask if she could sponsor a rug for the kitchen. I own a few of Becca’s rugs, but really it’s my life goal to own every single rug she ever lays her eyes on. The girl has magic eyes for rugs and was able to source the most perfect piece for this kitchen by pretty much only looking at my inspiration board from last week. I can’t wait for you guys to see it, but this is also a good segue into how challenging it can be to design a space when you have a deadline.

There is something intoxicating about the ORC. I often say reveal day is like Christmas morning for adults. There are, still yet, other major “pros” that come along with tackling a room for the One Room Challenge. For example, the ORC is also a formidable enemy to our procrastinating tendencies when it comes to tackling home projects. On the flip side, it can be a serious challenge to piece together a comprehensive and aesthetically thrilling space in such a short period of time (I guess that’s why they call it the One Room CHALLENGE). They always say “a great home takes time” (or at least there is a hashtag that says it), and I truly believe that truly special rooms can’t be thrown together overnight.

So this has been a bit difficult for me, especially given my very visual nature. Our stove took 16 weeks from order to delivery, so we had to order it before we even knocked down one wall. Our cabinets wouldn’t be installed until just a few short weeks before the ORC deadline, and I was having trouble visualizing what I wanted when we didn’t even have the cabinets in our hands (a huge thanks to Krystal at Pepe and Carols for creating some kick-ass custom pieces for me and allowing me to wait until the last minute so I could see those cabinets in place first). And then comes the rug I bought from Josh at Kazimah Carpets for the kitchen. I fell hard and fast for that rug and snatched it up – and have ZERO regrets about it – but then a few sponsors came along and my vision for the kitchen began to shift and, alas, the rug I had envisioned in the space was no longer going to work. Good thing it’s such a stunner that it will work in pretty much every other room of the house. I offer you this tale about rugs as a way of showing how designing an entire room before the room is even structurally intact can be, well, STRESSFUL AF.

Upper cabinets gone

Now, onto the demo details! Our old kitchen was quite small, with very little counter space and room for only one or two people to be in the space at a time. But the largest challenge was the strange configuration of the room that most certainly did not maximize the utility of the square footage we had access to. The kitchen abutted a small powder room that had been squeezed into the space and hosted the only interior entrance to our basement (a huge issue if we wanted to carry anything large in and out).

So, we decided to demolish the powder room to create more space for the kitchen and to open access to the basement. We will, at a later date, add a full bathroom to the main floor (hello, Fall ORC!), but for now we are living with just a single bathroom on the second floor (a challenge for elderly guests, as you can imagine). We also decided to demo the wall between our dining room and kitchen to make an even larger and brighter space to meet all of our dining needs for our family of four. And, as if these weren’t enough changes to make, we decided to move the entryway to our sunroom over to make space for the refrigerator and we also changed the placement and size of every window in the room. I was able to source brand spanking new Marvin windows from the Habitat for Humanity Restore – a must-visit site for anyone looking to renovate their home on a budget.

Eva, 6, and Josie, 18 months, dance on the subfloor

Our home was built in 1910, so during demo we were dealing with plaster mixed with horsehair and lath – all of which we took down to make way for a total reconstruction of the electrical and plumbing – and replaced with sheetrock. My husband, Billy, had to pick up three different floors before we were able to finally reach our subfloor (which also needed a lot of repair work). We found a few surprises, one being a brick chimney hiding in the wall that I was really excited about. Everyone who has entered the space has suggested we should sheetrock around it, but I have been adamant about leaving it as an unexpected architectural element – and an homage to the century-old roots of our home (the chimney was originally used for a wood-burning stove to heat the home).

We finally reached the subfloor!

The total time it took for demolition was three months, working about 20 hours/week. It was an enormous and strenuous undertaking and I owe all of that sweat equity to my husband, who is basically some kind of Roman God (who just happens to have Nordic features), but who also has not only been living and breathing this kitchen for months after work hours and on weekends…AND has also happened to build some super sexy abs and biceps along the way.

What more could a girl ask for?

So, takeaways from ORC week 2:

  1. Try to not buy/commit to any items until your vision is COMPLETE and…
  2. Always marry someone who knows how to not just build, but also knows how to do plumbing and electric.

That’s all for now – be sure to check back in for Week 3 updates and also be sure to visit the ORC page to see what all the other designers are up to!