Queen’s Hamlet | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Parties are for having fun, meeting friends, new people, eating, drinking and small talks and better be prepared, they will happen! Actually knowing how to conduct small talks to your advantage is a professional social skill. I was at a Christmas party where I met a woman who knew how to ease in the small talk conversation until she realized I was an interior designer. The natural questions that followed was: “I bet your house is beautiful! What is the style?”

Often people forget to ask what is your personal style, which would define better the answer. Style can be copied from magazines and voila’ it’s done. Does that mean it is your style? Maybe or maybe not. You might feel good in it, if you choose it, you must like it.

ferme1-le-moulinPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

I remember when I visited the palace of Versailles in France, I also visited the idyllic Hameau de la Reine (The Queen’s Hamlet), a rustic retreat in the park of the Château de Versailles built in 1783 for Marie Antoinette, who longed to play a farm girl role during her week spent in luxury. The building scheme included a farmhouse to produce milk and eggs for the queen, a dairy, a dovecote, a boudoir, a barn, a mill and a tower in the form of a lighthouse.

Boudoir_au_Hameau_de_la_Reine.jpgPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Each building was decorated with a garden, an orchard or a flower garden. The Hameau served as a private meeting place for the Queen and her closest friends, a place of leisure, the rooms offered an intimate setting than the grand salons at Versailles or at the Petit Trianon. Clearly Marie Antoinette was never a farm girl, only wanted to experience the feeling of living someone else’s life.

That is what I notice when I go to people’s homes, often the furniture and home décor don’t reflect their lifestyle. There are formal rooms never enjoyed because they don’t entertain, there are expensive designed kitchens where nobody cooks, there are immense spaces for a household of only two people, or I go into small homes filled with an overabundance of heirloom objects, garage sales findings, collectibles and travel memories, all contributing to the home clutter.

In the house where the party was, all the pictures frames were brown to match the brown furniture. Just to continue the small talk conversation, I pointed the picture frames to the woman speaking to me and I said it is OK for some people to match one thing to the other, just as they match the earrings to the necklace, the handbag to the shoes. To them it feels comfortable, to me is mortally boring (my favorite phrase) and banal. If you want to be unique, break these rules, I told her.

Studio_A.jpg
Above: Evening atmosphere in my office.

In my house, I broke all the rules on purpose. All my picture frames are different and still communicate with the décor. She said: “I hope you use this phrase in your marketing material, as it explains all your thoughts in a few words”. I felt I opened a door for her to new ways of arranging furniture and “thoughts”.

Kitchen_A.jpg
Above: Evening atmosphere in my kitchen.

Antique pieces can be paired with modern furniture, warm colors with cool colors are beautiful, various metals finishes can be arranged together; glass live well with wood finishes or stones and rugs or pillows must not match the artwork at all.

eveningkitchenAbove: Evening atmosphere in my kitchen.

I feel comfortable in a house that is not the scheme of someone else, I live in the colors that make me feel good and in the atmospheres I create for my well-being. I live in my Queen’s Hamlet. How about you? Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

valentina-ValleMonte
It’s my hope that through my writing and my stories I am enriching your aesthetic sensibility towards design, style and inspiring you to live in beauty. I have loved my profession as an interior-fashion designer since 1990. I am here ready to offer consultations on-line if you need. Check out my latest book on colors
©RED-A Voyage Into Colors,
available on

Amazon: http://goo.gl/qNxXrB
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Monochromatic Appeal | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Working with a monochromatic color scheme seems easy for those who know how to do it. In decorating with one color only it is important not to keep it boring, to put the accent on details and to play with light effects in a large way.
The house showing in my photos dates 1987.

The interior of every room was made entirely out of oak wood inside and out, wall panels, windows and shutters, floor, kitchen and bath cabinets, interior doors and beams. It was a very dingy, dark and not practical home for today’s needs. The only firm demand was to turn it into a very bright, airy, contemporary and functional home. The Clients liked subtle colors such as golden beige and were open to other color suggestions as long as they were not bold. After studying various tints and tones of subtle colors, this was the last scheme chosen. Clients envisioned a very white home, but this color scheme for the interiors and exteriors really got them excited.

Inte-Ext Colors copy

All the walls in every room, including kitchen and baths cabinets have been faux finished with an elegant metallic effect that is only noticeable by getting closer to the walls.

 

Earlier, I talked about putting the accent on details when working with monochromatic colors. The existing beams overhead were overwhelming and felt like a heavy lid. I put LED lights inside of them and the ceiling came alive when illuminated at night or grey days. Each pillar of this home had a brass band at the bottom. I left it there and with the new cream color those bands created an elegant accent. It looks done on purpose to break the verticality of the pillars.

Getting rid of all the oak obstacles and details, making each space open and livable was a real pleasure for the clients and me.
What really made this large space was the floor. I selected a large planks chestnut hardwood floor to run continuously all over the house. The very dark brown of the floor grounded the décor and helped this 10,000 square feet home covered in cream colors not to look aloof and floating in the air.

Dark wood furniture mixed with a few satin metals, glass tables, and a few antique pieces satisfied the needs of both husband and wife in different age group. They said  “Now we can breathe! ”. The intercommunication system between rooms was a necessity.

As you can see there is no need to live in dull colors, even mortally boring beige can be attractive, sophisticated and exclusive. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2016 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val:FarfalleStampValentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior-Fashion Designer working in the USA and Europe since 1990. Often people describe her as “the colorist” as she loves to color her clients’ world and loves to create the unusual. “Vogue” magazine and many prominent publications in California featured Valentina’s work. She also has made four appearances on T.V. Comcast Channel 15 and on RAI – Italian National TV. Author of three published books, the latest ©RED – A Voyage Into Colors is on the subject of colors.
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

In Tune With Fall | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

I get excited every season when I see the new Pantone color palette released. You might say: “colors are colors and you see them all the time, especially in your work. What’s there to be so excited?” Well, I must say I don’t get to see that many colors in my clients’ home. I get to see the usual neutrals in all the tints and tones. It is just the same music season after season, if you know what I mean.
I have converted people to colorful homes, but it has been a hard process. On the hand, I do see colors in the clothes they wear and make me wonder why often their homes are totally the opposite, colorless. The answer might lay in the fact that everyone leads a frenetic life, but once home, they want to feel calm and relaxed. I go with that, after all, we have different needs. In my home I want to feel happy and get up to cheerful colors. To add colors in some of your spaces it doesn’t have to be risky or difficult and colors do not have to be in your face either. My way  is to illuminate the rooms with colors.

(Photo credits for each piece of furniture and fashion items are given to the respective owners)

Just for the sake of color argument, I put together a few boards to show how easy it is to decorate and to get dressed with the same colors of Fall 2014. I find the colors of this season being very appealing for any kind of skin, warm tones, wearable and livable.

Pablo Neruda once said: “Slowly dies the person who doesn’t risk, doesn’t change colors of dresses, doesn’t speak to stranger……”

Changing the colors of your environment will change the energy of your life. Ciao,

Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2014 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val WorkingValentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer working in the USA and Europe since 1990, specializing in kitchen, bath, wine cellar, and outdoor kitchen designs. Often people describe her as “the colorist” as she loves to color her clients’ world and loves to create the unusual. “Vogue” magazine and many prominent publications in California featured Valentina’s work. She also has made four appearances on T.V. Comcast Channel 15.
Author of three published books, the latest ©RED – A Voyage Into Colors is on the subject of colors.

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

 

Room | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

This week the photo challenge is about the word ROOM – https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/room – created by BEN HUBERMAN.

Rooms used to be grand and heavily decorated. Often we had to traverse many rooms before we could get to the right room, the destination for a specific activity, sleeping, eating, bathing, reading or gathering. In today’s world, rooms are built as small as possible to save on ground space, to fit more homes or apartments in one same borough.

Often people consider rooms as containers of stuff, without giving much thought to decorating. Once a room is filled with their possessions, it will serve their lives and that will be it.

(All photos belong to ©Valentina Interiors & Designs)

My ideal room must have plenty natural light from windows and skylights, if possible, must be spacious with a beautiful floor, must have some wall details such as niches and when I lay on the floor, I want to look up and see exposed beams, a mansard ceiling, or a stylish ceiling that will help me fantasize. After these architectural features important to me, the next thing I like is to have a balanced décor.

I like to open a door of a room and find a view on the opposite wall of the next room, a pleasant something to look at instead of staring a blank wall; a pleasant something that will accompany me when going from one room to the other; a pleasant something that will turn every wall in a gallery show. A room that overlooks another view is no longer a four-wall room. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2014 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val Admiring World Valentina Cirasola transforms and creates spaces realizing people’s dreams in homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She infuses your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away a comfortable living. 
She offers design consultations on-line through Skype and the traditional in-house consultations, helping people with their design challenge any where in the world. She is the author of three books, all-available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w 

A Livable Home My Way | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Often I study consumer behavior statistics to get to know changes in my market. Some studies say that women are the primary decision makers in almost 90% of all home purchases. In all my projects this statistic has been correct, unless I dealt with single men. In my homeland Italy, we have a saying that goes like this:
“I am the boss, but the person who bosses me around and makes decisions is my wife”.

In my career as a designer, I made many observations on how today’s homes often don’t reflect people’s needs. Generally, the square as shoebox is the most common shape for homes (round shapes are difficult and costly). The shoebox homes have large rooms to fill with stuff and possessions, high ceilings to waste a lot of space and very little attention devoted to the spirit.

If I were a builder, I would pay more attention to people’s living habits. I would make the necessary adjustments to the concept plans to make sure the home has harmony and beauty first, then comfort. Coming home from work should be a pleasant experience, even when we have a lot of chores waiting to get done.

In all my years in design business, I have observed how people enter their homes. The front door is beautifully decorated, but they hardly see it.  Home owners reserve to themselves the ugliest part of the house to enter from: the garage, where a pile of laundry, cars,  stuff and all the mess will greet them everyday. They reserve the best for the guests: the front door.
During the year, I make a round of visits to my clients’ homes and leave a small token at the door if they are not there. Then, I will call to let them know I was at the house and left a package at their front step, otherwise they will never see it. What is the point of making a surprise visit if I have to tell them to open the front door and pick up my small token? The phone call spoils the surprise.

ValComic1
One day, I thought if I were a builder, I would design the house with a back door foyer, where  one door would lead to a mudroom/garage and one door would lead to the kitchen. In the back door foyer, I would create a drop zone for the mail, keys and charging area for phones and electronics, that way all that stuff will not end up on the kitchen counter.

The list of areas I don’t like in a modern home is very long. I have spotted a point of disadvantage in all the closets in American homes. They have no window and being positioned just in or outside bathrooms, it’s only natural that clothes smell musty, molded and old. One more thing, people who live with pets, wears the smell of their pets on their clothes. Think about it, just an operable skylight will suffice to get rid of  house and pets smells.  I get up in the morning and open my bedroom to let fresh air in.  I would do it even if I lived in a cold climate.  A few minutes of fresh air don’t hurt anyone, it helps  clothes smelling fresh and keeps the house healthy.
VAlComic2
If I were a builder, I would add a window in all the closets. I would move the linen closet outside the bathroom and find a way to circulate fresh air into it, if there was no possible way to add at least a window.

MahoganyLinenCloset

How about hosting dinner parties and entertainment? I remember a different functionality in European kitchens. We had a small area off the kitchen, closed with a door, where food preparation and cooking took place, we called it the hot kitchen, where there was the essential, a chopping table, a  sink, the garbage  and the refrigerator, the rest of the kitchen cabinets, storage and small appliances were in the better part of the kitchen.  As soon as food was ready, we brought the plates to the table in the better part of the kitchen used for everyday informal eating. This same area was also the place where we had a cup of coffee with close friends, we paid bills, kids often did their homework and we mingled with family. Formal dining room was close to the kitchen, but not close to the hot kitchen, just so the cooking smells would stay away from the formal area. Outside the hot kitchen, we had the spice garden for our cooking needs.

Il Lauro

(Photo: Il Lauro, Italy)

If I were a builder, I would return to the European way of planning the kitchen for real cooks. For people who don’t cook but spend a bundle of money in remodeling the kitchen just to have a good resale value, I suggest to save that money and go on a fantastic trip. People who use microwave to reheating store-bought food don’t need to have a fancy kitchen. Any house will sell for various reasons, not because there is a fancy kitchen in it.

If I were a builder, I would pay attention to open spaces, dual-purpose stairs, I would turn a non-utilized spaces into workable zones and I would pay attention to creative details to build a livable home my way that would embrace soul, mind and body of everyone living in the house.
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As seen on Affluent Living: 

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Remember to tell me your story, I will design your dream. Come one over to Facebook, let’s start a new friendship there too. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
ValHatCelesteStampValentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer working in the USA and Europe since 1990, specializing in kitchen, bath, wine cellar, and outdoor kitchen designs. Often people describe her as “the colorist” as she loves to color her clients’ world and loves to create the unusual. “Vogue” magazine and many prominent publications in California featured Valentina’s work. She also has made four appearances on T.V. Comcast Channel 15. Author of three published books, the latest ©RED – A Voyage Into Colors is on the subject of colors. Get your copy through
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Pattern | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

This week photo challenge by Sara Rosso is Pattern, I like it and I am taking the challenge. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/weekly-photo-challenge-pattern

ColoredBall3

PelleMetallo

FloorTiles

In my world of design, a pattern might be:
A wooden model or paper drawing used to build a home.
A diagram, or model drafted for making a dress.
Artistic or decorative throw pillows with paisley and flowers, or a quilt made with left over fabrics.
A design of natural origin: wild bird formations happening in my plants every spring.
An assortment of Victorian cutlery on the dining table or the cutlery motifs painted on my decorative glass plate.
A Christmas light ball I turn on every night makes different designs as I turn the colored lights
A person considered worthy of emulating, learning perhaps from a famous chef.
Traits or features characteristic of a recognizable individual: Sophia Loren.
Colorful hand-painted Italian ceramics and tiles.

Life is full of patterns. “Sans poésie on exist sans vivre” – Without poetry we exist without living.

hug-award1

Pattern of being thankful and recognizing friendship. I want to take this opportunity to thank two people who nominated me last month for two awards. I am so honored:

Tom at The Palladian Traveler http://thepalladiantraveler.com  nominated me with the HUG Award©.
When you contact your nominees for the award, please include a link to this page  http://ahopefortoday.com/2012/01/14/hope-unites-globally-hug-award-guidelines
I will nominate one person for this award Adam at http://unorthodoxepicure.com – Confession of an inspiring food snob.

versatile-award

Natalia at Postcard From Italy http://nataliasarkissian.wordpress.com nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award.
I will nominated one person for this award: http://littlemisswordy.wordpress.com
Awards usually come with some rules.
1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Include a link to their blog.
3. Name the bloggers to whom you would like to pass the award and send them a link to tell them you’ve selected them.
4. Finally, tell the person who nominated you seven things about yourself.

I wish you a productive and happy rest of the week. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

ValWorkingValentina Cirasola is an Italian interior designer in business since 1990. She is passionate about colors and all expressive arts. She is a “colorist”. To her, selecting art means to bring out the best energy of her clients and nourish their soul. She is the author of three books available on Amazon and Barnes&Nobles.
Get your copy of her book on colors: ©Red-A Voyage Into Colors
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

M for Mantel | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

http://myatozchallenge.com/2012/02/20/welcome-to-my-a-to-z-challenge-2/

Welcome to my personal A to Z Challenge on the subject of Home. The goal, in a year time, until Jan. 13, 2014, is to elaborate and dissect topics regarding the Home not as containers of stuff, but as a cocoon for the soul, mind and heart. I will touch on decorations, style, trends, history of home and sometimes technical information.
http://myatozchallenge.com/?s=Valentina+Cirasola+

Mantel, mantelshelf or mantelpiece are the names used for a type of construction framing the opening of a fireplace and usually covering part of the chimney-breast in a more or less decorative way. It is the focal point of a home and the stage that tells a story.
To display only photographs on a mantel is a bit diminishing for the fireplace itself, since it is an opportunity to make a dreamy display vignette of antique objects found in flea markets, or during traveling. It is a place where colors can have a voice when a monochromatic color dominates the room, or a way to display arts and craft that perhaps you create. Then comes Christmas with endless possibilities and decorating a mantel becomes almost obligatory. In any case a mantel is something to cover, envelope and conceal the black hole of the hearth.

(Photos other than Valentina Interiors & Designs are property of the BH&G)

Mantels follow the architectural style of the house. I have seen many examples in Gothic, Renaissance, Louis XIV, XV and XVI, Empire, Marie Antoinette and so many more styles, but I think the most popular and pleasing is the Colonial mantel, both in the old and modern style. The Victorian mantel refers to the style created during the long reign of Queen Victoria of United Kingdom, a period stretching from 1837-1901. In Victorian times women sat by the fireplace to read, sipping tea or embroider with women, while men stood by the mantel to talk about important issues with men and various odd objects found their place on the mantel.

Victorian mantels today are standard design with many modern furniture companies and are popular with builders, as this style is linear, not too ornate, but elegant enough to mix with any mélange of décor. In today’s homes, often a huge black plasma T.V. is propped on top of the mantel, disturbing perhaps a beautiful room setting. Not always I win this battle with the youngest clients who like to stick the black monster plasma T.V. over the mantel.  Most people don’t know that when the T.V. is not on, the front black screen is easy concealable with a picture of your liking, remotely controlled to disappear into the T.V. casing made for this purpose. However, I rather see a huge mirror on top of the mantel to reflect the beauty in the room and enjoy the sound of a crackling fire with a book.

If there is no fireplace in the house and you like to create the feeling of it, find an inexpensive mantel at architectural salvage yard and nail it to the wall, as shown in one of my garden photos. Of course, any salvage piece can have a second life as something else and not what was originally intended for. In the bathroom photo, in fact a mantel has been turned into an ornate towel holder, just by adding metal hooks.
Mantels over outdoor fireplaces often will be used to rest your guests drinking glasses.

Get creative with your own mantel vignette, this is an art form.  Anything goes grouped in odd numbers. I am here if you need help, my Skype line is always open. Ciao.
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

PDots2Valentina Cirasola is an Italian interior designer in business since 1990. She is passionate about colors and all expressive arts. She is a “colorist”. To her, selecting art means to bring out the best energy of her clients and nourish their soul.
She is the author of her book on Colors: Red-A Voyage Into Colors available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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