Vanity | 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, 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. On Jan. 14, 2014, my challenge will be over. I have 9 more letters of the alphabet to cover. Will I make it? I am feeling the heat. 

What is vanity? It’s the pride we should have in our qualities, abilities, and achievements we make through life and the pride we should take in our appearance. That’s one kind o vanity, but what is the vanity I am writing about?
Before the invention of indoor plumbing, a bathroom was equipped with a chamber sets called vanity. It was a bowl and a pitcher on a wood stand with towel bars on each side and a mirror attached at the top. It was kept in the bedroom, as the bathroom did not exist yet. Warm water came from the kitchen and poured into the pitcher. That was the ritual of daily ablutions between weekly or monthly baths. According to beliefs of past centuries, “the bark stayed better on the skin”, therefore frequent baths were not a common practice just to prevent diseases from penetrating a clean skin. Imagine that!
Those vanities today are highly collectible at a high price, but their functionality has been relegated just to add charm in a modern bathroom or bedroom.

Vessel sinks with modern material and designs are reminiscent of historical bedroom washstand vanities and sit above counter again. However, in designing a modern vessel sink, once must take into consideration the height of the vessel and lower the height of the counter to make it ergonomically suitable. The tap usually is mounted on the walls, but if you choose a tap to sit on the counter, make sure the water goes directly into the drain of the vessel, otherwise, there will be water spillage all over the counter. Vessel sinks are generally used for powder rooms because there are cuter than regular bathroom sinks and are eye candies for guests.

The second photo in the gallery is the Kokols Wall-mount Glass Vessel Sink Vanity Combo. Find it at Sears for $283.00. One of the many vanities I designed in my career was fabricated of marble tesserae (small mosaic pieces) incorporated in the entire wall design.

The vanity sink designs today are endless. You don’t have to have a huge budget to make a pretty vanity, just need a little fantasy to build one with the most unusual material and show off your personality. These vessels are always paired with a mirror. The important function is not only to let them stand pretty in your home but to never make you lose pride in your appearance. Go on, stand by that vanity and take one more look at you before you leave the house. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

ValOperaStampValentina Cirasola has been in business as a designer since 1990. She has helped a variegated group of fun people realizing their dreams with homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She is a designer well-known to bring originality to people’s homes. As an Italian designer and true to her origins, she provides only the best workmanship and design solutions. Check out her books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

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

 

Message In A Kilim | 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, 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 the home and sometimes technical information.
On Jan. 14, 2014, my challenge will be over. Will I make it covering the subject of HOME with all the letters of the alphabet? The beat is on.

 

Anatolia, a peninsula that makes up most of Turkey is supposedly the area where kilim rugs originated among nomad tribes. Although historians for lack of firm evidence have had a difficult task establishing kilim’s dates and places of origins. The making of kilim rugs started as utilitarian coverings and much less as decorative coverings, made with elementary weaving looms, when weaving surpassed the practice of primitive people to cover their bodies with animal skins. With the weaving loom, early population of the Middle East felt the need to add colors to suit their soul and express feelings or thoughts. This prehistoric textile seems to have entered Egypt in the middle of the second millennia B.C. via Turkey and the Middle Eastern countries.

The knowledge of textiles Sumerians had (people of Mesopotamia, modern Iraq)  was directly related to the knowledge of farming the right kind of sheep, goats, and lambs whose pelt was suitable for spinning, coloring and waving. With various colors and designs, each kilim has its own language or message, which varies from weaver to weaver. A married weaver might add into the kilim symbols of her discontent with husband or mother in law, but a message from a girl’s weaver might be love, hope, desire for a strong man and good fortune.

The design of each kilim is not casual, ancient tribals weaved their beliefs into the threads in the form of symbols, such as stars, dragons, eyes, combs, running water, or fertility. Today modern people respond well to this primitive art, because they are colorful and very versatile for any décor, but also because most human races have affinity in the same beliefs of life and death, fortune and misfortune, cycles of the moon and sun, water and drought, family and friends, spiritual and unnatural.

Decorating with kilim rug is not just enough to match colors to the interior décor, one must take into consideration the meaning of certain symbols. Ancient tribes thought birds as raven, eagle, and owls bring bad luck or attack human beings, while doves, nightingales and pigeons symbolize good luck and bring love. Knowing symbols will help bring in the house an all-round harmony. Kilim rugs are versatile enough to use in modern and traditional interiors. Their designs are well used for covering chairs, making draperies, bedding, and pillows, or are as beautiful as wall hangings.
Fashionable kilim shoes and bags are timeless. I had the most exquisite kilim sabot pair of shoes for more than ten years that I ran to the ground, worn them with jeans, leather pants, shirt, and oversize sweaters. I wondered often where the fabric of my shoes came from. Kilim bags and shoes are made from the best parts of old hand-woven, which were used as floor coverings, tent pieces, wall hangings, curtains, or blankets.

I am here ready to help if you like to find a kilim rug. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

ValOperaStampValentina 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

Eco-Friendly Nights | 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, 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 the home and sometimes technical information.
On Jan. 14, 2014, my challenge will be over. Will I make it covering the subject of HOME with all the letters of the alphabet?  The beat is on.

The environment is our concern and our responsibility to keep it as natural as possible. Many industries using dyes, spill their waste products in our seas and navigable waters killing flora and fauna. A few years ago, I stayed at a dear friend’s home and slept on something so incredibly soft that it gave me the impression of being on clouds. The next morning, totally relaxed and refreshed,  I asked my friend what I slept on. She only uses sheets and bath towels made of bamboo and I fell in love with the product.

The bamboo plant is a woody perennial and part of the grass family. It regenerates quickly and doesn’t need pesticides, fertilizer nor a lot of water to grow, to the contrary of cotton which takes almost 1/3 of a pound of fertilizer to grow 1 pound of raw cotton. Plants that regenerate quickly don’t require much agricultural management, reseeding and energy expenditure. Bamboo fabric is biodegradable, meaning it dissolves easily when disused fabric goes in nature with the garbage. To create fabrics only the pulp of bamboo is used, thus the fiber dyes very easy with minimal use of water. The fabrics that don’t dye easily are treated with chemicals and a lot of water, which results in environmental damages.

Did you know that bamboo resists to bacteria, mold, dust mites and mildew? Bed sheets made of bamboo are ideal for people with allergies, hay fever or have highly sensitive skin. In my opinion, the softness and luxurious feel of bamboo sheets, towels and fabrics are superior to any cotton or any thread count, especially because its thermal insulating property keeps the skin cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Bamboo fabric travels easy, doesn’t require much care and it’s machine washable. Bamboo products are available for babies as well, start them early with the appreciation of nature and good things that comes from it.

The only house we have is the world we live in, save the environment while giving yourself relaxing nights. Ciao,

Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

PrintValentina 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 anywhere in the world. She is the author of three books, all available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Buffet À La Française | 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, 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 the home and sometimes technical information.
Now I have two months left to complete my challenge. The beat is on.

Just in time for the holidays to converse on the choice of a buffet-style dinner party or sitting down formal dinner. Both need a pleasing design, menu planning, and serving strategy.  As a designer, I can tell you that formal dining rooms are disappearing from homes. The dining space is now used to make a great room, which includes living and family room in an open space attached to the kitchen. The buffet serving style is more congenial to today’s living. Servants are not necessary, we only need good food and to spend quality time with our guests.

Buffet style food or self-serve style is an invention of less than 100 years. Food was always consumed sitting down at a table with many servants around attending guests and always ready to fill the wine glass, take away empty plates, or light candles that had blown off. Service à la Française (French style) of the middle 1800s in the Victorian era is the closest way to buffet style of today, food came out of the kitchen all together in an impressive, but often impractical display and placed on large pieces of furniture that now we call Buffet.

Often food arrived covered with silver domes, but due to the distant location of the kitchen in respect to the dining area, they arrived cold. Guests could admire the beautiful display of food on the table and helped themselves to dishes close by, but had to rely on servants to bring other food or wines and to change plates and cutlery. The table for service à la Française was beautifully made up, generally with a minimum of a three-course meals in addition to desserts. Soup and various terrines were on one side of the table, meat and fish on the opposite side, many other specialties in the middle of the table and all sizes and shapes cutleries around the edges of the table. Almost just like we arrange a buffet today.

The host’s duty to carve meats at the buffet table with all that production of food was very challenging. Today, at a buffet-style party we would have a cutting station for meats and fish separate from other food.

In the early 19th century Russian Ambassador Alexander Kurakin brought to France the Service à la Russe (service in the Russian style), which is the style of dining that involves courses being brought to the table sequentially up to dessert. Before serving desserts the table was cleared out even of breadcrumbs. After desserts, guests left the dining table and moved to the living room or sitting room to sip coffee, tea, liqueurs and smoking cigars.

Restaurants have adopted the service à la Russe style as well as people in their home for sitting down dinner parties in those few rare occasions when families get together on important holidays and get to enjoy the formal dining room. Various cultures in history have used some form of a buffet as furniture to serve food from. Usually, the bottom part stores tableware and linens and the top part is for displaying appetizers, bottles of wines, desserts, extra flatware, and glassware.

Italians like simple lines buffets as in all their home décor. Food is always the main protagonist of our dinner parties and as long as there is food on display, the rest of the décor will disappear in its stylish silence. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

PrintIt’s my hope that through my writing I am enriching your aesthetic sensibility towards design, style and inspire you to live in beauty. I have loved my profession as an interior designer since 1990. I am here ready to offer consultations on-line if you need it. Check out my latest book on colors ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors, available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

The Eye Of Your Home | 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, 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 the home and sometimes technical information.
Now I have two months left to complete my challenge. The beat is on.

What is an oculus (plural oculi)? It’s an eye-like opening or ornament found in many Neoclassical, Baroque and Byzantine buildings of Italy and Europe. It is often a round window and less often a circular opening at the apex of a dome. The Pantheon in Rome is the finest example, its oculus measures 27 ft in diameter. The purpose of the oculus was to collect rainwater, which was channeled into drains for later usage. The water functioned as an early example of air conditioning as it kept the building cool during summer months. The other necessary function was to allow the sunlight in for natural light in the building.

The world admires Filippo Brunelleschi’s Dome and Santa Maria Del Fiore Cathedral in Florence, Palladian villas in the Veneto area of Italy and Syrian Byzantine buildings all carrying oculi,  but I really wonder if the mass tourism cares to know about these architectural inventions that stood the taste of time and are still loved today.

During the Byzantine Empire the oculi were common details to see on buildings from 5th to 10th century in Constantinople, however during the Italian Renaissance the open oculi on cupolas were substituted with round windows and skylights and in the Baroque era, round windows with an eyebrow on top or ornate stone carvings around an oculus took a more elongate form than circular. The French called them œil de boeuf (bull’s eye).

Nautical Theme Model Kitchen

In my early design career, one of the projects I designed with oculi gave me a lot more satisfaction. It was a remodeling of a kitchen for a gentleman who had devoted his life to sea navigation. For him, I choose naval style cabinetry with ship porthole on each door,  decorative brass details, and hardware (see photos of my model). After the kitchen was completed we went on to remodeling the rest of the house, all in the naval style.

In modern décor, round windows and openings are not very common due to the high manufacturing cost, but when there is one, it is usually a very good-looking style. I love the Brooklyn Clock loft round window I found on Pinterest.

Looking at a view through a round shape is very natural. It’s like your own eye projecting subtle illumination in the interior spaces. My suggestion is to spend money on solid architectural details that will add value to the home and leave out the meaningless details. Solutions are limitless, ask me if you need ideas. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved  

PrintIt’s my hope that through my writing I am enriching your aesthetic sensibility towards design, style and inspire you to live in beauty. I have loved my profession as an interior designer since 1990. I am here ready to offer consultations on-line if you need it. Check out my latest book on colors ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors, available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Jardinière | 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, 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.

**********

Jardinière is a common French word for a woman gardener. The interesting thing is that flower boxes and containers for plants are also called jardinières, as often words have more than one meaning.  I am thinking the origin of the name could have come possibly from the full body curvilinear women of the past, when being round was a guarantee for a good marriage and proliferation in great abundance. In fact, all the examples of jardinières I have seen are squatted, very round with a belly and feet or propped on high pedestal. Their purpose is to keep the plant and dripping water inside the pot to avoid staining elegant floors, or expensive rugs.

Jardinières are highly decorative and very valuable if they are antiques. Auctions are best places to find some good pieces from dismantled buildings that once belonged to counts now without the account, or you might find some simpler pieces at garage sales.
Tall jardinières decorate entries, gardens and important event tables or they might be a good solution to store firewood near the fireplace. The low types, beautify table settings and furniture.

However, they are not always meant for flower arrangements or to plant chili pepper trees and vegetables. If you have decorative balls fill them up, they will look good all year round. In the bathroom, they can be used to store some handy products for everyday use and in the office, they will be a nice place to rest incoming mail until you decide to read it.

This is one French word without an equivalent translation in English. The other meaning of jardinière refers to a type of winter food served with vegetables cut all the same size, mixed with legumes.

Last but not least “La Belle Jardinière” painted by Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, commonly known as Raphael. A noble from Siena commissioned Raphael to paint the Madonna and Child with young John the Baptist, currently in an exposition at the Louvre, in Paris. My hat off to you Raphael!
Find some original piece from the past and include it in your décor,  I know it will fit. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

Val:FarfalleStampValentina 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

Décor and Comfort | 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, 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.

**********

One of the fundamental human needs that must be satisfied is feeling good at home. History gave us plenty of examples of how people found domestic well-being through comfortable, multifunctional furniture and decorations, but comfort and décor are not the same things. Décor is the result of what fashion dictates from one year to another or from decade to decade. We are still using Queen Ann style chairs with cabriolet legs because this style chair falls into the classic style, but when fashion dictated to leave the straight legs behind for the curvy and more feminine chairs, it was a fashion fad that was well received and though to last for only a few years, in reality, it has lasted more than a century.

A smoking room is no longer in fashion because it’s not a good custom to smoke in people’s face or fill the rooms with smoke smell, therefore there are no smoking rooms in today’s homes. The same is for library rooms, people still read today but they read on-line and mostly with reading devices, thus there is no more need to keep shelves full of books, or design a reading room around books, magical lights, and comfortable seats. I really miss designing library rooms!
Smoking room and library rooms represented the comfort of behavior in a particular era, the content of these rooms, colors, and style of a décor followed the fashion of the time.

In architecture or in-home décor, often we see the return of a style that we call revival, such as Tudor revival, Neo Classic revival or Gothic revival, just to name a few. Revival style is pretentious and artificial. It is only limited to the style of architectural details or the style of furniture. It has nothing to do with the behavior that characterized those historic periods. Every era has seen modern improvement in domesticity comfort with the technology available at any given moment.
We went from candlelight to electric light, from sleeping the entire family in one room with no privacy and often sleeping in one large bed, to kids’ rooms and parents’ rooms each with its own bathroom. Once the comfort of a home has been improved with modern technologies it is no possible to go back in time to sit on hard chairs without padding, washing clothes by hand or sleeping all in one room.

The reason for reviving a style perhaps is the lack of traditions and the desire to experience a nostalgic time. I like the Belle Époque style, but I would not like to live in that time when women swept the streets with their long dresses and horse & carriage was the only transportation for those who could afford it, the rest of the people went on foot. We cannot copy the past and transfer it to our life of today, we can only appreciate it by surrounding ourselves with a few traditional ornaments as an acceptable alternative.

Domestic comfort is found in the feeling of privacy, intimacy, an atmosphere of coziness and accommodating furniture. What we have adopted from the past is the concept of privacy when rooms were small, appropriately sized windows, built-in-furniture, and natural material. In early 1900 with the advent of industrialization, the incorporation of home appliances and modern devices made life more convenient without sacrificing a beautiful décor. This practice goes on today with more advanced sophisticated electronics hidden in strategic places. Most homes of today don’t look industrialized at all and we feel very comfortable using a remote control to lower curtains, turn lights off and get the movie started all with one click.

However, the comfort and coziness of a home don’t come from today’s fashion of making oversize spaces, open floor plans, and super high ceilings. The human soul gets lost in these impersonal spaces. To coordinate all the activities of a family to work in harmony in large spaces is a real challenge and it takes a lot more energy to keep large spaces warm. Kitchen and bath counters should be made in different heights to accommodate the average height of people living in the house and laundry machines should not be placed in the bathroom.
Cooking is intense and tiring work, kitchens should have a minimal walking space between the stove and the rest of the appliances with comfortable flooring.
Bathrooms are rooms for relaxation through experiencing a soothing bath with music, suffused lights, scents, and books without seen dirty clothes and clutter in plain view. Undressing room, once called boudoir serves the purpose of taking off clothes, eliminating the need for a large bathroom floor plan and while one person is bathing, the other person can do small ablutions in the undressing room without waiting.
These are some examples that will provide personal comfort.

Comfort is a very subjective thought. It really involves human physiology and how we perceive our comfort. Ergonomic chairs, versus artistic chairs, bright light versus ambient light, natural material versus man-made inexpensive and easy to care material, oversize furniture versus human-size furniture, the list can go on forever. Comfort doesn’t mean the same thing for all the people. Once we have abolished the feeling of discomfort, then we have achieved Comfort and only a person who knows his/her needs will know how to produce real comfort, not following the style of today that dictates to decorate our home in a certain way.

Should you need a technical eye to pull together a comfortable décor, I am here to help. Ciao.
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

ValentinaBlueStampValentina Cirasola is a trained Italian Interior Designer in business since 1990. Being Italian born and raised, Classicism, stylish and timeless designs have influenced Valentina’s design work. She will create your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away your comfort. She loves to restore old homes, historic dwellings and she focuses on remodeling. Author of three books, all available on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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