As a water sign, I have always loved being near, in or on the water. It has played a role in where I have lived and where I like to travel. Even when touring cities I will find the closest body of water and incorporate it into the planning. Milan and Lake Como? Seattle and Lake Crescent? Anywhere along the PCH? Yes, please (maybe with some motion sickness bands for that last one). I find it both calming and invigorating and I know I’m not alone! With Lake Michigan and the Chicago River as part of the landscape, many Chicago clients want to bring those watery hues inside their home. Blues have a cool and calming effect and who couldn’t use that right about now?
When sourcing fabrics for projects, I start with a color story. And very often, it starts with blue, which is like the chameleon of colors. It can be intense or soft, loud or quiet, and it’s the most popular color by quite a lot. It’s the color of sea and sky and people relate to it, because being outside is soothing and vast – complex. This client wanted color in their living room, but also wanted it to be inviting and relaxing. When thinking about those requirements I had some ideas of balancing neutral walls and maybe a textural rug with upholstery in shades of blue. I came across this painterly velvet and it became the jumping off point for the room. It incorporates three things I love: a soft hand or texture, an organic pattern, and various shades of blue including sky, azure, sapphire. The chairs have an open arm detail that makes them light and really showcases the upholstery fabric. We selected a teal sofa to complement the pair of chairs and kept the rest of the space in cool neutrals.
In a large space, it can be tempting to play it safe with “neutrals” but there is always a place for vibrant color. I tend to think of blues as neutral because they go with everything! Here a promenade of aqua blue velvet armchairs, accessorized with playful kidney pillows sit on geometric neutral rugs framed in a teal leather trim. Your eye naturally follows them down the path and out to the spectacular view of the lakefront.
When renovating this Hyde Park galley kitchen, our primary objective was to open the end wall and capture the views of Lake Michigan. I could picture this client sitting at a new peninsula, sipping tea and watching the changing moods of the lake. This client reminded me that the lake isn’t always blue and sunny; it can be dark and gray. To bring in a sunny mood, we chose a soothing watery blue for the backsplash tile, textured with a wave pattern and used baby blue pendants over the peninsula to tie it together.
Subway tile is in every designer’s toolkit for a reason: it’s classic, affordable and always looks clean. No one said it had to be white! For this children’s bathroom, we used a subway tile aptly named “lagoon” with white grout and trim to make it snappy. The penny rounds on the floor have a hint of robin’s egg blue around the perimeter. It’s refreshing and you can picture a child in this tub with those wind-up boat toys playing until their fingertips are wrinkled.