Add color to your home—Interior Design maven Stephanie Hunt tells us how!

Entry way  // Painting at center by Hyunmi Lee 

Entry way  // Painting at center by Hyunmi Lee 

Dining Room // Painting by Jayne Sweet

Dining Room // Painting by Jayne Sweet

Master bedroom // paintings over the bed by Unni Wood 

Master bedroom // paintings over the bed by Unni Wood 

Stephanie Hunt of @flairhunter is one of my favorite people for many reasons but mostly because she loves to laugh, thinks about her style choices in a similar way to her interior decorating decisions and most importantly she can rock a pair of marigold colored jeans! Not only is Stephanie fearless with color she also has a great sense of humor that she brings to her well designed spaces and has a refreshing lightness of being that comes across the very first time you meet her. Truly, I was content to visit with her all day!

Stephanie is a highly sought after interior designer with an eye for the unique. I asked her recently to tell us about how she thinks about color when designing spaces so that we can all channel a little of that happy into our own homes. 

Q: Stephanie, Clearly, you are very comfortable working with bright colors. Where does your color sensibility come from?
A: One could argue that I was powerless over this as my mother was a slightly zany, abstract expressionist painter in the 1960s-80s; an era of MORE IS MORE. My earliest memories are of homes and studios with enormous canvases [sometimes greater than 6 feet tall] filled with splattered palette knives, brightly smudged easels and tubes of oil paints in turquoises, fuscias, happy yellows, moody blues, and so on. The texture of sand and the gleam of gold leaf were occasionally mixed in with the explosion of vibrant colors. A friend once said ‘A blender with the top off’ which describes my mother’s art studio. My most vivid memories are of the oils, watercolors, tapestries that filled my parents home and their friends homes—even more so than the events that took place in those homes all over the world. [Directly below: Paintings by Unni Wood, Stephanie's Mother]


Q: Is it challenging to move your clients toward bright color in their homes if it is something they have not done before?
A: The homes I live in and design for others have a way of celebrating my tendency to embrace strong color. I also fully understand that achieving it for others, or nudging them to do it for themselves, can sometimes be a tall order.  Color can feel scary, some say or an expense that feels risky. Too much, too loud; a potential hot mess! A home that makes me want to know more about the person/people living there is so much more interesting than wanting to know the name of their designer. My clients hire me to help them achieve this in their own personal spaces. I see my clients more so as my partners, collaborators, co-conspirators. We have a LOT of fun, coloring and collecting the things for their world.


Q: Stephanie, your house is playful and colorful while still being sophisticated and elegant. Could you give us a few ideas of how we could enliven our own living spaces through the use of color?
A: Yes, I have quite a few ideas on the subject! Grab a cup of tea and read on!

1. Think of color as confidence, character and energy. Color is your personal flair.  We all have certain colors that resonate with us. What are yours? If you love that deep aqua color in your favorite blouse what if you found a similar color for throw pillows on your sofa? 

2. Don’t be afraid. You don’t need the entire rainbow of color. A room that is well done in neutrals or even blacks and whites can suddenly be made more interesting and lively with the simple addition of ONE color. Upholstering a pair of chairs in a vibrant color like marigold linen, grass green chenille or Chinese red velvet is sophisticated, lively and unexpected. Hang a small painting or framed print that includes the smallest suggestion of that same color and you’ve suddenly made the room more interesting.  Start with small steps of adding color and I bet you keep going.

3. Plants. Never underestimate the power of green. It is magic in my book. Mother Nature [or God’s, work with me here] perfect, clean, happy, magical color. Green goes with everything. I cannot put red next to everything but I can put it with green. By adding pops of green in the form of plants [ or succulents], green pillows, or even majolica plates you enliven the space.

4. Choose something you love and start with that as your inspiration. My favorite thing to start with is a painting [shocker]; pulling colors from within the painting for the room I am working on.  The colors in that painting might inform the tulips I buy from Trader Joe’s or the pillows I’m buying or making for the sofa, even an enormous bowl of a single fruit—think lemons, apples, grapefruit on the kitchen island all add pops of color. I once found the most perfect little oil painting of a piece of toast with a pat of butter. Odd, maybe, but so interesting that I ended up pulling the yellow from the butter, the silver from the frame and the chocolate velvet color from the toast itself. That painting informed the palette of the space. 

5. Another great way to get rolling with color is to begin with a great solid or patterned rug. Instead of the painting on the wall informing the direction of the room let the color underfoot be the project driver. Adding solid color pieces around the room and allowing the colorful rug to be the hero in the space.

6. Color does not mean pattern. Some people think that they do not like color but they are confusing it with pattern. Or they don’t like multiple colors within a pattern because they think it is too loud or too busy. Not to generalize but I have found more men feel this way. My husband, case in point! God love him. In fact, I fell in love with him because he had framed Diebenkorn prints in the bedroom of his beat-up surfer apartment when he was just out of college. [Diebenkorn prints! Seriously! We were destined to be together!] He loves color but the second I introduce a multi-color pillow or fabric or wallpaper for our home he looks at me like I’m a swarm of bees. Taking one color and using it in a pattern with just black or with just grey, taupe or white, is easier to achieve and to live with for many people. **Do not confuse all of that with the idea that I shrink from pattern, I love it!

7. Color from books and book spines. I am a sucker for a whole library of books. Shelved top to bottom, floor to ceiling when possible. The assortment of color on the spines of the books create their own art form and add character to the space. Like a tapestry of sorts or a giant mural of colors and text. Throw a sunshine yellow sofa in the room with a celadon desk lamp and a glass jar of coral tulips. Or any one of those and the space is happy, energetic and interesting with so much flair.

8. Color is youthful. I don’t mean unsophisticated, I mean that in the sense of freshness, openness, willingness to embrace the new. We all knew this when we were young(er), and perhaps we had a more youthful willingness to take on the world. We didn’t overthink it. Sadly, life gets in our head. It has a tendency to make us more fearful, less willing to take risks. And that can make us a little rusty and dusty. Way less interesting, in my mind. Who wants to be around rusty and dusty!? Why not fill our spaces with a big bunch of sunflowers or an overstuffed, white slipcovered sofa with a royal blue or green cashmere throw?

9. Adding color won’t change the world. But perhaps it can be a catalyst for change in other areas. Color can uplift the feeling in a space, it can create an openness to other more youthful ways of living and thinking. Make your home feel more like a colorful, happy accident— full of energy and flair! I’m pretty sure this is my credo, or my way of going through and responding to life.

10. Most importantly, have fun with your living space and surround yourself with colors that speak to you.     

Stephanie with her sons   //   Photo credit:   Sarah Knight Photography

Stephanie with her sons   //  Photo credit: Sarah Knight Photography

Thank you Stephanie, I am looking forward to your blog coming later this year and am also ready for bright yellow pillows in my house!

You can find Stephanie @flairhunter on Instagram or by email

Interior photos by:  SARAH KNIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

The Art of Ruth Borgenicht

Ruth borgenicht 

Ruth borgenicht 

As you probably know by now we love discovering and sharing artists and designers who leave us wanting to know more about their work. Whether you are an avid art collector or an admirer of art we believe that Ruth's work is unique, smart and engaging so much so that you will remember it long after you see it. When viewing it up close you first notice the surface texture and beautiful form; if you pick up some of the smaller pieces you notice the weight of it in your hands. Upon closer inspection you see links woven together to create a chain mail that is rigid as well as movable. Ruth writes:

"Worn under Medieval armor, chain mail is made of tiny interlocking metal rings
designed to protect a body in motion. I use the chain mail pattern and other woven patterns to create ceramic works that conjure up a sense of permanence and defensive concealment. Like the ancient armor, my pieces are made of a fabric of moveable interlocking rings. Using clay to make a protective mesh is contradictory;
for how can it defend anything, much less itself? Visually stone-like, the pieces
appear strong and impenetrable, belying their inherent fragility."
Centipede collection  //  2' to 12'' in diameter   //   more  here

Centipede collection  //  2' to 12'' in diameter   //   more here

Subtle shifts in ring color appear as a ray of light //  Raked Light VI  // more wall works  here

Subtle shifts in ring color appear as a ray of light //  Raked Light VI  // more wall works here

 subtle gradations in color lend an ombre quality to FAlling Mist VII  //  Here

 subtle gradations in color lend an ombre quality to FAlling Mist VII  // Here

There is also a sophisticated sense of humor in many of her pieces. In the chain mail sculpture [above] Set Back Skyscraper, 2008, the block leans forward, bends back and twists to the side. This piece is named after set back laws in Manhattan in which buildings are required to be 2-3 stories tall in the front while the taller floors of the building are set away from the sidewalk, behind the entrances, to allow sunlight to fall into the street. We love how the piece begs to be manipulated and moved and almost takes on a soft and flexible quality while remaining rigid. 

"When I am showing my work in a gallery setting people often assume
that the work should not be touched. I want people to engage with it—that
interaction is part of the experiential aspect of the work"
MUII  //  Earthenware, 10 x 10 x 75"  //  here

MUII  //  Earthenware, 10 x 10 x 75"  // here

Portrait, 2007  // Wall work in which The three top rings are fixed while the the lower two are movable 

Portrait, 2007  // Wall work in which The three top rings are fixed while the the lower two are movable 

Ruth teaches at Fairleigh Dickinson University and The Art School at Old Church, both in NJ.
She has an undergraduate degree at Rutgers University in math.

Artist in residence programs:
Hunter College, NYC
Anderson Ranch, CO
Greenwich House Pottery, NYC
Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts, ME
Chester Spring Studio, PA
University of the Arts, PA.

To contact the artist directly with inquires click here
For more information and to see a larger selection of her work visit: Ruth Borgenicht

7 steps to create beautiful succulent & cacti mini-gardens for your home

As I sit here writing there are small snowflakes coming down outside my window. It is only early April and I am already daydreaming about long summer days. Setting up the patio for summer entertaining is still weeks away but I am getting a jumpstart on indoor gardening that can transition to the patio once the warm weather arrives. 

We recently asked our friend and style maven [with a green thumb], Anne Livingston, to show us how she creates her beautiful and unusual succulent and cacti arrangements. I spent an afternoon with Anne and learned a few of her tips for creating and caring for low water plants. They are easy to make and much more interesting than picking up a potted plant at the nursery. Follow her quick and easy steps below to create your own!

Cacti, black stones and A BUDDA CANDLE HOLDER make this an interesting center piece or patio planter

Cacti, black stones and A BUDDA CANDLE HOLDER make this an interesting center piece or patio planter

a variety of blue and green succulents planted in glass bowls  with white sand for the FINAL LAYER

a variety of blue and green succulents planted in glass bowls  with white sand for the FINAL LAYER

ABOVE: TRIPOD PLANTER [ACQUIRED AT A BEAD SHOP THAT WAS CLOSING ]  WITH NEWLY REFRESHED SUCCULENTS AND OBJECTS. AFTER A SUMMER ON OUR  SOUTHERN FACING DECK. "I SLIDE THIS TRIPOD PLANTER INTO OUR DINING ROOM WHERE IT ASSUMES A SCULPTURAL ROLE".  

ANNE'S 7 STEPS TO CREATE BEAUTIFUL MINI-GARDENS FOR BOTH INDOORS AND OUT

1. Find Your Vessels for Planting: 
Visit junk stores, antique stores and garage sales for unique finds. Don't settle for what you can find at the local gardening store. Think clear glass or old containers that can be repurposed. What objects would you enjoy seeing on your table or on your patio?  
Often it is the unexpected container that enhances the arrangement. Also consider bowls or dishes that are interesting and fit your mood or style: modern, natural, traditional, vintage and don't be afraid to mix it up a little. 

ABOVE: A VARIETY OF SUPPLIES AND VESSELS COLLECTED FOR PLANTING

2. Objects for Your Mini-Garden:
Look for interesting—not overpowering objects that will enhance the planting. Allow yourself to experiment with some fun and unexpected objects:
• pebbles and rocks [ I've even used sand found at the pet store] 
• cast sand or small concrete objects [look at places like TJ Max, World Market, Pier 1 ]
• aquarium objects from the pet supply store
• beach glass 

3. Plant Selection:
Once you have your vessels for planting you will want to choose your plants. Most gardening stores have a good selection of succulents and cacti this time of year. You really cannot go wrong but below are a few key things to keep in mind when shopping for your plants:  
• Color: combine colors like silver-blues, blue-greens, reds, bright greens
• Texture: spikes, fuzzy, smooth, nubby, the more textural variety the better
• Form: short leaves, round or flat leaves, small or broad pods, cascading tendrils, and upright growers
• Height: some succulents are low growers and can be placed in the front while the taller, more upright growers should be positioned near the back of the pot to create height and layering. 
• Remember that a variety of forms, textures, color and height will add interest

ABOVE PHOTOS: CACTI AND SUCCULENTS IN A VARIETY OF TEXTURES, COLOR AND SIZES 

4. Potting Soil:
Ask your local gardening store to point you to the best soil for succulents and cacti. These plants like to have well drained soil and they do not do well in standing water. 

5. Planting: 
If you have a deep vessel for planting you can build it up with stones then add planting soil. Once you have the plants arranged the way you like them you can easily drop them into the dirt as they do not have deep roots. Once all roots are covered with soil you can add a top layer of white sand or pebbles to complete the look. 

6. Watering:
Good news—these plants do not like a lot of water. Drop ice cubes where you can on the soil to water every week or two. This is much more efficient and keeps the plants from getting over watered. Keep in mind that succulents and cacti have different watering requirements. Read the sun and water requirements for each and you may want to plant the succulents in a separate container than the cacti to help manage both better. Overwatering, resulting in root rot, is the most common mistake with succulents and cacti, and using a vessel without drainage is more likely to have that result. Sometimes if I'm modifying a vessel not intended for this use, I will drill holes at the bottom to ensure drainage. The other "Cheat " with succulents is that they will actually tell you if they are getting under-watered by becoming dimpled. Depending on the variety, their leaves act as cisterns—If they're thirsty. Suffice it to say less water is best versus overwatering. 

7. Sun, Sun and More Sun!
It goes without saying that succulents and cacti need lots of sunlight and indirect sun is fine.  Bear in mind, my dining room with a 20 foot awning outside is ANYTHING but direct, yet does the job for 6 to 8 months of the year when temps are too cold outside.

The main thing I want you to remember is to have fun with this project and let it be an extension of your taste and sense of humor. They also make really great gifts. 

Thank you for sharing this with us Anne!

Please let us know if you used any of her great ideas and email us photos of your project
and we will add them to our facebook page. Happy planting!