Creating a “true” 21st Learning Environment

Happy New Year All!

Lately I’ve been ruminating about what it takes to create learning environments. It seems that for years we’ve equipped our schools and libraries with sterile, functional, and cost-effective room configurations that simply lacked imagination, were boring, and drab at best. All of the while we’ve demanded that our students and readers ‘use their imaginations’ and ‘stretch their minds’ in these inhospitable rooms. Over the weekend, I found a great classroom that I feel is stepping into the realm of imagination and represents what I think is a true learning environment. Your thoughts?

130730_vs_011This image is courtesy of contract magazine. It features VS America furniture and was designed by David Stubbs for Clark County School District. The first thing I like about this room is the colors. Gone are the industrial pink and green paints, brown desks, and aged metal legs of old, in are lime green and primary blue, and white desktops acting as canvases. Blue is associated with the sky and sea and symbolizes trust, wisdom, confidence, and intelligence among other things. It’s been proven to have beneficial effects on the body and mind. It’s calming and induces tranquility. Green on the other hand symbolizes growth and is strongly connected to emotional correspondence and safety. These bright colors are grounded with a warm white field color and grey blend carpet tiles with an engaging geometric pattern. Given this color palette, how can an imagination not soar in such an environment?  Next, the furniture and its curvilinear shapes and nested tables SCREAM “think outside of the box”! To me, this space is very uplifting. What do you think?


Tri Tone Kitchen Has Style


Tri Tone Kitchen

This simple and classic Elkay-Design-Craft kitchen caught my eye this morning curtesy of Kitchen & Bath Business. While I’m known for my very modern designs, the combination of cool and serene colors with the delicate cabinet embellishments made me take a second look. As KB&B stated, “The Barcelona features clean, simple lines, while the Valencia has a solid-wood raised center panel and bridges the gap between transitional and traditional design.” I would love to specify these Barcelona & Valencia cabinets for a custom kitchen project.

London Retail Therapy: Sensual and Feminine


Designer Christopher Jenner designed this sensual and feminine perfumery for Penhaligon. Bordering the Mayfair district, this Regent Street shoppe is almost 100% bespoke. The designer chose bold fuchsia and cool mint as his dominant colors. To this he added warm walnut floors and white millwork. I am especially drawn to the padded walls and glass ceiling. Ooo la la!

christopher-jenner-Penhaligon-regent-street-shop-4.jpg (640×427).

Trending Now: Coastal

Not to be confused with Beach Style, Coastal reflects key choices of modern art, ocean elements, wovens and glass. Mix in leather for a high-low style.


Similar trunk baskets are available at Napa Home & Garden. Pillows are by Square Feathers, table is Oggetti, area rug is by Capel, sofa is Massoud, lighting is Troy Lighting, and table lights are by Barbara Cosgrove.

Color or Hue? Tone or Tint or Shade? What do they mean! Why does it matter?!?!?

Lately I’ve been noticing that a lot of folks have been getting their design jargon a bit mixed up. Hey, it’s easy to do because there is so much of it, I do daily! So I thought a bit of a refresher might be good for me!

What is color and hue?
Color and hue are basically interchangeable. They deal with the light properties visible in the color spectrum like red, blue, green, or yellow. So if you want to “warm up” a room, you add the “color”  or “hue” of red or yellow, and to “cool things down” you add blue or green. Below is an image of absolute (I’ll explain in a bit) red, green, and blue.




So what’s a tone?
When you hear people say, “oh, I think we need to add a red tone to this room.” What they’re saying is “we need to take “absolute red” (red with no black, no white or no gray added to it) and then add some grey. Thus reducing the brightness of the red. Here’s an example of red with 50% of black (at 50% black is gray, not black) added to it. It’s now a “tone”. It takes on a more muted look. Is still warm, but just not as glaringly bright as absolute red.



So what’s a tint?
A tint is an absolute color that you’ve added white to (think pink!). Again, you’ve reduced the color or hue’s intensity, but you’ve gone “lighter” vs. “darker” by adding white and therefore you’re creating a cooler “tint” of red. Take a look…same absolute red, all I’ve done is add white.




Okay, now that we’re clear as mud, let’s look at “Shades”. Shades are very similar to “tones” and most designers use these words interchangeably. And you know what, it’s probably just fine. Here’s a look at our absolute red, with almost pure black added to it. Same red as in the original image, all I did was add black.



So why am I giving “us” this lesson in color, hue, tone, tint, and shade? ‘Cause sometimes it drives me a bit batty trying to remember which is which, and then sometimes people mean color or hue when they say tone, shade when then say tint, tint when they mean tone, tone when they mean tint and on, and on, and on. So just remember three: tint (white) and tone (grey) and color/hue and you and I will do just fine in the world of design! 😉

Eclectic Taste? Design an Eclectic Dining Room!

Like Antiques? Does your design style run toward Modern and Contemporary, and a little shabby chic? Are you a little bit traditional? Don’t want to mix some of one with another? Just Do it!

The best rooms designed today are not all about one theme, they cross over and bring in elements from several design styles to create a unique room that’s comfortable and suits your needs.

Here’s a dining room that mixes a trestle table with leather and upholstered chairs, a bench, limestone flooring, modern art, lighting from Restoration Hardware, and natural wood on the walls and barn door. The kitchen, seen through the doorway, is totally modern and compact.

So go ahead! Embrace several design styles to make your home your own!