Archive | August 2010

Cat Vs. Dog for the Home?

I have been on both sides of pet ownership and care for quality  homes.  Sometimes my clients are considering a first pet and want my advice after they just spent a huge investment on their home design, and are leary of bringing a pet into the mix. My recommendation is always “Start with a cat if you don’t have the allergies”.

Martha Stewart says “if you hate cats, it’s because you never owned one”. I  agree. As a child we only had dogs. My parents were anti cat. Now my parents have two cats and a dog and every time the cats walk into the room, their faces light up. It’s ridiculous how happy they are with cats….all I have to say to them is “I told you so”.

The coming in and going outside all the time routine obviously leads to general grime in the floor and the house, and a general dog odor in the house. In regards to cats, my clients also ask me about the litter box and allergies. Litter boxes are a controlled environment; you put it in the bathroom  so it’s easy to clean out. And it needs to be cleaned regularly in order to not have an odor. We have ours hidden in a cabinet with a door for the cats.

So no, it’s nowhere near the major work of dog walking, potty training, and with a dog you must work around their schedule. The whole carrying around baggies full of dog doo until locating the nearest garbage or having to pick up dog doo in the yard regularly–well its not cool as it seems when shopping for that perfect dog.

You definitely have to make sure that you have no pet allergies before adopting a cat.  Its’ not fair to the cat to just discard them like garbage if you find you are allergic. Sometimes a cat rescue will let you take care of a cat temporarily to test this but most people know if they have cat allergies already. The Siberian Cat is supposed to be good for people who love cats, but not the allergic reactions that come with them.  Do your research on this one.

8 more advantages on cat vs dog ownership:

1. Cats are quieter. There will be no barking at 4 a.m. in the morning and naturally a cat’s meow is a lot softer than a dog’s bark. Your neighbors will appreciate this. It often annoyed us when we got a kitten because young cats play more at night than older cats. I have trained my cats by putting them into the bathroom until they calm down and slowly they learned to just chill out at night.

2. Cats clean themselves. Cats do such a great job of cleaning themselves that their hair doesn’t smell and they do not need to be bathed unless they are very old and sickly.

3. Cats have a litter box. There is no need to let the cat out at 5 a.m. or to go take the cat for a walk. Even with minimal training, cats know what a litter box  from day one and how to use it. All you need to do is clean it out once a day for solids and 1-2x weekly for the rest.

4. Cats can be left alone for a couple of days. Cats are  independent but don’t assume they don’t long for attention and love. If traveling, do not leave for longer than 2 days with food and water. They too miss their owners and sometimes get anxiety and stop eating until the owner comes home. Then they show their disapproval by hiding under the bed when you come home to show their disapproval.

5. Cats work with any schedule. If you’re a busy executive constantly on the go or have a leisure lifestyle, cats are great because they don’t need constant attention yet are very affectionate if treated with love and respect.

6. Cats are not obnoxious when it comes to greeting strangers. When a dog is excited, it barks and jumps to greet. Cats will be aloof or even afraid initially of strangers and then will come out to do investigating when all seems normal.

7. Cats cost FAR less in daily maintenance and yearly vet bills. In the lifetime of a pet, cats usually cost about $2,000 -$5,000 less than a dog when you take into account everything from vet bills to food needs.

8.  Cats are very trainable, just like dogs. They often learn just as quickly as a dog.

For responsible dog owners, by all means have your precious puppies, but I only want to clear up the misconception so many people have about our feline friends. Just open your mind to the possibilities of giving a cat a good home. They are quite compatible with dogs . Takes about 1 week to acclimate them most of them time but of course this depends on the type of dog you already have in the home. There are far more cats out there at shelters now and you would be so pleasantly surprised at how quickly you fall in love.

If you live in the Chicago area and are looking for a cat to rescue and give a good responsible home, please contact the ladies at the Hyde Park Cats.

They do TNR for Feral cats in the University of Chicago area and have many wonderful cats who have been domesticated and fostered to choose from. I have 3 cats in my alley that I and my husband have been caring for who are all nearly domesticated and need homes before winter. Please contact me if you are a super responsible person without allergies and we can set up a meeting to see the cats. Thank you!


White Kitchen Envy

Lately I have had kitchen envy. I  LOVE  the white cabinetry I have been seeing. This is a bold look that makes a strong statement and it’s not  high maintenance.  In my experience, light floors and light cabinetry are all less maintenance then the dark wood cabinet ebony stained doors and floors– the darks show all dust, pet hair, fingerprints, and crumbs on the floor which is annoying.

The most important aspect to pulling off a white kitchen well is natural lighting.   So make sure you have plenty of added sunshine if remodeling your kitchen. Put a sunlight in if you can’t change the windows…..and if you can put in taller or wider windows, do so!  It will be worth the extra money spent. Because part of that open airy feeling you see in the magazines, if you look closely at the pictures below, is natural sunlight at play bouncing around the room.

No designer can duplicate the flattering light of natural light with man made bulbs. So you have to make sure that your designer knows something about lighting for your kitchen pendants, chandeliers, and under cabinet lighting. Because if its too yellow its going to make the cabinetry look dingy at night or on an overcast day.

If an all white kitchen still doesn’t appeal to you entirely, check out these driftwood/white oak and white kitchens.  It’s modern and clean as well and gives a more updated look than other woods and  still keeps the room feeling light while giving the room a bit more architectural interest.
Photographer: Eric Roth
Designer: Michael Bell & Paul Castell
Designers: Darren Sukonic & Matthew Sapera
Photographer: Eric Roth
Photo: Tria Giovan
Designer: Andrew Brown
Designer: Stephen Shadley
Designer: Matthew Rao

The Luxe of Custom Canvas

When paint is too dull and wallpaper is too static –and you have a luxe budget, consider creating a custom work of art for a wall, a ceiling, a niche, or an area that is special to you.

When I hear the word “mural” come from a client I tend to cringe. Because many murals tend to be over the top.  Then there is always the anticipation of not knowing what to expect when its finished which in the past has kept me from going this route. But with a canvassed wall you can see what you are getting before it’s installed. This has its advantages for both the client and the designer in that it’s easier for the artist to create it in their studio and easier to install for the client. The designer can visit on progress to talk frankly about how its evolving, and to get it just right in terms of scale, color and texture. Once its finished, it is up for expert installation in the clients home-usually in one day. Meaning no weeks, days or even months creating the masterpiece in the client’s home-which tends to annoy a client when they are living in the house!

  • Total control of color,  hue, and design
  • One of  a kind work of art for your home which noone else will have
  • More control of the project off-site and easier installation of the canvas with one day installation

Created by Jorge of Simes Studios, this Chinoiserie, monochromatic, almost drawing like artwork has hints of cream and blue-gray colors.
The canvas was applied to a screen then gilded with aluminum leaf.
The style is very much in the manner of 19th and 20th century fine hand painted and gilded paper.

Neoclassical archway in Lake Forest.  Notice how fine the work is.

By Simes Studios

by David Keith Braly

This canvas is at Cafe Spiaggia on Michigan and Oak, 2nd floor. One of Simes Studios’ most complex installations, the jute canvas was textured to give it the feel of a frescoed wall. They also developed a few different finishes for this decor, such as trompe l’oeil mosaic and grisaille of plaster-like bas reliefs. Installed for 14 years now, the canvas has taken a considerable beating as the place continues to be a hot spot, and still looks like the day they installed it.

Which goes to show that paper on walls will never give your walls the benefits of durability, luxury and toughness as that of custom canvas walls.

CMR Interiors : Lincoln Park breakfast nook banquet area canvas by Simes Studios.

Photos courtesy of Simes Studios

The Benefits of Wallpaper

Wallpaper allows you to bring beauty and function to your interior walls that transform the style of your room.

Besides the obvious aesthetic value of wallpaper-which tends to be dynamic to subtle depending on what you choose, ie. pattern vs. texture, they also have quite a few performance benefits such as:

  • Durability – the heavy duty wallpaper protect the wall better than paint
  • Hiding cracks or blemishes on walls in poor condition
  • Easily cleaned – Vinyl wallcoverings are usually easier to clean than painted walls
  • Some Sound Proofing Benefits- textural wallcoverings can also quiet noise and annoying echoes in your home rather than upholstered walls

Wallcoverings also provide the protection for your walls that you need, without sacrificing aesthetics. Take a look at this elegant dining room designed by Thad Hayes.

For this project, he chose a more muted toned Gracie wallpaper to create an overall feel of traditional glamour.

Oak Plank Board wallpaper by Nobilis of France.

CMR Interiors: Caba Paper in Ivory

I like lines that run horizontal which are great in modern design. This photo from Farrow & Ball shows the closet stripe pattern.

This Anniversary Half Plaid print in Indigo Earth is by Maya Romanoff.

Upholstered walls capture sound & look fabulous

The main advantage of upholstered walls is peace and quiet. When you walk into a room that has upholstered walls there is a certain incredible stillness that nothing else can replicate.  Sound doesn’t bounce all over the room. I like upholstered walls in library/studies,  dining rooms, home theaters, master bedrooms and powders rooms because of this benefit. You also see them a lot on yachts because everyone is so closely quartered and the upholstered walls help provide more privacy to the owners. They also create a true feeling of rich coziness that clients are often thrilled with.

Upholstered walls offer texture, color and patterns; and the application is dependent on the fabric the client wants to use. Now you can use anything your budget can allow: leather, suede, ultrasuede and mohair, would be on the expensive side and chenille, silk, linens and even burlap on the less costly side. For plainer fabrics with little to no pattern, I like it stretched like wallpaper or you can use various baffling seen below: squares, or vertical or horizontal seams.

Upholstered walls are considered a luxury wall treatment but cleaning them is as simple as vacuuming your walls with an attachment on low suction. I would suggest a Miele canister vacuum for this which has a dial setting for suction control. And for those pesky liquid spills in the dining room, call up a local cleaners to have the wall cleaned. Just as you would have  an upholstered chair cleaned, the same principle applies to an upholstered wall.  Of course, you can always also have that fabric pre-treated for staining so that clean up is easier.

Here are some great examples of upholstered walls:

Lincoln Park powder room adjoining kitchen & dining room-which is not the best placement due to privacy.  My solution for this room was to install upholstered walls for sound proofing in a fabric that is fabulous and textured above dark paneling that would make the room more practical for the 3 toddlers in the house. CMR Interiors.

I love working with modern designs, and here are a few pictures that reflect a more modern look from Upholstered Walls by Anne Marie.

This rust dupioni silk was done with a double welt demarcation to create rectangles for a recessed bed area. This was done by Michael & Associates.

This foyer, done by Cannon-Frank for the Dream Home at the Mart, was fashioned after the art deco style. The welting between vertical channels divides the space to achieve the designer’s vision.

The office photo shows custom cut, upholstered panels with brown ultra suede that was done by Page One Interiors.

This lobby area at the Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf was done with leather panels cut from hides using a track system, where you don’t need any trim at all. The architect was Anderson-Miller in Chicago.

The horizontal channels with the black credenza has welting on the perimeters but no welting between the channels. This can also be done vertically, but for this particular room the designer wanted a wall treatment that would reflect the lines of the credenza.  Page One Interiors in Barrington.

Photos courtesy of Upholstered Walls by Anne Marie

A “Bullet Proof” Breakfast Nook Facelift

My clients top priority for this area was to make it as “bullet proof” as possible.

With 3 kids under 10, the fabrics had to be easily wipe able and long lasting.

It started with the window. She wanted a window here……and I wanted a non straight back banquet so I came up with a softer design with a custom window.

The window had to be custom made…and then it was some trouble to have it installed being the house has masonry walls. But its different and fresh and I love it.

Banquet Fabric: Great Plains Marrakesh Nylon/ banquet custom to go around window.

Chairs by Fenton Poston (call for details) /Fabric: Brentano Snakeskin Vinyl

Table Base & top: Bradley Hughes base in pewter, but the table top is custom planked driftwood finish with a MARINE Finish (used for boats) so the kids can live with it and the mom can have luxe look that is low maintenance.

Walls: I needed something that was just right to pair with a Meredith Pardue painting that would be in the family room diagonal from this area. I found a picture of this painting by Richard Giglio called “Word Painting” in a book in my libary. So I took to Simes Studios and Jorge created an interpretation that had similar properties but was something original that would work with the painting across the way.  The clients speak fluent Italian so they used verses from Dante’s Divine Comedy. He did the work on canvas so it could be wallpapered to the wall since care was important to us to have an epoxy finish so it would be completely cleanable.

Chandelier: David Iatesta at Summerhill in Chicago

A little bit about us

There is nothing like walking into a gorgeous, organized, well kept home. Having at least one special space — is a true luxury that gives back on the investment. This is what our design firm achieves for it’s clients.

CMR Interiors is a skilled project management & design firm. We break down large projects into manageable decisions, steering the client through the process, as an advocate. We guide clients through the planning, project management, numerous interiors decisions and details. Additionally we are there to educate and train any staff on how to clean and care for the new house properly.

CMR Interiors has years of experience of working with a variety of clients. Many happen to be families who need extra consideration in terms of time management with juggling busy careers, active social lives, hectic kids schedules and households. Our clients depend on our design firm to get decisions made efficiently as possible. Additionally with families there needs to be a balance between durability, practicality and style.