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  • Minimalism Al Fresco

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    Modern Outdoor Fireplace

    On the surface, minimalism and the great outdoors don't seem to have much in common. However, upon closer examination, minimalist design's unapologetic shedding of extraneous elements closely echoes the process of natural selection - a process whereby plants and animals that have survived through the ages have done so by casting off all traits deemed unnecessary for survival. A clean focus on the essentials.  

    It's only fitting then that when cooking and eating in nature, one does so with a minimalist flair.

    minimalist outdoor decor

    Dining al fresco is an opportunity to return to basics. Simple ingredients are the key, be they what's on the table or the table itself. The Itauba table (pictured below) is an all-in-one outdoor kitchen solution. An unlikely design from outdoor gear manufacturer Snowpeak, this Japanese-inspired table features a stove and grill in the center. The camp lanterns are optional of course.

    contemporary outdoor kitchen

    In fact, there's much more to outdoor lighting than camp lanterns. The al fresco kitchen should invite starlight in and keep light pollution out. For that purpose, dark sky lighting provides light where it's needed (for pathways, stairs and such) without destroying the natural ambience.

    Outdoor Lighting

    Hinkley Atlantis Bronze High Dark Sky Outdoor Wall Light (left), Vertical Dark Sky High Outdoor Wall Light (right)

    Fire can be central to the outdoor experience. Heat source. Light source. Marshmallow roaster. New Zealand based Escea makes a stunning line of modernist outdoor fireplaces.  

    contemporary outdoor fireplace

    Sleek, stark modernist lines are seemingly incongruous with nature, yet anyone who has seen Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater or John Lautner's Desert Hot Springs Motel (recently renovated by interior designer Tracy Beckmann) will speak of the sublime attention to the land that both of these monuments exhibit. The open-air folly pictured below, by New Zealand based Herbst Architects, is constructed mostly of natural materials to provide a minimalist respite that blends into the surroundings yet keeps the rain out. It includes a simple kitchen and dining table.  

    contemporary folly design

    Less is more. Such has been the modernist doctrine for nearly a century now and such has been the doctrine of nature for eons, proof that good design never goes out of style.  

    Images: The Outdoor Stylist, MoCo Loco, Urban Gardens, Escea, Architechnophilia

  • Hardwood Floors In the Kitchen

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    Taupe Laquer Kitchen with Walnut Floors

    Hardwood flooring in the kitchen is a timeless choice that allows your flooring to remain consistent throughout your house. The days of switching up flooring in each room is pretty much over. Hardwood floors have many benefits; one of the most important is that it is more comfortable under foot versus tile, more natural than vinyl, and more neutral than cork. Many modern kitchens are designed with an open plan and appear more furniture-like in aesthetic, so a seamless integration into the rest of the house is key. Often times people wonder about the durability of hardwood floors in the kitchen, but there is nothing to worry about here.  

    White Glass Kitchen with Stainless Steel and black countertop with raw wood island and white tufted door

    A natural oiled engineered floor like this Vernal White Oiled floor from DuChateau neutralizes the modern elements of the glass and stainless steel in this kitchen. It also does a great job of grounding the contrasting the raw wood island and a modern chrome chandelier and allows these eclectic elements to work together.

    White laquer kitchen with dark blue glass uppers  White countertop barstools and pendant lights.  Natural oiled wood flooring.

    Your basic white lacquer kitchen with contrasting upper cabinets is warmed up with natural oak flooring. White pendant lights and white barstools remain sculptural, but neutral in the space as it opens up to the lush landscaping of the exterior to provides you with a real organic feel in this modern space.

    Dark Oak Cabinetry with matte laquer cabinets with integrated sinks.  Natural oiled wood flooring

    The contrast of the dark wood and matte lacquer cabinetry, white countertops, and fine sawn white oak flooring is a gorgeous combination. The element of natural wood in kitchens and clean modern interiors is key to creating life and warmth.   

    Modern Walnut Kitchen Island mixed with white cabinetry with walnut details.  Rustic Oak Flooring in open floorplan kitchen and dining.

    I love this look here. A kitchen with clean modern lines, marble countertops, and simple door hardware mixed with rustic oak flooring which really sets the stage for the room. The choice of flooring is really a key element of design in any space. This room could have taken on many different looks, but this use of a rustic oak floor provides you with a contemporary yet rustic atmosphere that makes me feel as if you are in a beautiful wine country.  

    Images: See Materials, Yolksy, Tamizo, Architectural Digest

  • Get the Look: Modern Kitchen Pendant Lighting

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    Modern kitchen lighting and black pendants

    Designing your kitchen, like any room of the home, is fun because you're creating your own personal environment. However, the most fun element of the kitchen design is the lighting because it's like the jewelery to a great outfit. It's the beautiful accessory to this functional space. To keep the space modern, pendant lighting is the way to go.

    There's many different types of modern pendants that will help you achieve a great look for your stylish space. The kitchen above uses a really fun mix of materials to balance out the wood and brick, the bold black drum shade pendants make a great addition. Also, a bold stripe could look amazing in this space.

    Modern pendant lighting

    Mini Mullberry Black Tech Pendant Light

    Modern pendant lighting

    Bold Black Stripe Pendant Light

    This kitchen below is much different than the first one. Here, the lighting is understated but stylistically just as effective. The barely-there glass pendants give the kitchen a whimsical yet modern feel while keeping it open and fresh.

    Modern kitchen lighting and glass pendants

    Modern pendant lighting and Clear Satin Nickel Pendant

    LBL Isla Clear Satin Nickel Pendant

    Modern pendant lighting and Clear Glass PendantJaime Young St. Charles Clear Glass Pendant

    You also have the option of allowing your lighting to become a statement piece, making it more art than a light fixture. This type of pendant is always fun to shop for since your goal should be to find the one with the most personality.

    Modern kitchen lighting and white kitchen

    Modern pendant lighting and White Flower Pendant Light

    Possini Euro Design White Flower Pendant Light

    Modern pendant lighting and White Cloud Pendant Light

    Possini White Cloud Pendant Light

    Have fun selecting your kitchen lighting while keeping function, scale and style in mind. You're sure to create the look you want for your modern kitchen with any number of different pendant lighting styles out there.

    Images: Plastolux, Cococozy, SF Gate

  • Open Shelving In The Kitchen

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    Open shelving in the kitchen

    One very hot trend right now is open shelving, but it's a little more than a trend I believe... This design method is great for saving space and adding many more platforms (literally) for home decor options. This clean modern kitchen (above) uses the open shelving for accents and the opportunity to bring in other materals, such as those gorgeous wood bowls. Having the combination of cabinets and open shelving is also a good idea so you can keep the less attractive items behind closed doors. But don't hide your ceramics just because they don't match, sometimes those make the best accessories!

    Kitchen with open shelving and dark walls

    You can't deny that the dark wall in this kitchen is perfect for accentuating the open metal shelves and everything on them. The stainless steel material was a great choice to keep the storage sleek and not too heavy.

    Large artwork in kitchen

    This modern kitchen does a great job of mixing materials. Spanish tile, warm woods and sleek stainless steel work together to create an eclectically modern kitchen with super cool open shelving. What a beautiful idea to open up the bottom cabinests and create shelving while keeping the walls free for art!

    Yellow kitchen

    You can add color with the shelves in addition to the accessories you place on them. The clean white tile and floors really make the love for yellow pop in this kitchen. Modern barstools are a nice addition for keeping this space functional. To see more yellow in the kitchen, be sure to read Annie's post - It is Always Sunny in a Yellow Kitchen.

    If you decide to implement these ideas in your space, notice how in each image only the more attractive accessories are displayed on the shelves and the rest are tucked away behind closed cabinets. Scales and colors are also important, but often times a difficult balance. Once you find the perfect combination, you'll see how open shelving can be a great way to maximize your space and look very cool doing it.

    Images: Live, Apartment Therapy, Revel, House & Home

  • Hospitality Design Spotlight: The Saguaro Palm Springs

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    Modern hotel in Palm Springs

    Take one franchise hotel with an outdated design, add some colorful paint, a little branding and voila... a super cool weekend getaway destination! The Saguaro hotel, located in South Palm Springs on East Palm Canyon, just recently opened in February 2012. Saguaro means large cactus in Spanish and there is no question that the design of this hotel fully utilized the Latin love for color.

    Modern hotel guestroom

    The design of their typical guestroom uses just as much color as the exterior. The green apple furniture against a yellow wall is risky no doubt, but the right shades of each color makes for a fun outcome. Streamlined furniture and modern desk lamps are a nice contrast to the basket woven dinette set in the far corner. 

    Modern hotel patio furnture

    The restaurant design of Tinto is just as cool as the rest of the hotel, but rather than lots of color, they took a more natural approach. Featuring modern pendant lighting and lots of wooded furniture, this outdoor patio has a very easy and relaxing vibe, perfect for heading to the pool after a bite to eat.

    Modern hotel restaurant patio

    The transition to the interior of the restaurant maintains that modern yet natural aesthetic. This wine bar and restaurant is inspired by the culinary-renowned Basque region of Northern Spain and Southern France.

    Modern hotel wine bar and restaurant

    Whether you are from nearby Los Angeles or live farther way, this desert retreat, busting with color, is sure to leave you invigorated and full of energy, ready to face the daily grind.

    Images: The Saguaro

April, 2012