Lori Dennis Celebrity Luxury Interior Designer | Blog

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Fabulous Dining Rooms and Fun Table Settings

Flashback Friday! Our Favorite Dining Rooms We've been working with our clients lately to prepare table settings for the fall holidays.  All this planning and preparation has us thinking about some of our favorite dining rooms from past projects.  While these are not necessarily in the fall theme, they're a great inspiration for any style you feel drawn to.  Pick and choose for favorite and have fun with it! In our Hollywood Hills dining room, we added fresh pomegranates for a pop of color. One of our more casual Breakfast Nooks at Villa del Sur. Fill the table with white serving pieces and let the food be the star! In this formal dining room, we added big beautiful purple hydrangeas that not only look and smell great, but add texture to the table. This sexy bachelor's dining room table is topped with organic succulents and moss. Nothing says classic more than blue and white in this transitional dining room.  Sprinkle in accents of gold to bring the luxury up a notch. When the table is not set, simply add a group of topiaries to add height, color and texture. And because we're in California, we can't forget about those indoor outdoor dining spaces. A sweet little outdoor retreat off a master bedroom suite. We love the bold linens, white vases with different textured designs and a water dispenser filled with lemon and rosemary. Powerful pops of orange with blue accents fill the table of this Spanish Style home.   This table was all about color, and lots of it! We took our color inspiration from the Andalusian cement tiles in this custom table top. We hope you enjoyed our Flashback Friday in Dining Rooms.  Now go have fun creating your own special tablescape!


How to Hire an Architect or Interior Designer, Part II

If you’ve been following our blog about How to Hire and Architect or Interior Designer, let’s re-cap what we’ve discussed so far. 1 – What’s the Difference Between an Architect and an Interior Designer? Covering the differences and similarities and who can do what for your project. 2 – How do I Find an Architect or Interior Designer? We suggest 4 key places to find your perfect match. 3 – Pick Up the Phone Where we offer tips and preparation before your initial conversation. Catch Up with Part I here. Part II   #4 Meet your Architect or Interior Designer Once you’ve had a positive introductory conversation with your Designer or Architect and you’re interested in learning more about them, it’s time to set up a meeting.  This can either be at their office or more importantly at your site.  This face to face meeting will give you an idea of their personality and point of view.  From this moment on, you are entering into a significant relationship.  Clear, open and transparent communication will be the key to your success.   #5 Understanding the Interior Designer or Architect’s Process Does the Vision of the Architect or Designer Appeal to You? Are they creative?  Do you like their point of view? Are they listening to you and what you want to do? Does their work excite you?  Are they logical? How Will Your Interior Designer or Architect Approach your project? Once you’ve walked through the space, have them explain their step by step process from the design concept to construction or installation.  Don’t be shy.  Ask questions when you need a better understanding.  Now is the time for clarification so you are all on the same page and there won’t be any confusion or misunderstandings later. Do They Provide You With Drawings? In order to have your project estimated and remodeled or built, the Contractor or Builder will need a set of Construction Drawings.  These are a necessity and filled with clear instructions on how the Architect or Designer communicates their design. #6 Defining the Services of an Architect or Interior Designer Services can be divided into various phases.  Not all Architects or Designers provide the following services, so be sure when you are interviewing and evaluating proposals that you understand which services will be included in their fees. 1 – Needs Analysis or Programming This is an important step that will create a roadmap to guide you through the project.  Your Designer or Architect will conduct a series of interviews and field measurements of the space.  In this process, you will work together to build goals and priorities, budget and feasibility. This is the most important step no matter the size of the project and will allow you to move forward with confidence and clarity.  It is in your best interest to be as clear and honest with your Designer or Architect so they are set in the right direction, otherwise you could both be spinning your wheels. *Something to note: It’s not a good idea to make plans for a big party or to move out of an existing home based on timeline estimates.  Unforeseen situations tend to come up when you least expect it, whether it’s discovering wood rot in the walls, delays in permits and inspections, or furniture stuck on a shipping container at sea.  It’s best to give yourself plenty of wiggle room and roll with the punches. 2 – Problem Solving or Concept Development Now that your goals, priorities, budget and feasibility are established, you’ll start to see your project come to life.  This is one of the more exciting phases where you are presented with the vision of how your project could look.  You’ll be presented with a variety of drawings and space plans that will help you visualize how your project will look and what it might cost to achieve these ideas.  Be honest if you’re not into something, but also be open to new ideas and solutions.  Trust that you hired them for their creativity and experience.  You might be pleasantly surprised! 3 – Solution Development or Design Development Now is the time where you’ll be presented with all the things you can touch, feel and see like material samples, plumbing fixtures and appliances, hardware, furniture, fabric and lighting.  By working through the previous steps of interviewing and concept development, your Architect or Designer has modified and refined their vision and are now presenting you with more custom details for your project.  Your selections from these options presented should fit into your drawings and budget.  Finalized construction documents, specification sheets, and schedules will be completed and a list of items will be given for your approval for the competitive bidding and purchasing phase. 4 – Purchasing Phase This is the administrative and back-end phase of the project, where your Designer or Architect will order all the finish items for your project.  Some work different than others – some have the builder or contractor do the purchasing, some pay for items and are reimbursed by you, some use your credit card so you pay the vendors directly, some mark-up items and charge a lower fee and others charge what feels like a higher fee but don’t mark-up items, therefore extending the designer savings on to you.  Ask what their process is during the interview phase so you’re not surprised.  They will coordinate with various vendors to monitor the details of the order, delivery schedule, conditions upon arrival and any damage or defective items that need to be replaced.  They will also work with the storage and distribution warehouse or job site for the deliveries. 5 – Implementation or Construction Step by step the Builder or Contractor is using what your Architect or Interior Designer has designed for you in the construction drawings, schedules and specifications of plumbing and appliances, hardware, finishes and lighting fixtures.  They might also be overseeing this process at site visits and meetings with the trades to make sure their designs are being installed and implemented as they envisioned and constructed as according to their plans. 6 – Project Completion, Walk Through and Punch List As with any project, there will be some tweaking and refining along the way.  When the time comes where it gets closer to completion, the builder or contractor will do a walk-thru with the design team and client to note what needs to be finished or touched up.  This is the time where they will explain the ins and outs of the space, including features and operations of various systems and components, responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep.  You can finally begin to exhale and start enjoying the transformation. Now you're a few steps closer to understanding how to make the best decisions in hiring an Architect or Interior Designer and getting a grasp on how things work. Stay tuned for the final Part 3 on How to Hire an Architect or Interior Designer. Next Up: #7 The Digital Age of Design #8 How Much do Interior Designers and Architects Charge? #9 Who Will Hire the Builder or Contractor?


Stone vs. Porcelain Tile

Stone is ageless, totally timeless and beautiful. If you're looking for Marble, Granite, Limestone, Travertine or Slate for your home, take a look at Porcelain Tile. It's really stepping up to the plate. (Tilebar) Porcelain tiles installed in a stacked pattern with polished finish for the ultimate modern style. When this "stone-like" alternative first came on the scene years ago, it was incredibly unimpressive. The technology just wasn't there yet and it looked highly pixelated. Nowadays, there are manufacturers who are producing such high quality tile, it will make you do a double take. You'll see the same aesthetics but without the maintenance hassle or price tag. (Stonepeak) Large Porcelain tile slabs installed as a bookmark application in the shower.  What a focal piece! Porcelain tile is stronger than Stone and less expensive to install.  (Make sure you have a quality installer). Like Stone, Porcelain tile contains color throughout so don't worry - a chip won't be as noticeable as it would in ceramic tile. (Tilebar) Calacatta marble look installed in a staggered pattern with a honed finish. Not only is Porcelain tile a nice alternative to Stone, but now it's available in slabs which expands the possibilties! This is awesome for large surfaces and counters, where solid surface quartz and Caesarstone have been dominating the field for quite some time. (Stonepeak) We're so impressed with the Stonepeak slabs used as counters. The large scale tile on the floor and walls is stunning. (Stonepeak) (Stonepeak) (Stonepeak) (Tilebar) Slate look in Porcelain Tile.


Kohler and Kelly Wearstler Launch Parties

Oh, what a week! With friends and family, Kelly Wearstler, SoCal Contractor and Ann Sacks. We had a wonderful time celebrating the debut Kelly Wearstler's new tile collection for Ann Sacks. Always with a unique point of view and style expression, Kelly's designs are bold, fun and funky fresh. We were honored to be a part of the Grand Opening of the Kohler Signature Store inside Expressions Home Gallery at HD Buttercup where they featured me and my book, Green Interior Design.  The history of Kohler in Photos Sr. Designer Sara Plaisted and I at the Kohler showroom book signing. We loved this geometric cut glass sink. So many collections to choose from.  Just when I think I'm in love with one, I fall for another. A couple of the beautiful vessel sinks, perfect for any powder room. And finally the cherry on top, the jewelry for the bathroom, accessory hardware from Nest Studio Thank you again for all your kindness Kelly Wearstler and Kohler and Expressions Home Gallery!


View on Vegas

    We had a blast at this summer's Las Vegas Market and are excited to share a recap video on our favorite finds and trends posted on Instagram. For more inspirational shots, check out all the Design Tastemaker's and Showroom Instagram pages below: Lori Dennis Top Pic at Peninsula Home Kelli Ellis Top Pic at Selamat Carson Kressley Top Pic at Christopher Guy Julia Buckingham Top Pic at Global Views Michel Boyd Top Pic at Palecek Jamie Durie Top Pic at Phillips Collection Allison Mattinson and Eliza Sharp of Trellis Home Top Pic at Somers Furniture Toma Clark Haines of The Antiques Diva Top Pic at The Barn at Hoey Ranch Heather Vieira of 20th Century by HKFA Top Pic at Blue Ocean Traders I'll be at High Point this October and will make sure to keep everyone posted on what my favorite finds are.  Stay tuned!


Master Architect: William T. Baker

  A building, or a home, becomes an exquisite work of art when special attention has been paid to every detail, everywhere you look.  It's richly layered and creates a sense of history and permanence in classic styles like French, English and Georgian.  In researching master architects for our Atlanta and Dallas Design Campus Live Events next January, I came across the work of William T. Baker.  His work is magnificent.  Each element, detail and finish is stunning, and I was especially impressed by his rendering - skills taught to him by his furniture designer father at the age of 5.  The concentration it takes in drawing is something I'm sure defined his sense of impeccable taste and quality.   Here are some images from Bill Baker's portfolio that I find stunning. Baker knows when to show restraint in order to allow a design feature, like this coffered ceiling, to shine. Notice architectural details like deep windows ledges, chic arches, dentil molding, and a fantastic stair rail.   Such beautiful cabinets, and check out that hood.  This French Country style is refined yet relaxed.   Bring the eye up with drapery panels to discover a classic ceiling molding detail.   I always love a great bookshelf (and ceiling molding again!) A beautiful Georgian Home, classic in white with black windows and doors.  Can you see that entry door? Here's his rendering Stunning Staircase There are so many delicate details in this fireplace mantel. Rich and Regal Again, the ceilings, moldings, arched built in bookcases, columns - everywhere you look is delightful. Architectural Digest featured an Atlanta home by Interior Designer, Suzanne Kasler, who partnered with Bill Baker, that is both elegant and relaxing at the same time, completely without pretension.     Laid back wood paneled walls and molding as a backdrop to fine traditional furniture.  And yes, that fireplace....Oh Yes. Even with a more relaxed design, the details are still in the slight curves of the cabinets. Nothing too over the top with this warm wood ceiling. I can't get enough of this sweet ceiling.  I'm incredibly inspired. Having an interior architecture background has helped us bring our client's homes up to a more elevated level, as shown in a few of our past projects below: In learning about other master architects and designers like William T. Baker, we sharpen our eyes, refine our taste and recognize beauty in the fine lines.  It gives us something to aspire to, and for that I am grateful. Please join us at either Design Campus in Atlanta January 15-17 or Dallas 22-23 where you will have the pleasure of hearing this master William T. Baker speak on his craft.  You won't want to miss it!


On Trend for 2015

We've been seeing a lot of exciting styles happening in interior design this year.  It's almost as if there are no rules - just go for what you love and whatever makes you happy.  Many of these individual styles are often mixed together to make a fun and richly layered home.  Check out the big trends of Blue and White, Trellis, Botanical, Coastal and Boho Chic.  We LOVE them!   BLUE and WHITE The most popular by far is blue and white.  It's classic, pretty and always in style. TRELLIS Trellis adds texture and dimension to a room and can be used as wallpaper, fabrics or architectural detail. ORGANIC BOTANICAL Feel romantic and get back to nature with flowers, plants and birds. COASTAL We're always drawn to the ocean for it's calming comfortable vibe. BOHO CHIC The tip to creating the boho chic look is to layer, layer, layer - fabrics, materials, textures, lighting and color. Whatever style, whatever your personality and whatever you feel drawn to most, just go for it!


Coming to America! The Real Design Women

After airing in HGTV Canada, France, Israel, the Middle East and countless countries around the world my TV series The Real Designing Women finally hits the US!  You can check it out on the Ion Network. They're not just at the top of their game, they are the game - Four of the most successful female interior designers working in North America today, Dee Dee Taylor Eustace (Toronto) Lori Dennis (L.A.) Jennifer Flanders and Nina Freudenberger (NYC) lead us on a fun, fascinating and completely real jaunt through everything and anything design and decorating related (real designers, real clients, real everyone) - it's their world and we're welcome to it.   Hope you enjoy the fun and fabulousness!


Master Architects: Lee F. Mindel

I was recently pouring over the pages of Architectural Digest and I paused for quite awhile on the exquisite work of Lee F. Mindel's penthouse project in Manhattan. Since the passing of Peter Shelton in 2012, Lee has continued on in the ascending success of their New York based firm Shelton, Mindel and Associates and has landed on AD100 with good reason.  Fresh, tailored and joyful are often words that accompany his work as he marries clean lined architecture with luxurious furniture and finishes. The handsome Lee F. Mindel.   Mindel is no stranger to high-end commissions which include Sting and Trudie Styler's London townhouse and Ralph Lauren's Headquarters in Manhattan, along with The Marquand - a $15 million luxury condo on the Upper East Side, a 2,000 passenger cruise ship and a Gulfstream G550 jet.  Not bad.  Not bad.  He makes every space both chic and comfortable - the epitome of luxury. Here are a few images from AD on his Manhattan project. Notice the amount of light that fills each and every space. "Seamless integration of the interior elements—light, acoustics, texture, color—makes the space pleasurable." - Lee F. Mindel Laid back layering. A simple addition of a traditional chair along side lucite tables. A Master of mixing modern lines with traditional pieces. Modern organic lucite desk with a classic shape X-base stool. Mindel is not shy about expressing his passion for Nordic Designs.  "I've long collected furniture by Danish designer Poul Kjaerholm. Unlike most Scandinavian designers, Kjaerholm often worked in metal rather than wood.  I love how he made new materials like stainless steel feel organic by combining them with the humility of string or linen. My favorite piece is his pk91 folding stool."  PK91 Stool in white.  Yes please!   His light fixtures always add a touch of whimsy. Bringing the indoors out. More lovely work by Shelton, Mindel and Associates: A peaceful balance. The art preference seems to be sculptural. A few examples of our work that have the same feeling of light and luxury - California Style:   For more images and inspiration, I would highly recommend adding the Rizzoli book Shelton, Mindel & Associates: Architecture and Design to your design library.  You won't be disappointed!


Behind the Scenes at a Top Interior Design Firm

  We've been busy little bees over here!  As you know, our main job is high end, interior design of multi-million dollar remodels and new construction projects.  That could keep anyone busy for quite awhile! One of our favorite renovation projects in the Hollywood Hills Newport Coast, new construction project of an entirely different style and breath taking view of the Pacific Ocean! But we don't stop there, and if you want to succeed in business, neither should you.  It's great to do award winning interior design projects, but if nobody knows about it, your firm won't thrive.  Bill Gates once said, "it's all about the marketing. A superior product with mediocre marketing, won't succeed. " Since no one likes to "be sold", so we keep our campaigns interesting, informative and fun with a heavy emphasis on video.   This week we began shooting our TV series Metro Makeover, starring some A-List Lovely Ladies: Top Chef Dakota Weiss, Celebrity Make-up Artist Elle Leary,  Wardrobe Stylist Raxann Chin, and little ole' me. We all work our magic to transform a style-challenged slob into a METRO God. Shows like these and my HGTV Series, The Real Designing Women, give viewers a chance to get to know me, my style and what I do.  Raxann Chin, Lori Dennis, Dakota Weiss and Elle Leary Cast and Crew taking a break between shots to have a delicious lunch at Peking Tavern, a downtown LA restaurant that was once a turn of the century bank - complete with the old vault.  Great food and great company!   At our firm we also understand that sharing what you know is the foundation of building trust.  That's why I started Design Camp, the leading educational and networking event for interior designers. Every time I host an event, I have the opportunity to demonstrate my expertise, inner circle of contacts and how much I love what I do.   After discovering how many people around the world wanted to attend our continuing education events, we built  Design Campus, the online spot where design connects.  This week our team has been hammering out the final touches for our launch. The Design Campus Crew working hard on the launch! Filming videos highlighting the secrets for designer success. If you'd like to learn more about how to succeed in business, find balance in your life and have a great time doing it all, let me lead the way!  You can check up on me here: Facebook:  Lori Dennis, Inc. Instagram:  @loridennisinc Twitter:  @loridennisinc Pinterest: LoriDennisInc Houzz: Lori-Dennis