joy of nesting

joy of nesting
Shiree Hanson Segerstrom Design and Wellness for Women with Arthritis and Other Chronic Pain.

Building a Design Scheme around Vintage, Retro and Antique Furnishings

I’ve had a run of projects recently with clients possessing the most wonderful antique and vintage pieces. At times like this the question, “can you work with these?” is music to my ears. “Why… yes I can”.
I literally have to contain my excitement. Few things please me more professionally than to have design perimeters especially when those perimeters happen to include a circa 1950 glass top cocktail table with a gilt “sheath of wheat” base, an Edwardian rotating bookcase, or a Curtis Jere’ raindrop mirror.
The fun in this type of project lies in finding the proper furnishings to go with them. The perfect sofa, chairs and coordinating fabrics pull the eras together into a visually pleasing, style appropriate design scheme. I love the look and feel of this type of project. It’s much harder to achieve than buying all your furniture at one place in time but the benefits are numerous. By blending eras, your design schemes will evolve much better and stay in style longer. You won’t be replacing everything at once, in fact you probably won’t be replacing much at all except changing out the fabrics every twenty years. It looks better. The appearance is less cookie cutter. The whole environment is more original.
In a large vacation home near Yosemite National Park, I was asked to work around existing armchairs, various antique game tables and hutches, an antique dining room table and chairs, sideboard and a few other pieces. I did 3D renderings of two optional kitchen plans with a central island, breakfast bar, double wall ovens and a beverage bar. We chose a new sectional sofa, cocktail table and end table to coordinate with and update the antiques. The architecture has vaulted ceilings and an expansive open floor plan giving it the feel of a “lodge” without the wood paneling.
Because there are spectacular views and a wraparound deck, I added three sets of French doors into the plan and window seats in both bay windows.
The family plans to move to there full time in a few years from their current home near Los Angeles. To accommodate the lifestyle they have planned for retirement I added numerous built-in cabinets and bookcases. All fabrics are worked around pets and college age children but will easily shift roles when the nest is empty. Practicality, aesthetics and longevity were all addressed in the plans.
In another such project, now in the beginning phases, a delightful California Peninsula transplant has some wonderful pieces we’ll be working around. Once again, I had to contain my excitement. One of the pieces was mentioned earlier in this post but there are others such as a lacquered screen, a Bombay chest, numerous pieces of beautiful artwork, and some great lamps.

Attractive table lamps are hard to find. Even good quality ones are unattractive these days. I much prefer lamps from thirty to forty years ago such those in this client’s home.

I’ll present a variety of fabrics and window treatment ideas for the new home, working around the existing pieces. I’ll place the furniture and accessories, and hang the extensive artwork collection. It will be fabulous in the end: a light filled space with a lifetime of collections and mementos and new, coordinating fabrics that pull it all together.


Mahogany is a beautiful, formal wood.  In a recently completed project I had the opportunity to work around some really beautiful pieces such as a heavy, retro-modern, box style cocktail table and matching end table with inset glass tops; a three tiered cantilevered accent table; and a pair of massive brass table lamps.

To offset the color of the mahogany and the era of furnishings we chose a beautiful blue and muted apricot color scheme. The seating had to be very high quality to stand up to such beautiful tables, lamps, and accessories. The new sofa, new arm chair, and newly slipcovered existing loveseat fit the bill to a tee.
When blending new fabrics and upholstered or slip covered seating with old tables, hutches and wooden chairs think first about the coloration of the wood. Light, ashen wood tones look stunning with black, red, cobalt and taupe fabrics. The yellow tones inherent in pine work well with Kelly green and dark, bluish red. Cherry wood stains work well within many color schemes.
Placement of your antiques and vintage pieces is also important. Unless space is confined, I always place the most desirable furnishings to be seen first as you enter the room. I do this in the living room and entry areas especially. Wherever there is something particularly beautiful, I emphasize or call attention to it in some way.
Don’t be quick to discard your old wood pieces, antique, retro or vintage. Try using them as the catalyst for your next design scheme.



New Fabrics, Space Planning, Furnishings for a Savvy Design Client

After twelve weeks of designing, sourcing and ordering furniture, fabrics and window treatments we are now in the installation process of a unique and beautiful living room project.


One thing that’s unusual about the project is that the client, an active, style savvy grandmother, chose the best of the three design schemes I put together for her and didn’t change a thing. I was…am, completely thrilled.

above via ZSAZSABELLAGIO.blogspot
It’s a formal living room that will be used for relaxation and to entertain guests. It is a medium sized room, rather long, and with a low ceiling. It has one bay window at the far end and another small window on the adjacent wall. Since the home sits on property with lots of trees, the room tends to be a little dark during certain times of the day. There were several wonderful, existing furniture pieces to work around such as a large mahogany hutch and several accent tables. I also requested that we keep a small loveseat she’d initially planned on getting rid of, not only to protect the budget but also to keep things from being too “matchy-matchy”.

I spend a lot of time on my fabric schemes and I’m particularly excited about the ones we’ve chosen for this room. On the new sofa and armchair is a stunning, high end, blue diamond-motif upholstery fabric. The fabric is hard to describe. It has a kind of retro vibe with a gray-blue background. It falls into the velvet family but it has cut outs around the diamond. The diamond itself is in a slightly darker gray-blue. The fabric for the sofa and armchair pillows is a pale, flesh-toned linen with a tan, green and blue, branch and leaf motif. The pillows have tiny, dark teal blue welts that add a nice, crisp contrast.

above via
For the slipcover for the existing loveseat I chose a sturdy yet light weight textured fabric with the same colors: flesh tones, blues and other colors that pull everything together without the busyness of a print. It’s considered a multi-colored fabric and its predominant, background color is “flesh”. The pillows for the loveseat are teal, the same fabric that’s on the welts of the sofa/chair pillows but this time, the welt is the flesh toned, branch motif linen.


Lastly, the windows. There was no room in the alcove of the bay window to do any kind of significant window treatment and since the bay is a focal point, I had to come up with something striking… a kind of visual “anchor” for the room. We opted for a box pleated valance which we mounted directly on the soffit above in a beautiful, muted apricot cotton/linen blend. It has welts in the same flesh toned, branch motif linen that’s on the sofa pillows and the loveseat pillow welts. Under the bay valance, flanking the glass, are four simple, warm white curtain panels mounted on concealed oval rods. They soften and blur the dark lines of the window frames. There is also a matching valance right above the smallest window. We mounted the valances high, so maximum light will be allowed inside. For great energy efficiency and function, we installed high quality but surprisingly affordable honeycomb shades with an “easy” raising and lowering feature. No strings, and they virtually disappear when raised.

above via ELLE DECOR
In a long room, especially one with a low ceiling I focus on space planning and light first and foremost. In her floor plan option, I allowed for clear foot traffic patterns with the largest seating (the sofa) along the wall rather than across the room, while “floating” the new armchair beside the sofa, as a kind of “mini-room divider”.  I focused on making sure there was plenty of seating (for entertaining those guests) by keeping and utilizing the existing love seat. To allow maximum light, I kept the window treatments off the glass as much as possible with the exception of the warm white curtain panels. Their vertical lines also add needed visual height which again, helps with that low ceiling.

Putting together fabrics and color is less about function than space planning and light control but it’s just as important. The various shades of blue, flesh tones and touches of muted apricot are soft and comforting and go well with the wood tones, paint and carpet already present in the room. I like to use a variety of prints, solids and textures in my fabric schemes and manipulate them in ways that are eye catching as well as practical and soothing.     



above via DUSTJACKETATTIC.blogspot
After the last items are delivered, I’ll rearrange all the furniture both new and old, and place all her accessories. With the combination of striking new fabrics, new seating, new slipcovers and older wood case goods, the results will be smashing. The room will be warm and pulled together...
Ready for company.


above via DOLLYLOVESPINK.flicker
above FLEAINGFRANCE.tumblr

Shiree’s Style File


Custom design work through an interior designer takes time. Most of my products are built in North Carolina and I allow eight to twelve weeks from the time of order to the time it’s delivered to the client’s door. In mountainous areas, a  bit more time is required.


Floor plans and fabrics can make or break a project. Keep traffic patterns clean and simple and use the best designed fabrics the budget will allow.


To gain visual height in a room with low ceilings, try mounting the window treatments higher than usual. In this project we went almost to the ceiling.


Don’t “fight” the shape of a room. Go with the flow by following what’s already there: in long narrow rooms place the sofa on the longest wall and offset it with a chair “floating” to the left or right as a visual room divider.


Never buy all new furniture from one place in time. Mix it up with vintage, antiques and other, complimentary styles for a more evolved look. This also makes it easier to maintain a stylish look later “down the road”.


In small to medium spaces, keep color and pattern schemes fairly simple. In this project there are two main colors: gray-blue and muted apricot, and two main patterns: diamond and branch/leaf.


Orange and blue are opposites on the color wheel and are therefore “complimentary”. Apricot is a version of orange and goes splendidly with various shades of blue.


above via JOSS AND MAIN
above via AMY MEIER. com

 above via


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