Friday, September 18, 2009

The House Beautiful Color Institute Event

A few weeks ago, I received a special 'press' invitation to attend the House Beautiful Color Institute Event at the Atlanta Design Center. The big event was yesterday; when I arrived, I had a name tag that identified me as the author of the 'Things That Inspire' blog, and it was great to meet some of the designers, fellow bloggers, and magazine editors whom I have featured over the past two years!

Image via House Beautiful

The keynote speaker was Stephen Drucker, editor of House Beautiful Magazine, and on the panel were design luminaries Suzanne Kasler and Eric Cohler. The topic: color! Stephen's presentation was wonderful, and he illustrated color use through the decades with a representative picture for each decade from the House Beautiful archives (there were two pictures selected for the 90s, which Stephen noted was all across the board from a design perspective - as are the 2000s!). The 80s had a richly decorated room by Mario Buatta - I thought about Joni from Cote de Texas when appreciating the complexity of his look, and Stephen gave a nod to the true artisty that went into creating such a multi-layered room. It was interesting to hear Stephen's take on the color trends of the 2000s - from the juicy and youthful colors that he called the 'Sex and the City' look, to the complex textured neutrals accented with metallics (particularly in the gilded furniture and mirrors) so often seen in Atlanta decorating, and my favorite, the subtle neutrals that often pick up the colors of nature, particularly greens. There were some striking rooms from recent years done so beautifully in colors like purple, and Stephen identified an emerging trend: dark, bold rooms done in black and rich, deep blues. He commented that doing a black room is about as bold as one can get with color! I did not take notes, so this is all from memory, but it was great to get a perspective from a magazine editor who is so clearly passionate about his work and about color.

Eric Cohler Design, photo by Francis Smith

Next in the line up was Eric Cohler, who has a wonderful sense of humor and also a passion for design and color, especially the color blue! I always love to see work from NYC designers, because their challenges and the architecture they are dealing with is so different than the architecture and design style of Atlanta. I particularly appreciated the stunning museum quality contemporary artwork that many of Eric's clients own, and that he incorporates into his design schemes. Eric's humor and humanity made him the ideal panelist for this event, and from what I understand, he had to make quite a journey to get to Atlanta; we had terrible thunderstorms the night before the event, and Eric had to land in Alabama and take a taxi to Atlanta to make it on time.

Eric said that he feels like an artist when composing a room, with the balance of form, scale, and color. I loved this analogy, because I when I see a beautifully put together room, I truly feel as if I am looking at a unique three dimensional piece of art.

Finally, Suzanne Kasler revealed her color approach on projects, and specifically discussed her thought process behind several rooms that are well known on the blogosphere - the one that stands out in my mind is the richly colored dining room that she created in an Atlanta home (I posted on this home last year when it was on the market). Suzanne often paints an entire room in the same color - walls, trim, and ceiling - but in different finishes, glossy and satin (upon examing this picture, it looks like the ceiling was not painted in the same color as the walls, but the trim and walls are painted out in the same color, as are the windows). She introduced another color in this dining room - the green on the back of several of the dining room chairs - and the rug has the green tone that is on the back of the chairs.

The lacquered look on a wall came up quite a few times in Suzanne's presentation; she often uses three layers of glossy paint to achieve this look, and said that in the bathroom in her newly renovated home in Buckhead, she intended to do Venetian plaster walls but ended up loving the look of three layers of glossy paint so much that she went this route instead. Suzanne was a great speaker and presenter, and it was amazing to hear her design approach on some of my favorite rooms from her portfolio. It was noted that Suzanne has a book coming out in October: I was able to have a sneak peek earlier this week, and it is stunning (there is a kitchen in there that is the most beautiful kitchen I have ever seen). You can pre-order it on Amazon.

I had the opportunity to meet designer Melanie Turner Benecki, Southeast designer of the year, whose home I featured in a post last month; blogger Jennifer Boles of the Peak of Chic; and Clint Smith, editor of Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles. All around, it was a great day for design in Atlanta! Thank you to House Beautiful for hosting this event, and for the special invitation.


  1. Darn. I was invited and forgot all about it! Thanks for the details!

  2. Yes, thank you for the details! I had forgotten too and was kicking myself for most of the day yesterday!

  3. I was hoping to make it down, but couldn't. I'm so glad you went and posted all about it!

    Thanks for sharing, it sounds like a wonderful event!

  4. Oh that must have been wonderful!


  5. Thank you so much for this post. You have highlight a number of great design points from a group of very talented designer. I feel like this is new and fresh information and all from memory!

  6. Yes, I did this post from memory, but I wish I had jotted down Suzanne and Eric's favorite paint colors! If any of my readers attended, can you please comment with the paint colors they mentioned? I know that all three - Stephen, Suzanne, and Eric - have a love for Benjamin Moore linen white and Benjamin Moore white dove. Suzanne mentioned a favorite new color, a BM gray that has a green undertone. Hopefully someone will chime in!

  7. Oh, I wish I could have been there.
    I can understand why you didn't take notes. Whenever I take notes at a talk, I feel like I missed the whole experience. I'm sure this is an event you will remember for a long time.


    Oh, and thank you for letting me know about another book that I must get. Suzanne Kasler's book is sure to be a treasure. xo

  8. Oh, I would have loved to have been at this discussion! I love talking about color, and this sounds like the perfect venue! I think Stephen Drucker has done a Fabulous job with HB over the years. Lucky you! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  9. Black rooms... they are popping up everywhere. I think the only way to do this is with high ceilings and a surplus of windows. Otherwise, how can you help but feel entombed? I can't think of a room I wouldn't mind going into all of the time if it were black... maybe the kitchen if the cabinets were black? What do you think? I know we share an affinity for light colors.

  10. Alaina, it was interesting - Stephen showed an example of a room with a lot of dark (in this case, and inky blue), but it actually did not look like a depressing room because it had lots of windows, and white trim. It was the kitchen featured on the cover of HB recently - I think it belongs to an LA designer.

    I could see doing a rich, dark room in a library or study or powder room. One of my first memories of really noticing the interior design of a room was when a fell in love with a dark chocolate brown powder room - it was the 70s (I must have been 8 years old or so) and they even had a brown toilet and sink! I remember feeling like I was in a cozy cocoon.

  11. You're so fortunate to have been able to attend! That would have been such a neat experience. So thanks a ton for the details!!

    You're also so lucky to see that house re:your comment on House of Turquoise. It sounds incredible! I hope it's published!

  12. Oh this sounds like such a great, fun event!!Would love to meet Steven Drucker, and fellow bloggers, including you!

  13. I really wanted to go but couldn't make it over again this week...thanks for the run down, sounds fun

  14. Now the design world is going to know your face. Lucky for the world!

    I'm ready to see "the most beautiful kitchen I have ever seen." "Eric said that he feels like an artist when composing a room" well of course. Rooms are 3d collage installations that may have abstract elements but they can't be abstract in total.

  15. What a fun event! How cool to be able to take notes from the experts. :) Thanks for the visit...glad I'm not the only one to be distracted by silly things during movies. :)

  16. What a fabulous oppty! Loved this thoughtful post. You always knock it out of the park. Love that.


  17. Alaina, I have been following House Beautiful for quite a while, but was simply not able to attend the event. How have you been though? Drop by for a visit sometimes.


  18. I wish I could have gone with you! It sounds wonderful. I don't have anyone to go to these kinds of things in Houston so I just usually skip them. oh well. Move back~!!!!!!

  19. Sounds like it was a really wonderful experience - I wish I could have been there as well. Thank you for sharing some of the highlights, and from memory too..


    PS - I will look into the Sting Quartet who covered yellow..thanks for letting me know.

  20. What a fun event to attend, TTI -- I'm so jealous! :)

    That said, I'm also pleased to hear that both purple and dark blues are big color trends currently (especially since I just painted by study purple and my dining room navy!). Fingers crossed I didn't hit on a passing fad that I'll feel the need to change in a year or two....

  21. I'm so glad you got to attend! I went to the event in NYC last fall and really enjoyed myself. Stephen is a great down to Earth speaker, his love of design and color really shows. Kate (Sensational Color) was actually one of the presenters- she spoke at the Ainsworth-Noah showroom. She said it was one of the best turnouts ever- that Atlanta has an amazing community of designers and design lovers.

    I'm sorry you two didn't get a chance to meet- sounds like it was a great time!

  22. I can definitely see having a library in a dark shade... with books lining the walls, a great comfy chair and ottoman and floor lamp for reading. But for an office (I work from home) or somewhere you need to get work done, I need it light and bright to keep me awake! Hah. Thanks for the response!

  23. I wanted to make it to the event but was unable to attend. Thank you so much for sharing such an insightful re-cap from memory!

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  25. Sounds like the color conference was very up to date in terms of what we are seeing in magazines and online.

    There's a wonderful video done by the Pantone people that we featured in June -- I hope it's ok to post the link or URL (not sure how it will turn up) here (if not, excuse me and please just whack it) as it's well done and we found it very useful.


  26. Sounds like it was a fantastic event!!

  27. So nice to have met you at the event! What fun!!!

  28. Your beautiful blog awaits me each morning in my "inbox"... most of the time it's the best email I receive all day!!
    Thank you for your wonderful insights. I am trapped in a 1986 tract home in Illinois, and I miss the charm and character of my prior home, which was a vintage cottage.... your blog is very inspiring!

  29. That sounds like so much fun! I love that you got your blog name on your name tag! So cool. Thanks so much for the great detail of all the speakers. I got to shoot Suzanne's room about two years ago. It is beautiful. The blue showed up lovely on camera. Great post.


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