Learn it! Posts

Charcuterie Boards: Edible Masterpieces

By: Shelby Adamson Pawlak and Danielle Clockel

The holidays are upon us! Now is the time to be with friends and family, and for many of us that means hosting holiday parties. So what’s a surefire way to impress your guests? Food, of course! We were so inspired by Lady and Larder’s artful charcuterie creations that we tried our hand at our own.

Choose your base.
Rustic wooden cutting boards, stone slabs, vintage plates, trays turned upside down for added elevation — any kind of larger surface is fair game to lay out your spread. Feel free to layer surfaces and add in small bowls for dips and sauces. The sky’s the limit!

Select your meats.
We made sure to include a varied selection of aged/cured meats: prosciutto (always a crowd pleaser), soppressata, salami, pepperoni, and a softer meat like a pate are classic components to a charcuterie board. (We chose a vegetarian mushroom and artichoke pate — no one gets left out of this taste fest!) At least two meats are recommended, but you could have as many as you want. Extra points if you can create your meats to look like ribbons or rosettes!

Compliment with cheese.
You just can’t have a charcuterie board without cheese, am I right? Include hard, creamy, and crumbly cheese to represent all the textures, and cut them into small triangles or morsels for the ease of serving. Hard cheeses are those like cheddar, parmesan, manchego, gouda. Creamy cheeses like brie and camembert are perfect for spreading on crackers. A crumbly goat cheese, blue cheese, or gorgonzola rounds out both the flavor and texture palette.

Chop up the crudités and adorn with fruit.
Chopped veggies add color and crispness to a spread, and provide a light and refreshing palette cleanser between the richer meats and cheeses. Persian cucumber spears, rainbow carrots, cherry or grape tomatoes, and watermelon radishes are all delicious solo or as vessels for tasty hummus. Adding fresh or dried fruit also opens up a world of possibilities! Tried and true favorites like grape clusters, blackberries, and raspberries are sure to please. Or broaden your guests’ horizons with the surprising flavors of pomegranate seeds, figs, persimmon, or dragon fruit. Whatever your heart desires!

Make room for side bites and finish off with foraged accents.
You can really elevate your charcuterie board by including an assortment of olives, cornichons, hummus, nuts, grain mustard, and honey (just to name a few!). But what to eat these with? French or Italian bread, crackers, bread sticks, pita — it’s good to have an assortment (and maybe some tasty gluten free options as well). So now you’ve got your beautiful assortment of meats, cheeses, veggies, fruits, and other nibbles. How do you finish it off? We suggest petite local flowers and/or fresh cut herbs, but the possibilities are practically endless. Get creative!

Have fun arranging all of these incredible components! Think of the board like a canvas, and the delectable treats are your paint. Consider color groupings as you place your fruits and veggies — imagine a swath of deep purples and vibrant oranges sweeping across a canvas, framing the textural earth tones of crisp crackers. And when in doubt, sprinkle some tiny blossoms across the board!

Cookin’ Color: Bright and Bold Kitchens

By: Danielle Clockel

Kitchens are a big ticket item when it comes to your home’s resale value, and happen to be one of our favorite rooms to design. While a neutral white/grey kitchen is a timeless classic, we’re inspired by those who mix it up with unexpected color.

Photo courtesy of French Fancy.

This sunshine yellow is about as bold as it gets! The calm grey walls provide a necessary balance to the brightness of the cabinets and allows them to really shine.

Photo courtesy of That Nordic Feeling.

Maybe a kitchen full of bold paint is a little intimidating for you. Try choosing one piece to be your pop of color, like this lipstick-red Smeg refrigerator.

Photo courtesy of Domino.

Want color and pattern? How about an unexpected take on a backsplash: bold wallpaper! In this look, the classic marble countertop and simple hardware keep the vibrant floral wall grounded without squashing its wild side.

Photo courtesy of Farrow and Ball.

Even with a small surface area, you can still make a big statement. Paint your upper walls a solid color, or get funky with positive and negative space.

Thinking outside the box when it comes to your kitchen can be a little daunting. Renovations are a big investment and contribute greatly to the value of your home, but you don’t have to completely sacrifice style! Sometimes a little bit of paint or a single wallpapered wall is all you need to breathe life into your space.

Cherished Treasures + Custom Creations = Happy Place!

By: Shelby Adamson Pawlak

Photography by Danielle Clockel for Balance Design.

Our clients’ vision is the most important factor in our designs. While we want to fill their home with beautiful furnishings, we find the best way to keep the space true to their personality is by combining new pieces with their own cherished items. Books, art, keepsakes from travels, and family heirlooms are always considered as part of the final design. This client has an incredible collection of vintage kilim rugs, handwoven textiles, and even a plague doctor’s mask. With these curated pieces as a starting point, we selected a vintage over-dyed rug under a saddle leather lounge and created custom graphic window panels to pull the look together. We love to inspire our clients with art and furnishings, but we love it even more when they inspire us!

Transitions with Color and Subtle Connectivity

By: Loren H. Pratt

Photo courtesy of Hygge & West.

 

Recently the talented team at Balance Design helped me select and install this Hygge & West wallpaper in the top stair landing of my home. The inky blue color and quirky copper design reflects the mood of my home: cheerful and playful, yet sophisticated and relaxed. It invigorates the landing by adding movement, and the metallic details reflect light, making the area seem larger. This wallpaper inspired me to make the most of my transitional spaces.

In the past, I viewed these spaces (front entryway, hallway, and staircase) as simply a means to an end — get me to the next real space. However, they don’t have to simply be placeholders for connecting the main living areas; they can communicate something about you and reinforce the mood of your home as well.

Color

Color is an easy way to create mood and connect spaces. Blue is the primary color unifying the rooms in my open-concept home.

Photo courtesy of Loren H. Pratt.

Various shades of blue help the oversize photograph flow into the almost indigo color of the upstairs wallpaper. I love how the copper frame of the Brittany Kidd photograph (another Balance Design purchase!) complements—both in movement and color—the model’s hair color in the image and the underwater sea creatures in the landing wallpaper. Color unifies all of these spaces and helps you move naturally from one to the next.

Subtle Connectivity

I love a subtle theme. We’re not talking about your grandparents’ “Santa Fe room.” (I hope I’m not the only one with grandparents who had a Western themed room.) One or more subtle themes can tie multiple areas together. An implicit theme of water flows (couldn’t help myself) through the transition spaces in my home.

An abstract painting in the downstairs hallway was created at the beach, where the artist, Candace Greer, incorporated sand into the paint. The different blue shades symbolize the ocean and sky, and the hallway rug below the painting is reminiscent of coral. In the racy laundromat scene, the circular washing machines remind me of submarine windows.

Painting by Candace Greer.

Photo courtesy of Loren H. Pratt.

As I mentioned, the wallpaper contains whimsical underwater creatures perfectly in keeping with the water theme.

Photo courtesy of Loren H. Pratt.

Perhaps few will notice the subtle connections between these transitional spaces, but they really bring a sense of passage and evolution to otherwise mundane areas in our home. Take a second look at your “in between” spaces. Let them connect to each other and communicate something interesting.

Loren Pratt is a lawyer and legal writing professor who loves interior design. Her legal writing background influences her affinity for juxtaposing order and symmetry with personality and flair in decorating. Loren loves working with the Balance Design team when she’s stumped with a design challenge or when she needs a second opinion. Follow Loren to see what inspires her as she decorates her new Atlanta home. 

Norma Sklarek: Pioneer in Architecture

By: Melody Richardson

This week we wanted to honor the work of the late, great Norma Sklarek. Hailed as the Rosa Parks of architecture, her vision and passion are an inspiration to us all. Not only was she an incredible influence on the world of architecture, she has been a pioneer for women and people of color in the design industry. Despite going unrecognized for many her works, Sklarek still persevered.

United States Embassy, Tokyo, Japan

United States Embassy, Tokyo, Japan

Sklarek gained her education from Columbia University and was still turned down 19 times before getting a job. She overcame many obstacles while working due to her gender and ethnicity, and still was known as one of the nicest and most hardworking people in the business. Her career spanned through 5 companies and 38 years. Most notably were her contributions to Gruen Associates in Los Angeles, where she collaborated with César Pelli. Together they built the United States Embassy in Tokyo, the Pacific Design Center, San Bernardino City Hall, Terminal 1 at LAX, and Fox Plaza in San Fransisco. Of those notable works, only the United States Embassy in Tokyo recognizes her for her contributions.

Terminal 1, Los Angeles International Airport

Terminal 1, Los Angeles International Airport

Norma Sklarek is truly an inspiration because despite the push back she received throughout her career on countless occasions she never allowed it to break her spirit. She always mentored young people in similar positions, and gave them ways to cope with the discrimination they would face. She was the first black woman to become a licensed architect and the first black woman to be elected into the Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), and in 1985 she started an all female architecture firm with Margot Siegel and Katherine Diamond.

San Bernardino City Hall

San Bernardino City Hall

Sklarek is a personal inspiration because, as a woman of color, I myself have faced discrimination in my life in one form or another. To be able to witness the accomplishments and admire someone who overcame so much, I know I can achieve my goals in the design world. She strived to make things better, whether it was through her designs or in her relationships with others in her industry. She didn’t mind paving the way and being a role model for others, even though she had none of her own.

Pacific Design Center

Pacific Design Center

Norma Merrick Sklarek was not only a great architect but she truly opened the doors for all women and people of color in the design industry.

Norma Sklarek, 1926-2012

Norma Sklarek, 1926-2012