Learn it! Posts

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

5 Ways to Create Positive Energy in Your Home.

By: The Balance Design Team

We believe your home should be a haven, a place of peace and revitalizing energy, an escape from the stress of the day. While this involves very personal and varied priorities, there are a few tried and true ways to surround yourself with positivity in your home.

Stephanie’s Tip: Art Wall

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Photo courtesy of Honestlywtf.com.

Nothing speaks to me quite like seeing my personal items displayed in a collection on the wall. Photos of places I have traveled to with loved ones, carvings, personal and family art, and ceramics can look amazing when arranged in a balanced and interesting manner. A collection like this is uplifting to look at and fun to tell friends and family the reasons why the specific items made the wall.

Elisabeth’s Tip: Bringing the Outdoors In

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Photo courtesy of Bloglovin.

There is something about bringing home a new plant that heightens our senses and improves our mood. By reducing pollutants, carbon dioxide, and dust in the home, indoor plants are healthy as well as beautiful. There are other ways to let the outdoors in, however. Embrace artwork and photography with botanical designs, or the earth, sky, and everything in between. Open up your windows and doors, let a little dirt inside!

Shelby’s Tip: Organization/Minimalism

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Photo courtesy of MyDomaine.com.

Nothing makes me happier than quiet coffee time on a Saturday morning in a clean house. It’s my nirvana. Living in town in a small space really makes you embrace the “less is more” philosophy. I have learned to pare down my belongings to a minimal, organized approach. Everything in my house is a piece that is used often; I don’t collect items that I do not need or use (a la Marie Kondo), and everything has a place. Most importantly, organization and minimalism means that the items I surround myself with are only the items that I love.

Danielle’s Tip: Meaningful Pieces

As easy as it is to get swept up in what’s new and different, there’s something to be said for keeping a little history around. Maybe it’s a rug that’s been in your family for generations, or a piece of furniture lovingly handcrafted by a talented friend. To me, what really makes a home happy is when it has a soul — when it’s not just an assortment of the best looking items of the season, but a collection of important and meaningful pieces that carry with them memories and personality.

Melody’s Tip: Paint

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Photo courtesy of Houzz.com.

Paint can uplift the feel of any space. A clean white interior, for example, can create a feeling of unparalleled tranquility and comfort, an area to clear your mind and help you gain positivity and motivation. Equally uplifting can be a room packed with color! The contrast of cool and warm tones create an inviting place to share with others, and there is no better positivity gained than sharing a good space with great friends.

More important than a home that looks good is a home that feels good. What are some ways you cultivate positive energy in your home?

Spring 2017: Runway-Inspired Interior Looks

By: The Balance Design Team

As we ponder this year’s possible interior design trends, we find it useful to look to the world of fashion for inspiration.

Stephanie’s Pick: Restructured Whites

fashionwhites

Photo courtesy of Elle.

This unstructured look is so flattering and evokes the feeling of summer ease and comfort. Bring that same breezy feeling into your home with light, draped linen. Proportion play is just as interesting for interiors as it is for fashion, as shown in this room by the variety of frame sizes on the art wall. The result is a look that is comfortable, modern, and livable. Yes!

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Elisabeth’s Pick: Pop Stripes

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Photo courtesy of Vogue.

Can we talk about EMBRACIN’ THE STRIATION? Something about these bright, non-conformist colors in various juxtapositions makes me giddy. It reminds me of this edgy article from Apartment Therapy that throws away all the rules and encourages the use of bright paint in all the wrong places….and it totally works. A refreshing and totally achievable weekend project. 

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Shelby’s Pick: Origami Pleats

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Photo courtesy of Vogue.

Tufting is a classic embellishment for furniture, but lately I’m yearning for something new and different. Origami pleats are a new take on texture, and truly embody the concept of “beauty in the details.”

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Photo courtesy of Kelly Wearstler.

Danielle’s Pick: Punk Inspired

fashionpunk

Photo courtesy of Vogue.

Rebellion, celebration of imperfection, and in-your-face edginess — I love punk. I love to see design embrace these ideals and throw caution to the wind in favor of unbridled self-expression. With graffiti/street art murals, unfinished flooring, and a little bit of metal, what’s not to love? Rock on!

fashionpunkinterior

Photo courtesy of MyDomaine.

Melody’s Pick: Babydoll Femininity

fashionbabydoll

Photo courtesy of Vogue.

I’m just going to say it: I love this babydoll look. And it’s not limited to just girls’ rooms and nurseries. Soft femininity is perfect for creating a comfortable lounge space with details like ruffles, fringe, and dainty cutouts.

fashionbabydollroom

Photo courtesy of Houzz.

Architectural Trends of 2017

By: The Balance Design Team

We’ve made our own personal resolutions for the new year, but what about for the home? This week we’re focusing on architectural trends we hope to see take off in 2017.

Stephanie’s Pick: Naked Floors

Stephanietrend

We’re always looking for green, sustainable building solutions, and remodeling with wood floors is typically a smelly, messy process involving sanding, staining, and polyurethane. Rubio Monocoat, however, is a plant-based, 0% VOC flooring solution with a one-coat oil finish. We have been using it to achieve a more natural Scandinavian look, but there are many different finishes available.

Elisabeth’s Pick: Modern Moulding

Elisabethtrend

A recent trip to Charleston challenged my “less is more” tendencies. This geometric wall moulding satisfies a historical desire to ornament your wall without terribly faking it. This monotone moody trim and wall color doesn’t hurt either. Consider taking your walls, ceilings, and doors to a daring level of embellishment!

Shelby’s Pick: Backsplash Backlash

Shelbytrend

My weakness is a beautiful and functional kitchen. I love the bespoke nature that kitchens are taking on recently, and an edited, clean design is always timeless. Sometimes the dominant, geometric nature of a tile backsplash can take the focus away from great custom cabinetry. Luckily, we’re seeing more and more home do away with the backsplash by either completely removing them, or pulling the countertop slab up the wall for a seamless look. Either way, the focus is on the beautiful custom work and not grout lines.

Danielle’s Pick: Cozy Conversation Pit

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Don’t get any shag-covered 1970’s flashbacks — modern sunken sitting areas (or “conversation pits“) are streamlined enough that they are comfortable without sacrificing style. This year my focus is on the comfort of design and not just the aesthetic, and sinking into a nest-like area such as this is just what I’ve got in mind.

Melody’s Pick: The Fifth Wall

Melodytrend

Though often forgotten, the ceiling is a great place to bring some daring personality into a room. The use of a wallpaper or mural will bring the eyes up and add interest in an otherwise overlooked space. Especially eye-catching with clean neutral colors and monochromatic palettes, the fifth wall is one to be embraced and utilized.

Oh Rug, where art thou?

By: Melody Richardson

As the newest member of the Balance Design Atlanta team, I have been fortunate enough to be thrust into the wonderful world of interior design. Coming from teaching elementary school, it has been big and exciting change. I have learned that creating a comfortable learning space pulls upon some of the same concepts as creating a comfortable living space. One key skill I have been made aware of is the ability to incorporate art and rugs into a design. We were lucky enough to attend a session on this very skill at ADAC last week. John Oetgen worked with the Hathaway Gallery and Moattar to curate a fabulous collection of paired art and rugs.

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Pairing an abstract painting with a geometric rug creates structure while still celebrating the organic, expressive lines of the art. Common colors draw upon each other to create a consistent theme without matching too closely. The muted colors in this pairing create a serene and comfortable space.

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The flowing lines of this art deco inspired rug bring out the same whimsy as the painting even though the colors are not an exact match. This rug is inspired by the Chinese rugs that were popular in the 1920’s, and embraces the decadence of that era with curves galore. The painting gives similarly luscious feel, with a figure gazing out into the distance. Each is a statement piece on its own, and together the two create a sumptuous feeling of elegance.

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Both this beautiful large scale painting as well as the antique Turkish rug have a saturation of rich, deep color. Although they are definitely different in their styles, they complement one another through shared color, richness, and warmth.

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Finally, we saw the use of a rug as art. This dragon tapestry speaks for itself! The vibrancy of the colors as well as the detail within the piece really make a statement. This is one rug we wouldn’t dare to walk on.

I would never have imagined the impact that rugs and art can have on a room design. I’m learning new things in the field every day! Colors, fabrics, stones, and floor plans — each day I find myself immersed in something new. I can’t wait to share my ongoing journey!