Rhode Island | New England's Artisanal Furniture Hub?

Like many industries, the production of furniture has become a very commercialized one over the last few...centuries. While this has helped in providing endless, ever-evolving options for designer's to select from, in some cases there is simply no denying the necessity (and beauty) of a handcrafted piece.

Whether it's allowing you the flexibility create something completely custom based on a specific set of specs + finishes, or the incredible story behind the handmade piece that elevates it from being attractive + functional to being a true piece of art, there are many reasons why we will turn to some of our favorite local artisans when selecting unique looks for our clients.

In the search for the perfect piece, you may be surprised to discover that this journey often leads us to the itty bitty state of Rhode Island. Which, if you dig a bit deeper into the world of hand crafted furniture, you will find that the Ocean State has an incredibly rich history in this industry. From Colonial times through the 19th century, the culture surrounding artisan furniture was deeply rooted in Rhody, and has remained a pervasive craft here ever since.

While the style has certainly evolved since Colonial times - the painstaking attention to detail, as well as the heart and soul poured into every item continues to live on. Which is why the following makers are some of our first stops on the road to finding the perfect "one of a kind" piece for our clients:


1. O+G STUDIO (Warren, RI)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Based in Rhode Island, O&G Studio looks toward the rich history of American design traditions for inspiration.  With designs ranging from Contemporary Windsor Chairs, settees and benches to stools, dining tables, accents lighting and hardware; O&G has made a mark on the contemporary heirloom quality design and manufacturing market.  Playing with scale and proportion O&G brings traditional motifs into the 21st Century creating timeless designs.


2. STUDIO DUNN (Rumford, RI)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Each piece of DUNN furniture and lighting is handcrafted upon order in our Rhode Island studio, customized to suit your every need.

3. STUDIO ENDO (Providence, RI)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Studio Endo is a furniture and lighting design company committed to optimizing natural materials and creating one of a kind products that transform spaces. Inspired by bold yet refined elements, every tells a story reflects the aesthetic principles of traditional and modern Japanese culture. 

4. LORIMER STUDIOS (Providence, RI)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Lorimer Studios is located in the heart of industrial Providence, Rhode Island. David and his small crew are committed to quality, painstakingly crafting exactly the piece that each customer wants in their home or business. We are really happy to connect with new people all over the globe with a shared interest in simple well-crafted tables. We make custom tables that last for families, designers, decorators and companies. Our tables have been featured in The New York Times MagazineDesign SpongeApartment Therapy, and ETSY’s Process blog.

The Sea Breeze Inn | A Mediterranean Haven in Middletown, RI

As a designer, every project you take on seems to find a way into your heart as you pour your blood, sweat, and tears into it's evolution - start to finish. With that being said, we must confess that this quaint 16-bedroom Inn nestled just 100 paces from the ocean in Middletown, RI felt like an extra special one to our small design firm from the get go.

As you may or may not know, our founder's husband grew up only a few miles away from the Inn, and they also met and were wed in Newport.  If you think that isn't enough to already have some serious sentimental attachment to a project, add in the fact that it has been owned by an extremely close friend's family for over 25+ years - and you have yourself one very meaningful undertaking. 

Based on all of the above, when this Newport institution was ready for a facelift, it only seemed natural for Grayscale Design to take it on.  Seeing that the ocean is visible from the property, and owners Leeza + Telly both grew up in Greece - a design concept was born shortly after the first meeting: "Mykono's Meets Middletown." Light, cool, and casual blues + whites pulled from the gorgeous islands of Greece paired with modern Coastal New England vibes.  Each room also features unique architectural details and layouts thanks to the team's creative and talented lead architect Dan Herchenroether of Herk Works.  All of this allowed us to play with a mix of design pallets to create a cohesive yet individualized set of rooms and suites for this Boutique hotel. 

We  loved the opportunity to apply our years of experience working in residential interiors to this hospitality project, and certainly look forward to the next exciting challenge in this field!

Interested in a sneak peek before your stay? View our Gallery below:

PHOTOSHOOT DETAILS

Property: The Sea Breeze Inn - Middletown, RI

Interior Design + Styling: Grayscale Design Inc

Photography: Maaike Bernstrom Photography

 

5 Easy Steps to Maximize Your Interior Photoshoot | GRAYSCALE DESIGN TIPS

As most of you know, hiring a professional photographer for a full day of shooting can be quite the investment for a small firm. So, here at Grayscale, we have developed five fool-proof tactics that we always practice to ensure we get the most out of all our interior shoots:

1. IDENTIFY YOUR INTENTION                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Establishing exactly what these images will be used for is always our first consideration when it comes to any shoot. Are these images for a specific social platform? For all of your social platforms? Are they solely for your website's design portfolio, or to pitch to potential publications? Each of these intentions facilitates different imagery, and establishing this beforehand is exponentially important for the photographer + your staff.

2. PROVIDE A SHOT LIST                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 After you've identified your intention, it's always extremely helpful to provide the photographer with some more details on the images you want to see from the shoot. Shooting only for social media? Provide the photographer with some sample accounts + imagery that inspire you. Adding the images to your portfolio? Ensure they have visited your existing online portfolio, and have a discussion about the aesthetic you are hoping to achieve. Once again, this will just ensure that you are both on the same page + that the final product will be optimized for whatever platform you are using it for!

3. PREP AHEAD                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   We know it seems obvious - but making a list of your go-to items, purchasing + loading them up the day before saves an enormous amount of time and energy on the day of the shoot. Typically, we'll have a team pow-wow the day before which dictates what items we already have that compliment the project, as well as a few items to purchase. For example, we've been known to bring the following for a half or full day shoot:

  • Flowers, flowers, and then more flowers
  • Vases of every size, shape, and color
  • Bubbly, rose, various wine bottles that compliment the space
  • Wine glasses + champagne flutes
  • Dining wear + kitchen accessories
  • Fruit for a wonderful pop of color
  • Small sculptures
  • Frames
  • Antique books + coffee table books
  • Succulents + various potted plants
  • Throw pillows
  • Bedroom Textiles, throws + tablecloths 
  • and the list goes on and on

4. BE PRESENT                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               While we of course only hire photographers that we trust and immensely admire - it is still important to be in attendance on the day of the shoot. Naturally, designers and photographers enter any space with a different eye - and more often than not, when you combine those visions into one, you get the best result! Just be certain that your participation it is a creative collaboration, and not just you sitting around telling the photographer how to do their job.

5. HAVE FUN!!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Photoshoot = a completed project! Take a moment to give yourself a serious pat on the back for all of the blood, sweat, and tears that undoubtedly went into this design. Play around with the space, flex your creative chops, and don't be afraid to take some risks. The beauty of photography is it's fluidity, and the ability to capture hundreds of images in a mere few hours. So move furniture, rearrange bouquets, pop the bubbly and enjoy!

See some examples from a recent photo shoot below:

Residential Radiance | Our All Time Favorite Grayscale Lighting Installations

Here at Grayscale, we view lighting like we do jewelry. This is final chance to tie every element of your design together, or the opportunity to do something unexpected. Just as your simple black dress sometimes needs a brilliant diamond necklace, or your breezy bohemian maxi feels like it calls for loud, artisan multi-colored feather earrings, this very last step can often set the tone for your entire outfit. Or, in this case, the room. 

What you add can be as delicate + subtle as some pearl stud earrings, or as transformative and jaw-dropping as when Eva Mendes' paired this turquoise necklace with a plain white Dior number at the 2009 Globes. Just like jewelry, whether your budget is $100 or $100,000, there is an entire universe of incredible options at your fingertips.

No idea where to even begin? Feel free to pull some inspiration from this gallery of some of our all-time favorite installations:

Please note all images are original renovations completed by Grayscale Design INC.

The World of Wallpaper | Contemporary Companies to Watch in 2017

When our Founder Misty Gray entered into the professional world of interior design, just the mention of "wallpaper" made her cringe.  She was still haunted by memories of stripping 60's style floral wallpaper off of the dining room walls in her childhood home.

As her design education continued, she realized that the industry seemed to share her exact sentiments. No one was really talking about wallpaper in design school, or featuring it in projects. Even HGTV and the big name home decor magazines seemed to really focus on showcasing the transformative powers of a fresh, clean paint job. 

Then, around the mid 2000's, it became very clear that the world of our grandmother's wallpaper had evolved.  Traditional patterns began to be pushed into much more contemporary realms, and progressive designs that were once only available in commercial spaces began to trickle down into residential. The years passed, and incredible new colors, patterns and materials started emerging in the burgeoning world of "wall covering."

This was of course around the same time that Misty turned a corner on wallpaper and found herself suddenly using it everywhere she could. Companies were emerging left and right with show-stopping new designs and materials.  They began experimenting with the tension of the old and new by using subtle color and pattern plays. Others were throwing subtle out of the window + putting out insanely bold, eye catching designs. Some were even merging the two, creating unexpected (and sometimes even naughty) imagery though more subtle, traditional patterns. The options truly became endless. 

Now, in 2017, the industry has become an art form in it's own right - and as it continues to expand and and mature, we would be lying if we said we haven't picked up a few favorites along the way. Each of these companies offer a different, but edgy + avant-garde approach to the world of wallpaper, and we highly suggest keeping an eye on all of them: 

 

AREA ENVIRONMENTSA fairly young "creative studio" that produces + curates exclusive wallpapers and large-scale murals from original work by contemporary artists.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

ASTEK INCAstek Inc. is a leader in both the wallcovering and custom digital printing industries. Have a particular image or design that doesn't exist but you have always dreamed of seeing as wall paper? Astek has you covered.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

 

MERENDA WALLPAPERA contemporary wallpaper design, manufacturing and installation studio inspired by near and far away lands, graffiti, tattoo art, abandoned buildings, underground history and the impermanence of all things.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 

FLAVOR PAPERThis self proclaimed "not your mother's wallpaper" company  based out of Brooklyn offers a range of bold, edgy designs from curious plays on toille to Andy Warhol inspired pop art.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

We hope you love them as much as we do! 

"Coastal Organic" | Wedding Inspiration for Your Seaside Ceremony

As wedding season approaches, we New Englander's are often fortunate enough to find ourselves running off to a seaside ceremony every other weekend in many of this region's most charming coastal towns.

From Falmouth, to Kennebunkport, to Newport, RI - every location is gorgeous, and every occasion momentous. Alas, we must confess that after after attending your 7th wedding on the water, sometimes a more obvious "coastal" theme can begin to feel a bit, redundant. Which, our Founder Misty Gray was acutely aware of when she began thinking about the aesthetic for her own nuptials. 

Seeing that this would be the union of two native New Englander's (raised in Newburyport + Newport), she of course wanted to incorporate all of those quintessentially coastal elements into the big day - without having it smack you in the face.

Fortunately, with her trained eye in design and natural ability to bring out the beauty in everything, she settled on a "Coastal Organic" vibe - and the rest evolved from there.

As you can see from the gallery below, this idea allowed the bride and groom to incorporate the more natural elements of a New England beach town into their big day. Serving as a more subtle homage to the location of the wedding and allowing guests to feel extremely relaxed in a simultaneously high end setting. From beached wood to oyster shells + local vegetation - mixed with her grandmother's silver, crisp white linens and of course, the Newport Trolly, this day became the perfect mix of sentiment and style. Find inspiration in our gallery below:

Hardware + Finishes | What's Trending for 2017

From the classic, durable chrome of the mid-60's, to the Trump Tower-esk 80's bright gold - the evolution of hardware in the design world has always been a fascinating one. Different materials, patinas, and styles (raw / brushed / matte / textured) surface every few years and more often than not, we designers get the first look. 

So, you ask, what's trending in the hardware world this season? Have a peek:

 

ROSE GOLD

 

SATIN BRASS

 

MATTE BLACK

 

GUN METAL

Want to stay ahead of the curve next year? Here's a trade tip - fashion and techonology almost always come first. Be aware of the new watch, jewelry, and apple (products, not the fruit) trends happening around you, and it's more than likely those color pallets will find their way into interiors, hardwares and fixtures.

Not sold? Check out the colors for the new iPhone: Matte black, black, gold, silver, and rose gold. 

Happy hard-waring!

Small Spaces, Big City | Making Your Small Home Work for You

As we city folk know, it's not always easy to make a small space renovation both functional and (insert Carrie Bradshaw voice), "fabulous." Small square footage can sometimes feel like it's forcing your hand to go the "minimalist" route with your design and decor, to avoid over-cluttering and overwhelming your home. 

This is where a few tricks of the trade from a design professional can really go a long way. Just because a space is small, it doesn't mean you can't apply your own style to it. Is your natural aesthetic bohemian chic? Do you own more potted plants than the flower shop next door? Or more wall art than a small gallery? Don’t fret, that can also work in a 650 square foot condo. In the end, it's really just about proper planning, and maximizing every inch of your new space.

Lets start with the kitchen, for example. In a smaller condo you realize very quickly how important an exceptionally functional kitchen becomes. First, we highly suggest installing your upper cabinets tight to the ceiling, not only increasing your storage but adding visual height to the space. Leaving that foot (or sometimes more) between the cabinets and ceiling creates dead, and often dusty space. Also consider maximizing your lower cabinet storage with drawers instead of your standard cabinet with interior shelves. Drawers are becoming the new standard for good kitchen planning, allowing you to easily access and see all your items at once.

A final creative kitchen tip? Use your under counter drawers as a pantry, and for dry produce storage. Too often we see largely under utilized spaces dedicated to pantry storage - so this alternative can be a great option for a small footprint, and keep the space feeling open and organized. 

Another extremely important item when you’re thinking of buying and renovating a small condo? Take inventory of your needs before you start talking design. Have you purged all your unnecessary items? Have you thought about how accessible the items you need must be? Do you want some displayed? Some hidden away in an attic or basement? Once your mental rolodex of necessities is complete, you can convey all of this to your designer or architect and proceed from there. This will again optimize your space, and also be decidedly helpful in keeping your small home clean and tidy. Which is also vital in making the space seem bigger than it really is. 

At Grayscale, we have also found that incorporating custom pieces into your redesign can be exponentially helpful. For example, in the image below there was actually a soffit running from the basement all the way to the third floor - making it extremely difficult for this client to find a place for the table and chairs she wanted in the kitchen. We quickly resolved this issue by contracting a custom table that fit perfectly around the soffit. This allowed her to have the layout she desired, without using up any unnecessary space. Which again, in a small apartment, is key. We understand custom pieces can certainly be an investment, but in the end we have found their convenience + functionality far outweighs their price.

A few other things to keep in mind? Never forget that natural light is your friend, and that the higher the ceilings, often the better. Above all - remember to do you! Your home is your temple. It is your place to relax, be yourself, and feel calm + comfortable. Don’t feel obligated to design it a certain way due to space limitations. Using these tips, we’re certain your can find the perfect balance between functional and *fabulous.* Whatever that may mean for you!

Be Bold | Adventurous Tile Design in Your Home

Did you recently find a highly textured or vibrantly colored tile that you are in love with - but have no idea how to use it in your home renovation? Fear not, we are here to help.

Here at Grayscale, we're huge fans of unique, unexpected tile designs. They're an amazing way to add colossal amounts of character to any room, but can also overwhelm a space if they are not done properly. So, as a general rule of thumb, we recommend placing them in eye-catching spaces such as fireplaces, wet bars, accent walls, and of course, as a backsplash.

Each of these aforementioned spots can be the perfect medium for a daring tile pattern. You will also find that adding a small pop of color or fun texture is an easy and impressive way enhance your overall design concept without being a seasoned interior professional. It's also an excellent way to create cohesiveness throughout the entire home.

For example, in the first two images below you can see that we used an Ann Sacks "Versailles" mirror tile as the backsplash for the dining room wet bar, as well as for the living room fireplace. This created a unique look that was cohesive, without feeling redundant or stale.

Moral of the story - be bold...in all the right places.

For more inspiration, view our galley below:

Like what you see? We also recommend viewing the Ann Sacks Gallery page for even more inspiration - as they are a preferred vendor here at Grayscale: http://www.annsacks.com/inspiration/rooms 

Grayscale Design Blog | Version 2.0

We are thrilled to announce the relaunch of our new and improved blog | Grayscale Design. Follow (and share) as we offer up weekly tips on interior trends, renovations, lifestyle inspiration and more. We hope to provide not only experienced insight from a long-time industry professional, but to also give you that much needed 10-minute break to fantasize about dream projects during your busy day. Stay tuned!

Spring Sprucing

Spring has sprung and we are ready to start hosting some outdoor parties again! It’s been awhile since we’ve seen green grass, blooming trees, or heard the immediately calming sound of birds chirping – and we’re ready to get outside. 

Hosting parties is an aspect we at Grayscale Design really enjoy. Whether it’s for a celebration, or just for fun, there is no limit to the amount of fun you can have with designing these events. That being said, getting your home ready for a post-winter party is no easy feat. If you live in the New England area, you’re likely familiar with the sand and salt that manages to sneak itself into the comforts of your home, and the worn in look your furniture may have after being excessively sat on during the winter months. 

Your home deserves all the very best TLC you can provide for it, and a spring refresh is just the pick me up it needs to feel vibrant and alive again! We’ve created a small list of home items you may want to add to your spring to do list: 

Tile and Stone Reseal – Your tiles take a harsh beating throughout the winter months with all of the sand and salt build up. Getting that off will make them gleam as if it was freshly installed!

Upholstery Treatment – Nothing freshens up your furniture like a nice treatment. This will leave your upholstered items crisp and clean! 

Fresh Flowers - We truly believe it's not a party until the flowers have arrived. We work with lovely vendors who can provide this service ;) 

Hosting a party may be just the boost you need to get all of these items on your spring to do list taken care of.