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The No-Rules Approach
to Interior Design
by Christiane Lemieux 



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Neo-rustic chic

Maintaining the charm of a countryside vacation was the motor that drove the renovation of this delicious villa in Palmela, Portugal (near Lisbon), under the talented hand of interior designer and owner of Poeira, Monica Penaguião. She combined the agricultural origins of the house with relaxed sophistication and striking simplicity. Her use of color and textures is masterful, using soft white as a canvas. Monica is a designer after my own heart who pays exquisite attention to details. Probably the smallest room in the house, the bathroom, is one of the most surprising spaces in this neo-rustic chic home. The unexpected use of elements, like the velvet chair and colored toilet paper rolls, is quite dashing. I don't know about you, but I can see myself lounging by the pool of this precious Portuguese cottage.

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Pink Swan

“The Swan chair is a perfect mix of organic modernism and pop art and my goal in this design was to address both of those qualities by making a poppy allusion to the female form,” says Jonathan Adler of the inspiration for his Pink Swan project chair. SUITE New York has invited nineteen world-renowned designers to create a personalized version of Arne Jacobsen's iconic Swan chair for the second installment of the project. The chairs will be auctioned off on October 1-31, 2011 on with proceeds benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. What a fun project for such a great cause. Here are some of my faves.

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A Show Stopper

This 1930s hunting lodge in Wilton, Connecticut, has been gorgeously transformed into a contemporary home by Amsterdam’s UXUS Design firm. While maintaining the classic American style and paying homage to the heritage of this 2,339 square-feet house, the designers used an unexpected fusion of American and European design inspired by rustic luxury. The lodge is filled with fun and amazing pieces like my all time favorite Dear Ingo lamp by Moooi (in white) in the foyer. The colors used are soft and quiet, except for the deliberate injection of orange to add some spark to the space. Altogether, this chic hunting lodge is most definitely a show stopper! Don't you agree?

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Color Fest

I love traveling. Besides getting away to relax, visit new places and experience other cultures, for me it's a great source of inspiration. One of the things that caught my eye in my recent trip to Isla Mujeres, a little island off the coast of Mexico, is how Mexicans are not afraid of color. To the contrary, they embrace it and make it part of their everyday life. Everywhere I would turn there was an explosion of bright and happy hues of orange, yellow, pinks, blues, greens and so on. Here are some pictures of my island travels to give you a taste of this wonderful color fest. Enjoy!

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A Small Parisian Jewel

As you know, good things come in small packages, like this 540 square-feet Parisian flat designed by interior architects Manuel and Agnes Bonnemazou Cambus from Element. The original layout was compartmentalized and poorly distributed, the reason why the two roommates who share the pad sought professional guidance to help them maximize their tiny space. Every inch of the apartment has been optimized by incorporating custom storage that keeps the pad clutter-free and only leaves the essential objects visible. Color was also key in making the apartment look more spacious. With a palette ranging from purple and blue to gray and taupe, the designers played with contrast to create depth. Another neat solution was to divide the living and sleeping areas by raising the hallway floor. Like I always say, space should never stop you from living très chic. Happy weekend :)

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Living In A Mill

Not all designers are lucky enough to have the chance to take an aged oil mill from the 19th century and transform it into a warm and charming refuge. But interior designer Marie-Laure Helmkampf didn't think twice about embarking on this fantastic project in the French city of Nimes. The rehabilitation was complete. Most of the almost-ruined structure was demolished and built up again respecting the mill's original style. Her idea was to create a fluid floor plan which she likes to refer to as a “barn-loft”. Her recipe: a soft palette consisting of white, beige and light wood mixed with a strong evidence of retro furniture and mid-century classics. The result: a cocktail of pure essence and cosmopolitan charm. Mill like it!

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A Bench With a Twist

No need to throw away those old chairs in the garage. How about giving them a new lease on life by transforming them into a neat looking bench, just like the Brooklyn-based furniture company 31 & Change did? They create one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture with a twist, a wink and a smile in mind. Each of their creations is hand-crafted with American hardwoods and built in their Brooklyn studios. Founder Kurt Lenard's graphic design background influences the colorful nature of their work. I love how their pieces have their own unique graphic expression, whether seen through the wood grain, the juxtaposition of color or the combination of materials. Brilliant!

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Paradise Found

Did you miss me? I certainly missed you. But after eight days of relaxation and living the island life, I'm back in town all rested and recharged. I don't mean to brag, but it was a splendid week filled with sunny days, delicious Mexican food and amazingly friendly people. Isla Mujeres lived up to my expectations and then some. It is quite a charming place I highly recommend to anybody who's looking to get away and enjoy nature at its best. There were plenty of adventures to keep us busy and our minds stimulated with all the breathtaking experiences the island has to offer. Between traveling mainland to see phenomenal Mayan ruins, going underground into the spectacular cenotes and snorkeling around the island's coral reef, the week went by really fast and left me wanting more.

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