Chaos And Dinner | By: Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer Saturday, Oct 29 2011 

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What a way to celebrate Halloween! Last night and for the second time, I went to a cabaret show at Teatro Zinzanni in San Francisco, the ultimate crazy amusement. Teatro Zinzanni is one in a long line of high-spirited San Francisco theatrical experience.

The high pace, high energy program evolves in a combination of cabaret, cirque, opera, vaudeville arts, games and dances. There is no real stage, actors, singers and acrobats perform in the middle of the circular room and between tables where diners are sitting.


Guests are greeted at the door by young and beautiful women in fish nets stockings, garter, feathers and corsets. It is a step back in time, a prelude of an exceptionally fun evening.
“The Belle Époque” era, late 1800, is the style of dresses all the staff wears and the high performers are in their stage costumes or the character they impersonate.

The interior of the Theatre reflects the same era, with a lot of red velvet upholstery and gold trims, very frivolous, but very stylish and very Moulin Rouge.
Waiters and waitresses, bus boys and girls all serve in costume, dance and sing while they are holding in their hands the dishes full of food to be served at each table. This is fine dining at its best. I especially appreciated the squash velute’ soup with roasted apple slices, dill and a few lemon juice drops. Photographing during the performance is not allowed.
The scenario is happy, up beat and frivolous and the performances take place during the development of a 5-course dinner.

The only draw back is that unless you buy the table for yourself and company you bring along, you will end up being seated with many other people who might not be interested in socializing for the time you must spend together at the dinner table.

On my left I had a couple in their early ’50 and a couple in their early ’70 on my right. We made our acquaintances at the table.
The people on my right clearly don’t find life very amusing, because they did not even laugh one time during the show. The show was so funny, how could they not laugh? The people on my right were checking their watch every 15 minutes, counting the time aloud: it’s seven o’ clock, it’s 7:15, it’s 7:30, perhaps the show started past their bedtime and couldn’t wait to go home and get in the sack.

My evening was fun no matter what and I really enjoyed myself, but if I had been seated with a crowd more alive, the evening would have been an incredible one.
Perhaps those people sitting at each of my side, deep down inside, wished they could have been as a free spirit as I am.

The show at the Zinzanni mirrors the spirit of the city, a magical place that embraces frivolity, fun, intimacy and self-expression.
Enjoy life when opportunity comes, enjoy every moment and don’t worry about people who want to put a break on your frivolity or happiness.

If you have a desire to decorate a home theatre in La Belle Époque style, or only one room, I am here to help you, just leave your name in the box below. I would be thrilled to decorate in such exciting Parisian style. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

http://valentinaexpressions.com

 

 

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer and former Fashion Designer, working in the USA and Europe since 1990. She blends well fashion with interior and colors the world of her clients. She has been described as “the colorist” and loves to create the unusual. She is the author of three books available on

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9agl5v9
Barnes&Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/valentina-cirasola

 

Renaissance Canopy Bed | By: Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer Tuesday, Sep 27 2011 

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It is a pleasant surprise to start the week with a project featured on Avaliving.
Thank you Avaliving for choosing my projects among all the very talented designers hosted on this site. Avaliving is a site for experienced designers who want to showcase their work to consumers and help them decorating or restyling their homes through on-line consultations.
This week’s theme was a timeless canopy bed. I presented my Renaissance Canopy Bed, which I designed for a teenager who enjoyed the room until it was time to leave the nest to go to college. This is still her room when she returns home and she is still enjoying the timeless décor.

Four-poster beds became very popular around the early 1600. They usually had side curtains, which afforded a great measure of warmth, as well as privacy to their occupants, although personal privacy concept was taking off as an idea, it was relatively unimportant at that time. Small kids still slept in the same room with the parents, as they did in the Middle Age time, while the older kids slept in one room all together. A desire for a greater measure of privacy was evidenced by the separation of the masters from their servants, who usually had beds in the smaller adjacent rooms, or near the kitchen.

Furniture was to be admired and to convey the wealth of its owners, but the primary function was to be used, just like today. Tables, chairs, containers furniture such as credenza and cupboards, curtained four-poster beds were of oak or walnut with elegantly turned legs and often hand painted with the application of gold or silver foil. Canopy beds, when they were very ornate, found their place in the middle of the bedroom as a focal point just to add style and character, or against the largest wall in the bedroom.

Today we have kept the same custom. In my room featured on Avaliving (top photo) the canopy bed takes the center stage in a very colorful room. It was custom designed accordingly to the girl’s taste. The frame at the feet of the bed was hand-painted on wood in the style of a Renaissance bucolic theme. A local metal worker, who executed my design, forged the metal posts beautifully. (BH&G photos)
http://www.valentinadesigns.com/ResidentialProjects/PaloAlto/PaloAltoGirlRoom.html

A canopy bed can fit in any style décor, even in a contemporary style with straight lines, dark wood and neutral colors.
I like the spicy colors in this photo (below). I find it very relaxing and vibrant.
Vintage pillows on the coral velvet settee that sits at the base of this bed bring a splash of colors, while bringing life to a neutral color bedroom.

Have fun with a canopy bed, take inspiration from the past, or look around in stores to adapt elements that might be used for something else and make it your own. Not everything we see is meant to have one function only.

As the professional who is always ready, I shall be prompt and ready to help you with any of your needs, whether it will be decorating, designing, or remodeling. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

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Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola has been in business as a designer since 1990. She has helped a variegated group of fun people realizing their dreams with homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She is a designer well-known to bring originality to people’s homes. As an Italian designer and true to her origins, she provides only the best workmanship and design solutions.
She is also the author of two books. Visit her books website: http://valentinaexpressions.com

Find her books on
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9agl5v9
Barnes&Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/valentina-cirasola

 

Animal Attraction | By: Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer Saturday, Sep 17 2011 

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Year after year, I am fascinating with the “animalier” look, even when animal prints were not so much the vogue, I have always worn at least one item in those prints. I believe my attraction comes from the visual rhythm in the movement an animal pattern can imprint in my mind, more than the animal magnetism I might feel.

Animal prints can stir feelings of vulgarity, just as much as feelings of elegance. In the ‘50s the elevated elegance was to wear one or two strings of pearls around the neck and only one small garment in animal print, perhaps a bill box hat, a pair of gloves, or a pair of ballerina shoes and never all together.

Today, animal prints are over used and produced in all colors. Being aware of how to use or wear them will put us on the path of elegance. Animal prints when paired up with a sober look, will give an extra touch of highly seductive femininity. In fact, today the animalier prints are a symbol of high-class fashion, no longer for sexy bombshells that want to make a lasting impression. Ethno-chic and retro styles are the rage in this year 2011 fashion, just as much they have been in past collections.

Pop animal prints spotted in blue, green, or red (confess it, you have one of those too), are fun to wear, but bordering vulgarity is easy to do when the pop colored animal patterns are matched with sequins, bright shiny stuff, or with the wrong colors.

It is not good to mix or match all the prints together, just because they are the same theme or color. One of model wearing Giambattista Valli’s collection has the right color shoes, picking up two of the colors in her animal print dress, but the other model (right) wearing different tonality of zebra print in the dress and in the pochette portrays a confused and not very elegant look.

I am constantly searching for artists in different mediums and subjects, from furniture to fabrics, to paintings that can complement my design work. Through social sites, I got to know Angel Ray’s fabric art. She is a professional silk painter and I love how she describes her scarf:
“The colors of amber, browns and sunset oranges are perfect for autumn, and for any special occasion to add a little ROWR to your wardrobe! A definite conversation starter, throw on this beauty to immediately add bold glamour to your look”.
http://www.etsy.com/listing/82032427/leopard-lilies-hand-painted-silk-scarf

I find her Leopard Lilies to be striking elegant, if it is worn under a total dark brown ensemble, a ¾ length jacket and a short skirt just one inch above the knee. Perfect for a daytime business lunch, or an early afternoon cocktail before 5:00 o’clock. This is my suggested idea, let’s see what she thinks of it.

Angel Ray, with a bit of advanced notice, is able to produce fabrics for interior décor too and I am very happy. That same Leopard Lilies striking elegance can easily change from a scarf to decorative pillows. Picture a cream color sofa, or a brown, black leather sofa with pillows painted in her Leopard Lilies mixed with pillows of the solid colors in the scarf. In each case, they will change the mood and the feeling of the décor, which can swing from contemporary to traditional.


As an interior designer it happens often that I am attracted to animal prints in home décor. Leopard printed carpet was so appropriate for the masculine game room in my photo, but I didn’t try to match anything else to it risking to produce a vulgar space. In fact, the large hand painted mural on the wall takes a center stage and the animal carpet print almost disappears on its own.

If I am voluntarily breaking some accepted decoration rules is because I want to provoke and create some strong emotions, as I did when I designed the zebra ottoman for a woman with a strong personality and bold taste. It is not zebra skin, it is printed leather and it looks so real! The ottoman found its place in the client’s white bedroom with dark cherry wood paneling and grass fabric area rugs.

In my next interior the client is a young woman with a super traditional taste. It took a lot of convincing to mix a racamier seat dressed in animal print in her very traditional living room furnishing. I wanted to lift the heaviness of the rest of the room by adding a new dimension with one contemporary piece and a contemporary throw rug. An extravagant piece, as she called it was too scary for her, but it turned out her favorite piece in the entire décor. I am glad she saw what I saw.

Animalier prints have conquered thousand of women because it is young, transgressive, elegant or….less pretentious; it is a good fit for any age, or in any décor and above all it is fun for any occasion.

I am here to help if you need to lift the image of an area in your home with animal magnetism. Ciao.
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

http://valentinaexpressions.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer since 1990 and a former Fashion Designer, working in the USA and Europe. She blends fashion and interior well in any of her design work. She loves to remodel homes and turn unattractive spaces into castles. Fashion designing has been her first career choice that made her happy in her own fashion company for fifteen years before settling in the interior designing business. Find her books on

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9agl5v9
Barnes&Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/valentina-cirasola

 

Emptiness And Serenity In Japanese Décor | By: Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer Friday, Aug 12 2011 

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I have gone into many homes in my life, some very attractive, some less interesting, everyone with its own particular style but not always reflecting the homeowner’s personality. The other day I had lunch in a Japanese friend’s house. It is not my first time visiting a Japanese home, in fact a few years ago I was in Japan where I had a taste of the original Japanese décor.

Strangely, I find that Japanese born people living in the western world tend to appreciate the western décor more than their own traditional style. Is it because they want to blend in with the hosting country, or because the western décor is new to their eyes and want to embrace it? Probably, I will never ask them this questions, but one thing I felt in my friend’s home: a certain serene atmosphere and subdued colors.

Colors in Japanese décor are never too strong or too visible, ranging from browns to beige, from light green to light pink or peach, their function is to balance the environment and provide a resting place for the eyes. Although red is a perfect color for the coloration of their skin, therefore it can be found often in their garments, Japanese hardly paint walls in their homes in red or place a huge piece of red furniture in their décor. Red might be present in small amount inside of a painting, or blended softly with other colors in throw pillows.
Furniture are sparse, barely the minimal even in large homes, leaving wide unused spaces to a free flow of positive energy.

After lunch my friend served a gentle lemon grass tea in a British blueish-green porcelain cup with gold designs rolling in a white background, accompanied by white linen napkins and brushed stainless steel flatware for tea and dessert. White is the color that pulls their soft colors together. Interior doors and frames, windows and frames, foyer and corridors marble floors, kitchen and service areas floors, ceilings and some upholstery all play that role, in some case even table and bed linens.

Fresh flowers and natural plants are part of the Japanese interior décor, but they are graphic, mixed with stones and kept in one color scheme. I have never seen a flower arrangement in a riot of colors, as I see it often in western homes. Japanese like the gentle simplicity of nature and they will never recreate what nature does not create. They keep the shapes organic and natural even in garden arrangements.

Rocks are an important element of a Japanese dry garden “Karensansui”, designed for meditation and to restore heart and mind. It is meant to be contemplative while sitting down in one place to see it at eye level. By gazing at different size rocks, sand and gravel, one is to imagine ocean water flowing and waterfall cascading down hills and mountains. My friend told me that the rocks resemble the island of Japan, sand and gravel placed around the rocks are designed as ripples resembling the movement of water. The gardener will use a rake to create this movement.

She gave me a little insight on what kind of rocks to choose for a dry Japanese garden and the meaning of each rock called Ishi. There are only five types of rocks to choose, but very important for keeping the equilibrium in the mind and soul:
• Vertical rock or soul rock as it is called. It gets interspersed randomly in the landscape.
• Body rock is a tall rock, which is placed towards the back of the garden, because is the tallest stone and also represents a God.
• Heart rock is flat, almost like a stepping-stone and balances all the vertical rocks.
• Branching and Reclining rocks balance all the forms and shapes, vertical and horizontal.
• Rocks to avoid are the broken ones and the Dead Rock, which are long and can only be used horizontally, making a figurative dead person.

Spaces in the garden must be empty, not crowded with plants. Empty spaces will create something in the viewer’s imagination. The contour of all the elements around will create a sense of time in space, a sense of solitude and a cure for the spirit.
As the rule demands, my friend’s Japanese dry garden is well enclosed on all sides in a wood fence and surrounded by tall trees and maples.

Her rock garden was designed outside a traditional tatami room with shoji doors, complete with a spa room, soaking tub, steam shower, lanterns, silk kimonos and bamboo fabric bathrobe and slippers. Particularly I admired the exquisite herringbone woodwork on the ceiling. This Japanese wing of a French Chateau house in California (what a mixture!) was detailed to the letter to make a real, traditional and original setting. It was a surprise to see it, as it is not visible from any part of the house. I was impressed to see all this beauty and serenity created as a secret island in a home that vibrates as all the busy homes do with everyday routine.

Leaving any Japanese home, don’t forget to thank the host for the courteous hospitality and to bow down to show your appreciation for being in their home and for the special care received. Japanese hospitality and courtesy always leave me astounded.

Has my experience in a Japanese home been useful to you? Do you feel you need a serene secret island for your mind and soul? Sometimes it might take a little study, but any décor can be recreated anywhere, let me know what you need by leaving a comment below. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola, is the principal designer and owner of Valentina Interiors & Designs. She is a trained designer and has been in business since 1990. She works on consultation and produces design concepts for remodeling, upgrading, new home, décor restyling and home fashion. “Vogue Italy” magazine and many prominent publications in California featured Valentina’ s work. She also has made four appearances on T.V. Comcast Channel 15. Find her books on

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9agl5v9
Barnes&Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/valentina-cirasola

 

Rotate Your Art, Rotate Your Mood | By: Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer Monday, Jul 18 2011 

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July 20th is Moon Day, I feel like celebrating all the lunatics in my life. I wished, but no, I am joking.
There is no doubt we are under the influence of planets and moon phases. I am wondering if the artist Sydell Lewis (http://www.sydellart.com/) featured here was guided by a fabulous moon when she decided to paint them.

Her art is not only vivid in colors, but my eyes perceive a certain mysticism when turning the painting in different direction. In the back of some of her paintings there is a revolving mechanism, an innovative, brilliant idea, which turns the artwork upside down, or side ways, thus changing the image altogether and offering a completely different interpretation. Not all her artwork comes with the said rotating mechanism, some are still in frames as we are accustomed to see art.

The artist was telling me that the idea of the rotating mechanism came one day while she was hiking. She realized that the path she was on looked so much different coming back than the way it looked going up. Coming back she noticed more views and more details, just because she was crossing different angles.
All artists’ goal is to create an emotional and visual impact, but Sydell, also wants to create a stimulus for the viewers and open more possibility to their imagination. To that thought, I would add that she paints energy in a multi-striate form, which by turning it in many directions helps changing the viewer’s mood and fantasy.

Energy is exactly the positive or negative element which runs in our home or office spaces, it depends on how harmoniously the furniture arrangement flow with colors and light, order or clutter, cleanliness or dirtiness.

Chinese people celebrate endless series of festivals during the course of a year. Most of the festivals take place on important dates in the Chinese lunar calendar. Their furniture arrangements and the direction of a home when is in the building phase also have a lot to do with positive and negative energy.

I remember when my mom changed the furniture arrangement at least three times a year, when we were lucky. Sometimes coming back from school, my room had changed location entirely and not just the furniture.
I don’t know if my mom was guided by lunar changes, she was a fashion designer and a pretty creative type, but she sure allowed herself to be playful with the arrangements of furniture, accessories, fabrics and colors. She even used the backside of a fabric to create an original dress.
Today, in smaller doses, I do the same in my house, but only because I don’t have a huge block of time to play with my furniture. My wall art is in constant rotation, according to my mood. In the spring I put up bright and cheerful paintings, in the autumn I put up painting with warmer colors and other times, I take down everything and hang only mirrors. Accessories and accent chairs also go from room to room and find a better place to shine every time. This is called floating the furniture, a technique I use when I stage a home for resale. Moving furniture around from room to room will save my clients’ money while achieving a good decorating result. Even small objects will change the energy in the house when we place them in a different location, actually they will look even newer.

Nowadays we designers break rules more often than not. A portrait will always be seen with the person’s head up (I think), but an abstract painting leaves so much to the imagination.
Aside from the fact that I never see the artist’s interpretation, why not hang the art on the walls the way I see it, or the way it satisfies my mood in a particular day. Now we have the rotating mechanism to help us feel free to express ourselves even more without incurring in the situation of offending the artist.

As the lunar phases are created by changing angles (relative positions) of the earth, as our mood changes according to the angles of happenings in our life, the same way we should allow the energy of your home to change according to our likings. If you feel to hang a paintings upside down it’s OK, it is no longer considered “lunacy”.

As the professional who is always ready, I shall be prompt and ready to help you with any of your needs, whether it will be decorating, designing, or remodeling, just don’t forget to leave your name in the box below. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

http://valentinaexpressions.com


Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior and former Fashion Designer, working in the USA and Europe. She blends well fashion and interior in any of her design work. She loves to remodel homes and loves to create the unusual. She is the author of three books available on 

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9agl5v9
Barnes&Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/valentina-cirasola

Going Eichler | By: Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer Thursday, Jun 16 2011 

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In about a couple of weeks, I will be filming many California homes for an Italian T.V. station, in Italy.

The producer is looking for homes of all types from extravagant to traditional, from elegant to casual and definitively homes that are not Italianate looking.
The idea of the show is to highlight California living and to show to European audience how people live in these parts of the world.

American homes are characterized with large open spaces, rooms communicating with each other, high ceilings, grand foyers, lighting effects, exterior vegetation, 3 to 5 cars garage, all features so very different from European homes. In fact, not by accident the title of the show will be Dreaming California.
Some of the homes I designed for my clients will be filmed too, but there is one particular home I am interested in featuring, the Eichler home owned by one of my friend, an art painter. This style of home is the perfect setting for an artist, vibrant, modern, open and transparent.

Eichler style architecture was designed by real estate developer Joseph Eichler between 1950 and early ‘70s, as a post war innovative architecture, affordable for the mass and all races. GIs returning home after WWII needed to create families, thus building homes fast and cost-efficient was a high demand of the market in the ‘50s.

The Eichlers were the first track homes constructed with standard material in a remote location and shipped where the building sites were. For the very first time this innovative concept was applied to home’s production, just as in the car industry assembly lines. Prefabricated homes in different styles are still produced.

The indoor-outdoor concept of these homes was for the first time featured on brochures and marketing materials of the ‘50s, something we have returned to like sixty years later.

The indoor- outdoor concept is so much part of today’s living, feeling that inner peace that only nature can provide is well recreated today with large windows, sliding doors, mirror reflections, outdoor rooms, or even operable walls. Exactly how the Eichler home was conceived then.

The particular features that sold these homes were open floor plans, flat roofs, interior atrium, post and beams, large glass walls, radiant heating, cork flooring, wood paneling. The builder’s goal was to offer to everyone the same details of elegant homes with affordable and eco-friendly material. Ah! This is want homeowners want today too!

Living in an Eichler today doesn’t have the same meaning that had in the’50s, it seems that this very particular style of architecture attracts people with certain traits, it fits the artist’s profile and any person in a creative field.

The interior décor cannot be any different from modern, colorful, vibrant, eclectic, or even extravagant, it’s a must, otherwise will not fit the linear and simple architecture. A traditional décor will totally clash.

The owners of an Eichler home who lived in it since the ‘50s are now tired and are selling these beautiful properties, giving a good inventory to the real estate agencies.

Unfortunately, this architectural style marked an era, the Eichler home has become almost historical architecture and no longer is considered a ‘track home’ for the mass. With a higher status label comes the high price too. I know my friend the artist will never leave her Eichler. She selected excellent furnishing by herself, accessorized it tastefully and added some travel memorabilia pieces for a touch of whimsy. She changed it into a small, but pleasant paradise and of course, to feed her soul, she created a colorful vegetation, she can enjoy from anywhere in the house, but especially from her studio while she is painting her art.

If you want to know more about it the Eichler style, or if you want to buy or sell one of these homes, I work with many realtors I can refer you to, but if you like to decorate and furnish one, you have fallen in the right place. Leave your name and contacts info in the box below and I will answer in 24 hours time. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

http://valentinaexpressions.com

 

 

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is a trained Italian Interior Designer in business since 1990. Being Italian born and raised, Valentina’s design work has been influenced by Classicism and stylish, timeless designs. She will create your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away your comfort. She loves to restore old homes, historic dwellings and she focuses on remodeling. She is the author of three books available on

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9agl5v9
Barnes&Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/valentina-cirasola


Living In The Time | By: Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer Monday, Apr 25 2011 

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The concept of living in the time is about how to transform a living space in a more responsible and sustainable space while keeping it full of dreams and personal touches.
One of the most loved idea is the Outdoor as part of the indoor interiors. I don’t want to talk about trend, as I don’t see this outdoor idea going away anytime soon. We are more willing to live with the nature than being surrounded by cement, but the outdoor must have all the amenities, functionality and attention to details as any interior, to feel livable and comfortable.

Outdoor furniture should be carefully selected for durability under the weather. Teak wood is the common name for the tropical hardwood tree species “Tectona Grandis” native to south and southeast Asia, mainly India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar. It is used in the manufacture of outdoor furniture, boat decks, cutting boards, indoor flooring, countertops and as a veneer for indoor furnishings. It is weather, termite and pest resistant even when not treated with oil or varnish.

One of my friend introduced me to Ifit (Ifil ) another hard wood from Guam and Pacific Rim. The extremely dense and reddish wood is highly termite resistant and was once extensively used for interior woodwork such as flooring, window frames, corner posts, cutting boards and other accessories, as it is highly polished. These type of wood species being durable and pest resistant become eco-friendly because they will outlived us and hopefully we will buy them only once, but their traveling will need lot of petrol to take them from their native lands to their next destination.

While decorating with sustainability in mind, think of a variety of eco-friendly upholstery fabrics, such as organic cotton grown without pesticides and not genetically modified. Organic cotton is printable in many patterns and choices are endless.
Hemp is stronger and more durable than cotton, needs half as much water to grow and doesn’t require pesticides. Hemp is just beautiful if it remains in its natural coloration, as shown on the chairs in my photo.
I was really surprised the first time I saw a Tencel fabric, made of wood pulp fibers. The moisture and temperature control is the wonderful benefit of clothing made from this unique way of processing a tree. The Tencel fabric pulls the moisture from the skin and releases into the air. Lounging around the poolside, or having a soft bathrobe made of wood pulp fiber is pure pleasure!

One other area that contributes to the making of a perfect outdoor living concept are the picture windows. It is very nice to admire the view from the garden, or the beauty of a night skyline of the city while sitting in a bathtub, but we must not think only of our inner pleasure. It is necessary to reduce home heating and cooling costs through air sealing techniques and house insulation. By plugging air leaks with caulking or weather strips, we can save more than 10 percent on the energy bill and by using Energy Star windows we reduce the heating bill by 30-40 percent compared to uncoated, single-pain windows.
Weatherized the entire home will provide year round comfort and savings.

Cool the house without air conditioning by using fans, specifically fans which remove the hot air from the attic and exchange the hot air in the house with cool air from outside.
A whole house fan is a large powerful fan that gets installed in a central part of the home (typically a hallway) and blows from the house into the attic.
As the house fan blows, the pressure in the attic increases and the pressure in the house decreases. The hot air in the attic then vents through roof and other attic vents. Of course this is a one time large expense.

Ceiling fans are less expensive and do a great job too in cooling the house without air conditioning. Tropical style ceiling fans will make a wonderful addition to any décor, whether it is traditional, rustic, tropical, or even elegant. Ceiling fans with blades up to 60″ or 72″ long are powerful and large enough to be right at home and keep us cool.

There is so much more to talk about the outdoor-indoor living, perhaps I will create a second part to this blog. In the meantime making a few improvements towards an intelligent living is already a good step. You, as a person, are an integral part of the environment. Cultivate flowers that will attract butterflies and grow your own food, it is possible even in pots on small balconies and you will elevate health and spirit. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

http://valentinaexpressions.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola has been in business as a designer since 1990. She has helped a variegated group of fun people realizing their dreams with homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She is a designer well-known to bring originality to people’s homes.
She is the author of three books available on
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9agl5v9
Barnes&Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/valentina-cirasola

Heavenly Farmhouse | By: Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer Wednesday, Apr 13 2011 

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What an amazing farmhouse!
The 18th century Masseria Cimino located in the region of Puglia, Italy is an ancient dwelling built a few feet away from the blue Adriatic sea. This elegant dwelling enjoys the vicinity to the archeological site where the Ancient Roman city of Egnatia ruins, 6th century B.C., were discovered. Some of the walls of the farmhouse Cimino are the same walls of the town Egnatia carrying the signs of ancient Rome.

Masseria Cimino as it is called in Italian was the house of workers and occasionally the residence of the landowner. It is set on a rough land surrounded by century old olive trees and vegetable orchards, but inside I found an ensemble of elegant finesse.

A sense of tranquility envelops the bedrooms cocooned in ancient white stucco tuff stones. At night, the flicker of scented candles changes the mood. Every nooks and cranny assumes a warm glow, the walls show the crinkle and the imperfections of the stones, the perfume of lemons comes in the rooms through the soft blow of a Mediterranean wind.

There is a bold simplicity in the interior of this Masseria, many contrasts of texture, wood, wrought iron, brass and wicker become docile next to the softness of pure cotton, linens and organza fabrics. It amazes me to see old pliers, wagon wheels, cow bells, flour sieve, all reminiscence of agriculture, hanging on the walls and how good they feel at home in elegance.

All the interiors are rigorously cream color, even linens, bedding and tablecloths in the restaurant are cream/white colors, the green of the aloe plants scattered around and the rusty metals of the accessories ground the rooms to a perfection. I absolutely adore the heavy thick stone sinks in bathrooms, the old transparent glass bottles with a rubber seal and the washboard in lieu of towel hangers. What a plunge in the past!

This is a true Mediterranean style without pretence, kept natural in the usage of stones and material that have recreated the inviting atmosphere of a slower life of the past and where I tasted the most earthy and satisfying food from the surrounding orchards presented with a beautiful artistry.

In 2001, on the land surrounding the Masseria, the San Domenico Golf Club was built, with spectacular 18 hole professional golf course overlooking the sea.

I will return here with pleasure, to decompress in simplicity.
Lot of care went into the preservation of original architectural features, building materials and colors of this old farmhouse. A great care went into my wellbeing while I was their guest. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

 

http://valentinaexpressions.com

 


Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola is a trained Italian Interior Designer in business since 1990. Being Italian born and raised, Valentina’s design work has been influenced by Classicism and stylish, timeless designs. She will create your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away your comfort. She loves to restore old homes, historic dwellings and she focuses on remodeling. She is the author of three books available on
Amazon 
http://tinyurl.com/9agl5v9
Barnes & Nobles http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/valentina-cirasola

The Triangle Of Life | By: Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer Thursday, Apr 7 2011 

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In the light of the recent natural disaster happened in Japan, I am dedicating this blog to the theory of “The Triangle Of Life” intended to inform my readers on where to be during and earthquake.
This is not my usual article on design matters, but I would like you to read all the way to the end, it might just save your life and the life of your loved ones.
Below I have included the article written by a guy named Doug Copp, Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager about how to increase the odds of surviving a very strong earthquake. His pictures are worth a 1000 words.

What Doug Copp says seems to make perfect sense to me. However, the American Red Cross strongly recommends “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” during very powerful earthquakes where you fear the building may collapse. You must be the judge and take the actions you deem necessary in those moments, in the hope we never have to put to use such information.

THE TEXT BELOW IS AN EXTRACT FROM DOUG COPP’S ARTICLE ON
‘THE TRIANGLE OF LIFE’

“My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI ), the world’s most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries. I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years, and have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under its desk. Every child was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene — unnecessary.
Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a space or void next to them – NOT under them. This space is what I call the ‘triangle of life’. The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the ‘triangles’ you see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see, in a collapsed building.

TIPS FOR EARTHQUAKE SAFETY
1) Most everyone who simply ‘ducks and covers’ when building collapse are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position. You should too in an earthquake. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a bed, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake. If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created. Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on the back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different ‘moment of frequency’ (they swing separately from the main part of the building). The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads – horribly mutilated. Even if the building doesn’t collapse, stay away from the stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety, even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get near the outer walls of buildings or outside of them if possible – It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the building the greater the probability that your escape route will be blocked.

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway. The victims of the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact. Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

The entire world is experiencing natural calamities so be prepared!

Doug Copp continues saying:
In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul, University of Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten mannequins did ‘duck and cover,’ and ten mannequins I used in my ‘triangle of life’ survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under directly observable, scientific conditions , relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck and cover.

There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using my method of the ‘triangle of life.’ This film has been seen by millions of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe, and it was seen in the USA, Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV.” ♢

I will close by quoting Doug Copp:
‘We are but angels with one wing, it takes two to fly’.
Spread the word and save someone’s life…

Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com

http://valentinaexpressions.com

 

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Valentina Cirasola is an Interior Designer established since 1990. She remodels homes and loves to create the unusual.
Find her books on
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9agl5v9
Barnes&Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/valentina-cirasola

Iron Power | By: Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer Thursday, Mar 24 2011 

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Many times I drive through neighbors for discoveries, observing what people build, or just taking pictures for fun. Many times I see beautiful homes and many more times I find remodeled homes that were exactly made into a job, without taking in consideration the surroundings, or the style of the house.

Branding your home is just the same as your personal brand. A person with a bubbly personality mostly likely will be colorful and an earnest person most likely will wear tone down colors. Imagine the opposite and the exterior will not match the personality of the person. The same happens with homes. Sometimes I see too many details that do not fit together, or a lack of.

For more than a decade American Ranch Style homes have been transformed in Mediterranean style, just with the addition of arched windows and nothing else. But Mediterranean style is much more than that. Stones on the exterior and interior are the important elements, stone window sills, recessed windows, thick walls, wood beams and so many more details. Iron, I must say is the cherry on the cake, it is the finish touch needed to complete the authentic Mediterranean look of the house. Rustic iron, iron aged with a green patina, oil rubbed bronze and plain wrought iron all seem very hard and cold, but against the stones and wood, iron is the only detail that will fit.

Besides, with a small expenditure on iron details here and there, the house will acquire that certain established look as if it has always been there for ages, that look of a lived home where the walls can talk, instead of the “propped up and finished yesterday” look. I am all for history and traditions.
Creating iron details in most critical areas is not very expensive, especially if all the work is done at once, volume counts and you get to see the results right away, but you also will benefit from the increased value of the house if you decide to sell it later.

What are the areas to improve with iron creations if your goal is to have a Mediterranean looking home? Let’s start at the front door by adding stones all around a solid wood door with all iron lighting and accessories. OK the iron crest over the door in this photo (top) is a bit too much, but your home is your castle, who can say different?

I love door knockers, I use them for decorations on garden walls, on doors different from the entry door and even as interior decorations. I have one on the kitchen wall, when I knock it, is to tell dinner is ready.

Not all the windows need a trellis. The trellis in this photo indicates the room is special and needs a special treatment. Use trellis as an accent, only to multiply the pleasure of being inside or near that particular room.
Planters add interest on the exterior walls, but also allow some climbing plants to take curvy shapes up against the wall, while forming a playful nature.

Let’s not forget a gate. An iron gate will give the house an aura of elegant mystery especially if you need to ring in to enter and someone answer “I am the governess”.
Well OK this fantasy might not be too unreal for a few elected ones, but iron gates look very nice on smaller homes too. Of course the design of the gate itself must be proportioned to the size of the house.

These are a few suggestions to guide you through thinking what upgrading you can do in your home. I produce designs for any kind of iron solutions that are fabricated by my trusted iron workers. Let me know if I can assist you with many more suggestions, just leave your name in the box.

I offer consultations on-line through Skype line and in the traditional face-to-face consultation in your home. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.valentinadesigns.com
http://valentinaexpressions.com

Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola has been in business as a designer since 1990. She has helped a variegated group of fun people realizing their dreams with homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She is a designer well-known to bring originality to people’s homes. As an Italian designer and true to her origins, she provides only the best workmanship and design solutions. She is a book author. Find her books on
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9agl5v9
Barnes&Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/valentina-cirasola

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