Magazine article Sunset

Winning Designs for Western Living

Magazine article Sunset

Winning Designs for Western Living

Article excerpt

THIS YEAR, WE TARGETED PAINT; COLLECTIONS USED AS KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS; KITCHEN-FAMILY ROOMS; AND GREAT INTERIOR DESIGN IDEAS FOR LESS THAN $500. WE RECEIVED 362 ENTRIES. OUR JURY BESTOWED 17 AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE: 5 TO AMATEUR DESIGNERS AND 12 TO PROFESSIONAL.

EVERY TWO YEARS SUNSET'S INTERIOR DESIGN AWARDS PROGRAM TAKES a close look at how Westerners are making their living spaces more personal, interesting, functional, and enjoyable. It's total immersion: a sort of virtual reality check on the details of Western living. The jury seeks imaginative, original, and skillfully executed solutions to everyday design problems from amateur and professional designers, who are judged separately.

This year's winning entries demonstrate an appealing diversity, ranging from an ingenious wedge-shaped, under-stair storage cart to a color scheme inspired by turn-of-the-century Swedish painter Carl Larsson. Jurors also spotted some developing trends: the use of vintage 1940s and 1950s kitchen ranges as functional art objects, and the treatment of kitchen cabinetry as fine furniture. Our jury has singled out its choices. Now you be the judge.

THE "WEIRD PALETTE" of this interior attracted the jury's attention. Alternating wall colors create an impression of greater spaciousness by drawing the eye from room to room. Used in this way, paint became a simple, inexpensive way to turn a small, dark, 1940s tract house into something bright, fresh, and contemporary. Working for owners Rhonda Voo and Eric Alan, Los Angeles architect Alison Wright chose four Dunn-Edwards paint colors--provocatively titled "Lake Louise" (blue), "Pamlico" (green), "Milky Way" (white), and "Magentotail" (red)--that echo colors in her clients' paintings and art glass.

"IT'S INCREDIBLE," said one juror about the eye-catching TV-and-storage cabinet of painted, medium-density fiberboard that San Francisco interior designer David Livingston created and Page Kelher executed for Anne and Greg Avis. Patterns of flowers, harlequin crisscrosses, and faux wood-grain make the large, 8-foot-long cabinet appear less bulky. If it had been painted all one color, the cabinet might "have resembled an aircraft carrier moored in the room," says Livingston. Inspiration for the ornamentation came from the brightly decorated furniture associated with London's Bloomsbury Group early in this century.

A BOLD USE of vivid stains gives this house visual excitement. Jurors liked the clarity and simplicity of the colors and the way they highlighted the natural grain of the wood. By using one color for each distinct form--yellow for overhead cabinets, green for under-counter cabinets, and red for the island--architect Jon Anderson, of Albuquerque, turned the kitchen into a bright, dramatic space.

CAVE PAINTINGS on a fireplace front won front won praise for originality. Berkeley artist Michael Shemchuk, of ArtDecor, combined ready-mixed joint compound with polyurethane and applied it to a sealed gypsum board base. Using a stylus, he inscribed "cave drawings" while the compound was still wet. After sanding and sealing, he colored the designs with diluted latex paint, then applied an oil-base glaze unevenly with cheesecloth to create the weathered patina. Finally, he sealed the fireplace front with two coats of clear acrylic varnish.

THE MULTIHUED HOUSE of turn-of-the-century Swedish artist Carl Larsson inspired the color choices for this bungalow kitchen in Albany, California. Owner-architect Robin Pennell recalls: "We used our own colors, but the idea that you could put a lot of busy colors together and not be busy was Larsson's." Pennell and his architect wife, Mimi, chose dark green for the cabinetry and bright yellow for the wainscoting to evoke an old farmhouse feel. The cream window and door trim and black-and-white checkerboard linoleum floor act as neutral foils for more explosive colors elsewhere. Butcher-block counters add warmth.

ANTHROPOLOGY ASCENDING describes the way a collection of masks from Mexico, China, Ghana, Peru, and Tibet--among other countries--lines this stair hall. …

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