Deb Reinhart Interior Design Group Inc.

Browsing Tag: designer tips

Accenting the ceiling with unique materials: Part 2

Let’s peek into the kitchen of our luxury Chicago bachelor pad. And like last time, we’re focusing on the ceiling. (Clearly, we love ceilings around here!)

Before: A stainless steel hood over the range and contemporary track lighting. Not the worst, just not right.

We chose to replace the hood with an updraft (which can do the job just as well and, in this home of a bachelor with little interest in cooking, the ‘gourmet kitchen’ didn’t fit with his lifestyle) surrounded by a soffit and inset lighting that shows off this beautiful antique carved panel.

Looking up!

Just like a chandelier over a dining table, this panel grounds the space…plus the slight drop of the soffit and the warm detail of the panel creates a more intimate feeling space, a special nook rather than just kitchen overflow.

 It’s architectural detail, visual art and functionality all in one! Ceilings can be wonderful things!

Accenting the ceiling with unique materials

Poor old ceilings. They’re so often neglected in the design of a room.  There’s no quicker way to take a space from “Oh, that’s pretty” to “Wow!” than to add detail to the ceiling. After all, it is the 5th wall of any room!

The cove ceiling with in-laid wood panel, recessed and pendant lighting adds architectural detail to this otherwise plain hall.

Let’s take a trip back in time and look at some pics of this Chicago condo (whose powder room was featured on the blog last week) before we got our hands on it.

It’s a great space… a big fireplace focal point, tall windows looking out onto the Chicago River, and thirteen foot ceilings.

Everyone loves high ceilings. It’s open and airy and grand, no doubt there. But there are challenges when dealing with all that height. The large volume of empty space created by high ceilings can dwarf furnishings and just feel cavernous. Add to that the special challenges of this room…the small footprint which made that  height feel out of balance, and the raised dining room and kitchen to the left, whose view of the river ran right through the vast emptiness above the living room, and we knew we needed to address the ceiling.

We began by building out a rectangular soffit, mirroring the shape of the room and defining the living area from the rest of the open plan first floor.


The view on installation day. You can really see how high the ceiling is here.


Already, it’s looking better.

Since the goal was a warm, textured room full of art and artifacts and beautiful details, additional detail was needed to bring the ceiling up to snuff. Four beautiful wood panels were installed in the soffit with recessed lighting glowing softly behind and can lights around the perimeter for flexibility.


Now the rich wood draws the eye up and pulls the “5th wall” down, allowing it to become a part of the composed space. As Deb said, “We could’ve fill this room with treasures and you would never know. They’d be swallowed up.”

Now the ceiling itself is a treasure.

The Closet Re-Imagined

If you look back at the architecture of the past, you will notice that there was often less concealed storage (much to the chagrin of modern home buyers) and more room for display pieces.  Today’s modern real estate developers try to get the most storage they can possibly squeeze into a space because closets help sell homes.  However, too often we see odd, small closets cluttering up otherwise lovely walls.  These tiny closets are hardly helping solve storage solutions and can be really distracting from the aesthetic of a room.  The solution?  Built ins!

I love to create built in display and storage nooks from small, somewhat useless closets.  By removing the doors and frames and simply adding in some cabinetry and shelving, the boring becomes beautiful!

Check out some great examples….

This built in replaces a closet for a gorgeous effect (and still lots of storage)!


Gorgeous New Fall Colors!

Pantone, a standardized color system and a world renowned authority on color trends, recently released their hot colors for fall 2012.  While some are the typical fall standards such as the gorgeous dark brown “French Roast”, warm “Honey Gold” and the 2012 colors of the year “Tangerine Tango”, they also included in the mix some unexpected colors.  I am loving the beautiful “Bright Chartreuse”, “Olympian Blue” and “Pink Flambe”.

Pantone's hot colors for Fall 2012

These bold and beautiful colors are not only making the fall fashions pop, but can be used in the home to give your spaces that WOW impact!

Wondering how to use these colors in your home?  Check out some great installation shots below!

Olympian Blue on the walls may sound a little intense, but paired with bright neutrals and other blue accents, this room is bold and fun! Photo courtesy

I used a beautiful chartreuse, pink and ultramarine color scheme in the Lake Forest Coach House and the combination was delightful!

By mixing the bold chartreuse, pink and teal colors together with neutrals, I brought in a pop of color without overwhelming the space.

This fun chartreuse accent adds a bright pop of color without feeling overwhelming. Notice the blue, gold and ultramarine accents as well.

By mixing the fun pink with tangerine tones and neutrals, this room uses the beautiful fall colors in a way that doesn't make this room feel overwhelming.  Photo courtesy

So, are you ready to add some color to your life?

Red, Glorious Red

When designing a space, the decision of color is extremely important as it dictates the mood of the space.  Color theorists as early as the ancient Greeks have been assigning meanings and symbolism to different colors.  White is perceived as pure, yellow as soothing, purple as royal.

No color is as widely interpreted as red.  To many Eastern cultures, red symbolizes good luck.  Red is the color assigned to passion, romance, love and excitement.  It is also often the color associated with evil or danger.

Red is one of my favorite colors to use in a space.  While some people shy away from it, there are many ways to use it, whether as an accent or a dominant color, in a way that is calming, fun and just plain gorgeous!

I used red as a major accent in this bedroom. The color, while bold, is not overpowering and this room is still soothing and comfortable.


Lovely Landscapes

My recent feature on got me thinking about landscape art and the impact it can have in a space.  Even the most indoorsy person can’t argue that the natural world offers some of the most beautiful imagery and magnificent colors around.

Landscapes can range from photorealistic paintings to abstract art using various mediums. In my French country estate, I used abstract landscapes to anchor the bedside tables. These used colors such as black and metallic leaf to create a landscape, but even when using an abstract approach, it is unmistakably a landscape.

These contemporary landscapes anchor the bedside tables and bring elegance and drama to the room.

Traditional landscape paintings are often seen in libraries and traditional settings, which may lead people to believe that they only belong in traditional rooms.  See the gallery below of landscapes used in many different settings, all to beautiful results!

This traditional library uses a landscape painting as a beautiful compliment to the wood tones.

This beautiful landscape was used in this eclectic living room by Nate Berkus Interiors

A lovely landscape painting was the perfect compliment to the fun floral prints in my Lakeforest Coach House

This is a very cool use of a huge landscape- sectioned and individually framed it creates much more drama and a more contemporary feel than hanging the art alone.

This large landscape above the sofa brings a serene beauty to this modern room. Design by Tjasa Owen.

Are you ready to bring nature into your home?

Kitchen and Bath Remodeling – Bigger Does not Have to be Better

This vanity which includes a sink, faucet and countertop is high style-very compact solution for the smallest of  bathrooms.


In the rehabbing of our clients homes, we often utilize odd areas for powder rooms. Converting a small space under stair wells, carving out a bathroom from a closet, or creating a powder room from a former mud room is often challenging space planning for the fixtures. Once the plumbing issues are solved [waste stack and water] ,this vanity would make a design statement which is unique as it is functional. Parietal is a sink-faucet and towel rack in a mere 17″ x 10″“ size.

Color pops each model red, blue,  lime, yellow, black and white.

Easy maintenance-high style and terrific impact for the compact remodeling of a small powder room, this item is a winner for decorating.

What decorating mistakes drive you nuts: As seen on House Beautiful


What’s the decorating mistake decorators see in people’s houses that always drives them nuts?

Ten interior designers share their expert advice for what NOT to do.

Check out the entire online article here on House Beautiful.

1.  “Decorating that doesn’t match the personality and lifestyle of the people living in it. You wouldn’t wear the same clothes as your mother, and you shouldn’t decorate your home the way your mother would.” —HEIDI BONESTEEL

2. “Karate-chopped pillows. That look would never occur in pillow nature. Prominently placed family portraits. Best avoided if you’re not royal or papal. TVs that are disguised. They’ve been around for decades, so just embrace your TV. Would you buy an armoire for your stove?” —STEVEN SCLAROFF

3.  “The misuse or heavy-handed application of decorative painting. I saw a show house last weekend and it reminded me that you have to know when to stop. Brilliant painting is elegant and polished, but go too far and you end up with vulgarity when quality was the goal.” —MARY DOUGLAS DRYSDALE

4. “There’s nothing worse than bright overhead lights that make you feel like you’re onstage. Lighting shouldn’t wash down on you: It’s harsh and unflattering. I use dimmers in every part of a house, including bathrooms. And soft white bulbs in lamps. The best light comes at you from shaded lamps.” —BARCLAY BUTERA

5. “Candlesticks side by side. Candlelight, like open fires, has a certain allure — one of warmth and romance. To me, it’s most alluring when the light is spread around the room. In other words, separate the candlesticks! It’s also a more balanced aesthetic.” —ALBERT HADLEY

6. “Lamps that are completely disproportionate sizes on either ends of a sofa — that makes me crazy. Also when people hang a collection of pictures in these sort of idiosyncratic ways and it’s just a mess. Don’t try to get too creative. Keep it simple.” —DAVID KLEINBERG

7. “I’m often dumbstruck by the way people arrange their living room furniture. So much wide-open space, pieces plastered against walls, chairs too far apart. It’s simple, really: The guiding principle should be to create intimacy. How can you have a good conversation when you have to shout across the room? I imagine the sofa talking to the chairs, the chairs talking to one another.” —WHITNEY STEWART

8. “Regardless of how beautiful a room is, it’s compromised by glaring or gloomy lighting. Don’t rely on only one kind of light source. Mix a variety of overhead and floor or table lamps. And keep in mind that you’re not obliged to illuminate every corner evenly. Warm ‘pools’ of light draw people in and create intimacy.” —ALAN TANKSLEY

9. “Too many ideas — even good ones — in one place can add up to a big mess. Just pick one and go with it.” —ALESSANDRA BRANCA

10. “I hate seeing seating and furniture pushed up to the wall like you’re at a dance. I guess people are trying to make their rooms seem bigger, but if everything is too broad, too spread out, and too high, it’s impossible to feel cozy. It’s much more pleasant to break up space into smaller areas and give things a bit of air. Even in a narrow room, the sofa doesn’t have to be slammed up against the wall. Pull it out six inches.” —JACKIE TERRELL

Lake Forest Showhouse Gardens

The Infant Welfare Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens are of the most prestigious showcases  in the country.  Patrons visit the showhouse every 2 years not only to tour the house but the gardens as well.

The 2011 Lake Forest showhouse gardens at The Thorndale Manor  are just as impressive and impeccably designed as the interiors.  We hope these garden will inspire you for your spring planting.


Lake Forest Gardens 1

The  historic gardens at The Thorndale Manor were originally designed in 1918 by Jens Jensen.  Frank Lloyd Wright named Jensen “Nature’s Poet” because of his use of indigenous plants, light & contrast.

Lake Forest Showhouse Gardens

This year 8 landscape designers worked together to revamp the Thorndale Manor Gardens. We encourage you to tour the showhouse to use these masterpieces as inspiration for your own back yard.

Deb Reinhart Interior Design Group can recommend a landscape designer for your own project.  Please contact us with any landscape, design or other questions we can help you with.


No More Avocado Appliances: Designer Tips for a Successful Kitchen or Bath Remodel

Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom is one of the most complex projects in the Interior Design profession.  The statistic above 90% or 102% rings true, IF the design composition of the remodel is congruent with the home, space and is pleasing to view.

The amount of technical detail to accomplish the remodel or design is very extensive. Note some of the decisions:

Lakeshore Drive Condo Kitchen



  • GFI outlets are regulated by local code requirements.
  • Do you have enough power for the various new appliances?
  • Lighting: task, ambiance or reflective?
  • Decorative fixtures, ceiling cans or low voltage


  • Gas or electric?
  • The appliance packages can range from a few thousand up to $70,000
  • Critical to appliance choices—include the following criteria:

How do you cook? How do you entertain? How long will you live in this space?


  • How difficult is it to move water-or drains?
  • Do you need more than 1 sink? Pot fillers over the stove?


  • Maintenance – Tile is two times as hard as wood?
  • Alternative floors cork and bamboo are gaining popularity

Which trade is scheduled first? last?

streeterville Contemporary Master Bathroom

Streeterville Contemporary Bathroom


  • Are you remodeling in the same foot print?
  • Will you be  changing the wet items, the sewage stack is a critical consideration.
  • Light your face-not the top of your head.
  • Tile can range from $4-$5 a sq foot to $500 a square foot.
  • Finish schedule for your bathroom – choose colors and textures which you will  like in 2, 4 , 6  years?

Do you remember avocado appliances?

Deb’s tips:

  • Hire a professional—in selecting these expensive and permanent choices
  • Remember-the expense is not just a bathroom or kitchen –it is a home equity purchase.
  • Save the pop ideas-or trendy looks for transitional products—towels in the bath or tea kettle in kitchen
  • Classic installation in the kitchen and bath will pay for them selves.
  • The accents can then be traditional or contemporary.

Save money, invest in a professional who can stretch your dollars-eliminate mistakes AND improve the value of your home. An interior designer is your advocate and translator to accomplish a smooth remodel.

High-Rise City Beach House Kitchen

Streeterville Contemporary Bathroom

Streeterville Contemporary Bathroom