Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do You Have A Signature Design Element?

As we all look at magazines, design books, and on blogs, certain designers stand out. You may love that designer, or you may loathe that designer. But even before you read one caption you recognize their work.

Designers get hooked on using some of their favorite things, and these things become sort of a signature design element. Do you find yourself buying and using the same tried and true things you love? What are they?

Suzanne Kasler high end bedroom
Featured in her book HERE

Suzanne Kasler is the hot Atlanta designer every girl wants to be, or have decorate her home. She's hotter than Candice Olson was on Rate My Space (the original web site not the HGTV show). I've heard it said that SK charges $100K per project.

Wall brackets from the SK collection for Ballard
Buy a dozen and you can have the Kasler look like her high end bedroom

I will never know what she charges, because I will never hire her. But like many of you I appreciate her work, and recognize the design elements she favors.

Kasler likes to use repetition as a signature design element
These antlers are part of her affordable collection for Ballard

It's no secret to design bloggers and savvy shoppers that SK designed a low price line for Ballard Designs. I am so seduced when I get those Ballard catalogs. The styling is superb. It's like getting a mini design book in the mail, complete with new sections dedicated to how to put a room together, and a supporting web site that is pretty good.

Skirted SK linen table cloth for Ballard - use it in any room

We don't have a Ballard outlet here in New Orleans, but when I visited Atlanta, Renae Moore took me to the Ballard's Backroom, where I got to see and touch the merchandise.

Pale color SK gourd lamp for Ballard
Looks just like the ones in her high end bedroom

I was disappointed, because by and large the stuff is really cheap looking and feeling. Many of you have told me this, but I just didn't want to believe it. Yet if you are careful, you can pick and choose and maybe use a piece or two to mix in with the high and low.

The Kasler look is expensive and requires a pale color palette, repetition of objects, French antiques mixed with modern pieces, and graphic fabrics mixed in with silk and linen. Sounds pretty standard and easy right? Something that Ballard could knock off and any home decorator could achieve. Well yes and no. The elements may be familiar to us all, but how SK puts it all together is the magic, and why she is a major design star.

Suzanne Kasler high end dining room
Note the colors palette,
The silk drapes, the chandelier, the skirted table

Pay attention to the French style seating

Still with her book in hand, a ton of shelter magazines that have featured her, myriad blog posts bookmarked, and the Ballard catalog in hand, you could create the look.

SK designed this Swedish/French style chandelier for Ballard

I think a bedroom or a dining room would be good places to try some SK signature elements.

Adding a wall of brackets or antlers, or a sunburst mirror (or a collection of sunburst mirrors) will propel you on your way. Choose any pale neutral wall color to place your Ballard treasures on.

Waldorf Chandelier - $579. from Ballard
Not cheap, but far cheaper than the antique Kasler
would use for thousands of dollars

This one looks very much like the one in her high end dining room

Add a signature chandelier. Kasler favors romantic French style chandeliers, and Ballard has a huge well priced selection (some designed by Kasler) that would fit the bill. The Ballard lighting fixtures seem to work okay in the high low mix.

Nine arm Claire chandelier from Ballard - only $399.
Very grand and very romantic - it would look great in an SK inspired room

Suzanne loves sunburst mirrors. She elevated them from mid century hipster cool, to an elegant design accessory. She brought back the sunburst design to the touchstone of the elegant French antique.

Suzanne Kasler loves the sunburst mirror

Many of us are "over" the sunburst mirror. It did get played up and perhaps out, and used by every designer on television or in Domino. I still love it, because it is a classic. People love it and gravitate towards it precisely because it is a well designed beautiful object.

Suzanne Kasler high end bathroom with a sunburst mirror

Ballard has a great selection of Kasler designed sunburst mirrors, and I want to believe that this would be okay in the high low mix.

Kasler designed this sunburst mirror for Ballard
Only $219! And the rays extend to an impressive 44 inches

Suzanne Kasler high end living room with sunburst mirror collection
These are French antiques
But she designed a collection for Ballard

So what did you think of the latest Ballard catalog? I'm sure you have all gotten your latest copy in the mail by now. And what are you ordering?

The Suzanne Kasler collection for Ballard HERE

I picked out some Kasler and non Kasler items that I like, though I know even in the photos that some of them will be just too cheap looking.

Wine Harvest bucket - looks too cheap to me
We sell a real one at perch. for $800. that is gorgeous

This antique style clock looks like a mini Mora clock
Is it good or is the small scale goofy?

Another diminutive luxury look
This Kasler designed ice bucket style vase

Architectural Models
These look like they would be okay for the high low mix

Kasler wooden folding table
Too expensive for something so flea market looking

Paris Places "subway" style sign - are they too late with this one?

Non Kasler French sign - I know it's corny, but I still love it

French plaque at Ballard

Even more corny
Kitchen mats with with a black board menu look

And I am sorry to say I kind of like them

So, tell us if you have purchased anything from Ballard lately, especially from the Suzane Kasler Collection.

Suzanne Kasler living room for Ballard Designs

And check Holly at Things That Inspire who wrote a good post on this same subject awhile back.


Living It At Home said...

I have only bought some baskets from Ballard over the years. Have had them forever! Anyway, love the look and styling but hesitate to buy anything really big from them. Have always loved their cloth covered round tables...hubby doesn't like them though! Great post!

annechovie said...

Very well written, Valorie. I would agree that Ballard does have a gift for styling and putting together attractive catalogs. I, like you, got turned off by some of the cheap looks of their actual merchandise when I used to go to Ballard's Backroom in Atlanta. Something about seeing all those chipped up and legless pieces crammed together in a slightly uncouth and dismal space took away from my desire to ever own much from them. However, they do still have some solidly good pieces that are decor staples. I bought two matelasse table cloths for end tables and they are pretty nice for the money. I guess you just have to pick and choose. Hope you are well and thanks for the sweet comment. xx

pve design said...

On a recent university tour, an admissions counselor spoke so eloquently in regard to an art prof. - she said, we must "steal" with our eyes and I think in a way that is what one must do to emulate high end design. In Fashion it was coined -"knocking off" and believe me it is not as easy as it looks, but it is so fun to spot a master and then try to find the copy. I think touches of high and low make a house a home. I would love to spend one night in a museum, just to study the masters.
I love your finds, especially those mats. Those are fun.

carla fox said...

Miz V...you have more style and charm in your little finger than most of the "look" designers. You take what you have, find or are given, and make something from it. That takes way more talent than big budget jobs!

home before dark said...

I read your column and thought about it as I went about my day. My Ballard catalog came today and as I thumbed through it before sending it to recycle heaven, I thought about the difference from the original Ballard and today's merchandise. From the OLD DAYS, I have two corinthian concrete table bases that form my dining room table, a pair of concrete griffins that I use as a sideboard and pair of concrete brackets that holds up a simple mantle. In my living room is a small lion table that I will always remember my schnauzer had "issues" with for weeks on end. I marvel how all of this really heavy stuff arrived to my home half way across the country in PERFECT condition. Like you I read the catalog for inspiration, but would never buy casegoods. It makes me sad to see the devolution of something that once was wonderful.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

LIke the commenter above, I do mourn the "old" Ballards. Maybe I'm just getting cranky, but there is, to me, a large difference between the two. I will say that I purchased a gargantuan straw bag from Ballard's backroom a couple of years ago and it's my favourite summer bag. Holds everything from Vogue magazine and a bottle of water to dog biscuits and an apple.

I'm not crazy about that clock... goofy is a pretty good word to describe it. But I do love those ice bucket vases. I'd fill a bunch of them halfway with water and float teeny rubber ducks inside for a children's lunch!

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

I don't think I get the catalog regularly...and the whole frenchy thing wasn't my cuppa. But when I come across one now and then, I appreciate the styling, if not all of the products. Like your picks...and particularly the mats.

Cote de Texas said...

it was the best ballard catalogue ever. loved loved loved it.

Renae said...

Shopping with you is fun no matter where!
We did find that oil canvas for my LR that needed just a little fix on a boo boo. Great post Mz. V...you know I love mirrors <:o), can't get enough of 'em! Love the ones SK did for Ballards and the turned wood chandy's!

JoLeigh said...

I think I dog-eared more pages of this particular Ballard catalogue than any other. I do plan on purchasing the Off-white distressed "Sunburst" mirror. I would be interested to know more about the quality of their merchandise after reading this. We have no backroom outlet in Texas..(Though we do have a Wisteria outlet..)...Great post. Thanks for sharing~

Kwana said...

Great post Valorie. I agree with you on the sunburst mirror being a classic. I also love the gourd lamp but at 100k I won't be hiring her either though she does beautiful work.

Anonymous said...

hi, miz v,

you get time off for good behavior down at the courthouse? coping ok with it? i know you can't discuss cases, but if you are on a panel, i hope it is at least a compelling issue.

i've looked at the ballard catalogues for years, and seen some things i like, but never have bought home decor by mail order. i have to have due diligence, aka, touchy-feely for my stuff. very occasionally, over years, i've bought clothing from one or two old paper catalogues, but almost always it was one piece and then a couple of reorders over time of the same items.

oopsey-years ago i bought mugs and cakeplates from horchow, and more recently, a paperweight. i'm such a crazy shopaholic that sometimes running through page after page of paper or on line photos gives me my fix and i don't have to actually purchase. not great for the catalogue merchants, but fine for me. have done it since i was a child with the sears tomes.

but, there are plenty of people who find 'pot-luck', well, 'post-luck,' i suppose, a necessary part of life. more of them keep the things, from what i sense, and i've never seen statistics on who checks 'not what i expected' and ships almost everything back. those costs are built into the asking prices even on sale, and into the often outrageous handling charges.

if you look carefully in a fistful of catalogues, you will often spot identical items with radically different prices and fees. that's the most fun. i'm talking about truly same stuff, even with identical patent numbers. always amusing!

see ya in court? can cholo go along for the day? m


Anne Lubner Designs said...

Love your writing style, Valorie, you make me laugh. I thought this Ballard catalog was the best mainly because I love love love sunburst mirrors, always have, in fact I have a sunburst clock I bought 20 years ago. I'd been eying Ballard's previous sunburst mirror but in person it looked cheap. I'd expect the SK items would be better quality. Next time I go to the Ballard's near me (not a back door) I'll check it out.

NYCLQ said...

That's what I love about blogging - learning new tips and sources for design & decor inspiration. Although I've heard of Ballard Designs - but not shopped it - I haven't discovered Suzanne Kasler until now! Thanks for sharing - I'll have to check her out!

BTW: LOVE the starburst mirrors. I've seen quite a few in vintage shops & HomeGoods recently...

As for fave decor items: B&W photography, glass cylinders and items in multiples...

:D Lynda

Renee Finberg said...

what a great big beautiful post!


Kelly @ Much To Do With Nothing said...

Hi there,
This is a wondreful post! I don't shop Ballard Design, but I buy a lot of their fabrics from a woman who sells them for $4.00/yard. I love their catalog too.
I just posted and linked to your post about the Swedish style chandelier. I found one at a thrift store today and thought about the one you showed. It's not exactly... But for $4.00 I had to get it.

Stephanie@cre8tive said...

How funny that I am leaving a comment right after Kelly at Much to do about nothing! I just read her post and saw the link came and over to check it out.

I have purchased one item from Ballard about 4 years ago, a parsons chair. I was very disappointed in how cheaply made it was. I purchase a lot of custom made furniture, which can get pricey, so thought I would try Ballard for this simple chair. Now every time I get their catalog I hesitate to buy. Although I just bought 2 yards of their document fabric yesterday! And I wish I would of seen that black mat before I hit the checkout button, I think it is so cute!
I wasn't highly impressed with the layout of the catalog this time around, didn't even know who that designer was, oops! It was too confusing as to what and where the descriptions were and kind of random.
I like the sunburst mirrors, to me they are classic and I have used them a lot in my deigns. Love your blog. Glad I found it

Kerry said...

What a bummer. I have been holding off on buying anything until I move. I have purchased the wall pockets and was satisfied but have always been skittish about the slipcovered sofas.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

Really liked all the points you bring up in this post!

First of all I don't have any particular design element I put in my spaces...just preferences.

Any backrooms or outlets I find carry plenty of junk and poor quality. I live close to both Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn outlets and you can not image the damaged and dirty stuff they try to sell!

But, every so often there is something great...that requires no fixing, cleaning or work! I purchased a PB classic club chair with the sand velvet slipcover about 8-10 years ago for $300 and never could find a single thing wrong with it! And, curtain rods at RH with no issues.

As far as Ballard, loved the recent catalogue and have purchased from them over years, but only small items. I would love to know about the quality of their chairs and sofas????? Some are so tempting!

Anonymous said...

Just received my Ballard catalogue yesterday and have to agree the layout and photographs were enticing, however, I am put off with the ultimate "made in China" look. It would be great if you could buy "high end" through catalogues with the confidence that once your merchandise arrives you are proud to own it. So far, Ballard doesn't meet the test despite using Kassler to improve their image.