Getting personal with photography

One of the most important things I strive for when designing any interior space is to have a beautifully designed and functioning room but I also want the home to reflect my client’s unique personality. Often times I look to accomplish this by reusing or re-purposing  beloved family heirlooms, art work, or by displaying a collection that is meaningful to the homeowners. 

Sometimes though, there are no family heirlooms or meaningful collections to work with. In this case, one thing I like to do for my clients is to create something special for them using my photography skills. Today I want to share three different photography projects I did that were very meaningful for my clients yet all three were very simply executed, and might give you an idea for a project in your home.

The first photography project I did was actually for my very first “big” design job back in 2012. I was only about nine months into my business and I was hired to completely furnish a condo for a recently divorced man who was literally bring nothing but his clothes. The dining area of the condo was part of the kitchen and the homeowner had very specific requirements for a dinning table. It had to be of a certain length and width 99% of the time but twice a year had to expand to accommodate a large crowd. After searching for WAY longer than I should have, I finally convinced him we needed to have the table custom made. 

This is where the story gets interesting…and quite long. The short version though is that the furniture maker sourced the wood from the old Birds Eye Freezer factory in Gloucester Ma. This is the very place where flash freezing was invented and produced America’s first frozen vegetables. The factory had been abandoned since the late 40’s and was only weeks away from being raised to make way for a new boutique hotel. The completely freaky part of this story is that unbeknownst to either myself or the furniture maker was that my client had an ancestor who had worked in the factory back in the 1930’s. 

Linda Holt Photo

So, the table shown above sits in a condo by the sea and is made from the wood which once lined the freezer of the Birds Eye Freezer Company (aluminum was eventually used and the wood freezer became obsolete. Here’s where the photography part comes in. Shortly before they knocked the building down I took a series of photos of the decaying factory and chose three to frame and hang next to the table. (I also gave him several unframed ones as well.)

At the time I had no idea I would one day be writing a blog about this so unfortunately I don’t have a better image of the photos themselves. I can report that my client was very moved by my surprise.  He found it so meaningful to own a table made from the wood of such an historic factory, that an ancestor had worked in, and that next to the table are photos of the factory itself…Cool right??

My next photography project was just recently completed. On my first meeting to discuss a new client’s project, the husband pulled out these six books. He said he didn’t know how or if I could incorporate the books into my design but his recently deceased dad was a well known Indian author and had written the series. These kind of family items are gold to me. I placed them all directly on the existing black leather sofa and took a quick iphone photo. These treasured books became the inspiration for my entire design. The colors drove my color scheme and although the books were only small paper back sized, I knew I wanted to bring them to prominence and give them a place of honor in my client’s home.

Client’s book collection written by his dad

Once my design plan was approved, I asked to borrow the set of books. I  took a photo of each book on a white back ground (white construction paper) and had them blown up by one of my favorite companies called Fracture. Fracture prints photos directly on glass and they arrive ready to hang. I enlarged them to a 20″ x 16″ size and the day of the install hung them on a tall thin wall just off the entry. Boy were my client’s both surprised and thrilled!

Fracture glass photos

Photo by Emily O’Brien Photography

My final example is not yet installed so I don’t want to give too much away but I am working with an awesome client/friend on her “piano lounge”. I asked her to give me several of her absolute favorite and most meaningful sheet music cover pages. This is one that she chose as being very meaningful. I especially like the hand written notations as it makes the piece even more personal.

I photographed each sheet cover and then imported the photos into Photoshop. I’m really not a Photoshop expert and I didn’t know exactly what I was even going for but after playing around for awhile I settled on the image below.

sheet music pixelated and colorized

Art work created by Linda Holt

This piece along with two others will be hung above the sofa. Each one is a different color based on the room’s color scheme. I used Fracture to print my images on glass for this project too and at the moment they are sitting in my office waiting for our install day.

Three very different clients, three very different projects and three very different “stories”. That’s what I love most about design. Every client and job is different yet everyone has a family story that is a part of who they are and it’s what makes a house a home. I feel honored I was able to by bring three stories out into the open in my client’s homes through photography.

Would love to hear from you! Which of my three projects is your favorite?

 

 

Matisse and his “actors” of inspiration

Don’t you often wonder when you look at a beautifully designed room or a stunning piece of art, what the inspiration was behind the creation? “What inspires you?” has to be one of the most asked questions of any creative. The answers vary but often times it’s things like art, travel, nature or even other creatives. 

So it was great anticipation that I made my way to the Matisse exhibit at the Boston MFA just before I left on vacation. The paintings were curated around the objects that inspired Matisse. He referred to his favorite objects as “actors” and used them over and over again in his work. 

“The object is an actor. A good actor can have a part in ten different plays; an object can play a role in ten different pictures” Matisse

I have had a love affair with Matisse since high school. In fact, this framed poster below has hung in every apartment and house I have lived in since college. I have had it for close to 40 years and although it has little to no monetary value, I just couldn’t bring myself to part with it during the downsizing purge. 

Some of the more interesting “actors” used by Matisse were African figures and ethnic textiles.

 Matisse was intrigued with the simplicity of the sculpture and the fact that it was stripped down to just the visual essentials.

Preliminary sketch for portrait below.

Matisse also was inspired by textiles, especially those from Northern Africa and Islamic cultures. He loved the rich saturated colors and the patterns of the hand made cloth. This Egyptian cloth in the exhibit hung in his studio and was used over and over again in his work.

Here it is on the right side of the painting.

The exotic Islamic culture fascinated Matisse and became a favorite subject to paint.

This is a detail shot of another antique textile from his collection.

Matisse used it for his inspiration in the painting below.

One of the more interesting facts I learned at the show was that it was these Islamic textiles that became the inspiration for Matisse’s cut outs which he is so well know for.

He studied the play of light on the mirrored glass inserts and the “movement” it gave to the pattern.

African Kuba cloth which is so on trend today was also a favorite of Matisse.

He collected samples from many different tribes and was taken by the fact that the pattern seemed to have no beginning and no end. The painting below shows his Kuba cloth interpretation in the background. Notice how the pattern climbs out the window seemingly going on forever.

Later in his career Matisse became captivated by Chinese calligraphy and collected samples that he hung in his studio.

The fluid movement of the characters inspired this work called The Acrobat.

He also collected Chinese pottery

Which became inspiration for the tree painting below. 

I found the exhibit so fascinating because it was almost like being inside Matisse’s head. I could look at the object and then see how it inspired him to create his work. 

It also got me thinking about what inspires me. It’s probably cliche but for the most part it’s travel and nature. We were on vacation last week in the white mountains of New Hampshire. The vibrant greens of the forest against the beige/taupe colored rocks became inspiration for a color palette for a new space I am working on.

Here are a few images of what I was surrounded by last week.

White Mountains NH

Linda Holt Photo

Galehead trail NH mountains

Linda Holt Photo

river stream in White Mountains

Linda Holt Photo

This is my color palette inspired by the mountains.

My mountain inspired color palette: Linda Holt photo

Inspiration is different for everyone. I would love to hear what inspires you?

Friday’s Photo: “Fashionable” Kitchen cabinetry

While at KBIS in January with Modenus and BlogTourVegas, I spotted this fashion inspired custom painted kitchen island at Signature Kitchen.

Signature cabinetry

Signature kitchen. Design by fashion artist Donald Robertson

Signature kitchen will custom paint any design of your choice or have one of their artists custom paint a design just for you.

signature kitchen

Fashion artist Donald Robertson for Signature Kitchen

I know this will appeal to only a small select few but it’s just one more example of how homeowners can personalize their home and express their unique personality.

What do you think? Thumbs up or down?

ORC week 4: All about the art

Well here it is week four of the One Room Challenge  hosted by Linda of Calling it Home. What had been a ticking clock has now become a booming drum constantly beating in my head. I have less than two weeks to complete my large family room before the photographer arrives on the 9th.

I did make some progress this week as those of you who follow me on Instagram saw. I am super excited about my newly lacquered campaign chest. I purchased it for a song at the Habitat Restore and then had my cabinet maker lacquer it in Sherwin Williams Indigo. It came out spectacular!

Lacquered Campaign chest

Lacquered Campaign chest

I was blown away by how good the refurbished hardware came out. If you saw the hardware “before” in last weeks post you know it was in pretty sad shape.

My cut and bound sea grass rug was also installed this week. I needed something that would wear like iron and handle the wear and tear from our dog.

seagreass rug

As you can see I had it cut out around the fireplace so that it wouldn’t look like a landing strip pad running down the middle of the room. Having a rug that fills the whole room has made such a difference in making the room feel more cohesive as well as cozy. BTW, it’s only curling up on the edge there because I took this photo right after the installer left. It will lay flat within a few days.

Still waiting on my furniture which will arrive hopefully the end of this week into the middle of next week.

So now my thoughts are on to the art for the room. I already own a fabulous oil painting that will be going directly above the campaign chest.

art piece

So the dilemma that had been keeping me up at night was what to do for art on the huge expansive wall above the sofa. It is almost 7′ of wall space! My budget is more than blown so it had to be something very affordable.  I do not like big box store art or what I call “staging art” because I only want to bring things into my home that have meaning or speak to me in some way. I needed to get creative.

My solution? I decided to create a gallery wall that could be ever changing as I find just the right pieces going forward. Since I don’t have the luxury of time, I decided to simply enlarge some of my photography and display some glass trays and blue and white plates that I love.

Here is my initial planning.

Preliminary gallery wall planning

Preliminary gallery wall planning

I purchased about a dozen white frames from Michael’s during a 40% off frame sale and played around with different frame sizes and arrangements on the floor until I found something I liked. I didn’t have much time to decide which images to enlarged as I looked at the lead time for delivery and realized I had about had about ten minutes to make a decision in order for them to arrive on time. I choose some photos from our favorite vacation spot and a few more abstract ones. Just like with the frames I ordered way more images than I need because I want to play around with placement once they arrive.

So all in all, if everything arrives on schedule, I am in fairly good shape. I still have a lot to do but now that I have decided on the art I feel a lot better.

I would love to hear from you. What do you think of my affordable wall art solution?

It has been eye opening following all the other ORC participants as some are doing great, and others have huge challenges to deal with. I feel very fortunate in that I have two friends, Meredith Bohn, and Kelly Rogers also participating in the challenge. When we need a word of encouragement or get stressed we have one another to lean on. This has made such a big difference in my stress level.

Be sure to check out everyone participating here.

 

 

Friday’s Photo: Is this art?

There is a video that recently went viral showing Joshua Bell, a world class violinist playing in the NYC subway system. Bell is one of the most celebrated and gifted musicians of our time but because he was out of context people just walked by as he played and gave little notice.

Years ago I walked into a modern art show at a Boston gallery. There was a drill and a tool belt laying on the floor in the corner. I looked at it for the longest time trying to decide if it was part of the exhibit of just left there temporarily by a worker. It really didn’t matter, the point is, art can be and is absolutely everywhere. We don’t have to be at a museum or art gallery to “see” art.

rusty mailboxWMI know everyone is in agreement that nature is the most amazing art of all but what about simple everyday objects? What if my neighbor’s rusting mail box is the most spectacular work of art the world has never seen? Look at the colors, the textures and the complexity of layers. To me it is a masterpiece…what do you think?  Is it art?

 

Friday’s Photo: nature vs. art

While scrolling through my cell phone photos last night I spotted these two images almost next to one another. Both were taken while on vacation in Arizona. The photo on the left was taken on our drive back from the Grand Canyon and the one on the right is a detail shot of a vase taken through an art gallery window.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

It’s always interesting to discover how artists find inspiration. I wonder if the artist of the vase has spent a lot of time looking at cloud formations. Pretty cool don’t you think?

have a great weekend everyone!

Friday’s Photo: Tiny dining space with pizzazz!

A tiny space carved out for dining and made special with a statement art piece.

 ID Creations/Linda Holt Photo


Holiday House Hamptons/Linda Holt Photo

Who said downsizing has to be boring?  If it’s just the one or two of you isn’t this really all you need? A little table, a few chairs and a fabulous piece of art?

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

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