Ask An Expert: Frank Slesinski

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Modern-Industrial Mix

Q: C. Bird: Hi Frank! My design style is more modern/industrial and my new roommate loves shabby chic. How do we mix the best of both worlds in our living room and bathroom?

Image: Slesinski Design Group

A: Mixing these two styles can be readily accomplished. The elements of what one typically considers "modern/industrial" include concrete columns, walls, ceilings, exposed ductwork, perhaps exposed brick - and lots of natural materials like wood and stone. These "rough" natural materials can work well with the casual, unfussy look of shabby chic. The prototypical shabby chic look - the white cotton duct slip covered upholstery - will soften the hard edges of the industrial materials without diminishing their beauty. The main trick is finding a unifying color scheme - Grays, taupes, beige/browns, work well next to concrete (pale mauves if you want a more feminine feel). The correct nuances in color selection can really enhance the industrial elements. The color scheme should be reflected in wall, fabric, rug selections, and layering materials with different textures and patterns. I also like to "play against type" with the materials. For example, I have used heavily antiqued mirrors side by side with exposed concrete and it has a real "wow" factor, being so unexpected. The mirror, at times, will look like polished stainless steel, while effectively opening up a space by bouncing light. It is particularly effective at the far end of lofts, darker recesses in industrial loft spaces, and away from the windows.

Accessories can also play a major role in unifying the two looks. Look at a Restoration Hardware catalogue and see how they seamlessly mix industrial elements (light fixtures, shelving units, etc.) with "Louis Something" French reproduction upholstered pieces. This same juxtaposition will work with Shabby Chic. In a bath: a contemporary stainless steel sink and fixtures, mixed with a vanity with some age or patina, could blend the two styles to great success.

Industrial-Feminine Mix

Q: Melissa: Hi Frank, I want to make sure I have a feminine touch throughout my home but at the same time love the industrial design pieces I have. Do you have any recommendation on pieces to incorporate that keep the modern look but also feel warmer/feminine?

Image: Slesinski Design Group

A: I’m not sure what your “industrial design pieces” are, but one of the keys to adding a feminine touch to an industrial design is a juxtaposition of materials. For example, I designed a bedroom in an industrial loft with concrete walls and ceiling, while also using silk draperies for a large expansive window directly adjacent to the concrete . Add a queen sized bed with a “kid glove” leather headboard and some sumptuous bedding, upholstered screens flanking the bed, and a highly textured wool and silk area rug, will result in a very seductive setting. In keeping with the industrial look, however, I used Eilene Graychrome bed tables with Restoration Hardware chrome lamps. Again, it’s the juxtaposition of materials and textures that keeps the design fresh and unexpected.


Q: Ellen I’m a big fan of modern interior designs and like to think I am a minimalist. I also love Italian designs or rooms inspired by the Renaissance but think it is sometimes overdone and cluttered. Do you see a way of blending these two styles? Really appreciate it, thanks!

Image: Pinterest

A: The good news is that your modern, minimalist tendencies, and love of Renaissance décor can happily co-exist. The key here is editing and once again my buzz word of the day – juxtaposition. A modern room with simple clean lines will greatly benefit from the inclusion of an antique piece of furniture or great piece of art as a focal point in the design (Renaissance or any period piece). One or two key pieces, judiciously placed for maximum visual impact, amongst modern furnishings will be a real winner. Of course, good lighting highlighting the focal point(s) will greatly enhance the drama of your focal points.

Image: Slesinski Design Group

This Week's Ask an Expert: COCOCOZY

Coco, founder of COCOCOZY interior design blog and home furnishings collection, loves anything to do with creating beautiful, functional spaces for the home. Coco started her blog back in 2008 with a simple goal of providing design inspiration to her readers. Three years after starting the blog, she created a luxury home textiles collection that she designs and manufactures here in the U.S.

This Week's Topic: Color Selection

This week COCOCOZY will be answering questions about color selection for your home.

Ask her a question here.

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