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A Tribute to an Artist: Bruno Louchouaron

I was spending this past Friday night squeezing in a bit of self-care after getting the kids in bed, reading Eloisa James’ latest novel, and these two sentences gave me pause:  “You are a brilliant woman, who sees the world as an artist does: in color, light, and shape. And like any other artist, you want to spend your days creating beauty.” It’s been an interesting year so far in the life of Cat. One of growth, risks, juggling of all the balls in the air. But the recent passing of one my first clients has me pausing for a moment to reflect on the meaning of being an artist, this insatiable desire to create, and the meaning of one’s legacy.

I first met Bruno through his wife, Corey, as we were mid-way through the Kenan Institute for the Arts project. Corey and Bruno had just purchased a new home in Winston-Salem, and Corey asked me if I would be willing to help them with their new home. Her husband, she said, was a composer, and she wanted to make sure that he had a space for him to work. Would I be willing to come meet him and see if I could help?

Bruno’s composing setup, in it’s natural environment.

So here I am, little baby designer Cat, in the home of two very established and brilliant artists, asking questions like, “how do you work? what do you like to look at? what is your favorite thing in this room? any colors you love or hate? do you need storage? does your storage need to be open or closed?” and Bruno starts talking about his current desk set up (to stay as is) and points to this piece of art his mother painted that he absolutely loves, and then the magic happens; he starts to show me all of his instruments.

A view of just some of Bruno’s instruments – every week I was onsite, the collection just kept growing.

Here’s the thing about Bruno – he was all about connection and collaboration. There’s a tendency in the world of fine arts to bring a bit of elitism and snobbery to the conversation as a way to establish yourself as the authority, the artiste. But this man took a moment to pause in his editing work, picked up the first instrument at hand (a banjo), and started to play a bit as we talked about blue grass and Merlefest, and acoustical needs and instrument storage, and then, in the midst of the fifth instrument demonstration, the real design intention for his new workspace became apparent. Bruno really needed a space for informal jam sessions. And thus my marching orders were born.

The Artist Retreat project really became about a collection of connected spaces (aesthetically through color and texture), that provided different spaces for collaboration and connection through music and conversation in different rooms throughout their home. One of my favorite expressions of this was the use of Christopher Alexander’sdifferent chairs” in which all of the spaces had different seating types so that each person could choose their own place. Shortly after the project completed, Corey sent me a video of their housewarming party in which an impromptu jam session had broken out.

A few weeks ago, Corey broke the news to her community on Facebook that Bruno was in his final days. As I scrolled through my Facebook feed that week, Bruno posted a collection of memories in pictures to his page. A photo of his workspace that we designed together made it in the collection, and y’all, it was this moment in which it solidified to me this is what I’m on Earth here to do. This is my why.

A pretty shot of the informal collaboration space we designed together.

Interior design to me is so much about the intersection of form and function. I often joke to clients that I can make it pretty, but I want to know how you function, and how do you want to use this space, and more importantly, how do you want it to feel? That a space that we’ve created together, when finished, feels like a space that is a reflection of you, is the most rewarding part of my job. That a cell phone picture of Bruno’s studio in it’s raw, everyday form, made it in his final collection is altogether humbling, joyful, and poignant.

A photo of Bruno’s studio from his own photo collections.

To Bruno and Corey, thank you both so much for taking a chance on me as a baby designer. Your desire to spend your days creating beauty was really affirming for me as a new artist in the field. I loved the expectation for collaboration and communication (the foundations of my business today), and that all participants are equals in the process. I’ve tried to bring these lessons to every new client and project since. Please rest in peace and music, dear Bruno. And until we meet again, I’ll be holding y’all in the light.

Modern Refresh {Before and After}

Here at Catherine French Design, we love a good challenge. We were approached last year by a great couple here in Chapel Hill with two small kids.  Who were moving into a new home in Southern Village. With them came a large, contemporary brown leather sectional that they wanted to incorporate into a design for their new space. Inherited with the house was a metallic tiled fireplace. The goal was to elevate this room aesthetically while keeping it kid friendly, relaxed, and functional. Challenge accepted! Welcome to this Modern Refresh project.

Before

Before and After Photos - Before - Modern Refresh - Cat French Design

Welcome to the before. When we first came on board, the first step was to measure and document the existing space. From there we worked through several different layout options, discussed flow, needs of the kids, needs of the adults, and specific functions needed for the space. The size of the existing sectional dictated many of the layout options, and it was quickly determined that the client was happy with the current location of the sectional, but wanted to update all of the other elements in the space.

After

Before and After - After Photo - Cat French Design

We replaced the tired and worn swivel chair with one in a new blue leather to match the new blue hexagonal rug. The Alfa Italia media center stayed streamlined and contemporary but incorporated extra storage for all of the electronic systems with added height and display space for books, boardgames, and family photographs. Textured draperies were hung as well to bring the eye up in the room and to balance the visual weight of the existing sectional.

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Finalist for Micro-Enterprise Business of the Year! {BEA’s}

All the glitz and glam, and this tiny little bee made for an incredible evening for the CFD team. A few years ago when Cat had the vision of starting her own interior design business, she never dreamed in just a short amount of time her success would be honored in the community like it was last Friday night! The BEA, Business Excellence Award, is actually a literal adorable little bee, but represents so much more. The BEA’s are given to the top businesses in the are through the Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce, in several different categories. Though we did not win the cute little bee, being a finalist was a huge deal to Cat and the team. Dozens of companies were nominated, but only three were selected to be a finalist by a team of panelist’s, based growth, community involvement, team members and many other things. The red carpet event included some of the area’s top business owners and it was an honor to just be among them!

Micro-Enterprise BEAs

Catherine French Design was nominated in the Micro-Enterprise Business of the year category. How cool is that? There are hundreds of awesome businesses in our community! The recognition is beyond anything we could have hoped for. Truly truly an honor to be at the ceremony. Thank you to all of our amazing clients that help us continue to grow and be able to receive such recognition. We truly love what we do and love to serve our community.

Business Excellence Awards

Photos by Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce

Catherine French Design is a team of interior design consultants based out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We have provided residential and commercial services in North Carolina and along the Eastern Seaboard.

Eco-Friendly Furniture {Guide}

Living in a Chapel Hill, we have several clients that are often interested in sustainable, eco-friendly products.  Finding truly eco-friendly products especially while searching for higher end furniture can send you down a never ending rabbit hole.  There is a ton of talk about being environmentally friendly, but how much is just that, talk?  We found that we can sort eco-friendly furniture by first reviewing the following 5 criteria.

 Sustainable Wood

Does the company use Forest Stewardship Council®wood? FSC® is a great non-profit group which certifies wood sources that are implementing best practices for sustainable wood harvesting.  Some of the more sustainable wood sources are White Ash, Black Cherry, Mango, Mahogany, Maple, and White Oak.  Some bamboo is sustainable, but depending on where it is grown bamboo can be harvested in a way to aiding in deforestation and can have elevated uses of pesticides and fertilizer.  If you want eco-friendly bamboo make sure to see if that product is FSC®  or Rainforest Alliance certified.

Eco-Friendly Cushion Materials

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Style with Botanicals {How to}

Greenery is one of my favorite ways to add a special touch to any space. Botanicals are great fillers not to mention the pop color is an added touch! Not quite sure how to do it? There are a few things to keep in mind:

CARE

Are you good with plants? I do not have a green thumb at all! Here are some plants that can handle a little bit of neglect if you are more like me.

Snake plant. These are one of the easiest to take care of..or not take care of. Snake plants love to be potted, they can go up to two weeks without water, and the length of their leaves and pattern make an esthetically pleasing touch. Transfer these guys into a colorful pot and you have an easy decorating fix!

Pathos. Growing up, my mom had these everywhere throughout the house. In a large pot they can continue to grow like crazy. In confined pots, they tend to stop at about 6 or so feet long. Pathos drape so beautifully and are so easy to maintain. An added benefit, these vine plants have a reputation for purifying the air.  Throw one of these on a top shelf or cabinet and no need to add trinkets, just watch the greenery spread.

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Rose Gold Room Accents {How to}

Rose Gold seems to be everywhere these days. Whether it’s an iPhone, jewelry, or finger nail polish.  You just can’t walk out in public without seeing little hints of it all over.  This coppery gold metal just looks amazing in so many places including your home and we want to show you just how to pull off pulling a little bit of rose gold into your space.

Rose Gold Accent Tables

Metallic accent tables are always a great way to bring in a new material to a space and help tie it together with other decor. The rose gold frames of these tables provide wonderful color and sheen without dominating a the space.  This is not a material that is often used to take over the look, however, it is a fantastic accent bringing in unique warmth thats softens the space unlike any other metal.

 

Rose Gold Accent Side Table

 

Decor and Accents

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5 Colorful Kitchens We Love [instagram]

Navy and gray cabinets appear in kitchens all over the places and seem to be all the rage these days. Below are a few kitchens we found on Instagram that we thought you might love. We think updating your kitchen to something like one these will make your home feel fantastic.  Hopefully, 1 of these 5 kitchens are going to provide you some wonderful inspiration kick starting your project.

First

First, it is hard to go wrong with navy shaker cabinets, quartz counter tops and gold hardware.  Top it off with large scale pendants, oversized island, herringbone floors, funky bar stools and you have yourself a kitchen that makes your friends jealous.

Second

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A Touch of Hollywood {Style Guide}

Give ’em the old razzle dazzle. That’s always been my mantra. Not really. But I do love a classic, fancy interior. After all, I watched all 7 seasons of Mad Men on Netflix and most of the time I was just salivating over the sets and wanting a little of the look for myself. Do you inappropriately fawn over the styles of old too? Great! Here are some ways of bringing a touch of Hollywood to your modern home.

Bringing Back Classic Hollywood Interiors

Hollywood Living

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Material Trend { Marble }

Marble has been everywhere recently. Despite being around for quite some time, this beautiful stone made a big comeback in not only fashion and product design (they make marble Mac covers, after all) but also showed up everywhere in interiors. The luxurious texture and veining of marble provides a richness to a living or dining room and can be incorporated in small ways to achieve a big impact. Bringing this material trend into your space is as easy as 1-2-3.

 

Marble can be used in all kinda of home decor: lamps, platters, tables, etc.

 

The products we love:

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Blue is the New Black {Hot Trend}

You know what time it is… TREND ALERT TIME. Color is probably one of the most impactful ways of affecting the overall feeling of an interior space. Whether you’re going for a sense of airiness, edge, energy, or calm, the hues you use can get you there. We’ve noticed a trend this year towards, you guessed it, navy blue. Pushing black out of the way, navy has taken on the role of being the dark neutral we all need. Blue is the new black.

Navy Blue Tufted headboard with navy duvet and sheets

In the bedroom

Navy brings the drama in dark walls, bedding, and upholstered headboards. Restoration Hardware takes the color to new heights with an over-the-top tufted bed.

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