Since the beginning of time, lilies have played significant roles in allegorical tales concerning the sacrament of motherhood. Roman mythology links it to Juno, the queen of the gods. The story goes that while Juno was nursing her son Hercules, excess milk fell from the sky. Although part of it remained above the earth (thus creating the group of stars known as the Milky Way), the remainder fell to the earth, creating lilies. Another tradition has it that the lily sprang from the repentant tears of Eve as she went forth from Paradise.
The pure white lily has long been closely associated with the Virgin Mary. In early
paintings, the Angel Gabriel is pictured extending to the Virgin Mary a branch of pure white lilies, announcing that she is to be the mother of the Christ Child. In other paintings, saints are pictured bringing vases full of white lilies to Mary and the infant Jesus. St. Joseph is depicted holding a lily-branch in his hand, indicating that his wife Mary was a virgin.
The legend is told that when the Virgin Mary’s tomb was visited three days after her burial, it was found empty save for bunches of majestic white lilies. Early writers and artists made the lily the emblem of the Annunciation, the Resurrection of the Virgin: the pure white petals signifying her spotless body and the golden anthers her soul glowing with heavenly light….
A mark of purity and grace throughout the ages, the regal white lily is a fitting symbol of the greater meaning of Easter. Gracing millions of homes and churches, the flowers embody joy, hope and life.
Athena just completed a fun, contemporary, inner-coastal property that has direct beach and gulf water access. It is our 5th client in the same neighborhood and this one turned out completely different, unique and truly is a one of a kind! Please enjoy a few before and after pictures to see how our client wanted new life breathed into their 40 year old space!
The achievement of comfort in the home where one can relax, feel at peace and be happy is the best accomplishment, right? No matter how big or small, after designing pied-a-terres that range from 1000 square feet to beach side mansions of 25,000 square feet…your home is where your heart is. I know first hand from moving clients this summer from large spaces to small and small to large, that the best compliment to hear is, “I’m so comfortable and I feel so happy here”. If the human heart is not happy an urge to keep searching for those creature comforts will cause one to edit and refine one’s environment until comfort is achieved.
I’ve never met anyone completely comfortable after buying a “spec” home. The razzle dazzle of the first impression may have sparked the interest to buy the property, but that seems to quickly wear off if the surroundings don’t meet our inner personal needs that everyone has. Our true and independent idea of comfort and style need to be fulfilled. That personal mark has a passion to override what doesn’t feel right or isn’t comfortable. We see every day in Naples multi-million dollar homes selling completely furnished but shortly after move in, the art and some if not all of the furnishings quickly make it to the closest consignment shop.
It’s more than just decorating or designing a space; its about listening to what makes our clients comfortable that drives Odyssey Interior Design. Add this to our vision and passion and we can meet our clients’ expectations.
Each client I have met and had the pleasure to work with is so completely different from the next. We are not famous for a particular style, the style we design is completely client driven. We are constantly eager to find that true passion in our clients heart for what makes their home a special place for them, their personal style. I love that I can see a fabric and think only of one client that might like it. I love seeing a particular piece of art that screams another client’s name.
I cut every fabric sample right out of the book; its makes my clients cringe, but once chosen for a particular project it’s impossible to imagine another project with the same intent. I must say after trying to use a fabric twice, it always harvests for me the name and personality of the first client to have it, and it is always dropped from the conceptual design phase before ever using it again!
On a daily basis, we flip through books and open up mail to see the latest introduction from a manufacturer and each particular print or color we see, we all know exactly which client’s name is on it! Buyers of large showrooms must be remain impersonal to attract the “general public”, but as a personal design firm like ours, we can focus on every detail, right down to a fringe that we know may be over the top for one client or the icing on the cake for another.
Beyond the decorations; an emotion is established. A home has to have that great feeling, a positive emotion and unseen truth that everything is just right. It’s not taught in text books but learned by experience. Recently on a job site visit all the drawings in the world could never explain the outcome of real human perspective; how it was really going to look. So confused the carpenter stared and questioned, “But how?” My reply was, “Maybe it was just divine intervention”.
Photo courtesy of Bill Earls
The earliest documented account of an exhibition of projected motion pictures in the United States was in June 1894 in Richmond, Indiana by Charles Francis Jenkins. Jenkins used his Phantoscope to project his film before an audience of family, friends and reporters. The film featured a vaudeville dancer performing a Butterfly Dance. Jenkins and his new partner Thomas Armat modified the Phantoscope for exhibitions in temporary theaters at the Cotton States Exposition in the fall of 1895. The Phantoscope was later sold to Thomas Edison whom changed the name of the projector to Edison’s Vitascope. With the Vitascope, Edison began public showings of his films at a music hall called Koster and Bials on 34th Street in New York City on April 23, 1896.
Close to 120 years have passed since that quaint period of innovation and the movie industry is one of the largest industries in the world, integrated into every aspect of our lives. With the transformative technology offered today for the home theatres, the cinema at home is a high sought luxury.
I remember our first home theater; it was a giant white screen that pivoted and pulled up into place on a nifty tripod stand, with a reel projector set on a load of books atop the cocktail table to get the projection in decent alignment with the screen. Of course the whole time while Dad got it square with the screen, us kids composed the bunny and dog shadow show performance as the opening entertainment! We watched home movies and claymation movies of dinosaurs attacking, and eating my Hot Wheels that my brother and his friend worked pain staking long hours on, to produce a 5 minute movie!
Today I find myself designing spectacular home theaters. The movie screen and projectors are getting traded in for super huge flat screens, speakers with maximum surround with cleverly designed sound-proof walls and columns. One of my favorite theaters that I designed looked like this: I lined the walls with red mohair and furnished the room with motorized reclining yellow leather chairs. The theme was Lamborghini Yellow and Ferrari Red. It was sharp! That’s what’s so great about the home theater! You can pull out all the stops; it doesn’t have to conform in style to all of the other rooms of your home. It can have a zest of its own. I appreciate a common thread, or theme to the home decor, but you can certainly pile on the gilding the intensity of color and showmanship of fabrics in this room.
The cat’s meow, if you will, is the home automation of all the moving parts! Being able to have the shades drop, the screen drapery open, the lights dim and the movie turn on, with the press of a single button on the remote…that is awesome right? In fact, this technology has been around a long time…over 15 years. Twinkly fiber optics for a starry night, concealed step illumination and pretty sconces are just some of the lighting techniques that can offer light in the dimmed room. From motorized reclining seats with individual cup holders built in, to comfortable chenille covered sectionals with oversized floor pillows, there are endless options to the seating configurations to suit your movie viewing style and comfort. How we watch the movie, the movie is ever evolving technology. The Star Wars 3D video from R2D2’s chest appearing in midair is really the only thing I can think of that needs to be accomplished for real; possibly it already does, but I have not had the pleasure to design a home theater around that yet! The word theater typically being reserved for real actors on a stage: for now it should referred to as the “Home Cinema.” The same screen that will someday be antiquated and our children’s children will laugh at the thought of the way it looked in the old days!
I think the thing I miss most of the “old days” of movie watching in my house was the smell; apparently it’s called vinegar syndrome, which is the decomposing of the acetate film breaking down. Doesn’t sound like a nice smell to miss, but whatever the old projector and film fumes were, it’s still pretty distinct in my mind and carries fond memories of my mom sitting poolside looking like a young starlet in her 1960’s bikini and cat eye sunglasses! I can see my children writing about “that old, big, black, flat screen on the wall that looked like a stagnant portal to another dimension when turned off, on the biggest wall of the house!”
For now though, we do have great products, lighting, technology, and furnishing that make a superb home cinema for a residence that can afford the space to dedicate it solely to the viewing of movies. relaxed space. I love the opportunity to design this carefree and relaxed space.
After 20 years of working in Interior Design in Naples, Florida, I was asked to compile a number of articles as a contributing editor of Luxury Home Design for Portfolio Magazine. As you can imagine it was a tremendous amount of work to write the stories and to gather vendor products for all the articles. In an effort not to lose all the articles we decided to compile them into one place: right here on this blog!
When visiting our showroom ones day, and I’ve never forgotten it, he said, “You do a lot of meaningful work, you never try to outgrow yourselves” he said positively, then continued with a smile of encouragement “you guys sure know how to keep it lean and mean”. It was very powerful words and to be clear, lean didn’t refer to any current diet trend and mean didn’t refer to any ruthless personalities! In contraire, he as others could clearly see our client driven concentration and determined work ethic on our design projects.
Our clients get the designer they hired as their project leader, me, Athena Thompson, they get a great and very creative, effective and experienced design assistant, Alyssa Krukow and they get a great guy (my husband to boot), JR, to take care of any jobsite concerns or help with anything to be picked up, wrapped up, delivered or hung! We are all about keeping it small, keeping it real and proud to be the only firm needed in the hearts of those who hire us! Please feel free to make an apointment by calling us at 239-325-9402 or for even more company info. visit our web page at www.odysseyinteriordesign.com
Photo by Bill Earls
A beautifully designed outside space is just as important and sometimes even more spiritual and thought evoking than any four walled room. When I started my artistic journey in design school in Toronto I never imagined that I would also design driveways, private court yards and pool areas too, all of which incorporate elements of landscape architecture. Many times as a professional Interior Designer, I am asked to help with the landscape plan. Despite not being formally trained as a Landscape Architect I have gained significant knowledge of the craft by rolling up my sleeves and learning by doing, taking pride in the fact that I have a keen perspective of the benefits for my clients and the design process that carefully incorporated plants, lights and water features, can provide. Nevertheless, partnering with a professional landscape architect is important; their knowledge is significant and to be able to enhance their design decisions for the benefit of my clients creates added value.
We have a magnificent tropical atmosphere with growing green foliage 365 days a year. We have temperatures that are welcoming to an outdoor living environment, why not take heed of this this great gift and really invite the outdoors in and the indoors out.
Some large homes have giant pocketing sliders that I have a keen perspective of the benefits for my clients and the design process that carefully incorporated plants, lights and homes have giant pocketing sliders that pocket into the wall and make both spaces act as one. But to truly do this successfully, the outdoor needs to flow seamlessly off this threshold.
By understanding the thematic reasons for a certain design, I can articulate the
needs of my clients. Some important questions I like to review with my clients before the design process begins are: do you need adequate sun worshiping space
and cool breezy spaces? Is there a need for a secret garden space for privacy and meditation? Do you like to gather with groups for BBQs and share good times around the fire pit? How do you intend to use your pool; will there be a hot tub or chaise lounge shelf? How much noise reduction does the property need, are water features and fountains necessary to dull the sound of a nearby roadway? Is privacy and safety required, especially with a pool and getting appropriately designed fencing.
Beyond the basics of creating a design layout, a theme should be considered so all
the materials, both hard and soft speak to the design intent. Pathways, pool decks, water tiles, and garden structures need materials chosen in coordination with a color and scheme in mind. Adding layers of plantings and the location of each garden can reflect the hierarchical nature of your design theme too, whether it be “country”, “tropical”, “formal” or even “modern.”
In addition, lighting design can be used to set the mood for any occasion. This could range from LED colors in the pool, up-lights into the canopy of giant trees, little side walk path way lights or formal lamps. And when the atmosphere is set, possibly a piece of garden art or garden folly, for a little mystical joy. These elements can range from a simple garden sculpture to a magnificent focal point!
As many of you know now, I grew up in Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario; the grounds of the Niagara peninsula are painstakingly well manicured by the Niagara parks commission from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. I spent much of my youth traversing the escarpment, parks, gorges, and botanical gardens that line the 36 miles of the Niagara River.
My mom to boot loved to have flowers and plenty of them, every spring we had to go to the nursery and get pallets upon pallets of flowers for the garden, hanging pots and planters area. In addition to the annuals we always had great garden perennials of roses and tulips and hydrangeas that lined the full length of the front drive. In addition to the flowers, a food garden was always very bountiful at our house. Like the wine cellar, it too prompted a little Italian family friendly competition between my dad and my “Zios” (uncles) gardens! Though ours was hugely abundant, I have to give the trophy to my Zio Enzo who always had a super bountiful raspberry garden. After 30 years he still keeps a small patch for me to enjoy. Last time we visited Niagara we missed the harvest, but it did not stop my Zia from hanging little baskets of raspberries from the branches so my kids could experience a raspberry pick! Regardless of who grew what; I spent many days with my dad till- ing and prepping and planting. Later staking then picking and eat- ing! Did I mention watering and watering and watering…it seemed like a chore I was never done with!
After all that time, you would think I would have a green thumb; but I pass that award on to my husband. JR has the ability to pick a dried looking old root, stick it in the dirt and it miraculously begins to grow…I always tell him, he truly has the green thumb in the family. I love our back yard, we have been working on evolving the space for years, just when I think it might finally be done, there is another metamorphosis!
Your backyard is another world, private and kind without noise or interruption. You should be able to enjoy the garden, build memories in the garden, heighten your spirit in the garden and become one with nature in your garden. After all, it’s not just a garden…its le jardin!
When we think of the hub of our home, the place where the day starts and the last lights are turned off at night, we think of the kitchen. Most of my readers now know that I grew up in an Italian family. There wasn’t a day that went by “la Cucina” was not in full motion with the sounds of pots tinker- ing on the counter, simmering of onions, garlic and fresh cut herbs waft- ed up the stairs and throughout the house; undeniably you knew that something good was brewing in the kitchen!
Working as an Interior Designer on high end, luxury homes I have had the opportunity to specify the best appliances and plumbing fixtures available on the market. I have designed several homes with 5 foot long gas ranges to 5 foot long sinks and six feet of refrigerator and freezer combinations positioned side by side! How does it all fit you ask? In a really big house of course! Generally if you need a kitchen this big your home already accommodates several guests and you are probably going to have big parties of people even if it’s not a party! Service of many plates from appetizer to desert, many glasses from aperitif to champagne, espresso to cappuccino cups and everything in between, all which need to be stored somewhere. Most importantly, a minimum of two to three dishwashers to assist with clean up when the day is done!
One of the design services my husband JR and I introduced to our company was becoming a cabinet dealer, not only can I design it, we can order and install custom specific kitchens for our clients too. I have witnessed multi-million dollar properties that had kitchens missing the essentials! From a trash pull out, utensil divider drawers to pull out storage are just naming a few of the obvious needed items that went regrettably overlooked! When I design a kitchen with my clients, we study how you will use your kitchen, I make you think about where you would want to turn from the sink to dishwasher, to loading of the cabinets and where you would chop and prep with distance to appliances and trash. I study the complete ergonomics and space planning to make sure you can open your appliance doors to full swing and still navigate around them. I’ve seen the mistake in homes where you and the design works. It’s time to dress it up and make it beautiful. The options and combinations are absolutely endless. From wood to stone floors, the plethora of granite and solid surfaces to endless choices of decorative backslashes. Designing the style of your kitchen is a huge undertaking no matter how big or small, the price is significantly disproportional to the rest of the house for the most part and each decision is very important! My thoughts are to make sure the style of the kitchen cabinets is in keeping with the style of your home and the rest of your interior decor. Whether your look is modern or traditional, in an open or compartmentalized floor plan, the kitchen should blend in style, color and theme to the rest of your home. Picking out door profiles and colors seem daunting enough, but don’t forget the decorative hardware and decorative lighting which are the continued layers that speak and sometimes sing to the overall design style.
If you can have a great kitchen and you know how to use it to boot, you have the one of the greatest joys in life. “La Cucina” is the hub of the home, a place to bring everyone together as chef, sous chef or spectator to enjoy the culinary arts. It is rewarding and enjoyable when you accomplish a satisfying and tasty meal. Not everyone is a Cordon Bleu graduate but you can certainly be “Master Chef ” of your own domain. This coming holiday season, from our kitchen to yours, we wish you, your family and friends an enjoyable and memorable gathering around “La Cucina”.
“La tavola,” or simply the table, is a place where we gather with family and friends to join in a meal. The dining room is a place where we appreciate good food, fine wine, and great company. As we near the holidays, the dining room will become the spectacle and shining jewel of the home. The lights will be turned on, the linens will be pressed, and the fine china, crystal, and silverware will find its way out of the tomb to reveal a spectacular presentation. All of this occurs before the first crumb is ever prepared.
In most high-end homes, the luxury dining room will service a minimum of ten to fourteen guests. Lighting a long dining table is an art; a crucial and integral part of the design. The chandelier, the magnificent statement it is, is only there for mood lighting, and should have low candle output and sparkle only as an accessory – not serving as the task lighting for the room.
I have designed many custom residences with luxurious dining rooms, and while it seems pretty straight forward, proper ergonomics is essential. One needs to consider service of food, the overall extension of the chair when a guest is seated, and the elbow room from guest to guest. In addition, the design must respect the flow of food service from the kitchen or adjoining butler’s pantry. Will there be hired servers in larger parties, and how will the servers maneuver to present and remove dishes? Unlike a commercial restaurant, where you expect to see the action, this is your home, and we must consider the other 350+ days of the year that the dining room is just a lovely space in the residence.
I grew up sitting at the dining room table for every single meal. It was an Italian household, where the dining table is the center of the kitchen in place of an island; it sat eight to ten comfortably. A chef’s table, if you will, steps from the cantina where new barrels of wine were made every year, and prosciutto and salami hung from the ceiling! It was not a catered kitchen, but the chef of the night, Mom or Dad, had full command of the meal presentation and preparation. Timing was everything so the food was always served at the perfect temperature! As our family grew in size, so did the dining room. Now, choices that are different. The buffet, chandelier, and artwork on the walls can and should make a special statement. These furnishings are the focal point, the “pop” of interest that can easily change the room’s styling from common to unique and memorable. Let your personality have more freedom when selecting these “artistic” pieces, it’s an opportunity to reflect your personality into your social gathering place! The finale to “la tavola” is a great centerpiece and stunning tableware. It’s nice to have a staple design, a floral or everyday arrangement, but these are decorative items that can be changed easily to get into the spirit of the season!
This Thanksgiving, I hope you all have a great time with your loved ones around “la tavola,” no matter how big or small, have plenty of thanks for all of your blessings. Our early American settlers did not have Versace decor, but they certainly had all that was needed for a historically memorable event!
In most homes, Le Bain or the bathroom’s sole purpose is that of convenience and utility. Yet when it comes to high-end homes, I have had the privilege to design very detailed and intricate master ensuites that showcase hundreds of square feet of prestige and pure luxury!
Based upon my experience, one has unlimited options when designing a luxurious master bathroom. Unique opportunities abound, ranging from customized “his and her” vanities with intricate interior cabinet detailing to storage spaces for powered gadgets or flat screen televisions hidden behind mirrors. There are endless selections of bath and jetted tubs in every style and size and marvelous showerhead combinations that provide enough bells and whistles that they qualify as a human car wash.
Let us not forget the chance for great lighting, especially for the ladies. Who wants a bad shadow when applying make-up? Aside from functionality, efficient and effective lighting design has the ability to create a warm atmosphere, producing a unique mood from morning to night. From tile details to frameless glass shower enclosures, planning and designing a true luxury master bathroom requires attention to detail and properly executed specifications, making it one of the most highly detailed rooms in your home.
After twenty years of experience in Interior Design, I find it truly fascinating that without fail the powder room is the crown jewel of every luxury residence. A small jewel box of “bling”, where vanities are specially made furniture pieces, countertops are dressed in precious stones, sinks and faucets let loose as the most unique and memorable functional pieces of art. Decorative mirrors dress the walls while unique sconces and miniature chandeliers are the icing on the cake! Not to mention the bountiful selection of wallpapers, faux finishes to trumpe ‘loiels, artistically setting the visitor of the powder room on a new adventure in just one quick visit.
I always enjoy the design challenges of these intricate spaces. When the opportunity presents itself and you are remodeling or designing a home from the ground up, it is important to study the plumbing selections early and plan with your designer and general contractor accordingly. Many unique plumbing selections require advance planning for a successful installation. This remains especially true for faucets that are wall mounted, sinks that resemble bowls and stand proud off the counter to body sprays that are ergonomically laid out to the comfort height of your own physical form. I personally measure my clients’ thigh, lower back and shoulder height and specify this in my drawings to get the wall mounted body spays just perfect!
Material selections are also important for the styling and coordination of cabinetry, counter tops and tile. Selecting resilient stones and non-slip surfaces can sound generic but with Mother Nature’s bountiful selection of natural materials the possibilities are truly endless. I tend to start with what the earth naturally has produced and has found itself on a showroom wall as the selection of counters and flooring. I pick cabinetry next, as various wood species react differently to stains and glazes and can be mixed and combined to make the perfect compliment. Never ignore the overall design of your residence, for future resale you want your luxury bath to feel like it is in harmony with the rest of your home’s style. Nevertheless, the powder room is the ultimate exception; where ones imagination and budget can soar wild and free. It is not just the bathroom anymore; it is Le Bain!
Le Grand Salon, a unique and notable space, not found in every home. In fact, some luxury homes I’ve had the pleasure to design have steered away from including this space or they’ve minimized it to such an extent it could be considered as an expanded foyer, or enhanced greeting area.
I have had the opportunity to design some magnificent Grande Salons and they are precisely that: grand! From the grand piano, to grand fireplace with grand soaring ceilings, considerable planning is routinely involved as all details are meticulously crafted, leaving little to chance. A great analogy regarding the Grande Salon and the family room would be to compare it to someone dressed in a fine tuxedo or elegant evening gown, formality, and prestige abound while a family room evokes casual attitudes and utility; one can envision kicking back their heels on a plush leather sofa in their favorite pair of jeans. The formal Grande Salon and the casual family room fundamentally reside at opposite ends of the spectrum.
With that said; why have a Grande Salon at all? It sounds pretension, can be too big and many owners complain that it’s rarely used. After all, it’s generally a faux pas to put a TV in the salon so what could it possibly be good for! It’s a place to have tea while the philanthropist in you dishes out a check for you beloved organizations, it’s a place for your guests to sip an aperitif with hors d’oeuvres, and it’s a place to listen to your grand piano as the notes waft into the magically high ceiling above. But most of all, it’s a great place for a grand Christmas tree with thousands of twinkle lights, stunning glass balls and sparkly ribbon.
We don’t have a Grande Salon in our humble 1960’s “cottage”, but I love to hear how clients might be using them in their homes, so please share your stories! Perhaps you may use the Salon to pose for an artist portrait or maybe you just like swinging from the chandeliers!
I find staging Le Grande Salon to come naturally to me based upon my background in Theater design. As a Theater designer, one is focused on setting the mood by creating an environment with proper furnishings, custom details, and effective lighting. Since Le Grande Salon is generally used on special occasions and is viewed as a showcase piece as guests enter the front door, this room must remain “on duty” and ready at all times. With proper design, one would only need to whisper, “lights, curtain, action” and with a swift touch of a button your home can be transformed for “entertain” mode, as you stand charmingly by the front door welcoming in your guests! “Darling, the Culbertson’s are here.” (A line from my favorite Chevy Chase movie “Funny Farm”.)
Since this room is barely touched and is generally off limits to kids and pets, beautiful and collectible items may adorn the shelves, imported hand knotted rugs of wool, silk may grace the floor and an incredibly carved stone fireplace with above mantel detail that may stretch to the heavens. The Grand Piano positioned lovingly into the corner with lid posted high, showing off its strings, dazzling chandelier, and usually a magnificent and striking painting tells us all about your dignified and special taste. I adore le Grande Salon and if you want to crash on the sofa, you have the wrong idea; this room is for proper etiquette only!