> Michael's Book
LET'S ASK MICHAEL
You Asked Him,
Now He's Answering!
Through e-mails, internet chats, and attendance at his
seminars, Michael's fans have directly asked him to
solve their most difficult design dilemnas. His new
book delivers the answers they seek in a style that
captures Michael's trademark wit and charm. Each
page is packed with beautiful full-color pictyures that
literally bring his answers to life. Questions range
from the common to the outrageous, providing for
always informative - and often amusing - reading.
My wife and I are in the process of redoing our
master bedroom, and are considering opening the
ceiling. What are the advantages of doing this, and
should we be mindful to fill the space with different
types of furniture? I'm worried opening it will create
a completely different feeling in the room that will
make our old furniture look out of place.
Charlie and Fannie
Opening up the ceiling dramatically affects the occupant's experience in
the room. Most people live in a world of ceiling heights between 8 nd 9
feet, so one's spirits positiovely soar upon entering a cathedral, hotel atrium,
airport terminal, or other space with lofty ceilings of 50 feet or more.
In a home, ceilings of approximately 20 feet or more are becoming
High ceilings in the home present new challenges. Maintaining a consistent
temperature in a room with high ceilings presents a difficulty
because you rish heating the ceiling rafters instead of your feet. Fans do
an excellent job of keeping the air circulating, as do vents in both the
ceiling and the floor.
Effectrively lighting large spaces often requires utilization of nearly every
form of lighting appliance. Recessed lighting can be used whether the
ceiling is flat or angled, but are not terribly cozy, and they also create a
large amount of glare. A chandelier can work beautifully, as it will cast
light up onto the ceiling as well as fill the room with light, and bedside
table lamps are crucial for filling the room out with light. Dedicated picture
lights are typically the best means of illuminationg art. All lights in the
room should be on individual dimmers.
The beautiful bedroom pictured at left is a fine example of
scale. The soaring ceiling amplified by the heavy, hand-
hewn beams creates a volume more cozy that cav-
ernous. The tall four poster bed fits perfectly in the
space, as do the towering carved display cabi-
net, the large leather chair, ottoman, and
huge mirror. The impersonal feeling large
rooms often impart can be diminished by
countering size with size.
I alwayslove rooms that have a lot of stone work in them ...
they look so sturdy, so stalwart, and sensible. I'm redoing my kitchen, and I don't want to be afraid
to spill some soup or drop an egg for fear of ruining the space. How do you suggest, Michael, I work a
heavy stone theme into my new kitchen?
You are fortunate to love a material that is both practical and beautiful, and your kitchen is
the perfect p;lace to enjoy all of its virtues. There are at least four
places where stone can be used. The first is counters, which would ideally be
sealed marble or granite, but could also be a sealed limestone or soapstone.
The second place is the backsplash, which can either be the same as the
counter's material, or a contrasting material. Third, if you have a hood, you can
consider covering it with stone, and it can pick up the colors of the splash, colors
of the wall, or something completely different. Finally, the floor can be finished
in any of a multitude of stone sizes and variations. Slate is particularly
practical because it does not show dirt, is non-skid, and comes in a wide range
of neutral colors. If you have a breakfast nook, consider something unique
like a marble mosaic top.
I just got back from a trip with my husband to South Africa and now am inspired to
recreate the Serengeti. We are about to redo our home office and I would like to
use this theme in the room. I want nature tones, animal prints, and everything else
that will remind me of the trip.
My husband does not share my vision. He thinks
animal prints are tacky and that we should redo our office in a conservative style.
Can you help me with this debate?
Vaness and Ben
There is ample room for compromise here. I can fully understand why your husband
believes an office should be conservative, because nearly everyu office in our society
adheres to a conservative ideal. I can also understand why you would want to recreate
a lasting memory of your fabulous trip. As with most interior design dilemnas, you can have both.
Make the cabinetry throughout the room a richly stained wood and maximize the efficiency
of the space. It can be less office-like by the use of cabinet pulls, and accessorized
by native baskets for holding office supplies and waste. Animal prints can be used on the
sofas, chairs, pillows and throws. If used sparingly, they will avoid appearing tacky.
The walls of this room can be adorned with pictures of your trip or art reminiscent of
the experience. Finally, find a beautiful animal-themed table to finish off the room.
I have seen them in a variety of animal themes, such as lions, elephants, and monkeys.