Looking Back on 2015: Top 5 Best Articles from Ourso Designs this Year

Let us take a look back at Ourso Designs in 2015. Here are our 5 most popular articles from this past year. Just wait till you see what the year 2016 will bring.

1. Shelves: From Built-Ins to Floating

2. How to Arrange Furniture

3. The Freestanding Tub: “A Newfound Stature”

4. Ceilings to Look Up To

5. Shot-Gun Houses

Looking Back on 2015: Best Trends of the Year

Let us reminisce on all of the best trends from 2015. We can’t wait to share with you what great trends 2016 will have to offer!



“Chinoiserie: the imitation or evocation of Chinese motifs and techniques in Western art, furniture, and architecture, especially in the 18th century.

Some characterstics of Chinoiserie style constists of: 























Industry Ed with Richard: Kitchen and Bath Guideline Series

In this post we will discuss the NKBA Kitchen and Bathroom Planning Guidelines, by first stating the guidelines and then pointing out their importance and giving insight on solutions and practices based on my industry experience. Find out more about NKBA here.

Refrigerator Standards

My Experience

  • The standard refrigerator size is 36″ wide by 69″ tall.
  • They do come in many sizes though, and the scope of the space in which it resides and the needs of your family will determine what size refrigerator is best for you.
  • Often times the fridge sits alone with cabinets built around it, to the side and sometimes atop. A new trend seen lately is a completely built-in refrigerator. These refrigerator doors look like the rest of the cabinets and so therefore the fridge looks like it is apart of your cabinets and is hidden a bit.
  • Another kind of refrigerator seen lately is the kind that comes in “colums” of 18″, 24″, and 36″ wide. Each column is a part of the fridge that has a specific purpose and you can piece them together to make one refrigerator. You can pick and choose what you need. This is a great way to customize your fridge according to your lifestyle needs.
  • Also, when refrigerator shopping, I suggest you get a refrigerator that has a separate compressor for the fridge and the freezer. This makes the cooling of the fridge more efficient and the food lasts longer.
  • It is important that you don’t let your fridge become too big for your space. If you need more refrigerator space, consider having a second refrigerator in a butler’s pantry or garage.
  • Remember when space planning your kitchen that your fridge must sit off the wall to allow for water hookup. This will vary with each manufacturer.

 ***See example of a column fridge in the picture below.

History Lesson: B306 Chaise Lounge

Design: 1928
Production: since 1930
Manufacturer: Thonet Frères, Paris
Size: c. 70 x 56.6 x 156 cms
Material: chrome-plated and varnished
steel, fabric, steel springs, rubber

“Le Corbusier, Jeanneret, and Perriand designed a multifunctional structure which made the reclining surface, fixed on a pair of bows, independent of the base. Since this section rests loosely on the H-shaped supports of the base, its inclination can be adjusted continuously. The rubber sleeves around the crossbeam of the support prevent slipping when someone uses the chaise longue. When the reclining surface is lifted off the base, the bows serve as runners for a rocking recliner. The three created different pieces of furniture such as a swivel stool, tables, armchairs, and a chaise longue. Included among these designs, which are all highly regarded today, is this chaise longue which is undoubtedly one of the most famous items of twentiethcentury furniture.
In this photo is one of the 3 designers, Charlotte Perriand on the B306 Chaise Lounge. An interesting fact about Charlotte Perriand: “When the 24 year old Charlotte Perriand strode into Le Corbusier’s studio at 35 rue de Sèvres, Paris in 1927, and asked him to hire her as a furniture designer, his response was terse. “We don’t embroider cushions here, he replied and showed her the door. A few months later Le Corbusier apologized. After being taken by his cousin Pierre Jeanneret to see the glacial Bar sous le Toît, or rooftop bar that Perriand had created in glass, steel and aluminium, for the Salon D’Automne exhibition in Paris, Le Corbusier invited her to join his studio.”


A Visit to Detroit: Stunning Architectural Ruins

My husband and I made a drive to see some family in Michigan for Thanksgiving. My mom is from there and much of my family still resides there. My husband and I decided to extend our trip so that we could see both Chicago and Detroit. We chose to visit Detroit specifically for its wonderful historic eye-candy. As a designer, I have always been interested in historic restoration, always daydreaming about abandoned buildings and how they could be revitalized and re-integrated into our future, and so I couldn’t resist a visit to Detroit because of its vast amount of stunning architectural ruins.

A Brief History of Detroit:

“Detroit was founded in 1701 by the French and was settled along what is now known as the Detroit River, which connects Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie. The settlement was a fur-trading outpost, and fell to the British in 1760.

After American independence, Detroit was incorporated as a town in 1802. A fire in 1805 destroyed 299 of the towns 300 buildings.” 
  • It was after this fire a Father Gabriel Richard said, “We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes.” This has become the cities official motto. 

“Territorial Governor Judge Augustus Woodward laid out a plan to rebuild the city, featuring public squares and circular parks based on the model of Washington D.C. Woodward established a state university, the University of Michigan, in 1817 in Detroit.
In the 1850s, Detroit began building railroad cars, ships and stoves, and major industries were established that exploited Michigans vast resources of iron ore, copper and water. The population surged from 2,222 in 1830 to 79,577 in 1870.
In 1908,  Henry Ford built the first Model T, and cars quickly became popular. In 1914, Ford ran the first assembly line, at his factory in Highland Park, offering the unheard-of wage of $5 a day for eight hours work. By 1921 Ford had produced more than 5 million cars. The citys population more than doubled from 1910 to 1920, reaching nearly a million people, as workers from the South and across the country and the world came for jobs in the automobile plants.
The 1920s were a time of unprecedented prosperity for Detroit. The booming city was a metaphor for American opportunity. For decades, it enjoyed the highest percentage of home ownership in the nation. Huge, ornate theaters were built downtown for movies and stage shows. The J.L. Hudson department store was one of the worlds biggest and most famous. The city developed a superb system of streetcars and trolleys.
The Great Depression of the 1930s hit Detroit hard initially, but the automobile industry survived. The modern movement for labor unions began with a famous battle between organizers and police at the Ford River Rouge plant in 1937.
During World War II the auto companies converted their factories in short order to production of planes and tanks. Major shifts occurred in Detroits demographics after World War II. The post-war economic boom was accompanied by the construction of a network of freeways that decimated Detroits old neighborhoods while making possible the exponential growth of suburbs. For a while downtown Detroit remained the thriving center of the metropolitan area, and its population peaked at 2.1 million in the late 1950s. 
But as more prosperous people fled the city and left poorer ones behind, racial tensions heightened. They exploded in the infamous 1967 riots, which left dozens dead and hastened white flight. The city plunged into a long decline, as key components of business, industry and culture shifted to the suburbs. 
The automobile industry was hit hard by a severe recession caused by rising oil prices and competition from Japanese imports. Factories in the city closed and thousands of good-paying jobs for unskilled workers disappeared, never to return.
The growth of the suburbs has permanently changed the citys landscape. Most jobs, hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and entertainment facilities are now outside the city limits, creating a sprawling metropolitan area that remains heavily dependent on the automobile. Yet a more unified approach to the areas problems and prospects has civic leaders optimistic. Detroit retains its rich cultural treasures, its vibrant entertainment and dining scene, and above all its strength as a genuine melting pot, with immigrants from around the world bringing their own cuisine and traditions and religions. It has proven to be a resilient place and one of Americas greatest cities.”

For a more detailed history click here.

Fisher Body Plant No. 21, architect Albert Kahn, 1919Fisher Body Plant No. 21, architect Albert Kahn, 1919

Vanity Ballroom, architect Charles N. Agree,1929

Woodward Presbyterian, architect Sidney Rose Badgley, 1908

Ford Motor Company Model T Headquarters, architects Albert Kahn and Edward Gray, 1910Source

Highland Park Police Station (a city within Detroit’s borders), architect Van Leyen, Schilling & Keough, 1917. Demolished 2012Source

Belle Isle Aquarium, architect Albert Kahn, 1904

Michigan Theatre, architects Rapp and Rapp, 1926. Now a parking garageSource

Eastown Theatre interior, architect V.J. Waiver, 1930

The Farwell Building, architects Bonnah & Chaffee, the Russel Wheel and Foundry Company and Tiffany Studios of New York, 1915Source

 The metropolitan area of Detroit and its surrounding neighborhoods are rich in Romanesque, Beaux Arts, Neo-Classical, Neo-Renaissance and Italian Renaissance Architecture, as well as Modern, Postmodern and Contemporary Modern Architectural Styles. The downtown areas consist of high-rise buildings, while the majority of the surrounding city consists of low-rise structures and single-family homes. The city’s neighborhoods constructed prior to World War II feature the architecture of the times, with wood frame and brick houses, larger brick homes in middle-class neighborhoods, and ornate mansions throughout the city’s many historic districts and nearby suburbs.

*** Now I feel I should note that not ALL of Detroit is in ruins. Much of it is still very much alive an thriving and preserved! Check out these homes in some of Detroit’s nicest neighborhoods.

Some Historic Neigborhoods Include:

Indian Village

Bosten-Edison & Arden Park
* The neighborhood where Henry Ford lived.

Palmer Woods

North Rosedale Park

Now here are some of the abandoned homes we saw as we roamed the city.

A beautiful home, in Detroit’s Mid-town, turned into a fancy restaurant.

My husband and I. It snowed on one of the days we were there. What a beautiful church in the background; only one of many all over the city!