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Remodel Spotlight: Bocage Bath Beauty

Located in a beautiful home in Bocage, this exquisite master bathroom was in need of rejuvenation. Before the renovation, this space was divided and disconnected. The bathroom, coming off a common vestibule area, was separated. His and her vanities, the bathtub, and the shower were located in two different rooms.

We joined the two rooms into one luxurious bathroom for both clients to enjoy. The shower provides not only an ordinary showerhead, but a handheld sprayer, a rain head, and body sprayers lined with sleek white marble as well as the bathtub which provided both a faucet and handheld option. What more could you ask for?

The decor was elegant and simple with matte gold accents from the light fixtures, chandelier, and vanity chair. The marble floors and countertops also added to the sleek and polished look of this space. The simplicity and modernity of this room provided the clients with a lavish space to relax and enjoy.

Contractor: Frank McArdle- Big River Construction

Photographer: Collin Richie

Space Planning: Richard Ourso and Logan Wheeler Ramirez (Ourso Designs)

Product Selection: Logan Wheeler Ramirez

The Homeowner’s Holiday Guide to Great Hosting

When we ask homeowners what they hope to get out of a kitchen or living room remodel, one answer we’re hearing more often is, “I want a space to entertain.” Being able to host guests in your home and impress them is important for those who want to share the spaces they work so hard to perfect.

It’s November and that means it’s time to gear up for a season of quality time with family and friends. Whether you have relatives visiting from out of town or you’re just throwing a quick and casual dinner party for your coworkers, there are a few things you can do to make sure your guests are comfortable and entertained. 

Open House

Inviting people into your home can be stressful, especially if this is the first time you’re meeting your guest. Provide clear lines of communication, instructions on how to get to your home, and let them know what to do when they arrive. 

Now is when the old saying, “Mi casa es su casa,” is a good phrase to keep in mind. You don’t want your guests to feel restricted to certain areas or activities. Remind your guests that they are welcome to sit down or move from the kitchen to the living room. Here is where having an open floor plan helps — you won’t have to keep track of who’s in which room to snack and chat.

If there are areas of your house where you don’t want guests to wander, be sure to clearly establish those boundaries beforehand. Accidentally overstepping their bounds can make a guest feel guilty and uncomfortable immediately. 

Stock up on supplies

Running out of food or drink is a quick way to kill the mood or get your guests to leave. Chances are that’s not what you’re going for, so be sure to keep a full pantry. You can’t go wrong with a little wine, cheese, and charcuterie, but you’ll want a few options to keep your guests satisfied.  

Remember to be conscious of diet preferences and allergies. Vegetarian and vegan options are always recommended. Be sure to ask about food allergies before offering anything that might cause an allergic reaction. 

Sound and smell

Scent is one of the first things people notice when entering a space. If you really want to set the mood, light some incense, set out candles, or use an aroma diffuser. Candles complement fall and winter moods perfectly and the right scent can give sometimes give your guests feelings of comfort and nostalgia.

Another way to achieve an enhanced ambiance is through a great soundtrack. You don’t want to drown out conversations but rather provide something atmospheric to fill the space and prevent the dreaded awkward silence. 

Make a statement

Hosting guests is a great way to show your individual style and taste. By sharing your living space, you can help your guests get to know you and feel more comfortable in your home. Keep your favorite decorations front and center. Anything that has a story behind it is great to keep out for a conversation-starter. 

From a practical standpoint, you’ll want to make sure you have enough seating for your guests. Have a few comfortable stools or even folding chairs handy for when everything else fills up. A bar cart is tremendously convenient and gives you another chance to show off your style and personal taste. 

Save a space

We’ve all had the occasional surprise sleepover. It’s always good to have a bed prepared if one of your guests asks for a place to stay or just crashes. A dedicated guest bedroom is ideal, but a pull-out bed is second best for those short on space. Keep some clean sheets and towels and be respectful of their privacy. This is not to say you shouldn’t go about your normal business, just do so with your guest in mind. 

Don’t forget to have fun (DFTHF)

With all the stress that comes with hosting guests for the holidays, it’s easy to get lost in your attention to others. Once your guests seem situated, it’s important to step back and enjoy yourself a little bit. Relax and have a slice of that pie you spent all day preparing. The dishes can wait until tomorrow. 

Trend Alert: Egg Tubs

Soaking in a bathtub is the best way to decompress from a long day as it relaxes your mind. body, and soul…. So why not do it in style? 

One of the most breathtaking fixtures that can be incorporated in a bathroom design is a freestanding tub. They are effortlessly the focal point of any bathroom…. Especially if they are in the shape of an egg. 

Egg tubs are the perfect option for someone who is looking to add a contemporary flair to their bathroom without being too modern. The soft, not so angular lines of an egg tub make it a great addition to any bathroom, even in a more traditional style bathroom.  

This style of tub is a great option for any size space as they can come in more narrow sizes or wider sizes. They also come in different colors and finishes. If you are looking for a more sleek, contemporary look you could go for a matte black acrylic or stone, and if you are looking for a more traditional look you can go for the classic white porcelain. 

If egg tubs don’t seem to be your style there are many other uniquely shaped free standing tubs that can still make a statement in your bathroom. Some other styles include: pedestal, claw-foot, round top, and slipper.

Pedestal tubs are designed with a solid pedestal style base which raises the tub off the ground. The claw-foot tub is a style that dates back to the 19th century which gives a bathroom antique flare with its “feet” located on the base of the tub. Roll top is a design that has edges appearing to be “rolled over” which presents a comfortable position to rest your arms. Lastly, slipper tubs are for those who enjoy lounging in the bathtub as either side is risen to provide additional space for reclining.

Egg tubs are one of many styles of freestanding tubs, but their shape makes them unique. For more on freestanding tubs, check out this post from 2015. If you want to look at some of our designers’ favorite tubs, we also have this trend alert from 2017.

Images Source:

https://www.pinterest.com/oursodesigns/egg-tubs/

Going for the Gold

Gold has been used as a decorating material for about 6,000 years, so in terms of time, this is about the least trendy thing we could write about. However we’ve been seeing it so much recently that we couldn’t resist. As decorators and designers, we have a responsibility to look for new ways to incorporate familiar materials. We’ve been seeing this metal used in breathtaking designs, and we want to share them with you. This month, we’re going for the gold.

Along with silver, copper, and brass, gold finishes are mainstays when it comes to cabinet hardware and light fixtures, but we’re seeing gold in furniture more. We love the use of a gold finish on chair legs. Matching table legs can make for a nice composition, and pairing gold legs with a black chair creates a feeling that is at once dramatic, eloquent, and comfortable.

Of course, gold’s beauty is in its rarity. Incorporated as a detail, in small amounts, gold finish can add a bit of light to darker rooms and warmth to white or off-white ones. Used on a slightly more massive scale, gold creates a feeling of grandiose magnificence. For example, these gold cabinets are so luxurious it’s kind of absurd, but we love it.

We’re also seeing some creative tiling that incorporates gold. We love how some of these designs mimic gold’s naturally random appearance in nature. Gold, when used in patterns like these, is simply awe-inspiring.

Whether it’s as a new twist on an old accent or a complete re-imagination, we love seeing familiar materials like gold popping up in new places and uses. Follow our blog to stay updated!

Image Source

History Lesson: Billy Baldwin

Posthumously nicknamed the “dean of interior decorators,” Billy Baldwin was a leading designer in post-World War II America. Known for his immaculate sense of order and arrangement, Baldwin’s style was a unique blend of modernist and classicist.

Baldwin was born into an old Baltimore family in 1903, where he grew up in a home designed by a leader of the American Renaissance Movement. It was there in his childhood home that his passion for interior decorating started. 

After leaving Princeton to travel and visit galleries and museums, he worked at his father’s insurance company for a time. He continued to design on the side and eventually got a huge break in 1930, when Ruby Ross Wood, one of New York’s grand dame decorators, came across his work. 

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She immediately  wrote him explaining her love of his work and invited him to join her in New York to assist with her business. He began working for her in 1935, and when she passed in 1950, he took over her business for 2 years. He explained that those 17 years working for her was “the importance of the personal, of the comfortable, and of the new.” After taking over Wood’s business for 2 years he decided to create his own.

Baldwin’s work was known to be neat, slick, and ordered. He liked a mixture of furniture that was both old and new and of different nationalities, but he insisted on some connection between the furniture. Unlike many other designers, he thought it was important to use some of the furniture that the client already had as he felt that the space would not be right without some personal history present.

He was known to be both a modernist and classicist, being the first man to break into the interior design world. Before WWII, interior design was ruled by a small circle of women, but Baldwin changed this forever.

He believed strongly in not following trends and instead told many of his clients to: “Be faithful your own style, because nothing that you really like is ever out of style.” 

Baldwin retired in 1973 and died of a heart ailment in 1983, but his studio continues to champion his designs, legacy, and style.

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Designing Your Perfect Pantry

The pantry is the one place in the kitchen that always looks crowded until you stick your nose in for a snack. All of a sudden, it feels empty, and you feel disappointed. Only some of that disappointment is from your empty stomach, while the rest is probably coming from the frustration of not finding what you need. Pantries often end up serving as the junk drawer of the kitchen, with items constantly being tossed in and quickly forgotten.

Luckily, you have designers who work tirelessly to make your kitchen experience as painless as possible. With the proper design and technology, organizing your pantry is easier than ever.

First, consider your space. Can your floor plan accommodate a walk-in pantry? If your kitchen has the space for it, we would recommend setting one up. Not only does this separate your kitchen work space from your storage, but it will also help you compartmentalize the pantry itself.

Absolutely make sure you run electrical to your walk-in. Obviously lighting is required, but you’ll want to be able to run a vacuum and other appliances. You should also have some sort of counter top for setting down your groceries. While not strictly necessary, a counter will save you countless trips back and forth, and give you a surface for any prep work that doesn’t require the kitchen.

Keep some shelves open for potatoes, onions, and other goods that still need exposure to the air. If the walls in your walk-in pantry aren’t deep enough for full shelves, consider using slat wall panels for adjustable hanging hooks and shelves.

For those without the space for a walk-in pantry, cabinets will have to do. Pull-out and swing-out shelves can help maximize your storage space and minimize your time spent stretching your arms to reach that last can of beans. Even the peskiest corner cabinet can be an efficient pantry with the installation of a Lazy Susan.

For those who need just a little more storage space, some cabinets come with shelves built in to the interior of the doors. We also like to include some vertical tray storage for cooking sheets that aren’t being used. In the end, finding the right combination of counters, shelves, pull-outs, swing-outs, and Lazy Susans all depends on the location and use of your pantry.

Trend Alert: Wooden Range Hoods

If you’ve worked with one of our designers in the past, you know we like to put a lot of thought into our product selections. It’s a fun part of the interior design process, and an extremely important one. When picking fixtures, appliances, and details for a home, we consider not only appearance, but also materials, functionality, and ease of installation.

Selecting and installing an oven range hood is not a minor task. In most home kitchens, the range hood will provide a break in your cabinetry. From a visual standpoint, the oven range hood can serve as an upper centerpiece for the entire kitchen. This is a great opportunity to add some contrast and personality to your space.

Read our interior design blog and you’ll know we are particularly fond of wood details. We think the natural appearance of wood is a simple and elegant way to add comfort and warmth to any space. That being said, we are loving the amount of wooden range hoods we are seeing. This is a design choice that realizes the range hood’s potential for visual contrast and meets it with the natural elegance of real wood.

Beside stone, wood is the oldest material used for crafting a functional range hood. The idea is certainly not a new one, so why are we seeing them pop up?

We suspect the rising popularity of modern design style might have something to do with it. Modernity’s focus on black and white, concrete, and stone means anything natural or colorful will POP. This elevates the range hood’s potential as a contrasting element.

A wooden range hood will also serve to balance out the oven appliance itself. While matching your range hood to your oven makes sense in theory, the result can be visually overwhelming. Again, the range hood should bring contrast to the space without making it feel crowded.

We admit metal range hoods have their advantages. Namely, they’re easier to clean. For an industrial kitchen, metal makes sense, but we think wood range hoods are a perfect fit for any domestic kitchen.

Our Designers’ Styles Revealed

Here at Ourso Designs, we are aligned with making your vision a reality. We know what’s hot and what’s not. We specialize in making your spaces more efficient, paralleling your lifestyle, and creating the aesthetic you envisioned. Our services are geared toward you and what you want.

Part of being a good designer is putting aside your own likes and dislikes, and catering to the clients wants and needs. We are wizards at making your dream a reality. But today, we reveal who’s really behind the curtain. Here is a look at each of our designers individual style and personality. Get to know us!

RICHARD L. OURSO

Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer. Certified Aging in Place Specialist. 40 years in the industry. Principal.

Growing up in a full custom millwork shop, I always loved natural woods. We would manufacture cabinets, moldings, doors, windows, shutters, etc., out of the same quality wood. Stained wood cabinets are my preferred choice in most areas of the home. At this time the easiest way to achieve a beautiful kitchen is with white. Adding some color or stained wood to the contrasting island is a nice touch. Wall colors should be very neutral. If you want to add color, do so with fabrics or accessories that can be easily replaced as your taste changes.

I’m not a fan of doors, windows, or trim painted bright white, because it looks so generic. I prefer the look of the trim being darker than the walls.

I am a fan of rustic and reclaimed materials. They provide warmth & comfort like nothing else, and high quality wood grain veneers give a very sleek look. The use of quality natural materials, be it wood, stone, brick, or metal, is a safe bet.

LOGAN WHEELER RAMIREZ

Bachelor Interior Design. Louisiana State University, 2013. Designer.

Since I was little I have always been fascinated with historical architecture. Maybe it was our proximity to the French Quarter, or our own beautiful downtown Baton Rouge. Through school I grew a great appreciation for the clean lines of the mid-century era and contemporary architecture. So ultimately, my personal style is a mash-up of the two. After all, most everything new is a precedent of the past. I love how sociology affects our built environment and fashion over time.

I love bold shapes and imagery, raw and natural materials, and I usually gravitate towards a black and white palette with accents of bold and rich colors. I love the intricacies of the old (like seen in the moldings) mixed with the clean lines of the contemporary furniture and fixtures.

MADDI VAN PELT

Student of Interior Design, Louisiana State University. Designer.

When it comes to kitchens, one thing I always find myself gravitating toward is multi-colored cabinets. I love the idea of having clean, white upper cabinets with colorful base cabinets, especially cooler toned colors like blues and greens so they can provide a nice contrast with the warm tone of wooden floors.

Also, usually I tend to stick to straight lines and right angles, but recently I have loved the idea of circular mirrors to add some curves to the space. I would put these all over my house!

JACK FLYNN

Student of Architecture, Louisiana State University. Draftsman/Designer.

Coming from an architectural background, I tend to focus on built materials. I’m drawn to styles that are simple and put the materials on display, and interact well with natural light and the environment around them. 

The materials that are really inspiring me currently are exposed concrete and unpainted wood. The way the organic and man-made materials interact creates a very calm sense of balance and the experience of being in these kinds of spaces can feel very serene.

ARI ROSS

Bachelor Mass Communication. Louisiana State University, 2018. Marketing Coordinator.

One book that influenced me a lot growing up was Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, so I’ve had this dream of living like a nomad for a while. I also recently met a few people who converted old vans into livable spaces. The idea really stuck with me because fitting everything you need in a space so small requires so much creativity. Every inch counts. I really like vans with wood paneling, multipurpose furniture, and colors that brighten up a dreary day on the move.

Trend Alert: Dark Wood Countertops

We covered the pros and cons of different butcher block countertops in 2018, but we just couldn’t help ourselves this time around. It feels like everywhere we look, we’re seeing this rustic element making a comeback in new ways. Most of all, we’re noticing butcher block countertops stained dark, a design choice that is intriguing and exciting for several reasons.

Visually, kitchens are composed mostly of cabinets. Cabinets these days are composed mostly of white or off-white colors. To bring some contrast to the kitchen, you need a centerpiece that balances out the surrounding cabinets and drawers.

Any wood countertop can bring that much-needed warmth and contrast to your space. For those with a taste for the dramatic, however, a dark wood countertop can be the perfect combination of rustic and modern.

Though it takes a step away from the “all-natural” feeling of unstained wood, a dark stain is a simple way to flair up your kitchen, no matter the style. Bright cabinets obviously benefit from the contrast of a dark wood counter. On the flip side, dark cabinets require a more subtle balance.

There is no “one size fits all” stain for your counter, though. As with most details, it depends on your personal taste. All we can tell you is a dark stained wood countertop will fit most stylistic needs, and there is a huge range of tones to choose from. A butcher block island especially serves as a great centerpiece for hosting guests, prepping food, or just looking at and thinking, “Yup, I’m glad we went with that.”

Trend Alert: Vertical Opening Systems

Every kitchen designer knows the cabinets make the kitchen. They’re usually the first thing you notice when you walk in, and almost nothing can be done in any kitchen without opening and closing at least a few doors. With the right design, construction, and installation, they can make your kitchen flow either effortless or disastrous.

Obviously most cabinet doors open horizontally, swinging outward to the side. Most door and hinge systems are designed this way, from cars to barns. Now we are seeing more and more cabinet systems designed with doors that open vertically.

From a design standpoint, we love them. Corner cabinets can be tricky, and here we have a quick fix.

Cabinet makers are absolutely noticing this trend too. Everywhere we look, there are new hinge and door designs. There are double doors, downward doors, and even pneumatic hinges.

There is not much else to say about this trend because it’s pretty self-explanatory. All we can say is we are excited to see where it goes and what cabinet designers will come up with next.