Monday, August 17, 2009

A Chat with Palmer Weiss: Fabulous Teenage Girl's Bedroom for the 2009 San Francisco Decorator's Showhouse

Many of you have already seen this scrumptious bedroom,
but in the case you haven't - you're definitely in for a treat.
Palmer Weiss is the designer of this teenage girl's bedroom
for the 2009 San Francisco Decorator's Showhouse. The
room has an en-suite bathroom that was designed by Nancy
Van Natta who is also a bay area based designer.

I would have died for a room like this when I was young...
Actually I really wouldn't mind having a room like this now!
When I first saw photos of this room, I loved it so much I
made it the wallpaper on my computer at work. I mean...
what girl Wouldn't want to hang out in a room like this? It's
chic, sophisticated, fun and comfortable. I can totally imagine
myself curled up on the bed - reading a book.

Palmer Weiss was kind enough to take some time out to
answer some questions about this room.

Although Palmer Weiss' talent for design clearly shows,
she did not start out as a designer. My questions to her
are as follows:

I noticed in your profile that you used to be in investment banking.
What made you decide to change your career to interior design?

In high school and college, I had studied a great deal of art
and photography and then went on to pursue a number of
careers in business – retail merchandising, internet consulting,
banking, etc. I could never quite get the mix of left and right
brain right in a job and felt unsatisfied. I also felt strongly that
I wanted to find a “calling” not just plug away at a paycheck.
I had grown up with a mother in design and a father in real estate
development and always been drawn to those professions. Finally,
I decided to just go for it!

Are there any particular styles or designers that you
would say has influenced your design sense?

Of course! I always cite the architecture and style of Charleston
(where I grew up) and the inhabitants there as a huge influence
on my work. There is such a deep respect for tradition, quality of
furniture and architecture, combined with a healthy dose of eccentricity
that makes for one of the most beautiful and charming places on earth.

My style is a more modern and colorful take on that tradition. Some of
the key designers that influenced my work are: Jonathan Adler for his
emphasis on happy d├ęcor, Amanda Nisbett for her incredible sense of
color, Ruthie Summers for her Southerner goes to California general
fabulousness, Miles Redd for his glam use of surfaces and materials
and Jeffrey Bilhuber for his incredible gift with the details.

In the spring, you completed a project for the 2009 San Francisco Design Showcase.
The project was a teenage bedroom's room. There's been a lot of excitement about
that room and I had some follow up questions for you. I love the room so much (even
though I'm 31) that I put as my wallpaper on my desktop.

That is so flattering – thank you!! Obviously it was a pretty sophisticated
room for a true teenager - I tried to design a room that would work for my
young girls and that adults could enjoy too. I think people should not
underestimate teenage girls – they can rock out to the Jonas brothers
and still like want a pretty room that they treat with respect. They turn
into young women in no time at all and it would be nice for their room to
make that transition with them.

- You had a really great photo on the wall of a woman in what looked like a Parisian
store, is that a print from a particular photographer/where did you find this print?

This is an archival photograph from Conde Nast. It is called At the
Cador in Paris and was shot by Arthur Elgort for the March
1999 issue of Vogue.

What was the initial inspiration for the room?

It seems like so long ago now, I can barely remember! I know there
were many images that helped guide the design - a shot of a patent
leather chair
, a picture of Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively perched on a bed
with laptop and cell phone in hand, a few dramatic bed canopies, etc.
In general – and this goes to your next question – I almost always
start with a great fabric and a color combination. I loved the China
Robin’s Egg Blue paisley and wanted to see as much of it as
possible. I think fabric walls (not padded, but applied as wallpaper)
are the world’s greatest luxury and one I have yet to afford myself
so this was my chance! I love the blue/lilac combination and
playing with different tones and textures of similar colors.

The scone lighting really gives an intimate and cozy
feel to the bedroom.

- What kind of floor covering did you use?

Tibetan Jute – I love the look of this natural fiber, but unlike the other
ones like sisal, seagrass, etc, it is very soft on the feet and better suited
to a bedroom.

Do you have a process that you go through when putting a room like this together?

Again, 99% of the time it starts with fabric and color for me. Many times,
I know the window treatments before I have chosen a stick of furniture.
Then I layer in floor plans, individual pieces – upholstered and case, art,
rugs, etc. I always like to leave about 10-15% until the very end to see
what is needed to round things out in terms of composition, color, etc.
This can be a bit of a gamble – especially when on a Showcase deadline,
but it is the only way I know how to work!

There was a bathroom attached to the room that was done by Nancy Van Natta. Did
the two
of you collaborate to make sure there was a uniform look between the
adjoining spaces?

It was sort of a one-way collaboration. The committee had chosen my design
for the bedroom and then asked Nancy to design a bathroom that would
coordinate with it. She did a great job!

I always get frustrated when I see a really great room and have
absolutely no idea what the sources were to design the room. Palmer
was kind enough to answer some of these questions as well. Her
answers have been threaded through the post with more below.

I think many readers would be interested to know about the sourcing for the items in the room.
Can you give me information about where you procured the items in the room? In particular:

- The fabulous upholstered bed frame with the sofa arms (I thought that was genius.)

Thank you! I designed it and my wonderful upholsters fabricated it for me.
It is an antique size ¾ bed which is between a twin and a queen – perfect for
teen slumber parties or a comfy lounging space.

- Fun netted chandelier.

Vintage find locally.

- The vinyl or patent leather chair in the corner. What fabric did you use
and where did you find the chair?

I was going to design a chair but the cost was a bit prohibitive so I decided
to look for a frame. I found this at a local vintage shop and loved the lines
on this! It was better than what I had even imagined myself. It had to be
completely rebuilt and was upholstered in Keleen’s Chocolate Brown Patent

- The fun, small squiggly squarish end tables.

An inexpensive local retail find.

Just so all of you know, there will be a follow up post about the
en-suite bathroom for this room ( you can see a little bit of it int
the photo above.) Nancy Van Natta, whose firm designed the
bathroom had also been kind enough to be interviewed about the
bathroom. The bathroom is every bit as fantastic as the room
itself so stay tuned!

Over at Decorati, they also wrote a piece on Palmer Weiss
with great comments from Jennifer Boles of The Peak of
Chic who has wonderful taste. Do check it out.

I find Palmer's style and taste to be the perfect balance between
chic eye candy, practicality and functionality which can often be
a difficult blend to do -- Especially infusing it with the right amount
of color and character. Although it's beautiful, her room looks like
it wants to be lived in and not something so beautiful that it's not
practical to live in. I'm definitely a fan.

In the mean time, I hope that this in depth article and mini interview
with Palmer Weiss about her fabulous room had good inspiration for
all of you. I wanted to ask what you thought of Palmer Weiss' teenage
room, whether the interview was helpful and whether the sources were

Photos from Palmer Weiss and Godutchbaby