Style Rules: Effortlessly Casual but not Shabby

Sprezzatura is the Italian word we’re going to use to define what this post is about.

Sprezzatura describes achieving elegance with no apparent effort.  When it comes to home interiors, living space is for living.  Plastic on the living room furniture is the most extreme expression of discomfort with any actual living going on, but there are many other manifestations of a rigidly formal interior.

To create an interior which is effortlessly casual but not shabby, it’s clear that part of your effort should be dedicated to quality.  It’s in quality and a clear aesthetic that you avoid “shabby”.

Let’s review the style rules for effortlessly casual but not shabby home interior design.

Casual comfort

white sand beach chair slipcovers

When casual comfort is the goal, you can retrofit any design scheme to express it.  Those most adaptable are American and French country and rustic.  But Maximalism is another current, hot trend which lends itself to casual comfort.

Your upholstered furniture is lush and cushy, when you’re seeking casual comfort.  That needn’t describe every single piece you own, but a key piece in each room adds to the effect.  Add slipcovers in a warm color to heighten the effect.

In a casual context, colors are usually rather muted.  This may suit some, but if your taste runs more to the bold color spectrum, add it whimsically, incorporating color in an overstuffed wingback adorned with a cranberry canvas slipcover, or add a bright area rug which ties in with key décor elements.

Cozy throws and blankets and nests of feather pillows (perhaps covered with cross-stitch embroidery) bring the look the true comforts of home, without making things look shabby.

Shabby that isn’t

Shabby chic has been around for quite a while as a design trend and many continue to employ it in their homes, either as an overall theme, or in small doses to create an inviting, relaxing interior.

But shabby isn’t always “funky” (in that bad way).  Shabby chic is more about patina and a sense of pieces having lived many lives than it is about looking worn out.  Patina is a keyword with the look we’re talking about.

Texture is another important word in the lexicon of the effortlessly casual interior.  Choose nubby, handloomed items and treatments for upholstered furniture.  If you select leather, don’t shy away from the patina indicating use over time.  That patina is an emblem of comfort, enjoyment and the piece’s witness to lives lived well.


tufted ottoman

Effortlessly casual interiors embrace you when you enter them.  Furniture pieces which work best for this look are large and chunky.  They’re not delicate, as delicacy can indicate impermanence in a living space intended to convey the timeless enjoyment of life.

Details like tufting, pleating and contrasting trim are homey and add a more finished effect.  Antiques and reproductions of antiques offer a sense of historical continuity.  No one needs to know that hutch wasn’t handed down by a beloved family matriarch.

Trade professionals seeking a cure for the common are invited to contact Michelangelo Designs to schedule an appointment.

Design Trend – When Royal Meets Rustic

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, the Royals of the world lived in far more rustic contexts than those they do today.  But just one example of the longstanding Royal affection for rustic locales is Queen Elizabeth of England’s for Balmoral Castle.

When at Balmoral, Her Majesty is known to ramble outdoors, her signature headscarf, tweed and wellington rubber boots protecting her from the brisk winds Scotland is known for.

That image alone provides a window into this design trend – when royal meets rustic.

Natural elements fit for a Queen

This design trend’s signature feature is the liberal use of natural materials, paired with lashings of Baroque ornamentation.  But there are not just any natural materials.

Burled wood features prominently, as do fur and leather.  You’ll also find brass studded upholstery and period-inspired turned wood and metalwork as the bases for sleek tables in glass, stone and wood.

Seating is coddled in lush furs (imitations for those who object), with cow skin rugs gracing highly polished wood plank floors.

Over the natural stone fireplace hangs the modern effigy of a stag, while the sitting room’s high ceiling is tamed to human scale with a large, wrought iron chandelier hanging low over the seating area.

rustic interior design

Wild meets stately

Imagine the cross-section of a large tree becoming a dining room table.  Its edges retain their natural shape, but the table top itself is heavily lacquered and supported by graceful (almost industrial) metal legs which curve elegantly outward.

Around it sit plush velvet chairs, upholstered in the traditional way – with brass studs.  In the corner, next to the sleek, modern buffet, sits a large, black leather wingback.  It’s embraced by white fur which wraps around it, nestling the chair in warmth.

The walls are as highly-lacquered as the table, covering every inch of wall space in the luxury of burled wood.  Those elegant walls are graced by large mirrors, framed in ornate resin frames in the Baroque style.

The context

So, you don’t live in Balmoral Castle.  Your humble abode isn’t equipped with vaulted ceilings supported by heavy wooden beams.  But you can still achieve this look by incorporating its elements into your home and creating a context which hints at more regal surroundings.

Textured wall treatments can easily be created.  Online tutorials abound for this purpose.  Mimic the look of wood or choose a color that works for your space sponged over with gold.  Finish the look with contrasting veining to imitate the look of marble on a feature wall.

A chandelier of deer’s horns or a vintage wrought iron piece hanging over a key seating area create the illusion of royal grandeur, while imparting a sense of warmth and intimacy.

Another wonderful way to set the scene for rustic meets royal is with wallpaper.  Choose subtle renditions which include gold or silver foil and classic patterns of vines and flowers.

At Michelangelo Designs, we’ve created a cure for the common.  We invite professionals in the Trade to contact us to schedule an appointment.

Nothing Succeeds Like Excess – 2018 is the Year of Maximalism

“Moderation is a fatal thing.  Nothing succeeds like excess.”

Oscar Wilde

Lush, sensual and rich, Maximalist design is the antidote to years of minimalism.  For some time now, the design world has counseled sparsely furnished and decorated interiors, with blindingly white walls as the backdrop.

But all that has changed.  Since 2016, interior design circles have been whispering about Maximalism.  And in 2018 it’s the most important trend, rising head and shoulders above all the others.

Nothing succeeds like excess.  2018 is the year of Maximalism and the freedom to enshrine in your home those collectible décor pieces you’ve hesitated to reach out for in recent years.

Fear not!  This is your moment.

Curated excess

On encountering Maximalist interiors for the first time, some are taken aback by the profusion of colors, textures, styles and patterns.  But that’s the whole point.

Maximalism seeks order in apparent chaos, through the employment of unifying elements like a key color or pattern.  Furniture need not all be in the same style when the balance is struck with color and form.

Interior designer, Kelly Wearstler is considered this trend’s reigning queen.  Renowned for her creation of “rooms within rooms”, she pairs biomorphic furniture forms with unifying color themes and optimal use of space.

Wearstler’s keen eye for detail defies the argument that Maximalism is about clutter.  Not at all. It’s about creating a singular environment which is bound together with forethought and sensitivity to the space itself.

Kelly Wearstler living room


Key features of Maximalism

The foundation of Maximalism lies in individual affection for specific colors, shapes and textures.  With Maximalism, you create the environment that lives in your mind’s eye.

It’s about bringing to life your dream interior and making your concept of what it should look like come to vibrant, excessive life.

Bring your affection forward by expressing it in tile, wood, velvet, or lush wallpapers with geometric or floral patterns.  The key here is not to match everything, but to unite it with the use of color, form and repeating themes.

Choose the foundation for your look in a wall color or a tufted velvet couch in a jewel tone (or even Pantone color of the year, Ultra Violet), then connect everything to that one piece, using other furniture pieces in contrasting colors (but in velvet) or patterns – animal prints are most welcome in a Maximalist room.

Maximalist decor animal prints

Whether your passion is art glass or coffee table books, share it in the room, using stacks of books as side tables bearing brass platters and topped with a majestic art glass piece.  Only your imagination limits you when you’re creating your dream interior.

It’s your dream and your interior.  Creating your fantasy, without giving the impression of needless clutter, is a highly individual affair.

The very heart of Maximalist design is who you are.

Michelangelo Designs

We’ve created the first and only Italian Design Center in the USA.  We invite Trade professionals to contact us to schedule an appointment and to experience the cure for the common at Michelangelo Designs.

Defining Design – Bachelor Pad

The term “bachelor pad” has a long history of depicting young, single male life as an endless party, peopled by other boisterous bachelors and a bevy of scantily clad women.

For many decades, the ideal bachelor pad has been typified by James Bond movies, Hugh Hefner’s lavishly decadent persona and perhaps a spicy dash of Austin Powers thrown in for good measure.

But the bachelor pad fantasy has long since faded into memory.  Today, young men aren’t the only ones who strike out from the family home in search of a life of their own.  Young women have long since joined them.

So, farewell, James Bond.  Miss MoneyPenny now has a bachelor pad too.

A bachelor pad needn’t be a cliché, for young men or women.  What it should be is a place to build a young life, to define a personal style and to grow into adulthood in comfort.

Avoid the parent trap

The first rule of defining design for a bachelor pad is not to fall into what I like to call “the parent trap”.  The parent trap is created when, having announced you’re moving out and getting your own place, your parents trap you into taking all the funky old furniture that’s been lurking downstairs in the family room since Nixon was President.

Unless you’re a DIY, up-cycling wizard with abundant time on your hands to Debbie Travers that stereo console with the non-functioning turntable, resist falling into the parent trap.

The first rule of thumb is to only allow those furnishings into your new home which you like and which you can live with.  If you genuinely believe you can live with that floral-patterned couch from the 70s that comes complete with its own duct taped repairs, give your head a shake.

Just say “no” to the parent trap.

single bedroom

Choose wisely

Driving your beater out to IKEA to buy a complete set of furnishings for your house may seem like a good idea but trust us.  It’s not.

Don’t buy all your furniture in one fell swoop.  Instead, get the basics. You need someplace to sleep and someplace to sit.  You may be taking the bed from your parent’s home with you, but if it’s a single, are you sure you want to continue sleeping on it?

You’re a grown up now, so opt for a simple platform-style bed and futon.  This inexpensive solution looks sleek and modern and the price point’s right.  You can always trick it out with an elegant tufted leather headboard a little later on.

For seating, choose a couch which is simple, attractive and covered in a durable material that’s going to stand up to your feet being on it (whether you’re a male or a female bachelor).

wall unit

Add inspiration

You’re striking out on your own, so add inspiration with art prints to remind yourself that you live there.  Art warms everything up, as you gradually build your home into a place of adult comfort.

Trade professionals are invited to contact Michelangelo Designs to schedule an appointment.

Modern Furniture Design Trends – from the 70s

The 1970s represent a distinct shift in 20th Century design sensibilities.  In the wake of the Hippie movement, men took off their neckties, opting for leisure suits in pastel colors replete with patch pockets and flared trousers.

The mainstream responded to counter-culture by co-opting and elaborating on it.  This trend extended into the home.  Suddenly the Bohemian aesthetic of the “Hippie pad” was creeping into suburban homes and urban brownstones, manifesting itself in some key ways.

And right now, the 70s are making a comeback, especially in furniture design trends and home décor.


If you miss the plush, tactile quality of velvet, now’s your moment.  Velvet is enjoying a resurgence in modern furniture design trends, covering sofas, chairs, chaise longues and benches.  Whether crushed or spun of the finest silk, velvet is on the menu.

velvet piece of furniture

But the return to handwoven textiles is also strong.  These can be introduced in wall hangings, sisal and shag rugs and oriental tapestries and carpets used as décor.  Layered or anchoring a sitting or dining area, these create a strong statement.

Color and form

Of all the design trends associated with the 1970s, color is one of the most ubiquitous.  Orange had a strong position in the styling of the times, accented by rich chocolate shades.

One large statement piece in orange says all you need it to, especially when the piece you’re using the color for is over-sized and sculptural.  A modular seating arrangement lends itself particularly well to bringing the 1970s into your living space.

Harvest gold is another key color, cooled by neutrals in macramé decor and the luster of teak, for dining tables, buffets and other wood elements, after the Danish modernist model.

orange sofa

The vintage touch

Employing vintage furniture pieces from the 70s is a balancing act. When you’re thinking about transforming your space to reflect modern furniture design trends from the 70s, you’re thinking about introducing key pieces which hail from the era.  Combining these with modern, rustic or Bohemian looks can work very well and is, indeed, part of this design trend.

This can be done in the living, dining, bedroom and other areas of the home by choosing distinctive, recognizably-vintage furniture to combine with what you already have.  Re-creating your existing aesthetic to bring the 70s into your interiors can be achieved by selecting quality consignment furniture.

Is the leather on that chair in the window a bit battered?  Even better.  The theme of this design trend is warmth, comfort, eclecticism and the gentle post-Hippie aesthetic.

Peace and love in the home?  Yes, please!

Michelangelo Designs

At the first and only Italian Design Center in the USA, Michelangelo brings professionals in the Trade a unique resource.

Retailers, interior designers, real estate developers and architects come to us to find the inspiration they need to please discerning clients.

Choose from over 1,000 textile selections, with a range of lustrous woods and rich leathers.  We’re the cure for the common for Trade professionals who seek design diversity.

Contact us to schedule an appointment.