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Stay Home Inspo: Creativity at Home with Colin King

It is often hard to stay inspired during this difficult time. Things can look bleak – whether you’re reading the news or braving the world outside of your home. San Francisco has lost its charm during the pandemic. Streets are deserted. Businesses are boarded up and graffitied. All the cultural vitality that draws one to a city like this is canceled. If if we wanted to go somewhere….there’s no nowhere to go.

And so we turn inward. Back towards home. If you’ve been looking to scratch a creative itch, this post is for you.

Stay Home Inspo: Colin King on Apt34

As this pandemic has continued, I’ve been sharing #StayHomeInspo on Instagram – a respite for the eyes and inspiration for design ideas and creative projects we can do in our own homes to boost our spirits. One of my primary resources of inspiration has been stylist and photographer Colin King. I discovered Colin’s work on Instagram and have been following his creative journey every since – as he styles editorials ranging from corporate clients like Zara Home, to homes that grace the cover of Architectural Digest. As part of his own #StayHomeInspo journey, Colin started his own hashtag – #StayHomeStillLife chronicling his Covid creative outlet – creating stunning still life vignettes in his Manhattan apartment during New York City’s lockdown. I looked forward to a new image from Colin every day and even though he’s back to work outside his home, I still do.

Colin was gracious enough to share some of his creative tips and tricks with Apt34 today. I hope you find his insights as inspiring as I do.

Q: How did you get started, especially doing still life work? Did you have a mentor? Study something? Or just start experimenting?

A: I’m really good at doing, and not so good at being. Out of all of the careers I’ve had, none of them afforded me the flexibility to work from home. So in an attempt to cope and self soothe, I quickly found comfort in creating still lifes at home. My apartment is small, and there are only so many combinations when it comes to rearranging furniture, so I was forced to think small. It started organically shopping at my favorite decor shop (and the only one that was open) – nature. Foraging quickly led me to taking unrelated, inanimate objects, fruit, and anything else I could find around the house; placing all of that on a clean surface and trying to find an arrangement that felt poetic. The act of creating these still lifes gave me a schedule and presented a challenging, healthy way for me to step away from my screen, disconnect from fear and worry, and just be.

Stay Home Inspo: Creativity at Home with Colin King on Apt34

Q: What would you say are the key components of a captivating still life?

A: For me there are three key components of a captivating still life.

Each still life I create, my goal is to conjure the feeling of being a tourist in someone else’s reality. I never want any of my photos to feel as though you’re on a set or that the elements were contrived specifically for the photo. For example, when I am at a museum or even in someone’s home for an editorial shoot, I am always noting the forgotten corners, the stanchions, the coat rack, the half-drawn closet curtain; these are the places where there was no thought or extra care given to the placement of things – it’s just where everything naturally fell. Every captivating image I’ve seen has this almost eerie element of a human having just been there moving about unapologetically, and what’s left is unstyled but perfectly settled. Ultimately, creating a moment that seems more unearthed than contrived.

When approaching my still life I let go of the practical, intended use of each object. To me, a vase isn’t a vase and a fork isn’t a fork – they’re just things with their own materiality and form. I love it when I see an image and don’t even realize what the objects are until examining closer. Whether it’s upside down, balancing on its side, or completely submerged in a glass of water, there is an irreverence with a nod to surrealism that I love.

Lastly, light. Finding the depth between and beyond the surface the objects are on and how they relate to each other is key. Not only do I want to feel the dimensionality of the image, I also want to use objects that absorb light, reflect light, and bend light arranging them in a poetic display to generate an unexpected conversation.

Stay Home Inspo: Creativity at Home with Colin King on Apt34

Q: Are there any tricks of the trade you regularly rely on (tools, adhesives etc)?

A: No tricks. Just patience and a good playlist. I’ve never used a tool or an adhesive, I recognize I have so much to learn but right now I am having fun shattering glasses, chipping ceramics, cursing under my breath, and the freedom that comes with not being bound by any way of doing it. And music has always been a part of my process. As a trained dancer, music brings me a sense of comfort, routine and ritual while keeping me in the present moment.

Stay Home Inspo: Creativity at Home with Colin King on Apt34Stay Home Inspo: Creativity at Home with Colin King on Apt34

Q: Your photography is also amazing. The way you use light is incredible. Are you self taught? Do you only use your phone and if so what do you use to edit your photos?

A: Aw, thank you. I am completely self-taught and I only use my iPhone. I just looked and I have 143,885 images on my phone. For each still life I create, or any image really, I take anywhere from 20-40 images per set up. It’s practice. it’s repetition, it’s trial and error. It’s like going to the gym and working out. Taking photos is a muscle I’ve been working on since I first got a camera phone in college. I use VSCO and Snapseed to manipulate shadows, contrast, and perspective. We’re all learning from each other. I look to photographers and other creatives I admire and dissect their images, find what I like about them, and then tinker with my own.

I had to let go of the concept that there was the perfect preset or formula for any of my work. No one was going to share a map or rulebook with me, and through a lot of trial and error, I learned that I can’t think my way into being a good photographer or stylist – it’s in the action. I have to use my hands to pick up something tactile – a book to sift through or a couple of objects to arrange. From there I just play, sometimes it’s there and sometimes, I walk away. I get myself into trouble when I wait for inspiration to hit, I have to get up and find it.

Stay Home Inspo: Creativity at Home with Colin King on Apt34Stay Home Inspo: Creativity at Home with Colin King on Apt34

Q:You have a very distinct look. I can recognize your work a mile away. How did you go about cultivating that?

A: Intuition has always been my leader in life. I didn’t know I was cultivating a look – I just kept taking photos of what I liked and using the limited resources I had. Although the aesthetic strands running through my work are pretty consistent, the influences feeding into the design process are typically eclectic and even the most unlikely of subjects can provide food for thought. Simplicity and finding beauty in the mundane interested me. At first, my minimal sensibility came from not having a large portfolio or a lot of pieces to work with. And ultimately, I’ve always admired the edited life – less color, less clutter, and fewer things sustained by purposeful restraint.

Stay Home Inspo: Creativity at Home with Colin King on Apt34Stay Home Inspo: Creativity at Home with Colin King on Apt34

Q: Where do you turn for creative inspiration?

A: I draw my inspiration from other people. I’ve learned to surround myself with people who have something that I want; and challenge me to be more honest, take more risks, and ultimately how to not fear failure. I am energized and encouraged by other people’s victories; the immense joy I get from watching peers succeed gives me hope that I too, can achieve anything I put my mind to.

I am also very inspired by nature – I am in constant awe of what it produces. Nature has a way of humbling me and is a great reminder to abandon the idea of perfect – nothing about nature is linear or symmetrical and nothing is immune to decay.

Stay Home Inspo: Creativity at Home with Colin King on Apt34

Q: What about your work brings you joy?

A: I get to tell stories for a living and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I get to connect with people and help create a context for the intimate rituals of peoples’ lives. And I also get to surrender to the subjectivity of what I do and knowing that the narrative I’ve created will be interpreted differently by each viewer – it challenges me to be vulnerable in a way – it’s all part of being a creative – and I feel grateful to be able to make a living by being creative.

Also, objects that have been given to me or are inherited from a shoot or trip, bring me joy. The handmade pieces in my place, knowing the story and process of the artist brings me joy as well. Ultimately, the smallest object can embody an entire relationship or single experience; they’re tied integrally to memories and can shape the identity of the room.

Q: Your career has been taking off of late. Where do you hope to be in five years?

A: This time has presented irrefutable evidence that I don’t have the power to know where I will be in 5 years. Doing the best at this moment puts me in the best place for the next moment. The saying Time takes time has always been a hard pill for me to swallow, I spent so much of my life wanting to be the fastest, youngest, and the best at everything I did but these unrealistic expectations only brought me pain. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Surrendering to the idea that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, going through exactly what I need to be going through, AND being content with that is where I hope to be in 5 years. I am learning that the most important relationship I have is with myself. When that relationship is strong I am a better son, brother, friend, employee and partner.

Colin you are wise beyond your years and talented beyond belief. Thanks to you I’m going to continue to try to improve my foraging skills! f you find Colin as truly inspirational as I do, I hope you’ll give him a follow on Instagram.

What are you doing to stay inspired during this weird time??

For more Stay Home Inspiration, CLICK HERE.

images courtesy of Colin King

The post Stay Home Inspo: Creativity at Home with Colin King appeared first on Apartment34.

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Why I Love Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring and Why You Should Too

Why I Love Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring and Why You Should Too on Apt34

I’ve long had a love affair with wide plank hardwood flooring. I can’t actually pinpoint when the look seeped into my consciousness. I suspect it started when I began voraciously collecting European design magazines, as wide plank hardwood flooring is a mainstay of European and specifically Scandinavian design. Yet for so long wide plank floors were only used in “rustic” design in the United States. But I am the first to say that wide plank hardwood flooring is not only modern but timeless. I so firmly believe this, I made the decision from day one that I would put a wider plank hardwood throughout my own house!

Five years later, I only wish I’d know about Carlisle Wide Plank Floors when we were in the middle of our renovations. Going with a company like Carlisle Wide Plank Floors would have made my life so much simpler. They literally are your one-stop-shop for wide plank hardwood flooring – offering different wood species, various stains, and the ability to customize just about everything – you can find virtually any look you’re going for.

Why I Love Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring and Why You Should Too on Apt34

I’m particularly smitten with white oak. White oak wears incredibly well, can take a variety of stains and will blend seamlessly with the look of any home. The typically lighter hue helps make spaces feel open, brighter and bigger. And while you think light floors would show dirt, dust, dander, pet hair and scratches, that all shows much more on dark floors. Trust me, I’ve had dark floors and it was not so fun.

A wonderful example of white oak wide plank flooring is in the stunning modern kitchen and dining space pictured above. I am obsessed with the idea of a floating kitchen – one that simply exists in the space – rather than being a room unto itself. The wide plank floors from Carlisle offer beautiful sweeping movement across the room without feeling busy or distracting.

I’m also often asked if you can/should mix wood tones in your home. The answer is a resounding yes and that kitchen is another excellent example of why multiple wood tones work so well together. The darker woods used for the cabinetry and storage area add more warmth that plays off the white oak floor while the black accents throughout – chair backs, counters, light fixture, and the stove hood – serve to anchor everything.

Why I Love Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring and Why You Should Too on Apt34

In contrast, the wide plank floor used in this kitchen offers a more casual feel to what would otherwise be a very classic all-white kitchen. The floors selected here are quartersawn, meaning they’re cut to enhance the natural grain and showcase the knots and texture found in the wood. A minimal, matte stain was used, giving the wood a natural look. The wide plank floor is the perfect complement to the modern stools, stretches of classic marble and brass hardware used in the space.

Why I Love Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring and Why You Should Too on Apt34 Why I Love Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring and Why You Should Too on Apt34

If you’re looking to make an update to your home and want an elegant, timeless yet decidedly modern style, I strongly suggest considering wide plank hardwood flooring. I know I’ll put wide plank flooring in any home I do in the future (can you tell I’m itching for a new project!).

 

This post is in partnership with Carlisle Wide Plank Floors. Thanks for supporting posts that have kept Apartment 34’s doors open. If you’re interested in collaborating with us, please CLICK HERE.

 

photography courtesy of Carlisle Wide Plank Floors and by Seth Smoot for Apartment 34

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Idea to Steal: Pleats Please

A design trend has slowly been creeping into my consciousness of late, but the look has officially taken on must-have status. I need a pleated lampshade in my life! It is my latest Idea to Steal.

Pleated lampshade on Apartment 34

Be they pendants, floor lamps, or for the table, a light with a pleated shade is suddenly feeling rather chic. A pleated lampshade is a great way to add more interest and texture to space. While I’ve seen them in a myriad of colors, I do prefer a crisp white option with a knife pleat.

The secret to keeping the look from going too “grandma” is pairing a pleated shade with a fixture that has a modern feel. Think of a simple cord pendant, an elegant minimal floor lamp, or a modern ceramic lamp.

Pleated lampshade on Apartment 34 Pleated lampshade on Apartment 34Pleated lampshade on Apartment 34

There are a number of gorgeous vintage pleated lamps out there. The Mads Caprani Arc Floor from the 1970s is definitely having a moment. There are also many sites that sell vintage lamps from Scandinavia. They can be from the 1940’s all the way through mid-century. One of my go-to resources for v is Counter Space in LA. I’m currently coveting the pleated table lamp by Hay design. It’s actually the primary design inspiration for the Apartment 34 studio design – but that story is still to come!

 

Pleated lampshade on Apartment 34Pleated lampshade on Apartment 34

What do you think of the pleated lampshade trend? Do you have one in your house yet?

For more theft-worthy design ideas, CLICK HERE.

 

SHOP THIS STORY

pleated lampshade Shop now pleated pendant Shop now hay table lamp Shop now

 

images via curated spaces / the dreslyn / h&m home / 1st dibs / curated spaces / 20modern / sarah nedovic / finnish design shop

 

 

 

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Banquette, Baby!

I’ve been chugging along on the Hood Canal Cottage design – I know I am SO overdue for an update for you, but when you’re in the throes of design deadlines it can be really hard to find a moment to pause and recap everything. But I swear, it’s coming slowly. In recent weeks I’ve moved on from major architectural design and finish decisions into the interior design side of things. It’s been a tad overwhelming, as I haven’t decorated a space from scratch since we moved to San Francisco nearly 10 years ago (did you ever catch the tour of my first place in SF? I’m almost embarrassed to share it, but I was SO proud of it at the time).

Designing the Hood Canal Cottage is a unique situation to be in for a hobby designer like me. Usually, you move and take pieces with you, but since the cottage won’t serve as a full-time residence, I’m starting from a literal blank slate.

My focus this week has been on the dining room – or in this case dining space as the dining area sits within a great room that also houses the kitchen and living room. I’ve been shopping around like a madwoman trying to hone in on the look and feel I want to bring to life in the dining area. I want it to feel distinct and anchored – its own little zone within the larger room. And the idea I keep coming back to again and again is banquette seating.

Banquettes and built-ins have been having a moment for a while now, but I would argue for very good reason. A built-in banquette is a great space saver in a smaller space and increases the capacity around a dining table. Since I envision the Hood Canal Cottage as our hub for future Thanksgiving dinners and holiday gatherings, I definitely want to be able to cram as many people around the table as possible.

Like many of the examples you see here in this post, our dining table will also run parallel to a long wall, rather than float in the middle of the room. This actually limits the ability to pull back a dining chair. I would probably have to use a bench on that side of the table, but a banquette will allow the table to sit a little closer to the wall and not have legs you have to work around, saving precious floor space.

I also love how a banquette offers the opportunity to add big long seat cushions, back pillows, or both! Adding cushy upholstery to a dining space softens areas often dominated by hard surfaces. I love how that brings a sense of coziness, inviting you to sit and linger over your morning coffee, or pour that last little bit of wine and stay up talking. I want this home to encourage anyone who stays there to slow down and enjoy the little moments. Kinda like you’re living on vacation. That is the goal.

Adding a major upholstered piece at the dining table will also help me bridge the living room space and kitchen.

While I am obviously leaning toward jumping on the banquette bandwagon, I do have some convincing to do. Not everyone in my household is into the idea of a banquette. To add to that resistance, I’m not finding any good off-the-shelf options so it’s likely I’d have to go custom to create my vision. Custom is certainly not the most affordable of options.

So what say you? Do you happen to have a banquette in your home?? Do you like it? Have you found it comfy? Useful? Are there downsides you’ve dealt with? I think I’m pretty committed to this design choice at this point, but I would love to hear what you think! Please share in the comments section.

Catch up on the Hood Canal Cottage HERE.

Check out more design ideas HERE.

 

images vincent van duysen | home designing | mr & mrs white | danthree | amber interiors shoppe / larritt-evans design | poppy talk | nicole franzen | decus interiors / 

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