A year ago, I was talking to a friend about making one month of the year a special month for a special celebration, something out of the ordinary, but easy to remember and to implement. Suddenly, I thought of "style". Some people are born with style, some will learn it through life school and some other people will never have any.
Style is about knowing how to eat a simple sandwich and how to dress for a cocktail; style is about choosing the right flatware for a casual, or a formal dinner. Style is about knowing how to walk on heels, or flat shoes; how to talk in a stressful situation, or before an audience, or knowing how to get out of embarrassing moments.
Style covers every aspects of our life. I thought this is a good subject to talk about.
As a Renaissance woman, I am in constant search of ways to improve my business while I am helping others with theirs. Collaborating with successful businesses is one thing I have done many times during the course of my design career. These days the economy is not friendly for anyone, these are times to stick together, fuse our efforts and keep on chipping a piece every day.
I finally decided that I like the autumn, I am Italian and October is my birthday month, all three good reasons to make the month of October the right month to celebrate the "Italian Life In Style". I have organized four events, one a week, with different stores and establishments in the area where I operate, the San Francisco Bay Area.
The first event will happen on Oct.13, 2010 with Frette House for luxurious Italian bed and bath items.
Other events will be in collaboration with Italian restaurants, wineries and spa, where I will be talking about style inside and out and entertain guests of the stores with funny stories and real fact. I don't forget to include a few laughs, they come naturally and free of charge.
This new idea has open the way for next year events, they will be bigger and different. The power of imagination is limitless. Ciao,
Visit My Design Site
My Video on Affluent Living
Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola has been in business as a designer since 1990. Being Italian born and raised, her design work has been influenced by Classicism and stylish, timeless designs. She will create your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away a comfortable living. Check out her published books:
Has ever happened to you
to see people in the street as if they had just woke up, didn’t have time to go
through the daily ablutions and catapulted themselves into a new day? It has
happened to me. I think those people are afraid of mirrors and the revelation
they could experience if they see their image reflected through the
Fashion, always aiming to
new experiences, has determined the style of an era, its colors, shapes and
forms, sometimes through the invention of many accessories of minor importance.
Some of the accessories considered “amusements”, were in high demand, highly
paid and sometimes reputed indispensable.
All those secondary
accessories that fashion has created through the centuries, we still find them
attractive today and have transferred them into our homes. Mirror is one those
From the 12th century to
17th century mirrors took a stage in women fashion. With the invention of the
glass soon followed the invention of mirrors too. By applying a heavy coat of
aluminum or silver to the backside of one sheet of flat plate glass, the
reflective surface was invented.
The most preferred
mirrors were the hand mirrors and the pocket mirrors. Women carried mirrors on
gold chain as necklaces, or tied to their waist and even attached to the middle
of their hand fans. Made of highly decorative materials as ivory, or
tortoise-shell frames, embellished with engravings on silver with a gold tone,
mirrors taught women the art of vanity and coquetry.
Looking at oneself in the
mirror became such an important practice of vanity that mirrors became larger,
oversized and made to hung on walls to get the full effect of the entire body.
And that is how kings and queens, castles and aristocratic homes decorated at
least one of the many rooms as the “Room of Mirrors” generally used for grand
gala and dancing halls delighting us with their beauty to these days.
Many artistic craft shops
were born through the centuries to keep up with the demand of several fashion
accessories, some of which have unfortunately disappeared to give way to mass
In Italy it is very
common to hear people since a young age speaking of beauty: “bello” – “che
bello” – “come e’ bello” – “che bellezza” – “che finezza” – all adjectives that
show how appreciative people are about beauty or fine things and how much they
like to fill their own life with these objects.
The purpose of mirrors is
to reflect and to double any image.
They should be placed
anywhere they can reflect and double the beauty, therefore carefully think of
their placement when you hang mirrors on the walls. If placed in a corner they
make the opposite corner look larger, especially if in the opposite corner
there is a light source nearby, the lighting reflected in the mirror will
illuminate the room in such a way that the space will appear visually larger.
As a designer, I can
create the unexpected by placing mirrors in strategic places and I am not
afraid of placing them in uncommon areas. By grouping many together, regardless
of shapes and forms, I can recreate the large window effect in rooms with only
one small window, thus reflecting the natural light coming from that one
To turn the area under a
staircase into a lively area, I can place mirrors with lighting shining into
with the aids of plants disguising the fixtures.
In the summer time, when the
fire is off, a fireplace is beautiful with a mirror insert and lights inside.
The fireplace will no longer be a black hole, but a transformed tri-dimensional
Tall mirrors placed
vertically on the walls can also reflect heat. Sun reflected in mirrors
produces heat and then fire, be careful not to burn the house down.
Composition of mirror
with frames of all shapes, sizes and color look stunning together and they are
The “looking-glass” will
tell the truth about ourselves. Before I speak to an audience, I go to my
favorite mirror and question it. I see how I look, what aspect of myself to
improve, what gestures to do or not to do.
Let the looking-glass be
your friend, it will keep all your secrets and it will tell you all your
mistakes, then it is up to you to fix them.
In most cultures there is
a common belief that when breaking a mirror, seven years of bad luck await for
you and if you believe, it will happen.
Let me help you with all
your decorating or remodeling dilemmas. Together we can go further and my
designing adventure can continue on. Love to hear your comments. Ciao,
My Video on Affluent Living
Copyright © 2010 Valentina
Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola, is a trained designer and =owner of Valentina Interior & Designs in business since 1990. She works on consultation and
produces design concepts for remodeling and new home designs for interiors and exteriors. She also provides consultation on décor restyling and
home fashion. Valentina has been featured in Italy on: “Vogue” magazine and many
prominent publications in California. She also has made three appearances on T.V.
Comcast Channel 15.
This week Avaliving is
featuring one of my projects for the theme: Small Bathroom Solutions. The small
bathroom I presented was designed for a 17-year young girl, but in reality I
was designing it for her mother.
The girl was very
sophisticated and had a very clear image of her room and attached bathroom when
we were in the “remodeling mode” of the entire home.
She also knew that in a
couple of years from that remodeling, she would have been gone off to college,
so she let her mother having fun in the design process.
The mother wanted nothing
but the best for her only girl in the family.
The cabinet was made in
Mahogany with inserts of Lace Maple and produced locally in California by a
master Italian ebonist. The area for counter top was minimal, therefore
purchasing an expensive stone, a beautiful Opera Fantastico marble was not a
big expense at all. The door handles are real silver 925.
The shower enclosure in contrasting
colors was made in a combination of Italian marbles and stones left over pieces
from other remodeling projects the owners did in previous years in some of
their properties. Italian wall lighting and wall faux finish in a delicate sea
foam set the tone for this 10x9 bathroom and soften the bold colors of the stones.
I found my inspiration
from the collection of many jewelry pieces made of natural rocks and precious
gems the owner showed me one day while we were shooting the breeze sitting on
the freshly installed hard wood floor. She had beautiful examples of
lapislazzuli, quarts, corals, African copal and more and more. All of those eccentric pieces were set
in gold, silver and other precious metals, which led me to the next inspiration
for the bedroom of the girl:
“the golden tone room”,
very Italian and very romantic. I will elaborate on this room at a different
For now, I want to conclude with a couple of thoughts on small bathrooms or any small spaces.
A small bathroom, whether
it is a powder room or a full bath is one place a designer can propose
expensive material without breaking the budget and almost have a license to do
it. It is the right place a
designer can show off abilities to make everything fit in a reduced floor plan
and still produce a functional bathroom with all the amenities needed and more. Saving material from
previous projects and know how to use them together again in a new space is a
magic only the expert with clinical eye can pull off.
My goal as a designer is
exactly that: to help, to inform, to bring innovations, to re-use artistically
resources already available and ultimately not to break client's budget in the
Small spaces are for
genius. To fill a vast space with things and stuff is very easy, to make a
small space work intelligently is a challenge I really love!
Powder Room in Atherton, CA
Don’t forget about the visual. Sometimes people look at photos of designer’s projects, the first thing that comes to mind is the cost and that might discourage people from hiring a particular designer. Pictures give the perception of high cost due to many tricks used in photography, but that is the reason why we, designers employ professional photographers, to alter the perception of something done on a budget. We want everybody to look good.
Thank you Avaliving for considering my projects. Ciao,
Copyright © 2010 Valentina Cirasola, All
Fall fashion 2010 is a very interesting season for combinations of minimalism, maximalism and plenty in between. Believe it or not and I thought I would never see it again "matchy-matchy" from head to toe is the new way to wear color this fall. We might see a monotone orange sweater with matching skirt, leggings and lipstick showing up in the fall collection of American designers Tory Burch, or pairing blue tweed suit with checkered tights and an arrogant bright purple frock in Oscar de La Renta’s fall collection.
However we want to see it, the new hues are daring and delicious, poetic with a touch of medieval beauty.
According to Briitish designer Alexander McQueen fashion was taken a plain direction. His designs revived the hand-loomed jacquards with impression of digital photography. McQueen left us his beautiful collection, representing his vision of Medieval Madonnas and Byzantine Empresses, before he died in Feb.2010 at age 40.
Designer, Andrew Gn, calls his fall collection a “modern rococo”, wanting to return to the 18th century look with a touch of 21st century. He sees narrow jackets with stand up collars and row of front buttons. He revives the passamanterie trimming on velvet coats and bustiers.
The highlight of his collection are embroidered leather on the shoulder of coats, or neck line, oversize belt buckles with heavy incrostations and anything ruched which hide all that women don’t want to show.
On the occasion of the launch of Z Zegna, Italian designer Alessandro Sartori introduces an innovative new form of couture: “techno-tailoring”. His man line is an impeccable example of couture tailoring executed on modern fabrics for style and wearability. Sartori is famous for his deconstruction and soft yet graphic lines, embracing a palette going from grey to chocolate brown, brick red and denim blue.
Why is fashion so important for home interiors? The two fields are related and they live with each other. Even though we cannot change our home fashion every time a fashion collection comes out on the catwalk, we can at least take some guidance from it to renew our spaces.
The colors this years are dark wines with gold highlights, grey shades with brown, aubergine with silver tones, pinks with reds, bronze with copper and silver accents, silver and whites, animal prints with lines, floral with geometric. Most of the opposites are represented for both men and women. All of these combinations work well with traditional or contemporary styles, making our design work for both sexes a bit easier. Even the passamanterie as an accent can add a touch of class and personality in a modern décor and deconstruct a traditional décor by adding graphic lines can lightened and revive a tired home style. As you can see playing with opposites makes an interesting environment, one that speaks about character.
If your home is in the neutral tones the new bold colors of this fall 2010 are very chic and lively, add some pieces of dramatic furniture and bold accessories, voila’ you have a new home to come to. Perhaps the only thing to do for an upgraded look is to change throw pillows and window coverings, or the accessories all together, or repaint some walls in the metallic faux finish tones and not necessarely all in this order.
Homes do need to be refreshed every so often, your eyes and your soul will appreciate it. Allow colors into your life and allow your friends to enjoy it too, after all, beauty is made to share with others.
My design career started in fashion and for 15 years I was very happy in my own fashion company before settling in the interior designing business. Now, with the long fashion experience and my 20 years in interior designing, I can guide my clients in the right choices for their beautiful homes.
I would love to help you or your friends and family transitioning into new color and the new you. Ciao,
Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Fashion and Interior Designer since 1990, working in the USA and Europe. She blends well fashion and interior in any of her design work. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles. Valentina is knows as a colorist. Her life is a continuous evolvement of colorful events.
Valentina is also the author of the book:
Come Mia Nonna–A Return to Simplicity
Many times I wonder why people think cabinets intended for kitchens and baths must be just square boxes lined up like soldiers either on the walls or on the floor. Cabinets are utilitarian items and must serve a purpose of storing lot of cooking arsenal, food and products. Their functionality determines their bulky status, we know that, but we can at least improve their look by using certain strategies.
Mixing expensive wood on few panels with less expensive wood is a way to save and improve; mixing colors adds interest and movement. Using recycled wood, or hammered metal doors here and there will give your guests something to talk about. Counter tops don’t have to be all the same colors and the same materials and islands don’t have to be a box either. Look at this beautiful antique table repurposed and made into an island.
Kitchen and bath cabinets I see around are so uniform, so even, so square, so boxy and so boring! They are as common as they can be.
I didn’t have to become a designer to like different things, shapes and forms. I became a designer just because my thinking is different and I can offer so many different solutions to the people I want to serve.
Let me tell you, curves in home furnishing and cabinetries have never gone out of fashion, just like curvaceous women have always existed in history, in paintings and even more so in modern times. Plastic surgery enhances those parts of a woman God forgot to add, or just about.
Curved lines in kitchen cabinetries create rhythm and flow other than saving floor space, as we all know those 2 or 3 inches make a difference on a floor plan. Curved corners bring so much harmony in the stark look of any cabinetry. See my
Kitchen Round Curio
Think of a space as a whole, don’t look at the price of the curved cabinetry. Choose warm color wood species, add warm colors in the hard surfaces material and walls; open up some cabinets by adding glass door front with interior glass shelves and lighting; mix closed cabinets with open shelves and just wait to see how pleasurable the kitchen will be.
Curves in bathroom cabinetries make an easier flow with less points of danger. Curved cabinetry fit well in contemporary décor as well as in traditional style.
Producing custom made curved cabinetry has many advantages and no disadvantages that I can list, contrary to what most people think. The cost to produce curves is higher than boxy, squared cabinets, I agree, but originality is priceless, in this world of “common looks and common places”. Would you not like to enter your kitchen or bathroom and say to yourself: “Yes, this is me!”. I think you would, especially when guided by a designer that will follow your dreams and allow that to happen. Today, being original is a way to preserve your personality and your soul.
Furthermore, consider that home fashion décor doesn’t change every three months as fashion does, so it makes sense investing once in a good cabinetry material made with superior craftsmanship that will last more than a decade, thus stretching your money for a long period of time. Take a look of this bath vanity I designed for one of my client. Bath Vanity
Author of the book: Come Mia Nonna–A Return to Simplicity
Red, the most passionate
colors of all the spectrum. Some people fear it for the excitement, agitation
and stirring up that red might bring to their day. Did you think red is an
occasional color, good only for Christmas and Valentine's day? I hope not. At
Christmas time the only red showing up in my decorations is a wreath of
oversize red roses hanging on my entry door.
contrarian", I like to use red in August. Gardens and orchards are a
delight to enjoy with all the reds they produce; tomatoes make their best
appearance in this month. My home grown tomatoes are juicy and beefy and they
looks so good in a cluster on the vine.
Red in all tints and
tones is going away from dining rooms, making an imposing entrance in areas of
the home you wouldn't imagine and it is becoming very creative all on its own.
My master painter used
red in his bedroom and it looks stunning. Think about it. Most of our time
spent in the bedroom is spent with the eyes closed, sleeping, but when we get
up in the morning, red is perfect to energize and stimulate our cells to start
a productive day in a positive way.
One of my colleagues made
a red column to host double ovens, microwave and cabinets in a kitchen with a
real personality, tailored to express individuality. Note, the island is made
from an antique Queen Ann table. What a fabulous idea! Old furniture can be
re-used in a new way. Possibilities are infinite.
European kitchens show
red sparingly, but in a playful way, mixing it with natural woods or with
highly lacquered cabinetry in white, smoky gray or black.
One of my client painted
the powder room in Tomato Red and it is vibrant! Tomato Red Powder Room
Now let's go where the new August Red is going.
Closet doors are beautiful in color. Imagine a red closets in the bedroom, matte lacquer over teak wood, surrounded by pearl gray walls done in Venetian stucco and a highly polished concrete floor.
Red is going in interior doors, painted in panels for a tri-dimensional effect.
In one of my project in Italy, I have used only one red interior door as the accent door. It was the door to the home office, but as the element of surprise, intrigues people and the question is always: "What is there behind that door?"
In a world of exulted cult of the appearances, people tend to live in vanity, exaggerations and in the desire of impress others at all costs. Often people’s aim is to overdo and to over say, not only in fashion, but in every expression of life.
Elegance is not showy. Elegance is style, awareness and moderation.
Elegance is a balanced mix of good taste and precise choices. It translates in the right search for substance and attention to details. Elegance is sober and sobriety is elegant. Both are pleasing and comfortable, functional and beautiful.
Sobriety is not a sacrifice. I would describe it as the ability to choose only what is needed, especially when it comes to fashion as interpretation of self, other than home fashion.
Some people think elegance is a gift and others think it is an innate talent. It could be somewhat true. There are people who know how to express and communicate with their look better than others. On the other hand, nobody is condemned to be vulgar, bulky and annoying, or just trust his/her own instinct. Elegance, sobriety and simplicity are all things we can learn and cultivate and once we learn them, they can simplify our lives.
Einstein said: "To be simple, is to be brilliant" e someone else said: “Simplicity is the key of elegance”. Totally agree, in fact I am the queen of simplicity.
Style and elegance are not easy to define. Style refers to forms, appearances and character. Everyone has a style that can be beautiful or not pleasing at all, according to what our eyes project.
Let’s talk about home style, just to take an example. Baroque style is an elegant style, but ancient and not practical for the times we live in. If we mix Baroque style in the simplicity of contemporary furnishing, it can result in a dynamic décor and it will describe a person with a variegated and polyhedral character. But not everybody can make combinations of this sort, well thought out that looks good too.
Elegance never goes out of style, that is, if we don’t follow trends to the letter.
Another example can be the European fascination with the color black as a screaming trend in kitchen design. Come on! How would you like to eat a tasty mussels (black shells) in a pasta specialty served on black plates, with a black drinking glass set, surrounded by black kitchen cabinetries?
I understand that trends must exist, otherwise all kinds of industries will cease to live. Personally, I like to leave trends to those in need of looking the same as everybody else to get their approval. Those are the people who run in pack and if you meet them in the street, you can’t recognize one from the other.
As a designer, my goal is to accentuate the personality of the people living in the house I am contracted to design, making sure their spaces serve their needs and have some kind of originality too.
My spaces are not made with cookie cutters. My spaces are timeless, they cannot be recognized as made in 2008 or 1998 and yet I am a person very much projected in the future, but I don’t feel I must follow trends dictated by any industry.
I take only the best part of the trends, the rest I invent it myself and that is “my trend”.
How can you, in a few simple words, explain this concept?
Any home can be simply elegant and stylish, I am here just for that. My help is simply available to style your home in a livable elegance.
Visit My Design Site
My video on Affluent Living
Valentina Cirasola is an
Italian Fashion and Interior Designer since 1990, working in the USA and Europe. She
blends well fashion and interior in any of her design work. She loves to
remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles.
Fashion designing has
been her first career choice that made her happy in her own fashion company for
fifteen years before settling in the interior designing business. Book Author:
Come Mia Nonna - A Return To Simplicity
Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer, working in the USA and Europe. She loves to build new homes and remodel any old spaces. The focus of her design is on Kitchens, Bathrooms, Wine Grottos and Entertainment Rooms. She can turn unattractive spaces into castles. Aside from running her design business, Valentina is also engaging in the writing of her own book collection and building her home in Italy.
"Italian Luxury For Comfortable Living"
Theme Trip: "Food In The Architecture Of Puglia" - Year 3
A Designer with a passion for food and kitchens
Sept.15, 2010, I will be at the airport in Bari, Italy
picking up all the participants to my theme trip: “Food In The Architecture Of
I am organizing again an unusual cultural trip into Puglia,
an ancient Region in the South of Italy. I will be showing you a part of Italy
not beaten by mass tourism. The region of Puglia is my home land, I will show
you the area with the eyes of a local.
During the time together, I will take a group into the
Baroque architecture of the area, sight seeing in major cities and towns,
shopping and culinary experience. That’s right, you will experience the
regional cuisine. A local chef will teach and guide us through a four (4)
hands-on cooking classes.
Puglia cooking elaborates the earth’s product with
simplicity, exalting the most natural flavors and respecting the balance
between ingredients. The history of Puglia cooking is tight to the agricultural
traditions. Gestures of modern hands perpetuate ancient rituals. This is a
cooking that reaches you first with the colors, then with the smells and last
but not the least with the flavors. Sauces, hand made pasta, rich and
incomparable mozzarella, seafood and earth products cross each other to give
you a touch of originality, while unusual match of ingredients will tickle your
fantasy and palate.
Puglia is an ancient land on the Adriatic sea. The panorama
is made of grass and rocks; trees and stones; cove, inlets, natural beaches and
sea. The tones in Puglia are simple and limpid and the air smells of salt and
pasture. Here the majestic past is not sold in tourist shoppes of souvenirs,
but it remains written on the walls of the towns and only the appreciative
tourist comes this way.
Join us for a few days of nothing but fun, relaxation into a
beautiful architecture and food for the Gods.
Trip includes the following:
dinners, ½ bottle of mineral water and ½ bottle of wine per person, per day.
in a renovated farm house.
(4) cooking classes.
bus and transportation to all sight seeing, visits to main historical sites and to/from Bari airport.
tax/gratuity, any assistance in place.
Trip does not include:
trip plane ticket from United States, or from anywhere in the world to Bari –
lunches and entry to the Castel Del Monte (Castle).
I will take all the reservations at this time. Please,
enquire directly with me.
Dead line to reserve your place and paying in full June 30,
Down payment is required in the amount of $880.00.
Dates: Sept. 15, 2010 – Sept. 22, 2010.
Total price $1,750.00 per person.
Please contact me directly:
Available to participants:
Extended additional stay in other places and cities in
Special arrangements can be made on request before leaving
Please inquire directly with me to arrange additional stay.
I will take care of you with my team in Italy. Ciao,
Interior Designer since 1990 and loving it !
Visit My Design Site
Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe. She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos.