Studio Brunstrum
Our intention creates our reality.
Last month, we discussed the DNA of your home – the tangible aspects that tell your story –or the “what” of your home. Most of us spend 90% of our lives indoors and of that, two-thirds of that time is spent in our own homes. So, this month, we want to focus on the “why” of your home – the reasons behind what you select and include. Your intentions.

Our homes nourish and care for us, they are our foundation. Shift your thinking beyond the beauty and functionality perspective, and instead think about the support your home gives to those living there. Consider the impact your home has on your well-being and happiness. It is not about how your home looks, but how it feels! Does it create a sense of security, comfort, and peace? Does it allow you to, write, paint, gather the family, entertain? Does it give you access to nature to take a walk, spend time on a lake, grow vegetables? Your home shouldn’t feel like a luxury hotel, where each room is designed with similar elements for convenience, expense, and replication.
Designing with intention gives meaning to the colors, art, shapes, fabrics, architectural details, and furnishings you fill your home with, and it creates individuality. Your home should not be a collection of things but rather a collection of experiences - your dreams, your hopes and your memories that focus on care and nurture within to positively impact your personal growth, behavior, and lifestyle. And if it’s not, be intentional and make a change.
Susan, Kelsey, and Patti
The Studio Brunstrum Team
Wild Wild West
Western. Saddle up, cowboy! Perhaps we’ve all been watching a bit too much Yellowstone, but we’re seeing western style infiltrate fashion and home design. With its richer color palette, supple textures like leather, suede and denim, and attention to detail through fringe, braiding and weaving, the western trend feels inherently Fall. It’s luxurious without being pretentions and feels comforting by nature. Not ready to move to a cattle ranch? Introduce an element or two of the western style and mix it with more modern pieces for a fresh update.

Photos (left to right): Kimberly Amos, Laura Kirar
Hooked on Onyx
Onyx. Move over, marble. Onyx is here to stay. More translucent than marble, and available in a variety of colors, onyx lends a luxury to spaces when used sparingly. Onyx has always been popular in bathrooms (think vanities, walls, sinks), but can also be used on occasional tables, drinks tables, floor accessories and tabletop accessories and even stair treads or back lit countertops or backsplashes! We prefer the use of onyx in large slabs rather than in a smaller tile format so the characteristic veining of the stone can be appreciated.

Photos (left to right): Impactful Stone, Unknown
Heads Up
Painted Ceiling Caps. It’s no secret that we love a wallpapered or painted ceiling here at Studio Brunstrum. Lately, we’ve been noticing the paint is extending beyond the ceiling, just passed the crown molding to create the feeling of a ceiling “cap”. Bringing the paint beyond the vertical plane creates a heavier, defined look that makes an even bolder statement than a traditionally painted ceiling. However, we do caution against using this technique in smaller spaces without a lot of natural light so that the room doesn’t feel too enclosed.  

Photos (left to right): Interiors, Bo Bedre
Moss Boss
Lichen. Bring the hike home with you! We’ve spotted an abundance of faux lichen and moss (or paint to look like lichen or moss) adorning furnishings, accessories and even rugs this season. We love the texture and color it adds, acting as a grounding element. Typically seen on bark, birchwood or cement pieces, lichen lends a realistic feel that doesn’t appear overdone.

Photos (left to right): Unknown, Sekai
All Photos via Studio Brunstrum
Stairs are an integral part of most homes, yet we often find that they’re not high on the priority list of items to update. The good news is that a staircase update doesn’t need to be as all-encompassing as its sounds. You could add a carpet runner or change the finish via stain or paint in favor of designing an entirely new staircase. We’re breaking down the pieces and parts of a staircase to help you better understand the “language” of stairs so that you can determine what options might be best for your home, timeframe, and budget.
  1. Treads, Risers and Nosing – The elements that make up the actual stairs. Treads are the horizontal surface that your feet step on and risers are the vertical connectors between each tread. Nosing is the portion of the tread that often overhangs the front of the riser. Floating staircases don’t have risers; we don’t recommend floating staircases if you have pets, children or a crippling fear of heights, like I do!  Most often, treads are made of wood, but they can also be made from metal or stone for more of a statement.
  2. Handrails – Also typically made of wood, handrails run the length of the staircase that you touch with your hand as you go up and down a stair.  Handrails are used for balance and to prevent people from falling. It’s common that handrails only appear on one side of the staircase.
  3. Balusters or Spindles – The vertical support system of the staircase. Think of spindles or balusters as what holds any staircase together – the bones. They can be made in a multitude of materials such as wood, glass, stainless steel or wrought iron and come in many shapes and patterns.
  4. Newel Posts – A support column for the staircase, these larger posts define the top and bottom of the staircase. Based on the size, they may also be interspersed between spindles as needed.  
Our general rule of thumb is that stairs should relate to the rest of the architecture in your home; use elements of the millwork throughout to create cohesion. While we don’t often see fully carpeted stairs anymore, the addition of a staircase runner helps add traction for pets, kids, and the elderly.
It’s been a year of international travels for the Studio Brunstrum team! What can we say? We’re making up for time lost to the pandemic. This month, Patti’s taking us on a tour of Morocco!
My trip to Morocco this past June consisted of a night and full day in Marrakech, a 9-hour drive through the Atlas Mountains to Merzouga, a camel trek to a dessert camp in the Erg Chebbi desert, and then back through the mountains to Marrakech for a friend’s wedding– with a night in Skoura and a few pitstops in between! This was my first time in Northern Africa, and I enjoyed so many things about this trip. From the food (give me all the tagine) to the Medina (somewhat overwhelming but absolutely fascinating) to the traditions and culture (warm hospitality and a deep-rooted appreciation of music). But I have to say, my absolute favorite thing about my Moroccan adventure was the places I stayed!

Marrakech (old city): Riad Tarabel. Not only did the Riad Tarabel have the most genuinely friendly and helpful staff, but this boutique “hotel” was nestled just outside the busy Medina… yet you would never know it! It was the epitome of a calm oasis, and probably the chicest place I’ve ever stayed. Every single detail was so meticulously designed and thought out – from the furnishings, fabrics, tile, paint colors, architecture, lighting, and artwork. I could not find one single design detail to scrutinize, which is saying a lot as someone who is in tune with the small details daily! A favorite feature: the secret spa entrance through a sliding gilded wall mirror!

Merzouga: Riad Madu. After an early morning and 9-hour drive from Marrakech, I was pleasantly surprised with the desert-chic Kasbah. I felt as though we were one with the elements, which makes sense, as it was built following the traditional Berber method. The structure utilizes local and natural building materials, which also absorb heat – ultimately keeping the spaces cooler (and it sure was hot out!). The secluded, earthy, textural, cohesive color palette placed on the outskirts of the bright orange dunes was an absolute dream. A favorite feature: the surprisingly cold pool smack dab in the middle of a desert!

Merzouga: Luxury Desert Camp. The camp was located at the edge of the Erg Chebbi desert and is only accessible by an hour-long camel ride (how we arrived – at sunset!) or a 20-minute bumpy car ride through the dunes (how we left). More like “glamping” – our home for the night was a gorgeous, large, tented bedroom fully equipped with running water and air conditioning! Again, this experience was so much about the environment, hence a post-dinner campfire, where we sat around on cushions and enjoyed local song and dance with the staff.  A favorite feature: the desert itself! From the sunset to the bright stars to the utter silence of the desert night – such a unique and unforgettable experience!

Skoura: L’MA Lodge. I wish I could have spent more time here! The hotel was stunning, and while it features only 4 bedrooms and 3 suites, the grounds were a lot bigger than expected and so lush! On a quick walk around, we found an array of rescue animals, badminton and bocce courts, and a tucked-away pool. I loved the plethora of intimate, cozy seating areas nestled amongst olive trees, which my friends and I took advantage of after a tasty Moroccan dinner under twinkle lights. A favorite feature: An eclectic rooftop where we watched the most beautiful sunset over the palm trees!

Marrakech (new city): Selman Marrakech. The final stop on the adventure – and the location of my friend’s Indian wedding! I was happy to have already experienced Marrakech earlier in the trip because I did not want to leave this lavish hotel! Luckily, there was so much to explore – including their stable of Arabian thoroughbred horses (and the location of Madonna’s 60th birthday party). We were in the lap of luxury, yet I still felt a deep connection and appreciation for the Moroccan culture through the hotel’s breathtaking Arab-Moorish architecture and design. A favorite feature: the stunning black and white tile used so skillfully throughout!
We enjoy partnering with the team at Calia Stone, one of Chicago’s premier slab warehouses. Calia has a wide variety of quartzite, marble and specialty stones; we particularly love their selection of colorful slabs – blues, pinks, maroons, greens – even purples! Each slab is its very own piece of art. With ample knowledge and a variety of backgrounds and industry experience, the all-female team of stone stylists at Calia are one of our go-to vendors for projects big and small!
Ceramicist Jonathan Cross partnered with The Future Project to create a small collection of stools, side tables and sculptures inspired by ancient geology. We’re particularly enamored with the stone stools – the rugged shapes and material add a heft and weight to the pieces, perfect as outdoor furniture or as a rough modern element in a room.
Lessons in Chemistry | Bonnie Garmus
Patti read Lessons in Chemistry for her book club and promptly recommended it to Susan and Kelsey; Susan loved it so much she devoured in in a few hours at the pool. Based in 1960s California, formidable scientist Elizabeth Zott is the only female at the Hastings Research Institute, where her all-male counterparts disregard her views on equality – except for the Nobel-prize nominated Calvin Evans. Fast forward a few years and Elizabeth unexpectedly finds herself both a single mother and the reluctant star of America’s favorite cooking show, where she combines her unusual and scientific approach to cooking with revolutionary ideas that challenge women to redefine the status quo and fight inequality on all fronts. Lessons in Chemistry was simultaneously funny, poignant, and inspiring – making it a contender for one of our favorite books of the year.  
Work from Home or Work from Europe?
Kelsey’s taking Studio Brunstrum abroad as she embarks on a three-month remote work trip this October. Her first month will be spent as part of a program through Remote Year in Lisbon, Portugal where she’ll work and live with others also taking their jobs remote. She’ll then spend two months working and travelling throughout the rest of Europe visiting friends and experiencing new places and cultures. Don’t worry – she’ll still be an integral part of the Studio Brunstrum team – she just might be sending you emails at 3AM! Want to follow her travels? She’ll be starting a travel journal (in addition to writing our Reveries and Sketchbooks); keep an eye out in September for an update!
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