Studio Brunstrum
If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.
I can’t believe the holidays are upon us once again (where did the time go?)! As with each holiday season, I like to take the down time to reflect on the past year – my successes, my failures, my favorite moments, those friends and family that bring joy to my life, and how much progress I’ve made from the year before. This year when I started to reflect, I found myself focusing on the “but” – “It was a good year, BUT …” or “I accomplished this, BUT..”.
After a few minutes, I realized I wasn’t allowing myself to live in the moment and be grateful for all that I’ve accomplished in the past year. I was measuring myself against the impossible standard of perfection and leaving no room for real life, always striving for more and better. I’d been reluctant to take my own advice and remember that our lives are not stagnant. Last year, we discussed the topic of “perpetual beta” – a term coined by software developers that references a constant state of change and iterative improvement. Our lives are always in a state of perpetual beta (as are our homes), but I’d forgotten to allow myself room for improvement and to focus on the positive rather than the negative.
With a few weeks left in the year, I’m leaving that negativity in this decade, taking happiness, self-love, motivation, and the same great family, friends, employees, clients, and business partners into 2020. I will remember that life should constantly be changing, changing our environments along with it. I will remember that life is a journey and is not a stagnant moment in time. I will remember that perfection is an anomaly and an impossible standard to live up to. I will remember that I am enough.
From all of us at Studio Brunstrum, we wish you the gift of enough this holiday season.
Susan, Kelsey, Cristina, Patti and Miles
The Studio Brunstrum Team
Color Me Crazy!
Colored Appliances. Move over, stainless steel! Colored appliances are here and they are making a splash. I love that appliances are becoming more unique and customizable; for so long the primary driver of a purchase was brand name and functionality, compromising personality for the same look and feel across most kitchens. Choosing a unique color for your stove (or dishwasher or cooking range) creates a bold statement and keeps your kitchen from looking passé. From cobalt blue to canary yellow to navy or emerald green – the options are endless!

Photos (left to right): La Cornue, Smeg
Pattern Envy
Patterned Hardwood Floors. A wood floor is a wood floor is a wood floor, right? Wrong! Typically, the main factors that go into choosing a wood floor are stain, width, and type of wood, now we’re adding in pattern choice as well. While a classic wood floor is timeless, a patterned wood floor adds dimension and depth, creating a grounding space that stands out rather than blending in. My advice? Create a larger pattern in a natural, neutral hue so you don’t distract from the rest of the furnishings in the room or create a pattern that’s overwhelming. My wood of choice? Oak!

Photos (left to right): Country Living, Pattern House DCR
Drop It Like It's Hot
Heated Outdoor Lighting. No need to stay indoors all Winter – even if you live in Chicago! Miles recently discovered Heatsail, a Belgian lighting company that specializes in custom, state-of-the-art, heated outdoor lighting. No need to compromise style for function, these light fixtures are sleek and modern and keep you warm enough to put your patio to use during all four seasons!

Photos (left to right): Heatsail
Stars and Stripes
Made in America. This decade has only furthered the realization that America is now primarily a service-based nation, as opposed to the manufacturing and industrial powerhouse we once were. While large, corporate manufacturing has been driven primarily to Asia and India, America has not lost its love of creating, it just looks a bit different. Artisans and craftsman still play an integral part in our economy – one that I believe will only increase in the next decade. Creating handmade, specialized goods takes talent and hard work; these artisans are now being prized by the younger generations and their wares are on demand in the home-furnishings sector. Supporting small-businesses and artists is of the utmost importance for our economy; it also allows you to create a one-of-a-kind home with furnishings you can’t get elsewhere.

Photos (left to right): Metal Inset via Judi Melnick, Table via Pease Plastics, Chairs via Nelson Upholstery
All Images via Studio Brunstrum
Arguably one of the most important decisions for a space (as it dominates the visual landscape of the room and is responsible for grounding the other furniture), there are quite a few factors that go into choosing the perfect rug for a space: size, material, shape, texture, color and pattern. This month, we’re talking about size and shape. Stay tuned for the January 2020 Reverie Journal for choosing the right material, texture, color, and pattern. The size of the rug you need depends on the room. For a dining room, you want to make sure the rug is large enough that chairs will still sit on top of the rug when they are pulled out. For the bedroom, choose a rug that’s large enough to give you walking space on all three sides, but stops just before it reaches your side tables – bedroom rugs should NOT go all the way to the wall like your bed does. Other rooms get a bit more complicated depending on the arrangement and type of furnishings; generally, there are 3 rules that can apply: (1) buy a large enough rug that it extends past all of your furniture evenly, (2) size your rug so that it fits the front legs of all of your furniture only or (3) float a rug in the room (typically if it’s near a sofa or sectional). The shape of a rug should complement your furniture – don’t be afraid to mix shapes for a bit of juxtaposition. A good note to remember – rugs can usually be cut down to the needed sizes and shapes (depending on the pattern)!
Function and organization were the defining factors for this kitchen and laundry room/mudroom project. The relocation timeline for this executive and his family significantly shortened the project deadline, giving us only 5 weeks to make minor updates throughout the home (new paint colors, staining the floors, updating window treatments, and moving electrical), relegating the extensive kitchen and laundry room renovation to a secondary project. Working within the existing blueprint, we ensured the cabinetry layouts and flow between both rooms as the primary entrance/exit of their home would be functional for their specific needs. Both spaces now favor classic, traditional aesthetics, creating a timeless design that’s more conducive to the needs of their busy family. Check out the rest of the project in our portfolio HERE.
I’ve always been a proponent of bringing one’s greenery indoors; I make sure to have fresh flowers in my home year-round. When I first moved to the city, I was taking a walk in my neighborhood and simply had to stop in Christine Noelle’s store after seeing her window display. Fast-forward four years and she is now one of Studio Brunstrum’s favorite collaborators. With a keen eye for color and texture, Christine creates the most stunning and unique floral arrangements, complementing the spaces we design and helping bring them to life. With florals and botanicals sourced from all over the world, she’s introduced me to new plants, always balancing the perfect mix of shape, color, smell, and texture. We love to partner with Christine for our big photoshoots, parties (including our office warming gala), gifts, and our office floral arrangements. She never fails to create something stunning – she even taught the SB team how to arrange their own florals!

I escaped to the South with my kids for the Thanksgiving holiday, visiting long time family friends, the Zwarts, in North Carolina. Good food, better company, too many glasses of wine, fierce games of Pictionary and even a bit of water-skiing, it was the perfect holiday break! We spent Black Friday in Asheville, NC – the home of the Biltmore Mansion (currently featuring two Downton Abbey exhibits and their stunning Christmas candle-light décor) and the Omni Grove Park in (currently exhibiting their annual gingerbread competition). Catch up with our latest travel guide HERE to read about the history of the Biltmore and some of the tips we picked up for our own family gingerbread competition!

Lauren was among the presenters for the Design Trust Fall Symposium in Chicago in November, where I was fascinated to learn about her career in the arts and her new product ventures. What started as a college hobby of painting glassware, ceramics and tile grew into a successful business, eventually broadening to encompass exquisite, fine jewelry from all corners of the world. Lauren’s latest ventures (and part of what she spoke to Design Trust about) are her partnerships with Artistic Tile and Pickard China, to create pieces that focus on the “jewelry of your home”, bringing the patterns and beauty of nature to couture tile and china design. I love the way her new collection mirrors the jewelry she has been creating, transforming the beauty of the gems she uses to a different medium!
Wreaths by Laura Dowling. Former White House Florist and friend, Laura Dowling, makes the holiday season easy with her book, Wreaths. Containing how-to tutorials, she draws on her extensive expertise to make the process of creating the perfect wreath look easy. The book has been on my nightstand for the last month, inspiring me to create my own Christmas wreath this year, instead of opting for my usual store bought one. Hopefully Christine Noelle can help if I mess up too badly! Laura’s other works include A White House Christmas and Floral Diplomacy at the White House – both of which make great reads and even better gifts for your friends who love florals. Keep an eye out for her 2020 release, Bouquets.
IFDA Video
The final cut of Kelsey and Susan’s IFDA presentation is now live on the website! Tune in for a few minutes (we won’t judge if you don’t watch all 90), for a glimpse at Studio Brunstrum’s “16 Lessons Learned in 16 Years of Business” HERE. We were told we should start a podcast… a potential new venture for 2020?
Dering Hall Feature
Thank you to Dering Hall for our latest feature in Foyers with Sweeping Staircases. We love designing around a grand entryway that draws your eye upward, balancing the sweeping staircase with other dimensional and textural elements to create interest. Check out the rest of the round-up HERE.
Carrie Lannon Website Feature
We’re honored to be included in the launch of SB friend and collaborator, Carrie Lannon’s, new website! Carrie’s firm, Carrie Lannon Consulting, assisted Studio Brunstrum with the re-brand from Sweet Peas Design – we wouldn’t be the same brand without her. Check out her new website and Susan’s testimonial HERE.
Closed for the Holidays
As a reminder, the Studio Brunstrum office will be closed from 12/23 – 1/1, as we enjoy time with our families and friends for the holidays. We will return on Thursday, 1/2. Happy Holidays from the Studio Brunstrum team!
For inspiring ideas every month, please subscribe
Instagram Facebook Pinterest Linkedin Houzz DeringHall Design Trust The Home Trust
ASID ILLINOIS 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015
213 W. INSTITUTE PL. #401 CHICAGO, IL 60610 312.572.9090
© 2018 Studio Brunstrum. All Rights Reserved.