2012 February Archive

Archive for February, 2012

Wore Ikat as a Kid. Now, It’s Big in Home Decor!

People are always curious as to what my heritage and ethnicity is. I find it amusing because it’s just the way I grew up and never thought my background was any different than anyone else. Are you Hispanic, Phillipino, Hawaiian, Asian? I’m from Uzbekistan. Huh? What’s that? I speak Uzbek? Huh? What does that sound like…

I grew up fighting for the freedom of my country against Communist Regime and thought it was normal to wear colorful clothing and walk in parades! Ha! See me sporting my bob in the center. So now when I go to High Point Market in North Carolina and see fabulous, colorful Ikat fabric on pillows and home accessories, you can imagine my delight.

Above pink Ikat pillows found at uzbekalive.com

Ever wonder where your fabric originated and the process of how it came to be. Why is one fabric more expensive than another? When you are laying on your pillow, typically you are not thinking about the hand craftsmanship and the work that was put into the fibers of your fabric.There is a whole process and many people that hand weave certain fabrics. I’m happy to share some amazing photographs of the involved process of making Ikat fabrics specifically from Uzbekistan. 

All of these textiles are based from a complex process which is undertaken before the individual elements are arranged upon the loom.

If the pattern is more elaborate, the process before the weaving is longer and more involved. Ikat makers hand thread on looms, marking them with patterns as the go. The intricacy of the design is really fascinating. 

Above fabric found at uzbek-ikat.com

Typically, the fabric is only 16” wide. Consider this when ordering it and using it for pillows or drapes. 

These amazing Ikat purses are found at uzbekalive.com

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the involved voyage your Ikat fabric takes before you even enjoy it on your pillows or in your wardrobe.

I hope this gives you some more appreciation of the beauty of Ikat and where it comes from.

For more information, contact me at selmahammer.com.

Why I am an Interior Designer…

“I can’t find anything to match this swatch!”

“No problem. I know exactly what you are looking for!”

I was born into the creative field and entrepreneurship. My grandfather opened up one the first textile stores in Manhattan, NY in the Textile/Garment District. I grew up in the family business by working in numerous family textile stores in NYC, Jersey City and Elizabeth, NJ. My parents owned 2 stores, where I spent most of my time outside of school (from the age of 7).

I would advise customers on what fabrics to select for their involved custom projects. My ability to judge spaces and keen eye for spatial allotment was learned very early on. I remember studying pattern books so when I asked customers what they were looking for, I had the pattern location memorized!

I helped people match up the colors, fabrics, accessories and notions for a complete look. We used to sell Singer sewing machines, so I also learned to sew and still view it as a fun hobby. Knowing how to sew, helps me know if a design is feasible and how we can make adjustments to suit different projects. I always love taking elements from different styles and blending them into one fabulous final design.

My sales and people skills were learned from a young age and the priority of helping people with superior customer service. My grandfather would always pat the back of customers as they came into the store and asked them if there was anything they could be helped with. Some patrons would be surprised because even for an old man, he could pack a punch, lol. For some reason, when they would look at his smiling face they would open up to him and trust him to help.

My color sense and ability to select coordinating components for my clients’ spaces comes very naturally and for that I feel blessed. It maybe due to my grandfather always making me go around the whole store and cut off all the unraveling strings of all the fabric bolts! As you can imagine, I really got a good knowledge of fibers.

Once I took the risk of pursuing my dream of interior design, I quickly realized that it was a natural career path. I am so very appreciative of finding my passion in life and you can quickly tell because I’m usually really excited about how I can help other’s create their dream space.

I think if my grandfather could see me now, he’d be proud. He always told me if I put my mind to it, I could do anything I wanted. Thank you “Baba” for always believing in me. =)

Hiring an Interior Designer? Consider This:

If you have never worked with an Interior Designer before, the task can feel daunting and you may have your inhibitions and uncertainties.

Like hiring any other service provider, there are some basic things to consider:

1) Personality:

There may be aspects of the design process that may get complicated and you want to have someone always looking for your best interest. Someone that has a good sense of humor and makes sure they put a positive aspect on things is important. They will consider your financial constraints seriously but when it comes to the daunting task of making numerous selections, they need to be sensitive of your personal style.

2) Experience:

It’s important to ask questions when you are interviewing your designer. Have you worked on a similar project? Are you comfortable with my task? Do you work with certain contractors and vendors? Are you affiliated with any professional design organizations?

3) Financial:

Do you have a total budget in mind for the project? If you don’t, an experienced designer can help you put one together or give you an idea of the components that are the larger ticket items. For newbie clients, you may have no idea of how much fabric costs per yard, how detailed certain custom products that are needed for your particular space can run. Make sure you are clear with your designer about the items that you value more and are willing to spend more on. Such as if you have young children, investing in high end upholstery may not be a priority. If you love lighting and really want an impact with beautiful lighting, make sure your designer knows this about you. A great designer will ask you a lot of questions and listen to what you prioritize but since it’s your home, you want to make sure you clearly communicate your want list.

4) Respect:

Treat others how you’d like to be treated applies with your designer. Understanding the design process will help you understand how complicated the designer’s job can be. They not only have to ensure your wishes are met, they keep your budget into consideration, but also use their expertise to maximize your space to be functional and beautiful. A designer’s job is not as luxurious as you may expect. Creative fields can get a bad rap with looking out for their best interests. There are designers out there that will select things without looking at price tags, which may be fine if you have an unlimited budget. Designers with a business background or savvy designers that keep up with trends and research will truly have your best interest at heart.

5) Benefits:

Your designer will bring you a space that is exactly what you were looking for that you couldn’t quite pull together yourself or don’t have the time or the resources to pull together. Your space will serve you functionally but also be very appealing to you and your family. You will finally have that space that feels comfortable and looks beautiful too. You will be proud to entertain and show off that visually appealing space!

Do not view that you are adding to your costs by hiring an interior designer but you are investing in expertise that will ensure the project gets done right the first time around. You are investing in improving your home, which typically is your largest asset and investment. Make sure you have a professional advising you, so you can maximize the money you spend on improving it! Do it right, do it tasteful and do it as you intended!

I hope these tips will help facilitate the process of searching for the right interior designer and understand the process a little better. If you like what you have read, please contact Selma Hammer Designs. I serve the Greater Rochester, NY Area and am open to traveling for special projects. www.selmahammer.com

Adult Kid, Kid & Pet Friendly Man Cave

So most American families have 2.5 children. Is that you? 2 Kids and an animal? Well, most pet lovers consider their dogs/cats, etc… as their babies! It’s so important to really listen to your client to see how they use their space. Not just talking to the paying client but listening and watching how their family and pets interact in the space. Honestly, if you were to walk into my house right now, what you’d see is a Lightning McQueen Power Wheel parked next to my great, new Stickley Sofa (from my son’s 2nd birthday), LOL! Hey, as designers we have to be realistic. We can make the house pretty and posh but can we design the space to really accommodate the homeowner’s needs. That is the big challenge that all great designers consider and can base their execution on.

Okay, so when you hear Man Cave, you think of chest bumping macho man sitting around drinking beers and yelling at the TV, right? Maybe not everyone…but “man cave” refers to the Cave Man Era where the men carried around their spears and weapons. Survival of the fittest, right? Well, in design, survival of the fittest applies. The good designers that listen to their clients and really get to know the family, the children’s names, ages, pets, relatives, live-in family members (in my house, Aunt Sufi), parents, etc… It’s always great to carry around some dog biscuits in your car for that giant beast that wants to tackle you. 

One of my clients has a baby, 4 cats, a large Rottweiler and a mini dog. Their primary requirement is having materials that are easy to clean. One of their cats tends to sneeze all the time and leaves it’s snots on the windows and fabric. Poor kitty! We chose fabrics such a sunbrella and outdoor/indoor rugs for their home.

I try to relate to everyone. I learned this talent from my mom, who tends to take on people’s accents as she is talking to them. It’s funny to hear it but she has this magical ability to relate to people and is very down to earth. I got it from my mommy!

As seen above, I have a lot of comfortable surfaces for children and adult children to hang out and relax. There are 3 huge football bean bags to snuggle into. I’m seeing a trend back to bean bags in my clients’ homes due to the advancement in fabrics, textures and options available. One of my clients told me she ordered some from beanbag.com. There are even bean bags with backrests now too. Amazing how manufacturers are really listening to the needs of the consumers.

Starting the inspiration for the Giants Man Cave, I was thinking about adding some Astro Turf like material so you feel like you are right in the stadium. I found an awesome Giants football field rug to accomplish that feel. I always say that there is a fine line between gaudy and fabulous, so be careful not to overdo it with the collectors’ items and sports paraphernalia. Pick your favorites, whether it is for sentimental value or for the priceless factor. Many Man Caves display autographed framed jerseys or tickets to an attended playoff game.

I grew up with really huge sports fans in my family so I was lucky enough to watch the Super Bowl on a projection TV like the one in my moodboard. The players are giant (pun intended) and you can see all the details. Typically, you can spot who is at the bottom of the fumble pile! 

Every Man Cave needs some sort of bar! This man cave offers some yummy chocolate covered strawberries that look like little footballs, which are a kid favorite. The bar stocks plenty of beer and glasses for the party. A good storage piece of furniture and this one is pretty to look at. It serves as extra seating and a surface to place food.

The Man Cave of today is family friendly. It’s not realistic to ban the rest of the family out of the space. A lot of them have video game consoles for Wii, XBox 360, Kinect, PS3 etc… A fun thing to add is something that everyone in the family enjoys, whether it’s arcade games, dart boards or a pool table as chosen in this Man Cave. So, how do you place all these games, chairs, tables and bar so it doesn’t look like a confusing mess. If you are sitting a lot of people, you want to have ample seating. A great versatile item to add into living spaces, such as media rooms, living rooms, and family rooms are movable cube ottomans. If you can’t spot it in the room, it’s placed in the corner with a Giants garden gnome on it. As you can tell, I like to add a little fun into all my designs. It’s a good talking piece and it would be a good debate on whether it’s creepy, cute, acceptable or just plain weird. 

There are a lot of different kinds of ottomans and cubes. I prefer those that have the option of being on casters. Then, you can easily move the extra seating to anywhere you need it. Other upholstered ottomans, such as the leather one above are versatile. You can place a tray on it and serve food or you can seat an extra person.

You want people to know where they are supposed to sit and where there are supposed to eat and where they are supposed to play. You can guide people with the flow of you rooms by a floor plan. You can have sitting, bar, and game areas. I love using swivel chairs in large open spaces that are versatile because you can swing around and join a different conversation if your heart desires. Kids love swivel chairs too. My kids like to play in the one at the pediatrician’s office which I am so thankful that they have something to keep them occupied.

So what if 5 or 10 extra people show up at your house. Make sure you have enough throw pillows around. I have placed numerous throw pillows around the room. You can always use one to lean back on the side of an occupied chair (if you like the person who is sitting in it and they don’t have smelly feet). Also, people can sit on the soft rug, using a pillow or not. Kids love sitting on pillows. I think it’s because at any moment they can pick it up and start a pillow fight! They are also much more flexible and don’t have those aching, sore backs yet!

The one thing to make your Super Bowl Party or any party stand out is by giving out a prize, whether it’s some money by having a pool or by giving away some team NFL wear. I placed some foam fingers in the room to poke the person who is routing for the wrong team and for the kids to think it’s awesome to have a finger the size of their body. Also, there are some Giants hats in some of the seats for the person who didn’t spill anything, like beer!


I hope I gave you a couple laughs and good advice to make sure you keep your space kid, adult kid and pet-friendly to entertain!

Please visit selmahammer.com to see more of my work and follow me on Twiiter @DesignerSelma. GO GIANTS! What!?! I’m live in Upstate NY and grew up in Jersey!