Design Eye Training : 102

Design Eye Training : 102 -
design : s.r. gambrel

Happy Tuesday! It’s time for the second post in my Design Eye Training series! Last month, this post and topic turned out to be wildly popular. I truly enjoy teaching, learning, and chatting about all things design (as do many of you), so it seemed fitting! My advice for those looking to improve their design skills has always been practice– or consider a mentorship or additional design courses, if you’re looking to practice on a professional level. Regardless, this series is a cool critique of sorts… it is fun and beneficial for both interior design lovers and experts, alike. Click through to admire, analyze, and talk about the second space in the series with me. This stunning bath is designed by one of my all-time favorite designers, the extremely talented Steven Gambrel

Design Eye Training : 102 -
design : s.r. gambrel

This series is all about keeping it simple, making observations, and spotting intentional design moments. We’ll be analyzing the images throughout this post, I’ll ask some guided questions about what you’re noticing, and then I’ll share my own thoughts on the room. You’ll probably notice repeated design talking points throughout this series (the basics), and other items that are specific to a certain style or space. By discussing these rooms in greater detail, you’ll begin to train your design eye, build upon the design fundamentals, and begin to apply these to your own home. I also feel like this series can really help you hone in on your personal aesthetic, determining what you like and dislike. Ready? Let’s do it!

Give yourself two fast minutes to jot down or consider your answers to these questions (I like to set a timer because I could do this all day)… what are you observing in the images of this bathroom? Is there anything specific that stands out to you? What do you think works well? What would you change? Can you imagine how this room functions? Does it feel like a cohesive space? Why?

Design Eye Training : 102 -
design : s.r. gambrel
  • High contrast & color // monochromatic neutrals, shades of lavender and plum, high contrast graphic elements (like windows, panel moulding, black toilet seat, and towels with piped edge)
  • Organic materials // cotton bath towels, linen or cotton café curtains, linen roman shades, natural wood flooring, woven baskets, natural stone
  • Depth // raised panels, dimensional millwork, tongue & groove linear ceiling treatment
  • Mixed metals // wire mesh inner cabinet panels, polished nickel plumbing fixtures, aged bronze side table, antique bronze door hardware
  • Textiles / plush cotton bath towels, natural window treatments
  • Texture & Finishes / soft textures (wood, cotton, linen, flat paint) paired with glossy luxe surfaces (nickel, polished stone, subway tile, etc)
  • Lighting / only noticed one overhead flush-mount light and perhaps a sconces above vanity area (lots of natural light)?

My list may be longer than yours, but remember- I’ve been doing this for awhile and notice lots of details. Whatever you can squeeze into your thoughts during those two minutes… analyze why you noticed those things first. Do you like this space? Why? I think it’s beautiful and simplistic in the best way… which is rare for Steven Gambrel. His spaces are usually over-the-top and skew more maximalist.

Design Eye Training : 102 -
design : s.r. gambrel

I’ve trained myself to observe scale & proportion, color, choice of finishes, materials, balance, texture, functionality, the overall aesthetic, and of course- the styling. If you can point out observations in the aforementioned design areas- you’re doing wonderful! Perhaps you already have a trained or honed design eye? These exercises help to refine it and stretch your creative muscle. I’m all for further education and learning. I actually try to learn something new every single day. I hope you were able to learn something about design here today! Is there anything I didn’t talk about that you noticed? If you’re serious about interiors, architecture, decorating, or styling…  or maybe you’re just looking for a new hobby, it’s fun to keep a “Design Notes” journal and jot down things like this. It’s a good activity!

Design Eye Training : 102 -
design : s.r. gambrel

I’m excited to hear your thoughts and notes on this space! I think you’ll begin making more design discoveries, having had talked about these things. It’s funny what you begin to notice. Are you still enjoying this series? Does it feel helpful? I hope as a design professional, I can offer some solid advice, educational content, and tips within the series. I hope you’re all having a lovely week so far. We have house guests for one more day, then it is back to my regular routine. I’ve been enjoying sneaking off into nature for day hikes with our friends. We’ve been having the perfect fall weather over here. Have a great day!

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  1. Yay! I love this series! I also LOVE Steven Gambrel, and I was surprised at the minimal, monochromatic look. I didn’t originally see the third image when I was jotting thoughts. I noted the high contrast black trim, toilet seat, and towels. I see lots of geometry-the linear ceiling treatment, floors, tile and moulding; the grids in the window, the basket, the transom, the screens on the linen closet; the curvy tub, shower bench bracket and faucets/bath fixtures. Lots of different textures are present- smooth tiles and polished nickel with more rustic floors, gauzy curtains, natural basket, and rough hewn table. I also noticed only one light fixture, but lots of lovely windows. For me, I’m missing art, plants and rugs. I also am having a hard time seeing the way the very black and white part of the room works with the warmer plum and bronze end. I mean, I’m not questioning Mr. Gambrel…I just have questions.🤣 I’ll have to go look for other views of this space, so I can understand his vision. Thanks for the lesson!
    I hope you are out and about in the beautiful fall air. I’ve been enjoying Laurie Anne’s scenic stories. (Although, have you seen that cougar hiking video?!😱) Revel in your bestie time!

    1. Peggi, I saw that cougar hiking video and we have had bobcats spotted in our area…yikes!

      1. Bobcats are also sneaky and aggressive. Better keep an eye out!

    2. Me too! :) I was trying to find a space that had at least 3 images on his portfolio (so we could analyze a bit better), and this was the only space I could find. It definitely looks and feels more minimal and monochromatic than what we’re used to seeing from him… but I love that he designs all types of spaces in varying aesthetics. All of your observations are spot on! Amazing work! I think he’s such a styling genius- I too, am missing those elements in this space: the art, plants, and accessories. I actually do like the black trim, bronze metals, and deep plum palette working together. It’s unexpected, but I enjoy that the colors come from the same family and feel cohesive. I think it’s a cool way to integrate dark and moody colors without committing to an entire wall. We’ve been doing a LOT of hiking lately. It has been wonderful to take in the gorgeous fall foilage and enjoy the weather. Laurie Anne did a great job at documenting, and I’ve been trying to do a better job at checking out and enjoying experiences without my phone (which feels like work these days, haha). OMG- the cougar video. Yes. We’ve had some spotted in our neighborhood as well- the DNR sent out a notice and some neighbors spotted them on their doorbell cam (nothing on our trail cam yet). So crazy! The guy in the video acted exactly as he should have in the situation… I’m not convinced I would have reacted as appropriately or calm. Ha! Happy Tuesday, Peggi :)

  2. Love these posts Sarah and want to spend time with this one. Unfortunately, this week is busy. I will revisit soon. I am prepping for a dear friend to come and stay with me for a couple of days. Have a great week!

    1. It will be here whenever you have time, Danna :) I’m so excited to hear you’re having a special visitor. Enjoy time with your dear friend!! That’s so fun. My best friend just left today, but she stayed for five days and it was wonderful. Enjoy! xo

  3. Melissa D says:

    I’m a day late on this one, but I love this series and I still want to play!

    The first thing I noticed (in the first two photos) is the beautiful warm neutral palette accentuated by pops of contrasting trim on the walls, windows, and towels. I love the organic feel in this bathroom – with the stone in the shower, wood floors, and natural materials in the stool and window treatments around the tub. The depth (as you called it) also stood out to me with the beautiful wall paneling and the painted tongue and groove ceiling, it’s simply stunning. The amount of natural light in this bathroom is gorgeous, but I see almost no light fixtures which makes me wonder how truly functional a bathroom like this could be! And finally – that carved stone bench in the shower is AMAZING.

    The photo with the purple wall – I love that saturated moody wall color, and it definitely makes that white trim pop. I love the mixed metals between the dark bronze cabinet hardware and wire mesh insert and the nickel finishes inside the bathroom. And the window treatments! That cozy velvet roman shade is beautiful, and I love the lightness of the cafe curtains inside the bathroom.

    All in all, I think they are beautiful spaces! I’m actually surprised by how much I like the white/neutral bathroom here, I’m usually much more of a color person. It looks like a very relaxing space, but I feel like it’s missing something… maybe some art or plants like Peggi suggested. Though I can’t keep a plant alive for anything, so it’s probably best for me to not have such things in my bathroom!

    1. Yes, please! You have an incredible eye for design, Melissa! There are definitely lots of beautiful organic moments happening in here. I also wondered about functionality in terms of the lighting plan. I assumed it must be very intimate after dark. I probably wouldn’t want to shave after the sun goes down. Haha! I loved the radius edge on the stone carved bench- that was one of my favorite features! I would also like to see a few more accessories styled into the space- art, flowers, something. Thanks so much for the fun chat! xo

  4. What I noticed right away is how the millwork and ceiling treatment come together to make an otherwise narrow space feel more open and spacious. Matching the panel mounding to the level of the window on the opposite side was a genius solution for the one angled wall-you almost can’t tell it’s there! Visually it creates a level space for the eye to land on, which can be difficult in rooms with angled ceilings. I love the layered tones in this room. The lighter flooring feels warm and inviting, and layering darker tones from the baskets in the vanity, the legs of the side table, the mesh on the linen closet…all of it creates a depth that really emphasizes the plum wall and window casing, and from a distance, you’d swear that window above the tub was trimmed in dark wood. I love the high contrast black detail-on the millwork inset, the curtain rods, the door into the space, the towels and the toilet seat. It elevates the space and gives it that boutique hotel vibe. I’m also really digging the choice to go monochromatic in the shower- the rest of the room is amplified, making the room the show stopper. I’m not a fan of the lack of lighting. Yes there is a ton of natural light, but I would love a good light fixture over that tub, and a minimal set of sconces paired with the vanity. However, having a fixture above the tub would likely emphasize the angled ceiling and make the room feel off, so I’ll accept it. 😂
    The layering of the textures works well here too. I love the sheer linen texture of the curtains paired with the plush cozy towels, and styled this way it really emphasizes those gorgeous ribbons of black with the millwork and curtain rods. I also love the plum transom above the door, and the linen texture of the plum shades on the windows. Overall I love the space but I’m missing plants, artwork, and lighting. I love this series Sarah!! Thanks for another awesome round!

    1. Yes! Totally agree with all of that, Lauren… amazing eye! I also got the boutique hotel vibe, and it’s not overly feminine or masculine- which I think is a nice neutral balance. I also really love the monochromatic shower. It feels so warm and inviting, while looking simplistic and sophisticated. A light over the tub would’ve been amazing (a pendant maybe?)- I didn’t think of that! I’m wondering what designer and space I should choose for our next one :) I also really enjoy these posts! xox

  5. I just renovated my bathroom, to make it easier to navigate for my mom (and for me to age in place.) I noticed the lack of grab bars (sorry, I picked out a really pretty one choreograph by Kohler – it does not even look like a grab bar.) I noticed the curb to get in and out of the shower- I am really loving curbless entries. It is always good to plan for accessibility.

    What is the difference between polished nickle and polished chrome? I noticed the chrome entry to the shower immediately – it is my favorite and what I consider timeless. Plus all the chrome fixtures. Loved the framed window above the shower door, as well as the matching one above the entrance to the room with the pedestal sink. I really liked the stone floor with the long striations matched with the gray subway tile wall. Those colors are restful, serene.

    I loved the stone bench and particularly that it was off to the side. I really liked the carved supports, a nice rounded line to contrast with the long sinus lines of the floor and the straight lines of the tile.

    I did not see a niche in the shower which I think adds to the clean lines.

    I have to say that overall the shower is just serene.

    It appears this bathroom has two separate sink areas. I would have liked to see a pencil layout of the entire bathroom for relationships between the various pieces. I liked the vanity with the pull out baskets. The two separate sinks areas are likely very practical. I have a soft spot for pedestal sinks. I like that this area with the bathtub, toilet (and that great black lid) and the pedestal sink can act as a bath on its own, while the shower with the vanity sink is more of what you would expect, and adds storage. I liked the pull out baskets in the vanity for the extra texture.

    I added black pencil trim to my tile wainscoting in my bathroom update, so it obviously hits a sweet spot with me. And, there is nothing better than white towels. They always look rich and current.

    The colors are… classic, traditional, timeless.

    And then there is the hall??? the walk through with the window and the linen cabinet. I really like the metal lattice doors and the fabric which keeps everything from showing. More texture without overwhelming the eye. On the practical side, a bit of breathing room for the linens.

    Of course there is more. I love the floor and ceiling which add even more texture.

    I did not notice the lack of lighting, there was too much else catching my eye.

    Still wish I had a pencil layout of the bathroom. I could be totally wrong in guessing there is a walk through.

    I would have clipped the shower to save the floor and wall tile combination.