The Power of the Unexpected

Good designers are onto it.

An unexpected element can make a room. Like a corrugated-steel barn door in a
dining room.

Dining Room with Sliding Steel Barn Door

“I love them because they are textural and sculptural and unexpected…perhaps three important design concepts I incorporate in all my projects,” said New York designer Gail Shields-Miller, on her design for a Fire Island dining room and kitchen.

“It was a costly choice but undoubtedly the right decision. They are beautiful opened or closed and I adore the fact that they are not swing doors. For the most part they are left open and allow the eye to get a small glimpse of the hall to the master bedroom.”

Adjoining Kitchen Space

And the unexpected doesn’t stop with the doors. Shields-Miller loves to play up contrasts: old with new, sleek against rustic. The blue Venetian plaster is a rustic finish straight from the source.

“The work was actually done by a man from Venice Italy…a real artisan of the old school variety who worked lovingly on the wall for two weeks,” she said.

Steel Barn Door Contrasted with Blue Venetian Plaster Wall

“The space needed a burst of color and Venetian Plaster was a very classy and refined way to achieve that goal. I adore it; and it is one if the features that guests and visitors comment on with ‘oohs and aahs’ over and over again.”

Shields-Miller custom-designed the dining table for the space.

“The table is a 3-inch slice of an African bubinga tree with the bark and cutting marks from the lumberyard still intact; it rests on a contemporary bronze interpretation of a picnic table,” she said.

Korean Blanket Chest and Contemporary Art

She surrounded the table with modern Brazilian chairs and topped it off with a simple, wrought-iron candelabra fixture. Contemporary art and an antique Korean blanket chest layer in more color and interest.

“I love to juxtapose unexpected pieces, and prove how good design needs to be original and not cookie cutter, if it is to be interesting and successful.”

View more of Shields-Miller’s work at her Web site.

Where have you used the power of the unexpected?

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One Comment for “The Power of the Unexpected”

I am very much interested in the barn door made from corrugated metal. Where can I find this rail and perhaps information on making one similar?

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