Thursday, January 27, 2011

Instead of built ins...

Last week I completed a little project that I'd been intending to do for many moons. Because we have no linen closet we needed to add some storage in our hallway. Kate, my talented architect friend,  had suggested I have a red built-in cabinet made, but that wasn't in the budget so instead I picked up a couple of Ikea Malm dressers:

I had searched for a second hand dresser to use here, but couldn't find the right size. The malms fill the space with barely an inch or two to spare, and I'm glad for their simple profile. Here is what they look like after I painted them bright red last week:

I love how they brighten up the hall, and relate to the red framed doors we have throughout our home. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Urban Outfitters

How are you guys feeling about these tapestries/ coverlets from Urban Outfitters? I don't like them on the wall, but for $38 I would throw one on a bed for sure. Or possibly fabric for a floor cushion? Although it might not be durable enough...



I wonder if it could be the poor man's version of the bed cover in this room designed by Rita Konig:

via So Haute
Ok, so they're a far cry from this vintage suzani,  but the vibe could be right-ish.

Maybe this fabric would be better:

Remember I ordered a swatch of it a little while back? I like the fabric, but the red is a much more blue based - merlot type red than I anticipated. I think it would be great covering a bergere chair.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

6 Decorating Mistakes to Avoid

I thought it might be good to give some basic guidelines for decorating your home. To many of you these will not be revelatory, but I'm hoping they might be helpful to others. This list includes the first 6 that came to my mind, however, I soon started thinking of many others so perhaps there will be a part two. And it should be noted that there are always exceptions to rules, but usually those are best executed by a trained eye. The following images are included for fun and inspiration (not as examples of mistakes)

1. Insufficient Lighting

This is perhaps the worst of the offenders. One overhead light source makes for horrible ambience. Most rooms can use 4-5 light sources. Recessed lights, table lamps, floor lamps, task lamps, uplights, the options are almost endless. 

If you are living with one overhead light source, then add a couple of table lamps and a floor lamp and see what a difference they make in warmth and ambience. If price is prohibitive then pick some up at the thrift store and spray paint them. 

Think about your lighting needs for that room, and get task lighting where appropriate. Light up dark corners of a room. Finally, if you're hardwiring lighting then use dimmers rather than just on/off switches. 

2. Too Small Area Rugs


You can find different guidelines on this, but my preference is for at least the front two legs of the main pieces of furniture to be sitting on the area rug. A more finished look would have the rug be large enough to accommodate the entire seating area. If your rug is too small, one option is to layer it over a larger neutral rug which will then act as a border for your smaller rug.

 Of course it is possible to have your rug be too big, but anecdotal evidence tells me that more often than not people are erring on the too small side. 

3. Unattractive Window Treatments


There are too many variables in this topic to really get specific, so I'm planning an indepth blogpost just about window treatments.  For now, my general advice would be that you should hang your curtain rod high to give the illusion of grander windows, and wide so that when open the drapes are covering wall, not window. Also, they should be at least long enough to kiss the floor.

4. Too Matchy Matchy

Your look need not be as eclectic as the above image (in fact I would say you need to have a really good eye to pull that off well) but you also want to avoid matching sets of furniture. If' you're hesitant about mixing it up then try two chairs that match each other, but not the sofa.  If you already have the matching set than mix it up with some complimentary, but not matching throw pillows.  Throw in some unique looking lamps, and accent pieces for a more collected look.

5. Artwork Hung Too High


This happens a lot; don't feel bad about it! Hang your artwork so that the center of the piece is around 5 feet high. Again there are exceptions, but this is a general guideline. You want your art to be at eye level.

6. Clutter


It's a time tested adage; only have in your home what you use or what you love. When my husband and I first got married, I felt like to be grown up I should display all of the grown-up wedding gifts we received. But in displaying everything, your eye goes to nothing, and nothing is special.  Curate your belongings, and be merciless. 

All images are via

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Picking a Green Paint

A few months ago I helped my girlfriend pick out a happy green paint color for her bathroom cabinet:

Whereas pink or purple seem to come in and out (both being in right now) green always has some version of itself on trend. In the 80's it was hunter green:

 In the 90's it was sage green:

Then it became an earthier version of sage. 

As mid century style exploded everywhere a lot of yellow greens popped up:


The above paint color is BM Pale Avocado. I had it in the kitchen of our last house.

The last few years it's become all about kelly greens and emerald greens:




and more love...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Gallery Wall Solution to Your T.V. Dilemma

How do you have a big t.v. in your living room without feeling like you're living in a bachelor pad? That must be one of the most common decorating dilemmas these days. Possible solutions are several. You can get one of those close-it-off type cabinets, you can paint the wall behind the t.v. a darkish color so that the big black rectangle doesn't stick out as much. But today let's talk gallery walls. A gallery wall around a t.v. doesn't hide the black box, but it lessons its impact by giving the eye more interesting things upon which to look. A good rule of thumb is to incorporate black into your gallery wall--either in frames or images or both. In doing this you incorporate the t.v. into the overall look, and so it becomes less of an attention grabber.

In this photo, Emily sticks to black and white images-- some are photography while others are drawings. The overall look is very cohesive and pleasing:

This wall also uses black and white images, and includes wood toned frames which relate well to the wood based lamps:

Here they added artwork to the mix. I love how this wall looks, but this is a little trickier to pull off for sure. One of the reasons I think it works so well here is because of how simple and streamlined everything else is in the room allowing the more eclectic collection to seem intentional rather than haphazard.  I also like how the colors in the paintings are picked up in the vases on the console. (I found this photo on room remix where she gives great tips on this very subject):

Here is a different idea done to great effect.  I love the dynamism that the circles bring; they keep the eye moving, lessoning the impact of the t.v. Click on the source photo for a tutorial on using paper templates to configure your wall:

Ok, so this last one isn't a gallery wall, but I wanted to include it anyway. I think it works well here because the t.v. is so much smaller and low to the ground allowing the blown up image to be at eye level.:


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fabric Swatches

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of some fabric swatches from  Lewis & Sharon. The first two I'm considering for floor pillows:

I'm checking out this one as possibility for a bedroom. I also think it would be a cool fabric for curtains:

And this one I'm thinking to use in my sister's house:

Enjoy your weekend!! xoox

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lonny - one entryway styled two ways

This was my favorite image from the latest issue of Lonny:

Isn't designer, Hillary Thomas, fantastic? Are you crazy for that chair??

I found another pic of this entryway on Attention to Detail :


It looks great both ways, but I love how adding a little black makes everything come alive. I also think combining this amazing chair with the modern art piece in the first pic is a really exciting choice.  But you can't go wrong either way. Which pic do you prefer?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How To Style Irregularly Sized Built In Shelves

I've been helping my sister with some decorating projects around her house. We're doing it in stages, and though it's not finished here is a little glimpse of the plan for some living room changes. First a before:


Obviously, they were unhappy with the television placement, and so it was moved upstairs to the family room. Perfect.

So the problem with the display in the built in shelves is a matter of scale. The black frames and images are altogether too small for the space in which they inhabit so we'll be switching those out for much larger ones.  The bottom shelf will be large white frames with black and white photography, and the middle shelf will be all white objects: books, vases, etc. Also, in my opinion that top alcove either needs something that really fills the space or else nothing at all. My vote is for nothing. They're not in love with that alcove, and not dying to emphasize it. Here is a glimpse of the type of thing we're going for on the middle shelf:

styled and shot hastily...yikes!

Because of the larger than life size of the built in I thought a monochromatic look would be better than having a lot of color. The reason being that attention seeking objects on the bottom two shelves would just look dwarfed by the size of the alcove above.

And here is how we are reusing all of her coral to make more of a statement and give energy to the middle of the room:

corralled in a basket on her coffee table

Thursday, January 6, 2011

West Elm Cuteness

How darling are these new hooks from West Elm? 

I would do a row of them in one color in an all white bath. They'd be cute in a kid's room too.

I'm also liking the bohemian feel of this patchwork dhurrie bench:


Although I'm not really loving it paired with the wood table. 

But I am a sucker for stripes:


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why This Works - Couch Lovin'

Spotted on Desire to Inspire:

How much do you want to hang out on that Le Bambole sofa?? So much of  leather furniture today is of the taut and shiny variety, but I really prefer it to look rumpled and aged. In this room, I especially love how those qualities play off the sleekness of the kitchen and floors. Both the vintage rug and the furniture lend softness and warmth to what could have been a cold and overly masculine contemporary space. The stacked books, mismatched chairs, and lone light bulb also help keep things from feeling too 'done'.  Of course, most of us in our normal homes cannot hang a lone bulb, and expect this effect; it works here because of the architecturally significant windows, gorgeous furniture, and high end kitchen.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Redesigning for Retail

My friend, who happens to be a coffee genius, is going to be taking over a coffee shop in Small College Town, USA. Below is how the shop looks now:

He's getting lots of space and loads of light! So let's talk about tenant improvement. I would just expose the brick in the above photo rather than having the peeling plaster/tuscan look happening above (he confirms that it is real brick). Here is a moodboard I made for his new shop:

There needs to be some cool color to balance all of the warmth you get from the wood floor and the red brick. To achieve this I would paint over the remaining caramel color with a nice dove gray (basically white with gray undertones) This will be a perfect backdrop for a gallery wall showcasing local artists.

The purple beadboard on the bar would be removed, and the beadboard-less bar wall painted a glossy peacock blue.  I'd extend the blue to cover the trim below (rather than having white trim) for a more modern look. I'd carry that same peacock color onto the ceiling, beams, and front door.

The dated light fixtures over the eating areas would be switched out for these great Thomas O'Brien showstoppers, and the fixtures above the bar could be switched to the simple glass orbs above.

For seating, I suggest simple white tulip tables (Ikea has a budget knockoff), wood chairs, and a brown chesterfield sofa for lounging. Alternatively, the existing tables could be painted a glossy black.

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