Friday, January 30, 2015

Our House: Current Inspiration

We've been doing some reconfiguring of spaces in our house recently...
The fourth bedroom--familiar to anyone who follows me on Instagram because it's where I take my #ootd pics--recently switched from being our home office to an exercise room. 

Mix and Chic
This is my inspiration for how the room should look. Totally un-gym like. But there is a bookcase in the room, and the plan is to trim one of the shelves in order to make room for a small TV. And I'm sure I'll exercise a lot more in a room that looks like this than one that just has some boring old weights.

The computer moved to our lower level, which had been used for storage. We gave away a ton of furniture that we no longer needed and my husband laid down carpet squares, a project that took about an afternoon. The result is that it now feels like a room instead of a warehouse for unloved chairs!

Adding to the effect, we bought a new TV and credenza and moved the leather ottoman from our living room down to the den. Now we can watch movies or play video games in the space, and when my parents visited over the holidays, it's where they slept. There are still some things to do to make it a fun place to hang out. I don't think we'll be able to fit a pool table (or, my preference, a ping pong table) but painting the walls a dark color might work.

But we were left without a place to rest our feet in the living room. We've just about narrowed down the choice for our next ottoman and that will have a ripple effect, too. A new credenza is at the top of my list. I'm also hoping for a mantel like the one above and just figured out how easy it will be to remove the dated screen that is there now.

We'll also likely need new pillows and I'm feeling blue. Although the pillow above is unavailable. Boo!
I've been sort of fascinated by this kind of hidden window treatment lately and can imagine replicating it in our small master bedroom.

Studio William Hefner
And the one space that was finished, is now open to interpretation as I am thinking about doing this with a banquette and enlarging the window/door, which means it would turn from a sitting area into a dining area, and then the dining area would become an even bigger sitting area??

Only time will tell what we decide to do, but I'm excited about all we've been able to accomplish in our house in just one year.

High Five February-Eve Friday

Can you believe it's almost February?! Where does the time go?? In the spirit of it being Friday, here are some links I loved this week, otherwise known as the "High Five Friday."

1. Forty Happiness Quotes
Quotes about happiness by forty great authors. My favorite is the one by Oscar Wilde ;)

Lisa Mende Design

2. Modular refrigerators
Lisa Mende wrote about a great alternative to a big, bulky refrigerator here. I love the possibilities that modular refrigeration provides!

3. TV House Decorating
Domino showed us the "5 TV Spaces We Wish We Could Redecorate" which did not include our family's new favorite show, The Middle, about a family of five in small-town Indiana. The designer in me wouldn't mind getting a crack at this very real house.


4. To Paint or Not to Paint
Emily A. Clark has some great advice about painting wood furniture here, which I might be mentally adapting to kitchen cabinets after seeing this kitchen on Cococozy...

Dot & Bo

5. Dot & Bo Birthday!
Dot & Bo turned two this week! I love their modern vibe, especially all their retro chairs. This Eiffel chair is available in other colors (although this teal & yellow combo is one of my current faves), with different styles for the legs and in different shapes and sizes. You can see all their chairs here. For an invitation to shop Dot & Bo, use mine here. :)
Happy weekend!!! 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Purpose and Passion

Earlier this week I mentioned that I had considered letting this blog go. There are only so many hours in a day. After my regular job and motherhood, there's not a lot of me left for other important pursuits like exercising or socializing. I would rather do a few things and do them well than run around like a crazy woman, huffing and puffing about getting things done.

But, it turns out, I still have so much to say. This blog won't be going anywhere for now.

The beauty of blogging is that this blog is all mine. I don't report to anyone, I don't have to consult with anyone, and I feel like this is where I can truly be myself. My best, most fun, edited self, but still all me.
via Traditional Home
And I am an interiors artist. I LOVE a beautiful room. Mixing this with that to create a space that works is my jam. Color, pattern, texture, scale--these are the mediums I work in.

About the same time I discovered this passion for decorating, I also discovered blogs. Initially, I thought blogging might be a good way to make some extra money. Doesn't everyone make money blogging? Nope, not me. More importantly, though, this blog has given me a way to share my love of design with others.

Design Daredevil via Sarah Sarna
Which has been important because going back to school for interior design was not (and still is not) an option. I have loads of respect for people who have been classically trained in the field, but as a single mom then with two young children (and now those children are that much closer to going to college themselves), it just wasn't going to happen.

I also already have a really wonderful job in a different field. This fact actually gave me a big jolt of confidence. If I could be good at a job in a field I am so-so about, why couldn't I be amazing at something I love??? After all, I wasn't specially trained in budget planning or really any of the things I do. I learned as I went.

Miles Redd via House Beautiful
This reminded me, too, of early attorneys who "read the law" in the office of a more experienced attorney. Some of our supreme court justices, arguably the most learned men of their time, studied the law this way. And so my blog became the vehicle for me to test out theories, to study the masters, and to really figure out my style.

In the beginning, I was sure that I loved organizing. Nope. I just like how pretty organized spaces look. This led me to realize the absolute importance of function.

I'm a fan of the "use what you have" style of decorating popularized by Lauri Ward. This means I am more redecorator than designer, an important distinction. I'm less interested in knocking down walls than I am about buying lots of pretty pillows for the couch you already have.

And all of that budget planning for my day job and my single-parenthood debt reduction? It has made me a keen shopper for the best ways to save a buck on a room design. Having a budget to work within can actually be a fun challenge.

Ultimately, I want to design rooms for people--whether I get paid for it or not. Living with beauty shouldn't just be for the fabulously wealthy. Loving where you live should be available to everyone. I'm not sure where this blog or my passion for interior design will take me, but I'm enjoying it all so very much.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mark D. Sikes' Tastemaker Sale

If you had a chance to read my book review of Novel Interiors, then you know I am a fan of interior designer/blogger Mark D. Sikes.
He's all about chic people, glamorous places, and stylish things. So his tastemaker sale on One Kings Lane caught my attention.
Sikes has curated a sale chock full of blue & white chinoiserie, bamboo and brass furniture, and black & white art, with a touch of Scalamandre's leopardo for good measure! I also enjoyed reading the Q&A with him that is interspersed through the sale items and can't wait for his first book!
I thought it would be fun to put together a room using only items from the sale. How easy would that be for someone who has a room to furnish, right?! As of right now, everything featured in the room design above is still available (including all four versions of the same lamp). You can link directly to the items featured by visiting Polyvore here.
And be sure to check out everything else that is in the sale on OKL here! So much goodness...
If you need an invitation to shop OKL, use mine here. :)

No Trips to Tripoli

Do you Skimm? I love their fun take on the news, and that I can feel reasonably knowledgeable about current events just by reading an email each morning. It feels sort of retro, reading the news rather than hearing it from CNN and yet, loaded with pop cultural references, it also feels kind of hip. Like I'm in the know, you know?


In today's issue, I read about an attack at a luxury hotel in Libya, which left nine dead including one American. The luxury hotel is the Corinthia Hotel Tripoli. Tripoli is the metropolitan capital of Libya, on the northern tip of Africa, surrounded by desert, but on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. That image above is the Corinthia Tripoli's lobby. Opulent, elegant, impressive ... all good words to describe the relentless attention to detail and eye for luxury that went into its design. The hotel has three restaurants, including one on the 26th floor, a café, and a spa.

Alfred Pisani founded the Corinthia hotel chain with his family in the 1960s. Their first property was the Palace Hotel and Spa on Malta, known as the island of sunshine and history. The family owns several other properties including hotels in London, Prague, and Khartoum (also on the State Department's travel advisory list).

The company adapted to the early struggles of the hotel industry, adopting an "optimistic attitude to transform challenges into successes." That spirit will help them recover from this act of terrorism. I hope so, anyway. I would love to be able to safely travel there one day.

Until that day, they're offering some great deals at their other properties.
May those who were killed rest in peace and may those who orchestrated this act of terror be brought to justice.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Symmetry and Contrast

Never make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings. If you had asked me last night, I would have told you this blog was done. Not trying to be melodramatic, I just have other things on my plate right now. Nothing new, really. Just an overall desire to slow down, to hone in, to savor the sweet moments...

Ryan Street & Associates
But there is this room. There is always a room, isn't there?! This one was designed by the lifestyle geniuses at Ryan Street & Associates in Austin, Texas. As if the BBQ and City Limits music weren't enough, there are these creatives mixing rustic and luxe, outside and in, velvet and concrete. Every single element of this room has been on my mind since I first saw it this weekend. How about those giant stone tiles for the wall? Does it make it look like a castle to you?? I'm seeing rectangular wall tiles that are at least 12x18 a lot lately. And I'm digging it so hard because we have cinderblock walls in our house. It's a good look. Especially with all of the other elements in this space. I love how they replicated the wood beams of the ceiling over the mantel (and do you heart the herringbone inside the fireplace? I do!) There is great symmetry and contrast in this room. The velvet sofa bounces off the leather chairs. The mid-century modern TV cabinet reflects back the worldly wood-carved console table. The big soft ottoman pops against the big stone fireplace. I love that there are chairs in front of the TV. I love that you could sit on one sofa and watch the birds flying outdoors or the embers crackling in the fireplace, but then move over to another couch to have party-talk with the people in the leather chairs or binge-watch episodes of Scorpion.

Ryan Street & Associates
Another favorite is this room, which is so different (neutral, formal) from the last one, but so gorgeous, too. I love its soothing palette, streamlined fireplace surround, and well-stocked bar. To say nothing of the architectural interest of those windows and the colors in the painting above the fireplace.

Are you familiar with the work of Ryan Street & Associates already? Their huge portfolio of work includes features in Traditional Home and Architectural Digest (including Lance Armstrong's house, which you can check out here).

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hot Property

Lately, I've been dreaming a lot about houses. In fact, I've always dreamed about houses, and think that it represents my self, which is confirmed here. As my life has improved, the houses I see in my dreams have gotten better, too.

The other night, however, the dream was more of a nightmare. We were moving again (we only moved into our current house 13 months ago) and I didn't have any boxes or want to pack all over again.

It could be that I had this nightmare, because before bed, I spotted this gorgeous house for sale at an unbelievable price.

The house is listed at only $159,900 and has a whopping 2,862 square feet. That's about $56 per square foot! A house of comparable size in the same desirable neighborhood can be found here for about 2.5 times as much.


The house was built in 1935 and appears to have the charming period details typical in Art Deco architecture.


I particularly like this fireplace and all of the black-framed windows.


With some decorating, it could look like this chartreuse-chaired beauty.
The catch? The buyer must complete the renovation started by the current inhabitants. From what I can tell, they have completed the renovations on the first floor but the second floor, where the majority of the bedrooms are located, has been completely gutted.


A view of the remodeled kitchen.


The house in greener days. This could be an amazing find for someone who is willing to put the work in (either on their own or by hiring a contractor), and I'd be happy to decorate it for you!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Novel Interiors: A Book Review

If you love beautiful rooms and great books, you are in for a treat! 

from A Bloomsbury Life
Lisa Borgnes Giramonti, the author of the blog A Bloomsbury Life, has published a beautiful new book. Called Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature the book features tons of gorgeous, glossy photos by Ivan Terestchenko. I wasn't familiar with either of them before I got the book, and let me tell you, I was missing out.

The photos of the rooms featured in Novel Interiors are all new to me. This is not unremarkable considering I have pinned over 13,000 images here. What can I say? I like a beautiful room. I am 99% sure the above image from the book shows Mark D. Sikes' entryway. Doesn't he have the best front door?! I love the paneling and the contrast of the dark paint against the blonde wood flooring.

There are quotes about living interspersed throughout the book, and it's these quotes that link the featured rooms to the great novels in literature. I have never read Brideshead Revisited, but it's going on my list after seeing this chinoiserie-stocked vignette!

Novel Interiors is wonderful in that way. You can either approach the book as a guidepost to décor you like based on your favorite novels--or, you can find a new book to cuddle up with based on which style of room you are drawn to.

There are six chapters, each of which represents a different interior design style and its corresponding literature: Shall I Put the Kettle On?; Remembrance of Things Past; Living au Naturel; Oh, the Glamour of It All; Anything Goes; and Sometimes a Fantasy. There were rooms in each genre that I liked, but one chapter in particular that had me oohing and ahhing at each turn of the page. (It was Oh, the Glamour of It All, if you were curious, and the featured authors are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Graham Greene).

At the end of each chapter is a nifty checklist of what items you need to buy in order to achieve this "look" in your own home. Abstract art, lacquered furniture, and white leather are some of the items on my list for Oh, the Glamour of It All.

The book also has some charming insets with information on how to collect dining chairs, set up a cordial bar, or add drama with portieres (drapes in a doorway--which I did in my own house here), to name just a few. The appendix contains a brief summary of the authors and books featured in each chapter. There is also a source guide (handy for those who want to re-create a look) and location credits so you can figure out which famous people's homes were featured.

The index is also quite handy for figuring out whether your favorite author made it into the book. After reading the story "Edith Wharton's House of Mirth" in the winter issue of Domino, I was excited to see where she fit in (it was my second favorite category: Remembrance of Things Past). Wharton's Berkshire escape, The Mount, illustrated the design principles she wrote about in her book The Decoration of Houses, another on my must-read list.

Overall, this is a lovely book, perfect for using on its own as part of the styling in a little vignette, to page through and get inspiration for decorating, or to enjoy as a fan of great literature. I think there may truly be something for everyone!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. The images in this post are photos I took of the book with my iPhone. I highly recommend buying the book to see these images in their true format (and without my thumbs protruding into the image). You can buy it online here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kitchen Organization & Blog Updates

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I'm making some updates to the blog, and the process of naming things reminded me of an organization tip that I use in my house, particularly the kitchen.

Every cabinet and drawer has a name that indicates its purpose. Besides having drawers for tableware and cooking utensils, we also have the overflow drawer. This contains bulkier tools as well as things we don't use as frequently but are still useful like the cheese slicer and potato masher.

The same naming system works for the cupboards, too. My husband added shelves to a small broom cupboard to create a pantry when we moved in. This is where we store canned goods, sauces, and every other nonperishable needed for making a meal, thus making it known as the cooking pantry. Cereal and oatmeal are also in this cabinet. A small cabinet near the stove serves as our baking pantry. This is where I store everything we need for making desserts (flour, sugars, cupcake liners, etc.). And another cupboard is known as the snack cabinet. This is where items for packing the kids' lunches are also kept.
Habitus Living
A set of high cabinets is reserved for "extras"--all of those things that we buy at the grocery store because it's a great deal but we don't yet need. Extra bottles of ranch dressing and maple syrup, jars of spaghetti sauce and peanut butter, and boxes of rice and spaghetti noodles are on stand-by in this out-of-the-way area.

I find that giving things a name helps me communicate my organization plan to my family. When I'm telling someone where to put something away or where to find something that they need, it's a lot easier to say "extras cabinet" or "overflow drawer." Usually I only have to say it once, they catch on fast! This process also containerizes what we have so that we don't end up with wayyy more than we can comfortably accommodate. Ideally, this is how it works anyway. ;)

Coco & Kelley
All of this organization is meant to get dinner (breakfast and lunch) on the table a little more quickly and with a little more panache.

There are still (many) areas that could be better organized in my kitchen, but I think that's just life. It's a process, not perfection.

Do you like to name things around your house?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Using Art to Make a House a Home

Imagine you've just bought a new house. Maybe it's your dream home. You've spent every penny you have to ensure it is in the most desirable neighborhood and has the number of bedrooms you need. The realtor hands you the keys and you walk an empty room.

How do you turn your blank canvas into a masterpiece? What can give it instant style and character? What makes a house a home? ART!
Vintage art can give a new-build home a sense of character, or create a sense of being collected over time in a room that's just been recently put together.
But what to do if you're too busy working to pay the mortgage to hang out at auctions or scour flea markets? The answer is The online auction site has thousands of paintings and you can browse by category. For this room, I thought it would be fun to use a combination of some beautiful old portraits and a landscape. These are the three that I chose for our design.

The top image is called Farmhouse with Hay Bales. I like the colors in it and the antique gilt and gesso frame. The portrait of the girl is an oil on canvas--the pink in her bow makes it feel fresh. And the portrait of the man in colonial dress is the largest of the three paintings with an understated frame.

And here is how the room would look with the art on the walls. The landscape painting is hung over the fireplace with the portraits on each of the adjoining walls. To make the room not feel too fussy, I brought in furnishings with more of a mid-century modern vibe.
The color and texture of the sofa are meant to evoke the green coat in the man's portrait. The pink John Robshaw pillows reference the girl's pink bow. The beni ourain rug brings the neutrals of the French farmhouse into the room. And the brass legs of the chair, tables, and lamp coordinate with the frames and add a little sparkle.
Check out Polyvore for the list of sources used in the room. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

One more for the weekend...

I'm loving this fun song and equally pretty video. 

High Five TGI Friday

It's Friday! And it's snowing! It's a beautiful winter wonderland out my window. Like living inside a snow globe that's all shook up.

Thank you, sweet friends, for your comments about the mean girl on Wednesday. I'm at peace with it, but also glad to know you all have got my back. ;)

A woman I just met posed a great question today: what is your one hang-up that you plan to let go of in the new year? Someone said one-sided relationships and I think that's a great one, particularly for those of us who are blogging. Sometimes it feels like a great big middle school cafeteria, doesn't it? As if we should all be trying to get a seat at the popular kids' table, rather than just sitting down where we are and nourishing our precious little selves.

Kim Macumber Interiors
So for 2015, let's all stop focusing so much attention on what's "in" and choose things that satisfy us. Like a counter that is not marble in a room that mixes highs and lows (just like life). There is such freedom in surrounding ourselves with things that truly make us happy. 

The Zhush via Domaine Home
But let's do our best work. Every detail of Sue's new home is designed and styled to perfection. --And if, for awhile, we're just mediocre, then let that inspire us to keep trying until we are killing it!

The Reluctant Entertainer
Let's all try being nice. Especially to ourselves. Let's strive to be warm and let go, once and for all, trying so hard to look "cool."

Let's trust that our voices DO matter. We have the power to comfort or wound with our words, and to quote that classic rock anthem "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." So reach out to that woman you don't know so well, tell her you like her shoes or the way she took a chance decorating her room.

And let's try to make this world a little better. Happy birthday Sir Nicholas!

I'll be back to making pretty rooms and talking nice about pretty rooms next week. Have a fabulous weekend, friends!!!


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What God giveth with one hand...

On a day when we learn that Lilly Pulitzer is coming to Target this spring yet C. Wonder is closing its stores, it may feel as if God giveth with one hand and takes away with the other.

I feel that way personally.

We are a week into the new year and I haven't yet posted about my plans for 2015, my resolutions for living better, my lofty goals to make this The.Best.Year.Ever... And that's because I don't really have anything. I'm just going with the flow, trusting my intuition and the universe to get things done.

If I have to choose ONE goal for this year, it is to laugh more. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? But when I googled "how to laugh more" there were 38,300 results. 

Anyway, it's sort of like my college resolution to "watch more cartoons" or the one after my daughter was born to "be naked at the gym."

You can accomplish a lot with a little goal, but you can't really laugh more until you relax.

I was updating Goodreads and ended up setting an intention to read 50 books in 2015--one book per week with two weeks off for vacation. Totally amazing because just a few years ago I read so infrequently that I set a goal of one book per month.

The books that have ended up in my reading pile so far this year have all been titles that have the potential to make me a better person. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk has taught me more about empathy. Essentialism: the Disciplined Pursuit of Less has taught me why to say no. And Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead is helping me to become shame-resilient.

I had to use some of those techniques this morning. As I was reading a favorite blog, I got sideswiped by something that instantly gave me that hot, uncomfortable "she's talking about me, and not in a good way" shame-feeling. It wasn't a direct attack, but it has been hard to shake all day. Even stumbling upon this nice mention from Jenna hasn't totally been able to make up for it.

When you own the story, you strip it of its power to hurt you. Which is sort of a point of writing this blog. So I'm going to keep doing what I do and keep trying to get better, because that's the other point of this exercise in vulnerability blog.

Here are a few more links I like for living a better year:
Know any good jokes? I could use a laugh...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Lightbulb Inspiration

I saw this breathtaking room over the weekend.
Isn't it just so lovely?? It's part of Lindsay Brier's home tour in Traditional Home--and boom! just like that it helped me coalesce all the ideas banging around in my brain for the design of our dining room.


I've been wanting a larger area rug for under our dining table. Currently I have three open in the browser on my phone but it's this one from Home Decorators Collection that I keep coming back to. And it is on sale through today with free rug pad and free shipping. Most importantly, I think it would coordinate with all the other rugs on our first floor including the teal one in the foyer and the blue & white pattern in the keep.

I've also been toying with different ideas for a more statement-making light fixture over the table. I was practically convinced that I wanted this one. Last December, though, I saw this chrome sputnik chandelier; available online here. Thanks to the inspiration room, I'm back to thinking the sputnik would be de*light*ful over our table.

Then maybe a little Benjamin Moore Hale Navy on the wood-paneled walls, lots of zhushing...and voila! From inspiration to reality. It doesn't take a lot to make a statement.

In other news, it is extremely cold and snowy here in Michigan today (everywhere?? My news feed said it is 15 degrees in Atlanta?!) All of my fears about not getting a "real" winter after our green Christmas are now out the window!

Friday, January 2, 2015

High Five Follow Friday

Happy first Friday of the New Year!!! The best part about working on a day like today? Arriving after 9 a.m., Starbucks in hand, and still getting an amazingly good parking spot.

Before I buckle down to make zillions for my nonprofit, though, I want to share a few of my favorites for the week. 

Today's High Five is, in fact, a mashup with #FollowFriday. Below are some of my favorite Instagram inspirations.

1. Burberry
Best known for their luxury outerwear, this company is killing it on Instagram. The images are AMAZING and I think the wooden puppets are such a whimsical feature.

2. Amanda C. Brooks

The author of I Love Your Style shares beautiful images of family life in New York City and Oxfordshire, England, via her Instagram account, including lots of shots on horseback.

I swooned over the image below of her family holiday trip to Bermuda. Does life get more perfect than being under the palms in a golf cart full of champagne?!

3. Tommy Smythe
Sarah Richardson's sidekick has to be the funniest person on Instagram. While his images are always great, it's his hashtags that make me love him. Like the ones for this gritty image of Le Metro.


Metro Morning #admissionwasfree #thereissuchathingasafreeride #newyearsdayinparis #whichisagoodthing #consideringhowdearlyimpayingfor #lastnight #mmmmhhmmm

4. Barbie Style

The official Instagram account of everyone's favorite blonde bombshell is lots of fun.

5. ...
I don't have a fifth follow. But, I discovered that I can follow the Pope on Twitter. Come follow me there and maybe I'll have a reason to tweet ;)

Happy Friday New Year!!! 


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