Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dining Room Dilemma

Thanksgiving may be my favorite holiday. It's at least in the top three, for sure. Although making dinner every night is beyond my capabilities, hosting this holiday feast is something I have volunteered for many times. 

This year we are headed elsewhere, but I am still thinking about my dining room. 

Specifically, I am thinking of the light fixture and floor covering. 

Here are a few images of what the space looks like:

Dining room from the kitchen

Dining room from the front door

Dining room from the den

I really love the light fixture that is there now. It's so unique to the era in which our house was built. However, it doesn't feel appropriate to a dining area or the mood I'm trying to create in there. You know what would fit, though?

One of those fake fancy lights from the 1970s or 1980s. I've done a bit of research on this style and it's actually quite high end and from Italy and ... mid-century! Who knew?!

I love thinking about the way the light would reflect off the black back wall if we had a light like this over the table. It would make me want to throw on a sequined evening gown to serve frozen fish sticks, elevating Taco Tuesday to the level of an event. Totally the way I want to live life.

The dilemma is that there is another option which my husband approves and that would also be fine, just not nearly so cool as THIS...

For the floor, we currently have a perfectly fine rug -- that I really don't love. It's a tad too small. I've angled the table and chairs to fit as well as they possibly can but it's a 5x7 and just not totally appropriate for the size of the table. A more suitable size would be an 8x10. I want to be able to pull the chairs out and still be on the rug. Is that so much to ask?

I've also been wanting to incorporate a sisal rug into my home design somewhere. This seems like as good a spot as any. There is this one, from IKEA, which I didn't even know was a thing until I read this post today (oh, if only an IKEA would open near my home, then I would know these things!!):
There is also this one which has silvery threads woven into it. It's lurex, which is defined as:
  1. a type of yarn or fabric that incorporates a glittering metallic thread. 1940s: of unknown origin.

They are the same price and incredibly affordable for an 8x10 (only $150, although the lurex is on sale). I love that the origin is from the 1940s, which also fits the mid-century vibe of our home. 

When I think of designing mid-century modern for today's home, I don't want to be limited to sputniks and tulip tables (much as I love both those things). I want to do something fresh and fun. This room would sparkle, literally!

Here are a few more shots of the room via Instagram.

Detail on the bar: with more art / without a tray

Dining room full of people

And, since yesterday I wrote about my daughter's room re-do, here's a progress shot from this summer with the duvet cover on her bed and the new paint color.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Two Rugs

This is one of those "do as I say, not as I do" posts. 


The Rule: When decorating a bedroom, choose neutral bedding, preferably white. 

All-white bedding creates a soothing palette, which is perfect for getting a restful night's sleep. All-white bedding is the choice of fine hotels because it always looks good. No need to fear white; white can be bleached! 

This rule can work in ANY bedroom, even and maybe especially, a child's bedroom where the design grows with the child. 

The Reality: I bought my daughter this pretty duvet cover when she was five or six, and the above was her bedroom then. At the time, I loved the unique colors (aqua and rusty pink/dusty rose) as well as the sweet bird motif. The name (Anabel) also struck me since my daughter's name is Bela.  

This is what the room looked like when I decorated it for the spring 2015 One Room Challenge. In the photo above, I had folded the duvet at the end of the bed because I felt that the pattern never really worked with the daybed effect I was going for. Eventually, too, I found that it was difficult to make the aqua and rusty pink coordinate with other colors, especially the ones that my daughter is drawn to.

Fast forward 18 months and the headboard is long gone, the wallpaper has come painfully down, the walls have been painted light purple thanks to my BFF, and we now have this duvet cover. Pretty much nothing remains of that One Room Challenge...

This is why a civilized society needs rules, people! If I had just bought a simple white duvet cover in the first place, none of this would be an issue. Not only would I have saved myself a lot of money, but also the headache of trying to make.it.work. 

But, this post is not ultimately about how I broke my own rule -- twice. It's about what kind of rug to pair with the new duvet cover.

Here are today's options:

Rug #1 is a colorful shag from here

I love it first and foremost because it's a shag and would feel so soft underfoot. It also has the bohemian flair of the duvet cover with lots of geometric shapes so I think they pair well. I love all of the happy colors. Not only does the rug pick up the purples, yellows, and oranges that are in the duvet cover but also brings in the electric blue that my daughter loves but hasn't been incorporated into the new design. And because the background is white, the rug feels bright.

Rug #2 is from here and has a more traditional feel. I like it for that reason. The traditionalness of it grounds the bohemianness of the duvet cover, which I think can be a very good thing in a room. It feels more grown up. The colors work together. I think??? Like rug #1, it has the purple, orange, and yellow that are in the duvet cover but which are not as representative in my daughter's things. Coral and pink are already quite well-represented in the room so I didn't want to find a rug that highlighted those colors. The shapes and patterns on this rug feel more organic, which corresponds with the geometric shapes and lines on the duvet cover.

The floor in my daughter's room is hardwood that has not been maintained. Lately she has been asking for wall-to-wall carpeting like we have in our other bedrooms (the fourth bedroom is also hardwood but is currently being used as an exercise room/library). A rug is a less expensive choice than refinishing the hardwood, and will protect the hardwood if we choose to later refinish it. I'm also concerned that leaving the hardwood uncovered could result in a splinter or lead to damage that will be more difficult to repair in the future. 

Whether we will actually purchase a rug right now, though, is still to be determined, because she has a lot on her Christmas wish list. Although her decorating tastes have become more in line with her age, she still likes dolls and toys, for which I am very grateful. Let them stay little for as long as possible...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fantasy Selves

Yo! So have you been wondering about the status of my novel for National November Writing Month???  Yeah, that's not happening.  :)  

I loved the idea of writing a story but not so much the actual writing. Over the years, I've let go of a lot of different aspects of my fantasy self, and it's like shedding a skin that didn't fit. There was the "me" that was going to become a morning runner. Or the "me" who was going to cook dinner every dang night. The "me" who was the ultimate classroom helper. 

This "me" who writes novels in her spare time? Pllleeease! Although it is sort of lovely that no matter how old I get or how tired I become of being anyone but myself, I can still dream new dreams. Maybe someday I will come home from a long, sweaty run where I feel as if I am flying through the streets of my darkened city in order to write pages and pages of words that make sense and flow beautifully. But not today (...or tomorrow or next week because I've got other s*#t to do.)

When I was researching "fantasy selves" for this post, I stumbled upon this post which led me to find this book. Fascinating! I love how interconnected fantasy selves and decluttering are.

Because hope is not lost. Just like Ike said, "Plans are worthless, but planning is everything." All those thoughts I had about a woman who gets her life in order by decluttering her home had a profound effect on the level of clutter in my own home. 

The English Room by Holly Phillips
I started in my daughter's room. She is a tiny maximalist whose mantra -- like Iris Apfel's -- is "More is more, less is a bore!" She pushed me to continue, though, even when I wanted to stop to rest. It was breathtaking! Five big bags of recycling, one HUGE bag of donations, and a few trash bags later, our house feels lighter. Again. For now. It's really a process and I'm learning that it's something I have to come back to every so often. 

Having recently read Design Mom: How To Live With Kids: Room By Room I was also a lot looser about some things that used to make me an uptight stressball. I let my daughter go nuts with washi tape and 3M hooks to make her walls look the way she wanted them to rather than my imperfect vision for her.

Along the same lines, I deactivated my Facebook account last week. It's the sort of thing that I would normally announce to everyone in my life using -- ba dum dumm -- Facebook, but that's not an option now. Anyhoo, I feel FREE without it. Truly liberated. Like there was a party in my pocket that I constantly needed to check in on and now I don't. Interestingly, the weekly theme of my favorite podcast this week is to "delete a soul-sucking app." I may go back to it once the addictiveness of it wears off, and then again, maybe I won't. 

I've been spending more time on Instagram and it's my modest goal to reach 500 followers. But then again, maybe not. With fewer followers, I can use my own voice and say what I want to say. Maybe that's a false choice? Maybe I can have tons of followers, oodles and oodles of followers, and yet somehow find a way to still be "me" -- the "me" who changes her mind and does one thing rather than another. The "me" who interprets and poeticizes and can't take a good selfie. Regardless, if you want to see photos of the refrigerator cabinet that I dreamed and my dad built or some of the decluttering progress, check it out.

From InStyle magazine via Copy Cat Chic
One last image to leave you with before I go: I am utterly obsessed with the green on these lamps. It feels so fresh with all of the airy, textural neutrals. And lately I'm crazy-obsessed with Moroccan wedding blanket-anything (like the pouf on the left). I think it's due to the sequins. 

What are you loving lately? DO you have a fantasy self you've shed, or still need to let go of?

Friday, October 28, 2016


NaNoWriMo sounds like the babbling of a toddler but it actually stands for National November Writing Month. And yesterday I said I was thinking about joining in...

Well, I signed up. 

A few questions that I'm trying to resolve as October winds down:

1. Is the story going to be in first-person or third-person narration? 

For the non-English majors out there, this is the difference between "I went to the store" (1st person) and "Jilly went to the store" (3rd person). If I do first-person narration, will people think the story is about ME?? If I choose third-person narration, will people really connect with the main character?

2. From what point in the story is the action happening?

I'm not sure what the term is for this, but it's the idea that the story could be something that has already happened and is being re-told at a later point, with the advantage of hind-sight, versus a "this is happening right now" live-action story.

3. How do I start? How will it resolve? What are the big crises that drive the storyline?

4. What will I name the main character?

5. Where does the main character live? Is it a real place or a place I make up?

I guess that's not soooo many questions. One thing I have decided, I don't expect it to be good. I don't even want it to be the next great American novel or a best-seller. Low expectations, right?? This is supposed to be fun. I'll say that again. This is supposed to be fun!!!

I do love to read, however; so maybe all those books I've read will have rubbed off on me just a little bit. No matter what I hope this story will be something people enjoy and that they look forward to checking in with every day in November.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. That's about 1,500-2,000 words per day. I'm not sure how many pages this works out be. Maybe about 90?? So I'm thinking it's more of a novella (a word I love). Also, it's worth noting that this post is only about 500 words. I've been praised in the past for my brevity so we'll see how I do with the word count goal...

The story that I plan to tell is about a woman whose life has hit the skids and how she perseveres. Oddly, it's a story I've been telling myself since I was a little girl. I remember telling it to myself at bedtime forever. It was what I used to help myself fall asleep at night.  It always struck me as being a little weird (how many 8-year-olds do you know who enjoy cleaning so much they make up stories about it?!) and it's nothing I ever told anyone about. Why would I have? I thought it was totally boring. It put me to sleep.

Whenever I would think about NaNoWriMo in the past, trying desperately to think of a story for this challenge, I would come up empty. Then this past weekend, I started remembering this story, using it to soothe myself the same way I did when I was a little girl. It occurred to me then that this was perfect timing for NaNoWriMo. Obviously, there is some appeal to this story. Maybe there are others who would enjoy it or otherwise benefit from me telling it.

So, the deal: I am going to write my 1,500-2,000 words here, on the blog, every single day for a month, beginning next Tuesday. You can sign up on the right to follow this blog by email or "like" the page on Facebook. I'm getting super stoked to get started!

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Have you ever written a novel?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What's Up, Buttercup?

It's been a minute since I declared I was back...

The fall has been particularly busy with running kids to after school activities, reconnecting with old friends, and a lot of travel. In one four-week period, there was only one Thursday night when I slept in my own bed, not in a hotel room. For a homebody like me, that's a lot of time away.

As for design, things are picking up there, too. 

This fall Erica and I have been tag-teaming on a home office revamp for a busy mama of three littles. Erica is a brilliant professional organizer. She's like a ninja with a label maker. My role has been to style bookshelves, make recommendations on where to hang art, and to advise on furniture purchases. We chose the Dayna chair from Ballard, and I was gratified to hear that my client would not have thought of it herself but it totally reflects her style!

Last week I taught a class to a group of former teachers and one retired State of Michigan employee. The title of the class was "Decorating your Downsized Space." I have always been nervous about public speaking, but not this time. Besides the subject being something that I'm passionate about, the group was so delightfully nice! We talked about using rug pads and repurposing old things in new ways.  

The Makerista / Hunted Interior

One of the things I told the class was that I think dark deep green is the next big thing. Isn't that color so moody and perfect? It reminds me of the early 90s when I was a beatnik teenager. I've noticed that all of my fashion "wants" lately are things I wore back then (ripped boyfriend jeans, a mulberry wool sweater, under an army jacket). Nothing is really new anymore, is it?

I'm also starting a new project with a dream client. We grew up in the same small town and were friends in high school. While we were having coffee and discussing details of her design plan, this song came on. Did you know that when The Graduate was made Anne Bancroft (Mrs. Robinson, the older woman) was only 36 years old?!?!?!? Seriously. That's five years younger than I am now.

Anyway, we bonded over the concept of Hygge. She has Norwegian roots and is a fan of the simple joys in life. It was fantastic to walk into her home and see the colors that I'd been dreaming of for her kitchen were on special pieces she already wanted to use. Also, my outfit totally matched the color scheme... I'll have to post it on Instagram later. The above image was my inspiration. Of course, the gold floral wallpaper at the top is this one from Hygge & West.

There's still been plenty of time for TV watching this fall, too. I am probably the last person on earth with a design blog to start watching Chip & Joanna Gaines' Fixer Upper, but let me tell you, I am their new biggest fan. I'm also watching This Is Us (tear.jerker, don't you think?) and can't wait to check out Joey from Friends new sitcom. How you doin'!

Because I like to keep myself from thinking too much, I am sort of -- maybe just a little bit --  contemplating joining in with NaNoWriMo next week. The National November Writing Month is a chance to write daily for the entire month of November along with thousands of other people around the world, resulting in a 50,000 word novel at the end of the month. The story would resonate with my loyal readers and so for that reason I am thinking of writing it right here on the blog. Why not, right? I can't promise I'll get to 50,000 words. I don't care too much about the official aspects of the challenge. But there is a story in my soul and I think it would be fun to share.

What's up with you? Does anyone even still read this blog? Leave a comment below! XO

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Yin Yang

My mind is just pinging with ideas, friends! It's that yin-yang of time off matched against time in the office. The lazy days of summer turning back toward the business of autumn. Or maybe it's just that second cup of coffee today paired with some great reading!

First up is this AMAZING New Orleans home. A house full of both drama and soul.

All images via One Kings Lane

My favorite quote: “I can’t say enough about trays. I want to open a store that sells nothing but trays.” Praise hands! And how about the way the ping pong paddles are casually stored in an ice bucket? All of the art on the walls! Or that refreshing mix of colors? I love every bit!!!

All images via Domino

Next up is this stunning home. The black walls, the mirrored wall, the layered art. It's all so perfectly mixed! My absolute favorite is the pattern on the skirted console--I'm not a card player but those clubs are fun!

I found both tours via Kevin O'Gara's story about new Southern style. He is definitely one to watch!

via Claire Brody Designs

Another favorite of mine is Claire Brody who posted about working on a big design project. I love reading about how other designers present their ideas to clients.

Along the same lines, I really enjoyed House Beautiful's 13 Things Designers Notice the First Time They Enter Your Home. If you think it's going to be judgmental, you'll be quite happily surprised!

Finally, the India Hicks fall line has been revealed and it is so gorgeous and exciting! Please let me know if there is anything you can't live without! Or feel free to shop the collection here.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Moving pains

We bought our house nearly 1,000 days ago. And although I said repeatedly at the time that we would never move again, the truth is: I'm getting kind of bored!

Since I don't actually want to list my house and go through that whole process, I'm checking out the listings in other places. Like this one.

It's an affordable charmer. A two-story, three bedroom brick house in a tree-filled neighborhood. It's near the river(?) and not too far from Lake Michigan.


In Milwaukee, Wisconsin! Since I've never even visited Wisconsin, I can only guess about the neighborhood. It looks nice, though, and the city seems like lots of fun.

This is downtown near City Hall. They have a major league baseball team and LOTS of beer history as the hometown of both Miller and Pabst.

But also an art museum and maybe some night life??

Here's a side view of the house, which is on an alley. The backyard is charming and I can totally envision it strung with twinkle lights for summer nights.

The needle on the record gets stuck once we walk inside... The floors could use some work, but they're hardwood! The shutters on the side windows are totally charming. Some built-in bookcases beneath those windows, flanking the fireplace, would make for great extra storage.

I can't tell from these photos where the front door is in this house. Do you think it's on the other side of the living room wall by the staircase? That could make for a fairly dramatic and pretty entry! The curve of those stairs is what I think of when people say a house has "good bones." 

Here's the dining room adjacent to the living room. It looks like the walls could use a good coat of paint, but nothing is as simple at transforming a room like paint! 

I'd love to see a big lantern over the table too. Maybe painted a wild & crazy color like magenta or chartreuse??

The dining room opens to a den, which has a lot of wild colors of its own. These could be easily toned down to create a more soothing palette. With new solid-color drapes, trim painted to match the color of the paneling, and a better layout of the furniture, this could be a restful getaway at the back of the house!

The kitchen appears to also be at the back of the house, and it could use some work. The star design on the floor tiles is actually kind of interesting, though, and if it's in decent shape might be worth saving.

Just imagine these beauties on some freshly painted cabinets with Farrow & Ball's lotus wallpaper on the long window wall, a farmhouse sink, and a white subway tile backsplash. Or perhaps install a French door where the window is to make it easier to get outdoors for dining al fresco. Super chic!

Do you enjoy looking at real estate -- even when you have no plans to move? Let me know I'm not alone! :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I'm back

My motto is "never say never." And so here I am, seven months later, writing a blog post. 

Nothing major has changed in the time I have been away. Nothing life altering. 

I still haven't figured out a better name for this blog... (but I'm considering suggestions!)

In the spring, I added another title to my resume: India Hicks Style Ambassador.  

Yes, the India Hicks that gets quoted on the back of my favorite design book and whose style is described in the same terms as mine

The motto of India Hicks' company is “Live an extraordinary life.” 

As I wrote in my inaugural email newsletter today, I interpret this motto in two important ways. 

One is to be exceptional. To strive to live one’s best life. 

But the other way is just as significant, if not more so. To live life in an EXTRA-ordinary way, savoring the beauty of everyday moments. 

And, that my friends, is the beauty of these products! They are the little luxuries of a life well-lived. A soft scarf, a sturdy bag, a reminder of what’s important. You can check them out here.


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