Monday, April 30, 2012

Enter here

Five ways to dress up a narrow wall in an entry.

What's your favorite?

*as a courtesy to clients, I typically do not share sources without their explicit permission.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Small Measures

(DIY projects you could do in a day.  1 photo, 25 words or less)


Indoor clotheslines. Seasonal display. Hang christmas cards, kid art, vintage postcards, special letters, favorite recipes, pages of a folio. Simple construction. Endless possibilities.

Friday, April 27, 2012


I love when I am sourcing something relatively straightforward--in this case, a demi-lune console table--and discover something wacky.  Like this partial Ostrich in bright red.

And, I suppose to give you some context, there's this.


You know that the purveyors of such a piece must have a sense of humor.

The product description, with my favorite bit highlighted:

This whimsical wall console, shaped like an ostrich, is made of high pressure laminate in brushed black or glossy bright red.  Diva is shipped in a flat pack and requires minor assembly upon arrival, but think of it as a puzzle for adults.  This console mounts to the wall to add stability.  Manufactured by iBride.

This is not a piece that you could just casually drop in any old space.  But oh, what a statement it would make!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ceci n'est pas une plant

I've watched the fiddle leaf fig craze with some interest. At first I thought, a trendy plant? But really, why shouldn't a plant go through the same cycle as other items we choose to bring in to our homes and lives?  For years, the shape of glass Coke bottles followed the curves of women's figures: up and down in the flapper twenties, curvy in all the right places when bombshells were big.  We make these connections, consciously or no.  (I didn't realize just HOW trendy this little plant was until a little google search turned me on to blogger round ups here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here, here, here, here, here and here, just to name a few.  Wow!)

Plants are extremely evocative of place -- they literally thrive in some places and not others -- and in this way, they can create a particular vibe.  I remember the rubber and Jade plants of my first Brooklyn apartment, the way the tropical palm wooed me along with the Mexican tile in our little brick rowhouse 30 blocks south.  And because they can't just live anywhere, plants resist the kind of swift commodification of some other goods.  Carved soapstone statuettes used to mean you had been to eastern Africa; now you can get them in a kiosk at the mall.  But my palm didn't belong in Brooklyn and it died.

I love the idea of bringing native plants in to your home.  But what if you live in Minneapolis (a-hem) but prefer the style of, say, California meets British India?

Why, plant something native in a vibey planter, that's what.

West Elm woven planters, I've got my eye on you.

Patterned Planter Baskets

By the way, don't you just love stumbling upon new-to-you blogs?  Check out the fiddle leaf fig posts from the list above--then read some other posts, see if you find any new daily reads.  I know I did.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

helps the medicine go down

via Danielle Oakey

via Door Sixteen

Off to the clinic with a 3 year old who likely has strep throat.  Fingers crossed that the rest of us steer clear.

What do you think of the "swiss army" simple in design?

Until tomorrow....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Elevating a budget buy: it's all in the details

I often stop to marvel at all the accessible design choices we have nowadays.  When my mom and I did my bedroom in our new house 20 years ago, we had to have custom shams and bedskirts made because there simply weren't retail options.  Can you imagine?  Pre-West Elm, pre-Target "design for all," pre-Home Depot and Lowes in every town.  While I do occasionally lament the effect of big box stores on the mom and pop landscape, it's hard to deny the convenience and low prices that have come from their proliferation.

It also means there is more and more to buy that has the look, but lacks the quality.  While you can't fake actual quality, you can elevate an inexpensive piece.  It's all in the details.

I have been slowly redoing my afore-mentioned bedroom in my parents' house.  We replaced a pair of mismatched bamboo and rattan tables with these little mirrored side tables from Target for $89 each.

The only problem?  Those mass market silver knobs make them look like we paid $89 each.  Crystal knobs to the rescue!

(You can see the old custom bedskirt peeking out.  Amazingly, the color palette of minty green and peach--not to mention the splattery pattern--is making a comeback.  I'm tempted to keep it in the new scheme).

Crystal knobs, about 5 smackeroos at the Brass Handle.

Small change, big change.  Know what I mean?

Monday, April 23, 2012


This is what my basement looks like right now.

Off to install a bunch of headboards/back rests and other bits and pieces today--can't wait to see it all in the space!

I used to make headboards using an old hand held staple gun.  With lots of layers (like in a corner), the staples barely held, and I would always walk away with bruised hands.  A while back, my father in law gave us an air compressor, so after some research, my husband picked up a pneumatic staple gun for me.

Surebonder Pneumatic Staple Gun, Model 9600 | Buy Item# 259600 now for only $37.99

Since we already had the compressor, this was only a $40 investment, and it made these projects go much, much, MUCH faster, and the staples really hold on.  The end result is a much cleaner, more professional piece.

If you plan to take on some DIY upholstery, I can't recommend this highly enough!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Small Measures: Embroidery hoop collection

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

A fun, modern country way to showcase some favorite fabrics. Cute in a kids room, powder room, breakfast nook. Change it with the seasons!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sliding Scale: Black and white and stiped all over

It is no secret that stripes are everywhere.  I've done various stripe posts around here, and I'm just one of hundreds of bloggers writing it up.  Special attention has been paid to the Ikea rug that has brought the "low" into many high-style homes, with a frenzy that has rendered the rug backordered and out of stock the world round.  (Want to see it in action?  check out these posts at The City Sage, I'm Busy Procratinating, and a Swedish blog I can't read, or check it out in Ally's old house at From The Right Bank.)

IKEA STOCKHOLM RAND Rug, flatwoven IKEA The rug is hand-woven by skilled craftsmen, and is therefore unique. Wool is naturally soil-repellent.

Can't get your hands on it?  Not to worry.  All of a sudden, just about EVERY retailer is on it with their own version.  They want to help you out, really they do.

black white strip rugs

Top, left to right: Madeline Weinrib, Madeline Weinrib, Dwell Studio
Bottom, Left to right: Crate and Barrel, Surya through RugsUSA, Pottery Barn (swatch), Wisteria


To be fair, Madeline Weinrib was probably making these ugs before, or at least concurrently, with Ikea.  The rest have cropped up recently.  While there is obviously a subtle difference in stripe width and overall color (soft black versus strong black, white versus ivory), the biggest difference in the feel of these is in cotton versus wool and the way they are woven.  The dhurries feel older and worn in (in a good way), the cotton flatweaves (Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn) are pretty crisp and beachy.

What do you think?  Would you go for a little graphic punch on your floors?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lighten Up

This week I was contacted by a local writer working on a story about simple tips to refresh your home for summer.  I came up with a number of inexpensive and DIY projects, but I wanted to also offer something for those who may not be inclined to paint brushes and staple guns and who may find new throw pillows to be out of budget.  When I recently wrote about my itch for seasonal decorating, I mentioned swapping out wool rugs for lighter, natural materials.  Well, what about taking them out altogether?

To illustrate, I pulled the rug out of my daughters' room and snapped a picture.

I consider myself a staunch "rug person," but I'm kind of loving it.  So light!  So summery!  The big surprise? The girls love it too.  I could hear them upstairs banging and sliding around like they were on a slip n slide or at or a roller rink (says the child of the 70s) and tonight at bed they requested that it stay this way forever.  Not one to miss a "teachable moment," I agreed the bare floor could stay...until winter makes us yearn for warmth and softness under foot.

While I was at it, I stripped back the throw pillows and blankets and left things just plain white.  Now I'm thinking about ways I can edit back the layers in other spaces to get that seasonal look without spending a dime.

What do you think: easy breezy?  Or just unfinished?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Add interest above the picture molding

My house has high ceilings and no crown molding.  I love the height and the airiness, but in some rooms, where there isn't large scale art to fill the space, the expanse of wall and plain paint color feels vast.

I'm drawn to the idea of adding a picture rail with a contrast to the wall above.  I love what my blog friend Abby just did in her guest room:

And here's an oldie but goodie from Domino, by Barrie Benson

 A second color (and contrast ceiling) is nice, but wallpaper--grasscloth to be exact--is even better.

And how about using other materials?  Jamie Bush put cork wallpaper most of the way up this wall

And mixed penny tile walls wil a wallpaper ceiling in this bathroom.

My practical side also loves the idea of stretching your wallpaper budget by pairing it with paint.

What do you think of this look?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A little makeover

I have managed to get a little project done here and there.  Writing about it, well, that seems to be another story!

Going through the pile on my desk yesterday, I came across a page I had pulled from Chicago Home and Garden magazine about the trend towards red and orange (check it out here).  It featured a little moorish table made of laquered MDF, from Dransfield and Ross.  Price?  $863.

Which reminded me that I didn't show you the red hot makeover of my little thrift store moorish side table.

The table has actually gone two-tone since then, but hasn't yet had its close up. Price: $40 for the table, $6 for two cans of spraypaint.

Loving it!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Boy's room

Remember Lucy's sweet nursery?

Her big brother gets quite a room himself.

We're looking at doing a wall to wall map on the bed wall.  It is not the wall you see when coming in to the room (that's all windows), so it's a nice surprise to be enjoyed from inside the room.  Most of the other elements are ordered and on their way!

Friday, April 13, 2012

DIY ideas from Store Displays

I've been really inspired by store displays lately.
Have I ever mentioned that I once wanted nothing more than to be a window dresser at ABC Carpet and Home?  This won't sound strange to any of you, but at the time I was Deputy Director of an arts non profit in New York, and I remember floating the idea to an older colleague who told me flat out that I was crazy.

I think it's the opportunity to use housewares as fantasy that is so appealing.  In the window, it doesn't matter if a couch is uncomfortable: it just has to be beautiful.  It doesn't matter that you "love it but couldn't live with it": living with it isn't the point.

Recently, I've found myself shopping a lot.  Mostly for clients, but also for some much-needed spring clothing for myself, and I've snapped a few picks wandering through "America's Mall" (as my 3 year old calls the Mall of America) and the smaller, more upscale Galleria.

I can't remember what these things are called, but I remember making them as a kid--probably at camp.  Overscale like this, they could be fun to fill an empty wall in a kids room.  (photo: Oh baby, Galleria)

Amazing (and clever) target made out of arrows at Louis Vuitton.  I love the idea of making a large-scale piece out of lots of little things.

A gallery wall at Urban Outiftters.  Do you see the two pieces on the left?  Love that the image is continuous from one to the next.

This chandelier was at an ice cream place--it's made up of colored plastic tasting spoons.  Makes me think of all the DIY chandeliers people are making these days.

Jumbo embroidery at Urban Outfitters.

Makes me think of this brilliant summer screen door embroidered by Abbey at Aesthetic Outburst.  Love both the idea and the painstaking execution.  If we remember to replace our storm doors with screens this year, maybe I will try something like this.



Have you been inspired by store displays lately?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Put a bird on Muriel Brandolini

I should probably stop posting anything to do with birds.  The terrible title of this post is evidence that it comes up a lot.  But here's the thing:  birds are one of those things that are classic in design and just happen to be super trendy and possibly overdone these past two years or so.

The nice part of this is the trickle down effect.

I blogged about this room from Muriel Brandolini when I was planning a project to display kid art.  Here.

And guess what?

Bam, a knock off.

While I am officially too old to shop clothes at Urban Outfitters, I love the way they keep fresh trends cheap.  I would consider that decal for my powder room, come to think of it...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I've never been one for seasonal decorating.  With the possible exception of swapping in lighter bedding, when a room is done around here, it's done.


This year, with the early onset of spring in these parts, I found myself thinking about a reboot.  This is foolish, and will most likely not happen.  It's not like I have a bunch of extra money ling around to buy more stuff.  But I  made many of the decisions in our current decor in the winter, and I can't help but feel like I would like to lighten things up.

First, I would swap out the orange moroccan-inspired rug in the living room for one of these instead.

Twill Stripe Jute Rug - Bleached Ivory

Heck, maybe I'd make the same change in the dining room, or temporarily do away with the rug altogether.

Then I would swap the silk curtains in the dining room and guest room for linen or cotton.  Easy breezy.  Maybe I would get these from ikea and block print them myself.  Maybe with this motif?

(Why does warm weather make me want to block print everything in sight?  And I've never even been to India.)

Or, if budget is no object, I might use some of this.

Fern Star in Yellow - By the Yard

So pretty. Designed by blogger Lauren Liess.

I would brighten up my bedding with a heavy does of white.

Swiss Dot Duvet Cover + Shams - White/Slate

For the master--or maybe the guest room?  For some reason, I am completely smitten with swiss dot.  Makes me think of Tib in Betsy, Tacy, Tib.  Anyone outside of Minnesota read these books as a child?  (If you have a daughter, I highly recommend them.)

I would probably move the swing chair from the girls room down into the living room, ans spend my days swinging lazily while I read House Beautiful and drink Pimm's cups.  Oh yes, the best summer drink of them all.  We've been all about the Negroni all winter, but time to go with something a bit more refreshing.

So, this is weird for me.  For two years, I have been working hard to finish things up around here.  I don't know if it's working as a decorator or simply working from home that's doing it to me, but for now, I can't help but daydream about natural textures and breezy linens.

What about you: do you switch it up by the season?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Like Madeline Weinrib on a budget

Sourcing rugs for a little girls' room, I came across this new one from PBTeen, and I want it for myself.

Leaf Medallion Lurex Rug - Bring Pink/Coral

Reminds me most of a rug that Madeline Weinrib no longer seems to make, but it kind of has the vibe of this one

With the color palette of this one

At about half the price.

Monday, April 9, 2012

I have to tell you: my head is spinning.

Last week was a tough one, work wise, and I feel like I finally settled in to spring break just yesterday, hanging out at my parents house for Easter brunch, working on puzzles, playing cards, watching my kids sneak candy, and flipping through my new copy of Susanna Salk's Be Your Own Decorator, a gift from my mom.  It felt like the first time in a long time that I was legitimately relaxed.

I did not check my email yesterday.  My phone was dead and I did not charge it.  I skipped facebook and instead read a big chunk of one of my book club books, Moloka'i, remembering how amazing it is to slip into another world.

Today, I regroup.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Funky fresh bedroom

It's spring break for my girls, and my in-laws have been with us since Friday, hence the sporadic posting.  Things may be a little light the rest of the week as I try to remember how to be a present parent rather than an always-working mama.  Good goal, as my kids are calling for help with their giant drawings right now, and I have asked for "just a minute"!

Yesterday I put together a number of bedroom looks for a new client with an amazing mid-century house full of huge windows and...a bunch of mission furniture leftover from their previous craftsman bungalow.  The goal is to reflect the era of the house in a fresh, modern way.  The golden color is existing on the walls, and we're planning to keep it.

This is my fave.

We'e looking for a pair of midcentury dressers, so those are missing here.

It's different for me, but I'm loving the mix of masculine/feminine, shiny/matte, warm/cool.  I would move right in!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Trend spotting at Home Goods

My in-laws are in town from Illinois, where they live in the country surrounding a small town.  My mother in law is an avid reader and follows some of the decorating shows on HGTV.  One of the activities on her list was a visit to Home Goods.  Not so much to shop as to see what it was about.

Yesterday we hit up the Eden Prairie location (for you locals), one of the biggest in the Twin Cities metro area, and a stand alone from TJ Maxx.  I was looking for a couple of things for client projects, though I find that they rarely have just what you are looking for.  I always think it's fun to see which trends are trickling down.  sometimes I think they're right on, and sometimes I sort of scratch my head at their choices.

These Arteriors-inspired table lamps are great--I almost snatched them up myself for my girls room.

Still loving Moroccan tables.  In fact, I just painted my own vintage one.  I'll show you soon.

Grasscloth-wrapped furniture.

These Thomas Paul fabrics are popping up everywhere, but I still love them for their large scale and bold designs.  These pillows cost less than a yard of the fabric for Duralee.

Chevron still going strong.

Then there are the rugs.

Ikat seem to be everywhere, and while I am a fan of these, I think you would get tired of them--fast.  Put it on a pillow instead!

I was surprised to see and overdyed specimin.  Looks good, and it's super cheap--but don't step on it.  The thing that's so special about the real overdyed rugs is that the rugs themselves are good quality (if not in great shape) and you can feel it in the yard.  This one feels like the plastic it is likely made of.

A client had just ordered a crewelwork rug from anthropologie, and here they are popping up at HG.  The colors are a bit muddier on these, but the patterns are great and the crewelwork looks pretty authentic--and it's probably hard to fake.

The bergere chair seems to be going strong, and I have to say, I was taken with these.  Love the black linen on the faux cerused oak frame.  But again, these would just be for show (silly, yes?)  The upholstery is incredibly stiff.

I didn't take as many photos of the "misses."  Some of the junk is just that: junky.  I saw a ton of pieces in the sort of industrial vibe, but this look works best if it looks like you salvaged your piece from the side of a road.  These pieces are too new, too "finished."  (I hate any inauthentic treatment trying to pass.)

And for me, the most bizarre was seeing a number of pieces of the Restoration Hardware metal-clad furniture.  I've seen an armchair, a sort of steamer trunk, and this dresser.

Do these pieces have mass appeal?

I will admit, in the right setting I might like this little dresser.  But the armchair is a disaster.

What about you:  any shopping lately?  What trends are you seeing out there in the world?


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