Saturday, June 30, 2012

Small Measures

Need a dose of good cheer? Skirt a sink in the most colorful fabric you can find.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I often find myself telling clients that if it looks deliberate, purposeful, it will work.

I love having my assumptions upended; do you?

I'm reading a really wonderful book right now, and a small exchange stopped me in my tracks.

The book is called The Night Circus, and there is, indeed, a circus that happens only at night.

At a party, the founder of the circus is lauding the talents of his designers, sisters who finish one another's sentences.  "They are brilliant with atmosphere," he remarks. "Both of them absolutely brilliant."

"The trick is to make it seem as though none of it is purposeful," Lainie whispers, "to make the artificial feel natural."

"To tie all the elements together," Tara finishes.

It feels like magazines are always applauding careful spaces that appear "effortless," and this makes me wonder: is it allowing the purpose to show through, or concealing it, that achieves the desired effect?


Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Bedding

Elle Decor

For some reason, this year more than ever I have stripped back my house a bit to welcome summer.  We pulled up rugs in the girls' room and kitchen,  switched to white pillows in the guest room, and lightened up the throw pillows in the living room, not to mention my $7.99 makeover in the master bedroom.

All of that used what I had or required very little money.

As the heat rises, it became clear we need to make one functional change: summer bedding in the girls' room.    We have duvets on their twin beds, with plain white covers.  Too often, they complain of being too hot and unable to fall asleep, taking off PJs and pushing covers back, only to wake up in the night, too cold.

Better Homes and Gardens

So I went looking for lightweight summer quilts or matelasse, in white.  I was surprised to find that everything was over my budget (but then, my budget was "as close to zero dollars as possible.")  the good news is, there are tons of options, and lots of sales.

My favorites:

Diamante matelasse, $94.99 for twin (or similar at Overstock for $74.99)

Diamante Matelasse Coverlet - White

A modern update on the above, with concentric diamond pattern, $59.99 for twin set

A modern Geometric from Trina Turk, $99.99 for twin coverlet

Trina Turk Santorini Coverlet, 100% Cotton - White

stone-washed starburst, $99 for twin coverlet

My personal favorite, the pick-stitch quilt (I LOVE anything pick-stitched.)  $119 for twin coverlet.

Pick-Stitch Quilt & Sham

If you like a traditional floral motif in your summer weight quilts, try these:

Matelasse, $89 for twin coverelt

A geometric floral on sale for $59

Matelasse Coventry White Quilt Set, 100% Cotton

With scalloped edges, sale price $79.99 less 15% (through July 4)

And finally, a super Budget friendly option, just $30 for a twin!

Do you switch out bedding in the summer?  Do you like to go just white?  I'll show you what I picked and how I layered it later in the week.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Small Measures

when framed as a panel, wallpaper becomes more wallet- and DIY-friendly. Small measure, Big impact.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Elephant in the Room

Camels are having a moment.  Horses were all over our walls (well, Michelle Adams' walls.  And John and Sherry's.  And Thom Filicia's.  You get the idea.).  Owls were pretty huge for a while there.  And of course we can continue to joke about putting a bird on it.

Have you noticed that elephants have quietly taken over?  This trend has been around for a while but man, is it hitting saturation right now.  I have long loved John Robshaw's elephant pillows, and recently spotted this one that sort of kind of reminded me of them, you know, in a "look for less" kind of a way.

Elephants are all over Robshaw's new and excellent fabric collection for Duralee, and Lulu DK is using them in her kids line for Schumacher.  PB Kids has elephant sheets, and 70s throwback elephant wicker is turning up in a couple of places, too.  For your convenience, a round up.

Elephant throw pillows

Sources here

Elephant Sculptural objects

Sources here.

And, Elephant Bedding, wallcoverings, fabrics.

Sources here.

There are TONS of great options out there, if elephants are your thing.  (World Market has THREE PAGES of options if you search for "elephant," and don't even get me started on Jonathan Adler.)  But it can also go wrong, fast.  To see what I mean, just do a search for "elephant" in "home and kitchen" on  You will suddenly appreciate the quiet majesty of the elephants pictured here.

Happy weekend, folks!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On trend rugs

Loving the vibrant colors in these navajo-inspired rugs.

Brand new at Ikea--not even on the website yet!  This is one of those pieces that no one would ever guess was Ikea--they look like you bought them from some out of the way shop in New Mexico.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Non-neon brights

Neon is everywhere nowadays, but unless it's something you love longtime, it is going to feel dated, fast.
To get the same effect--a jolt of shiny, happy color--try pairing a couple of intense brights instead.  The result is much more timeless, but still daring and fun.

The key?  Temper it with a whole lot of white.

Mango + candy apple red + turquoise + minty sage

Sunflower + lip gloss pink + kelly green
Source: via Heather on Pinterest

Kelly green + orange + red

Turquoise + Raspberry + Sunshiney yellow

Raspberry + Turquoise + Chartreuse

Or throw them against some beige, and ground it all with a deeper "neutral"

Teal + Cobalt + Orange + Raspberry (+ Navy "neutral")

Hot pink + Magenta + Ochre (+ Plum "neutral")

Hot orange + blush pink (+ Sage "neutral")

What do you think: are you loving brights?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Art Space for Kids

What a fun, busy weekend!

I hope you all got to celebrate father's day with any special dads in your life.

Around here, we are still adjusting to having the kids home for 4-day weekends over the summer.  I love getting to spend more time with the girls, but it means more planning and more working getting ahead of the mess!

In addition to the seasonal closet turn over where we change over sizes as they grow, we seem to need a seasonal toy and activity re-organization as their skills and interests change.  One thing my girls are always busy with is art projects, and a while back we moved a little Ikea table from the basement into the kitchen.  The idea was to have a dedicated space for art so the dining room table is not constantly covered with in-progress projects.  Only problem?  It was getting completely buried, and no could ever find the scissors or tape.  I wish I had a "before" picture, but honestly I wasn't thinking about a blog post when I took this on.  Imagine the table equivalent of this.

We cleared the table, sorted finished work, and then set about organizing.  I dug up some leftover bins from organizing our closet drawers and corralled crayons, markers, pens, and pencils into separate small and shallow bins.  A larger bin holds the rest of the basics: scissors, glue, ruler, and tape.  Clio added a yogurt container full of popsicle sticks.  Add a stack of paper in a manila folder, and voila.

Noe the everyday stuff is at their fingertips.  Activity books and specialized projects, like stamping kits, beading, origami, play dough, and the like are still in the big armoire in the dining room.

If you have kids, do you find yourself re-organizing with their needs?  Do you have dedicated space for creating?

Friday, June 15, 2012

High Five

Lots of blogs do a weekly round up of some of their favorites around blogland.  I love that blogger Abby at Aesthetic Outburst chooses five favorites and calls it "high five!"  So celebratory.  I am borrowing it today to give a high five to lots of ladies who really got to me with their words.

The past week or so, I've noticed lots of hearts being poured out on blogs, touching on lots of issues that are no stranger to me.  My very favorite blogs are the ones where I feel like I know the woman behind the blog, and always want to hear what she has to say.  (I hope that, for at least a few of you, I fall into that category.)

It is a departure from design, yes.  But we are all working people making our way through life, too, yes?

Joslyn Taylor of Simple Lovely got me twice this week.  First with her post on the onset of working-mom guilt in the summer (it felt as if she was channeling my brain on this), and on the need to pare down and fend off the onslaught of stuff (I had just been thinking similar thoughts as I waded through a sea of "deals" on One Kings Lane.)

Nicole Cohen of Sketch42 writes about her wanderlust and the importance of travel on personal development.  For the past two years, I have literally gone nowhere.  This made me restless in exactly the right way.

Erin Gates at Elements of Style made the kind of list I need to make, a note to self, about getting off our butts and DOING it already.

Design Mom does a lovely series on living with kids.  Her interview with writer Regina Sirois just slayed me, making me want to be a better mom.  This led me to Regina's blog, Tapper and Company, where she shares the story of her dream coming true.  As someone who always sort of expected to grow up to be a writer, this really got me.  And brought me back to the need to write a note to self.

Ashley at Meet Me in Philadelphia wrote about how inadequate blogs can make you feel about your life.

And Angela at The Painted House asks the very important question, Do you want it all?

Thank you, ladies, for making me think, and making me know I am not alone!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A little press

Another fun article about welcoming summer.  Recognize the photo?  Yup, final result for this client.

It's always fun to see your name in print!  Read the article here (if you so desire).  Sarah Tieck, thanks for including me in your piece!

Big Boy room (that goes both ways)

Remember Oliver's nursery?

Well, he's moving on out to make way for a baby sister.

In his new, big boy room, his mom wants a color palette of navy, aqua, and chartreuse.
Dad wants to keep the wall of large, framed black and white vintage sports photography (the space is currently his office.)
And of course, it would be an added bonus if the space could work for a girl down the line.

This rug from PBTeen kind of did the work for me, don't you think?
Pale chartreuse walls and warm wood keep it from going too cool--or too girly.

(You may also notice I used a side table from my recent round up.  These things are making my own budget sourcing MUCH easier--until tables start to be discontinued, that is.)

Of course, I sent them two other choices--one a bit more "boy" and one quite a bit younger--so we'll see where things end up!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Custom Framing

When I moved into my first Brooklyn apartment when I was 24, I had a lot of walls to fill, and art was expensive.  My strategy?  Buying inexpensive but interesting works on paper from flea markets or thrift stores and investing in custom frames.  At the time, this was cheaper than purchasing original art (and there weren't a million sites for purchasing prints the way there are now), but the results looked very finished and polished.  (I did also use left over prints from photo shoots I worked on in cheapo plexi clip frames.)

Nowadays, there are so many options for inexpensive art AND inexpensive framing, especially if you're willing to do a little work yourself.  (You can paint old frames, paint or trim out the mat, cut down a thrift store frame or create custom frames from inexpensive molding, change the gilt with leaf or rub 'n' buff, create frames from tape the French way, or just use a ton of frames from Ikea.)  But there is still a place for custom framing and while it is an investment, I think it's generally worth it.

For Christmas, my in-laws gave us a traditional print from Japan.  My brother in law has lived there for several years, teaching English, and last summer my husband and in-laws all went to visit.  While there, they checked out the prints, and later, my brother in law went back to Uchida Art Co. and bought them a gift.  Sneaky.

I finally got it framed and hung, and it has been making me happy all weekend.

The guys at Gallery Service frame shop are very good at what they do.  I usually know what I want and have a good eye for framing, but Bruce is a genius with mat selection.  I never would have thought of a charcoal grey mat, and I think it makes the picture.

It was Bruce who solved the problem of different paper colors in this pair of prints at my parent's house: gorgeous black silk mats.

Also Bruce who thought to use a double mat here, inserting a lavender tone between the ivory mat and the deeper purple tones of the painting.  Genius.

Gallery Service is celebrating 30 years this month.  Locals, run--don't walk--to take advantage of an unbeatable deal.  30% off your first frame and your second frame is free!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How to Mismatch Nightstands

Let's get right down to it:  Why might you want to mismatch your nightstands?

Maybe you've got one table and want to complement it, rather than replace it.  Maybe you have more space on one side of the bed than the other.  Maybe the rest of your room is one big matched set, or a sea of pairs, and you want to break things up and avoid the showroom-floor look.  Maybe you just swing that way.

How do you do it well?  Here's the secret: something about them should match.

1.) Same size and shape, different type

Campaign chest and skirted table

Dresser and table with ottoman

Crazy stacked table and nesting tables
Source: via Heather on Pinterest

Open shelf with baskets and draper chest

2.) Same finish, different style or weight

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

3.) One square one round, unified by color and vibe

Advanced technique!

If you want to get really advanced, there are some gorgeous examples of paired bedside tables with not a single thing in common. How does this work? Often by introducing a pair of matched lamps.

They don't even have to sit on the tables, as this image attests.  (the artwork pair over the bed is helping here, too)

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

Source: via Heather on Pinterest

This trick can even work with non-traditional nightstand items, like this pair of mismatched chairs, with matching clip-on lamps.

Not sure you want to try this last one at home.

What do you think: is there a strategy here that would work for you?


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