Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The no-Christmas-tree Christmas tree

With my camera on the fritz and the dim light of overcast skies, photographing my Christmas decor makeovers is proving to be a challenge!

So I will share something else that's been on my mind.  We decided not to have a tree this year.

tree alternative from CB2.  How to here.

For years, I held an annual tree trimming party on or around my birthday, and after a hiatus during the baby and toddler years, we started the tradition up again when we returned to Minneapolis two years ago.  December is always a challenge in terms of scheduling events, and sometime in November, as I looked at the calendar filling up, I decided I didn't have it in me to throw a party.  I didn't have the energy, the time, the money.  And since we are going out of town for Christmas week, it didn't make sense to put up a live tree.

I felt all ba-humbug for about 5 minutes, and then I felt great about the decision.  I have a habit of taking on too much, and being over-extended already, I knew that the tree would be just one more chore to cross off my to-do list, and not the joy it has always been.  I find that I already struggle with the pressure to creat holiday magic, and letting go of the tree was a huge relief.

The girls took it well (I do have a mini pink tinsel tree that we put up in their room with their special ornaments--ones they have made or been given specially) and the decision left me just enough spark to do an advent calendar this year.  It has been a really wonderful trade.  More on that tomorrow.

Making my way through my pile of paperwork this morning, I came across this image I had pulled from the Restoration Hardware baby catalog.  I love the simplicity of this chalkboard tree, festooned with simple stars and a string of lights.   While I am feeling okay about no tree at all, this feels like a doable, magical, simple solution.

For more ideas for non-traditional trees, there are tons of round-ups out there.  Try these:

Apartment Therapy
Style at Home
The Crafted Sparrow
Radical Possibility

While there are a few ideas that appear on more than one list, there is less overlap than you might imagine! The best part?  There is still time to pull one of these off, if you are suddenly inspired to do so.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Crafts

Hi friends.

Are you ready for the holidays?  I'll be honest: I'm scrambling.  Both girls are home sick from school and it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day.

But!  I contributed ideas to an article on our local CBS website to re-purpose some old holiday decor and make it new.  You can read the article here (like it! tweet it!) and come on back in the next few days--I'm hoping to share some actual before and afters, though the camera is on the fritz and I am spray painting in the basement.    I'm a rule-breaker like that.  Ha.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mix Your Prints!

Mixing prints is nothing new.  In fact, if I had to pick the biggest trend of recent years, /I think that would be it.  It feels like the bigger, the bolder, the more MIXED the mix, the better.  (want to get tips from the best? Check out my links, here.)


I find myself inspired by Lucky magazine lately, but mostly it's about translating their stories from fashion to interiors (like I did here.  And, with a lot less success, here.)  The current issue has a piece on--you guessed it--mixing prints, and I found myself playing around with some of their formulas.

1.  Stripes and Florals

Obviously these are not finished rooms, just a starting point of some fun combos of patterns and fabrics.  It's easiest to pull off if the two pattern have a common color, like the citron in the duvet and throw pillow at the bottom right.  Even better if the fabrics are similar weight, like the two broken in linen-cottons on the bottom left.

2. Global and global (and global and global!)

If you keep a contained color scheme, you can pile on the patterns--all part of the global look.

Other categories included "Polka dots and wide stripes" and "dots and stars."  In your home, dots and stars are not easy to pull off without a juvenile effect, and it's much more about one statement piece, like stars on the ceiling or off-the-cuff wall dots, than a mix of textiles.  Don't you agree?

Check out the latest issue of Lucky if you are actually in the mood for wardrobe inspiration.  Meanwhile, I'm getting all kinds of ideas for blog columns....

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Moving On

I'll admit it: after unloading like that yesterday, I feel even worse.
So, let's forget we ever had this little chat, shall we?

I was recently in the "odds and ends" sale room at Gabberts, a local furniture store with lots of great designer brands.  Like the name says, the room is a sort of grab bag of final sale items, and pretty hit or miss.  On this last visit, I was struck by the great assortment of art and objects at reasonable prices.

I was shopping for a male client, and found myself drawn to these photographs of colorful armour that felt both modern and ancient at the same time.

I also found myself drawn to these wooden figures.  I love the sort of primitive form and the contrast of the bulky shapes on spindly legs/stands.

I would love to see these grouped with other figures on a mantel or console table.

What about you: any unusual art catch your eye lately?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

600th post

Oh, man.

600 posts feel like they mostly just rolled off the tongue, and now, suddenly, I am truly, deeply stumped.  Either out of things to say or in that place of feeling that it has all been said before.

I was just saying to an old friend the other day that I generally believe in just not posting when I have nothing to post.  No need to apologize, to explain myself.  You guys get that this is free content, that I share it because I love it, that I'm not getting paid for the time that goes in here.  This is the freedom, I waxed on, about being a tiny little SMALL blog: less pressure.  But also, I am realizing now, more personal.  Because it is not my job, it's just me.  My voice, my work, my ideas.  Vulnerable, right?

Over the last few days, I've noticed something.  My "follower" numbers are going in the wrong direction.  Three of you have broken up with me.  I wish I could say I don't care, but oh, I do.  I do!  And I get it, I do.  You're just not that into me.  Or you followed because of some giveaway.  Or you're cleaning out your google reader.  Or you're over the blogs.  (There's a bit of that backlash afoot, have you noticed?)  As I have watched the little number tick up at a snail's pace over the past two years, I have thrilled to each one of you signing on.  I have told myself how unspeakably cool it is that all of you come here to see what I am working on, or to read what I have to say.  (It is unspeakably cool!)  But now these little desertions feel like confirmation of what I have been feeling for a little while:  that perhaps it is time to take a break.  Or move on.

Here's the thing.  I'm a drama queen.  I am.  If I ever try to deny it, just look at my 6 year-old throwing her theatrics and point and say, SEE!  There it is.  Just like you.  And I won't even try to deny it.

But this isn't that.  This is me just a little discouraged.  I'm sorry to drag you into it.  But I fear if I stay away too long without explanation, more of you will be gone when I come back.

Which, by the way, could be tomorrow, now's I got this off my chest.

Did I mention that it was my birthday Monday?  Do you think maybe I just woke up on the wrong side of 38?

Tell me friends: how do you get yourself out of a funk?  So far, all those action movies I've been escaping to aren't really doing it.  I just fall asleep.  Surely, there is a better way?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Small Measures


Color block stairs!  In addition to the obvious yellow swatch below the railing, I alo love the combo of dark grey risers light grey treads and--the kicker!--white quarter round.

If your stairs are in bad shape, this is a fun, modern solution.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nate Berkus

I was in a lighting showroom the other day sourcing wall sconces for a project, and in trying to explain the vibe I was after I said to the salesperson, "you know, kind of like Nate Berkus's own house.  Not the Chicago house, the New York house."  And he looked at me and asked, "why does that name sound familiar?"

My jaw almost dropped.

But then I had one of those moments that reminded me that most people--even plenty of people in this industry--are not obsessed with decorators and design.  They don't necessarily follow careers and collaborations and pore over shelter books like celebrity rags.

It was good to remember.

But then of course I bought Nate's book and spent last night tearfully reading his story in his own words.  If you are, indeed, obsessed with the notion of home and the power of objects and design to create it, you must get this book.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The one about the rugs

Have you ever gone in to Target to pick up a picture frame (or a loaf of bread) and come home with a pair of 5x7 rugs and the best intentions to sew them together with upholstery thread?


What if I told you the rugs were on clearance for $60 a piece and were just what you had been looking for for your living room?  (Except for the whole having to sew them together thing).

What if it turned out that the existing living room rug was the perfect size at 9x12, and that the new rugs just don't add up?  (In case your math skills are poor, I will tell you: two 5x7 rugs do not combine to make one 9x12).

How about if I suggested that you turn on a dime and use them in the girls' room?  (The room that actually NEEDS a rug after getting this one and this one and then none at all?)  Would you be impressed by my quick smarts and my designery skills?  You would??  You are too kind.

And what would you think if  you rolled out the rugs one at a time, lifting each bed up with one hand like a super-strength momma saving her baby from the stealy jaws of a car (or some such danger), only to discover that the rugs were NOT THE SAME SIZE AT ALL?

Would you be mad?

No.  I bet you would be happy to roll them back up and repackage them and schlepp them back into your car and return them to Target.  You would do it with a smile.

And you would think twice about making such a heavy impulse purchase ever again.

Wouldn't you?

p.s. To avoid such tragedy, consider this strategy to prepare for serendipity.
p.p.s.  My husband has neither raised an eyebrow nor asked what the what.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Target and Neiman Marcus: Will you buy?

I am ALL for the designer collaborations that have become so ubiquitous over the last few years.  I have always loved the look of high style, but have never quite been able to stomach the price tags.

There has been quite a bit of buzz over the new collaboration between Target and Neiman Marcus, and when I was in a Target store yesterday I found myself pulled inexorably from my place in the checkout line to go touch and feel the clothes in the collection.

Oh, you mean these?

see all 60 pieces in the collection here

Because I was at Target, I started to just throw a couple of the items in to my cart--because with the low price points at Target, that's how I shop there.  These items are not cheap, however, and after some inner struggle (my birthday is next week!)  I decided not to bring anything home.  The items shown here range from $69-$99, which is a steal for the work of these designers (Marchesa, Tracy Reese, Lela Rose, etc), but is also not a price point where you just grab two and call it a day.  What you are buying in these collaborations is the designers' look and ideas, not their quality, and I worry about spending 80 bucks on a blouse that may or may not hold up.  

In my 20s, I was all about quantity over quality, and prided myself on rarely wearing the same outfit twice.  As I get older, my strategy has shifted to fewer, better pieces.  Rather than clearing out the clearance rack at H+M and then purging my closet each season, I have started to invest in pieces that I wear for 5 years, until they wear out.  If I can repair them, I do.

I think my struggle with this new collection is that they seem to fit somewhere in between: not a throw-away price point, but probably not the quality or timelessness of a long term investment.  Of course, if that Tracy Reese blouse somehow makes it to a clearance rack, you better believe I will snatch it up!

What about you:  will you shop this collection?  Are you more about quantity or quality in your wardrobe or your home?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sneak Peek

In-progress on a sweet girls' room.  We did the paint, custom window treatments, headboard, chandelier shades, paint and bedding in the spring.  We're gearing up to finish the room with rugs, seating, art, etc.  As I gear back up on this project, I'm getting excited for a VERY fun room that will grow with the girl.   

Can't wait to show you the final result!


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