Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday Round-Up: Christmas & Hanukkah Cards

{Last Year's Christmas Card}

Even in just the past few years, I've seen a noticeable down tick in the number of cards I receive during the holiday season. Perhaps holiday cards have simply become old fashioned (and, let's be honest, way too much effort) in a world of instant connectivity. After all, why waste the money on a card and a stamp when a simple text message will convey the same message instantly? In the corporate world, more and more businesses are switching to e-holiday cards (yuck!) under the guise of environmentalism, but I suspect it's more to do with cost savings than saving trees.

There's a world of difference between a thoughtful card and a text message or e-mail and I think there are some good arguments for keeping the tradition around (even in this digital, eco-conscious world). For one, the effort of sending a card is always noticed and appreciated by the recipient. For another, best wishes are just about the only gifts we exchange with most of our extended network of friends and family -- why not make those wishes a bit more thoughtful and sincere? And besides, who doesn't love getting mail?

The past three years I've had my holiday cards made for me by a friend (who also happens to own her own stationery store here in Houston). This year though, I'm woefully behind and will likely have to resort to pre-made cards. So just in case any of you are as behind as I am, I've rounded up a {Christmas} dozen of my favorite ready-made holiday cards.

Source List: 1. Fa La La La La cards from Kate Spade ($30/set of 10). 2. Hanukkah Candles cards from MOMA Store ($18.95/set of 8). 3. Reindeer Roll Call cards from Ink Spot Workshop ($30.50/ set of 18). 4. Merry Christmas Cards from Annechovie ($18.50/set of 8). 5. Printable Holiday Cards from Up Up Creative ($6/3 downloadable styles). 6. Holiday Welcome Cards from Vera Wang ($31/set of 10).

Source List: 1. Dog Silhouette Personalized Christmas cards from Fire Hydrant Press ($42/set of 25). 2. Scroll Ornament cards from Vera Wang ($37/set of 10). 3. Red Tree holiday cards from Kate's Paperie ($17/set of 10). 4. Cherry Blossom holiday letterpress cards from Snow & Graham ($14/set of 6). 5. Dreidel Dreidel letterpress cards from Albertine Press ($15/set of 6). 6. Merry and Bright holiday cards from Stationery Boutique ($25/set of 16).


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone has a wonderful day full of good food and good fellowship. Dave and I will be celebrating Thanksgiving here in Houston with both our families, but I'll be back later this holiday weekend with a great roundup of holiday cards and gift wrap to kick start the season.

Photograph courtesy of Martha Stewart Living.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend Update: Somewhere to sit (finally!)

This was the state of my living room back in August. After moving from a much smaller townhouse with one main living space into a home with both a living room and upstairs' den, we found ourselves with exactly nothing to put in here. Zip. Zero. Nada. Since then, we've slowly been adding pieces to this space, first the rug, then a chair and floor lamp -- and, as of Friday, a sofa, lamps and console table! And just in time for Thanksgiving, too.

After over two months of waiting, our sofa finally arrived yesterday and I love how it looks in the room (and Dave loves how comfortable it is!). It's hard to tell from this picture, but the fabric isn't actually a solid, it's more of a tweed, with navy, slate blue and tan shot through it. I'm hopefully that the subtle pattern will make animal hair less apparent. I'm also loving how great my greek key table lamps look now that they've been released from their temporary home in my upstairs' closet.

A few more shots of the room (please forgive the bad lighting -- those two-story windows make it nearly impossible to avoid a glare):

While the sofa and the wing chair could certainly use some fun, colorful throw pillows, can you guess what's next on my shopping list? An ottoman or coffee table, naturally. I've decided to veer from my original plan and go for a piece that's a bit less heavy. I've also decided against investing in one of these (which proved to be a very divisive piece as about 50% of you all loved it and another 50% absolutely hated it!). Just as I'm not the kind of person who believes that wine stains on Carrera marble add "character", so too am I not really the type of person who repurposes "found" objects as furniture. In other people's houses, sure; in my own...notsomuch.

So here are three options that are both more "me" and more appropriate for this particular space:

I think there are advantages to all three of these choices, and before you run off and vote for your favorite, let me make a case for each of these:

1). Smart Round Marble Coffee Table ($299; CB2). I think the size and round-shape of the is a great choice for a room that, like mine, is a bit tight on space. I also like how the traditional marble is paired with such a sleek, modern base (a nice counterpoint to what's shaping up to be a fairly traditional room). The open base will also not obscure the fabulous pattern on my rug.

2). Nate Berkus Hexagon Cocktail Ottoman ($399.95; HSN). I'm sure you noticed how both the wingback chair and the sofa are sporting some lovely stems. While I have nothing against flaunting great legs when you have them, I think a nice skirted ottoman would be a nice counter balance to all that leg. I also happen to know that Dave vastly prefers ottomans to coffee tables and once we get a TV in here, an ottoman would certainly be a more comfortable place to put our feet up than a marble or acrylic coffee table. Of course, I'll need to switch out the black grosgrain ribbon with a blue one, but that's nothing that a quick trip to JoAnn's and a sewing machine couldn't fix in an afternoon. [Oh and, while this ottoman is a good bit more than the other two choices, I do have a 15% off coupon that would bring the price closer to the others.]

3). Peekaboo Clear Coffee Table ($249; CB2). While the size of this coffee table is larger than the other two, it's clear acrylic form ensures it will take up absolutely zero visual space and allow full view of my rug. Again, I'm thinking that a more modern piece to this space might really work.

So what do you think? Which would you pick? And as always, if you have a better suggestion, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know all about it.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Cibus Corner: A Rebuttal

Odi et Amo Editor's Note: A few weeks ago two very dear friends of mine (let's call them DK and his lovely wife and sous-chef KK) submitted the following post as a rebuttal of sorts to my sister's Cibus Corner post on her favorite autumn dishes. Given that they're both medical residents in Boston and have approximately 30 minutes (combined!) a week to devote to recreational activities like cooking and blogging, I was beyond impressed that (a) they found time to write a post for Odi et Amo and (b) that they're still managing to cook up amazing, gourmet dinners every now and then. Since their post is devoted to a wonderful fall (vegetarian!) dish that also happen to be healthly, I thought this post would be particularly appropriate this weekend as we head into Thanksgiving and the start of yet another fattening holiday season.

Sous-chef KK and I had been looking forward to the return of Cibus Corner for a very, very long time, and I am sorry to admit that we were a little disappointed in this most recent installment. Namely this is because Chef Babs already gave us the recipe for Grandma Christine’s delicious apple cake several years ago, and it is hard to get excited about being given a recipe for a second time. Maybe the rest of the adoring public won’t follow me on that one; but let me also point out that anyone who knows Chef Babs knows that her claiming to have a favorite cookbook written by someone who isn't Nigella Lawson is a lie. And Averill, those Martha Stewart pictures—how is anybody going to share a meal on that dining room table if it is covered from end to end with giant gourds? I’m just saying.

We therefore undertake it upon ourselves to offer a rebuttal to Chef Babs’ most recent column and propose our own autumn dinner fantasy. It happens to be (mostly/optionally) vegetarian, and this is because I think the most exciting parts of the fall table are the seemingly exotic vegetables that many of us have seen at the table but not necessarily eaten, or at least not often. For example: the gourds on Martha Stewart’s barn-home dining table. I pulled our main course from my favorite New York Times kitchen serial, “Recipes for Health” by Martha Rose Shulman. I find myself turning more and more frequently to this column as the months go on—not because I am trying to cut calories but because Ms. Shulman does such a wonderful job of introducing me to new food items that I otherwise wouldn’t know how to cook. My opinion is that unless you have a medical condition dictating otherwise, one of the most important elements of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is variety in what you eat (and I’m an MD, so my opinion matters).

Winter Squash Gratin

The recipe is called winter squash gratin, and you can find the original here. Meanwhile, this is what I did with it:


2 acorn squash
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 eggs
½ cup skim milk
½ cup grated Gruyere
¼ cup grated Parmesan
olive oil
salt and pepper
herbes de provence (or mixed herbs of your choice)

1. Cut acorn squash in half, remove seeds/strings and rub with olive oil. Roast cut-side down at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, peel, and then mash with a fork in a large bowl.

2. Cook the onion in 1T olive oil over medium-high heat until soft. Add the garlic and herbes de provence and cook for another minute. Mix into the mashed acorn squash and season with salt and pepper to taste (about 1t salt and 1/2t pepper).

3. Whisk the milk and eggs together and add to the squash mixture. Then add the Gruyere. Pour into an oiled pie-dish and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

4. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes (should be starting to get brown on top).

When this comes out of the oven, it is a lot like a quiche only with a heavy vegetable element. It would be perfectly reasonable to bake this in a pie-crust (Nigella’s pizza rustica crust being my choice) as if it were a quiche, and in fact it went very well with bread when we ate it. Another good option would be to cook about 4oz of chopped bacon in the pan before step 2 and frying the onions in 1T bacon fat instead of olive oil. This would make this meal a little fattier, but it doesn’t completely undermine the nutritional value of the squash. I also think it might be interesting to use pumpkin instead of acorn squash, add a little more spice to the mixture (cinnamon, chili powder, cumin) and turn this into a savory pumpkin pie. I’ll let you know if I come up with a recipe that works.

On this occasion, we served the gratin with Ina Garten’s cream of fresh tomato soup. The benefit of early- to mid-fall is that you can still find good tomatoes, although this becomes harder as you get closer to winter. The tomatoes we used weren’t perfect, but the soup still turned out great. The croutons are essential, and they have to be home-made—just bake slices or cubes of bread (stale or fresh is OK) brushed with olive oil and salt and pepper (Parmesan and/or garlic won’t hurt) at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. All of this went magnificently well with our house staples of under priced red wine from Trader Joe’s and a few chilled bottles of San Pellegrino.

For dessert, well, we bought a pumpkin pie. In an ideal world, I think it is better not to have squash pie for dinner followed by squash pie for dessert, but sometimes we don’t plan everything out as we should. At any rate, we heaped whipped cream (Aunt Joe Ann’s recipe, of course, which is still the best I’ve found) on it and were very happy. In fact, we could have foregone the pumpkin pie and just eaten the cream. But if I had to plan it over again, I can't think of any better dessert to go with all of this than Grandma Christine's apple cake.

Photography Credits: Martha Stewart Living and The New York Times.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Who wore it better?

One of my favorite features in all those gossip magazines is the old-standby "Who Wore it Better"? Not only am I consistently amazed at how the same dress can look completely different on two different women, but I love to see how different people accessorize the same dress or blouse to make it suit their own tastes and style. I initially bought this darling pink winter holiday coat for my Christmas cards (the idea was to have a posed picture of Olivia in said coat underneath the Christmas tree...we'll see if she cooperates next week). My mother though, couldn't resist trying it on her own dachshund Beatrice and taking pictures of both dogs decked out in their holiday duds. {Oh and, if you're interested, I purchased the outfit here.}

So what do you think? Who wore it better? While my mom posed the same question earlier this week on her blog, Olivia was a bit disappointed by the obviously biased results. Ever the princess, she has demanded a new vote -- this time, with votes polled anonymously (so no pressure!).

And while we're on the subject of dressing up canines, what are your thoughts on the matter? Cute or cruel? I don't as a habit dress Olivia -- I figure she's cute enough on her own. But I can't deny the temptation has been there whenever I spy a particularly cute doggie sweater. If the weather in Houston were cold enough to justify the price tag, I'm not sure I could resist getting Olivia this for the holiday season.

But back to the matter at hand: --


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm dreaming of a White (and Silver and Blue) Christmas...

I have an early case of holiday fever. Perhaps it's because this will be our first holiday season in the new house, or perhaps it's just because I've been very busy at work and this has been one helluva roller coaster of a year, but I'm looking forward to the upcoming holiday season immensely. And while I enjoy Thanksgiving with all of its great food, classic college football rivalries, and a four- or five-day license to do little else other than eat said food and watch said football, I don't particularly enjoy Thanksgiving decorations. After all, autumnal colors don't exactly jive with my house's decor -- and, quite frankly, a lot of Thanksgiving decorations can veer towards the culturally insensitive (hello miniature Pilgrims and Indians!). Call me lazy but my preference is to leave out any leftover pumpkins from Halloween and call it a day. Besides, since our family traditionally puts up all our Christmas decorations the weekend following Thanksgiving, I tend to associate Thanksgiving with Christmas decor as well.

This year I thought I'd do a few posts on decorating for Christmas. I know the politically correct term is "Holidays", but since I don't celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, I thought it wise to leave decorating for those events up to those who do. And so the next few weeks leading up to Christmas I'll be showcasing a few of my favorite homes decorated for the holidays as well as a few tips and tricks for celebrating the season in a sophisticated, decidedly non-cheesy way. So if you're looking for giant inflatable reindeer or tips on how to light your house up like the Griswolds, I suggest you look elsewhere.

I thought I'd kick things off with a house that puts a decided twist on traditional holiday decorating. The November issue of Canadian House & Home featured this lovely beachfront home owned by Darci Ilich, the co-owner of the charming Vancouver boutique The Cross. Ilich preserves the serene and coastal tranquility of her cottage's decor by decorating in whites and silvers, punctuated by hits of robin's egg blue and turquoise. Of course you all know of my ongoing love affair with turquoise, and with blue and white, and I think these colors are such a wonderful, wintry alternative to the traditional red and green. The palette is particularly appealing if your home, like mine, veers towards cooler colors or neutrals.

I love how this simple wreath of silver balls is hung around the wooden deer head (punched up ever so subtly with the lovely pale blue ribbon). There are a ton of inexpensive ball wreaths available on the market today (check out West Elm and ZGallerie for some nice options). These are also great alternative if you have a serious aversion to fake foliage but are still looking for a wreath that you can reuse year after year. I lack the discipline to maintain an all-white color palette, but I can certainly appreciate the serenity and sophistication that it can bring to a space. Ilich manages to keep the room cozy though by playing with different shades of white, cream and ivory and by bringing in a variety of textures. I particularly love the textural interplay between the flokati pillow and the metallic pillow against the white canvas love seat.

The contrast between the dark wood table and pristine white Louis XV chairs is brilliant, especially against that gorgeous wall of french doors. I love the idea of decorating your chandelier as you would a Christmas tree -- and a great way to bring some of your decorations into the dining room. I also prefer this to a large, traditional centerpiece on the table, which inevitably has to be moved when company actually arrives if you actually want to see the person sitting across from you. Another great tip: swap out those pesky (and dangerous!) metal hooks on your ornaments for lovely ribbons. If you're short on time and/or patience, Crate&Barrel even sells pre-cut and pre-tied ribbons by the bunch (all you have to do is loop them through!).

A close up shot of the chandelier. I absolutely adore the mercury glass ornaments hung on pale blue ribbons. Perfection.

Ah the tree. The centerpiece of any holiday decorating. I love the idea of buying a smaller tree and putting it on a pedestal table. Not only is it less expensive than buying a large tree, but by getting it off the ground you can keep it out of reach of pets and small children. While I vacillate between loving and hating Christmas trees with very controlled color palettes (They're so striking! / They strike me as overly decorated/impersonal!), I think this one really works as the ornaments on display are varied and unique -- these aren't just glass balls picked up at your local Michael's or Target.

If you're looking for a White Christmas (as I am), there are a ton of wonderfully sophisticated (and relatively inexpensive) options on the market this year as silver, mercury glass, turquoise and white ceramics are all big trends in home decor right now. Below are a few on my Christmas wish list:

Source list (clockwise, from top left): 1. David Stark holiday collection from West Elm ($12-47). Love the super-modern, sculptural vibe of this collection. 2. Antiqued glass collection from Wisteria ($19-$34). These would add a touch of sparkle year round -- no need to limit yourself to the holidays. 3. Peppermint Vanilla bundle from Method ($24). My favorite holiday home scent of all-time! 4. Mosaic tree from Target ($9.99 - $19.99). Love the art deco vibe of these trees; I'd put these on the mantle for some serious sparkle. 5. Snow Globes from West Elm ($29 each). Of course the peacock is my favorite! 6. Marimekko Lumimarja tea cup & saucer and dinner plate from Velocity Art & Design ($24 and $15). One of my favorite Marimekko patterns, now available on porcelain dishware. 7. Bengal Bazaar Christmas stocking from PlumCushion ($40). Simply the most sophisticated stocking ever; perfect for the design addict. 8. Winter tree candleholder from Inglenook Decor ($30.75). Maureen always has such unique finds and this snowflake tree is truly magical. 9. Belvedere Bowl from ZGallerie ($32). Perfect as a centerpiece; I'd pile it high with silver balls. 10. Turquoise mercury glass ornaments from ZGallerie ($6-$10 each). I love the weight mercury glass gives to ornaments and this turquoise is truly spectacular. 11. Dove ornament from Jonathan Adler ($24). I covet all of his ornaments, but this dove most of all; also a great gift.

Photographs of Darci Illich's home are courtesy of Canadian House & Home, November 2009 issue.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Guest Bedroom Update

Back in September I blogged about my love for DwellStudio for Target's Hadley Headboard. The modern bold stripes paired with the more traditional curve of the headboard is truly high-end design at a budget price. Well, when after a few weeks I still couldn't get it out of my head, I decided to go ahead and purchase the brown and white striped version for one of my guest rooms.


After a few weeks of waiting, the headboard finally arrived (in a very large box!) on my doorstep last Thursday. The headboard was easy to assemble -- all we had to do was screw the legs (which you can adjust based on the thickness of your mattress/box spring) and then attach the legs to our existing bed frame.


While it seems like the "lacquer"-like finish on the frame scratches easily, I was impressed with the upholstery job and solid construction of the frame. All in all a very good product for the money. For a design standpoint in this particular room, I like how the bold stripes play up the striped sheets (also from Tar-jay). By repeating a pattern already existing in the space, I think the headboard lends a sense of cohesion to a space assembled predominately from hand-me-downs and leftovers. I also like the boldness of pairing such a large-scale stripe with a similarly scaled nature motif on the duvet. At some point (because I can't help myself) I'd like to paint the room (in a TBD color, but maybe a soft blue-green?) and upgrade the side tables and lamps to something a bit bolder/more interesting...but for now I'm going to deem this room ready and fit for company -- and just in time for Thanksgiving, too.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Sometimes second best is...well, best.

For the past several months I've been on the search for the Holy Grail of kitchen tables. My requirements: Because of the length of the back benches, I needed an oval table rather than a round one with a length between 70" and 80" and a width of no greater than 48" (to keep the pathway to the back door clear). I also had to have a pedestal table to accommodate the corner seat. And of course, I wanted it to look good and be reasonably priced (I'd all but exhausted my budget for this space on the bench!). Pretty tall order, isn't it?

Of course what I fell in love with was no where near my budgeted allocation for a kitchen table. A classic Saarinen oval dining table, even in the more affordable white laminate (and of course I prefer the Carrera marble!), is still a budget-busting $4000. And while I'm a believer in paying for quality pieces that will last a lifetime, I just couldn't justify the price given all the other items we still need to buy for the home. Of course, there are a number of affordable Saarinen-lookalikes on the market today (CB2 and IKEA both have great versions), but unfortunately none of those are a larger, oval table. In fact, both CB2 and IKEA's versions are petite 40" rounds -- laughably small in this space.

There are those who argue that it's better to live with an empty room than to buy second-best, but I have a feeling those are the same folks who don't have to actually live in those empty rooms -- or have a host of people descending upon them for Thanksgiving. After three months of treating our great room and adjoining breakfast area as a pass-through space, I was completely fed up with rattling around an empty house.

And so Dave and I decided to go ahead and buy an inexpensive dining set and so we headed over to Rooms-to-Go and picked up this pedestal table and chair set. And of course, one of the greatest benefits of buying from a Big Box Store is that we were able to get our dining set mere days later. Someday perhaps I'll be able to afford that gorgeous tulip table (and wouldn't it be divine in there?), but for now we have a place to eat our cereal and drink our coffee. And I don't think it looks too bad, especially since we got the table and the chairs for less than 1/4 of the price of my beloved tulip table. And yes, I recovered the chairs with the same fabric I used for the banquette.

A shot of the chair before reupholstering, in all its standard beige microfibered glory. Bleh. It's amazing what some fabric and a staple gun can do, isn't it? Certainly makes the chair look more custom.

Oh and as you can see from the arrangement on the table, I went with everyone's advice and removed one of the three topiaries from the fireplace mantle. The move from the fireplace to the kitchen table does two great things simultaneously: the new mantle arrangement highlights the mirror and by repeating the topiary motif on the kitchen table, I'm tying the two spaces together (the fireplace is directly across from the breakfast nook and clearly visible from it). So many thanks for the sound advice, everyone!

With the countdown to Thanksgiving officially underway, this weekend I hope to accomplish a bit more around the house. We'll be changing out some more light fixtures, hanging a few more pictures, and even doing a bit of landscaping. Is anyone else similarly undertaking some home improvement projects in anticipation of the holidays?


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Twinkle Toes

Kate Spade

Right now I can't get enough of all the sparkly flats that are popping up just in time for the holidays. Bedecked in sequins, rhinestones or even ornate broaches, these shoes are all on trend and perfect for holiday parties -- especially if you're playing hostess or know in advance there won't be much opportunity to sit down and rest your heels. Try them in shades of gray, plum or in metallics to update last season's outfit. Dress them up with a cute party dress or down with jeans and a casual top. Whatever you decide to pair them with, you're guaranteed to be the life of the party with your cute (and comfortable) twinkle toes.

Source list: 1. Belle by Sigerson Morrison Charm Ballet Flats ($225). 2. Vera Wang Lavendar Label Lisa Ballet Flats ($295). 3. Miu Miu Studded Bow Ballet Flats ($450). 4. Pour la Victoire "Janise" flat ($199). 5. Dolce & Gabbana Sequin Stripe ballerina flat ($495). 6. Banana Republic Presley Bejewled Flat ($120) 7. Kate Spade "Harper" sequin flat ($275).

Source list: 1. Chinese Laundry Good Times flats ($70). 2. Steve Madden "Kazler" flat ($59.90). 3. Jessica Simpson Belta flats ($75). 4. Jeffrey Campbell "Jewel 2" flat ($109.95). 5. Kate Spade Nicolena flat ($298). 6. Lanvin Embellished Ballet Flat ($640). 7. Juicy Couture Alleah Velvet Ballet Flats ($225).

And don't miss the Kate Spade online sample sale, going on now until Friday at midnight. It's a great opportunity to pick up some great gifts (or just a treat for yourself) at a fraction of the price.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Mood Board Monday

Antwerp Chair, spectrum swirl (Anthropologie; $1698)

Today brings a second installment of Mood Board Monday (this time hosted by the lovely Tracy of Comfort & Luxury). This week's challenge is to design a room around one of two Anthropologie chairs (I chose the Antwerp chair pictured above for its colorful paisley pattern and lovely traditional shape). I decided that, while a chair like this certainly deserves to be the star of the show, it also needs pieces that can stand up to it a bit -- items and fixtures that could balance all of this fabulousness with a bit of...gravitas, shall we say?

When I think about rooms with some weight (both literally and figuratively), I think of a masculine study or library, complete with dark walls, old leather and brass fixtures -- the kind of room that wouldn't be out of place in Sterling Memorial Library or an equally venerable, equally stodgy institution. So what would happen if that sort of room were introduced to a chair such as this? Suddenly, a masculine study would take on a more modern, more colorful personality. A little bit traditional, a little bit eclectic bohemian...and a little bit subversive.

Something along the lines of this:

Miles Redd

But with a dash of the New York Public Library thrown in for good measure.

With this inspiration as a touchstone, I've thrown together the following mood board:

Source list: 1. Paint Color: Slate Teal from Benjamin Moore. 2. Antique Maps from V&J Duncan (Eastern Hemisphere, ca. 1835 ($85) and England & Scotland, c. 1732 ($375)). 3. Adjustable Floor Lamp from Circa Lighting ($315). 4. NY Public Library table lamp from Circa Lighting ($420). 5. Portuguese Desk from Restoration Hardware ($1495). 6. Paisley Pillows from Anthropologie ($98-$115). 7. Conrad Sofa from Jayson Home & Garden ($5,495). 8. Paisley Rug in Ivory from Madelaine Weinrib.

Be sure to check out all the other wonderful mood boards inspired by this fabulous chair HERE.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Guest Rooms in Blue, Pink...and Yellow!

I was surfing the internet yesterday afternoon, trying desperately think of something good to post on (to say I've had blogger's block the past few weeks would be a serious understatement). I was just about to give up when I spied this fun and fabulous guest room on one of my favorite interior designer's websites (go HERE for all sorts of colorful, West Coast design courtesy of Jeffers Design Group). What's even better is that Jay Jeffers decorated not one, but two, guest rooms in this house in distinct, yet parallel, styles. I think the lesson to be learned from this is a great one: By repeating certain elements and using a similar layout in each space, Jeffers manages to create a continuity of style without repeating the color palette. This is an excellent option for those who (like me) want to unify the style of their home while still experimenting with different colors and patterns.

The mixing and not quite matching going on here in this guest room is utterly brilliant. Note how two different side tables are unified by a matching pair of glorious turquoise table lamps. The mix of linens on the bed gives a more casual feeling to the space, while the unifying hues of blues and sand keeps the bed from feeling completely haphazard. One might describe this as controlled eclectic.

Another interesting element to the mix is that Jeffers didn't try and match all of the blue tones in the room. There are elements of turquoise, royal blue, baby blue, cobalt blue and slate blue throughout the room with a net result far more sophisticated and relaxed than a single shade of blue would have ever been.

I love how Jeffers included a subtle pattern on the lamp shades as well; it just goes to show you that when decorating your own room you can really get a big pay off by thinking beyond white or ivory shades! And do I even have to say how divine that mirror is?

Similarly, the bold mix of patterns, from the large scale floral of the drapes to the small houndstooth on the accent chair create an interesting mix that is unexpectedly elegant. The antique milk glass on the mirrored dresser and the silver and glass water pitcher and glass are small, vintage touches (like the turquoise lamps) that give some weight to the modern, lighthearted furniture.

In this second guest room, there are a large number of elements that echo the first room. The walls of the room are similarly bedecked in a fun, graphic (but not overly busy) wallpaper. The ceiling is painted in a lively hue (here pink, in the first room, blue) and trimmed in crown molding. The lighting elements are also similar with the drum pendant ceiling light and oversized table lamps. One side table doubles as a desk, which is paired with a lucite chair to keep the room from feeling overly crowded. On the opposite wall, a small accent chair and side table could be enjoyed as a reading nook or simply additional seating when guests are visiting. Small area rugs surround the bed, a cost effective option in lieu of an oversized area rug.

What don't I love about this vignette? I love this wallpaper: it's colorful and fun without being overly busy (thanks to an abundance of white space). I think this more minimal pattern is more successful in a larger space than a very tight, very busy pattern, which, although wonderful in a powder room or on a single wall, can completely overwhelm a larger room. The fabric on the petite settee is also darling, and it works with the wallpaper because it's much smaller in scale but still in the same pink and green on cream palette. The pale blush color and lovely detailing on the dresser are also divine (I want!). Even the small white deer manages to be cute without veering into overly precious. When paired with the pink milk glass vase and green glass balls on the side table, the pieces come off as much beloved objects inherited from family or maybe just picked up on the cheap at the local thrift store.

Inspired by these two cheerful rooms, I thought it would be fun to design a mood board for a third guest room, bearing in mind the style and elements of the first two. This time though, I'm employing a soft yellow and gray color palette, a lovely pairing that not only compliments the bright, happy pastels of the first two rooms, but is also incredibly en vogue.

I'd start by papering the walls in Hygge & West's daydream wallpaper in yellow (pictured above), which is very reminiscent to the wallpaper Jeffers used in the blue guest room. I would then paint out the ceiling in a medium tone gray, like Farrow & Ball's Pavilion Gray or Benjamin Moore's Coventry Gray.

For lighting, this four-tiered pendant fixture from Lights Up! has a lovely modern pattern that coordinates perfectly with our gray and yellow theme. Wall-to-wall drapes in a nice yellow and white stripe (love the grommets!) are a nice geometric contrast to the graphic gray and yellow floral bedding from BlissLiving Home and the sweet wallpaper. To up the sophistication factor, I'd use Jonathan Adler's woodhouse bed in a wonderful platinum velvet and pair the bed with mismatched mirror side tables from Horchow that convey a traditional, antique-y quality that will contrast well with the more modern elements in the space. Note how one of the tables sports a subtle stripe, which will tie in well with the striped drapes and throw pillows (remember, repeating a pattern on several elements in a room will help keep the overall look cohesive!). To squeeze in a place to pay bills or blog away on a laptop, I'd tuck in this gorgeous lucite bamboo chair underneath the second art deco side table.

For smaller accessories, buttery yellow gourd lamps from Shades of Light will provide necessary task lighting as well as bring in another yellow element into the room. A few smaller geometric rugs in a cool platinum gray and white from Dash and Albert are cozy and bring another larger scale pattern into the room. This gorgeous Venetian ribbon mirror had me at "hello" and would look fantastic over the small side table doubling as a desk. And finally, for small accessories, I'd pick up a few inexpensive milk glass pieces (I particularly love hobnail pieces), tons of which can be found on Etsy. They'll add a nice vintage touch (and some additional texture) to the room while still keeping it light and bright.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Colorful Backdrops, Part 2

The response to my post last month on bookshelves, curios and built-ins with painted interiors was pretty overwhelming. It seems that there are many, many people out there who are as obsessed with the look as I am. So much so, in fact, that I thought I'd pull together a second set of images celebrating even more colorful backdrops.

Above, the bright orange shelves bring a jolt of fun color into an otherwise all white and gray space. It's also a wonderful contrast to the simple, white vases and the white magazine racks. An orange task light brings in a second pop of the same color and the repetition of the hue outside the shelving helps bring balance the composition.

Steven Gambrel

This pale blue gray makes my heart sing, especially against the soft off-white trim and dark ebony floors. It's the perfect, subtle statement and beautifully highlights all of the ivory and ecru pottery.

Tom Stringer

A subtle greige background to these built-ins adds dimension to the walls and helps highlight the owner's large collection of white porcelain. Note too how well balanced the arrangements are within the shelves themselves.

Martha Stewart Living

I love how nicely this coral interior sets off the sun bleached coral. You can bet this subtle play on words was intentional.

One of my all-time favorite dens. I love the oversized striped ottoman, mosaic tile around the fireplace, neatly tailored chairs in a variety of fabrics (love the squiggly pattern on the chair nearest the fireplace in particular). All in all, it's lovely. What's interesting too is that on first glance, blue appears to be the dominant color; however, when you look closer you realize that the only blue element in the entire space is the backs of the built-ins around the fireplace -- the rest of the space is entirely decorated in neutrals. The beauty of this is that a simple change of paint color in the built-ins would switch up the look of the room completely, without the need for changing any of the furnishings or other accessories.

Of course you needn't limit yourself to paint when it comes to kitting out your shelving. Wallpaper works just as wonderfully and, since you aren't covering a large surface area, can be just as economical. It's also a wonderful way to experiment with wallpaper without the commitment of having it on your walls. Here, the lovely tone-on-tone navy damask brings in another pattern into this sitting room without overwhelming the space and disturbing it's minimal, clean aesthetic. The traditional, ornate damask is also a nice, quiet contrast to the greek key patterned rug.

More blue here in this living room from Steven Gambrel. I love how the bright blue ties in with throw pillows and side chair and it's a wonderful contrast to the grassy green walls and crisp white trim work.

This room is actually from the Serena & Lily catalogue, but it's still one of the best designed bedrooms I've seen in a while. Of course, the fun pink walls behind the built-ins and all the Jonathan Adler pottery are right up my alley.

This is a great example of how you can use this technique to bring in a color used elsewhere in a room or in your home (the soft lime green inside this small bookshelf brings the pale green accent color used throughout this beach house into a spare bedroom). By using the same colors (in different proportions!) throughout your house, you can easily create a cohesive, well designed look. I also love how quiet and almost neutral the color looks against the warm neutral tones and rich texture of the grass cloth wallpaper.

I love a dramatic navy blue interior. Such a wonderful backdrop for all-white porcelain serveware. The Oly chandelier is pretty fantastic as well, isn't it?

Elizabeth Mayhew

A lovely, soft yellow is a subtle hit of color for these shelves. I particularly like how Elizabeth Mayhew arranged all of her many books and small objects. The effect is full and lived-in without feeling messy or too crowded. It's also nice to see bookshelves stacked full of, well, books. Far too many designers insist on keeping shelves woefully bare and devoid of books in my opinion.

And what about you? Have you experimented with color on any of your bookshelves, curios or built-ins? If so, I'd love to take a look at what you've done and share it here on Odi et Amo.

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