Monday, January 31, 2011

How to have a Stylish Pregnancy

I've picked up a few tips and tricks for navigating pregnancy as stylishly as possible over the past 8 months or so and I thought I'd share some of them with you today. Fortunately, there are now plenty of maternity clothes options on the market today so you have no excuse not to look your usual cute self (especially since now you'll have that pregnancy glow to go along with your gorgeous bump).

1. Pants/Jeans. Hands down I'd say Gap is the winner in this category for both style and price. Sure, you can throw down some serious cash for designer maternity denim (much of which is pretty useless once you get into the third trimester anyway as they're often cut too low and with too little support for late term pregnancy), but I honestly don't think any of the designer jeans I tried on compared to Gap's "Always Skinny" maternity jeans, which I've been living in since Thanksgiving. Similarly, Gap's perfect trousers have become my work week staple and are (blessedly) wash and wear.

2. Basic Tops. Basic tees and tank tops are essential during pregnancy. You can wear them alone, under open jackets and cardigans, or layer them under shorter (non-maternity) tops for more coverage. While not inexpensive, Isabella & Oliver's scoopneck ruched tees are lifesavers for me. They're comfortable, long enough (without running the risk of looking like a tunic -- a problem that seems to plague much maternity wear, even for this 6' tall gal), flattering and I wear them constantly. For tank tops, I actually prefer Classiques Entier's camisoles, which come in an array of colors and, while not technically maternity wear, are stretchy enough to look good from the beginning of pregnancy to the end. Even better, you can wear postpartum without feeling like you're still stuck in your maternity clothes.

3. Open Cardigans. Fortunately, open front cardigans are a big trend right now and can be found in abundance at all price points. I'm a big fan of Nordstroms' in-house brand Caslon for inexpensive cardigans in fun colors. Again, these have the added benefit of being wearable postpartum as well.

4. Comfortable Flats. Comfortable shoes are essential. I had to temporarily retire my heels a few months ago once my balance started to become affected by my bump. At first I was worried that my feet would grow so I avoided investing in well-made, comfortable flats. Big mistake. Buying a couple of cute, well designed flats will not only perk up a basic black maternity wardrobe, but it will keep your feet (and therefore your legs and back) happy. For my money, you can't get better than Gentle Souls. Just don't go buying a whole new shoe wardrobe until you're well past postpartum and are sure your feet have permanently spread (or not).

5. Proper Undergarments. Let's talk lingerie for a moment, ladies. The first new clothing you'll need to buy for your pregnancy are a few new bras. Make sure they've got plenty of support (I made sure mine had that third hook-and-eye closure and larger, more supportive straps). I would suggest not buying nursing bras immediately as you can never be sure what size you'll need by the time the baby arrives. My other suggestion is to get yourself a few Spanx maternity shaper and/or tights. Not only do they smooth you out, but they provide invaluable belly support as you grow. As for maternity underwear? Completely unnecessary unless you prefer high-waisted granny panties. I've had no trouble wearing my usual boyshorts/bikini underwear throughout pregnancy.

6. Some Fun Stuff. So now you've got the basics down, but fashion is also supposed to be about having some fun, right? For more playful maternity tops and cute dresses, I'd recommend the brands Olian, Maternity America and Moody Mamas. I've found they all fit well and easily transition from the second to third trimester. [Note: it's unlikely you'll need maternity clothes during your first trimester and, if you're taller or it's your first child, during much of the second either. So, if you're newly pregnant, don't rush out and buy a bunch of stuff just yet!] These brands regularly go on sale at Nordstrom and even on Gilt Group and Ideeli, so keep your eyes peeled for bargains. Still though, you really won't need more than a couple of cute maternity tops and dresses.

7. Accessories. Remember, jewelry and purses are one size fits all (well, except for rings of course!). Invest accordingly. Statement-making necklaces and earrings keep the attention up at your beautiful, glowing face and your enhanced decolletage.

So what about you? Do you have any tips and tricks for staying fashionable (and, of course, comfortable) during pregnancy?


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nursery Sneak Peek

The nursery is almost done! While the big reveal will have to wait until next week as I put the final touches on the room over the weekend, I thought I'd whet your appetite with a sneak peek of the window seat, complete with cushions and my DIY pillows and pelmet box (more on both next week). 

In other baby news, my shower is this weekend and I'm really looking forward to catching up with my favorite girlfriends, several of whom are coming down from Dallas for the event. Happy weekend!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Object of Desire

I'm totally in love with this ottoman/stool (dubbed a chakki by Serena & Lily). Available in two finishes (white and a dark walnut) and 12 fabrics (including some fantastic prints), it's a truly versatile piece that would work in a bedroom, living room or den. Even better? The cushion is slip covered for easy washing; perfect if you've got small children or pets. The one downside? It's on the pricier side at $450. That said though, it could really make a room.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Black Walls: A Lasting Trend?

More than a decade ago, my cousin painted her small living room black. At the time, I was skeptical, but now it's perfectly clear that she was truly ahead of her time; indeed, in retrospect, those black walls with her black and white toile sofa was super chic).

In any case, black walls have been a growing trend in the design world for several years now and they don't appear to be going anywhere in 2011. I've been a bit slow in embracing this trend (despite my love of darker wall colors like plum, navy and peacock blue), but I can say now that I've fully come around. While I'm not sure how and if I'll work it into my home, I do enjoy coveting some of the amazing rooms that designers have created featuring black walls.

The large bedroom above is an absolute favorite of mine. What I find particularly striking is how light the room feels, despite the dark walls. A good tip for those looking to test out black walls but scared of making a room too dark: keep your ceiling, trim and your floors light. The accents of red in the room, inspired by the black grounded shell motif fabric used throughout the space keep the room from being too monochromatic. Much as I love black and white, I find a total lack of an accent color to be too hard to live with.

Windsor Smith

Black walls really highlight the detailed molding in this small office. The graphic effect is mimicked in the iron windows and wrought iron lantern. I particularly love how Windsor painted the ceiling in a glossy pale blue. It adds a touch of lightness to the space. Oh yeah, and how awesome is that flame stitch office chair?

Atlanta Decorator's Show House

Black is an obvious choice for a study, library or den, where a cozier, darker environment is a welcome respite from a day's worth of work and chores.

If you want the graphic punch but are a bit afraid of feeling closed in, try just painting one wall. I'm not generally a fan of an accent wall, but I do think it works well in a bedroom (of course, you have to put your bed against said accent wall to pull this office!). Of course, the white bed frame and side tables against the dark wall makes the most of both. Remember: it's all about contrast!
Ruthie Sommers (via domino)

Tight spaces can sometimes really benefit from the black wall treatment. It may seem counter intuitive but dark walls can really create a feeling of more space as they recede in the background -- and can highlight other great features like a fun turquoise door or high ceilings.

Sherrill Canet

This dining room is an all-time favorite of mine. The black background of this gorgeous wallpaper modernizes classic Chinoiserie and the silver ceiling generate some serious drama. The more casual dining table and chairs keeps the room from feeling too stuffy. To paraphrase Mary Poppins: it's practically perfect in every way.

Image from Marie Claire Maison

A black bathroom, like a black kitchen, is a fun deviation from the standard white -- and I'd argue it's just as classic. Of course a black clawfoot tub is just the icing on the cake. One thing I don't like about this room though: those floors. That shade of green reminds me of the green marble that was oh so popular in the '80s. Yuck.

Jenna Lyons - Domino

Somehow, I feel like the Jenna Lyons spread in domino a few years ago was a major catalyst for the black wall craze that's been raging ever since. I'll admit that the black cast iron tub paired with the brass fixtures and herringbone wood floor still leaves me breathless.

Image via Metropolitan Home

I can describe this room in 3 words: Drama, drama, drama. This image appeared on Metropolitan Home's last book Glamour: Making it Modern and I can tell you that it was just about the sole reason I picked up a copy (yes, I did judge a book by its cover!).

Anne Coyle

Black walls are a great backdrop for artwork. Like white walls, they let the art do most of the talking, but unlike white walls, you won't feel like you're sleeping in a sterile art gallery.

While I love a white kitchen, black cabinetry is definitely growing on me. Shubel did a nice job here of keeping the look monochromatic and graphic. The flatweave rug is very chic. I also like how he selected two different countertops. The black marble on the island creates a ton of drama, but the white marble on the cabinets behind tone things down and blend in seamlessly with the creamy walls.

Image via Canadian House and Home

Another black kitchen, this time from the 2010 Canadian House and Home designer show house. The mix of materials is great and I love the crisp white beadboard ceiling. The stone floor and kitchen table and chairs add a French bistro touch that nicely balances all that black and stainless steel.

Rob Southern (via House Beautiful)

Entryways and hallways are great opportunities to experiment with black walls without really having to live with it. These walls are actually covered in vinyl wallpaper, which I'd imagine would be more cost-effective and long-lasting than lacquered walls.

Image via House Beautiful

I like how this den feels less buttoned up than most black rooms. Instead of dramatic, it feels cozy -- but it's still sophisticated (as evidenced by that fabulous KWID fabric).

Steven Gambrel

This den feels at once incredibly masculine and incredibly dramatic. The liquid leather armchairs combined with the glossy black walls (and glossy marigold yellow ceiling!) are admittedly pretty over the top. And yet Gambrel manages to balance them with smart striped curtains and a softer, more beat up leather sofa and armchair.

So what do you think, are black walls a new classic or still just a passing trend?


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Making an Entrance

Entryways and hallways are so often ignored in decorating, but they can be a wonderful opportunity to create some serious drama in these pass-through spaces. Even if your entry or hallway is small, I suggest going big with larger scale patterns and a few large pieces of furniture or accessories as smaller patterns and pieces can just make a small space feel even smaller and (horror of horrors!) more cluttered. 

If you're looking for some inspiration or guidance, Nicky Haslam's work at a stylish London townhouse really does set the bar for stunning hallways. In the entryway (shown above), the wide set chocolate and cream stripes visually widen the narrow entry and pack a major graphic punch. I also love the single topiary -- a classic, tailored touch. A whimsical stair rail adds a touch of levity.

A round hallway is played up with a modern medallion on the floor and circular moldings on the doors. 

Sure, these over scale moldings are over the top, but they add undeniable drama, especially when paired with high gloss chocolate brown walls and a contrasting slate blue ceiling.

All photographs courtesy of Nicky Haslam Design.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Obligatory Bump Shot & Giveaway Winner

Okay, okay, so you guys have worn me down. I've resisted showing pregnancy photos of me up until now primarily because (a) I honestly wasn't showing until around Thanksgiving and didn't look really pregnant until Christmas so until recently there wasn't much to look at and (b) I manage to remember that I should take some photographs only at really inopportune when I've removed all my make-up, am in my pajamas and look really, well, rough.

But let the record show that here I am: 32 weeks and 3 days pregnant...and in my pajamas! I'm pleased to report that I can still see my feet (though I'll admit I have to crane my neck somewhat) and my belly button is still an innie (though it's getting shallower by the day!).

On some more baby-related business, the winner of the Binth Baby Book giveaway is...#3 -- Patch! Congratulations Patricia and many thanks to everyone who entered to win and for continuing to support this little blog. 

Happy weekend!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nursery: Quick Midweek Update

I came home today to find a completely painted nursery; what a wonderful midweek pick-me-up! I'm loving how bright and clear the pale aqua is. Now all that's left is to starting loading in the room. Stay tuned!

{I should note that I didn't have a surprise visit from the painting fairies. Dave and I decided to bring in the professionals for this paint job given the fact that I'm 32 weeks pregnant and time is of the essence. I have to say though that I could get used to this; so much better than spending my weekend taping, painting and then cleaning it all up!}

In case you've missed out, you can catch up on this nursery design project by clicking HERE and HERE. Also, don't forget to enter for your chance to win a Binth Baby Book! I'll be announcing the winner Friday morning.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

8 Reasons I Love this Dining Room

1. The rose print linen on the walls and chairs is feminine, but the oyster and grey colorway and grid pattern keeps it from being overly sweet.

2. The more modern mix of wingback and Parsons chairs is a great counterpoint to the traditional Louis Philippe table.

3. The settee -- I love bench style seating in any dining space!

4. The silver leaf screen; because every dining room needs a touch of elegant Chinoiserie.

5. The painted tin ceiling adds character and texture without distracting from the upholstered walls.

6. The simple panel drapery mounted on a bamboo rod lends a more casual and modern air, despite the floral print walls and strong use of metallics. 

7. The sisal rug takes the entire look down a notch and warms up all the gray.

8. A tight monochromatic color palette keeps all the pattern from overpowering the small space.

So what does all that add up to? One great room in my opinion! But it also showcases a new twist on classic English style, which I think we'll be seeing a lot of in 2011. Classic English decorating is marked by floral fabrics, matching prints, tin ceilings, touches of Chinoiserie, an eclectic mix of modern and antique furniture. Windsor manages to make this style feel fresh, young and a bit more undone with the addition of the sisal rug, less fussy drapery and a more monochromatic color palette. 

What do you think? To see the rest of this gorgeous California home, check out the House Beautiful feature HERE.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Win a Binth Baby Book!

Today I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be giving away a Binth baby book (in green -- perfect for either sex)! Original woodland illustrations lead from the day of birth through the 3rd birthday with ample room for photos, thoughts and memories. This would make a wonderful gift for the expecting or new parent. 

To enter, simply leave a comment here and be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you're selected as the winner. I'll select one winner randomly next Friday, January 14. Good luck and happy weekend!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy Second Anniversary, Odi et Amo!

{If I could give you each a Sprinkles cupcake, I would!}

Today marks the completion of my second year as a blogger. 2010 was definitely an exciting time for this little blog as I saw my readership quadruple over the course of the year and my focus -- and my voice -- shift slowly towards the more personal (but I suppose pregnancy will do that to you).

Last year at this time, I featured a roundup of my favorite posts, all of which focused on interior design. This year, I thought I'd celebrate with a roundup my own design projects that I've documented here on the blog over the past twelve months (as well as previews for what's to come in 2011!):

February 2010

March 2010

March 2010

July 2010
The Family Room

December 2010
The Master Bedroom - Stay Tuned for an Update!

December 2010
The Backyard

January 2011
The Nursery - Stay Tuned for an Update!

I can honestly say that without the encouragement of my readers -- and the pressure of getting things done so I could have some blog content -- I would not have been nearly as productive in my mission of turning my new, somewhat cold, house into a home as I was (even if I didn't get it all done). While I doubt any home is ever truly "done" (and goodness, how boring would that be?!), I do feel our home reflects us and our tastes so much more than it did a year ago. Many thanks to you all for your continued support,  kind words and generous spirits. I look forward to a third year of blogging, this time with baby in tow!

Gratias vobis ago!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Guest Post at La Dolce Vita

Today I'm over at La Dolce Vita guest posting about my dream home. Be sure to stop by (click HERE) and say "hello" and check out my indulgent design choices for decorating my ultimate fantasy home. Thanks again Paloma for giving me the opportunity to participate in your new series!


Monday, January 3, 2011

Nursery: Progress Report

Over the course of the holidays, despite plenty of company and my growing fatigue (and belly!), I did manage to get a good bit done in the nursery. When we last left off, the spare bedroom was essentially our storage room, which meant the first task was clearing it out. After several trips to Goodwill, we managed to empty the room and get cracking. Dave's big task was to remove the light and install the new fan, which has the added benefit of being on a dimmer. I like how the fixture has an old schoolhouse vibe; it's definitely the kind of piece I can use long after the crib is gone.

We've also purchased several of our "big ticket" items like the crib and the dresser (both of which are from Oeuf's Sparrow line). The dresser will double as a changing table. I had initially planned on buying a separate changing table, but decided the temporary convenience of a separate (and higher) space didn't really justify the additional cost. I also got DwellStudio's Draper rug, which ties in with the fitted stripe sheet and I really think it's going to make the room. 

My big DIY for the nursery last week was making the crib skirt. I used the Alphabet Tales print from Osborne & Little's Zagazoo line. While my mom taught me the rudiments of sewing when I was younger, I'm hardly a seamstress, so I opted to go the no-sew route with some Stitch Witchery, an iron and this short DIY video courtesy of Young House Love. Sherry does a wonderful job of walking you through it, so I won't take you step by step here. Instead, I'll just throw in my quickie advice: make sure your measurements are accurate for each side before you cut (and measure the inside, not the outside, of the crib for accurate dimensions, taking into account any support slats, screws or other obstacles that may keep the skirt from laying flat).

After hemming each panel with the hem tape, I used fabric glue to secure orange grosgrain ribbon along the bottom edges and secured each panel to the crib with Velcro (the stick-on kind for the crib and the iron-on kind for the panels). While the skirt might withstand a few washings, it's certainly not for the ages -- indeed, I even had to do some impromptu (and very hackneyed) cutting once I installed the panels to get the skirt to lay flat despite the support slats behind each leg. That said though, I think it looks good and I'm happy with the results.

The nursery is connected to a Jack-and-Jill bathroom that I'm also sprucing up (in the same color scheme) in time for BB Conn's arrival. I found some adorable towels in orange and aqua off ideeli a few months ago, but I'd been having a lot of trouble finding a shower curtain that I really liked in the same colors that didn't read as too juvenile (after all, this bathroom is also connected to our guest room). And so, I decided to make my own...well, I prettied up my own in any event.

I purchased an inexpensive plain white fabric shower curtain and some grosgrain ribbon in orange and aqua. I then used fabric glue to adhere the ribbons to create a wide band across the bottom of the curtain. I actually eye balled the spacing but if you're a bit unsteady (or a perfectionist), then I'd suggest marking your distances with a washable fabric pen. While the fabric glue does a reasonable job of keeping the ribbon in place, I knew that I needed to sew down the ribbon along the edges to really get them to stay flat and hold up in a damp environment (and in the washing machine).

Under the watchful eye of my mother, I used a sewing machine to sew down the edges. I used a clear thread to avoid having to change out the thread for each color. A great tip from my mom: sew the right (or left) sides of all four ribbons in one go and then turn the curtain around and sew the other sides down. This will keep the ribbons from puckering and ensure they lay flat.

Of course, there are still a number of items to check off the list in the next 8 weeks or so before I can call this room complete. Here's the status of my to do list as of last weekend:

(1) Clear the room. 
(2) Paint the walls (Benjamin Moore's Forget Me Not) and ceiling (Benjamin Moore's Icing on the Cake). [Note: I have, for once, decided to outsource the paint job to professionals; hopefully, my painter will be out in the next week or two to get this done.]
(3) Order the crib, dresser, glider and rug.
(4) Install the ceiling fan.
(5) Sew the crib skirt.
(6) Build the pelmet box for the window and upholster in the O&L fabric.
(7) Sew covers for throw pillows to go on glider and window seat.
(8) Order artwork and frames.
(9) Establish a furniture arrangement that optimizes space.
(10) Purchase/install floating shelves above the dresser for photos and diapering essentials.
(11) Arrange and hang wall art.
(12) Organize baby's closet -- wash and fold clothes, store toys and gear, etc.

I'm pleased with the progress so far, but my nesting instinct seems to have kicked into high gear here in the last week or so (perhaps something about hitting the 30 week mark?) and I'm ready to power this out quickly now. I'll keep you posted!

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