Monday, August 31, 2009

A State of the {Dis}Union: Part 2

Judging by your responses to Friday's post, my half empty, half unpacked home really resonated with y'all. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised though, after all, is one's home ever really complete? Decorating, at its best, is a long term process, and as Rome wasn't built in a day, neither should our homes be fully furnished in one. That said though, I'm truly touched by your votes of confidence. Decorating can be downright scary (especially if you're willing to take some risks, which I am) and you've helped me screw up my courage to -- for lack of a better way to put it -- keep on, keepin' on.

But down to business, shall we? I promised a follow-up tour of the upstairs and I thought we'd start with the den. Much of the contents of our old great room was relocated to here and, while this room is noticeably smaller, I think everything fits together rather cozily. I still haven't unpacked all of the art and accessories, but once I do, I'm hoping this room will come off as a trifle less...brown. I'm contemplating painting the walls a lovely, subtle shade of celadon, which would pick up on the green in the rug and throw pillows, but as I've rather had my fill of painting for the quarter, I plan on living with the room as-is for now. I imagine that eventually I'll redecorate this room at some point down the line, as even now (some three years after I purchased/permanently borrowed) these items, the decor is no longer quite to my taste. But again, that's for another year and a replenished budget.

The first guestroom, decked out in our old guestroom's hand-me-down furniture. Bedding is from Amenity Home, a great organic linens company that specializes in modern, nature-themed linens. I picked this set up three years ago, but there are similar style still available on their site.

The second guest room. I know, it's completely insane to have two spare bedrooms, but in truth we currently have three -- the third being completely empty. The furniture here is courtesy of my mother and was actually my bedroom set as a teenager, which I remember excitedly picking it out at the age of 16 from Ethan Allen. I believe the series was called Radius and I distinctly remember loving it for its modern take on a classic 4-poster style. At the time, I paired it with tone-on-tone ivory chinoiserie wallpaper and slate blue chinoiserie linens for my take on the "modern Zen" look that was all the rage in the late '90s. Today, the bedding is from DwellStudio (but scored on sale via HauteLook). As this room is the "permanent" guest room, I'll be painting at some point over the next few months -- though of course I'll have to settle on a color first. I'm thinking a light gray at the moment. By the way, the wood circle on the bed is actually a mirror (only right side down).

Various and sundry vacation photos line my upstairs' hallway, awaiting hanging. I told myself I'd get to it before Labor Day, but that's still days away....

Dave's room. If only this room had more storage! While we fit two large bookcases along one wall, there's still plenty of space (and need) for more. I'm really liking the peacock blue against the mahogany wood tones -- the dark woods lend a more masculine touch to the room that suits Dave well. If I were the sole voice of decorating for this room (which I'm not), I'd really kit this out as an old-fashioned library, complete with beat up leather chair and ottoman, wall-to-wall bookshelves, brass library lamps, antique lithographs, etc. Dave, on the other hand, is already talking about putting a stringing machine and weights in here. Sigh.


Friday, August 28, 2009

A State of the {Dis}Union: Part 1

I've been debating internally on whether or not to post pictures of the new house as it stands now, but I've decided that -- at the very least -- posting pictures will help provide a benchmark for future progress...and hopefully act as an incentive for me to get moving and finish unpacking already. And, on the off chance that any of you are currently in the midst of moving, you can at least take comfort in knowing that you're not the only one out there living like that.

So here's where the house stands (mostly empty) today, warts and all. So far, the entryway is completely bare, save for a blue and silvery gray runner I scored on sale at Horchow. Since the staircase curves out there's plenty of room for a bench or console table, but that's definitely not at the top of my shopping list right now.

Next up: The study, which still has a few important things missing (like storage), but at least the major pieces of furniture -- the desk, chair and daybed -- are in. After putting together the mood board for the study, I decided to go a slightly different direction with the desk and desk chair. Last month I purchased the Porter desk from Pottery Barn, which is a great size and has some excellent divided storage in its single long drawer. Since I decided to go with a large, substantial desk, I decided to keep the chair light and airy and went with the classic Louis Ghost Chair by Phillippe Starck, which I purchased off All Modern (and shipping was speedy and free!). I was a bit hesitant about splurging on the chair, but it's actually quite comfortable and I love how it looks in the room.

Unfortunately, with the large desk and daybed, there's little space left in the 11 x 11 room, especially since the french doors open in and not out. I'm hoping to find some shallow shelving for storage, but it's going to be tricky working with the little space I have left. First on the "to do" list for this room though will be hanging the art work, mirror, cork board (i.e., inspiration board), and the chandelier.

After all that hard work, the dining room has become the de facto storage closet for stray art, knick-knacks that are still searching for their final home. My goal is to have a table in here by Thanksgiving when Dave's family descends upon us, but we'll see what sort of budget I'm left with after the major pieces for the family room are purchased.

Speaking of, the family room is definitely the tabula rasa of the entire house. Quite literally, I have absolutely zero furniture to put in it. Since it's the hub of the house, getting at least a sofa in here is my top priority right now decorating-wise.

But at least I have something to hang over the fireplace, right? I ended up buying this Marisol mirror from Restoration Hardware thinking it would go in my master bedroom, but its substantial (48" diameter) size made it better suited for the fireplace and I'm happy with how it looks next to some of my mother's blue and white chinoiserie urns.

Behold my dirty little secret: My kitchen has become a repository for wayward vases, lamps and chotskies. What you don't see is there are even more stuffed into the pantry (we haven't had much opportunity to grocery shop, so it's become yet another temporary storage closet). I've realized something important about my shopping habits over the past month or so: I'm actually a bit commitment-phobic when it comes to purchasing major pieces -- like a sofa -- so I've been procrastinating by buying accessories, which are less expensive and, frankly, more fun to shop for. Thus, I have vases and lamps but no tables to put them out. I have no regrets though on the Kate lamps from Circa Lighting. They just arrived this week and I'm completely in love; in fact, I would've given up a table for years just to have these. Given their substantial size, I'm thinking they're more appropriate for the family room than for the dining room (where I had originally envisioned them).

The breakfast nook fits the old table and chairs rather nicely, and I'm pleased with how the woven blinds turned out. The spa blue benches for the back and corner walls are currently on order at Ballard Designs and should be arriving shortly. Since space is rather tight here, I think using a bench along the back wall will really free the space up some, though I'm not sure what I'll do with the extra chairs.

The master bedroom, bathroom and closet are in decent shape -- at least I've gotten all the boxes unpacked and all our clothes, etc. put away. Since we're working with our existing bedroom furniture, we have all the basics, but what we really need is that certain something special to really make this room sing. I'm going to be hanging some of our pictures this weekend and I hope that will help make the room look a little less stark. Still though, I got my bedding from Williams-Sonoma earlier this week and I love it -- it's like sleeping in a fancy hotel bed. That said though, I think I need to punch up the bedding with some more colorful pillows. You know me, can't leave white enough alone....

So that's it for the downstairs portion of this tour. I'll be sharing some photos of the upstairs' rooms later on this weekend and I think you'll be surprised at how much farther along it is than downstairs...though perhaps that's my own fault as I think my desire to really decorate this house from the ground up necessitated much of our existing furniture going upstairs. In any case, Dave and I have another fun-filled weekend of hanging art, unpacking the last few boxes, and sofa shopping ahead of us. Hope everyone else has a wonderfully relaxing, fun and only semi-productive weekend!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

500 colors...infinite possibilities.

I've always enjoyed coloring -- and no, I don't mean drawing. Unlike drawing, coloring is free form and pressure free. You're not trying to create something, you're just...coloring. It's pleasant, mindless, and I've always found it to be incredibly relaxing. As someone with a fairly high level of energy, it also gives me something to occupy my hands with while sitting in front of the TV. If I were going to take my coloring to the next level though, this gorgeous set of 500 colored pencils from Social Designer would rocket me from color-enthusiast to color-freak. The 500 Color Pencils project is a font of inspiration for artists -- and even the casual colorist -- and it reminds me that it's been far too long since I've busted out my colored pencils and a coloring book.

With names as inspiring as the colors themselves, these pencils are available by subscription only. For $33 a month, subscribers will receive a different set of 25 colored pencils. After 20 months, you'll have the full pantheon of colors, and the infinite possibilities which they invite. The pencils can also be displayed in a variety of creative ways. In my {nonexistent} fantasy craft room I would have a full set of these mounted on the wall. They're truly a piece of art in themselves.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Barbie Madness

After another weekend spent unpacking, I'm still in escapist mode so I thought I'd share pictures from the Malibu Barbie Dream Showhouse that Jonathan Adler designed in honor of the iconic doll's 50th birthday. When I first read back in March about Adler's send-up to my favorite childhood toy, I was so excited to see what Adler would come up with. After all, Adler's bright, energetic and none-too-serious style seems like a perfect fit for the archetypal girly-girl. Fortunately, pictures of the project are finally available in Adler's portfolio and it's exactly as you'd expect the brainchild of Adler and Mattel to look: it's very pink, very bold, a little bit mod and a little bit trashy. In short, it's perfectly Barbie. My 8-year old self would have given her right arm to get to live in something half as fabulous.

There are also great tongue-in-cheek moments here from Adler, with chandeliers made from blond Barbie hair, accent chairs bedecked in ballerina tutus and a sunburst mirror made of vintage Barbies. My favorite moment though has to be the giant pink poodles flanking either side of the fireplace -- such a fantastic riff on the white greyhounds that have become all but omnipresent the past few years.

If you'd like to capture a little bit of Barbie's magic in your own home, Mattel is selling some special limited edition items commerating the collaboration with Adler, a selection of which are below:

My personal favorites are the black and white (and pink!) canisters with the hilarious labels like "eyelashes" and "peroxide", but the hot pink lacquerware is great fun, too. All items are available for sale HERE beginning September 20.

Image credits: Jonathan Adler, Mattel.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Runway to Reality: Fall 2009

Nanette Lepore

Fall is without question my favorite season -- and not least of all because of fall fashion. While I'm digging quite a few of this season's biggest trends (though I'm still saying "no" to shoulder pads), my favorite trends for this fall have to be the feminine plaids of Nanette Lepore and the bold, oversized houndstooths of Alexander McQueen and Preen. Random factoid: Houndstooth is a wool pattern traditional to the Lowlands of Scotland while the pattern Americans call "plaid" (but which is properly called "tartan" as plaid is the woolen cloth itself) is, quite famously, a wool pattern traditional to the Scottish Highlands. So one could argue that these two Scots' patterns are really just one related trend. But enough history, let's get on with the pretty, shall we?

Mad for Plaid
Mad for Plaid

Perhaps it's because I came of age in the '90s, but I have a real soft sport for all things grunge. And so, while I may have hung up my flannels and Dr. Martens years ago, a small part of me is still really excited to see that plaid is back. This time around though, I won't be resurrecting my old shapeless lumberjack shirts. Instead, I'll be going for a more feminine take on classic tartan and will be trying a frilly blouse (whose sweetness is nicely tempered by the plaid), a fitted blazer, and maybe even a fun, flirty dress.

Alexander McQueen

Obviously, McQueen's runway show was more spectacle than reality (which is as it should be in my book), though if you remove the headgear and kabuki-style make-up, the clothes themselves are actually incredibly wearable, especially if you mix these in with some more subtle pieces in your wardrobe. What I love most about these looks is how McQueen has taken a very conservative and traditional fabric and turned it on its head by enlarging and distorting the pattern. Instead of stuffy, houndstooth suddenly becomes graphic and mod, but the conservatively cut suits and jackets still reference houndstooth's roots.


Preen takes a decidedly different take on trend, as the huge houndstooth featured in their fall collection strikes me as very British mod. The simple cuts of the clothing and the paired down styling of the models here are also quite lovely and really let the bold pattern take center stage.

Bold Houndstooth

Another great way to play with houndstooth is to do it in color, as Nanette Lepore does in her fantastic cobalt blue houndstooth skirt. For a more subtle look, why not try incorporating some houndstooth in your accessories -- I absolutely adore those Gap ballet flats and Michael Kors' gloves.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A little post-moving indulgence...

The only thing I've ever purchased from Wiliams-Sonoma Home is a set of black and white chinoiserie dessert plates that I scored at a Pottery Barn outlet outside Austin. As much as I adore WSHome's general aesthetic, its prices tend to make my very price-conscious husband hyperventilate. So generally I just do a little virtual window shopping, admire all the prettiness, and then surf on over to Pottery Barn to see if it has something similar.

But not today. Today, I decided to indulge myself and buy my own housewarming present. I couldn't help but give in to this lovely bedding's siren song -- with its pagodas, geometric scrolls and lovely colonial blue, it was practically screaming "AVERILL! BUY ME!!"

And so I did. Hopefully, by the time they arrive the new master bedroom will be in good enough shape for a few photos.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Virtual Vacation: Palm Springs

After a long weekend of packing, moving and (slowly but surely) unpacking, I'm ready for another vacation. Since I won't be taking one for a while, I thought I'd indulge in a little virtual vacation today, courtesy of the New York Times and its recent feature on the Palm Springs' home of Kansas-based designer David Jimenez. While I've never been to Palm Springs myself, I've always imagined it to be an oasis of old Hollywood glamour situated in the middle of the California desert. The kind of place where Hollywood starlets sip on colorful cocktails beside glittering sky-blue pools. Where entertainment executives make deals beautiful golf courses with breaktaking mountain views. And where lazy afternoons by the pool turn into elegant (and a little bit wild) house parties at night.

From a design standpoint, Palm Springs is most often associated with mid century modern architecture and the Hollywood Regency style first popularized in the 1950s and 1960s. Recently, both MCM and Hollywood Regency have experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks in large part to designers like Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler. In Palm Springs itself, the Parker hotel, decorated by Jonathan Adler in 2004, has become a sort of Mecca for design fans -- and I hope to make the trek one day to experience it for myself. In fact, when I saw the white lattice work on the front entrance to Jimenez's home (at top), I was instantly reminded of the entrance to the Parker (immediately above). While the Parker's door is a bold orange (a favorite color of Adler's that is used throughout the hotel), Jimenez's own front door is a sunny yellow -- yet again, just a hint of things to come.

The inside of Jimenez's house matches its lovely MCM exterior, with its bold shots of sunshine yellow and an injection of a blue as brilliant as the Palm Springs sky. The bold colors are tempered by a backdrop of cool white and grounded by black accents. The article indicates that Jimenez decorated much of the house with repurposed (and reupholstered) local flea market finds. All I can say is, if these are the types of pieces you can pick up in Palm Springs' flea markets, then I definitely need to make the trip...preferably with a U-Haul in tow.

Here, I love the yellow backsplash in an otherwise all-white kitchen. In the dining area, the elegant and traditional all-white chairs are a nice counterpoint to the gleaming metal and glass mid century table. In fact, if Jimenez had decided to go with mid century chairs (like, say, Saarinen's tulip chair), I think the overall effect here would've been far too literal. While a house can reference particular periods and styles, a slavish adherence to just one will only make a house look dated -- a virtual time warp. By mixing MCM and traditional styles though, Jimenez creates a more elegant, and more modern, look.

I'm always drawn to salon style art arrangements, especially when each piece of art is shown off in a different, yet coordinating, frame like Jimenez does here. Jimenez's collection of books (in black and white covers, of course) underneath the display lends a more casual air here that works perfectly in a vacation home. I also love the bold flower mirror above the stove. It's such a lovely and unexpected change from a tile or glass backsplash.

The disciplined color palette extends into the bedrooms. While this rigid a color scheme probably doesn't work in a primary residence, I like the idea of using it in a second home as it helps create a hotel-like atmosphere (rather nice when you're on vacation, yes?). A tight color palette is also a great way to keep bold colors -- like this yellow -- from feeling overwhelming.

I love the crispness of the black and white linens (which look like Rubie Green's classic duvet set) and curtains in this guest bedroom. Their simplicity and geometry are great counterpoints to the shapely yellow lamps and accent chair.

Owning a home in Palm Springs without a pool would be like owning a beach house without an ocean view -- in other words, a complete waste. Mr. Jimenez's pool doesn't disappoint, with its placid blue bottom, a wall of ficus trees for privacy, and abundance of white lounge chairs. In short, it's the perfect spot for a pool party.

In the article, Jimenez indicated that he will sometimes rent out his lovely house to vacationers. While I'd imagine that the house (absent going in with a dozen or more friends) is well outside my budget for a long weekend, it's nice to know that the option is out there, for those lucky enough to be able to take advantage of it.

For more photographs of this Palm Springs' beauty and for the full article, please visit HERE.

Photographs by Stephanie Diani of the New York Times.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Musings on Moving, Life, etc.

Following a 6-hour packing marathon on Friday night, we spent about 10 hours coordinating the movers on Saturday and another few hours unpacking and cleaning -- thanks for the help Babs and QG! Yesterday was spent recovering and trying to fit out our closet (which, alas, is smaller than our old one). But we're here and (almost) everything made it in one piece. So far, our only casualty has been a glass cake stand, which was infrequently used and easily replaceable.

For me at least, moving has a way of making everything seem so temporary, so impermanent. It's such an odd thing to see everything you own packed tightly into one (not-so-big) moving truck. Suddenly, it's just "stuff" -- and I'm left with a big empty house that feels a whole lot less like home and a whole lot more like just a place where I used to live. A house that, on Friday, will no longer be mine. The only evidence that we'd ever been there will be some paint and a few extra scuffs in our soft pine floors. I haven't yet met the future owner of our place, but I wonder what she's like and what the house will come to mean to her. I do hope she comes to appreciate and love it though; after all, it was a great home to us.

Out with the "old"...

I thought in some ways that I'd feel more nostalgic for the old house -- and I do, but I suppose I'm at the age where there's more looking forward than looking back, and so I tend to embrace change with the optimism of youth. But when I allow myself to look back, I know that this home was an important milestone for Dave and me: it was our first house...and it was a huge learning experience. For example, I remember about 6 months after we first moved in we noticed that ants had invaded our kitchen. Up until that point the thought that we'd need regular pest control hadn't even occurred to us. In our defense, Dave and I had only ever lived in our parents' homes, dormitories, and apartments. What did we know of the regular maintenance and upkeep that owning your own home entails? So in many ways I will look back on our old house as the place where Dave and I really grew up. Where we learned what it meant to own a home, how live on our own, and how to live together.

...and in with the new!

So today I'm staying at home to settle in a bit more, get my bearings...and wait on the alarm guy. While much of our stuff is still in boxes scattered throughout the house, it's already starting to feel a bit like home. I look into the empty upstairs' bedrooms, the vacant family room and I wonder: what's next? Will this room someday be a nursery? What important milestones will be celebrated in this dining room? What will the people building next door be like? Will they become our friends? So, while this place doesn't yet feel completely like home, it most certainly feels like my future.

{P.S. - For some wonderfully poignant musings on a recent post of mine responding to a color quiz in House Beautiful, decorating, and what either one has to do with the more important aspects of life, please visit Gannet Girl's Search the Sea.}


Thursday, August 13, 2009

If you can't buy it, make it.

Jonathan Adler in House Beautiful

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to give your old furniture a new look is with a few new throw pillows. And so, in an effort to "work with what I've got" while still sating my desire to start fresh, I've been doing some online browsing for a few pillows for the new house. And while I've found some absolutely beautiful choices (like some of the Jonathan Adler pillows shown in the picture above), I'm just not willing to shell out hundreds of dollars on a throw pillow -- especially when I've got empty rooms to furnish. Besides, with three pets and a fondness for eating in front of the TV, I don't particularly want a pillow that I'm petrified will be ruined. On the other hand, I've been sorely disappointed with the more budget-friendly options, which all seem to be (a) boring, (b) poorly made, (c) too trendy, or (d) some combination of the three.

So what's the solution? Make my own? Yes, I could easily buy a 1/2 yard of fabric and whip up a pillow cover on my mom's sewing machine...but I'll be honest, that's probably not going to happen anytime soon. So I think I'll let Inmod do the dirty work while I get to play designer. Inmod's website lets you design the pillow of your dreams in just a few easy steps -- and it's really quite a lot of fun to play around with their program. You simply select the pattern, fabric (anything from cotton to silk dupioni), size (18" square or 26" square), the fabric color, and finally the embroidery colors. Yes, you read that right: embroidery colors. These images aren't just screened onto canvas, they're embroidered, which means they'll last you a good long time.

A few of my favorite "experiments" are above. Inmod's patterns range from more traditional damasks and florals to modern pop art, though I'd describe most of the patterns as geometric or modern. I wish the color choices for fabrics was a bit broader, but their embroidery colors are more varied so you'll still probably be able to find just about any color combination that you're looking for. The prices for the pillows I "designed" ranged from $45-$85, depending on size and fabric choice. While I can't speak for the quality, I'm thinking about ordering up one just to test it out. If I do, I'll be sure to update you on how it turned out.

Happy designing!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Week Fifteen: Nearly There...

This weekend felt far more productive than last weekend. The fridge (finally!) got installed, we polished off the last of the hardware installation, the painters painted both the master bedroom and Dave's study/man cave/media room, and (most importantly) we managed to get quite a bit of packing done on Sunday.

With the last of the hardware on, the kitchen finally feels finished. I like the sleek modern handles juxtaposed with the more traditional style of cabinetry.

Dave's "man cave", painted out in a lovely shade of blue-green (Benjamin Moore's Slate Teal to be precise). In person this color is really quite fabulous, going from blue or green depending on the light. The heavy undertone of gray really adds a lovely depth to the color.

The master bedroom's walls were treated to Farrow & Ball's Parma Gray while the tray ceiling was painted in Ralph Lauren's Iron Gate, a lovely gray metallic with subtle blue undertones. Ralph Lauren's Regent Metallics' series is shown with a rather ghastly texture that RL suggests you apply to the paint to give it a crumpled effect. I ignored them though and just had this paint applied with a standard roller. Metallic paint is bold enough without layering on additional "effects".

I think the painters did a great job of creating a clean transition between the ceiling and wall colors, though it certainly would've been easier if the Parma Gray had been taken up to the inner molding. Ah well. I'm contemplating doing this myself to make the ceiling a bit more subtle, but I think I'll live with it a while and see how I feel. Besides, once the furniture goes in, both wall and ceiling colors tend to be a bit less "in your face" since there's so much else to look at.

A view of the family room from the open hallway above. No plans to change the current paint color (I've had my fill of painting for the moment!), but at some point when it comes time to repaint I'll probably go for a slightly grayer tone to work with all the cool tones throughout the rest of the house. A few weeks ago I happened to win a free design consult with PK over at Room Remix. I've asked her to help me out with this room and I can't wait to see what she comes up with -- especially for those niches on either side of the fireplace.

I'm going to go ahead and ask for your patience over the next couple of weeks as I anticipate posting to be lighter as I finish packing, moving and unpacking. Juggling work, moving, and the rest of my life is proving to be something of a challenge lately and unfortunately blogging may have to take a back seat for a bit.

Related Posts with Thumbnails