Monday, May 31, 2010

The Zhush goes to the Hamptons

I thought while I was away on vacation that it would be appropriate to ask a few of my favorite bloggers to come over to Odi et Amo and guest blog about their favorite vacation homes (real or imagined). Today Sue from The Zhush will be kicking things off with a fantasy guest home in The Hamptons courtesy of one of my all-time favorite designers Steven Gambrel. It's got to be just about the most sophisticated beach house I could ever imagine. Sue, you've got to promise me that if you ever do get to live out this fantasy that you will invite me over for a long weekend -- deal?

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Hi! I'm Sue from The Zhush. I'm such a fan of Averill's blog! When Averill asked if I would do a guest post, while she was away, I was more than happy to oblige
(that is, once I got over my seething jealous rage over her fabulous vacation).

Fittingly, Averill chose vacation homes as the topic du jour,
and I knew exactly what my ideal vacation home would be!

Since I have a mild fear of flying, and since we already have a little ski condo,
I began to daydream about The Hamptons!

I can drive there from my home, I love the beach, and since its my daydream, I would have Steven Gambrel design the whole place.

Join me as I create the fantasy beach house of my dreams!

It would have a beautiful and comfortable family room...
(preferably with gorgeous Missoni-esque furniture and a giant t.v.).

I would need a lovely space to email and catch up on all my favorite blogs.

A beautiful cozy breakfast nook would be the perfect place to host
some lovely, relaxed beach brunches.

Even the beach can get chilly sometimes, it would be so nice
to cozy up by the fire and read here.

For more formal "Hampton" type events, this gracious living room
would suit me just fine.

This bar and butler's pantry would be the perfect place to mix
up some cocktails for friends dropping by.

Of course we would have a fabulous basement too...
complete with wine cellar, private cinema and even a disco ball!

And, since this is a daydream...why not include the closet of my dreams...

I hope you enjoyed this "fantasy" vacation house.

all images via: Steven Gambrel


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shop Like a Design Blogger: Sanity Fair

Today's installment of the ongoing Shop Like a Design Blogger series is courtesy of Skyla from Sanity Fair. Skyla's blog was one of the first blogs I started reading and it has remained a favorite. Not only does Skyla have incredible style, but she's also a wonderful writer with a wicked sense of humor and a definite Southern sensibility. I thoroughly enjoy her educated, witty take on fashion, interiors and design.

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There are so many great stores to choose from (and so many that have already been ably covered here) that I've narrowed the list by choosing a theme: the unexpected. The stores I find myself frequenting are the ones that practice the old partial reinforcement technique we all learned about in high school psychology: they've surprised me once or twice, and I'm back looking for more. Since we're talking about shopping and not decorating, my list of favorites won't worry over pesky details like representing a variety of items or what sources are best for certain styles. Instead, this is a treasure map in the form of a list: follow the path to each place and you're sure to find something special.

VIVRE. If I were going to break into a warehouse (notice to the FBI and your humorless redactions: this is hypothetical) it would be the Vivre storehouses, which I imagine are rather something like the underground chamber in the movie National Treasure. After slipping past the wobbly bridge and flaming torches (which have been somehow magically burning for 100 years, just like in the movies), we'd find vast piles of Christofle sterling, Lalique vases, Hermes pillows, and Mesi Jilly jewelry. Or, you can just pony up with your American Express at and get the same goodies right now, sans sand and booby traps.

FAVORITES include this Marie Christophe chair, originally designed for Roger Vivier's show windows to display a new bag for Carla Bruni (how's that for pedigree?), loads of coral jewelry, and gold zebra bowls by Waylande Gregory Studios. And if you can't quite spring for Vivre prices? Go ahead and dream - the unexpected is inspiring.

ANTHROPOLOGIE. Anthropologie is the "all things to all people" of interior design, embracing everything from mid-century modern to eighteenth century French in one gasp. Quirky and unique, their stores are staged in venues that show off the wares in unexpected ways: beds with canopies of newspaper, knobs resting on piles of pebbles, necklaces held to cardboard displays with stick pins. They've endeared themselves to countless customers who rely on their unreliable style, and guaranteed that, whatever your taste, you'll find something to love.

FAVORITES are the hardware and kitchen items, which bring the element of the unexpected into mundane daily chores. Open your bathroom cabinets by pulling on a bronze hermit crab knob, or measure sugar for the morning cup of joe with seashells.

IOMOI. If a pattern maker and a monogram machine got married, they'd have Iomoi. Everything in the store is just waiting for a personal touch - monogrammed bags, match boxes, trays, stationary, and plates - and the patterns are as unique as your initials. Camels, monkeys, elephants, pagodas, tassels, and airplanes rendered in brilliant colors and smart styles cover every surface. The trouble with this store is decision-making; I'm almost paralyzed by the wonderful choices.

FAVORITES include home entertaining items like lucite-rimmed trays, matchboxes, and ice buckets. Your guests will never have seen anything like them!

WEST ELM. I've always loved West Elm, although to my surprise, when I looked about for my WE acquisitions, it was hard to tell. This store slipped onto the "unique" list because my favorite West Elm features are the soothing, neutral palette and trim graphic patterns - just what you need to showcase special finds. Their furniture is well-made, and lighter of heart (and weight) than most stores in the same price range; they avoid the mis-measurement issues of home stores such as Pottery Barn. With it's whale-size sofas and court-side coffee tables, PB seems to be laboring under the impression that it is decorating an actual barn.

FAVORITES on my list include the overlapping squares pattern (available in chairs, headboards, and daybeds), and the lacquer parsons pieces, which look smashing with a variety of decor styles.

TARGET. Target's offerings are as many-layered as the rings in its ubiquitous bullseye: where else are classic British prints (Liberty of London), lime-green mixers (KitchenAid), and bamboo handled brushes (Sonia Kashuk) going to co-exist under one roof? And all for a low, low price? Target's designer collaborations are proof that the only thing standing between a little money and a lot of taste is a touch of creativity.

FAVORITES: my Target acquisitions are generally of the unplanned, guilt-free variety. While you may not be passing your purchases on to the next generation (although, I would argue a few designer collaborations are so worthy), this is the place to shop for seasonal decor, such as beach and holidays, or accent pieces like trays, vases, and tableware. My motto for visiting Target is the same for visiting the pool: always do a lap. You never know what you'll find on the next aisle!

(KitchenAid mixer, Thomas O'Brien tray, Miss Trish of Capri sandals, Dwell Studio bedding, Liberty of London plate, Sonia Kashuk brush.)

I hope you found some new treasure here to inspire you - or were reminded of some special possession that brightens up your home. A big thank you to Averill for letting me participate in this very special series! It's a delight and an honor to be on Odi et Amo.

xoxo, Sanity Fair

Next Week's Guest Blogger: Laura from JourneyChic.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Today Dave and I will be getting on a plane for London. After fretting about the volcano and the British Airways strike messing with my best laid plans, I'm relieved, happy and a little bit shocked to have everything still a "go" just a few short hours from our departure -- even if the BA strike did result in our flight getting cancelled (we managed to get on a Continental flight). We'll be spending 6 days in London (with a few day trips to the surrounding area planned) followed by 5 days in Scotland (split fairly evenly between Inverness and Edinburgh). I'm thrilled to be heading back to London, my absolute favorite city, and Scotland, where I look forward to getting to spend some real time in the Highlands (my only other trip to Scotland was in 2002 where we spent the bulk of our time in Edinburgh and Perth).

Knowing that this trip was scheduled has given me a serious case of wanderlust all spring. I've always believed that half the fun of a vacation is the anticipation and the planning -- I love daydreaming and talking about all the places on my "bucket list", all the many, many historical sites I want to see in person. And a great way to express my love of travel (and planning my travels) is to decorate with maps of all the places that I've been, the places that I want to see, the places that have a great deal of meaning to me. Besides, you never know when you'll need a visual aid during a particularly spirited discussion about your latest/upcoming trip.

Maps can also be a great way to get large, personal art relatively inexpensively. I particularly love antique maps with their intricate drawings, beautiful typography and, of course, their dated geography. (Maybe I'm a bit of a dork, but I love checking out old maps and globes and seeing how drastically the world has changed in often just a few short years.) The foyer in Sean Scherer's home is a perfectly curated display of beautiful vintage finds. The turquoise walls bring just enough modernity to the space to make it feel fresh and inviting.

As a die hard fan of blue and white, I absolutely love this nautical map of Long Island that Kim Coleman used in a Hamptons' home. It just goes to show you that maps don't have to look like those blue and green ones in your elementary school. The white wainscoting keeps the room from feeling too dark and adds a bit of formal architecture to a pretty casual space.

Robin Bell made a new map look vintage by applying a clear, semi-matte acrylic glaze tinted with raw sienna and burnt umber. Also, can we talk about how seriously fabulous that ottoman is? The sculpted legs mimic the legs on the sectional and the smaller hassock, which is a great way to tie disparate pieces together in a room. The fantastic nailhead detailing also works well with the sofa's more subtle nailhead trim.

Janell from Isabella & Max

The expense of having a map customized and blown up to fit your wall may be cost-prohibitive for many of us, but there are still a lot of great ways to get the same look for less. If you're exceptionally artistic, you can always free hand a map onto your walls with paint as Janell so brilliantly did in her son Max's room. Since my hand isn't quite so steady, I'd probably borrow a projector and trace the image onto the wall first and then fill it in.

Steven Gambrel

Another cost-effective solution is to purchase a bunch of inexpensive road maps and collage them onto the wall as Steven Gambrel did in this pretty bedroom. I'd probably put a coat or two of polyurethane on the walls just to make this treatment a bit more family-friendly (think of it like decoupage for your walls). Lulu dk's catwalk fabric in ocean on the chair and roman shades is a great touch and really brings home the nautical theme without feeling too literal.

T. Keller Donovan

I'm always drawn to wall-t0-wall art installations, especially when they're done symmetrically in matching frames (yes, I'm pretty type-A). Note too how Donovan went all the way to the floor instead of stopping just above the back of the couch. This creates a more casual, layered effect in the room. The neutral tones in the maps keep the wall from reading as too busy and really set off the pops of red and blue in the fabrics. The 12 smaller maps in lieu of one large one is probably also more cost-effective as maps, like any art, tend to increase in price as you increase the size.

Harriet Maxwell MacDonald

I'm not generally a fan of the stripped-down, limed wood look that's been so popular recently, but in a casual beach bungalow, the look feels more authentic and more appropriate than it does in, say, a brand new loft. This vignette is also a great picture to study if you're trying to decorate a foyer. Note how the map is almost the same size as the cabinet. It's important not to go larger than the table that's anchoring a piece or too much smaller (I hate undersized art). The casual display of flowers, votives, pictures and spare, modern lamp has a great, unstudied look without feeling too cluttered.

Thomas O'Brien

I think about 75% of these images I've pulled are from beach houses and coastal cottages -- but don't think you have to limit maps to second homes or to the beach. I think maps work equally well in a city setting, as Thomas O'Brien shows in his own Manhattan living room, where he displays a large celestial map over his desk. Of course the striking black and white of a celestial map lends itself to more sophisticated settings and is the perfect way to bring some of O'Brien's vintage modern style to your home.

Steven Shailer

Here's another great example of maps working beautifully in a more modern, loft interior. Old city maps (I believe this one is of Paris) are a great, urbane take on this trend. I also love those cozy-looking brown leather chairs and vintage floor lamp; this looks like the perfect place to curl up with a good book and a glass of wine.

Kerry Joyce

Yet another great kid's room decked out in maps. The soft colors here are very soothing, but the black accents bring some sophistication and crispness to the room that's very appealing to me. I also love the vintage letters adorning the drawers under the bed.

While I'm out of town, I thought I'd keep this travel theme going a bit by asking several of my favorite bloggers to guest blog about their favorite vacation homes (real or imagined) around the country. And, of course, when I get back I plan on sharing plenty of pictures and hopefully a few good stories of our time in the United Kingdom. Until then, I promise I'm leaving you in the very best of hands. I can't wait to catch up with everyone when I get back!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Family Room Preview

I know it's been a month or so since I've posted any of my projects on our house -- but don't worry, I've got some pretty big plans up my sleeve for the great room. As you can see, our family room (which opens out onto the kitchen/breakfast area) is a great two-story behemoth, wildly popular with builders across the country. And I'll admit that it does make for a great first impression. But it's also very tricky to design around. After all, a family room should feel cozy and welcoming, not imposing or grand. So how do you take the scale down a bit?

I think the biggest key here is to add some softness to the large windows. I knew I wanted to do curtains here but I wasn't quite sure how to work with the two-story windows. So I enlisted the help of my mother's designer Lisa B. to give me some guidance (and to act as a much-needed springboard for my ideas). Lisa suggested that we needed to do floor-to-ceiling curtains, thinking that simply hanging curtains on only the lower windows would give the room an oddly choppy feeling -- and look like we finished decorating halfway up the wall. And I, much as I feared having to purchase that much fabric, had to agree with her.

So exactly how much fabric were we talking about? We were quoted 60 yards -- that's an entire bolt. Yikes! So now the next task was to find a fabric I loved that was as inexpensive as possible. After going through countless samples and memoing out a number of trade-only and retail fabrics, we decided to go with this great suzani navy and cream print from Calico Corners:

It's 100% cotton with a Duragard finish that gives it some sheen and a bit more weight (though we'll be lining the fabric to get the proper drape). We'll be doing four fixed panels: one each on either side of the group and two down the center between the separate windows. Hardware will be simple as the rod will be hung so high as to not be especially visible. I'm thinking of going with this simple antique silver hardware from Restoration Hardware.

I love how the color palette works perfectly with the navy, Chinese blue and cream color scheme in the rest of the room but that the pattern itself is something of a departure from the very geometric rug and chinoiserie pillows. We're getting the final measurements made today and I'm so excited to see how they'll look in the room.

The other major project I've been working on is also for the family room. We're going to be having built-ins made for either niche, complete with storage for books, TV and components (on the left side of the fireplace) and even built-in benches at the base, to accommodate extra visitors when we entertain as well as to provide additional closed storage. I think these will go a long way towards adding that cozy, lived in feeling to the room and I can't wait to get in and start styling the shelves. I've even stock piled a few great accessories to mix in with our books. While the built-ins will match our existing white trim, I'm planning to paint out the backs in a different color. I have leftover paint from our bathroom and dining room and am contemplating using one of those colors, but I'm open to suggestions -- what do you think?

In any case, fabrication and construction are set to begin while Dave and I are away on vacation so stayed tuned for the big reveal shortly after I get back!

And lastly, on a totally unrelated note, I'm guest blogging today over at High-Heeled Foot in the Door while Camila is away on vacation. I'm revealing some truly stylish accessories -- all of which retail for under $25! Please stop by and say "hello"!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shop Like a Design Blogger: Emily A. Clark

Today's guest blogger is Emily from the eponymous blog Emily A. Clark. I came across Emily's blog a few months ago and I've been hooked ever since. If you're looking for some great low cost/high style DIY ideas that look anything but DIY, then Emily's blog should be your go-to resource.

* * *

I'm happy to participate in Averill's "Shop Like a Design Blogger" series, and since a big part of my design business consists of creating rooms for online clients, I am always looking for reliable, budget-friendly sources that are accessible to everyone. I am also a firm believer that you can achieve a high-end look on a tight budget if you're willing to be patient, look and use a little creativity. While my sources may seem rather practical, it's all about how you use the pieces in your home.

1. Craigslist. If you read my blog, you'll know that Craigslist is my #1 go-to for great furniture finds. While you do have to be willing to search, some wonderful pieces are out there for a fraction of what you would pay elsewhere. Some of my best scores for my own home include this almost new sofa for $150 (as well as the huge original canvas art for $125!):

I also refinished these bookcases for our family room that I picked up for $20 each:

2. Consignment shops/furniture warehouses/yard sales. Along the same lines of Craigslist, I believe unique pieces are worth getting out there and looking for. While I'm shopping, I am always thinking "what color can this piece be painted?" or "how could I use it in another way?" By thinking outside the box, you may score a wonderful piece that others have passed up. I found this campaign-style dresser (originally painted in a dull gray) for $40 and brightened it up with a kelly green. I now use it in my office for storage.

3. Mary Jo's Fabric. I am lucky enough to live within 10 minutes of this 32,000 square feet mecca that has every fabric you can imagine (and at very reasonable prices). They also offer a selection of fabrics for sale online. I recently picked up this bright floral there for $12/yard:

4. With its frequently changing inventory and extremely low shipping, Overstock is a regular source for me as I search for pieces for online clients. Some of my current favorites:

5. Ross Dress For Less. While I like HomeGoods and TJMaxx as much as the next person, I have come across some surprising finds in the home section at Ross, as well--and usually for even less then the other chain home decor stores. This is where I look for the trendier pieces, ceramic pottery, and a few weeks ago, I spotted 5 x 7 seagrass rugs for $35.

6. Etsy. While you can find just about anything on Etsy, I especially love to search for art. If I'm working on a wall gallery, I like to search for notecard sets to frame. I used these from Etsy seller Matou en Peluche for my bedroom:

7. IKEA. While it sometimes gets a bad wrap in the design world, I still say IKEA is one of the best sources for inexpensive, basic pieces like pillows, frames, and curtains. My general rule of thumb when shopping there is to buy only those items that aren't IKEA-specific. Instead, I like to buy the items that can easily blend into your decor and mix with more expensive pieces. I used their $3.99 throw over my chair and their 98" grommet panels as a neutral back drop in my family room:

Averill, many thanks for allowing me to participate in such a fun series!

Next Week's Guest Blogger: Skyla of Sanity Fair.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Save or Splurge: Peacock Mirror

I love a gorgeously detailed mirror, and one of my current favorites is the Indian peacock mirror. Peafowls hold a lot of meaning in Hindu religion and the Hindu god Krishna is often portrayed wearing a peacock feather in his headband. Right now, peacock feathers and motifs have also been enjoying renewed popularity in interior design and fashion. A peacock mirror is a great way to bring in some subcontinental style into your home, and it works beautifully with exotic fabrics and accessories, as Kristen Hutchins and Hillary Thomas did in this Californian living room. A neutral palette doesn't compete with all the pattern and luxe detail and works beautifully with the Spanish-style architecture.

This exotic mirror is also a great counterpoint to more modern interiors. I love how the antiqued and intricate detailing of the mirror brings some patina and richness to all the sleek newness in the rest of the foyer. It's also a great hit of sparkle and light against the white walls and ebony floor. Very glamorous. Note too the placement of the mirror in this room. By placing the mirror at the end of the long wall, Adler creates a great focal point, leading the eye into the house.

Fortunately, there are iterations of this mirror in just about every price point. Do you think you can tell the difference between the ATM version (on sale for under $200) and the platinum one (priced at a jaw-dropping $2400)? Take the poll below to test out your eye (and don't cheat by clicking on the links first!) -- I'll post the answer tomorrow. And, if you were wondering, both versions can be hung either horizontally or vertically.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Sweet Dreams are made of these....

In the spring of 1987, when I was in first grade, my parents moved from inner Houston to its suburbs. Once we settled in, one of the first rooms my mother decorated (with the help of a designer from Ethan Allen, if I recall correctly) was my bedroom. At the tender age of 7, I was allowed to select the basic design elements for my bedroom -- and I remember feeling so very grown-up throughout the process. My color palette? Pink and white, of course! Pink splashed across wallpaper, balloon draperies, bedding and, of course, my very own crown canopy (or coronet), which transformed my antiqued white iron bed into a gloriously feminine, over-the-top confection of pink and white flowers, balloons and stripes (for contrast, natch). While the bedroom didn't exactly see me through childhood, it did last me nearly a decade when, at the age of 16, I finally managed to convince my mom to let me redecorate the room to make it a tad more adult.

Alas, I can't manage to come up with a good photograph of my childhood room, but this collection of perfectly girlie, perfectly pink rooms illustrates the timelessness (and the whimsy) of princess bedrooms for little girls. And, while I can't say that I'd want this look for my own bedroom, there's a part of me that still loves the over-the-top femininity of coronets and lots and lots of pink.

I love the shape of the canopy on this one -- and how it hangs so crisply from the ceiling. Adding molding around the canopy is a great, inexpensive way to add structure to the canopy (loose, flowing canopies have a more casual, island feel). Using a single, bold pattern on walls and upholstery is a classic choice for a bedroom. Sure, it's a very "decorated" look, but it's a guaranteed way to make a statement. Note too how Katie used the print as a contrast welt on the side chair. Brilliant.

Coral and sage green, especially when grounded by hits of black, is a decidedly more grown-up color palette. The mix of florals and traditional monograms with the more exotic ikat and suzani prints ups the sophistication further.

It can be difficult to find a daybed that looks and acts more like a true sofa, but this one's cozy cozy arms really makes this guest bedroom look more like a lounge comfy lounge (which is ideal for the vast majority of us who have only infrequent overnight guests). My favorite touch is the brass nailhead trim, which overlays a slate blue ribbon that coordinates with the wallpaper and primary fabric.

There's a lot here that I love: a classic toile print, an upholstered headboard with a contrast welt, an oversized monogram, blue and white porcelain, and a scalloped pelmet box window treatment. In fact, now that I think about it, it's darn near perfect.

This is precisely the room I would have asked for at the age of 8 if I'd had the budget (and vocabulary) to employ Ruthie Sommers. China Seas' Lyford print on the chair and pillow is a great choice that won't date and will work equally well in a guest room when your little one flies the nest.

There's a lot about this room that's incredibly traditional: the toile, the draperies, the antique daybed, the rug. And yet the orange upholstered chairs and loveseat, despite their shapes, are incredibly modern. It's this dichotomy that makes the room interesting.

In many ways, this rooms feels much more traditional than what I'm seeing from Adler. Maybe it's the gingham print or the antique armoire (albeit painted a vivid yellow). Nevertheless, the lime green lining on the interior of the canopy feels exactly like something the purveyor of Happy Chic would come up with. Yellow and lime green, while still joyful and child-like, ensure that the pink is way more hip than sweet.

This is a great mid century modern twist on a classic canopy. To create a similar, stream-lined look, keep the shape of the canopy rectangular (no fancy scalloping needed) and the print geometric and colorful. Note too how the wall behind the daybed is not swathed in fabric this time and the lining of the fabric coordinates rather than contrasts with the primary print.

Not all little girl's rooms have to be pink. In fact, I'd bet just as many girls list purple as their favorite color as those who call pink their signature. I love how Tobi added the black trim and zebra fabric to ground the space and ensure that it will be just as possible when the Little Princess turns 16 as when she turns 6.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Hamptons' home via Habitually Chic

This room confirms my suspicions that being the daughter of an A-list movie star and a mega-rock star comes with some serious perks. Apple Martin is one seriously lucky little girl to have such a chic bed at the tender age of 6. I particularly appreciate that the pink is very saturated and the contrasting white and yellow zig zags. The monogrammed pillows, in hot pink and a more streamlined font, remind me of something you'd like up at Jonathan Adler. While I think the white walls and white floors is a wee bit sterile, I do like the high contrast between the bed and the rest of the space. If this were a room in my house though, I'd warm the floors up with a flokati or sea grass rug (maybe change it out for the seasons?) to add some warmth and texture.

So what about you? Did you have a canopy or coronet in your childhood room? Do you have one now -- or do you think this look is for kids only?

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