Tuesday, August 31, 2010

{6} accessories I'm craving this Fall

{L.A.M.B., fall 2010 runway}

This fall I'm so inspired by the grown-up take on rock and roll that so many of the designers (like Gwen Stefani, pictured above) displayed on the Fall 2010 runways. It's all leather, plaid, studs and black, but with a more tailored approach that suits someone about to enter her third decade instead of her second. Sentimentally though, the trend appeals to my inner-rock child -- the adolescent who a decade ago frequented rock concerts (highlights include Smashing Pumpkins' last tour and Radiohead's OK Computer tour) -- and, of course, my perennial retreat to black whenever the temperatures drop. This season though, I'm focusing on picking up just a few key accessories to refresh and update my existing wardrobe, rather than picking up a whole lot of clothing that (frankly) I just don't need.

So without further ado, here's what I'm longing to add to my wardrobe this fall:

I was not an early adopter of the bootie trend. In fact, it's taken me months to jump on that bandwagon, and I do so now only hesitantly, with the caveat that only a fraction of the booties available on the market are flattering and/or appropriate for anything other than pants-only pairings. That said though, I love these. The cut outs, the charcoal gray patent (and I've never been able to resist patent leather shoes), the way they dip below the ankle for maximum leg-lengthening capabilities....but best of all? They're super duper comfy.

Swallows are often associated with rock-n-roll and I love how Marc Jacobs incorporated them into the hardware of this adorable cross-body bag. In college, I had a nylon cross-body bag from Kate Spade and I wore it to death -- I even had a friend memorialize me with it in a cartoon for the school paper. Since then, I've been favoring shoulder bags and satchels, but I can't deny the appeal of a hands-free bag like this for weekends antiquing, sight-seeing or even just trolling the mall.

Any girl trying to pull of a sophisticated rock-n-roll look has to have a pair of studs like these.

Love the ombré effect of this cozy sweater. Boyfriend cardigans, drapey sweaters and ponchos are all big for fall and I love their casual, comfy look for cool fall weekends. These pieces also, of course, make wonderful travel companions.

I'm quite fond of the look of multiple, messy chains all tied up into one, easy to wear piece (I'm not so great at layering on my own, I'll be honest). I particularly like this piece for its mix of metals as well as its feminine touches. It's tough, but delicate. And I love that contrast.

So while these aren't exactly "rock 'n roll," I can't help but want these graphic pieces to inject a little color and whimsy into my new, tough chic look:

Perhaps it's my height or my low blood pressure, but I've always had very cold feet. In the fall and winter, that typically means that I pad around the house (and sleep) in socks -- and the cuter those socks are, the better. Knee socks are also a great choice for boots as they avoid chafing. But if unlike me you're brave enough to don them with heels and a mini-skirt, then I say the more power to you.

I love an oversized, gauzy scarf. It's perfect for layering on cooler days and for pulling out of your purse at work or at the movies when you find yourself the victim of an overzealous a/c unit. I love the pink and gray color combo of this scarf as well as the geometric print, which has a slightly '80s vibe that's very in this season.

So what about you, what are you craving to this fall?


Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Great Outdoors

Martha Stewart Living

Late August always has me dreaming of the cooler fall weather to come. By now I've had my fill of long, lazy, sweltering summer days (and nights) and long for the crispness of fall and the holidays to come. Unlike many areas of the country, Houston's best weather is from October through April, and it's during those months that you can find Houstonians enjoying their patios, backyards, and the Great Outdoors generally. For the majority of you though, I imagine that the end of August heralds the end, rather than the beginning, of spending time outdoors. And so, as we all look ahead to the changing seasons, I thought I'd share with you a few of my all-time favorite outdoor spaces.

Kristen Hutchins

Of course a covered porch is almost essential to any great outdoor space (unless, I suppose, you happen to live in Southern California or another location that rarely rains and rarely gets too hot). The gray ikat print is such a wonderful choice for an outdoor space; it's a very "of the moment" and unexpected choice from the ever-popular nature motifs or solids. Gauzy white drapes soften the lines of the porch but also provide essential shade or shelter should the weather shift unexpectedly. And, of course, I love the delicate white lantern.

Amanda Nisbet

A purple ceiling is an unexpected (but brilliant) way to add color to a patio space where painting walls really isn't an option. A classic choice is sky blue, but I'd love to follow Amanda's daring lead and go with a more saturated color that really pops.

Mary McDonald

I love stripes for the backyard -- they're just a classic. For a modern take though, why not try an unexpected color combination as Mary McD. did here with the black and white? A monochromatic palette -- even outdoors -- makes a strong, modern statement. Note too how Mary fearlessly applied the stripes to the walls as well. If you're a bit concerned about permanently altering your home's facade, a similar look could be achieved by using outdoor drapes along the back wall for a cozy, tented look.

domino, May 2006

Another example of some truly fantastic drapes in an outdoor patio. I also love how the floor is a sleek, smooth white. A thoroughly modern touch that really highlights the wonderful blue and white patterns used in this space.

Kristen Panitch

Outdoor fireplaces are a personal favorite of mine as they add such a wonderful touch of ambiance and coziness to any outdoor room. And of course, they serve a practical purpose as well as they can extend your enjoyment of your outdoor space far beyond balmy summer nights. A stone fireplace can bring a wonderful, old world vibe to your outdoor space -- and definitely increases the "indoors/outdoors" feeling. A mantle encourages seasonal decorating.

Bonesteel Trout Hall

Although this backyard is in California, it reminds me so much of the type of yard you'd find in upscale neighborhoods in central Texas -- well, anywhere in Texas, really -- as it typifies the "Hillcountry Look" that many of my fellow Texans are so enamored with. Not that I'd turn this place down myself, mind you. I absolutely love the daybed tucked away at the side of the patio. With a rug underfoot it looks positively perfect for one of my favorite indulgences: weekend afternoon naps.

domino, June/July 2008

If your tastes are more modern, a clean-lined fire bowl that uses ethanol in lieu of wood is a great (and eco-friendly option).

I know that many folks, especially in larger urban centers, do not have the luxury of large outdoors spaces. But that doesn't mean that you can't maximize the usefulness and style of what small patch of earth (or patio or balcony) that you do have. And, on the plus side, smaller spaces allow for more luxurious touches that, due to their size, won't break the bank. Our old town home near downtown Houston had only a small 10 x 10 yard to work with so, trust me, I've been there.

domino, ca. 2007

The shape/size of this yard reminds me so much of our backyard at our old place. Love the horizontal wood fence at the back (which somehow feels far more modern than a vertical fence) and the white shed that doubles as a place house. This is just the kind of small yard that manages to live very large.

Maybe it's just the gorgeous light here or the very tall french doors, but there's just something so irresistibly romantic and European about this small patio. It's just the kind of place that I would love to enjoy a cappuccino and paper on a leisurely Sunday morning.

Stephen Shubel

I absolutely adore the neatness of boxwoods and clever Stephen Shubel managed to make these ordinarily high maintenance plants maintenance-free by selecting high quality plastic ones. A great idea if you (like me) have more of a black thumb than a green one (or just happen to travel a lot).

Ty Larkins

I love an ivy covered wall, especially when it's well trimmed and maintained. It adds a layer of softness that's so often necessary amongst all the hardscape.

T. Keller Donovan

Even if you only have a small balcony, you can still create a stunning outdoor space with the addition of a narrow (but plush) window bench, small table and a few small stools that can double as extra seating in a pinch. Even outdoors, I love a blue and white palette, which when done with an inky blue feels so wonderfully Greek to me. Even though this balcony overlooks South Beach, it feels like it would be even more at home overlooking the Mediterranean...and thus the transportive power of design, yes?

* * *

During the past few months, we've been planning (and now finally implementing) our own outdoor paradise as we attempt to transform our formerly barren expanse of grass (or what I liked to call the soccer field) into a beautiful and useful outdoor space. Since the summertime is not a good time for planting here in Houston, we spent the hottest months of the year installing the hardscape.

Not only did we brick in the existing covered patio, but we extended the patio out another 25 feet or so. On top of a portion of the patio extension, we'll be erecting a 12' x 12' pergola to provide some much needed shade for what will become our outdoor dining room. Our landscaper will be back in a few weeks to complete the pergola, but you can get a sense of its size and scale from the four posts that are now cemented into the ground. We've run electricity out from the house so that we'll be able to install lighting and a fan: essential for long dinners extending well into the night.

Beyond the pergola, we've installed a fire pit, which was at the top of Dave's wish list. I'm hoping to construct a tabletop for it so when the pit is not in use, it can double as an extra table. I look forward to throwing a party later this fall where we can try it out, but for now, it's nice to just have something to look at beyond the kitchen window besides weeds.

Finally, we've installed some crushed granite beds that will hold some large decorative pots for plantings. We'll also be putting in flower beds along the fences once the weather cools off as well as adding some screens along the back to break up the expanse of red brick (which doesn't match our brick at all). I promise to show some pictures once we start up again later next month.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shop Like a Design Blogger: Meditations on Life + Style

Today I'm thrilled to welcome Dayka from Mediations on Life + Style. Dayka is an interior design student in Atlanta and her blog is a wonderful and thoughtful collection of ideas gleaned from the classroom and from her own (seemingly bottomless) creativity. I am particularly fond of Dayka's posts on thirfting and repurposing old, inexpensive items to look like something new, fabulous and much, much more expensive.

* * *

Averill's Friday feature is one of my favorites, so I was thrilled when she asked me to be a part of this series! For those of you who don't know me through my blog, Meditations on Life + Style, I'm all about Rescuing, Refinishing, and Reusing, so I decided to use my time here to share sources that will help you do just that!

1. Shop your local thrift store/yard sale/auction--the more obscure, the better! Thrift stores are a treasure trove of valuable goods, and you wouldn't believe some of the things people throw out as trash, just waiting for you to come along and give it new life! Secondhand shopping won't be a goldmine every time, but you'll never believe some of the fabulous finds and deals to be had behind those doors. An easy update for any room? New lamps refinished in a custom hue, and most thrift store have a great selection for less than the cost of a night at the movies! Some of my favorite online resources include Shop Goodwill (Goodwill's online auction) and Housing Works, which is based out of NYC and provides services and housing for people living with AIDS. Giving back and great loot? Where do I sign up???

2. Hardware. Changing hardware on a piece of furniture is a the quickest way to give it a fresh look before you even think about refinishing! There are tons of really great novelty hardware fixtures out there for sale, and stepping away from traditional selections will really give your dresser (desk, nightstand, etc.) a one of a kind look. Two of my favorite online spots for hardware are Van Dykes and Atlas Homewares. With reasonable prices and a huge inventory, these merchants won't leave your updated pieces naked. Right now I have my eye on these . . .

($1.99, Van Dykes)

($8, Atlas Homewares)

3. Habitat ReStore. Sometimes walking in here feels like I've died and gone to heaven, but like Forrest Gump said, you never know what you'll get. This Habitat For Humanity owned resale outlet sells reusable and surplus construction materials to the public and uses the resale profits to fund home construction programs in local communities, so shopping here also feels good. You can find french doors for as little as $40, windows, tile, light fixtures, furniture, house numbers, paint, tools, door hardware, appliances, along with a million other things, but the selection can vary. If you're doing some renovating on a budget, make this a place to stop. Click here to find a local Habitat ReStore in your hood.

4. Jo-ann Fabrics or Hancock Fabrics. If you're not lucky enough to live in a major city with a design center (or district), don't fret! You can still find some beautiful special order textiles at your local fabric store, and combing your purchase with weekly coupons can often make your finds a steal! Hancock also has a pretty good remnant table where you can find up to 10 yards of fabric for as low as $3/yard--perfect for updating a chair, making new pillows, upgrading a bulletin board, or switching up a lampshade. It might not be Donghia, but don't thumb your nose up at it either!

Annie Selke Links--Slate ($54.99 + 50% off coupon)

Robert Allen Floored--Sandstone (currently on sale for $20.99)

5. Ikea. If this hasn't been mentioned before, it's probably because it's so obvious, but just when you think you've seen it all at Ikea, they blow your mind with something new. Even if there's not one in your area, there is an online selection that's thorough enough to let you get in on the action without breaking the bank in shipping costs. Trying to achieve a House Beautiful look on a beer budget? You HAVE to visit Ikea! Here are two of my latest obsessions . . .

Maskros Pendant, $89

Vava Pendant, $69

Hope this is enough to help you get started creating a home you'll love without sacrificing your wallet! Thanks for inviting me over, Averill--I'm truly flattered! Enjoy! :)


Next week's guest blogger: Kathysue from Good Life of Design.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shop Like a Design Blogger: i m a g i n e

This week I'm thrilled to have the amazingly talented Jami Goldsmith from i m a g i n e guest posting today. Jami is a talented designer in Southern California who offers both local and online design services and you can view some of Jami's amazing projects HERE.

* * *

Okay, so here you go - I'm giving you my biggest secrets in shopping for design "stuff". Over at i m a g i n e, I hand out tidbits of product info weekly, but here, I'm basically giving you the cow! This is a tad bit difficult for me, because I pride myself in scouring and finding the best deals and bargains around and now you all are going to know where I get all my loot! I'm always the friend that friends are asking, "Where did you get that?", or "Will you go shopping with me?". All joking aside, I'm really excited that Averill invited me over to share with you the best places to find the best stuff! Most of my resources are online stores, so I hope you enjoy online shopping!

Furniture - HD Buttercup, The Sofa Company, Costco, JC Penney Outlet, Macy's Home, inmod

Lighting - Bellacor, Circa Lighting, La Murrina

Art - Etsy, Artaissance, Alison Fennell, Costco

Rugs - Costco, Home Depot, Dash & Albert

Accessories - Shop Terrain, Shop Design Spark, Areaware, Apartment 48, Grasshopper 510

Wall Treatments - Stark, Farrow & Ball, Mod Green Pod, Osborne & Little, Schumacher

Window Coverings & Hardware - Ebay, JC Penney, Backyard Bargains

Everything/Catch All - Flea Market, Velocity, Unica, Home Goods, TJ MAXX, Marshalls, Tai Pan Trading Company, Target, Z Gallerie, OverstockI always check Copy Cat Chic to see if she's found something similar to what I've picked out for a better price!

Okay, that's it! That's all I'm giving you! Thanks, Averill! I hope I've bestowed upon you all a few new resources that will help you decorate your home!

Next Week's Guest Post: Dayka at Meditations on Life and Style


Friday, August 13, 2010

On my love of blue.

Atlanta Showhouse

It's no secret that I've been having an ongoing love affair with blue the past year or so -- in fact, my family room is practically a homage to the color. Perhaps it's attributable to living in Houston, where the heat and strong light make cool blues particularly refreshing and attractive: no need to worry about a room feeling too cold, after all! Or perhaps it's that I love the richness that can come with some of the more jewel-tone variations of blue: turquoises, teals and rich cobalts are all very appealing to me (and very of the moment). Or because blue and white is a classic and, like a good navy suit, will really never date. Or maybe, like love more generally, my love of blue is arbitrary and ultimately inexplicable.

Since I'm always on the look out for great and inspiring rooms to share with y'all -- and it's been quite a while since I featured a round-up of my favorite blue rooms -- I thought I'd see us through the weekend with some of my new blue favorites. I'm afraid I'm fresh out of my usual design blather this week, so for once I'll spare you my own opinion on these rooms and allow you to enjoy the eye candy free of distractions.

T. Keller Donovan

Phoebe Howard

Phoebe Howard

Phoebe Howard

Lonny Magazine

Kelley Interior Design

Michael Partenio

Kendall Wilkinson

I'll be back next week with a very exciting progress report on some home design projects. Until then, have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

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