Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Making 2010's "It" Color Work For You

The design gods have spoken and declared 2010 the year of turquoise.  My Mom gave me the heads up when she returned from a technique class last week (in an unrelated topic, you won’t believe the amazing things she can now do with foils).  Since turquoise isn’t always the easiest color to incorporate, we wanted to give a few examples of how it can be used to achieve drastically different looks.  


Turquoise doesn’t have to be an abrasive color.  In fact, used correctly it can be elegant and even iconic...think Tiffany’s Little Blue Box, for example.  We found this Regent Dinnerware at Crate and Barrel for about $80 per five piece place setting.  What’s more classic than lovely fine bone china?


The best way to give turquoise a vintage feel is to channel the 1950’s and use it in your kitchen.  Martha Stewart has awhole line of Kitchen Aid appliances in her blue line that come in this awesome shade.  This particular 5 speed blender will set you back about $150.


Take advantage of turquoise’s presence in patterns such as peacock for a more exotic look.  We found this pillow in the
Liberty of London for Target line for only $20!  If you haven’t been to Target recently than get there fast because this collaboration won’t be around much longer and it’s pretty amazing.  


We were blown away by this 
tufted leather sofa from Neiman Marcus.  Not only is it amazingly beautiful, it’s on sale for less than $3,000.  We’re pretty obsessed to say the least.


How stunning is this turquoise chandelier from La Murrina Murano?  It’s made from Venetian glass and available in a wide variety of sizes.  It’s a little pricey, but a total work of art.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adjusting Your Home to Reflect the Seasons

The transition from Winter to Spring is always miraculous to me.  Despite Spring’s faithfulness year after year, there’s always a small part of me that is convinced the cold is going to stay with us forever.  Even with the gloom and rain outside today, I can see glimmers of hope that Spring is just around the corner…and let me just say I can’t wait.  There’s something exciting about every new season, and in our home we’ve always added special touches to welcome the coming time of year.  Every few months my Mom sweeps through the house like she’s Mother Nature, herself- adding harvest colored leaves to floral arrangements or evergreen branches to centerpieces.  These little touches have always added so much life to our house, and they’re so simple it’s almost silly not to try them.  Here are some ideas to consider if  you’re looking to welcome Spring in your home:

Tis’ the Season for Fresh Flowers

Don’t wait for your significant other to fill your house with flowers, seize the day and treat yourself to a fresh arrangement!  If you’re looking for a classic Spring medley choose flowers like Daffodils, Tulips, Dogwood, Hyacinths, Lilac, and Peonies.  If you’re not confident in your ability to arrange flowers, you can even sign up for a Flower of the Month club and enjoy large, seasonal arrangements delivered straight to your doorstep.

Think Light

Spring is the time to lighten up the colors and fabrics in your home.  No need to buy  a new sofa, but if you have throw pillows or blankets in heavy fabrics, try replacing them temporarily with linens, sheerer textures or even removing them altogether.  There’s no need to go crazy with pastels (in fact, please don’t), but don’t be afraid to incorporate lighter colored accessories like picture frames and vases.  You may not use these items year round, but you will be able to store them and use them for a long time to come.  

Switch up your Scents

No more pumpkin, spiced apple, evergreen or fireside sprays.  Pick up some cotton smelling candles, or a lavender air freshener.  Anything that brings to mind the word “fresh” should do the trick.  Gifts that Give, an organization that donates part of each sale to charity, has a fantastic assortment of candles like Washed Cotton, Blueberry Basil and Green Gardens for about $25.

Make some room
They call it Spring cleaning for a reason!  The sooner you can force yourself to suffer through the necessary organizing and de-cluttering, the more time you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Plus if you wait until it gets too nice out, you’ll have to fight against even more distractions, so make a plan to deep clean right away.  Martha Stewart has an excellent Spring Cleaning checklist that may help, check it out before you get started.
Monday, March 29, 2010

Assembling Your Dream Home

The truth is, no matter how small your budget is you can still put together a beautiful space you love.  Inversely, no matter how much you have to work with, you can still manage to blow it all on items that don’t really express your taste.  Just like essentially everything else in life, money helps but it’s not everything.  And while it’s always interesting to hear about “trends” (and we hope to show you many) at the end of the day, choosing a design theme that expresses, inspires and accommodates you and your family is the ultimate goal.   Is everyone that comes into your home going to love it as much as you do?  Maybe not.  But anything done tastefully can, at the very least, be appreciated by most people. Although you might think that understanding your own taste and applying it to your decorating should be a simple activity, it can easily become a frustrating and discouraging task.  Our best advice? 

Take the time to make a plan

How would you describe your house’s decorating style?  Is it Victorian?  Maybe it has more of a French Country feel?  Or perhaps it’s totally modern?  Chances are you may have always dreamed of a house that fell into one of the above categories, but in reality your home is more of a storage space for the items (decorative or otherwise) you’ve accumulated.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Whether you want it to or not, your home says something about you…so figure out what you want yours to say.  If you never make a plan your space will always feel disjointed, or worse- the next time you need a lamp you’ll find yourself buying one you don’t really like to match the drapes you barely tolerate that came with the house.   Take the time to determine what décor you have that you really like, what is so-so, what you hate, and what direction you want to go.  You may not be able to act on your plan immediately, but everyone needs a starting point.

Ask yourself lots of questions

Once you’ve decided you want to make a change you need to invest time to determine what style you favor.  For a real challenge, try boiling it down to a sentence.  My description has words like “Art Nouveau” and “vintage glamour”, my Mom’s includes adjectives such as “Tuscan” and “tufted”.  Because we’re intentional and know what we’re looking for, chances are we can find it…and at a price point we’re comfortable with, too.  You may need to do some research to determine the best way to summarize your ideal look, but it’s worth it!  Buy design magazines, look through books that showcase different styles, watch shows about interior design, subscribe to a Design Blog (hint, hint) .  No matter where you look for ideas, the best way to clearly define your sense of style is by forcing yourself to be more observant about what catches your eye, and to take note of your observations.  Here are some other factors to consider:

What are your Favorite Color Palates?

Do you like brights?  Neutrals?  Earth tones?  Jewel tones?  Is there one certain color you’re consistently attracted to?  When you see a color you like, take a picture…even if it’s just on your phone!  In fact, if you have an iPhone you may want to look into downloading the free Ben Moore “Color Capture” app.  With the tap of a key, you’re able to snap a picture of any color inspiration and instantly match it to one of the more than 3,300 hues that comprise Benjamin Moore’s color system.  Pretty impressive.  

Who is your Favorite Artist? 

I’m a big believer in the benefits of a working knowledge of Art History, but even if you couldn’t name five artists to save your life you can still identify what you do and do not like.  A museum is a great place to discover more about your taste, regardless of whether you even want art in your home.  Take an afternoon to mosey around and take note of what artists you’re drawn to.  How does the museum classify their work?  What does ‘google’ have to say about them?  This is a great way to find a buzz word like contemporary, romantic, etc.

If money was irrelevant, what would your Favorite Clothing Store be?

Although your sense of style is a huge factor to consider, don’t just think about the clothes in your favorite store…think about the store itself.  Stores are decorated to reflect the product they’re selling, if you love the clothes chances are good you may love the design elements as well.  Everything from their window display to the color of their dressing room walls is designed to attract you, so take a closer look next time you’re there.  You always suspected your favorite designer knew you better than you knew yourself, give him or her a chance to do some of your “research” for you.  And while you’re there, you might as well hit the sale rack.  

Of course, there are a million other places to look.  Your favorite movies, TV shows, restaurants, hotels…all of these tell you a lot about yourself.  The more time you’re willing to put into determining what you love, the more confident you’ll be investing in a new look for your home.

Don’t get discouraged

It doesn’t matter what stage of life you’re in- it’s never too early to start planning and never too late to make a change in your home’s décor.  You may not be able to transform your house overnight, but the small changes you make today and tomorrow will add up before you know it.  If you’re just moving into your first apartment, you have the advantage that you’re just starting out.  Stick to the essentials so you’re able to only buy things you genuinely like.  You CAN stay within your budget and avoid ugly nonsense.  Try Ikea,HomegoodsWalmartTarget or any number of online stores (we love introducing you to some of the best) .  DO NOT buy something just because it’s on sale.  And carefully consider when things are truly worth saving up and spending a little more on.  If your house is already full of furniture and décor you wish you could throw straight in the trash, than refer to the plan we discussed making earlier.  You’ve got lots of responsible options for disposing of items you don’t want- have a yard sale, see if you can sell some on eBay orCraigslist, or donate them to a local church or Goodwill.  Slow and steady wins the race.  You’ll be surprised how a few changes at a time (beautiful paint job one week, new decorative pillows the next) can make a big difference.  
Friday, March 26, 2010

Sale Alert!

I just got word of a massive sale on rugs at ABC Carpet and Home through Gilt Groupe, one of my many discount shopping subscriptions.  We visited ABC’s towering store (ten floors!) in New York just before we left the city and were more than impressed with their selection.  Some of their items were a little pricey, but with Gilt Groupe’s discount you can get up to 70% off retail prices…not too shabby.  It’s an invitation only website, but luckily we’ve got you covered.  If you want to subscribe and check out the sale you can do so by clicking here at our invitation.  Aren’t you glad we’re friends?  :) The tricky thing about Gilt Groupe is their sales only last 36 hours…this one just started at Noon today, but I wouldn’t waste any time if you’re interested!  If you decide to subscribe you’ll also have insider access to the trendiest clothing for women, men and children for just a fraction of what you’d pay in a department store.  Happy shopping!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

“By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of my favorite things in all the world is a good quote.  I can most certainly relate to Quote Garden creator Terri Guillemets when she said, “I swim across a sea of quotes, splashing in the words and riding across the waves of wisdom”.  I mean, I’m barely three sentences into this post and I’ve already quoted two quotes about quotes!  But really, what’s not to love? Quotes summarize, give credibility, and bring to memory beautiful ideas and sentiments that we may have never articulated on our own.  And when it comes to the world of design, I’m happy to report there is a place for them!  Here are some ideas for incorporating quotes into your home for any fellow word lovers out there.

Quotes on your walls

When you have a large space to fill you quickly realize two things.  1) Large art is expensive.  2) Lots of small also expensive.  Consider this one case where a picture may not, in fact, be worth a thousand words.  It’s easy and affordable to make a space beautiful with a carefully selected quote applied directly to the wall.  Many home stores have recognized this growing trend and now sell pre-designed quotes in a peel-and-stick fashion. Hobby Lobby, for example, has a great selection for between $20 and $30.  If you’re comfortable spending marginally more, you can get a fully customized quote- any saying, color, or size.  This is where you can really start to get creative.  Most sites we visited gave you the option to choose one of their quotes or to write one entirely from scratch.  My favorite was Wall Written, but Quote the Walls and Wall Words are very user friendly as well.  

Dinnerware Quotes

Yet another really grand idea we noticed at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show was the use of quotes on dinnerware.  I thought it was such a novel concept that I came back and googled every variation of “plates with quotes” I could come up with in an attempt to share our discovery with you.  After an exhaustive search I came to the conclusion that I may be presenting this idea before the market is ready for it.  Only Andy Warhol and Emeril Lagasse’s camps appeared to be producing anything remotely similar to what I was searching for.  Though I was glad to find someone on the same page as me in theory, my ultimate goal was to find classic quotes (not a catchphrases or nonsensical musings) so my search was essentially a bust.  If you’re interested in setting a trend, however, you can always custom order plates adorned with the quotes of your choice at Enduring Images.  While most sites like it have outrageous minimum purchases, Enduring Images allows you to order just one plate if you want- and they have no set up fees to boot.  It may not be the easiest way to incorporate quotes into your home, but it sure is unexpected and fun!
Pillow Quotes

I know what you’re thinking...aren’t quotes on pillows totally kitschy?  Now, if we’re talking about a zebra print pillow trimmed in red feathers that says “It’s Five ‘O Clock Somewhere”, than yes, they are.  But, like most things, used in the right home, in the right way, they can really add to a space.  We found really plain pillows like the one above decorated with all kinds of inspiring quotes at Cafe Press.  I don’t have to tell you this is not the pillow you want to put on your $10,000 couch, but this concept would work great in a younger person’s bedroom or apartment.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dining by Design

If I was forced to pick a favorite portion of the Architectural Digest Home Design Show we attended this past weekend, I would have to choose the DIFFA Dining by Design rooms.  Designers received either an 11x11 or 11x20 foot area to create any dining space their imagination (and presumably their budget) would allow.  The results were spectacular and truly over the top.  Check out our favorite rooms and a few tips on how to transform ideas from the designers’ showcases into something more manageable for YOUR dining space.  

Evette Rios for Buitoni &
Everyday with Rachel Ray

Evette Rios’ enchanted garden display left us spellbound.  The place settings, floral arrangements and hanging potted greens were creative and beautiful, but what really set the tone was the lighting.    You can create a similar effect by using a tasteful amount of colored lighting, or even using uplighting in your home or dining area.  Try changing the bulbs in your fixtures to a Transparent Amber, like 
this one we found at  At less than $2 a pop they’ll give you a taste of atmosphere without doing damage to your wallet.  If you’re interested in seeing what kind of a facelift uplighting will give your room, try something subtle like Indoor Plant Lights we found at Lamps Plus.  They’re inconspicuous, and add just the right amount of light to bring a little something extra to your space.  Of course, if all else fails you or you need to set an atmosphere (and/or look more attractive) right away than simply turn down the lights and break out some candles.  Works every time.  

David Beahm for Continental Airlines

Pictures simply don’t do this masterpiece by David Beahm justice, the vision involved in the creation of this room was amazing!  A look like this is difficult to re-create inside, but we picked out a few elements your can borrow with ease.  To get a taste of the arbor effect try weaving some artificial Wisteria Garland through your chandelier or lighting fixture.  We found some beautiful 
6 foot strands online at for less than $7 a piece.  Check your local craft store and see what they carry, you might find something that compliments your decor even better.  If you’re starting a room from scratch and interested in achieving a cozy ambiance like the one you see here, look for a table and seating that’s low to the ground.  We found this glass Sheffield Round Dining Table for about $500.  Try breaking up a curved sectional sofa, like the one we found at Opulent Items, to create a similar seating arrangement.  

David Stark for Benjamin Moore

We love Ben Moore, so we simply had to include a snippet from their display.  They had a creative take on using technology in design, including using a simulated fire on three iPod touch screens as the flame for their candle centerpieces.  Very fun.  While we can’t bring ourselves to advocate purchasing multiple iPods to accomplish this look, we can suggest a way to mimic it assuming you have an iPhone or the like already in your possession.  All you’ll need is an 
understated phone stand (we found ours on for about $6) and a candle stick wide enough to accommodate a pillar candle, like Crate and Barrel’s Adele Candleholders.  Rest the phone on it’s stand on top of the candlestick, download the Eternal Flame application from the App store and voila!  The other element of this space we really loved was the hodge podge of centerpieces down the long table.  This one is self explanatory and pretty inexpensive too.  Take clear glasses and small vases and fill those bad boys up with whatever greenery you can get your hands on.  Gather interesting clippings from your yard, or visit a local grocery store to see what their floral department has in stock.  The beauty is in the simplicity, so take the opportunity to showcase greens you’d normally only use as filler.

Goil Amornvivat and Thomas Morbitzer 
for Tug Studio

We threw this one in so you could get an idea of just how much creativity some of these designers displayed.  Would I want this in my home?  No.  But it was definitely created by someone thinking outside of the box and some small portion of it could work for say...a bachelor pad perhaps.  It appears Goil Amornvivat and Thomas Morbitze found inspiration from comic books and phones, even turning the place settings themselves into an old fashioned rotary phone.  To capture the retro feel of this room try framing a Roy Lichtenstein poster.  There’s a lot to choose from, and most are right around $30.  
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Incorporating Design Trends

Interior design trends are a funny thing...they can feel arbitrary and unsightly to one person and heaven sent to the next- and that’s ok!  You can apply the same principles you use when deciding what fashion trends are right for your body type and lifestyle to manage trends in your living space.  Ask yourself “Do I love this?”.  If you don’t, pass.  Not every trend is for you, and thank goodness that’s the case because who could keep up with them all.  If you do find yourself enamored with a certain design, determine what level of commitment you’re able to give to the idea.  Here’s a few examples of various ways you could incorporate one of the HUGE trends we saw at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show this past weekend; Rustic Wood.

Commitment Meter: Flirt 
So you love the idea of rustic wood but you’re not ready to invest a lot in it?  Not a problem.  We spotted this awesome decorative bowl at Target for less than $30.  Forgo five trips to Starbucks and it’s yours.

Commitment Meter: Facebook Official

Let’s say you’re a little more enthusiastic... maybe you’re even okay with a little attachment.  Look for something along the lines of this mirror we found at Hobble Creek Trading Company.  It’s just under $375.  If that sounds a little steep, we recommend checking out your nearest Homegoods.  There’s a good possibility you’ll find something similar for a fraction of the price.  

Commitment Meter: Engaged

If you’re seriously passionate, you may want to consider a custom made dining room table by an artist like David Stine or Palo Samko- both impressed us quite a bit at the Home Design Show.  If you’re not ready for a one-of-a-kind piece just yet, consider Anthropologie’s Lever and Lumber Table.  It’ll run you about $3,500 before shipping costs. 

Commitment Meter: Wedded Bliss

If you find yourself head over heels for a design concept and 100% sure you’re in it for the long haul, then and only then should you take the leap and make rather irreversible changes.  We saw these hardwood floors in the LV Wood Floors area this weekend and found them to be really stunning.  The wood comes from the Dolomite Mountians in Italy- the same area our family hails from (naturally giving them instant credibility in our book)  :).  A commitment at this level will cost you a good amount of money and time but let’s be honest, it probably wouldn’t be the first crazy thing you did in the name of love.