Thursday, September 29, 2011

Don't want to go under the knife?

I'm not a huge fan of Halloween.  Haunted Houses frighten me so badly that I refuse to go in them.  I am uncomfortable around people wearing masks because I can't tell who is really behind them.  I am pretty sure all of these fears were birthed from watching far too many scary movies in my adolescence.  Despite my hatred for being scared, I do enjoy one element of Halloween: decorating pumpkins. 

Carving pumpkins can be a chore. Cleaning out all the seeds and pulp creates a huge mess.  Then there is the danger of slicing a finger with the carving tools.  A great alternative to carving is painting.  Pumpkins make a create canvas for kids to paint.  It's an activity that everyone can enjoy and it showcases your creative side. 

I started painting pumpkins for my nieces when they were too little to enjoy the ritual of carving.  I would paint their favorite cartoon character on a pumpkin that was just their size.  One year it was Minnie Mouse and Cookie Monster, another year it was the UK Wildcat mascot Scratch.  This year I am planning to paint portraits of their favorite Disney princesses.

If you aren't as artistically inclined, don't worry.  You can do simple designs that will bring just as much joy to you & your child. Polka Dots are fun.  Painting your daughter's monogram in bright green will make your front porch uber chic.  Your son would love a fire truck sprawled across the orange sphere!  Or stick with the tried & true jack-o-lantern face painted-on instead of hollowed-out.  If you aren't comfortable painting free-handed, stencils can be very helpful.

Happy pumpkin painting!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Vintage Vantage Point

I’m Liz and I’m a Madmen-aholic.  It’s true.  I love some Roger Sterling and Don Draper.  Better yet, I love eyeing the set design for the show.  Set in the 60’s- one of my favorite eras for fashion and furniture- the homes and offices used for the show are so eye-catching.  Sleek, low-profiled sofas.  Sprinkling in metal and glass furniture to modernize a room.  Clean lines and silhouettes.

I think this period is my favorite because everything fit well.  We weren’t wearing baggy clothes OR bustles under our skirts.  A woman’s feet would touch the floor when she sat in a chair, as opposed to the overstuffed and incredibly deep seats abundantly available now.  Tailoring is classic and beautiful and the 60s were full of tailored pieces.  Here are a few things from that decade that I find inspiring:
Portrait Collars

Streamlined furniture

Picture Windows

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tiny Houses

I was unfamiliar with the tiny house concept until a couple weeks ago. Per the usual, I was on my sofa watching HGTV’s Design Star and the challenge was to decorate a tiny house.   When I saw one for the first time, it reminded me of my nieces’ playhouse.  Au contraire!  With fully functioning kitchen & baths, these houses can fit full grown adults and all their essentials.  Notice, I said essentials.  The whole concept of these tiny houses, built by Jay Shafer, is that everything has multiple purposes.  With limited room (from 60 to 600 square feet) you have to seriously maximize your space. 

This idea really intrigued me.  Just a few days ago I wrote a blog post devoted to pieces that are overflowing with function.  Things that pull double duty.  Now this episode airs all about getting the most out of your small space.  I loved it!  In fact, I loved it so much that I told my husband if anything ever happened to him the dog and I would live in a tiny house.  His reaction was one of concern.  I seemed to like these houses just a little too much and he wondered if he should fear for his safety.  Once I alleviated those fears, all was well. 

But seriously, what a unique concept in a time where bigger is always better and we feel the “need” to have so much.  I really love the overall message derived from these houses- slow down, live within your means, and less is more.  Sometimes my most rewarding projects for clients are the ones that are limited in space and creativity has a huge role in how to make them function well. 

Click here for more info on Tiny Houses.  There is a wealth of information and seminars available to educate people on these homes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Black & White

It's black. It's white.  As I am typing, I am humming Michael Jackson's hit  (As mentioned in previous posts, everything to me related to a song).  I'm sure that you are glad this is a text post and not a video!

Enough about music, I really want to talk about the trend of using black & white in home decor.  These colors have been strong in the fashion world for the past couple seasons and now are making a big splash into the home scene.  Everything from checkerboard tile floors to mod bedding to luxurious throw pillows. 

Some people are jumping into the trend and re-doing entire rooms to reflect their love for black & white.  If you aren't so sure, start off slow.  Introduce black and white in small ways.  Ceramic accessories in these solid colors lend an air of sophistication to a bookcase.  Are you afraid of being void of color? Choose a gorgeous wall color like turquoise, use all black and white patterned fabrics in the space and top it all off with a punch of yellow in the throw pillows and accessories.  Be careful not to overdo the yellow, or it will lose it's impact.

Don't forget about Christmas decorating with these colors!  White has always been a favorite for the feel of fresh fallen snow that it provides.  Pairing black and a dash of silver with it takes the decor to a Chanel level.  Very chic, classy and beautiful.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stretching the Dollar to Cover Your Windows

We all want unique items.  There is something about having what no one else does that makes us proud.  But sometimes lack of time and money get in the way of us having one-of-a-kind pieces.  When it comes to window treatments like draperies there IS a way to have the best of both worlds.  Store- bought window treatments can be dressed up to appear as if they were custom made.  Adding trims with beads, baubles or tassels instantly allow the panels to appear expensive.  Another embellishment option that gives a more streamlined look is adding a band of fabric along the edge of the treatment. 

Don't forget about the hardware.  My advice to my clients is to always splurge on a rod with a larger diameter (1.5- 3 inches). Steer clear of the thin half-inch metal poles that look as though they will snap if you stare at them too long.  Finials add a sophisticated element that enhances the decor of the room. You want a finial to have some weight to it so it looks sturdy and correctly proportioned to the size of the rod.

A popular look for hardware right now is to use a pair of shorter rods instead of one long one.  This can only be done if the panels are not functional (meaning they do not open and close).  I refer to non-functional panels as "dummy panels".  You hang these drapes on either side of the window, each with its own rod.  The appeal to this method is that you aren't staring at a rod that sprawls the width of the window.  Instead your eye can focus on the beautiful draperies that flank the window casing. 

Happy window dressing!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hidden Potential

I am always on a quest to re-purpose things.  If an item has multiple uses, you can bet that I will buy it.  I'm not sure where my affinity for function is rooted, but it's rooted deep!  That's why I had to share my top three favorite pieces that are off the charts in both beauty & function!

1.  Cocktail table seating.  A storage ottoman that also serves as a bench seat during parties.  A round glass-topped table with four seats tucked below.  Either option makes a room that is short on space more useable.  I have implemented these options for clients who regularly hosted friends and needed additional seating.  The dual purpose makes me giddy!

2. Trundle Beds.  I know bigger is considered better nowadays.  But I still love twin beds, especially daybeds!  They are perfect solutions for kids or small guest rooms.  Storing a trundle underneath affords you the option of allowing the kid's friends over for slumber parties or creating a double bed when your out-of-town friends come for the weekend.

3. Serving Platters.  Pewter, ceramic, wood or glass trays have a million uses.  Of course, they come in handy for displaying yummy appetizers at parties.  But their function goes so much farther than that.  Platters can be used to adorn the top of your kitchen cabinets or dining room hutch.  They can be placed on your coffee table to serve as a gathering place for the remotes or magazines.  Resting on top of your bedroom dresser, a tray can be the gathering place for loose change, your wallet and car keys. 

If you are tight on space or a neat freak (like me!), these three pieces can completely change your space!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Life's A Beach

Are the cooler temperatures and rain are getting you down?  Turn your house into the beach!  This bathroom has walls the color of a tranquil ocean.  When you look closer you see shimmering, iridescent jelly fish swimming about.  Capped off with silver and white accents, it's the perfect setting: surrounded by marine life with no danger of being stung.

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's All About the Drum

If you pay attention to your surroundings, you will notice that our preferred style of light fixtures is changing.  No longer do we have the pleated shade on our table lamps, or the shiny brass curly cues on our chandeliers.  Clean and streamlined is taking over.  It’s all about the drum.  

The drum shade is a round or oval shaped fabric lampshade.  You’ll find it in textured fabrics, solid colors or patterned designs.  These shades are being used on bedside lamps, foyer chandeliers, restaurant overhead lighting, pendant lights above your wetbar…..the list trails on and on.  The drum shade offers a sleek and stylish look and blends well with all styles.  Walk into your nearest home store- Lowe’s, HomeGoods, etc- and take a stroll through the lamp aisle.  I bet you’ll find a drumshade that you love.  

Happy drumming!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

All the Leaves are Brown

Crisp air.  Cable knit sweaters.  Skinny jeans.  Boots.  They all point my absolute favorite season!  Fall!   Not everyone shares my sentiments, though.  Here are a few suggestions on how to ready yourself & your home for the cooler temps without adorning the front stoop in scarecrows & pumpkins.
  1. Swap out your lightweight cotton throws with those made of a heavier a material.  Great replacements are crocheted or lambswool.  Both visually signal warmth and comfort- things we all desire as the weather turns cool.
  2. Exchange brightly colored candles for earth-tones.  Another subtle signal that compliments the changes outside. 
  3. Update your front porch.  Potted mum or a gorgeous arrangement to hang on the front door allow your house to blend well with the landscape. 
If  you typically grumble at the thought of summer’s end.  Try these simple changes to see if they make the transition to fall any easier on you.
Happy Fall!