Monday, June 11, 2012

Tangerine Tango

Tangerine Tango is the hottest color around!  Literally everywhere I look, I see this shade.  I must have tried on a dozen Derby dress contenders in the color.  Every striped article of clothing I see has at least a sliver of the warm orange-red hue in it.  As the color name suggests, it’s bright, energetic, passionate and bold.  Admittedly, I was skeptical about wearing it at first- I’m a fair skinned gal with blonde hair and blue eyes.  I don’t have the luxury of bronzing skin in the summer, so I figured the lovely Tangerine Tango would wash me out.  Au contraire!  This color looks good on everyone (what a rarity!).

Speaking of rarities, colors are not often popular in the home fashion and the apparel industry at the same time.  Typically, a shade hits the fashion scene big and then a season or two later makes its way into home decor.  Once again, this color breaks all the rules.  I have seen Kitchen Aid mixers available in this hot orange shade, bold fabric patterns splashed with it, and wall colors covered in the famed tangerine.  

I’m not sure of it’s staying power, but for the time being Tangerine Tango is THE color to decorate with and wear.  If you’re scared to take the plunge, start small and incorporate the color in your accessories (think handbag or jewelry for fashion and pillows or vases for the home). Happy Tango-ing!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


It’s no secret, I am a boy band connoisseur.  It started in my teenage years and has stuck with me ever since.  While I prefer the musical stylings of Nick Lachey and 98 degrees over those of Backstreet Boys or NSYNC, I am a JT fan (Justin Timberlake, that is).  I was excited to read yesterday about Mr. Timberlake’s newest business venture- HomeMint.

HomeMint is a home decorating website offering various furniture, accessory and art lines including some designs created by Justin and his former NSYNC stylist. The whole concept seems pretty neat- shoppers can determine their personal style through a series of visual questions and then shop for items that suit said style.   It does require a log-in to go further than the questionnaire, so that is where I stopped.  I try to avoid signing up for more emails, but if curiosity gets the better of me, I might try it out.  If you look into it, let me know your thoughts.  If it’s like everything else the former NSYNC crooner does, I’m sure it will be a raving success. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Saint Louey

Earlier this month I traveled to St Louis for a conference and had the pleasure of having the hubs by my side.  I absolutely fell in love with this city!  In part, it reminded me of where I grew up (Louisville, KY) so I felt very comfortable there, but beyond that the architecture and the attractions sucked me in.  Here's St Louey from my point of view.

We stayed downtown right next to the arch and every morning we could look out our window to see the massive structure towering above the river. 

A common trend among the buildings in the city was the use of the arch in the architecture.  Arched windows add a graceful element to an otherwise angular house. 

Arched doorways served as grand entrances in the hotel.  


One afternoon, we walked through a park in the middle of downtown where a number of unique sculptures and water features were on display.  I couldn't resist posing with the big white bunny!
Check out this smart use of old windows!  I spotted these in a restaurant that had an open, two story ceiling and an industrial vibe.  The windows served as art and as barrier between the kitchen and the dining portion of the restaurant.  So clever!  (Side note- I was so inspired by this that I've now lined up some 100 year old windows from a friend who was putting in new ones.  What a great way to re-purpose something that no longer functions as it was originally intended. Now to just figure out how I will put them to use...)

Even cooler was the light fixtures!  That's right, they are made of old milk cans, painted in vibrant colors.  This is my next project.

When we travel, we try to only eat and shop in local places unique to that city.  We stayed true to that goal while in St Louis and one night after dinner in LaFayette Square we stumbled upon what I now refer to as "our future home".  I love the idea of brownstones in the park, the ease of living within walking distance to hip hangouts and this home on Park Ave had it all!

Hubs and I walked for awhile just taking in the features of each house and making a list of pros and cons to moving there.  I spouted off all the ways I would decorate them and how each room would be used.  While we will remain in Lexington for the foreseeable future, maybe one day I'll get my Park Ave house.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Burlap Coozies....Ahmaaaazing!

Hold the phone!  I've said it 1,000 times- I'm obsessed with all things burlap!  So to come across this creation on Pinterest was like finding buried treasure for me.  The personalized monogramming is just icing on the cake!  Looks like the perfect summer accessory, whether at the lake or pool or backyard cookout.  Here's the Etsy store where you can buy them. 

Happy Memorial Day everybody!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tips for a Bedroom Oasis

For so long we used to focus solely on areas of the house that we use for entertaining- think kitchen, living room, dining room. Master bedrooms were just a place we would go for a few hours of sleep between our jam-packed workdays. It's no wonder that we don't feel rested. There is nothing restful or relaxing about spending time in a room that is in disarray, has a hodge podge of furniture and is painted a bland shade of beige.  Finally the bedroom takes center stage. It is becoming a priority over other ares of the home.  We crave a space we can go to when we want to shut out the rest of the world, unwind, and be ourselves. Here are a few ways we can achieve that on any budget:

-Create a focal wall at the head of the bed. Typically, I am against accent walls but not in this case. I think back to the last hotel I stayed in- the Marriott in Indianapolis- the entire wall that backed the headboards was covered in a gorgeous wallcovering. The wall created drama and made the beds the focal point of the room. That same concept applies to our personal bedrooms. We always make the bed the focal point with beautiful bedding, so let's take it a step further and compliment that bedding with a bold paint color or a stunning wallpaper. The goal is to say "wow" whenever you walk into the room. A focal wall can fit any budget.  The cost of primer and paint to cover just one wall is a minimal $50- $100. Wallcoverings vary in cost but only a small amount is needed so it's cost effective compared to covering a whole room and would likely run about $500 or less to complete.

- Incorporate a headboard with personality. Headboards allow for so much creativity. The options range from a beautiful stained wood to scrolling ironwork to a stately upholstered piece. The important thing to remember is that the headboard needs to make sense with your personal style and with the feel of the space. In bedrooms that can't spare the space a headboard requires, I've seen unique ideas like painting one on the wall (think trompe l'oeil) or taking an old door and attaching it to the wall above the bed. Both are great options since there's no extra space required to attach it to the bed frame. Depending on your skill level and your familiarity with Pinterest, you could make a headboard out of wood or fabric for $300-$500. If you are lucky enough to have an old door lying around that just needs a little paint makeover, your budget could be less than $100.

-Pillows! Shams and throw pillows are a major part of creating a luxurious bedroom. I recently took simple white shams and had them monogrammed with large black letters to dress up my bed. Layering those with smaller toss pillows from Home Goods and a custom covered bolster with a bold pattern on it completed the bed. Mixing custom pillows with inexpensive ones makes the project easy on the wallet and on the eyes.  The average cost of a project like this is $100.

- Have a foundation. There is nothing worse than hopping out of bed in the morning and landing on a cold floor. Brrrr! Be sure your new bedroom oasis includes a rug that feels good underfoot. Beyond the extra steps of warmth it affords you, it offers another layer to complete the room. The colors and pattern in the rug should serve as the foundation for the space. Make the right choice here and build everything else around it. The fiber content and size of the rug will typically dictate the price. Wool will be more costly than a man made fiber but it is worth the splurge. An average 8x10 costs $700-$900.

- Dress your windows. The most forgotten element of a room is window treatments. Walk into any house and look at the windows. Chances are they are stark naked! Don't let the same be said about your master bedroom. Much like a rug, fabric treatments on the windows are another way to incorporate color and pattern into the space.  The entire room should feel like it was well-thought out and put together with care. That said, well-thought out does not have to equal big bucks.  Many times drapery panels found at local home stores can serve your purpose. Be sure to take the panels from floor to ceiling to make the window and the room feel larger. This is especially helpful if you have crown molding because it draws the eye to that architectural detail. Most retailers offer varying lengths of panels so finding the right height for your window shouldn't be an issue. But if it is, you can add additional fabric to the bottom to lengthen the panel and it creates the color block look that is popular right now. Store bought treatments often cost $50 per panel. If the sky is the limit for your project, I recommend having motorized shades installed under your draperies. With one push of a button you can lower all the shades and block out light for a good night's (or day's) sleep. These treatments can run upwards of $700 per shade depending on the size of the windows in the bedroom.

-Veer away from matching sets. Resist your urge to pluck the entire bedroom suite off the showroom floor. Instead be more creative. Use small chests and interesting side tables in place of ordinary nightstands. Thrift stores can be your best friend for smaller furniture items with a unique twist for $200-$500 each.  Mix and match pieces with purpose. The key is to have elements of continuity among all the pieces whether that be wood tone, hand painted features, or coordinating drawer pulls.  If you are looking for a must-have piece, I suggest buying a dresser with a mirror that also houses your TV. Flat screens have done wonders for the modern world and now they offer a solution to the debate between husband and wife about the television sitting on the dresser. Simply slide the flat screen into the designated opening on the side of the mirror and with a click of a button allow the mirror to go transparent and the TV to be viewed. When the time comes you can click the button again and the reflective quality returns to the glass.  As you can imagine these dressers are not inexpensive and can cost $3000 or more depending on the furniture maker.

Any one of these changes can create an impact on their own, so certainly implementing all of them would completely transform a space. For smaller budgets, prioritize the changes you want to make and work your way through the list as money allows.

Excerpts from this post can be found in the May 2012 issue of Kentucky Living magazine

Monday, May 14, 2012

Guest Blogger Robin Allen: 8x10s are Postage Stamps!

 Robin Allen, a Lexington photographer has a great eye for how family photos can fit into the decor of a home.  Read on to discover her tips for selecting photos.

What would you guess is the most popular “big wall portrait” size among consumers.  Since the answer is in the title, I’ll assume you guessed right…. One of those big 8x10s!  I always have a little internal chuckle when a client of mine will say to me they’re planning on “getting a big one.”   In my experience, that word varies from person to person, so I ask them to define “big.”   She replies with the word ‘duh’ woven in to her tone, “8x10.”  The next popular response is 11x14, which isn’t much larger.

I in no way mean to take a jab at these clients, and all professional photographers have them.  It’s my job to help them see how different sizes can really make a great impact on the decor of their rooms.  I know exactly why we have a whole generation of people who gravitate to this tiny wall size.  But first – more jabs at the 8x10…

Think of a beautifully decorated house or hotel.  Picture in your mind what ‘beautiful’ looks like.  What do the window coverings look like? The furniture? The floors?  …Now what’s on the wall?  Every grand home and high-brow hotel has had a grand statement in wall art (no matter the particular style).  This could mean a large wall portrait or painting that fills the space in which it was displayed.  This could also mean eight small prints which resemble soldiers marching in line.  These eight, I must say, since they are dressed all alike (mats and frames and content) are together ONE piece of art.  They are in series.  The grand 60 inch art piece which stands alone is also one piece of art.  Never have I seen a lonely 8x10 on the wall. Matted (needing a larger frame) or not, the designers never have elected to employ the use of this postage stamp.

So then where do these tiny photographs belong?  The answer is
1)      on book shelves.  (The prints are delightful little ways to break up the repetition of the books.)
2)      on desks and table tops
3)      if their home MUST be the wall, then they should live only in series.  (A series is marked by its similar display characteristics:  A frame style is repeated and a print style is repeated. ( i.e. all photographs are black and white, or maybe the photographs are all very colorful and all have a fun subject matter.   ..but they are alike.)

Then WHY oh WHY are these small sizes so popular on the wall among the common consumer!?
I am a professional photographer and my concentration is the young, growing family.  I photograph maternity clients, then the newborns, then the baby as she grows in to her childhood.  One thing I can COUNT ON during an ordering appointment… mom wants every single shot I have taken.  For this reason I only let her see the best 40-ish, otherwise we’d be there all night!   The knee-jerk reaction to her feeling of being overwhelmed is to get a bunch of 8x10s and the rest in 5x7.  Maybe her favorite is promoted to a “big” 11x14. 

There are problems with this order and I don’t even have to know what her house looks like.  11x14s are RARELY large enough for any prominent wall, though usually that is where the ‘big one’ is placed.  Go ahead and measure the space over your mantle.  What would a professional designer assign for that location? Probably something in the 30-40 inch range.  Whatever size that will fill the space.  Then, what on earth happens to the 8x10s?!  Surely she doesn’t have room on her tables and shelves for ten 8x10s then 9 more 5x7s!  Sadly, after a handful would be framed and displayed in miscellaneous locations around the house, the rest would meet an early and unfortunate demise in a drawer, the photo drawer that is the graveyard of too many portraits.

Here’s what I help her with…
We find out BEFORE the session what she really wants.  Does she need a great piece for over the mantle?   Does she have a couple of large voids on the wall that she needs me to fill?  OR does she want a great book or wall series that showcases her children’s wild personalities?  What would she really enjoy every day?  What would she be so proud to show all of her friends?  That’s what we photograph for and that is what she ends up ordering!  I do NOT want buyer’s remorse ANYWHERE near my clients, so I really discourage the collection of drawer photos.  That’s a waste, and I know we can do better than that.  I know she will be happy with, and will be so proud to own works of art that are the right size for their space, and then when there are still too many photos left, she can rediscover her kids’ sweet pictures as she thumbs through a beautiful book or album.

At the end of the day, Say NO to the drawer full of postage stamps!!

You can reach Robin the following ways:
Robin Allen Photography
Located at 711 Millpond Road Lexington, KY 40514  (all sessions, appointments, and drop-ins are by appointment only)
 (859)685-8516   or