Friday, July 31, 2009

Ten things that make me happy – July 2009

Since today marks the end of the month of July I put together a list of ten things that make me happy at the moment. This post goes out to my old pal Domino, something else that never failed to make me happy.

  1. Bee & Flower Soap – Comes in Sandalwood, Rose, Ginseng, Jasmine and some new scents I didn't even know about.
  2. Orla Kiely Stem Print Classic Bag – Currently on sale!
  3. Living Wreaths
  4. Diamond Dogs Fabric by Schumacher – To the trade only...great sadness.
  5. Amy’s Organic Cakes – Available on the frozen food aisle. They're also vegan and totally delicious!
  6. Statement Jewelry – Just put this one piece on and you're done!
  7. Seconds Dinner Plates by Jason Miller
  8. Thorsten van Elten Pigeon Light
  9. Paul Ranson "Apple Tree with Red Fruit" Framed Print
  10. St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur – This libation will always remind me of my friend Amy.
And now I shall take my leave and journey to the beach. With any luck I'll be away from the computer for the weekend, but rest assured, my half-baked decorating opinions and sparkling wit will return next week.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Okay, I admit it. I'm a slacker. I've been caught up in preparations for what will no doubt be an action-packed birthday weekend, starting tomorrow with a gal's getaway at a beach resort. Now that the bustling about has stopped and items like a swimsuit cover-up and SPF 1000 sunblock have been obtained, I realize I've been remiss in my blogging.

My sincerest apologies! In honor of my slacker-tude of late, here's a glimpse at a recent home decor trend of the plaid variety.

Not sure I'm completely sold on the above items just yet. I'm sure all you fellow Gen X'ers out there remember the plaid shirt phenomenon of the early nineties well enough. So here's my (very) loose tribute to the checked flannels of the Seattle grunge scene.

Monogrammed melamine plates, $22 each at (found via Country Living)

Cute, no? Okay, they're gingham. That's a type of plaid, isn't it? Well maybe not, but you don't really want plates adorned with patterns á la Curt Cobain, do you? Unless you're furnishing your kitchy cabin in the North Carolina mountains.

If this pattern doesn't tickle your fancy, there are plenty more to choose from on the La Plates website. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for monograms. Could have something to do with my love of typography, or the recessive preppy gene that I think must have come from my dad.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thrift Store Booty

As promised, here's my haul from my Southwest Florida thrift store visit over the weekend...

Been looking for a blue & white vase like this!

I also scored a large vintage print of a Fork-tailed Flycatcher in a green frame.

Lastly, a book on making slipcovers and window treatments and the like. It has a lot of good information PLUS some amusing photos circa 1984. Look out world! Now I've got just enough knowledge to be dangerous.

Had there been any reasonably uncomplicated way to transport it back home, I totally would've gone for a low-slung cream colored Hollywood Regency style sofa on sale there for...$50. Darn it, I'm still kicking myself for passing that up.

Monday, July 27, 2009

More great deals on rugs

I'm back from Southwest Florida, the Ghost Orchid was observed (very cool, btw) and I'm working on a post to show you a few finds I picked up from one of my favorite thrift stores. In the meantime, a public service announcement for anyone in need of a bargain price floor covering.

My living room post from the other day featured a rug from Urban Outfitters for $9.99. Well, they've got even more on sale on their website right now. We're talking some really good deals here, and not just on the small sizes. Some examples:

The deepest discount is probably on this one, the 4' x 6' Tufted Geo Swede Rug for $39.99. (Was $168)

Not so much my cup of tea design-wise, but the colors are pleasing and I could see this playing well with some blonde wood mid-century modern pieces.

The 5' x 7' Chevron Ikat Printed Rug is selling for a mere $19.99! (Was $68.00)

I know, I know. The Ikat print is a total sell-out at this point — incidentally I still like it and I'm not afraid to say so. But in my defense to all the snarky, highly-opinionated decorator types out there, I believe the chevron pattern makes this an interesting specimen. It looks sort of like flame stitch á la Missoni.

On a related note, Fabricadabra did a thorough post on the flame stitch phenomenon so check it out.

Also worth mentioning, the 5' x 7' Tropical Stamp Print Rug is down to $29.99. (Was $68.00)

This is a bold statement coming from a native Floridian, but just because there's a palm leaf print, it doesn't mean you have to go all rattan and tasseled tapestry pillows with monkeys or cultivate that tropical "Tommy Bahama vomited all over my living room" look. I think this one could be great in a CB2 kind of way in a room with a black, white and vibrant yellow color scheme.

And last but not least, the 5' x 5' Madeline Woven Rug is now just $39.99. (Was $120)

Come on, get out the Visa card!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Road trippin'

Today I'm on my way down to Naples to see the elusive Ghost Orchid in bloom at Corkscrew Swamp. I'll be back tomorrow evening, but until then in honor of this famed flower, I leave you with two of my favorite things:

Starck's Louis Ghost Chair
Two related facts: First, is selling a pair of lucite armchairs for $329.
And second, I have a birthday coming up. I'm just sayin'.

Vintage Botanical Print of Orchids
Available for download here from Vintage Printable.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Living room do-over

Ever feel like just trashing ( to charity) everything in your living room and starting over from scratch? I do, and it's nice to know it can be accomplished for under $2,000.

1. Barometer Floor Lamp, IKEA – $49.99
2. Faux Blue Coral, Z Gallerie – $19.95 and $44.95
3. Felicia Cushion Cover, IKEA – $7.99, Blue Floral Printed Pillow, Pier One – $17.18 sale
4. Velvet Curtain Panel in Indigo, Urban Outfitters – $29.99 (x2) sale
5. 30" Round Painted Stamp Printed Rug, Urban Outfitters – $9.99 sale
6. Custom Megan Slipper Chair in Natural Twill, JC Penney – $349 sale
7. Ginger Ceramic Jar, Pier One – $18.68 (x2) sale
8. Wicker Trunk (use as coffee table), – $83.99 sale
9. Metal Accordian Side Table, Urban Outfitters – $60
10. Ikat Slipper Chair in Indigo, Urban Outfitters – $325
11. Trollsta Cabinet, IKEA – $199
12. Jada Slipcovered Sofa in Pearl, JC Penney – $599
13. Silver Hammer Lamp, Pier One – $48.68 sale
14. Randy Hibberd "Beauty in Blue I" Framed Art, World Market – $149
Grand total: $1,973.06

Paint: Arucauna Blue, Valspar Martha Stewart Colors

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A quickie

No, not that kind. In case you're wondering, the title refers to the length of this post and the quick and easy nature of the project below.

I may have mentioned this before, but...binder clips! As evidenced in the above photo, this little office necessity has transformed a group of vintage prints into a charming (and cheap!) art display. Looks great, no? Everything about this vignette is just right as far as I'm concerned.

By the way, you can find some ideas for obtaining vintage prints in my previous post here. I suspect the binder clip method would also work great for a postcard collection or a group of black & white photos. What do you think?

That said, feel free to put your mind back in the gutter. Who am I to judge?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cheap thrills for summer

PointClickHome has a great slideshow featuring designer finds for $15 or less. You can check it out here, but first, a couple of my faves:

Birdcage melamine plate, from Fred Flare

Wine-tasting coaster pad, $10 from Bob's Your Uncle

Monday, July 20, 2009

I need a vacation

I'm thinking maybe here:

Photo from Elle Decor

Interior designer Tom Scheerer's bedroom in Harbour Island, Bahamas.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A quick pick-me-up

Have some tired old shelves? Paint the back of 'em for contrast. The result? Fantastic. See below.

Hmm...what DON'T I love about this room?

Wallpaper looks great on the back of bookshelves too, but it can be a pricier proposition when you have to buy it by the double roll. Ebay can be a good source for bargain wallcoverings and tends to have some nice vintage options, but often you have to wade through a sea of Little Mermaid and Nascar patterns to find them.

Photo via Room Envy

Photo from Lovely Design

Photo from Country Living

Decorative paper is a another solution for a pop of pattern. I recently lined the back of a metal institutional cabinet in our dining area that serves as a bar and china storage with some paper from Paper Mojo. Will have to remember to post a pic, but in the meantime, here are a couple of my current Paper Mojo faves:

Asian Lattice

Snow & Graham Designer Prints, Collection 2

Have a fun paint or wallpaper project? I'd love to see it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A little moment of zen

Here's hoping my next backyard looks a bit more like this...

Hope you're having a happy weekend so far!

Friday, July 17, 2009

I Heart(h) Fireplaces

Ha ha. Yes, I know I'm a total cheese-ball. But it's true. This Florida native has always loved the charm a fireplace brings to a room. Case in point: when we bought our house two years ago, I prioritized having a fireplace over a pool.

But here in the Sunshine State, where the "summer" (I consider this May – September) feels not entirely unlike vacationing in the devil's butt crack, the old hearth can start to feel a little neglected. So while I pine away for the respite of fall, I'm thinking about doing a little fireplace makeover.

Photo from Sunset Magazine

As far as I'm concerned, this looks great. Not only does it keep your fireplace in service any time of the year (wasted space bugs me), it's just the thing for anyone who has a non-working fireplace in their house. And you don't have to mess around with balls of newspaper and pokers.

In my opinion, this look works best when your candles are all the same color and of varied heights. That can be accomplished cost effectively though. A trip to a dollar store or discount place like Tuesday Morning, et voilà — you're in business. If you're only able to score one size of candle, you can still get the multi-level effect by placing the back row on top of a couple bricks.

Is anyone out there already rocking this look? If so, how do you like it? Send me a pic.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Art of Arranging

The more examples I see of well-executed tablescapes, the more I believe they are an artform. The ability to create thoughtfully curated arrangements has certainly eluded me more often than not. I thought I'd dedicate this post to the art of the tablescape and contemplate what makes up a good one.

First, a little background. The term tablescape is generally attributed to the late great British designer David Hicks. A basic definition is the artful grouping of items from works of art, everyday objects, flower arrangements etc. Hicks was a true master at it. As he put it,"What is important is not how valuable or inexpensive your objects are, but the care and feeling with which you arrange them.”

An example of a David Hicks tablescape from the early 1970's.

The great news is creating a tablescape doesn't have to cost a thing, but it can have a huge impact in a room. I urge you to look around your home for accessories or collections you may have to work with. Sometimes pulling a piece from one room and placing it in a new setting works wonders. You can turn your coffee table, nightstand, mantle or shelf into the setting of a fantastic tablescape.

My apologies for not having sources for every photo, but here are some of great examples of artfully arranged items:

by interior designer Kishani Perera

Love this one.

An aside: the book above is about architect Paul Rudolph, who lived and designed houses in my hometown of Sarasota, FL.

Natural materials make a lovely display.

When properly curated, "clutter" can be pleasing to the eye.

Superbly arranged shelves.

A fantastic display of red and green items.

Photo via Apartment Therapy

Photo via Design Sponge

Photo from FLOR

Photo from Kelly Wearstler

Some tips I've gathered through studying articles and photographs:

  • The first step is to clear the area that you want to work on and gather any items that may work together in the space.

  • Select items based on the size and scale of the surface you're working with.

  • Place the largest object first.

  • Odd numbers add interest. In a painting class my instructor advised me that odd-numbered groupings are more pleasing to the eye than even. The same applies here. Try arrangements of three's, five's or seven's.

  • Too few items and your tablescape looks naked. Too many and it just looks like clutter. A thoughtful arrangement requires a trained eye. If you're in doubt as to whether your arrangement is too busy, I suggest following Coco Chanel's advice about accessorizing: always take off the last thing you put on. Or at least take one thing off!

  • Layer items the way an artist would paint a landscape, using background, middle ground, and foreground.

    Creating highs and lows add dimension and depth. Use a couple books or a decorative box as a pedestal to elevate objects.

  • In addition to the tabletop itself, you can also use the spaces above and below it as part of an arrangement. For instance, if you have a piece of artwork hanging over your tabletop it can be counted as part of the grouping if hung low enough to mingle with the other items.

  • Similar or repetitive items help pull everything together.

  • A theme can lend meaning to a tablescape. A couple examples of a theme are a group of objects with one or two like colors, or a collection of vintage vases.

  • Try varying some of the textural elements in the tablescape, i.e. light and dark, shiny and matte, etc.

  • There are no absolute rules here. A tablescape is your own personal expression, so have fun with it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Thought I'd share a few items that caught my eye on a recent trip to a favorite antique store in my neck of the woods:

I have a bit of a thing for vintage paint-by-numbers and other amateur art that one finds in thrift stores, etc. The botanical print on the right is very nice too.

This one is crying out for a nicer (less 1980's) frame but I love the simplified graphical quality of the paint-by-number and the colors are great.

Love old birdcages like this too.

Items like these are fun, serve as good conversation pieces and best of all, they're readily affordable!

Monday, July 13, 2009

A paint dilemma

I need some help with a paint dilemma that's been vexing me. It involves the fireplace wall in our living room, which is painted a sort of chartreuse-y green color. It's the only wall in the house we didn't repaint after we moved in two years ago because I loved how the white brick fireplace pops off that color. Here's a photo:

Please try to ignore the fact that the lucite table is askew. How embarrassing.

But about the thing I need help with... There was a ginormous unsightly anchor embedded in the wall, which you can sort of see in the photo right above the painting. I think at one point the previous owners may have been displaying the huge stone ball from Raiders of the Lost Ark. That would explain the size of the anchor.

But I digress. After two years in the house I finally decided I could live with the aforementioned unsightly wall anchor no more, so I pulled it out and patched the wall, fully confident that there was a can of that paint color sitting out in the carport. Well, there wasn't. So now I have do something about the unsightly white patch mark where the anchor used to be.

My boyfriend has recently revealed that he's somewhat lukewarm about the green. I still like it, but I'm not opposed to change. So my question is this: Do I just try to match the current color or do I experiment with something completely different? My curtains are blue (like the blue in the painting on the mantel) and my accessories are blue and that green. The sofa is beige, and other furniture is either white, black or wood. The rug is jute and the floor is currently maple-ish colored laminate, but that has to be replaced very soon and I was leaning toward something significantly darker.

Interestingly enough, someone over at Benjamin Moore seems to share my aesthetic.

Definitely wishing I had that Noguchi coffee table in my living room! Love the black wall but I'm not confident I could pull it off. If anyone out there has any ideas I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

How to create a "put together" art grouping pronto

This may have already occurred to you, but I want to mention the simplest way I know of to get a cohesive display of art on your wall in a matter of hours. It's cheap, easy and undeniably good looking — a little like me. Kidding about the first two!

Two words: clearance calendars. For several years now my boyfriend has made a trip into Barnes & Noble after January 1 in search of wall calendars. He brings back some of the nicest ones I've seen, with themes like Paris, butterflies, vintage travel posters etc. They're oversized and printed on a classic laid finish paper rather than the garish high-gloss numbers you see everywhere. Best of all, they're beautiful enough to frame the following year — or seize the moment if you don't feel like waiting.

I'm framing up a group of six of these for the den:

Kindly excuse the poor quality of my photos, snapped with my iPhone. A photo stylist I ain't.

Another source, not to be overlooked, is old books. Thrift stores often have worn out books with tattered spines for under $5 that have beautiful color plates. Some good bets are scientific volumes (that's where the group in our bathroom came from — pictured below in Ikea frames), atlases, encyclopedias and field guides. You get the idea.

One more great source that's online is Vintage Printable, where you can download a huge variety of antique public-domain illustrations and photos for free. Print them yourself at home or have it done at Kinko's for a nominal fee. Either way, they'll look great! Some of my faves:

I've seen scientific charts like this going on Ebay for around $100.

Anthropologie had something very similar for sale a while back, priced a la Anthropologie of course.

A note should be made here that the file size of some of images are larger than others once downloaded. If you're not resolution, image size and/or Photoshop savvy, the nice folks at Kinko's are there to advise you on how large a print you can produce at good quality. Put the images you want to print on a cd or thumb drive and show them what you've got.