Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ten things that make me happy - September 2009

A-ha! Better late than never, I suppose. Great success. For the record, I'm keeping the original date stamp on this post to remind Blogger that I did attempt to post it on that date! Take that, Blogger.

  1. White Truffle Oil – Elevates even a humble serving of mashed potatoes to something extraordinary.
  2. IKEA PS Krona Bowl – Like a crown for your table!
  3. Vienna Necklace from de jarnette
  4. Chocolate Cosmos – I love dark plants in the garden.
  5. Hermes Orange – I don't need a scarf. I just want the box.
  6. Cross Twig Table from Overstock – Unfortunately, I think this sold out.
  7. Venetian glass mirrors – Can be had at estate sales and sometimes at Homegoods too. Would love a whole wall of different shapes and sizes.
  8. Wonderland Pearl fabric from housefabric.com – Create your own Pottery Barn chair with this print and a thrift store cast-off.
  9. Saucer Knob from Anthropologie – I've been eyeing these for an old beat up dresser currently in service as a buffet.
  10. Circa Pillow from Z Gallerie – Also available in lovely shades of brown and green.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Floor pics, finally

Since I recently realized I probably won't be done shuffling furniture around for a while, I decided I'd go ahead and post the "naked" pics of our new-ish bamboo floor. More to come when I'm ready to properly unveil the living/dining room.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A wall of a different color

Much thought has been put into the dilemma of what color to repaint the fireplace wall in the living (well, currently dining) room. As you may recall, it began back in July (yes, it's really taken me this long to address the issue) with the patching of a softball-size hole created after I removed the largest wall anchor I've ever seen. Once the patching was complete, I realized there was no leftover green paint in the carport closet.

I do like the existing green and I could just match it as closely as possible and keep it the same color. But when the opportunity, nay necessity, to repaint it presented itself it opened up a whole spectrum of new possibilities. We're currently auditioning five samples of blues and greens and I'm sad to report that my gut tells me none of these are the one.

I think I've decided my color inspiration is coming from the pattern on a favorite teacup and saucer, which was a gift from my dear friend Amy of Artichokes & Lemonade.

And so the search continues...

BTW, I realize that in professional design circles the debate rages on as to whether or not the painted "focal wall" is a faux pas. There was even a couple pages devoted to the topic in a recent issue of House Beautiful featuring designers weighing in on both sides of the issue, and they both had some good points.

I'm going to add my voice to the choir and say I'm just fine with a focal wall. Why does it have to be all or nothing? In my house, the living and dining room are one big space, so from the paint purist's perspective if I want some color on my walls I'd either have to commit to it for the entire ginormous room or do without. Poo poo to that, I say.

While I acknowledge that painting all four walls (and sometimes even the ceiling too) in the same color can make a gutsy and powerful style statement, it isn't always a practical choice depending on the shape and size of your room and how you've designated your space. As someone who is just as willing to change paint colors as I was to change hair colors as a teenager, I'm fairly sure that if I put a strong color on every wall in the living/dining room I'd tire of it rather quickly. Besides, most design rules are made to be broken, yo. Or at the very least challenged.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Antique store prowling

Some items I spied at a favorite local antique store...

Painting of a young lady, circa 1930's – $20 (I think)

Seashell plaque – $18 (I think)

Pair of wood chairs with brass details – $100 for the pair

I've never heard of a "Tong" chair (Should I have heard of this?) and all my Googling turned up zilch on the subject. Still, despite their unfortunate upholstery, I suspect these could be the deal of the century. Why, why did I not buy these on the spot? Ah yes, because I don't plan on building an extra wing onto the house anytime soon.

Ginger jar – $20

Am contemplating this as another orange accent (along with my new World Market pillow on the sofa) in the living room.

Gold and turquoise painted tray – $20

Nifty jar from a bakery in Niagara Falls, NY – $25

I already have a cookie jar (although it holds cat treats, not cookies) but am wondering how I might use this in the kitchen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How I spent my first day of fall

Making terrariums!

I've had this idea rattling around in my head for a while now, but never managed to execute on it. One reason is probably that I've had trouble sourcing an interesting variety of small, slow growing, moisture loving, low to medium light thriving plants through my local merchants. In fact, when I'd tell people at the garden store what I was aiming for I was often greeted with mild confusion or a dismissive, "I don't think we really have anything like that." Come on, folks. You can do better.

But yesterday I left the house determined to procure the supplies I needed. It took visits to a number of different stores (including the aquarium section of a pet store for some activated charcoal) but by late afternoon my mission was accomplished.

Now that I'm able to stand back and admire my handiwork, I think they're pretty darn cool. They're certainly classin' up the dining room table at the moment. I love the idea of having a nearly self-sufficient miniature garden inside my house. By nearly self-sufficient, I mean with proper setup and drainage you hardly have to water your plants since they're enclosed in a glass jar and retain moisture nicely.

In case you're interested, here's a list of my supplies:
  • Inexpensive terrarium, glass jar and vase, from JoAnn, Old Time Pottery and the cabinet under my sink, respectively (Good candidates for containers can probably be found at thrift stores too.)
  • Small rock chips, spaghnum moss, potting soil and coarse sand, all from the garden store
  • Jar of activated charcoal from pet shop
  • Rocks, shells and assorted decorative doo-dads
Here are the plants I got:
  • Variegated Ivy
  • Fittonia (Nerve Plant)
  • Creeping Fig
  • African Violet
  • Selaginella (Club Moss)
  • A purple and green leafed plant I can't remember the name of.
  • Rabbit's Foot Fern (Didn't end up using it yet.)
  • Maidenhair Fern (Didn't use this one yet either. Love these all by themselves, so I may just pot this moisture lover and put it in the bathroom.
There are some online retailers selling more exotic options like Jewel Orchids. Depending on how these plantings do I might be willing to experiment a bit more in the future. Also, there are a number of terrarium building how-to's out there on the interweb, but here's a website and a series of videos I found rather helpful:


I may head back over to JoAnn next week, 40% off coupon in hand, and get an apothecary jar like this one:

So...heads up, friends and family! If I manage to keep these two alive (supposedly this is not too difficult if you've done your homework), you could very well receive your very own terrarium this holiday season.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Faux Fall

Here in Florida, we don't get much in the way of fall. Although it's officially the first day of the new season it's still pretty sweltering outside, so lately while languishing in the air conditioning I've begun dreaming of all things autumnal. In the absence of leaf peeping, I'm getting my fall fix in the form of warm hued decor porn.

I hope you enjoy my faux fall tribute of richer and darker rooms. Break out the apple cider! Make mine iced, please.

photo via i suwannee

photo from Better Homes & Gardens

photo from Graham & Brown

photo from Elle Decor

photo from Elle Decor
A little Jonathan Adler goodness.

photo from housetohome.co.uk

photo from House Beautiful

photo from Kishani Perera

photo via Little Green Notebook

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another bright idea

Since we've been on the subject of light fixtures, I should mention that I dig this Colander Pendant from Shades of Light for a kitchen:

Shades of Light Colander Pendant – $195

However, that said, the $195 price tag does not thrill me. Unlike the wine glass chandelier, I believe with a little craftiness, you and I can make this one ourselves. First, I give you the all IKEA approach:

IKEA GEMAK Colander – $9.99


IKEA 365+ BRASA Cord Set with Diffuser – $20.00

= TOTAL PROJECT COST – $29.99 (not including tax and elbow grease)

I chose the fixture because not only does it have the cord, it also has a cover at the ceiling. I think I like this set from 2Jane even better though!

2Jane Co. Hard-wired Ceiling Fixture for Pendant Light – $25.90

I'm sure there are a number of colander color choices out there. Of course, you could also spray paint your own, but I like the silver trim.

If the center hole in your colander isn't big enough to thread the cord through, don't dispair. There are bits for your drill (You do have a drill, right?) that are made for metal. The IKEA colander shown above is steel, so in that case I think a carbide bit might be best. Ask your helpful hardware man to be sure!

Installing a hardwired fixture isn't very difficult at all. If you're new to all things electric, I recommend the Home Depot 1-2-3 book on wiring as a good starting point. If you have an older home like I do, what you have in your ceiling might not look a whole lot like the example in the photos. The first time I installed a ceiling fixture I flipped between that book and online tutorials till I was sure I had it right. Still uncertain? Ask a dad or a handyman for assistance.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A new take on the dining table toast

Saw this and thought it was pretty neat-o indeed. It's a chandelier and glass rack in one! Designed by some very clever Swedish chaps (Björn Stillefors, Jörgen Pudeck and Gunnar Cedervall, to be precise), this single-bulb fixture capitalizes on the form of your wine glasses and/or champagne flutes.

Glass Cluster Chandelier from Generate Design, $359 (holds 16 glasses) - $419 (holds 40 glasses)

While this fixture would certainly spark some good dinner party conversation, it would also be fantastic hanging over a kitchen island. That is, if you're one of those folks lucky enough to have the space for one...sigh. Picture it: drop-dead modern chic with simple clear stemware, and equally gorgeous decked out in your grandma's cut-glass ruby goblets come holiday time. Or why not mix and match?

All in all they're not terribly expensive. I believe the genius justifies the price here, so in my opinion it's worth saving your pennies for.

Despite the arguably dramatic effect of the larger chandelier, I can't imagine an instance where one would have need of a storage solution for 40 pieces of stemware in this day and age. Unless you're (a) Martha Stewart, (b) a catering company or (c) widely known for hosting the social event of the season in your neighborhood I'd opt for the more diminutive 16-glass version.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A recap of the last 48 hours

  • In an effort to introduce some contrasting color to the living room, I've been auditioning a new pillow and have determined that it pleases me.

  • After careful contemplation I determined, "What use don't I have for a 28" x 32" wooden wall plaque shaped like an urn?"
note new bamboo floor
  • Upon returning home from procuring the aforementioned urn-shaped wooden wall plaque at Tuesday Morning, I discovered that one of the dogs had managed to score a fleur de sel caramel (maybe more than one) from the dish on the console table and enjoyed it on the sofa. Since I did not witness the incident first-hand, I was forced to discipline both dogs then set about the task of picking shredded wrapper pieces from between the cushions and scrubbing at the sticky caramel remains. Grr.

  • The dogs like their new bed — also from Tuesday Morning. So much so that apparently they didn't want to mess it up by eating caramels on it. Killing stuffed squirrels is another matter entirely.

  1. Ants! Last night we washed out the hummingbird feeders (We have had hummingbirds again this year!) and put them in the dish drainer to dry. This morning? Ant infestation. I am by no means a hater of insects, but I don't want the little buggers in my kitchen. I read recently that cinnamon is a natural ant deterrent. For the sake of the environment (local and global) I'm generally in favor of trying natural, or at least not-too-chemically solutions first for household issues such as this. I began sprinkling, then realized there was probably no way to sprinkle cinnamon up the wall. That's when I broke out the ant traps. I still feel like they're crawling on me...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This one goes out to Amy

Saw this pic on Desire to Inspire this morning and couldn't help but think of you!

Great room!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Toys for tots, or not?

I don't know about you, but there are some toys I'd rather keep for myself than give to children ages three and up. Case in point, these cute little wooden City in a Bag sets from MUJI, a Japanese brand that describes itself as "rational, and free of agenda, doctrine, and 'isms.'"

Your choice of:

A whole iconic wooden cityscape for just $14! I'd put these on a mantel, or maybe arrange them on the console table where I drop my keys, etc.

Also on a rational note: These sets may present a choking hazard so don't put them in your mouth. I probably didn't have to tell you that.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Perspective

Happy Friday all!

I've been contemplating the disheveled sensation in my inner and outer environment lately — I'm pretty sure they're at least somewhat related — since we're still trying to put the house together from the floor install. I keep coming back to the subject of perspective.

Perspective can be a wonderful thing. It can also be rather off-putting occasionally. All depends on how you see it. And that's just it. When we become able to see something differently a whole new set of possibilities can open up to us. Sometimes that's stressful at first, particularly if you're prone to wondering who "moved your cheese" or in this case your nesting tables. But I submit to you that it's important to just go with it. Really.

The stress of moving every item out of our living/dining room and hallway has turned into an opportunity to see these spaces in an entirely new light. Suddenly we're shifting furniture around and I'm thinking of introducing a new contrasting color into my current blue/green/tan color scheme. Suddenly the palette seems less restrictive. That led me to rescue a painting, done by yours truly incidentally, that had been languishing in an unremarkable location and give it a new place of honor in the main living area — something I never would've contemplated before!

Sorry for the ramble. I'm not trying to get all philosophical on you or anything, so here's a practical tidbit: There was a piece of decorator advice I read recently in one of my shelter mags that struck me as clever. She suggested rounding up all your accessories from various rooms in one place, like the dining room table. Take a look at them and try to imagine them in a new location in your home. Then give it a shot. The upside is it's free and it makes you feel like you've got new stuff in almost every room.

Hey, why not? You can always change it back.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Neighborly decor

Since I seem to be in a bit of a slump for blog-worthy material lately (meh), I thought I'd share a little side project I took on. My neighbor is doing a whole lotta renovations to her house and one day we started talking about art and decor and things to do with her living/dining room. Just for fun, I came up with a sort of fantasy collection of items for her amusement, taking into account some of the furniture she already has. Here it is:

ALÄNG Floor lamp - IKEA, $39.99
Capiz Hanging Pendant - World Market, $69.99

Ikat Slipper Chair in Natural - Urban Outfitters, $325
Chrome Chinese Porcelain Stool - Overstock.com, $89.99
Smooth Suede Shorty Dining Chair Covers - Overstock.com, $19.99/2
Asian Black Wine Cabinet - Pier One, $299.98 on sale

Pillows (left to right):
'Sparks of Light' Pair of Cotton Cushion Covers - Novica.com, $20.66
Ikat Pillow in Green - Pier One, $17.21 on sale
Estrella Embroidered Pillow - Pier On, $34.95
Embroidered Paisley Pillow in Rust - Pier On, $34.95
Patchwork Cotton Ikat Pillow Cover - Fabricadabra.com, $35

Hand-woven Dhurry Arrah (5'6 x 8') - Overstock.com, $139.99

Window Coverings:
Suzani Print Panel - World Market, $26.99 ea.
1/2 in. Slate Tortoise Bamboo Blind (72" long) - Pearl River Mart, $52.50

Novica.com - 'Windblown Leaf' Wood Statuette, $42.95
Decorative Glass Vase - Pier One, $35
Pair of Nickel Glass Wall Sconce Candleholders - Overstock.com, $69.99
Set of three Wrapped Mirrors - Overstock.com, $50.99
Decorative Glass Vase (left) - Pier One, $35

Living and Dining Room main wall color - Shoji Screen, Sherwin-Williams
Fireplace color - Fenland, Sherwin-Williams
Living Room focal wall color - Lemongrass, Sherwin-Williams
Dining Room focal wall color - Sierra Redwood, Sherwin-Williams

Incidentally my own spectacular living/dining room transformations lag behind. FYI, I know I haven't posted proper floor photos yet (or even house paint photos) but I will. Really.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Yet another creative use for wallpaper

I'm gonna go ahead and start beating my drum again for the Wallpaper is Great Marching Band. Check out this inspiring idea from Canadian House and Home:

Frame it out for a fantastic faux headboard! Of course it doesn't hurt that the rest of the details in this room are pretty spot-on too.

And now I must return to an old favorite of mine, wallpaper on the backs of shelves. Take a look-see:

Love it, love it, love it! That turquoise cabinet really pushes all the right buttons for me.

I probably spent a couple hours today mesmerized by the website of this inspiring publication. Get on over there and check it out! And stay tuned, as you'll likely see a lot more photos in my posts.