Started in magazine form, initially I was a bit confused. The front half of the monthly glossy emphasized furniture, mirrors, and the usual bric n’ brac. The back 60 pages featured fashion, shoes, and jewels. After a few years, I got hooked (though still too many ads, a weakness of all journalistic endeavors). I like books. I enjoy an iPad as well but I want to touch, feel, smell the pages of a newly minted (or better yet, original edition) of some enjoyable read. Recently, while visiting my local Barnes & Noble, I purchased Domino’s “The Book of Decorating; A Room by Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy.” And what do you know, the truth be told. Full of great tips, this easy to follow blueprint takes the mystery or bullshit out of all things sacred in the world of interior design. Deborah Needleman, one of the creative editors behind this little treasure, states very clearly that the goal was to make decorating easier for the “civilian.” Eliminate the mystery or the 1,2,3 of all things grand and gorgeous and rush to buy this incredible group of words and pictures for all things grand and gorgeous.
My two favorite colors are white and black. Sounds a bit like a Michael Jackson song but my wardrobe favors black and my home prefers white. What can a girl do? Here a few quick tips if you feel the need to heat up a milky hue.
Subtle Accent Pillows
Or a Pop of Black
See how easy it can be if you wish to scorch a chalky aesthetic?
In my home, I have an old-fashioned hotel key box which I use to hold photos. Fabulous!
Find a drying rack (the one our great grandmothers were forced to use) and display throws, scarves, purses (you get the idea).
Wooden crates make great bookshelves for Gen Y (who love their lofts) and Millennials (who despite asking Mom & Dad for money) live modestly and these enclosed shipping crates make a terrific room divider.
Baskets, Baskets, Baskets! Look cute holding potatoes, onions, and other items we stock in a pantry.
Old style tin metals hold your knitting, cards and dice, jewelry and baubles. Simply think outside of the box (I mean tin).
Like Marie Osmond (didn’t she have a hit called Paper Roses that hit the charts?), I enjoy country. Over the years, though this genre of decorating never hit high on my list of requests, I learned a few tricks to make any kitchen stand out and sing Toby Keith or Carrie Underwood (if you prefer).
- Use reproduction appliances (currently hotter than the Las Vegas Strip in August). A recycled potbellied stove, a super cool fridge that looks like a 1950s model (an all the rage according to the magazines). Retro baby, you can do no wrong.
- Never forget the apron or farmhouse sink.
- Use glass fronted cabinet doors or better yet open shelving made from reclaimed wood.
- Industrial light fixtures add a nice modern touch but stick to the aged oil rubbed or bronze chandeliers.
- How about brick floors, reclaimed wood, or distressed manufactured.
- Antique, barn, or glass doors.
- Subway tile (never goes out of style).
- Beams and more beams.
- Movable island, preferably painted in some funky color.
- Beadboard or shiplap your walls painted a creamy white
Please remember the bric n’ brac; cookbooks, cutting boards, wooden spoons, cookie presses, Mason jars, metal canisters, tea towels, spice racks, candy/cake tins, rolling pins, metal breadboxes, milk cans, metal memo boards, and all the other fabulous stuff that can be found at your favorite flea market, garage sale, antique store, Hobby Lobby, and Home Goods.
HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT in my small family. The youngest is finally moving out. Yes, we had a slight gap between graduation and finding that “right job,” so I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying his company and wet towels for an extra year but the child promises (swears on his life) that the trucks are coming next week. My baby is finally ready to venture out on his own, delve into those deep waters, navigate those wide highways, climb those tall mountains BUT will they be the Flint Hills or the Himalayas? Frankly, I’d settle for the Alps, even the French side as long as he doesn’t bring over his dirty laundry every week. Now, it’s unprofessional of me to discuss my latest (and certainly most unwanted) client but my kid has terrible taste and no sense of budget. Some of the ties he puts on with his work shirts, simply unexplanable… Anyway, Kyle (as I chose to name him along with 327 other moms decided to name their bouncing boys) wants a cross between clean-line modern, a tad of California, a bit of Colorado, a lake theme with a boat, and something about Fixer Upper but I stopped listening when he hit the more western states). I gave him a checklist of items needed (along with a laminated duplicate copy for his better half, the potential future wife). He threw it back at me, not sure he exactly ready my thought provoking scribble, and stated “just do it.” Apparently I’ve become a Nike commercial.
So I suggested to Kyle, “after my time for Mommy” that he glance at Pinterest or look at the many, many, many magazines and design books I have displayed around the house. Two hours later, the laughter subsided. I never knew that guys didn’t “play with Pinterest and that I would have a hissy fit if he misplaced one of my so-called vignettes. I finally handed him a blank sheet of typing paper and told him to write down a couple of colors he could tolerate and the things that were important to him while keeping in mind the square footage and layout of the new space. I know that your first place is a big freaking deal but hysterically giggling through 2 reruns of Chicago P.D. Come on!
On my “tip sheet,” I tried using betting terms, like our family was in Vegas choosing odds on a game, but when that failed to register on either of their faces, I pointed at the computer and said pick something. For example; choose a couple of paint colors for accent walls. It might make the place feel more adult and a leader among the other apartments. Nod your heads if you understand. Rugs. Rugs good. Rugs made a room feel warm and help to define an area while adding pattern and texture. Pick rugs. A gallery wall. A gallery wall can be a large focal picture with smaller accents surrounding but in this case, let’s just frame anything. Let’s fill up the whole space. So choose your favorite pictures, magazine tear sheets, piano music, comic book covers.
Next, invest in a good mattress. I’ll let you two be involved in that one without me. Also buy cheap bedding. You can always add the “foufou” with pillows. Plus, you claim that I forgot to teach you how to make a proper bed, so forget about it. Lighting. Really, really important stuff. As an adult, we sometimes work from home and we need to be able to see our computers and laptops so a few lamps; great investment. Storage. I know the closets look big without the merchandise in them but all apartments lack storage. The apartment fairies deemed it true long before we were born so purchase baskets, under the bed containers, anything plastic. If you decide to become a Costco member, which I will explain the importance of big box stores at a later date, absolutely nothing will fit. It’s your imagination working over time.
“MOM, YOU JUST DO IT! WHAT’S THE POINT OF YOU, IF YOU DON’T DO THIS? I MEAN SERIOUSLY?”
Recently I read a wonderful article about my adopted grandmother (or so I wish) Iris Arpel. A woman of breeding, beauty, and a “don’t give a shit” attitude. Just an afternoon in New York City with this icon would top my Bucket List along with seeing the United Arab Emirates, Machu Picchu, Great Barrier Reef, Terracotta Army, Congregation of Holy Cross, Victoria Harbor, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and, eating at Noma, purchasing unlimited Chanel, being Amal Clooney (George only a small part of that wish), and spending a week or two at a Spa with no phone availability to my children.
The journalistic briefing included her beliefs on the fashionable and why, I asked, should we follow her rules. Because she’s Iris f…ing Arpel.
1. Power clashing because mixing clothes is a total “boss move.”
2. No age limit on biker jackets or any other clothing considered “fashionable” for the moment.
3. Sneakers; perfect for any style of outfit.
4. Ignore Coco Chanel. Never take off a piece but add more.
5. Overdressed? There’s no such thing…
6. Monochromatic is boring!
7. Black doesn’t necessarily mean basic.
8. Switch it up
9. Creativity starts with curiosity.
10. Humor is always stylish.
11. Acknowledge your accomplishments
12. Forget the rules and just be yourself.
The secret to adding interest to any room; colors never need to match but simply coordinate. Here are a few tips I learned over the 25 years that interior design has swallowed up my life (but in a delicious way).
1. Work in odd numbers of patterns (the rule of 3 as applied to most things styled)
2. Use different scales of fabric such as large, medium, and small or floral, geometric, and classic (think Ralph Lauren)
3. Use larger patterns on bigger pieces (example; sofa or drapery). Use smaller fabrics on pillows or footstools.
4. Use a rug to incorporate all the colors used in the room.
5. Even in a monochromatic room, use scales and patterns that vary in size.
6. Here’s a novel idea, add a solid…
7. Group patterns together (traditional with traditional, cottage with cottage)
8. Balance fabrics in the space making sure the room is surrounded by comfort.
9. Stick with a consistent look. If you love farmhouse fabulous, then bring it on baby.
10. Break ever rule I just gave you.
Forget what your mother told you about staring.
Get interiors that you can’t take your eyes off of. Designs that are drop-dead gorgeous. From furniture and accessories, wall coverings to window treatments. Laura Buhrer Interiors can help you create rooms that promise a double-take. (Jill Bagby)
Over the years, I have tried my hand at “collections.” The first began at the age of five or six and involved small glass animals which, at the time, I found charming, delightful, breakable. I remember when my favorite horse, Bluebell (yes I named them all) broke her tail. I was devastated for weeks. To protect the others, I packed them up gently into a decorative box. Needless to say, that cherished receptacle disappeared many moons ago. In college, because I was referred to as a “difficult buy,” I faked an interest in perfume bottles. For years and years, every person who meant something to me or who didn’t made sure that is received scores and scores of these potions of love for birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Memorial, Flag, and Ground Hog Day. Once the number reached 200, I put a moratorium on any more presents for anyone under the age of 12. Though I do think back on fondness of one special antique Baccarat jewel, now chipped when the cat thought it was a chew toy and batted it off its weathered silver pedestal.
Certain items remain popular in their collectability. Milk glass for one, invented in Venice in the 1500sby such makers as Fenton and McKee come in a variety of pieces; platters, punch bowls, plates, To know if the bottle stands up to the test of tie, one must hold a piece up to the light and look for a “ring of fire” or an iridescent halo that indicated age.
If you consider yourself a winner, and who doesn’t, trophies hold a certain appeal. They tell a story a tail (LOL) and celebrate accomplishment. Engraved pieces bring higher prices and I am not referring to the “participation tidbits we throw at kids today just for showing up, but truly etched urns that bring sizable sums.
Leather, part and parcel of all things natural, serve up a big ole whoopee from collectors. The cracks, stains, and different grains indicate the valuing of patina over perfection. Available at a range or prices, some may cost in the thousands so sticker shock beware.
Barware or anything “cocktaily” serves as a source of the pretty and the entertainment (never a bad combination). Cut crystal glassware, vintage serving items, and lovely decanters. make for a great display but a usable source for heavy drinkers. No longer forced to make that long walk to the fridge, they can simply slip to the open bar area where the good liquor is often found.
Copper, zinc, and their metal cousins of brass and bronze serve as decorative and utilitarian objects. Polished or unpolished, they make a beautiful statement as a light fixture, decorative tray, telescope, or candleholders. Popular since ancient times, their virtually indestructible and readily available numbers perhaps makes this the most prized of the collectible crowd.
Next hand mirrors to reflect the age lines and spots in my face. Yeah AGE!
The areas of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have left indelible marks of the world of design. With distinct pairings of soft blues and whites, weathered wood, large paned windows, and painted furniture, causes many a savvy homeowner to fall in love. The fifth wall (or ceiling) in may Scandinavian homes receives special attention whether barn-boarded, beamed, or a soothing white gloss. Window treatments tend to be sparse or skipped all together. Since, traditionally, Gustavian furniture is painted, distressed and finished are typically in white, parchment, gold, and exposed antique pine, homeowners attempting to copy this style often find flea markets and antique stores as their best sources for materials. Wall art can range from originals to abstracts, from lithographs to unframed oils. Accessories tend to be well-edited so as not to interfere with the tranquility of the overall use of any room. Floors look best newly sanded with a white stain or carefully selected tiles. The outdoors brought in exemplifies a Scandinavian home so strategically place living greenery and flowery plants around every living area. Give existing furniture a face lift by sanding and adding lighter colors such as buttermilk or gray blue to keep with the scheme. Fabrics in raw linen and neutral colors create a warmth that appeals to those that want the feel of that region in the world. Vintage wood, a beautiful Swedish clock, vintage crockery, apothecary jars, metal bins, canopy beds, a wood abacus, wall niches with shelves all serve to not only transform your home but also creates a lovely spot reflective on that perfect Hans Christian Anderson morning.