10 Ways to Be A Little Bit Country

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).

  1.     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.
  2.     Never forget the apron or farmhouse sink.
  3.     Use glass fronted cabinet doors or better yet open shelving made from reclaimed wood.
  4.     Industrial light fixtures add a nice modern touch but stick to the aged oil rubbed or bronze chandeliers.
  5.     How about brick floors, reclaimed wood, or distressed manufactured.
  6.     Antique, barn, or glass doors.
  7.     Subway tile (never goes out of style).
  8.     Beams and more beams.
  9.     Movable island, preferably painted in some funky color.
  10.     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.

Just Do It! Apartment Decorating for Ungrateful Children!!!

 

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?”

little shit…

 

  

 

12 Lessons to Learn From Tastemaker Iris Arpel

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.

10 Tips for Mixing Fabrics

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.

Give Those Windows a Double-Take

 

I Candy

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)

 

                                                     

 

Shots Fired From This Sheriff if You Interfere With My Collecting

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!

Farmgirl in Heels or Why Americans Are Fascinated by Scandinavian Design

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.

Pretty Cheeky Stuff or 7 Mistakes To A Stylish Home


Singles or Couples who have recently purchased a house are often to quick to buy furniture.  Style is constantly evolving so the process of time tends to allow a better outcome.  Purchase a new piece, retire another.  Remember when you ebb, you gotta flow.

I love a great museum, in particular, the Musee d’Orsay, but I sure don’t want to live in one.  If you have children, pets, friends, or a husband, expensive statuary and priceless architectural pieces may not be a great choice.  Buy a beautiful rug, splurge on a breathtaking chandelier, but be careful of choice items with hefty price tags. 

Purchasing in sets or the La-Z-Boy syndrome.  The 80s and even the 90’s, both decades of which I remember well, were filled with homes full of matchy match sofas and chairs.  Hell, even the coffee table was identical to the end unit.  The idea is to coordinate not put someone to sleep.  So be brave and mix it up.

Never ever assume original artwork is not in your budget.  Granted a Warhol or Lichtenstein might break the bank but hit flea markets, estate sales, or even blow up your children’s original drawings.  Afterall, Jack and Jill might end up being the next Picasso.

Collections, I repeat, collections are not just for grandmothers.  They simply need to be displayed in something beside a Curio.  Curated groupings such as trays, silver, books, tell a story.  It may be about your heritage, it may be about your travels.  Learn the art of accessorizing and those doilies might not seem so outdated.You create a room not habtable for those of us that breathe.  As a child, I remember that my American grandmother had all her furniture lined with plastic.  During the winter it was freezing, in the summer sticky.  Her child, my Aunt had a space in her home that in the 22 years of ownership, not one person had ever stepped into….She even bought those old theater ropes as if to say, “too fabulous for human touch.  Strip it down.  All rooms should be intended for interaction and conversation (though not necessarily grape juice or ice cream).

Forgetting to edit, edit, edit.  I, like all others in the universe, love Iris Arpel, but could you really live in her penthouse?  Accessories can become clutter and clutter can become hoarding.  There’s a fine line, one which I mysel, have crossed so ask your friends, your children, a complete stranger, what they truly think and listen carefully.  You might be surprised.

Mixologist or How to Design a Bookshelf

 Decorating bookshelves often prove to be one of the more difficult tasks in homeaccessorizing.  With a few quick tips, your experience with this dastardly dead will keep your hair in place and your lipstick on.

Mix old with new, vintage with modern.

Sum up the room’s style by using accessories that enhance the décor.

Add functionality with a wall-mounted television or baskets full of needed controls, movies, and CD’s.

Keep scale in mind as larger objects tend to work better than smaller in terms of impact.

Wallpaper of paint the back of the bookshelf or bookshelves.  A great added feature often overlooked.

Think outside the proverbial box by overlapping items, popping in the unexpected, or duplicating both sides to perfection.

Use vignettes (or grouping within a grouping).

Combine similar items of different size, shape, or texture.

Honor your home’s location if by water, mountains, or sunflowers.

Showcase collectibles, vintage finds, art, and family photos.

Less can be more so edit, edit, edit.

 

 

 

 

 

Baby It’s Cold Outside So Use the Following Tricks to Make Your Home More Inviting

HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOME MORE INVITING?

Pretty urns filled with a steady bloom of begonias, a beautifully engraved welcome mat (reminding guests the correct way to spell your last name), an iron bench placed blissfully next to a streaming koi pond.  But what about the interior?  Granted a pot brimming with a sweet-smelling marinara sauce, an open bottle of chilled Pinot Gris (or in my case, an iced Diet Dr. Pepper), or the password to the home WiFi contribute in making visitors feel comfortable but there exists a few design tricks that achieve the same effect.

Decorate with a mood enhancing color palette.  An added pop of yellow or green not only create a cheery feel but work well with the ever-popular gray or grain tones (bow to Joanna Gaines).

Give your home a pleasant smell.  No one, not even a pet lover, want to take a whiff of an uncleaned litter box or enjoy the aroma of socks worn by your son during a  recent basketball game that he carelessly threw on the floor.  So purchase your favorite freshner and spray as needed.

Live plants or cleverly bagged herbs bring the outside into your dwelling and generate a feeling of being one with Nature.  Personally; fresh peonies, tulips, and roses fulfill my needs and don’t require me to use the latest over-the-counter allergy pill.

Mood lighting; whether a pretty chandelier or a few well-placed lamps (remember the shade often makes the beacon) not only add style to a room but creates a softer environment.  No disco balls please as Studio 54 closed in the early 80s.

Pillows, blankets, and rugs (oh my).  A little texture adds warmth, vibrancy, and sometimes extra seating.