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.

The Yoko Factor or BoHo in SoHo

Boho Chic is a style of design that fits perfectly with the just graduated, don’t have much money, can use a paint brush, addicted to Pinterest kind of gal.  The vibrancy of colors, the play on fabrics, the mix of textures, the wind chimes…….Boho tends to be a jumble of mid-century modern, hippi dippity,  shabby chic , cottage, flea market, Middle-Eastern, with a nod to Mary Quant kind of look.

The Bohemian Style embraces a sense of freedom from conventional design and infuses what we picture to be the European Gypsy look.  Usually referring to an unconventional and certainly artistic life, one thinks of free spirits who love this genre.  Anyone with a good case of OCD may want to skip this unconventional approach to living but for those that love those 64 box crayons…Fill your space from top to bottom with a bold and energetic palette.

 To achieve this style, one must mix old with new, vintage with modern, lacquered with weathered.  In other words, throw everything including the kitchen toaster into the pot.  The idea of achieving variety and diversity in color and form requires thinking outside the box (and drilling a whole lot holes in one’s walls).  Use books, fabrics, braided rugs, funky lighting, pillows, throws, plants, lamps, and sculpture to express your individuality (and don’t forget the handmade).   And as a nod to Mother Nature never hurts with REAL plants and herbs playing a central role.

I find the eclectic look works best in small spaces, cozy nooks, and tiny apartments where young people travel to after their formative college years.  BoHo is also a great way to avoid cleaning as it’s expression usually involves a great deal of clutter.   For me, I visualize a budget friendly indie recipe with a smattering of charm.  Think Yoko Ono.  Break it up, hold a love-in, and screech out a few records.

 

 

11 Way to Little House on the Prairie Style

Prairie Style is a bit rustic, a bit shabby, a bit mod, a bit vintage, a bit organic, and a whole lot of gorgeous.  To achieve this design aesthetic, one must incorporate the fusion of elements and textural accents that blend into a comfy and livable home.  Effortless and timeless, always emphasize those items that make you feel harmonious.

 

Meaningful objects whether from family or a thrift store.  Something that tells a story about you and your family.

Stick with a color scheme that defines rooms or areas but blends hues that compliment one another.

“Feather your nest” or simply purchase accessories that create a feeling of warmth and comfort that highlight the structure and style of your dwelling.

Paint, the secret weapon of most interior designers, adds the base for all creative impulses.

Reclaimed wood used as open shelving for a kitchen, a much needed bookcase, or a surprising accent wall unifies spaces and brings a sense of history to a house.

Repetition can be useful in decorating a room.  Collections often represents prized possessions that truly infuse your personality.

Throwing in a twist, whether a vintage item, a boho rug, or a collection of guitars add variation and contrast.

Always start with one large statement piece, an armoire, a sofa, an architectural buffet.  Then build around.

Limit the number of bric n’ brac instead favoring old-fashioned scales, antique clocks, farmhouse wares.

Emphasize lighting by making it a focal point in the primary rooms.

Utilize inexpensive wall treatments such as tongue and groove boards, shiplap, weathered beams, or galvanized pieces.

CURATE, CURATE, CURATE