The Hourglass Room

 

Ah, the hourglass, the shape made famous by Marilyn Monroe.  Considered a blessing by hundreds of thousand men as they ogled that perfect little waist and those breasts that balanced the out derriere.  In the late 1800s, during the Victorian Age, corsets were used to compress the body and accentuate the waist.  The hourglass further became the most prominent of body types in the fashion industry.

 

But regarding décor, does an hourglass mentality exist?  Does streamline styling reflect our need for symmetry.  Doe this iconic image transmit a more perfect room compared to one that appears out of balance, architecturally off-quilter, or too heavy on one side?  Or does, like in couture, reflect our imperfections?  Personally, I think it simply streamlines a well-styled home while the grains sand showcase the history of our families.

 

y.

Boxed Lunch in a Small Crash Pad

 

Yes, I know…Everyone dreams of that cute little walk-up in Brooklyn until they actually live there.  Small spaces tend to be small.  BUT with a few little tricks, even the Duchess of Cambridge would be amazed.  Rule number 1), edit, edit, edit, and then edit some more.  Rule number 2), look up.  Every room has 5 walls, we just tend to forget about our ceilings.  Rule number 3), keep your floors consistent.  Whether hardwood or tile, one material tends to make a room appear larger.  Rule number 4), Use glass in table tops, mirrors, accessories.  Reflection, except in the early morning is usually a good thing.  Rule number 5), float your furniture.  Nothing turns off a designer more than paintings hung too high and couches pushed against walls.  Also try to create zone areas; office, kitchen, relaxation.  This breaks up a room by adding depth and interest.  Rule number 6), Think of that 64 box of crayons we all coveted.  Play with color, pattern, and dimensions.   And remember a leather sofa, plaid chair, and cowhide rug still looks great if done well.  Rule number 7), mix and match.  Weather vanes, antique trays, galvanized light fixtures, utility carts (makes a great bar), display shelves all add creative ways of making a small space not only your own but expand right before your eyes.

 

Flirting at Nebraska Furniture Mart

When shopping for an funky table that will tie together your Boho, English Country, Fixer Upper, Americana dream; your goal should never ever be to meet a guy unless he’s wearing a store name tag.  Unless, and this is a big unless, he’s got that unmistakable Clooney look (about 10 years ago during all those silly Ocean movies and pre Amal), immediately check the left hand.  And speaking of the left hand, what is it with all these hideous hunks of black titanium.  Hell, I had to spell check the bloody thing.  But off on one of my usual tangents.  Back to shopping for that fabulous coffee table (insert photo)  Yes that may be the one!  A little wooden number with mismatch chairs (all the range I heard), seems a bit off with the wall coverings, and it almost but not quite centers the chandelier.  If you find yourself staring for more than ten seconds without an acknowledgement, its time to find a new love interest (furniture, bad Ask Burt, Bart, Brandon, whoever, to show you something a little contemporary, a table with a little edge (don’t wink).  Now this is just the right look.  Can hold a scarf, a throw, a duvet, food, red wine, red rose, a night’s rest after too many cocktails at the local hot spot.  Hey and it’s looking good of you’re expecting Moroccan food and a belly dancer.  Okay, I love Kathryn Ireland BUT

 

Ask Burt, Bart, or Brandon to see if the table can support both your weights (you never know…)  At this point don’t use the resting bitch face, smile, showing those teeth you whiten every night, as you suggest hunting down one more piece.  Call it a challenge as you flip your hair.  Ask for something that no one else has ever bought.  Show your individuality, your wild side, your version of Paris on a bridge as you watch young lovers glide by…

WELL OBVIOUSLY BURT, BART, OR BRANDON HAS EXCELLENT TASTE IN FURNISHINGS BUT ALAS THAT LONG TERM RELATIONSHIP GOING ON IN YOUR HEAD. EVEN WITH THOSE SOULFUL BROWN EYES THAT FINALLY LOOKED AT YOU, READY TO WRITE UP THAT TICKET, DIDN’T SEDUCE YOU ENOUGH TO CHARGE $3,500  ON THAT VISA.

 

 

 

Round Top, Texas???

A few years back, several of my girlfriends and I created a bucket list of faraway places and magical lands we wished to visit (prior that is to the arthritis and senility that was sure to invade our lives in short order ).  As you might imagine; Paris, Amsterdam, Rio, Sydney, and Hong Kong occupied the top spots.  But recently, a tiny little town in Texas, no bigger than a couple of football fields and located somewhere between Austin and San Antonio,  captured our hearts as well as those of every design loving  devotee.  ROUND TOP, TEXAS, with a population of 90 and bragging rights for the oldest Lutheran Church in these United States, has not only turned into a destination vacation but the town is climbing the charts with a bullet on Expedia.

ROUND TOP’S bi-annual antique fairs draw enormous crowds from all over the country with each and every square foot filled to with humans clamoring for that one incredible find.  This rather microscopic piece of land has even attracted the attention of the media glitterati including features in Homes & Gardens, Romantic Country, and Modern Farmhouse Style.   Who knew that 640 acres could create such a buzz storm and beckon throngs of decorators and stylists to beg vendors to take their money.

And because of this national attention there now exists some lovely boutiques and charming B&B’s.  The Round Top Vintage Market, Lizzie Lou’s, and Bill Moore’s Antiques offer a fine selection of wares and collectibles. But the real gem, the one that makes others pale in comparison, exists in an 8,000 square foot laboratory of the infamous JUNK GYPSIES.  These purveyors of the finest junk managed to capture the imagination of television audiences with their show on HGTV and have translated that success into a wonderful retail experience.  Their PRETTY meets GRITTY style of combining leather with pearls or linen and turquoise made created a sensation long past those 15 minutes of fame.

Now, if your need a place to stay, RachelAshwell (yes THE RACHEL ASHWELL) has opened the Prairie, a converted farmhouse that has become a trademark of her design empire.  Each and every room demonstrates her commitment to the shabby and the chic.  Her signature mini chandeliers, cabbage rose linens, distressed furnishing, and well-appointed accessories make for a very enjoyable stay.   Other renovated buildings include the Round Top Inn and the Vintage Round Top.  But not to be outdone, The Wander Inn intends to open its driftwood doors as the JUNK GYPSIES add another component or feather to the already proverbial and repurposed hat.

 

 

Coat Check or Entry Table?

Ah, the ever present console table (often referred to in my house as the dumping ground).  Keys, mail, and filthy sneakers might ruin the look but with the right added decorative pieces, maybe not…. Jazz up your table with candleholders, baskets, picture frames, plants, or whatever fancies your fancy.

Storage, a magical word because truly is there ever enough?  With the addition of a console table or entry piece can easily solve the problem.  Whether using a large bowl to hold easily forgotten item:or a wicker basket (discretely tucked under the open legs of a piece of furniture) for blankets; a funky artifact allows one to hide those necessary items we all must carry but don’t wish to display.

Additional seating in an entry, why the hell not…Poufs, benches, ottomans, stools, trunks, even chairs flanking the table if enough room exists.  And it sure is pretty….

Rugs, an obsession of mine, delineates a space (especially effective in small areas), adds a pop of color, or enhances your defined sense of style.  And yes, one can always purchase a cowhide…

Racks above entry tables or benches (as shown in photo) provide additional function for the hanging of a guest’s purse, coat, hat, or wig.  Also it’s a great place to do the unusual so think outside that proverbial box.

Pictures, etching, postcards, oils, (and yes, I am aware that this photo might be a touch more elaborate or shall we say dramatic than most of our average “open the door and say hello areas).”  Art, whether alone or grouped makes a huge impact and also gives your guest a visual peek at what’s to come (barring the house is clean).

Last but certainly not least; the mirror.  Always a terrific option especially for those families with teenage daughters.  Coming in a wide variety of price points, they serve the added bonus of enlarging a space, focusing light, and sprucing up a bland wall.

Dirty Laundry or Bubbles of Perfection

A little piece of PERFECTION

I Would Gladly Wash My Kids Dirty Underwear if I Had This Rinsing Area!

Not only a creative use of baskets but an incredible system of both decorative and utility shelving.  The area rug adds not only a hint of color but makes slippage more difficult.  Inexpensive accessories lends to the room a farmhouse feel.  The use of shiplap (thank you Joanna Gaines) creates natural yet warm walls  Detergents hidden in lovely jars, rollers for drying those difficult whites make the ideal compliments to this cottage abode.  Yes, if I had this charming space, I might concede to gather the piles of clothing off my children’s floor, used now for hiding juice stains, and pop in a few loads.  Why not let those bubbles flow…

 

 

I Drink Coffee for Your Protection

 

I HAVE FOUR MOODS:

I’m too old for this shit…

I’m too tired for this shit…

I’m too sober for this shit…

I don’t have time for this shit…

The best cup of coffee is always the first and usually sipped over the kitchen sink while chasing children of varying ages out the door.  Mine is at a very creative desk, loaded with too many accessories, files, wire baskets, and post-its.  I like mess.  I function well amongst debris.  I want a touch of flea market, shabby, cottage, industrial, and chippy.  And somehow, sitting at my cowhide chair, glancing at the matchbook and poker chips (laying in a glass bowl) from all the hotels in Vegas, photos of my puppy (yes, she beat our the kids as my screen saver), and a couple of awards, I operate at full throttle.  Well not always at full throttle but it hasn’t been too bumpy a ride.

So make your space a reflection of your own style like Rebecca Taylor and don’t forget the Keurig (STARBUCKS Medium Roast with a shot of French Vanilla COFFEE MATE).

A Crush on Charles Faudree

 

My obsession with all things French began not on a trip to Paris but one to Oklahoma.  I visited a home designed by the great Charles Faudree.  Based in Tulsa, his works appeared in numerous magazines from House Beautiful, Veranda, Traditional Home, and Southern Living.  He wrote six books, all of which I cherish, designed a fabric line, was named one of best 100 designers in America, and a passionate owner of his beloved Cavalier King Charles spaniels.  His illustrious career ended in 2003 but he still serves as the impetus for my passion of French and Southern décor.

As a designer of both quaint cottages and large estates, Mr. Faudree believed that certain little pops of “je ne sais quoI” or “the mix” created the look that we now all envy.

He considered “the mix,” necessary in all good design.  By placing works of art in a grouping, highlighting an entry hall to create a warm and welcoming space, and filling a table full of breathtaking little treasures to create a feeling, expressed not only his style but reflected that of his clients.  Style was the key to his greatness and no where could it be seen better than in his use of lush fabrics that combined buffalo checks, ticking stripes, florals, and, of course, toiles to represent a story, a statement of that room.

The beauty was always in the detail.  Past and present, old and new, rustic and refined, understated yet elegant.  But despite his famous mix, there existed a cohesion in every room he touched.  Consistency also played a part as he often used his favorite objects; French commodes, gilded mirrors, bergeres, shell boxes, plates, platters, and stoneware, Staffordshire dogs, grand clocks.

Charles Faudree elevated French Country to a stunning artform, tried by many, succeeded by few.  Known for his accoutrement (often without the pretense of stuffiness) his discerning eye generated beauty that seemed to simply evolve with ease.

Yes, Charles Faudree was my first design crush and I feel honored to be able to look at his work.

 

(all photos credited to Jenifer Jordan)