Pins & Needles While Dating Your Furniture

You learn about yourself with every purchase and I don’t mean La Perla.  At the start of the relationship, you might just give a quick glance, a soft caress.  A quick stroll at another beautifully laid out area gives you some time to think.  Those Brick n’ Mortar stores keep getting harder and harder to find.  While rummaging through some pillows, you look at what grabbed your attention.

The lines reflect that of a shutter, the chalk pain perfectly lined but oh that price.

You picture your room.  Would either of these pieces even fit?  This armoire has a bit less distress but possibly could hold more of junk I intend to purchase?  Maybe this could become a memory, one to be inherited by one of my future daughter-in-laws who I positive I will hate.  Not because my two sons are such great catches but having met many of the girls they have dated, I do question their taste and morality.

The twin peaks.  Interesting.  Great color, chippy in just the right way, horrendous accessories.  Might this cross my line of décor happiness?  My endorphins started to release and my perfume (an intoxicating mix of Opium and Angel, very popular on elevators) seemed a bit stronger.  Emotion took over.  The cost might defeat any grocery shopping for the week but the mutual attraction was palpable.  Should we just date or go all the way?  But it might be The Bachelor’s last rose…


Can’t Fix Crazy or the Art of Design When Bored

Obsession, thy name is ironstone or perfume from Calvin Klein.  First manufactured in Staffordshire, England in the early 1800s, these gorgeous white piece of sheer beauty rock my world as much as my awesome but totally unexceptional life.  Usually, many stylists and home interior designers (including myself) combine these creamy concoctions with other patterns.  I personally chose a hunt scene pattern in chocolate browns.  Now my life tends to revolve around Chicago P.D., my 16 year old cat, and my attempts to be a world famous beautifier (so much so that Starbucks seems like a chore), that this desire to collect plates may seem a tad silly.  I prefer displaying in armoires or open shelving but how easily it may duplicated by looking at any magazine tear.

Now I am a fan of minimal clutter (yes, I know, an oxymoron) but I do tend to gravitate to cleaner lines in furniture, with perhaps a bit of the chippy, distressed thing but wildly unexpected accessories add that needed punch that separates the girls from the women. 

No I know I appear all hip and wise (yes, yes I do) but in reality, HGTV as covered most of my incredibly self-perceptive issues.  When my nails are not drying (still can’t figure out the home gel), I sit at a keyboard (wishing it was a typewriter) and think of cute but totally irrelevant titles.  HEY THEN THE FUN BEGINS!

Now since I assume you all are dying to know about those little items that magically forces my ATM card to fall out of my wallet, I will list and list and list.  Cowhide rugs (can’t resist them), French pillows, antique iron tools (never use them but…), knotty pine tables, gorgeous and outrageously priced lamps, solid bedding, signage (or from Hobby Lobby, who the hell can tell the difference), stacks of design and decorating books, and my children visiting their own homes.

Junkyard Dog

No this little missive has nothing to do with our furry friends, but with a book I recently purchased on the sales rack.  It’s a lovely read with glorious photos by Leslie Linsley  (between you and me, I would have paid full price).   The author delves into the ease of using “junk” or “salvage” items to give your home that farmhouse feel.  What did we do before Joanna Gaines?  Anyway, Leslie offers wonderful tips and cost-saving ideas on how to beautify your abode.  Starting with the unexpected (lol, I have always wanted to use that abbreviation when writing, you’re just lucky I didn’t add emojis)  reclaimed woods and beams (which are now premade by every flooring and tile company so skip the chill in New Hampshire) to add that certain patina that ages a home in a unique and creative way.  She, like many designers today, prefers a kitchen with open shelving and thus allowing for more areas of display.  (I assume they have cleaning people coming in once or twice a week).

Good lighting plays an important part in any room and one should occasional shock by doing the unexpected.  Personally I am huge fan of anything galvanized but I also fancy a lovely crystal chandelier. 

Try the unexpected like mixing wood with copper.  A proper industrial looking aged bronze fixture can not only be functional but a tremendously wonderful detail.  The author recommends using baskets and vintage tin boxes (here we come Hobby Lobby) to hold fruits, chocolates, tea bags.  And let’s not forget the apron sink and workable island.    Things to display include small appliances, wedding flatware, cookbooks, wooden spoons and bowls, vintage cookie presses, blue Mason jars, antique wire soap dishes, metal canisters, colanders, wall mounted wood spice racks, vintage teapots, enamelware, and chopping boards in wood (of course)  To go even further, you could mix and match your island stools, barring the fact that you have an island.  Leslie is a proponent of using open shelving on narrow walls which allows one to display collectibles such as breadboxes or scales.

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger?


But let’s not rush into that.  If you’re OCD (self-diagnosed) like me, horrible things go through your mind as you are straightening out the bric n’ brac  your housekeepers just cleaned and placed 2″ from their proper placement.  Do you have difficulty breaking up with the bamboo floor lamp inherited from Great Aunt Gertie that give your French Country room a Hawaiian flairDoes rearranging pillows become a nightly ritual that feels as satisfying as a good backrub?  Does your heart peel a bit knowing that Home Goods closes at nine when you have the itch to shop at eleven (Walmart; here I come).  Do you need the dishes out of the sink, properly cleaned and put away before closing your eyes and wondering why your not a Kardashian or even a Jenner?

Shit happens.  We have all been there and worn the t-shirt but obsessing over placemats (let alone napkin rings) has become my lifestyle.  We need to become more resilient and learn not to be some pathetic loser spending hours saving ottomans on Pinterest or watching episodes of Fixer Upper where Joanna Gaines tears down a wall, makes Chip add some shiplap, and accessorizes with Parkhill Designs (and yes, it looks fab). 

I want to become exclusive with my bric n’ brac.  Not just buy a piece that appeals to me and assume it will fit somewhere in my island, making it virtually impossible to use for eating (which is really no biggie since my kid haven’t had a home cooked meal in at least seven years).  When wheeling around the shops, I feel like my strongest self, fulfilling a primal need; overdrawing my checking account.  Relationships with inanimate objects takes on a whole new persona.  I am building a life with that 90″ sofa.  That coffee table I purchased for a steal will tell the tale of the 15 tequila shots from the previous night.  That cozy swivel chair in just the right shade of Burmese leather knows that my adding CNN on my cell is simply a hot mess because we elected Barnum for President.  Yet despite my wish to be normal, I still want to maintain plausible deniability.


So if “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” lets me go at an interior design shop running it’s yearly sale.

Make Every Inch Count (and no I don’t mean what you’re thinking, naughty girls)

I have finally hit that ugly age where all my girlfriend’s daughters have graduated from college and renting their first places.  Aside from the horrendous discounted fees, I actually enjoy in a 1 bedroom 1 bath.  Living small can be visually challenging yet refreshingly freeing.  All the collections (or clutter) that has created a world of hoarders needs to be eliminated for the sake of style.  Maximizing every inch of space with creative storage ideas and the use of optical tricks can overcome the stress of living in that first apartment or starter home.  Start with a clean palate.  Pick a nice neutral paint color (whites, creams, grays) and slap a coat on the walls, molding, and ceiling (if dating or married, exchange rates work well).  By using a single tone, rooms will appear taller and larger.  Next, create an accent wall with wallpaper, framed magazine tear sheets, or comic books.  In other ward, any items that catch your fancy for your impending interior home design.  The beauty of adding an accent wall is to add interest, depth, and a focal point.

In small spaces, they can be nothing more important than light so add chandeliers, can lighting, and lamps wherever possible.   Shop around at flea markets, antique stores, or discount shops.  Mixing materials makes any expanse more interesting so don’t be afraid to blend crystal, ceramic and galvanized.  Choose pieces that can help define an area.  Create a conversational seating corner and don’t forget to float the furniture away from the walls. Opt for mirrors to reflect light.

Use the power of groupings.  Several framed pieces of art create a more airy look than one large singular quota.  Multitask, multitask, multitask.  Choose furniture that can be used as different functions.  For example, chose a breakfast/dining table that converts into a work desk as needed.

Industrial utility carts make great displays in a front entry or in a kitchen (if room available).  Think open concepts whether using floating shelves instead of upper cabinets, rugs to define different areas and add pops of color.

Also when picking accessories, make sure you have a variety of sizes and orientations.  Outfit closets with drawers and storage bins and baskets which always improves functionality.


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.



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…





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.