X Marks the Spot or the Beauty of Living with White

My long journey in interior design (to be specific; my own personal journey) has increasingly become smaller as the brood leaves home.   How much damage could one big hairy dog and an 18 year old (very petite) cat cause?  Factoring in these facts, I decided to reflect my true decor need of WHITE!  Like a laboratory, the thought of creams, ivories, and varying shades of white made me feel tranquil (and with my combo of Shabby Chic hording and OCD) sounded like a match seen only on The Bachelor after taking a Xanax.  So for my latest downsize, I purchased gorgeous slip-covered furniture, distressed armoires, chippy columns, beat-up ladders to hold fetching blankets.  The look was STUNNING.  And then my children started visiting.  Please eat at the table, I muttered thousands of times (much like I uttered, “if you put your shoes away, you would know where to find them,” for some 25 plus years.  But the allure of my cozy, meticulously cared for sofas became the only possible seat they could plant their adult asses.  After awhile I began covering up spots with pillows (that my golden retriever would promptly chew), throws (that my golden retriever would promptly chew, and professionally cleaners (which my 18 year old cat would cough and choke up bile).  So I decided to get creative.  Keeping the white, as never one to give in too quickly, but adding hints of color to take the eye away from marks that even the staff at Windsor Castle would protest.

The first purchase was this spectacular metallic mirror (thank you Hobby Lobby).  Hung on the wall, it reflected the light in a slightly different way.  Then, I bought a leather ottoman, an over sized cowhide rug in this glorious gray (though jute or sisal could work as easily).  My wide-planked distressed hardwoods helped but I asked one of my faux artists to paint the manufactured material in a black and white checkerboard (not a great idea) so lucky I still love wood.  I bought numerous suitcases and iron buckets from a well-known flea market in Kansas City and filled them with books, old logs, and various accessories.  Fortunate enough to have beams in my hearth room, I again enlisted the talents of Bob and Rick to create a barn wood feel (I know; so Joanna Gaines of me).  Though in protest, I performed this miraculous task (or Bob & Rick did) 15 years ago before anyone heard of Fixer Upper.  I threw up some bulletin boards to give a vintage vibe and redid my draperies.  Popped some glass knobs on a pretty sofa table and VOILA; all is well in the house of Buhrer.

A FEW IMAGES TO ENTICE THOSE THAT LOVE AND LIVE WITH WHITE, WHITE, AND MORE WHITE!

 

 

 

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)

 

                                                     

 

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

 

Mixologist or the Art of Blending Fabrics

This may shock readers but there may actually be a few tricks in mixing and connecting threads (who would guess from the 1,243 articles written about the subject).  I narrowed my advice to just the necessary (your welcome).  Mixing hues, textures, and colors, add depth, interest, and always give that custom look.

The theory of 3.  An old home design maneuver, working in odd numbers adds an automatic focal point.

Use varying sizes of pattern but be careful that the prints don’t compete.  For example, a large floral, a geometric, and or a combination of solids flow well together.

Large patterns work best on larger pieces such as walls (paper), area rugs, sofas, chairs, and window treatments.

The anchor fabric (as discussed above) should dominant.  Incorporate other colors that fit with your scheme or pull secondary fabrics from a larger piece.

A monochromatic look can also use patterns.  Solitary colors work best and play off the different shades and scales for a cohesive feel.

Always add a solid to any mix.

Group together patterns with similar styles.  For example, funky patterns work well with funky patterns.

Balance your space.

   Stick with a consistent tone or hue; pastel with pastel, bold with bold.

      Break every rule I just imparted with my incredible wisdom.  Life is an adventure, go live it!

Window Dressed to Kill or 8 Easy Tricks to Drapery Heaven

I am a cutter (and I don’t mean emotional).  I obsessively collect swatches of fabric, trim, and cord.  Some might classify me as a hoarder except that my OCD keeps everything attractively labeled and boxed neatly.  No longer able to fit in my office space, car, or guest room closets, storage space has become the viable solution.

In the last five or six years, I have noticed that most clients tend to go for a cleaner, simplified look especially when it comes to window treatments.  Gone are the elaborate chintzes and mix of prints made famous by Hadley Parish or Mario Buatta.

Instead shutters, roman shade, and fabric panels on decorative rods add a quiet enhancement instead of creating a focal point.  I am a firm proponent of curtains in certain rooms (living, master, kitchen, and always the dining).  I prefer the less is more philosophy but I do miss the swags, cascades, and jabots over a puddled floral print that dominated interior design for so many years.

If attempting a DIY project (though I think this is an area where the professionals excel), here are a few tricks of the trade to give your draperies that appropriate POP instead of that STORE BOUGHT CRAP you see at every Joann’s, Home Goods, and Bed, Bath, & Beyond.  (Nothing makes a decorator or home stylist more queasy than cheap curtains, fake plants, or wall prints hung too high).

 

1.     If choosing simple panels for your room, decide on a header such as a French pleat, goblet, grommet, or inverted.  These are usually gathered about 4″ from the top of the window treatments.

2.    Use at least 1 &1/2 widths of fabric for each side of the windows (store bought are often a width and seem incomplete especially when dealing with larger panes of glass.

3.    Make sure to add a 4 to 6″ self line to the drape.  That prevent one from seeing the white/off white of normal lining.

4.    Most fabrics are 54″ in width but don’t forget the pattern repeat.

5.    Hang them high, as close to the ceiling as possible.  This creates a more substantial look as well as the illusion of height.

6.    If putting curtains over blinds, make sure to allow for the additional depth.

7.    Don’t forget your return (whether an inside or outside horizontal blind or drape).  It completes the look by addressing the sides.

8.   Valances and cornices tend to look terrific in kitchen/breakfast areas as well as kid’s rooms.  Add cording, welting, or fringe for a finished shape. 

 

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)

Peekabooboo

According to the great Bard, “the eyes are the windows to the soul.”  In Shakespeare’s world (or Paulo Coelho depending on the who receives the credit) that famous phrase meant that the reflection of the pupil shows one’s emotion and truth.  So if we take this analogy a bit further, could we not then claim that false eyelashes, which add mystery and sexiness, has served as one of the gateways to Kardashian success (and of course their brilliant momanger (still don’t get it). 

For design; drapery or curtains or window treatments (whichever name you prefer) frame glass and molding and tell a story.  They serve as the baby blues to your interior psyche.  Not only do they reflect your taste, station in life, childbearing years, pet ownership, and budget, they put a spin on your style (mid-century, modern, cottage, industrial, farmhouse, etc.)  

So why does fabric seem to be such a forgotten art?  Or (God help us), why do women flock in droves to Joann’s and Bed, Bath, & Beyond to buy readymade (which as a sin ranks up there with cheating on a test or a husband).  First and foremost, their colors are abysmal, their lengths are incorrect at 88 inches long which unless your home was built in pre-1972 forget about it (as they say in Jersey), and finally the widths or should I say width are laughable.  When did beautiful, plush, rich window treatments go out of style?  With the advent of blinds and shutters?  With the escalating cost?  With the difficulty of finding  competent workrooms?

Now I admit I’m a panel girl; simple, clean, and to the floor (maybe with a pinch of layered fringe), but then I have yet to learn how to put on fake lashes or contour my face.  Still a two coat mascara babe with a touch of eyeliner…You know that industrial, farmhouse, shabby, cottage, and scandi all mixed together haphazardly.  Or let’s put it in fashion terms; LBD, Chanel purse, diamond in my ears (love the pearls but necklaces, ugh), sandals or small heels, hair pulled back, and a lipstick tucked into my bra.

I tend to go for restraint but I still admire that Mario Buatta dedication to fabric upon fabric upon fabric.  It lends credibility and refinement to a living or dining room. Hell you can picture the mint juleps (or straight Bourbon) served on a silver tray by an appropriately dressed butler named Michael in Charleston (wait that’s Patricia of Southern Charm).  But my point is, every great window needs a little something; a shutter, a piece of iron, a swag with jabots, or a pair of panels that actually fit.  Windows are the portal to your décor conscious and mystery and sexiness awaits if you just play peekabooboo.  (and a little FYI to the young ladies out there; you can shop in dirty sweats, no makeup, and Target flip flops but as long as you carry that Chanel bag, the salespeople will be bouncing all over the store to help you).

 

 

My Favorite Things

I am a lover of all things musical: West Side Story, Gypsy, An American in Paris, and of course The Sound of Music.  This blog pertains to” My Favorite Things” a song that for me relates to style and fashion.  My obsessions range from dreamy little slip-covered loveseats to tulips displayed haphazardly in Ball Brothers glasses.  My list, perhaps a tad long shall be shortened for the sake of those readers (in my age range that require glasses much stronger than they are willing to admit).

Burlap pillows, preferably with obscure sayings in French that has little meaning in my real life, always add that “je ne sais quo” to any style sofa (well not any).  Iron, oh iron; from baskets, to jugs, to corbels, to drapery hardware creates that industrial feel to even the most modern of spaces. Pocket watches (which I collect) are placed lovingly in a Waterford bowl I inherited from my Grammy Jean and if you look closely and listen with both ears, they tell of times both lost and remembered. It’s a treasure to be passed down from generation to generation (in my case a potential daughter-in-law since I gave birth to two awkward boys (let’s hope I like her)!

The beauty of old cameras, typewriters, or any of those things used prior to the creation of Microsoft and Apple present perfect bric n’ brac for shelves and end tables.  Any well-done cottage, farmhouse, boho, or shabby home must carry at least several of these items otherwise their tributary must be revoked.  Riding trophies (tarnished, of course) and ribbons, another fondness of mine since I rode hunter jumper for so many years, adds unpolished beauty and that vertical height often needed for layering bookshelves.  Sweet little bird prints, painted wood signs, Venetian glass mirrors, framed sheet music, kid’s drawings, book jackets, crosses, metal file holders all create an inexpensive way to showcase a little of yourself to your guests and fills up a wall with something far more interesting than that landscaped inherited from Uncle Ray.

 

Other musts in my home include framed chalkboards of varying sizes, French mannequins (to hold my extensive collection of necklaces that I never wear), and perfume bottles, because their beauty is unique and since I’m “quote” a difficult person to buy for, started a trend for those unfortunate yearly birthdays.  And let’s not forget the glass, the alluring, the appealing, the luxurious clochs that hold a threshold of treasures (too many to mention.  And need I even say, the cowhide rug.  No home, no matter what style, can be complete without a deceased animal floating on a wood floor.

Every kitchen needs open shelves, a farmhouse (or apron sink), a built-in fridge, a usable island, and something fabulous on the ceiling (tin, wood, mural).  Oh and lets not forget the aged beams.  Two of my faux painters once fashioned planks into the most glorious Tuscan inspired ceiling columns that I almost wept with joy (until I say the bill).

I will end my diatribe with one of my most cherished finds; old lockers done in my beloved chippy paint.  I popped them into a mud room and from backpacks to baseball bats, they serve both style and function.  One last must have; a bench, (weathered, covered in fabric, the color and material mattered little.  Never forget the architectural goodies, those delicious salvage columns, corbels, and ladders one finds at the local flea shops.   I would gladly offer my children for the right piece.  Any takers?  So what are some of your favorite things………….

 

 

I’m Displaying My Wares As A Designer?

The two biggest challenges I find that most young designers face in their careers are groupings and displays (or is it displays and groupings).  The culprits; children, pets, functionality, cleaning, collectibles, and finally feet on the coffee table with the greasy popcorn bowl on a Saturday night.  In another words, the homeowner has opinions on this decorating dilemma and it doesn’t always include pretty.  As designers, stagers, or stylists, we push art, clocks, crosses, or plates; setting a stage that often proves difficult for even the most seasoned professional.  It’s a love that needs to be cajoled and caressed (not just with product but with the couple involved).  No matter what style; busy or clean; English country or Regency glam, a table needs to be used (and when I say utilized, I mean with a little French oil on a plate stand, two antique candle holders with pillars, and a funky riding cap just because it adds that certain je ne sais quo.  It also helps to remember that regardless of the owners taste; industrial, retro, mid-century modern, or vintage; the principals of design remain the same; create an interesting space that affords the client a chance to learn to live with their three remote controls intermixed with some non-functional yet stunning knickknacks.  Perhaps with time, little punches of glass wear, an antique clock, or coasters embossed with horse heads will fill the space without causing the owners to hyperventilate.

Included in this décor wish or pie in the sky, the design might possibly turn to the obvious built-in shelving, fireplace mantle, or sofa table (we will not yet address the bar cart, decorative ladder, or architectural salvage piece that looks oh so perfect in that corner spot by that bank of windows behind the Chippendale sofa).  This may take time but with a bit of repartee, a smattering of humor, perhaps your homeowner(s) might share some pillow talk.  Now I’m not talking sleep-over, just a form of communication that goes beyond Madison’s latest soccer game and Kyle’s guitar solo (that gave off a Jimi Hendrix vibe) at the middle school concert.  Who knows, maybe (fingers crossed) those two wonderful people might begin to enjoy some clutter.  After all a good display always exudes a touch of shock and awe.  It’s the accessories that make a house feel like a home.  So work skillfully.  If the husband is an accountant or engineer, treat the situation as a math equation.  He will eventually catch on.  Remind the wife that chalkboards enhance a wall desk and give a cohesive look to galvanized seating the same way storage tins bring her that much closer to that Chanel wallet because of the money saved at the discount shops.  Glass cloches (found at Hobby Lobby) protect precious mementos as well as the hideous bric n’ brac received by the mother-in-law brought out only on holidays.

Group mirrors of different size and shape together and see how the light becomes more reflective in both smaller and larger room.  Soon you will using blinds, sheers, and draperies to protect those Peeping Tom neighbors.  Present with great fanfare your family’s crest of honor, your Uncle’s self-published book, or your child’s spelling bee medallion.  But just don’t forget to add height by using a few coffee table books to give that extra lifts to Aunt Esther’s coffee cup collection.  Highlight that farmhouse sink, that cost way too much money, with a lovely display of stoneware, sure to make every wife jealous at the next work related get-together.  So novice designers, learn the lessons of those of us over forty years of age; by enticing, sweet-talking, even seducing because any of us in the design profession know that displaying and grouping make a room feel complete and express hidden secrets about the family who live in the house.  I’m displaying my wares as a designer, hey stylists and do-it-yourself lovers, how about you?