Started in magazine form, initially I was a bit confused. The front half of the monthly glossy emphasized furniture, mirrors, and the usual bric n’ brac. The back 60 pages featured fashion, shoes, and jewels. After a few years, I got hooked (though still too many ads, a weakness of all journalistic endeavors). I like books. I enjoy an iPad as well but I want to touch, feel, smell the pages of a newly minted (or better yet, original edition) of some enjoyable read. Recently, while visiting my local Barnes & Noble, I purchased Domino’s “The Book of Decorating; A Room by Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy.” And what do you know, the truth be told. Full of great tips, this easy to follow blueprint takes the mystery or bullshit out of all things sacred in the world of interior design. Deborah Needleman, one of the creative editors behind this little treasure, states very clearly that the goal was to make decorating easier for the “civilian.” Eliminate the mystery or the 1,2,3 of all things grand and gorgeous and rush to buy this incredible group of words and pictures for all things grand and gorgeous.
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.
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)
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.
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
The days of Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Flower Power, Make Love Not War, Woodstock, Haight-Ashbury, Hanoi Jane, the March on Washington, the death of Camelot, Twiggy, the miniskirt, Marlo Thomas, The Muppets, Psychedelic drugs, the Summer of Love, sexual freedom, and of course, the Beatles, and the Stones.
Today we call the “hippy craze” Boho Chic in it’s fabulous. A few pointers for those who wish to achieve that aesthetic (though the potential to change it up in a few years far exceeds it’s current appeal) but what a great money saver for those downtown chicks living close to the big city. You know, the kind of young woman drinking Starbucks, going to outdoor art shows, and dissecting Etsy for good buys.
Paint old food cans a cool metallic and pop something from the earth into your handmade vase. Use filler flowers such as carnations or daisies to complete your out of this world statement.
Layer rugs. Use complimentary patterns. Try the same with dinnerwear and linen.
Group prints. Mix it up using color, scale, pattern, and texture (I bet you never heard that before).
Use hand made pottery, blown glass, and artistic touches. Might require a trip to Taos or Sedona, darn it!
Little tribal influence never hurts (think Cher in the 90s).
Poufs! Those little Middle East treasures come in a variety of fabrics and work well to achieve that Bohemian looksee.
Funky wallpaper in just one area. Use a big loud floral patter or a bold geometric. If daring enough, think graffiti baby!
Rattan mirror(s), of course
Straw baskets or floppy hats on hooks, mount on wall and hung above a bench or chest.
Postcards detailing your travels or wanna travels. Bulletin boards are inexpensive and Hobby Lobby carries a great selection.
PLEASE NO WINDCHIMES OR RATTAN CHAIRS HUNG FROM THE CEILING
I try to admit my relatively few faults. I can be impatient, sharp-tongued, overbearing, and inevitably right…but crafty…not so much. I prefer supervisor, more of a bigger picture kind of gal. Believe this often creates exhaustion as much as getting on a tall ladder and hanging a 120 pound chandelier or perfectly cutting straight seems on a drapery panel.
One of my faux painters attempted to teach me how to add a few hues to a nightstand. Words fail to do this piece of crap justice. She even gave me pointers but I, the supervisor extradinaire, the inevitably right idea gal chose not to listen. Please note her tips because they sure never applied to my abilities.
First, always clean the piece you intend to paint, distress, or revive. Dust and apparently oil fails to help primer adhere. This causes an object to peel and chip (though isn’t that distressing?).
Next, use the proper primer (which is code word for expensive). Cheaper brands affect paint much like a t-shirt from Walmart clashes with your Louboutins.
Then fill any and all holes and cracks (hey not referring to my face the day before my liquid injections appointment). She even suggested using a flashlight (I just found out the my iPhone can turn into a shiny object) so that eyes over the age of 40 cannot miss that 1 1/2 inch gap.
Never use an inexpensive brush (note Walmart/Louboutin comment). Feel the bristles, caress them, rub them against your skin. The softer the better.
Finally, find that perfect color. Shading and underlining hues can grab a tone and turn it upside down. Grab some chips from your preferred paint store or even buy a small jar of the color being considered.
not my work
Remember life is living regret-free.
(damn, needs some hardware)
Her real talents flourished after the typical messy life we all go through and she needed to find a way to make a few dollars while supporting her young children. Turning to her own memories as a young British girl, Ms. Ashwell used her skills and began spending her time at some of the famous flea markets in California.
Purchasing old furniture, broken light fixtures, odd pieces of teacups, she restored, refurbished, and repurposed (long before those words became fashionable). And with limited inventory, she opened her first shop.
She followed her own road map, clarified her vision, and began an industry whose influence can be seen daily on HGTV. Many fell in love with her creativity, her unperfected perfection, the way she mixed and the way she matched. She made COUNTY/COTTAGE cool again, she introduced flea market swank (with a nod to the Junkyard Gals), created a surge in BOHO, and her biggest impact; the MODERN FARMHOUSE fever as seen in every magazine. With two little words, she changed an industry.
Her use of delicate roses with crystal chandeliers worked beautifully with the time-worn elegance of salvaged screens and architectural columns. The distressed tables she filled with old baskets, christening clothes, French soaps, and petite accessories created a balance almost impossible to conceive. For me,
Rachel Ashwell and the way she reinvented slip covers and tucked old photos into worn shutters deserves a STANDING OVATION as it not only appealed to my aesthetic but saved several of my loveseats from two active boys. Who knew women across the country would be deciding between the Bahamas and Round Top, Texas. So on behalf of myself (and women everywhere) the MORE SHABBY, THE MORE CHIC!
A bag of tricks used by designers to create a personal space in any home tends to weave together a set of rules bequeathed by the “STYLE GODS of yesteryear.” For example, investment pieces (those that cost more than your child’s first year in college) should be placed front and center where visitors can ogle and whisper about the price. We learned from the great Albert Hadley that the sofa often fulfills this glorified need, so never forget to pile on the pillows for that extra luxe as well. It also makes it simple to change out those little poufs depending on look, season, or boredom. The neighbors will be aghast. Also never skimp on certain items of seating or translating that into “marriage speak” means that immediately after the honeymoon, remove any item hubby attempts to bring into the home. And by the way, you can forget contacting Goodwill; they have their standards. For my sake, think neutral, flexibility is important in all areas.
Lush and lavish window treatments seem to be an oddity of the past. Today, we favor simplistic panels to add a splash of color, texture, and height. But I must admit, I find yards of pretty fabric as a compliment such as a good set of pearls used as a finish for that little black dress. The can amplify neutrals through use of materials, provide privacy in case of nosy neighbors, add warmth on colder days, and finish a space beautifully by highlighting specific hues. HEY DESIGNERS go to the floor with drapery (or at least a pant break) as it makes the look appear complete (no high waters for the clients).
When painting, remember that you have five walls (in case your expensive stylist forgot). Look up! Embellish your ceiling with a medallion, a mural, or a slightly lighter (or darker) color than the wall. And don’t be shy, enamel the molding, the crown, even the baseboard. Let the space dictate the use, and your furniture determine the colors. And always, always, always, place a rug under your dining table.
For more interesting rooms, mix and match eras, periods, fabrics, textures, and art (this precludes neutral or tone-on-tone lovers). And here is a great big DESIGN secret, you can mix gold and silver. Embrace the unusual. Always follow the rules without following the rules. Your home should celebrate how you live much like a mirror reflects light. Don’t be nervous about a wall of clocks or mirrors or religious crosses. Amplify small spaces by treating them as large. Appropriate open shelves.
Use galvanized steal, shiplap, or wallpaper (yes, I said wallpaper) in unusual ways. An empty corner makes a great little space for an architectural piece. Take your dining room table to from a place to eat to unforgettable by utilizing different patterns of china and crystal. While DESIGN should follow certain dictums, always remember that you are unique, SO BABY, mix it on up.