Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Living Well Rooms

Instead of sitting down to finalize my Thanksgiving grocery shopping list, I'm going to share a few of my favorite "lived-in" living rooms with you--ones that are not overly fussy, but are well-thought out and inviting. They're also neutral as they come without being boring.

Our old house was filled with color. We had fun experimenting,  but realized that as our life grew more colorful we wanted our home to grow more restful...at least parts of it. Now, with 2 small children, a busy husband, a business to run, a couple writing jobs (which means lots of computer time), a huge dog that's every bit as needy as my kids :), and lots more that fills my time with fun and (mostly happy and exciting) chaos, one of my favorite small luxuries is sitting in a quiet room, one that's slightly spare, and taking in the subtleties of light. Just being quiet, reflecting, and taking it in...weird you might say, but just you try it. It's one of the realizations that convinced me of the power of a well-planned interior. I think every busy mom should have a quiet little corner...or ideally a whole room!

I've been making a visual inspiration list for our own neglected living room. Here's a peek...

from an old issue of House Beautiful. It's the home of Sharone Einhorn's home, owner of Ruby Beets. I don't even know how many times I've poured over it (and I'm sure you too). Before falling in love with gray I wasn't really a fan of gold for my own home. But gray, golds, ivories, and natural patinas are a magical combination. And this room with it's come-lounge-on-me slip covers, collection of natural objects and antiques, and touches of gold sophistication has that magic mix of relaxed and refined. 
from Traditional Home. A more stream-lined take on the palette above. Definitely not as loungeable, but the clean lines and sense of "grown-up" are so appealing at the moment.

3 from Domino:

This room has a great quirky mix of modern and traditional, plus the stripes rock.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

handmade sweetness

As we head towards Christmas season, I've been thinking about gifts. I love the idea of homemade presents, and I especially love ones that are awesome in and of themselves, not just for sentimental reasons.
Some of my favorite gifts have been from great friends who like to share their greatness with our family in the form of one-of-a-kind accessories for our girls. Here are a few that have brightened many an outfit.

Jennifer's creations

she should go into the bow business for sure.

And Molly's mittens, which she made for our big girl last winter.

I need a matching pair!

If you're looking for ideas for unique presents for babies and ladies, here are a few of my favorite Etsy folks who have mastered the handmade trade.

Whole Grain Baby

besides being an awesomely creative seamstress, she's a mother of 4. You can check out her blog here.

All the Numbers

she makes some of the most beautiful children's things I've seen. Santa, we'll take the whole lot!

Glass Beach

I've bought 2 of her clutches and can vouch for the great quality and awesome service.

Kate W Designs

Fun designs with fantastic fabrics. Add them to the list.

Garden House Boutique

I have many more favorites that I'd love to share in future posts, but these should get your gift-giving wheels turning. Hope your week is off to a great start!

Monday, November 10, 2008

all in a weekend's work

Despite having one sick little honey with a relentless stomach bug, this weekend was glorious. Sometimes it's nice to have an excuse to stay home and just be. For us, it was also a good time to finish some home projects.

For the past few weeks I've been trying to figure out what to do with our very shabby kid's bath.
At first we thought we could live with the purple paint, but with time we realized that the color was close to horrendous, and having the house re-piped this summer left it in even a more disheveled state. Instead of ripping everything out and filling our own small landfill with the retro-turned 80s-remnants of our bathroom, we decided to work with what we had, which basically meant just painting.

Usually picking the wall color is my favorite part of of redoing a space. But in this case, it was so difficult because the wall tiles are a mismatched variety of whites and the floor tiles are a VERY big & bold black and white checkered pattern. Most colors I liked looked cheesy with the floor tiles. Somehow everything seemed to clash (but not in a fun, interesting way). I didn't think that was possible with black and white...

Then, I was flipping through my magazine clippings and was grabbed by a vintage-y but simple kitchen that I saw in House Beautiful this summer.

After trying 3 different colors to no avail (they all made the room look dingy)I decided to go bold, and use the same color as the butler pantry cabinets above (Benjamin Moore's South Beach). The result was kind of shocking.

It's hard to tell from the photo, but the color is SO bold, and painting a whole wall (not just cabinets) had a very garish impact...especially since in contrast to the calm palette in the rest of the house. Still, the color seemed to fit the space. It just needed to be played down with some distractions.
I was inspired by some of the wall decals that friends (Alissa!) had shown me in the previous months, but I wanted something original and something that would hold up in a kids bathroom. Thank you paint. I came up with a design incorporating elements from some of the decals I loved. Also, I tried to make the figures resemble our girls. Happily, it worked, and the girls love it. It's fun to have a bathroom that they're excited to be in now, definitely makes bathtime more fun. I also think it does the trick in terms of distracting from the shock of color.

I didn't want to go overboard with the painting. Just enough to add some interest and tone down the color. So, I was delighted to find this placemat on a recent trip to anthropologie. It was the only one left. I thought it would make nice wall art for another bright wall in the bathroom.

So nice to have another room feel like a room instead of a construction zone.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

nature walk part 2

Amidst the election day buzz, we carved out a few hours of peace to go on a cousin outing to the gardens. This time I remembered to bring my camera. Part of me is sad to say good-bye to summer, but fall is one of the most inspiring time of year on the east coast. All of a sudden the colors are brilliant and the brisk weather is invigorating. The gardens are also especially beautiful this time of year. I couldn't resist sharing some highlights with you.

I forgot to check the name of this incredible flower. Do any of you know? It was magnificent against the backdrop of fall color.

the kids called this guy "the halloween spider"

a 125 year old naturally hallowed out sycamore tree

look at the gorgeous peeling bark (and the gorgeous kids!)

Field of mums! I love the color of these ones.

and the butterfly garden

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Highlights

I hope all of you had as wonderful a Halloween as we did. Our fabulous friends, Dan and Alissa, hosted an awesome night of trick-or-treating, pizza, and vino. Alissa is super creative, crafty, and way too humble about her skills. She painted the plates above for a very spooky entry display and decked her babes out in the cutest homemade creations. Aren't they adorable?

Alissa, you rock. Dan you get credit too for picking such a cool wife.

Here's the rest of the crew. The bumble bee is ours. It was the 5th costume idea of the week.

And our other little bug.

nothing better than cute kids in cute costumes!

palladian inspired windows

Whenever I spot a beautiful palladian style or arched window, I think how lovely it would be to have one (or several) made into a mirror for our home. I love the brightening effect of mirrors in any room, and I especially like when the mirror itself is interesting. Here are some that caught my eye

this is the mirror that started it all, my ballerina loved it too...she didn't think the $3,000 + pricetag was unreasonable.

I spotted this one in the entrance to Oliver Dunn, Moss & Co., Katherine Roberts. It's one of my favorite spots to stop for inspiration. Everything they have is awesome. This is no exception.

I spotted this one during our trip to Durango. It's above the entrance to their tiny airport.

this one is from a home in my mother's neighborhood. I always want to pause to look at it whenever I'm driving by. Yesterday I did. And I took a picture so that you could enjoy it too. That room must be gorgeous inside.

this mirror is from a house in Virginia featured in Country Home's Oct. issue. There are a a pair of them, made from old schoolhouse windows, flanking the fireplace.

this is from a very elegant Michael Trapp garden house that I spotted on Cote de Texas.

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