December 31, 2009

welcome 2010!

Wishing everyone a very happy new year. May there be bright things ahead for 2010!
{photo by Anna Kern via Hooked on Houses}

December 30, 2009

i like to lounge

Yes, I like to lounge. Don't you? I've been on the hunt for a while for a daybed for my living room. Not the big twin-bed size thing you'd put lengthwise against a wall in a bedroom and actually sleep in, but the super stylish sofa-like bench-without-a-back that you'd find in a living room. Here's what I mean:

See that awesome piece of furniture against those built-in bookcases? A sofa would block them completely, but the daybed draws your eye to them and allow access--and does it very stylishly too. It's a long bench with little bolster pillows and low arms (headrests, really) where you can read and nap and sip tea and generally lounge. The variation from the standard sofa and two chairs combo energizes this room and surprises the eye. Here's a closeup:

Another daybed frames and highlights a bookcase wall; this one's also a creative solution! If you don't have a daybed, you can make one with two ottomans and some bolsters.

The daybed below does double-duty, both dividing spaces and joining them together. It creates a cozy conversation area with the seating around it, separating the space from a dining room or hallway but also preserving the flow between rooms, unlike a traditional sofa.

Another dividing/joining trick below. And a daybed can also gracefully fill what would otherwise be dead space in the middle or at the edges of a room.

Framing a window, a daybed becomes a kind of window seat. No need for pillows against the windows: you'll want to preserve the view.

Who wouldn't want to while away some hours lying here, just basking in the sun? In my house, the imaginary daybed will exist in my living room window bay, creating a kind of nook, with some drapery panels to frame out the space. I won't ever want to leave.

photos: Sarah Richardson Design Inc., Domino, decorpad, Southern Accents, House Beautiful, Margot Austin, Williams Sonoma Home

December 23, 2009

setting the table | holiday

Ready for guests? Here's some table-setting inspiration. Chocolate brown + green + white = fresh, updated traditional.


December 22, 2009

winter curb appeal part II

Some front porch winter decorating finally got done, just in time for the weekend storm, and in time for Christmas. I wanted lights, but there's no electrical outlet outside this old house, and I would love some simple square copper planters like the ones below (I'm not sure if I love or am just amused by the pine cone balls!) to frame the steps or the front walk. Festive.

But budget rules, and this is what the front of my house looks like now, for just under $20.

For the window boxes I trimmed some arbor vitae from the backyard and picked up some bittersweet branches (with berries hardly visible!), a few sprays of cedar, and what I am calling "icicle branches." Pretty, and a little sparkly, and I can use them year after year.

Here's a closeup of the front door, with a wreath made by my very talented and creative mother, dressed simply with pearls. I added the ribbon, in a beautiful olive green (with a little bit of gold) color that I am in love with. I wish I'd bought more of this ribbon when I found it years ago. Lesson learned. When you spot a great find, or see something you know you'll really love for your home, pounce on it. You will not regret it.

Hope this post gets you all in a great holiday mood. If not, do a little festive winter decorating today to get yourself in the spirit! Happy holidays, everyone!

December 17, 2009

natural modern kitchen

My obsession with renovating my kitchen means I am constantly in search of inspiration. This is one kitchen I could really imagine live in. It feels so fresh with all the subtle natural elements--woven grass shades, pickled wood cabinets, butcher block, travertine--in combination with the modern--stainless backsplash and rangehood and those amazing, glassy, reflective pendants. Natural plus modern. The leafy branches and shocking pink peonies don't hurt either. I have no idea where this kitchen is, but it feels very California. Simply fabulous.

December 16, 2009

fired up

Tis the season for a cozy fire, and luckily it's now easier than ever to light it up. No need for the tried-and-true woodburning fireplace. Here are some amazing-looking models that work, yes, without logs and chimney. On the downside, that aromatic wood smell is absent, and your guy will miss the opportunity to show off his manly skills splitting wood. On the upside, no one has to get their hands dirty making the fire, and sweeping out ashes afterwards is a thing of the past. All that's left to do is snuggle up and savor the moment.

A sleek ribbon of fire to be placed in your custom installation,
like this limestone, Vent Free 3 by Spark Modern Fires, $4400.

Budget-friendly in classic copper from Target, $199.

Ecosmart Fire's XL Burner uses clean-burning denatured alcohol, see local retailer for pricing.

Modern stainless steel, from Anywhere Fireplace at Amazon, $389.

Freestanding tabletop fire goes where you go: portable atmosphere!
Vidro freestanding fireplace from Floz Design for Blomus, $869.


December 14, 2009

take the decorating outside

It's getting truly wintery in the northeast, and those bright and colorful containers and window boxes dressing up the facades of neighborhood homes have long since faded. For fall, I usually fill my plant boxes with varieties of mums, asters, hardy grasses, cabbage or kale, and some mini pumpkins and gourds. The fall look is always a nice change from the vivid colors of summer, but by now even the fall plants have browned and crumpled from frost. So, it's time to redecorate the container garden out front, and as I do each winter, I'm struggling with how to make it fresh and unique and beautiful. Here's some inspiration, for you and me.

Love the evergreens spraying up and spilling over this window box. I could see this on anything from a ranch to cape to a bungalow to a row house. The next is similar with the use of evergreens, but a more formal, symmetrical display great for traditional home. It shows off a dwarf fir and cedar swag, with acorns and fruit (dried, I guess?) a nice addition.

I love the modern feel and simplicity of this display. Skinny branches lined up like a screen. Beautiful.

This look is very pretty, casual, a bit country, and still colorful for winter. I don't know what zone you'd have to be in for these to last. Not sure they'd make it through a Boston winter looking so good.

See anything that you like and that fits the style your house? I'll be going for something like the first design. Stay tuned for pics on how my window boxes turn out.


December 10, 2009

i'll take one of each, please

A loft in the city and a cottage in the country. That's all any girl wants, really. I live in a sort of cottage: a hundred-year-old farmhouse-style home. Charming, with lots of detailed woodwork and a nice, cozy feel. But the rooms are choppy, and that coziness can get a little, well, claustrophobic sometimes. I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's my haven, and also a source of ongoing designer, handy, and crafty projects to satisfy my creativity. But how about a little urban style and living too? A downtown pad, with fabulous restaurants and a good coffee shop within walking distance. I'm thinking a former warehouse or mill space, super-high ceilings (okay, these are not so super-high, but this is a pretty hot space anyway), lived-in hardwood floors, gigantic multi-paned windows, and wide open views. That would be just fine.

photos: &

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