March 30, 2010

tuesday tip: semi-custom tile

I'm instituting a new weekday feature today. Every Tuesday I'll bring you a design tip to save you time, money, and stress and to make it easier to create the look for your home that you'll love. I hope you'll like these tips and find a reason every week to keep coming back and reading!

Today's tip comes thanks to my longtime friend and mentor, the very talented Gwen Simpkins who I worked with at and who has run her own high-end renovation and development business, Delaporte Design, for many years in Boston. I'm sure she didn't even know she was giving me this tip, but Gwen, I've been listening!

So here's how to save some money on floor tile and to get a custom look from the stock at your local Home Depot or Lowe's. Instead of ordering custom, buy standard, inexpensive 16" x 16" floor tiles and have your tile installer cut them in half and lay them in an offset pattern, or plank-style. While these pics are not exactly of 8 x 16's they give you an idea of the style you can achieve.

Looks amazing (and expensive), right? Nope. Custom look, stock price.

If you've got a great home decor, design or renovation idea to share, I would love to hear from you. Email me your tips, or just comment on this post!

March 29, 2010

sweet spot

This might be the perfect spring bedroom for sleeping in. Which is just what I wanted to do this morning. It's a dark day here, and rainy and warm.


Asleep in this room, you'd be totally at peace. Isn't it just the definition of soothing? Layers of light fabric, subtle colors, natural materials. A fan if it gets too warm. You'd hear the rain pattering against the all the windows; you'd stretch your toes out to find a cool spot in the silky white sheets. Would you want to leave this coziness? No, neither would I. Let's not. I want to go back to bed. In this sweet room.

March 26, 2010

take me away: paris photography

In keeping with my desire to be somewhere other than Massachusetts right now (vacation countdown: 14 days!), I am totally enchanted by these beautiful Paris photographs from Little Brown Pen's Etsy shop. These very talented artists, couple Nichole and Evan Robertson, capture the mood of the city with simple images, creatively composed. They say "What I love most about Paris is not the iconic structures (think Eiffel Tower), it's the details that collectively provide a glimpse of the everyday." Absolument!

In addition to the individual photos, Little Brown Pen also sells sets of their original photos, such as Paris in Gray, below...

...Paris in Yellow...

...and my favorite Paris in Red...

Aren't these images evocative? I think I'll go grab a latte and think about life for a while. And of course visit Etsy and check out more Paris views.

March 25, 2010

the well-placed basket

Confession: I love baskets. They're utilitarian and beautiful, natural, earthy. They hold anything and everything— firewood, magazines, blankets, toys—and go in any room, from bedroom to living room to office. Actually, kitchen too. I have a large one on top of my fridge, perfectly filling up all that dead space between appliance and ceiling. Kind of like this:

I also adore texture, and baskets are a no-brainer addition when you need to add some textural element, some bit of rusticity and outdoorsyness to a room. But when these mega-functional holders take a prominent place in a room's design, it makes me especially happy. It's amazing when you find a new use for a basket; finding new things it can hold. It's even more amazing when you find that basket's perfect place in a room.

Center of attention: Basket right inside the firebox! Love this.

via all the best

Under a table—a perfect fit. Again, makes me happy.

Pretty hall vignette. That large-scale art is balanced just right thanks to the basket.

Oh, that island was looking so spare and lonely without the big basket.

A hearty holder for firewood and a perfect rustic addition to an eclectic room.

Did this give you any ideas? It really makes me want to go shopping for more big baskets. I'm in love with that console table-as-nightstand-with-basket-underneath. How about you?

March 24, 2010

a place in the sun

Where I want to be right now, with iced tea and a good book...

March 22, 2010

kitchen update, thanks to modern chairs

I spotted these ultra-bargain modern stacking chairs from Target (amazing find at $59 for a set of two. Yes, that's under 30 bucks each!) and have been thinking about picking up a set of four to give my kitchen an update.

They're just like West Elm's, but much, much less expensive (try $158 to $198 for a set of two).

Actually, I will probably do them in cool white... add some sleek modernness and style to my old wood table from Pottery Barn that I've had for ages—my first grown-up furniture purchase, actually, from long ago CT days in my first apartment. The table's a small, inexpensive light pine version of this—and not nearly as chunky but still cool. 

Montego straight leg table from Pottery Barn

And it needs a refinish. I'm thinking I want to sand it all down and lime wax it. I want it bleached out and looking rustic, antique, natural. Like this...
Kieran table from Jayson Home and Garden

Now, how to go about it? Apartment Therapy has a good little tutorial here. Actually, they make it seem too easy. Apparently all I really need is this:

Briwax liming wax, just $18.40 from Amazon

Anyone out there tried this? What do you think?

March 19, 2010

in the mood for white

If it's white, it must be a Swedish home. From the real estate firm Alvhem Mäkleri, some gorgeous interiors that make you want to grab some gallons of white and start painting every available surface. Even for someone who loves color, these spaces are so enticing, no? It's the crisp, fresh background balanced with a dash of wood, a spot of greenery, and lots of little pops of color that enlivens these rooms. It's not spare and modern; it's lived in and timeless-modern, and I love it!
That topiary in a basket in the all-white bathroom? I'm in love. What do you think?

March 17, 2010

make mine a double

In a room lacking in any special architectural elements to direct your eye (a fireplace, a large window) a set of bookcases can work wonders to create focus and add some much-needed definition. In other words, two bookcases really are better than one.

An otherwise uninspired and characterless wall becomes a feature with a set of open bookshelves framing a large painting. The matching plant-like sculptures on top of the bookcases do a nice job balancing the vignette. Yay, symmetry!

That gorgeous white chest topped with an oversized mirror would feel lonely and adrift in this room without the grounding influence of the set of bookcases.


The bookcases are just barely visible in this image but they clearly do a great job of creating a nook for the settee, complete with wall lights mounted on their frames.

The bookcases don't have to stand out to do their job. These black-painted beauties blend into the wall behind but still grace this room with architecture and depth.

Pretty turquoise bookcases flanking a style!

Love the innovation in these floating box shelves that balance out the fireplace and add some modern architectural interest here. Gorgeous! Which space is your favorite? Is there a room that's just right for this paired bookcase idea in your home?

March 15, 2010

happiness is...yellow

On a rainy Monday, dreaming of spring, what could be better than a little (or a lot of) yellow to boost your mood? Before the yellow's popping up in daffodils and tulips or shining down from the sky, you might as well bring it indoors. It'll do you good. It is happiness.

This is the photo that got me going. Pretty, patterned, colorful? It must be Kate Spade.

A softer side of yellow in another gorgeous room from Sarah Richardson.

Pretty looks-like-paint wallcovering by Casart Coverings.

March 11, 2010

in bloom

As usual, I bought way too much at Target yesterday, including lots of seed packets and seed starting mix. I'm excited to get all these beautiful seedlings going and have spring sprouting in my kitchen soon—and out in the garden not too long from now. I'm also ready to head out into the backyard and cut some forsythia for forcing so I can have some bright yellow blooms like this in my life.


I'm pretty much in the mood to surround myself—I'm talking floor, ceiling, walls, windows!—in flowers. This bedroom, featured in Domino back in the day, has always been an inspiration but feels especially appealing right now. The wallpaper is Flowering Quince by Clarence House. Lovely!

And here's more flower love for you. On the floor, the Zinnia Citron rug from Company C. A geometric pattern of blooms make this rug modern-feeling.

From the ceiling, the ingenious Garland Light by Tord Boontje for Artecnica. This is essentially a shade that clips to a bare bulb and can be shaped any way your heart desires. Pretty plus creative? I'm in love.

On the walls, the aforementioned Flowering Quince or these gorgeous bright poppies from Jocelyn Warner. I could see this in a powder room, foyer, or bedroom. Heck, I could see this in a library, a playroom, a kitchen, anywhere really.

On the windows, Anthropologie's Avignon curtains are subtle, romantic floral perfection.

I'm not the only one currently obsessed with flowers. Which brings me back around to Target, where everyone's eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Liberty of London collection—launch in 3 days, readers. But if you can't wait, Target's giving us a preview of patterns. I can't wait to see these on pillows, rugs, dishware, who knows what. We shall see in a few hours...

In the meantime, you can even take a patternality quiz to find out your pattern personality. I love personality quizzes (a fun and fascinating waste of time) and this one is quick and entertaining and pretty too! Apparently, I'm the peacock pattern, "accustomed to finding your own way...trying this, opting for that, but always walking proud regardless." So, readers, what are you? If you love floral, which kind?

March 9, 2010

get the look: modern meets warm kitchen

When I stumbled across the picture of this kitchen on the blog aubrey road, I think my jaw literally dropped. There's just not enough time to talk about all the utter amazingness of this space. Loving the overall simplicity of the design, the creativity of the sliding panels, and especially the mix of materials, from cool glass and iron to warm fir and walnut. Aside from those sliding upper glass doors, I imagine it's not too hard to get this look on a budget though. Here's what you'll need for a mini-redo for a warm, modern kitchen...

Clear glass cylinder lamp, $130, at Velocity Art and Design


36" wall shelf $68 from Smart Furniture


Apron front sink, $250, from Ikea


Carrera marble subway tile, great-looking, and much more inexpensive than a slab!
$7/sq ft from Builders Depot Direct via Amazon
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