January 31, 2011

neutrals vs. color showdown in the living room

So no sooner do I start painting my credenza in the living room this deep teal blue (and I really love the color—it looks rich and deep and dramatic) than I start reconsidering. Do I really want color in this room? What about my love of neutrals and how I always seem drawn to them, especially in living rooms? Is this color too bold? Would I not be happier with a room like this?


via splendid willow 

house beautiful

Something tells me this is just mid-project jitters. You know, that feeling you get as you're working on the project that the room is not right—because it isn't! It's a mess, with paint cans scattered, old bedsheets covering the floor, and all those elements that will complete the room (the important finishing touches) still missing.

Still, what is it about this public space that keeps me reserved and cautious as to color? I haven't been afraid of color in the bedroom or in my office. So, why does it seem so daring to bring it in here? I don't have an answer. I am pushing ahead with color in this room, on a foundation piece even!, and we will see where it ends up. I tell myself it's just paint and it can always be changed. Can bold color on a foundation piece still live in a mostly neutral room? Or will I love this room even more livened up with more colors, in chairs, pillows, draperies, rug? Stay tuned, and we will find out together!

January 28, 2011

a little and a lot of color in the living room

Progress is creeping slowly into my living room, and that progress is all about color. This pillow arrived and punched up the room. It's a pop of color and drama and beauty in a sea of blandness. It gets me pretty excited for the next steps.

Then I tried Martha Stewart's Whetstone Grey and it was a fail. It's very hard to tell from this picture—sorry for the bad lighting! But it felt too cold. I had erred on that side before and didn't like it, so I need something warmer. (But not as warm as my current color, which very often can read peachy). Ugh.

So I am starting over with color. I would like a completely neutral bisque or sand, but I'm also leaning toward very pale yellows and grasses. These are already an improvement and liven up the room, bringing that fresh feeling I was looking for. I'll live with these for a few days and slowly weed out the ones that don't work.

What worked instantly was Martha Stewart's Plumage on the credenza. It looks very blue here but more green in person, and deep and rich and delicious. Doesn't that drawer look happy?!

January 27, 2011

more open kitchen storage

So, back to my obsession with open storage in the kitchen. Some favorites.

via a simple nest, this is actually a store but i don't see why you couldn't do this in a kitchen

a more realistic approach for a small kitchen via bhg

a more european feel, from elle decor

over the top, via apartment therapy

via desire to inspire

I have been trying to analyze why this appeals to me so much and have come up with 3 big reasons:
{1} Because it is casual. This look is about relaxed, comfortable kitchens that don't put on airs.
{2} Because the elements repeat. I think this look could easily feel cluttered if these shelves were stocked with random food products and kitchen appliances, but because they're kept consistent with baskets, dishware of the same color, etc. it works.
{3} Because everyday items are beautiful. If they're well designed {and why would you have anything else in your kitchen?} dishes, bowls, glassware, and baskets can be nice to look at and should be displayed.

So there you have it. My case for open kitchen storage. What are your thoughts when it comes to display in the kitchen?

January 26, 2011

open bar

How lovely is this bar in an antique cabinet?

Stylist Camille Soulayrol

It's not unusual to see a cabinet like this built out as a bar, but it is unusual to see one with no doors. I love that! And I would love to find a similar vintage piece and repurpose it as done here into a bar or some sort of kitchen storage. Then I saw this stunner on Erin's blog.

This is Zoe from Urban Home. She would so be happy at home in my kitchen, I just know it. I'd outfit her as an open china cabinet with stacked dishes, rows of glasses, neatly folded table linens, and a few baskets thrown in for storing smaller items.

So I am still definitely obsessed with open kitchen storage. And you? Love or hate? I will share more inspiration in tomorrow's post.

January 25, 2011

great idea: rope pulls

From the folks at a store called Folk in Munich comes a clever idea for rope pulls instead of standard knobs. This is a simple DIY with some marine rope (like they used) or jute—and is even a fantastic way to reuse an old jump rope—for a casual, creative look. Hmm, I really like the casters they've used instead of feet too. They've thought of everything.

January 24, 2011

diy: how to make a no-sew table runner from dinner napkins

So here's what I was up to this weekend. I fell in absolute and complete and instant love with these Anthropologie cloth dinner napkins and picked them up on sale for $3.95 each, knowing I would use them for something but not quite sure what.

I thought something so lively and bright on my table would liven up my kitchen. And I was right. I adore these colors and patterns. They are currently making very happy.

It's unbelievably easy to make a table runner from dinner napkins. I used three napkins, but my table is short; if you have a long table you may need more. Since they were already hemmed, sewing them together would have made them "lumpy" where the seams overlapped (unless I ripped out the seams and started over, which I was too lazy to do!). So I came up with another solution.

Making a Table Runner from Dinner Napkins
{1} On your ironing board, line up two napkins edge to edge with face side of the fabric down. Cut grosgrain ribbon to the length of the seam where they meet.

{2} Cut fusible bonding web {such as Stitch Witchery} to the length of the ribbon and lay it underneath the ribbon where the napkins meet, making sure napkin edges are just touching. Iron the ribbon, using your steam setting to set the bond.

{3} Repeat with other napkins. And done! You have a no-sew table runner in less than 15 minutes. Enjoy while walking through the kitchen, unloading groceries on the table, and dining!

January 21, 2011

on the agenda

What is everyone up to this weekend? I have many little projects in the works.

In an attempt to get moving on my living room redesign, I have testers of these colors.
I will finally be buying this pillow from Etsy seller Kassapanola.

And will be making something out of these bright beauties I found at Anthropologie a few weeks ago for $3.95 each.

Oh, and I will be shoveling more snow. Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

January 20, 2011

another suprise from dad

Just when you thought my dad couldn't get any cooler (remember it was his idea to upgrade my tv for Christmas?), he goes and puts his table saw to work making me a potting bench.

Now I really can't wait for spring! Thanks so much, Dad. You're the best.

January 19, 2011

perfect pair

living etc.

What's better than a chaise? Two chaises! If you have the room, wouldn't it be fun to do two chaises instead of the typical two chairs? I picked up this image a while ago and am not positive of the source. But I do want to say bravo to the designer! Does anyone know who it is?

Sarah Richardson did it too...

How great is that shape? You can buy these chaises too—find out more here.

January 18, 2011

have you seen these ceilings?

Not only is a good ceiling important in a room design, it can also drive the direction of the design. It finishes the room—or can be a place to start. I'm very sensitive to this issue because the ceilings in my house are ugly. I mean hideous. They are square acoustical tiles, some of them even with those little holes throughout. Ugh. I hate looking up. And have avoided this work, because it is difficult, and messy. But something must be done, or the design work I've done in all these rooms, from the floors down, will always feel incomplete. These ceilings are literally bringing these rooms down. But, address the ceiling, and you have created a whole, complete, coherent design. I love all of these ceilings for inspiration. And would take any of them. Now, who wants to do the work for me?!

Bill Ingram

Exposed beams, even when painted, are dramatic. This design would totally fit the style of my house.
via 6th Street Design School

I'm not usually a fan of tin ceilings, but in this loft space, painted white, and modernized with track lighting, it feels contemporary and really works for me. This would be an easy solution I could achieve myself. I wish it were my favorite!

Oh, these ceilings with their faux bois panels between the the beams are killing me! I want to make this happen. Haven't figured out how to do it yet though. (Or maybe just how to do it affordably.)

Tom Scheerer

A very similar look, but these wood planks look real. Adore this. I can't figure out how to make this happen without spending a fortune on materials and installation.

Traditional Home

Really love this rustic wood ceiling with those beat-up super-distressed beams. Wouldn't this lend such instant character to any space?

My current inspiration. This is what blogger Chania did in her bedroom. Isn't it beautiful!? I am thinking I can make this happen with readymade wainscot panels and mdf boards. It would still be a ton of work, even with lots of help, but it might be affordable. Check out Chania's before and after here. She did an amazing job.

January 17, 2011

in the details: ballard switchplate covers

If design really is in the details, then Ballard Designs always gets it right. Each season they seem to introduce ever more beautiful accents I didn't know I needed but that will absolutely transform a home and lend that perfect finishing touch. Now their bone and horn switchplate and socket covers have me sold—they're a little detail that's so elegant, so subtly beautiful and understated...they'll take your room up a notch without shouting "look at me!" To me, that's a great design detail.

Order them today, and get them in time for a simple, satisfying weekend project. Wouldn't it be nice to toss out your cheap plastic white covers and grace your home instead with these lovelies?

January 14, 2011

under the eaves

In the last few days, I've come across two inspiring, and very different, images of attic spaces. Are they trying to tell me something? I have two tiny rooms on my third floor, with sharply sloped ceilings—essentially my attic. And I love how these rooms show the breadth of possibility available in this often overlooked space. I'd love to create something really special in my attic, and these rooms give me so many beautiful ideas.

Top takeaways of great attic spaces:
{1} Dormers, skylights, porthole windows for lots of light
{2} Built-ins
{3} Mirror mounted on sloped wall/ceiling
{4} Wall mounted lighting
{5} Desk by the window
{6} Wall of closets or wall of beds
{7} Curtains instead of closet doors soften the angles in the room

I would love to start demo-ing my space right now to create the ultimate guest room/exercise room/lounge retreat! An attic rooms presents such great opportunities. It's calling to me.

January 13, 2011

tropical blue

It's snowy and bitterly cold here in New England, and I'm sure I don't speak just for myself when I say I'm feeling very far away from any possibility of warmth! Maybe that's why I'm so drawn to the tropical blue of this bath featured recently in Lonny.

Isn't this deep turquiose so vibrant and tantalizing? Even the name is delicious—Calypso Blue by Benjamin Moore. It feels like a vacation to me. Maybe in its next life, my bathroom will get this color. It'd be like a trip to the tropics every day.

January 11, 2011

among very stylish company

Yesterday I was thrilled to find that the lovely Chanee of {me}longings passed me the Stylish Blogger Award! I'm totally honored to be in such good company. Thank you, Chanee! If you haven't discovered Chanee's blog yet, you are in for a treat! Her motto is vintage + sustainable + style. Who doesn't love that? She has such a natural, simple, honest take on home and life. You will be charmed.

Of course, one of the most fun parts of receiving the Stylish Blogger Award is that I'm asked to share seven things about myself. What don't you already know about me? Welcome in. Let's talk.

Alison Womack Jowers

1. My favorite days are when I don't have to leave the house. I like just puttering around, taking stock of things, getting organized, putting things away, and taking the time to a make a great meal in the evening. And must have wine. My grandmother, every day into her 80s, had to have her 5 o'clock cocktail. I love that.

2. I own way too many flip flops, in a variety of colors and materials and styles. And don't get to wear them enough because I live in Boston.

3. I was an English major in college. Which makes all my typos on this blog even more embarrassing.

4. I could spend, and sometimes do spend, an entire day reading. Mostly fiction. And if I'm reading outside, in the sun, by the pool or ocean, even better. This is heaven to me.

5. When I was young, I was all about gymnastics. I practiced 6 days a week, lived and breathed it. I wanted to go to the Olympics. While that was a dream, I did get number 1 in the state at one point. Those days are long over (I'm pretty sure if I attempted a cartwheel I might hurt someone) but I'm still pretty flexible and still love to keep fit. I have a Pilates reformer in one of my upstairs rooms.

6. My musical tastes are all over the map, from old school jazz to Radiohead. Did you know Radiohead is perfect listening for cleaning, running, and doing nothing?

7. I love to laugh (and am known for always smiling). And it's so easy to make me laugh. In fact, in grade school, I got in trouble more than once for my outbursts in class when I could not resist the stupid antics of the boys in class. What can I say, I was an easy target and their best audience.

As now, as a lucky recipient, I get to pass along the Stylish Blogger Award to 15 recently discovered blogs. These charming bloggers are all so smart, talented, and inspiring, I know you'll fall for them as quickly as I did.

As part of accepting the award, they'll...
+ Thank and link back to the person that awarded them {me}
+ Share seven things about themselves.
+ Pay it forward to 15 recently discovered bloggers.
+ Contact those bloggers about the award!

Casa Brasi
Green Street
Bryn Alexandra
The Girl and the Cupcake
Parlour Home
City Southern
Pewter + Sage
Armas Design
In the Tweeds
Project Shannon
Chic Modern Vintage
Design Esquire
La Buena Vida

Congratulations, stylish bloggers! And to all you dear readers, enjoy these blogs!

January 10, 2011

rethinking: track lighting

From time to time I come across a well-designed space that challenges my previously held design conceptions and causes me rethink my attitude. This kitchen did that. I've always had a thing against track lighting; it was clunky and charmless and just read so '70s to me I couldn't get over it. But I'm willing to rethink track lighting as not so bad if it can look like this. There's no doubt it's functional, but here it looks pretty great, I think, too.

Carter Kay Interiors

What do you think? Would you be willing to rethink track lighting—or have you already?

January 7, 2011

have you found your style?

A while back, Nicole from Sketch 42 presented a challenge to define your style formula. It was a busy time, and I never participated, but I've been thinking about it since! I really wanted to sum up my personal style and what I love in putting any room together.

A little modern country
house beautiful

Some architectural detail and tradition
Anne Hepfer

Plenty of texture and color
Southern Living

A whole lot of light-filled and airy
house and home

Have you thought about what you love in putting a room together?

January 5, 2011

clever wall storage

Check out these smart and totally fun wall shelves! I couldn't resist smiling when I opened up my new Country Living and saw this image. These adorable bins were made from round forms at the hardware store and wrapped in chic faux bois contact paper. For more, see the full tutorial here. Such a cute surprise when you walk in the door! 

photo: lesley unruth

January 4, 2011

what to do in 2011

So it's the traditional time to put together some big plans for what we all want to accomplish in the year ahead. I like to avoid the typical new year's resolutions (eat healthy, exercise more) because they're so easily breakable and so obvious—even though I secretly still have them on my list! But there are bigger goals—design-related of course!—that I am resolving to make happen this year.

take more design risks

when it's a gesture big or small, do at least one unexpected thing in every room; be daring and bold and surprising

explore my creativity

i think creativity goes hand in hand with being daring in design; it's creative to think outside the box but it takes courage to execute that creativity

learn something new

is it true that we are happiest when we are learning? or creating? this past year i painted cabinets, made curtains, and started this blog—all new and rewarding endeavors for me. i'm sure this year has much more in store, like knitting, photography, tiling, stenciling. the list is large! i still get excited to do things i've never done before.

develop my business

i've been lucky this past year to get to design all kinds of spaces for some really wonderful clients. it's what i love doing and i want to spend more of my time doing it. i want to expand both my clients and the kind of work i do. if you're in the boston area, contact me and let's meet and work together! if you're not, email meand we can do a design long-distance. i look forward to working with you to create a home you will love!

so do any of you have resolutions? do these goals ring true for you too?

January 3, 2011

back to it, in the perfect vignette

If you need some inspiration to get back to work (my, that was a nice long vacation and I don't know about you, but I got used to it!) here's a little design inspiration for those who don't have a dedicated room for an office at home. All you need is a desk + chair + art to = the perfect vignette. It looks good, and it works. And if you are lucky enough to have a separate home office, use this combo in an entry, hall, bedroom, living room, or kitchen for paying bills, collecting mail, or just looking beautiful.


source unknown


suzanne kasler

kendall wilkinson

atlanta homes

kim fiscus

Welcome back, friends, and happy 2011!
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