Thursday, April 26, 2012

Warm White Rooms

     If I lived alone, I would decorate with white. The challenge of creating a warm, inviting interior using  lots of different shades of white intrigues me. However, in real life, I have a very dirty husband (that's right, I said it out loud), 3 kids and two adorable mini-dachshunds who rule the world. My Hubbie loves color and right now is whining because I want to paint the living room SW Sea Salt. He wants basketball orange. Really. He also likes the upr(ugly pink rug). When we bought he house, every room was painted bright white and the upr ran throughout the entire house. So far I have ripped up the rug in the hallway and my bedroom. So much upr to go.
      Anyway, back to the white room discussion. The white that covered our house was of the primer, brightest of bright white variety. Cold and uninviting. The key to making white work is to choose a warm tone. White is not one color. It is many. The balance of colors in the paint is what determines its feel and look. Whites heavy with blues and greens will tend to look cool and those with red and yellow undertones will look warm. The key to making a white room look warm and cozy instead of cold and stark is layering. If you look at white rooms that give off a cozy, warm feel, you will see that they have a variety of whites in the decor, and they use these whites to provide depth and they are often tinged with tan, orange, pink or yellow.
     I also like rooms that are predominately white with pops of color in the accessories.What fun it would be to change out accessories when the mood strikes. Right now I am in a turquoise mood and I could see accessorizing my fantasy white rooms with pops of that cool color. However, when winter comes around I am ready to warm up my environment and would happily change out the turquoise for some warm reds and tans. A backdrop of white can provide an opportunity to change the look of a room for little money and effort. This is a good way to play with current trends, but not to commit to years of the same look (which may be out of style next year, as those trends  come and go rather quickly!).
      Here are some pictures of rooms decorated with warm whites. Notice how there are a variety of whites in every room to provide depth and interest. Woods, plants and a variety of textures also help to create warmth.
Zuhairah Interior Design

Eclectic Revisited

French Garden House

Layla Grace
House Beautiful

Enchanted Home

Monday, April 23, 2012

Drop Cloth Curtains!

The use of canvas drop cloths to make curtains is nothing new. It has been all over blogland for as few years, BUT it hasn't been to my house yet! Has it been to yours? I have been looking at beautiful fabric swatches to use to make curtains and to upholster my chairs. However, being the poor person I am at the moment, it is unrealistic to expect to get this room complete in 2012 if I have to try and save up enough money to match my decorating tastes to my decorating funds! Sooo I have been looking at alternatives. One answer is to make curtains out of drop cloths. I have searched through many many blogs and have amassed a collection of pictures. I think I have found a solution that will #1 Fit my budget and #2 Allow me to buy some of that beautiful fabric I have been drooling over.  Here is the picture that inspired me:

It all started with paint

I like the use of patterned fabric together with the drop cloth. The ribbon gives it a nice finished looking accent. I can use the fabric to make some pillows. I think this can work. Of course, I have read of some DIY disasters with drop cloths, and have come away with some sage advice. First off, wash your drop cloth. Some people wash it several times to soften it up and shrink it to its most shrinkable self. !This is to ensure that once you have these beautiful curtains hanging in your room for a while and they need a good washing, they don't shrink into miniature curtains!)  Several people suggested bleaching them. This obviously lightens them. The other advice I found was to also soak them in hydrogen peroxide (3%), as this neutralizes the bleach, and stops the chemical reaction from continuing after the fabric is washed. There are so many pretty fabrics to choose from. I had been limiting myself to those under $10/yard, but since I am now going from needing 10 yards to 2, I can spend a few more dollars per yard and STILL save tons of money! So before I go off to have fun at and, I will leave you with some pictures of drop cloth curtains!

Triangle honeymoon

I love these. They are stenciled with fabric paint. Lots of work, but well worth it!

Here is another creative approach. She used a sharpie and wrote Robert Frost poems across the curtains!

DIY Showoff

Here is another great look. Strips of fabric were alternated with drop cloth.

A little trim can give the curtain a professional, finished look.
A Soft Place

Have you had any experience making curtains out of drop cloths? Please share and lend any advice you think I might need~ leave a comment!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A few days at the Lake House...and some cottage porch inspiration

This week was school vacation week. I really needed a few days of R&R, so I packed the car and my daughter and I took a ride to the lake house. I had not been there since last fall. My brother goes all through the winter to ski , but it had been a disappointing winter with little snow. On Monday it was close to 90 degrees! When we were looking at houses last April, the real estate agent kept reminding us that the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont got an average of 140 inches of snow every winter and the ice can remain on Lake Memphremagog well into May. Well, not this year! It was like summer, and we're loving it. Right next to the house is a conservation area, and this week we saw Loons, Blue Herons, Geese and Ducks nesting around the property. We are excited to go back in a few weeks and see the babies!
      We have so much work to do on the cottage. We only have a dining room table and chairs so far and are sleeping on blow-up beds. So the house is a blank slate. My daughter and I are planning to surprise everyone and decorate the enclosed porch. It is on the front of the cottage and faces the lake. The view is great. The house is lakefront, but is set back and has a beautiful lawn that stretches down to the waterfront. Anyway, I am starting to plan our project.
I left my camera at the cottage ( yes, I am going crazy, but trying to remain calm). So I can't show you the 'Before' pictures I took. I also can't show you what the lake looks like in the spring, so I am posting a few pictures from last summer.
I have been looking around the internet at pictures of enclosed cottage porches for some inspiration and I am going to share some with you today. I am going for a vintage cottage look. I am working on a design board and will post it when I am finished!

Better Homes & Garden
Coastal Living

Coastal Living
Coastal Living

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Design inspired by the movies: Out of Africa

The other day, a friend asked me to list my top 5 favorite movies. As I started listing them, I saw a pattern. Can you tell what it is? Here they are: Out of Africa, A Good Year, Somethings Gotta Give, Julie & Julia, You've Got Mail.... these were just off the top of my head (I am sure that there are more that may bump a few off the top five). See the pattern? They all have great set design! I swear, I watch movies as much for the design~ setting, interior and exterior design, and fashion as I do for the story! I know I am not alone. If you love looking at movie & tv houses go to Julia's blog Hooked on Houses. She has the best collection.
      I thought it would be fun to do some posts on design inspired by movies! I already did one about my favorite tv show Downton Abbey. So today I am showing you some elements of design that can be used in ceating an atmosphere similar to the set of my favorite movie, Out of Africa. In case you haven't seen it (you've got to see it!) it's about the author Karen Blixen (whose pen name was Isak Dinesen) and her years living in Africa during the early part of the 20th century. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford starred in this wonderfully sad, beautifully photographed love story...which makes me cry every time I watch it. The house where Karen lived has been turned into a museum. After her death, her property was sold and divided several times over the years. It was turned into a residential development and the town was named Karen. My dream is to one day travel to Karen to see her home and to look out over the Ngong Hills, just as she did almost one hundred years ago.

Karen Blixen Museum
This is a picture of Karen Blixen's house as it looks today.The house's architecture is typical of late 19th century bungalows, including big rooms, horizontal layout, large porches, tile roof and stone construction.
     The interior design in this movie is called British Colonial. As the British were colonizing parts of Africa,  India, Australia and the islands in the 1800s they brought along their own furnishings. However, the hot humid climates of some of the regions made the soft woods warp. Local craftsman began making replicas of the British designs using native hard woods such as rattan, wicker, bamboo, ebony and teak. Often, local designs were incorporated into the British style furniture. fabrics with tropical designs, pineapples, monkeys, animal prints were all popular.  Suitcases, used to move the English to their new colonies served multi-purposes as end tables and storage. Some furnishings were created specifically for travel. Called campaign furniture, these pieces often folded up into trunks or broke down into pieces to be easily packed and moved.

Tracey Steyns Designs

Ralph Lauren

Cottage Caboodle

  In bedrooms, canopy beds were common and mosquito netting was often used for obvious reasons.  Tropical plants were used inside as decor. Wooden blinds and shutters on windows were common. Rugs were made of natural materials such as sisal. Ceiling fans were also popular.

This is a picture of a room in the Karen Blixen Museum

Hollister and Porter Hover via Design Sponge

Architectural Digest

  Karen Blixen

Karen's Study via Hooked on Houses

Hope you have been inspired by  British Colonial decor and design.
If you haven't seen Out of Africa, go watch it on Netflix!

Friday, April 13, 2012

New old couch and new decorating challenges!

My husband told me last week that he was getting a couch from a friend, which would replace our old one that was falling apart. He told me it was in great condition and was tan and would work well with my proposed  SW Sea Salt or Rainwashed wall color. So last night the old couch goes out and the 'new' one comes in. NOT what I expected. First of all, I was planning on buying a couch that looked like this:

or maybe this:
But definitely not this:

OK, nothing looks good with the ugly pink carpet. In this picture the sofa actually looks brown/gray. In real life it looks dark olive green. It is actually in great condition. There are two things that are driving me crazy. The first is the color~ it clashes with many of the light aqua colors I have been drooling over. Second, notice there is no arm on the right end of the sofa. I like symmetry and balance. This will drive me insane. Also, my husband LOVES it. So do the kids..and the dachshunds. I am clearly outnumbered and need to make it work (until I can save up enough to buy a new one).
     I got out my beloved paint chips and fabric swatches and put them on the sofa. It isn't as bad as my mind imagined, but it is going to take some creativity to make it work.

The big bottom paint chip is Restoration Hardware Silver Sage. This looked too cool gray on my wall. It didn't show any of the beautiful subtle blue/green colors like it did in Beth's kitchen. Above that is SW Sea Salt, which is the direction I am  was heading in. It has a little bit more color to it, but enough gray to be neutral.Click here to see it in Beth's sunroom . Beth obviously is very talented! Her blog is called Unskinny Boppy. Go visit.

This strip is from Sherwin Williams.  left to right: Topsail, Tradewind, Rain, Interesting Aqua.
I decide to look at colors that are more blue than green. Green seems to clash with the brown/olive of the couch. (I know, this is getting ridiculous, it will be 2013 before I even choose a wall color!).

Well, after all is said and done, I STILL like SW Sea Salt. Now, I have to convince my husband to help me rip up the pink carpet...stay tuned....

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Restoration Hardware's Deconstructed Mess

I just got Restoration Hardware's new catalog in the mail today. Wow. Interesting in a weird way. Some things I love and are very unique and cutting edge. Others are just over the edge into the zone of "What were they thinking?"  For this post I will stick to the design concept which I find bizarre. They are calling it "Deconstructed" "Meticulously handcrafted to reveal the old world artistry of its inner workings..." Really? It simply looks unfinished, partially upholstered and ready for the junk heap (where a crafty blogger will find it and turn it into something beautiful by painting and reupholstering!). So look at these pictures from the catalog and tell me what you think. Would you buy one of these for your house? Oh, and they cost between  $1995- $2195!

My Grandfather would be so upset at the attempt to make these unfinished chairs into a design trend. He was a very talented and well respected furniture designer and maker during the first half of the 20th century. He even taught furniture restoration at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. Someday I will show you some of his work. Oh, and his chairs are beautifully upholstered!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A colorful designer~ Kelly Proxmire

I haven't been focused on interior design this past week, as my other life as kept me busy. Yesterday, I won reelection to the School Board, and one of my proposals (full day kindergarten) was approved by the voters! It has been a roller coaster ride, as extremists have retired to our community and do not believe that they should have to educate other people's children. They have become a powerful voting block...until yesterday, when every one of their groupies was voted out or not voted in. Hopefully we have returned some sanity back into our community! Anywho, back to my favorite topic, interior design!

Today, I am featuring a designer I stumbled upon while I was reading Traditional Home. Her name is Kelly Proxmire and she lives in the Washington DC area. From her website:
"In her 20-year career Proxmire has developed a matchless eye for crafting what she describes as “tailored traditional” interiors. Her projects suffuse warmth and hospitality while maintaining excellent balance, proportion and scale. Her love of color is combined with an appreciation for the fresh sophistication of white and the daring elegance of black. Adept at mixing traditional pieces with unexpected finds, Proxmire creates environments that are attuned to the client’s world and faithful to the architecture and setting of a home. "
She definitely is a traditional designer and since I lean toward tradition in design, I was attracted to her work, but what really wowed me is her use of color. She is definitely not afraid of color! I find her work fresh and inspirational. Her use of black is unusual, especially in coastal design, yet gives a definite classic vibe to the rooms. Here are examples of her work:

Kelly Proxmire

All her rooms are vibrant! Which is your favorite? I am in love with the striped yellow walls! You don't see bright yellow used much in traditional rooms anymore. Time to bring it back and be fearless with color. These rooms just brim with happiness!        
 To see more of Kelly's work, visit Kelly Interior Design.