Monday, November 30, 2015

My Favorite Design Books

B likes to compare my book collection to that of a stuck-in-the-past audiophile proudly displaying a vast assemblage of cassette tapes and 8 tracks. He strongly feels that books are an artifact of the past and have little place in a modern home. I'm pretty sure he came to that conclusion during our move, sometime around carrying the 10th fully-loaded box from room to room.  




I'll admit, most of my fiction reading is done via ipad these days, but when it comes to design and cookbooks, digital just doesn't cut it.

I use books not only as decorative objects, but as resources that I actually use and refer back to again and again.

Some of my favorite design books not only look great on display, but contain amazing photos, resource guides, and styling tips that I try to incorporate into my own home. Here are a few of my favorites:

Elements of Style, Designing a Home and a Life, by Erin Gates. I also referred to Erin in my favorite blogs post here




This book is instantly eye-catching because of its distinctive black and white striped spine. I absolutely love this touch, but the contents inside more than hold up to the high bar set by that attractive color. Erin's writing style (while not for everyone, I'm sure) really speaks to me. I find Erin's aesthetic to be pretty close to my own, which means the pages are full of eye candy of which I can't get enough.




Windsor Smith definitely operates on another level from most designers. I mean, she does Gwynnie's homes, which in my opinion is about as fabulous as it gets. 



Ms. Smith is known for being staunchly anti-traditional when it comes to defining the rooms in your home. Why have a formal dining room that you use only twice a year when you could have a lounge-y music room instead?



I'm not nearly as avant garde in my home choices, but I like the attitude and message that your home is YOURS and should suit your needs - not the needs of our ancestors 100 years ago who built it.

Domino was always one of my favorite magazines, and I love their Book of Decorating as well: 




It's full of really down-to-earth and useful suggestions on how to bring your rooms together. This is another one that has such a beautiful cover it's a shame to not show it off.

Although not strictly "design" books in the traditional sense, I absolutely love purchasing auction catalogs, usually from Sotheby's or Christie's, that detail beautiful home items that are up for auction. 

These catalogs can often be found on ebay ranging from just a few dollars all the way up to hundreds for the historically significant ones. The below is from the auction of Mrs. Paul Mellon's artwork that was held a few years ago: 




Not only is it really fun to look at the items for sale, but it's also a great way to see how collections come together and provides reassurance that if you combine all of the things you love, even if they are of different styles, it will look amazing.

Thanks for reading! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Office: Before/In-Progress

Ahh, our home office. Probably the room into which I've put the least amount of effort (second only to possibly the guest bedroom). I've allowed myself to slack, because it's not one of our primary living spaces. Murphy does like to sleep in it so he can keep an eye on the neighbor's chickens. Yes, chickens. But besides naps, it doesn't get a ton of use. 

But, as I'm spending more time in it as I think about starting a potential business (more on that soon), I'm realizing it's time to spruce up a bit so the inspiration can flow :) 

I'm sharing some pre-spruced photos here today, but it's probably more accurate to call them "in-progress." I've added a few new things to the room and although I've got most of the key pieces in place, there's still a long way to go. 

Here's the vision for the finished space:



For this room, I want there to be a good mix of masculine and feminine pieces, and the color scheme of black, grey, malachite green, and brass accents fits into that perfectly. I think it feels modern but also classic, and will hopefully result in a room that appeals to both B and I. 

I'm into the sort of old-worldy, den-like vibe, and want it to feel like a cozy room where you retire after dinner with your slippers and a nice scotch Meomi Pinot. It seems like the perfect time to tackle this room too, since winter is coming (#jonsnowlives) and what's better than a warm, comfortable room when it's cold and snowy outside?

As it is today, many of the main pieces are in place, but the room isn't pulled together by a long shot. The space is basically a square, about 14 x 14.

This is the view looking in the doorway from the hallway outside: 


The office sits in the very back corner of the house, with a short hallway leading to it from the TV room, and a longer hallway leading to it from the front parlor.

The room is technically a bedroom, which I believe simply means it has at least one window and a closet. 

The closet is in the photo below, and it's a fairly generously-sized one. It's handy for storing extra printer paper, file folders, and other not-so-attractive office essentials. 


We painted this room the same Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter as the rest of the house, although now I kind of wish I would have gone with a darker grey in here. I'm going to hold off on changing the walls until the other pieces are in place, but I think this might be the room where I finally get to use Farrow and Ball Down Pipe, which I've been dying to use somewhere:



I'm keeping most of the furniture in this room. One exception though is the chair:



Although I still really like this chair, and it is in excellent condition, I think the grey velvet chesterfield I included in the collage above will work better to achieve the overall look I'm going for. Besides, I think I can re-purpose this one into the guest room upstairs where it should work fine for another few years.


I've moved the desk around in here a few times trying to find the optimal position for it. It's a little awkwardly positioned right now on an angle, but I think it's okay. I definitely prefer cleaner, more symmetrical positioning in general, but the issue here is a lack of outlets where I need them. If I had my druthers, it would be centered on the back windows facing out, but it just doesn't work from an electricity standpoint. But, at least this way I can see out both sets of windows and also into the hallway while I'm working.

The new rug is an overdyed emerald green oriental, and I have all the heart eyes for it: 


It's so pretty in person, and the color really complements all the wood in this room nicely. Once the floor-to-ceiling green drapes are in place, I think it will look stunning.

The drapes will be key to providing nice sight lines from the front of the house. As you can see below, you can see into the office all the way through the hallway from the front of the house: 


I like that the green will carry through from the hallway runner into the green of the office. The powder room is also off that hallway, with its dramatic green zebras, so the whole series of spaces should tie together nicely.

Once the drapes, chair (likely with an ottoman), and possibly a new overhead light fixture are in place, then it will simply be a matter of zhushing up the accessories in here:

 

To that end, I've already started adding a few things I like, including the brass armillary, green vases, and the Abe Lincoln bust. I need to add a few more books and possibly a couple more pieces of artwork, then I think we'll be in good shape. Hopefully a final reveal will be coming soon! 

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!


Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Playroom

It was important to me that we have at least one truly kid-friendly space on each floor of our home, but I wanted the majority of E's toys to be out of our main living spaces. On the first floor, we have the world's most adorable reading nook. The basement has space for E's larger toys and as she gets older, an air hockey table and pac-man arcade game for her and her friends. The second floor, however, is where E can really go crazy and enjoy being a kid. 

Although I wanted the playroom to be super kid-friendly, it also needed to be able to accommodate adults comfortably since we're not quite yet to the point where we can just leave her playing independently for more than a couple minutes. It was also important to me that the space be somewhat designed - not just a hodgepodge. There was definitely a balance to be achieved of making the space look somewhat stylish, but also like a space for kiddos to run around, make a mess, and have fun.

The playroom is basically a large open space on the 2nd floor of our home. I suppose it's technically a hallway, but I think of it as sort of a lounge welcoming you to the upstairs.

Here's the view of the entire space:


The rug is Ikea and I've loved it for years. It's stylish, and kid-friendly, while not being too babyish, and it's SUPER cheap. A good thing, since it gets pelted with markers, paints, and snacks on the daily.  




The draperies are Serena & Lily, and the fun little flag banner is from Land of Nod:


The play table and chairs  are both from Land of Nod, as are the black storage bins over on the right. 


It's funny, because I thought I totally overbought on the storage and that we'd have way more than we needed. Ha ha ha, rookie mistake! I should note, I'm 100% keeping it real in these pictures. Although I did straighten up a bit, I didn't remove anything from the playroom. And I can admit, the chaos does make my eyelids twitch just a little.  

The gallery wall is for sure one of my favorite elements in the room, and helps tie together the color scheme, which is grey, black, and white with pops of yellow and pink. 


The seagrass animal heads are from Target, the flower print is from etsy, the black and white arrow is from Hobby Lobby, the large bicycle is a vintage French poster I purchased at one of my favorite ever home stores (in San Diego, and I cannot remember the name!), the yellow heart is my poorly executed version of Kerri Rosenthal's truly stunning work. I super love her work and will more than likely spring for the real deal from her one of these days, but when I do, it's probably not going in the playroom (sorry E!). 

The last piece is a print of Goyard's alphabet, which is what they use when you monogram one of their bags. Of all the luxury brands, Goyard is my favorite. If I won the lottery, I'd have a full set of Goyard luggage and all the bags. As it is, I have one, but I am a compete fan girl (here I am geeking out in front of the flagship store in Paris):



Anyway, when I came across this piece (via Artstar), I thought it was perhaps the most perfectly ordained moment of my life. I was powerless; I couldn't not buy it. 




On one of the other walls, we've got a kitty clock:

Its movement is sort of hypnotizing...in a good way.

In this corner you can see some of the other artwork. The alphabet splatter piece is another JC original, and the cow is just a fun little watercolor that I picked up at Homegoods.


The big round chair is super comfy piece that came with us from the old house. The only change I made is I switched up the pillows from the ones it came with. It's a little hard to tell in the photo, but there's a mix of grey velvet and grey buffalo check from ikea, as well as some pretty petal pink RH pillows. 



The play kitchen of course is a popular spot for E, where she makes a mean cheese and ice cream soup.



The little ducky print is by miss E herself, and elsewhere in the playroom we have a piece by E's Omie (her grandmother). I think it's very sweet that we have a mix of things made for E by several people who love her. 


That vintage Moroccan basket (from Loft & Craft) is another of my favorite things in this room:



In addition to being great storage, it's such a cool piece, and adds a bit of age/imperfection to this room that's full of a lot of shiny new stuff.

You can see in the photo below how this space relates to the rest of the upstairs: 


That's E's bathroom down at the end of the room, but the easel basically demarcates the play space from the grown-up space. 

As E gets older, I see this space evolving into a more typical lounge, at which point we'll most likely do some built-ins, maybe with a window seat, install a TV, etc. For now though, it's toys toys everywhere, and such a bright, happy, cheerful space for our sweet girl.

Thank you for reading! 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Current Obsessions

Here's a little round up of a few fun things for the home with which I'm currently obsessed. 

First up, in the category of truly unnecessary (but so cute!) things, this Press for Champagne sign via etsy seller Lisa GoLightly:

Press For Champagne Framed Vintage Button ( silent version )

I love it so, so much. It's whimsical, fun, and also looks like a quality piece and not a cheap piece of junk. My only quandary is where to hang it. I'm thinking powder room, but it could also be cute in the kitchen or dining room. Or bar! 

I also think this would be such a cute piece to incorporate into wedding decor, or even an extra-special party. 

I must have champagne on the brain, because I'm also really into this Veuve tray:





I think it would be so perfect on a leather ottoman as a drinks holder, or as a catch-all pretty much anywhere. This is via Biscuit Home, truly one of my favorite browsing sites - I always find super cute things here. I can't wait to visit the brick-and-mortar shop when I'm in Houston (H-Town, bishes) sometime. Check out this awesome paint installation on an exterior wall - it's insane. 


So much at Mark and Graham is right up my alley. I mean, everything can be monogrammed! But while working on this post, I realized I've only bought gifts for others from here - never anything for myself. That needs to change, my friends!
I think this family game set needs a spot in our basement game room, for sure:

Family 3 in1 Game Set


I barely play tennis, as my tennis group from this past summer can attest, but that doesn't mean I don't like the gear. This monogrammed racket carrier (also M&G) is admittedly kind of silly, but I also think it's so cool. And, maybe I'd play better if I had better stuff? That certainly worked for my golf game (#sarcasm).

Colorfield Tennis Racket Holder

I still don't have a poker table in my basement (soon!), but that doesn't mean I'm holding off on the poker accessories. Hermes releases new designs of playing cards every year, and every year I look at them with longing. Perhaps this will be the year I pull the trigger? Sure they are a luxury, but as Hermes purchases go, this one is pretty attainable. 
Herm├Ęs

Unfortunately, I'm reasonably sure they would never, ever be used, as I think B would rather stick his head in a vat of boiling oil than whip out Hermes cards at poker night, but at least they would look pretty on the (imaginary) table, right? ;)

Thanks so much for reading! 


Monday, November 2, 2015

Splurge vs. Save

For me, one of the most fun parts of decorating a home is in putting together the mix of objects. I don't find it very interesting or appealing when a room looks like it was directly transplanted out of a catalog, with everything in the same finish and looking like a matched set. I love to incorporate both new and old pieces, as well as high-end items and bargain pieces. That layered richness really is where it's at. 

Eddie Ross is a master at this:


via Better Homes and Gardens

Of course, it's critical to know where to splurge and where to save. For example, if you sit on your sofa everyday, you'll probably regret going with the cheapest option you could find. Everyone has their own rules for what constitutes a splurge, and also where they want to spend their money. 

For me, those accessories that finish a room, or items that you don't necessarily use day-in-day-out are a great place to save. I've found a few gorgeous items lately that fall across the price spectrum, so I thought I'd round them up here. 

It all started with this truly amazing Kathryn McCoy selenite fireplace sculpture, via Bergdorf Goodman. 


BGF16_-5K0A

Once I saw this amazing piece, I could. not. stop. thinking. about. it. This is the sort of focal piece that not only makes the room, it makes the house.

One small problem though: this piece is $6000. Yes, you read that correctly - $6000. Crazy time, right? I joke all the time about needing to sell an organ to buy a particular thing I want, but in this case, I'm not even sure that would be enough. What's the black market rate for a spare kidney, anyway? Probably less than $6K. 

I started thinking about what it was I love about the piece. It's eye-catching. I've never seen anything else like it, and it combines luxury with an organic quality that is most definitely my love language. So, I found this option from Jayson Home that while certainly not as showstopping as the sculpture, bring in many of the same qualities as that piece for, oh, about 5% of the cost: 

Selenite Fireplace Logs


Horchow has a lot of really beautiful pieces, and this gorgeous gold etagere is but one example: 




It could work with lots of different styles, and I love the Hollywood Regency feel it has due to the brass finish. It's nearly $3K though, and in most spaces you'd want a pair, not just one. 

I spotted this option via PB Teen (of all places!) and think it's got a similar vibe at about 1/4 the price: 



Maison Bookcase

In fact, I think I like the lines on the PB Teen one even better than the pricier Horchow piece.

One last place to consider splurging vs. saving is if you're in the market for custom upholstery. Designer fabrics are typically very expensive - anywhere from $150-300/yard is pretty standard. Depending on the repeat, even just a couple of pillows can require 2 or more yards, which of course adds up quickly - and that's before you pay a seamstress to sew them for you. 

I was recently in the market for four pillows for my twin sofas in the living room. I knew I wanted them to be Schumacher's Chiang Mai Dragon aquamarine fabric:
173270 Chiang Mai Dragon Aquamarine by FSchumacher

Isn't it so pretty? It pulls together all the colors in my house and it's such a stunning pattern. It occurred to me to check etsy, and as I have so many times in the past, I struck etsy gold.

There are amazing etsy shops selling pillows in Schumacher, Kelly Wearstler, and other uber-expensive fabrics, for prices that, while still not cheap, are a steal compared to the cost of the fabric. 


I ended up ordering from here and was very happy with the end product. I've also heard good things about this one.

One thing to keep in mind, is only the front of the pillow cover is in the designer fabric - the back is a coordinating solid. Not an issue for me, but it could be an unpleasant surprise if you weren't expecting that. You'll also need to supply your own pillow insert.

Here are the pillows in my living room:

 

Thanks as always for reading, and watch for more updates (including a couple more finished room reveals!) soon!