Foo Dogs and Easter Eggs

There’s something about April that just makes me happy.  Actually there are several things.  The warm air, the flowers, the promise of summer, Easter candy, my daughter’s birthday, all help make April my favorite month of my favorite season.  And when I combine my love of spring with my love of all things chinoiserie, well, it just doesn’t get much more perfect.  Happy spring time!

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Plates by Anthropologie, burlap charges were a steal from AC Moore, the Foo Dogs are from Kravet, table and chairs by Grange and the vase is vintage.FullSizeRender

Why I can’t be a minimalist and other excuses for collecting!

I admire minimalist rooms.  Heck, I’ve even designed a few.  But minimalism has never been a look that I’ve been able to achieve in my own home.  For our recent move, all of my photos and knick-knacks were boxed.  As I was assembling the new rooms, I started out by displaying just a couple of photos here and there.  But before long, nearly all of them were out and about.  I had tried to edit them down to a select number of favorites but I found it too difficult to stash away the cute photo of Sophie without her front teeth or Adam laughing in the water fountain.  (I did manage to stow away all my wedding photos in a dark corner of the basement, but that’s another story entirely).  And besides, seeing all of those smiling faces just make me happy.  And isn’t that what interior design is all about?

About now, some of you who know me may be thinking that I’m being a bit disingenuous about all of this.  After all, I am the person who used to clean my children’s rooms by simply throwing away all those small game pieces.  I’m not a fan of clutter or messiness, but I do think that a room needs a certain amount of “things” to make it look warm and inviting.  That’s the downside of those minimalist rooms, they tend to look a little cold and sterile to me.  Who are the people who live there and what do they care about?

Below are some of the most meaningful pieces from my own home:

In the mudroom, a painting that my late grandmother did of a child’s red sneakers.  It just seemed right that this piece would hang in the mudroom;

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Over the fireplace, pieces given to me by people I love;

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On the second floor landing, shelves full of photos, knick-knacks and books that evoke fond memories;

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On our dining room cabinet, vintage glassware collected over the years and the German-made bride and groom that topped my grandparents’ wedding cake;

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Over our living room sofa, a piece of art that my husband and I found while traveling in Italy;

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In the entry, a drawing that Sophie did in school, framed and hung on the wall like the “real” piece of art that it is;

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And last but certainly not least, perhaps my favorite “piece” our cat Shadow.  And in case you were wondering about Shadow’s imposing girth, the “F” word that’s not allowed in our house is “fat!”

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The grass( cloth) is always brighter on the living room wall!

I’ve had a long-standing love for wallpaper.  Always loved it, always will.  Grasscloth is one of my favorites and a go to for clients but it wasn’t always this way.  Growing up, I still remember sitting at our dining room table covertly scratching and pulling at the chunky, thick fibers stuck on the wall.  Well I’m happy to say that those days are gone.  Today’s glasscloth is sleek and smart, comes in hues both bright and neutral, and is the perfect way to add texture and interest to a boring wall.  It works beautifully both in traditional and modern settings.  I’ve used hand printed grasscloth papers (Schumacher’s options are spectacular) to add both pattern and texture to a space, metallic hues as subterfuge for large televisions and bold colors to pump up the wow factor in alcoves.  Even just papering a single accent wall (try the headboard wall in a bedroom) can bring a room to life.

I just installed a pretty sea-glass colored grasscloth in my own living room.  The living room of our newly constructed home was looking a little….blah……cold……in a word, uninteresting.  It just needed a little something-something, if you know what I mean.  Even though the wallpaper color was similar to the existing paint color, the paper really warmed up the space and brought the room’s other colors and shapes into sharper focus.  Take a look at these before and after photos and let me know what you think.

Before:

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After:

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Lizards for Christmas?

I have been fortunate to work with the amazing and indefatigable make-up maven Mally Roncal for the past couple of years, transforming her newly constructed home into a reflection of her exuberant personality.  This make-over has included lots of tasteful animal prints, glittery lizard wall paper (Osborne and Little’s Komodo wall paper, see photo above), yards and yards of beautiful puddled drapes in every room, extra-large, gold covered driftwood scones and plenty of pretty pinks and purples.  The decor is unmistakably Mally and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

But amid all of this beauty, Mally has a not-so-secret issue with Christmas hoarding.  She was recently featured on the Rachel Ray Show discussing and addressing this vice.  I don’t think Mally is ever going to stop being Mally, but the clip has helpful tips for everyone and it also gives us a chance to see her newly designed first floor (you just need to look past all the balls and tinsel).

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Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and 2015!

Where Whimsy and Elegance Cohabitate (and they’re drinking margaritas!)

I stopped by my upholsterer’s shop yesterday to sneak a peak at the pieces that he’s making for a current project.  He had collected everything together in one room — barstools, 3 sets of dining chairs, benches, headboards, beds, large upholstered chairs and more than 100 pillows.  Taken together, the colors and patterns formed a visual cacophony that took my breath away!  As I was admiring his handiwork I heard him and his wife giggling.  Clearly over the months that they had been sewing and crafting and constructing with these bright, bodacious fabrics, they had been wondering (and no doubt discussing amongst themselves) one thing “What the hell is she thinking?”

“It’s for a beach house project and we want it to be colorful and whimsical” I offer as explanation.  But then I wonder, “Why am I feeling the need to justify?”

I’ve been working on the design for this large, new construction house for almost a year.  The client and I have spent hundreds of hours sorting through thousands of fabrics and furnishings, starting from scratch and designing spaces that haven’t yet been constructed.  We’ve designed a kitchen, and bathrooms and bedrooms and a bunk room and too many decks and porches to mention.  Our design is absolutely brimming with color.  Aqua blues are threaded throughout the house as a tribute to its ocean and bay views but there are also liberal doses of pinks, corals, oranges, yellows and greens.  Even our often-ignored friend raspberry makes a couple of appearances.  The design is beautifully and unapolagetically colorful.  It is full of warmth and sunshine and the good times to come.

But it is also utterly and undeniably elegant.  Not in a fussy, over-done, “don’t even think about sitting on that sofa” sort of way, but in a “come on in and have a margarita” sort of way.  Now you tell me, which would you prefer?  I’ll take mine on the rocks with just a little salt.

The house is scheduled to be completed in mid-August and I’ll post photos as soon as we complete the installation.