Saturday, January 30, 2010

Something white...

A dose of fresh whites to beighten your day. White rooms, done right, are timeless and clean. They fit any style of architecture, from mid-century modern to Italianate. White soothes the eye. The layers of fabric, texture, and mix of materials engages it. With so many shades and of white--cream, sand, milk, eggshell, vanilla, fog, snowdrop-- it is impossible to go wrong. They all harmonize together, like a tone poem. These images from Country Living illustrate that point.

Join me for a meditation on white....

This living room showcases the more practical aspect of white decor with its liberal use of slipcovers. These are easily tossed in the wash for a quick cleaning. They need no folding or pressing to look crisp. The rumples only add to the sense of comfort and ease this room provides. Notice the worn finishes on the furniture to add some rustic flavor. Notice also the mirrors climbing the stairwell. These bounce the light around and enhance the sense of space.

This dining room entices with its collection of iron stone in shades of cream and white against the sky blue backdrop. I love the mixed seating around the table, some casual and some more formal, kind of like the guests who come to dinner parties. Each brings a unique personality to the table. The floral centerpiece and chandelier add luxury.

This mix of buttons illustrates that even simple things can comprise a lovely still-life when displayed in clear glass containers and grouped together. Plus I just adore buttons!

This image shows more of that classic combination--white stone ware set against a mix of materials. It complements chipped paint and stone finishes.

This mantel is simply stunning. Notice the layers of mirrors and pitchers of crisp, white blooms. The enamelware adds a untilitarian note. I am enamored the ethereal look of this composition. It is a room I would like to step into and just daydream for awhile.
I encourage you to try to find ways to pay tribute to white, the most versatile of colors. You will be pleased you did!
Until next time...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A beautiful example of urban country chic...

The house of the day is from House Beautiful. It is a 1950's ranch that has been updated to shine like an oasis of serenity, illustrating that even that most boring of architectural styles has promise.

Come join me for a guided tour.

The dining room hosts a mix of styles and players in its overall scheme. My favorites are the sexy chandelier, the rough plaster walls and the long farm table. The room is loaded with natural light and garden views. The table settings are simple and straightforward. Notice how the white bistro chairs and flowers on the table underscore the room's proximity to the garden.

The living room is a study in simplicity, but the use of dark wood accents and candlelight keep it feeling warm and inviting. It, too, is bathed in natural light. The use of space creates a sense of peacefulness.

The kitchen boasts marble in the backsplash and countertops. The farmhouse sink and simple, open shelving create a timeless feel in this modern space. Notice the mesh inserts in the lower cabinet doors. This adds some rough texture to the sleek materials and appliances. I love the high-arching bridge faucet.

This view down the hallway shows the variety of materials and textures that grace this house. The smooth, polished concrete floors harmonize with the wood plank walls. The antique-looking sconce adds a cozy element to offset the modern feel here.
In this library, books play the starring role. Their colors and bindings really stand out against the white walls and trim, allowing them to shine. With minimal distractions in the decor, it would be so easy to slip into a favorite novel and lose oneself for awhile.

The master bathroom continues the decorative themes--white, light and texture. There is an abundance of natural light in this room and direct access to the outdoors. I imagine a long soak in this gorgeous tub, taken at night, with the door propped open to allow me to hear the falling rain. Ah, true bliss!

The master bedroom is sweetly serene. The touches in this room are more feminine and delicate, ensuring not only comfort, but real luxury. Notice the ruffles on the comforter, the tufted headboard, the curvy chairs, and the bouquet of pink roses. The flooring and rug here blend with the soft color scheme. Natural light wakes sleepers gently to the dawning of a new day.

Even in the most modern and boxy spaces, this design aesthetic lends a warmth, an airiness, and a quiet spohistication.
Until next time...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kitchens that I love...

Maybe it is because I am not feeling good today, and some homemade chicken soup is in order, that I am in a frame of mind to look at some great kitchens. Kitchens are truly the heart of the home. They are where we create sustenance, nurturance, nourishment, celebratory masterpieces. They are the source of essential energy to fuel our bodies and minds. They are where we turn for comforts and remedies when feeling under the weather.

These kitchens from Country Home provide a visual feast. Come take a look.

In this kitchen there is an abundance of light. The white cabinets and marble backsplash maintain a clean, bright look. The butcherblock countertop adds warmth. Notice the arched niche that contains the swing-out window.

This gorgeous kitchen has many fine details that lend elegance. Notice the columns on either side of the sink and on the island. Notice the arched niche that houses the range. And see the border of mosaic tile edging the room. The glass tile backsplash echoes the glass insets in the upper cabinets. And of course the natural light is stunning.

This kitchen hosts a variety of finishes. The upper cabinets are a couple shades darker than the base cabinetry. The upper cabinets house a beautiful collection of brown transferware and white ironstone that looks like pieces of sculpture behind the glass fronts. The marble countertop and full backsplash add a classic note. The dark wood island gives the space some warmth. I admire the medieval looking light fixture hanging above the island.
Here is another view of the kitchen shown above. I adore the french doors and the toile curtains, which mimic the transferware on display behind upper cabinets doors. The island shelf below adds open storage and a clever use of otherwise un-used space. This is a room where I would linger to slowly sip my morning coffee and watch the day unfold.

A close-up of the dining area shows the gorgeous wood floor and fine craftsmanship of the french doors. The dining table shows its age, as do the caned chairs. Take note of the centerpiece. It is a common rubber plant contained in a silver urn--what a lovely mix of grand and humble elements. It adds the perfect touch.
I am sufficiently inspired now to head into my own kitchen and see about that bowl of soup to take care of this ailing body.
Until next time...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A bright cottage re-do...

This little carriage house, featured in Country Home April 2007, is of my favorite makeovers. The house went from dark and cramped to light, bright, and open. It is a prime example of how small spaces can live large.

Come with me as I tour this delightful little home.

This living room has that combination of elements I rave about: natural light, natural materials, painted wood plank walls, a mixture of fabrics and textures. It speaks of springtime, of languid days strolling through gardens, of sipping tea with friends, of napping in the sunshine. Notice how the playful use of color accents the space to create a cheery feeling.

This arrangement of the simple wooden console table and wall art above it ties together all the elements of natural style. Notice the nature-themed art, the lagre-scale mirror propped against the wall, the wicker-covered bottles, and the glass accents. These add subtle detailing in a room bright with color. Turquoise is used to tone down the apple green and rose-petal pink that dominate the scheme.

The dining space, carved out of the living room, expounds delicately on these themes. The wicker chairs, painted wood walls, sisal rug, bare wood table, and linen table runners all add rich notes of texture. The framed botanicals add another natural accent. A simple centerpiece of flowers in clear glass vessels and fruit in a ceramic bowl adds some livelihood and continues the color scheme of the living area.

The kitchen contains glorious windows which flood it with natural light. The materials, colors, and floor plan are simple and timeless. The turquoise accents from the living space become more dominant here in the kitchen. I love the wine-rack built into the lower cabinets. Notice the free-standing shelf, which eliminates the need for upper cabinets and keeps the room open and bright.

The bathroom exhibits old-fashioned charm, announced by the french doors that lead into it. I simply adore the claw-foot tub. The rustic tubside stool adds warmth. The blues and greens in this space are toned-down and soothing. What a great place to take a bubble bath!

I hope you have enjoyed this tour as much as I have. May this home inspire your creativity for ways to maximize usability and livability in small spaces.

Until next time...


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dreamy kitchens...

Who doesn't have a dream kitchen in mind? We all want a kitchen that has enough storage for all our necessities, enough counterspace to spread out and get busy, enough natural light to be welcoming at all times of the day, and enough beauty to make even clean up chores a delight. My own kitchen is almost there, but a few finishing touches are still needed before I share the pictures with you. For the time being, I hope these kitchens from Costal Living will suffice.

In this kitchen, there is a wonderful mix of materials, with the use of both painted and natural wood, the clever storage tucked inder the staircase, the wide plank flooring. Notice the tiny AGA cooker in a sunny yellow and the range hood that looks like a chimney cap. The free-standing island is the perfect height for food prep. and keeps the space airy and bright.

This kitchen has a bit more color than I usually like, but it is soft enough to read as neutral. The green cabinetry harmonizes well with the stained plank walls. I am taken with the beadboard cabinets, the light fixture above the sink, and the open shelves.

This kitchen also has a bit of color, but it looks wonderfully fresh and doesn't compete with the subtle detailing. Notice the front of the refrigerator, which looks like an old-fashioned pie safe... a very clever way to add a touch of rusticity to this otherwise refined space. I also like the transom above the door, the plank walls, and the wicker accents. The open shelves at the end of the island keep it from looking gargantuan.

This kitchen has the soothing colors I crave. The cabinetry resembles built in furniture, giving the room a more cozy attitude. Notice the arched upper cabinet on the right, which in this case, adds a refined note to a fairly rustic room. The light fixture above the island is sublime, as is the daylight being emitted from the expansive windows.

Wishing you happy kitchen dreams.

Until next time...


Friday, January 22, 2010

All the elements of natural style

These pictures from Country Home represent all the things I admire about natural style interiors.

In this dining room there is a mix of textures-- stone flooring, wicker, natural-finish wood, linen, glass, plant material, painted wood (trim). Each element is like a note in a chord, each chord follows the next to create both melody and harmony. The overall effect is soothing to the eye, and yet subtly stimulating to the senses. And of course, there is an abundance of natural light.

This bedroom, part of the same house as the dining room shown above, contains many of the same design elements. The colors are calming, ensuring that a good night's sleep is at hand. Note the layering of linens on the bed, of extras on the bench that serves as footboard, of the rug on the bare wood floor. The layers equate with comfort and softness, exactly what we want in a space that launches us into dreams.

I adore this kitchen for its "unfitted" look, bringing a timeless Eurpoean aesthetic into an American Victorian home. Once again there is a variety of finishes and natural materials in this space. Despite the pale colors, there is enough contrast to keep the eye roving and entertained. I especially love the aged finish on the cabinet doors paired with the smooth marble countertop.

Texture plays a starring role in the living room of the same home as the kitchen above, from the velvety upholstery, to the wicker settee, to the plaster angel wing on the wall. The latte-colored walls and sepia photograph add a dramatic note without overpowering the rest of the room.

This entry sports one of my favorite finishes--painted wood walls. The vertical lines of the paneling draw the eye upward to increase the sense of spatial volume in this small space, a trick I have used in my own home. I also love the nubby linen upholstery and ragged, faded rugs.
All of these rooms share a neutral pallette, a mixture of finishes, natural materials, and multiple layers of texture. For me, these are the elements that make a home comfortable and cozy, a space I would hesitate to leave.
Wishing you a lovely weekend.
Until next time...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An oasis of calm...

Today is the end of my work week, and calm is what I am craving. In order for me to shift into the weekend, a brief time-out is necessary. The house is quiet when I arrive home and sneak off to my bedroom, where I am immersed in comfort, from the linens and quilts covering the bed to the soft cream wall color and pale accessories. Today I share with you some images from this most sacred of places, my personal at-home sanctuary.

This image shows my bed reflected in the ornate mirror of the white-painted dresser I bought many years ago. My bed is layered in soft materials, from the headboard slip-covered in linen to the cotton voile canopy, to the cotton quilt I made last fall. The colors are muted; the patterns, earthy. The top of the dresser illustrates my love of white on cream, with the modern vases serving as mini sculptures and a nice juxtaposition against the classical column capital that functions as a plant pedestal.

This hand painted desk serves as a bedside table, work station for creative projects, and perch for watching the birds. The top right corner of the desk displays the inspiration for the detailing on the desk, a sensitive fern pressed in a floating frame. The green garden chair echos the color scheme and adds a metal element to the ultra-soft room.

This still-life sits atop a camel colored bookcase. The grouping contains a variety of organic elements. There is a terra cotta urn filled with branches, gathered from the woods, that are graced with various white ornaments to form a year-round display. The glass jar holds an assemblage of rocks, twigs, moss, dried flowers and feathers, most of which were also found on my property. Here is one way I use the antlers I mentioned a couple of posts ago, forming a bridge between the larger elements of the display. The votive candle in the center provides soft illumination as darkness falls.

Wishing you some peace as you slide toward your weekend.

Until next time...


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What I am longing for...

On this dreary January day, all I see when looking outside the window are shades of brown. The deciduous trees dotting the lawn, although elegant in their sculptural form, range from ebony oaks to taupe tulip poplars. The grass looks as if bitten by rust. And the sky is a non-descript grayish white.

Today I am longing for some color and sunshine to warm me up. The purple silk dress I am wearing must have inspired me to find some other way to echo its radiance. In my archives there were pictures I had taken last spring which seem to fulfill this craving for color.

This fledgling clematis is showing its periwinkle face to the rays of dappled sunshine smiling down on it. Behind the clematis is a bald cypress tree that plays host to a prolific Virginia creeper.

My garden gate and the path leading up to the front porch are warmed by the sun. The walkway is lined by perennial and herb beds. Old fashioned irises on the right welcome visitors. The beds to the left support catmint, lambs ears, thyme, and St. John's wort. Candle lanterns gently light the path as evening falls.

This is another view of the perennial bed in front of the porch. It is filled with irises, day lilies, peonies, shasta daisies, and roses. The urn on the pedestal is freshly planted with lavender pansies. In the background are more tree trunks covered in Virginia creeper. It is a vine native to this area that provides an extra layer of greenery and structure to the plantings.

This bed behind the sunroom sponsors a multitude of early-blooming Virginia bluebells and wild sweet William, both native to this part of the U.S. Each year they become more dense. I love their soft color and old-timey names. As you can see, an occasional dandelion pops up as well.
I hope this mini tour of my spring garden has brightened your day and staved off the cabin fever that often settles in this time of the year.
Sending you dreams of springtime and sunshine.
Until next time...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

And so it begins...

Welcome Home!

Webster's New American College Dictionary defines home as: "(hom) n. 1. the house, etc., where one resides; one's native land. "

To me, a home is more than just a place of dwelling. It is a sanctuary from the huge, and sometimes brutal, outside world. It is a sacred space where only those dearest to my heart are allowed access. It is an outward expression of my deepest desires, my highest aspirations, and my latest creative endeavors. A home is an evolving entity that mirrors one's own evolutionary process. I invite you to join me as this process unfolds.

A study in textures...

My house is rich in texture. This hangs in the sunroom, a space we designed and built ourselves. I love the old barn wood of this window against these walls, which were coated with joint compound to mimic old plaster. The curly-leaved, cascading plant adds an element of life. The mottled gourd, given to me by a friend, seems to fit right into this earthy display.

This votive holder, with its punched bronze also looks lovely against the textured walls. It is sitting atop a rusted metal box that serves as an end table in the sunroom.

These antlers, shed in my woods by the ever-present white-tailed deer, were a lucky find. They are as beautiful and varied in color and form as sea shells. I use them throughout the house to add an organic note to displays.

In neutral decor, textures provide needed contrast to keep the look warm and inviting. Some of my favorites include: cable knit throws, sisal rugs, silk throw pillows next to wool ones, matelasse spreads, quilts, terra cotta urns filled with bare branches.

Until next time...



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