Sunday, February 28, 2010

A tribute to one on my favorite designers...

I have found a kindred spirit in designer Atlanta Bartlett ( She is an author and a design diva who resides in Britain. I was first introduced to her work in one of the final issues of Country Home magazine last year. Thank you Country Home for 20 years worth of inspiration and for turning me on to the genius of Atlanta Bartlett. She uses the palest of palettes, along with a mix of natural materials, like wood and leather. She adds tiny bursts of color through pillows, throws, and fresh flowers. There are also a few girly items thrown in for fun, like sparkly chandeliers, faded florals, and bits of pink. Her work is multi-layered but well-edited and never feels cloying or claustrophobic. All images here are courtesy of Atlanta Bartlett.

Come along and see why I am so enamored with her work.

A lovely still-life set against a backdrop of painted wood paneling. All of my favorite elements are present and accounted for: mirrors, coral, sea shells, mercury glass, fresh flowers.

In this room pale floors play host to worn leather club chairs and a casually-draped sofa. Notice how the floral pillows, the grayed-green armoire and the dark coffee table add interest.

A welcoming tableau in the entry to Atlanta Bartlett's country house. The hulky table, the beat-up baskets under the table, the bucket of flowers and, of course, that huge mirror are ever-so-charming.

This is another view of the entry table and the rest of the room which houses it. Notice the repetition of elements here (leather, wood, white) the maintain consistency and cohesiveness. Each area within a room and each room within a house must relate well to one another, as they are inextricably connected. This principle makes for lovely interior views, as you can see here.

This guest bedroom is serene and so pretty! The wallpaper is subtle enough to keep the space feeling open while echoing the curved swag of the headboard. Pure white bed linens make the room as refreshing as a spring breeze.

Here are the pops of pink in a rustic corner of the living room. Notice the large vase of cherry blossoms and the hunk of wood used a s a side table.

This is the master bedroom. It is ultimately romantic but clean and fresh. The wicker baskets under the bed look great and provide storage, as well as texture. I am always taken by canopies made of mosquito netting.

Black and white photos add a modern element to this living space. Notice how they are all framed identically, which makes the grouping cohesive.

The dining table set for a celebration. More pink touches and sparkle keep the mood festive. Informally draped twinkle lights add some fun. What a hutch! It has great color, presence and seems to store a ton of stuff.

Many bloggers and design fanatics rave about Atlanta Bartlett. She seems to be everywhere these days. Now I hope you can see why!

Until next time...


Saturday, February 27, 2010

A toast to kitchens all in white

There is something about kitchens done all in white that just sends me. They are always fresh, clean, and bright. They have a sense of always having been there and never seem dated, unlike wood tones and color schemes which quickly fall out of favor. White kitchens are eternal. They invite you to pay attention to detail, such as carving in the wood or patterns in the tile.

Come and take a look at some of my favorites from House Beautiful.

I quite adore the warm white and black color scheme here. The cabinets are simply designed and blend beautifully with the Aga cooker (how I would love to have one of those). The black countertops and hardware add nice contrast. The glass-front upper cabinet bounces light around and show off pretty dishes, while echoing the window muntins. Touches like the brackets below the cabinets and on the range hood add a dash of spice to the mix.

Another view of the same kitchen shows an abundance of drawers, a farm sink, and gorgeous wide-plank flooring. The lights above the island and the clock add more bold bursts of black to punctuate the space.

This kitchen also plays on the black-and-white theme. The islands have nicely detailed legs atached to their sides for a dressy note. I like the industrial-looking light fixtures for a modern counterpoint. The arches in the doorway and the window beyond are sublime.

This kitchen has a sort of Victorian-meets-English country vibe. It beautifully pairs the rustic (pieces like the cupboard, island, stool, and table) with the refined (marble countertops, detailed cabinetry, and ornate ceiling). I am intrigued by the assortment of items on display in the cupboard--I imagine that each piece has a story of its own.

Another view of the same kitchen shows the stunning French range in its niche. The pots hang like jewelry above the island.

Notice the simplicity of the lines in this kitchen, The cabinetry is straight-forward, spare, but still lovely in pure white. I love the faucet and sink, which have a platinum-colored finish. They gleam against the well-scrubbed marble. The glass-front cabinets lift the eye upward.

I hope you can see why an all-white kitchen is so dear to my heart.

Until next time...


Friday, February 26, 2010

Old world elegance

European decorating incorporates things gathered over time. Rooms convey a sense of evolution rather than instant gratification. Pieces are handed down over generations. Materials and finishes are natural, worn and faded. Colors are often muted, sun-bleached, tea-stained. These rooms are cozy and romantic, just as one would imagine a charming hotel in the French countryside to be.

Come along for a tour of gorgeous rooms from House Beautiful and prepare to be enchanted.

I love the simplicity and earthiness of this entry. The stout but curvaceous legs of the table are reminiscent of garden furniture. The natural decor reinforces that theme. See how the lantern hangs low above the table, making it part of the tablescape. The moss-filled bowl is a sheer delight. Notice how the dining room in the background beckons.

This living room is a bit glam but manages to remain understated--not an easy feat to pull off successfully! The carved stone fireplace surround and the French doors leading to the terrace have a solid presence. All the furnishings are airy and serene.

This living room invites conversation. Notice the exotic touches mixed with more traditional elements, such as the huge chandelier reflected in the mirror and the wall sconces. And there is another stone fireplace surround. I love the bulk of this one and the extra tall mirror atop it. The palette is soothing but the overall scheme is richly textured.

This outdoor living space is just dreamy! Those graceful arched openings make me swoon. Furniture is light in material and color so as to not compete with the grand architecture.

The wood ceiling is stunning in this dining room. Observe the use of scale and the lack of additional ornamentation, which serves to make each piece more important to the overall scheme.

I am captured by the chandelier and the candelabra flanking the windows. The ornate table base is intriguing. Once again all objects in this room are largely scaled and minimal in number. This is a way to make a bold statement without being verbose.

More gorgeous wood on the ceiling. Outdoor lanterns hang over the island. The range hood, reminds me of that large stone fireplace surround in one of the living rooms I showed you. I also love the worn finish and color of the cabinerty.

This bath speaks to my soul. The soft colors, great windows, built in cabinetry, a deep soaking tub are divine.

What a luxurious bedroom! I love the subtle toile wallpaper, and I am not typically a wall-paper kind of girl. The ivory color and drape of the curtains on the bed and windows remind me of Roman robes. Notice the leggy bench in front of the window, a beauty of color and form.

The four-poster bed, chandelier and carved mirror are timeless and elegant. I love the celery green of the curtains as an accent color against the deep tones of the bed posts.
I hope you have enjoyed this tour of neutral European-style rooms, demonstrating the power of neutrals to fit into any decorating scheme.
Until next time...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Architecture 101

A colonnade...
A colonnade is defined as a half wall topped by columns that extend to the ceiling. These features add definition to rooms without sacrificing openness. They are often found in late Victorian and Craftsman era homes, usually dividing a living space from a dining space. The half walls can be simply covered in plaster (or drywall) with wood trim; more elaborate examples are paneled and trimmed in wood. The columns come in many varieties. They can be round, square, octagonal, tapered, fluted, champhered. They are surrounded by some form of base and capital (trim at the top) which matches the overall style of the columns and the room.

The images I am showing you today are of the newly-built colonnade that separates my living room from my kitchen. The base is paneled in beadboard and augmented with trim at the sides, top, and bottom to provide some depth, heft, and definition. The columns are square and trimmed with a simply detailed base and capital. The columns connect a shelf and beams that are made from reclaimed douglas fir that was originally used in a corn crib.
Lets' take a look.
This is the view as one enters from the front door, looking toward the kitchen. Notice many of the elements I have highlighted in other homes. All the furnishings are cream-colored with accents of pure white. Wood, both painted and natural, is used liberally. Off to the left is the colonnade, where the beadboard base wall and blocky trim are evident. The columns are intentionally hefty to add a sense of stability.
This is a view from the kitchen looking back toward the front door. This snapshot reveals more wood: on the island, on the living room walls, on the beams, on the cabinetry. All the white paint keeps the space light and bright. A large mirror reflects natural light into the living room. The pipe from the woodstove adds another vertical element and carries the eye upward, just as the columns do.
Another view from the living room. The colonnade frames the view into the cooking area of the kitchen. Light pours in from the triple window above the kitchen sink. The stainless steel refrigerator shimmers in the sunlight.
This is the view from the kitchen door toward the front door. Notice the black accents in the living room-- the chandelier, the pillows, the iron key hook, the woodstove. As you can see, my favotrite palette is white, black, tan, and wood. The curtains are simple panels that also add a vertical element, as do the linear grooves in the solid pine paneling.

A close-up of the colonade, with the kitchen to the right and an old buffet to the left. More accents of black and pure white are visible on the shelf above the buffet.

There you have it. I hope this has enriched your knowledge of architecture just a bit and provided you a glimpse into my own home and my decorating style.

Until next time...


Monday, February 22, 2010

Am I Blue?

Today I am in the mood for the quietest of blues: shades that call to mind a spring sky, the seaside in the rain, or mists rising off the lake in early morning. These shades, like the palest robin's egg whisper rather than speak. They provide solace for a tired mind and a weary heart.

Come along for a peek at gorgeous ways to incorporate paler shades of blue into your palette. All images here are from Better Homes and Gardens.

These simple slat chairs look gorgeous against the walnut-stained floor. They also add an outdoor element to the room. Paired with white, both hues look fresh and light as air.

The only color in this guest room comes from the painted chest of drawers. It casts a subtle glow that emanates from that corner of the room like an aura of quietude. Notice the height and grandeur of the metal bed and how it plays against the simplicity of the rest of the room.

This room is all about softness, from the bed to the curtains to the covered table in the corner. The curvy lines of the furniture reinforce the theme. What a lovely place to lie down for a luxurious afternoon nap!

Romance is just exuded from this room. Canopy beds and soft blues were my first decorating loves. This room would have been the room of my dreams when I was a young girl, with one bed for me and one for my best friend, Kelly, who frequently spent the night. The layers of fabric add more softness and comfort. Notice the gray tone of the beds against the white and cornflower blue.

This well-equipped closet appeals to my sense of order. Hints of blue keep it interesting. And notice the beadboard behind the shelves--you know about my love of beadboard!

A lovely corner of the kitchen. Here blues dominate the scene but manage to remain hushed. The yellow flowers and urn of greens punctuate the quiet here. The goblets in the cupboard are reminescent of jewels. The mini corinthian column on the counter adds a touch of whimsy.

Here is a larger view of the same pretty kitchen. The blues pair well with the maple countertop and beige tones in the cabinets and flooring. I love the openness of the upper cabinets. Removing doors keeps the room light and offers space to display pretty dishes.
I hope you have enjoyed study in blue and white. May it provide an antidote to the grayness of the day.
Until next time...

Friday, February 19, 2010

I'll take romance...

Romance...associated (in my mind, anyway) with indulgence, luxury, softness, intrigue, fantasy, sensuality. It is something that heightens the senses, makes hearts pitter-patter and breathing begin quicken. In order for romance to survive it needs nurturing and attention. It needs space to breathe and stretch its limbs. It needs fire for warmth. And it needs a nice, comfortable place to settle in and dream.

Come along and tour some of the most romantic spaces I have seen, all from Better Homes and Gradens.

This bedroom invites lingering beneath its sheer canpoy. All the elements for a perfect night of romance are here-- candles, pillows, soft lighting, layers of bedding, fresh flowers. Observe the placement of a mirror across from the bed. Overhead beams add some structure and stability, both literally and metaphorically.

The massive chandelier, with its sinuous lines and swags makes a bold statement. This room embraces feminine curves everywhere. All the furniture and accents are rounded and soft, plump even, providing a pleasing contrast to the heavy masculine beams overhead. My eye is drawn to the arched stone fireplace and the way the chandelier is reflected in the circular mirror above it.

In another view of the same room, the chandelier has dominion over the scene. Once again, notice the curving, soft lines. This is a room designed to foster relaxation and ease. It begs you to slip into something comfortable and curl up.

The large-scale furnighings and elements speak of luxury. Soft colors allow relaxation. Another chandelier and beams preside overhead. The mirror brings so much to the room, thanks to its casual style and large size. Notice the fresh flowers and the curtains framing the headboard, adding extra layers of softness and luxury.

The colors in this bedroom are simply gorgeous. There is a mix of several patterns and materials in the bedding, to keep the eye and hands engaged in running over them. The dark accents add drama. Shutters provide privacy for those quiet mements when the rest of the world just fades away. In place of a headboard, there is fabric-covered screen behind the bed.
As you can see, many of the elements that speak the language of romance are used again and again. Although the settings may differ, the same effect is the same.
I hope this inspires you to add a little touch of ooh la la to your most intimate spaces.
Until next time...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Upping the contrast for dramatic impact

In neutral color schemes, the law of opposites is indeed true. Increasing the contrast between light and dark allows each side of the tonal scale to really stand out. The old notion that without the darkness there wouldn't be light holds true in design as well as in real life.

Come with me to take a peek at some fine examples of ways to add a little drama to your life.

source: Better Homes and Gardens

This dining room illustrates ways to use both scale and color to heighten the dramatic tension in a space. The subtle backdrop of light-colored walls, trim, flooring, and decorative accents plays gracious host to the rich tones of the stained wood furniture. The oversized lantern brings in a touch of the outdoors to lend some informality to the scene. There is a clever mix of chairs around the table, with traditional wooden dining chairs and high-backed parson's chairs.

source: Elle Decor
This grand bathroom has very little added ornamentation, but is a play on contrasting themes. Notice the wood on stone, the black on white, the porcelain on stone. Dark accents keep the eye engaged. I love the large-scale secretary in a bathroom and the carved stone medallions. Unexpected surprises such as this add whimsy and delight.
source: Better Homes and Gardens
This room is all about white and wood. Even though the wood tones are more caramel than dark chocolate, they serve the same function, adding visual and textural contrast. Notice all the curvy lines found in the armoire, the column, chair backs, and table legs.

source: Elle Decor
This dining area uses the light-on-dark theme to add sophisitication. Dark colors help keep the whites from looking to sweet. The glass panes of the armoire keep the hulking piece from dominating the room. A farm table adds a homey rusticity, as do the stacks of reading material on the floor. A simple centerpiece keeps the outdoor connection intact.
source: Better Homes and Gardens
This kitchen pairs more natural wood tones with cream. The whites add freshness. The wood keeps the scene from floating away. Curtains make the kitchen feel more like a living space than just a work zone. The detail in the table apron is reminiscent of beaded board.
I hope this gives you a few ideas to add some drama to your interior spaces. We all crave a little excitement to keep us entertained, and this is a good way to satisfy that need.
Until next time...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A toast to white

I am dreaming in white...

Today I celebrate that most versatile of hues---white. Shades of white harmonize like a chords in subtle symphony. White can brighten and soothe. It can softly engage the eye, while also giving it a chance to rest. White is always classic, fresh, and elegant.

Come take a peek at different ways to use this wonderful shade inside the home. These photos from Better Homes and Gardens will provide some ideas.

This little work station set up in the entry of a home bids you welcome. These whites are on the cool side, leaning on gray. The woven basket introduces some warm contrast. The framed blackboard is a clever way to reuse an old frame. The worn paint, basket, ceramic and glass items all add texture and depth.

This living room has several contrasting materials in use, from the glass table top to the rustic wood accents. The crisply painted woodwork adds a high note to the soothing wall color. Decorations are kept to a minimum to allow the architecture to stand out.

This living space has even more white. There are dozens of shades shown here. Notice once again how the variety of textures pulls the look together and keeps thing interesting. A room like this invites comtemplation and reverie. I love the Queen Anne's Lace in the pitcher.

I am a sucker for beadboard! I would use it in every room of the house. It makes the perfect textured backdrop for worn finishes and slipcovered furnishings. The layers of softness on the sofa and chair invite one to grab a book, curl up with a pet, and while away the hours.

This cozy corner has all the elements I adore-- a sisal rug, worn paint and metal finishes, a graceful chair, a mantel for display, long drapes, candles and soothing colors. Notice the repeated circle theme--the mirror, table, candles, vases-- in this right-angled space.

I hope you have enjoyed this tour of white rooms. Stay tuned for more.
Until next time...


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