Monday, November 15, 2010

Design For Less: Part 1. . .11/15/10

It was not long ago that a friend popped over for a visit and in the most flattering of conversations she admired our home's decorative style.

"Who did you use?" she asked.
"For what?" I replied.
"As a designer?" she countered.
"Me" I told her. I am my own designer.

For me design is fun. I genuinely enjoy hunting for treasures that speak to me and speak of their own history; I anxiously anticipate the arrival of French containers at my favorite dealers' antique shops and don't mind in the least donning rain boots and a plastic poncho to walk miles and miles in the muddy fields of Round Top if all I bring home is a galvanized zinc bucket, a small desk lamp or nothing at all. I delight in combining old found objects with new and lovely finds from Home Goods, Hobby Lobby and any other home decor store that crosses my path. It's fun, interesting and basically a lifelong hobby. I have even been fortunate enough to help a handful of friends decorate parts of their homes - talk about flattery!

So, as part of an ongoing tribute to this love for design, join me in searching high and low for eclectic pieces that would work in any home and won't break the budget. How's that for fun?

The three sunburst mirrors above are divine! I absolutely adore them! The real deal would cost upwards of $500 a piece but designer Suzanne Kasler has made the look affordable to the masses by making replicas. These would look great just about anywhere. Group them together or scatter them alone throughout your home - they'd be wonderful in a bedroom, office, study, or even a master bathroom. Available at Ballard Designs.

These atelier antlers are also by Ms. Kasler and available at Ballard Designs.
I know many people are not fans of animal heads in their homes but I AM! In fact, I have a huge deer head in our game room and I love how it stands out against the burlap table just below it. Here, I love how she painted them all white. It's a modern take on an old design.
For anyone still in search of that perfect headboard for a master or guest bedroom, look no farther. This nail head headboard is also from Ballard Designs and comes in a variety of fabrics - custom made to order.
I am a firm believer that the basket is the solution to nearly any decorative problem. It stores toys, helps with storage issues, houses plants, linens, adorns shelves, etc.
These varied shapes (round, square and rectangular) are fantastic for just about everything and the washed grey color is absolute perfection. Get them at Ballard Designs too!
Another fantastic replica by Suzanne Kasler is this Harvest Basket. I have an antique one from our old shop in our home and it has held everything from firewood to dried hydrangeas in varied locations. What would you put in this?
This pair of antiqued coronas by Suzanne Kasler are GORGEOUS!! I am in love and I am hoping Santa drops these dainty replicas at my home this Christmas ;)
This round table with a fabric overlay is perfect for just about any area. It is also by Suzanne Kasler but you can DIY for less. Most fabric stores sell the X base and round circle that lays on top. To know how much fabric you will need, measure from floor to edge of circle and multiply by two then measure the circle's diameter and add these two numbers together.
I have one permanently in my bedroom but I also have one that I pull out for events like wedding and baby showers and parties for serving beverages and/or food.
This slipcovered chair is gorgeous. I'm desperately awaiting ANY opportunity for a space in our home to need it! I've had my eye on it for a few years now. It is from Wisteria.

These wall organizers are from Aiden Gray. They have an industrial feel about them (because of the wire and numbers) that I love. I think they are perfect for a home office area or kitchen - after all there are five weekdays right? ;) I just love when home organizing is more than just organizing - when it is beautiful and stylish too!
This Wisteria bench made my jaw drop a few seasons back. They still carry it and it comes in red stripe as well. Always have loved the french grain sack as upholstery - it is a nice blending of chic, casual and cozy.

Now, from someone as fond of French Provincial style as myself you wouldn't expect something as modern and minimalist as this glass coffee table from Wisteria but I am VERY drawn to it. I can absolutely imagine it as the "pop" piece in a living room. . .Louis Philippe mirror over a mantle, gold leaf french art deco arm chairs, stacks of design books. . .
This trestle table is so fine, does this really require anything more be said? Oh, well, maybe just that it too is from Wisteria. It would look fabulous in a hallway, as a sofa table or even in a dining room as a buffet.

Aiden Gray makes this beautiful wire vase. I've seen it filled with just moss and it looks beautiful. Perhaps dried flowers would be nice but I'm thinking I love the way it looks empty too. . .
This ottoman would be perfect as a coffee table. With stacked books beneath and a beautiful tray above. I love that it just looks sturdy doesn't it? For me, I see it first as a coffee table but my immediate impulse is to place it in a bedroom or a reading nook - I'd fill it with enormous coffee table books below and then rest my tired feet above to read a great Philippa Gregory novel.

This half moon table is Aiden Gray and I love, love, love it in an entry way. I also love the idea of having two of them and placing them back to back to make a full size table. . .for when extra family and friends are over. How about using them as bedside tables? Just a thought. . .

These two chairs are also both Aiden Gray. They are simple yet would be lovely as desk chairs, or even breakfast/dining room chairs. I like the top one to use at both ends of a rectangular table while using something else for the long sides of the table.
This last chair is from Pier 1 Imports. I love the wicker but it doesn't feel heavy like other chairs in this category from places like Pottery Barn. I think it would be beautiful, simple and chic at a small breakfast table with linen seat cushions.

These are just some thoughts for a home if I were throwing a few of my favorite pieces from commercial retailers in the mix. I think mixing it up and making it eclectic is the perfect way to make it your own and make sure that your living room doesn't become "catalog page 72". And it's easy to be inspired - decide what style you like, buy a magazine and borrow ideas or style tips. I have found great paint color suggestions in some and while I may not always replicate an idea in my home, just seeing them and learning to think outside the cookie cutter box can open your mind to a rushing wind of creativity. .

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

She's Bringing Shabby Back, Yeah. . .11/10/10

Vintage elegance, imperfect perfection, functionality, tattered beauty - these are all words that I would use to describe the stylings and interior designs of a woman who has made her name synonymous with the words "shabby chic." Yes, you guessed it: Rachel Ashwell. And I am here to sing her praises. . .or at least those of her style and design.

Here is a woman who opened a small boutique in Santa Monica, California in the late 80's, grew it into a worldwide "trend", opened 15 stores spanning the country and "across the pond", made an affordable brand of her designs available to the masses at Target, wrote several interior design books on the matter, went through bankruptcy, lost nearly all of her store's locations and has now bounced back with a Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture line and three new stores to show it all off. And might I add, it's fabulous!

Don't believe me? Take a quick peek. . .

Love, love, love the pink velvet juxtaposition to the gold leafing. Like a soft and hard contrast.
And I nearly fell off my chair when I came upon the image of this tablecloth!! GORGEOUS!!!
The loveliness of these floral pillows makes me want to redo my bedroom. . .only my husband would kill me if he had to sleep in a bed this girly.
I am a HUGE glass chandelier fan. I have one just like this in my bathroom.
And I somehow need to find a way to incorporate one of these chandeliers into my sweet little girl's room!
Love the delicate skirt on the Darcy Chair and the "X" back of the August chair.
The wrinkly texture of the Floris sofa is what I believe Rachel refers to as "tattered elegance". . .
I love the texture and fabric of this simple sectional but it's the eclectic pillows that really steal the show here. . .
Same with this sofa - the sectional is perfection and ease personified but the combination of the painted chippy doors as understated "art" leaning on the wall really makes a statement all its own.
And this skirted slipcovered bench is just dying to sit at the foot of someone's bed!! Maybe mine. . .

Convinced that Ms. Ashwell has a bit of fabulousness tucked up her sleeve yet? I am. Wasn't always a convert but her new line is inspired. . .as am I.

PS: here's a fun little fact. . .Rachel buys her vintage pieces and antiques in London AND in Texas at our very own Round Top antique fair!! In fact, she has a replica piece called "The Warrenton"!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Baby Shower Treats. . .11/6/10

My girlfriends and I have all thrown each other's wedding and baby showers and we've hosted so many for one another at this point that it has become a little bit of a joke in that we can do it with our hands tied behind our backs. We have the decorations for boy or girl, we have our go-to petit fours place, a treasure trove of delectable recipes to choose from and a knowledge of whose strengths fall into which categories. . .i.e.: we always have the same girl do invitations because she is a whiz at Photoshop!

This past weekend we hosted a rather small shower for our dear friend who is welcoming her third son in December but just to change things up a bit, I baked the sweets and chose cupcakes instead of a larger full-scale cake. I added a little blue food coloring in honor of the little one coming but I must say that the actual cake portion feels a little more St. Patricks than it does baby boy. . .maybe needed to add a few more blue droplets? I found these adorable teeny tiny plastic baby trinkets to add to the tops of the frosting. I was pretty pleased with them.

What's a baby shower without chicken salad, right?
I wasn't expecting to get the French wire votive candle holders that I ordered online until next week but they arrived the day before the shower. Perfect timing for a little added light!
A colorful and fresh bowl of ripe berries to pour over the delicious french toast one of our hostesses provided :)

This artichoke dip is insane! It is SO easy to make and SO yummy to eat!
A mini preview of our brunch feast!