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coffee + cre8tive {aug 18 ’06}

“Here are fruits, flowers, leaves and branches, And here is my heart which only beats for you” – Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)

Did you catch An American in Paris Flower School in the September issue of Domino (page 102 + 105)? If not, it was about reporter, Cynthia King and her adventures in Paris arranging flowers at the prestigious flower school, L’Ecole des Fleurs. Trained by Laure Primard (Cynthia describes her as an Audrey Tatou type with a warm smile that she later learns conceals a French sneer), the day begins with the words, “You make arrangements with your personality”. Cynthia says that she learns later in the class, that this is a big lie, since the class was all about rules and order.

I respect that her instructor followed a certain order in doing things, which seemed to frustrate Cynthia very much, but towards the end of the class she has a bit of a change of heart, “You have to admire the the technique of the French, their mastery and ability to blend nature to meet an aesthetic sensibility. But I’m American. I like things a little shaggy, quirky, and natural.” The class gave her confidence to handle flowers, which in the end, seemed to be worth the uphill battle she seemed to have with Ms. Primard.

I’m American but I look through a different lens I guess, I don’t like things shaggy, I actually prefer having rules and order, especially when I’m taking a class – I wouldn’t register at an expensive school in Paris and expect anything less than what Cynthia experienced. I also think that there are certain rules that you need to follow for everything, whether you are writing a book, decorating your home, or riding a bike. Tossing flowers in a vase may not be wrong, but it’s also not exactly right, either. My mother taught me floral design, and there are specifics to follow or else your arrangement (no matter how lovely the flowers) can look depressed or flat, or even die very quickly. You also can harm the flowers, and if standing for a long time arranging them, your back and feet, so you do need to wear proper shoes and stand correctly, with good posture. Like many of you, I’ve taken classes in various art schools and the ones I walk away learning the most from incorporated a sense of seriousness, lots of direction, constructive critism, explanation of procedures, etc. If I wanted a laid back “do what you want” approach, I’d buy a book, gather some friends, and learn at home.

Here are some tips from the article:

1) Dark flowers should be placed next to lighter ones for maximum contrast.
2) Stems are part of the display (in some cases) so should be neatly cut.
3) The bouquet should be round, but with height in the center.
4) Add fruit to your bouquet, an apple or lime on a stick works nicely.
5) Spriral stems to create a some (how to video on
6) If using a clear vase, remember presentation goes all the way down to the stems. Tie the stems with raffia when you place the bouquet into a glass vase – holds them together and looks chic!

Visiting Paris? One day classes are offered at the L’Ecole des Fleurs for around $150 Euro per day. They also offer classed in the decorative arts, learn porcelin painting, decorative painting, embroidery, and charcoal portraiture. Classes on beauty, entertaining, food, wine, chocolate, and fashion are offered as well.

psst: Buy yourself a bouquet this weekend and add some fresh blooms to your space!

(images from L’Ecole des Fleurs)

Posted in uncategorized on August 18, 2006

ask decor8: Stencil Resources?

After reading my post yesterday about wallpaper and the DIY squiggle idea, decor8 reader Christina Sachtleben wrote in to share a photo of her very own DIY wallpaper project – just add paint and a good stencil and viola! fauxpaper, as I call it (see below photo). I think Christina did a great job, and of course, she gave me permission to post her work for all of you to enjoy and to hopefully become inspired by! Maybe there’s a space in your home where you can create your own fauxpaper?

Christina is looking to take on another DIY project in her home, so she’s wildly combing the web for more stencil resources, this time, plaster stencils. I tried to do some digging for her, and I found the following stencil and/or plaster stencil resources. Some of these places are great, I am really surprised at how easy it is to dress up your walls on a budget. When I think of stencils, visions of apples and chicken borders race through my head. Time to think OUTSIDE of that very small box. Stenciling goes way beyond farmhouse folk art and shaker styles…

Stencil 1 – Sheesh, this place is total coolness. Scroll down the entire page, so many fun designs, I really love the sparrows (see top photo). Deers, skulls, stars, great stencils for gals and guys.

Modello Desgin – Classy place for gorgeous stencils. These people embrace ceilings as being the fifth wall and glam them up to the max. (They even sell kits to create antique mirror effects.)

Stencil Planet – Lots of everything. I really like this idea, only I’d add glass to the top to dress it up a bit more.

Victoria Larsen
– Plaster stencils + more!

Stencil Library – Great source for stencils from Japan to Art Deco and Modern Design.

Henry Donovan Motif – UK based, super selection, unique designs. Isn’t the water chrysanthemum stencil beautiful?

My Stencils
– These folks tend to carry more of the folksy stencils, but the damask stencils they have are gorgeous – so check them out!

Royal Design Studio – Another great site with lots of stencil designs to choose from. I really like the Swedish Florals. After I emailed Christina last night with these resources, she is going with the Swedish Florals as her next DIY project. Hopefully she’ll send in some more photos…

If you have a quick design question, need help finding that special something, or if you’re looking to share photos from a project you’ve completed, please send me an email.

Christina’s DIY Fauxpaper Project – Good job!

(images: Top: Stencil Planet, Stencil 1, and My Stencils. bottom: Christina Sachtleben)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, DIY, reader questions, Rooms, tips on August 17, 2006

Restoration Hardware Launches Brocade Home Brand

Jennifer from Craving Anthropologie has a tip she thought decor8 readers would be interested in… After doing some research myself, I spotted a partial press release about the new sister company to Restoration Hardware, Brocade Home, that I thought I’d post here for all to read. Very exciting news!

Restoration Hardware Launches Brocade Home Brand

AUGUST 15, 2006 — Restoration Hardware Inc., Corte Madera, Calif., will launch its new brand, Brocade Home, in September with the mailing of a home catalog. Brocade Home was developed by Lisa Versacio who joined Restoration Hardware from Williams-Sonoma, where she helped launch the West Elm brand. Versacio describes the new brand as a fuse between past and present, with rich fabrics and materials. “We are excited about the introduction of Brocade Home, a fashion home brand targeted at the broader value market with a unique and feminine point of view,” said Gary Friedman, president, CEO and chairman of the company. Friedman also said the company plans to develop a multichannel retailing platform over the next several years.

You can preview the brand and request a catalog on their website, Brocade Home.

Thanks Jennifer for the tip!

(images from brocade home)

Posted in uncategorized on August 17, 2006

Mixing Modern with Baroque

The term “baroque” is from the Portuguese noun barocco meaning imperfect pearl, not round but of unpredictable and elaborate shape, reflecting the style’s use of exquisite materials and composition of asymmetrical parts. In informal usage, the word baroque can simply mean that something is “elaborate,” with many details, without reference to the Baroque styles of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The latest baroque revival, some call it the ‘new’ romantic design trend, others refer to it as “baroque ‘n roll”, is a real treat for the eyes, mixing modern lines with 17th century baroque charm. I’m attracted to modern simplicity anyway, a classy clean sofa (room + board’s delancy is nice, especially in dagmar dove) paired with crystal urn lamps, sumptuous textiles (damasks, linens…), an ornate mirror (that was once gilded gold, now is white), and a dressy baroque wallpaper on the walls.

This month, Australian Home Beautiful (August), does a nice job spotlighting this trend with clever examples of how to mix modern pieces with baroque-inspired elements in the most pleasing way. I love how damask softens the lines of modern stark furniture, bringing a bit of personality into the space and uncovering perhaps a little bit of an adventurous streak in the homeowner.

Looking to create the look in your own home? The look works best if you keep in mind how to build it. Here’s how:

1. Start with black, grey and white as your foundation colors. You build from there.

2. Incorporate metallics (either silver or gold, not both) and/or mirrored surfaces, crystal, or acrylic. This step must be done tastefully. Be careful not to overdo it.

3. Now, you’re ready to add bursts of color. Remember, no more than two colors should be added. Stick to romantic hues. For romance, try lavenders and pinks, or blues. For bold, use red, purple, teal, navy blue… I prefer the softer hues myself, I would opt for a soft blue with pink. You can even keep the look very understated by mixing in various shades of grey, beige, white, bits of black, and a touch of pale blue or a bit of chocolate.

4. Furnishings – invest in pieces that glam up the space. An ornate mirror, headboard, chair. You can find such items in antique stores, auctions, estate sales… Even inexpensive reproductions can be easily found (and won’t leave you baroque, errr broke). Paint these statement pieces in high gloss black, or for a softer vibe, white. Upholster soft furnishings with damask, for instance. (If your home is pet-free, opt for sexy blue velvet.)

5. Avoid going over the top, unless you want your home to resemble Windsor Castle. You don’t need 5 statement pieces in a single room. Sometimes, just a few pieces that are carefully placed will give the room that “it” factor you seek. Think of a focal point piece, and then, as I like to do, a “surprise” piece. For instance, when you walk into the room, the focal point may be your amazing sofa. However, once the guests are seated on that sofa, you can have a surprise piece that they wouldn’t see unless they were seated on that sofa (or standing on that side of the room). It can be a beautiful mirror over a sleek buffet, a wall of wallpaper, a sassy chair, a great lamp, etc.

6. Home Beautiful magazine gave a great tip on how to give the space a contemporary spin: Mix patterned fabric with bold striped wallpaper in similar colors. Vertical stripes are classic but pick up the clean lines of modern furniture, giving the room height and creating a sense of spaciousness.

7. This trend works best if you use small prints, monochromatic ones, on large pieces of furniture (keep the prints in a single shade).

8. Most of all, have fun and invite a friend over with a good eye, someone who may already have this style going on at home and can offer you some great tips. Order thai, uncork the vino, put on some tunes, and decorate!

(images from home beautiful and restoration hardware)

Posted in DIY, tips, trends on August 17, 2006


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