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Eco-Friendly + Chic via Lonny Magazine

I was flipping through the latest issue of e-magazine Lonny yesterday when I came across the New York apartment of Michelle Adams who is one of the founders of Lonny magazine (along with Patrick Cline) and is the designer behind the brand Rubie Green whom I’ve featured here before. Michelle recently renovated her city apartment to be a bit more eco-friendly and since I love yellow and white her place really sang to me.

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

I asked Michelle if she’d give decor8 a further look into her apartment so although these images appear in Lonny they’re larger and without text so you can see all of the little details. Plus I’ve asked her for some decorating tips so that you can walk away from this post with more than visual inspiration but also with a few clever ideas on how to make your space more “green” from the lovely Michelle who calls her new look, “English conservatory meets Dorothy Draper.” Okay so Michelle will take the wheel from here…

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

Living room notes: Decorating was a challenge because my apartment is in a post-war building with NO CHARACTER, and it resembled the gross high-rise buildings that make me cringe. So I knew I had to inject some serious charm into it fast! I didn’t have much money to spend on the re-do, so I decided to use the ostrich wallpaper (which I’m OBSESSED WITH!) on the main wall in my living/dining room to not only tie the space together and create a strong focal point, but to also ensure that I didn’t need to hang much on my walls! Rather than buying a bunch of art for above my sofa, the busy paper allowed me to simply hang a vintage mirror (another obsession- $20 at the flea market!) flanked by two sleek sconces. And that’s it! The curtains were custom made from my Rubie Green Bryn fabric, and I had them finished with grommets to keep the look laid back and beachy. The fabric itself reminds me of an outdoor canopy, and I chose the yellow because it’s unexpected and it pulls out the little bit of yellow in the ostrich paper (where he’s sticking his head in the sand).

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

The TV is sort of an unexpected shout-out in the sense that I’m obsessed with it (who is obsessed with a TV?!) because: it has a built-in DVD player, which means there’s only one cord and no ugly components! Plus it’s white. The federal mirror was another amazing find- $40 from the same vendor who sold me the bamboo mirror! It was originally a gross brown and used to be hanging in a bar (there’s seriously a beer advertisement underneath the mirror, which i discovered while painting it!) so I took my leftover Benjamin Moore Natura paint (zero VOCs) and slopped a few coats on and voila! The 20×200 photo of the girl in the city is a favorite that I first saw in Victoria Thompson’s apartment when we shot it for the last issue of Lonny! It was $50, and when paired with an oversized Pottery Barn “thin metal gallery frame” it’s suddenly a large and strong enough piece to anchor the whole table. The other two frames on that wall are also from this same collection, and one has an old IKEA post card in it of a David Downton illustration, and the other a magazine tear out that I’ve had for years and am in love with. The huge silver lamp is by Arteriors and I love it because it would work equally as well in a bachelor pad, sleek modern home, girly retreat or even a child’s room! I look for versatile pieces like this that can be reinterpreted in each apt I move to (and eventually HOME!). The West Elm stump side table is awesome – I cannot emphasize how cool it is that a mass corporation has taken on the green movement and truly MEANS IT. This piece was cut from naturally fallen cypress trees and then boxed and shipped! Nothing more! So it literally smells like a cypress tree, and it makes my home smell fresh and natural :)

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

My obvious obsession in this room is my vintage credenza! I went to Furnish Green looking for a vintage desk, and stumbled upon this beauty and practically screamed! It’s huge and elegant without feeling pretentious, and since it’s over 100 years old I love imagining the other women who must have owned it, and what they used to fill it with. On top is some of my favorite art that I’ve collected over the years at the flea market. The black framed line drawing on the upper left corner is an original piece that I found for $60 at the flea market underneath a pile of DVDs! So when I stumbled upon the white line drawing (in the middle, white frame) of the Flat Iron Building years later, my jaw dropped. It’s from a local Brooklyn artist and I love how it’s elegant but totally relaxed. The oil painting above it (far top right) is also from the flea market, as is the gold framed watercolor next to it, a mere $40 at Elephant’s trunk market in CT. Lastly, the two photos of shoes and a Polaroid are some that Pat and I took together over the years! We sell a lot of our work on etsy. Lastly, the candle hurricane is one that I’ve been in love with for years and finally received as a gift a few weeks ago! It’s from Ralph Lauren and I first spotted it in domino Editor at Large Tom Delavan’s home. It’s timeless, and elegant enough that it sort of gives credibility to my otherwise hodgepodged art collection.

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

My dining table is a West Elm parsons that I found on Craigslist! The previous owner had purchased it two months before selling it, because it didn’t fit in her apt, so I was able to save it from a landfill and also save myself half the cost. The chairs are from Ballard Designs and I’m obsessed! They’re totally classic, and I know I’ll have them forever. Since Ballard does custom work, I had them upholstered in my Rubie Green Capri Stripe fabric, which reminds me of Paris! The framed photo of Paris is one that Pat and I took from the top of the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris when we traveled there last fall for Lonny! The horses were shot in New Jersey on a little farm that we stumbled upon.

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

I had the headboard custom made a few years ago by the Furniture Joint and upholstered in my Marilyn fabric! Pottery Barn has a really similar one right now called York. The headboard fabric itself was inspired by a vintage napkin that I bought for $2 at a flea market when I was in college! The bamboo armoire is one that I found at Housing Works (an NYC thrift shop) for $365! When I found it I literally wrapped my body around it and begged my assistant to take my credit card to the cashier so nobody else would buy it in the meantime – ha ha. Lastly the sofa is from Williams Sonoma Home and I’m obsessed with it too – the scale is so petite and sophisticated, yet the natural linen fabric keeps it from feeling fussy and I love that the frame is made from sustainably harvested wood. The rug is awesome too — it’s a 9×12 PB Essential Jute rug (Pottery Barn) and it’s made from jute and finished with fire rather than chemicals! I love this one in particular because it’s soft underfoot- it almost feels like wool, and since I couldn’t afford wall to wall sisal carpeting, the huge size was the perfect alternative.

eco-chic via Lonny Magazine

Ways to “green up” your living space:

1. Do your homework: Ask questions and read product descriptions to find out exactly how products are really made. If you’re unclear about something, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call customer service to ask. Companies that make the effort to truly manufacture earth friendly items will be happy to tell you all about them.

2. Start with a clear inspiration in mind: Rather than looking for eco products and buying them simply because they’re earth-friendly, figure out what style you’re hoping to achieve and select your furnishings accordingly. In my own apartment, I decided early on that my inspiration was “English conservatory meets Dorothy Draper,” so I searched for items that were bold (i.e. Dorothy) yet still charming, relaxed and natural. My wallpaper is clearly a bold statement, as the birds are large and highly repetitive, yet when you look closely they are delicately drawn and very feminine. I tried to look for these sorts of juxtapositions in every piece that I brought into my home. Since I’m fascinated by flea markets, I also wanted to inject a bit of history into my decor, with pieces that have been around for decades.

3. Make the easy switches: If eco-chic design feels a bit overwhelming, start with the basics. When painting your walls or furniture, opt for paints with zero VOCs. There are so many easily accessible options on the market that you won’t have to hunt whatsoever (Benjamin Moore, Home Depot, etc.) and you can rest assured that your walls won’t be emitting toxic gases that you and your family will breathe in. When choosing rugs, always buy an eco-friendly rug pad and look for rugs made with natural fibers. Be sure they aren’t finished with a chemical coating (this is key!) and look for certification stamps like RugMark and Goodweave to ensure that you’re buying pieces which were not created with child labor. For furniture, look for pieces made from reclaimed or sustainably harvested wood, and when cleaning your home you can make the simple switch to natural and biodegradable products. (Which honestly smell better than chemically produced ones anyway!)

4. Embrace vintage: By buying vintage, you’re saving products from ending up in a landfill, and also reducing the demand for new products to be manufactured. Often times you’ll find that vintage furniture is much less expensive than new, and absolutely packed with character! Don’t be afraid of a cheesy looking antique mall – that’s often where you’ll find the best deals on furniture and accessories ;)

5. Spread the word: If you make the effort to go green, be proud of it and share it with your friends. The more people who pick up on the movement, the better our planet will be as a result.

If you’d like to see more images from Michelle’s apartment, or if you’d like to read Lonny online, please click here. Lonny magazine was founded by Michelle Adams and Patrick Cline who is a photographer also residing in New York.

(Photography: Patrick Cline)

Posted in Books + Magazines, Decorating Tips on April 13, 2010

The Homemade Home by Sania Pell

I must show you my new favorite book but first, I’m embarrassed to make this confession… You see, before my copy of The Homemade Home by Sania Pell arrived this morning I had never heard of this talented lady before. How could this be, she is so amazing and I’m always online and reading everything I come across! Oh well, I am so grateful that this has changed because Sania Pell is my new obsession. In fact, I just spent the past hour researching everything I could find online about her. I also snapped a few glimpses of her new book, The Homemade Home, that is available now to order on Amazon. Published by CICO Books, this gorgeous 192 page full-color book features 50 stylish and affordable projects that show you how to customize your home on a budget. All 300 photographs are by Penny Wincer, a favorite photographer of mine, so I knew the moment I saw her name on this book that I’d love the visuals. And I do — so, so much.

The Homemade Home

This book makes me happy! Do you own such books — ones that you open and immediately all is better in the world? The Homemade Home is my happy place because it embraces what I’m all about — sharing ideas and inspiration that are both accessible and give all an opportunity to inject individuality into our space to avoid that familiar catalog-feel that we want to avoid. Let’s look at some more of this book together, shall we?

The Homemade Home

The Homemade Home

The Homemade Home

There isn’t one photo I don’t like, and not one project I wouldn’t try in this book — I really like how many projects encourage you to use things that you already have – upcycling and recycling them into new items. Author and stylist Sania Pell lives and works in West London where she is married with two children. Her degree is in textiles from the Edinburgh College of Art when, after graduating, she worked for one of London’s top textile studios where her designs were brought to prestigious fashion labels such as Marks & Spencer, The Gap, Monsoon, Armani and Laura Ashley.

The Homemade Home

The Homemade Home

After 7 years in that field, Sania decided to join Elle Decoration magazine to train as a stylist and now she works for publications in England including The Sunday Telegraph and The Mail On Sunday in addition to her work as a visiting lecturer at the Edinburgh College of Art. The Homemade Home is Sania’s first sole book (congratulations Sania if you read this review)– here’s to hoping there is a second and third… I could flip through books like this all day long.

Bottom line: This book is one of my new favorites. It’s imaginative without being over-the-top,  handmade without being kitschy and tacky, and it’s a book that will encourage crafty beginner’s without frustration while equally challenging advanced creatives with new and rewarding projects.

Psst: I’m an Amazon affiliate so the links in this post to Amazon are part of my affiliate program.

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Books + Magazines on April 12, 2010

Inside Out: Desktop

I’m crazy about the 10th Anniversary Issue of Australian interiors magazine Inside Out. It just arrived in the mail 3 seconds ago (I subscribe but sadly I didn’t get the tea towel designed by the Rob Ryan with mine — wah!) and I’m already drooling on the spread called Desktop featured on pages 151-157 styled by Vanessa Colyer Tay (a favorite style editor of mine). Desktop shows how to create a space on your desk that reflects your own personal style but that also inspires you — it doesn’t give tips in text as much as visual inspiration showing a natural theme, a vintage-inspired one and finally a feminine approach — and all are stunning! In case you do not have access to the magazine, here is a glimpse of what I’m talking about… you may click to enlarge each image below to see some of the details. Because people, it’s all about the details in life – am I right?!?

Inside Out Magazine

Inside Out Magazine

Inside Out Magazine

Inside Out Magazine

I love both the natural and feminine desktops the best. The photographs were shot for the magazine by Sam McAdam who has one of the most beautiful portfolios that I’ve ever seen online — her work is styled to perfection but not fussy and it’s just gorgeous….

Isn’t this inspiring? LOVE. IT. In fact, something as simple as a few pages, expertly done of course, can give me inspiration for weeks to come…which is what makes Inside Out such a treat because with each issue I know I’m going to find plenty of goodies to satisfy the cost of my foreign subscription to their delightful magazine. If you are able, definitely pick up this issue –or subscribe —  you will adore everything in it though their 10th Anniversary Issue is by far my favorite to date. The spread on Lee Mathews and their Art Market article are also faves of mine along with the colorful home of fashion stylist Nicole Bonython-Hines – her black “Japan” flooring is stunning.

(images: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Books + Magazines, inspiration on April 08, 2010

Elle Decor + Christine d’Ornano

Someday when I become rich and famous I want a townhouse in London. I mean, who doesn’t? And surely it’s the in thing to have when you are of the upper class… for all wealthy folks have a townhouse in some major city — and for me it shall be London. If you were rich and famous where would your townhouse be? Well dreaming aside for a moment, let’s peek at the home of Christine d’Ornano in London’s Notting Hill who comes from a truly royal cosmetics family… Her grandfather co-founded Lancome; her father launched Orlane, and later he and his wife started Sisley.

Elle Decor

Christine currently oversees the operations as Executive Vice President of Sisley in the UK and her modern eclectic townhouse is in the current issue of Elle Decor (April) and is fantastic in every way. Have a peek and read the article and see more photographs here.

Elle Decor

I love the splashes of bold color, the combination of red, pink, royal blue and green in the living room, and all of the gorgeous books and flowers. The massive windows are also to die for. This place makes me think of the summer when I was a nanny many, many years ago for the daughter of the CEO of Laura Ashley and how much I loved hanging out in their exquisite townhouse in Boston’s Back Bay. That summer was the closest I ever came to townhouse life and let me tell you… it was everything you’d imagine and more. All three floors and a roof deck more.

(Photography: Simon Upton for Elle Decor)

Posted in Books + Magazines, inspiration on April 07, 2010

Books:

Some of my books...

Further editions available: Decorate published by Murdoch Books for AU/NZ, Decorar BR, Alt om indretning DK, Inspirace pro váš byt CZ, Dekorácie SK, La décoration FR, Lust auf Wohnen DE, Sisusta tyylillä FI and Sztuka aranżacji wnętrz PL.

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