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Decorating Tips

Colorful + Quirky Living

May 6, 2011

I am seriously digging this colorful, quirky home in a major way. From the painted ceilings to wall hangings and full-on saturated hues as accents and some as focal points, I can’t stop looking at the details! After a week of being sick in bed, this is just the interiors inspiration that I needed to come across today. It also didn’t hurt that my book made it on the bestseller list over at the Wall Street Journal at #2, Eek! I am so happy (thank you guys so much!). Between that extraordinary news of now authoring a best selling book and this fab home that I stumbled across below, I’m in 7th heaven (no reference to the kitchen ceiling at all, ha ha!). But I’m not here to brag about my book, or simply show a few photos and be on my way. Oh no. I want to talk about this amazing home and some memories from my past that I want to share because these photos took me back to a very special farm… a special place in my childhood. And I want to somehow spark your memories in the process.

Colorful + Quirky Living

The moment I spotted this home on the Room and Serve blog and found out that it is actually from Vårt Nya Hem (Swedish) magazine, I had to dig deeper into their website to see what else they have featured that I might want to have a look at. I also tried to figure out why it felt familiar to me and then memories of the large farmhouse belonging to my great, great grandmother came flooding in and suddenly I was transported to another time and space.

One thing that admire about this particular home shown in Vårt Nya Hem magazine is that, even with all of the color and pattern, each item seems to have been carefully curated and restraint was shown in both the floor plan and overall styling so it doesn’t end up looking like a massive interiors heart attack. I admire people who are this stylish, it’s quite amazing really and I’d love to linger in this space with the homeowners and really get to know the story behind each piece as I’m sure they have delicious stories to tell of travel, adventure and even a bit of danger. I love that the floor above appears to be stenciled. How grand (and doable!).

But yet, when I look at the kitchen I see a story from the pages of my own life. I’ll tell you it, if you have a moment. You see, when I look at this kitchen I see the farmhouse that my Polish great grandmother owned in southern Rhode Island in the countryside. She had very ornate floral wallpaper, vinyl and tile flooring, art nouveau touches, extremely colorful everything… and the layout was the same with the old-fashioned style of cabinetry and such.

She moved from Warsaw in the late 1800s to American to make her life in Rhode Island where she gave birth to my grandfather, raising him on a huge farm. Then, when he was in the military stationed in Chicago, he met and married my Irish/Scottish/Russian/Polish grandmother who was a cabaret singer there, and they made their life on the same farm in a coverted barn nearby where my mother was born and raised. I grew up visiting my grandparents on their farm, affectionately called “Baby Farm”, as my mother’s large extended family stayed there in the summers and someone always ended up getting pregnant – including my mother, with me! My grandfather’s sister married an Italian man and so the farm went from being Polish to Polish-Italian so I remember how this mix of culture affected life on the farm. I also remember braiding bread for my grandmother and rolling out dough and baking pies in a kitchen much like the one shown above. I remember thinking that my very Polish great grandmother, who only spoke Polish to my grandfather when she didn’t want us to know what she was saying (which was often), was extremely “different” because her decorating style was wayyy over-the-top. She didn’t have the typical country farmhouse – it was vibrant and filled with antiques from Poland that she brought over and of course flea market finds as my grandfather loved going to them religiously on the weekends. I also remember him taking me to massive flea markets along with my mother. I think that’s why I enjoy them so much today and am always on the prowl for a unique find.

Growing up I remember loving my great grandmother’s crazy farmhouse and enjoyed all of the color, pattern, massive floral wallpaper, taxidermy (oh yes), patterned floors, farmhouse sinks, minty green tiled bathroom, stacks of mismatched china in white cabinets with glass doors and the way the home smelled in the warmer months when all of the flowers were in bloom and the breeze drifted their heavenly scent through the home, usually through the kitchen where I was usually hanging out with my grandmother and great grandmother, and yes, my mom too. She lived to nearly 100 years old so I remember her in my life until I was 22 years old. I was lucky.

Colorful + Quirky Living

Colorful + Quirky Living

Colorful + Quirky Living

Maybe you’ll find some inspiration over at Vårt Nya Hem to motivate you on a home project this weekend? Or to connect you to bits and pieces of your past life or how you would someday like to live? It’s important when you find photos that inspire you to then pinpoint WHY you are connecting to them. What is it? Perhaps a window to your past? Or simply the colors? The style? The casualness? Think about this whenever you pin an inspiring image to your moodboard – it’s a great way to refine your personal style!

(images: vårt nya hem)






Decorating Tips

Inspiring Spaces From Decorate

April 28, 2011

I thought I’d share some inspiring spaces from my book, Decorate, that are currently floating around on the web (and some are part of this interview that Janet Reynolds had with me for her print magazine Life@Home) that you may actually want to add to your Pinterest account, desktop inspiration folder, or wherever you see fit. If you happen to own the book already, then you forever have these images in your possession, beautifully printed and bundled if I do say so myself. ;) But in case you don’t own the book you may delight in seeing these photos that were shot in beautiful homes in both Europe and the US by talented interiors photographer Debi Treloar. Debi shot the entire book using only natural light, something that drew me to her work in the first place years ago – her photos feel so inviting and casual as a result.

Inspiring Spaces From Decorate

Ceramic pieces in Copenhagen home of ceramicist Karen and her husband Mads Hagedorn-Olsen. P.S. He makes the most beautiful insect art – see it here.

Inspiring Spaces From Decorate

A sweet little girl’s space in London belonging to the daughter of stylist/author Sania Pell.

Inspiring Spaces From Decorate

A bedroom nook in Los Angeles belonging to photographer Amy Neunsinger, Charlotte’s mud room (from RICE), Yvonne from Yvestown’s Belgium kitchen, a gorgeous London flat belonging to Sisley UK cosmetics executive Christine D’ornano.

Inspiring Spaces From Decorate

Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau’s dining room in Denmark – I had fun styling this tabletop for the photo with mismatched things from mostly her company, RICE.

Debi was a saint to work with — she was such a lovely person to spend time with as we flew around for a period of four months working together, mostly her and I, in people’s beautiful spaces. I hope that you enjoyed a teaser peek into my book! If you use them on your blog or Pinterest, all I ask is that you say that they were shot by Debi Treloar, link to her site, and link to this page: http://decor8blog.com/decorate-book mentioning that they are from the book, Decorate. That’s all I ask. :)

Decorate stocklist here.

(images: debi treloar for decorate)






Decorating Tips

Farmhouse Style at Dreamy Whites

April 26, 2011

Ah, farmhouse living. It’s both Rachel Ashwell (did you hear that she just opened a B&B?) and Atlanta Bartlett but it’s also online shop Dreamy Whites owned by Californian mother, decorator and blogger, Maria, who lives on a ranch (her husband is a horse trainer!) and has 5 children. I admire how she still manages to maintain her beautifully white home – where all of her product shots for her store were taken and shown below. Amazing, inspiring, OMGosh! How does she do it!? Lots of patience, bleach and a good bar of soap, no doubt.

Farmhouse Style at Dreamy Whites

Let’s talk about farmhouse style for just a bit, okay? To me, farmhouse style can range — it can be loaded with dark reds, navy blues, piled high with geometric quilts in primary colors and topped with plenty of dark brown wood furniture, carved or rustic with clean uncomplicated lines. The farmhouse that Maria at Dreamy Whites promotes though is the more French country style. Farmhouse style can be both country cottage and coastal chic, French and American (or any other country for that matter), white with pastels or whites with blues and reds come to mind when I think of farmhouse colors. The Farmhouse style that fans of Dreamy White love though is the more romantic, faded look that resembles what Rachel Ashwell pioneered with Shabby Chic and later with decorators like Atlanta Bartlett– the palette is mostly white, pale minty green, pinks, blues, in other words lots of unapologetic love for pastels and for all things worn, used, salvageable, repurposed and slightly chipped or with some patina (think old vintage mirrors or wooden tables with a faded old coffee ring here and there.

Farmhouse Style at Dreamy Whites
Farmhouse Style at Dreamy Whites
Farmhouse Style at Dreamy Whites

Also with farmhouse style you can find lots of floral prints (think dainty blooms laying next to larger scale roses for instance) and stripes (like ticking). Linen and canvas lay next to soft brushed or voile cottons that drape beautifully and feel like butter. Enamelware, French bed linens, pillowcases that tie, a slightly battered French wooden chair that folds… Flooring ranges from hardwood floors (the older the better), subway tile in white, penny tiles, old faded Belgium tiles in the entryway, wood floors painted in glossy white or gray. Furniture can include everything from white leather sofas with clean lines and slim legs to overstuffed white cotton canvas (very Shabby Chic). Vintage wooden dressers lined with faded vintage wallpaper, large wooden French cupboards painted in soft blue, benches stacked with blankets and pillows. Lighting runs the gamut as well — everything from ornate crystal chandeliers to clean almost industrial-style lighting and even the occasional punched tin lantern from Morocco — all have their place in the farmhouse these days as farmhouse style has evolved to allow in some elements of Asian decor, few but some — like large white leather or silvered leather pouffes for example.

If any of these things resonate with you, then you have to definitely check out blog and online shop Dreamy Whites. I definitely like some of the things shown above, like the lavender vintage glass bottles (my husband has a collection of them on his windowsill in his office) and I used them in my book to display flowers in Leslie’s studio in the “Attention To Details” section of Decorate. I also like all of the field flowers, so casual and uncomplicated, displayed in various vessels — mostly ones that were not originally created as vases like jars and tea tins… I also love the old French tin shown in the first photo above, it has gorgeous color and pattern, doesn’t it? I could imagine using it on a shelf in my office to hold business cards or extras like tape or staples.

It’s amazing to think about farmhouse style and all that it encompasses, isn’t it? What comes to mind when YOU think of farmhouse style? I often wonder how the perception varies according to where on lives. If you could mention where you live and then highlight some hallmarks of Farmhouse Style in your part of the world, that would be great! :)

(images: dreamy whites)






Decorating Tips

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

April 19, 2011

Does a room in your home depress you? Do you dream of decorating it only to walk in, take a look around, and immediately leave feeling overwhelmed and in need of inspiration? When I crave motivation and ideas I head over to the decor8 Interior Styling group on Flickr which now has over 3,000 members. It’s interesting to browse through the hundreds of photos submitted to see what others are currently doing in their home to add personal touches, whether it is something inexpensive and simple like fresh flowers or more elaborate and expensive, like a newly purchased sofa. I also pull magazines and books out and start flipping through them like a mad woman, marking pages and making notes. It never ceases to amaze me how often the little things make such a huge impact on our home. I thought I’d share with you some images that inspire me from the Interior Styling group today along with 8 ways to spruce up your space because these tips really do work and I’d love it if you’d give a few of them a try! No need to feel depressed about an ugly room – you can do it!

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(Nicole Hill)

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

1. Create a mood board using photos of current things (snap photos, print them out) plus a few items you’d like to buy or make yourself. Again, take photos of what you have that could work in your new room scheme vs. focusing on buying all new things. Add everything to your board and give yourself about a week or two to walk by it, edit, add, remove, etc. By the end of the second week you should start to see a cohesive look and feel. Sketch out some room plan ideas and be sure to tack up images from magazines that catch your eye – whether it be how they styled a shelf to the drapes or wall colors that caught your eye. Make note of what you like. Add ribbons, fabric swatches, flowers, things that speak to you. Pay attention to the colors you’re responding to and write down thoughts as to how you want the room to look and feel and tack these to your board as well. If you have a stylish friend with great taste, invite them over to give you some ideas as to your room scheme – a second set of eyes is always good.

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(Machteld M)

2. Empty the room! That’s right, move everything out into the hallway or an adjacent room – take down drapes, remove art, roll up throw rugs, everything that can be removed should be removed. Yes this is drastic and though it’s not something I suggest doing every month, it is something that I suggest doing when you find yourself absolutely hating your room and find that no matter what you do to it, you still hate it. Once you have it stripped down to basic walls and floors, you have a brand new canvas to begin with. Start by cleaning the room and then paint it- either the current color (just a freshened up version) or a beautiful white, or perhaps add a few colors – paint one wall in a strong color and keep the others lighter, etc. Wallpaper can also be incorporated. This is a great time to fill holes in walls and make them as good as new.

3. Examine those floors (and ceilings)! Are they in bad condition? Consider refinishing the wood floors or painting them in striking high gloss gray, white or black. If you have carpeting and hate it, consider removing it (if you can). If you can’t remove the carpet then clean it well to remove stains and dirt. Don’t worry, when you decorate you can set the focal point elsewhere so the rug is barely noticeable. Make any repairs to floors. While you’re at it, give all moldings a fresh coat of paint as freshly painted moldings can make your flooring look better. Don’t forget to look up! If your ceiling needs attention, make repairs and give it a fresh coat of paint.

4. Thorough clean the room. Get all crazy up in that room and make it sparkle, you fearless decorator, you! Clean windows, flooring, walls, ceiling, corners, all of it. Put on your favorite tunes and get your booty movin’! A clean, fresh palette is the best for decorating.

5. Move only functional pieces back into the room first. Sofa, chairs, TV, things that you actually use and need. I find that by placing the functional pieces first, I have the key pieces in place and “out of the way” so I can play around more with the remaining pieces without performance anxiety. Try to arrange the room around a focal point. If your focal point is your television and you happen to watch it regularly, consider placing it within a wall unit or on a nice cabinet or perhaps against a wall that has beautiful wallpaper or a great paint color. You can also mount the flat screens to the wall, which I think look quite nice. Some add a “TV Cozy” to their television – you can easily make a TV screen slipcover in your favorite fabric OR use plain linen and keep it simple. A black television looks great against a black wall as it will disappear into the wall. If your television is not something you use regularly, consider placing it off to the side and create a new focal point – perhaps a fireplace mantle or a large dresser with drawers with a massive mirror above it or some art or plates. As you bring pieces back into the room examine them carefully – is the upholstery clean? Legs secure? Check out everything to ensure it’s in good shape and make repairs/clean as needed. You can even paint a tired table in a fresh new color or reupholster a chair seat in a favorite fabric with often very little – a piece of fabric, some padding and a staple gun. Get creative!

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(Holly Brooke Jones)
8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(Machteld M, Marimerveille Loves, Sasya, Dottie Angel)

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(gozde eker, compaicreative, Saídos da Concha, nest decorating)

6. Less is more! Edit! Organize! Make sure that you don’t move everything out of the room only to move it all back in again! No, no, no that’s just silly, right!? The goal here is to eliminate what you don’t need/like and keep only what you want and/or use and to make repairs and such. Editing is hard work, but your room will love you for it. Clever storage, such as magazine holders that are all in the same color/pattern, can look very clean and modern vs. mismatched holders or none at all. The best tip I have when it comes to organization is to have a place for everything – screws, keys, hammers, nails, tape, notepads, cables, lightbulbs, remote controls, magazines, paper clips, rubber bands, business cards, cleaning supplies – and put things back in their place after use, no excuses!

7. Consider the window treatments. Wash your drapes before you hang them up again and consider adding something to them – perhaps trim or hand embellish with sequins or hand stitch work. Add fancy tie-backs or hem your drapes if they are too long. If you know how why not try adding a blanket stitch edge to them – say in black if your drapes are white, for instance? Little details make a huge difference. If you are tired of your curtains, consider inexpensive blinds from a big box store or make your own. Sheets can double as roman blinds, curtains, you name it. If you have vinyl roller shades you can trim them in a favorite pattern or apply fabric to the shade itself to give them a custom look. There are PLENTY of books out there on how to make window treatments by hand and how to embellish blinds and curtains so have fun. You can even stitch together patches of fabric (fashion fabrics in cotton work best) or vintage scarves, the sky is the limit!

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(sweet berry me)

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(IDA Interior LifeStyle, Three Red Apples, lusummers, KristopherK)

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(jutta, sabine wittig, wood & wool stool, violeta)

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(Marvin Maximilian)

8. Style it up! After you have your furniture back in the room, it’s time to decorate! When arranging your things (accessories, art, etc.) refer to your mood board and some of the clippings you tore from magazines. Notice arrangements in those rooms and try something similar if you are stuck or feeling uninspired. Add shelving above a sofa to display favorite things. Group art on a single wall. Use a gorgeous mirror above a table as a focal point. Visit a local store that is known for gorgeous visual displays, like Anthropologie or something like it, and be inspired by their arrangements and how simple most of them are. It’s really all about looking at things in different ways and intentionally seeking out alternate uses to things in your home that you may be tired of using as is. Have fun – in fact, decorating SHOULD be fun. Your home should be the one place on this planet where you ARE being yourself, sharing your inspirations and life story, adding your personal touch, etc. Enjoy the process!

What are some of your tips for decorating that you’d like to share? What do you do to spruce up YOUR space?

(images linked to their sources above.)






Decorating Tips

Mood Board To Go!

April 4, 2011

Hello friends! How are you today? Did you have a nice weekend? I got home from London and immediately went to a flea market here in my city and found some great loot (you can see it here). We had beautiful weather so I got a lot done and feel really refreshed as a result. What about you? Are you well?

I’m not sure if I ever shared with you how I shop when I’m on a mission to find the things that I need to work on a project. Some of you may find this approach helpful, especially if you’ve not tried it before. I’m currently planning a “look” along with Sania and Leslie for the Dining Room demo that we’re doing at Liberty London on April 13th at 6:30 p.m. for my book launch (come if you can!) and so I have a somewhat long punch list of things that I need to buy/work on this week. I can’t believe I only have this week left, but let’s not talk about that?! ha ha! Anyway, in addition to my punch list, I also have a mini mood board that is in my bag at all times — it’s in a spiral bound “to do” notebook that I picked up at HEMA. It’s nothing fancy AT ALL – in fact, it’s extremely easy to pull together, here’s a photo of it below.

Mood Board To Go!

As you can see, these are the fabrics, ribbons and such that we’re using as part of our table design. The shots of pink throughout provide a little healthy tension to give this palette a jolt of color which is refreshing because without the pink, it can almost go a bit too far into the neutral zone (and I love neutrals so it’s easy for me to do!). The green takes it up a notch as well. There is also some charcoal and deep gray (you can see that below in the next image). Thing is, pink is a funny color and it comes in a million shades like any other color — some with blue undertones, others with beige, and what your eye thinks is the correct pink is often not the correct pink when you come home and view what you bought alongside with what you thought it would match. A way to avoid returns or worse, buying things that don’t work and forgetting to return them so you amass clutter, is to simply bring a travel mood board with you – a mood board to go.

I cut tiny snippets of the key pieces that we’ll use and attached everything with small bits of tape and this serves as my reference as I’m out and about. Funny enough, when you go into a store and pull out something like this, you’ll not only invite conversation (people are so curious!) but you’ll get the help that you need most of the time from the sales people because they’ll almost treat you with a bit more respect because you appear to know what you’re doing (whether you or not is debatable I guess ha ha) and you can often get a lot farther with them when you’re asking for a particular color or style and you can SHOW them what you mean vs. trying to describe it as everyone sees color much differently. Have you ever tried explaining a color anyway? It’s quite a task. A mood board to go saves time and money and is exactly why I’ve been using them for over 10 years as a guide when I shop.

As you can see below, this is a shot I took using Sania’s camera of everything piled together in her inspiring craft loft when we were together in London — so I photographed it as well so I could keep this photo on my iPhone to serve as an additional reference for me as I’m out shopping.

Mood Board To Go!

And a big P.S. — London was amazing! I had such a great time there and spent 6 hours at Liberty on Thursday sorting out and photographing what we want to do with the table, choosing everything from chairs to linens to a proper table… And then we lunched at Flat Planet next door (I highly recommend) and then visited Muji, John Lewis and VV Rouleaux for some supplies, and then I was off to Chiswick where I stayed at the posh High Road House designed by the one and only Ilse Crawford and we ate at the private “members only” club there — it was so pretty. The next day, I walked to Sania’s beautiful brick Victorian home and spent the entire day with her — we had so much fun crafting and sorting out ideas for the demo and did what girls do best – chat and play with pretty bits and bobs. I could live in Chiswick in a second, I really felt at home there.

I can’t wait until next week when I can take photos of the tabletop and show you how we’ve translated what you see above into a pretty table for Spring. Stay tuned!

(images: holly becker for decor8)






Decorating Tips, Home Tours

Romantic German Home

March 28, 2011

Would you like to see romantic and sweet corners of a German home today? This inspiring space belongs to blogger Yvonne Bauer (aka Frl.Klein on Flickr) who is married with two daughters living outside of Munich. She likes to combine things that she finds at flea markets with brand new items from some of her favorite stores. She also loves flowers and ethnic touches along with products from Danish brand Tine K Home.

Romantic German Home

Yvonne also has antique furniture that was handed down to her husband from his family that she loves very much. She feels that the eclectic mix of everything living together, cozy, in one space makes for the perfect home. She does not consider her look to be of a certain style, though as an American living in Germany I think it’s representative of the country style that is clean, very white with modern lines, a touch of the ornate, lots of texture and an attention to detail that is prevalent in Scandinavian country styles with a touch of German country combined. Here in Germany we have tons of magazines catering to this style of decoration so it’s no wonder that Yvonne is inspired by books, magazines and blogs for visual eye candy. I don’t know if you’ve ever given much thought to which room in your home is your favorite but Yvonne views her most inspiring room as her kitchen because its the hub of activity and, “I love to cook and chill out there,” she says. From the looks of this table setting below, it’s obvious that she puts a great deal of love and care into meal planning and presentation which is so inspiring to me because I only wish I had the time to lay a table like this on a regular basis… It’s something I aspire to though – what about you?

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

To view more of her photos, please take a moment to visit her blog and Flickr page – both are filled with lovely inspiration for decorating!

(images: yvonne bauer)






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