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House Beautiful + Expat Thoughts On Decorating

There are some lovely rooms to be inspired by over at House Beautiful, do you visit them regularly online? Reading magazine websites really help to keep you plugged in to the world of design and decorating — no matter where I live I always feel like I know what’s going on in America which is great because that’s where I’m from.

House Beautiful

It’s a nice feeling to have such resources at our fingertips, don’t you think? I’m an expat and now more than ever before I see the value in reading magazines online that I once could find at the local newsstand. It has been a huge source of comfort at times when I wonder what’s happening or what’s new — I just go online to sites like House Beautiful and feel instantly plugged in.

If you are also an expat, you must find this super helpful to you, too. I often think about what it was like many years ago before planes and the internet when people left their homeland on a boat and traveled many miles over the sea to a new country — I can’t imagine what being a foreigner was like back during such times! Once you left your country back then, you were truly cut off and could only carry your home in your heart and then, try to recreate it a bit in your new surroundings. Even in the 80s and early 90s before the internet really took off — how did foreigners cope I wonder? I think it took a lot more gumption to make a success of yourself  as an expat back then – much more than now even – don’t you?

House Beautiful

Many of my friends in the states admire me for selling most of my belongings and moving to Europe, but I don’t think I’m that courageous at all – I have it easy with the internet, international shipping, i-Tunes (for TV shows), DVDs so I never miss the films I long to see, cheap flights, cheap long distance (or skype), fast snail mail (I get most letters from the states within 3 days – when I was dating my husband writing him letters by hand back in 1999 it took around 10 days for them to arrive in Germany from Boston), I personally don’t feel like moving took much courage at all. When my family came over on boats through Boston back in the day arriving from Europe, that took way more strength than my move to Germany.

House Beautiful

These photos are so nice to look at, aren’t they? One thing I notice since moving to northern Germany over a year ago is how very American things look to me suddenly! I never noticed or really thought about how American design looked to those in other parts of the world but living abroad has really given me an alternate view and that is something that I cherish immensely. When I see certain styles, whether it be in fashion, interiors, product packaging, trends… I immediately can tell whether or not it originated in the states. House Beautiful reminds me of the differences between decorating trends and styles in Europe and those sought after in the U.S. and it is quite fascinating to consider.

House Beautiful

If you are an expat, can you comment on what differences you see in design/decorating in your new country vs. your home country? I’d love to hear your thoughts, no matter where you live in the world – it’s a fascinating topic I think!

(images: house beautiful magazine)

Posted in Books + Magazines, Decorating Tips on September 23, 2010

Simple Flower Arrangements

I love casual flower arrangements. I don’t feel comfortable fussing with things too much. In fact, the more I fuss the worse things usually look anyway because then my original vision gets lost. I’ve learned to just go with my first instinct and to be happy with what comes the most natural to me. I tend to like flowers in a variety of containers and I enjoying mixing blooms so that there is plenty of texture and color, even if I’m using mostly pink flowers I find that the many tones give such depth and personality to an arrangement.

Constança Cabral

I also like white carnations and find that they get such a bad rap for no reason, a carnation is a feminine flower with lovely ruffled layers. I think the carnation is a tricky bloom though, it doesn’t play well with others and looks best when it’s paired with other carnations and in my opinion, looks best with others the exact color — a carnation can suddenly look so sophisticated bunched together. In addition to flowers, I also love flowering branches in my home and recently I’ve been getting more and more into plants like olive and rosemary topiary trees and succulents. What about you, do you like simple flower arrangements or do you tend to spend a lot of time putting yours together?

Constança Cabral

One lady in blogland, Constança Cabral, does such a nice job arranging casual bunches and displaying them in her home. She just may inspire you — her many lovely photos are shown above. She is from Lisbon but currently living in England where she has an apartment in the countryside with a small garden where she picks most of her lovely stems. Constança makes things by hand and sells them in her etsy shop and she also blogs quite frequently so if you like flowers you will love her blog.

(images: Constança Cabral)

Posted in Decorating Tips on September 22, 2010

Faux Fireplaces: Your Thoughts?

Okay I seriously need YOUR help – yes the tables have turned! :) To faux or not to faux, that is the question and currently my new home dilemma. I move next week on Friday and I’m starting to think about decorating and how I seriously want to put a faux fireplace in this room below… but is that tacky? I was reading one of my favorite decorating books by Mark & Sally Bailey, Simple Home, over the weekend and they are seriously against it – that one must be true to the home and its history. I’m sure this home had a ceramic stove at one time, it was built in 1900, but that was long removed so now I’m trying to figure out if I should add a faux fireplace or not. This will most likely be my living room, though that is still under discussion as I have 3 different rooms that could all easily be a living room due to the incredible floor plan. But for the sake of keeping things easy, let’s go with this room being the space for the living room.

My new place!

The wood herringbone floors are original (110 years old!), as is the ornately carved ceiling — you cannot see them too well in this picture but there are flowers carved in two rows across it along with beams… so it’s a pretty lovely living room. There are no windows on either side, but where I stood to take this photos there is a wall of folding glass doors leading into what will most likely be my office.

Anyway, what you are seeing in the back there are double doors leading to a very large tiled “wintergarten” that happens to be heated so I can use it year round… and out there I plan to cozy it up with plants and a place to read and relax. But back to the idea of a faux fireplace. I would look for something vintage — not new — but I think the real draw is to have a focal point but also to create something cozy — a mantle with a mirror above it and space below for stacking wood and some candles just seems like the right choice. But Mark & Sally Bailey would be against this decision, and so would a slew of other designers out there, yet I still want to do it. What do you think? Any tips? I guess I could also just buy a fabulous dresser or low cabinet and put a shelf over it and a big mirror on top but I have this fireplace idea stuck in my head.

Thoughts?

(image: holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Decorating Tips on September 20, 2010

DAY Birger et Mikkelsen Home

This is such a gorgeous autumn color palette! DAY Birger et Mikkelsen is a Danish label known for their amazing fashion but did you know that they also have a well-curated collection of goods for the home? Their current campaign is called Quirky Autumn and I just love it with the smokey shades of blue, gray…. vintage charm, extremely tactile, a few classic designs from the 60s, some ethnic “raw” pieces made of wood, silhouette art work, embroidery, lots of handmade charm — we all are so drawn to these things because they feel so real and in some ways connect us back to our childhood…

DAY Birger et Mikkelsen Home

DAY Birger et Mikkelsen Home

DAY Birger et Mikkelsen Home

This is definitely a look/palette that many designers are gravitating towards right now — Sibella Court, TineK Home, House Doctor, DAY Birger et Mikkelsen, West Elm, Anthropologie, etc. The mix of high and low, old and new is currently popular but I believe that it has real staying power — like denim jeans — in the sense that you can see a living room in these colors, in this style, in 5 years and it would still be just as lovely and cozy and not at all appear dated or, “Sooooo 2010″ as I imagine some current trends will look and feel years from now. Like denim, this look is clean, natural, casual and lasting since it is a mix of periods, cultures, and mostly neutral tones which you really can never go wrong with.

What do you think of these colors, textures and combinations?

(images: DAY Birger et Mikkelsen)

Posted in Decorating Tips, trends on September 16, 2010

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