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DIY, Inspiration, Objects

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}

April 4, 2008

Time for a little Bemz-spiration.I’ve talked about Bemz a few times here, they carry slipcovers that fit IKEA sofas and chairs so that you can customize your IKEA finds turning them into something more personalized. They just launched a section on their site called “Lifestyles” where you can view different collections of Bemz’ fabrics in real homes. Seeing some of their fabrics living in a real environment is really helpful. Currently there are 6 Bemz Lifestyles and more will follow later this year.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*} This is my favorite of all the rooms. I’d have a little more in this space (a rug, a few chairs, etc.), but I really the cool colors and the mixing of florals with stripes in a way that looks very stylish, like a fashion designer would live here.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}
I found their break down of the various styles they’re trying to mimic helpful since we often try to define our look to friends and don’t know what to call it, there are so many styles and definitions floating around. As I look at these definitions along with the Bemz images I realize that they are based purely from a Scandinavian perspective, as they’re Stockholm-based and this is their own take on these looks. In other words, I don’t think Country Romance or Downtown really looks like the typical country or downtown style that we’d see here in America.

Fun exercise: As you read through their definitions below, examine the images shown as examples and consider how each style would be interpreted in your part of the world.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}
1. Bohemian Chic – Aimed at people who love combining old and new to add unexpected contrasts to their home. This Lifestyle employs a palette of dark, intimate colors, with elements of brown, mauve, black and pink.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}
2. Country Romance – Is Bemz’s modern interpretation of a delightful past: elegant and graceful, romantic and playful, while not coming across as cute. Shades of white anchor this Lifestyle, thoughtfully blended with pale pastels, gentle florals and muted checks.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*} 3. Downtown – This look pays tribute to city slickers, people who are energized by the skyscrapers and pulse of a big city. Downtown draws from an urban palette of black, grey and white, combined with discrete patterns and bright accent colors.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}4. Nordic Home – Embodies a clean, simple and harmonious backdrop for the changing seasons that can be highlighted with materials such as cushions and curtains. This 5. Lifestyle features some of Bemz’ distinctive Scandinavian patterns.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}5. Playground – For those homes where the walls are white and it’s the furniture and art projects that add color. Red, green, orange, blue and black are combined with strong graphic patterns and bold horizontal and vertical stripes.

Bemz {*New Lifestyles*}
6. Swedish Grace – Features clean lines, natural shapes and understated tones, inspired by a legacy of classic 50s Scandinavian design.

How would you define your style?

(images from bemz)

DIY, Objects, Rooms

Rapture and Wright {fabric + wallpaper}

March 10, 2008

I’m always looking for new fabric and wallpaper so the second I came across this photo in the March issue of Livingetc magazine, I had to learn more about the headboard. The fabric is called Birds and Butterflies and is hand printed by Rapture and Wright, a company based in the UK that I’d not heard of before.

Rapture and Wright {fabric + wallpaper} Rapture and Wright {fabric + wallpaper}
The headboard itself is custom made by The Dormy House, but I can’t stop thinking about how easy it would be to DIY this idea with plywood (or an old door), cotton batting, your favorite fabric, a staple gun, and some mounting hardware for the wall (easy video here on You Tube). It’s also amazing to me just how great this particular print looks in person as I don’t think I would have given it a second glance if only seen on their website. Livingetc really grabbed my attention with birds and butterflies – I love the serene neutral space with a pop of black and yellow. Heaven!

(most images from Rapture and Rright, photograph taken of the March 08 issue of Livingetc by Holly Becker for decor8. Photographer: Penny Wincer. Room styled by Melanie Molesworth.)


Whimsy Press (eco gift wrap)

March 4, 2008

Gift wrap has a wide range of uses that goes far beyond gift giving. You can use it to create tags and labels for canisters and storage boxes (use a craft punch and affix it to card stock so it doesn’t curl), line your drawers, incorporate into your art work, decoupage a pencil holder, flower pot, even wood furniture, frame your favorite pieces as art, lay your favorite pattern beneath a sheet of glass on your desk (alternate it each month with a new print), ideas for it really are endless! Have you shopped Whimsy Press lately for gift wrap? Need motivation? Cupcakes and bird motifs!

Whimsy Press (eco gift wrap)Whimsy Press (eco gift wrap)
They’ve just added some new prints that I spotted on HWTM, their gift wrap sheets are FSC certified paper and contain 30% post consumer fiber so they’re pretty and eco-friendly. Whimsy Press has added new products in addition to their extensive (and beautiful) collection of wrapping paper to include wall art, placemats, stickers, and much more.

Whimsy Press (eco gift wrap) Need some visual inspiration? Use wrapping paper to whip up this project from Martha Stewart, it’s one of my favorites on her site.

(images from whimsy press)

DIY, Objects, Shopping + Products, Travel

Furniture Spruce Up by Turquoise LA

March 4, 2008

Photos and Text by: Vanessa De Vargas, Turquoise LA Interior Design and Showroom.

I thought it would be fun to show off some of my before and afters to all of you here on decor8. Most of these pieces have been completely redone with new lacquer and new upholstery. Most of my inspiration comes from viewing old 1950 and 1960’s Better Homes and Gardens Books and Magazines to see how best I can replicate it from that era.

Furniture Spruce Up by Turquoise LAFurniture Spruce Up by Turquoise LA
The 1930’s side chairs upholstered (above) in red have actually been redone “green”. The chairs are painted with NO VOC paint, and the batting is 100% certified organic cotton, which means no chemicals were used in treating the cotton. The stuffing or foam, is actually recycled denim mostly used for insulation of homes. The upholstery is from the 1960’s which is recycled.

Most of the inventory for my store is painted in black or white, but I have painted items in kelly green or Chinese red, it all depends on what I feel would look the best for the item and what would appeal to my customers.

Furniture Spruce Up by Turquoise LAFurniture Spruce Up by Turquoise LAFurniture Spruce Up by Turquoise LA
I also offer a lacquer service from my store, so if clients bring in a piece I can custom lacquer it to any color from a fan deck and customize it to their liking. My lacquering service runs between $150-$250 for chairs depending on labor. If you are interested in having a piece redone and would like a quote, please send in pictures with the measurements to AT

(images from turquoise la)

DIY, Inspiration, Objects

Locating Gems at Chain Stores

March 3, 2008

So many people love to shop! Whether it’s window shopping for inspiration, stepping inside your favorite boutique to browse for ideas, or you’re on a mission to find that certain something, shopping in its many forms can be lots of fun. Especially when you challenge yourself a little. Whenever I find something that catches my eye, I take a moment to imagine it used in a different way or altered somehow (color, new legs, different hardware, etc.). It makes shopping more of a creative exercise and helps me not to overlook something that has a great deal of potential. Let me give you an example of this.

Let’s shop together at a chain store here in America called Pier 1 Imports, which specializes in imported goods from all over the world that fall into what I’d consider a reasonable price bracket. They have lots of good pieces hitting stores for Spring with good lines and details but as is, not all of them are really my taste. With a dash of creativity and in most cases, a can of paint, each can be customized to fit your style. Let’s get those creative ideas spinning… Come shipping with me!

Locating Gems at Chain StoresLocating Gems at Chain StoresSpring is coming so let’s look at a few inexpensive ideas for the patio and the entryway since most like to freshen up these areas first for the season. All items shown above from Pier 1 are perfect as is, or you can alter them by adding new hardware, paint, or cushions.

If you have a covered porch or patio, try this painted wood table ($299) with coordinating bench seats ($99 each) and add a 5 x 8 braided jute rug ($129) beneath it. String paper lanterns from Asian Ideas over the table (I’d use three max in all one color or pattern, like freckle (my favorite), white eyelet, peonies, provence, or marigold). Add a coordinating fabric runner down the center of the table and use vintage glass bottles or milk glass vases with fresh cut blooms (try daffodils) in each and run about 6 down the center as well. Tie each with a pretty grosgrain ribbon in a solid color. Simple but sweet. Or use potted plants. Dress up the bench if you’re the crafty type by sewing a box cushion with ties on the sides so that you can secure it or use heavy duty velcro strips and place them on the bench and on the bottom of the cushion. Look for indoor/outdoor fabrics, I like the variety over at Calico Corners. The metal chair (sorry no link but available in stores) can be used at the head of the table or you can place it off to the side with a large plant on the seat. Not shown is the outdoor wicker stackable dining chair for $59, another great seating option. Top it with a pretty cushion.

For the entry, the birds and blooms painted chest ($299) OR the beach house bookcase ($179) would be perfect in the entryway for a bright splash of Spring-y color and for a place to rest your keys and store books. I see the bookcase in a guest bedroom also, a great spot for adding reading materials that will make your friends feel right at home.

Locating Gems at Chain StoresLocating Gems at Chain Stores

Now let’s look at a few pieces that could use a little changin’ because as is, I’m not that keen on them.

The Patola Palace Cabinet ($499) – This could use a little age appeal in my opinion. Try sanding it in places to remove some of the paint, then add 3/4 clear glaze and 1/2 teal (to match the base coat on the cabinet) mix the solution and “wash” it over with a sponge to give it an aged, more sun-bleached bohemian look.

Ming Chow bamboo bench ($229) – Lacquer the base in red, black, or white. Top with a patterned cushion. Try a white base with Virginia Johnson fabric or a black base with something by Florence Broadhurt.

The Belclaire Hutch + Wine Cabinet ($349) – It’s cute, but I’d like to give it a different take so I don’t have the same one that everyone else has in their home. Dare to be different, right? Okay so did you happen to see the cover of the March issue of Country Living magazine? There’s a blue and yellow bedroom on it and I just loved their DIY idea for the dresser. They repainted in a sunny yellow. I would like to try their idea only on this Pier 1 cabinet. They used Pratt & Lambert Cherish #11-7 for the base and trimmed out the wood accents in a slightly brighter yellow using Patent Yellow #12-10. You can use your favorite wallpaper pattern and with decoupage medium, add some pattern to our pier 1 cabinet on the doors and side inserts, or you can simply paint the doors, legs, and top in Patent Yellow and paint the rest in Cherish and then wallpaper the inside. Add your favorite hardware from Anthropologie. (For a dresser much like the one in the cover of Country Home, try the 3-drawer Simple Shabby Chic chest on sale now at Target for $187)

Locating Gems at Chain Stores
Hana ($279) + Kiona ($179) floor screens – These have so many different uses other than the obvious, of course there’s nothing wrong with using them as actual dividers but I’m thinking that they need some paint. Okay first idea: measure your window. If it fits, remove one panel, use only two. Remove all hinges. Paint white. Window shutters indoors! Or flip on its side, remove feet (saw off, sand, paint), paint the screen in your favorite color, line with solid fabric pulled tightly across the back. Fasten to wall and use as a headboard. Or stand upright, paint in your favorite color, flatten against wall and screw in to secure, and use it behind your bed to make a statement. See also the plantation shutter screen ($279).

Locating Gems at Chain StoresThese pieces are fine as is, but you can always paint the farmhouse table ($299) white or pale grey after you’ve hammered, sanded, and using a chain, take out your anger on it in a few places to add some age. :) I prefer it in natural though. That little stool has a very industrial look to it, I like it as is. Stools can be used all over the house and are great as tables too. The Pier 1 iron tulip end table ($129) is more rustic than your average white one, another good piece as is. You don’t have to alter everything.

Locating Gems at Chain Stores I’d like to try my hand at painting these pieces, they all would look great in so many different colors.

First up, the Beckley Bay rattan bed ($399-599) — I really like this for a guest bedroom in white, but also imagine it lacquered in black, yellow, or kelly green. In white, it would be nice dressed with bedding sporting a bold cane motif, like Lulu DK’s Madison bedding. I can see it with the Miranda duvet and bedskirt, or in anything from John Robshaw.

Locating Gems at Chain Stores
Try making your own drapes and duvets with fabric from Calico Corners, their new Boca Raton collection (shown above) for Spring would go nicely with the rattan bed in white.

The butterfly writing desk ($229) would be perfect for a bedroom, bold red makes this a great accent piece. I may paint it a solid color though, I’m sure she what I think of the butterfly motif. I like the idea of doing something fun with the legs, painting rings of white or yellow against the red. It would also look nice in black and on top, display vintage photos and have a piece of glass cut to fit. I can’t tell whether the top opens or not so I’d have to see it in person to decide on the glass or not.

The decorative boxes ($99) would be fun at the foot of the bed or use as side or coffee tables. The Pagoda 4-tier shelf ($98) is perfect for the bathroom for storage (towels, soaps), in the living room (books, ceramics), kitchen (nesting bowls, cookbooks), or in the bedroom (flanking a bed or desk). Paint it in any color you like, it’s a very versatile piece that never seems to go out of style.

I hope you had fun shopping Pier 1 with me and that this post inspired you to shop with a more creative eye if you already don’t. Thank you for hanging out with me, do you have any favorite pieces from those shown above? I really like the table with matching benches the best, I’d love to use this on a porch – except I don’t have one so the Ming Chow bamboo bench would be my second choice.

(images from pier 1 imports)


Howcast {diy videos}

February 22, 2008

I heard from Howcast today and after spending time on their website watching a bunch of diy videos, I thought you may really dig it. I love a good how-to video and see this as the next big thing on the web for all the design addicts out there – professional videos showing us how to do really cool things that design blog followers would actually want to make. Some of the videos out there are really boring and the projects are quite dreadful, but Howcast seems to have lots of videos that are very informative and well produced.

Howcast {diy videos}Here’s a shot from How To Re Cover A Lamp Shade by the
Home Refiner. How cute is this wallpaper?

Some of my personal picks from Howcast: All of Elfya’s videos, aka the Home Refiner. She’s not only real cute and wears great clothes, but the laundry/craft space where the videos are shot are so Blueprint magazine. Love it. Elfya is a New York-based Interior Designer with her own website so you’re dealing with a pro here. Then there’s The FlowerGod – this guy really knows how to arrange flowers. How To Understand a Work Of Art,, How To Pretend You?re a Real New Yorker, How to Blog Using WordPress (helpful stuff), even videos on wardrobe styling from Ford Models. re both pretty good too. I can’t wait to watch Howcast grow – I’d love to see some more professional how-to videos on the web like these!

Psst: Boston locals, don’t miss the Garden Girl over in Roxbury. What an inspiration this lady is!

Want to link up with me on Howcast? Here’s my page if you’d like to add me as your friend or share some of your videos with me. :)

(image from howcast)

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