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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

Country Living: Before/After in a City Apartment!


Did you catch Country Living magazine for August yet? I was tickled to see their city apartment freshen up, Two-Day Decorating Makeover (pages 32-40).

For one thing, it’s rare to see Country Living (or any of the home magazines that feature primarily the cottage/farmhouse style) spotlight a city apartment with, what appears to be a single girl, at the helm of a makeover.

The best part about the makeover?

That’s hard to narrow down. Although I loved that they show an IKEA bag in one of the photos filled with pillow inserts for the renovation project and, hold your squeals of delight, a Saarinen table. Yes, in Country Living. This is a breakthrough moment, people.

The bones of this apartment are stunning, it resembles one you may spot in an east coast city, soaring 10+ foot ceilings, hardwood floors, prewar details, huge windows. The color palette for the apartment is simple: blue, gray, silver, white, beige – very subdued, on the cool side, with a somewhat Scandinavian slash London apartment vibe going on. With before and after photos, a cool stencil idea for the walls (don’t stress, this really is a hip stenciling project using a baroque floral pattern and silver paint against Ben Moore’s Regal Aquavelvet, eggshell finish, Sapphire Ice). The room was pulled together on a budget too, another strong point of the article.

Surprise bonus: There wasn’t a dog, husband, picket fence, cooing baby, or massive 4,000 square foot midwestern farmhouse home in sight. Not that I have anything against those things, but it’s nice to see a country living magazine step into the concrete jungle for once. Not everyone in the city dreams of monochromatic loft spaces, nor do they shop at high end Italian contemporary stores. Country Living is catching on, and I’m liking it.

If you’re not a big Country Living fan, grab the August issue and see what you think. Seems they may be interested in appealing to a broader demographic, and this article in particular has a very Domino feel to it with the fonts, arrows connecting tips to photos, and the style in which it’s written.

What would I change about this makeover? Hmm. First, I’d purchase a real sofa for the living room (vs. the twin bed with bolsters) and a much larger rug. The rug selected for the living area is to small. I’d also paint the walls to the ceiling, although above the molding I would have went a few shades lighter for the paint (they stopped at the crown molding about 20″ from the ceiling leaving the top half of the room white, which is standard. I’m not a standard girl). I believe that if you have high ceilings, don’t try to minimize them. I’d also highlight all of the fabulous picture and crown moldings in either white (for a crisp look) or two shades lighter than the Sapphire Ice (more subdued, yet still highlighting the gorgeous details of the molding). I think the stenciling idea over the eating nook could have been repeated in the living room, as well, confined within the boundaries of the picture molding.

The bedroom was very serene, I can’t see much about it that I would change except for the bed – I would bring in a crisp navy/white Scandinavian floral print and add a touch of butter yellow or lilac somewhere in the room – a vase or fresh tulips would suffice. I’d like to see some clean white ceramics displayed on a shelf, too. Ones that have a very organic feel with lots of detail, all of them in white.

In the end, I’d say the makeover is a great success on a budget, and with it’s vintage modern appeal, I’m a big fan.

If you’d like to check out this renovation, pick up the August copy of Country Living and turn to page 33 (pull out this section and save for your look book). For quick candy, you can view the renovation online, too.

Psst: Love what they’ve done to this vintage suitcase – so girly!

Your comments on this renovation?

Related posts: My DIY Look Book Project, 4.11.06

(images from country living)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, bedroom, diy, inspiration, walls on July 28, 2006

coffee + cre8tive {may 23 ’06}

Did you see Cally’s collection of buttons on her blog? You’ll just love them. For a quick mini project, I decided to look for glass jars with metal lids. I found some at target in clear glass with metal screw top lids that are absolute perfection. My plan is to display them on the shelf above my desk… Filling them with pretty + colorful things that make me happy.


The first jar will contain buttons. Old, new, all shapes and sizes. The second, vintage spools of thread, you know the kind on the off-white thin spools that you can tell have been used? And the third, maybe used stamps that I’ve collected from Europe dated between the 30s and the 60s. I’ve also thought about filling it with torn samples of my favorite wallpaper patterns or little rolls of my favorite fabric samples tied like scrolls with a thin ribbon around each.

What would you fill your jars with?

(image from the super ms. cally)

Posted in blogs, diy, tips on May 23, 2006

IKEA DIY Project – Art for Under $50

Who doesn’t crave an EASY DIY project now and then, one that doesn’t involve paint in your hair, toting a tool belt, or using a miter saw? I seriously can’t go there when it comes to DIY projects. I don’t mind a hammer and a power drill, but give me a table saw and I’ll most likely emerge in stitches or worse, one less finger and a hefty hospital bill. When it comes to DIY, I’ll take mine quick and painless please. I imagine that many of you are the same.

DIY projects, especially ones that take only a few hours, are sometimes the break from the normal routine that we need. They’re also addicting. Once you see how easy it is to create something pretty cool on a budget, you find yourself roaming store aisles looking for more potential projects. In fact, you start looking at everything differently. You may even begin scaring your friends and family. When your eyes glance over at their empty bottle of soda, they sense you are thinking “craft project”. Your dog fears you’ll transform his humble house into some swanky loft.

Looking for a quick DIY project that gives you an opportunity to create a work of art for your walls for under $50? I think you’ll like this idea, I needed a way to display my Lotta Jansdotter postcards, so I figured I’d grab some IKEA frames, scissors and a roll of duct tape.

A: Purchase frames at IKEA. You can purchase as many, or few, as you’d like. I grabbed the NYTTJA 2-packs in white (5.5 x 7.5″, which fits images 4 x 6″). Next, pick up a roll of heavy duty clear duct tape. Please do not purchase the standard gray, for one, it’s ugly and two, the color peeks through the cracks. Grab a package of sawtooth picture hangers too, these will secure the art to the wall when you’re finished. Don’t forget a pair of good scissors.

B: Collect your images, mini-paintings, postcards, cards, anything that you’d like to display.

C: Arrange the frames on a flat soft surface (I used the carpet so I wouldn’t scratch them) and then, play with the layout – arrange your images. Then, flip over all the frames. Insert the images and then, apply clear duct tape in straight rows across the back, both vertically and horizonally, completely covering the piece. If you do not completely cover it, the frames risk shifting over time. Please note that once you arrange your frames and place the images inside, you won’t be able to change your mind regarding placement since the duct tape will be in the way. Finally, add sawtooth hooks to the top left and top right of your new art and secure on the wall.

Easy, fun and under $50! Oh, and if you’d like to purchase the Lotta Jansdotter postcards that I used in this project, I found a wooden box set (you can hang the lid since it’s wood and has a little hook, too.) click here


(images decor8 2006)

Posted in diy, uncategorized on May 04, 2006

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