Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bedside manners ...

Guest accommodations should not be a storage facility! I know it should be as inviting as a hotel suite. However, my guest bedroom has accumulated so many reject pieces from other rooms that it is beginning to look more like a flea market stall. For heavens sake, it is even playing host to an old family piano!

I have decided to take the room down to its bare bones, then, create a well-mannered space for visiting guests - with no more junk and much more personality. I've pulled out my inspiration book of bedroom photos saved from clipped magazine spreads and viewed lots of looks on the internet. Below are a few rooms that ooze the 'decadent Zen' design asthetic that I love.

Photo from Maisons & Decors Mediterreanee 2008.

The bedroom above is my all-time favorite from a magnificently restored chateau near Aix en Provence in the South of France. The volume of space, minimalist decor and ethereal light are hauntingly beautiful. But, since my guest room lacks the size and height of this stunner, I'll have to keep looking for something a bit more feasible.

Photo via Living Etc.
Geffner Schatzky home

Both of the classic black and white color schemes above are creatively fresh, yet layered with an old world patina for timeless beauty. One day, I'll post all of my black and white room photos and get up enough nerve to take the noir paint plunge.


This Prospect House bedroom (above) designed by Janof Hald is a perfect example of simple refinement. Its understated beauty and comfort would be so inviting to guests. Did I mention that the charming duvet cover reminds me of my ruffled, pull-up girlie panties from childhood? How fun!

For the drama queen in me, there could be nothing more enticing than a mix of bold, unexpected design elements with luxurious antiques.

Designer Holly Moore created a vintage look on a grand scale (left) with the vintage,  circus-painted canvas backdrop paired with an old, upholstered French bed.

I really love this look! The room was definitely designed for fantasy and romantic dreams.

In addition to style, my redesigned bedroom will need to wrap my guests in comfort. I'm really drawn to the Belgian linen bedding from Bella Notte. Being surrounded by linen is irresistibly comfortable and opulently minimalist.

Surely, I can find some way to bring in the joy and comfort of youthful sleep to my guests.


Image via Pottery Barn
This Pottery Barn image brings back such great memories of summers at the lake with my best friend - sharing nights on her grandmother's sleeping porch.

Do you think I could forget about the guest room and offer up my patio as accommodation? Probably, not. But, it would be divine to create this kind of sweet embrace.

Okay, I'll just stick to my original plan: create a cozy suite that will convey a warm welcome and provide guests with a soothing sense of relaxation.

The two rooms below are ranking high on my inspiration chart.



Todd Moore designed the spa-like bedroom
for cool relaxation.


Designer Joni Webb creates a
French-inspired suite.



 

 



Judging books by their cover ...

Growing up, Los Angeles native Mike Stilkey must have been a librarian's worst nightmare.  But today, his mix of ink, colored pencil, paint and laquer applied to book covers is an artistic achievement. His whimsical cast of characters offer an introspective look into Stilkey's melancholic and mysterious mind.



Of course, his skill provides us with images that would be captivating on any surface. But, Stilkey manages to take his talent to enormous heights by stacking books to create the very canvas for his work.


His style has been described by some as "capturing features of artists ranging from Edward Gorey to Egon Schiele," but for me, I'd say he captures the vivid perception we had of adults as youth. Everyone is long, lanky, mature and dealing with some unseen issues.


Even the creatures Silkey creates have a human agenda - they travel, persue a variety of interests. It's as if the artist is capturing his youthful years spent daydreaming of a more exciting existence.


His hauntingly elusive and anemic subjects feel like transparent visages on the stacks of strongly-bound books, creating a sculpture that is both ethereal and profound.


Silkey's work can be seen at the Kinsey/DesForges Gallery, David B. Smith Gallery, Gilman Contemporary Gallery, BLK/MRKT Editions or on Silkey's website. I don't think I could ever tire of seeing more of his creative genius!

Dressform desires ...

I've never seen a vintage dressform I didn't like LOVE! There is just something graceful, feminine and practical about their shape and function. While I have sewn quite a lot of my own clothes over the years, I've never owned a dressform. But, that never stopped me from wanting one! Instead, I just looked at each one I passed with a lustful eye.




The photos by Tim Bradford (left) and Mandy Lynne (right) feel so melancholy. These images make me want to rescue these dressforms and take them to a loving home. Oh wait, hundreds of antique enthusiasts already pay handsomely to do just that! Antique dressforms can easily cost as much as $700 - $1200 US.

For those who just love to look at vintage dressform images, Lori Miller Vintage Design is offering a series of greeting cards (shown at left) for sale on their website. Dressforms as art have also been translated into commercial photography by the creative textile artist behind the 'Love Stitching Red' blog. Here, the forms take on a persona with the accessories draped around their bodices.

Can't spend the dinero right now to buy a coveted dressform? Why not rent one? That's right, you can rent the vintage model show in both photos above from Modern 50 in New York City. Modern 50 specializes in the rental and sales of antiques and vintage modern furnishings, mostly to the set designers in television and film. Just want the photo? The NYC firm also has stock photos available, too.


By now, you have got to be wondering why I'm sharing this obsession with you. Well, I'm in the process of making my own dressform - some sort of stand, a little chicken wire, a few layers of newsprint to create paper mache and some tea-stained muslin is all it takes.

I'll fill you in on all the details in the next few weeks, giving you the 'How To' instructions for my project as well as showing you some other means to create your own dressform.

In the meantime, I'll be adding more layers of paper mache and giving it the final skin of fabric so you can see the entire process in photos.

'She' really isn't meant to wear any home sewn attire, her function is more art-inspired. I hope she will become my creative muse for future work. More to come ...




Please pass the papaya ...

Before now, the only time I had eaten papaya was during a vacation in Jamaica. I loved it, but never thought of finding recipes to prepare a dish at home. Since my loving husband brought two papaya home this week, I hit the internet to find a yummy solution to this fruit dilemma.


Locally-grown, Central Texas papaya

I found a great papaya recipe that combines a true favorite of mine, pineapple, in a zesty slaw.

According to Taste of Home, "This is no ordinary, boring slaw! Bursting with flavor from fresh fruit, cilantro and red bell pepper, guests will rave over this slaw for days!"

Well, let's test it out, shall we?


Pineapple-Papaya Slaw from 'Taste of Home'

PINEAPPLE PAPAYA SLAW RECIPE


Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups shredded cabbage
1-1/2 cups cubed fresh pineapple
1-1/2 cups chopped peeled papaya
1 small sweet red pepper, chopped


Directions:
In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the pineapple juice, oil, lime juice, cilantro, cumin and salt; shake well. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, pineapple, papaya and pepper. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. Stir just before serving. Yield: 8 servings.

Since the hubby and I are hosting an 'End of Summer' Sunset Soiree this weekend, our guests will be enjoying the Pineapple-Papaya Slaw along with the seafood menu.  Photos to come next week!

Card-carrying creative ...

I printed some lovely business cards for Alamodeus. I wanted them to be unique in size (3" x 3"), just to create a bit more interest than the standard 3.5" x 2" US card. With the extra size came a bit of a dilemma - how to keep them together in my handbag. Standard card cases weren't the right size, so it was time to create an easy-to-craft card case.


First, I created a pattern by measuring the card size and added .25" to the overall dimensions to give the cards a bit of wiggle room.  To this measurement, I added .25" for the depth of a stack of cards and added another .25" for a glue flap to the two sides of the case. Then, a bottom was created with a .25" depth and a 2.75" diaper flap for folding up as the backbone of the case. The top flap dimensions were added and the background color was left white to contrast with the gray scheme.


I simply printed the pattern on sturdy 65lb. cover weight paper stock, cut along the outside lines and scored the fold lines. Then, I folded and glued the flaps.


I added some velcro for a closure, and voila! A great little case to keep Alamodeus cards organized and protected.


While I have used the same graphic design on my card case that I have used on the Alamodeus website background, you could chose any artwork if you are creating the pattern on the computer. Otherwise, you might consider creating your pattern and tracing it onto pre-printed cover or cardstock. Craft and scrapbooking stores have a huge assortment of paper stock in various weights that would work perfectly for this project.

I'm thinking cereal or cracker packaging might even be fun ... upcycling is such a great way to take existing paper goods and create entirely new products without adding to our carbon footprint.

I know laminating the card case would add some longevity to the finished case, but scoring and folding lamination is just a bit tricky. Anyway, I'm sure I will want another design by the time this one is worn out.




Sunday, September 19, 2010

The chef's table ...

Maybe it’s because I'm an avid foodie, but I'm a sucker for a beautiful place to dine - with a particular penchant for banquettes. The more I think about a remodel of my kitchen, the more I am considering how I might incorporate a traditional dining banquette into my space. After all, I’ve been saving magazine photos of my favorites for years.

Here’s a peek at some of those banquettes that inspire me with their handsome good looks and practicality.



My absolute favorite banquette (above) appeared as a photo in the July 2001 issue of Traditional Home magazine. (See, I told you I keep these clippings forever!) Actually, it isn't a true built-in banquette at all since a free-standing loveseat is used in place of a built-in bench seat. However, the room's appealing, country French pedigree feels so warm and inviting, I can just imagine relaxing here with my morning croissant and cup of chocolat.




These banquettes have personality galore with enough charm to comfort guests and encourage them to linger.

The casual elegance in the Traditional Home magazine spread (left) oozes refinement, while designer Patti Kommel's European-inspired banquette (right) exhibits a rich, textural refinement in a small space that she says "feels like a New York apartment."


Our home's design scheme isn't blue and white, yet I still rate these two banquettes above high on my list of delightful spaces. The breakfast room banquette featured in Better Homes and Gardens (left) is bright and cozy, although I give my top vote for rustic romance to the Country Living magazine photo (right). If I ever build a vacation cottage, this will be the inspiration. Since I already own the table - a gift from a friend who found it at a flea market, I just need to source the chairs and have my super handyman husband at the ready for the built-in construction.


When I saw this free-standing banquette on the Young House Love blog, I immediately thought of a friend who is redecorating a recently-purchased beach house.

To me, this room evokes sand and surf in a classic, Nantucket way. It feels so similar to the set design that I love from the Diane Keaton & Jack Nicholson film 'Something's Gotta Give.' Okay, the movie's dining room looks totally different, but this relaxing space speaks the exact same language as every other room in that film. 

And, oh how I am listening!

Stylists' secrets ...

What if you could visit at of all the fabulous, unique shops in Paris and Amsterdam that only the design pros know? Would you like to shop the same stores that a world-renown stylist and photographer frequents to source distinctive props, accessories and objects that she uses in the sets and photographs she creates? I don't know about you, but I'm a definite yes!

If you're anything like me, you'll love two books written by stylist, photographer and author Pia Jan Bijkerk - 'Paris: Made By Hand' and 'Amsterdam: Made By Hand.' With residences in both of the title cities, she is vastly familiar with incredible artisans. Pia creates and photographs her work for international magazines and advertising agencies, including clients: Vogue Entertaining & Travel, Real Simple, Marie Claire, and Saatchi & Saatchi.



In her first book, Paris: Made by Hand, Pia takes us off the grand boulevards to 50 out-of-the-way boutiques of Parisian artists who create handmade, unique and chic treasures. Pia has been "collecting these special addresses in [her] stylist's little black book over the past couple of years, and now with great delight, shares them all."



Pia tells us that, "So that you don't have to deal with the Metro too often, each chapter is 'a wander,' designed so that you can walk from handmade place to handmade place with ease. But, even if you are not planning a trip to Paris in the near future, there is plenty of inspiration on each page, and boutiques that can be found online."



After estatic reviews of Paris: Made by Hand from British House & Garden and Vogue Living, and kudos from some of the most revered design blogs, including Design*Sponge and Decor8, Pia wrote her second Made By Hand guide.

Amsterdam: Made By Hand takes us on ten 'wanders' through Amsterdam to find great sources for antiques, collectibles, furnishings, jewelry, clothing and much more.



Pia's intimate knowledge of Amsterdam comes from her part-time residence there (in a houseboat, no less) as well as her professional, insider connections. In Amsterdam: Made By Hand, Pia connects us with "Dutch ateliers tucked away on the cobble-stoned backstreets of the old Canal District and boutiques that Dutch designers and stylists have kept well-hidden inside their black books ... until now." Guide visits in the old, quaint city takes us to see the work of artisans in wood, ceramics, metals and fabric.



Pia describes her guide best. "This is a book for all professional designers and decorators and lovers of design and decorating, lovers of all things handmade, the chic and unique, and of course, Amsterdam."

Both books can be ordered online from my favorite bookstore, The Little Bookroom, (which I really enjoy visiting, and think you will too) or through Amazon. You can also visit Pia's blog for great inspiration. Her photos are fantastic, and her blog is among my favorites! I can't wait for her next book, due out in 2011.

Paint can primer ...

I always hate tossing out an old paint can. To say that these cans are unfriendly to the environment seems to be serious understatement. I’m sure every can I’ve ever used will be around in a landfill for centuries. So, I thought there might be some second life for these cans after the paint is gone.

Spurred by a featured project in an old Creative Ideas magazine from Lowe’s, I thought I would try upcycling an old paint can.

Here’s a little project primer that transforms a paint can (you can use a quart or gallon can, depending on the size of the floral arrangement you want) into a rustic container for flowers.



Peel any paper wrapper from the paint can and coat the exterior with adhesive (spray or layer on with brush.) Then, press moss onto the outside of the can and trim any excess with scissors. Next, measure the can height and circumference and use tin snips or a wire cutter to cut a piece of multipurpose mesh to fit.

The Creative Ideas project used hardware cloth with small mesh. Instead, I used poultry netting (because it’s what I had on hand) with a 1" mesh. It's a bit trickier to keep the somewhat loose moss held in place with a wider mesh, but it still works.

Wrap the mesh around the can and secure with loose ends of the cut mesh along the seam. (This is what I did.) Or, you can reinforce the mesh seam with small wire loops or twine.




It's a charming, earthy look that complements informal, cut floral arrangements. I dropped in a potted plant so that I can change out the flowers for various occasions or with the change of seasons.

Flights of fancy ...

I have been seeing birds everywhere! No, not like in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. These are the adorable birds that are popping up in fabrics, art, wallpapers, home accessories and jewelry. I even noticed that one of New York’s hottest young fashion designers, Michelle Smith, has them gracing her Milly luxury label website.

It seems our little feathered friends are flocking the retail markets. So, I may have to bring home more of these beauties like the ones below.

 
The sweet, 100% linen Chinoiseri Long Pillow (above left) is $98 from Dwell Studio. It measures 24" x 12" and includes the 100% feather down insert. West Elm's Vintage Bird Duvet Cover and Shams (above right) sell for $29 - $139.


The dramatic Floral Birds wallpaper by Antonina Vella for Seabrook Designs (above left) combines black, metallic and white at $162 per roll at Burke Decor.


I never thought I would be attracted to a wall decal, but these birds on a limb are just too cute! Designed in Denmark and made in Europe, this wall sticker is super easy to apply to just about any flat surface. The Love Birds decal is $96 from Cosmopolitan Outlet.




Drooling all over a plate is generally a bad thing, but I can't help myself when it comes to this Lovey Bird Plate from Mordenti Pottery (above left) that is sold on Etsy. If you want a similar bird in your hand (each plate is unique), you better be quick. This potter's work is in high demand and sells the moment it's posted. I am seeing the Aviary Fabric from Duralee (above center) all over high end furnishings in the US and EU. You can buy it in five different colors (including maize shown) from Calico Corners at $21.24 per yard. I wish I were decorating a young girl's room, because I adore the Little Bluebird (above right) that sells for $25 on Etsy. The artist, who sells under the name of Folk Art by Kerry, infuses this handmade, primitive sculpture with rustic elements to add whimsy and charm.



Both of the endearing watercolors above are from Mincing Mockingbird and sell on Etsy for $18 each. The art is printed from the original watercolor, signed by the artist, and centered on a sheet of professional, digital art paper. This artist cleverly names each piece, like 'A Vague Sense That There is More to Life Than Eating Gnats' (left) and 'Looking at Clouds as an Acievable Destination' (right).


 
I'm thinking that the Spotted Sparrow Branch Necklace (above left) designed by Smile Sophie would be a perfect gift for a favorite friend. A lovely, simple sparrow hangs from a sterling silver branch and is attached to a delicate sterling chain. It sells on Etsy for $15.

Okay, so you want to know what I've already purchased? Four of the ceramic 'Sitting Birds' plaques (above right) have made their way to my house. I actually bought them for a decorating job I worked on this summer in Florida, but decided to go a bit more tropical. So, I had to keep these. (Oh, what a shame!) They came from Hobby Lobby, a great little store that has a good selection of wallet-friendly home accessories.
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