Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ranch dressing ...

I spent some relaxing, 'girls only' time at a friend's ranch last weekend. What a nice getaway for three long-time friends!

Of course, being a city-girl meant I was snapping pictures every chance I got - cattle and horses, weathered metals and wood, all reminding me of our rugged Texas heritage that we natives take for granted.

My brain has been swimming in thoughts of ranch decor ever since. Rustic, masculine, warm, earthy and even homespun come to mind. No kitchy 'cowboy chic' that dresses 'city slickers' homes, this is the real deal young'uns!

The story always begins with a bold, handcarved, rugged entry door to keep out rustlers and varmits, like the one below left via Cactus Creek Daily. Teaming the outer door with a 'screen' door provides ventilation. I'm loving the reclaimed wood and wrought iron doors on a 'barn door' track shown below right via Lavender and Lillies.


These 'barn doors' make great use of space in tight areas and bring in a rural touch to a variety of interior designs. Two favorites are in the photos below from Content in A Cottage (left) and Three French Hens Antiques (right).

 

Add a welcoming entry with time-worn farm implements, aged family photos and generous use of vintage fabrics, and visitors will be transported to ranch life as in the image below from Zeo Spot.


A graceful, rustic living area is featured in the photo below left. This handsome space is a true Texas jewel just outside of Austin.  Below right is a great example of Ranch Style from Cote de Texas. Both living areas are warmed by the use of stucco and wood finishes as well as the rich hues in the rugs.  Every ranch worth it's salt also comes with a bit of taxidermy.

I know I can't be the only one in love with the dark, beamed ceilings. The room height keeps these beauties from being overbearing.

 

Of course, some ranches are bare bones (like the one below via Rafter Tales). But here, simplicity is sublime to me. This place has an authentic bunkhouse feel.


Want to really connect with living in the Wild West? That old tin tub makes a big statement in a bathroom finished out with reclaimed wood. Thankfully, there's indoor plumbing! Images below from Cactus Creek Daily (left) and Indian by Design (right).


 

I am drooling over the recycled, stained, tin backsplash in the kitchen. Rustic meets industrial chic in the photo below from Historic Flooring.


And, every ranch needs great outdoor entertaining space to serve up some tasty barbeque when friends and family come to call. A sturdy table and good lighting will keep the party going long after the sun sets.



Table photo (above) from Cactus Creek Daily.

I would love to try my hand at creating the light at left. (Sorry I don't know where this photo came from, so no way to give appropriate credit.)

I can easily source stumps, barbed wire, horse shoes and rope. Drill a hole to place the solar light, and that should be all that's needed.

What a charming addition to the yard, ya'll!

Shutter bug ...

I still think hefty plantation shutters look fabulous on windows. But, I have to say I'm really beginning to like shutters here, there and everywhere else as well.


Los Angeles interior designer Brooke Giannetti knows how to pull a room together. Just look how she uses shutters to bring focus to wall space in the photo above and below left. Beautiful!
And, Chic Coles creates a focal point on the wall behind a simple chest (below right).

 

Full length doors and shutters add instant drama to rooms regardless of design style. I'm particularly fond of the way these simple pieces with rough finishes work so well with the glamour of crystal chandeliers. Images below via Interiors and All Things Pretty (left) and Eclectic Revisited (right).

 

Why not to put your shutters to work? From holding kitchen utensils to serving as a keepsake board for notes and art, shutters provide attactive storage solutions. Photos below from Goodbye House, Hello Home (left) and Martha Stewart (right).

 


What a clever solution for hanging coats and hats via Shes Smart.

Turn a shutter horizontally, mount brackets and secure another shutter to serve as a shelf. Paint all in a shade to coordinate with your decor and attach coat hooks. Then, simply affix the unit to a wall for a conversation starter. Brilliant!

Since I am focused on the arrival of Spring, it's all about outdoors right now. So, I am loving the potting area below with a wall constructed of multiple hanging shutters suspended from the roof eaves. This space is a slice of heaven in my mind!


Image via Brooke Giannetti.


Pots en terre cuite ...

There is something absolutely charming about the crusty old clay pots known in France as 'pots en terre cuite,' or in the States as 'resin pots' or 'pitch pots.'

Image via La Pouyette.

These 19th Century French 5" pots from the pine forests of the Les Landes region in south west France were used to collect resin from pine trees. For decades, these used pots sat untouched and became encrusted with pitch. The various clays used in the making of the pots faded over time into varying shades, giving each pot a unique coloration.


Image via Vintageweave.

Today, these pots are such a hot commodity that fewer are available for purchase, and when you do find them for sale, expect to pay handsomely for the priviledge of owning them.


Image via Worthpoint.

Locally we have an importer of French antiques that currently has the pots in their inventory. If you would like to check out their site, visit Provinces de France.

Another resource is the Los Angeles based Vintageweave Interiors. They sometimes have the pots in stock as well.


Image via Heather Bullard.

Of course, there are similarly shaped pots out there (like those shown above) which are far less costly, but they do not have the pedigree, patina of pitch or the color variations seen in the antique clay.

In any case, spring fever has me yearning for resin pots to call my own!

Make room for wine ...

'Il vino e'il nettare di bacco.' Wine is the nectar of the gods, and we all have our favorites. For me, there is none better than a 2006 bottle of Chiroubles Cuvée Vieilles Vignes from the French winery of Eric Morin.

Some wines just deserve to be honored with their own special place in your heart and in your home. When I hauled back my limit from my last trip to Paris, I knew a measly four bottles would never last as long as my desire.

Even if I could have brought back three times as many, my little wine chiller would have been packed to the brim.

So, I started dreaming of a wine cave or cellar to expand my collection. Trouble is, my property lays over solid rock - no chance for digging a cave here!




Maybe I could just lock up a few cases of my favorites in the uber cool wine cage (above) from Factory 20.

 

If I could have a wine cellar, I might want to consider showcase shelving to house my stock like those built in Leo Dowell's Wine Shop (left). But, I'm also quite fond of the simple shelves featured at Wine Bohemia (right).


I would definitely want a great table to seat guests for wine tastings, like in the photo above from Country Living. This place makes me swoon. It's not just the table, it is the whole atmosphere. Well done!




Some rich, warm woods, perhaps a bit of Trompe O'lei wall art and a homage to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, and my little cellar would be all set for the cozy atmosphere I envision. Images above via South N France (left) and Euro Antique Market (right).



Okay, I would even settle for something small and unadorned like the cellar above from My Provence. I'm just wondering, how hard can it be to blast out some rock?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pearls of wisdom: aging ...

If you've been following this blog since I started writing it six months ago, then you may know that I am on sabbatical from my day job. It has been, and continues to be, a worthwhile journey of self-discovery.

Several friends and aquaintances have asked what I'm doing beyond blogging. Well, I am learning to accept where and who I am in this life.

The actress Doris Day is credited with saying, “The really frightening thing about middle age is the knowledge that you’ll grow out of it.”

I am now middle-aged, and I can tell you that pre-sabbatical, I was suffering from a case of 'future anxiety' -- looking down the road with trepidation rather than simply enjoying each day in the here and now. You can chalk it up to the media or our fascination with celebrity 'perfection,' but we women have issues with aging, particularly when it happens less gracefully than we had hoped. The years begin to chip away at our confidence just as they rob us of our collagen.

I told my best buddy that I feared becoming a 'handsome' woman, and that was the most frightening thing about aging. I told her, "I know that as I get older, I'll look more like Barbara Bush than Sophia Loren." To which, my brilliant buddy offered this stunning revelation:

"Then, buy yourself some pearls and accept who you are." We laughed so hard tears ran down our faces. This was one of those incredibly meaningful, life-changing moments.


 

Part of my acceptance is admitting that gravity has taken its toll (what once pointed forward, has become a downhill slope only a skier would love), a lifelong addiction to chocolate has transformed my body into a fruit shape silhouette (apple comes to mind), and a cute-as-a-button freckled face has deflated into spotted jowls and a neck reminiscent of an elderly lady's fallen stockings that have billowed down to a comfortable resting place. Oh, I am so there!

But, with those pearls, Barbara exudes self-confidence as much, if not more than those beauties who are enhanced by a skilled surgeon or Photoshop expert. I'm taking a lesson from this lovely lady and skipping the scalpel!

Bless his warm and wonderful heart (and a middle-aged man's diminished eyesight), my husband still sees me in a different light. Oh, how that man makes every day worthwhile! I'm learning to love me as much as he does.

So, now I'll put on those pearls and feel fearless!

You've gotta appreciate the lifelong friends that bring out the very best in us and have no hesitation in sharing Pearls of Wisdom! Thanks, Terri!

Mood board: eggplant vs. gray

Whenever I think about redecorating, I start by building a mood board. After looking at dozens of inspirational photos, I've started collecting color combination ideas for my guest bedroom. Because, I'm torn between two color schemes, I've created mood boards for each.

Eggplant, Wasabi Green and Ivory

Luxe and refined, and oh-so-beguiling!

or Taupe, Graphite and Pearl

A classic that plays well with any color accent.

I'm torn! Looking at mood boards created by others is of no help. I'm drawn to similar schemes that share my desire for deep, rich shades. Just take a look at the glamorous gray wedding inspiration board below. It combines gray hues from oyster to charcoal and purple hues from plum to eggplant.


Image via Elizabeth Ann Designs.

I must digress momentarily. May I please have the sofa and pillows below, or at least the fabrics for my decor? This photo illustrates the perfect color combo I'm after.


Photo via Sarah Kaye.

A little less Euro-chic and a bit more tailored, but still a contender ...

Via Kelle Dame.

Okay! Here's where you come in. Let's say you are going to be a guest in my house. What color story will make you feel pampered? I want you to click on that 'Post a Comment' button and let me know. Merci!

Farm table fantasies ...

Whether you call them harvest tables or farm tables, these workhorses have served cooks and their kitchens across the continents for centuries.

Photo via Tiffany Ruda.

Years of wear and tear add immeasurable character to these cherished antiques, creating significant demand along with higher acquisition prices.


My dear friend Sylvia introduced me to farm tables years ago as she was decorating her loft apartment. Since then, I've had unfulfilled farm table fantasies like those shown in photos (above left) from Victoria Pearson Photography and (above right) Decor Pad. Either table would do quite nicely. Perhaps, some day ...


Photo from Elle Decor.
The long and lean shape is certainly part of the farm table appeal, but I feel personally drawn to their humble, enduring construction.

 

The fact that these tables look so handsome with any decor style, accompanied by chairs or benches, is an added attraction. From Old World (like the images above from Euro Antique Market and House Beautiful) to Modern (shown below by Tiffany Ruda), these beauties can turn up the charm level in any room.




Can a kitchen or dining room feel any cozier than in the photo (right) from Interiors and All Things Pretty?

There is nothing aloof in a room with a warm, wood table taking center stage. A farm table is a joyful invitation to the breaking of bread with friends and family and encourages lingering conversation.

Talk about workhorses, just think of the extra prep and cooking space these tables provide in the kitchen as well as their functionality as craft and homework centers when they need to serve double duty.

Now, if only I can find a way to incorporate one in my house. I'm thinking ... give me a minute ...


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