Friday, November 22, 2013

White Winter Wonderland!

I am in a Winter mood.  And unlike pretty  much everyone I know, I enjoy winter.  Admittedly, it's much easier for me to get excited about snow, because I don't have to drive in it.  Yet another perk of working from home in New England!

But honestly, Christmas is coming hyper early this year.  Even my mother admitted that she was ready to decorate, and I admit I've been decorating although I will hold off posting any pictures of it to the blog or facebook until post Turkey Day.  But now, I will come back to NH from CT after thanksgiving, with all my decorating done.

Because I am in the mood for the white stuff, I thought, why not do a Pinterest Weekend Pick post a day early and share some white winter decor I am loving?  This is a big deal for me.  I am a color freak.  But I admit that an all white scheme can make a large impact.  It certainly conveys a tangible feeling of opulence, softness, and purity.  And it would be an excellent decor option for those of us who rent: take advantage of those normally crappy stark white walls to do something SPECIAL!!!!

White Mantel Decor
Winter White Dining
Painted White Brick Dining
Ethereal White Living Space
Winter White Bedroom
White Doilies and Romance

Friday, November 15, 2013

The New Country Crafting

I'm not going to lie: growing up I pretty much despised country style.  It was the 90's.  Country meant roosters or geese, ugly magenta and green plaids, wallpaper and/or tacky borders.  It wasn't my taste.  My mother also particularly disliked it, and I think we can't help but be influenced stylistically in our formative years by our parental units.

But I'm thrilled to see a resurgence of country style, because now it is so updated, so chic, so interesting.  When my ex and I were first married, we decorated in an uber modern style: IKEA, bold colors, clean lines, black leather.  It was very masculine and while I still love the same color schemes I always have, I like to soften things now with a rurally inspired touch.  Especially because small town life is so much a part of who I am, and who I am becoming.

Here are five potential DIY projects I have discovered on Pinterest to add a country touch to your home.  I hope you are inspired by these ideas too!

Toile China Mosaic Heart on Etsy
Anyone who flea markets or thrifts has noticed that there is an over-abundance of toile printed plates out there: in blue, in red, in pink.  It's all lovely, and it's pretty cheap, so I felt really inspired by the piece above on Etsy.  You can buy it from her shop, or you can use it to come up with an idea of your own.  I think a toile themed Christmas tree would be lovely.  You could make ornaments in any shape you wanted to, I suppose.

"Embroidered" Kitchen Canisters on Country Living
I love this for several reasons.  First of all, because kitchen canisters are super practical and very "in" right now.  They are utilitarian and beautiful, and there are so many ceramic, glass and even metal options out there.  Depending on what style, material, and color you choose, it helps to pull a kitchen design together.  Beauty is in the details.  And "embroidering" ingredient labels onto the canisters?  Genius.  And honestly I appreciate any nod to needlework, because I am a yarn loving geek.

This project on this amazing blog takes the concept of faking "needlework" even further: paint a picture or a mural in that style!  Yes.  Cross stitch baby.  It's a thing.

Eline Pellinkhof's Blog

Fabric Lined Built in Shelves
My best friend has a built-in cabinet just like this in the corner of her dining room.  She and I both mentally "paint" it whenever we look at it, but she hasn't quite figured out what she wants to do with it yet.  I can't wait to show this idea to her.  It's genius!  This particular blogger uses fabric and applies it with rubber cement, but wallpaper leftovers or tack paper would work well here too.  The color, pattern and texture possibilities are endless!

Pinterest Pin Link
 I could not find the original website for this one (I hate it when Pinterest pin links go "nowhere.")  But the concept looks simple enough.  Find a shabby chic, vintage frame OR take a new unfinished frame and paint/distress it to achieve this look. Use scrapbooking paper or wallpaper for the background and use vintage postcards or other notecards as the "artwork" to attach to the background.  Genius!  I love easy artwork ideas.  As much as I would love to purchase a household of original paintings for my home, I can't yet afford it.  Ideas like this really help me feel inspired to cover up my walls with DIY, inexpensive pieces. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Julia Child's White Sandwich Bread

I have never made white bread before.  I normally eat wheat.  I "know" that whole grains are good for me, blah blah blah.

But today I was thinking that I wanted egg salad for dinner.  And when I think egg salad, the idea of serving that on two crusty real slices of white bread was more than I could resist.

Insert Julia Child recipe here!

Here's the blog I stole the recipe from.  It's a winner.  This bread rose so well, and that is more often than not, not the case.  Pin this one folks!  It would be especially tasty sopping up some Thanksgiving gravy.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jolene's Holiday Inspiration 2013

My dear friend Jolene and her new husband Miguel are not only about to celebrate their first married Christmas together, but their first holiday season in their newly purchased home in the Greater Boston area!  Since this is her first year decorating in a new space, I wanted to give her a bit of inspiration based on the colors I know that she likes and/or has already purchased items for in the past.

Their home is a lovely blank slate for modern holiday decorating, and serves as a neutral base for any number of aesthetic options.  But I know that Jolene gravitates toward cool colors, and based on the decor she has year round, I wanted to encourage her to get a bit more inspired with color and expand upon what she is already doing!  (You know me: bold always.)  Jolene, I hope you like what I came up with.  But first, here is a board with a few snapshots of her space when they first moved in to give you an idea of what she is working with before I present my visuals. Those rich chocolate browns really anchor the space (the granite, the espresso colored dining set and china cabinet, the sectional, the dark wood furniture.)

Based on her space, I came up with the following non-traditional color scheme for holiday decorating: any mixture of silver, ivory, chocolate brown, sage green, mint green, lime green, turquoise, and tiffany blue.  I chose this for several reasons: first and foremost, because I know she likes these tones and because it does go with the decorations that she and Miguel have already purchased, and two, because it lends itself well to "winter" decorating, not just holiday decorating.  Much of what I have chosen could remain up for New Year's and quite frankly, the entire winter season.  This is why I am especially partial to snowflake and tree motifs: because they are not just for "Christmas" at all.

Let's get started with the Living Room and Entry-way Vision Board. 

Jolene and Miguel have a very traditional home, and any traditional home entry needs a proper wreath for the front door.  I particularly like the idea of a greenery wreath with pearl and ornament accents, as it lends an elegant, glamorous touch to an otherwise simple, classic green wreath choice.  And what about stockings?  It's a great opportunity to pull some color into a room.  Jolene doesn't have a mantel, and neither do I.  But stockings can be hung from doorframes, or the top of bookcases, or directly on the wall with a silver command hook, or even hung from the center of windows on top of the draperies.  Really, there are so many possibilities.  Purchasing inexpensive white frames, and lining them with the pages of old books or scrapbook paper, with dollar store glitter and white snowflakes is a quick and easy DIY way to bring a little sparkle to a bookcase, mantel, or tabletop display.   Another example might be purchasing a wooden frame to bring in a rustic, brown element and print out a picture in a font you love with any text that inspires you at Christmas: the example above says "Oh Holy Night."  And while you are decorating for the holidays, consider inexpensive purchases that can stay year-round, such as these great Target turquoise lamp bases and shades.  I am also a fan of "tree" decorations, and these conical arrangements have become very prevalent and popular the past few years: they come in any number of textures and colors: glitter tinsel varieties, knit varieties, glass varieties, metal and mercury glass are all possibilities and they allow you to play with various heights in your arrangements.  Never under-estimate the versatility of a good mirror during the holidays!  It will reflect twinkling lights and candle flames back at you, and contribute to the glam factor of a space.  Mirrors aren't just for hanging on walls!  You can use them as coasters or centerpiece platforms too, on coffee tables and sofa tables, buffets, or dining spaces.  I think there is nothing more simple than an oversized glass vase filled with ornaments that coordinate with a particular color scheme, and a grouping of branches (birch is a favorite of mine) extending out like a tree.  Use every available table-top: even a minimalist environment can benefit from groupings and accessories as Christmas is supposed to evoke a feeling of coziness and warmth.

 Photo and Pin Links for Throw Pillow Board:  Bright Blue Patchwork Snowflake Pillow 
Jade Happy Holidays Pillow 

What is a living room without textiles?  Throw pillows in particular are an excellent opportunity to decorate any space.  Why?  Because they require no commitment: if your furniture and walls are neutral, you can fill the room with color using accessories such as pillows that are relatively inexpensive and disposable: you can change your mind or completely change the soul of a room just by switching out the pillows.  Here are a few that I picked out for her and Miguel.  Any of these could go with any of the others.  Don't get matchy matchy.  Don't be afraid to mix pillows, especially when the tones are analogous or in the same color family (such as a variety of shades of green and blue.)  It won't clash, I promise.  Don't be afraid to mix patterns if they are in the same color family either.  And do choose pillows that would work all winter, not just for Christmas.  

Here's the board I made for Jolene's Dining and Kitchen space:  Let me tell you, that light fixture she has above the table is an excellent opportunity to hang ornaments or other paper lantern-like balls to bring in more color and shimmer.  A dining table that beautiful shouldn't be covered by a table-cloth, but a winter or holiday themed runner will really pop and add to the theme.  I've pinned a few examples here with a country quilt style (Etsy, my friend) or you can go in a more glam direction with a plain silver runner or a damask runner.  That china cabinet screams for this lovely ornament wreath to be hung right on the front of it, and that is for sure what I would do.  And a fun idea to bring a holiday touch to the kitchen is to incorporate hand or tea towels in your color choices with winter or holiday images (this example has a reindeer and a pine cone and you could also do this in your guest bath.)  I also thought that purchasing hand-painted or china plates would be an excellent opportunity to extend the theme in the kitchen: put them in a plate stand and you have instant art work that you can "change" out throughout the year depending on the plates you buy seasonally to display.  Jolene and her husband are huge wine buffs, and they even got married in California's wine country.  So, I would be remiss if I didn't suggest that she save some of these wine bottles, and spray paint them white or turquoise and fill with branches for a centerpiece on the kitchen counter!!!!!  And as I said in the living room section, consider mirrors.  A large mirror could sit on the dining room table as a centerpiece base that you top with bowls of ornaments, vases with branches, garlands, or pillar candles entwined with pearls.  And lastly, topiaries like the ones I discovered below in milk glass pots are gorgeous.

Dining and Kitchen Photo and Pin Links:  White Wine bottle decor     White and Silver Ornament Chandelier,   Ornament Chandelier, Black Light FixtureOrnament TopiariesGlam White and Blue Tablescape, Ornament Chandelier  Brown and Turquoise TablescapeWhite Pearl Candle Garden, White BowlQuilted Aqua table runner  Turquoise Snowflake Plate  White Vase and Branches Tablescape   White Buffet with Branches, Frames, blue/green ornaments  Turquoise Damask Table Runner  Ornament Wreath  Mult Dimensional Hanging Blue Snowflake BallsGreen/Blue Plaid Embroidered Snowflake runner  Silver Bowl with Ornaments and Bird   Silver Sequin Holiday Runner  Square Turquoise Decorative Plate r Sage and Brown Rustic hand towels

Okay, I saved the best for last.  Well, not exactly, but when we think of Christmas, what do we think of?  The tree of course: it's the centerpiece of the entire holiday home.  Now, I'm partial to live trees but as I may have mentioned already, I can't really have one in my current apartment for a number of reasons, but my first year with an artificial tree won't be ideal.  I know that Jolene and Miguel haven't decided yet if they are using a real tree, or the higher quality large green artificial tree with white lights they used last year, but I think either way it will look lovely.

Photos and Pin Links for Tree Board:  Turquoise Peacock clip    Turquoise Ornament Bucket  Turquoise Lights   Brown and Turquoise Swirl Ribbon    Mercury Glass Ornaments   Blue/Green Mini Tree    Green/Blue Ornaments on Silver Footed Platter   Aluminum Finial Blue/Green ornaments

Peacock is all the rage right now!  And while I think going with a peacock theme would be not quite right for Jolene and Miguel, I do like the idea of turquoise bird ornament clips which can be found everywhere this year.  Birds are a very traditional, even Victorian Christmas concept and I have always thought it a very sophisticated motif.  Also, I would suggest to Jolene that they add 200 or so turquoise or maybe green lights to their artificial tree over the white lights, just to be a little more daring!  Or if that is too much, ribbon is my go-to way to add color to a tree.  This brown and turquoise scroll ribbon really inspired me.  Use it as a garland around the tree: you don't have to be a perfectionist about it, just walk around the tree in circles draping it loosely.  Don't be afraid to fill in the tree with many ornaments.  The more, the better.  No empty tips!  That has always been my motto.  Mercury glass or aluminum ornaments, in long, finial shapes is very classic, ultra glamorous and a throwback to a vintage time.

I hope you enjoyed this little fantasy tour of my friend's virtual home at Christmas!  And Jolene and Miguel, I wish you so much happiness and holiday cheer this first year in your home.  Holiday decorating is about expressing yourself and creating memories.  Have fun with it! Get Pinning!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Christmas Decorating Preview 2013

I am feeling very antsy for the Holiday decorating season to begin.  It seems like everyone is beginning hyper early, and it's hard to resist!  Especially because I am in need of good cheer this year.  2013 has been rough.  And in the last week alone, a family friend, and a best friend's mother both passed away unexpectedly.

To cheer myself up, I decided to put together a Christmas Preview Vision Board, inspired by some of the items I have picked up recently.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Weekend Pinterest Picks

I thought I'd share with you the top five pins I am digging on this week...

I adore everything about the above, from the color scheme to the wallpaper, to those cupboards which look pretty familiar to me: I am thinking those are IKEA nightstands that I have admired for a long time.  What a cute idea to use nightstands for extra storage in the bathroom.  You know I love black, but I feel like this silvery grey reads stylistically like a black room but without the risk of creating a cave.  I also approve of the fact that the wallpaper is on one feature wall, rather than the entire room.  The pedestal sink is just such a throwback, in a very modern space, but the vanity mirror feels almost mod to me.  The only piece I don't approve of is the orchid, only because I'd probably kill it knowing my lack of botanical ability.  Thumbs up.

Wow.  This cozy corner has really achieved a look which I wanted to achieve in my home.  My favorite color scheme (red, white and black as you all know) has a tendency to shock and be too bold.  I love it, but it's hard to create a casual, country feel using these colors.  They are stark, dramatic and ultra modern.  But this designer really achieved a cozy feel.  The wallpaper that they are calling buffalo plaid, is really reminiscent of gingham to me, which is a texture that I am a fan of.  And the chair, with its wider stripes is modern, but the shape of it is ultimately extremely traditional.  Look at the hobnail detail!  Those feet!  And the painting evokes such a feeling of federal Americana.  Not to mention the bowling pin display.  Love, love, love.  This room gets a ten in my book.

Another wow factor living room.  As I age (gracefully I hope) my tastes are swinging back in a more traditional direction, but always with a bold twist.  Always.  First of all, I would have selected this pin for the plus size female figure art above the fireplace alone.  I love it!  What a ballsy choice.  I always enjoy Apartment Therapy home tours, but this one in particular was a fave.  I love how she left the fireplace brick red.  You rarely see that these days, but the charcoal walls, stark white trim, and neutral furniture really make that red fireplace pop.  This is a perfect example of how to paint a room in a dark color but still have a light, airy, and comfortable feel.  I am a huge fan of stark white contrasted with a bold color.  The throw pillows are perfect: the geometric black/white pattern is super contemporary but the other pillows read as very vintage with their ivory/orange color scheme that ties in with the red in the fireplace.  But to soften it up, she has added these organic, natural touches: the evergreen topiaries on the mantel and the green balls and hydrangea bundles on the coffee table.  This lady has taste.  I think we could be friends.  (Also, check out that antique looking portrait in the corner.  Nice touch.)   She really skirts the line here between traditional and contemporary and that's why it appeals to me. 

My best friend Karen is getting married in September 2014.  And this color scheme, is probably what we are doing for a theme.  Turquoise and cherry red is, to me, a very retro chic combo.  It evokes a vintage feeling, but it's modern and fresh and frankly, unique.  I'm starting to see it become more prevalent, so it may be on the verge of becoming an official trend.  Also, for the record, this is pretty much the exact shade that I had painted my bedroom I shared with my ex-husband.  He needed a dark color on the walls because he worked the midnight shift and slept days.  I really approve of darker colors on a bedroom wall, because I find it easier to sleep in them.  I know that goes against a popular belief that you should NOT use bold color in a bedroom, because it inhibits rest.  But you will never see me creating any sort of a spa-like, dull, neutral, hotel room wannabe.  I think that even the bedroom should have personality, and this example has personality to spare.  But I'm just going to say it: I don't understand the chandelier choice.  It's a tarnished brass, it's almost art deco maybe?  I don't get it.  Maybe it's me that's not understanding the beauty of this choice.  While I agree that you shouldn't be matchy matchy necessarily, I feel like the vintage vibe of that lighting is just in complete opposition to the geometric, minimalist, contemporary soul of this room.  It's mixing genres in a way that I'm not comfortable with. 

Obviously the "in" thing to do these days, is to make over furniture.  I wanna do it, you wanna do it, we all wanna do it.  I've watched every episode of Flea Market Flip they made.  And this is another winner.  While lime green (maybe even chartreuse?) is not my color of choice, it really works in this space.  I love the idea of taking something that evokes a farmhouse, country vibe and making it modern and new again.  And the robin's egg blue walls look wonderful with the lime green, especially the mix of color accessories within the cabinet.  And it looks like they lined the inside with a patterned wallpaper or tack paper and I love that too.  The mismatched pitchers on the top are a nice touch.  The slightly distressed finish is a win.  This makes me want to run out immediately and find a piece like this to refurbish.