Thursday, December 31, 2015

A dozen ways to make cozy on NYE

I admit to being a homebody, ESPECIALLY on New Year’s Eve. The one year Chris and I did go to out to a party we dodged a drunk driver on a snowy road the last leg of our journey home.

This New Year’s Eve I’m still recovering from flu and a raging asthma aftermath, so a toast won’t mix well with my meds. I probably couldn’t keep my eyes open long enough to see the ball drop anyway, thanks to all the sleep lost these past few weeks. All that aside, there’s still a lot to be said for staying in, whether you’re alone or your sweetie’s there to snuggle with.

Here are a few ideas in design-speak.

1. Break out the chunky knits.

Via Daily Dream Decor

I can hardly ever wait for winter to break my comfy, warm sweaters out of mothballs. Sweaters for my bed, pillows and side table sound even snugglier!

2. Put a log (or 2 or 3) on the fire.

House Beautiful via Home & Garden

Nothing says cozy like wood smoke and crackling embers. See/read more about this English country house in Cornwall at House Beautiful.

3. If you don’t have a fireplace, use your imagination.

Via Keltainen Talo Rannalla

I absolutely adore this makeshift fireplace constructed of odd doors, drawers and architectural moldings. And the “fire” made of string lights under glass domes is ingenious!

4. Curl up with a good book…

Via Desire to Inspire

Lots to choose from in this library, and if you get sleepy, that big ol’ pillow will sing you a soft lullaby. See/read more about this century-old Barcelona loft redesigned by the Rio de Janeiro architectural firm of Studio RO+CA at Desire to Inspire.

5. Or revisit the year past through the pages of your favorite magazines.

Via Habitually Chic

Design magazines, of course. If this is a day bed, I don’t want to move to the night one. I would probably eschew the magazines and just stroke the velvet upholstery all evening. See/read more about this Madrid apartment designed by Lorenzo Castillo at Habitually Chic.

6. Wrap up in something furry.

Via Keltainen Talo Rannalla 

Pets count, and they’ll be sure to climb on if you’re already covered in something soft they can sniff and groom. See more photos of this English country home at Keltainen Talo Rannalla.

7. Brew a pot of your favorite tea.

Barbara Groen

Constant Comment for Chris and Chocolate Mate for me. Honey for my honey, cream and sugar for me. See/read more about this 1895 renovated farmhouse in the Netherlands on vtwonen or via Daily Dream Décor

8. Take in a view.

Ballard Designs

Stare out to sea if you’re lucky enough to have that kind of view, or just watch the sunset followed by a panoply of stars. Invite a friend or two to share it, if you're so inclined.

9. Make your own playground.

Via Lushome

Then set your own ground rules, and follow with your own kind of play. For some reason, this furniture arrangement reminds me of those tents we all built with our besties out of blankets strung over chairs and boxes.

10. Light some candles.

Slettvoll via Planete Deco

And simply relax into the darkness and quiet. Allow yourself to be hypnotized by the shadows the flickering lights cast on the walls. See more photos of this home at Planete Deco/A Homes World.

11. Enjoy a good soak.

Laura Resen 

Steaming hot water, bubbles, lavender bath oil, and a good read, followed by layers of warm, fluffy towels, clean sheets and piles of blankets...aahhhh...

See/read more about the Michelle Workman redesign of actress/singer Jennifer Lopez’s Hidden Hills home at Hooked on Houses. If you think you can’t live without this tub room, the 17,000-square-foot property is on the market for $17 million.

12. Rock yourself to sleep.

Erica George Dines 

No hanging bed? Just wrap your arms around yourself and pretend or spoon against your sweetie. See/read more about Atlanta builder Michael Ladisic’s dream home here.

Whatever you choose, you will wake up to a brand new year! 

May 2016 be all you hope for.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Almost NYE and you can’t figure out where to set up the bar?

The clock is ticking on 2015, your home wasn’t blessed with a built-in bar, and you need a place to set up a drink station in time to usher in 2016: What to do?

Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. Setting up a chic home bar is as simple as using existing furniture (or objects) in a new way. See what I mean…

Take over furniture you use every day

Via Desire to Inspire

Objects that might have been on top of this sideboard have been moved either inside it or onto the adjacent chair. The behind-the-glass arrangement of books and blue-and-white chinoiserie pottery is quite fetching, and the necklaces strung on the lamps are a great party touch. If you like the look, keep it around for a while or take it back down to earth come New Year’s Day.

Via The Finishing Touch 

A console table doesn’t take up much space depthwise but with an additional shelf holds lots of drink fixings as well as some beautiful flowers to welcome guests. As with the sideboard, you can make "happy hour" your new look or take it back to its before-party state after the guests depart.

Lauren Liess

What I like about this is that the liquor takes the smaller top shelf, leaving the deeper serving area below for food. And that nifty little light makes sure guests know where to go to quench their thirst. Follow the link to see more projects by designer Lauren Liess, who’s also the author of Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating.

Desks are a study in versatility, as seen here, especially secretary-types with folding fronts: Down when the bar is open and up when it’s closed. What could be simpler?

Society Social via Confetti Style

And what self-respecting end table isn’t always ready for double duty? This one is strictly decorative on top and functional below, but the top shelf could be easily cleared for times when you need more bar space. Now you know why they're called cocktail tables.

Raid your garage

Urban Picnic SF

Hubby doesn’t really need that rolling tool chest, does he? At least not on party night. Show him how it will dress up his man cave and I’m betting he’ll help with the conversion. I'm groovin' on the glass globe filled with bottle caps myself!

Belle Maison

And if you’re lucky enough to have a joiner’s workbench sitting idle, it makes a sturdy and comely bar cart. Just no mixing alcohol with power tools, mind you.

Morgan Schemel

Yes, even that old bicycle hanging from your garage ceiling could be put to work as a drink station. Find a decorative box to attach over the back wheel, replace the seat with an inexpensive, adjustable-arm task light, and paint the whole thing a fun metallic. 

You can even keep the hooks in your garage ceiling and store the repurposed bike away when not in use. Just don’t try to ride it again. Ouch! That seat would be sorely missed. See/read more about the Netherlands home of photographer Morgan Schemel on Design Sponge.

Don’t forget to scour the attic

Domino via SF Girl by Bay

Surely we all have one of these rolling TV carts around we mothballed because they made the flatscreen too tipsy? This one makes a great bar car with a bit of a midcentury vibe.

Rocket Century

And if midcentury is what hits your high note, why not refurbish that wood stereo cabinet you inherited from mom and dad (or grandma and grandpa)? In the 1960s, just about every middle class household had one, and sans speakers and turntable you’ll find lots of room for bottles and glasses. 

Ours was a trendy “blondewood,” and I still remember the Christmas Eve before I turned five when my dad and a neighbor carried it into our house with a big red bow stuck on top. My mother was in seventh heaven; I guess it meant we had “arrived.”

And speaking of the 1960s, this old TV cabinet really rocks it as a bar, don’t you think? Make way for Mad Men! The neat thing about these TVs and stereo consoles was they were well constructed with quality materials and furniture-grade woods—something hard to find even at higher price points these days. Seems a shame to send them to a landfill.

Left to right: Houzz, Upcycle That, Even of Reduction, Craftgawker

Just about anything you might have socked away could be repurposed as a mini-bar. Left to right are a chest with drawers removed, a trunk with shelf inserts, a sewing cabinet sans sewing machine, and an old pasteboard suitcase on what else but a folding luggage stand. 

If you already decluttered or downsized and got rid of pieces like these years ago, check out your area’s secondhand furniture shops and fleamarkets for suitable replacements. Or troll your neighborhood on heavy trash pickup day.

In a pinch? 

One Kings Lane

Sometimes a generous-sized tray is all you need. Always make sure you have a few serviceable trays as part of your decorating stash to corral tchotchkes and pull into service as mini-bars when entertaining requires. This one is from the home of designer Bunny Williams.

Tie one on with panache

A little humor is always good, especially before the drinks are poured when everyone can recognize it. I’m loving this reproduction bust dressed in hat, glasses and scarf--a winky-wink invite to “tie one on” in style.

Me? I’ll be staying in. Not complaining; that’s my preference. Chris and I usually open a special bottle of wine and make with the nibbles and dips. This year, though, my taste buds are so burned out on cough drops it would be a waste of good food and drink. And I’ve lost so much sleep coughing these last few weeks that I doubt I’ll be awake come midnight Thursday unless that's when my breathing treatment falls.

So have a drink on me, watch the ball drop at Times Square on the tube and give your sweetie (or someone) a midnight kiss. Just be sure to drink responsibly and DON’T drink and drive.

Here’s to a sparkling and inventive 2016!

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pantone palette #1 concentrates on the crossroads

When Pantone revealed its 2016 color of the year was actually TWO colors—Rose Quartz and Serenity—it emphasized the importance of where those two tones meet and mingle. You only have to take a look at a sunset to see that at the intersection of pink and blue is PURPLE in its many shades of lushness.

Three of the eight palettes Pantone released for 2016 include shades of purple, and two of those pair purple with green. But only one—palette #1—includes two shades of purple and two of green for our mixing pleasure.

Palette #1 pleases with a rich midtone hue called Orchid Haze, as well as a deep and moody tone aptly named Fig. The sage called Lint makes us chuckle, but the dark—almost black—hue called Thyme is dead on serious. And the meet-up with a selection of neutrals, as well as pink and blue, makes for contemplation-worthy retreats. 

See if you don’t agree.

Under the sea


This photo goes in an inspiration file for the redo of my own master bedroom. I love its deep purple walls paired with the tropical print of the draperies and accent pillows. When you factor in the undersea artwork, it feels a little like deep-sea diving along a coral reef—not a bad way to wind down and relax at the end of a rough day! Serenity shows up in the striped bedskirt, while Rose Quartz is more subtle still, in the shadings of the art.

Midnight melodrama


Rose Quartz and Serenity are more subtle still in this living room. Note the pink in the flowers and in the background of the painting, and the blues in the geode, book covers and pillow print—mere punctuation marks against the wall of Volcanic Glass and the dramatically curved Fig sofa. 

New Year’s Eve in this room would mean champagne in Baccarat flutes and caviar, don’t you think? I’m free, and if I wasn’t I’d rearrange my schedule.

At the crossroads of color and utility

Vintage Revivals

This space wears only a suggestion of purple in the print of the one patterned pillow, while Thyme takes center stage as upholstery on the loveseat. Pinks are sketchy, too, but the blue in the area rug acts as the anchor that pulls all the elements together. 

Remember? The 2016 colors are about intersection, and there’s a lot of that going on in this room, which just happens to be a studio apartment—an intersection of living and sleeping quarters. I love the strong plant accents, as well as that striking starburst clock. See/read more about this apartment at Vintage Revivals

Mirror-mirror on the mirror

Bjorn Wallander

Fig and Thyme play heavily in the bird prints in this Chinoiserie-style dining room designed by T. Keller Donovan. Rose Quartz makes a splash in the ikat-patterned, floor-length tablecloth, while Serenity hangs out with the purples and greens in the prints and the mirrored wall reflects all the lush color beauty. 

I’m usually not one for mirrored walls—particularly in dining rooms. After all, who wants to sit and watch themselves (or their guests) eat? But this one is tempered by the buffet, lamps, Majolica display and the layering of mirrors—one above the buffet, as well as its mirrored doors. See/read more about this Palm Beach apartment at House Beautiful.

Eternal spring

El Mueble via House of Turquoise

Orchid Haze takes center stage in this bedroom via the coverlet. I love how the pale blue, mid-scale drapery print dissolves into the pale green, small-scale wallpaper print. I wouldn’t have thought to pair either with the other and then with the purple bedding, but OH MY does it work! I also like how the architectural interest added by the picture rail stops the wallpaper but the curtain rods break that dividing line.

What’s the Victor Hugo quote? “Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.” He must have woke up in this bed in this bedroom. Maybe even in this house? See/read more about the English country home this bedroom is a part of at El Mueble.

Midcentury marvel

Nat Rea

Two sides of the same living room add up to one sophisticated midcentury space. I love how the Thyme of the draperies repeats in the medallions of the Serenity blue area rug. And the pink lumbar cushions add depth as well as comfort to the Fig club chairs. Classy! See/read more about this Boston brownstone redo at Rachel Reider Interiors.

Bohemian dream

More purple—on the walls, the cupboard, and the area rug—play up the blue tray and pink flowers on the coffee table ottoman in this gypsy-like, Bohemian room. 

Follow the link to see all of Pantone’s 2016 palettes that use colors of the year Rose Quartz and Serenity, as well as to learn about the intelligence behind the choices, and follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Monday, December 28, 2015

10 times Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard,
oohed, aahed, and forgot all about her silly dog

Mother Goose AND “Old Mother Hubbard” get partial credit for my interest in interior design. As a kid, I enjoyed the nonsense of nursery rhymes but also truly wondered about that cupboard: Old? New? Inherited? Built-in? Freestanding? Glass, wood or tin doors? Stained or painted? Yes, I was THAT weird.

The word cupboard has been around since the late 1300s, when it was used to describe boards where people stored their “cups,” meaning food as well as eating implements. The type of furniture is centuries older than the word itself, and I never tire of looking at anything used to tuck away stuff. Who says functional can't be beautiful?

Take in these 10 cupboards, then, just for the pleasure of looking. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea and let your mouth hang open in awe. (Bring a hanky for the drool, please.)

1. Midnight sun

Christoph Toyer

That’s what this unique cupboard reminds me of, set against a backdrop of black wall and floor. I love the artful, edited arrangement of pottery on top. In fact, the roundness of the pots accentuates the cupboard’s strong angles. One angular chair and another, more-rounded one in the foreground keep the contrast going.

All-black room finishes are tough to pull off, but designer Sylvester Kotsolek nailed it. His apartment in the center of Berlin is mostly windows on one side and overlooks a park, so natural light fills the space. See/read more about his home at Architectural Digest.

2. In case Mother H’s dog still needs that bone…

The Playing Circle

I’m crushing on how this cupboard is styled--a lesson in collection display in itself. It’s also part of a loft meeting space designed and managed by The Playing Circle on the third floor of Amsterdam’s Vaudeville Theatre. See/read more about this space at Home Adore. PS: Every piece in this gorgeous loft is for sale, so hurry on over before I get it first!

3. No bones but far from bare

Via Interior Antioquia

This photo from the Malmo, Sweden, home of former model and interior design Malin Persson has been making the rounds on design blogs for about a month now. Small wonder because it’s a cupboard that’s gorgeous in a big, BIG way. What a charming alternative to traditional kitchen cupboards, wouldn’t you say? See/read more about this home at Interior Antioquia.

4. Portal to Narnia?

More than a basket on top would detract from the gorgeous folk art designs carved and painted on this Latvian cupboard. The four door panels remind me of Christmas trees; how ‘bout you? I’d be decorating THEM along about now. See/read more about this Locust Valley, NY, redesign by Celerie Kemble of Kemble Interiors on Lonny.

5. In its own little corner

A simple craftsman-styled cupboard from the early 20th century mixes easily with modern minimalist furnishings in this scandi-styled apartment. Its clean lines pave the way, but I really like how the homeowner has carried the black and white palette into the cupboard display (on top too). The piece adds height, warmth and interest to what could have been an awkward corner in this living room. See more photos of this home at Something Beautiful.

6. Anchors away

Amy Butler

This gorgeous, vintage breakfront cupboard anchors a midcentury modern living/dining room with aplomb. I love that it blends with the rough-hewn flooring, which then seems to continue right up the wall, to draw your eye to the skylights. And I love-love-love the triangulation of those two finials with the flower sculpture on the coffee table. Did I say GORGEOUS?

Follow the link to see more interiors by Amy Butler Design, as well as more photos of her house, which just happens to be this one!

7. Personal-sized temple

Rett Peek

If this bedroom hadn’t been featured in At Home in Arkansas, I would have guessed it was tucked away somewhere in upstate New York, given the Iroquois portrait. I love the way the curtains pin open—so simple to close at night!

The cupboard itself looks like a miniature Roman temple, and those huge hand-blown glass amphoras on top could be filled with temple wine, but, alas, are not. Follow the link to the magazine to see/read more about this home Little Rock designer Reggie Marshall of Marshall Clements designed as her garden getaway.

8. Classic black and white meet brown

Andrea Papino via Atelier Rue Verte

Black-and-white tiling never fails to impress anywhere, but particularly so in a bathroom. This bath is quite large, with a tub overlooking the garden (lucky dwellers). If it were mine, I don’t think I’d ever leave. And with this cupboard to store all my necessities (and niceties!) I wouldn’t need to. See the rest of the bathroom and the rest of this Copenhagen carriage house at Elle Decoration.

9. Minted metal

A salvaged apothecary cabinet in a classic color adds charm—and savvy storage—to a small bathroom. Everything looks so tidy and fun arranged in this cabinet, even the TP rolls!

10. No minimalist lives here

Via The Vintage Post

I love the fun colors this cupboard wears and, of course, that it’s filled with an equally fun, hodge-podge of colorful china. See read more about “Coco’s Eclectic Vintage Home” at The Vintage Post. But first, let’s have a tea party, okay? Methinks the Madhatter is already about.

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