Thursday, February 28, 2013

Planning ahead

I am going to let you in on a little guilty secret. My son leaves for college in August and my brain has already taken on the glorious task of washing away teenaged cooties and redecorating his room. 
I feel a little guilty about this but not so guilty that I can't let you in on the plan.

Let's talk about what I have...

OK, none of this is actually what is in his room but I am not going to show you that! Add a pile of clothes, a pile of papers and far too many amps and guitars.
His walls are white and may stay that way, I don't know, talk to me in September.

He has that Ikea bed that was a solution in our last house and is just a "use what we have" choice here.
The comforter is orange and it is moving on to higher learning. I am not going to buy a new comforter for him to throw up on. Am I right?

The only cool thing that is staying is a mid century dresser much like this.

In the board I have designed, I am keeping the palette neutral. I added walls in Ben Moore Marine blue and kept everything else white and greige. He will be returning for breaks and it would be too mean to make it super girly.
The room is small with strange angles and having less furniture (and dirty laundry) in it will go a long way in making it a more pleasing space.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday tidbits

Good morning, or whatever time it is.
Just a few random things today, each of which would not make a post on its own.

My Valentine's day gift arrived !
 I just need to figure out how many pillows I want and its off to the workroom.
 The rug I posted about yesterday arrived and was smaller than I anticipated so it won't work for my kitchen.

 I have been too exhausted to figure out another spot. On Saturday, got up at 4 am to drive across the state for my son's college audition. Their lack of organization was rather frustrating but we have decided that his second choice college is out of the question and his third and fourth do not have on campus housing so I nixed them. So frustrating U. it is.
The up side of the tiring day in the car was a quick meet up and lunch with my cousin. We talked about his desire to build a house but not just any house. He used the words modern, rustic and shipping container. That's right. He wants a shipping container house.

He found a lot that is basically a hillside and therefore cheap and is looking into the other particulars to build a house out of shipping containers cantilevered  into a hillside.
He mentioned clean lines, rough natural surfaces and art filled spaces.
He is an engineer so I was surprised at his desire for style.

I did muster the energy for a bit of a gallery wall in the upstairs hall.
I have been meaning to showcase a bit of my little peanut's art work but procrastination won until I decided to stop offering these frames on Etsy. Too many quality issues but they were fine for this semi-permanent gallery.

I grouped them near her hilariously serious school picture.

I added a fourth at the last minute.

This one makes me smile,

My father and I on the left and my oldest son with his guitar
 This is the opposite wall and has taken me forever to get these two pictures up.
Yes, I have five kids and yes only two of them are on the wall. We are a picture challenged family as in getting them taken not in just me displaying them.

 I know that not all of you are into food and/or meat but Monday's lunch was this luscious prime beef tenderloin. There are perks for being the butcher's wife!

Monday, February 25, 2013

3 trendy classics that I will never tire of...

How can something be a "trendy classic"? Well, I simply mean that there are classics that happen to be getting a lot of attention right now. I won't tire of them and keep buying them.
The first on my list is Oriental rugs.

Since I was very little I loved them, imaging romantic flying adventures on them and the inside of a genie's bottle filled with layers of the carpets.

I inherited a small Persian and have been slowly collecting my own.

I just bought this one on eBay and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival.

The second thing on my list is blue and white porcelain.

I have much of my great-grandmother's collection and I have been adding to it with antiques and new pieces as I find them.

My latest and yet to be delivered eBay buy
A recent auction find

Trumpet vases from The Pink Pagoda

I am not new to loving this color palette. In my first house everything in my kitchen had to be blue or white or blue and white!

The third on my list will be no surprise. It is abstract art. But not just what I paint.

A small mixed media that I bought for my living room
Linda Monfort
This abstract by Linda Monfort was my very first Etsy purchase and inspired my painting "Into elan" which hangs in my daughter's room and is not for sale.

"Into elan"

She likes to touch it because "The good dreams are in there"

I will not tire of this...ever!

Do you have anything to add to my list?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Something old, something new, and a bunch of blue

I have been a painting fool lately and wanted to post a few completed pieces.
Some is much like other things but my new clear primed linen canvas is super exciting to me. I bought them in bulk because I have been wanting them for nearly a year and they are about 3 times the price of a normal canvas.
The point of a clear primed linen is to let the natural flax color show, so you do not cover the entire surface.
I have done two thus far.

"Two temples" 18 x 24 oil and acrylic on linen

"Dilletante social" 18 x 24 oil and acrylic on linen by Kerry Steele
I also used a bit of oil paint. It cracks me up that this paint is truly vintage. I found it in my grandmother's art supplies and the oil paint is still fine despite being at least 30 years old. I have also bought some just for kicks.

This is "Cake and eat it too" 20 x 20 acrylic on canvas by Kerry Steele

Sometimes I feel that I am being too careful. Sounds odd but careful is perhaps the wrong word. Stifled, is more accurate.
I have to remind myself that it is OK to go crazy. It is just paint and canvas and if it sucks, I am only out a few bucks and a few hours.

 This is "The chandelier I swing from..." 18 x 24 acrylic on canvas.
It is a good example of letting myself go and having fun translating onto the canvas, hence the title.
I had a similar painting in style a week or so ago...

"Six impossible things before breakfast"

and it sold in a hot minute. That was key in reminding me to trust myself.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mistakes I have made in decorating

This is going to be embarrassing...gulp.
This post is not so much about my taste or not being trendy but more general mistakes I have made in decorating choices.

Mistake #1. Fighting your space, aka trying to shove Downton Abbey into a cottage

While there are elements of this former living room that I love, I took it too far, too heavy and too Granny.

I was going for an English country house look but  in a Cape Cod, with a tight budget and this gawd awful wood burner that I nicknamed, Bubba.

I so hated the 1960s orange oak trim and that fireplace trim that I ignored it. I did not have the budget to remove Bubba, fix the flooring and add a fireplace. Although,one January morning (actually 21 of them) I was glad to have Bubba when our furnace died.
I digress, my point is don't try to make a palace out of a cottage. I could have much more successfully ignored the elements I did not like, had I kept the decor more relaxed and casual. Lighter and brighter would have worked better.

Mistake #2. Not visually connecting items

Those antique frames and photo would not have looked too high had I placed a normal chair underneath but they appear to be floating away from the low lying bench. Now I could not add pillows to that bench as it was used for hats and gloves and needed to be opened by young children daily.
I could have extended the grouping on the wall, gallery wall style farther down the wall visually connecting the items.

Ahhh! That is enough embarrassing photos of my life for one day. I am cringing right now. I don't even want to think about the tragic paint color I chose for a kitchen and this was when I was a working designer!
What mistakes have you made? Fess up people.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Keeping a sketchbook as part of your design library

Think of a sketchbook as an extension of your inspiration files on your computer. A sketchbook can be an invaluable tool for designers and eager homeowners.

My sketchbook is kept next to my bed and I often scribble fabric ideas on its pages.

Some drawings turn into my Spoonflower fabrics and some do not. I also use it to work out furniture placement and "think" on paper.

 For every house I have owned, I have kept a small book with paint chips, fabric and photos of each room and my ideas for them.
Even if you cannot draw, it is worth a try to consolidate ideas and experience the tactile pleasure of paper and pencil that a smart phone can't copy.

I recently peeked into my a sketchbook that had belonged to my grandmother. She took it along on a trip to Egypt in the late '70s and sketched people, faces, architecture and noted colors that she found interesting.
It is a good way for the non-artist (or artist for that matter) to practice drawing and find out what shapes appeal to you.

Yes, I realize that there are a multitude of digital ways to accomplish these things but it is not the same as purposeful doodling. Didn't you ever just find a pen in your hand and mindlessly scribble only to find that you kind of liked what you had made?
I often sketch a motif from a fabric or porcelain that I like and worry about how I'll use it later.
Saving this visual journal can be a wonderful springboard for ideas down the road.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Creating a layered look in 7 easy steps

This is a basic primer on how to achieve a layered look in a room and it was born out of my lame answer to someone's question about it. I think I did a little better here.
These aren't rules but a good way to get started.

Step 1: Start with a color palette. You will build on it and away from it (explained later). I started with the muted tones in this oriental rug and chose a sofa and pillows.

Step 2: Choose various sizes and textures within your palette. You are thinking this is basic matchy-matchy decor, and it is, but this is the backdrop on which you can layer.

Step 3: Find a color outside of the original palette but stick with the same family of muted or vibrant. For instance, I would not add hot pink chairs to this room. Too vibrant. I chose a muted green and used it in two fairly large pieces.

You can also have a second color outside of the original palette that you use in various sized objects but lets keep this simple.

Step 4: Mix metals, large and small.

Varying the sizes on everything is key. Simply having several tchotchkes in brass and silver will just appear as disparate objects and not thoughtfully layered.

Step 5: Repeat a motif or texture. In this example I chose a case piece with ornate scrollwork that echos the pattern in the rug. The fact that they are different in scale and material keep them from going down matchy-matchy road yet there is enough commonality to keep it cohesive.

In a very different space you might have a lacquered piece of furniture and one or two lacquered accessories in different colors. Again, vary the size and color while repeating the texture.
Step 6: Choose various styles of art either within your palette or without.

Step 7: Add real life accessories. I think this is the most important element. I added a stack of books to illustrate this but you should be much more creative with it. On a hall table your "key bowl" could be an interesting thrift find. A throw made by your grandmother or a clay piece made by your kids adds the one-of-a-kind personal layer to a room. These items need have nothing to do with the other colors and textures. They are the imperfect touch that individualizes a room.
Go forth and layer!