Monday, November 29, 2010

Animals In Public

I have always shied away from animal prints; the thought of imitating an animal instantly took me to a place in my head with bearskin rugs and a stuffed moose above the fireplace. But, recent changes in design have proven me wrong.

Because decorating our home has become more of an art form, we are far more adventurous with our accessories, which in turn has made us demand a higher level of sophistication from the things that we choose. Style has evolved, and the animal print has now become an unexpected neutral in the current world of design.

Gone are the days when it was a cheap accessory; it can mix and mingle with the best of them, livening up rooms that may have become a little too quiet over the years. It's whimsical personality and organic feel combine perfectly to bring interest to any spot that needs a little something extra.

No longer just for safari's or a teenage girl's room, a small, giraffe print or a bold zebra rug is guaranteed to make you smile when you enter the room!

Thanks to: West Elm and House Beautiful for the photographs.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sit Back And Relax, You're Home!

Here are six easy ideas to make any home feel comfortable the minute you step through the door.
  • Have a doormat inside and out, they make everyone feel welcome.
  • Buy several large, white pillar candles. Light them, then blow them out. This automatically gives the impression of warmth, and makes a home feel that it is lived in (an unlit wick will have the opposite effect).
  • A blanket draped on a sofa always invites you to sit down, put your feet up and relax.
  • Piles of magazines, catalogs or books are just asking to be picked up and looked at. 
  • Get personal. Display something that you love, that reveals (or explains) who you are. A word, a painting, an object? 
  • Always have live plants and/or flowers in your home. Their natural energy helps to create a balanced, peaceful environment

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Weekend Makeover

I painted my bathroom last weekend. Black. The bathroom was remodeled about 10 years ago and, as conventional wisdom goes for a room that is barely 4 foot square, I painted it cream and white. I really liked it; vintage inspired fixtures coordinated perfectly with the subtle cream color on the wainscoting and the new oak floor. The artwork was simple, pages from an old book, framed in black. The room always looked nice.

However, as time went on the painted white walls started to show signs of wear. I tried to perk it up with different artwork, but all of a sudden the classic room began to look cheap. Bright colored, children’s art looked silly against the white walls, like a classic black dress with a gigantic crepe-paper flower stuck at the hip with a safety-pin. It began to bother me, and, as my daughter and I use it every day, it’s confused style was a daily reminder that I no longer liked the room.

So, I decided to paint. I knew that I wanted to keep the artwork and the cream-colored wainscoting, all I needed was color on the walls. Because the bathroom is at the top of the stairs I couldn’t paint it red; the risers on the stairs were already red, and I knew it would appear very odd to have the stairs and bathroom the same color. (For more about the red stairs click on the link) http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/2010/02/would-you-tell-me-please-said-alice.html Blue didn’t feel right, and my kitchen was already green, so I started to think about black. The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea, plus if I used chalkboard paint (my favorite paint) then we could also write messages to each other or, rather strangely, doodle while on the toilet (that thought just occurred to me…..I wouldn’t recommend doodling while on the toilet).

It took me the whole weekend (black not being the easiest color to work with) but in the end it was far more than I had hoped. Despite what you would assume, the room doesn’t look smaller at all. The subdued, black color is the perfect background for my daughter’s pictures. A geranium and a few empty, wooden frames gives a classic feel to a room that now has a slightly beautiful sense of whimsy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Notes on Sitting

Because what we sit on is usually the largest thing in the room (no, I don’t mean our bottoms), it makes sense that we often find the placement of it to be a bit daunting. Although I don’t like the idea of rules, I do think that with some areas of design there are guidelines that exist just because they make sense. Furniture placement is one of those areas.

If you are unsure about where to place your seating arrangement, take a deep breath and begin by discovering your favorite part of the room, the part that you want to look at. Whatever is the most important feature of the room is where your furniture should be facing, whether it is a big screen TV or a beautiful view outside a window. Reason being that you want to draw people into the room and encourage them to stay. It’s only furniture, and it can be moved anywhere you want it to go, but it is so much easier once you have a place to start.

If you can’t find a focal point then make relaxation the priority, creating a seating arrangement that is a little closer than you think it should be, encouraging secrets or curling up with a book and a glass of wine.

After you’ve found the beginning, go ahead and move your furniture. An “L” , “U” or “V” shape arrangement is often used by designers to make a comfortable seating area. These shapes tend to connect the furniture in a more welcoming way than an “l l” shape; an “l l” can sometimes appear a little uninviting to guests, like you are being interviewed for an important job or waiting for your annual check-up.

Another thought is that we all have a sense of our own personal space, an imaginary circle that surrounds us and keeps us safe. I think it’s 3 feet, and if we are sitting closer than that we may feel a little uncomfortable. We want people to feel relaxed. Accept that a loveseat, while perfect for couples, may often seat just one person, and, a regular size sofa will only be comfortable for two when chatting over a cup of coffee and a piece of cake.

Finally, never be afraid to play with your furniture, allow it to influence the look and feel of a room.