Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Global Romance (at home)

Do you remember the romance of travel? Exciting days spent planning a trip, deciding what to wear, and knowing that you would be well taken care of along the way. Lots of pleasant smiles, an extra blanket before you asked, and food that actually tasted good; presented in pretty little packages, with a knife and fork that didn't bend when you tried to cut a soggy, overcooked green bean.

It used to be fun, and, not that long ago, it was a special occasion to go overseas or take a cruise. We could wave people off, and they would actually have a few moments to stand and wave back. Now, we are herded into tired lines, scared to carry a piece of fruit, and forced to weigh our toothpaste.

But, all is not lost; thankfully, the nice part of travel can still be provoked, and the souvenirs of years ago can easily be found. Vintage pieces mix with the new; reminding us of adventures taken, and how getting ready should be a process, not an App and a pair of slip-on shoes.

Whether you romanticize the past, or have a passion for other countries, here are a few ways to celebrate the old-fashioned joy of travel (without even looking for your passport).

Collect old letters, postcards and stamps (from near and far). Try to find out who sent them, and see if you can trace them to current day families.

Indulge yourself with a giant mural of your favorite city. (Enjoy your croissant without ever having to speak a word of French).

It doesn't have to be fancy, expensive, or look real, just buy something that reminds you of where you'd like to go.

I think, everyone should have a globe in their house (perfect for dreaming, planning and pretending to brushing up on your Geography skills).

The perfect reminder of days-gone-by.  Vintage suitcases are always useful, inexpensive, a little smelly sometimes, but colorful, interesting, and very sturdy.
Whether you travel, or not, never forget the adventure....

Thank you to: www.fancy.com for the Mural, www.jacadi.us for the Stuffed Elephant, www.ladieslotto.com for the Luggage www.1stdibs.com for the Globe www.delcamp.com for the Vintage Note Postcard, and 
www.eyedealpostcards.com for the Vintage Airplane Postcard

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Making A Statement

Time and time again, I let my home fill up with too many things. I always begin with a large piece, admiring how it looks, alone and stately on the wall, then I gradually start to fill in around it. It's not intentional, but when I see something that inspires me (or strikes a sentimental chord) I want to be able to see it. My office walls are filled with thumbtacks and pins, holding up pieces of paper, photographs, and random words that I just want to see.

I can't fight who I am anymore, but my heart still beats fast when I see a home that chooses a simple, beautiful piece, then leaves it alone.

A statement piece takes a lot of control, because it is all about the design, and it can't be ignored; the focus is bold and personal, with no apologies, and no questions asked.

This home, owned by Jessica and Ash Bettenay, was one that made me catch my breath this week. I was actually looking for designs by Vivienne Westwood, when I found this series of photographs; Vivienne's Union Jack design has always been one of my favorites, and it is definitely a statement. If a giant, tattered Union Jack wants to be comfortable in your kitchen, this is how you do it. Yes, there is tweaking for the photo shoot, but the restraint, and the care in which they have decorated this room, is truly lovely.

Designing around a statement piece needs to look effortless, and not too deliberate. If you're not sure what to do, give it lots of space to be alone, put something smaller on a nearby wall (for a bit of company when needed), take a deep breath, then stop....

p.s. The Union Jack is actually Vivienne Westwood Wallpaper mounted on wood. To see the full selection of photographs, and read more about Jessica and Ash's home, check out the article at Design Sponge 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Laundry Room Dreams

My laundry is in the basement. It's filled with cold concrete, and at night we get those horrible cave crickets; their beady eyes pretending they don't see you, until they leap around in random directions, trying to scare you into leaving their home and turning off the lights. Needless to say, I don't do laundry after dark, unless I really have to.

It is one of those places where I don't stay long, so pretty shelves and a generous folding table have never been on the agenda. Clothes are sorted, washed, dried, taken upstairs, and dumped on my bed. Then, they are put away quickly before the cat and dog sit on them.

Whether we have a full household, or a family of one, we all have to do it, and I often wonder if a brightly organized room really does make it more enjoyable. Do cheerful walls make it less of a chore to pick the chewing gum off your favorite dress? Do pretty shelves and sorting baskets (made of blue and white ticking - handily labelled, lest you forget) make it almost fun to sort other people's undies?

I have to believe that it does, so, if I had my dream laundry, this is what it would be like......
  1. Front loading washer and dryer (preferably in the palest of blues).
  2. Fold down, full size ironing board (with a Nick and Nora cover - maybe gnomes or cupcakes).
  3. Some cupboards and shelves (for soap and things).
  4. A place to hang clothes to dry, and to lie them down (if they needed a lie down).
  5. Lots of windows (which open when I want them too).
  6. A radio (so I can listen to music).
  7. Marble counters (because I love them).
  8. Chalkboard paint somewhere (in case I needed to write myself a note, or draw a picture).
  9. White, porcelain, gigantic, deep farmhouse sink (because it's my dream laundry).
  10. Wide windowsill's (for plants and flowers).
  11. A vintage, aluminum, dual washtub (for keeping and sorting clothes).
  12. Nice, large, indoor-outdoor rug on the floor (to keep my toes warm).
  13. A (modest) chandelier.
Lucky for me, I already have number eleven, so all I need are twelve more....

Photograph from Family Circle Magazine 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Frog and I

I was passing a paving place (is that what you call them?) today, and right in the front they had a sign saying "Take Me Home", above a bunch of statues. I glanced at them, never really liking statues in my garden, then saw a meditating frog. It looked so peaceful, and it made me smile; as I sat at the red light, I wondered how much it was, and imagined where I would put it in my garden. But it was a frog, not the Dalai Lama, or some kindly gentleman in a complicated robe.

Apparently, meditating is such a trend right now, that everyone is doing it. I have always been one of those informal meditator's; I don't declare it from the rooftop, I try to do it often, but I sure as heck don't add it to my To-Do list (which is so funny to me - why would you add meditating to a list of things you have to do, potentially setting yourself up to fail? Isn't that creating more stress, which means you need more meditation?).

Anyway, statue's definitely don't create stress; love them, or hate them, no-one can be annoyed at a garden statue. They feel happy to me, and I always think it means that the owner is bold in their choices; not caring if they are judged, and wanting to express themselves in a very obvious way. I wonder if the same people have interesting rooms in their homes, declaring their style with lots of colorful personality and pretend concrete.

I know that some are for good luck, and many are a religious declaration, but others are just because they are cute to look at. I don't have one, but I imagine, if I went outside and saw a gnome every day, it would be a very good way to begin. Just a small gnome, hidden in the shrubbery.

Perhaps, this is why we need garden statues. To make us smile (and to remind us that even a Frog needs a quiet moment every now and again).

Photograph from Dutchmans Fountains catalog

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Design Class

As many of you know, I taught some Design Classes through the Roxbury Community School in February. We had so much fun, that we have decided to run them again, starting next Wednesday April 9th.

My idea for the classes was to share as much information as I could about creating a personal and beautiful home. It doesn't matter what your style or budget is, the process is very similar; with a little confidence, and a lot of ideas, you can learn to figure out what you want (and how to get there). 

"Your class was terrific, and I for one feel much more confident about
re-designing the rooms".

"Wonderful time, ideas, new friends... Thanks, Wendy!"
"Thank you so much for all the good advice " 

The first class will be held at the Roxbury High School, where we will chat about Design concepts - the basics, new ideas, and some no-fail secrets. The next two will be in Students homes. To me, this is the best opportunity to really understand how to decorate a home; I will answer all your questions, show you some quick fixes, and we can discuss what does (and doesn't work) and why.

If you would like to register for the classes, here is the link:http://www.roxbury.org/Page/1957  and, as always, if you have any questions, or would like some more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Enjoy your week!

Photograph from House to Home (UK)