Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Crush

image via

An ad by Schumacher for Celerie Kemble's fabric line. Orange and turquoise, need I say more? Celerie's book (in this picture nestled among the gorgeous fabric) is also currently on my nightstand and I am enjoying it immensely.

Our weekend plans have us wine-tasting on Halloween. Our dear friends are moving and we shall toast their departure with Virginia wines. Not a bad way to go...

I'm also trying to convince Carter that we should take a drive and see some Fall color on Sunday...we'll see if house projects take over, or if we sneak away.

Weekend design adventures MUST be emailed to me.

See you Monday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The John Loecke Post

Pages 40-46 of my March 2008 issue of Cottage Living are well loved. I have turned those pages time and time again...looking...pondering...loving.

As you know from my blog, I love lots of rooms, lots of pictures, lots of designers. I'm equal opportunity.

But, there are a select number of rooms that I actually try to emulate. That I forever tape to my forehead and walk around thinking about. That I have memorized. This is one of those rooms.



All images by Tria Giovan via Cottage Living

Over the top, right? Craaaazy? GREEN? Magic.

Some things I love about this space designed by John Loecke:
  1. The wallpaper. Obvi. I love wallpaper, and it's green, and it's trellis-y, which is one of my favorite motifs.
  2. The color green.
  3. The black furniture.
  4. The fact that each dining chair is covered in a different fabric. And that each fabric brings in different colors. And that the chairs don't exactly match.
  5. The Chinoiserie elements - the bench, the arm chair, the pagoda chandelier.
  6. The chair rail trim - inspiration for my fireplace.
  7. The fearless mix of pattern.
  8. The window valance.
I will be the first to admit that this room is a little "much". But that is what made me fall head over heels in love with it. It was so full of personality, energy, vida. I wanted to stand right in the middle of it and look up at that grosgrain-trimmed chandelier.

This room is definitely inspiration for my own dining room. Key word being "inspiration" - if I actually created this room, Carter would pass out each time he walked into it. And I do have to be sensitive to that.

So my goal in our dining room is to create a similar feeling in my own way. I've painted the walls with a green stripe. We have an old, claw-footed, round dining table (from Carter's great-grandmother) that we've painted black contrasted with dining room chairs (a Craigslist find) that I've painted ivory. You've also seen my chandelier that will be getting a makeover and the beginning of my bar.

I'm taking my time with this room (and probably stressing over it a wee bit too much) but I know how I want it to feel in the end, so I'm having fun getting there. I'll keep you posted...

Now when I constantly refer to John Loecke's dining room, you'll get the picture.

p.s. John Loecke's current portfolio via shows what I imagine are current pictures of the space with some lovely updates:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Evening with Michael S. Smith

Sounds fancy, doesn't it? Like Michael and I popped open some bubbly and gabbed. Totally not it, but close.

Designer Michael S. Smith

My evening with California-based designer Michael S. Smith consisted of an auditorium at the Corcoran Gallery of Art with 100+ of my closest friends. The event was part of the Corcoran's lecture series, which on this occasion turned the discussion to interior design. And Mr. Smith was a timely choice as his name has been buzzing around the District - his recent clients are a family by the name of Obama.

Every designer I come across captures my attention for a different reason - in Michael's case, I'm drawn to his versatility. He can create the most over-the-top Chinoiserie bedroom and then captivate you with a white, crisp, classic living room. He seems to do it all - depending on his client.

Michael shared some of his design thoughts during the presentation:

Design should be timeless. He focuses not only on how a design currently functions for a client, but how it will function in ten years. He also encourages clients to purchase pieces (typically antiques) that will continue to perform as lives and homes change. 

Design should be personal. He notes that he challenges each client to create a home that reflects who they are, as opposed to copying the Joneses down the street (even though he may have designed the Joneses' home).

Design should be balanced. He may have a gorgeous, elaborate wallpaper in a dining room, but you'll notice that the chairs are upholstered in a neutral fabric. I think he also balances gender very well in his rooms with both masculine and feminine details. 

Design should pop...usually with one statement piece. He has a knack for introducing one showstopper into his rooms - like an oversize work of modern art or a beautiful antique - that gives the room a jolt to keep it interesting.

During the Q&A, folks were itchin' to talk Obama, but Michael was quite mumsy about his work decorating the private residence of the White House. So, we didn't hear much about that project (except that it is almost complete). We did have many laughs, though, as he brought his friend Ali Wentworth on stage to liven up the discussion and she was hilarious.

I really enjoyed the event. It exposed me to another great designer with an inspirational aesthetic. I'm always up for that...
Following images all via







Tuesday, October 27, 2009

And in this corner... our dining room bar. May I share another bit of the house with you?

Recall that I was recently quite excited about bars after flipping through my issue of House Beautiful. We have a particular corner of our dining room that is well suited to a bar set up. Our dining room is square and not so big, so I'm making good use of each corner (and have used an octagonal rug in the room to highlight my corner usage).

So, yet another item I wanted to complete pre-party was to set up the corner bar area. This didn't take much except to actually unpack some items, so it was not an adventurous goal. But, I'm glad I got it done as it added a little sparkle to the dining room, which is otherwise a bit bland at the moment, except for the striped green walls (oh yes, striped green).

Meet our bar:



A thank you to my mother-in-law for the tea cart. Can you believe she didn't want it? I was HAPPY to take that little piece.

And that mirror came with the house. Yup. It was here - tossed in a bedroom with a soccer ball and a wall calendar. More than happy to recycle that piece - I love how tall it is. And it's totally beaten up. It's also heavy as sin. Carter gave me quite a talking to for deciding to hang such a heavy mirror over a GLASS tea cart holding ALL OF OUR CHINA. I definitely could not fall asleep thinking about it - I snuck out of bed Sunday night to roll the tea cart away from the wall...and then I drifted off just fine.

The liquor bottles are sitting on an old silver plate we found at an estate sale.  The little bust is a vintage Etsy find (she came with a date - he's sitting on an end table in our living room). The tumblers are random that I've accumulated, and the little handled tray I picked up on my recent trip to Atlanta.

And my china! I liked how it looked piled up in the cart. It's my dining room's best accessory. All that pretty gold and green.

I'm not quite done with our bar (am I ever done with a project?), but for now,  it makes for a lovely little corner.

*p.s. I am attending an exciting event tonight. Look for a summary post either tomorrow or Thursday...

Monday, October 26, 2009

DIY: Wall O' Prints

Did you have a great weekend?  Our party was wonderful.

In advance of the party, there was one little project that I wanted to get done (OK, there were a million, but I actually got this one done). Recall this post where I discussed Phoebe Howard's panache with prints?

I always love the look of ordered groupings of prints but when I thought about creating a similar display, I saw dollar signs. Lots of them. Finding a group of 6-8 framed prints in a suitable subject matter is hard. Finding one that costs less than $100 is very hard. Even if each print is only $20, that still adds up when you purchase a large grouping.

Since we have a set decorating budget for the house, I had to put my thinking cap on if I wanted to create this look. Here's how I did it:

I hit up eBay for the vintage prints. I knew I wanted botanical prints, and ferns seemed a good choice since my dominant color is green and they are not overly feminine. I just typed in "vintage fern prints" and "antique set vintage fern prints" - and I had many choices available. Yours could be flowers, or birds, or black/white photos or vintage postcards...anything! You'll probably find it on eBay.

Price: $30

The prints were an odd size, so that presented a bit of problem when it came to framing them. My first approach was to look for mats to lay over them, but due to their odd size, I could not find standard mats to fit (and the custom route would have exceeded my budget). I thought about wielding an exacto knife and cutting my own mat (which you could do), but that seemed a bit too much effort, so I instead decided to just lay the prints over a white background.

So, I headed over to my local craft store (in my case A.C. Moore) to pick up the frames. When you do an ordered set of frames like this, I find that the thinner/simpler the frame, the better. So I didn't need anything fancy or decorative. And craft stores are a great place to find these simple frames for a steal. And boy, did I get a steal. I happened to purchase my frames on a buy one/get one free day (which is not uncommon in the craft store world) so I was able to get four frames for $10. I bought eight, though I only needed six. Just in case.

Price: $20

For my white background, my thoughts turned to watercolor paper. It's thick and textured and would provide a great background to the prints. And, I could pick up a small stack by buying an artist's notebook for about the same price it would cost to buy one or two mats. I was particularly proud of myself for this one.

Price: $8

I spread out my supplies on the dining room table and proceeded to assemble the prints. To avoid having each print slightly askew when I framed them, I cut a hole for my print out of the piece of paper that came with the frame and used the opening as my template. I lay it over the watercolor paper and attached the print to the paper by lining it up in the opening. I used a little glue stick in the four corners to attach my print - if you are working with something especially delicate or sentimental, you might want to check what an appropriate adhesive would be. The glue stick was in my drawer, and thus appropriate, but if your prints carry value over just being pretty, you might want to double check that.

Cutting a hole out of the frame's paper - there was a nice rectangle in the middle of the paper, so I used that to guide me. Very easy.

Gluing the print to the watercolor paper using the template.

Finished print on paper, ready for the frame.

The watercolor paper was an inch longer than my frames, so I just folded the bottom piece of each paper over about an inch. Framing each one was a cinch...creating these frames took about an hour, max.


Finished Product

Your frames may or may not come with a hanging mechanism. Mine didn't, so to hang them, I attached a little picture hanging bracket to the back of each one. The kind with the little teeth....

You may think that hanging a group in symmetry would take forever with all the measuring/spacing, but it doesn't! Carter helped me on this one as some spots on the wall were a little high for me. We lined up where we wanted the first print to go (bottom right hand corner) and then we just measured based on that frame. Since all the frames are the same size, we could put dots for nails in an ordered pattern on the wall every set number of inches. Hanging took about 20 minutes.

Et voila!

Total price: $58
Total time: 1.5 hours
Total headache/hassle: 0

What do you think?

If you happen to try this on your own, please share some photos :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Crush

photo by Laurey W. Glenn

Peacock walls. Yes, please.

This room is brought to you by NYC-based Markham Roberts. I have a note to self to peruse his portfolio as twice this week I have come across his work (he was the designer behind the lacquered green dining room featuring the tortoise tumblers) and enjoyed it.

What strikes me most about the room above is the genius blend of masculine and feminine. The rich wall tone, the dark floor and that beautiful club chair are warm and masculine; but the flowers, accessories, moldings are all lovely feminine touches...and the statement mirror is somewhere inbetween. Creating a gender neutral space can be quite the challenge.

We've got big plans this weekend. We'll be hosting our 3rd Annual Lowcountry Boil - an affair with a big pot of shrimp/corn/sausage/potatoes, drinks, good friends and lovely weather. We have yet to host our friends for an event at the AO House, so we're excited to open our doors and fill this place with those we care about. Last minute prep is underway...

I hope you have a fab weekend. Don't forget to tell me about any design adventures you have...

See you Monday!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

designBoard: Our Bedroom

When we bought this house, I had the opportunity to start fresh with our master bedroom. What used to be our bedroom furniture and bedding we decided to use in one of the guest rooms. So I had a blank slate...

I didn't start from total scratch. Carter and I have a set of bedroom furniture from our dear Mama Jo, Carter's grandmother. We wanted to use the chest of drawers and the vanity in our bedroom, although the bed (a beautiful four poster) is a double, so we have that tucked away for future use.

With those pieces as a starting point, I began brainstorming what I envisioned for our room. Here comes one of my design mantras...

Start small. Think Big.

Approaching a room can be extremely overwhelming if you think of it as a whole. I look for one or two small pieces of inspiration and use those to guide me in developing the rest of the design. Sometimes that inspiration is a fabric, or a color, or a picture, or an accessory...some little tidbit from which a bigger picture can evolve. That makes the task of designing much more manageable.

This time, my kernel came in the form of fabric. I was poking around on eBay and found a stunning Schumacher print for a steal. The yardage was enough for a large decorative pillow for the bed with some left over to cover a chair seat. From there, my task was to find things to complement it...

My designBoard:

I decided to go with a tailored brown stripe for our curtains and our bed "skirt" (it will be more like a boxspring cover, as it won't go to the floor). I thought the stripes would keep our bedroom from feeling too traditional...and stripes make me very happy. I use them throughout our house. I also think Carter is relieved that our room will revolve around brown and not, say, pink.

I chose a light camel for the paint color. The main level of our house is very bright and cheery - so I wanted to do something a bit more neutral for our room...something relaxing!

I had seen the bed in the Ballard Designs catalog - it features a beautiful cane-back headboard. Add caned furniture to my list of know, the list with wallpaper, chairs, china...

...and let's add white linens too. They always look so crisp and inviting. I found a fluffy, tufted white comforter at Target. I also found a very handsome khaki blanket to contrast with it.

While we're at it, let's put sunburst mirrors on the list. I would be happy to have one in each room of my house. I plan to have two in the bedroom flanking either side of the main window that will be dressed with the striped fabric.

And finally on my board is the beautiful celadon lamp. One of my favorite colors in my inspiration fabric is the greeny-blue on the ducks - the lamps will help accent it. Mama Jo's vanity doubles as my nightstand, and Carter has a small round table on his side, so we'll put a pair of lamps like this one on either side of the bed.

So that's the roundup of the AO master bedroom. We're working hard on the main level of the house, so I have yet to put my plan into action. I have all the pieces...I just need to assemble them. And I am very much looking forward to it.

Next time you're struggling with a little design dilemma, start small. Look for something you love...anything...and grow your idea from there.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Eye Candy

Today's post is pure eye candy.

I adore china. Each plate is like a little work of art. A beautiful pattern sends me into a tizzy. Marrying Carter was obvi the best part of my wedding, but I'll have to admit that second runner up was picking my wedding china - Derby Panel Green by Royal Crown Derby (I think that is where my love affair with all things green began).

I was perusing the Michael C. Fina site the other day - it is one of the largest online sources of beautiful china. They carry the gorgeous stuff that is harder to find in large selections in stores these days (which totally depends on where you are and the type of store, but during my wedding china hunt, I found it hard to find a shop that stocked colored patterns except for one or two in my area).

During my browsing session, I happened upon these gorgeous specimens by Alberto Pinto.  And the tizzy began:










My favorite for last...


Chinoiserie strikes again! Aren't they gorgeous? I would welcome any of these patterns in my dining room. The full collection can be viewed here...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Georgetown Dazzler

The design blogosphere is constantly atwitter about new design books. Lately, I've seen many posts about Alessandra Branca's upcoming release, New Classic Interiors, due out in November (side note: purchasing the book through her firm gets you a signed copy and she is donating proceeds to inner-city kids' programs, including ones in DC).

The interiors I've seen by Chicago-based Ms. Branca are stunning - she uses bold color in a timeless way. And she knows how to rock some Chinoiserie - rich, sophisticated, traditional Chinoiserie.

So, today we shall take a tour of a dazzling little number located in Georgetown, designed by Ms. Branca, and featured in Southern Accents, which is where I first spotted it some time ago.

all images by Thibault Jeanson via Southern Accents

Doesn't that little coral bench just welcome you in? I love that color combined with the yellow lamps and the graphic pattern on the staircase.

Another view of the inviting staircase with frames hung askew (yet look so put together).

The entrance to the house eases you into this amazing color scheme. The yellow is so captivating - don't you just want to sit in this room? Just sit. And look. And sit some more. And maybe have a cocktail. 

 I have mentioned my affection for wallpaper. This prime example of a gorgeous Chinoiserie wall treatment was actually designed by Ms. Branca and made for the room. This little nook is magic.

A more neutral room, but breathtaking in its quiet color scheme...and you know I'm loving the white furniture. Who needs color when you have that window? Dear me. And note the cherry blossom print...a little nod to DC. Hmmm....that white garden stool looks familiar...

Pops of pink in a neutral bedroom. Sweet and Cozy.

And, of course, I saved the best for last. This room was definitely in the running for a Friday Crush, but I'll throw it in today's post. This is what my heaven looks pink Chinoiserie.

There are no words. More of an unattractive choking/gasping sound that comes with sheer delight.

I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of some DC digs...and if you'd like to see more of Ms. Branca, her book is a good place to go - the design blogs are raving about it. It will most likely make an appearance on my Christmas list.

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