Salute to Stripes

Stripes are an effortless way to add  a splash of drama to any room, like this black and white striped design that is bold, yet classic.

Red, white and blue isn’t just for the American flag – in this space it pops without feeling overly patriotic.

A bright bathroom might not work in every home, but if you’re daring enough this bathroom might be just right in a country cottage.

A striped ceiling adds plenty of punch on even the smallest budget.

Subtle stripes add a preppy, coastal feel to these simple fabrics.

Even fashion has turned it’s spotlight on stripes according to this spread in Elle.

Stripes are spirited, stripes are brave, stripes are totally unafraid.  Thin or thick, narrow or wide, they’re daring and bold and just come alive.  So today is the day it’s my duty to say, stripes I salute you in every way!

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Spring has Sprung

And summer is practically here.  Just check out the local forecast – it’s going to be close to 90 degrees on Monday!

So what do the rising temperatures mean?  That it’s time to switch out the wintry accessories in my living room for a more summery look.  I wasn’t expecting to do this in February, but it’s been over 80 degrees for a couple of weeks now and as you can see the faux fur throws and pillows just don’t make sense anymore (although the dog is a permanent fixture).

To de-winterize the room I removed three faux fur throws, four fuzzy pillows, and the star from the mantle.  I added the green throw from the guest room bed and a rattan lamp from the guest room bedside table (who really sees the guest room anyway?), plus a few jars of seashells and a blue candle to add to the nautical look.

Next I hit up my stash of throw pillows and incorporated three navy blue and two khaki striped ones.

The beautiful glass bottles were a gift from my best friend and they work perfectly in the space – thanks Tara!

The lime green accents really help brighten up the room.

I was even able to incorporate the pillow from my Martha Stewart dye project.

The coastal painting by Marshall’s mom was the inspiration for the whole room!

If the winter blues have got you down, get to Florida quick before the hurricanes come to town!

My First Client

This week I have been searching for fabrics for a master bedroom suite I am redesigning for a new client.  Ok, the ‘client’ is my mom, but you gotta start somewhere! She wants all new bedding, window treatments and accent furniture.  Her bedroom is painted a brilliant shade of copper and the domed ceiling is black with gold and silver accents, so those are the parameters I have to work within.  I suggested giving the room a resort vibe knowing she was leaning toward a color scheme with black, copper and possibly some green and since I start every design with fabric, I pulled a bunch of options as a jumping off point.

I showed her about twenty-five fabrics to start and once I had an idea of which ones she responded to the most, I was able to blend them together to give her some choices.  The first option has the black and copper she was going for and pulls in a little of the animal print I know she loves:

The second one is my favorite. It’s a little punchier with a bold graphic print, a floral pattern and a pop of bright green:

Another idea was to tone down the metallic elements in the room and go for something more muted like this option that layers stripes, neutral linens and a tropical black and tan print:

In the end we agreed on using a combination of the fabrics below.  Something that would bring in the green she originally wanted, plus compliment the copper she already has in the room, as well as bring in some stripes to give it more of the resort feeling I thought would work in the space.

Now it’s off to find some new nightstands while we wait for the fabrics to come in!

A Simple Update

One of the simplest and least expensive ways to update a piece of furniture is with new hardware.  For example with this dressing table I found for $200.

It was already cleaned up and painted this lovely shade of light cream when I bought it, but the drawer pulls just weren’t doing it for me…

…so with a quick trip to Home Depot and eight bucks I was able to find these decorative pulls that fit the style of the piece.

I removed all the old hardware with a nail file while chatting on the phone (who says you need a screwdriver?) and added the new ones.

Even though it was a simple fix that took less than five minutes, it made the piece feel more expensive and refined.

If you have a few extra minutes and a few extra bucks lying around, you could easily update a nightstand or a dresser!

A Neutral Palette

I have always been drawn to the stillness of a neutral palette.  The subtle softness of varying shades of creamy white and sandy beige create a relaxing flow in almost any space. I love the pale gray floor against the barely blue walls in this open concept living room/dining room.

The pure white walls against the rich, caramel toned sofas create an easy sophistication in this relaxed living room, and the black and white graphic pillows add a touch of drama to an otherwise tranquil space.

A living area with this much white risks the chance of feeling cold and uninviting, but the natural fiber rug and warm accents like the sailboat and wooden tree trunk side table help soften up the room.

Images Coastal Living, My Home Ideas, and Country Living

You can see how much I appreciate a neutral space by how I’ve designed my own living room.

This summer I’ll remove the dense fabrics and add more linen pillows in blues and greens to add an airy feeling to the room for the warm summer months.

Bringing the Inside Out

When we bought our house, it needed a lot of work, both inside and out.  We spent our time and energy (and most of our money) on fixing up the interior, but now that spring has sprung (we’re in Florida afterall!) our yard and front porch are looking pretty sad.  Since we really don’t have the budget for the black rocking chairs I’ve been eying, I wanted to come up with an inexpensive way to dress up the front porch and then I remembered the booth from kitchen! Marshall thought it was ‘too country’, so we dragged it into the garage and it’s been collecting dust ever since…

I thought it was kind of cute in the kitchen, plus I spent a lot of time picking out the fabrics for it and refinishing it, so I hated to see it relegated to the garage.  I especially love the Waverly Lattice fabric against the neutral linen cushion.

So I begged Marshall to help me drag it outside.  At first I wasn’t sure, but I wound up really liking it.  It adds a little color, especially with a couple of pillows and a jute rug I could never find a place for inside.

It’s completely covered by our porch, so I don’t have to worry about it getting wet when it rains and now we have a place to sit and have a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at night.  It might not be the perfect solution, but it works until we have the budget for outdoor furniture!

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

The other day I got a comment on my blog that suggested if I’m not a vegan, it doesn’t matter if I don’t use animal products in my designs, and my response is even though I am not a vegan, I still think I can have a big impact on the lives of animals.  I don’t believe, at least not today, in 2011, that most of our world is going to become vegan, but I strongly believe that together we can make a difference.  If I can inspire one person to buy a linen sofa instead of a leather one and that person inspires someone to buy cage free eggs and chicken and that person convinces someone never to buy fur products again and so on and so on, then a difference WILL be made.  Just think, twenty years ago most of us had never heard the word recycling and now most of us do it every single day!

So instead of buying an Alpaca fur pillow for $99.95…

why not buy a faux fur pillow for $9.99?  No one would know the difference!

Or how about a blanket and throw from Bedford Cottage made of 100% polyester, but feel so soft and cozy you would never guess they weren’t real!

They are one of my favorite accents in our home.

And instead of buying a brand new leather purse…

why not buy a bag from Alchemy Goods, a company that makes purses out of recycled bicycle tire inner tubes?  Great for the environment and animals!

Plus, they make wallets like the one I bought for my husband for Valentine’s Day…

It was only $25.00 and the stitching on all of their products is gorgeous…what could be better?

Instead of leather flip flops…

…you could get some adorable flip flops like the ones I found from Dizzy at Tuni’s for $22.  Washable, inexpensive and neutral enough to go with any outfit!

When it comes to rugs, many of them are made of 100% wool and even though the sheep are not slaughtered, often they are kept in the harshest of conditions, their skin is cut and scarred from the sheering process and in worst cases they can even lose parts of their faces from rough handling so I encourage you to buy natural fiber rugs like these from Overstock.com:

They work with almost any style of decor!  Another great option is using outdoor rugs inside.  They can stand up to rain, dirt, and direct sunlight, so if you have children or pets at home, they are almost impossible to ruin – no more juice stains or pet accidents, and they come in tons of colors and varieties.

Even though I don’t eat red meat or pork, I do eat poultry and fish, as well as eggs and cheese.  I hope one day to become a vegetarian (again), but I don’t think I would ever become a true vegan because I believe the world can and should live in harmony with animals and from my experience, many of them love to be given jobs and feel needed by people.  That’s why one day I hope to live in a barn on a big piece of land, so I can have chickens and cows that can provide milk and eggs for our family, as well receive the same love and respect we give our dogs.  I have spent time working with dogs in need and I have the goal of starting a dog rescue on our property because I have seen first hand how much good animals can bring to the world, especially to people in need.

Like the seeing eye dogs from the organization The Seeing Eye that help give independence to the visually impaired.

Or horses that are used to help adults and children with disabilities ranging from autism to down syndrome to drug addiction and physical injuries like this one from the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association.

And pets taken into nursing homes that help give life to the elderly who may feel forgotten or can give strength to children fighting for their lives…

Whether you are a vegan or a volunteer, a vegetarian or a consumer of humanely raised products, I believe we can all do a small part to make this world a better place.  As Ghandi so wisely said, “Be the change you want to see in the world” and even though this is just a little blog about home design and decor, I hope it can do a little good in spreading the word about something I am truly passionate about.

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