Book Review: The Design Cookbook

I love books. Not just the stories in them, but the feel of hefty printed pages in your hands. I especially love looking at used books stores and book sales. There’s something about the combination of a good deal on a newer book mixed in with the curiosities of vintage books that makes for such an enjoyable browsing.

I was recently in Chicago, where I met up with some friends from high school to do the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. On our last day, having walked 39 miles through the beautiful city and shopped our hearts out at the fashion outlets, a friend and I hunted down a big used bookstore: after-words in River North.

I found some fun books for souvenirs for the boys, and my personal pick was The Design Cookbook by Kelly Edwards. Even in this day of Pinterest, I find there is something special about browsing glossy images in a book or magazine.

Kelly Edwards really captures my style goals in this book – the rooms all have an eclectic combination of classic, modern, and whimsical elements. This can be a hard look to pull off, because the room is much more than a sum of the parts, so the “cook book” format is especially helpful. Kelly shows a series of rooms and then breaks them down into a list of features, like a painted lamp and dark walls. I like how this step-by-step approach to decorating can help you with recreating any room you see. The book also includes a handful of DIY projects.

Here are a few of my favorite vignettes from the book.

I am definitely feeling inspired, and I hope you are too!  For the “recipes” for these rooms and more, check out The Design Cookbook by Kelly Edwards.

“Jewels”

Guest Room – A Home Away from Home

Every room is a combination of the essentials that make it work and the decor that makes it beautiful. These elements are so important in a guest room, where you want your friends and family to feel both like they’re as comfortable as they are at home as well as transported on a great adventure.

When we finished our basement, we built in a small and cozy guestroom. When my sister planned a visit, I was motivated to finally finish decorating it. Luckily, I have a very understanding, sister – see?


First, the essentials, and then onto the fun part – decorating!

Guest room essentials:

  1. Bed – I love using a daybed in the guestroom. It serves as a sofa, when you don’t have guests. It works as a single bed, and then with a trundle or sleeper sofa, you can also accommodate couples. Ours is the Lubi Sleeper Daybed from CB2.
  2. Bedding – I splurged on a memory foam topper for our guest bed, to make sure that weary travelers get a good night’s rest.
  3. Towels
  4. Cups for water
  5. Toiletries – I’ve saved a few travel toiletries and display them in these upcycled jars for our guests to use.
  6. Reading lamp – in a small space like ours, a wall-mounted swing arm lamp like this is a great idea.
  7. Closet – even if you’re using the guest closet for storage (who isn’t?), clear out a little space to help family and friends feel settled in.
  8. Wifi password
  9. Magazines and books with local interest
  10. If your guests include kids, a step stool will make their visit more comfortable.

Here’s our daybed:

It converts into a queen mattress:

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Or two twin mattresses:

Now, onto the decorating!

Guest Room Finishing Touches:

Window coverings – it’s important to have good like control in your guestroom, since you may have visitors who are jetlagged and need to sleep when it’s light outside. Our guestroom is in the basement, which means that the windows are at ground level, so these wood blinds were the perfect solution for privacy and light control.

A mirror is also a great addition to any guestroom. In our case, the mirror also helps bring more light into this basement bedroom.

I added some travel themed art that had been up in the boys’ room before they switched over to superheroes. Finally, I love this oversized map where all of our guests can mark their hometowns.

We look forward to welcoming more friends and family to this home sweet away-from-home!

“Jewels”

 

 

Cool Tween Boy Room

Oh wow! I did not realize that a whole year has gone by since our oldest moved into his own room. This was formerly J’s nursery, so it is a small space. The bed I built out of IKEA Expedit shelves has been one of the most popular projects on the blog. I’m finally getting around to showing you the rest of the room, now that its occupant is away on a school trip.  He’s actually pretty neat for a fifth grader, but I still needed a little uninterrupted time to make the room blog-worthy.  Of course, this means I will be showing you the younger boys’ room in approximately… never?!

Because I wanted to make the most of this small space, I did buy a lot of the furniture new.  But when I look at the room, I realize there are also a lot of personal home-made touches.  I’ll list the projects at the end of this post.  Meanwhile, go ahead and enjoy looking at K’s room, which will look like this for exactly 13 more days, until he gets home.  I did update a few things, and I hope he’ll think they are a good “welcome home” surprise!

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at Home

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at Home

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at Home

20140330-181039.jpg

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at Home

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at Home

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at Home

Cool and compact tween boy's room | Jewels at HomeSome of the fun projects in K’s room include:

Boy, I miss my boy!

“Jewels”

 

Beach-inspired Kids’ Bath

The kids/guest bath was a part of our big renovation when we moved into the house. It was originally a Jack-and-Jill (aka Brady Bunch) bathroom with no tub, and like much of the house, it was pink!  We wanted to turn it into a hall bath, which would be much more practical, especially because we were adding a new bedroom – the nursery – upstairs.  The reconfigured area also allowed us to move the laundry up from the basement, which is vastly more convenient.

It’s a simple space with a feel that’s the perfect blend of classic and contemporary. Since its also a guest bath, and these little boys are fast becoming little men, I didn’t want to make the decor too cutesy.  My original idea was to have a “Three Men in a Tub” theme, with a gallery of bath photos. Wet babies are so adorable, so why not a gallery wall in the bathroom? I still love that idea, but with our recent vacation in Hawaii, I hit on a beach theme instead.

Hawaiian beach-inspired bathroom.  Shared kids and guest bathroom.  {Jewels at Home}

As for function, there’s a lot of practicality in this small space.

When the architect first proposed the double vanity for a kids bath, I wasn’t sure it was necessary, but hubby, who comes from a family of four kids, assured me it would be put to good use, and he was right!

20130324-163234.jpgHawaiian beach-inspired bathroom.  Shared kids and guest bathroom.  {Jewels at Home}

My kids never seem to successfully get their towels back on a towel bar, so I opted for these robe hooks. The adorable monogrammed hooded towels from Pottery Barn Kids were a gift from a dear friend when our youngest was born, and they fit perfectly here.

Hawaiian beach-inspired bathroom.  Shared kids and guest bathroom.  {Jewels at Home}

The Hawaiian “honu” sea turtles were ceramic coasters I found at a crafts fair in Honolulu, and our little family adds some color and whimsy to this wall.

Hawaiian beach-inspired bathroom.  Shared kids and guest bathroom.  {Jewels at Home}

And finally, some pictures of life by the water, to transport us every day.  Every time JJ sees this wall, he yells, “Beach!”

Hawaiian beach-inspired bathroom.  Shared kids and guest bathroom.  {Jewels at Home}

A few more pictures:

Hawaiian beach-inspired bathroom.  Shared kids and guest bathroom.  {Jewels at Home}20130324-163217.jpg

Hawaiian beach-inspired bathroom.  Shared kids and guest bathroom.  {Jewels at Home}

 

 

Hawaiian beach-inspired bathroom.  Shared kids and guest bathroom.  {Jewels at Home}

Hawaiian beach-inspired bathroom.  Shared kids and guest bathroom.  {Jewels at Home}

Let’s make a splash!

“Jewels”

Living Room Tour

After some peeks into the small spaces in our house – the powder room, the nursery, the laundry, the master bath – I’m glad I can show you our living room. It’s actually only one half of the original living room – we are using the other half of this enormous room as our dining room, and we turned the separate dining room into a family room.

I am not sure quite how to describe the style – it’s a little bit contemporary but classic. It has Chinese elements, but more of a Regency Chinoiserie feel than traditional Chinese. Is this the Asian fusion of the decorating world? Anyway, I love the cool soothing blues and grays warmed up with some green. It satisfies my desire for a grown-up space but is still a very comfortable spot to hang out.

Not much more explanation needed, so I’ll get to the pictures.  I’ve included links to the many DIY projects in this room.

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

A view of the living room side of our living-dining room, from the foyer.

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

The bamboo brush paintings are by my mom.  I sewed the living room pillows and repainted the vintage marble-top coffee table.

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

This picture was from the Holiday House Tour:

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

I love this elegant old Chinese chair that I picked up at the flea market.  It’s sitting by the window, next to a craigslist-find chest that I painted in teal.

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

Here’s another sunny view of our living room.  I love that it has so many windows.

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

To the left of the piano is an antique wooden window screen that I painted, and on top is a repurposed shoe box, decorated with paper.

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

These nesting tables are from a consignment store, and the silver box is a rummage sale find that I painted in silver.

Living room tour.  Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

This vignette on top of a bookshelf includes some art from a favorite calendar, an antique Korean vase given to us by Steve’s parents, and a little Japanese dish I picked up years ago while shopping with my mom and sister.

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

The bookshelf on the other side of the window has a similarly sentimental display – art from a calendar and from an old friend, a small blue and white Chinese vase from my grandmother’s house, and some candle sticks I found in thrift store.

Living room tour. Classic contemporary space with Asian elements.  {Jewels at Home}

Thanks for visiting!

“Jewels”

New Entry – First Impressions Count!

When we bought our house last summer, the style did not suit us at all. I give a lot of credit to hubby for seeing past the pink and frills to appreciate that this could be our home.  Now we’re updating this place bit by bit, and I’m happy to say that it feels like home! We started inside with a renovation upstairs that gave us our new master bath, laundry area, and nursery. More about the upstairs, when I finally get the rest of it cleaned up. We decided to put off a downstairs renovation, due to cost and convenience, but I did spruce up our powder room with some wallpaper and a new chair rail and vanity.

Once our upstairs bedrooms were comfortable, the next priority was painting the exterior, where the paint on the trim was peeling, and equally importantly, the house was pink!

BEFORE:

BEFORE: Pink and stuffy entry did not reflect our personality.

BEFORE: Pink and stuffy entry did not reflect our personality.  The house number sign was white plastic!

Hooray for

  • new paint
  • a new house number sign (the old one was white plastic)
  • our whimsical doggy statue
  • and some old pots and flowers

Now, our entry is casual and pretty, which is much more our style.  The dog our light-hearted take on more serious front door statuary.  I found him in a flower shop in Toronto more than a decade ago, and he reminded me of our dog, Cooper, so I gave him to Steve for his birthday one year.  Now that Cooper is no longer with us, it’s sweet to have him as our guardian angel.

I tried to hang up the house number sign, but the stucco was defeating my masonry bit and my adhesive, so I just propped it up, and I actually like it there!  There’s lots more gardening that could be done to improve our curb appeal and functionality, but for now these little touches make it feel like home when you walk up to the door.

A new house color and some flowers at the front door make this place feel like home.

A new house color and some flowers at the front door make this place feel like home.

A new house color and some flowers at the front door make this place feel like home.

20120730-230807.jpgA new house color and some flowers at the front door make this place feel like home.

I usually putter around inside the house, so I can thank this little helper for bringing me outside. He had a lot of fun digging, and I had to work hard to channel his energies into the right areas!

Welcome Home!

“Jewels”

Ensuite with a View

As I mentioned in the room tour of our nursery, we did a major renovation after we bought our house last year. As part of that, we converted the “dressing room” off the master bedroom into our ensuite bath and created a new bedroom where the old master bath was. The new master bath has some of the best views in the house, making it a lovely place to start and end the day.  Links to the DIY projects in this room are at the bottom of this post.

Before:

Old dressing room

Before: This dressing room was pretty but not a good use of space.

As the former dressing room, this is not a big space. Still, we managed to fit in our whole wish list: soaking tub, separate shower, double vanity with medicine cabinets and lots of storage. (We just moved from a house that was built with a stand-alone sink and no vanity or medicine cabinet in every bathroom! A cool look in concept, but ultimately, it meant that we had clutter and extra storage crammed into the spaces.

The tour:

I do love the white or espresso vanities that are so popular, but I wanted to do something a little different, so we chose this warm natural oak with simple shaker doors. A secret: the vanity is actually made from Ikea kitchen cabinets!

Master bath by Jewels at Home

Large shower and double vanity fit into this small space.

Master bath by Jewels at Home

Double vanity with Ikea cabinets as base. Mirrored medicine cabinets from Restoration Hardware.

Master bath by Jewels at Home

Another view of the double vanity made with Ikea cabinets and mirrored medicine cabinets from Restoration Hardware.

Master bath by Jewels at Home

Toilet area and new master bath with tub under the window.

Master bath by Jewels at Home

Deep tub under the window.

With a View…

View from master bath

View from master bath

Sunset view

Sunset view from master bath.

It’s great to have this little spot of peace in our hectic house all finished now.

The DIY projects in this room are:

Hope you are feeling inspired!

“Jewels”

Perfectly-Mixed Traditional Dining Rooms

I recently put together a contemporary mixed dining space for my dad’s house, but there are many examples of beautifully eclectic traditional spaces as well.  As I mentioned in the previous post, the key is to balance contrast and connection between the diverse elements in a room.

Here are two examples from two of my favorite designers: Sarah Richardson and Candice Olson, as well as some pictures of our dining room at home.

Sarah’s House

This beautiful dining space has a modern take on many traditional elements, such as the wallpaper and Queen Anne chairs (remember when I repainted my Queen Anne chairs?).

Contrast:

  • The plush dining bench sits opposite – literally – to the wooden Queen Anne chairs
  • The trestle table has a simple, rustic style and dark color that give a strong foundation and sense of comfort to this light, glittery room.

Connection:

  • The grey color of the chairs reflects the overall light neutral palette of the room.
  • Both the bench and the chairs have an ornate, traditional feel, as does the chandelier.
Sarah's House Dining Room by Sarah Richardson

Sarah’s House Dining Room by Sarah Richardson

Go to Sarah Richardson Design

Divine Design:

Candice Olson has a great eye for beautiful things.  Her rooms always feel lush and complete to me.  This dining room design looks fairly simple, but there is so much beauty in the details.

Contrast:

  • The white and black palette provides instant contrast.
  • Candice used two different chairs at the table, with more substantial arm chairs at the head of the table.

Connection:

  • The black and white color scheme is carried through every part of this room, including the chairs, rug and curtains.
  • Even though the head and side chairs are different, they have a similar scale and shape to them, so they work together.
Candice Olson dining room featured in Elle Decor

Candice Olson dining room featured in Elle Decor

Go to Candice Olson’s website

Jewels’ house:

I also have a mixed dining set at our house, where I painted and reupholstered our Ikea chairs to work with a dining table from craigslist that I had fallen in love with.  I started out looking for cherry wood Arts and Crafts chairs, and I am so glad that I ended up painting our chairs black.

Contrast:

  • Black and cherry wood look beautiful together, without disappearing into each other or feeling heavy and overwhelming, as a more traditional wooden set can.
  • I have two traditional Chinese chairs at the head of the table, which is a perfect place to introduce something different.

Connection:

  • The chairs all tie together, because of their dark color and similar lines of the chair backs.
  • The Ikea chairs have a geometric cutout design detail on the back that is similar to the cutout design on the base of the cherry Arts and Crafts table.
Dining Room with painted and reupholstered chairs by Jewels at Home

Dining Room with new chairs. The head chairs are Chinese antiques, while the side chairs are transformed Ikea chairs. They all work together, because they share color and/or other design elements.

Dining Room with painted and reupholstered chairs by Jewels at Home

Dining room from the other side.

When you are looking for home decorating ideas, you can easily work with what you have by switching pieces of a dining set, slipcovering your chairs, or painting them for a fresh look.  Once again, I hope you feel inspired to create your own unique combination of elements in your dining space.  It can feel intimidating, but creating connections with shape, material, and color will help bring all the things you love together.

“Jewels”