This Christmas, I decided to pare down our decorations. When I decided I didn’t need a Christmas tree, it triggered concerned inquiries from not one, but two, trusted friends! Let me assure you, that I am feeling fine! Admittedly, it … Continue reading
Last year, we celebrated a fabulous and fun retro mid-century Christmas with lots of over-the-top colors and decorations. This year, I’m going in a different direction with a pared-down Christmas.
I was inspired by pictures of simple branches hung with ornaments. I was going to do this in addition to our Christmas tree, but I’ve decided to do it instead of a tree, and it feels very liberating! This idea is great for people who live in small spaces or just want to simplify.
Our overall look this season is Scandinavian-inspired with touches of gold and glam, and our centerpiece here fits tight in.
Hope you’re feeling cheerful and warm this season!
Thanksgiving at our house has been pretty small the last few years. Most of our family is not in town, so we enjoy a quiet long weekend with just me, Steve, and the kids. Sometimes, however, I crave the hustle bustle madness of a big Thanksgiving celebration. I’m excited this year because we get to host one of my new coworkers!
To help make our Thanksgiving dinner this year extra festive, I have some new decorations planned. One of them is this simple linen table runner.
I sewed the runner and used gold craft paint to add this feather design inspired by a rubber stamp Creatiate on Etsy.
Up next, a “stenciled” runner for our dining table. Red wine included 🙂
Happy Turkey Day! May your hearts be full of thanks!
Did you just move into a new place? Or perhaps you are settled in your home but ready for a change of style. It can be challenging to plan a space from scratch, but it’s also a great opportunity.
For better or worse, Steve and I have moved a lot over the years, and on the “better” side, I’ve gotten a lot of experience designing spaces. Though I could have transferred our furniture and look directly from home to home, I used each move as an opportunity to refine our collection and re-consider our style. Of course, each home had its unique features of architecture, layout, and lighting, and adapting to each of these became an opportunity to try something new.
Here are some tips for creating your own dream room:
- Define the look you want
- I like to look at magazines and online – Pinterest is perfect for this – and collect images of rooms I like. I start by collecting everything that catches my eye, and then I will edit the collection and look for common themes.
- Once I have a collection of images that I like, I try to summarize the look in words, defining the color scheme and style. Having the style summarized helps keep me focused when I start decorating.
- Go slowly
- I like to add elements bit-by-bit, to help me see how everything will fit together. I’ll often revise my plans as I go.
- Don’t rush, or you may end up buying a lot of cheaper items to stay within your budget instead of focusing on slowly acquiring quality pieces.
- Use what you have! I’ve had a lot of success re-using furniture in new ways. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing the purpose of a piece of furniture. For example, we used this bedroom dresser as a dining room sideboard for a while, and more recently, I switched to using a former TV stand as our side board.
- Other times, you can repaint or reupholster an item to give it a new look. For example, I spent quite some time looking for black dining chairs with architectural lines, only to realize that I could repaint our existing dining chairs, and by adding a whimsical chinoiserie fabric to the seats, they fit in perfect with our new look.
3. Make it personal
- While most rooms work best with an overall vision and cohesive style, the unique and unexpected touches are what make a room feel complete. This could be an accent of an bright color or modern art displayed in a traditional room.
- To make your room feel personal and warm, It’s also important to make sure that you use a mix of new and old items in a room, so your home doesn’t feel like they came straight out of a catalog. I like to find vintage furniture on craigslist like this wooden chest or our marble top coffee table. I’ve also found a lot of great vintage picture frames and ceramics at local thrift stores.
A fun room to demonstrate this process is our living-dining room.
The style I honed in on for this room was based on a Hollywood Regency mid-century look. The main colors are silver/grey and blue. One of my favorite inspiration rooms is this one, by designer Elizabeth Gordon. I love the clean-lined feminine upholstered pieces, with touches of metallic glamor.
While I am well on the way to creating our dream living room, my rooms are never really done. I’m always tweaking things and looking for ways to change things around. One piece I have an eye on is this Chinese cabinet from the online auction site invaluable.com. They have a variety of fine art for sale, including paintings and sculptures that would make a great jumping off point for your inspired space! The folks over at invaluable inspired me to write this post, and I have big ideas for a cabinet like this.
I would like to turn this into a bar cabinet, by adding mirrors to the inside and displaying glasses and bottles. The doors would keep clutter hidden, but the screens would allow glimpses of the glass and bottles on the inside. I think it would be a spectacular addition.
I’ve already been scouting out the accessories I would need:
I hope I will be able to do this project soon and show it to you!
How are you spending this Christmas Day? After a super-hectic December, the Bay Area has given us a clear and cool day to enjoy. We’ve opened presents and took the whole family to the park. Now, it’s time for some rest. The last few years, I’ve been inspired to try new color schemes for holiday decorating. First, there was the silver Christmas, and last year’s was all in white. This year, I was inspired by the brilliant red of cardinals on a snowy backdrop, and I added back dashes of red. The result is serene and festive at the same time.
After making new decorations for our silver-themed Christmas and white Christmas, this year was easy – all I had to do was re-use those decorations and add back a bit of red! Here’s how some of our decorations came together:
I love looking around at our red and white decorations. A bright and crisp day outside is making for a perfect Christmas!
I’m not even going to try to hide that I’m crazy about Christmas. I love the warm festive atmosphere, the carols, the time with family.
Over the years, I mostly had the same decorations up each year. Last year, I tried a new color scheme of red, turquoise, and silver. This year, I want to do as much as I can in simple gray and white. I started with our new modern tree skirt, since that is a focal point.
Next, I wanted to make some cute Christmas throw pillows. The idea behind the pillows is simple. It’s all the different designs and fabrics that make them fun! The instructions for the basic pillow cover can be found in the post on our living room pillows. The instructions for making the appliqués can be found in this post from the onesie-decorating baby shower. Since I put some work into all these new pillows, I chose designs that would last beyond Christmas and through the winter.
Here are some of the decorations I put on my new winter pillow covers!
Polar bear pillows:
A snowy forest of trees on this pillows:
And here is our living room with the new pillows. There’s more I’d love to do, but I like how it’s coming together so far.
I’m also planning to make a throw blanket and some pillows out of a sweater. It could be a fiasco or an amazing project. If it’s the latter, you’ll see it here!
Are you feeling our snowy white Christmas theme?!
I did not want the night to end when we threw our Mad Men-themed birthday party a few weeks ago. There are more ideas in the first post about our Mad Men party and the retro menu can be found in another post as well. Here are some of the finishing details that pulled it all together – not the least of which were the fab costumes of our guests!
Lucky Strike cigarette boxes
Mad Men would simply not be Mad Men, without all the smoking, particularly the Lucky Strikes. At the same time, I’m not such a devoted fan of the show that I was about to start up a carcinogenic habit. As a compromise, I printed up some empty Lucky Strike cigarette boxes and filled them with Hershey’s Ovation Dark Chocolate Mint Sticks, which have that long thin cigarette shape.
There’s a great printable Lucky Strike box from Namida on Deviantart.com. It has a fun disclaimer on the side and otherwise looks quite authentic.
To save ink and paper, I printed two copies and then placed just the box images side by side, so I could make additional copies with two boxes per page. I printed mine on heavy Index Card Stock (110 lb paper) and then set them up in the front hall, under a vintage Lucky Strike ad, for guests to enjoy. I will say that this project was more time-consuming than I had anticipated, but they helped set the tone at the party and made a fun party favor, too!
Mad Men Photo Booth
I love photo booths. I still have favorite strips from my school days and when Steve and I were young and goofy (now we’re not-so-young and still goofy). With today’s technology, it’s so easy to make your own photo booth, and that giddy sensation of not knowing exactly when the flash will go off, of trying to squeeze all your friends into the frame, is easy to recreate in your own home.
To make the photo booth, I used
- large cardboard boxes spruced up with fabric panels around the outside
- a custom Mad Men photo booth sign
- iPad with Picibooth app, attached to the inside of the box with Command Picture-Hanging Strips
- three different backdrops
- city skyline graphic (mine is Spirella Skyline shower curtain purchased on eBay. Another good options is this Design Home Cityscape / Skyline Print Shower Curtain)
- Mod 60s print fabric
- Solid green (our own curtains – clever, huh?)
I hung all the curtains from our regular curtain rod, so it was easy to switch backdrops, just like the traditional photo booths!
I provided some props, like costume jewelry, a fedora, fake cigarettes, and Lucky Strike boxes, all arranged under Peggy’s breakthrough Belle Jolie ad. Our guests had plenty of their own themed accessories, too!
The photo booth got a lot of action that night. I loved going back later to see all the sassy poses, and I especially loved discovering that our seven-year-old had gone up several times to take pictures himself!
Guys and Dolls – Fab Costumes
I cannot take any credit for the following photos, but I just had to share all the great looks that crossed our threshold that night. Honestly, it was like opening a birthday present every time I opened the door! It was enormous fun for us to see how much fun our friends had creating their costumes. From crinolines to bouffant hairdos, bow ties to patent pumps, every one looked perfect!
More Mad Decor
I wanted to feel immersed in the Mad Men world everywhere I looked, starting with our front door, where I hung a large framed Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce logo:
Another logo was prominently displayed over the buffet table:
This vintage typewriter sparked a lot of conversation!
Leading up to the party, I became obsessed with collecting vintage barware in thrift stores and on eBay. I love the collection of Dorothy Thorpe silver-rimmed glasses displayed at our kitchen bar area and the classic California-themed tumblers gathered on a tray.
If you’re looking for some fabulous artwork to display, this book has fun illustrations Mad Men: The Illustrated World by Dyna Moe, including this one that I framed to put next to the dry bar area.
I said I didn’t want the evening to end, but it did end perfectly. After most of the guests left, some of our college buddies hung out with us in the living room to catch up some more, and one of them snapped this pic of me and Steve at the end of the night.
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.
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!
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.
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.
And finally, some pictures of life by the water, to transport us every day. Every time JJ sees this wall, he yells, “Beach!”
A few more pictures:
Let’s make a splash!
I love such a love for beautiful fabrics! And why use just one fabric to upholster a chair, when you can use two?! The back of a chair is a great place to use a more delicate, expensive, or ornate fabric that might not be ideal for the seat, and the contrast between the two materials adds a lot of interest. I’ve seen great examples of this from some of my favorite designers:
So, I was looking around my house for a way to try this, when my eyes landed on a pair of green side chairs that we’ve had for many years as extra seating in our living room. They were originally dining chairs that worked well for saving space, and I cut down the legs to make them more comfy for lounging. Our new house can get dark, so I’ve been trying to lighten up our furniture, and I just happened to have recently bought this gorgeous floral fabric. I didn’t even have a specific plan for it, but I knew that I had to have it (did I mention, I have a weakness for beautiful fabrics?!) I spotted it on Fabricguru.com, which is my favorite online fabric store. They have great prices on remnants and an easy-to-browse interface. The downside is that a lot of the fabrics are discontinued or almost so, so if you need more down the road, it may be hard to find.
Here’s what happened when the old chairs met my new fabric:
To apply the fabric, I experimented with our staple gun, but in the end, it worked best to apply the fabric with just a regular craft glue gun. I folded about a half inch “seam” around the edge and just glued it on. I was prepared to cover the edges – or staples, had I used them – with some piping, but I lucked out, and the panels had piping already, so it looked very finished with very few steps. I think you could retrofit a variety of existing chairs with some creativity and minimal upholstery skills.
For some more inspiration, check out these beautiful examples found by other bloggers:
Go give it a try! It might take some adaptation to work on your particular chairs, but keep in mind using nailhead trim, piping, or decorative braid to hide staples and seams, creating a transition as you turn your chairs into eye-pleasing conversation pieces!