Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Makes a Great Designer?

There are many attributes that any great designer will possess, and I in no way claim to know what all of them are. I think things like attention to detail are very important and of course there's creativity and originality. But one of the things that makes a great designer is their ability to deal with the problems or quirks of a space; they take the quirks and make them into something special. I think that's often why people feel the need to hire a designer; they have a problem space or an odd layout and they just don't know how to make it look good. A good designer will come to the rescue and transform the less than ideal space into something fantastic and that makes for happy clients!

Here's what I'm talking about. See how Nate Berkus treats these strange, small, low-to-the-ground windows in the master bedroom of his NYC apartment. (Images via Architectural Digest.)



So genius, right?

And I love how Lauren Liess treated the one corner of her client's living room. She tucked a little office in the corner and linked it to the main sitting area with a stylish Mies van der Rohe daybed. Very chic. That corner could have been a "problem area" otherwise.

Office, Far Right

I also like how she divided the main sitting area. The sofa sits against the left wall with its own coffee table/ottoman. The two, over-sized armchairs sit against the right wall with their own coffee table. It's a unique move that delivers big style!

And I know I showed you this gallery wall by Suzanne Dimma recently, but it's so good. What could have been a long, bare, boring wall becomes a fabulous gallery with suspended artwork and a long, low bench.


The quirks of a space are what make it unique and when treated or handled well, they keep the space form being ordinary or boring.

So, maybe you've got a large, bare wall staring you in the face or some awkwardly placed/sized windows. Perhaps a long, narrow hallway that just needs something. Think of these apparent downfalls as opportunities to do something unique and special. The pros do it all the time! I'm sure we could analyze any well-designed/decorated space and find the quirks-turned-features.

Now, I'm off to look for the quirks in my home!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Time's a Comin'

And I know I've got to start... thinking and planning and getting stuff done! We've actually decided to keep things simple this year and try to focus on others a little more. Soon the kids and I will hang the advent stockings we've used for the past couple years and we'll start counting down the days until December 25th! With the focus on others, I've decided to stuff the mini stockings with ideas for showing kindness and spreading Christmas cheer with friends, neighbours and strangers. It should be fun. Here's a list of "100 Ways to Light up Your Community with Kindness" that will get us started and should keep us going for a while!

I also hope to pull out the tree and Christmas decorations over the next few days. I promised my husband I wouldn't buy any more ornaments this year, and I'm keeping my word. (Aren't you proud of me?) We have purple, silver, gold and green ornaments to work with. I'm thinking I might do silver and gold with a little bit of green, but we shall see. Here's some inspiration to get my wheels spinning.

I love the natural simplicity and the understated elegance. Have you started decorating for the holidays? I'm sure some of you are WAY ahead of me!


List of 100 Acts of Kindness via

Image Sources: #4 via Traditional Home; #7 via Style at Home; #8 via Martha Stewart; via Pinterest

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Design Books I Want to Read

I would really love to sit down and read through Dorothy Draper's, Decorating is Fun.

It was first published in 1939 and still offers practical advice and inspiration for today. I suppose it's no wonder since it was written by Dorothy Draper who has been called America's Most Fabulous Decorator! In the Pink is another book by Draper that also looks promising.

Draper certainly seems to have had a pile of fun decorating. Have a look at some of her interiors. If they don't scream "fun", I don't know what does!

I love this quote of hers.

And a few other design/decorating book on my "want to read" list.

To Your Taste and Black and White (and a bit in between) by Celerie Kemble

Kelly Wearstler's new book, Rhapsody.

The Things that Matter by Nate Berkus (aka Nate the Great!)

The Language of Interior Design by Alexa Hampton.

Made To Order by Campion Platt.

Interiors: The Allure of Style by Mary McDonald.

Katie Ridder, Rooms.

Lifting The Curtain on Design by Vincente Wolf.

I'd also love a good book on space planning and perspective drawing. Kimberley Seldon's "Business of Design" books look interesting too.

Has anybody read these or do you have a favourite I should add to my list?

I promise I'm not trying to drop any hints with Christmas around the corner! (wink)


Friday, November 23, 2012

My Latest Brain Wave

I've been a bit frustrated with our front entrance lately. The steal of a deal rug we ended up with is soft and luxurious, and of course I'm all good with that, but it's also very thick. It's not a high pile or shaggy kind of rug; it's just thick from top to bottom. The trouble with the thickness is that the closet doors rub along the top of the rug and even though we've raised them, they tend to push the rug over and then it runs into the sideboard on the opposite wall. I know. First world problems.

So, I had an idea. What about a floating console? Jen of Made by Girl used IKEA kitchen cabinets to create a floating console in her dining room, and I think they look fabulous!

Depending on what type of cabinet/door style you choose, this could be a very affordable option. Jen had a piece of wood cut for the top and stained it ebony and dressed up the fronts of the cabinets with stunning brass hardware. I like the idea of being able to customize the piece however you like. You can play with the dimensions, colour, style, hardware, countertop finish, etc. I like the centre-mount hardware on these two consoles as well.

I'm pretty much sold on this idea or it's at least a definite maybe. :) It would provide us with almost as much storage as our current sideboard does, but it would be visually lighter since it's suspended and not quite as deep. Maybe we could do a limed wood finish on the top piece. Hmmm.

Enjoy your weekend, friends. I hope those of you south of the border had a nice thanksgiving!


Image Sources: Young House Love and Pinterest

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Got Mail. The Best Kind of Mail.

Yes, the best kind of mail is package kind of mail. The kind you have to tear open and unwrap like a present. My designers guild fabrics arrived and I'm in love. They're gorgeous and look even better in person.


Silk Capucheen

The orangerie is going to be a cornice or pelmet box in my daughter's room and the silk capucheen will hopefully become an extra long lumbar pillow across our bed. I can't wait to put them into action although I'm a little nervous to handle such beautiful fabrics. The silk capucheen is (you guessed it) silk which frays quite easily. I may have to hire someone to sew that pillow for me. We'll see. It's ridiculous how excited I get with gorgeous textiles in the hands! Although I imagine some of you can relate?!

Here's a little lumbar pillow goodness to round things out.

Thanks for stopping by!


Image Sources: Lauren Liess; Architectural Digest; Kristin Peake Interiors; Erin McLaughlin of Style at Home; Southern Living

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our New (Old) Dining Table & Chairs

Look what came home with us this weekend!

A new-to-us dining table and chairs. As you can see, the table is oval (with 3 leaves) and there are 6 chairs. We also ended up purchasing a sideboard that's part of the set, but we hope to sell it as we have no room for it. The set is in great condition and has been well cared for (and it was a fantastic deal)!

If you read my post yesterday, you may be wondering where the "white on white dining" comes in as this is obviously NOT white. Well, I hope to make it white at some point. We'd like to have it spray lacquered (painted) eventually. I know some of you just experienced elevated blood pressure when you read that. Sorry. Here's a great article on painting antiques and... breathe.

We're going to live with it as is for a while though. I really love how the set is classic but still rather unique. The greek key detail on the backs of the chairs is by far my favourite part. Ok. So picture this. Everything gets spray lacquered in white. The seats get reupholstered in something like this.

via Tonic Living

Or this (But maybe white on navy. I'm kind of set on navy because that navy velvet sofa is happening. More on that later.)

via Pillotopia

And we do a little gold leaf on the greek key pattern and maybe in a few other places as well, to highlight the details.

Here are some similar looking chairs.

Jenny Komenda (Little Green Notebook) has an almost identical set of chairs in her dining room. She has left them wood finish.

Jenny's Dining Room
The cost to have the table and chairs redone is expensive so we're going to wait a while, but I may try to reupholster the seats myself in the meantime. If I do, I'll probably go with the navy and white stripe.

And here's the sideboard. It's a really beautiful piece with some built in drawers. The dimensions are 19" deep. 65 3/4" Wide. 30" Tall. We're asking $500, but we're open to offers. Local pick up only (Saskatoon). Let me know if you're interested.

I have to say we hadn't planned on purchasing this kind of dining set, but when we saw it, we knew it was for us. That's one thing I'm really learning as we decorate and furnish the house, don't be too married to your ideas because they will likely change. Leave room for the fabulous finds along the way. Ah, decorating is fun!