08/18/2017

Before & After – Adding a Dining Room Pendant

A single wall construction home in Laguna Beach follows the charm of this surf culture town. Central air is an extravagance when you can simply open the doors for that canned coastal breeze.

A neutral yet modern double cylinder pendant seals the look of this small dining area.

Temperatures rarely venture into extreme highs or lows and if they do residents revel in having a quaint taste of another season. The climate translates to the home, where interiors follow the laid back “shoe optional” approach.  Lighting, however, fits a more basic need. Moving into my Laguna home and the previous dweller, one of those earthy types who kept wild animals as pets, did not have a dining room lamp among other necessities. While I am a follower of organic style and going braless at Coachella, I do find lighting necessary in terms of effectively seeing your food and adding an easy stylistic element.

Choosing a pendant was a combination of statement piece yet neutral since the dining area is part of the overall common room. This double cylinder pendant by Oilo Studio  works with its scale, simplicity, modernity and neutral color.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

07/27/2017

How to Frame Art Online

While you may have graduated from taping posters to dorm walls, professionally framing your art and you may feel the pinch of your student loan days. There is a way to avoid pricey framers by taking the task into your own hands.

Framed art adds polish to a space.

Art is key to a personalized home. Beautifully framed portraits style a space. Even something like a diner receipt can look like a gallery piece when framed correctly.

Keep the look simple by connecting color, addressing scale, and avoiding clutter.

What to consider? Sizing and scale for impact. Color and how it relates to the room’s theme. Selecting the right art to frame, such as memorabilia, prints or your own art, which is the most personal expression a home could have.

Online resources can help you frame those artistic mementos easily and on a budget. Matboard and More, a custom online framing company, was especially helpful in processing our required needs via cyber communication.

10 Steps to framing gallery art on an artist’s budget:

1. Decide on the art and use a tape measure to size your desired frame and mat. For photography, there are many online photo sites where you can develop your film in a variety of sizes. The art work can be sent via email or direct to vendor.

2. Choose from a selection of frames.

3.  Keep your hands and work area clean.

4. Tape art into mat.

5. Slowly peel off protective sealer from plastic frame.

6. Insert plastic into frame, then add matted art.

7. Add foam board backing.

8. Before closing tabs, make sure the area is free of dust. The sealer attracts dirt easily.

9. Close tabs.

10. Hang frame.

 

Resources:

Online frame company: matboardandmore.com

Photography online lab: Nations Photo Lab

Love Story Never Ends art: Tuvalu Home

Window seat fabric: Robert Allen Design

Alassis over-sized candle: Chesapeake Bay Candle

Beach blanket used as throw: John Robshaw

Seahorse pillow: Chole and Olive

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

07/08/2017

Ultimate Beach Cottage – Our Laguna Home

The idea of experiencing summer year round wasn’t allowed. When raised on the East Coast this is your summons, to follow the calendar year of seasonal appropriate sports and dressing in heavy catalogue sweaters half your town wore.

The living room of our former beach cottage, inspired by the nearby beach with a mix of local and vintage finds.

After too many brutal winters where I found my DNA dangerously traipsing into a curmudgeon, I accepted a job in California on a whim. This would only be temporary, I explained to the condo association as I signed a six-month lease.

One of the cottages that lead to the best surf inlet in town.

Eight years and a child later, California became my home. Here is the brief back story: on a reconnaissance trip to Orange County, where I landed the new job, I assumed I would find one of those full service rentals close to the office with fitness room, pool and built in friends who lived in the same unit–a modern day Melrose with all the amenities and less drama.

Beach art.

My new supervisor chose a restaurant in Laguna Beach for dinner as a way to expose me to another side of Orange County. The town bewitched me. It wasn’t anything like the blonde starlets who gripe and manufacture their lives on reality television. This was an authentic gem sandwiched between towns with mega mansions on tiny coastal plots. Yes, Laguna has its share of I-am-rich new constructions with white Escalades bulging the tiny, and sought after, driveways. It also has an abundance of classic beach bungalows, vestiges to its surf town roots.

There are art galleries showcasing blotchy beach paintings, a Tommy Bahama,Yogaworks across from the studded Montage resort where I learned to appreciate a robust vinyasa (lost on me in the tightly wound New York City studios) and The Stand, a vegan food shack that weathered every recession and was my only source of healthful foods during my pregnancy from their homemade soups and seasonal smoothies.

Considered one of the California Riviera’s most sparkling gems, Laguna is more unassuming than its tony Newport neighbor or less built up than the inland towns of Aliso Viejo or Laguna Niguel. As with all special resorts, it holds onto its classic charm with a vital protectiveness.

After school surfing.

We are accustomed to year round temperate weather, just subtle changes to alert a new season. As a Laguna resident I never used an umbrella or wore a pair of gloves.

Preparations for a typical Laguna day.

Our home followed a simplistic approach that adopted the town’s beat. We furnished with standard beach furnishings punched up with vintage finds and local textiles from Kerry Cassill. An outdoor shower that somehow had more pressure than our indoor plumbing and lots of opened windows. I also never used air conditioning. In fact, I am unaware if we had it.

There wasn’t as much of an urgency to update or stay on top of today’s dizzying trends. Part of this is from the difference in mentality, you are appreciative of what you have, with more of an interest in being than changing.

A bed dressed with Indian Block print linens from Kerry Cassill.

Five Essentials to the Beach Cottage Look:

  1. Light: Bring in natural light through large windows, mirrors and lighting fixtures.
  2. White walls: Keep the walls clean and allow the accents to create the look.
  3. Local flavor: Decorate with art, textiles and wares from local artisans, who understand the style of your region with a creative edge.
  4. Cool kitsch: Embrace the tacky by adding vintage art or expected resort accessories,
  5. Washable wares: Slipcovers, pillowcases, throw rugs and blankets that can easily be cleaned are both functional and add to the design.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

06/09/2017

Decorating with Flowers – Peonies

I fall for limited editions. Perfume, ice cream flavors, printed socks–an exclusive holds cache. Peonies exude cache. Every year from late May to early June their tight fisted buds explode into feathery pink flowers that grip us with their scent and style. Part of the attraction is that as quickly as they enchant they then shrivel into the ground, like that icy beauty who will seduce and then leave town with someone cooler. Call it the limited edition flowers.

A bedside vignette takes on some va va voom with fully bloomed peonies. Note the linking colors of soft pastels, gold with a shock of pink.

Styling with flowers is a simple exercise, just allow the flowers to lead the direction. I always pick what’s seasonal and then see how they work within my scheme. Add accents, like jewelry boxes, dishes and decorative candles to build your vignette.

Even in a room with a different color scheme, the addition of a vibrant statement color through flowers contours the look to a styled direction.

Regardless of whether the flowers match your design or not, anything natural will always fit in.

A fresh bundle of peonies is so dramatic they add beauty without supporting cuttings.

Connect with color, textiles and art for a timeless look.

It’s not necessary to designate to your most public spaces–bedrooms, bathrooms, the office–all rooms deserve a floral touch.

Bring some style, and inspiration, to your work area with flowers.

 

05/26/2017

Ultimate Surf Shacks

Surf shacks bring to mind homes filled with beach finds a crusty sea captain would favor. Surf Shack//Laid Back Living by the Water by Nina Freudenberger proves the contrary. While the coastal-inspired homes do feature sandy spaces and dwellers with salt streaked hair in cut offs, they are also personal and curated.

A sunroom porch is styled with such beach staples as striped pillows and fouta throw. Blue ceiling are thought to ward off spirits but the dweller simply loves the look.

Freudenberger takes an anthropological interest in surf culture. She connects to profiles who are disengaged from mornings draining lidded coffees in pursuit of a 9:00 a.m. meeting, a dichotomy intimately understood from experiencing an east (Manhattan) to west (Venice) relocation. There is an admiration of a surfer’s daily incentive to get to the waves and not the office, cultivating a life central to that ambition. “A surf shack is not built around what you think you need, so much as it is about an understanding of all the things you don’t,” says Freudenberger.

A handprinted surfboard is at one with the artful design.

The spaces welcome imperfection–a style set around loved items over monied design. Call it relaxed authenticity. They traverse territories, ranging from California, Australia, Japan and New York. Residents are a mix of young families, creative people and entrepreneurs of a no-tie variety.

Eco-friendly fabric swatches from the Eskayel line seamlessly pair with a colorful surfboard in the Williamsburg, Brooklyn home of the Eskayel line’s owners.

5 Characteristics of Surf Shack Style

  1. Whether you are 500 steps or 500 miles from the swell, design has a connection to the outdoors through natural elements like plants and abundant sunlight.
  2. Room will always be made for personal collections and local art.
  3. Layer the look through textiles, color and materials.
  4. Impromptu guests are welcomed.
  5. Surfboards are part of the decor.

Reprinted from Surf Shack. Copyright © 2017 by Nina Freudenberger. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Brittany Ambridge. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

05/05/2017

A New Orleans’ Home Exterior Gets a Bright Makeover

A compact house in the Marginy district of New Orleans is so bright, visitors don’t need a house number to find it. Formerly in shades of green, an offbeat scheme to compensate for its lackluster, was reinvented into a sparkly gem thanks to a redesign by Julie A. Babin, Partner and Architect with studioWTA.

Babin first appraised the home as awkward and space-challenged, which she transformed into an inspired design with some clever manipulations. For the exterior the selection of festive colors is a nod to Jazzfest and the city’s exuberance, which is why the homeowner’s chose the city as their second residence.

The outdoor space’s completed redesign.

“This particular renovation was challenging because the site was extremely
small. The existing house was a one bedroom, one bathroom house,” says Babin

The home’s exterior has an inviting color pairing of butter yellow with bleached turquoise.

Babin reconfigured the kitchen and bath to include a second bedroom and detached office. They kept the existing pool in tact but removed a Jacuzzi to allot for the office at the end of the property. “We positioned both the master bedroom and office to overlook the pool creating a backyard oasis within a tight site and urban neighborhood,” says Babin.

She selected a Caribbean inspired palette for an instant awakening. “We decided to choose colors that would reflect the vibrancy of New Orleans,” she says.

While color is often viewed as a space offender, here the shades add dimension. The dramatic wall colors visually open up the pool area to provide a visually exciting contrast.  The open sky and accent lighting offer more illumination and add to the effect. “Choosing the right lighting is key,” says Babin. “For the exterior lighting of the renovation and new office we selected a wall sconce that provides a soft illumination and glow, similar to the lighting cast from the traditional gas lamps found in New Orleans and on the front of the home.”

The infusion of alteration, color and light have created a sort of Coachella in design, where the artistic mix creates a departure from the everyday. The tiny plot is treated as an advantage, cleverly contoured so all footage is utilized, with a resort appeal that captures the romance of staying in a grand-a-night island cabana.

Photography by Jeff Johnson

For more information on Studio WTA please visit http://studiowta.com.
04/21/2017

Stay Here: Luxurious Italian Treehouse

I want to travel to a treehouse and not with my child. Is there something fundamentally wrong with this? Though Casa Bartel is not your expected fort in a tree made from broken down orange crates for children enacting battles with styrofoam swords.

“No Kids Allowed.” A tree house built for romance or a creative escape, 20 minutes outside of Florence.

On the outskirts of Florence, the structure is plotted within a family compound that includes other residences, themed after the interior’s collections like the “Movie House” (decorated with vintage film posters) and “Ceramic House” (designed with handmade 18th century tiles).

The terrace acts as an additional room with views of the sublime grounds and Italian countryside.

Casa Bartel overlooks orchards, olive groves, the Tuscan landscape, pool, tennis court and a sole cypress tree. The terrace is spacious enough for dining, which you will share with the tree’s neighboring tenants of birds and the occasional squirrel. Inside and you will quickly forget that you climbed a narrow staircase up a tree to discover a room with a fireplace, bathroom and full-service kitchenette. The chalkboard wall behind the bed displays an artistic rotation of drawings and notes from past guests. The decor rivals most New York City apartments.

Travel has become a luxury service operation. We have glamping in pods equipped with wood burning tubs. Safaris where you can see wildlife outside a cabin that’s illuminated with antique chandeliers. Desert hotels with pools that can be dove into from a room’s terrace. Luxury tree houses are a natural extension for the traveler who doesn’t want to be close to nature but in it. While the sounds of birds and wildlife are engaging, there is something appealing to the swish of a running shower as well.

Creative impulses facilitated with a chalkboard wall.

Learn more about Casa Bartel at www.casabarthel.com. The owner’s design shop in Florence can be visited at www.riccardobarthel.it, www.desinare.it.

Photography by Elena Barthel

04/10/2017

Ultimate Guide to French Living

The French have their beautiful little phrases to sum up life lessons. A beloved style that somehow cannot be replicated unless your passport is from France. Their mannered customs that fail to crumble in a fast-paced world. It’s all intertwined, how life can follow a joie de vivre approach.

A colorful view of French life, as seen in France: Inspiration du Jour.

Americans have a tendency to try too hard. We purchase an abundance of things we don’t really need. Test health fads that don’t seem to work. Fall into the influence of marketing manipulation. The French aren’t as quick to change their storefronts. They market by connecting to the supplier who grows the food, sliding soil speckled produce into a reusable bag well before it was trendy.

The French find time to enjoy and reflect, which is important considering what’s involved in all the buttoning and tying when getting dressed in tailored clothing, beautifying their meals with inventive sauces, and setting a table that could stage an Old Master painting.

The artistry of a French meal as featured by Rae Dunn in France Inspiration du Jour.

Mimi Bleu of Belle Inspiration, a delightful magazine (which I happen to contribute to) and imaginative nook in the online world that interprets Paris through an American’s eyes. Mimi married a Parisian but her romantic sensibility doesn’t end there, she treats each day as an adventure and shares her city explorations with those who want to taste a sample. Mimi breaks down French living into three important segments, as follows:

Food/Markets

“The food markets are serious business here in France. Living in Paris, or even during your stay, you’ll soon get to know your local fromagerie, butcherie, patisserie and the all-important boulangerie for your fresh baguettes, croissants and sweet treats,” says Mimi.

Marketing the French way is the only way for Mimi Bleu. Photo courtesy of Belle Inspiration.

Passport to France? Bonjour

“The food vendors take pride in their products and will gladly share their freshest picks, or even the perfect recipe for the veal chop you purchased. The key is to always (did I say always?) greet them with ‘Bonjour.’ In fact, this is the golden key to open all of France – cafés, boutiques, offices–you name it, bonjour is the way to start to friendlier service. And don’t forget to leave with a merci, au revoir,” she says.

Flea Markets

“French flea markets, or marché aux puces, are truly a window into Frenchness. Again, bonjour is your key and an opening to better negotiations. The big market at Saint-Ouen (Clignancourt) is an endless display of anything you can imagine in every price range–so everyone leaves happy,” says Mimi.

Finds at a Marche aux Puces in Saint Ouen. Photo courtesy of Belle Inspiration.

“Smaller brocantes (popup flea markets) and vide-greniers (attic sales, the French version of a neighborhood garage sale) pop up all over the Paris arrondissements each month. These are a fun way to get some great deals in a relaxed atmosphere to strike up a conversation with the vendors. Don’t forget that bonjour!”

Décor

“French interior décor has many faces and styles. Today’s modern touches make sure there’s not too much gilt or heaviness. True French décor is never overdone. It’s all about subtlety…and fresh flowers,” she says.

Flowers are a main staple in a French household. Photo courtesy of Belle Inspiration.

“Authentic French pieces are almost always unpainted (except in the south of France where you’ll find more of that style), the natural beauty of the wood shines through. It seems to have two distinct looks: Traditional French period pieces from top to bottom or as I like to call it, ‘Eclectic French,'” says Mimi.

Selections at a marche aux puces. Photo courtesy of Belle Inspiration.

“Visiting my traditional French friends draws an image of true French home décor and it does still include marble-topped commodes, Louis XV a fauteuils and ornate gold frames are still surrounding oil paintings. Eclectic French is more modern, it works with touches of gilt and the classic French lines but the period pieces are calmed with modern touches. A glass coffee table in front of a carved settee. Modern lucite chairs slide under a dark wood dining table. An elaborate gilted mirror inherited from grandmother’s living fireplace sits atop a mid-century piece,” she says.

The blend, or melange, honors the past in a present day context. Photo courtesy of Belle Inspiration.

“Pieces passed down from generation to generation keeps the past alive and the French appreciate heritage. There’s a bit of a movement to move away from all that charm and beauty, to replace it with IKEA–quelle dommage! Fortunately, there are still many who insist on keeping those grand armoires, cachepots and gilted sconces.”

Louis XIV chaise is authentic with a modern sensibility from its upholstery.Photo courtesy of Belle Inspiration.

Two recently published illustrated books capture glimpses of French living. France Inspiration du Jour is a travelogue by artist Rae Dunn where the reader has a deviant feeling of sneaking a glimpse into her personal diary. Her watercolors bring to mind a fashion page that illustrates pieces on what to wear to a polo match. There are dreamy renderings of tea towels, roadways, a lot of food and the beauty found in a simple teacup. Or despite eating enough figs to warrant an Oompa Loompa cleanse she till has not tired of the fruit.

This is not a passageway. Dunn learns to navigate French roads by keeping a mindful eye on doorways that could be a safe haven from incoming cars.

With a cover designed in airmail colors and iconic city monuments, Say Bonjour to the Lady features authors Florence Mars and Pauline Leveque sketches on the difference in child rearing between New York and Paris.

Say Bonjour to the Lady takes on two great cities and their parenting philosophies.

Family

Covering such topics as school and holidays, the authors poke fun of both parenting methods in metropolitan life. There is a Manhattan home overrun with kid things aside an elegant Parisian dwelling void of any sign of children. At the beach an American toddler is seated beneath a beach umbrella, dressed in protected clothing, Swimmies and sunscreen, while the French child plays along the coast in the nude.

The French make us question our ways. If a trip the country is not in the plan, you can always take note of their customs with a bit of mind travel.

City backdrops and the children they influence.

Credits:

Belle Inspiration Magazine

Reprinted from France: Inspiration du Jour by Rae Dunn, published by Chronicle Books 2017.

Reprinted from Say Bonjour to the Lady. Copyright © 2017 by Florence Mars and Pauline Lévêque. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Pauline Lévêque. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

 

03/10/2017

Ultimate Wallpaper Guide

Wallpaper has evolved from manor house motifs and the loud prints of a Palm Beach cocktail dress (though we love those too.) Updated selections will give any room pizzazz. Choose from a colorful tableaux resembling Andy Warhol’s take on wildflowers to artistic compositions a muralist would create. Installation options also vary. There is the classic pasted paper method or–renters and dorm residents take note–self adhesive varieties.

Forget the artwork, the floral infused color of this design direct a room’s theme that is both modern and personalized.

 

  1. NYC Water Towers by Tom Slaughter 2. Parisian Dandelions 3. Connect Wash on White 4. Cloud Garden 5. Hoya 6. Hydrangeas 7. Jungle Dream 8. Small Flowers 10. Drawing Cactus Pattern 11. Lovely Gingham 12. Confetti 13. Pina 14. Cactus Spirit
03/01/2017

The Art of Adding Wallpaper – Finer Things by Christiane Lemieux Part II

Congratulations, if you read past the headline and are considering wallpaper in your home, the treatment will place you in a stylish coterie. Papered walls have glamorized rooms throughout history, shifting a functional room into a descriptive art piece. It’s not a simple addition, permanently sealing a print to your room’s wall is a decision as weighty as converting a shed or leaving the animal shelter with a new pet. While trends evolve, wallpaper styles adjust to the times but they will always add to a room’s gushing with love factor.

Fabric is used as wallpaper above the fireplace. The pattern, texture and color creates a layered contemporary classic at London’s Ham Yard Hotel. Copyright by Horst P. Horst / Vogue / OTTO / Conde Nast

In Christiane Lemieux’s latest design book, The Finer Things, she devotes a section to wallpaper. Lemieux is a proponent of quality and personalized style, dressing a room in a sophisticated look like a Parisian wearing a hat.

The Gottwald bathroom in Richmond, Virginia, is not your typical bathing experience. The addition of wallpaper with blended pieces amps the luxury factor, creating a design more expected in the lobby of a lux hotel. Courtesy of Bunny Williams.

Lemieux Guidelines: What You Need to Know About Wallpaper:

  1. History: Wallpaper descended from tapestries, which were used to warm up the interiors of those drafty old homes.
  2. Why It Stuck: A more decorative, affordable option than weighty works of art.
  3. Enduring Evolution: Still holds the same composite as papers dating back to the 17th century, just updated with the trends.
  4. Composition: When selecting papers, research on how it was made–hand painted, wood block, silkscreen techniques–or current developments like digital printing.
  5. Installation: Begin by priming the walls beforehand the way you would with paint, which allows the paper to adhere correctly. Though wallpapering a room is an intricate process that is more involved than coating a wall with paint, a project where considering an expert is a sensible expense.
  6. How Much Is Needed: While square footage in relation to the amount in a roll will make you dust off your math skills, err on over buying. Wallpaper will be cut and tossed due to the complexities of a room’s layout from the doors, windows etc.

The size and simple quality of this rouge grass cloth print by Phillip Jeffries is a simple installation that brings in a unique element to the room via the tactile feel and shade. Copyright by Benjamin Benschneider / OTTO

The Finer Things. Copyright © 2016 by Christiane Lemieux. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.