10/10/2017

The Charms of an Older Home

While the Jetsons may be amusingly space aged I am comfortable living in this year, even a few centuries back. It’s the customs that engage. You can’t have an elegant pheasant meal served by footmen when a robot beeps by.

Our parlor room brought into the modern day.

An attention to craftsmanship and history is seen in every detail, like how our 1915 farmhouse was built around the fireplace as it was the main source of warmth. We have not fallen into your typical suburban model, which shares the same style imprint as every other home in this community. The marble baths, rugs that capture the same motif as the valences, lucite coffee table bought from cb2 and stacked with coffee table books in ruler edged precision–it’s the same concept as the Benetton sweater every girl wore back in high school. While it’s a very nice sweater it made overplayed appearances in the classroom. I am more inspired by the student who broke from the norm and wore something a bit alternative, found from a vintage shop, or styled the basic uniform in a personalized way.

Detailing of our original bannister.

My favorite homes are from my childhood, notably in the Hamptons. We lived In a house unique to the other’s with a pink tiled bathroom and floorboards with holes that led to enchanting places. This was all that we knew. Finding beauty from imperfection was revered, the decor composed with pieces that had stories behind them, or a kitchen designed with materials sourced from salvage yards.

An antique cupboard displaying motley pieces linked through color, scale or style.

Another trend that baffles me is new constructions. Everyone appears to want the same home. When I grew up the older homes were considered more authentic. You can’t replicate their clusters of rooms with thick walls and artisanal bannisters. Now it’s common to extract these architectural gems from the space.

The girls’ bedroom has a mix of old and new.

Our home is like fashion, I am constantly tweaking by bringing in my latest paintings and editing vignettes. While sometimes it looks like a child with a box of crayons who had a color meltdown, I try to maintain a merchandiser’s eye. The decor has a mix of pieces from all time periods but they typically share a theme through color, pattern or scale. It’s a constant process but the result reflects a singular style.

Resources:

Belle Bloom Robert Allen fabric for customized pillows, seat cushions and valances: Robert Allen

Lemon painting: Ducks Goose

A True Love Story Never Ends picture: Tuvalu Home

Dipper ceramic blue bowls: Wagoo

Pink pedestal plates, striped dishes: Rosanna Inc.

Mosser Jadeite Cake Stand: Sur la Table

Kate Spade bow tiled pink comforter: Bed Bath & Beyond

Standard pillow cases: Stamattina

Bicycle throw pile: Art Goodies

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09/10/2017

5 Steps to an Inviting Fall Front Porch

The switch over from daisies to mums is happening, and porches are starting to take note. In designing the front entrance, rather than go the Halloween route with crawling spiders and loud ghoulish ornaments that transform your yard into a Dollar Store graveyard, I’ve always preferred the harvest theme. Here, in our former Laguna Beach cottage, we let color and whatever looked good at the the nursery guide the exterior’s design.

A fall porch is as simple as selecting a few well edited pieces.

5 steps to a fall front porch:

  1. Browse your local nursery, market and farmstead for gourds and fall fruits that can add style to your tableau.
  2. Choose a secondary theme, as we did with burlap and straw, and find pieces that connect. We found the burlap garland on Etsy and mini stack of hay from Michael’s, which we tied to the front door and used as filler to the vignette.
  3. Place fake leaves here and there, also bought at Michael’s, if you live in a climate that does not shed its leaves in abundance.
  4. Survey your own pieces to use as decoration. A vintage wire basket is a great container for apples while a straw market bag is the perfect vessel for mums.
  5. Use your dog as a prop and, if you don’t have one, borrow a friend or neighbor’s like Baxter in this image.

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09/04/2017

Celebrate Indian Summer

For those who are not part of the warm-weathered privilege who either live in a mild climate or chase the sun year round, September is a crucial time to take in summer’s last hurrah. As a four-season dweller, customs like squirrels gathering nuts early and the thickness of a spider’s web are noted and feared. (All signs in the Farmer’s Almanac of a cold winter).

Beach Tent by Lovin’ Summer creates an instant campground.

The exchange between summer to fall may be the most spectacular period of the year. In our neighborhood you won’t see a countdown sign till summer ends but in spring they are prevalent. This is why being outdoors is a necessity.

Beaches are less crowded. Deals on summer necessities abound. You can still feel the rays of the sun before she relinquishes her power to another hemisphere and go home to an evening by the fire. Engage in a seashore outing simply but with verve and style by erecting a beach tent with nibbles and games. Just because the month may switch over doesn’t mean you have to.

Boat’s experiencing their own end of summer moment.

Create an end of summer celebration:

  • Postpone stowing away beach gear and make a trip to the beach for a more private experience than jostling for sand space.
  • Take advantage of end of season specials and stock up on those great beach pieces you had your eye on.
  • Pack snacks, games, plan a kayak expedition or just go on one of those endless, meditative walks. Make an effort to get in beach time before days become cooler and shorter.

Indulge on the last stock of summer fruit.

Resources:

Beach Tent: https://lovinsummer.com/shop/beach-tent/santorini-beach-tent/

Wategos Round Beach Towel: http://thebeachpeopleco.com/thttp://thebeachpeopleco.com/the-wategos.htmlhe-native-petite.html

Fair Trade Basket Bag: http://basketsofafrica.com

Colored bowls: http://www.boboandboo.com.au/

Adirondack chair: https://www.polywoodoutdoor.com

Lovin’ Summer sums it up.

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08/30/2017

Back to School – Back to Responsibility

Summer is loose with its liberal stance on iGadget time, bike riding until bed, eat-the-brownies-we-made-last-night-for-breakfast approach. Everything about the warm season is scaled back, including busy moms who also need a summer off from parenting. And then you pay for it… To avoid getting the new teacher phone call about your child, and I am not referring to the one where she breezily checks in to say what a delight he or she is but how they simply are, ahem, struggling to get back into the routine. Routine is a necessity in our young citizen’s life and if family holidays were not only spent on the shore but at home, you can always get back into the groove.

Prepare gear the night before to omit one stress on the first day, just nix the light saber.

Begin by helping them prepare their backpack with its new supplies, help them choose their clothes, and make the last days of summer vacation count by planning structured activities. They will find enjoyment in being a part of the process and excited for the New Year ahead. Also, if they try to smuggle their light saber into school as my son did, make it funny and suggest that a new teacher may not be as receptive to their aspiring Jedi ambition on the first day.

Resources:

Backpack, lunch bag: https://us.soyoung.ca

 

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08/25/2017

Back to School Supply Shopping – Make It Fun

Amazon was a South American region back when I went to grade school and school supply shopping happened after the first day, checking off items from a Xeroxed list. Now it’s pre-ordered, with online updates, specific brands, and a calculated depth to your pre-sharpened pencils. While I didn’t go to school carrying a pail with a piece of chalk and turnips for lunch, I do feel the generational gap kick in.

Securing school supplies doesn’t have to be another September task like warding off lice. I remember the excitement from choosing folders with your favorite cartoon character, colorful erasers, and pencil cases that would accompany the school year with me. Now it’s as impersonal as filling-out a medical form.

Bags by Built are both durable and can be used for a variety of needs.

This year I will stay true to the list (it’s not right for my son to be targeted as the rogue school shopper based on his mom’s views) while adding a few extras so we can add another memory to the ephemeral grade school years. Here, we supply a round up of products that are both school approved and of top quality and style.

Backpack, lunch bags and snack bag: http://www.builtny.com

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Paper folders: http://www.officedepot.com

Scissors: http://www2.fiskars.com/

Pencils: http://www.dixonticonderoga.com

Colored pencils: http://sargentart.com

Post It Pads and labels: http://www.post-it.com/3M/en_US/post-it/

Books: http://www.scholastic.com/home/

Activity books: https://usborne.com

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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.

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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

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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.

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06/23/2017

Ultimate Guide to Leisure Activities

Leisure activities are not just the sport of Victorian ladies who could paint tea cups while keeping their crepe dresses spotless. Leisure is a fancy word for unplugged. That novel concept of turning off your devices and returning to the activities that padded your childhood, a childhood you survived despite the inability to engage in a cyber world that offers you everything from slaying an Ender Dragon to reading about Kate Middleton’s breakfast.

Once you hit the pedal, cycling revs the spirit.

Weave classic play into your lifestyle and you may find such benefits as crisper thoughts, improved health and overall calmer existence. Create a “Leisure Activity Day” in the same spirit as donuts at the office on Casual Fridays. Secure a weekend where electronics are outlawed. (Yes, that includes anything with a plug). Then revisit customs that may require some physical or mental activity.

Weather is a natural consideration. If the day is worthy of the season, fill the bicycle’s tires with air, liberate the garden tools from the shed or take your dog for an epic walk so she will reconnect to her true canine spirit. Allow the kids to fight off the bramble, dressed in long socks and coated in bug spray (ticks are the new Gollum) for a quest that acquaints them with enchanted play.

On rainy days there are options besides undergoing the hypnosis of screen viewing. Play board games, cards, crafts and puzzles—there’s a reason why these activities are still thriving in rec rooms at camps—it’s fundamentally enjoyable.

We provide a list of those activities that are worth your leisure efforts.

Leisure Activities Refresher 101:

Baking
Bike riding
Bird watching/nature expeditions
Cards
Chess/Checkers/Backgammon
Coloring
Collecting
Crafts
Croquet
Crosswords
Creative writing
Dog walking
Flower arranging
Journal writing
Kiting
Gardening
Needlepoint/sewing
Music/instruments
Park exploration
Photography
Pottery
Puzzles
Reading
Recreational sports
Scrapbooking
Sketching
Woodworking

Resources:

Frederick & Mae playing cards: http://www.papress.com/html/product.details.dna?isbn=9781616893590&ipA25
Board games: https://www.hasbro.com/en-us/brands/monopoly
Chess set: https://www.burkedecor.com/collections/wild-wolf/products/chess-design-by-wild-wolf
Townie Electra bike: http://www.electrabike.com/Bikes/townie
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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.