02/07/2017

Floret Flowers Take the Chill Out of Winter

Winter doldrums have hit. The sad, spindly trees. Wearing so many layers I will need a reintroduction to my toes come spring. A dog who refuses to go out. While the change of seasons has its allure, I’d rather visit winter over a long weekend in an alpine cabin with heated floors. A way to beat the cold is to bring in elements that remind us of warmer days. Cut Flower Garden accomplishes exactly that with the best of the forgiving seasons without having to spend on an airfare headed south. Erin Benzakein is the master floral designer and maverick in the farm-to-centerpiece movement, sharing insight and inspiration from her farm, Floret Flowers.

Erin Benzakein gathering her tools of the trade.

From designing a flower bed to bundling a bouquet for Mother’s Day, Erin’s easy-to-follow guides enlighten on gardening and styling. The book also provides detailed information on the most popular blooms like dahlias, peonies and roses.

Erin grows around 400 rose bushes in countless varieties.

If you are at a loss on how to mix flowers ideas abound. Other insider morsels include increasing your bloom’s vase life by cutting the stem’s ends and using cool, fresh water. Learn how to make market tied bouquets, floral crowns and, as this is a seasonal guide, holiday wreath.

Lilacs should be picked early in the morning or evening to minimize wilting.

From seed to stem, lush imagery alongside expert guidance elevate the book from coffee table darling to dependable resource guide.

Cut Flower Garden has that alluring combo in being both beautiful and smart.

Photography by Michele M. Waite for Chronicle Books, 2017.

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02/03/2017

Designer Tara Bernerd’s Contemporary Style

Art Deco meets futurism in the spaces designed by Tara Bernerd, as if Jay Gatsby time traveled to the early 2000s and decorated his modernist den. In her new book, Tara Bernerd: Place (Rizzoli), Bernerd guides enthusiasts through a visual journey with a striking representation of homes, hotels and luxury interiors across the globe.

Contemporary is far from minimal in this space within a yacht.

Bernerd has pedigree. She worked with Phillippe Starck, contoured her training into her own aesthetic, and struck out on her own by establishing a firm in London. Bernerd’s layered approach respects curated pieces, an attention to art, and a genius approach to lighting.

Melding texture and tone while an attention to art and lighting add intrigue.

She understands how to make a place both inviting yet sophisticated with a clever assemblage of accents and treatments to warm up a room.

In this Hong Kong penthouse, a rich mix of textures, materials and treatments coalesce.

Subdued color schemes with the occasional injection of a statement shade, parlayed with a variety of materials, keep the designs from looking hackneyed.

A bathroom deviates from expected marble and white with an exquisite blend of color, pattern and materials, as seen in this space’s balance of brass and black with classic marble.

The lobby of the Four Seasons in Fort Lauderdale has the right combination of dramatic and comfortable.

Customized built-ins, “book-matched” walnut, and such opulent texture as leather and velvet direct the focus in this Central Park West apartment.

A mix of comfort and luxury define Tara Bernerd’s places as memorable, livable and secure their placement as architectural gems.

Tara Bernerd: Place is a rich compendium of luxurious spaces you can live in.

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01/28/2017

Ultimate Dog Gift Guide

Our dog Ellie came into our lives after a $140 donation and pitch to Bideawee that we have a backyard. She is a mixed breed, but nothing trendy with a doodle or poo. Once her little paws click clacked into our home we have been forever smitten. Pets are not just novelties that add cuteness to family photos, they are part of the family worthy of canine comforts.

Keeping your canine warm and well-dressed in a Pendleton dog coat.

When a Milk-Bone doesn’t say enough, give your pooch what she truly deserves.

 

  1. Rain Coat 2. National Park Dog Coat 3. Roll Up Bed 4. Dog Treats 5. Leash  6. Bow Tie Collar 7. Fabric Dog Toy 8. Bowl 9. Heart Sweater 10. Collar

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01/25/2017

Ultimate Coastal Cottage Bedroom

As design trends follow the spikes and lows of a real estate graph, one style that remains consistent is the coastal cottage. Putting together a space that stirs up seaside emotions restores, makes you want to say namaste, or lie face down with warm rocks on your back. The one room where tranquility is foremost is the bedroom. As someone who can’t make it through a night without abusing my pillow, I welcome any natural based assistance. In my Laguna Beach bedroom I brought in the core elements of the beach cottage look.

Laguna Beach bedroom follows a basic scheme of a few colors and coastal accents.

Beach design is quite simple, just add these 5 basic ideas:

  1. Natural woven pieces: Anything rattan, wicker or seagrass supports the coastal look. Accent with an accessory, sisal rug or bed frame. Since “beach” and “cottage” typically equates to space challenged, rattan baskets offer both storage and style while a bamboo side table can be a catchall for your bedtime needs within the desired design.
  2. Stripes: Blue and white stripes are the unspoken uniform of seaside style. The pattern is simple and easy to pair with other like-minded prints. A basic duvet is layered with throw pillows and blanket for a styled, relaxed feel.
  3. Batik prints: Classic British Colonial batiks that conjure up faraway places are a solid investment piece. The simple indigo color and hand-printed design of the accent pillows seamlessly weave into the room’s scheme.
  4. Color: White always says cottage and creates a soothing atmosphere. Touches of blue and beach colors are the natural choices to make a room coastal.
  5. Light: Since cottage bedrooms are often smaller, keep the room paired down to the essential needs and accessories to create the illusion of more space. White walls make the room feel open and doesn’t compete with blending items. A wood framed mirror that has the effect of a window on a boat is both decorative and reflects additional light.

Storage is always needed in a cottage bedroom. A wicker hamper and pine armoire conceal belongings in a pulled together presentation.

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01/18/2017

Ultimate Valentine’s Day Gifts with Heart

Valentine’s Day gifts covered with hearts is the equivalent of a text sent with more emojis than words, it gets a bit much. Rather than give a Whitman Sampler or checkout aisle trinket, say it with a sentiment that will be appreciated after the 14th.

Peeps marshmallow hearts is a fun way to say Valentine’s Day.

Let our guide to the heart, in a gift form that is, aptly convey the holiday message.

1. Socks 2. Valentine’s Day Class Cards 3. Love U Wool Beanie Kit 4. Girls Sneakers 5. Heart Pencils 6. Water Bottle

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01/13/2017

Classroom Friendly Blueberry Muffins

I’ve been assigned the role of Mystery Reader in Luc’s class. One of those parental duties when reading The Day the Crayons Quit with verve is simply not enough to engage your young audience. They want treats and sugar free lollipops aren’t enough. (Too trite and sticky). While other sweets could warrant a flurry of emails from parents on responsible snacks along with their child’s nutritional requirements if a future feeding should arise. I settled on gluten, dairy and peanut free muffins.

Fresh blueberries add natural flavor to a recipe.

In the thick of winter blueberries are thriving somewhere (Peru) and the taste of summer is missed (January in Connecticut).

Mini muffins is a healthy alternative over candy and cookies.

Following the mix’s directions–supplementing with fresh berries and almond milk–allows me to serve something homemade, not ripped from loud packaging, and requires minimal effort.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

(Courtesy of Authentic Foods)

Ingredients:

1 package Authentic Foods Blueberry Muffin Mix

2 large eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup milk, non-dairy substitute or buttermilk

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1/2 cup fresh blueberries (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease the bottom of 12 regular size muffin cups or 24 mini size muffin cups or place cupcake liners inside the muffin cups.

Beat the eggs, vegetable oil and milk (or non-dairy substitute or buttermilk) in a large bowl until very bubbly.

Stir in the Authentic Foods Blueberry Muffin Mix and cinnamon. Stir until the flour is moistened and the batter is slightly lumpy.  Using a tablespoon or medium sized ice cream scooper, spoon the batter into the muffin cups.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffin top bounces up when touched (the muffin is not ready if it sinks down when you touch it).

Remove muffins from muffin cups and cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Resources:
Ceramic berry basket: https://www.katom.com
Tea towel: https://pomegranateinc.com/

Bite sized treat that goes well with story time.

 

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01/11/2017

Green Is the Go To Color of 2017

The color of the year has been elected and home enthusiasts are colorfully dressing up rooms for its inauguration. Pantone’s Greenery has the kind of pastoral shade you’d see when flying over Ireland. While green may seem more extreme than recent darlings like gray, neutrals or soft pastels, it’s always been a natural choice. Consider how grass and leafy trees blanket the outdoors, it has no choice but to blend with everything.

Find your aptitude for green in simple stages and begin by styling with accessories.

For those who are hesitant on this spirited shade, test in subtle ways with accessories or accent pieces. I’ve always been a follower of green in fashion as the color pops and adds personality to an ensemble. In my bedroom I added a throw and cosmetics case to my bed for a trial run that creates a snappy, effortless look.

From Simple to Daring, here are three ideas on how to design with this happy shade.

1. Simple:

An all white bathroom is punched up with green accessories. Photo by Donna Dotan Photography

Designer Claire Paquin of Clean Design Partners offers a subtle take on this white bathroom. The addition of towels, modernist painting, and even the selection of toiletries direct the room’s standout style without a major adjustment.

2. Moderate

A green range by Big Chill is the wow factor in contemporary kitchen. Image courtesy of Big Chill.

Make a bolder statement with such investment pieces as furnishings or an appliance. A predominantly white room keeps the statement on the colored piece. Says Orion Creamer, Founder of Big Chill, “Pantone’s Greenery symbolizes all thing fresh and natural. Introducing a Big Chill Range in Basil Green into a kitchen automatically brightens a space, while lending a hint of the unexpected.”

3. Daring

The exterior of my Laguna Beach came painted in Grinch green, which I kept for laughs until the right shade presented itself. It may be in the right shade after all.

Ready to immerse yourself in green? Try painting your house in the bold shade. My Laguna Beach home came in green and I never had the heart to paint it even after neighbors pestered me on its color status. It fits into the landscape. I don’t need a house number as mail arrives just by saying “green house.” It stands out in a good way.

The mustard colored wood burning fireplace pairs well with retro green, colors that swung back into fashion. Photo by Bret Gum

The color continues indoors with tiling to complement the mustard yellow wood burning fireplace. What I considered as mod Palm Springs that may have needed to be redone became quite prescient, hitting on this year’s color, which confirms that sometimes it’s best to wait on any home alterations.

Shop It: Wayfair teamed with Pantone in the color selection, finding that bolder colors are current in the design lexicon. “They may not be bright and airy but a vivid sofa in plush upholstery will have everyone fighting for a seat,” says Jessica Dowling, head of Wayfair Trade Services.

  1. Loveseat 2. Side chair 3. Ottoman 4. 3-piece vase set

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01/03/2017

Seven Essentials to Update Your Home

Our household is learning the importance of flexibility. While some prefer to build their wardrobe or undergo cosmetic makeovers, I am constantly tweaking the home. Even after I made deals with the family after the last remodel that we would not endure living with contractors for another couple of years I am treading back on my promise, learning that when it comes to the home we can always welcome updates.

Curved furniture, like this bed from Layla Grace, in a fashionable color updates and softens a room.

There is a clever balance between affordability, low maintenance upgrades, and design so the improvements will enhance your life with limited fanfare. Follow these seven additions that will dramatically impact the home and are well worth the investment:

1. Flooring: New floors are the foundation of a home. Either refurbish existing boards, paint over, or consider new hardwood. Light wood is still trending as it opens up the house and adds brightness.

Wood floors add instant appeal. There are also affordable options, such as this oak engineered plank from Overstock.

2. Paint: Whether it’s adding a bold color to a wall or refreshing existing rooms, fresh paint will instantly add sparkle to the environment.

Basic white or a dramatic paint color, like Retro Metro Green by Fine Paints of Europe, is a cosmetic touch with volumes of impact.

3. Lighting: Bring in light sources to create a mood and look. Go for illuminating pocket lights or statement pieces like chandeliers, pendant lights and lamps that anchor a room.

A row of colored pendant lamps by YLighting add whimsy to a dining area.

4. Tile: Innovative tiling will invigorate the kitchen, bath, bar area or even a mud room. Be bold with bright colors or choose a conservative choice in a lighter shade but current look.

Glass and natural stone mosaic tile, available at Wayfair, will direct a room’s design.

5. Furnishings: A curated selection of pieces will secure personal style. Think like a designer by doing the research, reading shelter publications, visiting design sites, and create folders of imagery with favored looks. Then source the companies that supply your themes. Add furniture in stages so you can have time  living with the pieces, are confident with your direction, and is less of a financial burden.

This sofa by Tobi Farley from Layla Grace represents fine detailing from the curved nailhead trim and clean lines.

6. Art: From over sized posters to a passed down portrait, art is the eye candy of the home. When choosing paintings, prints or wall art don’t jump into a purchase but make sure you have a “falling in love” reaction as this can be an everlasting relationship.

7. Appliances: It takes one va va va voom piece to command a room, where a star appliance can be all that’s needed to add drama. This dual result of image and the addition of a quality stove, refrigerator or electronic is all that is needed to energize a room.

A show-stopping appliance, like this cast iron stove by AGA, is the only addition needed to tell a design story. Photo credit: AGA Marvel, aga-ranges.com

12/31/2016

Ultimate Transitional Bathroom

It’s a new year and home design forecasters are earning their street cred by identifying trends to expect in 2017. Before colorizing your home in the latest color (greenery) or tiling your backsplash (mirrored), take a moment to consider what works in your lifestyle. Altering the home is not as simple as dying a strand of your hair blue. In creating a transitional bathroom, Jean-Jacques L’Henaff, vice president of design, faucets and fixtures of American Standard, maintains that clean looks will always be welcomed.

The DXV Lowell bathroom suite exhibits enduring elements, like graphite wood finish, single handle faucet, high efficiency toilet and shower trim kit.

“We see a continued emphasis on minimalistic design lines, highlighted by softer geometric forms, dominating faucet and lavatory styling,” says L’Henaff. Look to detailed, quality effects through hardware and finishes. Accents should work with the room without commanding the finished look. Bill Darcy, CEO of the National Kitchen & Bath Association also advocates the simple appeal of a modern transitional space. “We’re hearing from NKBA members that simple, clean lines and more transitional and contemporary styles are on trend for kitchens and baths right now,” he says.

For those who have an itch for more high impact style add glamour touches. Says L’Henaff “Luxurious faucet finishes that make a dramatic statement–such as copper, gold and matte black–are on the rise. More compact size sinks–better suited to smaller settings like powder rooms and urban bathrooms–are more in demand, along with freestanding tubs occupying a smaller footprint, again to provide high style in optimum space.”

DXV Lowell console sink in light ash wood finish.

3 simple must-have additions to an updated bath:

  1. Walk in shower with open door.
  2. Hardware finished in quality materials like copper, matte black and metallic.
  3. Natural elements such as wood and slate.
12/27/2016

No Fuss Winter Gathering

After the holidays there is a tendency to hibernate until the appearance of crocuses lure us from our winter repose. Look to the cooler months as a time to celebrate simply and regularly, such as a light afternoon tea without the stuffy customs.

Find a look by connecting color and motifs.

A palette of frosted blue, silver and neutrals bring in light and awaken the senses. Pull in a theme, such as pears and colorful baker’s twine, then add delicate touches to finish the look.

3 steps to a simple winter gathering:

  1. Choose pieces with Gustavian colors to compose a wintry scene that warms the spirit.
  2. Serve elegant chocolates and a baker’s mix of cookies that complement the setting. Green tea is a warm, healthy beverage that follows the scheme.
  3. Set with a variety of heights with pedestal plates and a mix of pieces to fill out the vignette. Even children’s dishes and books liven up the table.