Thursday, February 14, 2008

tiny little trick

I have the tiniest bathroom. If my reach was just a few inches longer, I would be able to wash my hands while sitting on the toilet. Okay, maybe that was too much information. Sorry. But it is true. The useable floor space in our one and only bathroom (if you don't count the tub)is about 59" x 69". Add to that the fact that it is of the "jack and jill" variety with two doors swinging into it, there is just a wee amount of space for the sink and toilet. When Chris and I moved in, we had grand plans for this small space. A claw foot tub, new tile, a pedestal sink and a new window were all part of the scheme. After our massive paint/repaint cycle, we were burnt out. As a result, not a thing has been done, except to paint it. Now, I knew that all the upgrades in the world would not add square feet to this bathroom, but I did have one little trick up my sleeve. To seemingly heighten the ceiling, I painted it the same color as the walls. This fools the eye into thinking that the ceiling height is infinite, because visually, there is no seperation between the walls and the sky. Doing it all in a beautiful light, watery blue made it feel almost like I was walking on clouds, (that is, until I bumped into the closed door after one step with my eyes closed). Anyhow, this is a good way to add the illusion of more space if you have small rooms with relatively low ceilings in your home. This weekend, I am going to do it to my kitchen!

Monday, February 11, 2008

eclectic cottage contemporary

That, in a nutshell is how I describe my decorating style. Eclectic, cottage, and contemporary. Doing the design inspiration board was an enlightening and fun process. Interestingly enough, I found a consistentency with what I liked two years ago and what Iam drawn to now. In late spring of 2006, I began pulling pages out of magazines that depicted spaces I could see Chris and I living in. We had just started our house search, and as a first time home buyer, I was ready to express my creativity. By April we had found it. This house was the perfect combo: lots of space, just the right amount of updating needed, and a great price. So, I divided a binder into each room to be decorated, drew preliminary floor plans on graph paper and put my precious magazine cut outs into platstic sleeves. Cozy, cool, and put together living spaces dominated all of my picks. I started noticing the same elements popping up: earthy texture, warm neutrals, mixes of aqua, chocolate and pumpkin hues, white trim, classic furniture and modern art, interesting light fixtures and fabric with great patterns. Oh, and bamboo blinds. So, I set to work picking my paint colors, and Chris and I painted the house before we moved in... big mistake. While the palette was tight and looked great on 2x3 swatches, I could never have conceived of how the light would change throughout the day in each space, and how we would ultimately end up using each room. In short, a month after we moved in, I repainted four of our seven rooms and am still comtemplating what color to repaint the master bedroom. (New home buyers take note here.) Most of the inspiration rooms from my binder are still what I aspire to create. These dreams do not come true overnight, especially if you are on a budget. I do it in stages, which is good because some little things change, and it is easy to get exhausted if all you ever think about is your project list. Take a look at these photos of my design board to get a better sense for my personal aesthetic and let me know how it relates to yours. I really encourage all of you to embark on the design board or binder idea; homeowners and apartment dwellers alike. In the long run, it will help you not only define your decorating style, but save you the expense of purchasing items that might be a good deal, but don't actually say "home" to you.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

mixing wood tones

My friend Candace recently visited the blog and asked the question of mixing wood tones on older peices and newer pieces of furniture. She asked if there were any rules. My repsonse has always been that there are no rules. However, the common misconception is that you should choose one finish and stick with it. I disagree for three reasons: 1. Your home should be a reflection of who you are, and you should feel free to bring home furniture you love without needing to "match" something that you already have and may not love. 2. You can always adjust accessories, finishes, and furniture arrangement to create a cohesive look. Lastly, #3. How boring!
So in Candace's case her new pieces have that great rich espresso finish, while her existing furniture is light blond. While there may not be "rules", you can use some basic design priciples to bring it all into balance. You are looking to blend the pieces and have them complement eachother. Pull out the tones in both wood finishes through accessories and add dashes of a favorite hue to tie it all together. For example, if your coffee table is dark, seek out a large woven bowl in a lighter finish for magazines or decorative green seed balls. On the lighter dining table place three dark wood pillar holders with light green pillar candles. If the buffet or server is dark add a piece of colorful green art glass or a vase and hang a mirror over it to reflect the whole scene.
If you want to favor the dark finish, maybe stain the dining room chairs to match or paint them black to add a third element. In your dining area, consider an enexpensive chocolate brown sisal rug to ground the light table and express the darker finishes as dominant in the setting. For later down the road, keep your eyes open for a painting that incorporates a contrast of light and dark with the accent color and a few new hues to add interest. And of course, you can always use pillows. Try a couple of solid espresso brown ones grouped with a green and gold patterened one. As for sources for such accessories on a budget try: TJ Maxx (art glass and art work),Target (pillows) and Cost Plus (mirrors,woven objects and rugs). A great link for inspirational rooms is via Cottage Living's website. Good luck, you can do it!