Sunday, January 31, 2010

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Sundays of Yore: 1950 Birge Wallpaper

This wallpaper is cute.

Doesn't Birge's version of Paris in the 1950's look fabulous and fun? You know, An American in Paris came out in 1951.

With a soundtrack, of course.

OK, I'm convinced. If only planes could fly back in time, too.

(A plane that departs in 2010 and lands in 1950 Paris? A planeful of people, confused and displaced, end up having the time of their lives. Hollywood just called. I'm writing the script!)

Friday, January 29, 2010

FFL's Guide to Fabric Shopping

There are certain activities that can be done at any time, but when the conditions are just right: Perfection. Skiing is one of those activities. A picnic is another. And the one I'm thinking about now, in preparation for Zimman's Customer Appreciation Sale this Sunday, is shopping for fabric.

Maybe these guidelines are going to make me sound crazy. But hey, it's what I've picked up from personal experience and maybe you can relate. Maybe you even have your own tips to add to the list. Please do!

Here goes (Note: I peppered the list with photos of textiles that I've been enjoying lately. They don't have anything to do with the actual guidelines):

1) Know your needs. Not specifics in terms of color or print, but in terms of projects. I get so overwhelmed when I get to the store that half of my plans quickly exit my brain. It helps me to make a list of what I have going on.

2) Bring fabric and paint samples from your current projects/rooms. Pictures too, if applicable. I've started bringing fabric samples from pretty much every room in my house (umm, all four of them!). That way, if I encounter a fabric that screams "bedroom pillow," I can do a quick check to make sure the fabric truly fits.

3) I study photos of my favorite rooms before I go. I don't bring them with me, because I don't want to feel limited and like I have to copy them exactly. But looking at my favorite rooms helps my decor ideals stay top of mind, and that's a good condition to be in when you're looking at hundreds of bolts (or swatches) of fabric.

4) Dress carefully. For me, wearing a brightly colored sweater will influence the colors and patterns I'm drawn to. Like if I was shopping for fabrics in the light blue and gray families, I wouldn't wear green. I would see clashing colors everytime I held out my arm, and it would affect how I feel about the selection. This works in the reverse, too. If a red T-shirt casually tossed on the bed inspires me to find a red fabric for a new pillow, I might just wear that very red shirt to the fabric store. Do you see what I'm saying?

5) Here's my fifth and final tip: NO HANGNAILS! That should be a guideline for everyday life, but it should be doubly enforced while shopping for fabric. Choosing fabric is often just as much about the feel as it is about the look, and who can say a fabric feels nice when it has pulled a hangnail? So yes, I'm saying that I recommend a good manicure before fabric shopping. In a neutral color, of course.

Have you seen this lady? She holds the world record for the longest fingernails. Thirty-four inches of gross, times 10. (I just noticed her rings. I wonder how she puts them on? Someone must help her with that. Ew.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why stylists should eat breakfast before going to work

I wrote a post about finding the perfect rental apartment, and just before I saved the finished version, my (new) computer suddenly shut down to reconfigure or something.

So, the rental apartments will have to wait for another day. Here's a pretty picture instead.

(Margot Austin)

I named this photo "Cereal" on my desk top, because the first thing I thought when I saw it was "That's a big bowl of cereal! The stylist who set this shot up must have been very hungry."

Then I thought about how nice the marble side counter is, and how pretty the dark wood looks with the crisp gray and white. Yes, I would be quite happy eating my breakfast here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fabric sale in Boston!

Last night I dreamt it was raining fireballs. When I woke up, I was feeling kind of down. You know, because I had been running from fire pellets all night long.

I think this has the power to change my day: Customer Appreciation Day at Zimman's!

I love Zimman's ... it's like the fabric mecca. It's a Target-sized building filled with fabrics -- mostly decorating (as opposed to clothing or quilting) -- and I could spend hours there each visit.

Just look at this!

Apartment Therapy

The first time I visited Zimman's, my heart was beating so fast. I was seriously overwhelmed, and I wandered through the aisles in no particular order. It was like I was drunk.

(Katy Elliot)

You better believe I plan on going this Sunday. No matter how much I prepare for the big event, I'm pretty sure I'll still end up wandering aisles, skipping key areas and looping back and then skipping more key areas. But at least this time, I'll be darting around out of excitement and not because I'm avoiding fireballs.

Note to self: Never have that dream again.
Second note to self: GO TO ZIMMAN'S ON SUNDAY!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fun with Polyvore

You know about Polyvore, right? It's the site that allows you to pull images (and item information) from almost any website and use them to create your very own idea board ... or inspiration board ... or vignette. I've pulled stuff together before, but I've never spent time arranging things. Until recently.

I had so much fun making little collages that I really couldn't stop. I ended up using things that I would most likely never choose in real life, but that's the fun of it.

Here's what I call "Dog on White Couch:"

And here's what I call "Dog on Red Couch:"

It's so easy to switch things out. It totally reminds me of my dollhouse days -- my favorite thing to do was to redecorate the rooms, but it got so messy. This is all of the fun, with zero mess.

I was having such a good time with patterns that things got a little out of control. I decided this was the perfect medium to test the Bob Dylan poster that I've been secretly coveting.

Here it is again with a red dhurrie.

I had a couple of other rugs lined up, but grrrrr, I closed the window by accident and hadn't been saving. Oh, well. Lesson learned.

Are you wondering what is up with the Bob and Joan poster? I don't know! I've been drawn to hippy/bohemian spaces lately. Rooms like this one

and tapestries like this one

Les Indiennes Tree of Life

It may seem like this is dorm room taste, but there's one thing that keeps it from acquiring that label: $$$. That Bob and Joan poster I've been eyeing is a rare edition and goes for about $15,000.


I'm sure I could find a print somewhere, but quite honestly, I don't think it's a good thing to spend even $50 on this whim. The good news is, I think my need to use the poster has been satisfied for now. Thanks, Polyvore, for helping me work through my hippy decor craving!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bedrooms tailored and sweet

Usually it's the bedrooms with fluffy details that speak to me, but sometimes tufts and pleats are just as sweet. Especially if the tufts in question are on pink pillows.

I love cream and white together, and here's that combo again in a room with a creamy tufted headboard and crisp white sheets. Note the pleats of the creamy bedskirt ... lovely.

My absolute favorite detail of this room is the slipcover on the nightstand. This is a look that might come into play in my own house someday, as I have plenty of not-so-great furniture that is just crying to be covered with a pretty fabric.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sundays of Yore: 1957 American Standard Tiny Tub

OK, four things about today's post:

1) The full name is actually "1957 American Standard Tiny Neo-Angle Tub" but I like the way "tiny tub" sounds much, much better.

2) I guess gun play sold bathtubs in the 1950s.
3) Why is there a little floatie hanging on the wall?
4) It's kind of ugly, but it's also weirdly cute. Not all vintage ads are inspiring (unless you're into rope ladder towel holders and pink tile and carpet)!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pastel, ma belle

When the Spring 2010 J.Crew catalog arrived a couple of weeks ago, I could barely even glance at it. Who can think Spring when the sun sets at 4:30 p.m.? Yay, New England. I finally took a look when the second catalog arrived (like two days later, ha!), and I felt a warm sense of familiarity.

That's because this lovely outfit

is awfully similar to this room.

Love the gray and white striped scarf?

Then you'll probably love the gray and white striped chair featured in Phoebe Howard's Atlanta showroom.

Phoebe Howard, Photo by Brooke Giannetti

The soft colors of J. Crew's crinkled silk shell are beautiful, especially when paired with delicate pearls and omg -Crystal symphony necklace, you're beautiful. Black ribbons and pastel colors ... who knew?

Actually, I think Phoebe Howard probably knew. She pulled a similar trick (well, that just sounds wrong!) in her Atlanta showroom when she placed thin black frames in an otherwise mostly light room.

Phoebe Howard, Photo by Brooke Giannetti

I love the moodiness of the big painting. It keeps the room soft, but not too sweet. Sometimes, though, a little sweet is good. Perhaps it's in the form of a Ruffled Carly dress accented with a beautiful bronze hobo bag

or perhaps it's in the form of a lavender room accented with light blue, white, and a gorgeous peach couch.

Phoebe Howard, Photo by Brooke Giannetti

OK, last one. This outfit is pretty much the epitome of J. Crew casual. Beachy, soft, wrinkled ... and I love the pop of color in the orange clutch.

This is the the same room as before, but honestly, if the woman above stepped out of the catalog and into Phoebe's showroom, I think we'd lose her forever.

Phoebe Howard, Photo by Brooke Giannetti

It's the most beautiful camouflage I've ever seen!

p.s. I am pleased to announce that Boston now has daylight until after 5 p.m.! What a happy thing to see the sun.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wanted: This lamp, please

I wonder where this lamp comes from. Does anyone know?

Slipcovers for office chairs

What's better than Ikea? Well, a lot of things. But one of them is Ikea furniture that doesn't look like Ikea furniture. Ikea hackers know this first hand, but as inspiring as it is to browse through the blog and see all the amazing transformations, I still question the quality of the finished product. An Ikea dresser is an Ikea dresser, even if the knobs have been changed. Is it worth it to put that much effort into a piece of furniture that might not last for more than five years?

Which is why this photo stopped me in my tracks. It's been hanging out in my files for a while, but I never really took a good look at the chair.

That, my friends, is the Ikea Karsten Swivel Chair with a slipcover! Here is the chair in all its naked glory:

Ikea Karsten Swivel Chair

The colorful slipcover and tidy office are very painful for me to look at, because three weeks ago, I trekked out to Ikea in search of a desk chair. The Karsten Swivel Chair caught my eye, and I had grand plans of making a slipcover pretty much exactly like the one in the picture above. But unfortunately, the chair never made it through customs. Marc sent it back to Ikea because it was missing arms, which apparently is an important feature when it comes to office chairs.*

During the same trip to Ikea, I spent a lot of time caressing furniture from the Trollsta collection. I have no use for a bright yellow end table, but isn't it a cutie?

And here it is looking like a bright spot of sunshine in a room with sky blue walls, breezy curtains, and spring flowers on the pillows.

When Ikea looks this good with minimal hacking involved, I'm all for it!

* The office chair we ended up getting came from Staples and is also of the black mesh variety. This one is "more solid feeling" and comes with arms ... but it's still U.G.L.Y. If you have a slipcovered Karsten chair -- or any other office chair -- I'd love to see a picture. Anything to convince Marc that fabric beats black mesh any day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bee happy: A painting from Etsy and other pretty things

This painting by RozArt is so pretty. Never mind that it's of bees and gray clouds, two things that don't exactly whisper "soft bedroom retreat." Something about it is just so soothing.

Bee 38 by Roz 16x20, oil

I see it hanging in a bedroom like this

with a soft velvet tufted headboard

(Urban Outfitters)

and a giant mirror with pretty details like a beaded frame.

(Restoration Hardware)

It's all kind of glamorous for something that "bee"gan with a single oil painting!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Connecticut farmhouse, Round 2

Marc and I spent the long weekend in Connecticut and NYC. On our way back to Boston, we drove through Newtown, which is something I've been wanting to do since I discovered this farmhouse during my Trulia searches.

For as long as I can remember, I've had a thing for old houses. I grew up in Colorado, so "old" to me was 1940. I thought I was looking at a typo the first time I saw a house listed with a date from the 1700s ... how can something so old still be standing? And people living in it? Amazing. Lucky for me, New England is filled with old homes.

So, back to Newtown. We entered the address of the original farmhouse into our GPS, which gave us the opportunity to see a neighborhood with houses in our range (size and price). This type of exercise is mostly fantasy. We have no idea where we'll actually move to when Marc's residency is done. But it's fun to dream, especially when the setting is this beautiful.

When we were back in Boston, I continued my Newtown house tour online. This is my new current favorite: 1 Jeremiah Road.

The house is filled with things that make my heart flutter, like the vaulted ceilings in the kitchen

with wooden beams, of course.

The wooden door is amazing. I wonder if it's a main entrance?

I think the house would lend itself very well to a Tom Scheerer type of decor. Everything is so cozy and small-proportioned. Except for the fireplaces - nothing small about those.

But really ... I could see a room like the one above, and like the dining room below,

filled with comfortable furniture like this Tom Scheerer living room.

One of the things I like about Tom Scheerer is that he doesn't fill old houses with old things. In the next picture, for example, the coffee table and side table keep the room from feeling like a museum. And those lamps!

The real estate websites only show one of the four bedrooms in the house

and two of the four fireplaces.

It's an eyesore now, but I love to stare at every detail and imagine how I would change it.

If you're still with me, things are about to get more fun. That's because this house has a party barn!!

Align Left

The barn is a "rare find," featuring a stone fireplace and plenty of space.

I imagine it being used as a three-season gathering spot, with a long rustic table and mismatched chairs that can fit more people than the small proportioned house probably can. The fireplace looks big enough to keep the barn warm even on a crisp fall night. Mmm, when my daydreams take a turn like this, I never want to wake up.