Behold: The Gloom of Gray is Lifting

December 12, 2017 § 2 Comments

Thank goodness we’re finally moving away from gray, gray, and even more gray. (If you just repainted from Linen White to Silver Shadow, don’t panic though — it will be okay!) As we move into a new neutral trend (yes, Black), here’s some good advice. Don’t jump on it.

What sometimes happens with trends is that people go overboard with them. They think, aha Gray Trend, I must do everything gray! I have been in so many houses that are all gray on the interior. But in New England, where it’s gray much of the time anyway, those interiors are looking pretty dreary.

The goal should NOT be to create a room that looks like it was decorated in a particular period. The goal should be to create a room that is, as the color maven Maria Killam is known to say, “Classic and Timeless.” http://www.mariakillam.com/whats-next-grey-trend/

How do you achieve that? By mixing stuff up. Here are three basic rules:

  1. Keep the walls a light neutral. There are wonderful shades of whites out there, and most of them don’t read like spackling paste so don’t be afraid to go light. You won’t have to repaint every couple of years if that trendy color you love goes stale. Compromise? Paint only one wall, the focal wall, that trendy color.
  2. Keep the large, expensive furniture pieces, like the sofa, plain (remember plaid? No. Go with no pattern or just a texture so that the sofa stays timeless. Color is okay, but make sure you love it!) If you have a well-made sofa that you do not want to replace, you can opt for a slipcover (custom is best — but regardless, make sure the cushions have individual covers.)
  3. THEN mix things up. Add color in the rug, pillows, art, accessories, and other decorative and personal stuff of life that will make your room feel like it’s yours and not a designer’s.

And of course, let me mention the elephant in the room: inherited pieces. Don’t be afraid to mix your styles to incorporate family heirlooms. You will either have an objet d’art with a story behind it or a cozy room with treasures that remind you of home. Either way, do not be a slave to a particular decorating style just because an inherited piece “doesn’t go.” Embrace it!

Now let’s amp up the color for 2018, shall we?!

 

 

 

 

Orange Twist to the Red Revival

September 18, 2017 § 2 Comments

Apples, pumpkins, falling leaves — there’s something about Autumn in New England that, despite our recent warm temperatures, makes us cozy up to the changing seasons. Maybe that’s why some of us live here.

My newest door color obsession is a revival of the orangey red of another decade, and that may signal the end of the light, neutral, blue and even light lemon yellow door color trend I’ve focused on for the past several years. This red, Million Dollar Red (Benjamin Moore 2003-10) is as perfect on a traditional white colonial as it is on a black modern home. There is no mistaking where the door is — it screams Welcome!

What I love most about it is its “orangeyness.” Orange is a happy color no matter what. So a red on the orange side (versus pink) says this is a happy home. The color also has an updated, contemporary feel as opposed to the more traditional burgundy red (also great, of course, but more serious and refined).

Adding an orangey red as an accent color on the interior is also a great way to torque up the energy. Try it on the back of a white bookshelf, or on a pouf ottoman in the family room, or even on a focal wall in the front entry. A little bit of red warms up a room a lot. So before painting an entire room red, make sure you want to amp up the temperature in there. Using red on items that can be removed in the hot summer makes sense to me: pillows, bedding, throws, and art. Then I look forward to my seasonal exchange when I swap out the cool blue accessories for red.

Enjoy Autumn… whatever it means to you and wherever you are. And love how the color orangey red makes you feel. Warm and Happy.

Something Old Makes Something New

August 25, 2017 § Leave a comment

How do you incorporate antiques and inherited treasures into your decor without creating your grandmother’s house (with all due respect to our grandmothers)? Here are some tips:

-Add  contemporary lighting like the drum shade chandelier and standing lamp in the photo (from Rejuvenation) to your traditional decor. You will be amazed what new lighting will do to your room.

-Reupholster treasured furniture pieces in classic, solid fabrics that will keep the pieces timeless from this point forward. Patterns tend to come and go over the decades, and you can date a piece instantly by upholstering it in a trendy fabric. And then you’re stuck with it after the trend is long gone.

-Layer rugs to feature one that is too small to stand on its own in a conversation area.

-Dress windows simply to avoid visual clutter from too much pattern.

-Keep the overall feeling calm in the room. Too many patterns lead to visual clutter, something our grandmothers tended to accumulate over the decades.

-Or add a crazy patterned accent piece to a neutral room. No sense in being TOO serious about our decorating.

-Show legs. Letting the furniture pieces show their legs allows for “air” around each piece and a feeling of lightness in the room. Skirts on all the pieces can weigh them down and make them look dated. (Investigate removing the skirt from an old chair or sofa. I did it and what a difference!)

-For accessories? Cluster them. Avoid scattering them all over the horizontal surfaces. Instead, feature them together on a shelf or display cabinet. That way you’ve contained the clutter while calling attention to the collection as a whole.

Cherish your heritage furniture pieces or your finds from a consignment shop. Embrace them. Love them. And show them off in a fresh new way.

Balancing Color, Pattern, and Neutral

August 21, 2017 § Leave a comment

wm-james-carriere-martha-angus-katie-mccaffrey-breakfast-nook-0917Breakfast Nook

There is so much to love about this breakfast nook (designed by Martha Angus and Katie McCaffrey), I’m going to dive right in.

What’s to Love?

-The light gray walls. By staying with a light cool neutral on the wall color, you allow the pops of warm vibrant color to do just that: pop.

-The simple breakfast nook construction in the same wall color. What happens? The banquette disappears making the room look bigger and less chopped up.

-The wood floor. No doubt it carries throughout the public space making the whole house feel open and unified.

-The table from Paris (yeah, I know). The point is that the table is a unique piece and it’s not only functional but a conversation piece and a memory back to a really nice trip.

-The black and white print. Sure, you can add a vibrant picture there, but the neutral wall hanging allows the colors to take center stage. And they do.

-The yellow leather cushion. It’s yellow but in a fabric that’s easy to wipe up. Essential.

-And those pillows! In colors that coordinate with each other but refuse to look matchy-matchy. (And you just know that the rest of the house pulls colors from that lovely summer palette.)

Take Home Message:

If you want to show off color (or many colors), don’t overdo it. Leave spots empty and devoid of pattern for the eye to rest. And pick a palette of colors (5 is a good number) that you can carry throughout the house in various ways — wall color, furniture, art. The result will be a home that is balanced, unified, has flow from room to room, and that makes you happy every time you open the door.

 

 

From Grays to Happy

May 2, 2017 § Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gray has been the wall color of choice for public spaces in the home for a number of years now, and don’t get me wrong, gray is a wonderful neutral to replace the beiges of the previous trend. But you have to admit, gray is not for everybody. And if you live in a dark home with small windows and low ceilings, painting the walls gray might have been a real downer.

Never fear! Color to the rescue! Here are a few ways to make sure your gray room escapes the wrath of a couple of gallons of primer and a roller:

-Make all trim white. That is the best way to keep the gray clear and crisp.

-Make the ceiling bright ultra white. That will reflect the maximum amount of light back into the room.

-Add bright clear color. Bedding, accessories, a rug, and accent furniture (for example, as we see above in the room from Williams Sonoma Home) will help the gray perform its duty as a neutral backdrop instead of becoming the storm cloud in the room.

Add sparkle. Whether it’s a silver lamp, a crystal chandelier, or some new gold in a brass picture frame, adding metal and glass will provide the finishing touch to the room. Reflective finishes bounce light — like jewelry!

So if your gray walls are bringing you down, don’t despair. Add Color. (You knew I’d say that.)

 

 

 

Why “Fixer Upper Style” is a Thing

March 28, 2017 § Leave a comment

MagnoliaWhat is it about the latest home decorating craze that has us all rushing out to buy accessories that look like they belong in a barn? Well lots of things, it turns out. But first of all, in case your TV is not permanently fixed on HGTV, here’s what I’m talking about.

“Fixer Upper,” the smash HGTV show featuring the lovely designer Joanna Gaines and her cute, goofy, muscled, builder husband Chip, has transformed the design aesthetic in much of the country from Pottery Barn chic to We-All-Want-to-Move-to-Waco fabulous. What Chip and Joanna do with ugly fixer-uppers is remarkable. Here’s a Before & After example of the French Country episode exterior:

Fixer-Upper-French-Country-Episode before

Fixer-Upper-French-Country-Episode-after

The interior style is relaxed with a simple black, white, gray, and cream color palette, reclaimed wood pieces, including “ship lap” (horizontal wide-plank panelling) on the walls, and lots of textures and accessories that Joanna acquires from the “antiques and junk” shops of rural Texas and her own Silos full of treasures at Magnolia Market. She is a master at accessorizing a room to give what others have described as that Modern Farmhouse aesthetic — lived-in yet chic, folksy yet uncluttered. What she does is truly an art — really!

BP_HFXUP303H_living-room_AFTER_194792_647412-1196046.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.960

HGTV, Joanna Gaines

Why is this style so popular now??

  • We love Chip and Joanna. They radiate love for each other and their four cute children. It’s fun to watch them at home and, like a soap opera, the show is such a refreshing antidote to the routines of our own daily lives.
  • The style reminds us of Grandma. Many of the items Joanna finds and uses in her designs are old antiques and treasures we might remember from visiting our grandparents out on the farm. It’s refreshing to travel back to those simpler days.
  • The color palette is relaxing. With the over-stimulation of our lives, it’s calming to see whites and woods and neutrals that don’t generate an emotional response. We need downtime in our lives and this style seems to create it.
BP_HFXUP205H_Purks_dining-room_detail_474488-1044036.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.853

HGTV, Joanna Gaines

  • The style starts from scratch. The show guts houses and creates new spaces. There’s something cathartic about the idea of tearing down walls, donating all the old furniture, and starting with a clean slate. It says something about our group needs as a culture.
  • What’s old is new again. Even though the bones of the rooms are new and updated, the look appears old and recycled. Scratches and dents don’t matter in this style. They add character. And how relaxing is it to think that your kids can sit at a table without coasters under the glasses.
  • Things have a reason for being there. Joanna’s design uses lots of accessories but the rooms don’t appear cluttered. That is the work of a skilled artist. It’s hard to accessorize mindfully without overdoing.

Tips:  If you want to incorporate the Fixer Upper style into your decor,

  • Start with the kitchen as it can accommodate extra accessories without appearing overdone.
  • Stay authentic. The reason Joanna’s style works is she uses actual old pieces she finds.
  • Shop antique and consignment stores to find accessories that fit the style, and don’t forget to look in Grandpa’s old barn. Lots of stuff in there, I bet.
  • Do what you love. Make your space a happy one to come home to. That means way more than following a particular trend.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Dream Living Room

March 26, 2017 § 2 Comments

Fireplaceart

What makes a living room dreamy? Here’s what works for me.

  • A fireplace mantel that can anchor a beautiful inspirational piece of art. This one, “Wild Orange Sherbet” by J.P. Prior, does it for me. Even the name makes me happy.
  • A big comfy sofa. I’ve always wanted a curved sofa (this one from Arhaus) as it invites conversation. People tend to sit down and talk with each other instead of staring at the TV (which, you might note, is absent from my dream living room).ArhausSofa10
  • Neutral major pieces. I chose Taft Pewter for the upholstery color because it goes beautifully with the stone around the fireplace, and the color won’t grow tiring. Even if pillows come and go with new color trends, the sofa’s soft, sophisticated neutrality will endure.
  • A rug thatColombe Flatweave Floral Rug will further define the conversation area
    and be cozy underfoot.
    This neutral coordinates with the sofa and doesn’t detract from the focal point of the room.
  • An ottoman is
    Butler36OttEspressoan absolute must as it beckons you to put your feet up and relax. With a tray on top, an ottoman serves as a hard surface for drinks and snacks.
  • A pair of perky chairs (opposite the sofa) yellowpillowschairto round out the conversation area and yell “Surprise!” when somebody enters the room. Everybody needs at least one chair in their favorite color.
  • Pillowsorangepillows that pull the whole color palette together and come in different sizes and textures and may be swapped out seasonally if you like. OC23classicgray
  • Finally, a pretty paint color that provides a backdrop for the room but does not compete with anything for attention. For this room, I chose Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray, OC23.

The whole idea of my Dream Living Room is to set a happy, relaxed tone for the house in a classic and timeless style that won’t look too dated when the next big trend comes along. Keeping the bones of the room classic (hardwoods, architectural details) and the expensive pieces timeless (sofa and large furniture) allows you to play with chairs and accessories and art and have fun.

Create a dream living room in your home. Ahhhh… I like dreaming.

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Sources: Art (“Wild Orange Sherbet” by J.P. Prior). Mantel (MantelCraft). Sofa (Arhaus.com for other living room inspirations). Rug (Arhaus.com). Ottoman (Arhaus.com). Armchair (Dot&Bo). Pillows: Yellow (Fine Art America), Damask (Wayfair), Lumbar Pillow (Pier 1 Imports). Paint: Benjamin Moore, Classic Gray OC23.