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!

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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.

 

Rethink Your Catch-all Space

January 9, 2017 § Leave a comment

Do you have a junk room or an area that attracts piles of stuff? As a home stager, I certainly do. But after walking by one area of chaos for long enough, I decided to rethink how to use that space in a more constructive way than simply a dumping ground. denbefore

Sometimes all you need to add new life to a space is a master plan and some creative furniture rearranging. And that’s what happened.

denafterI decided that the shelving from my office would be better suited along the den’s vertical wall space where I could then store some overflow items from the kitchen. That would clear off the kitchen counters and make me happy.

I moved the chairs around to create an actual sitting area and added a bar cart acquired as a leftover from my son’s move into a new condo. Amazing how much stuff you can pack into a house when you’re in the biz.

The end result? My pass-through, catch-all area is now a functioning space that makes me smile. Next up? A rethink of the office to accommodate extra bed linens and way too many pillows. I’m thinking another hanging rod in the closet and a floor-to-ceiling wall of cubes.

Did somebody deem January the Organization Month? Well, they got that right! Happy purging.

 

Happy Color for 2017

January 5, 2017 § Leave a comment

The New Year creates an opportunity for change. Whether it’s a phammocksledge to drop a few pounds, move the body more, or clear out the clutter, January is Change Month. And around here, I am ready to change color.

Not that I wasn’t crazy for color before, but fresh, clear color screams enthusiasm, optimism, and hope for great things. My nuanced, subtle, neutral palette looks dreary and tired. It is ready for a color boost to the happy side.

What does that mean for my decorating aesthetic? Not repainting my entire house and dragging all the furniture to Goodwill. Rather, a move to throw in a few color “punches” by switching out pillows on the sofa and adding some art and accessories.  The hammocks are such an inspiration (from our famiOrangePouf.pngly trek to New Orleans over the holidays). And check out this orange Moroccan pouf my sister gave me for my birthday. I adore the color orange because it’s always a happy color — she knows that.

So if you are looking for a jolt of positivity in your life this January of 2017, try adding color and see if it helps your outlook on life. (Good coffee will help too!) Have a Colorful New Year, my friends!

 

Celebrating Authentically

November 30, 2016 § Leave a comment

wreathAfter years of using fake greenery around and on my front door in a futile attempt to make holiday decorating easy and inexpensive (true confessions — you’ve heard of the cobbler’s children having no shoes?), well my big, beautifully-adorned-with-more-fakery wreath fell apart onto the closet floor.

That single event made quite an impact, literally and figuratively, of course. I am SO fed up with fake everything: plastic wreaths, plastic lights, plastic balls, plastic blow-up Santas, plastic reindeer in the yard. For me this year, after quite a year, I am settling down to a visually simple, quiet, authentic holiday season.

I don’t mind others’ decorations at all — the lights, the colors, the flashing sleigh on the roof, and everything else that makes children’s jaws drop in sheer delight — don’t get me wrong. But I guess with the kids all out of the house, I don’t feel the need to create a spectacle. And it’s okay.

For those of you who share my desire for a simpler holiday, I’m here to say that it’s okay. A few special ornaments or treasures from past years displayed among some fresh greens on the dining room table or mantle can provide the essence of the season without the hassle and the clean-up on January 2. For those who adore the season of color and lights, go for it. The rest of us will appreciate all you do to make our neighborhoods sparkly and special.

ribbonedSo today I am going out to buy a big plain evergreen bough wreath. Then, I’ll tie a big light blue floral ribbon on it and hang it on the front door. Then I’ll snip some pine from the backyard and stick the branches in my big blue pot on the front porch. Maybe even put a spotlight on the door so the house looks welcoming at night. And with that done, I can focus on making the holiday special and memorable for my family and … for me.

(wreath: LLBean)

Adding POPS of Color — Orange

October 10, 2016 § Leave a comment

OrangeTree.jpgIs there any color happier than orange? Okay, full disclosure. Orange — that special red-orange that you see on maple trees in the Fall in New England — is my favorite color. I don’t wear it, but I love looking at it.

Fall is a wonderful time to add a touch of orange to your home. Go all in with a peppery accent wall in a guest bedroom. Or go easy with a few orange candles on the mantle. I like to switch out my light blue throw pillows on the sofa for orange this time of year. Keeping my sofa neutral lets me do that, and on that first chilly October day, orange pillows warm the room instantly.
peppery
What goes with orange? If you want energy, blue (like SW Indigo).indigosw Just look at the sky in the photo and how those two complementary colors work off each other. If you want a bit more calm in the room, use a warm gray as a back drop, like the fence in the photo (and SW Dorian Gray).

doriangrayswAnother way to add orange without switching out your furniture and paint color is to introduce a large framed photo of Fall colors. I like to stick with the season we’re in so the photo would come down in the winter and be replaced by a cozy winter scene. Seasonal changes keep the room looking vibrant and fresh.

If all those ideas and colors are still over the top, there’s always squash soup and pumpkin-spice muffins. Sometimes a little color on the dinner table is all you need to enjoy the autumn season.

Stay cozy, my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

Torn Between Two Paint Hues

September 5, 2016 § Leave a comment

Gray Owl

Gray Owl, Ben Moore

As a home stager, I suggest a lot of paint colors as I help to prepare homes for the real estate market. And by and large, grays are what sells these days. Young buyers grew up with Linen White and seem now to cringe at wall colors with a yellow base. But is gray right for your house?

If you live in an area where the weather is cloudy for much of the time or your house is nestled in the shade, then a gray interior is only going to make your visual life grayer. If you want a fresh gray interior, here’s my advice:

  • Make sure you have tons of natural light — big windows with as much light as you can get streaming in the window. That will allow you to see the gray as a distinct, intentional color and not as a shadow of a different color. You know how white and other colors can appear gray in the corners of a room? That’s what I’m talking about. You’ve chosen Gray. So show it off.
  • Add white for trim — that will make the gray pop and will avoid any semblance of dinginess. For Pete’s sake, you don’t want your house to look dirty.
  • Add some warm color — pillows, a chair, artwork. Just for contrast and to add some warmth when needed. Yellow looks spectacular with gray.
  • Pick a warm gray if you live in a cold climate or your room faces North.
  • Pick a cool gray for a warmer climate or a room facing South. The color of the light and the season will influence how your room looks. If the room looks cold, chances are that it will feel cold in there too.
  • Add wood texture to warm the room. A hardwood floor and other natural wood tones in the room will look sensational against a backdrop of gray.
Linen White

Linen White

If gray is not for you but you want to get away from the Linen White look from decades past, try one of these halfway gray paint colors. They are warm but not too yellow and will move you in the gray direction without making your house too cool. Now let’s get painting!

Gray Mist

Gray Mist (BM)

Maritime White

Maritime White (BM)