Wednesday, September 29, 2010

For the Love of Lamps

I was catching up with my friend Kim yesterday and read her post about buying her first lamp. Yes, her first lamp. Kim is great at lots of things, like growing a fantastic garden and sewing cute bags and the progress she and her husband Ryan are making renovating their second house makes me look like a sloth. But she is mystifed by lamps, which is mystifying to me because I love them.

I had the one above, and its mate, for at least two years before we bought the sofa they now sit next to. They lived in my closet for a year after I bought them for $17 each on sale at KMart -- they are of the old Martha Stewart Everyday collection.

She asked her readers to leave a comment with how many lamps they owned. I counted ten in my house, and actually thought for a moment that that number sounded a little low. Until I read the rest of the comments. Many people were in the 3-5 range, and there was just one more double-digit lamp owner like me. So who exactly is in the minority here?

This pair of antique/vintage murano lamps were kind of a splurge for me ($120 for the pair, I think) but I fell in love with them and Wes gave them to me for my birthday. I have just recently found shades to fit, though I think I still need a smaller harp. I hope we will have these forever.

I've heard it said that lamps can be the jewelry of a room and that they can really update a room, and I think that both are true. I always notice a great lamp in a room or in a photo. I also love to use a pair of lamps (on either side of a sofa or bed, or just on a long piece of furniture like a dresser, console table, or buffet) because it's a simple way to introduce symmetry, which can give a room a more finished look. I'm also a big fan of NOT using overhead lights on full-blast (dimmers are your friend!), and just generally think that lamps offer more flattering light (both to you and the room). I could go on an on about lamps, but I'd rather hear from you -- how many lamps do you have?

This lamp is my most recent acquisition. Again, it was love at first sight when I saw it on a blogger's Craig's List round-up, and I immediately e-mailed the seller to see if he was interested in shipping it to me from Minneapolis. I think he thought I was crazy, but it was totally worth it!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 1182's random story

Wes and I have a modern relationship. What I mean is, we do a lot of communicating via e-mail and text messages. It's kind of lame, but necessary. He always sends me links to things he thinks I will like, and this morning, it was two stories about unusual animal pairings (here and here). I was highly entertained, but also nostalgic because they reminded me of a childhood pet: Our cow named Rooster who thought he was a dog.

Yes, you read that correctly. You may know that I consider my childhood home to be a small farm in southern Tennessee, but did you know that my dad was a country veternarian (think James Harriot)? One day a local farmer appeared at his clinic with an hours-old calf that had broken his leg during or shortly after birth. His mother and twin calf joined the herd but he, of course, couldn't keep up. His leg needed to be fixed and he would have to be bottle-fed, and this farmer didn't have the time or means to do either. My mother -- who has a soft spot for all things small or helpless -- happened to be there that afternoon and volunteered to take him. So, my dad did orthepedic surgery on his leg and we brought him home.

Have I mentioned that we didn't have any other cows? Rooster (who is named after John Wayne's character in True Grit, Rooster Cogburn, and not a bird) spent the beginning of his life in our horse barn, where his constant companions were our dogs, particularly an Australian Shepherd named Nick and a little terrier mutt we called Little Orphan Annie (another of mom's rescues). The dogs licked him clean after his bottles and spent the nights with him, and to this day, we're all pretty sure that Rooster thought he was a dog.

After he was healed and big enough to go out into the pastures, he could always be called to the fence for some affection (he liked to be scratched behind his ears) and would follow us back and forth if we walked through the pasture to get to the pond or the cabin my dad built on the property. He eventually became somewhat of an escape artist, preferring to spend his days lounging with the dogs under the pecan trees next to the house than with our horses, none of whom ever gave him the time of day. Well-meaning passers-by often stopped to let us know that our cow was out, but he was stubborn, and not even bribes of feed and treats could get him back through the gate unless he wanted to go.

The picture above is not Rooster (it's from domino, actually), but I do have a similar mental picture of Rooster standing in our front doorway as my younger sister -- curious about whether he would come in -- called him from inside. Ever the sensible first-born, I closed the door before he could make his move. We both already knew that he definitely would have come in if given the chance!

Rooster died of complications due to old age a couple of years ago (a fate not many Angus cows see), which was for the best since we no longer have the farm. I'm sure Rooster would have been quite happy to move to Birmingham with my mom and live in her suburban backyard with the dogs, but I doubt her new neighbors would have been so amused!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Decorating Shelves

I love messing with the shelves and cabinets in our house, and always zero in on shelves in homes or in photographs. These -- very different -- three have been inspiring me lately. Do you have a favorite?

Photos: Emily Henderson, via Kayce Hughes, via Ruby Press (this one is a shop).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Atlanta Before and After

If you liked the keeping room I posted last week, you'll love the rest of home that designer Amy Morris updated for her parents. Of course, the basalt medallions in the entry had me at hello!

So much of the design I see online looks like it was decorated in a day via the internet, so I was happy to see that Amy used so many local sources. Of course, it takes longer and requires more foot-work to do it this "old-fashioned" way, but the end result is so much more personal.

You can see a more detailed source list here, but some of my favorite Atlanta spots were listed: Scott's Antique Market, South of Market, and Lewis & Sheron.

In the before photos, you can see that house was a pretty typical Colonial with a pretty typical 90's decorating job.

Amy brought it up to date with a simple color palette and chic furnishings.

I especially loved the more casual spaces like the breakfast room here, and the keeping room below. And I think I need some rope light fixtures in my life.

The wall color here is China White, by Benjamin Moore, which is the color I have in my kitchen and breakfast room (which I might start calling the keeping room! Ha.).

The dutch door and brick floor in the informal entry are so charming.

The master bedroom, before.

And now the lighter, brighter after.

The master bath, before.

And the much-improved after. I love the color of the vanity (Graphite by Benjamin Moore).

And finally, the master sitting room.

Photos by Emily Followill for Tradional Home. The architect on the addition and remodel was Bradley E. Heppner Architecture LLC.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Inspired by: Gingham

Gingham seems to be having a moment this year, though I'm not sure if I would ever call it "out" when done well. This shirt in orange would be perfect for fall football games, but since I am without a waistline these days I will have to pass. PS, J.Crew has lots more gingham goodies.

Perhaps instead I will scoop up some orange gingham cupcake liners to dress up my favorite Autumn Morning muffins (isn't that a delightful name for a muffin?). I'll be sure to share the recipe when I make them for the first time this year.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 1175's pretty

I'm head-over-heels for this pretty Atlanta keeping room (designed by Amy Morris). In part because the Tennessee farmhouse I grew up in had a "keeping room" (really just a sitting room off the kitchen) and I like the idea of them, but also because it looks like a delightful place to spend a fall weekend curled up next to a fire. But not here -- at least not this weekend -- where Indian Summer is in full swing. I hope it's turning fall-like where you are!

Happy Weekend!

Photo by Emily Followill for Traditional Home.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

IKEA kitchen in ... Southern Living?

When I think of an Idea House, IKEA is probably the last thing on my mind. Idea Houses tend to be dressed to the nines in custom, well, everything! But this Southern Living house in Senoia, Georgia has a kitchen outfitted with IKEA, and I must say, it looks good. I think the key to making the IKEA countertops, cabinets and hardware and appliances look higher end is to mix them with custom and unique details. For example, the lighting is custom by Sandy Springs Gallery, and the IKEA look of the stainless-steel vent hood is elevated with wood planks, trim, and support brackets.

I also love the way the Caesarstone counters on the island are wrapped over the sides -- a great way to prevent bumps and knicks. Notice also that the planks on the back of the island are repeated on the hood. A simple Windsor chair painted a fresh blue (Smokey Slate 460E-3 by Behr) offers a pop of color. You can find more sources on the products here.

Behind the range (Dåtid Pro H50 An by IKEA) is a carved wood backsplash that coordinates with the wood countertops (Numerär by IKEA). It's a nice change to see IKEA products in a more traditional space.

The scullery is through a pair of pocket doors.

I think the trick is mixing vintage and vintage-looking accessories to keep it from looking "too new." Any of you have IKEA in your kitchen? I'd love hear what you think!

Photos by Tria Giovan for Southern Living.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lovely Letterpress

Loving these letterpress suites from Stripe & Field. Simple and beautiful, with colors perfect for this early fall morning.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Inspired by: Familiar Landscapes

I believe that art should be personal, and am always drawn to landscapes that resemble familiar views. Particuarly those that look like the gentle rolling hills of middle Tennessee (which I claim as my home state) or the meandering marshes of the low country of Georgia and South Carolina (we honeymooned in Charleston, but also because I really, really like it there). John Boatright's (a native of Columbia, Tennessee) work certainly fits the bill. Not to mention, the soft colors would look great in my house!

The only thing I really know about art is that I know what I like when I see it, so excuse my lack of anything of substance to say.

Victoria Adams (immediately above and below) lives on an island on Puget Sound near Seattle and so is obviously no stranger to dramatic and sweeping vistas. I am, again, particularly drawn to the images that resemble the low country. See more of her lovely work (which is oil and wax on linen, by the way) here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Late Summer Lovelies

Mother Nature is doing some serious teasing lately with cool(er) mornings interspersed between hot, hot afternoons.

It kind of makes me want to do like Lauren did, and spruce up the house a little to reflect the coming change.

I started last night by burning my favorite fall candle -- for $5 for the big jar, I can afford to burn it 24/7 until Christmas (Mulled Cider at Wal-Mart).

Not that I'm rushing out to buy pumpkins or anything, but you know ... some dalhias or sunflowers for the table sure wouldn't hurt.

Photos: Antonella Arismedni, Pure Style Home, Jodi Miller Photography, Saipua.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 1161's pretty

So far September is shaping up to be a great month -- I just feel it. I think I did happy dance when I saw the forecast for this holiday weekend: highs in the 80's with overnight lows touching the 50's?! Yes, please.

Happy Weekend!

Photo: Martha Stewart Living, September 2005 via Anne Sage.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Outdoor Paint Inspiration

The exterior of our house (seen here last fall) is a combination of red brick and gray board-and-batten siding with white trim and black shutters (and blue doors). There's a lot going on and I've wanted to paint since day 1, but that project isn't really on our short-term radar. Not that this deters me from looking for inspiration.

I had nearly decided that we would paint all of it either creamy white or a dark charcoal (with a tiny hint of green) when I spotted this house on Tracery's facebook page. Designed by Hudson Architecture, it is the best of both worlds and I think I am in love.

I love that the windows are the same color as the siding, and to me, this is more interesting that swathing the house in one color and trying to pretend it's all one material. I think I would lose the shutters (I prefer them to be working -- Charleston, South Carolina spoiled me on that), but what color should the columns be?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tia Zoldan, Before and After

I am sure you will recognize one of my favorite stories from Cottage Living magazine as Tia Zoldan's California house. Julie of Milk and Honey Home recently profiled her and featured some new pictures of her house. Which of course made me immediately dig out the old pictures to compare! The new look is definitely more sophisticated, and in many ways more glamorous than the version that was featured in Cottage. Have a look.

Living room, Before: I think we can all agree that this is "the mix" done so well. It looks chic but not overly decorated.

Living room, After: Tia often chooses large scale and interesting artwork, and it looks like this new piece inspired a new color palette. The once-white walls are now a soft gray. The coffee table seems to have been painted, and the sofa recovered. Looks like some of the popular ikat on the throw pillows. She still uses an ottoman as extra seating and layers a rug over the seagrass. It's interesting to see the same basic idea in different incarnations.

Kitchen, Before: The mostly-white kitchen had a classic subway-tile backsplash with a pretty border, and warm accessories.

Kitchen, After: The walls got a coat of green-gray paint, and it looks like the window trim and sashes are darker. The two upper cabinets are painted as well. I love this look, especially the floors (laid in a herringbone pattern before it was so trendy) and that great rug. I don't know what the banquette looked like before, but I suspect it wasn't black.

Console, Before: I'm actually not sure this is the same area, but let's pretend. I'm looking at the console in the left side of the photo.

Console, After: The sconce is updated, and I love the round mirror. I usually prefer symmetry, but this arrangement is cool.

Dining room, Before: I've always loved the mix of chairs, and I also love to see a generous rug under a table. Bare floors can look a little naked!

Dining room, After: I'll be honest, this is not my favorite -- I'm just not glam enough for gold chairs and zebra, I guess. But, I can see its appeal. In the very left of the photo, it looks like one of the striped barrel-back chairs is still around, even though the host's chair has been changed (is that burlap?!). The table is the same, and again, it's fun to see the different ways to use it. The wall color looks different, though photography can really play tricks with color. This does appear to be the same color as the kitchen, so maybe it is new. The curtains are definitely new, and while I'm not sure how I like them cutting off the top window, I think this faces the street, so they are probably necessary. I'd love to know if that big green armoire is still on the wall to the left!

Bedroom, Before: I've always liked this. Again, not an over-decorated look.

Bedroom, After: The bedroom also got a dose of glam with gray paint instead of white, and new lamps and bedside tables. The new curtains look more tailored, and the darker fur throw is sexier (for lack of a better term). The headboard and sconces remain, and I love subtle mix of patterns on the bed.

Daughter's room, Before: The girls' bedroom was sweet, but not overly so. I love the mix of feminine florals and mis-matched furniture.

Daughter's room, After: She has definitely grown up! I believe the girls are nearing their preteen years, and this room reflects that.

I've loved seeing this transformation -- it's as if the house has grown up with the family. As I am still making decisions on our first house, it gives me hope that even a designer has to start somewhere (where those Ikea chairs in the dining room?) and that upgrades can be made as you go. Even if Cottage Living has already knocked on your door!