Archive | May 2015

The Entry

A HOMES ENTRY SAYS MORE THAN JUST WELCOME

I’ve often imagined what it would be like to have a short, temporary case of amnesia. What would be my impression when stepping into my home without the benefit of expectation. There is no ideal form of measurement for impressions. The closest I suppose is to watch the face of a first time visitor. Do their eyes settle on one specific feature? Do their eyes dart about as if in search of what lies beyond? Do they ever so slightly tilt their head in a manner of approval? My point is, well actualy what it is is a cliche…you never have a second chance to make a first impression. The entry of the home is that first impression. It requires serious consideration.

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Lingering in the entry usually occurs upon an exit. Yet however brief the time spent before being ushered into another room, it speaks volumes of what lies ahead and who lives there.

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The Entry is not necessarily a specifically cordoned off space. It may be open to the main room just inside the door. This actually affords an opportunity for a more visually impactful impression. A runner will help to define the length of space being considered as the entry.  That along with a buffet or sideboard will transform what may have been previously viewed as the “other end of the room” into a substantial entry and therefore a substantial impression.

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The lighting in the entry is critical. A lantern or sconces or chandelier are standard yes, however, there must be one or two elements of lamplight. There is a comfortable effect that is expressed in the presence of low lamplight.

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Visually, the entry may in fact blend further outside the space. It is important to have continuity with color.

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There are homes that have been designed with elements so outstanding that they alone make the greatest impact on the first impression.

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The entry is an opportunity to assemble pieces that are reflective of what passions live inside.

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Long and narrow or abundant in space, there is no reason to neglect giving the entry it’s well earned attention.

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There are countless pieces to be used in the entry. Express what is pleasing to your eye and it will fall into place. There is one crucial rule though which must not be ignored. That is scale. Furniture should not pose an obstruction by being too heavy or large. By the same token do not place diminutive pieces that are swallowed by the space.

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If you are inclined to take a second glance at your entry, hopefully you will have found ideas or inspiration to search your own thoughts for creating the entry that satisfies you.

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My final thought when contemplating what is welcoming upon entry to a home is…scent. Second to vision, the sense of smell is the most powerful impression maker. Be it one of the magnificent scented candles ( I love Trapp Orange Vanilla), wax chips, potpourri or fresh flowers. The pleasure of opening the door to your home, greeting those who frequent your doorstep as well as those new to arrive is a gift every day because…

EVERY DAY MATTERS

This entry was posted on May 21, 2015. 5 Comments

Having The Girls Over

  • GROWN UP GIRLS STILL LOVE TEA PARTIES

There is no question that the older we become the more we treasure our female friendships. With age comes wisdom and the gratitude of being wise enough to recognize how precious dear friends are. Gone are the days of competition of who has what, who looks how and who went where. We have history with one another. We have celebrated our children together and said good-bye to our parents together. We have supported one another through bad hair color, mammograms, spontaneous furniture arranging, husband’s career changes and appliance repairs. All of this is to say that the wisdom age has brought to us has also prompted us to make time for our girlfriends. Some gather once a month for “”Bunco” or “Book Club” or whatever the tagline may be. Some of us call at 9:00 and are at Starbucks by 10:00. Being together is a priority and giving to one another is an honor. The tea parties of our little girl pasts hopefully are not forgotten.

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Women are naturally sensitive to recognizing and celebrating birthdays. The joy of celebrating the birthdays of our dearest friends is as much a gift to ourselves as it is to the birthday girl herself.

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Perhaps the Kool-Aid of our past has been replaced by a bottle of something more fermented.

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Crackers with peanut butter finished with graham crackers and Oreos was perfectly fine then….but

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Our dearest friends may be two blocks from our front door or several hundred miles. Neither time nor geography will diminish their value in our lives. The point is to celebrate the joy of these bonds, be it a pretty party or a cup of coffee and a long distance phone call. The love for our female friends gives us strength every day because…

EVERY DAY MATTERS

Beautiful Burlap

FORTY IS THE NEW THIRTY 

BURLAP IS THE NEW SILK

My grandmother had a saying…”She would even look good in a burlap sack.”  That was her colorful way of flattery. So it seems, that lowest rung on the textile ladder has taken on an entirely different reputation. Burlap and Grain Sack Cloth have fought and clawed their way into the hearts of the best interiors.

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Beautiful antiques have been upholstered with burlap for hundreds of years. Burlap was used to contain the stuffing and springs. Finer fabrics were then used to cover the burlap for a finished product. Recently, however, we have been more accepting and appreciative of the raw beauty in burlap. Restoration Hardware has an entire furniture series devoted to the look of the deconstructed chair.

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Today’s bolts of burlap are treated by manufacturers to provide a softer texture. This eliminates fear of the stiff and scratchy.

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The neutral ingredients of burlap are it’s texture and color. It is equally at home in contemporary surroundings as well as a European farmhouse. Whereas you might consider burlap to be stiff, I prefer to consider it strong bodied.

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Tufted or tucked, pleated or plain…burlap and grain sack will bend to your will and fulfill your expectations.

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When met with the challenge of covering an oversized round table, burlap is an economical and visually appealing choice. The raw edge has a character of it’s own, therefore no need to be concerned with hemming.

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Draping burlap affords the opportunity to dress windows, accent bookshelves and divide spaces with texture.

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For a textile that has long held the reputation of being the poor man’s fabric, it certainly has labored hard to dismiss such a misconception. Burlap covered walls…outstanding!  One would be hard pressed to find a more versatile style maker.

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Practical and pretty. The combination is hard to imagine but not impossible to achieve.

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This humble burlap can bring life back to a long forgotten chair cushion as well as be a soldier in the garden.

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Wrapping concrete planters with burlap will protect them in winter and lining planting baskets will hold the soil in place.

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Perhaps my grandmother would find her saying no longer applicable today…perhaps not.  There will always be chairs and cushions, walls and windows, trees and tables, and always a pretty girl in a burlap sack.

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Find your burlap, your hidden beauty, your strong possibilities every day because…

EVERY DAY MATTERS

The Subtle Accent

ORDINARY OBJECTS BECOME EXTRAORDINARY ACCENTS

When considering what to use to decorate the small table in the entry or the oversized coffee table in the den, there are more choices than the plant, candle or book. Please don’t misunderstand…those are terrific items clustered together. However, by altering your perception of some common objects, you will discover an entirely new list of possibilities.

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Mother Nature is generous with her gifts. A cluster of flowering branches married with a fruit filled heirloom is more artistic and original than a predictable green plant.

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Where is it written that branches should always be displayed upright? By gathering and resting them atop an interesting shallow container…you have created an unexpected and attention grabbing accent.

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A grouping of similar objects clustered together and filled with herbs and unique greenery makes a very attractive composition.

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There are countless spaces in a home which are the perfect venue for a collection of ordinary objects that perhaps would not occur to you to be accents. This is an opportunity to stretch your imagination as well as make your mark with your individual personality.

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There are also opportunities to view some of your objects in a new and unique manner. By altering the way they are displayed, you will bring attention to objects which are ordinarily overlooked as works of art.

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Visual appeal married with a natural fragrance affords the desired effect of tantalizing two senses. Natural elements cradled in a fabulous vessel is actually the simplest and most beautiful of all home accents.

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Many of us have an attic or storage closet with a mixture of items that have us perplexed. An oversized brass tray that will not cooperate with any tabletop. The one that was your grandmother’s, the one that you haven’t the heart to discard. The one that, when offered to one of your children, is met with a firm “No thank you!”. Hmmmm, a little imagination just may change a few tunes.

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I am a firm believer that when coming upon an object you are strongly attracted to, you should grab it, especially when the price is almost to good to be true. You may not have a particular space in mind at the time, however with patience the most unexpected and perfect location will reveal itself.

 

The orphaned chair from the flea market that was an incredible bargain

The orphaned chair from the flea market that was an incredible bargain

The antique door panel that was resting against a dusty wall in the back of the antique shop

The antique door panel that was resting against a dusty wall in the back of the antique shop

As the seasons change, so too does the chance to again turn to Mother Nature for inspiration. Imagine viewing those fallen leaves and dropped acorns of fall with a bit less disdain and a bit more enthusiasm for the possibilities.

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We have all been witness to the glass jar filled with wine corks and the bowls of potpourri. Widen your view and before you there will be a multitude of everyday objects that are better served gathered together and given center stage. These are the accents of your home that are individual to you and your taste. This is not necessarily for anyone else but you. To bring you pleasure everyday because…

EVERY DAY MATTERS

This entry was posted on May 12, 2015. 2 Comments

Mother’s Day

In two days I will come face to face with number nine. The ninth Mother’s Day without her voice on the other end of the phone. The ninth Mother’s Day of knowing exactly what my sister is feeling. The ninth Mother’s Day when I avoid the Estée Lauder counter for fear I will take in a breath of Beautiful and feel my own breath catch. The ninth Mother’s Day that I will brush past the predictably pink card section in the supermarket. This is also the 60th year I have been her daughter. The 35th year of gratitude for being my children’s mother. The 3rd year of being incredibly blessed to be a grandmother. It seems we are obligated to measure our lives in increments of time when in fact we measure life by increments of memories. It isn’t the number in that first square somewhere on a calendar of May. It is that sound of her voice that I can hear in my head every day. It is the fact that I love my sister so much that I feel her joy as well as pain every day. It is the fact that every once in a while I will catch a scent of Estée Lauder Beautiful when I am standing at my kitchen sink. It is the fact that I love my Momma every day as she loved me every day because…

EVERY DAY MATTERS

This entry was posted on May 8, 2015. 9 Comments

Doughbowls

DOUGHBOWLS  WITHOUT  DOUGH

Transitioning from one season to the next can be either inspiring or daunting when you are considering your home accents. I must admit that I am not inclined to be enthusiastic about the task. I have two “seasons”…winter and summer. If you are in my home in October, you will not be met by bundles of bittersweet or bowls of acorns.  In April, there is an absence of yellow daffodils and moss covered bunnies. I am not a curmudgeon, I have to be comfortable with the room in it’s entirety. Bittersweet, in all its colorful glory, would not live well with the permanent pallet of the house. Nor would the traditional pastels of Spring. I prefer to use certain containers in their best location and subtlety change the contents from summer to winter. One of my absolute favorite vessels would be the doughbowl. It is striking and suitable in both formal and informal spaces.

My Rosepoint resting in a doughbowl in our breakfast room.

My Rosepoint resting in a doughbowl in our breakfast room.

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These well aged and natural antique beauties are not fickle when it comes to what they are tasked to hold. They are one of those rare guests who are content wherever you have them stay. They cradle apples on the island, ice to chill the bottles for the barbecue and heirloom ornaments too precious for the tree.

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I admit that in our area of the country, doughbowls are more accesable. However, many online sources are available. Photographs will provide a reasonable example of the patina.

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I have one and often two doughbowls in our outdoor living spaces. Although these strong pieces do not require gentle handling, I am reluctant to have them exposed directly to the elements. I use a shallow plastic container to plant the flowers and place it into the doughbowl. This allows me to remove the inner container for watering and occasional sunning.

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There are several containers appropriate for certain areas and inappropriate for others. Most containers are intended for a limited number of occupants. The doughbowl, however, is appropriate in any space.

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I often refer to that “keep an eye out” shopping list in the back of your mind. The doughbowl is one of those items that I encourage you to add to that list. You will not regret the investment. Dare I say you will find a different use for this treasure practically every day. There’s nothing outrageous about that because…

EVERY DAY MATTERS

This entry was posted on May 7, 2015. 5 Comments

Symmetry

A SENSE OF BALANCE

Over the years I have discovered that design is in the eye of the beholder. A minimalist is as sensitive to a space as one who layers textures and patterns. Regardless of the varying “styles”, one variable holds true, space must have balance. We are naturally drawn to and strive for balance in several aspects of our lives. We have a sense of well being when we have a balanced diet, a balance of work and relaxation, a balance of struggle and strength.

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When I would work with a client who was dissatisfied with a room, many times the solution was not in changing furniture, colors or accessories. The space needed balancing. Imagine looking at the room atop a scale. Is the heavy furniture gathered on the left side of the room? Is the lamplight illuminating the right side of the room while the left remains in the dark?

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The most dependable method of balancing the room is with symmetry. What is present on the left is mirrored on the right. A substantial, singular feature located at center wall provides the ideal

touchstone or point of reference. This may possibly be a fireplace, a window or a statement piece of furniture.

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I must admit, I believe I may be a bit obsessed with balance. I want the front of the house balanced ( perhaps that was the driving force behind our choice to build a Georgian Colonial), the landscape and hardscape balanced, the kitchen counters and cupboards balanced etc., etc., etc.

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Now let me illustrate what I mean by imbalance. The photograph below is that of a beautiful room with excellent color selection and magnificent European Antiques. However, note the imbalance. The room is heavily weighted to the right. The chest and mounting to the right of the fireplace is visually much heavier than the chair and sconce to the left. By exchanging the chest for the chair, the balance begins to take effect.

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Formal gardens are balanced beautifully. The elements are obviously lovely creations of Mother Nature, but the placement, scale and size are provided by a human’s desire for balance.

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Be it the French Manor, the Georgian Colonial or the Southern Plantation…balance is the architectural concern.

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Minimalist

Minimalist

 

Formal and Full

Formal and Full

Whether you are fond of clean and sparing or full and formal, the above photographs both illustrate balance.

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imageBalance the checkbook, balance the budget, balance your time…. Symmetry in life is difficult, symmetry in design is simple. We have limited control with the former and definite control with the latter. If you are troubled by a space in your home, something simple such as the fireplace mantel, start with balancing of the accessories. Imagine that scale…it will guide you. One step at a time in the pursuit of symmetry. One step at a time in pursuit of life balance. One step, every day because…

EVERY DAY MATTERS

This entry was posted on May 6, 2015. 7 Comments

The Secondary Entrance

THE SECONDARY ENTRANCE

Back doors and side doors most likely see more traffic than our front doors. We spend more of the budget on a beautiful solid wood door with elegant hardware. The light fixtures are pondered and researched in order to make the most impact. Seasonal designs flourish in lovely containers. This is critical for that ever important curb appeal. I am very much an advocate for making a great first impression. By the same token, I am equally determined to do the same for our back and side entrances. We shouldn’t consider these often used passages as ugly step-children.

Love lantern light

Love lantern light

This could be mistaken for a front entrance

This could be mistaken for a front entrance

Looking to have an awning on the house'

Looking to have an awning on the house’

Beautiful

Beautiful

So often we consider our back door to be purely utilitarian. Metal barriers are all that they are or need to be. Throw a floral wreath on it and call it good. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Love this

Love this

A painted or stained solid wood door is no less secure or pricey than one of those metal manufactured eye sores. With the additions of seasonal planters and thoughtful lighting…you have created another “first impression” for yourself. We don’t always have to enter our homes through the garage.

Raised and welcoming

Raised and welcoming

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Impressive

Impressive

We seem a bit better with consideration for the side entrance, however, there is always room and reason for improvement.

Shutters are the perfect compliment to the door

Shutters are the perfect compliment to the door

Magnificent

Magnificent

Simple and stunning

Simple and stunning

Jack Arnold Design

Jack Arnold Design

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Hedges accentuate path to the door

Hedges accentuate path to the door

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As I prepare our home for the summer months of living outside, I too must evaluate the side and back entrances to the house. This is the year to replace lighting and I have promised myself to take my own advice. My last choices were made when my mind was elsewhere and therefore I have been less than satisfied. The good news is, I know the size and scale I want, the finish I want and the very critical style I want. Now if I could only upgrade the appearance of Ellie’s doggy door!

Every entrance deserves a lovely urn

Every entrance deserves a lovely urn

Give yourself the gift of a pleasing entry into your home through every door. Guests and first time visitors aren’t the only ones to consider. No one loves and appreciates your home more than you every day because…

EVERY DAY MATTERS

This entry was posted on May 3, 2015. 3 Comments