Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas in our Dwelling

One of the ways I like to deck the halls is to play off the pieces that are already in your home.  And you know I couldn't resist adding a little *razzle dazzle* to my buddy in the bathroom...

We have a few new additions to our Christmas decor this year.  First, the stockings.  I spotted these last year in the Crate and Barrel catalog and loved them, but decided to wait until after Christmas for a sale. Then they ran out of stock (joke's on me).  So this year I emailed the hubs and told him how much it would mean if he would buy them for our Christmas.  They arrived at our door the next week.  :)  Sure, I could have pulled out the debit card myself. But it meant so much more that he gave them to me as a gift... even if I personally requested it. :)
George, aka "Sweet Sweet Scared Scared" may as well be resting by a fireplace. :)
We also have a new tree this year... even though last year we bought a brand new one! Seth's parents didn't have a spot for their lovely 9-foot-taller so we inherited it.  It wasn't pre-lit, so Seth strung the lights on himself, the old fashioned way.  The next morning we woke up and realized (if I may speak frankly) they looked really bad (I'm not being mean... Seth agreed after awhile).  He spent the next five straight hours doing it the right way, albeit huffing and puffing a bit. But what a pay off!  Really proud of him for putting in all that work.  It looks beautiful in person! I don't think he's worked this hard on a project since demo-ing bathroom tile. :)

You know I'm a jewel-tone girl with a turquoise and magenta love affair, and we keep the theme going with our Christmas ornaments.  Silver, gold, white, magenta and turquoise make it for me.  Seth likes it too. We don't have quite as many ornaments per inch/foot/surface area as we did last year on the smaller tree , but surprisingly they still work without needing any additions. :)

Love these little reindeer.  I'm pretty sure they came from the Dollar Store last year. Don't you think they're wonderful?

You may notice the paisley pillow that was in the living room has moved to the dining room.  We have two now... one for each chair.  George chewed the corners of the first one the day after I bought it (during a brief period trying to wean him off crate training), so I bought another one... cursing that doggie's name the whole way.  

But just like the last time he intervened, this time it somehow turned out for the best.  Eventually I decided even the chewed-on pillow could be salvaged by mending the corners if it wasn't on showcase in a front-and-center position like the sofa.  They bring a lot of interest in the dining room for now, and tie in the turquoise hues from the living room pillows. I mean, should George get a degree in interior design? It's kinda' weirding me out.  Like he's giving me hints or something... Anyhow... 

These lighted branches are another new addition. I mixed them in with the other branches we already had so when they aren't turned on they aren't an eye sore. On a whim, I placed a few feathers in there... wish so badly I had bought more of those!  I've found so many places for them this month. (Update: Seth just informed me he dislikes the feathers.  Ahhhhh, ya win some, you lose some....).

And those are the highlights... 

How are you decking out your place for Christmas and the holidays?  Any new additions for you this year?

Monday, December 19, 2011

TV Wall - Finally Un-Empty

I can't tell you how many ideas I considered for the wall behind the television.

(in case you don't believe me, here's proof....)

This is one of several considerations.  (Those are cutouts of wrapping paper of various things I was considering). I't could have turned out really well, but I wasn't completely sold.  So  I went back to the drawing board (once again).

I don't know why it took so long to make up my mind.  Maybe it's that I wanted to do something different.  Maybe it's the fact that I hate putting holes in the wall (and we're not talking one little hole here.... we're talking about a lot of 'em) makes me anxious.  Maybe it's because whatever ends up hanging on this wall could potentially crash on top of our vintage dresser and tv - ruling out some of my wilder ideas (which I will spare you).  But for whatever reason, that bare wall just kept calling out "C'mon, Erin... Please... Do something...So I decided to keep it fairly simple with a grouping of seven frames: five above the television, and one on each side.

Here's how the process went, and some details about resources that might be helpful if you're planning one yourself. 

The frames.  I decided large (14x18) frames would do the trick, but after shopping around I realized seven frames that size could get crazy expensive, fast.  If I was certain that I would be in love with this wall for years, I would be willing to invest in some nicer pieces.  But I ain't real certain, Paw, so I wanted to tackle this as inexpensively as possible in case I change my mind down the road (for whatever reason). On top of that, I couldn't find 14x18 frames in the big box stores.  Thank goodness my little fingers can walk all over the inter-web to find some deals.  I finally found simple gold frames here for $14.44 (plus shipping, about $17) a pop!

The art.  Believe it or not, I bought the frames before I even knew what I wanted to go inside them.  I  was at a point where I was determined to move forward, and reasoned that even if I used the free art sources I posted about awhile back (here and here), we would be moving in the right direction, and that empty wall wouldn't be driving me bananas.

Shortly afterward (and completely by luck), I stumbled upon Dreamery Studio and knew I found the answer.  Such a charming idea: "Vintage illustration is printed on a page from a tattered antique book. The page has beautiful golden patina of old age and nostalgic charm to it."  

Dreamery Studio prints on vintage paper
Talk about incredible selection and great prices.  They're around $8.50 a print, and I snagged a buy three, get one free deal) to make the deal even sweeter.  I chose a combination of black and white and color images for some extra interest and moved on the next step.

Matting + Art, Part II.  Next, I set out to find equally good deal on the matting.  You pretty much need to go custom for 14x18 mats to 8x10 size, so I was seeing dollar signs all over again.  Eventually I bought custom mats for the prints online here.   I ordered eight (the minimum) at $3.13/piece!  The shipping was $10, so it was all done at around $35.  Super-cheap for this large custom mats!

I measured another 8x10 mat that I already had hanging for the inside dimensions and waited for everything to come together.  But sadly, when the prints were delivered they were too small!  SAD!  NO!  I was almost done!  Apparently the matting I measured wasn't a standard size. (What are the odds?) So I contacted Jo at Dreamery Studio to see what we should do.   You guys - I can't tell you how helpful she was.  Not only did she insist on replacing them without charging me again, but she also hand-selected books with larger pages so they would be large enough for the mats I ordered and let me choose the format (two column v. three column, etc.).

As if that wasn't enough, she emailed me the sweetest idea (even though it meant more work for her!): "I was thinking since we are most likely be using the dictionary pages, you could perhaps choose a dozen or so of desired words, like happy, love, passion, etc..."

After weeding through the pages that were too heavy on illustrations to work with the prints, we were done. I had art that is not only full of character and interest - but also full of meaning for our home.  *smiles*

Hanging It Up!  I was planning on doing a step-by-step of the process of hanging and arranging these, but my process didn't go too smoothly.  I was originally planning on using Command strips, which I tested on one frame.  The frame ended up falling off the wall and I ended up changing game plans. So I'll just give you a couple of tips that worked for me.

1. Paper cut-outs. I cut out some wrapping paper and hung it on the wall to get the spacing and leveling just right.

2. A new toy!  This Hang & Level picture hanging tool really helped me out, too.  This video does a great job explaining how to use it.

And finally, here she is. Remember the lonely blank wall from ages ago?:

Gallery Wall Behind TV -- After

Here's a close-up of the one of the pages. 

What do you have on the wall behind your television?  Any experience working with gallery walls or good resources for frames, art, matting?  

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Gift Picks - Part 2

Okay, ya'll...  First a personal life Christmas update: 98% of shopping is done. AND the wrapping.  It was quite the task. Because my gifts are beautifully wrapped, if I do say so... I even took a personal day from work on Monday. But it's DONE!  And now I can enjoy the season.  I'm planning on posting some more decorating pics later on, but for now I'd like to share some more gift ideas--all inspired by things that I for one would love to find in my stockin', . Some are stylish, some are practical, some.... let's get moving.

Gorgeous iPhone Cover.  It's my pleasure to introduce you to two gorgeous iPhone cases.  Can you believe these beauties?  At around $50 a pop, these prices are impressive considering the work it must take.  They are glamorous... so pretty. Enough said.
iPod Touch and iPhone4S 3GS Swan Case Cover from Gullei Trustmart

iPhone4 Pearl Flower Shell Cover, via Gullei Trustmart

Deadly-free scented candle.  I love to smell lovely fragrances around my home, but do you guys have any idea how many health hazards are involved with these unregulated scents? So here's an idea... Instead of poisoning your gift recipient (to be clear, this is not condescending. I poison people I love every other year or so), consider a lovely scented candle that uses essential oils instead of the junk in other scented candles that's known to cause health problems - including nerve issues. 

Now, I will admit, scents are a very personal thing.  Some people like fresh spice smells like vanilla or apple cinnamon like me, and other people can't stand them.  It's tricky.  But, if you know your recipient (and your recipient happens to be moi) then it's an easy choice.

Lavanila The Healthy Candle, Vanilla Coconut
Here's what the site says:
Offering a clean burn that does not release harmful pollutants, toxins, or soot, you can feel good about this beeswax blend.
  • Infused with essential oils
  • Does not release harmful pollutants, toxins, or soot
  • Free of paraffin, dyes, and harsh chemicals
BeautyBar.com has the best price I've found at $16 + free shipping right now! I love Vanilla and Coconut, and smelled an amazing Vanilla Coconut candle at Anthropologie last year that was in-cred-i-ble.  Hopefully this one smells even close to that dreamy!

Letterpress Desk Calendar.  Last week I featured a gorgeous yearly calendar featuring positively gorgeous art.  This week I'd like to share a daily pleasure that I've enjoyed for the last two years. 

2012 Letterpress and Silkscreen calendar by Ilee- $22
A co-worker of mine gave one to me as a gift and I liked it so much much I bought one for myself last year.  It's not only lovely; it's also practical.  I reference it when making timelines and whatnot almost daily at work.  And it's so nice flipping those pages each month, enjoying the new look and all. 

And ooh-wee, here's another option for you I also adore! 

flora + fauna 2012 eco-luxe designer art desk calendar - $16
Isn't it wonderful? Now here's another idea....

Spice Organizer. Not the sexiest gift, but who cares? Check out the Swivel Store.  It's not sexy, but if you're low on space like we are, it's perfect for storage. Organization and storage is a gift beyond measure, friends. 

Happy Christmas!  Leave a comment a let me know if you like these gifts, or if you have any recommendations for last-minute ideas! We need to have each other's backs!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Tree Peek

I think we're almost done decorating the tree. Here's a quick peek. :)

Have a great weekend! Are you decorating or starting your Christmas shopping?  I'm doing my best version of Karen's Christmas Pledge so it's full speed ahead!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Gift Picks

I'm makin' my list ya'll. Here are a few initial wishes (even those that are out-of-budget) that are worth sharing.

Hot. Sexy. Lamp. How many lamps can you say that about? Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Whittier. His sweet silhouette will have you squeeling.  And his price tag will do the same. But if you use it for years and love it for years it might be worth it.  Yah-know-what-I-mean, hubby?

Jonahan Adler's Whittier Lamp - sexaaay

Michelle's 2012 Trellus Calendar doesn't make sense for my work environment (I need a close-up month-to-month calender I'll share later) but I love her work so much I would buy this just to frame the print! Not kidding. I'm considering it. 
2012 Trellus Calendar by Michelle Armas

This stylish, retro-inspired floor fan is much less expensive alternative to RH's Allaire Fan. This sucker (or blower, I suppose *ba-doom-ching*) would look much nicer than the chunky floor fan we currently have in our bedroom.

Living Accents Retro Metal Fan

Have you started making your list? What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year? Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lonny's Nov/Dec Issue is Live (Holiday Time!)

At first glance, this issue isn't holiday-heavy.  So if you're not ready to ring in the bells you won't be annoyed. I'll enjoy it regardless... BUT, I will admit, am ready for all the Christmas celebration related to our Savior's birthday.

Happy Friday. Enjoy!  Visit Lonny's Nov/Dec 2011 issue here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pillow Updates

I haven't updated you about a few recent happy pillows in our home. Like some pillows I bought that have breathed life into our living room.  And pillows are important, yo. 

I luuurve turquoise. About as much as I love magenta.  And I've actually wanted some rich turquoise pillows for awhile but they've been hard to come by.  

I was super-excited to find some at Pier1 awhile back (three-or-so months ago?).  And then I found another precious addition at the very same store a month or so ago. I also adore oversized paisleys, so it wasn't a difficult choice (especially considering pillows are an easy return).

It's incredible how much happier I feel when I walk in the door because I bought a few pillows.  But then again, I've been holding out for the perfect turquoise pillows for awhile.  So maybe it's not so surprising? 

The only thing that's not so happy: the feathers have been coming out like crazy.  So I'm going to need some new inserts.

Talk to me. Are you a turquoise fan?  A pillow lovah?  Found any great new pillows recently? Where? SPILL!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Recap: Design*Sponge Book Signing in Birmingham

I mentioned on Monday that Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge held a book signing for her new book Design*Sponge at Home here in Birmingham. Kudos to Grace and her team (as well as the Books-A-Million crew) for putting on such a great event!  Ready for a quick recap for those of you who couldn't attend?

I showed up with a friend of mine a little early.  Perfect opportunity to play paparazzi. :)
Design*Sponge book signing in Birmingham, via Dwell & Tell
I whispered to my friend that it would be nice to get a pic with Grace, and we mozied our way towards the front. Right when I was about to ask for a photo they started the craft demo, which meant we didn't score the photo op, but we were in the prime location for to get some shots of the craft demo.  
via Dwell & Tell
Grace walked us through a project featured in the book where you take vintage plates and candleholders to create cake and cupcake stands. 
D*S book signing, via Dwell & Tell
Next, everyone lined up for the book signing (How the heck were we the sixth-or-so in line? I have no idea!  I think my friend was good luck...), and I awkwardly juggled my book, huge camera, lens cap, gi-normous handbag (I didn't realize it was the size of a small suitcase when I purchased it online)...
Design*Sponge book signing, via Dwell & Tell
...and prepped myself to take a great pic with Grace. This was was up there in the scrapbook photo-ops.

But for whatever reason, I took one of the worst photos of my life. As did my friend. We're talking bad lighting, bad angle, awkward placement of props (book) - the whole nine yards. I'm not exaggerating, you guys. We laughed so hard when we sat down to look at them we were literally crying.
(Imagine Photo of 
me + Grace here)

On the bright side, it was such a pleasure chatting with her for a second. She took her time with everyone in line and has a very warm, charismatic personality.
Design*Sponge book signing in Birmingham, via Dwell & Tell
*Update: Check out the photos taken by The White Rabbit Studios here. I ended up with a shot with her after all. :)
Design*Sponge at Home book signing in Birmingham - Grace & Me - via White Rabbit Design Studios

We hung out and enjoyed the yummy drinks while flipping through the book.

It's a great read and a wonderful addition to your decorating library.  Lots of inspiration for DIY projects and creating beautiful spaces, and a great way to spend a few Sunday afternoons.

Do you have a copy?  What do you think?

Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm Here Tomorrow - D*S Book Tour in Birmingham

I've been a fan of Grace Bonney's for so long. And she's coming tomorrow.

It's kind of a big deal for me. But I'm playing it cool.

If you haven't RSVP'd yet, it's at the Books-A-Million at Brookwood Village, 6:30 for the craft demo (you should RSVP for that) and the book signing begins at 7:00.  The gorgeous illustration above says it starts at 6:30 but things must have changed since then.  I've planned a book signing or two, so I know how that goes!

Looking forward to tomorrow.  And I hope Grace's time in Birmingham is wonderful!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Inspiration - Lizzie Carney's Bungalow (Eeek!)

A few months back one of the House Proud segments on The Nate Show completely captivated me.  Everything about this place, from the ingenuity to the glamour, comfort and color palette make me design crazy.  I'm not kidding.  I've had print-outs of these photos on my fridge for months and I just couldn't keep it to myself any longer for those of you who don't know about this.

It's the home of Elizabeth "Lizzie" Carney, designer for EuroTrash (a wholesale distribution, styling and custom carpentry company in Illinois).  Lizzie transformed her 1,000-square-foot 1930's bungalow into a haven that's truly to-die-for.

I've assembled all of these photos from various sources and photo shoots--so you'll see some differences as the decor progresses (I'll point out a few myself, just for kicks).

Let's begin in the living room, shall we?

Living Room
Notice those ottomans tucked under the coffee table in the photo below?  Those, in addition to the chairs and sofa, allow seating for nine in this cozy little room.
via Country Living

The dark gray paint plays so well against the charming-yet-glam gallery wall with white and gold frames. The antlers add more interest and balance the rustic element of the coffee table (notice in the Country Living photo above those antlers hadn't been added yet?).

The lines of the french chair pop with a coat of white paint (not sure if she found them that way or not), and the brown velvet gives them a warm, luxe feel while her pink pillows add just the right hit of color.
via thenateshow.com
Speaking of which, not really sure if those are bright pink like the appear above, or a soft pink like they appear below.  (Which would you prefer?) 

I like how the crystal lamp on the side table (that table is actually a folding chair with a stack of books, by the way) keeps the glamorous vibes going. What an interesting choice for the overhead light - modern pendant is a young, fresh juxtaposition against the traditional elements.
via Country Living
Here's another interesting tid-bit I found.  (Am I Detective Erin today, or what?) Notice a difference in the coffee table base shown in the first image in this post and the one below. Apparently the caster base was another update.  On the Nate Show, Lizzie mentioned that she placed reclaimed wood on the casters to allow her to move the table around - and I'm curious if it's tabletop in both photos, but just with different bases? Hmmm....
via thenateshow.com
Lizzie painted a flock of birds and branches on her bedroom wall to add some more interest, using metallic gold paint and what I believe is black and a lighter gray. 

There was an awkwardly placed (off-center) window behind the bed so she made curtains with blackout liners to create an even backdrop. Bonus: extra privacy from her neighbors that are really closeby.
via Country Living, October 2010
Really hope you like this next one, because yours truly is such a nerd that she took photos of her television screen for yoouuuu - just so you could see the the glamour girl gallery wall going on here.  
From The Nate Show, taken by/via Dwell & Tell
Dressing Room
To maximize the amount of usable space, she turned a bedroom (what most people would use as a guest bedroom or office) into a dressing room.
via thenateshow.com
I am also going to give myself a little pat on the back (pat, pat) for being the first to debut her bathroom on the world wide web, thanks again to photographing la television. Yes, I just said "world wide web", 'cause it's 1994. 
From The Nate Show, taken by/via Dwell & Tell
Here's my favorite part.  Come. ON. This is ridiculous-ness people.  Ridiculous-ness of awesome-ness.  I think my soul looks like this room because I feel so weirdly connected to it.  Sure, it's a favorite color palette too so that doesn't hurt.  But otherwise I'm sticking with the soul theory.  I'm crooning. I'm drooling. 

Kitchen time! Gorgeous antique gold chandeliers, gray walls, gray wood and and a retro turqoise refrigerator lay the groundwork.  The sleek white accessories, modern white bar stools (from ikea, holla'!) and pops of turquoise blue and pink.
via thenateshow.com
The island is actually a dresser (by Euro Trash) that was customized by adding a added a shelf to create a seating area. And let's not miss the freakin' peacock, people.  No fair.  I hope it's not real.  Poor birdy.  If it's not, I want one.  If it is real, rest in peace. And fabulousness. Rest in peace and fabulousness, pretty birdy. 
via thenateshow.com

I did some serious digging and around and found a great detail shot of that backsplash.
As explained by EuroTrash "Reclaimed wood and ornate salvaged cartouches were used for the poured concrete counter back splash."

Want to achieve this style? Here are my "WWLD?" ("What Would Lizzie Do?") take-aways:
  • Vintage - shop antique stores, thrift shops, flea markets to add the warmth and character
  • Rustic / Earthy - Wood elements of various tones, concrete
  • Glamorous - Tufting, texture (for example: the bedding, the headboard, the window treatments and velvet chairs in the living room, the chandeliers!) 
  • Colorful - She keep the palette fairly focused: gray, pink, gold and turquoise--but still a little flexibleAdd some modern touches (like the barstools, ceiling pendant in the living room)
  • Modern - a dash of sleek, modern pieces (like the living room ceiling fixture and the kitchen bar stools, for example) keep things fresh and never doubty.
The way she balances all of these textures and styles has really kept me focused on some decisions for awhile.  I'm thinking of making WWLD bracelets (What Would Lizzie Do?).  Think they would sell? 

{For those who don't know me, I had a WWJD bracelet in my day. It was (sadly) as much a fashion statement as it was a biblical statement.  But what if I DID make some bracelets that made a  style statement with WWLD? Again, that's a joke. I'm not making you crazy people bracelets. I'm too preoccupied with things like sanding furniture and Project Runway. And church. Hugs. Kisses. Style. And FALL!!!}

Spill the beans!  What do you like most?  What's your favorite detail or part of this home?

- Erin