At Home with Fur


A lady once sat next to me on the bus with a very large, full length fur coat on. The fur spilled over onto my own coat (a bright green puffer jacket which kept me warm, but I am sure made me visible from outer space, and made any movement feel like an extreme aerobic exercise. In fact, I bet I lost several pounds every time I wore it). Anyway, by the time we got off the bus, I was nauseous from the occasional touch of the fur, and the unusual smell that the falling, wet snow had created as it seeped further into the skin of her massive coat.

Never an activist, this experience has shaped my feelings about fur for the rest of my life, and it has taken me almost twenty years before I would even wear a dress with an animal print on it, never mind consider bringing a piece of fur into my home.

Now, it is different, and faux leather and fur are everywhere, and they are simply gorgeous. It is so popular that we are even changing the name from faux (fake) to Vegan Leather (thank you Stella McCartney) which sounds much nicer from a retail perspective, and almost makes us feel that we are doing something healthy for ourselves when we buy it.

Strangely enough, adding a piece of animal print, vegan leather or faux fur is sometimes all you need to update your home. The interesting thing is, that despite being a little unexpected they do actually go with every design style; never enough to throw your entire room into turmoil, you will find that they are just enough to up the decorating ante, while adding a carefully measured dose of personality that you never even knew you were missing.

I imagine there will always be real fur and leather in our lives, but if you are a bit like me, and can be prone to a weak tummy, just walk into any store, or check your favorite place online, and blissfully indulge in lots and lots of fabulous faux’s!

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from Pottery Barn



A friend recently asked me about decorating her bedroom. After living in her home for many years, her bedroom had become a transitional mess; a place for laundry (in all it’s stages), a storage facility, and a home office that was slowly reproducing technical equipment when no-one was looking.

Why do we put ourselves last? Bedrooms should be the simplest room to decorate; the focal point is already established, and the function is pretty much self-explanatory. More than anything else in the modern world, people are lacking sleep and relaxation, so wouldn’t it make sense to focus on these things before picking out kitchen cabinets, or deciding what book to carefully place on your coffee table?

I promise, that whatever the state of your bedroom, all it takes is an afternoon to make it a much better place to spend time in.

  • Why not start with the obvious, and take out everything that doesn’t belong in there. (I know this can lead to a horrible mess somewhere else, but I think your bedroom is more important than that other space, and you will be so much happier when bedtime – and morning – arrives).
  • Minimize or eliminate all electronics (including your cell phone).
  • Then, decide what you do (and don’t) want to see first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Close the closet doors, make the bed, straighten the dresser, and take a look at what is happening on the walls. What should stay, and what should go? Take them out now.
  • Remove family photographs. This is not a popular idea, but I think the bedroom should be an escape; your personal space to relax, and just be who you want to be. So why not take these down and move them to a family room, the hallway, or a small wall in your kitchen?
  • Add some artwork above the bed, but only if you think it needs it; don’t feel that it has to be “decorated” – a minimal room can look beautiful too.
  • Use color and texture for interest. I like bedrooms to be quite simple, but this is the perfect place to experiment with something a little unexpected and daring (not an afternoon project, I’ll admit, but next time you want to paint, consider a gorgeous red or the deepest navy blue). Texture is also a great way to add interest without clutter – just use several things in the same shade family, and leave the rest alone.
  • Have something warm on the floor for your feet, and don’t be afraid to layer a rug over your carpet if it is looking a little worse for wear (this will also make your room feel more sophisticated and cozy). Shop your house for a rug if you don’t already have one.
  • Be selfish, and only surround yourself with what will make you happy as you drift off to sleep – a worn love letter from years ago, soft, fluffy pillows and blankets, your favorite books, a piece of Art, silence, notepaper and pencils, flowers, an old stuffed teddy bear, plants, perfume, music, nothingness …

Wendy Wrzos  http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from:  http://brandibernoskie.com/fairy-tale-settings/


Your Decorating Personality


Sometimes, knowing where to start is the hardest part. It’s that first move that paralyzes us, and we over-think what we imagine may happen, or worry about doing something in the exact right order. In life, that can lead to some tricky decisions, but in decorating it is rarely complicated at all; hopefully, no-one will freak out if you put the chair in a different spot, and the children will still find their way home if the door is painted yellow instead of red.

But, it’s the starting that gets us. I think that we say so much about ourselves without speaking, and if we just trusted that instinct a little bit, we wouldn’t find decorating so hard. Okay, yes, it might still not be fun or easy, but if we can see what we like, then we are more than halfway there, and it gives us a visual blueprint to start from.

There are a gazillion sites and apps out there that will help us design our home, but I tend to go back to basics; partly because I like to keep life simple, but also because I want the ability to change my mind whenever I want to, without spending a lot of unnecessary time and money. Sometimes, by the time we have waded through the User Id’s and help button, it seems far simpler to tear bits out of a magazine, scribble a note on a piece of paper, and bookmark a favorite room into a computer file.

So, as an experiment, I pretended I was trying to figure out my own style.
I set my timer for five minutes, and scanned through my photographs. Without thinking about why I was choosing them, I clicked and grabbed the images that appealed to me at that moment.
From these images, you get a quick snapshot of what type of person I am, so, if you do the same, you will see what appeals to you as well, and it might help you to have a clearer direction when you go to decorate your home.

At the top of the post are my pictures, and based on the result, it would seem that I lean towards Fashion, Flowers, Elegance, Quirkiness, Simplicity, Comfort, Nostalgia, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Color, Character, Texture, Chandeliers and a good dose of Organized Chaos.
You should try it, because for a five minute experiment, it’s pretty accurate.

*  By the way, I used PicMonkey, because I find it ridiculously easy, and there is never any sign up or passwords needed. I went to Design, then applied canvas color (I kept it white) then went to the butterfly image on the left (Overlays), added my own images from my computer, then saved.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

For The Love of Realtors


I think that Realtors must be some of the most positive people on the planet. Their job is to steer you in the right direction, and help you fall in love with a home; they earn your trust, build a relationship, and hopefully complete the deal. Before they know it, they have become the unsuspecting Matchmaker’s of the work force.

And, they have their own love language. We all watch the selling, flipping and goodness-knows-what-else shows that are saturating television right now, but my favorite’s are the international one’s. It seems easy to sell the attributes of a seven million dollar loft in New York City, but when faced with a small pied-à-terre in the back of a rather questionable alley, the challenge becomes a little more real.

Sometimes, it can require an almost fairytale kind of imagination (and a very positive attitude). So, with respect and love to Realtors everywhere, I wanted to share some of my favorite words from their dictionary:

OPEN PLAN – No privacy. Ever.

COZY – Much smaller than you think, and not suitable for anyone over six feet tall.

CHARMING – Has not been renovated, repaired or cleaned since 1973.

A VIEW – It has a window that you can look out of.

OUTSIDE SPACE – If you go out the door, from the inside of the house, you will be outside, in a space.

NEEDS SOME TLC – Watch your step, sign the insurance waiver, and don’t forget to wear a helmet when you visit.

PRIVATE – You will never, ever get any visitors unless they have a GPS, an overnight bag and four wheel drive.

LOW MAINTENANCE BACK YARD – A slab of concrete with room for a small, potted geranium and a white plastic chair.

VERY SPACIOUS, WITH AN OPEN PLAN CONCEPT – Larger than anyone could possible need, and please don’t ask me how you’re supposed to arrange your furniture.

LOTS OF NATURAL LIGHT – Bring your own lamps, because there are no ceiling lights (anywhere).

BUILT IN HOME OFFICE – An open shelf in a corner of the kitchen.

EASY WALKING TO ALL AMENITIES – No garage or parking space for your car.

UP AND COMING NEIGHBORHOOD – One day it will be safe, but for now don’t go out after dark, and don’t remove the bars from the windows.

PARTIALLY FURNISHED – The current owners don’t want to pay to remove the pool table, the beds have bugs, and they can’t be bothered to clean out the refrigerator.

HAS POTENTIAL – Not for the faint of heart – contractors only, please.

MOVE IN READY – We are desperate, we’ve done all we can, and we have to leave.

UNIQUE HOME – Dad retired early, bought a bunch of tools, and started fixing up the house.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph of House on Holland Island from Amusing Planet



Feather Talk

Have we talked about feathers yet?

A few years ago, my friend gave me her lime green, feather wreath as a surprise gift. Maybe it was because I couldn’t stop petting it, or maybe she had a secret pile of back-up wreaths in the cupboard, but when I discovered what she had done I almost cried with happiness.
I hung it front and center in the living room window, and kept it up for way longer than I should have. Seeing it every day was the most welcome of sights, and I never wanted to take it down.
As Spring started to arrive, the outside colors took over, and the green started to fade into the background; gone was the vivid contrast with the sharp, white snow outside, and I knew it was finally time to put it away.

The next year, all I wanted for Christmas was my feather wreath. Carefully placed in my office closet, I never gave it a second thought, but when I tried to bring it out in November, it didn’t even come out in one piece. The foam was eaten, and the feathers were neatly piled into the corner, behind my paint swatches, surrounded by mice poo. Five hundred and seventy five million paper paint swatches, and they didn’t even taste one; they chose to seek and destroy the wreath instead. Like me, they couldn’t resist the soft feathers, and I am sure it made their Winter the most coziest one ever.

This year, I might buy a new one, but it probably won’t be lime green, and it definitely won’t feel the same, but I still find myself googling feather wreaths as I sip my morning coffee. I honestly never thought I was a wreath person, but this unexpected gift really changed my mind, and now I can’t wait to find another one to hang in my front window…


A more subdued feather wreath from West Elm. This is for the elegant, the quiet nod to controlled eccentricity (and perhaps even for use year round?)


This Acorn wreath from Duncraft is so unexpected, and would easily last quite happily from Fall to Spring on your Front door.
(p.s. don’t store this where the mice can get it)


Such a small and simple wreath deserves to be noticed.
Beautiful in its simplicity, this was handmade by Liz over at I Heart Naptime.


Often used for decorating fancy parties and weddings, this boxwood wreath will last for months, and cheer up every cold, dark Winter’s day.


Is there anything that we can’t buy over at Etsy?
(This birch twig wreath, decorated with natural cotton blossoms, is worth every penny!).


I don’t know if I have favorite, but this one from Dried Decor comes pretty close. I wouldn’t put it outside (but then again, it is made of bird feathers, and birds do live outside) but wherever you hang it, it will get noticed
(and your friends won’t be able to resist petting it…).

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/


With Fall sprinkling the first yellow leaves onto my garden, I suddenly see a million things that need to be done. Some days, my attention bounces from one thing to another, imagining what I should be doing, while also getting lost in the moment (like being distracted by a small, red salamander, or wondering why I have a leak in my ceiling when the sun is shining down so brightly).

Today is one of those days; I walked the dog, dug up some weeds, threw down some flower seeds (then realized I should have waited until Spring), cleaned the garage, dragged some branches as far as I could, moved an outdoor table until the leg fell off, watched the red salamander, painted the back door, cleaned the grill, then came inside to work. All before noon.

Wait a moment, before you stop reading, don’t be too impressed; none of them were done well, and most weren’t completed, but my jumbled approach satisfied that urgent need to feel the cool change in the weather, get my hands dirty, and move a few things around.

It is so easy to get lost in what we think we should do. We decide we must have the perfect tool for the task, the right type of gardening clothes, and simply can’t do anything until we have the exact amount of hours left in a day. But that is just silly; life never goes as planned, we get distracted or tired, and we catch ourselves endlessly waiting to do the simplest of things.

Settling sounds so awful, but in the land of home improvements (and decorating) striving for perfection is even worse; it’s the ugly sister of settling. A word that is almost like a stop sign on the road to getting things done. I hear someone imply it, and I catch my breath, knowing that it is going to be a long time before something happens (if ever). Of course, there are things that can’t be skimped on, and should be done perfectly – your walls should be fairly straight, and the leaky faucet can’t be fixed with a dollop of chewing gum and hope, but there are many things that fall quite happily into the good-enough category.

I tend to start with a list of my ideas, then when I get stuck I whittle it down to random intentions. Random intentions seem a little kinder, and definitely more forgiving. They give me a moment to focus on what is really important (and what can I do myself – today) rather than procrastinating about a fantasy list of distant “What if’s”.
Definitely a bit of a Dr. Seuss mentality, but next time you find yourself wondering what to do, or where to begin with your DIY project, why not take perfection out of the equation, and figure out the quickest and easiest way to get (almost) there …

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from: Australian Pinterest

Salad and Symmetry

salad organized neatly
People tease me for not liking salad, but I actually do enjoy vegetables, and while I have a similar aversion to decorations that match, a beautifully symmetrical room will always make my heart beat a little faster.

Symmetry is the sigh of relief in a room; the elusive thing that often makes no sense, but can take a mash-up of unexpected pieces and turn them into the most exquisite combination of comfort.It’s a small detail, that bounces and balances what you have around the room, in a fluid, joyful movement; a harmonious dance of design and personality.

A symmetrical room feels more interesting, and the trick is to balance what you have, without following straight lines.
Play with opposites, balance a heavy piece with several small one’s on the opposite walls.
Try to think more about shapes and sizes rather than finding things that look alike.

If it doesn’t look right, change it, or take it down. Move things around until it feels comfortable to you. Don’t be afraid to hang a picture too high (or too low) or change the use of a favorite piece (if your china cabinet looks better with linens in it, on the second floor landing, that’s okay…).

When everything matches we become afraid to move anything. Our rooms feel so done, that we don’t want to disturb them, and we have an almost illogical fear that we might forget where everything was. Why that matter’s so much I don’t know, but it also stops us from seeing what we have. If all we see are lots of straight lines and a pair of matching lamps, our brain shuts down, and it becomes bored. So it’s kind of a double whammy; we don’t want to move things, and we aren’t inclined because we barely even see them any more.

But, if we combine some symmetry with a little bit (just a little) of matching, we will get over our fear of movement, and our home will still be interesting, beautiful and composed – like a designed salad.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from http://abduzeedo.com/neatly-organized-life