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Archive for the ‘Interior Decorating’ Category

floral armchair 1
I never took it flowers, or dressed up in my fanciest of clothes, but every week I would go to the old antique shop, say hello to the lady behind the counter, and walk upstairs to visit the chair. She said I was allowed to sit on it for as long as I wanted, but I never stayed more than fifteen or twenty minutes.

It was called a chair and a half; crowded inbetween the plastic flowers and the used books, the chair was covered in a riot of faded flowers and had seen better days. It was squishy in all the right places, fit me perfectly, and just seemed to teeter over the wrong edge of my budget.

She said that no-one would buy it because it wasn’t new, and it wasn’t as trendy as it used to be, but I still loved it. Why wouldn’t everyone want to put their feet up on a giant chair, and feel completely enveloped in comfort? Perhaps it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, being a bit disproportionate for the average person, but delightfully dreamy for the rest of us.

One day, I went to visit, and the shop was closed. With no warning, my visits had abruptly ended, and the chair had disappeared. I do wish I had bought it, because it just suited me, and unless I am in a waiting room or sitting at my desk, I really don’t enjoy sitting up straight.

For a while, the loveseat was everything, and you could barely buy a sofa without one, but I never quite got the concept; it seems too big for one person, but too small for two, so what is the point? A chair and a half, while still taking up quite a bit of room, seems far more useful to me. It doesn’t imply you are waiting for someone else, it is the perfect spot to spend a quiet hour or two, you can squeeze an extra person in if you want, and yet it doesn’t look lonely when it is empty.
The chair and a half, while having one of the silliest name’s ever, might just be my most favorite piece of furniture…

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from Connie-livingbeautifully 

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Treehouse Book Sculpture with name

There are some people we meet, and we instantly become great friends. While I have never met Stephen Thompson in person, what began as an introduction of designer parallels quickly become a friendship across the miles. Living in Tupelo, Mississippi, Stephen is the owner of Designer Connection, and a writer for the North East Mississippi Daily Journal; his article this week was so beautifully done, that I asked him if I could share it with you.

STEPHEN THOMPSON: Use the power of story to change your décor

Much like a voice constantly whispering in your ear, your décor’s story can either make or break you. You may not be listening to it but, day and night, your décor is talking to you, and it’s influencing the quality of your life.

You may think your story is a secret, but it’s out there. It’s in the color of your front door, the style of your shutters, whether paints are faded or peeling, cracked or in good repair. Listen and you’ll hear its aliveness or tiredness echoed in your upholstery fabrics as you sit or stand. Your sink, stove, refrigerator and microwave speak volumes through their age, size, and, especially, their cleanliness. And subplots abound on countertops, bookshelves and tabletops throughout your home. Is you story clear and well spoken, or is it cluttered, confused and broken?

Broken stories can be fixed. This is especially true when the story being heard isn’t yours, but one you’ve inherited. Hand-me-downs and well-meaning gifts of furniture – the things others gave you that echoed their story, not yours – may be ill fitting and holding you back from living the life you want. Here are nine ways to fix your décor’s broken story.

• Listen to your spirit. Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” writes, “When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” Keep only things that speak to your heart.

• Clear out the clutter. Methodically removing meaningless mishmash will cancel the background noise and let your story be heard. Discard everything that does not spark joy.

• Speak up. If your hand-me-downs are despised and not prized, reclaim the right to set the tone of your own décor. Don’t keep things you don’t like. Why would you?

• Learn to embrace change. You aren’t the same person you were a decade or so ago; perhaps your décor shouldn’t be either. The place where you live should be for the person you are becoming now. It’s much easier to live in the beauty of today’s story than to continually relive the past. Surround yourself only with things you love.

• Choose the right way. If choosing what to discard scares you, then listen to Mother Theresa, “The more you have the more occupied you are. The less you have the more free your are.” Choose what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of.

• Be your own BFF. How would you talk to your best friend if he or she were in the same decorating dilemma as you? To revitalize your story, muffle your inner critic.

• Don’t bring home crap. The surest way to ruin your décor is to bring home items that aren’t in alignment with your core story. Be on guard when you shop. Quality trumps quantity every time.

• Cultivate an eye for beauty. To have a beautiful story, you must first know what beauty is. Step out of your comfort zone and discover the many worlds of beauty found in nature, in cultural events, in books, movies and theater. Let their inherent beauty capture your heart.

• Tell an authentic story. It matters not whether your family room rug is a beautiful yard sale find or a Persian antique. How does it fit with your values? The story of what you want to own is actually the story of how you want to live your life. Let your décor be a reflection of the one that’s in your heart.

p.s. Stephen Thompson, has been creating tasteful interiors in North Mississippi since 1975. For questions, comments, or consultations contact Designer Connection, P.O. Box 361, Tupelo, MS 38802 or stephen2816@mac.com
Photograph from the extremely talented, Malena Valcarcel

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trio lights1
When I walked into the bathroom there was a small spider hanging from the chandelier. I gently blew at him, and he scampered straight back up to the top. Within seconds, he dropped down again and started to hover in front of me.

I looked at him for a few moments, then blew the tiniest piece of air at him again; like something out of a storybook, he swung back and forth a couple of times then quickly spun a line of silk and dropped to the black tile below.

As I watched him land on the floor and run under the cabinet, all I could think was that this spider (who had never read “The Power of Now”, organized his closet, or contemplated the meaning of life) was probably so much happier than most of us would ever be. He lived in my chandelier (old and rarely dusted), jumped when he needed too, and created the most temporary form of beauty every single day.

I want to believe that he was looking at me, but I don’t even know where his eyes were, all I know is that it felt like a magical experience, and I was grateful to see such a small creature do something so amazing.

Much of what we do is magical, yet rarely do we see it. When I visit people’s homes, I am always astounded at how often they apologize for what they have, when all I see is a lovely room; it may not be exactly how they would like it to be, but there is so much more to like than they realize.
We are all guilty of doing it; our thinking often gets in the way of what we see, and we get so caught up in what we want, that it is easy to forget what we actually have.
Now and again, it is good to make a list of what we truly enjoy about our home, and why (kind of the opposite of a “Honey Do” list). We should remember what it was like when we first moved in, and how excited we were to do something, anything, just because it was completely ours.

We should revisit the memories, sit on our favorite piece of furniture, and take inventory of how far we have come. And we should take a lesson from the spider; love where we live, move forward as needed, create something beautiful (no matter how temporary)
… and stop thinking.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Original Photograph from Anthropologie (spider added by author)

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It’s funny, home offices are becoming more popular, but so are portable devices; people want a separate office space, but then they sit on the sofa to check their email and pay bills. Which to me, is a little like wanting a Kindle, then buying a cover on it that looks like a book. See, I’ve managed to confuse both of us in a single paragraph.

We want things to make our life easier (and less cluttered) but our mind and body still craves tasks that require some form of effort, and make us feel connected. It’s a weird dilemma; like the difference between peeling an orange, and grabbing a glass of juice – peeling and eating an orange boosts our cognitive processes a hundred times more than if we just open the carton and pour out the juice, so we have to decide whether we want to peel the orange, take off the pith and divide up the segments, or should we just open the fridge and grab a glass? They can’t compare really, and I forget why this reminded me of home offices, but I would always rather peel an orange than drink one.

Anyway, like many things, a home office needs to move forward in life, and the need for huge, sagging shelves and walls of metal filing cabinets has become unnecessary for most of us. Paper is used less, and while our workload hasn’t been reduced, we use our spaces differently, and we want everything to work harder and more efficiently for us. And, we want it to look good.

This home office is all sorts of dreamy, and it still has everything you need to get some work done. The glass sawhorse table doesn’t spoil the view, and it blends perfectly with the over-sized baskets and the modern lines of the simple, white chair.

If you need a bit more storage, you still don’t have to scrimp on style; this inexpensive bookcase holds far more than you would imagine (and keeps you organized) while the comfy chair reminds you that you’re not sitting in a cubicle.


This is perfect for someone who has to squeeze an office space into their main living area. Find a classic desk, a simple chair, and decorate it to your heart’s content. Drawers hide all of your bits and pieces, and the shelves keep your books and files where you need them. A few minutes clean up at the end of the day, and it looks just like a picture.

This is a serious work space, but it has so much fun built into it. Spray painting the file cabinets costs next to nothing (which reminds me, I need to do my own. Note to self: It would have been much easier to paint them before I had filled them all up with papers) the notice boards give the homeowner endless room for notes, and the Mason jars keep small clutter under control.

I just had to include this one, because it made me smile, and one of the luxuries of working from home is that it is yours, and you are free to add as much (or as little) of your personality as time and space will allow …..

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
(p.s. click on the photographs for original sources).

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books in fireplace

I don’t read as much as I should (or that I think I should) and I am more inclined to curl up with a magazine or cookery book on a Sunday afternoon, but I still can’t imagine my life without books.

To see a book is to imagine something other than ourselves at that very moment, and to open one up invites us to stop whatever we are doing, and wonder about what may or may not be inside.

books in living room Scott-Newkirk-Brooklyn-home

Books add an inexplicable warmth to every room, and are one of the most hard-working accessories you will ever have.

Whether you artfully stack your used books in a fireplace, or proudly display a rare edition of something old and precious, the only rule is that you shouldn’t pretend.
Please don’t decorate with books that you have no interest in, because we will know. We will know that they are different from you, and we will see that they are not well-loved. (We might even quietly nudge you into the land of pretentiousness, where no-one truly wants to be).

Show us your books because they have meaning, were your favorite read last year, or simply because you enjoy looking at them.

Even if you don’t like to read, take another look, and let the promise of pictures and words gently fill the gaps in your home with life, style and curiosity.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photographs from (top) Graham and Green and (bottom) Improvised Life.

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shoes in fridge

Even though it is cold and rainy outside, I am optimistically determined to get my clothes ready for Spring.
With a closet that is smaller than most American refrigerator’s, I have to be organized; my mom will tell you that it is the excessive amount of clothes that just makes my closet appear to be smaller than it is, but I am sure she is wrong, and have convinced myself that if it looks neat then I obviously don’t have a problem.
Anyway, with Spring here, I wanted to share some easy ways to get you and your small closet ready for any new season.

  • It seems obvious, but take out everything that you probably won’t be wearing for the next three months (eg. heavy sweaters in the Summer and string bikinis in the Winter).  Store these in airtight boxes, another room in your home, under the bed, or in the least accessible part of your closet (if you need them, you will know where they are, but they won’t be taking up important real estate).
  • Do the same thing with your dresser drawers, coat closet and shoes, making sure to clean and repair shoes, coats and string bikinis before you store them away. (By the way, I still haven’t got my favorite pair of boots repaired, so I spent all Winter trying to avoid puddles and changing out of wet socks).
  • While you’re at it, check for items that are worn, don’t fit, or you just don’t like any more; throw out anything that is damaged beyond repair, and donate the rest.
  • Place the clothes you love and plan to wear the most, in the most convenient spot of your closet (usually right in front of you, at eye level). The fancy and rarely worn items should fan out to the left and right, according to how often you reach for them (it is silly to be pushing aside your ball gown every week to reach for your denim jacket)
  • Swap around your coats and shoes too; if it is Spring, make sure your light jackets and sandals are front and center, easy to get to, then plan out the rest according to when you think you might need them. (If your boots will be retired until Winter, then tuck them away in a corner underneath your wool coat).
  • If you want to really go the extra, buy huggable hangers – these will double your small space, and the consistent color and style will make everything look a hundred times more neat.
  • A hook or two, on the inside of your door, is handy for storing belts, scarves, necklaces, tomorrow’s outfit etc.
  • It seems a bit contrary, but if you can, try to leave the floor or shelf of your closet empty – some empty space creates the illusion of calm (and makes you feel impeccable organized …. even if you’re not)

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

Photograph from: Pinterest

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living room - loft

I can’t take credit for the title of this blog; I read it somewhere recently, and I think my heart actually skipped a beat because I knew exactly what he meant. I know it was a designer who said it, and I think it was a gentleman, but it could have been in any one of the dozen magazines sitting in my china cabinet. Does anyone else store magazines in their china cabinet?

Any decorator will tell you that a home needs accessories, but I find that the word kind of reminds me of when my daughter was first told to study at school. Barely able to read, she said okay, went home and read her books; but she didn’t know what studying was, or why it needed to be done. We just assumed that if they were in school then they must have known how to learn. Fortunately, her teacher’s were wonderful, and it was a fleeting moment in time, but I sometimes think that accessories fall into that same category.

Waving our arms around, we say that you must accessorize, and while it all looks lovely and decorated when we are done, there is sometimes very little explanation about the magic behind the pretty room. In our haste, we forget to tell you the most important part.
Because accessories take time. They are the warmth in a home; the layers of comfort that draw us in, cozy us up, and tell us stories about the person who lives there. It’s about a journey, and they should feel collected (not as if you got trapped in a home goods store, and when they found you they said you could keep as much as you could carry).

Accessories are the bits and pieces that say who we are; they bring us happiness by being so cherished, and they allow others to really get to know us. They don’t need to be loud or provocative, they just need to be genuine; a carefully placed pile of books, no matter how beautiful, will always feel hollow if you bought them for looks instead of what was inside.
We want to know why you were compelled to buy that painting, or what made you love that rock so much that you didn’t mind paying the extra fee to bring it home in your suitcase. If it’s in your home it should matter to you.

If your need for accessories and doodads are few, then make them count; buy only for love, not just because it is on sale and someone said you needed to fill a space. Be open to looking in different shops, searching attics, and wandering through garage sales to discover what you are drawn to. Ask friends about their home, what they like, and why. If you still don’t know, go old school and tear out favorite magazine pages, or create an idea board on Pinterest.

There are no rules about what you should (and shouldn’t) like, but from a collected jar of pencils to the most exquisite piece of art, your accessories should make you smile, and they should be able to speak for you.

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

Photograph is from www.mydomaine.com

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fairy light collage2Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a slight crush on Nigella Lawson; her cooking style is really similar to mine, and while I will never be as talented as she, I do tend to waltz around the kitchen at all hours, want everything to be delicious, and just know that daydreaming is an under-appreciated art.

One day, I was watching her cook, and I noticed that she had fairy lights around her kitchen window; assuming it must have been filmed during Christmastime, I thought they looked pretty, but didn’t think too much about it. The next time I watched, they were there again, and I realized that they weren’t just there for special occasions, she had them up year round. It was the first time, apart from being styled in magazines, that I had seen anyone use fairy lights in their everyday life.

It seemed so indulgent and fancy, that it just gave me another reason to like her even more. While I had often thought about buying my own fairy lights, I was never sure where I would put them, and I suspected that they might look a tad silly in my own corner of suburbia; after all, my home isn’t featured on television, and I can only ever pretend to be Nigella.

So, I added them to my wish list, and went about my daily life, until a few months ago when a friend and I visited our favorite home and garden shop. When we walked through the door, the sky high room was literally dripping in branches that were covered in teeny, tiny fairy lights. Excruciatingly beautiful copper wires had been delicately wound throughout the shop for miles; we couldn’t even see where each one began, all I know is that we couldn’t stop smiling. and we decided that we must curl up in a corner and spend the night there.
We never did, but our reluctance to leave was a small price to pay for a few, giddy hours of happiness.

When December came, I had my Christmas tree lights on all day, and I started to wonder how it would be when they were gone. I would miss having the small sparkles appear at the press of a button, but I petulantly told myself that they were only for special occasions, and they would be plugged back in again next year. Besides, who buys fairy lights when there are so many other important (grown-up) things to worry about?

A few days after the tree had been taken down, my friend and I exchanged presents. Inside mine were glorious strings of copper, fairy lights, and the happy, grateful madness began. My inner child took over, preconceived ideas were abandoned, and I immediately put them on the small tree in my living room. Now, whenever I want to, I just press the button, and the room (and my life) feels just a bit more special ….

Thank you, Stephanie!

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

Photographs: Top left: Pinterest Top middle: One Kind Design Top right: We Hang Christmas Lights Middle: Tesco Bottom right: Babble Bottom middle: Pinterest Bottom left: Home My Design

 

 

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marble coffee table1

The other day I went to visit someone, and I knocked the end cap off their gate. Because I didn’t know them very well, and it was in the dark, I hastily grabbed it and stuck it back on; mortified beyond belief, but also wondering why it had popped off in my hand so easily. Surely I was not the first one to do it?

When I watched a television show last night, a couple were “oohing and aahing” over a polished-like-glass marble floor. It actually made my heart beat faster (in a bad way) because as much as I dream of having marble counter tops in my kitchen, to look at it on the floor brought to mind images of me skidding on my backside and being carted off, in a very undignified fashion, in an ambulance. I could never wear high heels, children and dogs couldn’t tear around in crazy confusion, I could never leave the shower to grab the phone, and I would have to come in from the rain in a very sedate way, placing my drippy umbrella in a stand, and removing my coat and shoes before I even decided to venture onto the beautiful, marble floor.

Decorating can be hazardous, and I wonder sometimes if the wonder of it all gets ahead of the quality and the practicality? Like most people, I want it to look good, but if something doesn’t work for me, then the novelty wears off pretty darn quickly.

Along with my marble counter’s, I would love to have a gorgeous, new front door, with no screen door in front of it. I even know the exact one which I would get, and the color I would choose. But I like my windows and doors open, and I use the screen every single day; if I got rid of it, I would have a beautiful front door, but it would either be closed, or a welcome invitation to all sorts of unexpected critters coming in and out of my house.

When I get an idea, I do always try to anticipate the pitfalls, but one that I never gave much thought to was ripping up all the carpet in my house. It started off as a small spot by the front door, then slowly spread to every room. Apart from the extreme amount of time that it took, I found myself in the middle of a renovation with my toddler daughter; I knew she was there when I began, but for some reason I never thought about how it would affect her. I guess my post-baby brain assumed that she would just sit and wait, while I spent weeks ripping up carpet and placing thousands of rusty tacks into little porcelain bowls. She was never hurt, but there were more than a few close calls.

What I also didn’t think about was that my home would be twice as cold in the Winter time, that when the dog ran down the stairs it would sound like someone was throwing a barrel full of marbles, and that the floor would be so poorly built that when we laid on our tummies we could actually see through to the cellar below. Useful if we need to yell, or pass a note to someone, but not much good for our heating and cooling bill.

When Winter settles in, I wonder what on earth I was thinking and I crave being able to walk barefoot around the house on the squishy, soft carpet. But then Spring arrives; I forget my mistakes, and all I want to do is lie on my tummy, feel the sunshine warmth of the old, wooden floors, and watch the light peeking down through the cracks …

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

Photograph from Brabbu

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It’s almost tag sale season! You know, yard sales, garage sales, flea markets… gently worn, already loved bits and pieces with a dash of a history. I’m already gearing up and I have my list of wants and wishes ready to go. Soon, it’ll be time to clean out the car, grab some cash, and hit the road. And don’t underestimate curb appeal. Lots of people are just dropping things off at the curb—for free! My heart still aches the time I had to drive by two beautiful velvet chairs. Don’t let this happen to you.

So what should you be looking for? If you’re a beginner, start with the small stuff. Take stock of what you need and buy with your heart. It’s okay to offer a different price other than the one marked, but be fair. And if you’re trying to embellish existing furnishings and designs, be smart and take along photos of what you already have. Here’s my secret: Bring photos of your roomthis includes close-ups (for pattern reference and overall style), paint chips of any colors you’re trying to coordinate (hold those chips right up to each piece of fabric, rugs, and walls), and a measuring tape. If you’d like to stretch into the big leagues, then it’s best to brush up on antiques. You can find a multitude of books at your local library as well as lots of resources online.

This garage sale meets designer look really works. Notice all of the different patterns, colors, and materials. You might recognize this photo from the Hallmark show, Garage Sale Mystery where the proprietor is always finding treasure. Here are some tips to help you along. When you buy upholstered seats, there are two things to keep in mindcomfort and smell. Once it passes the smell test (yes, you have to get up close and personal), you have to make sure it’s comfortable to sit on. Take your time and be sure. When you’re buying seats for tables, or tables for seats, this is where your trusty tape measure comes in. Make sure the height of the table and the height of the arm (the chairs or yours) is within 2″ of each other to be a good match.

Scratches, worn paint, a few dentsthey’re all part of the charm. How do you like the miss-matched drapes? It works because the colors work well with everything in the room and they’re all the same color family. Don’t be afraid to put something old next to something new in a room. The juxtaposition between the two materials gives a room depth and interest.

What types of things should you look for?

  • Dishes, glassware, silverware – To be used as is or as vases, vessels, etc.
  • Distressed signs – To use in place of art. These really make a statement in a room.
  • Baskets and boxes – Use as is or as end tables, on walls as shelves or shadow boxes.
  • Old game sets – As accessories or hung as art.
  • Pottery and vases
  • Paintings and photographs
  • Light fixtures – Make sure you know how to make them work as you won’t know if they actually do.
  • Die cast metal vehicles and gadgets – Conversation starters for sure.
  • Clothing and accessories – Inspect carefully.
  • Metal or wood cabinets – A horizontal metal office cabinet can be used as a sofa table as pictured above.
  • Fabrics – Sometimes you’ll find fabrics by the yard and sometimes you’ll want to purchase clothing or bedding for the fabric alone.
  • and of course, furniture

Scour the newspaper, map your route, and have fun!

Photos: HallmarkChannel.com, Karlis Dambrans

Kim – http://www.BeautifulLivingBlog.com

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