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Archive for the ‘Interior Redesign’ Category

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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box people

They estimate that 1 in 10 Americans own a storage locker, and that at least 2 out of every 10 lockers will become abandoned and unclaimed. Apparently, we spend a tremendous amount of time and money storing things, and the older I get the less I understand why; it is frightful to me how much I have stored in my own basement, and on more than one occasion I have gone to look for something, only to find that it has been nibbled on by mice or become more than a little damp and damaged.

Some things, I honestly don’t know why I even have them, but I am sure they made perfect sense at the time. I’m not so silly as to store rubbish down there, but after last Winter I was so afraid of losing electricity again that I began stockpiling cardboard to use in the wood-burning stove; fortunately, this year has been very mild, but now all I see is an endless, messy mountain of boxes when I walk down the stairs, and the thought of breaking them down makes me want to cry and lose the will to live. It made sense in a random doomsday prep kind of way, but now it is just something that feels overwhelming because of the sheer volume of it all.

There are a few things that I thought I would sell (which considering I have never sold anything before was maybe a tad ambitious) and an old cast iron sewing machine that I love, and is useful for putting things on, but far too heavy to make its journey back up the stairs.

So, while I understand the occasional need to store things, it is often my least favorite idea when it comes to organizing a home. I prefer to think of it as a temporary solution; one that should probably be stopped before it becomes a reluctant place to visit, a small habit, quietly fed with irrational doses of fear, cardboard and avoidance.

When the weather warms up, I will empty my basement as much as I can, and delight the recycling man with my impressive pile of cardboard, but in the meantime I must decide what to do with the rest. Don’t ask me for my life plan, or even a 5 year plan, but ask me to organize something and I will be right there. It makes me so happy, and, I am sure that if my cellar was heated (and not jumping with cave crickets) I would be cleaning it out today.

I donate most things to Big Brothers Big Sisters or the Market Street Mission in Morristown. I like that they are local, they are friendly to deal with, and I know that everything is appreciated and used (or at least sold for their cause). I have found that it is so important to donate to something that you truly believe in, as that will make the process far more motivating and enjoyable (palatable?).

If you want to make money off what you have, there are places for that, but otherwise it is best to give freely, without regrets or conditions; not everything may go to the exact place that you imagine, but someone somewhere will always get the trickle down benefit from your donation, which, as Martha would say, is always a good thing.

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

Photograph of the box people from: Pinterest

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nook - reading

Y’know when you just have a good feeling about a place?
It’s that inexplicable thing that is there, that you want, but can’t quite see.

Some people say that how a home is decorated can influence our emotional well-being far more than we realize. With the world moving faster every day, many people believe that the core of who we are has become compromised, which in turn disconnects us from our natural environment, and can make us feel out of balance with the world.

From a design perspective, this modern dilemma is one that can benefit from the ancient art of Feng Shui. Used far more often now, Feng Shui is no longer classified as a wacky trend that conjures up thoughts of burning sage and gibberish chants; it has become a respected avenue for many people who want their homes to be a nurturing part of their life.

I thought, for this week, I would share some simple ideas, based on Feng Shui, that can easily (and simply) improve the “happiness quotient” in any space.

  • Begin with the entrance to your home. Energy is attracted to curves. Use plants or garden ornaments to “soften” any angular paths that lead to your front door.
  • Encourage family and friends to stay by having intimate seating areas that are not too cluttered. Add accessories that represent life, warmth and/or movement (eg. mirrors, wind-chimes, pebbles, flowers etc).
  • Attract positive, natural energy by bringing in any of these five elements – Earth, Wood, Fire, Water and Metal. How you interpret them is up to you; no need for fancy waterfalls and sculpture’s, a plant and a metal bracelet is a good start.
  • Open windows and doors as often as possible to circulate (and remove) stale air and refresh the energy in your home.
  • Bring calm, space and abundance to your home with mirrors, positioning them in small or unexpected places.
  • Feel safe and secure by positioning your furniture (and beds) so that you can see anyone arriving or leaving.

When I first learned about Feng Shui, years ago, I was very skeptical about the whole thing, but as I went along, the premise of it started to make sense. This post is such a small interpretation of what it represents, but I hope it might be just enough to pique your interest ….

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

Photograph borrowed from: thoughtsquestionsqueries

 

 

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mannequin 4Remember when our dad’s could fix almost anything with a roll of duct tape and some chewing gum? I think some of them still can, but now we don’t laugh at them carefully wrapping silver tape around anything that doesn’t move; we call them hacker’s, and they are probably laughing all the way to the bank, as they sign their second million dollar book deal telling us all about even more ways to use that five dollar roll of duct tape.

Maybe it’s because we are so busy, or maybe it’s a small nod towards saving money, but life hacks are one of the biggest trends right now. For some reason, a hack sounds far more fun than a short-cut, and while we can’t wait to try a hack, no-one exactly jumps up and down in anticipation of a new short-cut.

Regardless of the name, there are definitely some wonderful ideas out there, and if they don’t work, all we have lost is a little bit of time and something to laugh about.

Recently, I was so inspired that I really thought that putting duct tape on my bra was a good idea. As I ran out the door, I felt the wire from my bra poke through, and I grabbed the roll of duct tape sitting on my counter (it was black, and so was my bra – it seemed perfect). Strangely enough, the wire had poked through by the time I had got to work, and I was left with the disturbing realization that instead of doing what I had asked of it, the tape had firmly attached itself to my skin and my clothes. Apparently, duct tape can stop a five hundred pound air conditioner from falling out of my window, but it is no match for a tiny wire and some stretchy fabric.
Needless to say, I would not recommend this idea to anyone, but for all the other quick fix fans out there, here are some of my favorite (tried and true) home design hacks….

  • Fix small nicks on appliances and tile with Nail Polish – it comes in a million different colors, and you can usually buy a cheap one for less than a couple of dollars.
  • Use a shoe organizer for storing toys, make-up, household cleaners, gloves and hats, snacks – anything but shoes (unless you are a perfect Women’s size 7, and have exactly twelve pairs of shoes).
  • When you’re done painting a room, store some extra paint in a screw top jar (label with the name, number, brand, date and room that you used it in). This is perfect for quick touch-ups, and will keep for much longer than if it is sitting in a paint can.
  • Update your old brass lamp stands (and accessories) with black chalk board paint for a gorgeous, matte black finish that is durable and looks like cast iron. No primer needed. (I have also painted shoes, walls, cupboards, picture frames and glass storage containers with chalk board paint).
  • Use old necklaces and costume jewelry as tie-backs for your curtains, and decorative shower curtain rings in place of curtain hooks.
  • Turn your window into a seasonal headboard – center your bed in front of it, place some nice curtains either side of it, then decorate the rest of the room. Your room will feel larger, and you will automatically have an ever-changing focal point.
  • Or, use a bookcase as your headboard – it looks great, and so practical!
  • Remove cupboard doors in your kitchen for instant open shelving, and take out a drawer or two to store and display cookbooks horizontally.
  • Use self-stick hooks to hang a light curtain rod, or, ditch the hooks altogether, and use a shower curtain tension rod to hang your curtains (which might have been made out of a pair of decorative sheets).
  • Update lamp shades by decorating them with paint, sharpies and decorative fringe etc. Tape off areas to create stripes, use heat safe glue to add decorations, and let the children draw all over them with sharpies.
  • Store necklaces, belts and scarves on an old tie rack, keep small pieces of jewelry in old tea cups, ice cube trays, plates and saucers, and stack bracelets on an old paper towel holder (which can also be used to store spools of ribbon if you like to wrap presents).
  • Add metal coat hooks to the backs of almost every door; ideal for keys, coats, bags, jewelry, organizers, brooms and mops (just attach a ribbon to the end of the handle – drill a hole if you need to – and hang them upside down).

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

Photograph of Mannequin from The Vintage Rose Tasmania and the Duct Tape from Pinterest

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layering_griege

Removing Christmas from my house requires a lot of loud music, comfy clothes, and perhaps the occasional glass of something sweet. While I love my home, the spaces are small, so I have to rearrange everything to accommodate the Christmas tree; furniture is forced to move around like some bizarre game of musical chairs, and I find myself almost apologizing to the over-sized, vintage radio as I decide to wiggle it awkwardly into the coat closet for the month.

Ever the decorator, I am not content to just jam it all into place, so it takes me hours to basically redesign my home just for the sheer joy of having a Christmas tree in the front window. So, this last weekend was spent taking down Christmas, moving furniture and pictures back to wherever they came from, and freeing the old radio from its hiding space.

Ironically, my music of choice was David Bowie‘s, “The Singles 1969 – 1993“; songs that I grew up on, and could easily belt out the lyrics to in my sleep. I mention this only because he passed away the very next day, and I had no idea that he was so ill while I was singing along to some of my favorite music and chasing pine needles around with the vacuum cleaner.

At the end of the day, my home was pulled back together, and I started futzing around with the table by my front door; playing with shapes, and layering photographs that I had decided to relocate from another room. I spent at least twenty minutes on that tiny space, and as I did, I thought, that as designer’s, we often forget to mention the details that really matter in an effort to make decorating appear as simple as possible.

Layering accessories is one of those details that can make or break a home. We see it done so beautifully on mantles and bookshelves, but the truth is (don’t laugh) that if you just put several things in front of each other, with no thought at all, it could probably be called a mess, and the difference between a mess and the art of layering is all about taking a moment to find a common thread, and taking even more time to play with what you have.

So, if you love the look of layering, and want to add a bit more personality to your home, try grouping things together before you begin (by color palette, shape, theme, style, or texture). Forget about using matching things, the more eclectic the better (and often the easier it is). The goal is (essentially) to have designed clutter; to just teeter around the edge of it looking undone, and almost accidental in appearance, but in a very deliberate way.

I always start with either the largest piece, or my favorite, and then add the other items around it. Books are a great way to add a layer, and they automatically provide a shelf for something else to sit upon. Mixing old and new gives us a feeling of warmth, and a curated layer is the perfect spot to put the occasional, quirky doodad that you just can’t do without.

The magic of layering is that it allows us to take the ordinary things that we have, turn them into what we love, and relax them into a casual, decorative story. So, when you have a moment, turn up the music, grab your drink of choice, and start playing.

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

Photograph from: Note to Sarah

 

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