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number-pillow

I like simple Math; tell me how much money is in my checking account, and what I can spend on a new coat, and I am very happy, but please don’t ever ask me how X multiplies into Z, or why Radicals are invading the privacy of my Square Root Quotient. See, even my brain just laughed at the mere thought of this.

But, lucky for us, I escaped from the classroom a long time ago, and found comfort in knowing that not all numbers are boring, and we can even use them to help us decorate.

So, whether you like numbers or not, here are some of the tried and true one’s that you may find quite useful.

How Close should my Sofa be to the Wall?

Not that close. Pulling the sofa slightly away from the wall (about 6 – 8 inches) will do all sorts of wonderful things for your room – it will make your room feel bigger, cozier (strangely enough) and help to avoid that formal, Waiting Room appearance.

How much Space do I really need between the Sofa and Coffee Table?

The minimum is about 18 – 22 inches. This gives most of us enough room to move around, but also is close enough for us to sit down and put our cup of coffee on the table without pulling a muscle or having to getting up every few minutes.

What actually is Eye Level Height when Hanging Artwork?

This is a useful guide for when you are a hanging a large piece on a fairly empty wall; the center of your piece of artwork should be approximately 5 feet from the floor (57 – 60 inches). The same goes for if you are starting a gallery wall – put the first piece around the 60 inch mark, and work out your designs from there. If you are hanging art above a sofa, then the bottom of the piece of art should be about 6 – 12 inches above the top of the sofa.

How Large or Small should my Ceiling Light be?

For the height of a ceiling light, take the height of your room and multiply it by 2.5 – 3 inches (i.e. an 8 foot tall room can have a 20 – 24 inch tall light). For the width, take the width and length of your room, add them together,and that should be the approximate diameter, in inches, of your light (i.e. 10 x 15 foot room = 25 inch wide light).

What is the Ideal Height and Width of a Chandelier over my Dining Table?

The bottom of the chandelier should be approximately 30 – 34 inches from the top of your table, and about 12 inches narrower than your table. If your room is taller than average, add a couple of inches for each additional foot (i.e. for a ten foot tall room hang your chandelier 34 – 38 inches above the table).

How High should my Coffee Table and End Tables be?

Most of these are at a fairly standard 16 – 18 inches tall; just make sure they are slightly lower (or even) with the arm of your sofa, or 6 – 8 inches taller than seat level.

What size Coffee Table do I Need?

Look for a coffee table that is approximately close to half the length of your sofa. The goal is that everyone can reach it comfortably, and it visually fills up the space.

What Size Rug should I Get?

In a perfect world, in a perfect room, a rug should sit approximately 18 inches from the wall, however there are other ways to choose a rug that can help you determine the size you need.
–  Decide whether you want it just as an accent i.e. just under the coffee table, with the furniture surrounding it, but not touching it.
–  Do you want it to be a part of the seating area, but not taking up the entire room i.e. just the front legs of the furniture on it.
–  Do you want it to act a bit like a carpet i.e. all of the furniture on the rug.

Because rugs are such a cumbersome item to buy and return, a good idea is to lay down a bed sheet, or mark the space with painters tape first to see what size and layout looks best in your room before you choose.

What about Using a Rug in my Dining Room?

This is probably the only rule that I never mess with. The table and chairs should all be on the rug, with the rug extending at least two feet further behind the chairs so that people can push their chair in and out without getting caught on the rug. If in doubt, use a bed sheet to map it out first.

Photograph and Pillow from Etsy

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my-decorating-collage

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/

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lamp with horse
My very first design conference had me almost in tears with the amount of talent that could fill a room, but from the moment I sat down all I could think about was the light that wasn’t working above Kim’s head. The one that matched the one on the other side. The one that wasn’t working. The neglected one that sat in darkness.

For goodness sake, we were at a design conference, and a part of the room was in shade. The room felt uneven, and I found myself wondering if I could slip out and run to the nearest hardware store to fix it. I wanted to listen, but my eyes couldn’t help travelling to the sad, empty space at the left of the screen.

As she talked, I wondered if I was going insane, and I was mad at myself for feeling so persnickety over something so trivial. When she came to a close, Kim thanked everyone, gave a laugh, and asked, “Is anyone else as distracted as I am by the broken light behind me?”. Relief washed over me, as I knew I wasn’t alone in my madness. She would become one of my most endeared friends, but my first memory will always be of bonding over the broken light bulb.

When I was little, I thought we all saw the world the same way, but we don’t, and designer’s are no exception. There are some that must have everything match; the blue in the drapes must match the color on the wall, and the accent in the vase, and then there are others who go by the color wheel, always wanting everything to be the opposite, and insisting that orange does go with blue whether you like it or not. Some just want to make a bold impression, and others daydream of nothing but soft, baby neutrals.

A designer friend might casually make over your bookshelf in the middle of a conversation, and another will quickly turn your toilet paper the other way around when you can’t see them (didn’t you know that it should come from the top, not the bottom?). We are weird, and our minds work in strange ways.
There are designer’s who won’t go near a flea market, and will bring white gloves to every appointment (just in case) and others who lives for the excitement of a weekend, with a pocket full of crumpled cash and a rolling, rickety shopping cart.

To match, or not to match, brings out strong opinions, yet for someone who frets endlessly about a broken light bulb, I almost break out in hives if I am presented with a living room full of identical table lamps. I agree that it makes no sense, and I need, love and adore symmetry, but exact, repetitious matching kind of disturbs me in a way that I can’t explain. That being said, I do honestly appreciate a beautiful room, and I know that an extravagant balance of coordination is a skill assigned to the talented few.

You see, the thing is, whether we live for serene white walls and minimal looks, or jump with joy at the mere mention of adding even more layers to a crowded room, we are all so different ……… just wanting the same thing.

Wendy E. Wrzos  http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/
Photograph from: Design Milk and Emily Henderson

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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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tim walker - cake

Pie is a happy word. Isn’t it funny; I actually prefer to eat cake, but the word pie makes me happier to say than the word cake.

I find that homes are the same way. A nook sounds far more welcoming than a small place to sit, and while we often laugh at creative descriptions, they do have the uncanny ability to paint us a picture to go with the story. And, if we can create a feeling, an emotional connection to something, we tend to like it more.

Homes are about creating emotional connections with the use of physical objects, but if the objects mean nothing, or were placed without care, then the connection is never made, and it all starts to feel quite hollow.

You see, it’s a bit of smoke and mirrors, but if you’re trying to sell your home, then you often need decorative words, even if they just live inside your own head. It makes the process so much easier, and while you’re not out to fool anybody, it does make your home sound far more appealing.

No-one wants to move into a home that is described as small, dirty and near a busy railroad, but it could also be a cozy, well-loved family home that is close to public transportation.

The idea is to get their attention, invite them in, and then they can decide for themselves whether they want the pie or the cake.

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

Photograph by the amazing Tim Walker

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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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Dear Readers,

Hello out there in blogland! This blog is about to get a makeover. Not the kind we usually like, where we make it prettier–add some color, change a font or two, but in the content department.

You see, we’ve been posting tips, the occasional class and such, but now we really want you to see what ADE is all about. SO… with that being said, stay tuned as we keep you abreast of classes, member benefits, member news, and of course, more design tips.

Members, I’m writing this paragraph just for you now, make sure you FOLLOW this blog in order to receive the latest updates. We’re refining, simplifying, and streamlining our means of communication to better serve you and your adoring fans. Want to contribute? Let us know and we’ll get your article up here pronto. Why the change? Because we feel it’s important for the consumer to see just what ADE has to offer. (As I stated above.) That’s good for you. Good for us. And just plain good!

Thanks for reading!

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