Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘interior design’

junk mailLots of people I meet have a hatred for the mail; it’s shoved in drawers, overflowing from plastic bags, or abandoned in boxes for days on end. But my daughter and I actually fight to see who goes and collects the mail. We both rummage through, it as we slowly walk back to the step, seeing if there are postcards for her, or magazines and catalogs for me. Occasionally, there is a real letter, but sometimes it is just a few, official looking envelopes, screaming out for our attention, when they are merely clever impostors, pretending to be far more important than they really are.

We look at them together, and I roll my eyes at the credit card invitations, while she is excited at their promise of (seemingly) large amounts of money coming our way. I rip the plastic off the magazines, scan the headlines, and try to guess who is the latest beauty on the cover. I briefly believe them when they say that the new hair cut will make me look young and slim, then I put it carefully aside, coveting its promise for an indulgent, quiet read later on.

Getting the mail is a game to us, and I realized yesterday it’s because our focus isn’t on the bills and thoughtless, shiny pieces of advertisement (I always mean to take up the coupon crusade, but I just can’t seem to do it). These, we can’t avoid, but in the middle of the necessity is the fun of always having something unexpected to look forward to.

Yes, it may be setting the bar for enjoyment pretty low, but we never know what is going to arrive. Like everyone, I have had my fair share of devastating envelopes, but amidst the fear and breathlessness the garden catalogs continue to arrive, and the fashion magazines still sweetly call my name.

I know we are supposed to cut down on clutter, and unsubscribe to everything, but I don’t want my world to be that sanitized and pared down to exactly what I want. I control enough in my life, without knowing (and dreading) exactly what I will see every day. I like to be surprised; to have my eyes opened to something different, and to be allowed to wonder why on earth I have just received the latest bass fishing catalog …..

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

Photograph adapted from Martha Stewart

Read Full Post »

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

 

 

Read Full Post »

ryan-roche-kitchen-remodelista-10 (1)
Sometimes, my head is so full with details and inspiration, that I have to empty it all out onto a piece of paper. An almost compulsive note-taker, not a day goes by when I don’t see or think of something obscure that I must write down and remember – sometimes it is as normal as a photograph in a waiting room magazine, but other times I am inexplicably captured by the curved shape of sugar in a jar, or the movement of a worm trying to escape a rain puddle in the driveway.

I am not sure if this is normal, but I have come it accept it, and understand that it gives me an appreciation for random moments that would otherwise go unnoticed. Inspiration is everywhere, and while we can’t all wander around gazing into puddles, there is a certain joy that happens when we open ourselves up to always being curious.

Recently, I was invited to write about my design ideas, and to share a favorite color inspiration. Not wanting to copy anyone else, I went back to my love of fashion, and chose a pale pink that I had seen all over the runway; paired dreamily with soft, warm shades of mink and cream it seemed especially perfect for these upcoming winter months.

When I see something that inspires me, I often hold my breath and don’t want to exhale, afraid I will lose whatever beauty is placed in front of me.

One of the most common things that people say is that they don’t know what they like, and I worry that they might be waiting for just one single, gigantic image to appear; something so perfect and spectacular that it will give them all the answers, and then they are done.

But life isn’t like that, and thankfully a home isn’t either; it is a constant, moving part of who we are, and we should swap and change our thoughts and ideas as we go along. Thank goodness for the internet, because if we aren’t inspired by worms in puddles or sugar in a jar, we can log onto a world of wonder at just the click of a button.

Here are some of my favorite places to wander around for inspiration ….

Things Organized Neatly

Remodelista

Rodney Smith and Tim Walker

House of Humble

My Scandinivian Home

The Inspired Room

The Christmas Snail Explained

How to Decorate Like a Parisian

Anthropologie

House and Garden UK

The Novogratz Family

Photograph of Ryan Roche’s kitchen from Remodelista 

Read Full Post »

281461a253c81bc7c31957dcb7e72022One of our Education Affiliates (Newbury Design School) shared this on their FB page and we thought we’d share it with you.

Texture is one of the most under appreciated design elements in a home. Spruce up yours by adding organic elements with ease. Nature is our best teacher. Bring in branches, berries, leaves and other beauties. Don’t toss a broken door: sand it down, brush some antique glaze through the crevices, all while adding patina and character to cast-away objects. Now hang it on the wall in place of art or lean it for a more casual look. A big basket is a must-have. Fill it with towels in the bath, newspapers and magazines in the living room, or to toss papers to recycle in an office. When you’re at a loss for pulling a room together, think texture! (Image: HGTV)

Read Full Post »

dandelion dreamanityOver ten years ago we had a sun-room added to the back of our house. I was lucky enough to be able to design it, and it instantly became my most favorite room. Whether it was pouring with rain, covered in snow, or just too hot to think, I could sit in that room and the world instantly became a better place. With windows all around and skylights up above, it was a small piece of paradise leading from my back door.

Then, one day, the air hockey table arrived, and my dream was gone. No matter how much I decorated around it, I could still see it; it ruined my view, and the flowered tablecloth looked so uncomfortable with the intrusion of the noisy, plastic, over-sized toy. I briefly considered moving it into the dining room, but in reality the logistics of eating at an air hockey table were a bit odd, so I wondered if I could put a plant on it, or disguise it with some books and a blanket.

After a while I gave up, and accepted the room with the new addition, but I didn’t like it, and what had seemed cozy and eclectic, now seemed cluttered and dismal. I liked to play air hockey, but curling up with a book was never quite the same when I had to stare at the sea of plastic, and check for flying discs before I walked in the room.

So, I did the crazy thing that some of us do; I moved everything around and around, like a ridiculous Rubik’s cube that I couldn’t solve, refusing to accept the 4 foot by 8 foot toy that took up half of the room. I was reluctant to take anything out, because it was my room, and I knew from the beginning how I had wanted it to look.

But whatever I did didn’t make it look better, so I gave the room over to the cat and the dog. I gave up because I was annoyed, stuck in denial, and letting go of my idyllic room was still not on my agenda. Now and again I would walk in, frown, and leave, until this past week.

During the Winter I had decided to store the wood for the stove in the entrance of the sun-room. (A well learned lesson from the previous year, when we got wood delivered, threw a tarpaulin over it, and promptly had a snow and ice storm. The next day we lost power, so you would have seen us standing on the ice, chipping away with shovels until one of us (me) fell through the wood pile and gashed her leg open). Anyway, bringing the wood inside before the snow meant that we always had wood for the fire, and no-one got damaged in the process.

So, last week I was stacking the leftover wood into neat piles, frowning at the sun-room, when I finally realized that it was just too crowded, and the air hockey table wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I needed to let go of my old ideas, and I knew I could make it just as nice if I tweaked it a bit.

As soon as I took out a few pieces of furniture it all started to make sense; I had been so stuck in my own head that I couldn’t see the reality through the fog and clutter of my own thoughts. It’s funny, because it was so easy to change, and took no time at all, but I had become so emotionally invested in that room that I felt like I had been told to give up something important. My stubbornness had actually stopped me from adjusting and enjoying the room.

Now, I am happy to spend time in my sun-room, and while it is different than before, the differences have merged, and it has become a usable, lovable space again.

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

Photograph from: Dreamanity

Read Full Post »

I never thought I would be so happy to see a dandelion!

dandelion

It is so nice to be able to run outside with no shoes on, and grab the mail without getting frostbite and sprinkling ice melt ahead of me. The sunshine is a welcome change, and despite what we might be thinking in the darkness of February, Spring does always manage to find its way back to us.

People are happier, they are shopping, and they are decorating; we are all so grateful to grab onto the feeling of warm, blue skies and fresh, green grass.

Someone asked me the other day what the trends are for the season.
It’s a question I get asked a lot, and my answer is to often look to the runway; design seems to follow fashion, and in Spring I think the biggest trend anywhere always ends up being a celebration of life.
I don’t mean in the deeply spiritual way, I mean literally.

After six months of Winter we become nostalgic for what we haven’t had;
we want to be less restricted in our clothes, we want softness and color around us, lots of warmth, and we want to be surrounded by things that
feel more alive and organic.

So if you can’t find a dandelion, and you need a little bit of design inspiration,
here are five of my favorite Spring trends.

outdoor-morrocan

MOROCCAN BLUE

Bohemian fabrics, a relaxed style, and the color blue are here to stay.
Not too precious, the slightly worn colors are still saturated enough to be our favorites, but comfortable enough for every day.
If you’re not quite ready for a pile of floor pillows on your Living Room floor, why not update your patio or deck with a more temporary take on this gorgeous global inspiration.

flowers - roses

A FLORAL MOMENT

Flowers are dominating the fashion and design houses this year.
If you don’t want a sofa covered in daffodils, or a brightly colored floral dress, buy (or pick) yourself a bunch of roses.
A very formal flower, they look their best when they don’t look like they are trying too hard; snip them down to a smaller size and pop them into a jar (skip the baby’s breath).

steampunk

METAL AND STEAMPUNK

Influenced by the vintage military and automaton trend, steam-punk has gone mainstream; what once used to be on the fringe of the design world is now the perfect way to add a small amount of quirk to your home, without committing to a certain industrial style.
I think that every home should have some elements of metal in it, so I am happy that our options are endless and pieces of metal can easily be mixed and matched into any room.

nigella-lawson-library-1

LOTS OF SHELVES

Maybe it’s baby boom nostalgia, but shelves are back in style.
Whether it’s for storing your collection of books, or a place to keep your favorite coffee cup, we now want to see what we have.
Of course they are great for organizing, but they are also the simplest way to add personality to your home; why not share your randomly found objects, remember your treasured vacation souvenir, and use your now defunct wedding china.
Enjoy what you have, and if dusting all those open spaces is a worry,
then don’t dust.

cotton

NATURE

The opposite of so many things,
a pile of something natural is often the best trend of all.
When I first saw cotton growing in a field, I had to stop the car.
It was breathtaking to see acres of pods bursting with pure, soft white balls of fluff. To this day, it is still one of my favorite things in the whole world, and I have a small bundle of it in a glass bowl in my Living Room.
Whether it is pine cones, twigs, cotton, rocks, or a fallen, abandoned bird’s nest, adding something raw and organic will always be beautiful,
and never go out of style.

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

Photographs borrowed from: M.inmagine (Dandelion)  Houzz (Moroccan) White Flower Farm (Roses) Restoration Hardware (Steampunk), Bookmania (Bookshelves) and Vertboitex (Cotton).

Read Full Post »

shoe cabinetIf I had lovely feet, I would display my even more lovely shoes in a glass cabinet! Actually, even with my average feet, I would be very happy to display my average shoes in this gorgeous vintage cabinet.

To me, it is far more sensible to store them this way than cramming my size 11’s into those hanging shoe pockets, or balancing my coveted Doc Martin’s onto a wobbly wire shelf that is only a few inches deep. And, it is so unexpected, that it would always be a joy to put them away. It would be my own version of art; not quite Alexander McQueen status, but easy art in a tiny house.

Shoe pockets are absolutely great for everything – except shoes. I used them for toys when my daughter was younger, for craft supplies later on, and now, for jewelry, things that smell good, and accessories. Somehow, they never quite worked out for my shoes.

When I need extra storage, I always start with what I need, before going to the store. I wonder about whether or not I want to show the world what I have, or tidy it away somewhere. Do I need it to be perfectly organized, or can I settle for good enough?

Then, I shop my house to find out what I am bored with, and what do I want to see more of. It’s like a game to me; last year, my fancy china (never used, and didn’t really like) got stored away, and replaced with my crazy doesn’t-match-in-any-way dishes. At first glance, it may not be as pretty, but it is definitely more practical. And, more importantly, pulling open a keyed glass door, to get a 25 cent flea market plate, makes me smile every single time.

Using (and enjoying) what we have should be a priority, so why not display your shoes in a glass cabinet, or keep your favorite perfume in a shoe pocket?

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

Photograph borrowed from I Love Design UK

Read Full Post »

The Association of Design Education Conference

A not to miss event! Held October 16th & 17th in Lowell, MA. Speakers will educate you on how to get noticed, how to get published, and how to keep it all together. Representatives and speakers from Sherwin-Williams, ABC Carpet, Zeigeist Gallery and more. Come and learn, explore, and be inspired. Hurry! The early bird special ends June 16th! http://www.associationofdesigneducation.com/Conference2014.html

 

Read Full Post »

coffee3

At last count, I have 46 coffee cups on my shelf, and, I am the only one who drinks coffee. When I was younger, I began collecting them as souvenirs; an easy way to preserve a memory, and remember the places that I had visited. As I got got older, I traveled less, apparently needed more caffeine, and I started to search for larger cups to begin my morning with.

Even though travel was no longer a priority, I still liked the idea of having lots of different cups. Ever fussy, I decided the new cups had to have meaning – a saying, a symbol, or simply something that made me smile when I reached for it.
I don’t know if other people do this or not, but I decide on the cup before I make my coffee; do I want a large cup, so that I can keep my hands warm when it is really cold, a special one that was a gift from a dear friend, or my ugly Frida Kahlo self-portrait mug that makes me happy because she was so talented, but sad to think that she thought so poorly of herself when she looked in the mirror.

They all have a story, and they are all precious in their own way, but they also need somewhere to live.

Years ago, we used to have Mug Trees that sat on our counter. Mugs came in matching sets, and often the tree was made of wood, with little wooden arms sticking out on an angle to hold the handles (I guess that is why they called it a Mug Tree). But, they did take up extra room on your counter, and I always worried that they would tip over if they weren’t balanced right. I don’t want to think about the careful placement of my mugs when I am putting them away, so I never quite embraced the Tree.

Another thing I have seen, is to find a wall mounted, or ceiling hanging, decorative holder. They are usually made of wrought iron or stainless steel, and it is a nice way to show off a few special mugs, while adding a bit of color to your kitchen wall. Even a pot rack, with those “S” shaped butcher hooks, might look interesting filled with cups and mugs in a lovely large kitchen.

Have to confess though, my favorite of all, is the simple cup hooks with the safety tab. They easily screw into the bottom of a shelf, give you twice the amount of space, and will hold cups of all shapes and sizes safely. (I have been using the same ones for nearly 20 years, and they are less than a dollar each).

I am sure not everyone spends time thinking about their coffee mugs, or confesses to having 46, but however many mugs you may have, and regardless of how you store them, why not enjoy them as a collection of memories instead of just things?

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

Lovely old photograph of a Ship Mug Rack is from Wikipedia

Read Full Post »

living-room-armchair-country-Country-Homes--InteriorsThis week has been unusually busy for me; I have felt like I was chasing the train, instead of sitting in a comfy seat traveling to my favorite destination. Not someone who thrives on feeling over-scheduled, I found myself dreaming of bed-time, or, at the very least, walking through the front door, and into my home.

I know I’ve said this before, but when you come home, it should be somewhere that makes you feel comfortable. It should welcome you in; your home should be your refuge, not a place that makes you roll your eyes as you turn the key.

One of the simplest ways to do this, is by placing some tangibles around your home that will make you feel happy straight away, with barely any effort at all.

When I come home, I look forward to seeing my pink geraniums, the daybed with my Union Jack pillow on it, and no dishes in the sink. These small things instantly remind me of life, family, and how grateful I am to have a dishwasher. (In my perfect life, there would also be dinner cooking, and a fire lit). Making sure I have these things,  is like giving myself a little bit of emotional insurance.

Have you ever wondered what would give you a bit of emotional insurance when you walk in the door? Would it be:

–   To see all the coats and scarves neatly hanging on hooks?
–   A clutter free entryway, with all coats and shoes hidden from view.
–   Seeing a favorite photograph before you even take off your coat?
–   A vase of flowers, or a plant, on the table?
–   A neat pile of books waiting to be read?
–   A big basket for whatever you wanted to put in it until later?
–   Having the coffee maker set, so all you have to do is press the button?
–   Knowing your favorite comfy chair is free of stuff, so that you can have a sit down?

Write to me, I’d love to know what is on your emotional insurance list…..

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

(Squishy, comfy, patchwork chair from: Couch in England)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »