Posts Tagged ‘Interior Redesign’

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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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

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She wants to move the furniture,
on a Sunday afternoon.
It’s always fun to decorate,
but first she empties the room.

The room looks dull, so she gets some paint,
decides to tape off a square.
Big and gorgeous, chalkboard black,
perhaps she’ll paint a pair?

The paint is drying, furniture is out,
the rug she brings back in.
It’s old, it’s small, but has to do,
now for the fun to begin.

She pushes the sofa across the room,
moves the rug at an angle.
Amused, she decides to vacuum the floor,
after finding a fork and a bangle.

Thought she was careful, but not enough,
looks down at the scratched wooden floor.
No need to fix it, just cover it up,
by moving the rug some more.

The sofa sits on the rug,looking big,
she sits on a chair next to it.
The chair is old, the fabric worn,
and now, she’s gone straight through it!

She picks it up, and throws it out,
with a strength she never knew.
Another chair is quickly found,
lucky she has quite a few.

Another chair, another side,
the sofa is moved again.
She stops, and moves it back some more,
some more, then more again!

Decides to have a cup of tea,
to think of lots of things.
Looks at the mess, and dreams of poems,
of Cabbages and Kings.

Up she gets, and washes her cup,
determined to finish the room.
She checks the paint, and sees that it’s dry,
sweeps the floor with a broom.

Brings in a bookshelf, some lamps and a painting.
pillows, photographs, china and tables.
Arranges flowers and washes the floor,
straightens the curtains, and opens the door.

The afternoon over, she smiles at the end.
Her home is now different, but not a penny did she spend…..

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

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A friend came over for dinner last night. It had been brutally hot, and although we have air conditioning, the effects of the day had taken its toll and we were all a bit cranky and tired.  As we decided where to sit and drink our iced tea, I vetoed each room, saying it was too warm (my house is small, and in the Summer can feel like is has more windows than walls).

She absently suggested we sit in the TV room, which was cooler, and I quickly said “No”, explaining that ” I hate that room. We just watch television in it, nothing else”.

We found a cool spot to sit in, but the thought of what I had said lingered with me through morning. Did I really hate the room? And why? Was it the smallness of it, the distressed seen-better-days sofa, or something else? I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had said, and I felt guilty (yes, really) that I had such awful thoughts about one of my rooms.

Of course, the room isn’t horrible, but it no longer relates to who we are. It feels designed and comfortable, but there is not enough of our personality in it. Because the accessories (ie. board games, crafts, doll house etc)  were always geared towards children, I had deliberately diluted the furnishings to balance the volume of the chaos. But now, many of these things are not used, and the room seems lost, indifferent to who we are.

If you have one of these moments, like I did, then try and take the time to fix it. But, forget lofty, expensive makeovers, think simple and small. What can you do in an afternoon, or a few hours, that will make a difference?

This is what I plan on doing this weekend to perk up my room.

  • Remove any decorations, artwork,  CD’s, Videos and DVD’s that we don’t like or use. Store in the cellar if necessary.
  • Organize my daughters games and craft supplies. Hide as much as possible.
  • Repaint the main cabinet a different color (it is brown at the moment) and see if I can paint, revamp, remove or replace, the dated bookshelf.
  • Find a colorful throw or pillows to put on the quite tired sofa.

If you have a room that bothers you, don’t wait for the perfect moment, and don’t ignore it, just give it a little bit of love.

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

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Do you remember when Televisions started to get bigger?
When we all wanted one, but didn’t want to see them when they were turned off? Their size, and bulk, dominating wherever they were placed? Too heavy for a small table, everyone struggled with what to do once they had bought one.

As quickly as they appeared, Furniture manufacturers came up with a solution. The entertainment Armoire; an  even bigger piece of furniture that enclosed our new purchase, and hid it away until we decided to turn it on. Not the best solution really. Yes, it hid the Television, but it created another problem – where to put the new piece of furniture. Entire walls and corners were filled with an often overwhelmingly large, wooden structure.

What seemed like a necessity for most homes, became obsolete quite quickly, as Televisions got larger and larger. They also became thinner, and we no longer needed to accommodate their bulk into our decorating plans. Before we knew it, the Television had outgrown the Armoire; it was dismantled, or set aside in a basement, waiting for goodness-knows-what. Many of them were expensive, and still in great condition, so we were reluctant to throw them away.

I really believe that we should re-use things if we can. If not, maybe it can be donated, and someone else would appreciate it all over again? But, until you decide what to do, why not try one of these solutions for that fleeting, but usefully wooden, piece of Television history.

  • A perfect pantry or extra storage in your Kitchen.
  • Small closet for a baby.
  • Take the doors off and use it as a bookshelf.
  • Remove all of the shelves, add a hanging rod at the top, and use it in a Mudroom or Entrance hall for coats and gloves etc.
  • Easy storage for games and crafts (leave the doors on?)
  • Put your sewing machine in there, and store all of your threads and fabric.
  • A Home Office. Your computer would easily fit. Cork-board glued to the inside of the doors would be useful, and there would be plenty of space for files etc.

Here are a few photographs to get you inspired!

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

Thanks to House Beautiful and Country Living for the photographs.

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The "after" photograph

Last week I hated my Living Room. Truly hated it. When I looked at it, all I saw was a sea of brown, surrounded by some brightly colored artwork that just seemed to show up the dull “brown-ness”. I had become my own worst client, I couldn’t see past the ugly.

My Living Room has a big, picture window at the front. Most things fade quite quickly; I have the curtains drawn, widely, and I like to have as much light as possible in my home. As a result, everything fades and the fabrics erode quite quickly from the sun (rather odd when you remember that I live in New Jersey, not exactly the sunshine capital of the world).

The furniture had faded over the last year, and as I re-decorated the room for Spring, I took out most of the plants and colorful blankets that had been the accessories for the last few months. I guess, in my haste to remove the Winter, the room was left feeling colorless and boring, lacking in life. The life and color now being outside, instead of inside.

In my head, it became the worst Living Room that anyone had ever seen. A vintage (old?) golden, brown sofa, an old (vintage?)  brown chair, an old, collapsible oak table and a vintage (genuinely old), standing radio sitting alongside a nicely rusted, generously sized, wrought iron chair from outside.  The entire combination had morphed into a 1940’s sitcom, with all the good bits taken out.

As I panicked in my brown-ness, I mentally scanned my house for replacement pieces of furniture. There were none I could use. There was no hope, I decided I MUST drive to the store right that very second before I was swallowed up by the awfulness of it all.

I drove to the store, really fast (but not over the speed limit) and I found a purple sofa and a lovely, oversized slipper chair with an exaggerated pattern of zinnias bursting with orange and dark green….perfect (!?) I looked at the furniture as I took out my credit card, and I walked out of the store.

A cafe mocha, no whipped cream, and a half hour later reality hit. I was calm as I made the list of what I wanted, needed and didn’t want in my Living Room. With list in hand, I went home and began to empty the room. The old, brown chair was the first to go….

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

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I once worked with a woman who lived in a renovated, industrial loft. It was everything I dreamed that a loft should be; huge, tall windows, lots of cozy seating areas, and bookshelves lining an old brick wall.

Her favorite thing to do was to have cooking competitions. She would ask us all to bring a version of one dish, and we would vote, and then eat. The winner could choose a plant or a book off her many shelves, but, obviously, the best prize was serious bragging rights until the next year! Sometimes, she would ask an Australian and a New Zealander to cook the same thing, to see which was better! (She was Scottish, which just made it more fun). One of us would use the kitchen in the loft next door, running back and forth to check on our secret recipes, sipping glasses of wine and listening to half-spoken conversations. 

Her home was a wonderful lesson in decorating. She embraced what she had, and she loved it. The style suited who she was, exactly. Sections were not divided by paint or partitions, it was left open; a massive room that she allowed to be just what it was, an open space that cared more about friends than function.

I think that sometimes, newer homes are developed by an impatient need to please, rather than an architectural plan. We want the openness, with high ceilings and large spaces, but we want it to feel comfortable as well. What happens, is that builders respond to this with a composite of what they think we want, which often leaves us with a lot of space and a lot of design dilemmas.

Because I have come across this quite often, I thought I would offer some ideas that may help.

  • Accept the space. Work with it, rather than against it.
  • If you have an open plan area, treat it that way. Divide living spaces with furniture arrangements, rather than vertical paint lines. This leaves the space visually open, but still creates comfortable areas to live in.
  • Bounce color and scale around the entire space to create a balanced look. Your eye should move around the room, not stay focused on one particular item. 
  • If your kitchen is part of the space, don’t forget about it, include it in your decorating plan. Maybe a cabinet color can be repeated on the other side, or a color from a painting can be put in the kitchen? They need to feel connected.
  • Consider your lighting when you have a tall ceiling. Can you change a lightbulb that high up without installing scaffolding? What are the other options available? A large, hanging glass sphere may look pretty or, even, a skylight? Maybe table and  floor lamps would be better? Don’t just settle for something that may not suit you.
  • Avoid having one area very formal, and the other too casual. This, almost always looks disconnected. Blend them together.
  • Painting the ceiling the same color as the wall will make it less obvious, whereas different colors will emphasise the height.
  • Artwork should be of a decent size (no floating tiny pieces on an empty wall). Consider an abstract collage of photographs, a triptych or a wall of words…

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/ Thanks to www.1kindesign.com for the photograph

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She wants to move the furniture,
On a Sunday afternoon.
It’s always fun to decorate,
But first, she empties the room.

The room looks dull, so she gets some paint,
Decides to tape off a square.
Big and gorgeous, chalkboard black,
Perhaps, she’ll paint a pair?

The paint is drying, furniture is out,
The rug she brings back in.
It’s old, it’s small, but has to do,
Now for the fun to begin.

She pushes the sofa across the room,
Moves the rug at an angle.
Amused, she decides to vacuum the floor,
After finding a fork and a bangle.                                     

Thought she was careful, but not enough,
Looks down at the scratched wooden floor.
No need to fix it, just cover it up,
By moving the rug some more.

The sofa sits on the rug, looking big,
She sits on a chair next to it.
The chair is old, the fabric worn,
And now, she’s gone straight through it!

She picks it up, and throws it out,                                       
With a strength she never knew.
Another chair is quickly found,
Lucky, she has quite a few.

Another chair, another side,
The sofa is moved again.
She stops, and moves it back some more,
some more, then more again!

Decides to have a cup of tea,
To think of lots of things.
Looks at the mess, and dreams of poems,
Of Cabbages and Kings.

Up she gets, and washes her cup,
Determined to finish the room.
She checks the paint, and sees that it’s dry,
Sweeps the floor with a broom.

Brings in a bookshelf, some lamps and a painting.
Pillows, photographs, china and tables.
Arranges flowers and washes the floor,
Straightens the curtains, and opens the door.

The afternoon over, she smiles, at the the end.
Her home is now different, but not a penny did she spend…..
Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/ Thanks to Alice in Wonderland by Walt Disney and House Beautiful for the images.

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“It’s all very well being all “designery”, and living a Polly-Perfect life, but what about the rest of us? Those of us with four children, two jobs and a home that wasn’t our first choice. Never mind telling us to spray paint the brass chandelier with chalk-board paint, what are we supposed to do?”

That’s a really good question, and, honestly, it’s not easy. None of us have charmed lives filled with matching doodads and champagne coming out of the faucet. Decorating a home isn’t about that. As our grandparents used to say, it’s about making do, but I prefer to call it “pretending as if”.

“What Not To Wear” is one of my favorite shows, and having a home, to me, follows the same principles that they teach. Their credo is that you have to accept the body you have right now. Even if you hate every nook and cranny of it, it’s yours, and that’s what you have to work with. If you dress that body as if you love it, then you will get nice clothes that fit, you will look better and, gradually, feel kinder towards yourself.  Maybe you will never, ever be the size you wish you were, but if you enjoy what you have, and take pride in it, you may begin to fall in love with it. 

Your home is exactly the same!  Even if you are not happy about where you are, you could still pretend as if it is the most perfect place in the world to be.  Make some changes as if you really do care; fix things that bother you on a daily basis, don’t cost a lot and can be done in an hour or two.

Here are some quick fixes for “the rest of us”:

  • Change ugly, dated lampshades or light covers (check out local Hardware and Retail stores for cheap, but classic, options). 
  • Declutter your kitchen. It’s often the most used room in the house;   keep the surfaces clean and remove what shouldn’t be there. This will make it a much happier place to be in (and it might be bigger than you think).
  • Place a decorative bin somewhere for each of your children (and yourself). Toss in everything that should be put away. When the bin is full, empty it.
  • Check your front door;  remove dead plants and fix anything that is broken (doorbell?). Coming home should be a good experience.
  • Buy everyday items (dishwashing soap, laundry powder and liquid soap) in colors, designs and scents that you like. Making daily decisions that please you will sneak into your well-being.

See, nothing wrong with a little pretending….

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

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