May 27, 2010

Dining Alfresco

I like to eat all of my meals outdoors during the summer months - sans the bugs and creepy crawlies. And this beautiful table is inspiration enough to create an inviting space for a party or just because. Don't be afraid to mix tag sale finds with items you might have kicking around the house. This is where old and new really can come together in style.

Cafe string lights and galvanized beverage contaner from Pottery Barn.
Wicker and rope tray and candlesticks inspired by 19th century English pottery from Restoration Hardware.

The perfect little side dish...

My Pasta Salad

2 boxes of tri-color rotini
3/4 of a jar roasted red peppers, chopped
3-4 tomatoes (I use red and yellow), diced
1 can of black olives, sliced or chopped
1/2 cup of Newman's Own Olive Oil & Vinegar dressing
1 tsp. kosher salt
Black pepper to taste

Prepare pasta and then submerge in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. All of the ingredients are to taste, but start with smaller amounts because you can always add more. I like to use less dressing and flavor the pasta with the juice of the tomatoes and peppers instead.

Top image via House Beautiful

May 19, 2010

Re-do, Do You?

With flea market season in full swing and tag sales getting ready to burst at the seams, you can find all kinds of lovlies for your home this time of year. When you're out on the hunt, stand back and take a good look at what you find. The coffee table in the top left picture is actually an industrial trolley topped with a vintage tray. The painted hutch in the lower right corner is the inspiration for all cast-aways. Rescue one yourself, and have fun filling it with all sorts of interesting finds.

May 18, 2010

Relaxed Elegance

This time of year, I am drawn to a more relaxed interior where flea market finds sit beside treasured antiques and the rough-hewn meets the refined. It's a casually elegant look that allows you to drag the crystal chandelier onto the deck or bring a peeled-paint chest indoors. It's rooms filled with laughter and late night storytelling, not worrying about beach sand mixing with fine crystal, and when flower arrangements are picked straight from the field. I like to call this look "relaxed elegance". No need to get fussy; use what you love and have fun mixing it up.
Being able to put your feet on well-loved pieces of furniture, while still achieving a sense of gracious living, is what it's all about. Choose classic-lined furnishings that will grow with you and your changing tastes. Furnishings with multi-purposes can be moved from room to room if need be, giving you a little extra for your decorating dollar. Select sturdy chairs for the dining room or extra seating in the living room or bedroom. Use chests as coffee table and benches and ottomans for additional seating as well as impromptu table in any room in the house. Now put your tag sale finds to good use and freshen them up with a bit of paint or light sanding.
Mismatched china, a worn table, terracotta-potted flowers and grandma's silver all work wonderfully together. In fact, mismatched china has been in vogue for as long as I can remember and is a welcomed addition to the well-dressed country home. You can find lovely china pieces at flea markets and tag sales to mix and match to your hearts content. There are no hard rules here--buy what you love and use it daily. The same holds true for crystal and silver. Buy bit and pieces because it speaks to you and not for its monetary value.
Collect vintage fabrics and use them for tablecloths, napkins, placemats, chair cushions, or toss one on a lampshade to give the room a soft glow. A large remnant works wonderfully as a chair or sofa slipcover, and at the end of a bed to add a touch of color and pattern to your room.
If you can find an assortment of old wooden candlesticks, give them a coat of fresh paint to bring the collection together (distress if you'd like). Use lots of candles to welcome anyone who enters. A nicely scented pillar on a flea market china plate is all you need. Lots of fresh flowers displayed in ceramic pitchers, glass jars or old teapots will add color and a touch of romance to your home.

Images via, and my collection

May 6, 2010

It's a Tough Job

But somebody's got to do it. Seriously, I love what I do. Every day there is something new and exciting waiting to happen. But it’s not for the weak and timid.

When I first opened my business, I had visions of driving around in my vintage car and arriving at my clients homes in style. After all, isn’t interior design supposed to be a glamorous job?

But the reality is that some days I’m covered in dust, my hair is pulled back into a messy knot, and my denim shirt acts as my washcloth as I primp and pretty the space. I’m usually wielding my hammer as I balance a piece of art in one hand all while trying to keep from swallowing the picture hanger dangling from my mouth. An absolute picture of glamour, wouldn’t you agree?

I get a kick out of seeing my male clients look at me with surprise as I push and pull, lift and tuck. Hey buddy, I move FURNITURE for a living, outta my way! Never mind the furniture; just lifting out the various bags from my car requires extra muscle. I may not have a band of assistants following me around, but I do arrive with a lot of baggage.

I have several totes filled with everything a design diva needs: a picture hanging kit and tool box, several measuring tapes, a digital camera, lots of paper and pencils, and other assorted goodies to see me through the day. I’m usually armed with flowers and candles so the room looks absolutely beautiful before I leave, and depending on the client (and the job), there may even be a gourmet lunch chilling in the cooler on the final day of installation.

The 'final day' is a celebration of all of our efforts – mine and my clients. It’s the day I get to pull it all together and watch their faces light up with joy. THIS is the day that makes it all worthwhile.

When all is said and done, we hug, we toast, and I leave them to enjoy their home. Then it’s on to the next job and the wonderful process starts all over again!