A view from my window - ocean inspired blue

This picture was taken at Amelia Island, FL, one of my favorite places. I love this picture because it shows the gradient of beautiful ocean colors, and I love them all. I think this would be a great color palette to use to decorate just about any room, it is soothing, nature inspired and simply beautiful.  

I love how this room has a neutral color palette with varying shades of ocean inspired blues as the accent colors. 

Have a great weekend!


A Library Dining Room

I'm currently working on a project for a friend, and she wanted to swap her living room and dining room. As a result, her dining room now has built-in bookcases, so we are calling it a "library dining room." I love the look and found some inspiration photos that I wanted to share with you: 
(Unknown Source)
I love the dual purpose that bookshelves in the dining room achieves, not to mention a nice layered look and a great dinner party conversation starter! What do you think about a library/dining room?


A view from my window - black and white polka dots

I was at a farm last weekend and took this picture of a guinea fowl. Black and white polka dots is something I never get tired of, it is a classic color combination. 

Below are two pillows similar to the one in the picture above. If you like the look of this room and the black and white polka dot pillow (and blanket), I think either of these pillows below would work to achieve the look.

Celerie Kemble Betwixt via Etsy
Have a great weekend!



Living Room - Ocean Art

I would absolutely love having this view! Since that is not remotely possible (I live in a landlocked, urban city), I thought I'd use this view as inspiration for a big(ish) piece of ocean related artwork for my neutral living room. 

There are a couple of directions I could go, the first would be a "moody" ocean, which would create a dramatic focal point and keep the room neutral and fairly sophisticated. Here are some examples: 

Richard Misrach photograph via Elle Decor

Another direction would be "fun in the sun" beach scenes, like the photographs from Christian Chaize or  Massimo Vitali, I absolutely LOVE the work by both of these photographers! This type of artwork would create a more fun vibe in the room, and keep things on a lighter note, while adding some personality to the room. 
Christian Chaize photograph via Elle Decor

Massimo Vitali via Canada House and Home

Lastly, I could go with a simple, calming ocean photograph, which would add nice color to our neutral room, in a soothing, relaxing way.  

Hmm, decisions, decisions! What do you think?


Photo Gallery Wall - Up the Stairs

I am finally putting together a family photo gallery wall going up the second floor stairs in my house, something I have wanted to do for a long time! Last week I culled through all of our pictures to decide which ones to use and I need to go through them one more time to make the final cut, but that is a very doable, less daunting task. I also purchased the frames (white Ribba frames from Ikea), I am starting with 12 frames of varying sizes. I will later decide if I want to expand from there with more frames, or just change out the pictures over time.

Here are some inspiration photos, the first to show the white frames, the second to show the gallery wall up the stairs:

This is the plan I am going to follow:
There is a wealth of information about how to hang photo gallery walls on the internet, here are some of the best tips I have found that will be useful for my project:
  • If your pictures don't fit in the mats that come with your frames, just have custom ones made, or cut them yourself.
  • Mimic the staircase lines with the frames (as shown in the plan above).
  • Measure, on every second or third step, the distance from the frame to the stair to make sure it has the same distance consistently (as shown in the plan above).
  • Space frames 1" to 2" apart. It just so happens, the triangle protectors that come with the Ikea Ribba frames are about 1.5" and can be used as spacers.
  • To hang the pictures, use the paint stirrer and nail trick, explained here
  • Use wax paper (several long pieces taped together) to outline your frames and hanging mechanism, then tape the wax paper it to your wall as a guide, explained here
  • If the pictures aren't hanging straight, or the frames did not come with a hanging mechanism, use 3M command adhesive velcro strips.
  • For frames with two hooks on the back (like some Ikea frames), use a piece of painter's tape to mark where they are and thus where the nails should go, then place the tape on the wall and level the tape. 
Have you done a gallery wall in your house? Do you have any tips for us rookies? I will let you know how my project turns out.


Living Room - Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

We have several potted house plants around our house, but I would love to have a big(ish) tree, like a fiddle leaf fig tree in our living room (these trees are all over the shelter magazines). I like this particular tree as it will provide height, structural form and of course, a natural element to the room. I also like the idea of putting the potted tree in a basket for a little texture bonus. 

Have a look at some inspiration photos:

According to tree-species (one of a plethora of websites about fiddle leaf fig trees) the fiddle leaf fig tree happens to be a good choice for a house plant, it is slow growing, it is relatively easy to care for, it requires a lot of indirect sunlight and does not need much water. Tree-species also provides some maintenance suggestions to keep the tree looking great. 

I think this will be a great addition to our living room!


What to do with your fireplace?

What to do with your fireplace if it doesn't work or you don't use it? Here are some ideas:
1. Fill it with wood - provides nice texture and a rustic vibe.

2. Fill it with books -  You can use books you already have, or buy some at a used bookstore. You can arrange them any which way so you get a perfect fit. You could also arrange them by color, or face them so the spines are facing into the fireplace, so all you see are the pages, to create a more monochromatic look. 

3. Fill it with decorative items - Select items that are different sizes, but that fill the space.

4.Wallpaper - Sometimes wallpaper seems too scary, like a very permanent item, so if you have had your eye on a fun wallpaper, but don't want to commit to an entire wall/room, this could be the perfect spot for it.

5. Insert a TV - What a great use of space and you don't have to crane your neck to watch TV (sometimes people put their TV's too high above a fireplace). Just make sure your sofa/chairs are low enough so you don't have the reverse problem.

6. Put a mirror in front - like using mirrors with most things, it makes the space feel bigger. 

7. Cover it with Art - yet another place to add artwork.

8. Put in Glass Logs - looks beautiful and is very unexpected!
Would you do any of these things to your fireplace?

A view from my window - mint green

I took this picture because I just loved the coloring of this butterfly! The combination of mint green, caramel/brown and (unfortunately hard to see in this picture) a little iridescent pink seemed unique and so beautiful. I continue to be amazed and inspired by nature's color palettes!

I love this room. The mint green is interesting and unexpected, yet soothing, the touches of gold in the mirror and poufs provides little bit of glam, the brown, linen tufted headboard adds to the glam and provides a bit of a natural element and the white bedding and side table provides balance. I also like all the contrast outlining, such as on the lamp shade, the headboard, the bedding, on the poufs and the rug - looks similar to the outlines on the butterfly's wings. This room is simply beautiful!

Have a great weekend!


My Kitchen - Before and After

When we moved into our house the kitchen (and bathrooms) needed to be updated. I am thrilled to share with you our renovated kitchen, before (we moved in) and after (our renovations).

Main Wall - Before:
Main Wall - After:
Side Wall - Before: 
(notice there is no cabinetry on this kitchen wall)
Side Wall - After:
Other Side Wall - Before: Unfortunately I don't have a "before" picture of this wall, but it looked just like the "main wall" shown above. Next to the refrigerator was a full wall (floor to ceiling) with brown cabinetry and a beige laminate counter top and a pocket door.

Other Side Wall - After:
I love a white kitchen, I think it provides so much light and helps to make the space feel open, so I knew that is what I wanted for my kitchen.

Here is a list of things we did to update our kitchen:
Cabinets - Before, good quality cabinets, but a dark brown stain and no hardware. We re-painted the existing cabinets white. For the wall that had no cabinetry, I found (after a long search) cabinets that had the same look as our existing cabinets. I also added polished nickel hardware (hinges, knobs and bin pulls) to the cabinets.
Backsplash - Before, there was no backsplash. We added a white subway tile backsplash throughout the kitchen. 
Countertop -  Before, there was beige laminate that was bubbling. I juxtaposed the white cabinets and white subway tile with honed absolute black granite countertops. While I love the look of carrerra marble (which was a contender for the countertops), I thought the black counter would be a nice contrast to the white and easier to keep clean (I have two little kiddos who love to cook). 
Wall - Before, the kitchen was totally enclosed with two pocket doors. We knocked out half the wall between the kitchen and dining/living room. I absolutely love this! It makes entertaining so easy and I don't feel "stuck" in the kitchen while everyone else is in the other room.
Lighting - Before, there was one builder grade florescent light fixture. We installed 8 recessed lights, which makes such a big difference.
Appliances - Before, white and not working well. We replaced the dishwasher and oven with stainless steel appliances.
Wall Paint - Before, the walls were painted a medium tone yellow. We painted the walls white to match the cabinets - my thinking was to give the illusion that the cabinets are taller than they actually are and to keep the space open feeling. 
Ceiling Paint- Before, white ceiling. My favorite thing about our kitchen renovation was to paint the ceiling blue. It is hard to tell in these pictures, but it just transforms the room. It adds color in a subtle way. 

With all those changes, I am still impressed with what a simple can (or two or three) of paint can do to transform a room! 

Although there are still a few things we need to/want to update (a stainless steel refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom, and a new breakfast table and chairs - they are not in the pictures above, but are located in front of the bay window in the kitchen), I think my kitchen is now simply beautiful!


Gail Plechaty of Real Simple Design

The September 2012 issue of Traditional Home Magazine features a house by the interior designer, Gail Plechaty of Real Simple Design. I found her work to be inspirational and wanted to share with you some of her rooms...

Chicago Home Magazine

Traditional Home
Gail Plechaty's rooms have an air of casual elegance. They tend to be monochromatic, with a great use of symmetry, and she incorporates antiques into user friendly living spaces. Her rooms look effortless, uncluttered and calming. I think her rooms are simply beautiful!

In the September 2012 Traditional Home Magazine article, Gail Plechaty says that her work is "universal." Meaning, furniture from one room can easily be mixed with furniture from other rooms. The reason why I love this idea is, when you are entertaining and need that extra chair or two, or an extra table, if your design is "universal" then pulling something from another room (in lieu of that metal folding chair from the basement) when needed doesn't necessarily need to look like you have done so.

I hope you have a relaxing labor day!