Sunday, February 28, 2010

Magnets and mantras ...

We are in the market for a new refrigerator. The one we are using is well over a decade old and has been badly abused by four little people. I am not kidding. My mother-in-law has the same one, bought at the same time, and it is in pristine condition. Ours looks like it has gone to battle. Even the fruit and vegetable drawers have taken a beating. And recently the handle has been stripped down to the studs (I didn’t know refrigerator handles had studs but apparently they do!) My husband and I were planning on purchasing a new fridge as part of our kitchen remodel project that we have been talking about forever. Well it is time. I am hoping that the new and improved food storage unit has one feature (besides being extremely durable) ... I need to be able to keep magnets on it. I know, some people think magnets on a refrigerator aren’t very sophisticated. For me, I love to enter someone’s home and see who and what is important to them in their daily lives. Plus it is a great place to put all those quotes I am so fond of! Stainless steel models are notorious (or celebrated?) for not being able to hold a magnet to them. I will let you know if our new model remains a clean slate or becomes a vertical scrapbook.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Xtreme sports inspired ...

Olympic Inspired Xtreme Boys Room

designvignettes on

While watching some of the amazing highlights of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, I have been drawn to the green and blue graphics that have been used to brand the winter games. Looking at them, I am reminded of the color palette that I have chosen for my oldest son’s room. I have added a lot of orange to my palette (the same bright color as seen on the Olympic mascot’s knit cap), warm beige and a muted gray-blue. I want the room to look spirited, not overly coordinated. Just like Shaun White and the U.S. snowboard team, this room will be decked out in warm flannels, slick finishes, and a touch of good ’ole red, white and blue.

Energetic fabrics and bold prints
play upon the xtreme theme.

Currently our oldest son shares this room with brother number three (we change the line-up often around here depending on who is getting along better with who). Our first born loves to snowboard, skateboard and do anything that makes my stomach drop! I have learned to live with his extreme lifestyle (he was riding his bike without training wheels by age three) but I usually try not to watch. Although sometimes I find myself enjoying the exposure to this super-charged world – a world I never would have taken much interest in if it weren’t for my brood of boys!

Cool graphics are a definite must-have
when decorating a boy’s room.

With a team of four boys living under one roof there tends to be a lot of wear and tear on our surroundings. As a result, my husband and I often delay final completion of design projects figuring the longer we wait the better chance we have of furnishings staying in one piece. I am hoping that now is an age-appropriate time to push ourselves towards that decorating finish line! Without fear or hesitation : )

Here is a quick tour of some before and afters ...

Before ... original (to the previous owner) baby blue walls without architectural interest were given a dropped picture frame molding and a newly insulated/plastered ceiling.

he high ceiling was painted Benjamin Moore Bennington Gray to “bring the ceiling down” and make the room feel cozier. Manchester Tan highlights the trim and coordinates with the Smith & Noble wooden blinds. Walls are painted with Woodlawn Hills Green. I LOVE this color. It gives the room so much visual life. It looks fresh and new and it serves as a good distraction when the room isn’t as neat as it should be (who sees the floor when the walls are this vibrant?!)

Before: the closet. This will be a study area when it is complete. We store all of the boys clothes in a separate laundry room (that will be a topic for another post!)

During: New upper closet doors and trim have been added. My job right now is to get motivated to finish painting and maybe find some interesting door pulls.

Designer confession:
at a certain point, a mom of four boys stops seeing random graffiti like you see on this headboard. At least whomever did this (I have a good idea) stuck with my chosen color palette! I have since had this cottage-white bed painted a shiny black (photo to come). Much more appropriate now that the boys are older and the markers are no longer under lock and key!
Check back later for the final “after” photos. My plan is to have the room completely styled and photo-ready before the first of April (if I write it down here, I will have to do it!)

Achievable goals ...
• add unique lighting
• create a study corner
• dress the beds
• hang new art
• train the boys to
keep it clean!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Virtual design: girls room

I recently listened to the Feb. 19th Skirted Roundtable discussion featuring author/illustrator Jackie Von Tobel – designer of fabrics and interiors. She writes a blog titled Jackie Blue Home and has created a number of comprehensive design books on soft furnishings (I must add her directory of Window Treatments to my library!) The soft, delicate colorways and patterns combined in her new line of fabrics and pillows reminded me of this “Zebra with Florals
pillow listed in my Etsy shop.

I chose this floral fabric to back the
12 in x 16 in down-filled pillow.

I would love to see this decorative pillow used in a girl’s room (how lovely it would be on the small chair shown above listed recently on ebay), with walls painted in Benjamin Moore Elephant Gray 2109-50 and ceiling done in Raspberry Ice 2072-70.

I would order lots of Von Tobel’s Quatrefoil in Aubergine or Zebra in Jet to take care of fashionable window treatments (refer to her book for ideas!) and pick one of these painted pieces from Maine Cottage available at Circle Furniture (any of these colors would be quite nice!) to add colorful storage.

A sweet lamp like this one designed by Meghann O’Hara for Oopsy Daisy and available on Rosenberry Rooms would add a painterly touch.

Next virtual design:
pre-teen boys room

P.S. On the day after posting this, I was watching Modern Family on ABC. Guess what I saw in baby Lily’s well-dressed bedroom? That show has the best set decoration : ) I would so love that job!

Just because I love it ...

Faux bois ... one of my favorites,
love it on this love seat

I would love to have this chair and ottoman
(what a great tone-on-tone zebra fabric)
in my new master bedroom.

I love ottomans. The style of this one is
so much fun, but in a traditional way.

Etched Pedestal Bowl

I saw all of these stylish items while browsing at
Ethan Allen in Burlington. What do you love?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Back to school ...

Art lessons as an adult:
Week One

I recently signed up for an adult art class at TaggArt Studio in Wakefield. Since I was an art major in high school and studied fine art all through college, I figured it would be a relaxing way to spend a couple of hours a week. A friend of mine from high school also signed up, so I imagined it would certainly be good for a few laughs! This still life set up on our first day back “in the studio
looked deceptively simple. After an informative discussion on what makes an ideal composition, we were ready to put pen to paper ...

We began by warming up with a few marker sketches. We were asked to look at the still life – but not the paper – while we drew the shapes in front of us. At one point our instructor asked us to draw with our non-dominant hand. Fun stuff! My brain was starting to hurt by this point! After struggling with “drawing on the right hand side of the brain
(it is an actual method!) we were then deemed ready to compose our first painting. The only catch was that we had to do it once again without looking at our paper, and without lifting our marker off the page. My friend and I both tried to follow the rules, but found ourselves cheating just a little bit so that we weren’t creating art that looked like our grade school renderings!

With our teacher’s approval, we were finally able to use some water colors to bring our images to life. I am pretty sure this would have come out slightly better if I wasn’t talking almost the entire time to my friend in class (just like we used to do in high school!) Later in the day when I showed this to my husband, he asked if one of the boys brought it home from school : (
I hung it on the refrigerator with magnets anyway : )
Personally, I love the colors and the shapes, plus I had a lot of fun (even though I left with some serious doubts about my artistic abilities ... )

Week Two:
Bright Floral Bouquet

Warm-up sketch

Quick sketches to decide upon final composition

A wet-on-wet technique (wash paper with water, add watercolor, let it do it’s thing without trying to fix it!)

This soft-focus photo actually looks surprisingly like the watercolor wash to me. At this point, I am beginning to think that it would be much easier if I just stuck with photography!

Weeks Three and Four:
Formal Still Life

Composition sketch

Acrylic paints that I last used in college (we didn’t have enough time to explore oils during this first session)

Some of my decades-old paint tubes had to be cracked open. Discovered that dried paint works, but not very well. Generous friend shared fresh paint with me.

Here is the section of the still life
that I decided to focus on.

We spent two sessions from beginning to end to create our “masterpieces.
Even though I wanted to finish mine off with pastels (much easier to work with) our instructor convinced me to push through my fears of finishing (always the hardest part for me to know when a painting is “done). I am actually happy with the end result (not perfect, but at least recognizable!)

In case you are wondering how I have free time to take art classes, I have actually been helping my friend, instructor Mary Taggart, with her marketing materials and the website design for her studio, so I figured that sitting in on one of her classes would be valid “research. I was able to learn firsthand about her warm and encouraging method of teaching, while reconnecting with my former fine art self.
It was time well spent!

To view additional student artwork (including my friend Cara’s beautifully rendered pears) visit the student gallery at To sign up for classes (there are sessions for adults and children, plus open studio hours) check the studio schedule (Spring session begins the week of March 8th).

I love this inspiration board at Mary’s studio. It says a lot
about what influences her artistic perspective.

A new favorite blogger of mine, Stacy Kunstel of Stacy Style, has been posting a series of inspiration boards that she has come across in her travels as a photo stylist for some of my favorite design magazines including New England Home, Traditional Home, Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living, etc.! Visit her new blog to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes of some great interior photography. What a fabulous way to make a living as an artist : )

Friday, February 19, 2010

Inspired by ... my winter garden room

I am missing my summer ritual of heading outside each morning to enjoy a cup of coffee in the comfort of my garden room
. I did venture out into my yard this week on one of the warmer days and took a picture of the winter garden. These rose hips are beautiful at this time of year. In the early summer they have an amazing scent that causes me to linger even longer as I sit and contemplate my daily to-do list. For now, I must confine my daydreams to interiors, while I imagine designing a space with winter white, brilliant red and just a touch of cool sky blue.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Swatch Report: Boys Room

It is school vacation week and I have been spending a lot of time at home with the boys. Actually, they have been going outside to play in the freshly fallen snow while I watch them from the window! This morning the outside world looked so pretty after yesterday’s snow fall that I took some “view outside my window pictures. I thought it would be neat to compare the outside view with what is inside ...

This zebra looks like the horse on our weathervane.

For this boys room, the theme is jungle safari. It is appropriate with my boys ... I used to have a cute wooden shelf with collectibles on the wall, but one of them jumped from the top bunk and tried to hang off the shelf like a monkey. Alas, no more shelf! Here are the monkeys that inspired that move ...

I chose a color palette that was gender neutral and would age well with my guys who are not-so-little-anymore. It includes pops of blueish-green mixed with bright oranges. Benjamin Moore Lenox Tan is on the wall. This is the sunniest room in the house. I hung a couple of stars in the windows to capture that light.

I am honestly amazed that these have lasted as long as they have! Probably because they are still out of reach. They are suspended from the ceiling with picture hanging wire attached to a cuphook (I could have probably used a decorative black cord, but the wire happened to be handy at the time).

These tall pine trees are one of the reasons that we bought this farm house. They must have stood witness to a lot of human (and animal) life over the past one hundred-plus years!

The floors are original and the carpet was a $79.00 bargain found at a local discount warehouse (Building 19 in Burlington). It has held up quite well, resisting stains from miscellaneous “science

The sturdy fabrics are not obviously boyish. This room will most likely change into an office space once our new master bedroom is complete, moving these boys into our existing room. I will not be sad to see the bunk beds used for this small room go! Sorry I don’t have a photo of the whole room this morning. You don’t really think that the beds are made around here, do you???

Artwork inspired by the 18 sheep that used to graze in our backyard. We always thought we would get a sheep or two like the previous owners. We happily settled for one very large Flemish rabbit.