Thursday, October 31, 2013

All Hallows' Eve

Deck those halls y'all. It's Halloween!
Hope you make it a frightfully good day!

*staircase in the home of artist Laura Zindel as featured in Country Living

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fresh Ideas // Open Plan Bath

This bathroom styled and shot by Daniella Witte for Comfortable Home caught my eye as much for what it included as for what you don't see here. Uncluttered, open plan baths that eschew the conventional shower stall and doors really appeal to me right now. I like this idea of a bathing room, an almost spa-like sanctuary right within the home. The easily accessible, built in towel storage really plays up that feeling too- especially with it's smartly composed tower of whites. The palette is clean and white, but kept warm and inviting by unfinished wood elements in the stool, accessories and shelving. Perfection. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Around Here // Fall Patio

Our screened in patio tends to evolve with the seasons. In the Summertime we leave it pretty open and uncluttered to accommodate pool guests and impromptu dance parties. In the Spring, it often becomes a landing pad for a cold beer and clothes shed while working around the yard. It gets a soft glow from lights and candles in the Winter, but I really think it's in its glory when blanketed with the Fall light that pours in through the screens each afternoon from the West. 

We had our first bought of Santa Ana winds blow through last week, telling me it was time to pack away some of the patio furniture around the pool's perimeter. I wanted to make good use of the table and chairs we recently renovated and so I pulled them into the covered patio and created a Fall centerpiece using the pumpkins I recently decorated using my favorite wallpaper pattern for inspiration. 

The classic stripes are holding up well on the banquet. I'm glad we went with this all-season pattern. It feels fresh and light during warmer months, but just cozy enough to weather this time of year as well.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Hip List // 09.28.13

I saw this pattern start to creep into housewares sometime over the last year. But online catalogs and store shelves seem to have these cross-eyed patterns in spades right now. I picked up that little make up bag (it's got a leopard liner!) and digging for my shadows was probably made a just wee bit more fun because of it. This is a pattern to use sparingly, but it certainly packs a bold graphic punch to an outfit, floor or kitchen counter. 


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Make This // Pickled Shrimp

I like to approach the last couple of days in the week by thinking about what I'll be eating. Some of our best weekends are spent grazing over a pre-made assortment of salads and cold dishes straight from the fridge. We made this one over the summer and enjoyed picking on it while having drinks by the pool. But I think it's hearty enough to pair with a cold beer by the fire on a blustery Fall day as well. 

Carve out an hour to whip this up and save yourself some snack time prep and negotiation over the days off to come.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Design Dilemma // Topping an Armoire

We have a large armoire in our bedroom that currently houses my personal assortment of all things girly- heels, baubles, handbags and scents. I love that my little collection shutters up quite nicely when I want things put away and though it's far from a showpiece, frankly I've become a little spoiled by this behemoth workhorse and would have a hard time parting with it now. But designing our bedroom around it has put me on the fence about it several times. Lately, I've looked to the interwebs for a bit of inspiration on how to style up my currently unadorned piece and collected a few observations that might help you solve a similar design dilemma for cabinets and plant ledges that don't quite reach the ceiling, but look a little unattended in the absence of anything on top. 

Michael Verheyden
I've seen several designs now that incorporated small collections of pottery or artifacts to top off an armoire. An off-center grouping, similar in color and varied in size makes good use of the space, while creating an interesting visual. 

Emily Henderson
My apprehension with topping off our armoire has a lot to do with creating clutter - probably bad memories of dusty baskets and fake greenery that was once a go-to pairing. I certainly would want any objects to make sense in our bedroom design plan and I'll probably take the less is more approach with any objects. I like how Emily Henderson kept the visual clean by using only a few objects in varying heights to draw the eye upward and fill the space over the cabinet above. 

Katie Brown via Country Home
Creating a focal point above the cabinet works to diminish anything lacking in the piece itself. Stand alone, large scale artwork is a dramatic distraction, especially when used above shorter pieces that still have quite a bit of negative space above them.

Ariele Alaskso / Isaiah Palmer via Design Sponge

One idea I had not considered is to create dimension by using both the background or adjacent wall space in addition to the top of the piece itself. Even better- a swing arm lamp would help break up the boxy shape of the armoire, while allowing for a little mood lighting when wanted.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Loving Lately // Rituals

Like most, there's nothing I love more than a good adventure, chock full of first-time experiences. But I've also come to realize one true thing about myself and that is that I really thrive under good old consistency and repetition. Day to day rituals that I can count on help center me and still my soul, particularly when change or chaos is present elsewhere in my life. Here are a few that I've been particularly loving lately.

Teatime at Bedtime // I'm a coffee drinker at heart, but over the past few weeks I've taken to brewing a cup of Sleepytime Tea at night just before bed. It's funny how I've come to look forward to this simple unwinding ritual as a formal way to mark the end to each day. As a side benefit, my tea of choice has a subtle sweetness to it and I've found it helpful in curbing my late night sweet tooth.

The Full Face // As someone who works from home, I find I can very easily skip the make-up routine altogether and spend the day in front of the computer with nary a speck of shadow or foundation. But I recently re-organized my vanity drawers and have rediscovered the pleasure of a beauty rituals; regularly applying hand creams, picking out the day's lip color, even adhering to both an am/pm face washing routine (gasp!)

Playing up the Season // The Labor Day grill had only just cooled when right on cue, I found myself cozying up the house and filling my shopping basket with pumpkins to carve. There's something comforting about seasonal tasks that even temporarily alter our living spaces and rotate what is on our plate. I may not roast squash any other time of year, but I know that come every October, it's earthy sweetness will fill my kitchen nearly all month long.

In their purest form, rituals really are all about comfort aren't they?  What are some of the ritualistic ways you find comfort as you go about your day?

*images via Chic Coastal Living // Pinterest // WSJ


Monday, October 21, 2013

3 Things I'd Like to Make // String Edition

It's funny how the projects I want to take on seem to take shape with the season. Right now, my mind is fixed on string crafts, using wooly yarns and fibers to create cozy details for the house and upcoming fetes. These inspired by projects are inexpensive, transformative and customizable. It's unlikely that any two would turn out the same.

A bomb of color puts a playful spin on the classic wall trophy. 

Have some spare antlers laying around the house? Try your hand at wrapping your own or why not just get your hands on the real deal with one of the original yarn bombed antlers made to order by Sarah Pellerino on Etsy.

These kicked up tie-backs are punchy and festive with tassels and bells.

Found in the home of Sarah Jane Clark of Sass & Bide as featured on Tales of Endearment

I love the impermanence of this installation. No holes in the brick wall, easily assembled for a quick splash of color at your next party and then quickly disassembled all the same. 

The complete how-to featured on Creative Bug.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

All the Rage // Graphic Cardigans

We're finally starting to call it sweater weather around here and one of the best parts about that is the thought of cozying up in an oversized cardigan. While I just pulled my solid standbys to the front of my closet, I've also had my eye on a couple of these bold graphic cardigans that all the cool kids seem to be wearing. I like the throwback nod to some of the sweaters I still keep that were worn by my parents in the 70s. Concerned these latest patterns might be a little too trendy? Fear not. They can be inexpensively sourced and worn without regret all season long. Something tells me you'll become fast friends and have a hard time parting before Summer anyway.

My picks were found on the cheap right here.  But I also spotted a bunch here, here, here and here.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Current Fixation // Sansevieria

I love when I rediscover an old favorite. Coming back to something once loved and forgotten with fresh eyes makes it feel like another something brand new altogether. 

That's where I'm at with Sansevieria. 

I remember it fondly as an easy plant I had placed about my first apartment. It was easy to care for and inexpensively sourced from my local IKEA or Home Depot. It never gave me any trouble and flourished in my third floor sun-lit studio quite well. But somewhere along the way, we fell out of touch and it's taken me almost a decade to come back around again. 

Perhaps I thought it too tropical to mix in with my current collection of desert loving cactus and succulents. Maybe I even considered it a shade plant (it's not necessarily) and just thought it had no place amongst our shadeless landscaping plan. But eventually, I've seen once again what I originally fell for in the first place- the modern architectural lines in the vertical twists and turns of its foliage, the glossy thick, variegated coloring in its ribs and its uncanny ability to infuse a little height on a table or in a corner where some is lacking.

Sansevieria is known by a few odd common names that make it sound, well a little scary... Snake Plant, Devil's Tongue, Mother in Law's Tongue are just a few. But it's actually well regarded as a very  peaceful plant - eco-friendly and found to improve air quality, often presented as a goodwill gift ahead of business negotiations in Korea and ideal for feng shui. 

So I'm taking a second look and targeting a couple of areas around the house that have given me a few challenges with other varietals. I have a feeling this old friend will come through for me once more.

Top:  Houzz
Middle (from top left):  1 . 2 . 3 
Bottom (from top left): 1. 2 . 3. 4. 5


Monday, October 14, 2013

The Proof is in the Packaging // MAC 2013 Holiday Sets

It's been a long time since I got really excited over a beauty product- especially a limited time collection I'd not be able to replenish once I ran out. But you see, I had a bit of a sneak peak at the upcoming 'Divine Night' holiday collection by MAC Cosmetics and truth be told, it was a case of love at first sight. Whereas in years past, I all but passed on a purchase due to either lackluster packaging or palettes that were too bubble-gum for Winter, I really think MAC got it right when designing this one. In full disclosure, I have a sister that works for the company. But had I walked past the make-up counter on my own, I would have been just as anxious to get my hands on a couple of these beautiful retro-chic zippered pouches with all their moody metallic fillings. They're so Gatsby meets L.A.M.B. Bold, clutch-worthy and useable from New Years through next Summer. 
And don't even get me started on the white brushes.

Some standouts for me: Obviously the brush set. I also loved all three nail colors (but especially the gilded 'military' which was truly lovelier in person than any image could convey) and the liquid shadow paint pots ('genuine treasure' is indeed one). 

You can pre-order the collection in stores beginning November 7. But I strongly urge you not to wait too long... you'll be sorely disappointed to find a few fast become favorites already out of stock by Black Friday.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Modern Wall Clock

Over the past couple of weeks, my mailbox has been filled almost daily with hot off the presses seasonal catalogs from all my favorite home stores. As I've flipped through the pages, during what has now become my new bedtime ritual, I couldn't help but take count of all the wall clocks I've seen cataloged. The fact that I even noticed them as "new" says a lot about where we are as a society right now. When I was a kid, we had one hung prominently over our kitchen table and then eventually, a new wall clock (in that bad late 80's southwestern motif I might add) hung right over the living room TV. These days, I'm pretty much checking time on my computer monitor or that iPhone I seemingly have glued to my hand. The digital numbers on the kitchen stove also work well in a pinch. 

Perhaps it was the absence of something that actually made these options stand out to me. It seems the modern wall clock is no longer about function, but decoration. Faceless and available in so many unique materials, these are the clocks no that no longer get relegated to the eat in kitchen, but become part of the wall display in a home office or above the fireplace mantle.  


Monday, October 7, 2013

Slow Weekend

This weekend was a slow weekend. It was just the kind that's needed from time to time to properly rest and replenish the reserves. We had a big wind event that sort of took center stage throughout the day on Saturday. Fall in Southern California is famous for it's seasonal Santa Ana Winds. For those of you not acquainted, you can almost liken them to a 24 hour, hot, apocalyptic windstorm that most of us watch the effects of from behind closed doors and windows. Streets empty, allergies flare and anything not tethered down outside will eventually make its way down the street or into your neighbor's pool. But it's usually the type of nudge we here in California need to feel in order to realize the season has changed and Fall has arrived.

So I took the opportunity of a housebound start to the weekend to putt around and get organized. All those things that seem to pull and nag at me while I sit at my desk during the workweek got addressed. One thing on my punch list was to hit up my bathroom vanity. I cleaned make-up brushes and organized shadows. I recharged that Clarisonic that has sat dead in my drawer for the last three months and vowed to make it a daily habit once again. I discovered entire bags of brand new lipsticks and hair products that I had tossed under the cupboard one day long before and completely forgotten about. I eventually worked around to my bedroom closet and drawers and rediscovered a few items I didn't realize I had. Amazingly, I was able to reduce many of my needs by taking a few hours to find I had most of them already at my disposal.

The weather outside helped me really feel the season. I even stopped by the market and picked up a bunch of seasonal squash and pumpkin and created our Fall table in the dining room. Coffee in hand, I walked by it this morning and I don't know, today just felt a little different going into another workweek, like I had already accomplished so much. 

Note to self: Busy is good, but sometimes slow is even better.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fresh Ideas // Dreamy-worthy Design

This bedside image has been making its way around the interwebs and I couldn't help but become a little infatuated with the dream-worthy stylings, full of fresh ideas. The neutral color palette is gender neutral. But there are plenty of masculine details here that play right into my own design tendencies.  I also like the way the designer played with scale. Chunky furniture is intermixed with daintier pieces and the mismatched lamps add subtle visual interest. But at the end of the day, its the cozy layers that help make this a livable retreat, complete with perfectly pinstriped bedding, swing arm lighting and plenty of tabletop space to accommodate even the most prolific bedtime reader. 

Image via Arkpad


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Pumpkin Design Inspired by My Favorite Wallpaper

True story. I've had a swatch of Erika Wakerly's "Angles" Wallpaper in the White/Silver color way hanging by a piece of blue tape on my kitchen wall for over a year now. Funnily enough, every time somebody visits the house for the first time, I always feel compelled to point it out and explain that someday, the wall will be eventually be papered with it, as if to make excuses as to why after four years, the kitchen still has this unfinished look about it. When the paper goes up, we can finally hang the artwork there as well... see, now I'm making excuses to you too! 

But that background is precisely what you need to hear in order to understand my loyalty to this pattern and why I turned to it when deciding how to decorate my pumpkins this Fall. 

I've also been pretty intrigued of late with all the edgy nail designs out there- you know the ones with thin metallic lines running across the nail, sometimes forming intricate patterns. On a whim, I researched just what salons use to create them and found myself ordering up a dozen rolls for under $10. When they arrived, I had the idea that they'd make an ideal craft medium and that's when inspiration struck.

I ended up spraying a small assortment of pumpkins of various shapes and sizes with flat black and white spray paint. From there, I chose to use the metallic white, copper, gold and silver tape that came with my new collection to create an interpretation of my someday wallpaper. Armed with only a small pair of manicure scissors, the tape actually went on extremely easy and not surprisingly, adheres great to the painted pumpkin. 

I played up all the black and white by creating a coffee table display out on the patio. With the exception of Christmas, I don't do a ton of seasonal decorating. But here, I like the modern take on the traditional decorated pumpkin.  

But let's be honest. It also ties me over until Santa can put a couple rolls of paper in my stocking.
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