28 August 2012

Home candy

I'm in a random mood today. All of my focus these past few weeks has been dedicated to a big project I'm working on, so I thought I'd escape into some of my favorite interior delights, the objects I crave for how they look and feel.  Home candy.

Pewter and peonies

I love the soft blend of silver pewter and pink peony petals. Peonies and tulips are my favorite flowers.  The vase is from Match, an Italian-based company that crafts their beautiful pieces by hand.  I want one!  (Or one for each room!)

Match pewter vase with pink peonies
(Photo Courtesy:   Match )

Wool and silk rugs

One of the best gifts I've received in recent years was a handmade wool and silk Persian rug hand-carried back for me from Iran.  (Thank you again, Dean and Paul, and Dean's friend who acquired and brought it back from her family visit!)  It sits at the end of my bed and caresses my feet whenever I step on it.

Incidentally my love for wool extends to Karastan carpets and flokati rugs.  My tootsies (and eyes) love 'em all.

Animal prints everywhere

Animal prints show up everywhere Chez J, especially cheetah.  They're on pillows and a matching ottoman slip cover, sheets and a vase sitting on my wine cabinet.  Chances are, they'll show up somewhere else some time soon.  (Or in my next place on a carpet, like the one shown here... Yes, I definitely would!)  Animal prints are just sexy.  Always have been.  Always will be.

PS:  I love patterns, in general.  Animal prints, florals, stripes, plaid, checks, paisley, you name it!  Mixing them together is even more fun.


I love its rustic warmth and practicality.  Leather is livable and very Sensible Style.  My next couch will be leather. And my office will get a leather recliner in the not-too-distant future, too.

Lancaster couch offers sink-deep comfort
(Photo Courtesy:  Restoration Hardware)


Rich and touchable.  Soft but strong.  Elegant and durable.  The ultimate Sensible Style fabric.  I own a velvet couch that's seen more naps than I'm willing to admit to.  And I've been shopping for a velvet duvet cover for my bed for a while, thus far unsuccessfully.  I also love velvet drapery panels and my next home will probably have some.

Velvet panels add luxe privacy
(Photo Courtesy:  Pottery Barn)

Seagrass, rattan and wicker

I love strong woven textures like these.  I have them in storage baskets throughout my home, in a living room area rug and a hamper.  They all say 'coastal' to me, and I love living on the coast.  No reason not to bring that feeling indoors.

Last, but definitely not least... Art 

No home is complete without art -- certainly no home of mine would be!  I'm not talking about posters chosen because their colors match your couch either.  I'm talking about pieces that speak to your heart and soul, whatever medium and price tag they happen to fit.

Art doesn't have to be expensive.  It doesn't even have to be an original one-of-a-kind piece.  It can be a vintage McCoy vase you picked up at a garage sale that makes you happy.  Or a beautifully-composed photograph of a favorite pet, person or vacation.  Art should make you smile when you look at it.  That's its job.

I have three framed Clyde Butcher photographs in my office.  I see them whenever I walk into my townhouse.  They're hauntingly beautiful pictures by an artist considered to be the Ansel Adams of the Everglades.

I love remembering breakfasts on my screened lanai in Florida watching the herons, egrets, ducks, cranes and wood storks land on the pond behind our house. Art inspires memories.  That's its job, too.

This original photograph of Amelia Island reminds me of a wonderful vacation there
(Photo Courtesy:  Clyde Butcher)

Thanks for sharing my visual escape with me today.

21 August 2012

Stairs and Stares

My life is filled with stairs.  Always has been.  The house I grew up in had three floors, including our after-school basement playroom.  The staircase leading from the main floor to the second had bookcases that my dad built in.  They held our World Book Encyclopedia set. 

The first condo and homes I owned each had two.  My current townhouse, affectionately known as Chez J, has three.  And if running up and down those to work, eat, relax and sleep isn't enough, my regular exercise path takes me up and down a triple flight of stairs 10 times.  Love 'em!

My ongoing relationship with stairs inspired today's post on some fabulous staircase ideas.  I hope you like them. They're all from Houzz.com, one of the sites I've contributed to this year.

I've always adored decorative tile and traditional Spanish architecture.  Here, those two elements come together in a stunning tiled staircase.    Fantastico!


I love how the space below this traditional staircase is optimized with both display shelves and a coat closet.  

This home also takes advantage of under-staircase space to create a family landing zone.  Despite how clearly well-used it is, the clean lines of this built-in make it feel uncluttered.

I lean toward traditional and transitional in my personal design taste, but I thought this modern staircase was really sharp.  

I love pattern.  Be it florals, animal prints, plaids, stripes, whatever.  Just absolutely love it!  Here's a fun black and white runner kicking up the fun on this classic staircase.  

14 August 2012

Create a Ma'am Cave

Last week in this space, I shared some tips for creating a football lover’s man cave. This week, I’d like to offer some insights on creating a getaway for the woman of the house – especially if you (or she) needs an escape from all the rowdy testosterone surrounding her. 

This is a space that should nurture and embrace its occupant with comfortable furnishings and lighting that enhances the room’s activities. It should be private, if possible, and closed off from the noise and hubbub of the house. It should be filled with artwork that inspires its resident to pursue her passions. Its color scheme will relax or stimulate, depending on the room’s primary purpose. 

As an example, my writing/design studio is painted red, a color that stimulates creativity. If I were using it as a yoga studio, I’d probably have chosen a soft sage instead. While every retreat is different, here are some general multi-purpose ideas to hopefully inspire you. 

Appropriate lighting 

Layered lighting is probably your best bet, especially if your retreat does double duty as a work and play space. Consider dimmable ceiling lighting and a table or floor lamp next to a chair or on a desk. 

This Atrium Glass Table Lamp from Pottery Barn illuminates your  space while displaying sentimental collectibles

Comfortable furnishings 

Even if your retreat is mainly dedicated to paperwork or exercise, it’s wonderful to have a comfortable chaise or chair with ottoman for relaxation. 

You might also want a writing surface, depending on how you’ll use your space. This could be a desk or a table, depending on your needs. Attractive storage solutions are available for files, if necessary, that could be hidden under a skirted table. 

I love this Baldwin Chaise from Ballard Designs for its style and comfort

Sound system 

You don’t need the kind of big-speakered system your boyfriend had in college. A compact player with good sound quality that lets you enjoy your work or play music is a great retreat enhancer. 
A Bose SoundDock or comparable system can serenade your  retreat

Sensible Style flooring 

How you primarily use your space will determine the type of flooring you choose for it. If you regularly work with paints or clay, consider low-maintenance materials that can be easily wiped clean, like rubber or vinyl. If you do yoga, ballet or Pilates, consider flooring that will be soft and comfortable underfoot, like linoleum or cork. If you just want a quiet place to read, meditate, relax or write in a journal, consider something cozy underfoot like a wool or flokati rug that you’ll enjoy digging your toes into. 

Nothing feels cozier underfoot than a flokati rug
(Photo: Flokati-Rugs.com )

Inspiring and engaging visuals 

Whatever your private passion, surround yourself with mementos or artwork that inspires it, or just delights you, and display your pieces handsomely. Consider a framer with archival experience for professionally preserving your valuables.

This signed, numbered photo is one of three Clyde Butcher  images archivally framed on my writing/design studio wall

07 August 2012

Football Fan's Man Cave Ideas

Football season is fast approaching, so I thought I’d share some updated man cave insights for Gold Notes fans and/or their favorite guys. 

Granted, design isn’t usually the top consideration for these spaces. Each man has his own cave priorities. These may include comfort, socializing, relaxation, escape, fitness, nostalgia or a specific set of activities that engage him. There’s no such thing as a generic man cave, the way you could say there’s a generic kitchen or bath. 

That being the case, I’m going to gear these thoughts toward the sports fan’s man cave. He’s going to want… 

Comfortable worry-free seating 

Leather is a great, comfortable option.  A deep sofa and/or recliners make perfect sense for a man cave, depending on your room size.

Deep leather Lancaster couch from Restoration Hardware creates a comfy football watching environment
Buster Leather Recliner is another football fan favorite from Restoration Hardware

Big Screen Television

I'm not making recommendations here as it's not my area of expertise, but there are plenty of experts who do.  Find the one(s) you trust and bring your room dimensions with you for optimal size for your space.  

Something to put it on and hold related components 

Your TV size, room size and the number of components will dictate the storage you choose, as well as what else you might want to hold.  A custom built-in is always an option but may not fit your budget or long-term needs.  There are some very nice freestanding models on the market.  

Choose a TV stand -- possibly this Vetrina 60" Media Console from Ballard Designs -- that fits the size and number of components and the room's decor

Refreshment storage 

Beverage fridges come in multiple sizes and configurations, including stainless or panel-ready.  Capacity, space and budget will dictate what you go for.  They also fit great into built-in storage for the best effect.  

3000 Series Beverage Fridge from U-Line holds beer, soda and more

Mementos featuring his team

Everyone has their own preference, of course, but a grown-up man cave won't have posters tacked to the wall.  Framed collectibles and artwork make for the best visual effect.  Be sure that whoever frames a valuable item has experience with preservation techniques.

Collectibles, like this framed Tampa Bay Buccaneers Superbowl photo from the NFL Shop, add personalized style to a man cave

More man cave tips

Lighting will be important for this space.  I suggest energy-friendly, dimmable LED ceiling lights and table lamps close to outlets so no one tips over a cord when his team makes a touchdown.

Window coverings are key if TV watching is the focus.  There are two ways to go here.  One would be drapes with black-out liners.  If this is the approach, a stain-resistant, easy-care fabric that will stand up to greasy fingers opening and closing them is one option.  The other would be faux wood shutters or blinds, but they will typically allow in slivers of light.

Flooring should be easy care, too.  It could be easily-replaceable carpet tiles or low maintenance engineered, distressed-look wood.  

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