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Archive - February, 2011

Soapbox: Paste – the art of collage

These quirky, fun collages will be sure to put a smile on your face this Monday.  Interior designer and artist, Denise Fiedler creates these one of a kind pieces from vintage book pages and flashcards.  She makes collages in a variety of themes from animals to architecture.  She will even do custom pieces! I didn’t have enough space to put up each amazing one I liked, so check them out on her website – especially the new items in the Spring/Summer 2011 collection (the little Moroccan footstool is my favorite)!

Aren’t they so cute!  Which one is your favorite?

  1. flats 8×10 $125
  2. terrier 4×5 $55
  3. hydrangeas 8×10 $125
  4. barn 4×5 $55
  5. louis chair 8×10 $125

*images used with permission from Denise Fiedler


House Envy: Babylonstoren in South Africa

For today’s edition of ‘House Envy’, I am super inspired by this Cape Dutch farm, Babylonstoren, set in the Drakenstein Valley is South Africa.   Built in the late 1600’s,  the farm was opened for guests in 2010 with beautifully appointed suites, a restaurant, vineyards, gardens, pool and spa. 

I LOVE the mix of modern and rustic elements in the guest suites.  Clean, simple furniture stands out against the vibrant and warm mix of textures.  In my mind this is Napa valley meets Scandinavia – and it’s absolutely perfect. 

Sliding barn doors lead into the bathroom

A wall of mirrors with frosted architectural design lends a strikingly luxurious air to an otherwise rustic on-suite bath.

The restaurant on site, Babel, uses ingredients from the surrounding farm.

*all photos from Babylonstoren.com.

I’m relaxed just looking through these photos!  There are plenty of elements from this farm that could be easily incorporated into any home.  

The things that stand out most are

  1. 1. White, White, White – a TON of white everywhere.  It adds to the soothing appeal of the accommodations.
  2. 2. Simple furnishings – done in more white
  3. 3. Color through natural elements only – the only color is incorporated through things that are naturally that color – the wood, brick, straw, and plants.

I’m half tempted to paint every single thing in my house white this weekend. Every single thing.

What are your thoughts?  How do these spaces make you feel?

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!  I’m going to go get caught up on my book club book and maybe take a lazy nap


Act now: Edie Rose Home by Rachel Bilson

I love Rachel Bilson’s style, and I think she is one of the few celebrities I look to for fashion inspiration.  Now, I can admire her ‘at home’ style as well! Last Thursday, Macy’s launched Edie Rose Home, a line of whimsical and elegant table top and dinner wear pieces designed by actress Rachel Bilson.  Since the collection is designed to be layered, mixed and matched they would make a cute addition to your existing dinner wear or china pieces!  In the Macy’s press release, Bilson told reporters she was unable to find pieces that she felt “reflected her unique flare for entertaining.”

So she designed her own! I definitely getting something… now what to buy?*Rose large oval platter $42

*Peacock feather 4pc place setting $58

*Large rose serving bowl $70

*set of 4 rose measuring cups – SO cute!

*Bloom Birds salt and pepper shakers $22

*Peacock salad plate $15

Spring home and apparel style is hugely focused this year on garden florals and muted hues, so these are right on target! Everything in this collection is reasonably priced  enough to add a splash of spring color to your meals by adding in a few pieces here and there.

Which piece is your favorite?


On My Radar: Mid-Century Modern Chairs

West Chelsea Loft modern living room

*above room designed by Amy Lau Design out of New York

If someone asked me to describe my style, mid century modern would not come out of my mouth.  At least I wouldn’t have thought so 6 months ago.  Luckily, I grew up with a father who taught that you don’t have to prefer something to appreciate it.  Then I begun an appreciation for the vintage modern style.  That appreciation grew to like and that like grew to – I need a chair like this in my house now.  (side note, I feel like the first part of that sentence is a quote from a movie… minus the chair part… I’ll think of it…) Now, back to the chairs – My desire for a modern chair was in slight contradiction with my vision for the rest of my house.  I live in a 110 year old farm house which I have done in a three-way mixture of industrial, rustic, and traditional.

Last night, I went to after-work drinks with some work collegues and we were talking about my new desire to find a vintage mid-century modern chair. One of the men, who is an avid antique hunter, was trying to convince me that I could make it work, regardless of my current personal style. He was convincing that my love for the chair would overwhelm any preconceived notion of how this chair would fit into my current design scheme.

Today, I set out to find a slew of mid-century modern chairs and how they fit themselves right in with a variety of different styles.  Above a Hans Wegner Papa Bear chair is the perfect soft focal point in this rustic loft living room designed by Amy Lau Design

Fiorella Design eclectic family room

*living room by Fiorella Design

Eames® Molded Plastic Rocker - RAR

*an Eames molded plastic rocker adds an eclectic spin on this otherwise traditional living room.  $479.00 Design Within Reach

Mirror and Head Wall eclectic living room
*bold blue and high gloss white frames are complimented with an Eames Molded Plywood Lounge $779 Design Within Reach
Nilas bedroom eclectic kids

*In a whimsical childrens bedroom, another Eames molded plastic rocker.

master bedroom contemporary bedroom
Wegner Papa Bear Chair

*another Hans Wegner Papa Bear chair stands out in a contemporary bedroom.  Chair from Danish Design Store.

*this might be my favorite.  Easy and comfortable in a natural minimalist setting.  Hans Wegner CH25 Easy Chair (image from Danish Design Store)

Now that I’m entirely convinced that I need one of these chairs in my house, it is officially on my radar!

How do you feel about these small doses of mid-century modern style?  Would you add an element of it into your home?  Let me know!

P.S.  I’m pretty sure that quote about appreciation growing to like is from My Big Fat Greek Wedding… I love that movie.


try this at home: overhead light update

It is Monday already!  I’m still giddy over one of the little projects I tackled this weekend.  Although my office remodel is top on my list right now, my guest room is also in need of some serious attention.  While I was supposed to be out grocery shopping, I dipped into West Elm yesterday to see what I could find for myself and I lucked out!  I found a black linen square drum lamp shade for only $5!!  What a steal!  It was a floor model, so there was a little fading on one corner, but with the plans I had, I could work around the flaw.


My plan was to replace the  ‘boob light’ that still plagues the ceiling in my guest bedroom with this large, dramatic shade.  After reading about the crime of boob lights on Mod Nest, I’ve been bound and determined to do something about that fixture.

After a few trips to Lowes, I successfully replaced the offending light with my five dollar prize.  All it took was some lamp hardware, and a piece of faux frosted glass which I made quickly by sanding one side of a piece of plexi-glass.

It was such a quick, easy project that anybody could accomplish.  It took about 45 minutes and there was no need to touch any electrical work.  Head on over to my How To’s page to learn how I did it!

Have a wonderful week!!


House Envy: Modernized Barn House

I love barnhouses.  Actually, love doesn’t even cover it.  I am infatuated with barn houses.  I always talk about my imaginary house that I am one day building which will be the most amazing barn home.  I can wait.  Until that time, however, I will just continue in extreme envy to stalk barn houses that are on the market and imagine my life in them.

This particular stunner is a 4 bedroom, 4.5 bathroom authentic barn home (complete with it’s own silo).  It boasts vaulted open post and beam architecture and expansive wood and slate floors – all for $1,225,800.  

* I don’t know what is in that silo, but whatever it is… I want it.

* a beautiful and casually understated entry adds to the comfortable, down-to-earth aesthetic.

* the patio and gardens show some neglect… maybe I can negotiate the price down based on this point…

* a double sided stone fireplace anchors the room, but its dramatic chimney leads your eye up to the soaring ceilings. 

* a wall of windows and french doors leads out to the garden. I can see myself putting a comfortable hearth room for indoor/outdoor entertaining here.

* this custom kitchen is a bit traditional for my taste, but it does has a lot of great rustic influence.  The center island is covered in a rich patina copper.

* hello bonus room! Maybe a good spot for a media room or man cove? (** side note, I decided during my recent visit to Nashville, that man caves which don’t have 4 walls to block out the manliness can not be completely mansformed, due to their impact on the rest of the home design, and should hereby be man coves, not man caves.)  

* My master bedroom!  The bed is clearly meant to be put on the log wall with high windows.  I think if I had this house, I would put a bed in the very center of the room, looking out the french doors.  I would but a low console or bookcase behind the bed with a couple lamps.  This would help to ease the transition from the back of the headboard to the rest of the room.

* beautiful rustic bathroom with all-over subway tile. I’m also a big fan of windows in showers.  They allow so much great natural light, which is often missing in bathrooms.

* breathtaking!  I’m not sure where this is located in the house, but this is where I’ll be if you can’t find me…

* all photos from Realtor website

How do you guys feel about this house?  Do you love it as much as I do?  What is your favorite feature?

Have a wonderful weekend!!


Color: Moody Blues

Wednesday mornings make me moody – but this week it is for a different reason!  I’m really excited about some of the muted hues that are popping up everywhere for this spring/summer.  I’ve seen blue used as a main color, not just an accent, for the last several weeks and I love it!

*both from House Beautiful

*from Ikea‘s spring catalogue

*Elle Decor February/March 2011

Here are a few blue things I’m liking right now!  Especially the sofa made from the diamond pattern found on Moroccan bridal rugs which symbolize unity.


Z Gallerie – X-Ray Seagrass 1
$40 – zgallerie.com

Ginger Blue Side Table | Crate&Barrel
$299 – crateandbarrel.com

Sadie Surf Table Lamp | Crate&Barrel
$90 – crateandbarrel.com

Nuits De Noho Candle/6.4 oz.
$90 – saksfifthavenue.com

$4 – ikea.com

Griffen vase – Homewares

Madeline Weinrib Atelier



How do you feel about all this blue? Does it leave you feeling down, or inspire you to add some shades of blue to your spring style? Let me know!


Dinner Party for 8 – Part 2

Let me start by saying that the party was an overall success.  We actually ended up having 12 people… not eight, but since this is a two-parter, I feel the title should stay consistent! Here is how everything turned out:

*Table all set and ready for the food… and the people!

*a close-up of some details: custom wine labels, tea towel napkin, burlap table runner, and artichoke tealight/placecard holders (how-to instructions here)!

*more detail, I also used brown craft paper under the runner.  This protected the table a bit more, and kept the table from looking too formal.  Since I ended up using my crystal stemware, I wanted to do what I could to keep it casual.  If I was having an Italian themed party, (which wouldn’t be far off…) I would swap the stemware for some simple glasses, like thesefrom CB2.

*I let some pomegranate seeds soak in just about a half inch of champagne for about 30 minutes.  Then I poured the rest of the champagne into the carafe immediately before serving to keep it fizzy.  I topped the cocktail off with a heart-shaped ice cube made from pomegranate juice.

*I made these labels for the wine which I poured into reusable glass bottles.  Without the commercial wine labels, the table feels rustic and home-grown.

Every Time I entertain I learn something new.  Being a hostess takes a lot of practice, at which I’m still relatively new.  Here are some of the things I took away from the party:

#1  Don’t make souffles for a sit-down dinner. 

There is really just no good time to make them.  If you don’t want to get up during dinner, drag your mixer out, and whip up the batter that means you’ll have to do it ahead-of-time.  Souffle batter does not stay fluffy and rise properly if there is too much lag time between mixing and baking.

I knew this would be a potential issue, so I decided to whip up the batter as our friends were mingling so that the batter didn’t have to sit for too long before being baked.  It didn’t really matter, however, any premature mixing is too early.  So in the end, I spent precious time in the kitchen when I could have been drinking more pomegranate champagne entertaining my guests, and I made souffles that didn’t rise well – double whammy.

#2 Set up the hors d’oeuvres in a room other than the kitchen. 

People generally like to congregate in kitchens, but if your goal is to serve a warm dinner then you will have to be doing some cooking while your guests are there.  Make sure you have enough cooking space by relocating your visitors to another room.  If you’re lucky this will be adjacent to the kitchen so you can still be interactive.

I got caught up in the souffle prep, so I failed to relocate the cheese tray to the living room… which resulting both in me maneuvering around my invitees and in them dodging my hen basting and chocolate whipping.

#3  Have a serving plan that starts with the 1st course already plated on the table.

This ensures that everyone is out of the kitchen, starting on their first course while you put the finishing touches on the main entree. Work with your partner (in my case my wonderful husband, Matt) to make this work.  One of you sit for the first course with your friends while the other preps the main course.  While people are half way through their first course, bring out the main course.  When people are finishing up, enlist your partner to start removing salad plates or soup bowls, while you have some time to sit with your guests during the first course.  Then your partner can begin to serve the entree.  By the time the entree gets around to you, you should be ready for it.   This will also make the dinner timing flow better because plates won’t be crowded with all courses at once.

We did not have any sort of plan like this… we all ended up passing our salad plates to the end of the table and eating every course at once off the dinner plate.  It tasted the same, but the flow could have been better.

As I said, all in all it went REALLY well!  It ended with my husband making his special liquour laced coffee and everyone sitting around the table chatting into the night… Success!!


Dinner Party for 8 – Part 1

I’ve never been a big fan of Valentines day,  so in an effort to redirect attention from the obligatory one on one valentine restaurant date,  I will throw a dinner party for some close friends this weekend.  I’ll walk you through my preparations over the next few days and how things turn out on Saturday!

Starting out – decide the theme

You don’t always have to have a strict theme to a dinner party, but in order for me to stay on topic (my mind quickly wanders), I need to narrow my focus so that the end result is cohesive experience for my guest.  I want the feeling of the party to be romantic and serene, but casual as well, so I decided on a rustic french country theme.

*not that mine will look like this, but a girl can dream… (photo from my french country home)

Supporting the theme – drinks, menu, accessories

Menu – I think it goes without saying, but this isn’t the time to experiment.  Make something that you’re comfortable preparing – the ease at which the meal progresses will be clear to your guests.  If you really want to make something new, make it earlier in the week for dinner so you will get practice and see if you even like it enough to serve to others!

Also, I like to choose a variety of dishes based on how they are cooked and served.  I wouldn’t want to pick 5 things that all have to be baked, all for 30 minutes, because I don’t have 5 ovens… and I don’t think you do either.  Choose a mixture of things that are served hot and cold and things that are prepared ahead of time.

On my menu:

Pomegranate Champagne – to be prepared on the spot.

Stella Artois (Belgian not french, but hey…)

Assorted cheeses (Jarlsberg, Gouda, Roquefort w/ honey), olives, sliced bread – all room temp items which do not need preparation.

Simple Salad with cabbage, fennel, baby greens, and croutons dressed with olive oil – to be prepared ahead of time.

Cornish Hens with garlic and lemon – oven roasted meats can be made before guests arrive, then covered and kept in a warm oven until serving.

Braised white beans with cherry tomatoes – can be cooked along with the cornish hens

Individual chocolate souffles – to be prepared ahead of time and popped in the oven mid-way through dinner.

Accessories to further drive the theme:

I’ll make a table runner of burlap

Napkins will be flour sack type dish towels tied with cooking twine

*Tekla dish towel $0.49 from Ikea

Since I think any ‘rustic’ themed dinner should revolve around the food, the food will be my primary centerpiece, set at various elevations by using upside down crates – you can purchase some from esty.

As another small touch, I plan on making tealight place card holders out of artichokes!

*from glam nest

Final Touch:  Music

I usually find something I like on the cable music channels.  This ensures that I won’t spend my evening worrying about changing the CD or listening to the same playlist over and over.  And here is one area where I’ll break free from my theme.  I only play jazz at dinner parties.  Some may think that is cliche and unoriginal, but in my mind it is classic.  It can go on all night, not get repetitive.  Jazz is perfect for a dinner party because it is mellow enough to be talked over, but beautiful enough to be center stage if there is a break in coversation- not like there will be!

How do you feel about the preparations so far?  Have you ever hosted a dinner party?  How did it go?


Act Now: A Valentine for your Love

We only have a week until Valentine’s day!  Pick up one of these pretty cards to send to your love!


*both from in haus press

*from Steel Petal Press

*from fat bunny press


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