Monday, October 27, 2014

The Parlor

 I was at J.Crew last week and saw this necklace ....

...and then, all of THIS...

...happened in my head.

Just like that.

Parlor design = done.

The gray color of the large rectangle jewels on the bottom are the wall color. The amethyst and blush pink round stones are the accent colors for pillows, flowers, and artwork. The aged gold translates into the fixtures and hardware, or wherever a little bling is needed. The black tear drops are the accent pieces of furniture that help anchor the space. For example, a Duncan Phyfe pedestal table, or black, tufted ottomans with brass studs.

Do you see how dangerous a necklace can be? 
Nothing sparkly and vintage-like is safe.

Then, I was going about my day, taking care of a few things for a client at a local lamp shop, Le Esthers, and I spotted this...

.....a glass sunburst light fixture from the 1920's!
It also just happened to be a cool little piece of Kenosha history!

It was one of the original Art Deco light fixtures of the Manor House located on 3rd Avenue.

I SO want to go back in time and see this light fixture in action!
I can only imagine all the Art Deco glamour that went on inside this gorgeous estate.
I am so honored to have a piece of it to put in our new home.

I was thinking that instead of installing it in the ceiling that I would turn it into a sconce.

It would look kinda like this:

With an Edison Bulb sticking out of the center making it both feminine AND masculine.
And people say I ignore my husband when it comes to our home decor.


BUT he chooses his battles wisely :)

Next time you are out shopping, keep an eye out for inspiring accessories.
They might just be the perfect inspiration for your home decor.
I personally give you permission to ignore that silly thought about what your husband might think.
No one asked him anyway!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bringing Up The Rear!

It just occurred to me that rear foyers are too often ignored or relegated to strict functionality.
That just isn't right.
It's time to bring up the rear!
If the rear foyer is the first thing you see upon entering your home, shouldn't it rise up to greet you?
Why do guests who come through the front get all of the pomp and circumstance??
YOU pay the bills!
I hereby declare that rear foyers should be just as spectacular as front foyers.
I plan on having an old fashioned closet and a separate dump zone in our rear foyer.
The new house plans have a blank area next to a closet that I want to fill with a pretty piece of furniture. Then, a mirror, and some hooks for hats and scarves.
I recently found an Antique Victorian Eastlake dresser that will fit into the new dump zone:

This baby is from the late 1800's-early 1900's. It needs some love, but once it is all cleaned up and has it's marble top, it will look similar to this:
I better get to work!
A dresser with drawers in an entry is perfect for storing hats and scarves, 900 crumpled receipts and post-it notes from my husband, AND my secret stash of snickers bars.
Another good idea is to store a few extras of the things that you ALWAYS forget to grab or put on and then have to run all the way back upstairs to get.
Like socks and deodorant.
Maybe even stash an emergency kit for those
"I'm running late and EVERYONE annoys me!"
sort of mornings...
A cute Kate Spade makeup bag perhaps??
Filled with emergency breakfast, instant coffee, bottled water, extra makeup, and gum.
It's hard to be annoyed while running late when you are so fabulously prepared!
At least the first time you are prepared with your kit.
The second time....if that kit isn't replenished...or put back where it out!
The top of the dresser is the perfect area to charge phones, dump change, throw keys, and plop down bags. My hope is that having pretty bowls and containers out on the dresser will encourage those loose things to land inside of them.
I have high hopes.
the bottom line: It is important to identify our habits, good or bad, and try our best to accommodate them. Since people rarely change, it is easiest to accept ourselves as we are, and make our surroundings work with us.
Functionally and Fabulously.
Because how you feel as you walk into your home every day is more important than how visitors feel when they walk in the front door every once in awhile.
***If creating fabulous rear foyers suddenly becomes the latest interior design saw it here first!***

Monday, October 20, 2014

Preppy Plaids

We finished up a guest bedroom for a client recently and I must say, this project has made me fall for plaid all over again. Hard.

We started with some gray drapes from Pottery Barn and a plaid pillow and this is what happened....plaids mixed with classic black and white pieces and pops of red...

Dark blue/gray walls called Volcanic Ash by Valspar.

If you feel like your wood trim might be on the verge of being outdated, a simple way to modernize is to add contrast. Some classic black and white can make anything look more modern. 
Dark, sophisticated, and moody tones for the walls will help the wood look more sophisticated and rich.

The bedding is from Serena & Lily and the accent pillows were custom made by Momma O with fabrics we sourced online.

The Pièce de résistance is a custom watercolor created by yours truly.....

and expertly framed by ArtWorks Kenosha.

This piece is proof that you can have original artwork and custom framing at a very reasonable price.
Imagine having a custom watercolor and custom framing for under $300.
There is no need to stand in that very long line at Hobby Lobby!!
Don't get me wrong. 
There are appropriate situations for mass produced artwork, but I do my best to make those situations as scarce as possible. 

There is too much local talent not to and the results are guaranteed to be unique!

We have hints of plaid throughout the space.

This chair is the perfect example of decorating with highs and lows.

When you fall for bedding and accessories that might break the bank, it's ok to source great pieces from a place like Target. It is a beautiful herringbone and we got it on sale for less than $200. That left room in the budget for custom pillows and great bedding from Serena & Lily.

The drapery panels are from Pottery Barn and we had Momma O add some black grosgrain ribbon to the edge to dress them up a bit.

A plaid ice bucket adds another fun pop of plaid!

Let's not forget to say hi to Betsy......the owners adorable Westie, whose presence in the decor is an absolute must!

We had a few options for styling the tray.

For this one we wanted to incorporate some fancy soaps for the guests....

An apothecary jar filled with fancy hotel soaps is sure to make any guest feel pampered.

If you have an obsession with plaid and live in the Milwaukee area you should make a trip to Brimfield Chicago on Clark. It's our latest addiction!

I think I might move in!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Vintage Inspired Accessories....

....a beautiful bath does make!

Can you see it?? 

The clutch may inspire the wall color. I always try to go a little lighter than the inspiration item:
 Valspar Sweet Leaf 7005-19

The sparkles are the lighting and pretty little accessories on display, which should be clean and not too over the top...maybe even with an Art Deco feel...I mean, we do have to think about the fabulous flappers embroidered on the towel!

This smoke crystal color is even reminding me of the tortoise shell in the necklace...

A very clean lined, elegant, but approachable vanity.
The Odeon perhaps?

with this tile for the floor...

How about instead of a towel bar or ring.......maybe some fabulous brass hands??

When it comes to the hardware finishes throughout a home most people are match-y match-y because they think they have to be.

You don't.

Why should a girl have to decide between two fabulous things??

Have both.

So, how can I add some real or faux tortoise shell as seen in the necklace in a functional way for a bathroom?? 

Boxes can hold tissues, q-tips, cotton balls, you name it!

Such a fashionable classic and therefore it should be incorporated into all decor. 
Like, always!

Another way is leaving out some fabulous tortoise shell brushes...

Lemme get my hands on some of those!

You can easily get your hands on some really pretty, vintage or antique Tortoise boxes at 1st dibs.....I would suggest a good looking faux to save a few dollars, or if you MUST have the real thing, try local antique shops that are having sales. Otherwise, be prepared to make an investment in an heirloom accessory.

Speaking of heirloom accessories....I am VERY OBSESSED with acrylic purses from the 60's....

I have my eye on this one at an antique shop and I can't stop thinking about it... costs $290!! 
It is in pristine condition.
It is probably better for me to leave it at the antique store and let it live with someone who doesn't have a horrible track record of ruining perfectly kept vintage items within five minutes of ownership.

Besides, I have two already that I didn't spend that much on ...

...this one sits in my office and holds jelly beans.

The other one was in the guest bedroom before we sold our house...

...I really miss having my own house :(

Putting together inspiration boards is how I am getting through this freaking Goundhogs Day, getting no where fast, very irritating, patience consuming, time.

Did I tell you that we have to take our old builder to court in order to get our money back?
We also have to start over on our home plans because we are being denied access to them.
The worst part is that I shared my favorite baked goods, from Linnea Bakery with the guy. 

Like he was family. 
Then he betrayed me. 
I don't take the sharing of Linnea Bakery goods lightly. 
I am tempted to put that in the complaint as a matter of principle. 

So, the moral of this little blog story today is:
1. Our decor should probably look like our favorite accessories that we wear and use all the time. It's one of the only ways to be sure that our decor matches our true sense of style. Also, if we use our favorite accessories as part of our decor then we aren't spending money on both. 
If that isn't good justification to go accessory shopping then I don't know what is!


2. We shouldn't just share our favorite baked goods with people all willy nilly. 
That stuff has to be earned.
I'm not tossing around Kanelbulle like they are stupid box-made pancake frisbees anymore! 
nuh. uh.

Now I am certainly NOT on my way to the antique mall to see if that purse is still there.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A New, But Old House....

Are you an "old house" kinda person?
I totally am.
I just don't like "old house" problems. Like, old plumbing and old electrical wires with old insulation that crumbles when you touch it. NOT fun OR safe for DIYer's like us.
When I was in my 20's and we looked at old houses and my Dad would be all "Now, Kellie, those old houses are hard to work on...they give you too many problems and they are all expensive problems" And I would be all "OHHHHH Dad. You just don't want to do're old and you want to watch football all day. We're young. We don't watch football...we can totally deal with an old house...gah!"

Aren't I the sweetest??
I'm kinda glad that we didn't buy an old house when we were in our 20's.
We surely didn't know then what we know now.
We have dealt with a few renovations since then...

....some pretty scary ones too!
If we were to buy an old house today, after a few years of remodels and renovations, we MIGHT be ok.

BUT once you go through an old house renovation with a client or two and you experience through them what it's like, you aren't exactly super excited to jump into a similar situation.
Like once you experience pregnancy and child can't really un-experience it.
If you're like me, you experience that and you're like, "oh. hell. no.
I am NOT doing THAT again!"
And that, my dear readers, is why we are not buying an old house.
At least not until I suddenly become a more patient person like my husband.
Since that could very well be NEVER, we are going to build a new house that has an old house "feel".

How do I plan on making a new house feel old?

Here is my plan;
First, I will fill the new house with as much old, musty, and crusty furniture as possible to begin the "smell old" phase.

Then, I will have the floors and stairs installed so that they creak and that will take care of the "sound old" phase.

Lastly, I will install cracked and banged up trim with 900 coats of white paint on it so as to complete the "look old" phase.

I kid. I wouldn't do all that to a new house!! Sillies.

I do kinda want creaky stairs though.

I will achieve the "old house" look by using similar materials and finishes that were used a hundred years ago...I am currently a bit obsessed with that classic 1900's look.

Like pedestal sinks...

....those legs though!

and cool, hexagon tile designs....

....I WILL learn how to do this!
and claw foot tubs.....


 And classic architectural elements...

like BIG, tall, door headers!

I want really tall ones, like obnoxious, and "what was she thinking" kind of tall.

This past weekend we went on a Historical Homes tour and I saw my fair share of 'what were they thinking" tall headers. so I know i am not that crazy for wanting them to be so tall.

If our budget was just a tad bigger we would have transoms above each door...

 Who doesn't love transoms?
Like dumb waiters and laundry shoots, I have no idea why we stopped putting these into homes.
I'm thoroughly confused by this.

Another classic element is wooden floors.
Some of the homes we toured even had glorious floors like these...

I can't get enough of wood flooring and honestly when I tour historical homes that have carpet everywhere, usually placed right on top of hardwood floors, I get a little irritated. I know.... to each their own, but I only allow 'each their own' when they don't own freaking historical homes! Is that so unreasonable??

I digress.

Another way to get that old house feel is to use interesting moldings and details like they did in the Victorian days. I for one, am completely addicted to ceiling tiles and medallions. You don't have to be rich to have them either. You can pick up a medallion for as little as $10.

I wish that more people were that interested in such detail and were willing to invest in it.

I mean, who looks up at something like that and is like, "nah. I would rather see some drywall up there."

No one. 
At least no one I can be friends with.

This simple and elegant ceiling medallion cost $20....

no big deal to buy or install and it makes a big difference.

So, my latest home building tip, whether you like old homes or more modern homes,  if you can't afford the details to make your new home interesting on the inside, maybe consider building a smaller home. A smaller home could allow for more "wow" in the budget for the interior. I know that sounds snobby, and I guess you can always plan to do stuff later, but if you think about it, if you aren't trying to wow yourself on the inside of your new home, where you typically spend a great deal of YOUR time, then WHO are you building this huge house for? The neighbors, your co-workers, your mortgage company?? 

I have seen my fair share of GINORMOUS houses in 'rich' neighborhoods that were so boring that they nearly put me to sleep. I leave wondering if they forgot the fact that they live INSIDE their house, not outside. So, for the love of Nancy, if you're gonna build a mansion, do SOMETHING with the interior that is interesting! I don't care if you smear hot pink lipstick all over your walls and throw glitter everywhere...just do owe it to yourself and the creepy people that are going to drive by at night just to snoop. 

I may or may not be one of those creepy people. :-/

I shall leave you with this quote:

“Dream your dreams with open eyes and make them come 


– T.E. Lawrence, British soldier and author (1888-1935)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

If I Can't Dig, I Can Dream....

....And that might not be so good...

The original plan was to break ground on our house this year.
I was hoping to start digging before my birthday in November so that I could spend my birthday stomping around in the mud and pouring champagne in my face. 
Not really, but it would have been a fantastic gift for myself and my future neighbors.

Thanks to all the drama with the builder, the fact that we STILL DO NOT have access to our home plans, and the tiny, practically irrelevant, fact that the ground freezes towards the end of November, none of the above mud stomping and champagne drinking will be happening anytime soon.

That means I have about 6 extra months to ponder, obsess, and plan.
NOT good.

For several reasons.

1. I will have more time to conjure up really expensive ideas.
Exhibit A:

How much do you think it will cost to collect enough silver spoons and sparkly crystals to make a huge spoondelier??

2. I will expect my husband to make these ideas a reality in his spare time. I mean, since we have all this extra time and all...why not?? 

First on his list is turning an old dresser into something like this:

OR this....

image via Courtney Blanton Interiors

Should be pretty easy...right?? 

3. I have NEVER been without my own home/canvas to work on since I started this fabulous career of mine, so I can only imagine the sort of internal combustion that will occur if I do not have a canvas of my own that is in the 3-d form. 
I am very thankful to have several canvases around town via my fabulous clients, but I am currently without a **client that loves pink as much as I do. 
**If you love the color pink you should probably call me cuz you might get a screaming deal!

p.s. My daughter's future bathroom is my current obsession....the above dresser turned bathroom vanity is for her bathroom, which will have a modern look with that "old time" feel.

It all started with this little hand towel.....

How CUTE is that??? $6 at an antique mall!! Score!

I'm thinking her bathroom will have floors like this:

From what builders are telling me these days, tiles like these are a "pain in the ass" type of tile.
I'm like, "Quit your whining! The kick-ass tilers from the 1920's weren't complaining and  
these "pain-in-the-ass-tiles" were EVERY-FREAKING-WHERE!"

Apparently the days of linoleum and 18" by 18" tiles spoiled everyone.

4. Speaking of being spoiled, living with my parents for an extra 6 months is likely to encourage my inner 16 year old to emerge. Over the past 3.5 months I have nearly lost the ability to do laundry and cook a proper meal for my family. What will another 12 months do??

Let's not forget:

5.  I am already losing my mind and we've just started this whole thing.

I mean, I just yelled at a hypothetical tile guy.

Looks like it's gonna be a long road my friends. 

I hope you'll stick with me as I overreact to the sometimes completely hypothetical bumps on this non-essential, clearly self inflicted, "stop all your spoiled pants whining", journey called, "building your own home".