HOME DECOR: Some of my favorite things....

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite things with you. I soon discovered I had far too many to put into one post... but here are a few and I'll share more later. I would love to discover your favorite things, too. What are the things that delight, intrigue and inspire you? Please leave me a note about your favorite things in 'comments' at the end of this article. I am so looking forward to learning what you love!
(enlarge a photo for a closer look by clicking on it)
What is it about that word that is so intriguing? Lets start with Apothecary chests. All those little drawers. Such nice straight lines -
I can't think of a style that an apothecary chest cannot fit into nicely.

They go equally well with contemporary or traditional. My personal favorite would be one that was time worn, a little abused, with a patina of age upon it. Much like myself! Ha!

Turquoise furniture - you have to admit is a little magical. I don't know where I would put one, but I may just have to find a place for a little turquoise in my life. This chest has nice legs. (I used to have nice legs..... sighhhhh.) This chest (below) from Pottery Barn http://www.potterybarn.com/ is actually a clever little cupboard. The top row of working drawers is followed by cabinet doors that only look like little drawers. Put two of these side by side and you have a very nice console for a hall or entry. I love the distressed finish.
This smaller chest, from JC Penny http://www.jcpenny.com/ would look terrific as a bedside table.
This apothecary plus bookshelf unit is a reproduction of an antique. Finishes like this are great for homes with little kids and big dogs. A few more dings or scratches just add to the patina. Of course if its chipped, frayed, rusted, cracked or peeling, I am probably going to love it.
This little dove grey apothecary chest fits nicely into the role of occasional table.
And then there are the apothecary jars. So versatile. Also equally at home in traditional or contemporary settings. They look great empty or can be great opportunities to add color or texture to any room.
This bronze trimmed apothecary is from http://www.saladotex.com/ . There are a variety of places to find the glass jars, and I have found many at discount stores such as HomeGoods, Marshalls, TaiPan Trading, Shinoda, Steinmart, etc., you just have to keep your eye out for them. Pier 1 has also carried them. You can pay more for them if you want. Many higher end home and decor stores also carry them - at twice the price.
I love their versatility for seasonal decor. This one filled with vintage ornaments will add sparkle and color wherever it is placed.
This is one of my very favorite uses for apothecary jars - terrariums. Plants, moss, stones - look wonderful inside these vessels. They work, too. You do need to have one large enough for the pebbles, charcoal, soil and plants to fit into.
If you need a splash of color - faux fruit is a good filler. While we are here ... don't you just LOVE LEMONS? I love their shape, smell, color and most foods containing lemons. The smell of their blossoms ... heavenly. I actually had my ears pierced in the Samoan islands with a lemon thorn when I was a teenager. I felt very brave - I made them numb my ear with ice first, though. The thorn was pushed into and through the ear, then broken - leaving a little stick in my ear which I had to swab with coconut oil and twist several times daily as it healed. Somewhere along the way the thorn was replaced with earrings.
Now a machine pierces the ear and pops the earring in all at once.
Sooo much easier - but not as nice smelling as the coconut oil.So, back to the subject.... apothecary jars. None of those in Samoa.
This is a cute and easy idea for Halloween, using flower frogs. I am sure pebbles would work just as well to keep the cards propped up.
Keeping to the 3 letter word format, you could also use EEK.
I know that Tuscany is the look that is all the rage right now, but my heart belongs to Provence. That french countryside/vineyard look with the stone floors, plastered walls, and earthenware pottery alongside fine antiques, polished pewter, iron chandeliers and crystals - well, it makes me swoon a little. I love the contrasts of something fine alongside something a little primitive and timeworn. I love the french sense of style along with the simplicity of provence.
This art print is a perfect example - the slightly crumbling chateau with formal style gardens.
There are so many things I like about this print by Montserrat Masdeu. The gently decaying old french chateau, the boxwood edged garden, the cyprus trees, the way it draws you into the picture, makes you want to walk up that pathway to the house and see what is inside... I could live there -- provided it was located in Southern California. You can see more art and images by Masdeu on http://www.art.com/ .
I can't talk about french chateaus, provence and vineyards without telling you about a lovely little film "A Good Year". It is charming, it is romantic, it is about recognizing the good things in life and best of all, it is set in Provence at a 'decaying chateau'. It is a favorite of mine. Not only is the story delightful, but the second time through I nearly wore out the pause button while I poured over the authentic rooms, furnishings, draperies, walls, pots and grounds of the estate. I could also live there - provided it was in So Cal.

Around the turn of the 19th century (1900-1925) these clothbound books with elaborate cover art and gold leaf accents were plentiful. Now they are very difficult to find. This cover is in the art nouveau style - which was very elaborate and organic - a lot of florals and women with long flowing hair... The books are beautiful and I am proud to say I have found a few of these treasures over the years and always have a eye out for others.

I want a wall like this in my bedroom. I think it would look amazing behind my mahogany 4 poster bed - the dark carved bed in front of a stone and mortar wall that looks like its been there for hundreds of years. Top it with crystal pendants hanging over the bedside tables on each side and you have me swooning! Love that turquoise door, too.
Or any rose with an obsene amount of petals. Some have over 100 petals on one rose, and because they haven't been over hybridized for long straight stems, they still have amazing scent.
This one smells incredible - like roses and apples. It is called 'Abraham Darby' and is a softly pink and white ruffled confection with centers of peach. One of my very very favorite. You can find it at nurseries - Laguna Hills Nursery for example - during the rose season. Or view it and more at http://www.davidaustinroses.com/
I love love LOVE Eden roses. Another favorite.
I love art that tells a story. Even though you may not be familiar with the fairy tale this illustration by Kay Nielsen refers to, your mind creates its own story as you are drawn into this painting - the deep dark woods, the one little whimsical tree, the maiden - alone and in sorrow... Kay Nielsen was a scandinavian artist. His work was detailed and often had a definite art deco feel to it. He is one of my favorite artist/illustrators.
Kay Nielsen is no longer with us, but James Christensen is a contemporary artist (and was also my sister's college art teacher) who has the same ability to capture the essence of the story in his art. This piece is the story of the 10 lepers, who after being miraculously healed, ran off rejoicing, celebrating and completely wrapped up in themselves - forgetting the Healer. All, that is, except for one, who hesitated and then returned to thank Him.
How many of us go about our lives and fail to see the miracles around us?
So, those are a few of my favorite things... sounds kind of like a song...
I would love to hear about the things you love... so please, click on 'comments' below and tell me what you find lovely, delightful and what makes you swoon...
As always, my best to you




My friend Debra recently came into town
and I spent a morning with her in San Juan Capistrano for breakfast and browsing through Whim
( I should say drooling through Whim)
and the antique shops.
 It was so fun to see her again.

We became friends when she hired me to decorate her home here in OC.
We giggled our way through many a fabric store, and often found we had a 'following' of people wanting to know what we were doing that was so fun
and curious about the treasures we had collected in our cart.

In reminiscing I realized I hadn't posted the photos of the decorating I did for her home here in OC.
We started with a clean slate - a brand new home.
We added trim to the windows and faux wood blinds in the same color as the trim.
We selected wall colors, ceiling colors and wonderful fabrics.
The result was a beautifully inviting space.
The family/living room was a rich blend of olive green, deep crimson and amber.

The leather sectional was accented with custom throw pillows which I made with down filled inserts.
The window treatments were a blend of custom and pre-made. We purchased the deep red velvet draperies and I made the valance with silk fringe trim, secondary curtains and tiebacks. It is a great alternative to custom draperies.

The adjacent breakfast nook in the kitchen echoed the same colors. I created her draperies and this table covering. The valance is trimmed in a 3" beaded fringe to catch the light and frame the ocean view.

In the master bath we went with a soft sage green and accented the tub view with a crystal ceiling fixture.

I was completely envious of her creative workspace at the top of the stairs. Crisp white furniture, plenty of storage for her supplies and generous work surfaces made for a great place to create!

We displayed her 'Madonna' collection here. She collects these images and figures for their beautiful and serene faces and prefers a vintage look. We found sheer pre-made drapes to frame the window.

We found a vintage style floral and stripe fabric combination to make the cushions and pillows for the wicker chair and scattered her treasures about her desk and shelves.

Downstairs, her husband's office is warm and masculine with custom cabinetry
and darker work surfaces.

We paid special attention to fung shui concepts while creating this space and the result was a home that not only looked beautiful, but felt inviting.

As always, I adore hearing from you. Please leave a comment or question.


HOME DECOR: The Power of Accessories

When I met with Lisa for the first time, she had all the 'bones' in place. Floor coverings, cabinetry, lighting, window coverings and new furniture - but it all seemed very empty to her. She needed the jewelry that goes with a great outfit. She needed help with the finishing touches. She needed accessories.
Lisa had chosen travertine flooring in her entry and kitchen area, bordered and accented with marble mosaics. Her living and dining area was warm toned hardwood. She had new furniture in browns and beige, and a feature wall in a dark brown with a faux paint finish. Her curtain fabric was a brown, beige and robins egg blue stripe.
The overall palette of brown, beige and white and the hard surfaces of the wood and marble left the area feeling empty and a little cold. We needed to warm things up a little. We found pillows with just the right combination of colors for the sofa and chairs and had textured carpeting cut to size and bound as a rug. Lisa liked things calm and not too busy, so didn't want an area rug with a lot of pattern. She also liked the open feeling of the room and elected not to add an ottoman or coffee table.
We addressed the large blank brown wall and filled it with images that had special meaning to Lisa. We had the pictures framed in matching frames and grouped them on the wall along with a saying she felt might inspire her 6 children and 9 grandchildren.
The other end of the living room needed some fresh greenery and lighting.
A tree, potted ivy and a table lamp fill out the space.

The family/recreation room was a large space filled with workout equipment and oak bookcases. We painted the dated oak bookcases a fresh white to match the wood trim throughout the house and arranged movies, books and accessories in them. Lisa is having a few family photos framed and will add them to these shelves, filling in the blank spaces.
We rearranged the furniture, putting all the workout equipment behind the sofa in it's own space and creating a family television and movie viewing area in front.
This blank wall became the music area and a showcase for the animation cel art.

The back wall (with the piano moved) needed accessorizing as well.

We framed one of her sons artwork and added an existing framed piece of art in the center. The wall has special meaning now. These were just small changes we made to improve the function of this room. She has plans to redecorate this area a little down the road.
The kitchen, a newly remodeled expanded space, was done in emperador dark brown marble and cream cabinetry. This little alcove was the perfect spot for some color with accessories.
We brought in glass apothecary jars with apples and lemons for color and a potted urn with boxwood for a fresh outdoor feel. I especially wanted to bring in the fresh garden feel to lighten and brighten the heavy wood and stone.
The chocolate accent wall continued into the kitchen. Cream cabinets with glass fronts were perfect to display accessories in and add some color, as well as the space above the cabinets where the expanse of brown wall needed some visual interest.
We found dishware and glasses in chocolate and the perfect blue for the glass cabinets, and topped the cabinets with platters, cookbooks and plants.
The grand sized kitchen island needed large accessories. Lisa didn't want her kitchen space cluttered, so we kept the accessories to a minimum. We found this great iron oversized basket and filled it with boxwood orbs. (Bringing that fresh green in again...) The chunky candles brought in more of the blue to this area. Tucked into the far corner is another apothecary, filled with oranges.
What a difference a few accessories can make. They are the finishing touches!

The dining room needed some brightening as well. A marble fireplace, dark wood shelving and new dining room table and chairs on top of dark hardwood flooring was a little overpowering in its very browness. Not that it wasn't beautiful - it was just all one tone. I created this centerpiece in a white ceramic urn that echoed the white from the mantle and created that fresh from the outdoors feeling Lisa and I wanted to bring into the space.
We found topiaries to bring green to the mantle area and frame out our new oval mirror. The bookcases were decorated with photos, greenery, and other accessories. Books that may have looked too cluttered on the shelves were organized into baskets on the bottom shelf where they are easily accessible.
Here we had carpeting cut and bound into a round rug for under the table, in the same shade as the living room rug.

As in the family/recreation room, Lisa will put family photos in frames on the mantel and empty spaces in the bookcase.
The feature wall of the dining room was a large empty space that we decided to fill with family photos. Lisa had an existing framed drawing of her family that we chose as the centerpiece. There will be family photos of her children & their families in the 8x10 frames along the sides and additional family photos to fill in the wall. Here you see it currently in process, and since the time of this photo I found a wooden sign to go above the large picture: 'Family: forever, for always, and no matter what' . Lisa has promised to send me a photo when she gets the family pictures into the frames and the wall is finished.
Lisa, you were a delight to work with and I hope you enjoy your beautiful new rooms.
Please leave your comments or questions below. I'm always so happy to read them!
Best wishes,
( to leave a comment, click on the word 'comments' and type in your response).


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