Mint julep

It’s April, the month of spring sunshine and mint juleps, and right now I am super inspired by soft minty hues with pops of orange. It is such an invigorating color combination, don’t you think? The grounded calm of mint green with an energetic little (or big!) zing of orange, bronze, tangerine, rust, or terracotta is just what I’m craving. These gorgeous interiors do it so well! Swoon, sigh, yes and please.

If you’re as inspired as I am, here are some beautiful picks for your home to get you going, from total bargain to splurge-tastic. Helle Mardahl’s Bon Bon vessels had me at hello, but a poppy orange tray on your coffee table would have the same visual impact. Of course, Rothko’s color juxtapositions are spot-on, and how cute is that microwave? (I have it so I’ll answer — it is adorable.) Happy shopping, and enjoy!

Decorate wild!

photo via Justina Blakeney

Congratulations to Justina Blakeney on her new book, Jungalow: Decorate Wild! In her most personal book to date, Jungalow is alive with Blakeney’s signature bold colors and patterns, mixed textiles, and plants galore. She centers her adventurous designs squarely amidst her own beautifully mixed heritage and encourages all of us to do the same. I found this to be not only a delightful design perspective, but a timely reminder amidst increasing polarization that we are all enriched by the “magic of mixing.” Cross-cultural food, art, music, design? Yes and please! Her mixes are artful, collected, and so stylish (amazing!) while also being grounded and respectful of deeply rooted traditions. As she shared in a book talk recently, she believes strongly in respecting cultures and supporting artisans. Her seriousness in this regard is matched only by the playful exuberance she brings to decor, and her earnest belief that we can all thrive, grow, and express our creative selves in the home we cultivate for ourselves. Bravo, Justina! I couldn’t agree more.

Jungalow is a feast for the eyes, full of Dabito’s stunning interior photography along with shots from Blakeney’s own travels. The colors are saturated and exuberant — such a delight after a dreary year! Pick up a copy and you won’t be disappointed, I promise.

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Five fun things: coffee table edition

As I was browsing for a coffee table recently, I realized that a) there were several I LOVED, and b) all of them were the wrong shape and size for my living room. Wah-wah. I needed something oblong, and narrow enough to allow for comfortable clearance between our facing couches. All those round and square coffee tables of my dreams were a solid no-go. Sigh. I eventually found some great contenders, but it was a bit of a journey!

Just for fun, today I share with you five coffee tables I loved that I couldn’t get, along with five that I could. Double the five things, double the fun!

As you can see, a very specific aesthetic had lodged itself in my brain. I loved these for their chunky bold look and clean lines. Three legs were also a theme. I mean, look how gorgeous these are! Swoon, amirite? I could just see a stack or two (or four) of beautiful art books on display, pretty as you please. But sadly, we were not meant to be.

Not only did I need something oblong and relatively narrow, but it could NOT be brown, to avoid brown overkill with our our leather couch. Way to make it harder, huh? I cast my net wider and looked and looked and looked. And looked. And gradually, some lovely options coalesced from infinite internet land. Interestingly enough, even though none of these options were originally my “dream” table, I think the assortment below feels a whole lot more like “me” than the ones above. Less minimal, more eclectic and collected, a little richer, a little more glam. I could easily see any of them fitting into my home beautifully and seamlessly.

So what did I go with? Well, I found a spectacular dupe of the Anthro table here for a great price, plus there was no need to wait for a backorder! Hooray, a clear winner! I love it and am so excited to play with styling this weekend. Airy, open, a little Deco, a little glam, and the perfect size.

Have a great weekend, and happy shopping!

Retro

This week I’ve had retro TV on the brain, thanks to two things in particular: Disney’s new show WandaVision, and the quirky-fun Fall 2021 fashion show, Coach Forever Season Two. I find it fascinating that entities as different as Marvel Studios and Coach Leatherware captured the same sort of zeitgeist at the same time, with retro television projects that feel somehow fresh and thoroughly nostalgic at the same time.

WandaVision, if you haven’t watched it (yet?), is a Marvel series about Avengers Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff and Vision living a perfect suburban life in Westview, NJ. It picks up directly after the events of the movie Avengers: Endgame. Each episode features sitcom conventions of a different decade, mimicking shows like I Love Lucy, Bewitched, and Full House to fantastic effect. The sense of familiarity and nostalgia make for a clever, intriguing way to explore fresh storytelling, and to provide a foil for the growing sense of unease that things are not quite what they seem.

Coach, under the stewardship of Stuart Vevers, has run with similar themes of retro nostalgia with their 2021 collection. Continuing the “Coach Forever” theme from Spring/Summer 2021, their CoachTV presentation of the Fall 2021 collection, “Coach Forever Season Two,” combines a quirky fashion show presentation of video vignettes with old-school home shopping channel-style segments, music videos, and TV show bits in a fun and fresh way. “Shaft” reference? Check! Early aughts teen movie riff? Check! Beautiful clothes and handbags? Check check check! It felt like a complete world despite being less than 12 minutes of content, with a cohesive design story and an aesthetic that felt deeply heritage Coach with a twist. Juergen Teller and Stuart Vevers are again a great match here.

So what do these similar-but-different evocations of retro nostalgia tell us? With the uncertainties of the past year still looming large, creating something fresh that also has a reassuring familiarity is a brilliant way to go. People crave security in times of uncertainty. Fashion and TV are not only indulgences, but also highly evocative cultural touchstones, so what better way to tie it all together? Wanda and Vision’s sartorial choices tell us everything we need to know in an instant about the era of each episode. We feel a deep sense of familiarity watching their banter and mannerisms, even though we are watching something brand new. We want new ways to escape, but we also want comfort, and WandaVision manages to deliver exactly that. And Vevers, with his deliberate use of designs and motifs from not only decades of Coach archives, but his own collections from the past few years, is deftly and boldly addressing our current moment without saying a word. People are buying less right now, and that’s okay! Pull out your sweater from three, four, six years ago and enjoy it! Wear vintage and look fab! His aesthetic for the collection is both comfortingly retro and of-the-next-moment, and he shows us how to do it, too. Not only that, but he encourages us to have fun with our clothes, which is oh-so-welcome in an industry that sometimes takes itself a touch too seriously. I think we can all use a bit of comfort and fun these days, no?

Bonus: What every WandaVision theme song has in common — so fascinating!

Blue-green goodness

Lately I’ve noticed that a certain blue-y, green-y goodness has been threading it’s way through my inspiration boards. Equal parts serene, moody, and playful, I just can’t get enough these days. I particularly love it combined with other colors in unexpected ways, especially dusky hues like mustard yellow, burgundy, or rose — or all of the above!

via marccosta / remodelista / domino / remodelista / sfgirlbybay / michaelsinclair / laurenlcaron / remodelista / anthropologie / emilyhenderson

Here are a few ideas to get you started if you’re feeling this color inspiration as much as I am, whether you’re looking for a pretty accent or an all-in look. Enjoy!

New spaces and sources added!

As you may have been able to tell from my post last week, lots of comings and goings with my home decor of late. I’ve refreshed my Spaces and Sources page this week to reflect that — so feel free to go down the rabbit hole browse to your heart’s content this weekend. Enjoy!

Mice, cookies, and other tales of home…

If you are unfamiliar with the children’s book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, I should warn you that things do not stop at a cookie. He will then require a glass of milk, a straw, a napkin, a mirror, some scissors… the dominoes begin to fall, and it’s all downhill from there. If you ARE familiar with the book, then you may well know where I am going with this. My dear readers, I must confess: I am a mouse. A house mouse. I am not sure if it was the dawn of the New Year or the profound anxiety and subsequent relief of the changing of the guard, presidentially speaking, and along with it the shiny sense of a new day, but I have been on an absolute bender of a home refresh. Nothing as calculated as a specific room, mind you. No, no, it has been as meandering and quaintly maddening as the cookie mouse’s whims. Buckle up, my friends…

Quarantine has been a weird time. Most of us have been lucky enough to stay healthy — home and bored and feeling cramped while the world falls apart outside our doors and friends or loved ones fall ill. Boredom and doom see-saw for our attention. What has remained constant, though, is our collective need to make our homes work harder for us. Dining rooms have become home offices. Home offices have become playrooms and homework rooms. Bathrooms have become many of our sole opportunities for solitude. My own January saga began when the bottom drawer of my dresser broke. Ugh. Dressers are surprisingly expensive, folks. After some online browsing I turned to Facebook Marketplace, bought a dresser for a fraction of the price of a new one that I was assured was solid wood, and then once I got it out of the car the following morning, realized it surely was not. The broken one I had was much sturdier. So. We put or heads together, moved a few little things out of the living room, and voila! An underutilized space in our living room was suddenly rife with functional storage. AND with some elbow grease and wood glue, I was able to fix my old dresser. Win, win!

My appetite was whetted, folks. Soon I was mentally lamenting the wasted space that our pair of mismatched desks left in our “study,” aka the small area between our dining space and our bedroom. My desk was too deep and too tall for me — a kind hand-me-down from my in-laws at least a decade ago. Maybe I could get our home office space to work harder for us, too? An L-shaped desk could help perhaps? I was on a budget, but I thought a pair of simple Parsons-style tables could work if I couldn’t find an L-shaped desk to fit the space properly. Ikea had a ton of different options to customize last I knew, so I hopped online and found just the right sized items. Except… they were all sold out. Every style. Every finish. Most leg options. Currently unavailable. COVID-19 had hampered supply chains AND there are a ton more people working from home, so I was out of luck there. One excruciatingly long internet search later for something inexpensive, inoffensive-looking, and the right dimensions, I eventually found a pair of desks on Amazon. They arrived two days later, and victory! I listed our older two desks for sale and had buyers within a few days, but we had the too-big desk smack in the middle of in a major walkway for a way too long while we waited for it to be picked up. Wah-wah. It made me crazy for those few days, but the payoff was worth it! Functional new desks with room for both of us, and no space wasted.

Not long after this episode I was sitting on my couch, looking through the doorway of our kitchen. My admiration for all the various glass display cabinets popping up in beautiful home spreads magically collided with my continued desire to use our spaces more effectively, and *lightbulb* I knew what I wanted to do. Another comically exhaustive internet search followed, resulting in my procuring the very last display cabinet in stock of any model at any Ikea in California. The black framed glass Milsbo was MINE ALL MINE and it was perfect. I was elated. Drunk on victory. Rearranging and plate-stacking and styling made our kitchen prettier AND more functional. Success (again) was sweet. Wasted space begone! Storage is here! Except now I had a spare side chair to find a home for…

I began adding and subtracting and moving and shuffling in the living room. I wondered if perhaps a small table and pair of chairs would work at the far end of our living room. (I should mention that around this time, the striped side table I’d been wanting to add to our living room had arrived. So now I had a spare side chair AND an extra side table, full disclosure.) In the end, a pair of our dining chairs and a stool migrated and made a nice bit of additional seating in our living room, the original extra chair was rehomed at my dining table, and my sweet niece inherited the side table for her new bedroom. All was well. Except…

Again, while lounging on the couch scrolling through my Insta feed watching Netflix my gaze wandered, and it occurred to me that out of all the artfully mismatched chairs around my dining table, none of them were actually the ones I loved anymore. My favorites now were residing in the living room for the guests we’ll get to have once upon a dream and far far away. I started thinking a matching set of chairs could be a fresh, harmonious change of pace after going with mismatched chairs all these years… you see where this is going, don’t you? Spoiler alert: our hero bought a set of chairs. Beautiful mid-century ones. Except now she (I) had 6 (six!) extra chairs to find homes for. Up for sale they went. And my sweet niece now had a pretty velvet chair to go with her new table.

Same tale for the DIY mirror on the dining room wall that I replaced with a sleeker, more geometric option. My cloud mirror now lives in my bedroom, but to make room for it, I had to move an old TV that I hated having out in the first place. So then I thought, well, why don’t I use this opportunity to make room to store it by cleaning some things out? I was selling my dining chairs anyway, so I figured I could get rid of some items I had languishing, disassembled in the back of the closet. Up for sale went a couple end tables, an old art print, a wall hanging, the faux fiddle-leaf fig that I relocated earlier in the pandemic… I was on a ROLL. Out with the old, in with the new, bitches! This girl was on fire!

Then, while proudly showing my mom a photo of our newly freshened dining room, I decided realized our entryway cabinet was now “too much brown” with our new dining chairs. Eye roll. Forehead slap. Yep, I even annoyed myself. Yet another exhaustive search ensued, except this time… I came up empty! Nothing attractive, affordable-ish, and the right size materialized. I was stumped. My phone was crying for mercy with low-battery warnings after repeated searches, because I was SURE I just had to figure out a slightly different search criteria to find the right thing. Google would not fail me, right? And yet, still nada. Finally, I had a sudden surge of creativity born out of desperation. A small cabinet I was using for odds and ends near my desk, freshened and beautified with a whopping $8 investment in forest green spray paint, became the perfect answer to my entry conundrum! And goodbye to the too-big, too-brown old cabinet. VICTORY! All it took was yet another round of shuffling things into different storage spots. Eeesh.

By this time, however, I was starting to get frustrated by the fact that our theoretically freshened, beautified, more functional home was actually starting to feel like a cluttered warehouse. Some but not all our old things had sold, and extra storage or the luxury of a garage are not part and parcel of our 1920s home. Today, after a buyer bailed at the last minute AFTER I assembled a table for them to pick up — dear reader, I snapped. SNAPPED. I was cranky and annoyed and my poor long-suffering husband had to listen to me very un-gracefully rant about people who don’t follow through while I piled as much extra furniture as I could into the back seat of my little car, just to get it OUT OF THE HOUSE.

And here we are. If you have made it this far, I salute you and offer my thanks. All this to say that home — and our concept of it — is ever-evolving. There often is no such thing as “done” or completed or finished. We are living, changing beings with a myriad of needs and wants and aesthetic desires, and it’s okay to change our minds, or refresh and refocus what our homes are and how they function. Also, the middle is always the messiest! To make changes you need to pull things apart and rework things before they come together, so don’t despair if you are in the middle of a project — whether it is a large scale remodel or some small-scale organization — and you want to tear your hair out. It will come together. Trust. I know my house will feel more “done” soon. And it will be worth it — it will be the home I need and love right now.

Rustic retreat

Going into this new year, I’m stretching my aesthetic muscles a bit! My sister is moving into a new house, and asked me for a bit of help getting it decorated. She is looking for a farmhouse sort of vibe — clean, light, a little rustic, and a lot cozy. Our styles are very different, so I’m excited to stretch myself a bit AND give her family a fresh new start. Without further ado, let me show you what we’re planning. First up, the main bedroom!

I love bold color, pattern, and modern quirk, so a more minimal and rustic look is a fun challenge. She had already picked out a bedroom set in a grey-toned wood, so I pulled in some warmer wood tones to give the room a cozy, layered feel. A patterned rug gives some interest as well as some brightness to the space, and a little hit of black in the bedside lamps adds depth. Being me, I had to add a little bit of pattern mixing — a sweet floral block print sheet set is just interesting enough with the geometric rug, and when paired with a fluffy white quilt, it feels super home-y. She also wanted some added shelving, so a low bookcase at the foot of the bed it just the ticket. Plus it can double as a bench! Win-win!

The main bedroom in their new house is much bigger than her current space, so she has room for a sitting area in here as well. A blue velvet slipper chair, an airy accent table, and a natural wood floor lamp make for a great spot to sit and read, unwind a little, and decompress from the day, or perhaps to get the day going with a cup of tea. Either way, I hope this bright, serene bedroom provides them a with lovely retreat, and a happy new place to call home!

In the gallery

Lately I have been super inspired by bold gallery walls. The kind that are a focal point for the room, make a statement, and look collected and eclectic… like some kind of old world library, an art collector’s studio, or maybe an intimate salon (SAH-lon, if you’re fancy!). Here are some spaces I can’t help but swoon over right now:

via: Chairish, my scandinavian home, Lucky magazine, and sfgirlbybay

This week I decided to start over from scratch with my own gallery wall. I’ve had a mix of art up in my living room for quite some time, moving pieces in and out as my tastes or whims have changed. This time, instead of swapping out a piece or two, I took down everything and thought long and hard about what I really wanted for the end result. I framed several items I’ve be wanting to hang for ages, laid everything out on the floor, and then added, subtracted, rearranged, and shifted everything until I was really thrilled with the arrangement. Next, to get everything spaced out properly on the wall, I made templates out of newspaper for every frame and hung them on the wall with a bit of tape. This method works especially great when you are hanging a lot of items. Also, you can mark on the paper where you need your nails or hangers to go! Then just affix your nails while the paper is up, pull down the paper, and hang your frame. Here is my end result, and I couldn’t be happier with it!

Our living room feels fresher and even more personal now, just in time for the holidays. This Thanksgiving I’ll be giving thanks for our health and safety in my own little private gallery — I hope you can do the same!

Light it up

Let’s talk lighting! I have a healthy (unhealthy?) love for lamps. Warm, cozy lamplight is all I want for my home, especially when the days grow shorter and twilight descends earlier and earlier. This time of year I just want to curl up, my hygge-ified home aglow, and enjoy long slow evenings.

How can I make my house glow-y and cozy, you ask? Try lamps over overhead lighting, and swap out your bulbs! What should I look for, you ask? Well, here we go!

Most commonly we think of wattage when looking for lightbulbs. When bulbs were universally incandescent, wattage sort of interchangeably described both electrical power and bulb brightness. With LED, incandescent, and fluorescent bulbs all on the market now, there are actually three main factors to keep in mind when buying light bulbs: wattage, lumens, and Kelvin rating.

Wattage actually refers to the electrical power the bulb needs to operate. You should make sure to only use bulbs that require a wattage less than or equal to what your fixture is built for. Easy, right? And with so many energy-saving bulbs on the market these days, you’ll likely be using a bulb far lower than what your lamp lists as its maximum.

Lumens refer to the brightness of your light source. The higher the lumens, the brighter your light bulb. Here is a handy list to give you an idea of what brightness you can expect, based on the wattage of traditional incandescent bulbs.

  • To replace a 100 watt (W) incandescent bulb, look for a bulb that gives you about 1600 lumens. If you want something dimmer, go for less lumens; if you prefer brighter light, look for more lumens.
  • Replace a 75W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 1100 lumens
  • Replace a 60W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 800 lumens
  • Replace a 40W bulb with an energy-saving bulb that gives you about 450 lumens.

Lastly, Kelvin (K) refers to your bulb’s color/temperature. By far the most important factor for me these days is my bulb’s Kelvin rating. Warmer Kelvin ratings feel cozier, and while dimmers allow you to control how bright you’d like your light to be depending on your need or mood, Kelvin can’t be changed unless you buy a smart bulb that allows you to change its colors. Kelvin is measured on a scale from 1,000 to 10,000, with most lightbulbs falling between 2000-6500K. For a cozy feel in your living spaces, 2700K is a nice, warm-feeling Kelvin rating. 3000K will give you a whiter light, and anything above 3500K is bluer and can feel rather “sterile” or harsh to me. 3500K or above is usually best suited for hospital or other commercial applications. Bulbs labeled “daylight” often fall into this category, and while they may be less desirable for spaces you want to feel home-y or cozy, they can come in handy for task lighting, kitchens, or workspaces where bright light is needed. For “warm” vs. “cool” lighting, think about the glow of candlelight vs. the bright white of an operating room. The lower the Kelvin, the more amber your light will be.

Recently I swapped out the cooler LED bulbs in this lamp with these warmer Edison bulbs, and I am so happy with the result! They are 4 watt bulbs, but because they are LED, they compare roughly to the lumens output of a traditional 40 watt bulb. 2700K is a good Kelvin sweet spot for me, so I love the warmth of these bulbs in my living room.

Here are a few of my favorite lamps right now to get you going, some that I have and others that I’d love to:

Directional

The Domes black marble table lamp from CB2 is sculptural and stunning, and lucky for me, it came with a pair of 2700K bulbs. It catches my eye every time I walk into my living room, in the best way.

When I was a kid I had a banker-style green lamp on my desk that I loved. I’d turn it on to do homework, and it had such a satisfying *click*. This olive Clive desk lamp has all the same vibes with a more modern sensibility, and would look just as good on an end table as on your desk. Give it a low Kelvin bulb for a sweet glow, or swap in a higher Kelvin option for a great task light.

Floor lamps

The Harriet floor lamp from Anthropologie had me at hello, with it’s graceful modern curves and stylish pleated shade. If I had space for a floor lamp, she’d already be mine. The pleated paper shade will give any room a lovely, diffuse light.

Likewise, the Yoji floor lamp at Urban Outfitters would be mine in a heartbeat if I had a place for it. These frosted glass globes paired with some warm light bulbs would make for a gorgeous ambient glow.

Table lamps

I know I already posted about these, but my Snake table lamps from CB2 are still making me super happy. I have them sitting on my console flanking a gallery wall, and they are just the right mix of antique and glam. The off-white linen shade gives a nicely diffuse light.

This adorable little Danish modern lamp by &tradition comes with a 2700K LED AND has a built-in dimmer switch. Perfect on a mantel, side table, bookshelf — anywhere! I would expect nothing less from the country that brought us the hygge concept. Plus, I can’t get over that chic rust and slate-y blue color combo. Love.

I love all of these Modern Totem table lamps from West Elm, although if I HAD to choose, I think I’d go with the blue black blue black. The shapes are clean and interesting, and would go with a wide variety of styles. Again, a linen shade is a great option for a luminous glow.

And here we are! Beautiful lighting and some cozy vibes — what could be better? Happy hygge-fying!