Monday, June 20, 2016

Finding Your Style: A Room to Love

This is part two of Step 1 in the five step series. 
5 Steps to Decorating Any Room: An Introduction. 
Step 1: Create a Vision. Part One: How to Translate Inspiration into Rooms You'll Love to Live In.

One of the very best ways to find your style is to collect and analyze rooms you love. Your gut knows what you like. Start there. A bit of thought, though,will help you take those gut feelings and translate them into a room you'll love because

knowing what you love means you'll love what you have.

I had a huge gut reaction when I saw this kitchen in the June issue of House Beautiful. Designed by Robert Stilin, this New York kitchen is a fabulous departure from all the white kitchens we usually see.

Isn't it stunning?

Lately, I've been feeling my style shift a little. Ever since I finished my dining room, I've noticed I've been drawn to more of an industrial, urban look--and here it is in kitchen form! So let's break it down, shall we?

Finding your style is as easy as looking at your favourite spaces and making a quick list of what you love. And then we'll dig just a little deeper.

What I love:

1. Those pillars! Cast iron.
Digging Deeper:
The material is so solid. Yet the shape, the columns are such a classic. They are showstoppers, for sure. Such drama.

2. Those lights!
Digging Deeper:
I love, love, love the cone shape. I love the scale...they are ridiculously huge. They add humour and playfulness to what could be a very serious space. (Imagine any of these in their place, for example. The whole vibe would be different.)

3. The lower wood cabinets and island.
Digging Deeper:
Wood is warm and inviting material. The cutouts for openings are simple and straightforward. Functional.

4. The stainless steel backsplash behind the range.
Digging Deeper:
Repeating the same material from the oven to the hood keeps the room simple and streamlined. Flanking it with fridges on either side creates a balanced colour blocked effect which is very soothing.

5. The backsplash tile.
Digging Deeper:
The glazed terra cotta tile has such a lovely sheen to it. It reminds me of Mother of Pearl. Again, another material to love.

6. Texture.
Digging Deeper:
This room is all about the controlled use of subdued shine. There's the dull shine of the frosted glass in the steel clad uppers, the counter top, the backsplash. Even the shiniest materials: the stainless steel and aluminum are not mirror bright. The matte floors, cabinets and cast iron just glow.

7. The light.
Digging Deeper:
This room is beautifully bright. I love the way the light reacts with all the different materials in this room: so much so that I begin to wonder if I'm on love with a kitchen --or a photograph! (The photographer is Joshua McHugh).

8. Colour--or, rather, did you notice? the lack of it.
Digging Deeper:
This kitchen relies entirely upon the natural colours inherent to the materials themselves for colour. Almost all of the colour in this photograph was introduced by the stylist with the food and flowers.

9. The French blue limestone counter top.
Digging Deeper:
Finally--here's some colour! Here's some pattern. But like everything else, the colour is found in the material itself. Still, I am happy it is blue and not white, or black or anything else.

10. I love the layout.
Digging Deeper:
Symmetry is very calming to me.

11. The stools.
Digging Deeper:
Simplicity itself. They remind me of school, somehow.

12. Contrast.
Digging Deeper:
Blue and orange are opposites--so the countertops are a deliberate but subtle contrast to the wood tones. The shiny silver of the stainless contrasts gently with the flat, matte of the cabinets and pillars.

To sum up: my love for this room exemplifies my love for texture, good, solid, unadorned materials, symmetry and contrast.

This is only one photograph, one room. Sometimes, that's enough. But it is generally best to have a large pile of photographs to do this exercise with. I hope to show you how that's done, soon. My daughter and I are collecting pictures for a makeover of her room. I'm hoping I can show you how we'll nail down her style, soon.

Do you like this room? Any aspect in particular? Let me know in the comments.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cleaning Day is like Ground Hog Day*

 *The movie. Not, actually, you know, February 2nd.

It really is, isn't it?

There aren't any "before" photos in this post. I didn't take them. I am actually getting pretty tired of showing pictures of my messy, dirty house. It didn't used to bother me, but I've realised a couple of things since I started blogging my "before and after" cleaning frenzies, as Melissa calls them. (Not an affiliate link.)

1) Everyone has messy rooms. I didn't used to know that. How could I know that? But I joined a decluttering facebook group where, once in a while, people will post a challenge to clean the house, 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off, and away they go. On breaks, each lists what they got done in their 20 minutes. It is incredibly motivating. But I realised I am not the only one with a messy house. Who knew?

2) If they are depressing for me, they might be for you too. I don't know. Pictures of shiny, sparkly homes can be off-putting. All the afters with never a "before"  can feel intimidating and discouraging or worse, fake, and artificial. I don't want that either! Can the "afters" uplift and motivate all by themselves? You tell me.

I want this little corner of the blogosphere to be all about creating a home that delights and inspires. Yours and mine.

I didn't know if I'd even blog about my day spent cleaning. I'm not sure what belongs on the blog, quite, anymore.

I do know I want this blog to encourage all of us to live in the best homes we can, whatever our circumstances and limitations. 

And a clean home, ahem, a clean kitchen is delightful. And inspiring.

I left those bowls for my daughter to do as she promised she would after a bout of baking last night.

So, there might be more than a little light housekeeping around here soon, for sure. Maybe even a deep clean.

But, never fear, I will still be the same, doing the same things. Or sort of the same things. We'll see.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Translating Inspiration: A Quiz

You remember Lesson 1?

The one where we learned all about how to turn our inspiration into a room where we can feel all the feels?

I collected a gazillion images for that post, so I thought it might be fun to do a little quiz.

So, the steps to creating a room from an inspiration piece, quickly, were:

1) Identify how you want to feel in your room.
2) Find an inspiration piece which evokes those feelings for you.
3) List the characteristics of your inspiration piece. (Its colours, shapes, patterns, textures, and materials)
4) Duplicate those characteristics when putting together your room with rugs, lighting, furniture, etc...

But, we're not going to do all that today. Today we're just going to play a matching game. We are just going to go with our gut.

Like this:

1. The feels: regal, traditional, classic, elegant, but not overly serious.

This inspiration image;

best expresses which room:


If you said "all of the above" you're right! If you said none of the above, you're also right! It all depends on you and what you respond to.

How about this one:

2. The feels: Free, alive, inspired, well-rested.

(Those words make me think "vacation" so I went hunting for a favourite vacation spot.)

best expresses which room:


3. How about full, lush, happy, and alive?

Which one captures it best--for you?


Ok, so maybe I got  little carries away with all the colour and lushness of that last inspiration image!

What do you think? Would you ever use this method for decorating?

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Don't Let Your Decluttering be like that Sliding Puzzle

I spent six hours yesterday moving crap from one place to another.

You can't even call that decluttering, really.

The municipal electrical company needs access to my Mom's meter. Apparently, they are changing them out. When they arrived last week, this is what they found.

This is actually good. There used to be another shelving unit on the other side of the meter, too. Mom plans to have the porch re-built this summer, so we need to empty out this space regardless.

They told Mom she had a week or so to move the shelving unit so they could have access. We planned to do it Monday.

Mom was admitted to hospital on the weekend with pneumonia. As planned, I went over Monday. Without her there to declutter and get rid of stuff, it took me six hours to move this shelf unit which is loaded up with mostly paper--files, notebooks, note pads, stationary, envelopes, and compter paper. Heavy.

Why did it take me so long?

Because I had to find room for it in here. The garage.

It looks like there is space here, but there really isn't. I could have moved the hose (though I don't know where) but there's mold all along the bottom of the drywall all around the garage. So, I wanted to stay away from the walls, for sure, since we will have to cut all that out, eventually.)


It took me probably a good half an hour just to figure out where to start (and I started with breaking down the empty boxes, as I usually do.) I finally settled on clearing out the entry way since I could hardly make it in there, anyway.

Fortunately, I found a shelf unit on the porch which I was able to assemble in the garage so I could get things up off the floor.

Several hours later, here it is to the right of the door:

The other, from the porch, faces it on the left.

There used to be a room inside the garage. The closet bifold doors are leaning against one of its old walls.

Without Mom to decide what to get rid of, I had to keep--and move--everything. Well, except for the dead bird I found in the corner and other bits of trash and garbage. Not a fun job--especially in 30 degree heat. (That may not seem warm to some of you, but remember we wear t-shirts when its 6 degrees and break out the shorts when it's ten!)

And so, the porch:

Those are a couple of dollhouses in a large wheeled laundry hamper. All will be donated.

And now, for a nice before and after, of the garage:

There's still a lot of work ahead. Just looking at these pictures makes me itchy to get over there!

This is my second kick at this particular can: you can check out here we started this Spring, here.

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

How to Translate Inspiration into Rooms You'll Love to Live In

Because a) I am crazy, or b) because I don't have a project currently on the go at the moment, I've decided to write a little series on How to Decorate. My mind just won't quit! This is the first part of the first step in the five step series. The Introduction is here.

So, you want to decorate a room.

You're not happy with it, something isn't working. You want to change it.

Where do you begin?

Where do you start? What's the very first thing you need to consider?

The feels.

For real.

You need to know how you want to feel in your room.  

Decorating is really about emotion. Yes, really. It’s about capturing how we want to feel when we’re inside our homes, inside each room. Cosy. Warm. Sheltered. Full. Loose. Joyful. Sexy. Calm. Creative. Whatever.

So, how do we do that? How do we translate how we want to feel into furniture and rugs and light fixtures that make us feel the way we want to feel?

It's not hard. Here’s how:

4 Steps to Creating D├ęcor with all the Feels

1) Begin at the beginning. Answer the question: how do you want to feel in your room? List out the adjectives.

2) Find things (or more accurately, pictures of things), two or three no more, which make you feel that way.

3) Analyse the characteristics of your inspiration pieces

4) Translate them into your rooms.

I’ll walk you through it.

Step 1. Identify the Feeling

Let’s say I have a sitting room that functions as a guest room from time to time. Let’s say I want it to feel cosy. More than that: enveloped. I want to feel full, like I lack for nothing: abundant. I don’t want anything austere. This is full on fecundity, ripeness, comfort.

2. Find Your Inspiration

So, what might evoke those emotions?

There are all sorts of possibilities.

Flowers, a garden at harvest, lots of food--maybe fruit, . In fact, I immediately thought of a fruit stall where the fruit is piled high.  So, I went looking for one.

This is what I found:

I love it. It is lush. Abundant. Full. Energizing, yet peaceful. It's gorgeous, too.

Step 3. Analyse its Characteristics.

Let's break it down.

Colours: Blues, greens, yellow-greens, purple-pink and the tiniest bit of orange. Opposites are quite energizing.

Shapes: There are actually two shapes, here. Mostly, everything is a smooth round or oval. Roundness = comfort. Yet, the way they are grouped--more or less in stacks--creates rectangles. There is order and security.

Patterns: The rectangles, one on top of another form a grid, in this instance, a checkerboard. It reminds me of a quilt with each group of fruit reminding me of a patterned fabric. There are even stripes in one of the stacks. For someone else, this may put them in mind of a gallery wall, window panes, or a bookcase.

Textures: The apples are smooth and shiny. The berries are smooth and matte, almost frosted. The canteloupe is rough. The citrus fruits are mottled, kind of soft but nubby, too. Like a knit throw. There’s lots and lots of softness. All these textures is another reason I love this particular picture of a fruit stall.

Materials: This image doesn't really have any materials we would use in a room, per se, But the whole image makes me think of natural materials: like wood and cotton and naturally, growing things.

Step 4: Translate

From now on, everything you place in your room must have one or more of these characteristics, broadly defined. Like this room.

I think that if I were to spend any time here, I just might feel all the feels:

Colours: There’s a good mix of warm and cool.

Shapes: The individual pieces of fruit in the inspiration piece are expressed in the patterns of the fabric on the pillows. Their round shapes are loosely interpreted as the softness in the pillows. The rectangles are expressed in the window panes, the couch, the bricks and the pillows themselves.

Textures: The windows are smooth and shiny. The wood table is smooth and matte. The rug is rough. There’s even a knubby knit throw.

Materials: It all feels very natural, doesn’t it? The wood. Cotton. Brick. And, of course, the plant.

Let's take another example of translating some inspiration into another room--this time a bathroom.

1. The Feels we want to feel: sophisticated, modern, classic, crisp.

2. The Inspiration:

3. The Characteristics:

Colours: Black, white, grey, tan/brown and pale blue. Do we count the orange? Up to you. 

Shapes: Curves! And something round. Rectangles.

Patterns: Stripes, if you can call it that. Brick.

Textures: Soft. The straw hat could be considered semi-rough. Smooth. Hard. Shiny. Rough.

Materials: Fabric. Concrete. Paper. Brick. Leather. Metal. Whatever a Rolls is made of.

 4) Translation:

This is one tremendously glamorous option:

Colours: Black, white, tan/gold.

Shapes: Curves in the veins of the marble. The round tub. Rectangles: the bench, window panes and mirror.

Patterns: There's more of a colour block effect happening with the black and white. No stripes.

Textures: Soft towels. Smooth, hard. and shiny marble and porcelain. 

Materials: Fabric. (window shade). The marble reminds me of the Rolls.

But this is just one style. And it may not be yours. In fact, you and I could have the identical inspiration photo of the woman in the black dress and hat--and use the same characteristics--yet come up with a totally different room.

Bathroom II

Colours: Black, white, grey. I wish they had painted that stool blue!

Shapes: Round lampshade, round stool, round towel rack. Curves in the floor tile. The round tub. Rectangles: tiles, window blind, mirrored medicine cabinet.

Patterns: Another colour block effect happening with the black and white. The brick tile subtly stripes the room.

Textures: Soft towel. Smooth, hard. and shiny marble and porcelain. 

Materials: Metal fixtures. The tiles remind me of the brick.

Using inspiration pieces can be a really useful way to get at the emotions we want to feel in our rooms. When we know how we want to feel in a particular room, it isn’t all that hard to find something that inspires that particular feeling. Then, it’s just a matter of analyzing the characteristics of our inspiration piece to ensure we include those very same characteristics in our finished rooms.

But it has its limitations. To wit, this kind of inspiration only tells us what general characteristics to use. It doesn't tell us how to use them--how much, where to put them, that sort of thing. In the bona fide design world, these characteristics are better known as design elements. And the specifics of their use is a matter of our own personal style--and Part 2 of the first step: Create A Vision. 

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