Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mr. Obvious... Is that YOU I'm lusting after??

Although my design style is ever evolving (especially now ~ thanks to my realization here), one thing has always been consistent... my dislike for Mr. Obvious.

You've met him before.  He's the room that takes a theme WAY to far.  You know what I'm talking about. That study that houses tons of books (kind of it's job), but then goes on to cover the remaining walls with a bunch of pictures of books and has a book-printed upholstered sofa and images of books on the lampshade... you get the picture.  Or that sports theme room that went insanely overboard.  We've ALL seen those!

You see, although some designers may be able to pull off the 'theme room' really well, it's just never been my cup of tea.  Instead, I'll try to 'imply' a theme without putting it all out there.  Kinda like how all of the girly magazines used to tell us to show a little without giving the whole package away.  Anyhoo... I like to try implying the style through less-obvious accessories.

Like this ladder in our library:

We found it at an antique store outside Sydney and used it as our 'bookcase' while we lived in Australia. It now hangs on our wall below our built-ins.  I just love the sentiment and story behind it and it says 'library' to us without being too overt.

Or these photos in our kitchen:

Wagamama... Our favorite casual eatery in Oz.  Oh how I miss you Waga.

Two of our faves:  St. Elmos in Indy, where we held our 'Meet the Family' dinner during our wedding weekend.  Bond 45 in NYC, eat there every time we're in the city.  LOVE it.

We chose pics that we had taken of our favorite restaurants with fabulous memories, instead of store-bought pics of grapes or apples or something along those lines.

At least in all of my design uncertainty, I know what I don't like.... or do I??  My sister sent me a text this morning telling me how much she loved these pillows that she had seen online.  So, running to my laptop I went; googled the store; searched the product name and BAM.  There it was... Mr. Obvious, staring back at me.  After a few moments of shifty eyes and uncomfortable 'looks', I soon realized that my normal reaction (of instant nausea) just wasn't happening.  But what in the world was happening inside me??  Is that... is that you Mr. Lust??  Shit it is!

Now, I'm a super happily married gal, but... can ya blame me?  How can you not lust after this Mr. Obvious?

Pillows available from Ballard Designs, ranging from $49-$75.  Jute/cotton fabric with poly-fill insert included.

Ok, so the popcorn pillow is a little too obvious for me.  But check out the movie ticket and film reel... kinda hot aren't they!  After several minutes of back and forth, I couldn't keep myself from picturing those two pillows in our media room.  That is, until I got another text from my sis and realized that she had meant she loved them... for her.  Darn!  Hmmmm... maybe she'll trade the pillows for Mr. Lobster.  (She's been trying to steal him for years.  You can meet him here.)

So, what's your take on Mr. Obvious (in general)?  Is he your type? 

P.S.  A sign maybe??  I picked up a catalog last night that I had been sitting untouched for about a week now.  I looked at the title and it was... Ballard Design!  I had never heard of them or received a catalog before.  Two introductions in one day... kinda weird, huh?  Anyhoo... I'm thinking of ordering a foot stool from their catalog, but clearly haven't ever shopped with them before.  Does anyone know about the quality of their goods?  Would love to get a feel before ordering anything.

Thanks for letting me share my lust!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lesson Learned...

So you know how you think that you look really fab in something... and then you see a picture of yourself... and you go 'wtf was I thinking??'

Oh my dear dear Paris... 
Multiplying animal prints can be done, but it takes a lot of skill... or a really great stylist.  
Oh my, and the jacket... the shoes... 

Yep... it happens to the best of us... and apparently, not only when dressing our bodies.

Exhibit A

The 'after' from Tuesday's post.  If you missed it, you can see a lot more pics here.

Now, I know what you're saying... ' THAT super-chic pantry - what's wrong with it ;) '  Well, I do still love it... the organization, all of the canisters, the silver touches, and - of course - my new built-in wine fridge!  BUT... after looking at the pics of the shelves... I just feel like it's missing something.  Missing a bit of personality, you know, that statement accessory.

So, now I'm thinking of adding a bit of color and pattern to the mix.  I love the idea that Christy from suggested of papering the back walls of the shelves.  I was planning this same thing for my closet redo, but I can surely use it twice in my house, right?

I'm really loving this Racine wallpaper.  I think that the strong turquoise background with the velvet overly of emerald green is just so so chic.

If I go with this or something similar to this paper, I'll add some of our copper into the mix.  Copper and turquoise really appeal to me here.  Or perhaps I can achieve that color mix with a super-sexy (not beachy) coral and turquoise paper.  Hmmm.... copper or coral...

Mauviel copper champagne bucket (available at Williams Sonoma)... and Mr. Lobster, another Bayswiss purchase (in Australia)... oh ya, and more jars!

So, what's my hard-learned lesson here??  When in doubt (or not in doubt)... always TAKE A PIC.  And study it. There's just something about 2D that seems to show us what a space really looks like.  It may feel different and ultra fab in person (thanks to textures that can't always transition into photos)... but it will look like it does in the picture.  (Which tends to be much more honest than our eyes at portraying beauty and style.)  So, are your finished rooms the look you were going for?

Ahhhh.... thanks for letting me have a look back in 2D and have a little laugh!  As always... the tufted green chair loves loves loves your comments and ideas.

Ok... gotta go click away... feel free to send me any of your pics as well!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pantry BEFORE & AFTER: Simple, Stylish Storage

A pantry facelift may not be a 'need', but it can definitely be a want!  It's a much frequented space that requires very little time and money to 'dress up'.

The way-long pantry comfortably held the wine fridge (our solution to the limited space issue in the counter-depth fridge); However, it definitely looked like it didn't belong there.  So, we decided to rectify the awkward space... and then gave the rest of the pantry a little sprucing too.


A roomy pantry, but it featured a 'difficult to use' end space thanks to the slant of the ceiling.


Now a sexier space that works much better for us.

Hubby built a custom space with a some sheetrock, 2x4's and a little bit of trim.  The project only took a couple of hours at most and anyone can do it (hubby's a business man, not a builder... and I think he did a great job :)  A doorway was left underneath so that we still have lots of storage space behind the new wall.

Ok, so most pantries don't need additional walls... but you can still create a space that shows off your great style and makes you smile when you enter (which isn't always a given in such a food-related place ;)

Now, in case you're wondering if anyone will ever see your pantry... they will.  I never realized how 'frequented' it was until after we re-did ours before Christmas.  Not only were all of our house guests in and out of it all week, but even our neighbors and friends have seen it!  The kitchen seems to be a 'gathering spot' in homes these days, and think of how many times you open your pantries and closets when entertaining guests... Scary, huh!  Ok, no worries... come join me for some quick and easy fixes:


Baskets from World Market.

Baskets are an inexpensive way to organize and fancy-up your pantry.  These are great for grouping our paper towels, recycling, potatoes, additional water, shopping bags and grocery sacks (which always seemed to 'crawl' out of their assigned spot before).


Inexpensive jars from Garden Ridge.

It was all about sassy storage and making everything easy to find for us.  Airtight containers are working great for a hubby that never seemed to close boxes or bags very well before!

If you're worried about the additional post-grocery work, then only store the items you don't use as often (and aren't weekly buys)... such as baking ingredient like these.

Canisters from Bed, Bath and Beyond... and a few from around the house.

Even my favorite furry friend gets in on the fun.  Guests don't know that their snacks are stored right next to the dog's treats when we keep them in cute jars like these.  (And for any of our guests that are reading this... wellllll... you know how much we love ya... AND Tampa :)

Old glass containers, from Sydney.

Warning though... if you already store treats in containers, be prepared for your best friend to be in the way the whole time you're reorganizing!  'Are you going in for a treat now???'


Pantry Entrance

 First, all jars, bottles, etc were grouped together on a shelf and categorized by like items. The 'breakfast shelves' were then tidied up by grouping boxes and similar products.  Next, all of the individually packaged granola and grain bars were 'de-boxed' and put into another pretty container.  Lastly, the bottom shelf was used for easy-access to our fruit as well as additional storage for some less-used kitchen gadgets.

Shelves are done... Now it's time to ORGANIZE US

Organizers from Pottery Barn.

We picked up these wall storage and organizational systems to add something pretty and pretty useful to our pantry walls.  The top board is great for keeping shopping lists and has boxes for 'To Do Lists' and 'Messages'.  It's also a place to scribe the weekly meal plan... which has prevented lots of 'but I had chicken for lunch' comments!

The bottom one houses a cork board, and two cubbies... great for storing extra trash bags, pens, etc.

Lastly, it's time to CLASS UP the space with DETAILS

Bottle 'nets' from Pottery Barn... on sale for $3.49!

In an effort not to look like a college flashback... I dressed our less attractive liquor bottles with these 'nets' from PB.  We also use them as also a cool way to provide bottled water in guest rooms.

A hammered champagne bucket and this brass horse bottle opener sit near the wine fridge to offer both a bit of character and functionality.  (To fully understand the brass, read this previous posts of mine here.)

Bucket from Williams Sonoma.

This 5 light fixture replaced the single and scrawny bare bulb.  Originally thinking a pendant light, we instead decided to go with something a little more fun and different.

Light fixture available at Lowes.

Next, it's new light switch plates.  One switch in pantry = cheap!  We love motion lights in our closets... and highly, highly recommend!  You can adjust the motion sensitivity and length of time that the light stays on, anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.

Brushed silver plate and motion sensor light switch from Lowes.

It drives the hubby nuts when I buy the oversized cereal boxes that don't fit on our shelves - but what deal-lover can resist the price per ounce of the super-sized Frosted Flakes?!  Anyhoo... we came up with a solution to the problem.  Well, hubby took the bag out of the box and left it open... hmm.  So I came in with a clip... but not one of those big plastic chip clips!  There's no place for such ugliness in a new pantry... I just used some cute stationary clips instead.

Clips from OfficeMax.

I grouped together all of our onions on a pastry display stand.  You can also use ceramic or mixing bowls.

We added more decor by hanging this oversized silver bowl.  (Maybe try using a cutting board if you don't have a lot of depth to work with.)  I'm also finding that we're using this favorite piece more often now, as it isn't going unnoticed tucked away in some cabinet.

Silver bowl from Bayswiss (in Sydney).

A closer look at what started it all...

GE wine refrigerator available from Best Buy.

With adjustable and pullout shelves, ours gets used for a lot more than wine!  (And it appears to be a little light on the wine post-holidays :)

And one final look at our spruced-up pantry...

We decided to keep it simple - white, wood and silver - mostly for a nice transition from our copper and stainless kitchen.  However, I'm thinking about giving the space a little extra, now that time is more on our side post-Christmas.  Maybe adding some copper to the mix... or hubby's idea of a wall-sized stainless steel pegboard, framed in white molding, and utilized for hanging silver baskets or hooks... or creating an artistic feel with lots of pics in oversized mats and thin silver frames.  Which of those possibilities are your fave?  Any other thoughts or ideas that you have?

We're happy with how it turned out and now I'm finding myself inspired to 'redo' lots of nooks and crannies to 'customize' our home a bit more.

Thanks so much for taking the tour.  Always love to hear from you!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Sneak Preview... and a BIG Thanks!

Hi My Friends!

Hubby and I are settling back in from our vacation and, although laundry is done (gotta love oversized front loaders!), I'm still getting organized and reacquainted with the 'norm'.

Here's a quick preview of tomorrow's post... a BEFORE and AFTER of our pantry!

Check back tomorrow for an affordable way to really reinvent a much-used (and often neglected) space.

Also, a BIG thanks to Blog Awards of the U.K. for highlighting ~Chandelier No. 4~ as the featured blog on their site.  Check it out here.

If you haven't become a 'groupie' yet you can click to follow at the right.  The new light on the block loves your comments!

Until tomorrow ~

Monday, January 11, 2010

Goodbye Rodeo... Aloha Maui!


Hubby and I are in Maui on a little vaca so, although I had still planned to keep in touch, the wireless internet has not been cooperating very well for me at our resort.

Hubby and I on our honeymoon in Maui.  (P.S.  Previous's not our honeymoon now :(

I just couldn't get my pool drink on until I gave you the Rodeo tour that I had promised.  (Oh, who am I kidding... 'May I have a pina colada?  Mahalo!'... it'll just add some extra flair to the post :)

Please accept my apology in advance for the poor images... the 'good' camera wouldn't fit into my handbag... and although I am totally game for sacrificing the cool factor for my groupies, fashion trumps blog all of the time!

Getting a tiny bit of a late start the other day (met up with a dear friend in the a.m. in addition to ramp closures and the usual L.A. traffic) landed me on the street of luxe around noon-ish.  Now noon may not seem like a late start to a typical shopping day, but Rodeo is so not typical.  The stores close relatively early and then there's the amount of ground to cover.  I don't mean blocks or streets...

Dayton Way is another great street to shop!

...I mean the good stuff.  Rodeo has an endless amount of selection the sexily drapes every sales floor and window toying with any self-control you think you may have.  Toss in a champagne lunch full of great people watching (the people listening is even better!) and you're down to only a few hours of prime shopping!

My first stop (and photo op!) was the Beverly Wilshire.  I'd like to say it was the first stop because of my #1 fan's request but, in all honesty, it's just where Victor dropped me off at.  And at the front of Rodeo, it's a pretty good place to start your walk.  (Note that they're the only daylight photos... shopping may have gotten in the way a bit, but I stuck around to click all of the promised pics!)

A classic marble and brass entry... timeless.

Looks kinda like the fire escape Mr. Gere (or Richard REAR as my naughty grandma used to call him) climbed up to rescue his princess doesn't it... was she living at the Reg Bev Wil all along?

Next it was on to the most important part of the trip... boutiques, boutiques and more boutiques!  It was such a fun day, full of great conversation and even more amazing shopping!

Prada boasts a 'doorless' entry, which creates a light and airy environment in an otherwise high-end store... definitely makes you want to stay all day!  With no storefront sign, you're sure to miss it if you don't know where it is!  (FYI, it's right next to Gucci :)

The doorless entry reminds me of a concept much used in Australia.  Many restaurants and flats offer windowed walls that fully open to the outside (more slide open, some fold).  We used to have ours open all of the time and plan to incorporate this design into a pool house one day.

After I got my fill of catching up and shopping, I took another stroll to admire the gorgeous architecture and ~ what else ~ chandeliers!

This Cartier chandy is reminiscent of the Queen Anne style, marked by its crystal arms.  I just love the power of its size... sure to catch your eye from stores and streets away.  A minimum 3-story entry would be needed to stylishly support this much chandelier.

Or how about this perfect mix of retro and glam.  Traditional crystal extended from a chic black frame.  In such alignment with the beautifully tailored yet funky Dolce and Gabbana style.

After I finally pulled myself out of the crystal trance, I headed back down the street to take a look at the Ferre building.  The late Gianfranco Ferre, best known for both his original take on fashion and his sophisticated white shirts, actually received his degree in architecture.  His love for design translated beautifully into perfectly tailored garments.  Which could be why so many interior designers have a love for personal style and make such great fashionistas too ;)

Sculptures, like this one that stands proudly in the middle of Rodeo and definitely becomes the focus, can create such a statement within a space.  A well chosen piece within an entryway can set the mood for your entire home.  Or add an unusual piece to a room for an element of surprise.  You can even go with a small sculpture and highlight it in a bookcase, on a shelf or on a table - which enables you to display a bold piece of art without an overly 'loud' effect.  Which look would you prefer:  An understated piece ~ perhaps small and ceramic ~ or a statement-making piece ~ such as a large entry or room centerpiece?

As my car was driving off and I was saying goodbye to such a gorgeous street, I caught a glimpse of design that I had just planned for my living room a few days ago - these two potted and well sculptured trees flanking Bvlgari, but soon to be framing our living room windows.  I think that it's such a sophisticated way to add an element of nature to your room.  Do you prefer the organic feeling of free-flowing plantation ~ or the clean-lined look of a well-groomed tree or shrub, such as a topiary?

Thank you for joining me on our Rodeo Drive walk.  I had a great time and left with lots of patent, some really cool snakeskin and even a little... BRASS!

Much love ~

Note:  Since obtaining wireless internet is a real challenge here, I will wait to post again until this weekend.  Be sure to catch the upcoming posts, as they will be full of BEFORE AND AFTERS!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chandeliers in the Sky... HERE I COME!

Only one street can line their medians with chandeliers... and it not be a total shocker.   

Yep, you guessed it...

I took these photos on my first trip to Rodeo... and stood out like a complete tourist, but no shame here!  I mean, miss a photo op of those chandeliers for the sake of preserving the cool factor?  No way!

Fortunately (or unfortunately), the excitement wore off before my second trip to see the stars... so, the hotel kept the camera and I kept my dignity.

Well, today I'm flying out and heading back rubbernecker style!  Camera in hand, tomorrow I'll be hitting the stores (ok, maybe won't be pulling out the cam in-store but at least the street!) 'tourist' style.  Wait!  What's that... click!  Ahhhh... the crazy things we do for our blogs :)

Another 1st trip pic... Told ya, I was a total tourist!  Ha ha!

The stocking surprise from my hubby was a shopping trip down Rodeo.  Not too bad a gift-giver, eh?  So I was thinking... it would be even more fun if I brought you all along for the strut!  Anything in particular that you wanna see?

Check back for my next post... full of cool pics and hopefully some even cooler purchases.  Don't fret... I'll be sure to include a little swanky architecture and design for us to fantasize about... Who knows, maybe I'll even get some key inspiration for my living room remodel! (More on that to come later this week :)

So excited to bring you along!
~ Joanna

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mixing Old & New: An $88 Guest Bath Redo!

Expecting a full house over the holidays came with a full list of projects.  My super sweet hubby had already spent a month or two of his very limited 'non-traveling' time helping me check off my many 'To Dos'.  By the time that we got down the list to the guest baths, I'm pretty sure that it went, 'I'm done with projects until after Christmas.  Can we please enjoy the season?'  So, guest bath #1 went from a remodel (originally needed new fixtures and a new vanity, which also meant a new floor) to a super-quick, super-cheap redo.  Yay... isn't super-cheap the best!


Brass.  Can it scream 1989 any more loudly?  My original idea was to replace all of the 'old' with the light and shiny 'newness' of brushed or polished nickel.  But once we decided to forego a new bathroom for now, I had to work with the circa 'Home Alone' decor and embrace the brass.  Rather than attempting the impossible and 'hiding' the fixtures, I bought more brass... if you can't cover it ~ then make it look planned!

$88 later...


Color choice was very specific.  The vanity top has a beautiful yellow hue to it (can you sense the sarcasm?) and I desperately wanted to 'hide' it as much as possible.  A mix of Sherwin Williams Dutch Cocoa, Swing Brown, a hint of Hot Cocoa and... Voila!  Deciding to create a custom color, I bought a sample for $5 which ended up covering the entire room!  (I had to paint the walls with a 3" brush because roller was soaking up too much paint.  This took 8 hours, but was totally worth it since it only cost 5 bucks!)

We added hardware to the formally blank cabinet doors and drawers and also to the medicine cabinet.  I found the ceramic and glass hardware (with brass detail, of course) on sale for $2.95/each...what a steal! All six knobs only cost $18!

Hardware from Anthropologie.

Changing the dirty plastic outlet and light switch wall covers to new brass plates gave the room a 'more solid and complete' feel.  Metal or ceramic covers are an inexpensive way to add a bit of extra flare.  The total for all three plates was around $21.

Switch and outlet wall plates from Home Depot.

I decided to put up this shelf for added dimension.  Although still sold in-stores, this one was scored for $20 at a Pottery Barn outlet!  The bathroom already donned a brass towel bar; However, this fancier $9 'find' with ceramic detail tied in the Anthropologie knobs.  The hand towel we already owned and I pulled the books from hubby's library...shhhh!

'Crown Molding Shelf' from Pottery Barn available in antique white, black or espresso (24"-48" sold for $45-75).   The new towel bar is from Restoration Hardware.

We already had all of the shelf accessories, with the exception of the $5 bath sponges from Target used to the fill Restoration Hardware glass canister.  (I used existing Bath and Body Works body butter, etc to fill the other canister.  Ideally, I would use bars of soap or perhaps an idea that you might have ;)  A bit of 'winter comfort' was added with the oversized cinnamon sticks and the vintage santa photo, torn from one of our Christmas books.

Sponge, puff and loofah from Target (sold as a set for $5).  Antique white frame with linen photo mat from Pottery Barn (marked down to clearance a few months ago, may still be available in some stores).  

Searching and searching for mini topiaries to flank the mirror with no success, I came across these mini trees and loved them.  The symmetry of 'flanking' seems to add poise while the lack of structure in the fullness of the branches keeps the look soft and 'livable'.

Mini pine trees from Lowes for $7 each.  Ceramic pots available at Target starting at $5.

Simple accessories rest on the countertop, with an emphasis on our guests' potential needs.  This square glass jar holds an abundance of cotton swabs - more than a month's stay would need!  (Oh well, it looks cute ;)  I think that a candle and box of matches is usually a good idea in bathrooms too.

This was my 'splurge'... A door knob and lock soap set, on sale for $9.95 at Anthropologie!  Ok, so $10 isn't exactly a big splurge, but I did have a few extra bars of soap at home that I could have used.  Just didn't want to pass this up though... it would have been one of those things that you can't get out of your mind... so you go back to get it and it's gone!  Whew!  Glad that I 'took the plunge'... I think that it's my favorite part of the room now!

A drawer of essentials portrays additional comfort for our guests.  Extra bath accessories from around the house provided this 'home' for cottons pads, a couple of bars of soap and some extra matches.  These marble tumblers and the soap dish were also clearance finds at PB a few months ago.

I threw in some extra cinnamon sticks for a subtle yet festive linen closet scent.

And an evening candlelit bath takes the stress away!  (When can the host hop in there?)

One last look at our new 'old' bathroom...

Now that I have more time on my hands, I'm thinking about changing up the decor and planning out the bathroom theme.  Maybe adding a touch of lace?  Or some clocks (perhaps a 'guest back-home time vs. vacation time' display)... hmmm... guess my dining table can give them up since New Years is over.  What would you do?

Thanks so much for embracing the brass with me.  I would love love love all of your suggestions and ideas!

Until tomorrow ~