Nov 29, 2007

Good Stuff Discounted

It’s "unofficial".

Diane is now my scout for, as she says: “Good Stuff Discounted”

You may remember Diane. She wants to find the really good stuff for less.

Well, she found something: beautiful hand-blown glass by Sam Stang at deep discounts. Some are hand-signed pieces.

Stang’s Augusta Glass Studio is based in Augusta, Missouri, but his pieces are sold across the country.

If you live in St. Louis, you have the opportunity to participate in Stang’s annual holiday sale this Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Mad Art Gallery.

Diane has these tips:

1. Go about 45 minutes early to wait in line.

2. Bring a laundry basket with a towel to stow items until purchase.

Here is what happens: The doors open and there is a mad dash to snatch up pieces displayed on tables. Since some items are one of a kind, the impulse is to grab it or you won’t see it again. You’ll see them go fast, but not to worry, little by little pieces work their way back to the tables as people narrow down their choices.

Looking for something truly beautiful for your home or a unique gift?

Head over to Mad Art Gallery this Saturday.

Nov 27, 2007

Ask Me Anything

When I tell people I am a designer I often get two responses. First they say, “oh I just love you” or “I need you.”

It is wonderful to feel loved and needed. I wonder if I would get the same reaction if I were a dentist!

Next I am asked for design advice. It happened last week as I shopped for cosmetics. The clerk asked, “What can I put over my mantel that is not like the typical mirror or painting?”

I told her that the possibilities are endless, and that to find her inspiration she should make a special note of what others are doing that is uncommon or unique.

On a recent trip I found inspiration for mantels in a hotel lobby. I always have my camera handy to capture the unique things I see being done in design. Below is the photo I took of the mantel with vases displayed in a line. While this is a contemporary look, you can change the look by using traditional vases.

Most people have glass vases; how about using a collection of glass or clear vases as seen in St. Louis At Home Magazine (pictured below). For the budget-minded, these can easily be found at garage sales.

You also can be inspired by the things you already own. Special collections offer something that is unique. I had a client who has a collection of cameras. She made an artful display with her cameras placed along the mantel and in shadow boxes hung above on the wall.

Ask me your burning design question! And if you love me, tell me that too!

Nov 23, 2007

My Black Friday List - found it at the Big Box

Are you ready for Black Friday?

Target has caught my attention with their 1,000, count them, 1,000 thread count bed sheets!

They’ll be sold for half off at $19 per sheet (regular $39.99), their lowest price ever.

Wayne, area manager for Target in Brentwood, Missouri, told me he thinks it is the best deal going on. He knows his linens; he used to work for Bed Bath and Beyond.

While the Target sheets are not made of fine Egyptian cotton, Wayne thinks the higher thread count more than makes up for it.

“These will wear like iron”, Wayne says. “And feel them, they are so soft!”

They are every bit as soft as the 600 thread count sheets I have bought for $50 a sheet, and I thought that was a deal!

Wayne wanted me to notice the difference by feeling the weight of the sheets. He had me hold one 1,000 thread count sheet in one hand and a whole set of 250 thread count in the other. The 1,000 thread count sheet was much heavier, just for the one sheet!

The 1,000 count sheets were Wayne’s top choice for best deals waiting. Second, says Wayne, is the fuzzy bed blanket made of micro fiber. He has one on his bed.

They keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer,” says Wayne. They’ll be on sale for $25 (regular $49.99).

I am always on the hunt for the best deal in luxury sheets. My hunt may end right at Target. I don’t know what could beat it.

While you are at Target, check out these photo frames (above) on the end caps. Normally a great deal at $5, they’ll be on sale for $4.

Happy shopping!

Tell us about the deals you find!

Nov 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!

Ok, I about lost it on this one.

If I still had a little one, I’d learn to knit just so I could make this darling hat!

Where did I find it? At one of my favorite blogs that shares everything related to the home.

Check out Shelterrific: “where people who love their homes click”.

Nov 21, 2007

Julie's Bedroom - a dotted rug

Julie (she's in the photo) and I went shopping for her area rug yesterday. We brought fabric samples from her bed quilt and other furnishings, for reference.

We could not find any ready-made rugs that felt right, so we created our own with the help of Alysia at Rug Décor in Manchester, Missouri.

Their slogan, “your style…our specialty”, fits.

Julie found "her style" in her favorite “dots”. She chose a unique design that links the dots to look almost like strings of pearls.

We selected the colors and Alysia provide a computer-generated picture (see in photo below) for us to view. We’ve requested two strike-offs (samples), with different backgrounds, one white and one periwinkle.

We’ll have these in a month so we can view them in the room to help make our decision. Perhaps you can weigh-in with your opinion!

Julie expected a wool custom rug to be twice the price, but she was surprised to learn that custom rugs, while typically costing more than those off the rack, can still be affordable.

This is especially true at Rug Décor where they offer highly competitive pricing. They will match or beat competitors’ prices, including online prices. This growing company is headquartered in Earth City, Missouri.

Looking for a rug? Try Rug Décor and tell Alysia that I sent you.

And by the way, rugs are not the only place Julie is seeing dots. Stay tuned, there may be more dots in the hallway!

Nov 15, 2007

Falling for Fall

Chris Toronto's entry in the Fall Colors competition.

I expect I am not the only one who believes the fall season is too short. Can’t that beautiful yellow tree outside my home just stay that way for a few more weeks?

We can enjoy the harvest hues of the season just a bit longer thanks to C2B and Apartment Therapy. They offer us inspiration for interiors inspired by fall. Check out the finalists from across the nation in their third annual Fall Colors contest.

They announce the winners today!

Hey, maybe I should enter my orange sherbert inspired room next year!

Nov 14, 2007

My Home - Inspired by the Freezer

Here is my husband, Dan. Now why is he pointing to the rainbow sherbet?

He wants our living room’s focal wall to be, you guessed it, orange sherbet.

Love that man!

Dan and I are soul mates when it comes to decorating our home.

I hesitate to divulge our style, because I don’t want you to think that “my” style will end up in “your” home, if you hire me to help you decorate. I just won’t do that, it’s your home.

We like any style that is well done. But we are drawn to contemporary styles that sing with clean-lines and vibrant colors. That is how we like to live: simple, clean and vibrant.

However, we also are purists. Our last home was a colonial style home. Well, what I call fake colonial, really. The façade, at least, was colonial, but the bones of the house were not. Regardless, it had a traditional feel, so the purists in us didn’t feel we could go as wild and modern as we would like.

We were driven by the desire to preserve the integrity of our home. And we felt the potential resale value would be greater if we kept our palette more subdued. So we leaned on the side of being practical.

But now we live in space with modern bones. And we are eager to follow our inner desires to go wild.

Orange, olive, brown and chartreuse wild!

We have lived with white walls for a year now, and I hope to paint at least one wall orange -- inspired by Dan -- before Thanksgiving. And more after that.

Dan found his inspiration in the freezer. Where have you found inspiration for your color palette?

Nov 12, 2007

Really Good Stuff for Less

I asked my friend Diane if she has been enjoying my blogs.
She said, “well, they are nice, but I want to know where to get the really good stuff for less.”

Like Diane, you would probably love to have access to the savings provided designers at trade-only showrooms without having to hire a designer.

Most people don’t know this, but you can!

This is how it works:

Through my accounts, and for a small fee, you can buy at trade-only showrooms. You don’t have to hire me, if you are being your own designer. Or if you want to try me out, this is a painless way to see how we work together.

For some showrooms, like KDR, I need to be with you to place the order. And while I am with you, you are free to ask my advice to guide you to furnishings that meet your needs.

Other showrooms, like Pro-source, an excellent showroom for flooring, don’t require that I be with you.

Why buy at trade-only showrooms?

The savings can be significant, often saving you 30 to 40 percent off retail. While most furnishings offered at trade-only showrooms are mid to high-end, what you save may actually equal what you would pay for low-end furnishings at a traditional retailer. In short, you get more for your money.

Selection, service and quality at trade-only showrooms are unmatched by many traditional retail outlets. There will be items you just won’t see elsewhere. Sales associates at trade-only showrooms don’t turn over as much as traditional retailers and so their knowledge about the products is extensive.

If you live in the St. Louis, Missouri area, call me to learn more: 314-652-1759.

If you live in other parts of the country, call local trade-only showrooms and ask for their recommended designers or contractors. Negotiate with the designer or contractor to pass significant savings on to you.

Let’s go shopping!

How about it, Diane?

Nov 8, 2007

Julie's Bedroom - Embracing White

White Paintings by Robert Rauschenberg

I love color – it’s my passion and probably my specialty. For that reason, I am surprised I am learning to appreciate “white” more and more.

White is technically the absence of color, but it consists of all the colors on the visible spectrum. Ok, that blows my mind and I won’t even try to understand it.

I just know I like white, especially in combination with color.

I generally prefer to use it as an accent or in small amounts, unless we are going for a very contemporary style or some other deliberate style in which white in mass makes sense.

Typically, though, white, especially in mass on walls, is stark, cold and does little to warm up woods in furniture and flooring.

White can be depressing, particularly in winter or in a room with northern light that reads cool. I often say that paint companies need to give you a bottle of Prozac with each can of white paint.

White can, however, read fresh and clean and reflect light to make the room appear brighter. In the hot months of summer it can make you feel cool.

When white is combined with other colors, it can be grounding. It has the ability to set-off colors and make them pop. For this reason it is a popular choice for moldings.

How much white you use depends on the tone you want to set for the room.

Our goal in Julie’s bedroom is to use white to give the room a cottage-feel and to highlight the other colors in the room, especially her favorite periwinkle walls.

White samples from Behr and Valspar

I plowed through some 50 samples of white to consider for Julie’s room. Notice all the variations (above photo). It may be counterintuitive, but white is not straight forward. It needs to be selected as carefully as other colors for the room.

We quickly selected two that closely match Julie’s fabrics. Next we held the two choices up to her periwinkle walls. A winter white, appropriately named Polar Bear (Behr Paints at Home Depot) won-out over the other choice because it made the periwinkle sing.

Remember: strong color combinations should drive our choices rather than strong color preferences.

In other words, we make the best selections when we think in terms of how a particular color can complement other colors.

Designers think: “What is this color doing?” NOT: “what is my favorite color?”

In the case of Julie’s bedroom, holding the Polar Bear paint chip up to the wall broke the tie.

So hold those paint samples up to the other elements in your room, next to the floor, furnishings, fabrics and walls. You may love the sample in the store, but think less or more of it when you see it next to the other elements in the room.

And I am beginning to think more of white. Even considering painting “some” walls white in my home. We’ll see if it passes the Prozac-test!

Nov 7, 2007

Deck the Halls, Walls, Windows...

Photo from Ballard Designs

It’s that time of year to think about pulling out your greenery.

From Thanksgiving to Christmas, greenery can bridge the holidays. For Thanksgiving your greenery can be decorated with bows and berries in autumn colors, then change them out for Christmas with traditional red and green.

You don’t have to be out a lot of money for greenery; consider repurposing the greenery you already have. For years, each holiday season my dad has hung white lights and red cardinal birds on his ficus trees. It says Christmas, and for St. Louisans it also says baseball.

Nature can be the least expensive source for greenery. If you are clever, it can be FREE! Every year my neighbor has allowed me to pick her holly and other berries. I put the holly in vases in the bathroom, in centerpieces and tucked around candle sticks. I just love holly for an easy and inexpensive splash of Christmas color.

And what says “welcome” more than wreaths? Maybe pineapples? How about wreaths with pineapples!

Photo by Scot Proctor of Meridian Magazine

Remember that wreaths are not just for the door. Your windows, tables and chandeliers can all be adorned with wreaths. Wreaths can be thrown over a newel post for a casual and unexpected placement. I put three wreaths clustered on the wall over my dining room buffet.

Wreaths are not just for Christmas, but can adorn your doors and special spaces any time of the year.

But what size should your wreath be? That is up to you. For a more dramatic look, go bigger.

Consider the tips given by Ballard Designs to determine the right size wreath for your space.

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas. Are you?

Nov 2, 2007

Throws 101

It’s getting colder here in St. Louis, so I am thinking about throws – also called sofa throws or throw blankets. It’s basically a blanket that you can throw or toss over something. They are not meant to be fitted, like a bed sheet or bed blanket.

Throws are usually smaller and more decorative than your regular blanket. They are typically 3X5 feet, but they can vary in size. Unlike your typical blanket, they are often edged with fringe.

Throws can provide interest to your room. They are a perfect way to add more color to a sofa or chair. They can be displayed decoratively as wall hangings.

They have a sculptural quality: you can mold throws to the back of a sofa, tucked behind the back and under the seat; form them to make a Christmas tree skirt; shape them around potted plants to disguise an ugly pot; or drape them above a window to create a valance...the possibilities are endless.

Typically I see throws across the end of a bed. Or consider this interesting twist: placing the throw on the diagonal (see above photo).

In addition to their aesthetic qualities, throws are functional. Besides the obvious use for warming your toes, throws are a great way to cover that chair or sofa that needs to be cleaned or that you want to keep clean.

When kids or grandkids eat at the dining table for the holidays, a throw used over the dining chair can keep the seat free from messes, not to mention how the kids love the soft feel.

You can tell the children they get to sit in the special seat – the “throw throne”!

What can you do with a throw this winter and holiday season?