Dec 27, 2007

Master Bedroomfound it at the Big Box

Photo courtesy of Katherine Bish

I recently designed a model home, on a budget, for Town & Country Homes, Inc. in the Central West End, St. Louis, Missouri.

For budget-wise furnishings we turned to Ashley Furniture. This company has been around a long time, but in recent years it has exploded with growth, while other furniture companies have been struggling. In the last two years, five Ashley Homestores have opened in the St. Louis area.

They top just about everyone's list for known value and selection. As a result, Ashley is the most often chosen furniture brand for television home makeover shows.

In Style. In Reach. That is their slogan and it fits.

We furnished the entire bedroom with Ashley's contemporary Metro Silhouette -- headboard and bed frame, dresser with mirror and night stand -- for only $675.75.

For the lamp, I bought a shade at Wal-Mart on sale for $9.96. It was the right shape and right price, but the wrong color. I painted it brown to match our color palette. The lamp base was found at Target for under $30.

The small decorative mirrors above the headboard were an IKEA find for under $3 each, a total of $15.

I found the window treatment panels at Sears, which, though regularly priced at $40 for a pair, had been marked down to $20. I found the curtain rod, regularly $50, in the clearance section at Bed Bath & Beyond for $4.97. That was a steal. It had a very slight dent which I secured towards the wall out of view.

The total cost of the window treatments was under $50 to dress the two windows. Had I not searched items in the scratch and dent and clearance sections I would have paid $130. My savings: $85.

So don't forget to look at those clearance aisles for big savings!

The bed comforter set was found at Target for $100.

I found a decorative glass bowl and vase on sale at Wal-Mart for under $20. The circular design and blue and brown colors mimic the circular patterns and color in the bedspread.

Our grand total for the bedroom: $894.96. That's a lot of bang for your Big-Box buck!

Because this bedroom is in a model home, it is void of any personal history by design. Model homes are to be generic so potential buyers can envision their belongings in the room.

However, this room is off to a great start to become a personal space. Just add some Etsy finds, heirlooms and special touches.

As this bedroom demonstrates, the Big Boxes offer great savings for the budget-minded decorator.

Dec 25, 2007

I’m Dreaming of a Retro Christmas

Merry Retro Christmas!

It has been a walk down memory lane for our family, beginning with the lava lamps our children -- Audrey (19 yr.) and Alex (16 yr.)-- received this morning.

This has prompted discussion about “what was Christmas like when you were kids?”

We pulled out family photos with my mom entertaining guests at her '60s style Christmas party. My kids loved seeing her cat-eyes, her updo and wearing her perfectly fitted A-line dress.

We think she looked like Jackie O.

Trying to capture how my mom decorated for Christmas in the '60s, I pulled up photos from an HGTV, Design on a Dime, holiday room makeover, retro-style.

Holiday decorating of '50s and '60s can inspire today’s holiday design, even if you are not into mid-century modern.

Here are some ideas:

My mother, during the 50's and 60's, had a room decorated like the above photo, with silver and blue. Not just the tree being silver and blue, but the whole room!

I may be wrong, but it seems like in the mid-century we saw a lot more color coordination of the entire room to fit the theme. I remember relatives and friends also decorating such color-coordinated rooms.

You can create a dramatic look by coordinating the colors used in your decorations to work with your existing furnishings.

Consider changing out your pillows and artwork to reflect the color-theme of your tree. Also consider how your walls and furnishings can inspire the color for the decorations? My mother's blue living-room furnishings and walls inspired her use of silver and blue for her tree.

This room had a great start, pictured above. HGTV's Design on a Dime team took it further -- or backward -- and added retro-styled, color-coordinated accessories to pull off a dramatic '60s themed Christmas, pictured below.

Wrapping holiday paper and ribbon around particle boards (pictured above) reminds me of so many front doors I saw in the '60s covered with paper to resemble gifts. What a fun back drop this makes for photos of guests at a holiday party!

I can also see taking your existing framed artwork and covering with holiday wrap. If you have a montage of pictures on a wall, for example, you can cover them in holiday wrap to look like gifts.

If you don't want to cover your existing artwork and photos, but you do want to add some festive color, try adding holiday ribbons diagonally to the corners. Or string ribbon down behind the frames to look as if the artwork or photos are hanging on the ribbon.

I am taking inspiration from Mom's photo albums for decorating next year.

What design tips do you glean from Christmas past?

See more ideas at HGTV, Design on a Dime.

Dec 21, 2007

Real People; Real Homes

This photo and the following photos are the home of Phyllis Johansen and Ivan Torres-Ubillus, of Town and Country, Missouri, as seen in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Lifestyle section. Pictured above are masks collected from around the world by Phyllis and Ivan.

Have you ever driven by a home and wondered what it looks like on the inside?

Sometimes I just want to open the door and take a tour.

Lucky Susan Fadem gets to do that each week. She writes the At Home With series where, each Saturday, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Lifestyle section, she explores how people make their house a home, with decor and lifestyle.

These homeowners are not necessarily the rich and famous, though some are. They are people of different backgrounds who live in homes and apartments of varying sizes and styles. Not all have had the help of a professional designer, but all are appointed with special touches – the history -- that reflect the people in the home.

These are real people, in real homes.

Seeing people enjoy their spaces with their style, in their way, affirms that style is personal, and can be made fit you and your lifestyle.

Our things reflect what we value, how we spend our time and how we view the world.

And while my neighbor’s whatnots and bric-a-brac may not be what I would have in my home, I can celebrate what they love and learn more about what is important to them.

Style communicates something very deep and personal.

Style is a snapshot revealing our hearts and minds.

Often people say to me, “I don’t know my style, I can’t decide what I like.” It seems to be a common concern, the second most expressed concern right after: “What color do I paint those walls!”

You might feel like Phyllis Johansen, featured in last week’s At Home With, who expressed a concern to a friend that she liked too many styles. Her friend advised Phyllis to get over it and to buy what she liked and it would all work out.

Taking her friend’s advice, Phyllis and her husband, Ivan, have created a home that reflects their backgrounds, passions and travels. She calls their style: eclectic-bohemian-global.

People who have found their style focus, as did Phyllis, on their very basic needs and desires and are not driven by the latest trends or what their neighbor likes.

If you feel that you are trying to find your style, ask yourself these questions:

What do you want your home to DO for you?

What story do you want the home to tell about you and your family?

Remember, as Susan Fadem shows us each week, style is personal and it starts with the heart and your stories.

Dec 20, 2007

My Etsy "Holiday" Gallery

Painting -- Christmas Toys -- from Fauve Studios

I am so stuck on Etsy -- the online bazaar of handmade goodies.

Right here, right now, I invite you to my Esty Gallery, hosted by me! It's some of my favorite holiday paintings found on Etsy.

Here is an idea: During the holiday season, I like to take down my paintings I usually have up all year long, and replace them with holiday paintings and family photos of Christmas past. It is a wonderful way to add "history" to a space.

Scroll down to see my Etsy Gallery:

From Leaky Faucet, Nativity

From Aceo, Waiting for Santa

From Luluvillage, Mother and Child

From the Vintage Sister, The Sleigh Ride

From Wakulla, Partridge in a Pear

From Leepeirce, Poinsettia

From Lunatiqueart, Father Winter

From Donna Hickerson Original Christmas Art, Christmas Cityscape

From Wjcatnip, Wonder in Red and Green

From Eggman Studios, Lonely Peppermint Tree

From Fauve Studio, Christmas Toys

From 12 Fifteen, Winter Wonderland

From BaabaaCreations, Christmas Birds

To view more, see and search for "Christmas Paintings" or "Modern Christmas Paintings" and be inspired.

Dec 18, 2007

Got Retail? ...Give it Detail!

I get excited about the stylish budget-wise finds at the Big Boxes. These finds can help us make our house a home; only thing is, if everyone is buying the same mass-produced stuff, will our homes look the same?

This reminds me of a Friends episode where Rachel hides her love of Pottery Barn from Phoebe, who dislikes anything mass-produced. Phoebe wants her furnishings to be one-of-a-kind and to have a history. The sameness of Pottery Barn just gets to her.

See, I have to admit, I am torn. Am I "Rachel" or am I "Phoebe"?

What got me thinking is a recent article in the New York Times about Etsy, the online community of over 70,000 artisans and counting. Everything sold on Etsy has a "history".

Sounding like Phoebe, the founder of Etsy, Robert Kalin said:

Buying something from the person who made it is “the opposite of what Wal-Mart is right now: just this massively impersonal experience. When you get an item from Etsy, there’s this whole history behind it. There’s a person behind it.”

I am stuck on Etsy. I love art fairs, but they don't come around often enough for me. Now I can go to one "virtually" everyday, thanks to Esty.

So am I "Rachel" or am I "Phoebe"?

I'm probably both.

My living room has a sofa and chairs from Basset furniture, rug and tables from Pottery Barn, an antique Chinese door, art painted by moi and furniture, lamps and artwork inherited from Grams.

The "history" is in the "details" -- the inherited items and the artwork that are juxtaposed with the "retail" furnishings.

So this is, in my opinion, how you solve the problem of looking like everyone else --make the "details" tell your story, your history.

It might not appease the "Phoebes" of the world, but it will keep your home from looking like a page out of the Pottery Barn catalog.

Etsy is a great place to start your hunt for the unique. It has become the first place I look for the "details" with personality-plus.

So, are you a "Rachel" or a "Phoebe"?

Dec 17, 2007

Not Grandma's Wallpaper, part 3

Well, I am still stuck on wallpaper.

Here is something from MIO, a company based in Philadephia that is dedicated to creating sustainable and innovative design.

What MIO provides for wallpaper is green, easy on the wallet, and easy to install. But best of all, it’s unique in its dimensional form.

This paper doesn’t come in a roll, instead it comes in 12 by 12 inch squares, called “paper forms”, that you can adhere with tape.

Simply peel and stick.

Paper forms can be painted, so you can customize your look.

Besides the obvious use as wall coverings in a contemporary space, I can see these being used as an inexpensive and unique substitute for a headboard.

I also see them on a ceiling; wouldn’t that be interesting – now, that’s not your Grandma’s ceiling tiles!

You can see the MIO paper forms in St. Louis at UMA.

Or if you live elsewhere, you can order online.

Dec 14, 2007

HGTV Dream Home

I just took a home tour and so can you! Take it right now at your computer.

Click and see the HGTV dream home tour.

Starting in January you can enter to win the Dream Home Giveaway !

I especially liked the bold use of color and the artwork in the kitchen.

There are so many details to note. Don’t miss the videos with helpful hints.

Dec 13, 2007

Not Grandma's Wallpaper, Part 2 - Found it at the Big Box

The party goes on, “virtually” forever.

If you missed it yesterday – you can join in now. This has been so fun and, I enjoyed your birthday wishes and my relaxing day off.

But now it’s back to work churning-out design ideas and spreading the good news of “design on a budget”.

My mind is still on wallpaper -– “designer” wallpaper, for less.

What do I mean by “designer” wallpaper? Well, it is the artsy-looking kind, the kind that looks unique, not the every-day kind.

The trend these days in most design is “bold” -- bold colors and bold patterns. So while your Grandmother’s wallpaper might have had small lacy flowers in subdued colors, the new look of today will tend to be large graphic flowers in often saturated or rich colors.


Here are some examples from Graham & Brown, which I found at one of our favorite places: Target.

A fresh take on baroque. This reads "sophisticated". I can see this in an elegant hallway or bedroom.

This reads "periwinkle" or at least it reminds me of Julie's favorite color.

This woodgrain pattern is an inexpensive way to add wood to the walls. This is not your Grandma's wood paneling!

Faux tile in the bathroom. You can fool your guests!

Pots and Pans in the kitchen. Too fun! I can see this being a great backdrop to show off colorful accessories and appliances in blue, lime and orange.

Wallpaper with too much information. This would be fun in an office or it would make good reading in the bathroom!

Wonderful for those feminine spaces.

This can work in about any space as a backdrop for bold color or soft subdued furnishings.

Very retro, very fun! Team this with your mid-century modern furnishings you find on eBay or Craigs List.

I am considering this one for the focal wall, behind the headboard, in my son's room. He already has the guitar.

Very fun for a focal wall. Great in a bathroom or for a child who is a swimmer or diver.

Find more examples online at Target.

Are you getting the “wallpapering bug” like I am?

Tell me, which of these Graham & Brown wallpapers is your favorite and why? Where can you see it in your home?

Dec 12, 2007

My Birthday Party – Found it at the Big Box

Happy Birthday to me, happy Birthday to me…!!!

Today is my birthday, so I am taking the day off.

But first, some items for my shopping list to get this party started.

I am trying to diet.

Target and Wal-Mart offers me the best zero-calorie celebratory cakes.

1) This hat is just about right, found it at Target. The pink glasses, well, I don’t know where you find those.

2) Big blow-up four foot cake found at Wal-Mart, zero-calories, but it is making me want the real thing!

3) Perhaps this candle, found at Target -- smells like the real thing --- will do the trick.

4) Nah, I think I will head to Sam’s club for their triple chocolate bundt cake. Just 6 oz., I can do that!

5) Now I need a serving plate. Found this one at Bed Bath & Beyond. It plays "Happy Birthday". This one takes me back, it is like the one my mother had.

6) Giant Fortune cookies, found at, gives me good luck AND satisfies my dark chocolate cravings. Definitely, order those!

7) Gifts… hmmmmm….maybe this year will be the year I get my skeeball machine (hint, hint, Dan!) Found this retractable one from Hammacher Schlemmer (say that 10 times fast – there, that takes care of the party game, did you win?) that might actually fit in my basement.

8) Balloons, got to have lots of balloons. I will find those just about anywhere.

Which reminds me, I should teach you how to make my “balloon trees”.

But not today….I am taking the day off!