Category Archives: Decor

Something wicked this way comes…

It’s October, my favorite month of the year. I love the change of seasonal things in our lives, like weather temperatures, cooking habits and holidays. I’ve always felt like October brings the three month holiday season to a gentle start, especially when it comes to decorating for Halloween…

In my experience, when people set out to decorate their homes for Christmas or Thanksgiving, they fully commit it to their schedule. Shopping for the Thanksgiving groceries generally requires an organized trip to the grocery store before the big dinner event. Decorating a Christmas tree also requires some planning and serious time to get the tree up and sort out all of the related decorations. Halloween, though, can ease up on you.  It creeps toward you on the calendar, not really requiring anything in the way of decorations. You can choose decor slowly and add it as the month goes by.

You know in the back of your mind that Halloween is coming. Even if you are a very busy parent, sewing multiple costumes for your wiggling goblins, there is the sense of approaching this annual event that feels different.  Is it the way adults can feel naughty to be caught devouring children’s candy loot? Is it the freedom we get to be silly while designing our own Halloween costumes for work or parties? Who knows. I think this is part of the mysterious fun. Halloween sneaks up on us in a maleficent way with fun choices: How wicked do we want to be?

I’ve pulled together some devilishly fun Halloween decor on a Pinterest board for you to browse. You could use all of this decor to outfit a Halloween party of your own, or just sprinkle in a few pieces around your home to add some spirited flare. All of the items on the board are linked to their retailers online, and all of the pictures in this post come from my board. Like what you see? You check out my full Halloween Pinterest board by clicking on this link, the Pinterest button on the website sidebar, or on this picture:

What says Halloween to you? Is it pumpkins, costumes or candy corn? Leave a comment and share your opinion! I’m off to play today, because it’s my birthday. (Told you I love October!) I may be a little slower in comment moderation than normal as I eat my birthday cake, but keep those comments coming!

If you liked this post, you might want to read my earlier post full of recipes that use up leftover Halloween candy. Just click on this link:

Fighting Ghoulish Sugar Crashes

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Design Vocabulary: Greek Key

First, let me say that I’m a little biased about today’s Design Vocabulary term. I was lucky enough to work in Greece a few years ago and this design motif, although not new to me at the time, now reminds me of the lovely time I had in Athens and of the kind friends I made while I was there. (If you ever have the chance to visit Greece and make friends locally, I highly recommend it.)

Design Form

You may already know this design motif or have seen it around. It is just about as old as they come when you look at design and architecture history. Here is the basic Greek Key pattern, shown in gold, on this beautiful antique bowl:

Image courtesy of the Bristol Blue Glass SW Glass Museum

The Greek Key is defined as a continuous line that frequently doubles back on itself, then reverses course to move forward again. It is believed to come from a geological phenomenon that pops up all over our planet.  This phenomenon is called a “meander”. “Meander”, in modern English, generally means to wonder somewhat aimlessly, but geology defines the word as a river that carves a loop or bend in its path that almost, or sometimes completely, doubles back on itself. Here’s an example of a geological meander in Serbia:

Uvca canyon, Serbia Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Can you see how the Serbian river’s footprint is similar to the Greek Key pattern? There is also a river in modern-day Turkey named the Meander, which is, appropriately, full of meanders:

Meander river course satellite photo. Image courtesy of snailstales.blogspot.com & Google Earth

This river was well-known in ancient Greece as the “Maiandros”, or “Maeander” river, named after a Greek river god who was its supposed patron. Which came first: the river or the name? We may never know for sure, but there are great examples of river meanders to be found all over the world today, such as this one in England…

River Cuckmere, image courtesy of Wikipedia

… this important river delta in the Africa…

Okavango River Delta, Botswana. Image courtesy of travelsfy.com

…this river in Asia…

Songhua River in China. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

…and even our mighty Mississippi. It has meandered extensively over time, as you can see in this map created in a 1944 geological survey:

Alluvial Valley of Missouri and Louisiana, USA. Image courtesy of mouthtosource.org

You can see that this meandering is a worldwide, not-so-unusual river pattern, if you look for it. The “Greek” part of this motif’s term, I believe, comes into the symbolism of this pattern. In Greece, the Greek Key pattern is believed to be an expression of long life or eternity. This makes a lot of sense when you think about how long it might take a river to carve out a geological meander, but the Greek use of the word and pattern is more of a philosophical one.

There is something classical in the motif because it is used to mark eternity. Maybe there is a larger lesson, a “key”, if you will, from the ancient Greeks to be learned about life in this pattern. Go forward in life, look back a little if you have to, but keep moving forward. Greek civilization is still omnipresent in our everyday lives, so they clearly had some timeless ideas.

Design Examples

This historical origin goes a long way to explain why you can find the Greek Key repeated in so many forms and structures of home design over centuries. Like the river meander, the popularity of the motif doubles back on itself and moves forward. Pictured below are just few examples of the Greek Key at use in home design and architecture:

Cornice molding, image courtesy of jadenmouldings.com.au

Antique art glass lampshade and base, image courtesy of jamesdjulia.com

An inlay border of a parquet floor, image courtesy of merchantmart.com

Modern tile border, image courtesy of annsacks.com

Elegant upholstery trim, image courtesy of charlestonmag.com

A 1930’s fireplace mantle, image courtesy of c20fireplaces.co.uk

Decor Mood Board

Do you like the Greek Key pattern? Would you like to find some more? Well, I threw together a little decor mood board to help you find some great sources for you home. You can add a little or a lot of pattern to any room with the Greek Key. Take a look and do a little window shopping…

Where can I buy these items? Just click on the links below to jump right to the retail pages…

1. Handmade in America, this elegant throw pillow cover is only $16.95, on Etsy

2. Serve up something delicious from the Wedgwood Dynasty collection, with pieces starting at $20, from Wedgwood

3. Add some Art Deco glamour with this Glossy Black Greek Key Mirror, $249, from Shades of Light

4. One of these 50 x 70- inch knit throws would look great on the end of a bed or chair, $175, at Labrazel Home

5.  Sleek black lamp with a modern Greek Key shade, available in several color options, $99, at Lamps Plus

6. Use the Greek Key pattern as a frame from your bedding with this modern metal sofa daybed, available in two finishes for only $314, from Amazon

7. Add some subtle depth to your wall with this beautiful taupe wallpaper, $250, by style maker Jonathan Adler

So what do you think of the Greek Key motif? Have you noticed it around in stores or other decor sources? Is it fresh and modern, old and traditional, transitional? Do you love it, hate it or meh? Share your opinions in a comment. All opinions and conversation are welcome!

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy some of the other post in my Design Vocabulary series. You can browse around and read from the complete list by clicking right here.

Pinterest Mood Board: Asian sun room

It’s time for another free mood board on Pinterest! I pull these mood boards together from design finds I see when I am out working for clients. When I see something beautiful, it can inspire a whole feel, look or mood of a room. While every room in your home should reflect your life experiences and passions, everyone can use a little help every now and then finding that perfect item to make their room unique and personal. My free Pinterest mood boards are designed to inspire and make shopping a little less stressful.

This month’s mood board is designed to use in an inside/outside room, a sun room. Sun rooms are popular in every season because of their great connections to the outside world, without leaving the climate controlled peacefulness of an interior room. While the attraction of a sun room may be obvious, navigating a realistic design plan for such a room can be a little tricky. You don’t want it to feel like an outside space, like a porch or deck, filled with patio furnishings or picnic tables. But, you also don’t want a sun room to ignore the beauty of its star attraction: large, sunny windows.

On this mood board, I’ve used a design technique I use in sun rooms for clients all the time. Although this particular sun room is hypothetical, I am always careful in every sun room not to compete with Mother Nature’s work just outside the window. While I have chosen different textures and patterns for soft goods and hard surfaces, as every room requires, most of them are small in scale. The real focal point of any sun room should be the view.

I chose a transitional Asian style for this room to show that any room, regardless of its physical placement in a home, can be adapted to reflect the personal tastes of its owner. In this case, Asian motifs in a soft color palette of jade greens, cool blues and soft browns combine to compliment a similar natural palette beyond the room’s windows. This will also allow the room to feel connected to the outside view regardless of the season. The fact that the patterns and textures are pulled from many countries and periods of history combine to give the sun room a relaxed, yet artfully collected style.

As with any room, the decor may be fun, but the room has to work for the daily life of the home. I’ve included a great seating area for lounging, tv watching, and reading. I’ve also included a generous games table, perfect for card games and board games, as well as any seated or buffet dining that may be needed when entertaining guests. After all, what could is a gorgeous sun room if you can’t use it to host your friends and family?

Want to see more of this mood board? You can just click on the picture above, or right here to jump right to the board. You can also always check out all of the other mood boards and design finds I’ve collected on Pinterest by using the custom Pinterest button on the side bar of this blog, or you can click here right now.

Do you need some help with design or decor? Send your design dilemma to me in a comment and I might use it as inspiration for my next Pinterest mood board. I love a good challenge and I love to help people make their homes more happy. Share your story and let me help you find what you are looking for in your home. Free professional interior design advice. What have you got to lose?

Rule Britannia

I have a fun little decor mood board for your Friday.

It’s rather topical, as well. This weekend will be the start of a major party in the UK to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. There are all sorts of national events planned as well of lots of local parties in communities all over the UK. You can read all about the events, learn more fun facts about the monarchy and even leave a message to Queen Elizabeth on this website.

Image courtesy of royal.gov.uk

Elizabeth II, a working mother of four, first took the throne 60 years ago at the young age of 25. She is now the second longest reigning monarch in her county’s history. The longest reign is held by Queen Victoria, at 63 years 7 months.  This is Queen Victoria at her Diamond Jubilee in 1897:

Working mom at rest, Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Victoria ruled the British Empire, while also giving birth to and raising 9 children, all of whom married other members of aristocracy across Europe. Leave it to the ladies to do a thorough job, I say.

Since there will be some great holidays in the UK over the next week, I thought I’d throw together a little decor love for all of the Anglophiles out there, like me.

Where can I buy these things? Just click the links in the descriptions below:

1. What is a “Diamond” Jubilee without some diamonds? Rectangular frame and Round frame, from ZGallerie

2. Raise the roof with Union Jack paper lantern garlands, from buzzybags.co.uk

3. Cuddle a corgi with no house training required, from Amazon

4. Celebrate the city with this London tea towel, from Amazon

5. Bring on the cakes with this set of London cake tins , from Amazon UK

6. Wall art with words to live by, from Allposters.com

7. Scalloped-edged Diamond Jubilee postage stamp area rug, available in several style, sizes and colors, from stamprugs.com

8. Raise a toast to “The Queen” with Beefeater Gin, available at all good liquor stores

9. Take in the view of modern London with this Cityscape vinyl wall decal, from Cost Plus World Market

10. Relax like royalty with these decorative pillows:  Victoria Crown pillow, from Bloomingdale’s; London Town pillow, from Etsy; London Underground Station pillow, from Etsy

11. Serve up a nice cuppa with this Diamond Jubilee teapot, from Harrods

Whether you are admiring the celebrations from afar or live in one of the 16 countries across the world that call Elizabeth II “Your Majesty”, join in on the party!

Hold It Right There!

Have you ever been in a museum and seen a beautiful, delicate piece of sculpture, or a statue, that you could walk right up to and examine closely? I always think museum curators and guards must hold their breath when people get rather close to priceless art, like this…

Image courtesy of the New York Times

Have you ever had a delicate item of art or a family heirloom in your home that you want to display, but that you worry may get knocked over, broken and/or destroyed? You want to enjoy the piece (otherwise, what is the point of keeping it around?), but you worry that the “enjoying” might put the piece in danger. Maybe you have pets, kids, slightly less responsible roommates, or you live in an earthquake zone?

Image courtesy of csmonitor.com

You and the museum curators have the same kind of problem. How do you secure your item of loveliness enough to leave it out to be enjoyed, without bolting it down to the point where it can’t be enjoyed?

Museum managers have a secret weapon. My clients use it, too. Now I’m going to share the secret with you. It looks like this:

Linked image courtesy of amazon.com

This is called “Museum Putty”. It is a neutral, cream-colored putty that comes in a simple envelope. It only costs $5. You can use it, re-use it, stick it to anything and it will hold that thing DOWN.

Here’s what it looks like coming out of the package:

It’s like the texture of Silly Putty, except, shinier. It also won’t pick up the texture of whatever item you stick it to the way Silly Putty does.

I’m going to apply the putty to a little ceramic box I keep out on a table at home. I’ll just tack a little Museum Putty to the underside of the box…

…then press the putty side down gently where I want the box to live.

If I ever need to move the frame, to dust or re-arrange things, the putty leaves no marks or residue on the hard surface or the art object. Here’s the clean surface:

You can even take the putty off of one item, re-form it, then use it on a completely different item and get the same strength. If you aren’t so sure about the putty color, there is another version of this putty in a clear gel form. This version is ideal for sticking down glass or crystal items without being noticeable. It looks like this…

Linked image courtesy of amazon.com

…and is only $10. $10 is a great bargain when you think about how irreplaceable sentimental items can be. Is this something you could use in your home?

As always, I am not paid or perked for mentioning a great item on this blog. I only recommend what I like, because I like the freedom to be honest about any product I choose to mention. I use this stuff in my home and several of my clients swear by it, too.  Who doesn’t like a real-life tip for avoiding household accidents? None of us want to have this kind of nightmare…

Image courtesy of tvtropes.org

Coming Tomorrow: Decor Items Fit For A Queen!

Marvel-ous mood board for kids

Today’s post is brought to you by all the cool Wonder Woman tools I think every woman still wants today. Where is my lasso-of-truth to use on department store cosmetic personnel? Where are my bullet deflecting bracelets to fight off telemarketers? If I wanted to, I could now fill an entire house with clear acrylic furniture. How is there still no invisible plane that allows me to skip the TSA line?

I wouldn’t want Wonder Woman’s dry cleaning bill, though. You just know hers is still more expensive than all those guys in tights. Image courtesy of allposters.com

In all seriousness, though…well, not too much seriousness…

With the ongoing success of The Avengers movie, I thought it might be fun to throw together a free mood board on Pinterest with a super hero theme. I’ve made this mood board with kids in mind, as a sort of ideal super hero hangout. However, I’m would not be surprised if adults found some fun decor inspiration in here, too. (When you see it, know that I just discovered the “Lay-n-Play construction set carrier” today and can’t wait to recommend it to future clients!)

Bat signal. You know you want it. Image courtesy of Amazon

I chose a cool grey as this room’s wall color because I want a clean backdrop for all the riotous comic colors to stand out and be noticed in the room. I was thinking of it as a basic pencil shading color, but moms and dads might like that it would be an easy color to adapt if the room decor needs to change away from this little fortress of solitude. That said, I have committed an entire accent wall to a comic book cover mural. It was just to fun of a wall covering to ignore and I figured, like most comic book villains, I should go big or go home.

Warning: Using this wallpaper mural on every wall in a room may induce serious mad scientist tendencies. Image courtesy of Amazon

Many of the furniture pieces in this mood board sport flashy colors. (Or should that be Flash-y colors?) I chose a lot of pieces from Ikea for this board, because Ikea is really offering some fabulous colors in their designs right now. I also feel that no one ever begrudges the price points at Ikea. The clean simple lines in most of their furniture works really well in kids’ rooms because they are neutral enough to grow up with any child while still being practical.

Its kind of an old Superman blue. Not quite as bright as a Captain America blue, but definitely brighter than an X-men blue. Image courtesy of Ikea

Unlike past free mood boards on my Pinterest account, I’m gonna leave this one up indefinitely. I know parents can use all the help they can get when keeping kids room manageable and affordable, so I hope this offers some realistic resources for anyone looking for some inspiration. (Please note: I take no responsibility for adult comic fans attempting to recreate this entire room for themselves without the knowledge of their spouse. You know who you are. Please use your super fan status for good, not evil.)

This bunk bed, although super-cool looking, is not designed for adults. Image courtesy of Ikea.

All of the images shown in this post are pulled from my fun new mood board on Pinterest. Want to jump to the mood board faster than a speeding bullet? Just click right here. You can also always reach my Pinterest boards by clicking on the Pinterest logo on the sidebar of this website.

Question time! If you could choose a super hero power, what power would you choose? Mr. CARO and I go back and forth on our choices, but somehow we always end up in a debate about distorting the space-time continuum. Bazinga! (Fluent geek spoken here.) Share your superpower in a comment! Love this mood board? Share it on your Facebook page to help me recruit more followers!

5 Things: Nursery edition

It’s time for another post in the “5 Things” series. These posts list 5 things that I love to use in clients homes. They can be handy things, decorative things and/or organizational things. I list them here because I know that they are tried and true with my clients and that they may work for you, too. Consider this a industry-secret whisper from a designer out in the trenches. (You can see more posts from this series, along with other organizational tips, right here.)

Linked image courtesy of Amazon.com

Today’s list is full of things I like to put in client nurseries. You may be thinking that nurseries generally have such specific themes that I couldn’t possibly choose 5 things for every nursery, but I have. The secret is all of these items can be customized or are already neutral enough to use in any room. Let’s get started…

Crib Skirt

This may seem like a pretty decorative item, but the genius of a crib skirt is that it can provide all sorts of extra storage. When the baby is an infant, you can stockpile diapers in bulk under the crib at its high mattress setting. When the child is a little older, you can place storage tubs under the crib to organize larger, grow-into-them  clothes.

Image courtesy of Little Giraffe

When the child is a toddler, if your crib turns into a toddler bed (and so many do these days), that under the crib space can become the perfect corral for all of those activity sets that take up so much floor space. Farm sets with menageries, large wheeled toys and any musical foobahs you don’t want to tread on with your bare feet at night. You know the kind of thing I mean. Just slide them right under the crib skirt and the nursery is tidied in the blink of an eye. You might even get your little one to help you clean up, since the storage space is right at their level.

Crib skirts are available in all sorts of styles these days. They are not all traditional and ruffle-y like the one pictured above. You can find crib skirts in all sorts of patterns and designs, which makes them easy to customize to any nursery’s theme or color plan. You can even find crib skirts designed to fit the clean, simple lines of a more modern crib, like this one…

Image courtesy of DwellStudio

I’m delighted that there has been such an upswing in crib skirt popularity in recent years. I have yet to meet a parent who looks around their child’s room and says, “You know what I have too much of in here? Storage space.”

Area Rug

Okay, this may seem like a no-brainer. Every parent-to-be anticipates spending some quality time sitting on the nursery floor with their child. Who wouldn’t think of some sort of rug as a practical solution? However, I’m not talking about any old kind of area rug. I’m talking about a kind of rug that can take a beating and still good look over the next 5 years, without costing you a fortune. After all, you still have college to plan for, right?

Image courtesy of Couristan

Whether a nursery needs a neutral, traditional pattern (like the rug shown above), or a colorful, younger palette (like the rug shown below), I always choose Indoor/Outdoor rugs for nurseries.

Every single time.

I embrace the “Indoor” part of the rug’s type that makes it soft on tiny bare feet and knees (and parent’s bums) as they play and explore. If a nursery is already carpeted when I arrive on the job, I still throw one of these war horses into service for the parents. It’s the “Outdoor” part of this rug’s name that makes it a weapon against chaos.

Two words: Diaper blowout.

Need two more words? Projectile vomiting. And let us not forget the food, craft supplies and other childhood detritus that can get ground into your flooring and carpet. Your nice, expensive, pre-baby, wall-to-wall carpet or flooring. On its very worst day, you can haul this rug outside and hose that puppy down. Let it dry and it is as good as new.

Image courtesy of Loloi Rugs

Book Racks

You may have noticed by now that I think about the parent’s needs first in any nursery. It’s true, but don’t get me wrong. I want the room to be as beautiful as the new baby about to move in there. I take great joy in finding just the right mix of personal and adorable items for the new room. However, if the nursery leaves Momma or Daddy worn out from all the upkeep, I am not doing my job properly. At the end of the day, my clients are the parents, the caretakers of the room.

Most nurseries need some form of bookcase early on, to hold all sorts of thing collected before the baby arrives. Toys, baby gear, mementoes, you name it, tend to get organized and stacked very neatly at the beginning. After the baby arrives, the jumble of items in play often mean that books are harder to put away or keep handy when parents need them. I am a big fan of books, myself, so like to include book racks in addition to shelves. Here is one of my favorites:

Image courtesy of Land of Nod

The beauty of a book rack is that a parent can put books into it with one hand. Whether they are reading a story while holding their baby or doing a big room sweep of toy clean up, books can get safely (respectfully) dropped into place without being jammed in with other toys. One of my clients used a dedicated book rack to help keep track of all of her children’s library books, without having to search everywhere. Smart Momma!

I also have discovered another source for a great book rack via some innovative DIYers on the internet. (I wish I could say I thought of this one myself, but credit should be given where it is due. I certainly use this idea for my clients now!) Ikea offers a lovely little birch spice rack, called the BEKVÄM, for a mere $4. Some clever parents out there saw the similarities between that spice rack and the more traditional book rack pictured above. You can add a Ikea book rack system, like this one, anywhere that you have a little extra wall space for only $12:

Image courtesy of ikeahackers.net

Vertical Storage

This is a concept I use in every nursery. It is a simple concept  that can be reused in many different ways as a child grows up. Not all new parents have dedicated furniture suites for their new children, so this concept can be particularly helpful in smaller nurseries or even in master bedrooms that host the baby when it is very young. I like to use vertical storage in a closet as a place to catch clothing, diapers, blankets, special soft toys and whatever else a parent needs to find quickly, without having to dig through a drawer or bin. Here is one of my favorite products:

Image courtesy of Ikea

This is a hanging shelf is from the Ikea SKUBB line of organizers. They currently come in white, black or this vivid purple. I love them because they are affordable. The example pictured above is only $8. Because they are made of a sturdy nylon material, they can also be cleaned easily. As your child grows older, this 5 shelf hanger can become a place where they lay out their school clothes in advance, to avoid the morning rush.

Another great place for vertical storage is the back of a bedroom or closet door. By capitalizing on a place that is often forgotten to store small items (creams, sunglasses, hats, shoes, etc.) and regularly used large items (favorite toys, blankets, extra diapers), tidying a child’s room and leaving the house can become much easier and faster. I like the clean design of this back-of-the-door storage (by Real Simple for Bed Bath and Beyond) because a child can get access to their own things at the bottom of the door when they are old enough to help.

Image courtesy of Bed Bath and Beyond

Clock

Sleepy parents should not have to struggle to see what time it is when they are up with a late night feeding. While cute nursery wall clocks can be found almost everywhere, I always suggest something smaller and easier on the parent’s eyes when they are waiting for their babies to drift back into Neverland. Despite all the varieties available, my two favorite, go-to clocks for nurseries come from LL Bean. The first one is the classic Moon Beam clock…

Image courtesy of LL Bean

…which has an easy-to-read dial face and on/off switch for the backlit setting. It also comes in several colors (easy top match to any nursery color plan) and has an alarm setting that include waking to a gentle light, a bell or both. Charming!

My other favorite LL Bean clock is the 1931 Big Ben model, which also comes in several colors and features and easy-to-read face.

Image courtesy of LL Bean

Like the Moon Beam clock above, this clock has easy alarm settings and has an on/off setting for the backlighting of the face. I should mention that these clocks are a little more expensive than say a plastic digital clock from Wal-mart. However, the quality of these clocks is excellent and they can eventually become a child’s first alarm clock when they reach school age.

So there is my list of 5 Things that work in every nursery! I didn’t set out to have a favorites list like this, but when I find something that really works well I want to give that extra practical assistance to every set of parents who ask for my design help.

Now I’d like to hear from all of the parents out there who are reading this post. What do you think of my list? Do you have a favorite nursery item you can’t live without? What is the best tip you ever got about organizing your child’s room. Jump on in, parents, and share your experience in a comment!

Downton Abbey DIY Decor

Ah, Downton Abbey. Are you already hearing the theme song your head? I find it can get stuck in my mind like an endless loop after I see PBS commercials go by.

Image courtesy of itv.com

Have you been watching? Do you have a favorite character or story line? I find the show so beautifully designed that I hardly know where to look when I should be watching the characters. Although, nothing gets my attention more that Maggie Smith’s entrance in a scene. I believe she has the best one-liners I have heard in a long time. And I love that her character seems to know it.

Image courtesy of itv.com

Downton Abbey is in reruns on PBS here in Maryland. Mr. CARO and I have been catching the last season’s episodes again on Friday nights. We tend to have our TVs on as we go from room to room doing our end-of-the-week Friday evening household chores. Because so much of the drama involves the servants, you can almost trick yourself into believe you are part of them if you find yourself dusting or vacuuming while they are also doing housework.

Image courtesy of itv.com

Almost.

We are big fans of this show, as is practically every other person I know. There has been so much written (and photographed) about the costumes and casting (and setting) for this show that I almost dismissed the concept of this post because I thought it might be overdone.

However, as we were talking on Sunday night, I made a joke with my husband about  the imminent arrival a new line of (fictional, yet) extremely large furniture at Macy’s called “The Grantham Collection”. Since PBS was able to successfully sell reproductions of Lady Mary’s jewelry for a while, it seems like the obvious next step.

So, I decided to build a DIY Downton Abbey room on Pinterest, just for a lark.

Image courtesy of someecards.com

I built the room from my own instinct and memory of the show’s design, without looking at production stills or watching the reruns while I worked. When I was done, I asked Mr. CARO to review my selection and give me his opinion of how I did. From the other room, I could hear him laughing and saying, “Yes!” as he scrolled through my choices.

The room I decided to recreate (à la Downton Abbey) was the library. I think a library is one of the truly defining things about an English country house. It reflects the personal style of the current resident, but also tends to much some of the family history in the home. It is a primarily masculine room, historically. (Girls do get up to all sorts of thing when they are taught to read!) However, I wanted to make sure I included that warm feeling that sometimes brought the ladies of the household into the room.

Image courtesy of itv.com

I scoured the internet for all of my sources for this mood board. Some of them may seem to come from very random places, but that was the exact place I found the image of the item I was needing for the library. I like putting the mood board on Pinterest because it automatically gives credit and a link back to its original source. In most cases, you can also use the links to find out who makes and how to buy the chosen item. (If you happen to buy yourself one of those gorgeous decanters, I’d be happy to help you christen it!)

I’ve included notes on all of my room choices, to explain why you would want or need each item in our little dream room. Now all you have to do is supply yourself with a very old large room, with large windows and a serious fireplace. Simple, right? Here’s a little sneak peek of my Downton Abbey library:

Want to jump directly to the mood board? Just click on the picture above or use the Pinterest link on the page’s sidebar to see all of my boards.

Now I want to hear from you about Downton Abbey. How did I do on this mood board? Was I close? Can you think of anything I missed? Do you have a favorite room that we’ve seen on the show? What about the “smaller” homes we see, like cousin Isobel’s house or the Dowager House Maggie Smith’s Violet lives in? Share with me like you’re reporting on a social scandal from London!

Image courtesy of itv.com

If you like this Downton Abbey post, you might also enjoy related posts from the blog’s archives, including these:

See you tomorrow!

Sales on zzzzz’s

Warning: This post may make you crave a nap.

It’s January. And if you get a lot of catalogs like me…(Seriously, A LOT. Now you know why I am so adamant about Greener Living. I have to pull my own weight here at my end of the eco-system.)…you may have noticed that January is one of the best times of the year to buy bedding. January is on of the two times a year that most home & housewares retailers have a big one of these:

The other time of year that these sales appear in is August. However, in my experience with clients, August is not really a time of year that people visualize themselves using new bedding. They love the look of their new bedding in a newly decorated room, but their lives tend to be busier with outdoors activities. Summer is still cooking away in August and outdoor meals are very easy this time of year. Perhaps the lure of new bedding just sounds too warm when you still have the AC set so high?

Image courtesy of laheyblog.com

Five months later in January, most Januarys (including, finally, this January), the outside temperatures have dropped, bundling against the wind and cold has become part of our daily routine and a long winter’s nap sounds really good!

January makes people want to crawl inside their bedding a snuggle down. Is this a hibernation instinct we humans still cary with us? Or is it just the thought of a great book, cosy bedding, and a warm beverage that says comfort to us in the darkest days of the year? Mother Nature may howl outside, but if we have a thick comforter or a fluffy duvet in our favorite colors, luring us as a step toward a deep night’s sleep, we are just where we want to be.

“Le Lit” (The Bed), by Toulouse Lautrec, 1893 Image courtesy of Wikipedia

So, while I’m sure a case can be made for savvy salesmanship when people are still paying off their Christmas bills, you just can’t beat a good White Sale in January. There are deals to be had and people are in the mood to make their bedroom a priority. (But, don’t just take my word for it. The US Census reports that September and October have been the most popular birth months of the year for decades.)

Have you been browsing White Sales in catalogs at your home lately? I’ve pulled together a collection of scrumptious bedding (on sale!) on Pinterest that you can browse today. Just click on the picture below to wander over and check out  what I’ve seen and liked.

What makes up a good bed for you? Do you like a duvet and blankets? Do you swear by high thread counts? Are you a big fan of quilts? How many pillows do you like to sleep with at night? Share your preferences in a comment!

More resolute in 4 easy steps

A very happy New Year to you! How is your 2012 going so far? We’re now into the second week of the New Year. How are you doing with any resolutions you may have made? It’s been estimated that 45% of adult Americans make New Year’s resolutions every year, but only 8% are ever kept. These stats lead me to the question, “How do they calculate those numbers with accuracy?”.

Image courtesy of wikipedia

I’m one of those adults who aims to evolve with the passage of the new calendar year, but I have a different method of success. I though I’d share my 4 rules for resolutions with you today, in case it could add some resolve to your goals for 2012.

(Right about now, some of you may be asking, “What does this have to do with interior design?”. Stay with me…you may end up with some interesting art for your home!)

1. List Month By Month

First, let me say that the idea of trying to predict in January what I want to have accomplished on a personal growth level in 12 months seems ridiculous. It’s kinda like when you go in for your annual check-up with your doctor and at the end of your appointment they ask if you want to schedule your appointment for the following year. As if you know exactly where you’ll be in 12 months, on a Tuesday, at 2pm.

2013? I'm still trying to remember to write "2012".

I do better with resolutions if I can plan them a month in advance. It is a well-discussed theory that it takes an average person 6 weeks to change a regular behavior. If I can commit to doing something for four weeks, I’m well on my way to completing that goal and have met a much more attainable deadline.

So, I break my annual resolutions into monthly resolutions. If I slack off of my resolutions for a few days (or a few weeks), I know that the month is still running and that I have a chance to get right back up on that horse and try again. We’re only human, after all.

2. Take Smaller Bites

On a similar note, I like to break goals down to make them more approachable. For example, I’ve set a goal for myself to read 60 books in the next year. (My great aunt, who lived to be 99, said reading kept her mind young. Who can argue with motivation like that?) I’ve broken my 60-books-for-the-year goal into a 5-books-per-month goal. Much more approachable and if I get a little ahead, I’ll really feel empowered for the next month.

Image courtesy of sapdc.org

Bite-sized resolutions means I can also tweak as I go. “Tweak” does not mean “abandon in March”. Tweak means re-order or add to the list. For example, I am lousy about remembering dentist cleanings/check-ups. I’ve actually written “Dentist” on my February resolution list to make sure I get an appointment on my schedule.

I’ve also written “Update Resolutions” in April, so I can tweak/add more Dentist-y things (among other things) to the rest of my year’s goals after I’m into the year a few months. Maybe I’ll be raising my book goal to 6 books a month. We’ll see how I’m doing.

3. Make It Public

I’m doing that right here with this post and you’re going to see my whole list in just a few more paragraphs. I’ve found that if I can speak openly about my goals, it helps me to follow through with them.

Now, I’m not suggesting you open with you resolutions at a cocktail party, but I have found that if I can explain the value of my goals to others, that conversation (and the memory of it) can be a motivator for me later. Especially if those conversations can get you some high fives from your friends and loved ones as you meet each step of your goals. Announce your progress and be proud!

Image courtesy of capetown.travel

4. Make It Art

This is where you write down your goals. Not just write them down, but put them in a place where you can look at them. Every day. (Yes, every day.) So, if you are going to look at them why not make them something you love to look at?

Type your resolutions up nicely and make them pretty art to put out in your home. Surround them with motivating pictures if you are a picture person. Mount them on beautiful paper to make a lovely print. Frame them and put them near your favorite place in your home. Embrace your goals with happy anticipation. Attitude is everything and enjoying your list is a step in the right direction.

Keeping it real, friends. This is right next to my desk.

That’s my list, typed up on a little photo-shopped print I made, then framed. It sits right over the printer and scanner by my desk, where I work every day and write these posts. Just wanted to show you that I practice what I preach. And here is a close-up of the framed list, so you can read the resolutions more easily:

Some months have more goals than others, but it all seems approachable.

Does this 4-step system work? One of my big resolutions for last year was starting a blog…and I did it! Now you know my goals for 2012. I’ll keep you posted as the year rolls along. What are some of your resolutions? Do these steps help you see your goals more easily? Leave a comment and share your thoughts. Blogs are for conversation!

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