My husband and I don't really do Valentine's Day. We used to, when we were young and first dating. In fact, I recall a few gifts that I certainly hope my daughters' boyfriends do not buy them when they are 16. But while we do write each other cards, we stopped exchanging gifts for minor holidays, although he does often buy me an orchid plant (my favorite flower to try to keep long-term), which I'm generally able to keep alive for about six months. Who doesn't love fresh flowers, especially in the winter? (Of course, with two little kids, we'll be lucky if we can sneak off to dinner alone together. Calling all babysitters.)
It might be snobby, but I'm not really a fan of red rose bouquets or carnations; they just feel very predictable. I'm attracted to more lush, interesting flowers like ranunculus, anemone, peonies, and of course, orchids. I love this low, tight arrangement (above) from Olive and Cocoa. The vessel is simple but lovely, and more interesting to me than any theme-y Valentine's Day vase, and something I'd definitely use again. Red's my favorite color so of course I like the shades of the blooms, especially the dark ones. What I really love are the little red mokara orchids at the top, which are the same kind as were tied onto curly willow branches that trailed down from my wedding bouquet. I like the idea of giving an arrangement rather than a bouquet, but that's my personal preference.
Also, I'm not saying that you necessarily have to go this fancy, but before defaulting to red roses, think about your partner's true favorite flower. Taking note of that and offering even a few stems is more meaningful than a big bouquet just for the sake of Valentine's Day, in my opinion.
If your loved one isn't a fan of flowers, there are always edible treats. Chocolate is ubiquitous, but again, think of what your partner really loves. Cheryl's makes really delicious cutout cookies, as good as homemade. My dad was given an assorted box of their cookies for Christmas 2012 and we devoured that sucker. They have several gift options at a variety of price points. The "long-stemmed" cookie arrangement is kind of funny, and the best part about giving an edible treat is you'll probably get to have some, too.
Do you go all out or keep it small to celebrate Valentine's Day? Or do you think it's a ridiculous holiday perpetuated by the industrial greeting card complex?
My jewelry style tends toward the colorful, sizable, and architectural. I like big cuff bracelets, cocktail rings, and statement necklaces. Because of an allergy to metals that are for most considered hypoallergenic, I'm always on the lookout for accessories that are made of materials other than metal, or have very little metal incorporated into the design.
I love these necklaces by Homako. Materials such as cotton-covered rope, faux suede, fabric covered-gems, and linen are hand-crafted into striking pieces that would look as comfortable dressed-up as they would dressed-down. Throwing one on with a loose t-shirt and jeans would be such a cool, easy weekend outfit, but of course they would be great with a dress for work, too. These are my 5 favorite designs currently available in her Etsy shop.
images via homako
I'll be honest. In theory, I am super organized, I have an idea of exactly how everything should be organized and I love to buy bins and organization paraphernalia. But, in execution, I stumble. Sometimes I get the system in place, but then get swamped for one reason or another and it falls apart until I have a lull in my commitments and can devote time solely to getting reorganized. Sometimes I get the tools and never quite implement them and sometimes my nascent hoarder tendencies plus my current lack of space (though I can't blame it only on my current living situation) combine to create a stress-induced paralysis where I feel the job is too big and so I don't start.
I feel so much better when others share their moments of disorganization. I can't tell you how happy this picture of Jessica Alba's full sink made me. Cleaning is another thing I struggle with, though most of our issues are paper and toy piles, okay, and the dishes. I think about cleaning and try to come up with a plan, like wash sort Mail on Monday, Dust on WeDnesday, vacUum on TUesday, but inevitably something comes up, or I get tired, or the kids refuse to sleep and I just give up. And as they say, something has to give, and for me, it's the cleaning up. When it comes to spending time with my kids or cleaning/organizing, well, I'm always going to choose my kids. And I don't apologize for that, but I definitely need to come up with some plan that I can actually stick to.
I also have the additional problem of working from home. My husband is great, and he really does pull his own weight, but sometimes, whether he means to or not, I get that sort of "you were home all day, why didn't you clean anything" type of comment. So I started saying, "I was working all day. Did you clean anything while you were at work?" A few times of that and he got where I was coming from, but I think he would really like to come home and find that I've accomplished some household project. I'm sure other freelancers, bloggers, and people who work from home can relate to where I'm coming from. And to be fair, it's mainly my personal life that suffers because I put home stuff aside to make sure my professional deadlines are always met. I recently took on a new part time job on top of my freelancing, and now that both kids are out of the house all day, I'm hoping that I can use some of the time on work-from-home days to clean/organize. January has been a rotating schedule of sickness for our family, so I already feel behind, but I'm trying to not let those feelings overwhelm me.
I originally wanted to make last year my year to get organized but I totally underestimated how exhausted I would be after having my second child. So, I'm hoping that I can regroup and make this the year that I get it under control, at least more than I have been in the past couple years. So with that in mind, I've come across a few organizing resources that I'm going to try:
Do you struggle with any of these areas? What works for you?
P.S. Don't watch a bunch of Friends reruns while trying to blog about getting organized or thinking about time-management. It's really antithetical. Oops.
Last night, someone whom I've been working with on a story sent me the link to this Elle Decor piece about interior designer Lindsey Coral Harper's malachite collection. We've bonded over our love of interior decorating, and she had previously told me about her malachite/Tony Duquette-inspired Christmas tablescapes, which were really great. As a thank-you for the story, she gifted me a small L'Objet malachite dish, which I adore. I've been crushing on these malachite roman shades (from the Belgian home of the Casamidy founders) for years:
But, back to Lindsay Coral Harper. So, malachite is one of her favorite things and she collects new and mostly vintage pieces. The article/slideshow refers to it as her trend obsession, but I think it's reached an emotional level that surpasses being a trend, and has become a beloved collection. Using the word trend makes it seem a little more fleeting, though malachite has been big for a couple years now; Harper's pieces are classic enough to stand the test of time. Trends are certainly an excellent way to become familiar with different patterns, looks, and styles.
It's hard to deny the hotness of her Monique Lhuillier gown:
She mixes the malachite pieces throughout her house, as seen here on her bar cart and boxes of various sizes in different vignettes (top image). Having favorite pieces sprinkled throughout and used often is a nice alternative to a collection that is for display only. Also, I can't believe she found the flatware on Etsy… I need to spend more time on there and find some treasures like these.
I met Lindsey several years ago at the NY gift show when her company Lamshop was brand new. Lamshop offers this lovely piece, so you know her love for the deep green stone pattern runs deep.
Because my dining table is oval-shaped, it's very hard to find table linens. Rectangular placemats don't sit nicely next to each other if you have more than six people at the table and I can't decide if I should try round ones or those sort of trapezoidal shaped mats. I can't decide if they're weird or practical.
And tablecloths: Every time a package says it's oblong, it really means rectangular which of course doesn't look good. So I generally forgo table linens because the table looks good on its own, anyway. But I remain on the hunt. A runner like this might not sit quite right at the ends of the table, but it is so pretty, I think it's worth trying.
I don't generally think of myself as a floral person, but I do love these artful blooms, and the color palette is one of my favorites. So bright and happy, and I like the touch of metallic gold, too. The runner is suede, which probably feels wonderful and adds a nice mix of materials when you use it in combination with cloth or linen napkins, and the glassware, plates, and other decor elements. I think I would pair it with striped or dotted napkins, maybe in a pale pink, or a fresh green, or maybe a gray similar to the one that adds the petal detail to the flowers.
And it's on sale, which means it's probably on its way out. Too bad the gift card my sister got me from Anthropologie was accidentally not activated by the cashier and she isn't sure where the receipt is, so I can't get it activated. Curses!!
Anyone else have oval tables? I'd love to hear your suggestions or solutions!
images via anthropologie
Have you ever had your eye on something but put off buying it because you didn't need it right then, or it was too much money, and then when you went back to buy it, it was gone? That happened to me with the Jonathan Adler Eve Hand. It came out a long time ago, and I immediately wanted it, but I put off buying it because I thought it was a little expensive for "just" an objet. I asked for it for Christmas once or twice, but alas, no one bought it for me. And now it's gone, discontinued. And of course, now my concept of what is expensive has changed so much, I wouldn't really hesitate at the price. It's all relative, right?
Though there are other, newer Eve pieces in the collection, this is the one I love. There's something in the positioning of her fingers, and the inclusion of the apple, which the newer pieces don't have. The apple and the snake, the symbolism of women and female power, and the portrayal of women throughout history—not only do I think it's a good-looking piece, but it really speaks to me, especially as I majored in women's studies.
So if anyone out there has this (in good condition) and no longer wants it, let me know! I've tried eBay and so far nothing, but I'll be keeping my eyes peeled.
Have you ever lost out on a piece you really wanted?
I'm working on an article that's due Friday about the house of a local interior decorator who has a fashion background. So I've had the interplay of fashion and home decor in my head for a few weeks. I happened to be checking TradHome last night to see if there was a new issue I might have missed (there wasn't, but I hope there will be one soon), and came across this menswear-inspired tabletop scheme.
The marbled cocktail plate and the flatware with sculptural handles immediately caught my eye. I think the mix of varied shades of blue and gray is so lovely and sophisticated. The combination of the blues with the pewter stoneware charger and plate, and the patterns on the cocktail plate, fabric (acting as tablecloth) and napkin… all I can think of is Stacy and Clinton from What Not to Wear (who I miss dearly): color, pattern, texture, shine. This has it all.
You know I love clever details and a touch of humor, so of course to me, the mustachioed Jonathan Adler teapot and the fabulous punchy purple bow tie used as a napkin ring around a shirt stripe-patterned cloth napkin are just the right notes to make this sing. As with fashion, it's all about layering and the details.
The plates, navy placemat, mug, and napkin are all Juliska and the flatware Mikasa. I don't know what that gray background is, but I really love it. I can't stop looking at the marbled plate against that backdrop. Adore.
image via traditional home
Since this is the time of year where people are pledging to get up earlier, go to bed earlier, or spend more time doing various noble pursuits, I was thinking about time itself and clocks. I came across the Flat Life clock, which is a few months old, and while it's probably more than I would spend for a wall clock, I really like the concept.
A familiar retro-looking alarm clock image is printed on a very thin piece of plastic and by way of a power cord, the piece makes the transition from two-dimensional image to three-dimensional product that actually functions (though it doesn't have alarm settings). I love the humor, originality, and simplicity of this design and the way the cord trails off, bleeding out of the image and into real life.
If you like it, too, you can also check out the Flat Life light by the same designer:
images via areaware
I know I've mentioned that one of the definite perks of my career has been getting to meet and work with creative and inspiring interior designers. I love seeing interiors where people take chances with patterns, colors, and mixing styles, because I think most average homeowners don't—but I'd love to be proven wrong!
I'm pleased to say that all the designers I've worked with have been such a joy; I'm always so happy for them as they continue to be successful and especially when they branch out into new directions, such as product development. You might remember me mentioning Tilton Fenwick a few months ago, when they were part of a rug collaboration with Studio Four. Now, Anne Maxwell Foster and Suysel DePedro Cunningham have launched their first fabric collection, partnering with Duralee, who continues their tradition of working with fantastic designers producing exciting fabrics.
It's exciting for any designer to be asked to develop a line of products, but I think it speaks volumes about their talent that Anne and Suysel were asked after having only been in business a few short years.
The duo are known for their colorful and layered take on traditional. Since being featured as New Trad designers to watch by Traditional Home magazine (where I worked when I met them), they've also designed for showhouses and industry-favorite event Design on a Dime, in addition to their growing client roster.
The fabric collection with Duralee is full of bright, happy, versatile designs that work well in a vibrant pattern-rich environment, yet many are restrained enough that they are perfect for someone who prefers a more subdued look.
Take a look at these wonderfully rich colors and patterns available in a variety of scales. Stripes, florals, animal prints, and patterns inspired by recent travels work together to create a fresh perspective on traditional themes. The strong peacock pattern is actually Tilton Fenwick's company logo translated into a printed fabric. I can't wait to see some of these patterns on drapes and upholstered chairs and sofas.
If you're not familiar with them, here are a few examples of Tilton Fenwick's exuberant and gorgeous work:
images via duralee, tilton fenwick, and interior photos via michael rodenbush, darina todorova, trevor tondro for the new york times
These grand room scenes are not renderings, drawings, or embossments. They are made from sheets of paper folded and creased carefully, over and over, by German artist Simon Schubert. Using a technique he developed, he creates these architectural images with great depth and impressive detail. I love the perspective of these pieces and the play of light and shadow. Apparently it takes around a week for him to complete each work; he must have so much patience and I can't imagine how many times I would have to start over to achieve this level of precision. You can see many more examples at his website.
images via simon schubert
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