Feeling Blue: Chinoiserie Chic

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posted by:  Beth Connolly Labels:  Fireplace, styling

In the best possible way.  In the clean, fresh, bright, and brilliant blue that comes from this gorgeous china.

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posted by:  Beth Connolly Labels: fireplace, styling

I met a gal that recently found her way to the states – and more specifically the South End, where she bought her first condo – via Hong Kong.  She carted back a boat load of blue vases, urns, and dishes in the signature hue and asked if it was possible to create a design that incorporate her extensive art collection and her prized china.  I said yes of course.

The addition of orange brings a fresh pop of contrasting color to the scene.

While I love chinoiserie I do believe there is a line you can cross.  I think of it as the Mason Dixon Line.  A Boston city apartment shouldn’t feel like a Southern mansion dripping in excess – the challenge then is to use it to inform the design palette and theme, while keeping it sophisticated and chic.  Think pastel Paris with pops of blue and gold accents or a more muted backdrop of neutrals with orange accents.

Left:  Mark D. Sikes Loves blue and brings a sophistication with these muted tones.  Right:  French Country Cottage balances warm and cool for a cluster of cherubic perfection.

I adore white and blue but think that it feels more coastal than city. Softening the tones and introducing creams, warm violets, dusty greens, and gray blues will help give it a cozy chicness that will welcome and calm after a long day composing art schemes.

Top Left:  Gold Puddle Trays – One Kings Lane.  Top Right:  Spiked Accent Table – One Kings Lane.  Bottom Center:  Caracole Lena Accent Chair – One Kings Lane.

Galbraith + Paul Wallcoverings and Fabric.  Left:  Bellflower in Dolphin.  Right:  Southern Shades via Etsy.

Blue Chin 2

posted by Beth Connolly Labeled: fireplace, styling

What’s particularly great about this design challenge is that there is NO furniture that one must work into the equation.  Just artwork, and blue chin.  Awesome.

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Go a little bolder with Cole and Sons Hex Wallcovering and a high gloss painted door or vanity.

This post represents my preliminary picks.  I hope I’ve headed the ship from the China Seas to the Atlantic in the right direction.

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Galbraith + Paul . Reverse Monarch in Ruby.

 

 

It Takes heART

The last few weeks of summer always have me out of sorts.  I’m still longing for a lazy day on the beach with a good book, a glass of rose in the afternoon on the deck, an outdoor shower before dinner…throw in a yoga class, repeat, replay, it doesn’t get old for me.

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Chairish . Closer $1450.

I do love fall, but I am not ready for the traffic, the school buses, and normally I can get very excited about fall fashion, but I am trying to refrain from spending my hard earned dollars on a fantastically outrageous pair of high fashion pants, that I would likely wear twice, have absolutely no room for weight gain or loss, and would be wildly out of style the following year.  Can you say $1400. down the drain?  I’m trying to, but what I hear is, come get me, you’ll be the envy of the IIDA Fashion Show.  Oh lord, sometimes I am too much to handle.

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Chairish . Passionate Heart $810.

So I am turning a blind eye to the fabulous fashions that are racked and waiting, and am in need of some inspiration. ART and NATURE.  I find that they gently tug me through tough political and economic climates, bad break-ups, low moments in construction when the project seems as if it will never come to an end, and I’ll be covered in dust forever!

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Etsy . Carl Thomas Gallery . Beginnings $400.

Of course you can go to a gallery and see some amazing masters, but I like to scroll through the pages on Etsy, and Chairish.  There are so many unknown artists that have incredible talent.  So much of what Etsy has to offer is incredibly affordable too.  Like the names given to nail polish I find it fascinating and illuminating to read the titles of paintings.  They open my imagination to so much more than the image alone and allow me to craft a story – make it my own.

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Etsy . Make Believe . $150.

One of my favorite paintings I loved before I knew the title, but when I learned it was called:  Time After Doubt, I fell in love with it.  I have collected a lot of art while on this flipping adventure of mine.  My most recent acquisition was the inspiration for the color palette in No. 4, and is prominently displayed in the living room.  I adore it, and expect it will make a reappearence before I reach No. 10, but it is Time After Doubt that once published, you will see in every single flip – all ten chapters of My Life in Sawdust.

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Etsy . Landscape No. 8 $89.

To finding a little inspiration in this time in-between.

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Etsy . Linda Monmori . Visitors $360.

Fruit Punch: Flirt with a little fun

The weekends are too short, and summer in New England is the shortest of the short . shorts.  With no spring to speak of, one really feels the need to make the most of the good weather, when said good weather finally arrives.  Sun, sand, ocean, and fantastically fresh food.  To bite into a juicy peach, savor a sweet chunk of pineapple, smack your lips as you sip a tart and tasty lemonade – that’s summer.  It got me thinking about the roll of fruit in interior design, naturally.

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Etsy is an amazing source for original art work.  This gracefully executed watercolor, brings a little of that fun fruit to an Urban or Suburban setting.  Etsy . Tina Vu Studio $45.

I’m not thinking dark paneled walls, velvet curtains, and Peter Paul’s Rubeneque beauties lying naked in heaps of grapes.  I’m thinking a little more playful, a bit of young at heart, more daylight than dark, more laughter than tears.  Fruit motifs span the gamut from sophisticated to childish, and it’s perfectly ok to mix the two, why not, no law.

 

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The traditional motif symbolizing “welcome” – posh doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny.  PB Teen $119.

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For city surroundings I do recommend you lean toward the sophisticated palette.  Potted fruit plants, faux and real, can bring a little of that summer indoors, and remind you that the world is not all hardscape.  (Try Ballard Design for some realistic looking faux plants) Sculptural elements like china or metallic pineapples, sitting serenely on the shelf of an étagère, the spire on top of your skyscraper of interiors books, glinting and beckoning at that 5 o’clock hour from it’s outpost on the bar cart, pineapples are indeed welcoming.  Wall coverings that blur and obscure the fruit feel polished and fresh, and are perhaps just the right splash of irreverence for a powder room or guest bed.

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Flavor Paper . Fruits of Design . Sweet Potato Mica Clay Coated.

Summer Escape

Summer rightfully brings out the kid in us all.  By my account there is far too much seriousness going around these days.  I’m not condoning irresponsibility, just suggesting that buying a Crew Cuts tee shirt from the kids department that has glittery cherry’s on it, is perfectly acceptable, and frankly much more economically responsible than buying it from J. Crew Woman’s.   Just saying…I did it, and you feel free to judge.  I am also suggesting that a sequined watermelon throw pillow, could really make rolling from Sunday into Monday, just a little bit happier, and if you woke up in these delightfully chipper cherry sheets from Serena and Lily, who’s to say you wouldn’t have the best day ever?

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PB Teen . Tutti Fruity Pillow Covers. 16″ Square – $12.99 each.

To making the most of your summer weekends, and not allowing yourself to turn Sunday into an extension of Monday.

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Serena and Lily . Cherry Sheet Set. $128. – $228.

 

 

 

Ode to Etsy: small business . big community

New businesses, ways of working, entirely new economies, and economic realities…are popping up at a pace that is frankly dizzying.  Sadly many companies, and ways of life are disappearing just as fast.  I’m telling you right now, if Dairy Queen disappears into that good night, there will be nothing good about it!

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Etsy . SouthernShades $70.

Etsy represents an old way of doing things, like back in the day when people attended craft fairs to get one-of-a-kind gifts, and pieces for their homes, with the new reality, people are so super busy that the thought of traveling to Brimfield for the Antique Flee Market seems as daunting as going to Fiji to meet the Dalai Lama…impossible. It’s the time not the dime that’s the problem.  And this my friends lends itself nicely to the reality that our intense need for speciality items hasn’t diminished one iota, even if the way in which we go about getting these things has.

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Etsy . Mowdwrk . $295.42

More than a convenient place to shop, Etsy, which was launched in 2005, and is global by nature of it’s this e-commerceness”e”, is a community.  It feels a little like WeWork, and though store-owners don’t share the coffee or the medical plan, they are benefitting from a peer-to-peer network, and the collective power of hanging your shingle along side other photographers, pillow makers, jewelry designers, and a shared belief artisnal over mass produced.  Maybe I can’t get to Brimfield, or Fiji in the next few years, but bet I bet I can get something something unique from one, or both places, on Etsy.

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Etsy . Thetuftedfrog . $260.

Let’s talk price.  Some items are very expensive.  Predominantly one of a kind, and handmade, it should not be surprising, but more often than not I find them far more affordable than the larger stores in which I am inclined to shop.  This has led me to start proactively searching there site before I hit send to place my order.  I’ve simply got to stop spending so much money on furnishings.  Money that I will never get back.  A year ago, I would have told you that it absolutely wouldn’t be worth all the disruption, if I couldn’t design my properties just exactly as I wanted.  If you can’t read between my lines, I’ll spell it out here for you – expensive!  Now that I have been turned on to Etsy, I feel like I can have it all.  Want the new Schumacher fabric for your throw pillows –  one of the Etsy Store Owners likely has it.  I’ve even found things I didn’t know existed before.

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Etsy . LoveColoray . $320. removal wallpaper

Etsy’s opened a whole new world to me.  I could log some miles surfing those shops.  Back to the problem of time…Happy Sunday.

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Etsy . CanvasCarnival . Curtains . Price based on size.

Pillow Pile Up

Not everyone can be expected to buy a new house every time you want to change up your decor like I do.  I understand entirely.  Trust me when I tell you…you need not be jealous.  As I write this I sit in a state of what could only be referred to as … total disaster.  Stacks of broken down boxes block the front door.

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Erin Gates for Wayfair . Starburst $38.

I wish they were the only boxes lying in wait.  There are half opened boxes, their contents awaiting their final home on the wall or cabinet or wherever they are intended to go.  Sadly, some haven’t even been opened yet, so I’m not sure what’s in them.  I’ll find out, but it’s going to take more time than this weekend allots to me.

Pillows provide an answer for the sane home owner looking to breath a little fresh air into their design, without upending the living room, and blocking the television from the view of avid March Madness watchers.  Much safer, and in my opinion, more fun than preparing to paint.  I love the way a new coat of paint can transform a space, but it’s not as easy as some of the DIY shows, or sites claim.  A good paint job is 90% preparation, cleaning, and filling, and protecting, and taping.  You get the drill, when you actually arrive at the painting part most folks have had it, and rush through to completion, splattering paint on sills and radiators, and leaving unseemly drips on the wall.  That simply won’t do.

Erin Gates for Wayfair:  Left Greek Key – $48.  Right:  Palm Print Knife Edge $30.

Pillows are the answer.  Many designers create lines for the spring and fall.  Darker hues, seasonal references to nature, and heavier fabrics are common for winter.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a Santa or Snowman pillow in the mix, but as I have no children, you won’t find them in my house, no matter the season.  No judgement if you choose to accent a chair, sofa, or bed with one.  I think it’s important to celebrate the child in all of us.

Left:  Arianna Belle Blush Pink Velvet with light gold piping $142.  Left:  Etsy . Schumacher Lotus Garden Lilac $75.oo

The spring pillow punt got me kicking into gear to see what some of my favorite designers had been up to during the cold winter months.  Erin Gates has created a new line for Wayfair, that is worthy of a look, and in my case, action.  Her love of animal prints is expressed in a spring Zebra pattern.  She remains true to her traditional Greek Key standard with a lovely array of pastel, and kicky coral shades in two styles.  I think my favorite of the bunch is the Starburst.  It reminds me of a Dandelion gone to seed.  Whimsical and pretty.

Left:  Arianna Belle . Pale Pink Linen with Greek Key $178.  Right:  Etsy . Color Style . Kelley Wearstler . Bengal Bazzar $75.00

I love wild tropical flowers, and chinoiserie.  I like birds, and bold pops of color that draw the eye and surprise.  Not too many.  I like my home to be calming, but every room must have some element that is a bit unexpected.  Etsy is a great place to shop affordable pillows.  Arianna Belle at arriannabelle.com has a beautiful selection, some are a little on the pricey side but worth it in my opinion.

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Arianna Belle . Lotus Garden Parchment $104.

I’m ready to spring to action.  Are you?

Tap twice if it’s love…Instagram

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Blue Print Store . Dallas . TX – I would go every day if I could.

Back when I worked in the architecture firm I used to browse the aisles of the design library in awe of all the materials. Samples of wood, tile, plastic laminate – yes, and ugh, Forbo sport flooring, paint decks, you name it, it lined the shelves.  I loved it, and had no idea that it wasn’t sexy.  We designed public schools and libraries — the materials primary characteristics where durability and durability.  Still, I was inspired, and longed to be one of the lucky few that got to put together the design sample boards for Client approval.  It feels like a long time ago now.

Visiting The Design Center in Boston (now called the Innovation Center) was a rare, and intimidating adventure.  Back in the day, a non-designer like me, was not welcome.  They made it abundantly clear that they’d rather I leave.  My desire to see, touch, and be exposed to all those lovely textures, furnishings, materials and wall coverings, superseded my need to follow the rules, and I tamped down my fear of those foreboding dictatresses of design, in favor of five minutes inside the vault.  They exhibit a modicum of welcome nowadays.  Do go in.  It’s worth it.  Act like you own the place – pretend you’re French.  You’ll be fine.

Pink perfection….

In-between these rare visits  I scoured design magazine for inspiration.  This remains a favorite pastime, but with just 12 editions annually the mags can’t fulfill my rapacious desire for design.  Enter stage right….Instagram.  It’s like an old friend that one day you awake to realize is full blown love.  It delivers constant inspiration.  It connects me to people, and places I would never have known, or visited.  I see old things in a new light.  New businesses that harken back to a time when things weren’t mass produced.  I see just how I will design No. 5, and I owe it to InstaG.

As I scroll through the feed I feel almost as happy as if I’ve received a love note, aka a text, from a boy I really like.  That vulnerable spot between my belly, and my breast is aflutter with wonder.  Everything I have ever wanted, and some that I never knew I needed, is there.  The tech savvy of the grammers, use tags.  These tags tell you the designers or materials that are the point of focus in the photo.  Fear not, if the item you are interested in isn’t tagged (by the way, you won’t see these tags unless you tap the photo once), you can simply send a note through the comment section to get the product details.

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The community is so friendly, so willing to share.  So happy to promote others.  It’s lovely.  Today I will open the boxes that arrived this week (I have not intentionally been delaying the moment of gratification), and examine my new lucite and brass curtain rods, courtesy of LuxHoldups via Etsy.  These I found on Instagram through Collins Interiors, a sister design firm to Blue Print Store in Dallas Texas.  My favorite.  Lux is a Brooklyn based woman-owned company that does amazing things with lucite.  Do check it out, and if you don’t already have an Instagram account, what are you waiting for?

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It’s Clearly Love: Lux Lucite

It seems like plastic and luxury couldn’t possibly be synonymous, but I can assure you there is something so gorgeous about well done lucite.  I’ve written before about the “clear” advantages – pun intended, of using lucite in small apartment spaces.  It creates an expansiveness.  To be able to see through a chair or table to the other side of a room, which in reality is just a few short feet away, without question makes one’s nest feel a little grander.

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LuxHoldups . Etsy . Swoon Worthy

When well executed it looks like cut Crystal, which always makes me think of diamonds, and fresh cut roses, and tall, dark, and handsome men that adore me.  All very Hollywood 50’s glamour.  So with that stage set, it should come as no surprise that I have my heart set on lucite rods for my new bedroom.

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LuxHoldups . Etsy . Retail Display . I’m sold!

Lucite done elegantly, which means, not by the likes of me in some ill conceived DIY project, know it’s not cheap.  If any of you have those skills out there, please do reply to this post.  Have I got a project for you.  If not, I am treading in dangerously expensive waters, because it’s not just two rods that I want for my fantastically beautiful Galbraith & Paul . Lotus . Dove Grey fabric, but it’s the entire retail set-up, racks, and shelves, and rods, and the whole ridiculously glittery, tres, tres cher, mess for the interior of my very french, but entirely devoid of an interior, closet.

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LuxHoldups . Shelving.

This dusty gal is closet obsessed.  Not only do I love building them into the units I renovate, I consider it an investment.  I don’t want to just shove my Jimmy Choos into some dusty corner in the back of the closet.  How undignified.  They need their own special shelf.  I can just imagine how beloved they will feel on their own little lucite platform.  My friends are always inquiring about my belongings and where they all are?  In storage?  Tucked under the bed?  At a friends larger home?  No I reply, this is all of them.  I don’t own a lot, but I do own beautiful things.  It feels right that they should be displayed with ceremony.  Don’t you agree?

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LuxHoldups . Etsy . Door Pulls.