Are you uncomplicated, easy going, approachable, gracious, happy, fun loving, friendly, welcoming and bright? Then you might just be an easy breezy coastal kind of girl.
There's Not Just One Shade of Blue
Coastal houses - no matter where they are, are decorated with a reverence for the outdoors - Functional and un-breakable rule the day, multi purpose woods, wovens, glass, grass and shells lead the way to a mental and physical escape.
Easy Breezy Coastal is a State of Mind
When your very cherished living room, family room, great room or any term you use that refers to the space you live in is poorly accessorized, it is just like having a bad hair day. Think about it this way. You have bought the outfit, BTW, it is fabulous. You are fit and trim, in other words, feeling really good inside and out, especially about the way your clothes are fitting. Your makeup goes on smoothly and your shoes look great. The only thing that isn’t cooperating is your hair. So now all of that investment of time and money is out the window because the only thing you can focus on is that errant wave in your hair that will not cooperate with the ensemble.
Welcome to the poorly accessorized room. A room can be beautifully laid out. The sofa and chairs can be exquisite, the rug sumptuous, the tables and lamps a thing of beauty, but the room is lacking. Poor accessorizing can cover anything from over accessorizing, that is tons of things cluttering the table tops to something silly like pillows and/or throws on the sofa that are substandard (another word for cheap). Other serious room wreckers are poor quality art or bookcases that have been relegated as auxiliary attic space or pantry storage. Notice, I have not mentioned cheap flower arrangements, faux or real, the less attention paid to them, the better.
Does any of this sound familiar? Is there help for that otherwise lovely space? The answer is yes. Accessories, like your hair are the finishing touch to any room. They can and will make or break the space. Think about it this way, how do you wear your hair? Are you a fun messy bun person? Are you a tight dramatically drawn back straight ponytail person, you know, Kim Kardashian style? Do you prefer curly, flowing hair or is a clean-cut bob with a slight wedge more your style? There, now, you have all of the clues to a beautiful room.
Celebrate who you are, but do not overwhelm the space. Your room can take a fun photo of a recent trip or a party, just don’t turn your table top into a photograph album. Incidentally, this is not unlike the messy bun that has too many strands falling down, which, of course, takes this fun chic hair style to the lazy look of bed head. Throws and pillows are fabulous assets for any room, do not cut corners on their quality because if they are of poor quality, they can betray the beautiful space you are working so hard to create. Think of the discipline of the straight pony tail, if it is curly in anyway, the look is spoiled.
Remember the odds, numbers that is, threes and fives are nice numbers to use for collections.
Like the bob and straight ponytail, less is more and discipline is key.
Finally, what is happening with the artwork? We all celebrate our children’s creative journey, however, please remember master artists come around once in a generation and are rarely accepted while they are alive. That’s right, if you love your children’s art frame it and place it in an appropriate spot, their room or your kitchen, but not front and center, unless you want to reduce that beautiful living space to an elementary school bulletin board.
Accessorizing your space is vital to creating a room that celebrates who you are, just remember all celebrations can be ruined by overindulgence.
Join us this Saturday, March 16th at 11:30 am for our The Art of Accessorizing Design Chat.
How to Create the Atmosphere you Crave
- Rooms to really live in -
Creating the perfect room is often a daunting, hopeless task. Many people tend to jump right into picking out their favorite sofa instead of taking things slow. We are here to help you every step along the way in creating your perfect room.
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Uptown Traditionalists appreciate the details. Uptown rooms are approachable, eclectic and unexpected, liberated mixes of old and new. It respects the past but lives for today. Color me Uptown. One of the first loves of my life was the interior of my step great aunt's house near downtown Birmingham. It didn't matter that the city at that time had begun to crumble around her neighborhood, her house stood as a bastion to the entrepreneurs of the early twentieth century and it seems my step great-grandfather was really good at being an entrepreneur.
The house was built in 1908 and is still there. It is situated on a hill that looks out over the city. It is a huge tutor style edifice and to my childhood eyes seemed to ramble on forever. It caught my attention early that this house was different. Grandmother and Granddaddy lived in a beautiful house that had been built in the late thirties or early forties, but Aunt Frances' house was the rock star. There were two stairways, one in the front and one in the back. Lattice panels formed a wall around the back screened in porch. The lattice was painted a dark brown and to this day I am crazy about garden fences painted black, dark green or black-brown, they are so powerful and dramatic against the lush greens of mother nature.
The entrance was dark and enormous, my first apartment would have fit inside the space with room for parking. It should have been scary because of the heavily stained wood paneling on the walls and dark hardwood floors (precisely the Edwardian look that Elsie de Wolfe triumphantly liberated from American interiors) but somehow this foyer was welcoming. Aunt Frances' house exuded charm, sophistication and a connection with an era gone by. There was a stained-glass window in the landing of the formidable stairway marking the back of the entrance hall. It always had sunlight filtering through it, creating jeweled spots of light on the dark hardwood floor. We, the children, loved that spot under the steps. Aunt Frances had coloring books and crayons there for us. When we got tired of coloring, we could go into the kitchen which was through the massive dining room complete with fireplace and beyond the butler's pantry. The huge kitchen had white cabinets with glass fronts, a black and white highly waxed linoleum floor, and a table and chairs. Janie was there too. She had real cokes for us in small green bottles. We would sit at the table, she would always stand by the sink. She wanted to know what we were doing, how was school and were we being good girls, sweet to our mother and all. We assured we were.
The house ignited my love affair with oriental rugs, chintz, floor lamps with fringed silk shades and beautiful beau front chests. It always opened its arms and said, come in and let's look at yesterday and plan for tomorrow. It said there is something you can take with you that will make your future a little brighter and a little more secure. That is what uptown traditional is all about, a gracious and timeless elegance that endures. It will stand the test of time.
Family fun room, most of the time at my house, that would be an oxymoron. More often than not our family fun room was the epicenter room. The room where my children and I would rumble. Our rumbles could include school work, done or not done, car use, grounded or not grounded and outfits, appropriate or inappropriate. This does not even touch the very sensitive topic of who they were allowed to hang out with and why or why not.
The list goes on and on and any parent can fill in the rumble topic blanks any day of the week. The point is at least we can have a room that looks like a space where a family can build fond memories of movie nights and game days.
So, what constitutes a fabulous family fun room aside from the family? To begin with, the room like your family doesn’t have to be perfect, but like your children it can be perfectly beautiful. It can be a mix of old and new just like the family. Moms and dads are the old, (some older than others). Consider the children the new, this includes pets.
Like your children the room can be spontaneous and colorful. Think of the spontaneity of children, I really do believe this is what keeps them safe. How can you stay angry with a little boy who artfully hides his homework, so it can’t be checked, then uses those same crafty little arms to hug you around neck and tell you are the best and prettiest mom in the whole world?
Your family fun room should do that, too. This is especially important on those days when that same precious little boy, a few years later, tells you about the slight fender bender he just had, which of course was someone else’s fault. And how unfair the policeman was, just because the other party happened to be an adult.
During these testing times the family fun room needs to step up and love and hug on you. It must have plenty of pillows and throws so you can swaddle yourself while you think about how you are going to keep his grandmother from finding out about his court date.
Above all, like your family the family fun room needs to evolve and grow. It needs to take on the personality of the family. Are you a demonstrative group or a more sedate crowd? Or are you like most of us a family made up of both?
The room needs to be able to bear the scars of living. Tables could have a distressed top so that the extra ding or water ring only adds to the character. The lamps should be tall, ample and made of something other than glass because they could hit the floor. Have plenty of pillows and scrumptious rugs around, because three teenagers could show up at curfew to spend the night and now the ffr must serve as a dormitory. Word is their moms know where they are.
The list could go on, the point is one day one of your children or one of their friends who crashed at the house (a lot) will say to you, “I have always loved this room”.
Congratulations on a job well done!
Growing up, going to the beach meant to cook for weeks, pack the car with bathing suits, ice chests, beach towels, suntan lotion and plenty of baby oil to ensure your skin got just that perfect deep tan. It was sand, heat, salt, heat, first cigarettes, heat. It was hot. If you weren't lucky enough to get a bedroom with a window unit, you were on the sleeping porch. The great thing about the sleeping porch, if you could overlook the heat, was the waves. You could hear them all night hitting the beach. The morning had a beautiful gray light, which if you were like me simply meant roll over you have sometime before you need to get up and go to the beach to bake in the heat. Everything at the beach faded. Bathing suits went from bright red and blues to soft pink and light blue. Beach towels seemed to always develop bleach spots from being thrown in the wash with all of the linens. Bikinis and cutoffs with foster grant glasses or glasses with polarized lenses if you had a mother who would splurge, were the wardrobe. Only old ladies wore hats, and they were straw numbers that had come from somewhere like Nassau.
What would happen at the beach was magical if you were one of the lucky ones. Everyone ate at one time, because, the day centered around lunch and dinner. Everyone had a task, set the table, clear the table, wash the dishes (by hand). Cooking was not hard because most of it had been done from home and brought in the ice chests.
The daily schedule was pretty simple. Get up, make your bed, sweep the sand out. Have breakfast, go out on the porch and find a dry bathing suit, shake the sand out. Get dressed go to the beach until lunch. At noonish, go up to the house and help with lunch. Set out hot dogs, hamburgers, or cold cuts, and chips, you will notice there is not a salad in sight. The lettuce was generally reserved for spaghetti night, a salad with iceberg lettuce, homegrown tomatoes, and Kraft Italian homemade dressing. The afternoon schedule, after naps, repeated the morning routine, only difference, this time you helped with dinner, a heavier meal, remember the reference to the spaghetti?
By day three all sense of time had melted away. We swam, played cards, read books walked on the beach and dreamed. Then it was over and time to take that perfect tan home to show off to your friends who had not been at the beach.
The beach experience has changed. It isn't all bad. Central air conditioning and dishwashers have certainly earned their right to stay, I am not a purist or a masochist. As a designer, when I hear someone ask for a beach look, but not palm trees and pelicans. I know what to do. Create a space where melts time away. A space that is relaxed, collected, gracious, and above all restorative. A room where you can dream.
La-Z-Boy and the house that love built. Ronald McDonald’s Liz Calaici and La-Z-Boy’s Daria Degolian, Spanish Fort lead designer, tour the new RMH guestroom. Please support RMH as it strives to provide a home away from home for families with seriously ill or injured children.
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Top Ten Rules for a Beautiful Room-
# 10 Rule: Use all of the room. Your room was made to accommodate you. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Your rooms are there to serve you for your pleasure.
# 9 Rule: Adding to #10 Rule, use all of the room, use all of the room in a color that sends you over the moon. Be careful and consider the color, you will be in this room for quite a while. FYI, living and dining rooms are updated every five to seven years, bedrooms a little more often. But even six weeks in a poorly painted space could make you very sad.
# 8 Rule: Do not be afraid of white space. (This is a term borrowed from printers) white space is often referred to as negative space. It is the space that allows you to see everything else in the room. In other words, don't give in to clutter, she is a buzz killer.
# 7 Rule: Go in feet first; be mindful of the floor. What is on your floor? Do you have a wonderful surface like beautiful hardwood polished to a high sheen? Do you have fabulous porcelain tile? Or, do you have a plain simple carpet that is so bashful it is hardly noticed? Consider the virtue of a rug, 8 x 10, more or less depending on the space. She can bring such joy. She can amplify the patterns in the room, bring fun, sophistication, and glamour or just quiet the space down. She has the ability to make or break a room, be careful not to overlook her.
# 6 Rule: Now, where are you going to sit? Can everyone see the tv? Can everyone see each other? Stadium/theater seating is good for theaters and stadiums, not for living spaces. Is there a lonely chair isolated in the corner? Get it away from there. Inevitably, you will have a gathering and the most socially awkward person will find a way to sit in that lonely corner all night long. What kind of party host are you to let that happen?
# 5 Rule: Do you have a place for your phone, drink, book, and glasses? Tables matter. Choose yours with care. The thing about tables, unless you dance on them, they are with you for quite some time, have fun with them. They come in so many styles and so many materials that it is hard to make a mistake. The largest mistake you can make is to not have one of these hard workers placed strategically in your room so that you don't have to use your lap as a table top. The second mistake is having a table too short or too tall, who wants to reach up or down when you aren't at exercise or dancing?
# 4 Rule: Light it up. Three action words lamps, lamps, lamps, nothing is more insidious than an obnoxious overhead light. Besides the fact that these ornery spots in the center of the ceiling can make you look old and color your skin gray, if they are too bright you will become fatigued. Don't forget your windows. Dress them for success. Hardware store shades and blinds are great for emergency privacy, dorm spaces and bachelor pads, real rooms need real window treatments.
# 3 Rule: Artwork, refer to #10, use all of the room. The average height of sofas and chairs is 40 inches. That means there is a lot of room at the top. The artwork is the breath of life for your space. It is also one of the only components that can be completely independent of everything else in the room. Art is your voice, use it.
# 2 Rule: Accessories, now this can be tricky. Only use those things that you love that are appropriate to the space. Remember rule #8, it also applies here. Never underestimate how sneaky Miss Clutter is. She will take over a tabletop or corner the minute your head is turned.
# 1 Rule: Go back to #10 Rule and live, live, live graciously in your beautiful space.
MID CENTURY MODERN
Have you ever not loved something, had to work with it and found yourself embracing the very thing you once hated? I have. For me, it was midcentury modern. Everything about the look and style seemed austere and standoffish. Even the art for this genre was geometric and muted. How was that supposed to be inspiring?
I never appreciated it until it became necessary to embrace it. Midcentury modern, or MCM, always seemed austere, bland and way too aggressive. Then I met the French version whose name is Moderne and voila, it was love. I mean L O V E. I found something that I could embrace.
Did you ever meet someone who on the first impression seemed beyond cool? The person whose intimidating presence first invited a denouncement on your part, mainly because the look was so cool you didn’t really understand it? You know the person who made the cool people you knew look Provencal? Then somehow you got to know that person, became familiar with the style and maybe even tried it out to see if it would work for you?
As you warmed up to that very fashionable look and attitude, did the style gain your admiration, and suddenly, the old you became tragically obsolete?
Well, MCM has those elements. For a 150-year-old movement, it certainly is enduring. The look seems to re-emerge when the climate gets tough. It made its first appearance with the industrial age and the robber barons. It reappeared after the first world war, the one that was supposed to end all wars. It receded during World War II, but so did a lot of things during that terrible time. Then, right after the war, it came back, right along with the station wagon and baby boomers. Now the Xers and Millennials have claimed it.
For me, French Moderne is queen, for you, it may be a more relaxed, existential approach with clearly defined geometrics and saturated color. One thing is certain, you do not have to have a turquoise or harvest gold kitchen to call your home MCM. It is a straightforward and uncomplicated look. MCM is playful, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and isn’t that a relief?
Check out the recording from June's Keep It Simple, Summer Design Chat Sneak Peek livestream!