Friday, December 2, 2011

Design Blog Spotlight: Under Spanish Moss

In researching trumeaus for a client with an especially large over-mantle area in her living room, I came across some stunning design blogs with luscious images.  One of them is Under Spanish Moss.

She has a whole post about trumeaus, which are traditionally rectangular painted wood-framed mirrors with a larger panel above the mirror featuring a carved or painted motif of some sort.  The carving could be floral, musical, or even food-related.  As the original style was popular several hundred years ago (in the Regency period, roughly the first quarter of the 19th C.), antique and reproduction versions often feature peeling or distressed paint.

Here are a few of the photos she featured.

Source: Veranda via Under Spanish Moss

Source: Veranda via Under Spanish Moss

Source: Veranda via Under Spanish Moss

I also found some other posts with copious images of trumeaus, like this one.  Here are a couple of their images.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wow, Sweet Locker!

A distinctive look that can be yours from
I really enjoyed this article in the New York Times about tween locker decor.  This category did not even come close to existing when I was in high school, let alone middle school.  In my day, we had magnetic mirrors (which wouldn't have stuck anyway to the quaint wooden lockers my middle school still used), and I suppose you could have gotten creative with contact paper.  It would have taken a lot of work to add the type of pizazz in the image above.  

I'm also not sure it would have seemed very cool to shellac your locker with cutesy designs your mom bought for you.  It's hard to believe it does now, but evidently I'm not the master of tween psychology - these entrepreneurs who've cashed in on it are.

Now there are chandeliers, wallpaper, and other cutesy decorations from multiple outlets (like this one) just waiting to let tweens personalize their domain - as long as you're content to choose from a palette of pink or purple birds, flowers, or other tween cliches (at least that's how the accompanying images in the article seem to make it look.)

I do have to say that a functional light could certainly be useful in a dark, skinny locker.  That's the one thing I do wish we had had.  I'm going to bet that these take off, especially now that LEDs are getting more ubiquitous.

It's definitely worth a look for a quick giggle - and a "thank god I'm out of middle school" prayer.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Even More Cool Wall Designs: Toto, we're not talking "country kitchen" anymore.

"Lisboa" Stencil - OMG, Love!!!!

I have to thank my client for turning me on to Cutting Edge Stencils, a shop with awesome wall stenciling options at Etsy.  We had been searching high and low for a wallpaper to substitute for an unavailable original selection and just kept hitting a brick wall when it came to matching the overall colors and feel of the original.

Next thing I knew, she forwarded me this link and I was thrilled - what a perfect solution.  The area to be papered was actually quite small, not even a whole wall, so the stenciling idea wasn't too overwhelming and it seems like stencils have come a long way in terms of ease of application and variety of designs.  Toto, we're not talking "country kitchen" anymore.

Here are some of my favorites from various vendors at Etsy, but feel free to wander around and discover your own!

Warming up... pleasant geometrics...
"Shipibo" Stencil

"Eastern Lattice" Stencil

"Kagami" Stencil
Always love anything resembling caning...

"Camel Bone" Stencil

And love Moroccan influence...
"Large Moroccan Key" Stencil
Or you could go whimsical...  If you know me, you know I'd love the next one.  Perfect for the allergic cat lover!
"Cats" Stencil

Monday, August 22, 2011

Scrapwood Wallpaper - Does It Get Cooler Than This?

I just got an email with the coolest product I've seen in a while - wallpaper made to look like scrap wood.  It is actually printed heavy duty paper, which was clarified to me by a site selling the product after I was fooled by the images into thinking it was actually thinly veneered because of the life-like appearance of the wood pieces.  The designer is Piet Hein Eek out of Holland (where it's manufactured.)  The product won the ICFF Editors' Award this year.

It would be great in all kinds of rooms - entry, powder room, kitchen, bedroom - basically anywhere you want to bring a touch of organic, historical warmth.  It's nice to get some muted color and illusion of texture into a room without requiring any special trades or DIY knowledge.

The papers can be purchased here at 2Modern.

Monday, August 1, 2011

More Cool Wall Designs

Somehow my last post about wall designs became my most-visited page ever, which inspired me to research more cool wall decals.  This post will focus on some bedroom options I've discovered.

Blik has a fabulous selection including an assortment of pretty cool headboard-specific decals.  This is probably the most cost-effective way to get a custom headboard that adds a lot of character to a bedroom.  They're especially smart for small bedrooms where even a few extra inches of depth takes away from the area around the bed.  These add flair without taking up valuable space (or money!)

This Gothic one is my favorite, although it's quite dramatic.  But come on, live a little.  I think doing it in two dimensions makes it much less intimidating:
Blik Mid-Century Gothic Headboard
These two are simple and classic:

Blik Nessa Headboard

Blik Wrought Iron Headboard
If you're in the strange predicament of having too much wall space and not enough furniture, why not try creating a sense of fullness by using these silhouettes of shapely antique furniture?  I can't see putting much besides a glass console in front of these images.  But in a wide open space, I love this playful look.

Blik Classical Must-Haves
Finally, I love this captivating city pattern for a kid's room.  I've tried to research the designer, Boodalee, but keep hitting dead ends.  Still, the cached images a simple google search turns up are super-fun.  Here's hoping we see more from Boodalee in the future!

Blik Boodalee City
Have any of you successfully used wall decals yet?  How did it go?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Europeans Can Really Do a Library.

I frequently get emails from this online art source, Zatista, and I'm always impressed by the diversity of their offerings.

Today the email featured, among other pieces, this striking image of a rococo library.  I had to find out more.

Bibliotecha di Admont, by Massimo Listri, photograph, 40"H x 48"W
Thinking it must be Italian, I googled "Bibliotecha di Admont" and came up with the Itialian wikipedia page describing the history of this stunning library (and providing the images below.)  It is actually located in Austria in a Benedictine abbey.  (Evidently, I was misled by the Italian name of the photographer.)  Located at the foot of the mountains in Gesause National Park, the name derives from the latin "ad montes", or "at the mountains." 

Admont Abbey Exterior Building Shot
The library was completed in 1776, while the abbey itself was founded in 1074. Despite a massive fire which damaged most of the Abbey in 1865, the library remained untouched.  It was somewhat neglected and fell into disrepair during WWII with a Nazi occupation of the monastery, but underwent a huge EU-funded restoration recently that restored it to its former glory.  It now holds approximately 180,000 works including 1400 manuscripts and 530 incunabula.

The library's ceiling is comprised of seven domes with trompe l'oeil frescoes by Bartolomeo Altomonte depicting allegorical representations of art and science.

Low-res shot of library from the official site
Here is a less atmospheric daytime view of the library.  You can see a little more detail, but it doesn't grab me the way the more darker, more moody photo did.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Successful Sheffield Garden Walk 2011

Our garden is so tucked away we had to add an extra sign because people always miss it otherwise!
Thanks to everyone who came through our patio on the Sheffield Garden Walk.  We enjoyed meeting what felt like hundreds of visitors over the past two days from all over the country and beyond.  Many people complimented us on the serene, oasis-like environment we've created in a quite small space.  Some visitors even said it was their favorite garden they saw!

A closeup of our water feature
Our corner water feature/fountain garnered a lot of attention.  Many visitors took photos of our little stone fountain.  While we can't claim credit for creating it, we enjoy the sound of the trickling brook and wish we could thank the prior owners for installing it.  The upkeep is very minimal, merely requiring emptying the hose and storing the pump for winter.  I think one reason people react to it so much is that it they think it is simple enough to accomplish themselves in their own backyard.

I posted a while ago about the furnishings we selected including an all-weather sofa and chair, two ceramic garden stools, and a dining table and four chairs.  I'm glad to say they've all been holding up very well even though we keep them outdoors all winter (covered up.)

If you want help making the most of your small (or large!) garden or patio, contact me at!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Make Your Boring Carpet Awesome!

I found the coolest place today.  I don't know why nobody thought of doing this before, unless it's just that nobody could come up with the correct formulation.  It's called Vecco, and it will revolutionize boring wall-to-wall carpet!  The company/product is owned by SC Johnson, and their first store/studio is right here in Chicago at 912 W. Armitage.

Here's a video view of the studio:

Basically, Vecco offers a DIY template system for spraying designs, ranging from whimsical to more mundane, onto your carpet in a huge range of colors and styles.  And since you're doing it yourself, you choose the arrangement/placement of the designs and you pick the colors.  There were tons of inspirational samples in the store and they even have a teaching area where they'll offer classes for kids and grownups to learn how it works and get the creative juices flowing.

The best parts: it's and economical way to add a lot of unique character to your boring carpet, and you can easily correct mistakes prior to spraying the sealant just by using a paper towel and/or vacuum.  The more colors and templates you use, the higher the cost.  But you can definitely keep it simple and still create a real wow factor.  Look at the round rug with the "pie pieces" on the left below - it was only done with masking tape.  It uses a lot of colors, but no templates.

The texture of the stained areas starts off a little crunchy immediately after it's applied, but after repeated vacuuming, it gets virtually undetectable.

Here are some samples hanging in the studio:

Here are some small rugs that a group of kids (right) and parents (left) made in the studio (this should be rotated 90 degrees cc but for whatever reason it refused to upload that way.):

Here is a piece that was in progress using the "gingko" template:

They sent me home with a sample kit and a couple templates.  I can't wait to see what I end up creating!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Transformers: The Beds, not the Toys

Clei is an Italian company specializing in ultra-hip convertible beds that put most people's concept of a Murphy bed or sleeper sofa to shame.  I discovered the line while browsing in Jesse Chicago, a downtown furniture store with their own line of media and storage furniture/cabinetry that is equally cool.  But the special section devoted to the Clei line, which I visited as an afterthought as I was about to leave the store, really blew me away.

And the salesperson explained that the Italian designs are actually sturdy enough to be used every day - like, if the piece functions as your child's desk or your home office, you could also use it as your child's or your primary bed and switch it back and forth every day without wearing it out.  Not sure why, but it's hard to imagine an American company coming up with something that works this well.

Here's a contemporary-style sofa setup that converts to a full or queen bed (can't tell for sure), without having to clear off shelves...

Clei "Atoll" Sofa/Bed

Look - it even has storage for bed linens, throw pillows, etc.

Here's a cool desk setup that transforms into a bed without even needing to clear off the desk.

Clei "Cabrio" Desk/Bed

This is a view of a room with the Cabrio bed/desk as well as another simpler Murphy-bed-style piece - imagine how much floor space this room would have with both beds folded up!

Now check this out - a cool, contemporary sofa that actually transforms into a BUNKBED!  The company writes, "DOC is a comfortable sofa with fully removable covering that with a simple movement and no strain becomes a practical bunk bed, provided with a safe ladder integrated in the structure which is both a support and a protective barrier."
Clei "Doc" Sofa

If you're interested in any of these pieces, or anything else from their line for that matter, email me!