Thursday, February 28, 2013

Evolving Style: Lacquer vs. Patina

One of my favorite furniture looks is classic furniture painted in bright, high gloss colors. The pieces provide such graphic pops of color to a room and provide a modern, youthful perspective on classic styles.

Via Natty By Design

While I still love the lacquered look, I'm really starting to appreciate pieces that use a layer of glaze or a little distressing over deep color--or those that have a natural patina from years of wear. These pieces still look modern, but have layers of texture that add subtle depth to the space. They also provide gorgeous color in a space without drawing the same amount of focus that bright, shiny lacquered pieces do.

Via the Hunted Interior (Thanks Robin for the source link!)
Via Liz Marie Blog
Via Style at Home
Via Natty by Design
I've also realized that the combination of bright colors and a lacquered finish cause a piece to be very advancing, and very easily become the focal point of a room. Too much of that in one space can make the room feel overwhelming, and your eye won't know where to go. So even though I still love those bright, shiny pieces, I think most of the pieces I use in a room will have a little more depth to their finish. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pinterest Challenge: Brass Etagere

For those of you who are big Young House Love fans like I am, you are probably familiar with their Pinterest Challenge series. I have wanted to link up a project for so long, but never got around to it in the previous editions. I'm proud to say I actually completed a project, photographed it, and wrote a post in time for this season's challenge!

I've been crushing on brass furniture lately, which I mentioned when I was swooning over coffee tables. I've also been seeing some great hacks of the Ikea Vittsjo pop up all over Pinterest. Our living room is fairly long, so it lends itself to having two distinct seating areas. On the left, I decided we needed something with more height, and I also wanted a place to display accessories and make our house feel a little more lived in.

One day when I wasn't working, I went out to Ikea. I never go to Ikea on a Saturday if I can avoid it, so it was nice to head over there on a weekday morning. After spending some time wandering through the showroom, I went downstairs and grabbed my Vittsjo. Only I didn't think about how huge it was....60 lbs and a little over 7 feet. Although I was encouraged to ask for help per the sign by the box, I  stubbornly wrestled the box onto my car myself and made my way to the checkout.

Sorry about the crummy iPhone pic!
Then I had to get it into the car by myself...good thing I have Fiona, because this thing was huge. I could see people around me looking skeptical, but I was able to fit the whole shelving unit in the car by folding the front seat down. Honda should seriously be paying me for the number of times I show people how much cargo room the Fit really has.

Anyway, I managed to get my new Vittsjo home and in the house by myself (woooo girl power). Then I went to work trying to figure out what color gold spray paint I should use on the piece. Some people spray painted theirs, some people used Rub 'n Buff, and some people gold leafed their's. I went the spray paint route for time's sake. I originally intended to buy Krylon's Gold Leaf based on Kate's recommendation on Centsational Girl, but they were out, so I ended up buying another Krylon color instead.

First I put together the frame, and then took it down to our backyard and spray painted it. It took a few coats, and I had to do some touch up after I brought it back inside and realized that I had missed a couple places. I let it dry for a few days and then brought it upstairs and added the glass shelving, and added accessories...which continue to change on a regular basis.

I'll be honest, I'm not in love with the color. I think that I will go over it with Rub'n Buff when school slows down a bit. But for now, I'm still really liking the look in our living room.

Oh, and if you're interested in the sources for the objects on the bookshelf, here's a rundown of what they are:
Did any of you participate in Young House Love's Pinterest Challenge? Make sure you check out the projects of the other hosts: Katie from Bower Power, Megan from the Remodeled Life, and Michelle from Decor and the Dog.

Also linked to: Miss Mustard Seed

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Favorite Home and Design Magazines

In total, I am the proud owner of 8 magazine subscriptions. I know it's a lot. But I love pouring over shelter magazines, seeing the beautiful glossy photos of interiors, and keeping my finger on the pulse of design. When I was a teenager, I would request bundles of shelter magazines for Christmas. I also have a tendency to pick up magazines in line at the grocery store or drug store, so if there are any magazines that I anticipate buying 3 or more times a year in that situation, most of the time it's worth just subscribing to them. Here's a rundown of what gets delivered to my mailbox monthly and bimonthly.

House Beautiful
House Beautiful is one of the magazine subscriptions I've had longest, and it's still one of my favorites. The interiors are definitely my style. The use of color is fresh and modern, but the aesthetic is still very classic. They just look like rooms that I want to live in. It's fun and I'm always happy after I look at it. You can get 10 issues over 12 months for $15.99. 
In previous years when I picked up Elle Decor in line at the grocery store, I was never all that impressed. I think at the time I was more into DIY projects and accessible decor tips, and Elle Decor seemed a little intimidating. For some reason, I've really started to enjoy it. It's definitely not the type of magazine that has DIY projects, and it also doesn't have a ton of design tips or affordable furnishings, but I really like the eclectic and glam interiors they feature in this magazine. The rooms are great, and provide a slightly more contemporary, urban perspective than House Beautiful. Another great thing about Elle Decor is the price -- $10 gets you 10 issues over 12 months.

I had always thought of Veranda as kind of an obscure magazine, but when my color theory professor kept showing us interiors from this publication, I realized it was totally worth a subscription. It's a great resource for finding calm, sophisticated, monotone interiors. It's a little bit pricier than Elle Decor and House Beautiful in terms of what you get for your money, but still a good buy. $15.99 buys you 6 issues over 12 months.

I bought Dwell with a deal from Daily Candy for $12 in January. I am the first to admit that Dwell is not my style. I appreciate modern decor, but it's just not in my wheelhouse, and it's definitely not what I prefer in my own home. It's also tough for me to flip through one without thinking about the hilarious blog, Unhappy Hipsters, which pokes fun at Dwell ("It's lonely in the modern world"). Still, I think it's important that as a designer, I vary my influences across styles. And it's always good to have some modern decor images for projects. $19.95 gets you 10 issues over 12 months (unless you have a discount code like me!).

Martha Stewart Living
My Grandma buys me Martha every year for Christmas. It's not always home-focused, but I enjoy it. She was so influential in DIY culture and I her influenced has endured for so long. Also, the photography is always beautiful. Just the flower arrangements provide nice inspiration for rooms. Martha's magazine is one of the most expensive, but it's also one of the few that delivers a magazine to your door all 12 months. For $28.00, you get 12 issues over 12 months.

I wish I could remember what the deal was that got me a year's subscription to Real Simple for $2. Quite honestly, this is the magazine that I am probably least in love with. It's great, but it's just a little lower on my list of reading priorities. Still, I'm happy with the purchase. Real Simple was the magazine that I most often bought at cover price over the last year, so getting it at my door will be a cost savings for me in 2013. Real Simple is comparable in price to Martha Stewart Living, and also delivers an issue every month. $23.88 buys your 12 issues over 12 months.

Interior Design
Interior Design is a trade magazine. One of my professors recommended we subscribe, and I was able to get a discount through my student membership with the American Society of Interior Designers. It has much more commercial design features than most other magazines, and it's definitely a "to the trade" magazine. It doesn't get me as excited as House Beautiful, but like Dwell, it's a good influence for my work. This magazine is pricey if you don't have a membership discount. 12 issues over 12 months will run you nearly $60.

Home & Design
Home & Design is my latest subscription purchase. It's a publication that is dedicated exclusively to residential design in the DC-Maryland-Virginia region. I'm looking forward to this subscription because  think it will help me get to know the landscape of interior designers and trends in the DC area. As a designer, blogger, and sometimes retailer, I know it's really important to network, and I think this magazine will help me get to know the names and faces of people who are influencing design in my area. $19.95 gets you 6 issues over 12 months. 

Wish List

I've contemplated buying Traditional Home for the same reasons I get House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and Veranda. Don't let the title fool you. Even though they feature traditional styles, their rooms are far from stodgy or outdated. Don't think traditional, think classic. My mom actually gets this magazine so I check it out when I'm over at their house, and I know that I just don't need another magazine that is similar to three other magazine I receive. Traditional Home is on the more expensive side. $24.99 gets your 8 issues over 12 months. 
Architectural Digest is one of the publications that, like Martha Stewart Living, has long been an influential publication in the shelter arena. It's a little more text heavy than other publications, but has great content. I just can't commit to another magazine right now. $24.00 buys 12 issues over 12 months. 

I'm well aware that receiving 3-8 print magazines monthly is less than earth-friendly. Maybe someday I will splurge on an iPad or Kindle Fire, but for now, I like being able to use the images on design physical design boards and when we're pinning up inspiration in classes. I keep a lot of my shelter magazines for reference, but others like Martha Stewart Living and Real Simple I just can't keep around forever. Rather than throwing them out (in the recycling bin, of course), I take my old magazines that I don't want anymore and list them on Craigslist for free. I'm generally able to get rid of them within a day or two, and the people who get them always seem really excited. For privacy's sake I try to remove the label. The people who pick up the magazines may know my name and address, but I just don't need my name and address floating around to wherever they end up next. So that's my way of trying to re-use them and give them some extra life. 

I'm also aware that keeping track of 8 magazine subscriptions can be challenging. Which is why I was pretty pumped when I recently discovered that I can manage all my magazine subscriptions through's Magazine Subscription Manager. The subscription manager even allows you to add your existing subscriptions that you've ordered through other sources. You can access the magazine manager in the orders section of your account page. 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate marketing links, which means I get paid commission on sales of those products I write about. My editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. I simply wanted to share some of my favorite sources for home inspiration with you guys. And my discovery of the Magazine Subscription Manager was something I was really excited to share with you!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Room Inspiration: Things We Love

Kate Spade's new book, Things We Love, is at the top of my wish list. And I have to be honest, I'm totally judging a book by its cover in this case. I LOVE this cover. The colors are amazing. So amazing that I decided to create a mood board inspired by the cover art.
Midtown Taxi Throw Pillow | Empire State Building Pillow Cover | Green Ruffle Pillow | Pink Lawrence Throw | Roy Lichtenstein Kiss II Print | Ektorp Sofa |  Perch Yellow Table Lamp | Gold Pig Bookends | Ceramic Telephone Smartphone Dock | Beagle Ceramic Decorative Plate | Small Ceramic Lattice Canister | Fuchsia Nina Chair | Between a Rock Gold Lamp Base | Vintage Globe | Brass Urchin | Smart Round Marble Top Coffee Table | Stockholm Rand Rug | Background Color: Benjamin Moore Jamaican Aqua
As you can see, the primary inspiration for this space is the book cover's color palette. I used a vibrant Jamaican Aqua by Benjamin Moore for the walls, and incorporated black and white, yellow, pink, red, green, and gold throughout the space. The black and white striped Ikea Stockholm Rand rug pulls the black and white stripes off the couch in the cover and places them on the floor, while the Smart Round Marble Top coffee table from CB2 breaks up the stripes and subtly varies the texture in the space.

The Midtown Taxi throw pillow from Land of Nod and the Empire State Building pillow (which I own) from NestaHome via Etsy celebrate kate spade's frequent homage to New York City. The Green Ruffle pillow adds some femininity to the otherwise graphic collection of pillows, and the pink Lawrence throw from Zara Home helps incorporate some pink into the sofa area. The Ikea Ektorp sofa is the item least inspired by the kate spade image, but I decided to pick a comfortable, practical piece that would blend easily in this room rather than something too sculptural and uncomfortable (after all, I want you to be able to recreate this in your own home if you want!). To compensate for the less structured sofa, I incorporated a fuchsia tufted Nina Chair from Cost Plus World Market. It adds the feminine sculptural qualities of the couch in the cover photo, while staying fresh and modern in a bright color.

Both lamps are quite sculptural--the yellow Perch Table Lamp is from West Elm and the gold Between a Rock Lamp is Land of Nod. Technically Land of Nod is Crate and Barrel's store geared towards children's furnishings, but as you can tell from this room, it has awesome accessories that are totally adult-worthy.

The Kiss II print by Roy Lichtenstein from celebrates kate spade's pop-art inspired items (like this iPhone cover and this tote bag). The Vintage Globe is from Haven Vintage via Etsy, and there are many others like it on Etsy. The Brass Urchin piece is part of the Nate Berkus collection for Target, which appears to be on the out, so pick one up while you still can!

In addition to the globe, the Jonathan Adler Ceramic Smartphone Dock takes a more literal inspiration from the cover, albeit updated for modern technology. Honestly, I would be totally happy just letting that sit on a bookshelf sans smartphone. The black and white Ceramic Lattice Canister is another affordable accessory from Target's Modern Cottage Collection, and links the black and white in the rug to another spot in the space. The Ceramic Beagle decorative plate is my favorite of the C.Wonder decorative animal plates (you should seriously check out the rest of them) and helps bring in a little more red to the space. The Gold Pig Bookends from CB2 add a sense of playfulness and whimsy that kate spade's collections are known for.

Have you had a chance to pick up Things We Love? Is it worth the price? I am trying quite hard to get through some of my other design books that I got for Christmas before I pick this one up, but the temptation is wearing on me!

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate marketing links, which means I get paid commission on sales or click-throughs of those products I write about. My editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. I use a 3rd party to develop these partnerships.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Words of Wisdom from Claire: Valentine's Day

Earlier this week, I mentioned my little brother to you guys. Today, the focus is on my sister. 

My sister Claire is 22 and she lives in Brooklyn. She is an aspiring actress (not a fake one, like with a real degree in it and stuff). 

Our love lives have followed different paths. I've always been the one in a relationship and she flies solo. I think this has mostly played in her favor: she gets to watch my train wrecks/ridiculous decisions while she lives it up on her own. Not that she's opposed to relationships. I mean obviously drinking is a lot more expensive when you're single. Also she lives in New York where there just happens to be a straight man shortage. DC has a great gay crowd, but I've never been on a date where the guy admits he "might be bi". Womp womp. 

Today I thought I'd share some words of wisdom from Claire. This idea came about when we were chatting this morning after she said something funny. 

Me: I should have a "Words of Wisdom from Claire" column on my blog. 
Claire: I do have a lot of wisdom. 

So without further ado, here are some words of wisdom from Claire on Valentine's day.

"It would've been cooler if that had been the reason we took that picture but really my friends were just making me pose with all the animals on the course."

On being single on Valentine's Day

"I don't understand people freaking out about being single on Valentine's Day. Did you go the other 364 days not realizing you were single?"
"And really, it just means that chocolate will be on sale tomorrow."
"I don't dislike Valentine's Day because I'm single, I dislike it because everyone on Facebook is annoying."
"I'm a little disappointed my okcupid account hasn't seen more activity today."
She also gave some words of wisdom via her Facebook status:
"If you're sad about being single on Valentine's day then cheer up! you're in luck! 14 Best Valentine's Day Craigslist Ads"

On Valentine's Day activities

"I should've bought some awesome chocolate. Like salted caramel whatever."
"I think I'll spend today trolling the craigslist personal ads. They're bound to be golden today."
(On second thought...) "Maybe not a great idea. A lot of those messages are not exactly safe for work."

Stay tuned for more wisdom from Claire in the future!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sibling Bonding 101

I've mentioned my brother in passing from time to time, and he's popped up on my Instagram lately, but I've never really told you much about him.

I am the oldest of three. My sister, Claire (the one on the left), is 22 and graduated from NYU's Tisch school with a degree in acting last May. She lives in New York and is currently pursuing a career as an actress while trying to make ends meet in that oh-so expensive city. She is very talented and beautiful. Please hire her.

My brother, Brennan, is 19 and goes to NOVA, the local community college. He lives with my parents about 30 minutes away from my house.

Brennan was born when I was 6, so by the time he came along, he really was my little brother. Especially now that we're in our 20s, I don't think of Claire as my little sister, I just think of her as my sister. But the age difference with Brennan made the older-younger sibling relationship much more pronounced. He was in 5th grade when I graduated from high school, and I was well out of college by the time he graduated. We've always been in completely different places in our lives.

Probably in part because of the age difference, we've always gotten along pretty well. There were a few trying times when we were still sharing a bathroom the year after I graduated from college, but for the most part, we have a good time together. He was always a good little brother and let Claire and I watch Runaway Bride whenever we wanted to, and to this day he loves Friends as much as we do. He and I have some similar interests, and I've always felt like I relate to him in ways that the rest of the family doesn't. Plus, he's always very helpful when it comes to moving furniture around and picking stuff up from Craigslist sellers. And he accepts payment in the form of donuts.

This semester, Brennan and I are taking a class together at NOVA. Because I didn't take an art history class in undergrad, I need to take one for my Interior Design degree. The Corcoran allows us to take an art history class through NOVA to satisfy the requirement, and given the cost savings, I couldn't pass up that opportunity. Since bro Brennan already goes to NOVA and takes lots of art classes there, I suggested we take the class together. He wasn't so keen on the idea at first, but after a little convincing from my mom, he came around.

The class is online, but since we're both taking it, we are treating it more like a regular class and watching lectures together at my parents' house. I am hoping that in exchange for having access to my older sister, college degree-holding brain he will compensate me with a plate of nachos. As you can tell, compensation in the form of food is a recurring theme in our relationship.

Never did I ever expect that Brennan and I would be enrolled in a college level course together. Given our age difference, there have been so few opportunities for us to participate in official activities together (and he didn't last long on the summer swim team). I think it's pretty cool, and I'm happy that it gives us a good reason to hang out together on a more regular basis.  It's one of those things that makes me appreciate adulthood and look forward to other things we might get to do together.

The class started last week, so we've only met once to watch a couple lectures and complete our first assignment. So far, it's going well. And despite my 4+ years of college, his notes ended up being more useful than that was interesting. Maybe this will be a complete disaster and he will hate me and I will despise him by the end of this 8-week course. But hopefully we will still lovingly give each other our favorite foods and both have an A at the end. Fingers crossed!

Have you ever taken a class with your sibling? Or participated in an activity with a younger sibling that was out of the ordinary for both of you?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Valentine's Day Decor

Valentine's Day is less than a week away! Looking to add a little love to your space?

paper lantern | picture frame | ikat cloth napkins | heart round tray | red foo dogs | for like ever poster | love bookends | neon heart pillow cover | gold love print | floral heart print | pink origami pillow | palm springs blocks pillow

The paper lantern from Cost Plus World Market would be a fun addition to your dining space if you plan to host some friends for a Galentine's Day event, and the red ikat cloth napkins from C.Wonder would add some fun to your table setting. The pink frame from Target would look really cute with some simple DIY heart art in it (gold glitter paper perhaps?), especially on a bookshelf paired with the Love bookends from PB Teen or the foo dogs from C.Wonder (I need some foo dogs in my life). I'm waiting for the day that I can appropriately hang the "For Like Ever" poster from Super Rural in my space without it being totally meaningless, and hopefully sooner than later I will just buy the floral heart print from Rifle Paper Co. that I've had my eye on for over a year (btw, have you seen Rifle's prints? They're awesome.) Jen Ramos of Made by Girl added this small horizontal gold Love Print to her collection, but if you desire your love vertically oriented and in an assortment of other colors, check out her website.

The pillows are all great, but I really love the Trina Turk palm springs blocks pillow from Layla Grace. I debated not including it in this roundup because it's a little pricey, but I just like it way too much to leave it out. I may try a DIY version soon. The very affordable round hearts tray from Target could work in so many ways--on your coffee table, corralling keys and sunglasses on an entry table, holding Valentine's day cookies and cupcakes. I'm sure you could find a use for it in a girls' bedroom or bachelorette pad year-round.

Have you added any extra love to your space for Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Valentine's Day Outfit

There's something about Valentine's Day that makes me want to wear a feminine and fun outfit. I even remember in middle school when my friend and I planned what we were going to wear and put our hair in foamed-roller ponytails the night before so that we'd have super curly ponytails the next day.

Fast forward almost 15 years and I still love to look especially cute on Valentine's Day. Here's a completely over the top Valentine's Day outfit for you.

Sweater | Pants | Earrings | Scarf | Watch | Ring | Shoes
Red pants and a pink sweater are a bold look, but how fun is this if you could pull it off? The appropriately titled Merino Boyfriend Sweater from J.Crew is a little oversized and comfy, and looks great with a scarf (I know because I saw my sister wearing this sweater with a scarf in different colors a few weeks ago). And I LOVE this scarf. It reminds me of Andy Warhol's Lips print. I really hope it goes on sale soon so that I can actually afford it. I've wanted the Kate Spade Locked In studs in gold for a while, but these pink ones are a lot of fun for Valentine's Day. The watch is an affordable piece from Target and comes in many other colors (I think gold and leopard are especially cool), and the ring is from BaubleBar. If you're looking for something more delicate, you could try other versions of the arrow ring--there are a ton on Etsy. The Printed Pointy flats from Gap look to be a cute and practical every day item. They come in other cute prints, including navy and white dots and leopard. 

Of course, any one of these pieces individually would be a fun way to add a little Valentine's Day to your wardrobe. If you want to see some other pieces that would be fun for Valentine's Day but didn't make it into this outfit, check out my So Stylish pin board on Pinterest
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