Dedicated to simple decor ideas - especially in white! - inspiration for living simply,
reusing what you have, and scouring for vintage or thrifted finds. Some of my own DIY projects described here too.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Display Ideas

Former decorating editor of Homes and Gardens, Julia Bird, creates fresh, clutter free displays The Simple Home. Essentially, Bird advises paring down to minimize clutter collected over the years. For me, this is a challenge! While I don't have a lot of stuff, I can veer towards layering too many items. While you can donate decorative objects to charity, Bird suggests putting them away.

Change displays throughout the year to maintain interest while creating particularly attractive objects to display to best effect. Group objects together, such as stacks of books next to collections of glass jars or white china. Layer pictures on a picture rail - use small pictures in large frames, rest smaller prints and frames against larger ones. Such displays appear stunning when set on a backdrop of neutral hues . . . think linen. . .

I will be back with more of Julia's books once I've gotten my hands on them!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

At Home with White, Atlanta Bartlett

Everyone's talking about At Home with White by Atlanta Bartlett, touting this book as one of the best in home decor on the subject of white. It really proves that timeless white is a perfect canvas for a home. While the pictures are stunning, there is some real life practical advice on how to use white - notably how to make a white decor scheme work by understanding white color families. Here Bartlett breaks white into 6 main color families:

chalky - romantic, ice cream, pastel shades

muted - 'work well in older homes and complement antiques beautifully'

neutrals - 'buff, taupe, beige, with undertones of yellow, brown or grey, work in elegant interiors'

creamy - 'warm and soft off white tones that would work in a country setting'

cool - 'crisp, clean and modern, has bluish undertones' (think Ikea)

grey - 'work well in cold daylight, and are therefore popular in Scandinavian countries, and are a mix of black, red and green pigments'

Your light source, or piece of inspiration furniture or accessory, can help you choose which white family to adopt. Here are some inspiring pictures from her book:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My home - reading nook

One of the ideas from the post below on Decorating on a Dime, is to create a reading nook. Here's mine, a place I get to relax in when the kiddos are asleep. During the day, however, we may all sit here and read many books. The wall is lazured in the Waldorf style, giving a warm glow to the all white furniture in the room. Painting this wall was a fun project for my son and I as I mixed white paint with drop by drop of yellow and then red as we worked our brush strokes down the wall. The wall flowers are from Ikea. This room is very small and just fits a twin bed. So a small Ikea couch and this small distressed shelf doubles as a coffee table and book shelf. I like the addition of drawers, as I'm quite drawn to small drawers, for some reason, in shelving. The blender lamp is my husbands. While it works, I never switch it on, as the green glow it creates is rather errie, but I like its kitchiness. Opposite this shelf is the computer cabinet, which we had custom built. I painted it myself to save costs and added Restoration Hardware glass knobs. Above this cabinet is a plate shelf, which I inhereted from others in my apartment building - its been passed to several folks, but its here to stay, as I quite like it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Decorating on a dime

I stumbled upon low/no cost decorating today over at Apartment Therapy. While I especially enjoy re-purposing pieces on hand simply by finding new uses for them or updating furniture with a fresh coat of white paint, here are some more furniture updates and creative re-uses. Some of the best ideas are on the cheap, like spring cleaning, pairing-down, organizing and rearranging. Here's another 12 low cost-high impact resolutions for your home.

Monday, April 20, 2009

French Decor Inspiration and Josephine Ryan's French Home

Sometimes inspiration comes from afar, and I often feel inspired by French fashion, antiques and decor. A trip to a Paris flea market would be heaven for me! Stumbling across French Essence the other day renewed my interest in all things French. Vicki has a knack for capturing and blogging about French style - as does authour and antiques dealer, Josephine Ryan. She has created a life from collecting antiques from France, sold in her shop in London. Here is another article about her.

Teamed with photographer Claire Richardson, (whose photos I blogged in an earlier post) Ryan has created a simply stunning book French Home, capturing beauty and light in elegant French simplicity.
A style of decorating which touts, and even enhances imperfections - 'benign neglect' - with all the complex subtilities of pale, chalky shades of blues, greys, whites, and browns. Its a style which uses old and new objects, updating, if necessary, with a 'lick of white paint.' Ryan describes a style 'that effortlessly embraces personal quirks, indulges refined preferences and rejects the sterility of soulless design.' Sounds like a bit of a criticism of modernism, non? At any rate, its a sumptious read, with an added bonus of French history bits thoughout. For example, Ryan notes that some of France's first chandeliers were made to light medival churches. When glass making developed to make lead crystal in the 18th century, more elaborate chandeliers were produced, as the scattering light affects of lead crystal became highly desirable.

Should you live on the 'other side of the pond' from Ryan's antique shop, and feel inspired to incorporate a French style or a piece or two in your home, The French Cupboard may have something you are looking for, or more locally, French Vanilla Home and Garden in Victoria, BC

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Serenity portraits by Claire Richardson

Here is an interesting, pared-down, collection of serene style furnishings from parma lilac. I especially enjoy the felt pot surrounds. I dream of having felt carpet and upholstery that looks this lush.

Dining area - my home

I have tried to capture my dining area at its neatest. With two small kiddos, this area is often quite messy with craft activities, evidenced in the picture rail's contents. While this area is at an odd angle, and receives no daylight, I have added light to this corner by using white. That's an Ikea billy cabinet, which I painted white. It holds some white ware and a small collection of glass vases. The middle chair at the table I also freshly painted. The red chair at the end is a Stokke - a chair which my toddler loves, allowing her to climb up to table height all own her own. Its quite a neat chair, growing with her, as it has its own adjustable foot rest and seat. While I have always wanted a funky chandelier, it will not happen in this rental apartment. So, to create a little interest in this light fixture, I wrapped wire 'twigs' holding beads on their ends. I enjoy how they capture light, similar to crystals.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Featured Apartment

Here is a simply lovely apartment I found on flickr by birbant. I promised myself that I would stick to just local apartment photos, however, I really love this apartment. Although she lives in Europe, bribant has used a lot of Ikea pieces throughout her home, making borrowing aspects of this apartment accessible. I just love the sense of calm it evokes by carrying white throughout the rooms. Shades and textures of white and grey are beautifully captured. Glass and silver add sparkle.

Display idea - just white things

just white things, originally uploaded by abeachcottage.

A display of simplicity. The bottles reflect light beautifully.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My kitchen

This past winter began the spur to decorate. It was dark outside. My kitchen was dark, save the neon lighting. I felt like I was in a cave most of the day (as I spend so much time in here preparing food for two small children destined to be over 6" like their father).

I needed to give my kitchen light, interest, life, and personality. I chose a daylight, found on Craig's list to give me a much needed shot of sunlight here on the West Coast. I fashioned the light into a window, and added shelves below as a window ledge. The lamp certainly gave me a boost of energy - and took the glum, cave-like feel out of the kitchen. I chose accessories for interest, texture, and above all, white and glass for more light. Now I enjoy my kitchen more.

Flea Market Style - book review

Authour Emily Chalmers lives in England, at the doorstep to absolutely wonderful second-hand markets. She makes me want to move to her neighbourhood as its a little more challenging in the newer city of Vancouver to find antiqued treasures. At any rate, Flea Market Style (2005) shows how one can incorporate flea market finds into any style, from modern to miniamalist, not just eclectic, as one may presuppose.

Neatly divided into two sections, the first presents finds in the range of home decor: furniture, glass ware/kitchen ware, patterns, colours, lighting and collections. The photos of her finds are pure eye candy. In the second section of her book, Chalmers not only incorporates flea market pieces into the particular rooms, from kitchen to bedroom, the text further provides rich details in how to use vintage items - to create displays, how to look at vintage finds in a new light, and how to reuse items, such as vintage fabrics in a multitude of ways. Importantly Chalmers lays flea market finds across a range of styles. In doing so, she provides a depth of inspiration, not matter what your style, and can certainly help re/define one's style.

Compleated cabinet project

Originally, this cabinet was a very dark brown as evidenced by the frame inside the glass. Its also a super find - it came from my neighbour across the hall for a song. First, I primed it, and then painted it with CIL Real Life latex in Cottage White (Behr tint 1813). By the way, I found this paint very easy to work with as it spreads evenly and is not prone to dripping. The fresh coat of paint gives the cabinet a new lease on life and I enjoy its presence more as it brightnes my living space.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Adding a few found treasures to my kitchen

The other day, I picked up this really pretty mirror and corner brackets from Elizabeth Lamont's Centre Stage shop. I enjoy how they add character, light and interest to my kitchen.

Shop Local! Centre Stage on Kingsway, Vancouver

I found this little shop awhile ago called Centre Stage. Owner and designer, Elizabeth Lamont, has fabulous inspiring decor items and furniture pieces, as well as some vintage clothing. There are loads of great finds, a few which I have purchased and posted here in pictures of my home - I also have a few pieces on hold at the moment too - I will post pictures of these great vintage finds soon. Elizabeth also updates and re-purposes furniture with a fresh coat of white paint. To the right, you will see a window with some great retro and vintage finds in her shop.
Visit her shop at 644 Kingsway. She is mostly open late in the day, returning after treasure-hunting. Give her a call at 604.715.1416.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Healthy House Book

Such beautiful simplicity is laid out in The Healthy House Book by Gina Lazenby. Its the kind of simplicity I strive for, especailly living with two children and their things which routinely make their way around our apartment. Lazenby inspires me to cull, and not just spring clean, but deep clean to let more light and energy into the home. Centred more on health than style (although there are quite a few pictures thoughout the book of a beautiful, natural style with plenty of light) Lazenby discusses disorder and (chi/metaphysical) energy as stressors within the home. Quite simply, energy is blocked by having too much - furniture, objects, pictures, etc.. While many of us understand this, Lazenby points out that when you have to move around so many things, they become a metaphor for aspects of our life where we compromise and not obtain what we *really* want in life. Letting go of things not only makes a healthier state of mind, but allows for new opportunities to present, greater control over life, and clears the mind. Decluttering implications are be lofty ideals about the implications of everything you do or buy impacts your state of health and others in your home.

Lazenby also tackles a number of other home stressors, including electropollution, chemical pollution, environmental stress and lifestyle stress using principles of feng shi and other forms of metaphysics to create a healty home. She goes beyond low voc paints and green cleaning products to mindul living, including voluntary simplicity, and harmonizing the home. Visit Lazenby here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My home - Kitchen corners

If you have kids like I do, a *great* deal of time is spent preparing food for them! My kitchen had been feeling like a cave, so I added some interest while adding a seasonal affective disorder light (a Craig's List find) in winter - this is like my window! and winter life saver!

The tin heart is from etsy and the pink tin frame may hold one of my kid's paintings some day.

I found this green metal shelf at the Sally Ann. Here it sits perched on my stovetop as I wonder if this will be its home, and if so, what would I put on it?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Musings of home

My friend lives down the hall, and her apartment has been a muse for my own - providing incentive to transform corners of my home, particularly with more light (despite my own lack of direct sun). What is so appealing about her home is that it is well thought out, with cool, modern lines, and an edge of simplicity, which I adore. Her home is mostly white, with crisp lines, and clutter free - even with a small child. My adoration of my friend's apartment confronts my love of things shabby chic, antique, eclectic and bohemian, which tend to be slightly cluttery, and tempers my impulsion to start collections. Here, I attempt to achieve coexistance with my mix of styles while living with double the amount of small children (2). My friend and I both share our space with our husbands, who have graciously accepted our home obsessions. I will ask my friend if I may post some pictures of her home.

My interest in home arises not only from family life and living with two wonderful small children, but how home affects us, and how a love of our home can offer some satisfaction. Having left a research career, my interests have shifted since having children. I've chosen to stay home with my children while they are small, and in turn, have come to embrace meanings surrounding home, decor, and domestic craft. As a sociologist, I have always been interested in how our surrounds impact and shape us. This is a journey exploring home, design, space, apartment living, living with kids, etc. while documenting my latest projects and transformations.