Thursday, October 9, 2008

home store shout out

i was thinking today about some new things i wanted to get for the kitchen, and i thought about this WONDERFUL kitchen supply store in paris: e.dehillerin. i stumbled across this accidentally, but if you are in paris or planning to go, i highly recommend making a trip there. it is behind les halles, and is fabulous. it's not a modern home store but this adds to its charm. you can get anything for the kitchen here, but it has an especially large collection of pastry items. an absolutely wonderful find.

decorating inspiration

if you have a room that is bland, but you think you can't possibly do anything to freshen it up, check out these pictures! you can see how just a little paint and some textile upgrades do everything to make the space warm, welcoming, and fun!

before, the room was almost ALL beige - safe, but boring. i don't know about you, but i wouldn't feel truly comfortable here - i can't imagine myself stretched out on that sofa reading a book.

...but now THIS is welcoming! i could spend hours relaxing or reading in this room. updating the sofa with some pillows (a cheap way to decorate, plus you can change these with the seasons or whenever you feel like it) makes the sofa pop. the blue walls make a huge difference and warm up the space. the striped curtains tie this all together. another upgrade: taking advantage of the space where the table is (above) and desk is (below). painting that back wall a complementary color makes that area its own space.

before: all beige!

after: painting the hallway a complementary color (and a color that is used in the living room) helps simultaneously tie the spaces together yet makes them distinct. adding the striped curtains around the french doors tie all the colors together and is a nice touch.

stress relief

it's been a VERY busy time these past few months! my husband and i got married and went on our honeymoon. we came back, went house hunting, and bought a house. we're almost all moved in. i'm starting a new job on monday, so it's been crazy at work trying to finish all my projects. when we come home from work, there's moving/painting/organizing to do. to top that off, our weekends are nuts, with either family coming in to town or us going away for the weekend.

the things i love to do when i'm stressed are: take a bubble bath with my favorite book, take a nap, curl up with a cup of tea in my pajamas and watch my favorite shows or catch up on blogs, or make comfort food and have a nice long dinner. but! there's absolutely no time for that, and i'm sure most of you can relate. all the things we can do to relieve stress take time and a quiet house (both of which are precious and unfortunately rare.)

the key to stress relief in crazy times - the times where you are busy and running around from 6am to midnight, whether it's with kids, your job, house errands, whatever - is finding those little moments throughout the day where you can savor something nice. here are my favorite ways to do so:

1) i turn OFF the radio in the car (usually NPR) and drive in silence. it's strangely comforting and makes everything seem less stressful.
2) i count my blessings. when the only things going through my mind are "did i forget to do ___?" or my to do list or "agh, i'd give a million dollars to sit for five minutes" i think of the ways today has been GREAT. a lot of times these blessings are the most basic things: i give thanks for waking up in a house, for eating breakfast, for putting on clothes. when i think about the fact that i could have none of these things, my "stress" seems pretty trivial. by taking time to count my blessings and thank god, i become instantly grounded.
3) i treat myself to starbucks. no, sometimes it doesn't fit into the budget and yes, sometimes it's extravagant. but it's a little something all for me - something i savor. (a pumpkin spice latte sounds pretty good right about now, actually...)
4) i think of the end result. for example, if i'm exhausted but still need to go to the grocery store to get food for dinner and to the drug store to get house supplies, i think of how nice it will be to sit down with my husband for dinner, or to have the things i need at home and not have to run out. if i'm knee deep in a project at work, i visualize the moment i put the report on my boss's desk and how great that will feel. if it's the middle of the night and my dogs need to go out, i think about how great it will be not to have to clean up a mess in the carpet. thinking of the end result makes me work more efficiently and more joyfully.
5) i think about how my attitude reflects on my family. if i'm acting stressed and am no fun to be around, that tone will be reflected in my home. my husband will get cranky. our dogs will get rowdy. but if i arrive home happy, and ready to make my home a welcoming one, the entire mood of my house will be light and fun.
6) i watch a funny youtube clip or read a funny blog. humor can make any situation better!
7) i quickly glance at family photos. i keep my favorites on snapfish, a few on my desk, and a few here and there around the house. if i'm tired of cleaning, i just glance up and look at a funny picture of my husband and i and smile. if i'm at the office late, i look at my grandparent's photo from the day they were married. it's a visual motivator that puts everything in perspective.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

understated fall decorating

my husband and I don't have kids (yet!) and we don't want to leave things out that our dogs will we are not big into the full-blown decorating for Halloween thing. but, I still want my house to look like fall and have a warm look to it this time of year. I can't do the whole fake-cobwebs-and-witch-cutouts thing, but I do like a touch of fall indoors.

I think every home should have a wreath on the front door during the fall season! I love berry wreaths like this one - and if you use red berries, this wreath can go from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas.

i think the easiest way to add some fall color to a room is by a centerpiece like this (wouldn't this look great on a dining room table?), or, smaller versions of this for side tables. collections like this aren't overwhelming, but they add warmth.

this is a creative use of a pumpkin without being too cutesy. you could use the pumpkin as a vase, as above, or as a planter on your front porch.

if you don't want to replace your centerpieces, vases, collections, etc with small pumpkins and the like, but still want an update for fall, use branches!! they are incredibly versatile, and you can use them in your existing arrangements, but they just have that "fall" look about them that makes you want to curl up in front of the fire and read a good book. branches are inexpensive, and you can place them all around your home in just a few short minutes. done and done!

another GREAT versatile decorating tool that will take you from halloween to christmas: pinecones! as a centerpiece or in a side bowl, you can mix pinecones with pumpkins for halloween, with gourds for thanksgiving, and with red berries and fir for christmas. a pinecone placed on a napkin - as above - looks great on a deep orange or brown napkin for thanksgiving dinner, or a red or green napkin for a christmas feast. it can't get any easier than that!

teeny kitchens

the kitchen in our new house is bigger than our old one (we'd been in an apartment) but i am still looking for ways to maximize space. luckily, all our "stuff" fits in the cabinets and drawers, but there is the problem of deep cabinets and making sure that what we need is not just there, but at hand. i like to be able to easily access what i need while i am cooking. i have been inspired by some of the creative ideas i've come across!
I really like the idea of pull-out cabinets, like this, that maximize space. This would solve the problem of deep cabinets - since you can pull it out, you can see what's in the back.
this is also a great idea if you don't have the budget or interest in replacing cabinets with pull-outs like the one above. You can buy these chrome roll-outs for your existing cabinets and voila! problem solved! i also like the idea of keeping often-used ingredients close at hand instead of in the pantry. this would be a great idea for storing sugar/flour/etc jars in order to save precious counter space!
...and now THIS is the ultimate pull out! i like how they have made use of the space on the inside of the cabinet doors, too.

I'm loving this small kitchen. I like how they have taken advantage of the space - like the small shelves in the back left, or the shelves over the window on the left. the design elements make this kitchen work, too: the light and airy feel from the light colored cabinets and bare windows goes a long way towards opening up the space. the striped rug on the floor also makes the space feel elongated and adds just a hint of texture and pattern. also, i'm loving those drawer pulls and must find them soon....
everything in this kitchen seems close at hand. i love hanging your often used utensils on the wall.

now THIS idea, clearly, is not from a small kitchen...but i think it could be adapted! if you have enough room, you could hang pots and pans on the backsplash or on a smaller wall by the stove. this way they are easy to access and don't get lost in the abyss of deep cabinets. pots and pans usually take up so much space in the cabinets, so by hanging them, you'd be freeing up lots of space for..... pull outs? i think the hanging pots and pans idea comes from my favorite chef of all time, julia child. her kitchen tips are amazing...look for a julia child post in the future!

Monday, October 6, 2008

today was a good day

today i woke up thinking, "where am i?" then in my haze i remembered i was waking up in my brand new townhouse! a rush of joy swept over me and i felt so blessed. my husband had already been up, taking our two puppies outside (he does this each morning, yep, he's great) and feeding them. i rolled out of bed and took a long, hot shower in our new (huge!) shower/tub. ohhhh i love it. since we're unpacking, things are everywhere but i didn't care. i threw open the windows - it is that time of year where it's just so wonderfully FALL - and enjoyed my breakfast. as i got in my car, i noticed beautiful orange leaves had fallen on my windshield, and as i drove, they flew away in the morning light and looked SO beautiful.

i kept thinking, god is so great.

at lunch i was able to come home and play with my dogs for a few minutes - something i won't be able to do for long, since i'm starting a new job on monday. they were so happy to walk and sniff around. i had a yummy sandwich with a new condiment that i picked up at the store last night (i love condiments): champagne dill mustard. mmmmm!

after work, my husband and i went rug shopping and found two great rugs, one for the living room and one for the dining room. more on decorating our townhouse later. let's just say i have a feeling it's going to be taking up pretty much all of my time!! my brother is coming up from charleston tonight and is going to be staying with us for a few days, to help my husband with the "man projects". i'll keep you guys updated on all the house-happenings!

for now, i'm going to get a glass of red wine, relax, and catch up on the news. pure bliss!