Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DIY: Wallpaper?

Wallpaper in kitchens is a classic, even old fashioned design choice, but lately I've seen lots of updated versions with a fun, fresh look.  

This post from Apartment Therapy highlights the benefits of using a little wallpaper to go a long way--over the kitchen cabinets.  If you don't have custom, to the ceiling cabinets in your home, then a fun, low maintenance way to incorporate some pattern into the room and to fill up that empty space is to use wallpaper.

Since we are renting our apartment, and before we leave we'll need to be sure all of the walls are white again, I really wasn't interested in investing in a whole room's worth of wallpaper.  It can be very expensive (all of those rolls you need for a big space add up quickly!), and it's a huge pain to remove again when you leave.

BUT we had finished settling in, and the kitchen/dining room desperately lacked some pattern and color.  One option was to go for window treatments, and the other was wallpaper.  What made the decision for me was a trip home to my parents' house in NC and Mom sweetly digging out her stash of extra rolls of wallpaper from their house for me.  Jackpot!  I crammed three rolls--one from three of my favorite patterns from home--of free wallpaper into my suitcase and headed back to Vienna for some projects.

I chose a bright yellow paper with a subtle yellow graphic background almost like a Greek key pattern with bright, multicolored butterflies in the foreground.  My parents have this pattern on the walls and ceiling of their first floor powder room, and it makes such a statement!  For us it's the perfect shot of color and pattern in an otherwise plain room.  

I used a wallpaper adhesive to mount the section I needed, tucking the edge behind the IKEA stainless countertop and trimming around the other edges with a knife.  Since the paper is right where we do all of our chopping, snacking, etc, I decided to roll on a coating of clear water based enamel that you can wipe down when the inevitable spots and splashes happen.

Thank you, Mom & Dad!

Normally I would caution you about tackling a wallpaper project for an entire room yourself, since it's notoriously difficult and tedious work, but using a little bit as an accent in a room is quick, easy and lots of fun.  And you only need one roll!


Monday, January 30, 2012

A little sunshine....

Without the twinkling lights of Christmas, the winter can be so bleak.  So, when I am arranging for clients, I like to add a splash of yellow for a bit of a lift.  I know I love a little splash of yellow in these dark wintry months. 

I love the crisp white tulips against the yellow pop!

I love these yellow ranunculus, which added the right spring feel in this very modern setting. 

If flowers are not in the budget these days, a bowl full of meyer lemons is fantastic, or if you are interested in a longer winter investment, lemon trees will lift any dwelling space. 

via Daily Decor

What do you do to spruce up your space in these wintry months? 



Friday, January 27, 2012

House Hunting

As I mentioned earlier this week, my husband and I (and our Great Dane) are moving back to the US this summer, and we're starting to think about all of the fun possibilities for where we could live.  (Since his new job hasn't officially been announced yet, I won't say where exactly we're going, but stay tuned!)  

Thinking about life in our new hometown is already making me super excited, and I have to confess, I have spent a LOT of time trolling the internet for possibilities.  It's just so fun to look!  Until we decide where exactly we'll be living (downtown? suburbs?) I can keep dreaming about these fixer uppers.  Think of the amazing DIY projects we could do!  Keep in mind that I'm totally dreaming here-- that's the best part about shopping on the internet:)

This cute house needs some serious redecorating--it has lots of carpet that's begging to be taken out to show off its hardwood floors underneath.
Another cute house, this one a more urban choice, has been updated with all of the important things that you can't see and aren't fun to pay for, but still needs some work in the kitchen.  And that back yard would be fun to redo!  I MISS having a yard...

This place needs desperately some updating in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Maybe something like this pretty bathroom featured in this month's issue of House Beautiful?  I love the understated mosaic pattern of the tile.  

This monster needs a TON of work, but that's the fun part, right?!  Somebody needs to snap this downtown beauty up and all of its ELEVEN bedrooms for $150,000!  Anyone with 8 kids should definitely consider this place...

Maybe these are better choices for more energetic DIYers than we are at this point, but it's still fun to look!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Traveling: If the Shoe Fits

We are getting ready to go on a trip with a group from our church to ISRAEL, and we are so excited!  I have never been there before but have always wanted to go, and this is our big chance!  Our itinerary is packed full (as it should be) of fascinating places to visit, and we have been told there will be lots of walking to reach and experience sites like Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

So the big question facing me at this point is, what to pack??  The part that's tripping me up (pun intended) is what shoes can stand up to pounding the cobblestones all day for 8 days?  My feet have been less forgiving with non-comfortable shoes lately, so a truly cushy sole and good fit are a must.  My running shoes fit the bill... but I just can't bring myself to bring them along.  So I'm on the hunt for something that's cute (enough) and can handle a trek up the Mount of Olives.

Not exactly feminine, but these boots look like they would be perfect for long, off road walks, and their neutral color would go with a lot.

 These are technically sneakers, I know, and I don't love the two tone laces, but if I do go the tennis shoe route, these would be a great neutral, cute option that doesn't scream tourist quite as loudly as most others.  Thumbs up.

These loafers/boat shoes are adorable, and their rubber sole would make them comfy, even at the end of a long day.  Cute, preppy stylish option.

I've seen tons of fashionable women (Mel included!) wearing some version of these lace-up Oxford shoes.  These have a cushioned sole and a feminine low profile.

One great option I already have is a cute red pair of Tom's shoes.  These will be coming no matter what and will be my go-to pair if the walking shoes I buy don't hold up their end of the bargain.  

What shoes do you like to wear on trekking trips like this? I'd love some ideas!  


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Indoor Planting

Our time in Vienna will be up this summer, and we'll be moving back to the US!  Thinking about finding a new place to live (and all of the projects that entails!) is all very exciting, but one thing I'll be sad to leave behind is my houseplants.  I absolutely love plants in any home, in just about any space, and don't think I could live without them.  At home for us, a room is never fully dressed without a plant.  This Split-Leaf Philodendron (monstera deliciosa) has been with me since it was a tiny little thing and has been a forgiving, hearty member of the family for years now.

Houseplants can add another layer of texture and an organic shape to a room, offering softness or etherial airiness, spiky angularity or bushy bulk.  Plants come in endless shades of green and other colors to add a pop of brightness where you need it, and they naturally purify your air, too!  

Martha Stewart's bright orange Japanese Maple provides a colorful focal point in a neutral sitting room.
Martha Stewart

This Fiddle Leaf Fig makes a bold statement, perfect for a large space.  Actually, this plant has been popping up all over the place as a designers' favorite.  Check out its versatile uses.

House Beautiful

Habitually Chic

Chloe Warner

Elle Decor

Habitually Chic

Habitually Chic

This room is brightened up by a large Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata cv. Bostoniensis) and two matching topiaries (that look like hibiscus?).

Martha Stewart

I LOVE the huge gestural shapes and large leaves of the split-leaf philodendron (Monstera delicious), which can go a long way in softening a space like this modern bathroom.
Elle Decor

Some people love gardening and growing plants at home, but I realize that it's a daunting idea for those lacking a green thumb.  While certain species really are best in expert hands, some plants are perfect low maintenance additions for your home.  Here are a few forgiving types that are perfect for brightening up any room (as long as it has a window:))

English Ivy: I love the way it trails down from a mantle, shelf, or, like in this photo, in a topiary type form in a more formal planter.  Just be careful with small children and pets; the leaves are poisonous.

Boston Fern: with medium light and enough moisture, these hearty ferns can live for decades, and I love their classic look.

The Cast-Iron Plant: it's virtually indestructible, able to deal with low levels of light (perfect for those corners where nothing else will live) and water (for when you forget!).

And finally, the Fiddle-Leaf Fig:  It's not just a pretty designer's plant!  Its beautiful, lacquered leaves add a reflective, dramatic look to any home.  In medium to bright light it can grow happily up to 15 feet tall.

Happy indoor-gardening!


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