Thursday, February 12, 2015

Moving on Beyond a Bed-in-a-Bag - How to Buy Luxury Bedding

So listen up  - your days of grabbing the plastic wrapped bed-in-the-bag are over!  Sure they’re cute and sassy and that set you saw in the Sunday paper will look totally fantastic with your freshly painted ‘Tranquil Turquoise’ bedroom.  And why not, it’s all there in a zipper locked bag, like a "seal-a-meal dinner".  Plus you have that 20% off coupon...  Hold on extreme coupon clipper, because your need to say bye-bye to bed-in-a-bags,  Why?
  • You can't stick your hand in that zipper locked bag to see if the material is so scratchy it will cause injury while sleeping.
  • It may be illegal to remove a tag by law, but there is no list of ingredients - who knows what that bedding is made from.
  • Your Bunco friend is scouting the same set.
  • You deserve better!
It’s time to treat yourself to some new luxury bedding. Why? –Because first and foremost, you deserve it, second, you spend 1/3 of our life in bed, third, luxury bedding well... feels fantastic and makes you feel and sleep better and lastly, with a bit of on-line scouting savvy - high end, luxury linens at an affordable price can be had. Parachute Home is a newer LA based company that offers just that! They pride themselves on offering the finest quality sheets for an accessible price- where the sleeping experience as a whole, is key.

It’s time to allow yourself some new luxury bedding. Why? –Because first and foremost, you deserve it, second, you spend 1/3 of our life in bed, third, luxury bedding well... feels fantastic and makes you feel and sleep better and lastly, with a bit of on-line scouting savvy - high end, luxury linens at an affordable price can be had.  

So here are some tips on how to buy and style a blissful bed and move on beyond a bed-in-a-bag.

Parachute Bedding
Parachute Bedding

1. Quality is Key. The best sheets, cases and duvets are made of Egyptian cotton.  It's not about high thread count, but instead the quality of the cotton. Egyptian cotton has long fibers and produce sheets that are thin and sumptuous, yet extremely strong and long-lasting.  

2. Create A Tactile Sensation with Luxury Products.  There is nothing better than slipping into the blissful caress of cool cotton sheets, the envelope of voluptuous fluff of a down duvet, and the warm, cozy comfort of a cashmere throw. Luxury is yummy. 

3. Layer Your Bedding.  Your bed is the focal point of your bedroom. Make it look as good as it feels. Start with basic hued fundamentals: Sheets, cases and duvets in one color. Build in shams not only to layer the bed, but protect the sleeping pillows.   Add a decorative stamp of a accent pillow or two, and a throw for a pop of color and texture to complete the bedding layers. Layers create visual interest, dimension and texture.

4. Final Touches.  Restful colors, the flicker of a scented candle,  every light in your room with a dimmer switch, and an organized space, will create a cozy, relaxing room. Your resting and sleeping space should look, feel and smell blissful.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Best Home Tour Ever! - Lessons in how to create curated comfort

A recent trip to the West Coast was a joy. One of the highlights was my friend's invitation to visit a client and tour her very special home. By trade, my friend, Jenna Bayer (Jenna Bayer Garden Design, Inc.) is a landscape architect who turned her passion into a career.  She is a delight, and every time I head out to the west coast, I'm eager to spend time with her.  I was excited by the invitation and dying to see what she creates. Jenna and her client became fast friends and share a mutual passion for detail, an aesthetic for design and affection for developed beauty. I was gifted in seeing the glorious results. 

The gift they both gave me was a rare peek at a truly magnificent home - magnificent on so many levels. The best home tour ever! From the incredible landscaping and gardens, to the home's beautiful architecture, to the detailed, rich interior design so carefully and soulfully developed. Luxury, oh yes, totally - but in the most comfortable way.  But the real reward was lessons learned in embracing a passion, an eye for curated detail and care for homey comfort that went into creating a perfect blend of luxury, detail and total relaxation.

I'll call it 'Curated Comfort.' I'll define curated as creating a layered, collected home by celebrating past and present.  It’s what you own and art and science of appreciated detail displayed in both architecture and design. What is the definition of comfort? A desire to make a house a home.

It would take dinner with drinks, dessert and two lattes for me to unravel my tour experience, but here are a few tips and lessons I learned when touring this incredible home.

The landscaping was in-tune with the natural surroundings and complimented the home. Specimens were selected and placed as an artistic collection. Exterior ‘rooms’ were created and connected with meandering paths. 
  • TIP: When planning a garden or landscape, or just refreshing one that you have - strive to create a place that looks like it’s naturally there, compliments the home and can become an extension of your home's space, so it can be enjoyed like your favorite interior rooms of the home.

The house was only a few years old, but the architecture and style of the home looked as though it had been there all along, incorporated local elements, and fit right into the area.
  • TIP: Doing thoughtful research at the local historical society or library will reward you whether working from scratch or altering ready-made home plans. The land and your neighbors will thank you.

Each fireplace was custom made, inspired by fireplaces admired while visiting historic European homes and estates - making just another element in the home unique.
  • TIP: Love a certain style, era or place?  Seek an expert to have it made.  Commissioned pieces are not out of your reach if you just take the time and effort to track down, ask and research to find the right people to create your vision. 

The living room anchored with her family's vintage sofas reupholstered in dark sapphire blue velvet and approachable linen accent pillows invited me to sit, rather than feeling like I was imposing on a piece of furniture.
  • TIP: If using luxurious fabric on seating, choose a darker "I can sit on this" hue; add toss pillows or a throw in a juxtaposition textile such as super friendly linen that calms the stature of the statement fabric. 

In bedrooms, the beds where adorned with the perfect mix of voluptuous down, organic cottons and a total lush, layered envelope look of coziness.
  • TIP: Do not pinch pennies on quality, but always pair with comfort in mind.  Look for natural washable fibers and comfortable styles, so your bedding is easy care, but totally indulgent. Create layers with down, matelassé coverlets, quilts and plenty of fluffy pillows. Keep the colors tonal to let the materials shine. 

The detail that went into to creating the interior design of this home came arose from thoughtful planning and resulted in pure comfort. Spectacular commissioned kitchen backsplash tiles and museum worthy fabric trims on window treatments, divine details and layered styling were displayed in each room.  
  • TIP: Scour, hunt and procure your finds so that your home becomes layered. Consider mixing elements, pairing old and new together. Create a room with detail, with a few eclectic elements to add just the right interesting twist. 

The best home tour ever!  After, we all headed to dinner with drinks, no dessert or lattes - but instead, more deliciously, a few more hours spent in creative conversation. And that's that. I'm now back home in Chicago, still digesting my joyful west coast adventure and a highlight I'll soon not forget. Cheers to you Jenna.
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Thursday, January 1, 2015

ReStyle Old to New - Making Your Inherited Stuff Stunning

I was chatting with my longtime Chicago friend yesterday about her brother tucking away Dad's inherited watch in a safety deposit box rather than wearing it.  He said that he was only going to use it on special occasions; I was totally puzzled why he would do that.  Why not wear it every day to celebrate his Dad’s memory?

It made me think back to eyeballing a perfect little velvet loveseat at a thrift shop - perfect because it was encased in a plastic slipcover.  I had thought to myself, the old owner never got to experience the joy of sinking into that sofa and feeling the lush texture of the velvet.  I envisioned a hard crunched rather than a soft, cozy sink when (if ever) someone sat down. 
Please don’t tuck away your fabulous things!  From Grandma’s silver service to old stuff sitting in the basement, don’t hide it - celebrate it. Your home should make you happy each day, be filled with a layered collection - rich with finds of every delicious chapter and morsel of your life. Don't store things behind glass, wrap them away or like the owner of the loveseat, encase them in plastic. That loveseat should of had a worn spot where the owner curled up on Saturday afternoons to read her next murder mystery novel!

Interior Styling Lessons

Celebrate it, use it, restyle it and make it your own.  How?  Here a few examples of how you can reinvent what is inherited, old or unused into something with purpose and loved.

One of my clients was struggling with her husband's gifted grandparent's dining set. They really wanted to honor it in the dining room, but the dark wood wasn't appealing and the table wasn't going to work with daily use.  The restyle solution was to purchase a new table and have the rest of the set painted to match.  The celebrate what you have result is the perfect mix of old and new. And the big bonus is they now get to love that set as much as his Grandparents did.

Repurposed Design
Inherited Hutch
Mixing old and new
Restyled Hutch (Photo: Julea Joseph)

Why not get ready every morning in vintage style and maybe a wink and nod to Mom with a lovely vanity vignette of your makeup necessities organized in old silver serving pieces.
Refreshing your old stuff
Silver Serving Pieces ( Photo: Source)

Don't toss the collection of unused encyclopedias collecting dust in the basement bookcase - Repurpose and reuse them as accessories or  style accents with a can of paint.
Repurposed books
Painted Encyclopedias (Photo: Jennifer Rizza)
Aunt Millie's tea cup collection boxed in tissue somewhere?  Unwrap them, head over to a craft store and cook up a batch of wax to make them into candles. They'll warm your heart with their romantic flicker on your sofa's end table as you settle in for the evening.
Tea Cup Candles
Tea Cup Candles (Photo: Source)
Transform an antique photo of your heritage with a blown-up image updated in a wrapped canvas technique. Add a few more in various sizes to create an unique gallery wall.
Wrapped canvas ideas
Antique Photo transferred to wrapped Canvas.
I'd love to know what you have done with your old stuff - Please share on the comment area of this post!

Friday, December 12, 2014

My Interior Styling & Home Staging Career - How Mom's Death Made Me Start a Business

My Mom

December 1998, 16 years ago, I sat listening to my Mother’s eulogy by one of her dear friends.  My Mom had died at 66, which may seem young.   A dear friend spoke and wove a story, creating a lovely, rich mosaic of a woman who leaped through life; she pushed past life’s challenges, celebrating life in a curious, educated and always beautifully vivacious way.   She raised a son handicapped at 15 months by polio, lost a daughter to drugs, marched for women’s rights in Dallas, was a business partner to her husband, traveled the world, community volunteered and played bridge and golf while terminally ill, and so, so much more.  I sat there listening, holding my brother’s hand and it occurred to me that there is no perfect time to do something and if you want to do something, just do it.

Sparks. A buzz, a click of a light bulb.  It may sound cliché; I really did have that light bulb moment, which spurred me to a new career.  Damn… that eulogy was good.  I have told that dear friend of hers on many an occasion, that she should be a professional eulogy writer. The back story goes like this –a few years before, I had read an article in the magazine Better Homes & Gardens about a new breed of designer emerging. A designer/home decorator that used what the client already owned and restyled and arranged the home’s spaces  (Interior Stylist/Re-designer/Home Stager).  I loved the concept, had always had a flair for design and would paint, rearrange and sew new window treatments in my home in a weekend, on a whim.  I called and was sent information about this fledgling association that too offered a training program. I really wanted to take the training, but instead filed away the material for the future, having a toddler and baby filling my daily life. 

After getting home from saying goodbye to my Mom, I immediately signed up for a few interior design classes at a local college, signed up and booked a flight to Dallas for that specialty training program and leaped into a new career and business all in a few months. Fifteen years later, I wake up every morning excited about my business.  There is never a day that I regret or consider something else.  My business has been the perfect fit, fulfilled me, and changed me.   I have the best clients, meet the most interesting people, have created friendships with both clients and associates.  I pour my creativity into something that makes people happy in their homes. I have a successful business that offers soup to nuts services to make homes lovely whether homeowners are moving out, in, or anything in between.  My adventures are many - From HGTV projects, a little local cable TV show, working on everything from model homes to mobile homes and getting to share my passion for all things 'home' by speaking, educating and training others.  And that dear friend of my Mother's?  Well she is a dear friend of mine now and a client!

Years ago, I had lunch with an interior designer and author who I greatly admired and to this day, channel her design and life-style philosophy, Alexandra Stoddard.  She told me something that stays always in my mind and heart - “You become truly the women you can be, after your Mother is gone”.  

So with that, I thank my Mom. 

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