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.

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. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

There's Something About Marsala - PANTONE's 2015 Color of the Year

2015 color of the year tales of an interior stylist, julea
PANTONE Marsala (Photo gallery selections: Source)
PANTONE the leading authority on color has announced their color of the year. For most, you know PANTONE by seeing the PANTONE 'color and paint' display at home improvement store Lowes. But for design insiders they are the guru's of color marketing trends - From fashion and makeup to autos and appliances, their color collections are what we see transformed into new products all over the world.

PANTONE Color Studio

So this year they selected a mellow, red/brown color "Marsala".  They say: “PANTONE 18-1438 Marsala is a daringly inviting tone that nurtures; exuding confidence and stability while feeding the body, mind and soul. Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this robust shade incorporates the warmth and richness of a tastefully fulfilling meal, while its grounding red-brown roots point to a sophisticated, natural earthiness" I like it! There's something exciting and a bit daring about the color and such a refresh change. We've already seen it in high end fashion, but could we incorporate into our home interiors?

Reinventing Space, Julea Chicago
Marsala Color of the Year PANTONE - Fashion (Photo: Source)
Sure, it's the color of brick, wood tones or a rich berry paint color.  So if you want to warm it up or add a bit of spice to a space - incorporate away.  If you like a more neutral backdrop, try pairing the color with cooler tones, for juxtapose pairing of warm and cool.

Chicago, Reinventing Space Julea
Marsala can be translated into Home Decor options.
PANTONE also said to pair Marsala with two other 2015 trend colors - Aquamarine and Glacier Grey.  Both of these colors have a strong presence already in home decor and perhaps already in your home.  Why not add a pop up your place with easy purchased pillows, a rug or accent accessories to add a bit of Marsala to your mix?

reinventing space, chicago
Looking to step up for more Marsala? It could be a option for creating a statement in a space. perhaps a piece of furniture, bold window treatments, or a wallpapered accent wall. Consider this new trend color and I think you too will see - there's something about Marsala.

Julea Reinventing Space, Chicago interior stylist, styling, staging
Hooker Furniture - Bombay Chest (Photo: Hooker Furniture)

Julea - Reinventing Space, interior stylist, styling, staging, Chicago
Marsala toned fabrics and textiles by Ralph Lauren (Photo: Source)

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