Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Time to Deck the Halls!

I have to apologize for my lack of posts and reading the past few weeks. It seems that time of year is upon is when every waking moment is taken up with something. Last weekend, the few "free" hours we had were spent decorating the inside of the  house for Christmas. Far earlier than I normally like to, but it was a "now or never" type of a thing, as plans this weekend and travel over Thanksgiving left no other time to do it.

Last year, we put up two trees--one in our formal living/music room, and a 12 footer in the great room. I LOVE decorating for the holidays, but HATE the take-down afterward. I vowed NOT to do two trees again. I should have been more specific, because we ended up with THREE.

 The tree in the formal living room/music room is covered with nearly 1,000 lights, ornaments in black, silver, blue, and mirror. The topper is done out of white poinsettia and silver ting ting, and the ribbon has a sheet music pattern. Lighting a tree is the most important part, and I wind the strings from the trunk to the tip, working my way from the bottom to the top.

 On top of the piano, and again on the sofa table in our great room, we took the limbs from an old artificial Christmas tree to make sprays. Sprinkled with lights, ribbon, and smaller ornaments, the sprays turned out beautifully considering they were made from "leftovers".

The small pencil tree in the dining room is done up with damask ribbon that picks up on the fabric of the host chairs, black and silver ornaments. An ornate mask and a few plumes of feathers top this one out. 

We got the dining room table ready for the season by swapping out the usual salad plates with something a bit more festive, created a great centerpiece with mercury glass trees and a silver snow globe, and hung a few ornaments from the chandelier. A few red accents give the table a little life.

And finally, the great room 12-footer. This tree is predominantly done in reds and bright greens, but also has a good many brown and orange ornaments. The hearth becomes home to our Christmas village, and more branches of the old Christmas tree found their way to the mantel.

Click HERE for a panoramic shot of the great room (kindly excuse the mess!)

I'm linking to the Metamorphosis Monday party at one of my favorite blogs, Between Naps on the Porch! Each week, they serve up lots of before and afters that are sure to inspire!

This post is also linking to the Holiday House Tours Party at Hooked on Houses

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Drive By Shootings: European Elegance

This "Drive-By Shooting" is a house in the midst of a complete renovation. Once owned by a prominent and philanthropic family, the house was sold last year for an almost unheard of price in Greenville, South Carolina. I wish I'd had the foresight to download the photos from the listing, because it revealed an interior of gracious rooms, gorgeous moldings, and interiors in which cost had been no object--in 1969. The home was flawless but extremely dated. The house is on a double or triple lot on one of the most desired streets in town, and has over 7,000 square feet on three levels. The slate roof and cast stone entrance and window surrounds speak to the quality of the house. The new owners have removed the high hedge that previously blocked the house from the street, torn down an ill-conceived greenhouse that once sat on the left side, replacing it with the large pavilion that is visible hear, and added a carriage house that perfectly compliments the existing house.

The renovations are being completed by a top-notch builder and overseen by a respected architect, I can only hope the finished house is  published or open on one of the charity tours in the coming years. I would love to see what they have done with the interior.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Another Kind of Interior

Folks, I have an illness. It's chronic, despite my repeated attempts at curing it. I have had to come to terms with the fact that I will likely suffer from this my whole life. It's called "Car Fickles" and is characterized by sudden unsets of "New Car Fever" which can only be cured by trading automobiles. It's true that in my 16 years of driving, I have had 9 cars. The longest I've ever gone without a flair up is three and a half years,  but the disease has progressed the past five years, and I have been afflicted on an almost yearly basis.

Whether it's the smell of a new car interior, the gloss of a factory-fresh paintjob, or just the lure of the deal, we may never know. But this week, as I sat in the dealership pouring over swatches of the available leathers, woods, and metal surfaces that could adorn the interior of one car I'm considering, I was as giddy as if I were designing myself a new room. And with the attention car manufacturers are paying to interiors, it's no wonder. With long commutes, business travel, and weekend getaways keeping us in our cars more than ever, it's only fitting that their interiors should be given as much consideration as any other space. Take a look at some of my favorites:

Jaguar has a history of creating beautiful autos, and the latest XJ is no exception. The contrasting piping, fine woods, and play of textures make it a stunner.

Mercedes Interiors are generally more sedate...handsome rather than dazzling. But select one of their "Designo" packages (the porcelain one pictured here) and you get more style. The piano black surfaces, boldly contrasting leather and carpets, and channeled seats make this one of my favorites.

Audi is another manufacturer who makes gorgeous interiors. This one is understated and elegant, with rich brown carpets, bone colored leather with an accent that pulls in the carpet color, and subtle wood graning to highlight the well thought out controls.

Maserati is one of a handful of companie that allows its owners to create something truly unique. Customers have an endless number of options...from choosing the color of the piping to the color of the seatbelts. Here, a monochromatic caramel scheme gets some visual interest from the button tufted seating.

Porsche likewise allows a great array of customization options. Here, a mostly black 911 interior gets some visual punch from ivory colored inserts and contrasting stitching.

Front seat passengers don't get all the fun. The rear seat of this Bentley shows that just as much detail is payed to the aft cabin. Deep, light colored leather bucket seats are highlighted with blue trim and dark burled wood accents.

Even Volvo, long known for safety, but rarely thought of as a design pioneer, has gotten in on the fun. The contrasting saddle orange seating makes the handsome interior of this S60 memorable.

And great interiors are not reserved just for high-priced cars. Here, Chevrolet has given the interior of the Malibu the designer treatment with a sweeping two tone dash and seats beautifully upholstered in chocolate brown and charcoal.

MINI's standard cars have a pretty high level of personalization possible, and every few years they launch an even more special limited edition. Here, the  limited Mayfair MINI uses contrasting textures and colors to create the sort of interior normally seen only in much more expensive autos.

So, what do you think? Which is your favorite? Have you ever paid much mind to your car's interior?

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Drive By Shootings: A Picture Perfect Traditional

Forgive the poor quality, I had to go the wrong way around a cul-de-sac to snap a picture of this gorgeous traditional house. The first floor is stone, and the second floor is covered in gold clapboard. I just adore the broken pediment entrance and the dormers popping through the fascia. Looks like something from a movie set, doesn't it?

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Conversation with Tina from "The Enchanted Home"

"The Enchanted Home" is one of my favorite design blogs, and I was very excited when the author, Tina, agreed to a little question and answer with me. Tina and I love many of the same things, and I have throroughly enjoyed watching the progress as she and her family have built their dream home. Tina's readers not only get to see the gorgeous details of her house unfold, but are treated to Tina's take on wonderful travel locations, products, and design. She serves up some of the very best "eye candy" there is on the web, and does it with grace and charm. If you haven't already, click over to The Enchanted'll be glad you did.

I believe our blogs started around the same time. I wanted a way to organize my inspiration photos and share my thoughts and projects. What prompted you to start "The Enchanted Home?"
I started my blog Jan.1st of this year...hard to believe its been eight fun, entertaining and educational months!  In building our home, I started looking for lots of various house related things both in pictures and articles online.  After going to a few blogs for months without honestly realizing they were even blogs (had no idea what one was) I started thinking "hey I can do this too". I enjoy writing and thought this would be a fun way to share my interests as well as the entire home building experience with other like minded people. Sure enough I soon discovered there are lots of them out there!  So I started one wintry morning, writing my very first post that maybe generated a single comment. But boy was that comment coveted and celebrated!!

I just love your blog, and judging by the number of comments others leave, I am far from alone. What is it about The Enchanted Home that you think gets people hooked? What advice would you give a new blogger on how to reach and keep  an audience?

Thank you Brandon! I think a lot of people like my take on design, and decor and I think a lot of people enjoy watching the progress of our home building. I follow a few blogs myself on people who are either building or renovating and I so anticipate their new posts on updates so I see it from the perspective of how fun it is to watch someone else's project in the works (I get a lot of emails telling me this so this is not an assumption). I think I do have a certain style which while not for everyone, appeals to a fairly broad group.  As far as keeping an audience, it is a mantra you hear often but its just so true...write about what you really love and what excites you. The rest will flow. I think the key is to keep it authentic, not to feel like you must play to your audience, as that will become a chore and  novelty which will wear off because you will undoubtedly lose interest if you lack the passion and conviction to write about what you love and believe in. I always say you cannot be all things to all people, just be yourself and the audience you gain will be a loyal one.

You and your family are nearing the end of a long building process. Is there a part of you that will be sad to have the house finished? What are you going to miss most about the building process?

NO NO AND NO,  there is no size font on this computer that could spell out a big enough "no" to get my point Its been over three and half years and I just "want off this ride".  Frankly I really won't miss anything about the building process other than at this point it IS fun to go to the house and get excited over something that has changed from one day to the next. But my patience is thin, and I am ready to move in, and not look back!

What is your favorite thing about your new house? Is there anything you would have done differently?

Oh boy, I really have so many. I love the style, French...its always been a dream of mine to have a home like this. I love my kitchen and breakfast room and family room. Love having my own bathroom FINALLY! I love the materials we used, there are too many to single out just one. Honestly at this point I am very very happy to say there is not a single thing I would have done differently!

A few months ago, a house I designed was featured in an article on a national news site.  It was around 4,000 square feet, and I was very surprised when several anonymous commenter's took the position that a house that size was went so far as to claim it was morally irresponsible. Have you faced anything similar, online or off, as you've chronicled building your house? What do you say (if you bother saying anything) to people with that attitude?

This is interesting. Once again you cannot be all things to all people and most certainly there are going to be those who just don't want to see the good in anything, and unfortunately even some "haters" out there. If anything, I feel sorry for anyone who cannot be happy for someone else fulfilling their dream. I on the other hand, am very inspired when I see something beautiful, it excites and inspires me, makes me want to aspire to do and be better. So that kind of attitude is very foreign to me, and I always think that person is likely a very unhappy individual or very dissatisfied with his/her life to have to tear someone else down. I live my life for me, and feel very blessed and just know in this world there will always be those naysayers, but I will not allow them to bring me down.  I try to focus on all the many positives and the goodness in 99.9% of the people I have met through blogging.

Designing and building a house is a sometimes overwhelming process that is filled with surprises. Do you have a particular method for staying organized and attacking all the decisions? What would you tell someone about to start the homebuilding process to be ready for?

Well I have a very large online photo album full of very inspirational pictures, when I didn't have so many it was well organized into categories and by rooms. Now that I have literally hundreds, the organizational system has fallen to the wayside but it is still a valuable resource that I use daily. I also have a very thick file folder a friend gave me many years ago (when we were building our old house ironically) that has different compartments and that's a great way to keep track of invoices and paperwork though somehow they don't always find their way there. Be prepared to spend 20-30% more than you think you will and add at least a few extra months to the time frame, that is given. I have yet to hear of a project be done on time or earlier, it is nearly almost always much later...sort of the the nature of the beast unfortunately. Be ready to spend A LOT of your waking hours (and many non waking too) mulling over decision after decision, it can be incredibly overwhelming so I think its important that both husband and wife be fully on board and committed to the building of a home.

Tell us about your family! How much have they been involved in creating your home? Does your husband share your passion for the details, or is he one of those guys who only cares about the garage?

I have a wonderful husband who I have been married to for 26 years. And he is VERY involved. In fact, our builder is so impressed with his knowledge and business savvy, they may go in on a project together! He is a huge asset to have in this process. This has been a project that we embarked on truly together, in every sense. I would never have been able to get through it if he wasn't as involved as he has been. We have had many twists and turns, highs and lows in this process but its been nice to have someone to share it with! We got married very young and started a family when I was 22 and he 27. We have been blessed with 3 wonderful sons, and a great dog, the infamous Teddy. (lots of people got to know Teddy when when I poured my heart out in a post when we thought we had lost him on Mothers day)!

You've written about some fabulous travel destinations. Practical concerns aside, tell us about your dream vacation.

THANK YOU! Its no secret I love to travel ….. I think my dream vacation would in terms of a place I have already been, lounging on a beach (preferably a private beach so the beach wrap could come off, lol) in Hawaii with a IV drip of Maitai's and Pina coladas with my biggest worry being what book to indulge in that day and what time our dinner reservation is (yea I know keep dreaming right?) In terms of a place I have yet to travel to, but high on my wish list, I  would love to visit Fiji and take an archaeological tour through Egypt and Turkey.

How would you describe your style?

Assuming you  mean with regard to decorating/dressing….definitely classic traditional with a slight twist. I find my taste is evolving and especially since I became an official member of blogland, there is so much beauty and inspiration, it has really opened my eyes. I love all European influences, particularly French.

If you could go back in time and offer a younger you some advice, what would it be?

Learn everything you can, knowledge is power.  You can never know enough, read read read, absorb it all like a sponge, commit yourself to continuously keep learning and evolving. Never stand still and think you have it covered. Open your mind to always being the best you can be.  And I have always loved "shoot for the moon and you will land on one of the stars". In other words think big, dream big and wish big, we are only limited by our imaginations.

A sneak peak at Tina's house...visit her blog The Enchanted Home to see more!

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Drive By Shootings: Picture Perfect Southern Elegance

The graceful columns, beautifully detailed wings, and copper conductor heads caught my eye on this house, which not only exudes Southern charm, but appears to be for sale...any takers?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Formal Living Room Unveiled

The formal living room at our house has been a long time in the making. I've previously written about my finds for this space--a mirrored chest scored for $200 at Homegoods, a pair of mirrored tables snatched off of clearance at Pier One. But not until a few weeks ago did I finally feel like the room was finished. (A relative term, of course, since I would love to have hardwood floors in there, a different piano, and maybe even taller crown molding, but it is finished enough for now.)

Here's what the space looked like shortly after I moved in. We'd already painted the walls Sherwin Williams Pearl Gray. The sofa had recently been recovered--breathing new life into a piece I bought for my first college apartment. I originally thought my scheme would be brown, white, and blingy. But I kept finding better things in black, so the brown rug moved to the study, the brown pillows moved to the great room, and the antique side chair, covered in brown and blue tapestry, made its way to one of the guest rooms, and the walnut end tables got a makeover in black and silver.

And here is the after. The painting is one of my favorite pieces. Since the piano is in this room, I wanted an abstract with a subtly musical motif. I scored this one at a furniture consignment store in town. The coffee table is the old end tables--a weekend project that turned out beautifully. The pillows are custom made, and the lamps are another Homegoods find. (I just love black lampshades!)

The window treatments are off the rack from JC Penny. I took their roman shades and added the ribbon detail with a little stitch witch. I'll eventually add some sort of embellishment to the drapes--a Greek Key tape on the leading edge or some fringe. The scroll arm chair was a find on a trip to High Point, and the architectural prints over the mirrored chest once hung in my high school bedroom.

The view coming down the front stairs. The upright piano isn't as out of place as this picture would indicate, but when it was last tuned, the technician told us that it couldn't be tuned again--so it will be replaced in the not-to-distant future. The mirror-framed mirror is flanked by two mirrored sconces (another Homegoods steal) that are still waiting for the perfect objects to grace them.

As always, I am linking to the Metamorphosis Monday part at Between Naps on the Porch. Every week, BNOTP brings together some of the best before-and-afters on the web. Click over there to check out more!

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Let's Roll

There are few of us who can't remember exactly where we were this morning ten years ago. I was working at my first job out of college when a coworker sent me a message that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Even as another airliner slammed into the second tower, we struggled to find a more reasonable explanation as to what was happening. After what seemed an eternity, several of us broke for an early lunch and watched the news unfold on the TV screens of a nearby Applebee's. There was a collective numbness that day, and for weeks that followed.

A friend summed up her feelings on the anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy beautifully this morning:

"For all of the hurt & pain this day brought to us 10 yrs ago, it also brought perspective. For a short while, we lived in Unity, simply, as Americans. We flew our flags & were patriotic. We valued each other more & hugged loved ones a bit tighter. Our churches were packed with people praying for our country. We contacted long, lost friends & let them know we think of them often. We worried less about the small stuff & were thankful for our own tiniest blessings. Perspective...a gift out of tragedy!"

Never Forget!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Two of a Kind: A Look at Twin Beds

When I was growing up, my grandmother's guest bedroom had two twin sized beds in it. I suppose that early connotation left a mark on me, because anytime I hear "guest room" my mind instantly conjures up an image of matching twin beds. Now, for the most part, I would say that offering your adult guests a twin bed is a sure way to guarantee they won't overstay their welcome, but if your guests often include children, couples who live as though they are in a 1950's sitcom, or several single folks, a guest room with twin beds might just make some sense. And if you're lucky enough to have more than one guest room, setting one of them up with twins will give you a lot of versatility.

While a child's room is where many people would put a twin bed, the following images show the more mature side of them. Which is your favorite?

A subtle color scheme, and restrained use of pattern makes this a very soothing room.

An absolute favorite of mine...the large bed canopy over both beds gives this room a unified look. And the Greek key  motif is perfectly done.

Here again, the two twins are unified by the use of upholstered panels above them. Great slightly overscaled chest in the center serves as a nightstand.

I love red with Tiffany-box blue, and the bold rug here really makes for a beautiful space.

A decidedly masculine room by Ashley Goforth. Not so sure about that deer, but I love the wall color and the overall simplicity here.

Matching bed canopies with suspended light fixtures make for a breathtaking room.

House Beautiful featured this guest room which has a wonderful patina about it.

Twin metal canopy beds turned heads at this year's Oakville showhouse.

Phoebe Howard put together this grown-up nautical bedroom. Wouldn't this be perfect at a beach house?

Southern Living featured this guest room several years ago, but it still looks fresh. Those upholstered headboards could be easily recreated by even novice DIY'ers.

So what do you think about twin beds, are they just for kids? Or do they still have a use outside of a child's room?

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Expandable Round Dining Tables

I spent much of this week tracking down an expandable round dining room table for a client. Round dining tables have grown in popularity the past few years, but there is certainly nothing new about them. A square, round, or octagonal dining room almost demands a round table, and in any space they are great for easy conversation among everyone enjoying the meal.

The space I was shopping for this week is ideally scaled for a six person dining room table, but gracious enough to handle 8-10. An expandable table was really what we needed for those special occasions when larger groups were getting together. And because the space was an octagon, we needed one that would expand in the round--a round table that turns into an oval with the addition of a leaf was not going to cut it. Luckily, there are a  host of tables that do just that, and most of them are absolute marvels of furniture engineering.

My client had her eye on the expanding round table from Theodore Alexander's "Althorp: Living History" collection. I love that collection of furniture--all reproductions of pieces found at Althorp House, the seat of Princess Diana's family. One store I was at this week had a console table from that collection at a tremendous price. If my client doesn't take it, I may. At any rate: here are some pictures of expanding round tables to drool over:

Theodore Alexander's Althorp table retails for around $15,000. Beautiful piece with flame mahogany, rosewood, and burl inlays.

From Top: The Althorp table closed. The expansion pieces fold out of the way under the table top when not in use. Opening the table to full size reveals the artistry and craftsmanship in the piece. Considering that it's a reproduction of a table originally made in the 1800's, is even more remarkable. At full size, the table will seat 8 to 10 guests.

Century Furniture carries a couple of expanding round tables by Oscar De LaRenta. The extension pieces do not appear to be stored within...but just take a look at the works inside!

The De LaRenta table, which retails for over $20,000, is a thing of beauty...gorgeous details.

And finally, you have to check out this one from Western Heritage furniture (which operates much like the Althorp table that's going to my client's new house)

Pretty impresive, isn't it?

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Drive By Shootings: Graceful Details and Proportions

Introducing a new recurring category here at Southgate: Drive-By Shootings. What house lover hasn't driven past a gorgeous home and been tempted to whip out their camera or cell phone and capture it for their idea file?

First up, a gracefully proportioned and perfectly detailed house that I pass every day on  my way to work:

The cast stone entry of this house is to die for! The subtle banding that dileniates the first and second floors, and the gracious dormers clad in the same slate as the roof make this house drool-worthy.