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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There’s room {in décor} for all of us!


Do you believe the following?

"Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style." -Billy Baldwin

That’s the quote that I display on the sidebar of my blog.

(room by Billy Baldwin)

Have you ever heard, “A good house is never done”?  And, quotes like, “It's not what you have, but what you do with what you have that counts.”?

Charles Faudree says, “It’s not the match, it’s the mix.”

(room by Charles  Faudree)

And, Suzanne Kasler’s design mantra says something like, “if you get the architecture right (the bones and structure of a room), everything else falls into place” plus she says “a room should be collected not decorated”.

(by Suzanne Kasler)

Of course, I could go on and on.  There’s hundreds, maybe thousands, of good design quotes from wonderfully talented designers.

I say, Thank Goodness!  

Thank goodness for all the inspiration and ideas that exist. Thank goodness for the centuries of style that we reference today.  So much so that we could never exhaust the creative possibilities in our homes.

(Powell House, Philadelphia)

(Frank Lloyd Wright interior)

This post was prompted after I read Joni’s post over at Cote de Texas about Sally Wheat, a designer who has morphed her home into something creative and fresh.  I spent a long time reading, re-reading, and studying the pictures of this wonderful post.  What was most interesting to me were the comments that it generated.

(room by Sally Wheat)

You have to read the post to understand the details of this room and how it got here.  All of Sally’s rooms are great….the befores and afters.  They are just different. But each is magnificent in its own right.  They are symbolic of her evolution and growth in her own design scheme.   We should all be so brave!
To me it’s very simple.  Feel the love people!  We are all different.  We all have different tastes and styles.  Isn’t that what makes life interesting?  We don’t all like the same things.  

Hooray for flavors other than vanilla!  Remember the old  Baskin Robbins slogan of “31 flavors”?  The number 31 was chosen so that customers could have a different flavor every day of the month.  Yes, it’s good to have variety.  Same is true with décor.  (Actually I think I see some popular decorating colors in the ice cream chart..i.e. tangerine!).


Change is good.  Change is inevitable.  Believe me, I’m glad I changed my tastes and don’t still have a blue-checked, duck-themed kitchen from the late 80s!  No really, thank goodness.  Not to mention hunter green countertops and wallpaper border. (Sorry, I HAD to mention it.)  And, that was fresh out of interior design school. UGGH!  What were they teaching us? lol    Over time, we all change.


Change keeps us moving.  It helps keep us alive, with a pulse and vibrant energy.  Our lives change.  We age and our children grow up. We look at things differently, we change our opinions, and we have paradigm shifts.  It’s  perfectly normal.  Our wardrobes change.  We may have pieces of vintage clothing but we don’t dress everyday like we live in the sixties.  We update and move forward.


Why should our homes be any different?  Why should our homes look like everyone elses? It’s the variety of styles that makes décor so alive and so interesting.  Decorating is not a constant, it’s static.
It’s o.k. to disagree with designers.  We all have our favorites and those we don’t like as much. Isn’t it wonderful to have a choice?  Designers have their own personal “look” (they’re human, too) and even they change their minds and evolve over time.  Interior Design is not black and white.  It’s merits rest on creativity and artistic interpretation (basically human preferences).  It’s not rocket science and it’s not an exact science.  

Sure, there are some basic tried and true design principles relating to scale, balance, proportion, color, etc.  but it’s how it’s conceptualized into the final product that really matters.


My observations:

1. Trends will always come and go (in fashion, food, and décor).  Good trends and bad trends.  It’s up to us to decide how much and long we will incorporate them.

2. Timeless design will always be around.  True classics may wane in popularity or go out of vogue for a time, but will always re-surface and be re-interpreted by a generation of new designer’s eyes with a nod to the past.  (Example: sunburst mirrors from the 1960s/1970s that we all love right now and are all the rage, are actually from 17th century France.  You all  knew that, right?)  Good investments.


3. Bad décor does exist. Here today, gone tomorrow.  There are certain things that have a short-lived popularity that will never re-appear (unless otherwise seen in seedy bars, i.e. the infamous velvet dogs playing cards picture)  And, please, folks, don’t get mad if you so happen to own one of these and have it hanging in a downstairs game room for a retr0-whimsy effect!)  Maybe wall-to-wall shag carpet, too!  Don’t invest in these things.


La Belle Époque


I have changed my style many times.  Some things I thought I’d never like, I suddenly do. Some things I thought I’d always love, no longer find my favor.  I’ve totally surprised myself by looking for things at antiques shops that I used to pass over.  It’s exciting to appreciate objects when you see them with new eyes.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, we built our house almost 7 years ago and there’s several things I would do different and many things I would do again.  Read here about one such change from deep rooted ideas of what a traditional dining room should look like to letting go.



Sweet Shenita, over at Embellishemnts by SLR, has one of the best self-proclaimed design aesthetics I’ve read. She says, “I adore all things Southern, with a European twist. I call my style a "gumbo"...it's a little Southern and Traditional, a pinch of Old World, a dash of Tuscan, a drop of Contemporary and a sprinkle of French.  Way to go, Shenita. She has embraced her eclectic heart and runs with it.

On soapbox:
Let’s face it.  Most of our homes are eclectic.  We may have an overriding style, but most are basically eclectic.
Off soapbox.

Kudos to Sally Wheat for designing not mimicking her interiors and for following her heart.  If you study her rooms, you will see she certainly has a blend of old and new.  It is interesting to note, that she moves furniture and collections around in her house for a totally different look.  I think this is an important lesson for change without always having to get something “new”.  This is one of the most important things I learned in design school way way back when (use what you have decorating).  Look past the Angolian fur seats if its not your thing, and truly study what she has done.  I said in the comments that “if this wasn’t a good design study, then I don’t know what is”.  I think all students of design should read lots of stories like this so they can take their ideas  and fly.  

(our son’s condo)

So bring on the 1970s with its groovy funkiness.  Bring on Mid-Century Modern, Hollywood Glamour,  Country French, and Shabby Chic.  Take a second look at Early American, Chippendale, and Sheraton.  What about Tuscan or Spanish Colonial?  Farmhouse or Swedish, you say?  Let’s have fun identifying the best elements from each for our ongoing design recipes. It takes many ingredients.  It’s not about bringing back lava lamps (o.k. I did buy one for my son when he was in junior high because he thought they were cool), but about re-invention in fresh new ways.  Can you imagine “LAVA LAMP MEETS ASCP”? lol  (O.K. I’m sure some of you brave souls out there may try this! Please share if you do!)  I had to end on something I thought was funny and you have to admit they are fun to watch!


I,  for one, will continue to read stacks and stacks of design books and magazines and all your great blogs with many different styles and ideas.  Hats off to all the furniture-istas like me.  I want to be exposed to it all.  Formally trained in design or not, there’s always something new to learn.  How can you know what you like, if you never see anything you don’t like?
There are a couple of popular  styles in blogland right now and that’s great. It’s also o.k. if you like something different.  That’s great, too.   Silly rabbit, decorating is for everyone!


And, although I may never have an all-white room or a very colorful Moroccan theme room,  I’m sure my style will change.  I certainly hope so.  But for now, piggybacking on Shenita, I think my design aesthetic is COUNTRY FRENCH MINIMALISM MEETS BLUEGRASS MODERN WITH A CHIC TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN STYLE VOGUE!  Yep, that pretty much sums it up.


What will it be 5 years from now? Who knows? Your guess is as good as mine!

Vive la différence!

I’m linking up to:
Cowgirl Up! at Cedar Hill Ranch
WOW! Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
{Primp} Your Stuff Wednesday at Michele Raven Designs

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Quiet Reading Retreat

I love slipping up to the second floor library with a hot cup of tea,  selecting a book, and curling up on the chaise lounge to get lost.


It’s an open library that overlooks the foyer.


The built-ins are from the same Kentucky company that made my kitchen cabinets, Mouser Custom Cabinetry.   It might not look it from this angle, but it’s about 16’ of cabinetry.  Yes, I know the bookshelves are not styled correctly with all matching off-white or red book covers.  I actually USE this library as a library.  It contains lots of my decorating books that I constantly use for reference.  The glass fronts hold photos and antique porcelains.  There’s a walk-in closet to the left that I didn’t picture, in which I store extra décor items and more books!  It was built for family scrapbook and photo storage and I keep that stuff in there, too.  You can never have too many closets.


I purchased the stained glass window before we built the house.


It was actually a double hung window that came out of a Victorian mansion in New England.  It has the most wonderful colored glass and raised glass jewels.


It is so beautiful when the light from the foyer shines through it.  It also glows at night when the lamp is on and looks pretty from the foyer looking up at it.



I purchased the vintage chaise years ago and recently had it re-upholstered at Ethan Allen in a flax linen.  The lines actually remind me of the 1930s, but can you believe it was upholstered in peach moiré when I found it?


The sun comes in so bright in the morning at the front of the house and helps create a cheerful space.




This is my special place to relax and flip though tons of decorating books.  Every girl needs a quiet retreat.  What’s yours?



Saturday, April 21, 2012

Yes, I’m A Hillbilly with a Music Room

I don’t think I’ve ever shared with you that I am a pianist.  I began playing the piano when I was 6 years old.  I have been a church pianist since the age of 8.  I have studied classical piano, performed on stage for numerous talent competitions and beauty pageants, played at countless weddings and funerals, and specialize in Southern gospel.  I’ve even given piano lessons in the past.

That’s why I need a music room!


Now, the Hillbilly part.  I’ve been absent from blogland this week due to our annual Hillbilly Days Festival right here in Pikeville, KY.  It might as well be declared a national holiday in these parts.  Over 150,000 visitors from all over the U.S. and other countries descend upon our sleepy little town with a population of 6,500  to hoot and holler and raise money for the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital in Lexington.  All the local schools are out.  It’s a wildly popular event, with lots of Bluegrass music, fireworks, a carnival, corn hole competitions, quilt shows, and tons of hillbillies all dressed up for the part!  Oh, and lots of Hillbilly slang!


And did I mention food?  Holy Moly, there are tons of food vendors.  Did you know you can deep fry anything?  Even butter?  Well, it’s all right here at Hillbilly Days.  My favorite indulgence is deep fried Oreos!  This is certainly not a health food week.


What comes to your mind when you hear the word “hillbilly”?
Do you picture Jed Clampett and Granny from the old TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies”?  Do you think moonshine, cabins, and barefoot folk?


There are wealthy hillbillies and poor hillbillies.  It’s a long and rich heritage that comes from living in the Appalachian Mountains (which could be an entire blog of its own…maybe one day!).  It’s a fascinating history behind where we get the term “hillbilly”.  Short explanation here.  I may drive a Porsche and have lots of shoes, but I’m still a hillbilly at heart and proud of it.  I live among some of the most intelligent and kindest people in the world.  Southern hillbillies believe in strong family ties (generations run deep in these hills) and always help their neighbors.

Yes, other hillbillies drive nice cars, too!


The music is always  outstanding.  There are several different stages set up around the city including the park, the courthouse, and the boulevard.  This was an impromptu session.

At the stage in the city park.


Very fashion-forward, don’t cha think?  Please don’t call me ladies wanting to know where you can get overalls like these!!!  And that hat would be perfect for the Kentucky Derby!  (just kidding, of course!) lol


O.K., O.K. enough Hillbilly Days. You get the idea.  Of course, I go every year and eat, socialize,  visit the craft area, and listen to good music.  The city is at the base of my mountain (in the valley).  I’m in the city limits and can see downtown from my backyard.

View of the city from my house.

photo (10)

And you thought this post was about my music room!  Well, it is!

The baby grand is a cherry French Provinçal style by Yamaha.  They make one of the best sounding concert pianos.  I’m in good company…Elton John prefers a Yamaha.  My previous grand piano was a traditional shiny black lacquer example by Baldwin.


This is a sunken music room and it is located in the center of the house.  My husband bought me the French trumeau mirror on my 40th birthday.  The other French pieces are the console and plant stand, both Louis XVI style from the late 1800s.


You can see my pair of French bouillotte tables on the right.  This Karastan rug is one of my favorites.  I just love the pattern and the subtle colors.


It’s hard to find an original trumeau in this condition.  


I think I’ve shared the story about this mantel before, but I’ll share it again.  We bought this mantel before we had house plans because I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it at Architectural Salvage in Louisville.  It’s cherry and walnut and came from a Victorian mansion in the Cincinnati area.  It stands 9  1/2” tall and I really love the paneled recessed niche.  I hung a pair of French botanical engravings in the niche and at Christmas a large Father Christmas stands proudly in the space.


It’s the only non-working fireplace in the house.  I had black slate installed in the back so I could display my French fireback.  The two large urns are alabaster and are also from France.  The double doors lead to the balcony.


The floors are Brazilian cherry and we had an inlaid pattern put around the mantel.  Actually, we had this inlaid border installed in our dining room, and we had a little left over so I put it here!!!  Can’t waste good materials!


August 2006 (33)

View looking toward the foyer.



Detail on the French brass repoussé planter.  The brown spotted ball is actually an English Victorian carpet ball and is really quite heavy!




I hope you enjoyed the hillbilly music room! LOL  Gotta run.  The big parade is today and it’s the last opportunity to get greasy yummy hillbilly food until next year!  Hopefully this afternoon I’ll get caught up on reading all your wonderful blogs as well…I feel so behind.  

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Linking up to these great parties:
French Obsession Party at Le Chateau Des Fleurs 
Favorite Room Party at In The Old Road
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