Thursday, July 13, 2017

Summer Reading

Why does Independence Day seem to mark the unofficial halfway point through summer? And why does time drag during the winter but fly at the speed of light in summer? Maybe I'm just a kid wrapped in an adult body who still delights in the relaxed, slow-paced days and the freedom of vacations, staycations, and looser schedules.

Of course, I may be drawing attention to my age when I say that some fond memories of summer include weekly trips to the library - do kids even do that now?  I sure hope so! I mean, I know that times change and technology advances, but in my mind there is still great value in sitting quietly with a physical book. When I was young, trips to the library were always a perfect way to get out of the heat, spend some "down" time, and peruse the rows and stacks of all those books that held so much promise.  This activity suited me perfectly, as I was an introverted, non-athletic, only child who loved school and learning.  But the meditative quality of reading and spending time in libraries still seems healthy for everyone, at least occasionally, am I right?

OK, time to step down from my soapbox and fast forward to the present day.  You may assume that with my periodic mention of books and reading, and my occasional posts about our book club, that I'm a voracious reader. Not true. Honestly, the acquisition of books is more thrilling for me than reading said books (because, shopping!)  Also, buying books reminds me of school "book orders" - remember those?  I grew up with a single mom and not much extra money, so it was a real treat to be able to order books!  My kids would probably tell you that I enjoyed their school book orders even more than they did.  The thrill of ordering books hadn't faded, so I'm sure I sometimes urged them to get books they could have lived without.  

Now, once we acquire all of these great new books, we typically read them, right? Well...I also read at a glacial pace, which doesn't help me get through those books! I'm so easily distracted by my own thoughts that I have to reread a lot.  But, you don't need to know what all of those squirrels are doing in my brain.  I'm sure you're much more interested in my current reading list!



If you enjoy reading, you've likely already read some of these books.  My list is not cutting edge by any means.  But, here is what is stacked up waiting for me to get going... (all reviews from Amazon.com.)

Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom

The latest New York Times bestseller from the author of the beloved book club favorite The Kitchen House is a heart racing story about a man’s treacherous journey through the twists and turns of the Underground Railroad on a mission to save the boy he swore to protect. Glory Over Everything is “gripping…breathless until the end” (Kirkus Reviews).

If you haven't read these 2 books, run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore or library!  We read The Kitchen House in book club and loved it; and everyone else I know who read it could not put it down.  I'm sure that Glory Over Everything won't disappoint.

Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt

"A Dickens-loving tennis prodigy finds himself the hero of his father's plot in Douglas Brunt's Trophy Son, which convincingly renders a pro-sports fishbowl peopled by drug-enhanced, endorsement-emblazoned warriors - and the attempts of one weary soldier to escape with his soul." - Vogue

This one hits a raw nerve with my "Mom Guilt" - ugh.  As the mother of now-adult children, I often look backwards in regret for my less-than-perfect mothering skills. (If only there were do-overs, sigh.)  I know I hovered and pushed too hard sometimes.  This book might be a bit uncomfortable for me to get through, but apparently I have some desire to punish myself with this story, haha.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.

This one is on our book club's future reading list.  Psychology is always interesting and, coincidentally, my husband and I currently have a family member who is experiencing the frightening and debilitating effects of encephalitis.  It's a different health crisis from the one in this book, but there are enough parallels to have me very interested!

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

A whip-smart, hysterical dramedy about a family in crisis after the disappearance of its brilliant, misanthropic matriarch.

I know this has been out for a while and I'm behind the curve here.  But it struck me as a light and fun escape from reality - perfect for summer.  A mother-daughter storyline always appeals to me and, well, she's an architect so there's that pull as well.


Faithfully Religionless by Timber Hawkeye

If you consider yourself spiritual but not religious, then you're going to love this inspirational book. And if you want to lead a simple and uncomplicated life with happiness at your fingertips, then you'll want to read this page-turner more than once!

I stumbled upon this in the bargain section at Barnes & Noble, and it piqued my curiosity.  After flipping quickly through this book, the author's beliefs resonated with me.  Spirituality is very personal, but I think this may be right up my alley.  And at only $5.98, I didn't have much to lose by buying it.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far From the Madding Crowd (1874) is Thomas Hardy's fourth novel and his first major literary success.
This story of a proud rural beauty and the three men who court her is the novel that first made Thomas Hardy famous.

After seeing the movie at our university's theatre (which plays mostly independent films and documentaries) I immediately ordered the tie-in edition book.  Honestly, this was one of the most beautiful dramatic pieces of cinema that I have ever seen.  I left the theatre and just couldn't stop thinking about it.  The sets and visuals were stunning, and the story was very emotionally moving, with a really strong female character.  I hope that the book keeps me as enthralled as the movie did.

Sense and Sensibility: A Novel by Joanna Trollope

From Publishers Weekly (Aug.) Brit author Trollope brings Austen's classic into the new   millennium, with mixed results.

I don't doubt that there have been mixed results in reactions to this novel.  Some people might think it is a crime to rewrite one of Austen's classics.  Believe it or not, I have not read Jane Austen's book, although I do own it (shameful, I know...don't scold me too harshly about this, haha.) Anthropologie offered several of her books a year ago or so in beautifully-patterned covers, so I bought them...and they sat as lovely home decor accessories.  Then, I tried to read Pride and Prejudice (I don't remember reading it in high school, although it's possible that we did.)  I got a ways into it and then abandoned it.  I'm hoping this modern-day version will capture and hold my attention.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Katherine Boo spent three years among the residents of the Annawadi slum, a sprawling, cockeyed settlement of more than 300 tin-roof huts and shacks in the shadow of Mumbai’s International Airport. From within this “sumpy plug of slum” Boo unearths stories both tragic and poignant--about residents’ efforts to raise families, earn a living, or simply survive. 

What can I say about this?  I'm not sure why it spoke to me in the book store, but something drew me to it. I really love reading non-fiction, and I'm a sucker for stories that tug at the heart-strings in some way.  It may be another difficult one to get through, as it undoubtedly sheds light on the harsh realities of how people are forced to live.  But it's probably something that I need to learn more about.


There is actually no way I'll get through all of these books this summer.  As a matter of fact, I still have 2 unfinished books that I'm working on before I can crack any of these open.  I'm currently reading Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan about Frank Lloyd Wright's affair with Mamah Northwick Cheney, and Dreams from My Father by Former President Barack Obama (I know, I know, I'm very late to the party again with this book! Haha!)

What's on your summer reading list?  Have you read any of these?

Julie



 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Eclectic Style? or Hot Mess?

There are many styles that designers use when creating living spaces for their clients and that we use in our own homes.  We're all familiar with Traditional, Contemporary, Industrial, French Country, Mid-Century Modern, etc.  They each have identifiable features and are fairly easy to classify.  So, does that mean that any room which doesn't neatly fit into a specific style is eclectic?  Definitely not!

Let's take a looks at what the term "eclectic" actually means...

Definition of eclectic.  1:  selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods, or styles.  2:  composed of elements drawn from various sources; also: heterogeneous. (source: Merriam-Webster)

Eclecticism is a nineteenth and twentieth-century architectural style in which a single piece of work incorporates a mixture of elements from previous historical styles to create something that is new and original.  In architecture and interior design, these elements may include structural features, furniture, decorative motifs, distinct historical ornament, traditional cultural motifs or styles from other countries, with the mixture usually chosen based on its suitability to the project and overall aesthetic value. (source: Wikipedia)

An eclectic interior, then, is not a "catch-all" but rather a carefully curated collection of elements from various styles.  Established design principles such as balance, proportion, and scale still apply if we want to create a successful eclectic interior space. Take the following image, for example.


Several styles are incorporated here, including contemporary clean lines in the credenza, chaise longue, and side table; traditional elements of the tufted ottoman and rug; and a decidedly modern gold slat chair.  This room works so well because the designer kept a uniform "feel" with the use of subtle color, simple shapes and lines, and proper furniture scale.  The artwork, in a combination of framed portraiture and modern abstracts, adds visual interest without being confined to one style.


This gorgeous black and white space employs abstract art and a modern lucite chair to balance the visual weight and ornate carving of the desk. Minimal accessorizing with plants, simple vases, and draperies that blend into the walls keeps our eyes focused on the beauty and personality of the furnishings. Neutral colors help to eliminate busyness and serve to meld different design styles together; and a traditional oriental rug gives warmth to the scheme.  The room is purposely kept open and airy to balance its generous use of black decor.


This next room is just full of eclectic goodness, isn't it?  The furniture, lamps and chandelier lend an old-world charm, while bold pops of color keep things fresh and timely.  A black and white geometric rug grounds the furniture grouping and adds a playful quality to the room; while the crisp white mirror against a white wall brings in a contemporary twist.  Also, white-on-white trim mouldings provide interest without detracting from other furnishings.

How different would this space feel if the walls were dark, the rug was traditional, and the chairs were covered in tapestry?  


And, finally, traditional and Asian-inspired furnishings are punched up with a large piece of modern art and daring use of color.  The abstract painting adds a lot of interest, movement, and colorful energy.  Again, if we imagine a piece of landscape, portrait, or still-life art here, and wood-toned tables in place of the painted red ones, there would be a more predictable and conventional look to this space.  

One of the great benefits of using eclectic design is in achieving a one-of-a-kind result. For people who enjoy many interior design styles, this method of curating pieces from various time periods and regions is ideal.  As long as we remember to use a framework of good design principles, we can create unique, visually-stimulating spaces.  I, myself, have always leaned toward eclectic design, as I find it to be very adaptable, fluid, and exciting.  How do you feel about this design style?  





Monday, June 12, 2017

Relax

Hi Friends,
It's been a while. You probably thought I fell off the edge of the earth, right?  I've got to say that the One Room Challenge kind-of took it out of me - whew!  And then there's that ongoing thorn in my husband's and my side, the townhouse reno from H*## (after our former tenants completely trashed the place.)  We've basically had to gut it and start from the floors up...ugh!
It hasn't all been toil and trouble, though.  I did manage to fit in a fun Girlfriend Trip to San Antonio over Memorial Weekend.  Seven sorority sisters and I (many of whom hadn't seen each other in 34 years!) spent the long holiday weekend at the JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Texas Hill Country.  It was glorious!!  Here is a glimpse of the spa pool and and the amazing views.


There were long chats over coffee and wine, a full spa day, an evening on the RiverWalk, complete with a boat tour and dinner and, most importantly, the chance to reconnect with a few of the women who helped usher us into adulthood so many years ago.  And I noticed that everyone was exactly the same as when we were in college together.  I mean, of course we look older now and we've collectively endured a lot of life experience; but personalities hadn't changed at all.  The things we loved about each other were still there.  I came back home with such a full heart :)

So now summer has finally arrived, and I'm trying to slow down, regroup, "Relax," and enjoy it.  Those of you who follow me have seen our sun porch in past posts.  As a matter of fact, the décor out here really hasn't changed much at all.  Unfortunately, I've placed myself on a strict budget after all of that spending in the Master Bedroom, and during the Girlfriend Weekend...ahem.....  Creativity will have to be my middle name for a while! 



I moved a few accessories around and added some new succulents and plants.  Each year, the plants barely scrape by in the house during our long Nebraska winters; and then I move them out to the porch to rejuvenate over the summer months.  It's amazing how much growth happens while they are here in the sunshine and humidity.  You can see that the one under the wire cloche has had quite a bit of growth on top.


I would love to add some new pillows to this sofa. A couple of these have gotten a little tired and faded. Hopefully, I'll stumble onto some great deals this summer - fingers crossed.  The Buddha head was something I found last year at a yard sale for $1, and I think it is perfect for this space. 


You may remember seeing this wreath if you follow me on Instagram.  My intention was to hang it on our front door, but between birds trying to nest in it and our son complaining about bumping his head on it every time he came through the door, it had to be moved. We keep this antique dresser on the sun porch and store dog leashes and miscellaneous dog supplies in it.  I also store the summer accent pillows in it during the winter months.  I don't have a strong attachment to the dresser (obviously, since I allow it to endure harsh weather conditions out here.)  We originally purchased it to use in our kids' nursery, which was 28 years ago.  The wood on this poor thing has really dried out while it has sat on the porch, though.  At some point, it will be sold or given to someone who can lovingly restore it to its former beauty.

These finials had been inside our house on the fireplace mantel, but this spring I changed the look in there to topiaries and branches.  So, the finials found a new home here on the porch.  I often threaten to add more color in the décor out here, but all of the greens and natural elements really blend nicely into the outdoor landscape.  It feels very restful to me this way, I guess.


And restful is the whole idea for this space.  It is such a comfortable spot for settling in with a cool drink and a magazine or book, especially when there is a nice cross-breeze coming through the windows.  We have plenty of birds, butterflies, squirrels, and rabbits that come to visit, too.  This spring, another robin built a nest outside of our sun porch on the downspout.

Her babies hatched, grew, and flew away according to schedule.  However, a couple of weeks later, I noticed that a robin has been sitting on that nest again.  I don't know if it's the same one or if a second, opportunistic robin is taking advantage of a nicely-built home?  I was worried that our first robin was still "fussing over" an egg that hadn't hatched, so I drug the ladder out and climbed up there to inspect what was in the nest.  Sure enough, there are 2 eggs there, and she continues to nurture them now.  I hope this story has a happy ending with two new babies soon.


How about that for a perfect segway...haha!  I've displayed this metal bird sculpture both inside the house and out here at various times.  Obviously, it is quite fitting in this space.  I picked up the pepperomia plant at a tag sale for $2 last weekend, but I've already noticed that its leaves are turning brown/black in the centers.  There is so much conflicting information online.  I haven't figured out if it is suffering from improper watering, has been scorched from too much sun, or some other issue.  It looked fine when I brought it home, so apparently my brown thumb is working quickly on this poor plant :(  At least I didn't spend much on it, haha.

I hope your summer is starting out fun and relaxing.  Don't you just love the carefree feeling that summer invites?


Sharing with: Between Naps on the Porch, Everyday Living, DIY by Design
The Dedicated House, Vintage Charm, A Delightsome Life, French Country Cottage, Shabby Art Boutique

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

One Room Challenge - The Reveal!

The day is here!  It's Reveal Day for the One Room Challenge Guest Bloggers!  Before I share photos of our new and improved Master Bedroom, I want to thank Linda from Calling It Home for creating this incredible event, media partner House Beautiful, and everyone who stopped by my blog these past six weeks to check on my progress and cheer me on.  It's been crazy, but well worth the effort to give this dated bedroom a fresh facelift (see the Before here.) 

Also, I'd like to thank my hubby for his patience with my design "bug."  He's been dealing with this for almost 34 years now - the constant changing, painting, rearranging, etc.  And, funny story - he has been saying, "You're going to win!" even though I've told him that this isn't a competition, haha!  Isn't it sweet of him to give me that compliment, though?  I guess he approves of the new décor.

OK, then, without further ado, here is our "Plum Perfect" bedroom...


If you're new here, I went with an eclectic, moody vibe with an infusion of sparkle for the room's new look.  For links to sources on all of the furniture, lighting, etc., you can visit my past three posts.  I am SO pleased with the way everything turned out, starting with this perfect paint color from Clark & Kensington!  There is just the tiniest hint of plum in this color, so it makes a rich background for black and shades of purples.


As you can see, the Noir Ascona bedside chests, which are such gorgeous anchors in this room, are topped with Gilt lamps that still take my breath away with their marble column bases and polished brass shades. The Largo Furniture Soho iron and upholstered headboard gives us a comfortable backrest when we are sitting in bed.  I love the Industrial element that it lends to the room, as well.  



Each side of the bed is styled similarly, with mirrored stars in open frames.  These stars were actually hanging in other rooms of our home, and I plucked them off the walls to place in here.  They  are the perfect accessories to create both unity and distinctiveness to our separate sides of the bed.


My night table is a bit more feminine, with a crusty antique frame, books about design and ballet, an Anthropologie Volcano candle, and flowers in shiny vessels.


If this vignette is photo-heavy, please forgive me, haha.  I really love the layering of finishes, textures, and colors here.  We ladies need pretty things, am I right? :)


The hubby's side is more streamlined with a simpler black frame, a star that is bolder in size and shape, and succulents in modern pots on a stylized tray.  We now have so much storage in these chests that there will be no excuses for cluttering the tops!




This corner will make a nice reading nook by the window with an oversized leather chair, which was brought in from another room, and a cozy throw.  There were a couple of revisions I had to make toward the end of this challenge.  The Mid-Century Modern table project didn't come together quite as I had hoped, so I replaced it with this cute garden stool-type table, purchased at HomeGoods.  I love the mirrored chrome finish on the top, the stud details, and the ring handles.  And it will be the perfect little spot to set a cool drink or cup of coffee when I'm curled up with a good book.



At this point in time, I don't plan to add any drapery panels to the window treatment.  Our ceiling slopes down on the other end of the window, which doesn't allow much space for hardware.  And, truthfully, I like the simplicity of the blinds alone.  It keeps the visual focus elsewhere in the room.  I'm still loving the light fixture from West Elm, which adds that modern, industrial flair and echoes the style of the headboard.  The collage wall will eventually grow larger and extend down towards the floor, but for now it definitely reflects my design aesthetic.  I don't always design so symmetrically, but as I laid it all out, it just kept working this way.  Having pairs of similar art pieces lent itself to this arrangement.  


The center print was my jumping off piece, and I already had the architectural plaques and antique mirror, which I spray painted raspberry.  The "Spirograph" art has a sweet story, which was shared in a previous post; and the chair art reflects my Interior Design background.




This antique doorknob previously belonged to our daughter.  Can you believe she found it lying on the rooftop of an apartment building in Chicago that she had lived in?  Who would abandon this gorgeous piece of history on a roof?  I have been coveting that doorknob ever since she discovered it, even before the plan for this room was based on the color plum.  She was generous enough to pass it on to me after she decided that she could live without it - I was thrilled!




Here is a quick view of that amazing Norman Bel Geddes chest I scored on Chairish.  No one really wants to look at an ugly tv, but this sure makes it more appealing, doesn't it?  The clean lines and simple design blend well into the room's style.




Our new bedding includes a combination of linens from Bed, Bath & Beyond (coverlet), IKEA (sheets), and Urban Outfitters (light purple shams.)  The shades of plums and magenta were pulled from the art and really add some beautiful color to the neutral furnishings.  

Well, that's a wrap!  Thankfully, we finally have a completed bedroom for the first time in our married life - it's such a joy to use this gorgeous room now!  I absolutely love how it envelops us in velvety, restful color and lustrous finishings.  Thank you, again, for visiting.  I hope you have enjoyed taking this journey with me.  I sure do appreciate all of your support and comments along the way.



See you next week for something new and different.  Maybe I can finally get outside and start tackling the jungle that used to be known as our landscaping beds............

, Dwellings the Heart of Your Home, Let's Add Sprinkles, Rustic & Refined, Between Naps on the Porch