Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Wabi-Sabi Approach To Enjoying Your Home

Have you heard the term Wabi-Sabi before? While I have, I hadn't heard it explained in regard to interiors quite as simply as this before, so felt these thoughts from Pauline of the English Organizer were definitely worth sharing!

One of the surprising perks of running a small business is meeting a wide number of new people and gaining fresh perspectives. I had a perfectly good (British) education, in which I excelled in my chosen subjects, but it may have been just a little narrow and I apparently haven’t worked too hard to broaden it since.
So when talented silk artist Ellen Brook mentioned that she is fascinated with Wabi-Sabi, I found myself scrambling to Google before my ignorance was revealed. Upon discovering the meaning of the Japanese term, I was struck by its applicability to our homes and expectations for how we live. With the world’s eyes turned towards Japan recently, perhaps this is the perfect time to remind ourselves how much we can learn from this incredible culture.
Dwyer Design
Dwyer Design
Thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that wabi-sabi is sometimes described as beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. It nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. The distinction is made between this aesthetic and the Greek values of beauty and perfection, often upheld in the West.
It's The Little Things
It's The Little Things
Think for a moment, have you been striving towards the ideals of the ancient Greeks? Would you instead feel more relaxed, more content, more ‘at home’ in your home if you could appreciate the beauty of your imperfect and unfinished surroundings? And would your organizing projects be less daunting if you could view them as a transient work-in-progress, where the perfect solution is only a myth?
It’s true that wabi-sabi appears to favor a natural, minimalist approach, so you cannot simply point to your clutter and declare you have embraced the aesthetic. However, if an organizing dilemma has been troubling you, it’s OK simply to make a start and recognize this is a journey towards improvement, where some rough-edges and irregularity can and should remain.
Adwait Kher
Adwait Kher
For more tips on moving away from perfection in favor of the wabi-sabi approach, you can check out Home Design Find and Apartment Therapy.
The English Organizer

Monday, June 27, 2011

Long Distance Design: 5 Tips for Success

Today Cathy Wall, of Room Rx, is sharing tips on how to work successfully with a designer long distance. With this approach becoming such a popular way to work, these guidelines may prove to be very helpful in ensuring the project is a success!

These days it is all the rage, "E Design," "Long Distance Decorating," whatever you want to call it, the service is being offered up by long time designers, newbie decorators and design bloggers alike. The process typically involves some back and forth electronic (the "E") communication and sharing of information with an end result including some or all of the following: a Design Concept Board, a furniture plan, materials samples, a list of resources/pricing for purchasing products and materials and advice on how to put it all together.

{design board}

{room before}

{room after}

The difference between designing a room this way and traditional decorating is that the designer never actually sees the room in person before creating the look and the final product is installed by the client, not the designer or designer's contractors. Often the designer does not even meet the client in person, but rather establishes a relationship electronically, via e-mail, photographs, texts or cell phone.

So how do you know if this service is for you and if so, what are the keys to success? Having done long distance decorating on and off for the past five years, most recently in my “Room Rx” format, here are some things that I have learned:

1) Be Ready To Roll Up Your Sleeves!

Long distance decorating is perfect for those with a "Do It Yourself" mentality and a bit of decorating confidence. This is important because once the designer shares the plan, it is up to the client to interpret and execute it, often without further help and guidance from the designer. Therefore the client needs to be ready to roll up their sleeves and make it happen on their own.

Here are some "before and after" shots of a bathroom renovation completed with the help of a "Room Rx" design plan.


{the after's}

2) Communication is Key

During the initial information sharing, it is important a client be very specific about their needs, likes, dislikes, what stays, what goes, etc. Many “E Design” services start with a questionnaire; it is important to fill it out with great detail and with more information than may be required. Send photos, send measurements, send paint color info, whatever it takes to share the vision (or lack of). It is key to ask questions about the service so that the client knows exactly what to expect and that they get exactly what is needed. If the client doesn't like something or absolutely love it, this needs to be shared. Honesty is critical to success.

3) Know What You are Paying For

There are many different “E Design” services at many different price points out there. As the client, do the research and be comfortable that you are getting as much or as little help as you need for a price that you are comfortable with. If you are a person that needs a bit of hand holding, make sure the service offers some follow up, if you just need a kick start, an initial good idea or direction, go with a service that gives you just that. Don’t pay for more or less than what it will take for you to get your design job done. This is a fabulous way to get excellent advice from a talented individual for a great price.

{design board}


4) A Good Rapport

A good repoire between the designer and client is vital. As a client, do you feel comfortable with the designer? Even though this process happens via electronic communication, you can get a sense for the person. Are they listening to you, answering your questions? Do they have a look or style that is a fit for you? If the decorator has a blog, read it. An on line portfolio? Look at it. Client comments? References? Check them out. The more you know about the designer the more comfortable you will feel and the happier you will be with the end result. Great design is more often than not about good relationships.

5) Trust

Once you have done your homework and selected the service and designer that is right for you, trust that their expertise, knowledge and talent will allow them to come up with the perfect design solution for you needs. Be open minded, relinquish some control and roll with the designer’s ideas. You will be amazed and delighted with how things turn out and may learn a thing or two in the process, perhaps building your confidence and enabling you to take on future projects on your own.

If you have considered using an “E Design” or “Long Distance Decorating” service, but have been unsure, I hope these tips have helped answer some questions will allow you to move forward confidently. Blogging and the internet have created a brave new decorating world, opening the doors of great design and inspiration to all.

To see more of Cathy's work, visit her website Room Rx. And I'm curious, have you worked with a designer long distance? Are you a designer offering these services? If so, what has been your experience been?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ideas For Creating Special Children's Spaces

Our Wonderfilled Life

In the past few years the popularity of designing kids rooms has grown immensely. It's good to see such an interest and really amazing spaces being created! I love that we seem to be thinking more about the spaces our children inhabit than we used to {compared to my childhood circa 1980's}. Yet, I can't help but wonder if some of the design elements we infuse into these kid-friendly spaces are perhaps not as much about what inspires them, but about how it looks in our home or what we think our kids would like. Is the room designed with kids in mind or is it designed for our kids? I do think we can have spaces that look beautiful and cohesive to our home, but we must give considerable weight to how our little ones react to the room as well.

When I think about how my five boys respond to design, I know it is usually based on how the space makes them feel. If you ask your child how they remember a big event, they often describe a detail or two, but overall they remember the feelings it evoked. While four out of five of my boys cannot yet describe their feelings beyond a few words, what I can get is their emotion, which is key. As a mom with an interest in design and how it affects us, I have realized that kids are so much more in tune with their surroundings than we give them credit for. While they may be resilient and adaptable, their curiosity thrives in spaces where they first feel safe and secure.

Inspiring the Magic and Wonder

More than enjoying a colorful or themed room, my boys would love a room that evokes a sense of magic and wonder, one that just is special. I cannot think of a better time than now to use those as the primary design elements. How fun would this be?

"A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men" - Roald Dahl


I realize we all can't live with swings hanging from the rafters of our living rooms {sharing problems for starters}, but we can channel that whimsy into something that is extraordinary and unexpected like this little teepee nook {and is not permanent}.

flickr photostream-somethingshidinginhere

Or so comfy, cozy and special like this reading nook.

House Beautiful, May 2011

All children love hidden spaces. I still recall my dentist's office having a playroom with a tiny hole to crawl through that opened into a bigger playroom. It was just so cool, like this space, begging us to follow the little ladder.

If we do move our littlest guys into two separate rooms, we plan to connect the rooms through their closets. It would be so fun for them to have a secret passage to get from room to room.


Evoking that sense of wonder and whimsy with big doses of practicality, these bedrooms would definitely make an impression on a young boy...slide, tree house, who wouldn't love either?


I can think of all the dreams, stories, nighttime chats among sisters that would take place on these two gorgeous beds.  I am sure these little red beds would be fondly remembered forever.  

What little fairy princess would not adore this sweet little spot?

Sharing Spaces

We will always have this dilemma in our home. My quadruplet boys are in one room right now and there were many constraints at the time it was created. But I still wanted to reflect each one individually in the space.

Whether we keep the boys together, or move them into two separate rooms, these following ideas gave me some inspiration. I just love this first idea {left}, each child has a little cocoon with their favorite possessions, but they can easily get to one another. The girls room {right} is so easy, relaxed and such a fun space to hang out as sisters.    

     Eve Robinson Associates, Inc.                                                        via pinterest

Learning through Play, Lessons from Good Design

Good design can teach kids about function, organization, and making choices. Playrooms are such a big source of inspiration for little ones. With our home's open floor plan, the playroom for our little boys is in plain sight. It does get tricky to keep it clean, but the space itself is so fun and inspiring. If you see toys in my home, you know I have small children who are learning and growing. Someday we hope to finish our basement and move the playroom there, but I truly believe my kids have benefited by having a playroom so centrally located in our home at this stage in their lives.

In our playroom they can make choices and there are many opportunities for being creative: a felt board, dry erase board/easel, and chalkboard are all easily within reach along with dress-up and so many other options. I also believe in everything needing to have a space in a playroom and cleaning up throughout the day. While kids need to be able to be creative, it is difficult to function in chaos, so some sense of order needs to be re-established.

Gorgeous with so many different options, possibilities and well-organized!

This one just plays to the imagination so well...

...and this one is free-spirited and a fun-loving space.

And do you have Lego in your home? Here's a little inspiration for those of us literally driven up the wall by little Lego pieces!

Staying Inspired as Adults

When was the last time you read a children's book? They are full of inspiration and help us remember what it is to see the world in that wonder-filled way. We have an abundance of books in our home and treasure them! I will truly be sad when there are no longer bedtimes full of whimsical, fantastical stories. Lucky is the child whose room is full of great reads like this one.

I have realized that at the end of the day, we are still adults trying to create spaces for our children who tend to be much more open-minded, engaged in their surroundings and in all of life than most of us adults. While we all have constraints, we can still create spaces, moments, and celebrations that are special.

Thank you Michelle for sharing such a thoughtful post on creating rooms for children! It reminded me of the moment it was time to work on Max's room and the first thing I did was sit down and interview him about his wishes, likes and dislikes for the room. Amazingly, looking back, the end result of this room wonderfully reflected him in a way it most certainly would not have had I not listened to him before beginning!

For read more, visit Michelle's blog here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Before The Berries Are Gone...

Burlap and Basil

Just in time, before the berries are gone, why not cook up some delicious jam! It's a fun activity for the whole family, especially if you are lucky enough to live near a farm and can add picking your own berries to the mix. If not, just grab a flat of ripe berries at your nearest store. And then afterwards, Christi from the blog Burlap & Basil has some great recipes to get you started, just click here!

And even better? Bake a loaf of bread while you're at it and see how fast it all disappears...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Outfits to Rooms! Kate's Way

Today Becky and Deb from Living Livelier are sharing some fun examples of how an outfit could be used to inspire an interior. And what better person to find fashion inspiration with than Kate, whose style is sure to continue to inspire and set trends for years to come!

Outfits to Rooms: Kate Middleton

Much has been said and written about Kate's regal Alexander McQueen wedding gown, which seems to have been classified a success. I thought I'd take a look at some of her outfits worn as a "commoner", and find interiors that match her vibe....

Branca Designs

Trad Home

Mary McDonald

Masucco Warner Miller

via Decorators Tag Sale

What about you? If you were to decorate a room based on one of your favorite outfits, what would it look like?