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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

From marthastewart.com

Things are very busy over the next few days, so I will see you next week! Have a happy and safe Halloween.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Art and design

I am a big fan of original art. I think that it really makes a room special, and is the most beautiful way to introduce color and pattern to a neutral space. I particularly gravitate towards traditional furnishings combined with contemporary art; the juxtaposition of the old and the new creates a wonderful synergy that gives a room a fresh, modern feel. Contemporary art also seems to notch down the formality of a room with traditional furnishings.

Design by Brian McClure. This is a very neutral room with traditional furnishings. The artwork is what makes the room come alive.

Interior design by Caldwell-Beebe. A traditional and neutral dining room gets a punch of color from a contemporary dyptich (two paintings created as a set).

Artwork by Carolyn Carr, and Atlanta artist who is represented by the Fay Gold Gallery (picture via Brilliant Asylum) . The artwork is the big focal point of the room (I barely notice anything else!).

A beautiful room by Suzanne Kasler.


Art purists usually look down on matching the art to the sofa or the decor. To them, this reduces art to decorative rather than artistic. I must admit that I do not feel that way at all. First and foremost, a piece of art should create an emotional response in you. Often, the art that you respond to has similarities to the decor that you respond to, in both color and form. My favorite colors...muted greens, creams, blues, oranges...are the colors that I respond to in paintings. I also respond to flowing lines and circles, not hard forms such as squares. So the art that speaks to me tends to reflect what I gravitate to in decor.

A beautiful scene from Decor8's blog. I love this picture because it looks like they started with the art, then chose the pillow and rug colors. Look how the pillows pick up all of the colors in the painting. This really appeals to the art and decor sides of me.

If I were to start from scratch in a room, and had the luxury of time, I would use the art as the starting point. So, the decor would match the art instead of the other way around!


A tableau from the Atlanta showroom Renfroe. The art brings color to the neutral furnishings, and the pillows pick up the tones in the painting.

Interior design by Caldwell-Beebe. I love how the chair reflects the colors of the painting.

There are so many sources for original art, and the internet has given the art buyer even more options. Ebay has many wonderful artists, but there are so many paintings listed that it is sometimes difficult to find the really talented artists. Etsy is another source for reasonably priced original art. When purchasing art over the internet, particularly large pieces, keep in mind that it is sometimes hard to tell what a painting will look like in real life due to difference in monitor colors. I usually like to see a piece of art before I purchase. Galleries, of course, have top notch talent, and most galleries are happy to allow you to take a piece home on approval before purchasing. Many cities also have areas with a concentration of artists studios, and it is possible to purchase art directly from the artist. Another wonderful source for original art are the many art fairs and art markets that are going on virtually every weekend. Check your local paper or event magazine for art specific events.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Decorative Bed Pillows

A few months ago, Domino had a big survey asking some of the top decorators what they thought about certain decorating topics. One that surprised and dismayed me was the subject of decorative pillows on the bed. It seems that the majority of designers in the survey vehemently oppose decorative pillows on the bed.

I must admit, I have too many decorative pillows on my bed. Not including the pillows that are used to sleep on, I have nine decorative pillows on the bed, in all shapes and sizes. It takes me way too much time to take them all off at the end of the day, and making the bed has become a bit of a chore. However, once the bed is freshly made, I love how they look, all arranged just so. I think I needed this fleet of pillows because I have never had a headboard; I have never really found one that I like. So, the pillows take the place of the headboard.

Now that I am about to order the fabric for my new upholstered headboard, and do a mini-redesign of the bed, my husband has voiced a strong opinion about getting rid of all the pillows. You see, he is the one who makes the bed most of the time (aren't I lucky?), and he is tired of dealing with 'the clutter'.

This would be my husband's nightmare. Way too many pillows for him! I count 12, and this is only a partial view of the bed! Via Cote de Texas (on her tacky trend post).

So, I decided to look at my picture file for bed pillow inspiration. I also went through old posts from two of my favorite blogs, Cote de Texas and Style Court. I found a lot of great ideas! Southern Accents online also has a feature on headboards, and some great tips on pillows.

This is a bedroom designed by Barry Dixon, featured on the Southern Accents website. The room is small, but the client wanted a king size bed. He wanted the bed to feel like a sofa in a room that did not have the space for a sofa. Dixon says that he always uses bolster pillows on beds bigger than twin size, because they allow the decorative pillows in front to sit forward. This creates more depth, and allows a better view of the headboard. He likes to do the bolster pillow in the same fabric as the headboard. What size do you think these pillows are? Perhaps 24"?

Lee Kleinhelter's bed, via Cottage Living Magazine and Style Court blog. Queen size with a few shams, a few decorative pillows. The headboard really shines through because the pillows are not competing with it, and they are not too tall.


This is a beautiful room, and one of my favorite bed pictures. It is from the Century Furniture 'New Traditional' catalog. The bed is king size, and the headboard is quite high, which allows for large scale pillows. I love the coordination of the shams and the pillows leaning on them...a great balance of white and green. The Greek-key inspired design on the pillows is striking. I also love the green stripe on the bedspread.

This is from Jeffers Design Group. Two king sized pillows upholstered in Designer's Guild fabric, and one large decorative pillow. I love design on the decorative pillow.

A Jan Showers designed bedroom, in Western Interiors magazine (via Katie-Did). No small accent pillows here; she used three large European shams with two large square pillows.

This is another Jan Showers designed room, and a king size bed. Showers seems to favor using large European shams on bed, two or three based on the size of the bed.

Lee Kleinhelter's guest room, via Cottage Living Magazine and Style Court's blog. Simple white shams and two rectangular decorative pillows.


Domino magazine, via Style Court. The headboard here is quite low, or maybe the European are very high; the shams virtually cover the headboard. A long bolster pillow is in front of the shams, and a few small decorative pillows.

Carla Lane design, via Style Court. She has three shams leaning against the back of the headboard, with three 20 inch pillows for decoration and color.

Carla Lane again, via Style Court. One long bolster pillow resting against three white pillows.

Jackie Lanham design, Southern Accents Magazine. This bed has the old fashioned type of blanket cover that I like...the sleeping pillows are covered, and the decorative pillows rest against them. I can barely see the headboard because of the large pillows.

Ellie Cullman design. I love the look, but this would qualify as too many pillows to my husband.

Bedroom of Alexa Hampton, via Peak of Chic. Three European shams across the front, then two small accent pillows. The only problem is that the pillows obscure the lovely headboard. This looks like a king size bed to me.

Here is a bedroom by Barrie Benson. Two European shams and a roll pillow on the bed. The pillows seem to be the focus, not the headboard.

Krista Wooten, design assistant to Ruthie Sommers. I think the proportion of these pillows looks great on a Queen size bed.

I can't tell the size of the bed, or how many pillows are on it. I suspect it is a king size bed with three square pullows, and a rectangular bolster pillow in front. I like how you can still see the beautiful headboard (which is Lewis Mittman) even though there are pillows on the bed.

A lovely room designed by Joni of Cote de Texas. Three European shams across the back, and two pillows across the front. I can't tell if this is a king or a queen size bed.

Another lovely bedroom designed by Joni. In this one, there are two shams across the back, two pillows with fabric that matches the headboard, and a long bolster pillow across the front. I like the look of the long rectangular pillow across the front of the bed.

This is Joni's bed from Cote de Texas. She seams to favor the long bolster pillow across the bed, in a fabric that matches the headboard. Three European shams across the back.

This is by Suzanne Rheinstein. A king size bed, with three pillows across the front. The pillows match the linens.
Amelia Handegan, a Charleston designer, has a simple approach to pillows on this four poster bed. The Indian sari at the foot of the bed is the focus, not the pillows.


This picture is from an Atlanta real estate listing. The bed is defined by two large silk pillows.

Well, this post has been very therapeutic for me! I realize that the size of the bed is fundamental in determining the number and size of the decorative pillows. I have a king size bed, so I will need two very large or three large pillows to get the look I want. I like Barry Dixon's idea of putting two bolster pillows behind the decorative pillow, because I want the headboard to be a focal point. So, I am leaning towards a 60" high headboard (I have a vaulted ceiling in my bedroom) in solid blue, two king size shams in white (tailored and zippered so they are solid and not droopy), a long round bolster pillow that is close to the width of the bed, and three 20" (or maybe a little bigger) pillows in some fabric...maybe the blue of the headboard, with the cool Greek key inspired design that is on the Century bed.

If you have any thoughts and ideas on pillows, feel free to comment! I always enjoy others perspectives and ideas.



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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Castle Architecture

Castles have long held the imagination of the Western world because their association with Medieval times and royalty. Strictly by definition, a castle is a defensive structure. The name is derived from the Latin word 'castellum', which means fortress. Castles were places of retreat, usually heavily defended, with drawbridges, battlements and crenellations (the characteristic toothlike design with openings alternated with solid parts, which enabled the discharge of arrows and such), and a portcullis (a large, grill-like gate).

Tower of London, England. A close up of the battlements - the openings cut out of the parapet to allow for shooting arrows. This is a defining architectural feature of castles.

Castles were built for, or evolved into, the residence for the monarch or for nobility. As such, castles were often a central place to entertain, and the architectural grandeur increased in importance to reflect the position of the main inhabitant of the castle. With the invention of gunpowder, and the resulting changes in military strategy, the use of the castle moved from defense more to residence. This transition began in the 14th century, and was fully underway by the 15th century.

One of the most famous castles in England, residence of the Queen of England, Windsor Castle. It is the largest occupied castle in the world, and is over 900 years old.

Leeds Castle in Kent, England. Picture by Gauis Caecilius, flickr.

Tower of London - fulfilled the classic and historical functions of a castle.

From the late 18th century through the 20th century, there was a revival in interest in Medieval times and Gothic Revival architecture. The castle was reinvented purely as a grand country home. These castles had no defensive purposes, but had stylistic elements of castles (called castellation) such as towers, crenellations, and battlements. These mock-castles were particularly popular on the British Isles.

Castle Neuschwanstein, perhaps the most famous 19th century neo-romantic castle in world, in part because it is the model for the Disney castle.

Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire, England. Constructed in 1810.

Trinity College, Cambridge, England. Note the crenellation above the door.

St. Mary's Church in Ontario, Canada, has castlellation, as seen in the towers and battlements.

Thunder Bay, Canada

America has its share of castles too. There is the self-proclaimed 'America's castle', the Hearst Castle, in California.


In recent days, a Malibu landmark, the historic Castle Kashan, has been in the news. This modern day castle was burned to the ground this week as a result of the raging California wildfires. The owner was philisophical about the loss, and said that she was always taught not to let her possessions possess her. She was able to save much of the vast collection of Elvis memorbilia that was housed in the castle, however.

Castle Kashan burned to the ground this week.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's all in the details - part I (chairs)

Often the difference between good and great design is in the details. I particularly love interesting and whimsical details on chairs.

It can be as simple as a contrasting welt. I love the wedgewood blue contrasted with white. This picture is from Domino Magazine decorating contest; entry by Catherine of Mill Valley, CA.

Or, an interesting wide stripe on a settee and chair. From Mrs. Blandings blog.

Here is the chair the Mrs. Blandings recently recovered. The contrasting welt is beautiful, but what really caught my eye is the nailhead Greek key detail. Beautiful!

I particularly love contrasting trim on the bottom of a chair. I think it is a beautiful finishing touch. My favorite table too...by Niermann Weeks. Photo by John Umberger.

Constrasting color on the bottom of the slipcover, picked up in the pillow.


An amazing chair from Stanford Furniture. I love the trim on the bottom, and the coordinating red welting.

A fascinating detail on a chair, by Quitana

A striking chair from Whiteney Stewart.


The details in these chairs makes them so interesting, don't you think?

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