Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April Food Day: Bloggers Fighting Hunger

Did you know that...
  • One in eight Americans are at risk for hunger?
  • Four million Americans receive assistance from Feeding America each week?
  • Children who are hungry have slower emotional, social and educational development?
  • Millions of elderly Americans go to bed hungry every night?

So many people who never thought they would need food assistance are now asking for help from their local food bank. They have lost their jobs through the massive down-sizings and layoffs. They have exhausted all of their resources. Elderly people on fixed incomes are finding that costs are out-pacing their incomes.

It has never been more important to support causes like these; so many people are pulling back from charitable contributions at a time when the need has never been more acute.  Please consider making a donation to your local food bank today.  You can find a local food bank through the Feeding America website.  Another option is to make a direct contribution to Feeding America through their secure website. Any amount would be sincerely appeciated.  Even a $1 contribution will provide 10 pounds of food and grocery items to men, women, and children facing hunger in the United States.

Of particular interest to me is the Atlanta Community Food Bank, an organization that I personally support with my financial contributions.  If you are from the Atlanta area, please consider a donation to this very worthy cause. 

Thank you to Meg from Pigtown Design and Chris from Easy and Elegant Life for coordinating April Food Day.

"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.”

– John Wesley

Friday, March 27, 2009


Sometimes I come across a picture that stays on my mind all day.  Such was the case yesterday when I saw this beautiful image on Decorology:

Just looking at this scene makes me happy.  I always love a casual dining area that has windows with light streaming in (if I ever build a house, I will need to have the kitchen facing east so I get the morning light at breakfast).  However, what really inspired me about this picture was the bunch of tulips on the table; the burst of red in the middle of the fresh light room is striking (and I love how the branch of the tree in the backyard looks like it is part of the tulip arrangement).   Without a doubt, tulips are my favorite flowers.  So great is my love of tulips, that I had my bridesmaids carry a simple bouquet of white tulips, and my bouquet was comprised of white tulips and pale, pale pink roses. (Photography by the very talented Annie Schlechter)  


In this room, designed by Ginger Barber, the tulips are a nice little burst of color in a neutral setting, and pink is an unexpected color in this room.  Via Cote de Texas.


I am not a tulip expert, but I believe these are parrot tulips.  I once went to a wedding where the theme was red and yellow (it was the most fabulous, dramatic, and sophisticated wedding I have ever been to).  Parrot tulips, red roses, and red/yellow orchids were all used to great effect.  Image and interiors by Caldwell-Beebe.


I saved this picture for the beauty of the window in the background. However, I also love the contemporary tulip arrangement on the table - how many tulips did it take to make this arrangement? Quite a few! Image Slettvoll, via Willow Decor.

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I remember really liking the way in which designer Ty Larkins used tulips in this room - look in front of the mirror on the right, and you will see small vases with just one or two tulips in each vase. It is the small details like this that make a room so beautiful.  I recently went to a friend's house for a meeting, and she had such a memorable arrangement of tulips on her kitchen table - one or two stems in small bud vases that were of varying heights.  I wish I had taken a picture!  Image via Cote de Texas.


One of my all time favorite designers, Gerrie Bremermann, uses a lush arrangement of tulips on an antique French commode.  Via Cote de Texas.


Barbara Barry is one of my favorite designers, and I was not surprised to find tulips in a picture from her furniture line for Henredon (white, no less - perfection).  The white tulips play off the calligraphy style script etching so beautifully.


Another Bremermann designed room, with an arrangement of white tulips. This is one of my favorite rooms, and I love the art by Amanda Talley.


Either I have an affinity for pictures with white tulips, or the designers I like tend to use them more than any other color!  This is one of my favorite rooms by Kerry Joyce.  Look at the profusion of tulips on the mantle - in vases with different shapes and sizes - plus a big vase of tulips on the table. This would be a hard look to maintain day after day (not to mention expensive), but it is beautiful styling for a photo! 


Another great picture by Annie Schlechter.  There is something so right about red tulips in a blue vase.


One of my highlights of 2008 was being invited to a White House Christmas party. Huge arrangements of tulips were all over the White House that evening; this one in front of a portrait of President Reagan was my favorite.


In the spring I love to buy tulips from the grocery store, and this month I have been selecting different shades of pink.  Normally I do not gravitate to pink, mainly because it looks horrible with my coloring. However, I love how it looks against the green walls of my family room; it must be the preppy in me.  (The screened in porch in the background is getting cleaned and painted as soon as the weather improves - which is why it is empty right now!).

I personally love the life cycle of tulips when they come home from the store: the first day, they are upright and proud. Slowly but surely, over the next few days, the heads of the tulips begin to droop under their own weight, which adds a beautiful sculptural quality to the arrangement.  When I googled 'drooping tulip', I learned that tulips begin to droop because they continue to grow even after they are cut, and eventually droop because the stem can no longer support the weight of the flower.  Some suggest to put just a little water in the vase, and change it every day. Others suggest putting a pin through the stem just below the flower, when the tulip is newly opened; according to anecdotal evidence, this not only prevents the tulip from drooping, it also makes it last longer.  It might be an interesting idea to get a bunch of tulips and put a pin through the center tulips, so they stay nice and upright, and let the outer tulips droop. I may have to try that when I buy next week's tulip bouquet.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Beautiful symmetry

This is perhaps one of the most popular dining rooms in the blogosphere. Designed by Suzanne Kasler, it is greatly admired for its bold color and charming mismatched chairs. However, I don't think I have ever read a single comment about the symmetrical Queen Anne style mirrors that flank the door, even though these mirrors play a major role in the look and feel of the room. In some way, they help balance and ground the room.

It is not that common to see a door in the middle of the main wall in the dining room. A pair of mirrors is an effective way to utilize the two small sections that have been created by the door.


Ever since I noticed the symmetrical mirrors in the Kasler designed dining room, I have noticed this motif in quite a few other rooms. This beautiful living room, designed by Gerrie Bremmerman (Southern Accents, photo by Tria Giovan) utlizes two large mirrors and two matching Italian consoles. There is a very large piece of art on the wall to the left (not seen in this picture), and the mirrors provide a great balance for the large art, as well as some nice sparkle in the room. The lamps on the end tables pick up the silver metallic look.

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This dining room also has a large object breaking up the wall (a fireplace this time), and designer Carole Weaks utlized mirrors to balance the sides (as well as settees underneath the mirrors). This room was part of the Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Christmas showhouse, and also featured several beautiful paintings by artist Heidee Becker.


Designer Mary McDonald used ornate matching mirrors to flank a canopy bed in this bedroom. Sometimes I prefer mirrors to art because of the infinite possibilities in the frame style and color. I have put myself on a mirror purchasing moratorium as I have a few too many around the house!


This room (from Phoebe Howard's store Max & Co.) is one of my favorites because of the light and casual feel of the space. I love the look of the large mirrors flanking the fireplace, and think that it is unusual to have two matching mirrors that are on either side of another mirror. Somehow it works, perhaps because the sunburst mirror is more about the sculptural shape of the rays than the mirror itself.

The recent issue of House Beautiful had a particularly beautiful example of dual mirrors; these are giltwood. Interior design by Albert Hadley and Harry Heissmann.

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Until I really studied this picture, I thought that the mirrors - Louis Phillipe style - were identifical. But upon closer examination, it looks like they are similar in shape and style, but somewhat different. Perhaps it is the lighting, but the one on the right looks like it has a darker frame. The one on the left looks like it is much more gold. Image from Wind Lost and House to Home.


I love this room by Jeffrey Bilhuber - the two mirrors facing each other, accompanied by Italian consoles, create beautiful symmetry in this room, and make a nice break between the two sitting areas of this NYC apartment.


Another bedroom that has the mirrors symmetrically placed on either side of the bed. This was part of the 2008 Atlanta Symphony Showhouse, interiors by Kim Regas of Regas Interiors.


Barrie Benson used two matched mirrors to flank the window in this dining room.


These mirrors were made from an old French window (via Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, photography by Mali Azima). I am not quite sure if they are identical, although the shape is the same. The one on the left seems to have fewer segments, but perhaps this effect is because the one on the right is reflecting a bookcase. I always think it is nice when a mirror reflects something interesting. I like how the mirror on the left reflects the piano and the gallery wall above the piano.


I have loved this picture for years; it is actually an ad for a flooring company, but the interior design was by Ondine Karrady. Karrady was recently a contestant on the show 'Top Design', and made it to the top three. The two matching mirrors are one of my favorite things in this room (although I do love those coral silk curtains too), and I love how this picture illustrates that the effect of two mirrors can be achieved even with very small mirrors. In a sidenote, when researching this post, I googled images for 'symmetrical mirrors', and it led me to one of my old posts on Ondine Karrady!

I can't say that I have seen the dramatic use of matched mirrors very often in the homes of friends and family, but it would be easy enough to do. I found numerous examples of this style used in bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms; it is quite versatile. The architecture of the room has to be right, but matched mirrors are an easy and inexpensive (provided you are not getting antique gilt wood!) way to deal with walls and spaces that are segmented by windows, doors, beds, and fireplaces.  Plus, for a mirror lover like me, two mirrors are always better than one, and provide such a beautiful and dramatic focal point to a room!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New on the market in Atlanta: another spectacular house

I have just returned from a long vacation, and it was nice to get back into the normal routine.  Part of the routine:  perusing the new real estate listings!  Quite a few amazing houses went on the market in Atlanta this week, and this one was by far my favorite.


There is something very appealing about this home.  It has both contemporary and traditional elements, and the architecture is top notch.  Seeing this house reminded me of a post that I did in 2007 called 'a tale of two styles' - I love both traditional French and Swedish designs, as well as designs that are more contemporary or transitional.  The listing says that the architect on this nine year old home was Keith Summerour, one of Atlanta's best known architects.  It is interesting that the front door is not immediately apparent; it is a bit tucked away.  (Photo via real estate listing). 


Although I like the exterior of the house, the kitchen really captured my interest. I absolutely love this kitchen!  I have a weakness for casual dining areas with a wall of windows; they fill the kitchen with light.   Particularly appealing is the combination of the contemporary lines of the windows and the cabinetry, in combination with the traditional lines of the rustic table and elegant chairs.   The shape of the shades on the light fixture is my favorite, and is the perfect touch for this kitchen.  It looks like the refrigerator and freezer are to the left and right of the stove.  Wait until you see the other side of the kitchen...(Photo via real estate listing).


Lots of shelves to display various collections, and a ladder for practical purposes (reaching the top shelves) and visual charm.  As much as I admire all of these shelves, they would not work with my lifestyle and tendency for concentrated areas of clutter.  However, I admire them in these pictures! This kitchen has a European flair, and I do tend to have the American desire for a few more overhead cabinets, or at the very least a couple of pantry closets. It looks like this kitchen has many, many drawers, so there is no shortage of storage space. (Photo via real estate listing).


Although the decor of this room is quite nice (noted as the family room), it is the architecture that catches my eye. Look at all of the French doors! 


Again, it is the architecture that I love in this picture (although I am always a big fan of framed series).  The French doors open to the terrace.


The master bathroom has somewhat of a vintage feel.  I love the repeating motif of the circle in the two windows and the mirror. I can't quite figure out the lighting - are the pleated shades attached to the wall, or hanging from an invisible wire?


A beautiful, dramatic dining room. The chandeliers look like mini versions the Swarovski chandelier used on the last season of Top Design, don't they? I love the large scale contemporary art in the room.  This is a room designed to be used at night, with maximum drama.


When I got the picture of this room, it started to look somewhat familiar. The piano with a beautiful gallery style wall of etching and paintings was one clue, and the contemporary art above the fireplace (flanked by two vertical paintings) was another clue.  I realized I had seen this house in a magazine recently.


Here is the same room - on the cover of Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles (even if you don't live in Atlanta, I highly recommend subscribing to this magazine - there are so many beautiful homes featured that it often rivals some of the top national magazines).  (Via Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, photography by Mali Azima)


I have always admired gallery walls, and this one is particularly effective, behind the grand piano. (Via Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, photography by Mali Azima)


The article in Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles shows this styled view of the kitchen, and notes that the counters are a combination of carerra marble and three inch thick refinished antique wood timbers. 


According the the AH&L article, the home has 10 sets of 10  foot French doors in the house.  I have never seen this window treatment style. It looks like the original curtains were made to the height of the door, and perhaps they were retrofitted to give the appearance of going to the ceiling?  The mirrors were made out of 19th century French window frames. (Via Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, photography by Mali Azima)


I find the work of this artist, Stephanus Heidacker, to be striking.  He is represented by Tew Galleries in Atlanta. (Via Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, photography by Mali Azima)


I am never adept at determining the floor plan of a house from the pictures on a real estate listing (how I wish Atlanta listings had a floor plan like so many DC listings), so it was illuminating to read the AH&L article on the house.  It is built in a 'U' shape to maximize light and views of (and access to) the outside.  Here is a picture of the pool, which shows the 'U' shape of the house.  (Via Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, photography by Mali Azima)


Based on this picture (via the real estate listing) there are two covered porches off the back of the house.


Finally, a view of the back of the house.  There is an expansive back yard, and a contemporary sculpture.  I'm guessing that the wing to the left is the master bedroom (with the smaller covered porch) and the wing to the right is the family room.  If only I could scrape together the $5.225 million asking price for this house, it could be mine!

So, what do you think of this house?  Obviously I love it, but it is the architecture of the home that speaks to me more than the decor (although I find it to be a beautifully designed home).   The AH&L article said that the design of this home was truly a collaborative effort over a ten year period, with contributions from the owners, architects Keith Summerour, Kenneth Garcia, and designers Beth Webb and Barbara Westbrook (at different points in time).

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

A beautiful corner of the world

Normally I post about houses in Atlanta (and the occasional D.C. house) - the houses that I walk and drive by on a daily basis. Today I am going to take you 2,000 miles away to one of my favorite places in the world: Laguna Beach, California. The architecture in Southern California is so different from the architecture in Atlanta, and the houses on the ocean must adapt to the particular challenges of oceanside topography. Here is a tour of lovely homes in my favorite Laguna Beach neighborhood.

This is one of my favorite homes in the neighborhood, although it is not oceanfront. It is like a New England house, with its picket fence, gray siding, and turret to the side. Normally I like very symmetrical houses, but there is something so charming about this one. The blue front door is divided in half, so the top can open separately. In the summertime, the top is almost always open to catch the ocean breeze. If you look carefully, to the right of the tree is an outdoor patio with weathered teak furniture. The landscaping is somewhat subdued right now, but usually it is a riot of flowers with every color of the rainbow. If you look closely, you will see that the lights in front of the fence are shaped like flowers.


This beautiful Normandy style home is also one of my favorites; a driveway is rare in an oceanfront home in this neighborhood.


Many of the ocean front homes in Laguna Beach are built on cliffs. The two houses on the right are older homes, and it is interesting to see how small the windows are. A house built today would have many more windows to take advantage of the breathtaking views.


Here are three homes that were built within the past 10 years; look at all of the windows and tiers of levels. The goal of these newer beachfront homes is to have as many rooms as possible with an ocean view.


This one reminds me of a beach house in New England. It is not oceanfront, and there is a pool behind the hedges, in the front yard. I imagine that the room with the windows is the living room.


I love the urns that flank the entrance to this home. A small peek of the ocean can be seen over the gate.


Although the lots are small in this neighborhood (or maybe because of it), much emphasis is put on the landscaping. The mild year round climate is good for a large variety of flowers, most of which I never see in Atlanta. I am definitely not a gardener, but I have such appreciation for the planning and work that goes into maintaining a beautiful landscape.


This house is built into a cliff, so the pathway to the front door is quite long. I love the view - this could just as easily be a house that is in Spain or Italy. The Mediterranean style is very prevalent in this community within Laguna Beach.


Every time we visit this area, my husband and I make a special point to walk by this beautiful home. It is built on a double lot, right on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I love the covered dining area with the fireplace. It is probably not very convenient to the kitchen, but it would be a great place for an evening cocktail.


Since many of the homes are ocean front, often the back of the houses face the street. Because of this, some of the garages and fences are works of art in and of themselves! This is one of my favorites - it wouldn't work in Atlanta, but in a ocean front community it is charming. Take a close look at the fence and you can see two mermaids and a merman (is that the correct term?).


This new Mediterranean style home has beautiful garage doors. Mediterranean is the most common style for homes that have been remodeled or newly built in this area.


Many of the oceanfront homes have courtyards in front, with a charming gate as the entry.


This is the gate that goes with the house that looks like it could be in Spain. I wonder whether they light the lanterns at night?


Some of the homes in the neighborhood are Japanese in style.


This is the largest property in the neighborhood; it is truly a compound, and so sprawling (and protected) it was impossible to capture on camera. The intricate pattern on the gate is so beautiful it merits a place in this post.


I find this 1930s home to be fascinating (the one on the left). It is built on the cliff, and was made to look like a ship. Rumor has it that Tom Cruise rented this home several years ago!


This is another one of my favorite homes in the neighborhood, but it was very difficult to capture in a photograph. Its garage is down low, and access to the house is by a small set of stairs carved into the hill.


The garden is on three levels of terraces.


A view of the side of the house. The blue awnings are so charming.


Clearly I like this house! The front door is tucked to the side, and is one of my favorite shades of green. I love the lantern and the green shutters.


This is one of my favorite places in the world.

I hope you enjoyed the tour. Do you have a favorite house? Mine is the last one in this post - the Mediterranean style with the green door. I love the New England style home and the Normandy style home too...

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