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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Some of my favorite posts of 2009


I started my blog in 2007, and at the end of both 2007 and 2008 I compiled a list of my favorite blog posts from the year. The task was not too difficult in 2007; at that time, there were not many design blogs, and since I did not discover blogs until the middle of 2007, I only had half of a year of material to consider. 2008 was a bit more challenging, and it took me hours to go back and look through my favorite blogs and find my favorite posts.

This year I took a different approach. Throughout the year, when I saw a post that really struck me, I copied and pasted the link into a word document titled ‘favorite posts of 2009’. Of course, these posts only reflect the ones I actually read in 2009. If 2008 was an explosive year for design blogs, 2009 was positively nuclear. So many wonderful new design blogs appeared on the scene, which makes finding new blogs all the more daunting. I am sure I only saw a very small portion of the wonderful blogs and amazing blogs posts from 2009.

My list seems to have petered out October, which corresponds with the increase in workload in my life. As much as I love reading and commenting on blogs, as well as clicking through to all of the blogs that belong to the people who comment on my blog, I was stretched very thin in October – December and could not devote much time to either my blog or the other wonderful blogs out there. Now that I am reflecting on it, this timing also corresponds with the obliteration of my blog list; the list I had carefully crafted over 2.5 years of blogging was wiped out one day, and I have had to slowly but surely recreate it. I depend upon my bloglist to quickly scan what is new with the blogworld; reading through this list of posts makes me realize that some of my favorite blogs were never added back to the list, so I have missed out on many wonderful posts.

So, imperfect though my approach may be, here are some of my favorite posts from 2009.

kathy[1]

One of the first posts of 2009 was a guide to collecting art by Style Court; it was the first of many art themed posts that I followed with great interest and anticipation. As Courtney mentioned in her post, it is often the art that we collect through the years that has the greatest meaning for us, much more than a purse or a pair of shoes that quickly gets relegated to the back of the closet. http://stylecourt.blogspot.com/2009/01/collecting.html

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I loved M21’s post on ‘the state of decorating’. It is even more interesting to read his words, written in January of 2009, and see how they ring true even more now after almost a year has past. M21 predicted more ‘champagne taste on a beer budget’…that M21 is one wise blogger. http://maison21.blogspot.com/2009/01/change-change-of-decor-that-is-m21.html

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Live in Full Color created the most amazing post on the color choices of the key players at the Presidential inauguration last January – definitely worth a read! http://www.sensationalcolor.com/liveinfullcolor/a-conflict-of-colors-in-washington/#more-1347

nisbet

Patricia’s post on the impact of large scale abstract art struck a chord with me. I have so many small paintings, and am ready to start looking for large statement abstract art. All of the wonderful images in Patricia’s post show that there are so many placement possibilities for large scale contemporary art (image: Amanda Nisbet). http://patriciagrayinc.blogspot.com/2009/02/abstract-art-go-big-or-go-home.html

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My Notting Hill began a wonderful series called ‘DC Designer Series’, in which she featured wonderful designers from DC whose work is magazine worthy. Through this series, I was introduced to several amazing designers; posts like these makes me realize the influence that blogs have on featuring up and coming talent, now more than ever given the demise of so many design magazines. http://mynottinghill.blogspot.com/2009/02/dc-designer-series-elizabeth-hague.html

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I could select at least 10 posts from Colour Me Happy that struck a chord with me, but this one was a stand out as it so perfectly explained why my family room did not look good with a pale color on the wall (all the light to my family room is blocked by a screened porch; I was thinking about painting my family room linen white until I read Maria’s post). http://colourmehappyblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/light-colour-will-never-come-to-life-in.html

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Architecture Tourist (with a little help from me!) found one of the beautiful homes that won the 2009 Shutze awards, and posted about his findings. This home has great appeal to architecture fans in Atlanta; not only did it win the 2009 Shutze award for small renovation, but it was also selected as one of the top 20 favorite classic homes in Atlanta by AH&L magazine. http://architecturetourist.blogspot.com/2009/02/2009-shutze-award-winner-dutch-colonial.html

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I first heard about the Penguin Classic bookset through Little Green Notebook; at the time, they were only available through international booksellers. Now they are available through Amazon! http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/2009/02/gorgeous-penguin-classics.html

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Any post about Paris usually captures my attention, but this one happened to combine Paris, color, and neutrals – a color analysis of one of my favorite cities. http://www.sensationalcolor.com/liveinfullcolor/i-like-parisian-palettes-in-the-springtime-how-about-you/

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I will admit to finding comfort in following a formula or a recipe, even for matters that relate to interior design. When Mrs. Howard Personal Shopper did a post on their favorite formula for the perfect bed, I followed it precisely when selecting the linens for my new bed, and I was thrilled with the results! http://www.mrshowardpersonalshopper.com/mrs_howard_personal_shopp/2009/02/phoebes-rules-for-making-a-bed.html

neworleans_thumb[1] This post – about one of my favorite exterior design elements, gas lighting – featured beautiful homes from around the country, including some from Atlanta. http://s-w-design.blogspot.com/2009/06/like-moth-to-flame.html

CA03[1]

This home, featured by Willow Decor, really spoke to me – even though it is far more casual and rustic than the homes that usually catch my eye. Perhaps it reminds me of some of the beautiful homes in New England that were a part of my childhood. Perhaps it is the porte cochere that is one of my favorite features of a home. Whatever it is, this post was a pleasure to revisit, and I think you will like it too! http://willowdecor.blogspot.com/2009/06/coffey-creek-farm.html

mmr6[1]

This post, on the perfect design of a mongram, came at just the right time for me, as I was contemplating ordering some monogram pillows for my bedroom. Alas, the pillow project got set aside, but I still remember this wonderful post… http://pinkwallpaper.blogspot.com/2009/04/skinny.html

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Sally Stephonkus – possibly my best interior design discovery for 2009 – all due to the Washington DC designer series posted by My Notting Hill. http://www.mynottinghill.blogspot.com/2009/05/dc-designer-series-sally-steponkus.html

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This post, filled with pictures that utilize all different shades of green, really captured my heart. In case you didn’t know, green is my favorite color! http://theoldpostroadblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/green-is-me.html

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Going back and reviewing this post on consoles, one of my favorite pieces of furniture, was such a pleasure. This post waxes poetic on the beauty of the console, and includes many beautiful images that I had never seen before. http://s-w-design.blogspot.com/2009/06/bit-of-consoling.html

alpeter3[1]

Tara’s post on ‘vanishing threshold’ was absolutely pivotal for me this year. I have always sensed that a connection between the inside and the outside is a key element in a successful house design, but Tara's phrase ‘vanishing threshold’ is the perfect description of this key element in design. http://taradillard.blogspot.com/2009/03/coming-home-vanishing-threshold.html

southern accents 1988 new orleans parlor[1]

In this magnificent post, Southern Chateau pulls out some of her decades old Southern Accents to analyze what is truly timeless in design. This picture, from the late 80s, passes the test; others definitely do not! http://southernchateau.blogspot.com/2009/07/what-makes-room-timeless.html

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So many of the houses that are featured on the blogs are huge and unattainable. In a refreshing cange of pace, Cote de Texas featured some small and beautifully designed homes, proving that style matters over size . http://www.cotedetexas.blogspot.com/2009/08/small-stylish-houses.html

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Although I am still waiting patiently for the #1 and #2 installment of the Cote de Texas ‘top 10 designers’, Joni came out with another top 10 list that is very interesting and entertaining: the top 10 design elements. I found #4 to be fantastic – a primer on curtains. http://cotedetexas.blogspot.com/2009/08/top-ten-design-elements-4.html

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I have such a love of houses, and seeing this house in Sweden, built in the 1700s, reinforces my appreciation for classic architecture. http://livingartandinteriors.blogspot.com/2009/08/country-homes-tourstola-herrgard.html

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The artist hidden deep within me secretly longs for an artist studio like this…although I love each and every one of Brooke’s posts, this one touched me like no other. http://brookegiannetti.typepad.com/velvet_and_linen/2009/09/219-north-cliffwoodthe-pool-house-turned-into-artists-studio.html

Lyon living room mantel[1] \

Simplied Bee created a beautiful post on decorating fireplace mantels. I have had a long time fascination with fireplace mantels, perhaps because the fireplace was always such a central gathering place for my family growing up. This post contained many beautiful images that were new to me, a real treat in the blog world.

http://simplifiedbee.blogspot.com/2009/09/tips-on-decorating-fireplace-mantel.html

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In September, I finally had the opportunity to meet the blogger behind the Peak of Chic. Not long after, she created a great post on an emerging trend in design: the dark room. These pictures beautifully illustrated her post, from designer Courtney Giles’ own home. http://thepeakofchic.blogspot.com/2009/09/go-dark.html

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Odie et Amo is a blog I found this year, and I have told her time and time again that her writing style is one of the sharpest and most intelligent in the design blog world. Her post on colorful backdrops in bookcases caused me to look at rooms in a whole new way. Averill’s influence will definitely be felt in the home that I am building…http://odietamoblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/colorful-backdrops.html

Yellow Front Door[1]

Clearly doors have a huge impact on me, and this post on doors was particularly interesting. I am longing to paint my front door green, but since I will be putting my current house on the market within the next year, I am playing it safe and keeping it neutral. This post makes me want to run to the closest paint store to find the perfect shade of green…maybe for my next door…http://simplifiedbee.blogspot.com/2009/10/colorful-designer-front-doors-and-paint.html

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Laura Casey Interiors was another one of my favorite new blogs this year. Her posts are finely crafted and so beautiful. This one particularly spoke to me, an informative post on Palladian interior influences. http://www.lauracaseyinteriors.com/blog/2009/09/28/palladian-interior-influences/

Fire Balls - McAlpine - House Beautiful - December 2006[1]

One of my favorite new blogs, Limestone and Boxwoods, recently did a post on ‘fire balls’, an unusual and interesting alternative to wood in a fireplace. I must admit that I had never noticed this design element in fireplaces, even though many of the images in this post were very familiar to me (and I had even used some of them in my own posts). http://www.limestoneandboxwoods.com/2009/12/great-balls-of-fire.html

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Willow Decor’s post on the framed intaglios that she ordered from my company, Quatrefoil Design, was definitely a gratifying post for me. Gina and I emailed back and forth about the perfect intaglio design for her 100 year old Belgian linen, and the result was simply spectacular. http://willowdecor.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-conservatory-framed-intaglios.html

I hope you enjoyed my selection of favorite posts from 2009! I look forward to reading many wonderful posts in 2010. I encourage you to post a comment if you have a blog, particularly if you have a new blog; it is the best way for me to learn about the new voices of the design blog world. As always, thank you for reading my blog, and best wishes for a wonderful 2010!

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Monday, December 28, 2009

A lovely fabric


It is fairly unusual for me to notice a fabric; I have stated repeatedly that I am not a fabric person (and I am not really a pattern person either), but this one is so lovely and lyrical...

I first saw this beautiful fabric on the Tracery Interiors blog, in an unusual and beautifully draped door treatment. The Tracery Interiors team did the interiors for this stunning Tudor revival home; see the rest of the room here, and see the house decked out for the holidays here. There is a poetic justice to a firm named Tracery Interiors (who have one of the most beautiful blog logos and company names) using calligraphy inspired fabric for a home...


Here is a view of the room so you can appreciate the fabric in the entirety of the setting.


I next saw this fabric in Decor magazine. This fabric is a wonderful selection for curtains - the pattern is subtle, but makes a great impact. (Unfortunately, I can't find my copy of the magazine so I don't have the designer or photographer names).


Finally, I saw the fabric used in a charming home with interior design by Meridy King. I love the way Meridy used the fabric on both the curtains and the pillow. Is it any wonder that I admire this fabric, with its soft colors and calligraphic scrolls (take a look at my header and you will see that the swirls and flourishes of calligraphy are near and dear to my heart)? Image via Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, photo credit Mali Azima.

Postscript: my sources tell me this is a fabric by Osborne & Little, to the trade. For inquiries on colors and to order this fabric (or any other 'to the trade' fabric or furniture), please email quatrefoildesign@gmail.com

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

This scene (via Martha Stewart) is one of my favorite holiday images. The white and green color palette is my favorite; the architecture of the door, the delicate pattern on the panes of the sidelights, transom windows, and door surround also has great appeal. I just noticed the little candles in the windows, which was one of my favorite holiday traditions growing up. It's a peaceful scene, and on the day before Christmas I appreciate the peacefulness that is a result of a 'to-do' list that is done, and the wonderful anticipation that is in the air.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas! I truly appreciate each and every one of you, and thank you for your comments and emails. I will be back next week with my traditional year end posts!

(For a lovely Christmas Eve post that beautifully captures the anticipation of this day, please visit Laura Casey Interiors blog by clicking here)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Inglenook Fireplaces





A few weeks ago, I heard a term that was new to me: inglenook fireplace. Not only was the term new to me, but I wasn’t sure I had ever seen one either. According to wisegeek.com, an inglenook fireplace is recessed into the wall, creating a space that is small, sheltered, and cozy – a room within a room. The deliberately designed recessed area is often used for seating. Architects like Frank Lloyd Wright used spaces like these to deliberately elicit psychological feelings from the architecture; in the case of inglenook fireplaces, Wright used them to create a warm and cozy feeling in a room, a place of family togetherness.
I found very few images of inglenook fireplaces on the internet, but the examples I did find reminded me of Tudor architecture I have seen in England. In particular, the Wolsey fireplace in Hampton Court came to mind. Certainly, fireplaces like this were appropriate for the times given their dual function for cooking and warmth.
Tudors14
I seemed to recall seeing an inglenook fireplace on ‘The Tudors’, but this was the only image I could find of a fireplace; it is certainly large, but I don’t think it is an inglenook because it is not a ‘room within a room’.
An example of an inglenook fireplace from a home in England. Most of the inglenook fireplace images I found were from homes in England, interestingly enough.
This was perhaps the best inglenook fireplace image I found. Interestingly, this space is tucked under the stairs and is off a hall. The paneling gives the space an great third dimension, and the bench seating to each side of the fireplace looks like the perfect place to read a book on a cold winter’s day. Image via the Classic Group, architecture by Meyer & Meyer.
This inglenook fireplace is from a vacation rental in Portugal. The seating area near the fireplace looks particularly cozy.

This image is via a real estate listing in California. It was one of the few images I could find of inglenook fireplaces with a seating area; this whole set up is not really my style, but interesting nonetheless.

This is from a country bed and breakfast in England. I love this image.

Lake Martin Inglenook
As I wasn’t really coming up with many interesting pictures for this post, I emailed my friend Doug from Tracery Interiors. His blog is one of my favorites (email readers, click here to view); no surprise given that Tracery Interiors is known for adeptly mixing the old and the new, and creating nuanced interiors that are both beautiful and livable. Tracery Interiors works on a lot of beautiful new homes and historical renovations, and Doug always seems to be in the know about this kind of thing. Within an hour Doug was kind enough to send me several amazing examples of inglenook fireplaces from his firm’s body of work. Here is one (pictured above), from a house built on Lake Martin in Alabama.
LakeMartin2
A sideview of the recessed area shows the bookcases that line the nook. The Lake Martin home is one that Tracery Interiors designed and furnished; the alcove is vertically planked in wormy oak, the stone on the hearth and surround is Jura Stone, a type of limestone. The piece over the fireplace is by Santa Rosa Beach artist Teresa Cline, whose work Tracery Interiors carry in their Rosemary Beach shop.
Spanish Inglenook
This is perhaps the most stunning example of an inglenook fireplace that I have seen, in a Spanish Revival home in the Hollywood district of Homewood, Alabama. The architect on the renovation was Louis Nequette of Dungan Neguette Architects (their portfolio is breathtaking – I highly recommend a visit to their site) and the interiors are by Tracery Interiors. The fireplace was existing to the 1927 home, as was the Moorish arch; Doug from Tracery Interiors designed the walnut paneling for the formerly stuccoed back wall to add some contrast to the composition. The home was furnished by the homeowner, well known designer, blogger and internet personality JB Hopkins (The Foodimentary Guy). Photo credit: Colleen Duffley.
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Doug also pointed me to this beautiful home in Rosemary Beach (image via Krumdieck Architecture and Interior Design). Doug said this home was published in Southern Living a few years ago. I love the asymmetrical inglenook fireplace – it works so beautifully in this space.
Readers, do you have any pictures or examples of inglenook fireplaces? If you have seen one, what did you think of it? I am quite fascinated by the idea of an inglenook fireplace precisely because it is not very common, and am very interested to know what all of you think of them.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Pencils of Promise






I rarely go off topic on my blog, but this is an important exception. Several bloggers are coming together today in a collaborative effort spearheaded by Paloma Contreras of La Dolce Vita. We hope to raise awareness of and funds for Pencils of Promise, an organization that partners with local communities and organizations to build schools in developing nations for some of the worlds most impoverished and undereducated children. Sadly, there are more than 75 million children in this terrible situation worldwide.

Last December, the Pencils of Promise team visited a small village in Laos; by July 2009, they had built a new school for the village children , and children began attending classes on September 1st. This month, Pencils of Promise will be opening their third school and they hope to open the doors to education for more children in 2010.


Pencils of Promise founder, Adam Braun, is currently on ground to visit and oversee the new schools that are being built in the villages of Luang Prabang. These villages are remote and poor beyond what you can imagine, and have limited resources due to the lagging pace in development of the country. The cycle cannot be broken until the development of individuals is changed first.

Recently, Adam visited Champet, a village that is home to the only high school in the area for surrounding villages. In order to attend this high school, the students must leave their families and homes to live in dormitories like boarding school style, only that the style is far from what comes to mind when we think of boarding conditions in the US dormitories. The girls are moving and living into unsafe dormitories which consists of make shift bamboo huts. It is heartbreaking but so courageous at the same time.

This is the current state of the school - huts that are exposed to the elements, and are not safe for the girls who live there.

The goal of the blog day is focused: the raise funds for a new dormitory and library for these girls. Pencils for Promise believes strongly this is the BEST potential project that we bloggers and our readers can raise money for at this time. With your help, make this goal a reality for the children in Laos. Currently, some parents are unwilling to send their kids to school because of the danger of these huts that you will see others living in. This new dormitory will fit about 200 young Laotian girls.

Please consider making a donation to Pencils of Promise today; your donation is fully tax deductible (501c3). Even a $5 contribution will make a difference; larger amounts are gratefully accepted as well. Your donation will help Pencils of Promise build safe, legitimate housing for the female children to have access to further their education.


Here is the Pencils for Promise donation link:

Facebook page:

Thank you! I made my donation first thing this morning, and hope you will join me in supporting this important cause.

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