Monday, March 28, 2011

Two design tips

For more inspirational finds, please visit www.quatrefoildesign.com

Last week, Circle of Moms notified me that I had received enough votes to make it into the top 3 blogs on the list of 'Top 25 Home Design Moms'.  Thank you so much for your support and your votes!  To see the entire list, visit http://www.circleofmoms.com/top25/home-design-moms - I have discovered quite a few new blogs through this list. 

As part of the top 3, Circle of Moms asked for me to provide them with two design tips to share with their readers.  As any regular reader of my blog knows, my blog is not as much about specific tips as it is about sharing my point of view.

Herringbone pattern in a firebox

Case in point: the herringbone pattern.  I have admired this style for a long time, and have posted about it herehere, and here.  I have received many emails from my readers saying that every time they see a herringbone pattern, they think about my blog - the greatest compliment that can be given to a blogger.  I have also received emails from at least a dozen readers saying that my post on a herringbone pattern in the firebox inspired them to redo their own firebox with a herringbone pattern.  And, naturally, I am doing a herringbone pattern in the fireboxes of the three fireplaces in the new house (as well as herringbone floors in the living room). However, in these posts I was not giving specific tips, but was sharing my admiration for this beautiful style, illustrated with both words and pictures.

So, back to the task on hand - two design tips.  Perhaps characteristic of my approach to design, I am going to give two design tips that are applicable to everyone, and are based on my experience over the past 4 years as a blogger, and over the past two years as a client to a great architect, designer, and landscape architect (for those of you new to my blog, I am in the process of building a house in Atlanta, which has been an amazing life and learning experience).

Tip I:  There is truly not just one right answer, or just one correct style. Going with what you love will probably serve you best in the long run.
My first 'design tip' is one that I have come to realize over the past two years, primarily through the experience of building a house, but also by reading some of the amazing design blogs that share the inside details of the design process.  Blogs in particular have enabled me to be able to experience design on a more real level (not just the glossy and perfect magazine layouts), and also gain insight into the decisions behind the designs.   

In design, like in art, there are literally thousands of ways a room or a vignette can come together, all of which would be equally beautiful.  To some of you, this might seem very obvious, but many of us struggle with the sheer number of choices out there, fearing that the faucet or fabric, tile or countertop, lamp or lighting fixture that we pick is going to be wrong, or that we are going with a style that is not really us.   The good news is that never before has it there been so much inspiration and 'how to' at our fingertips (most of which is free!).  There are so many options available these days that are reasonably priced, and available to everyone,not just designers.  In my current house, I have changed things around (with items I already had floating around the house) simply by seeing an inspirational picture on a blog, or even admiring the way a table was set up in the Restoration Hardware catalog.  Although it seems trite, if you really love something,  more than likely it will work somewhere in your house (I particularly feel this way about art).

Although there are hundreds and hundreds of blogs out there that have inspired me, there are a few in particular that have really been pivotal in teaching me about design, providing me with amazing inspiration, and giving me more confidence in my own sense of style.

Tip II:  Open your eyes to the details.  They are literally all around you, waiting to be noticed.  

Even as a child, I remember being transfixed by the details. I would beg my parents to take me to the National Gallery to visit my favorite paintings, in particular A Girl with a Watering Can by Renoir (1876).  In early March I visited DC, and made a pilgrimage to visit this painting, which is like an old friend to me.  Every time I see it, I see different things, and appreciate it on new levels.  This time I marveled at the vermilion colored bow, which is the perfect contrast to the blue in the dress.  I would never think to put an orange bow on my daughter if she were wearing blue, and yet this small detail is one of my favorite details of the painting (and I love how the color is repeated in the flowers in the background). The power of contrasting colors!

On that same trip to the National Gallery (which I have visited dozens of times), I noticed an amazing stone staircase for the first time.  I love seeing familiar places with new eyes, a result of constantly learning and opening my eyes to the details.

Even in school, when taking Biology as a teenager, I remember being truly mesmerized by the sheer beauty and complexity of the DNA that resides within every one of us. Truly, God is in the details, and it is amazing to live in an age when we can unearth some of these mysteries.  Is it strange that the sight of a double helix brings tears to my eyes?

One of the greatest compliments I get about my blog is that it causes my readers to see things in a new way, to notice that details that have always been there, but never really registered.  Although I have always been one to notice the details, writing my blog (and building a house) has caused me to notice the details as never before.  There is no special skill or talent to noticing the details - it's all a matter of opening up your eyes to the beauty that is around you (in whatever area that captures your attention), and learning something new every day.  There are so many resources available to all of us, through magazines, blogs, books, the world around us.  One of my favorite sources of inspiration is google images - if you want to see a picture of just about anything, do a search on google images and you will have more inspiration than you can take in at one sitting! 

Over the past four years, I have posted many times on the details that inspire me in art, architecture, and interior design.  Here are some of my favorite posts about the details.

I hope you enjoyed my 'design tips'!  If you have a favorite post or a favorite tip that you have gleaned from my blog over the years, please post it here.  And again, thank you for your support on the Circle of Moms Design blog vote!

To visit my store, Quatrefoil Design, click here – come see the brand new art and scupture items in the store!
To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.
To follow my blog on Facebook, click here.
Twitter: @TTIBlog
To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Transformations in Brookwood Hills

There is a brand new tour of homes this year, taking place in one of Atlanta's most charming neighborhoods, Brookwood Hills.  The theme of this year's tour is transformation, as the five houses featured on the tour have been transformed in one way or another by architect Stan Dixon, a long time Brookwood Hills resident (and the architect who designed my new house).

I don't write about Brookwood Hills very often, as it is not on my beaten path (it is wonderfully located in Buckhead, but is fairly private because it is a completely self contained neighborhood).  However, it is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Atlanta, with many older homes built in the 1920s - 1940s that have been meticulously maintainted, and newer homes that are built to suit the eclectic character of the neighborhood.

I love this description of Brookwood Hills, from Buckhead.org:
Large Mediterranean, Georgian, Colonial and Tudor homes line streets shaded by towering oaks 100 years old. Lush ivy on walls and in beds keeps the area green even in winter. Lots tend to be small, often less than one-half acre, with homes set near the street, but the landscaping is lush and gardens are carefully maintained. Sidewalks and absence of traffic encourage walkers, joggers, bicyclists and impromptu street games. (Source)

The Home Tour takes place this Saturday, March 26th, from 10 am to 4 pm.  Here is a sneak preview of the houses that will be on the tour; these write ups are from the Brookwood Hills Tour of Homes brochure.  Proceeds benefit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.   All photography by Stan Dixon.

80 Huntington Road 

Stan worked with homeowners Kathryn Stockett and Keith Rogers on a design that stripped the 1920s bungalow down to its core. The home, still in the renovation process,  retains its original character while blending contemporary style.  The renovation opens the floorplan and adds new elements of design such as steel doors and windows leading to the back porch.  Stan is particularly fond of a cupola on the back porch, which lets light into both the porch and interior of the home. Kathryn says that while she appreciates Stan’s grand scheme, “it's Stan's details that hold your gaze - the lovely roofline of the outdoor room, the cupola with the skylight, keeping the original ceiling in the front office, the arched door in Lila’s bathroom.  He surprises me.  Stan's details make me happy.” Kathryn says her family has been content living at The Brookwood during the renovation but they look forward to moving home in June. “I miss Brookwood Hills like a good friend,” she says.

45 Montclair Drive

Stan designed the renovation of the home of Karla and David Morris while working for  Norman Askins, before starting his own firm. The renovation included a substantial addition, which is sympathetic to the original time period of the home. Karla, an interior designer herself, had a clear vision for the home and a strong design point of view.  Stan says “the back porch is the highlight of the house”. The porch was inspired by the New Orleans French Quarter and is where the family spends the majority of its time.  Many of the home’s details and decoration are influenced by Karla’s childhood growing up on the Gulf Coast and attending college in New Orleans.   The renovation exceeded the family’s expectations.  Karla says she thoroughly enjoyed working with Stan and couldn’t be happier that their business relationship has developed into a strong friendship.

102 Wakefield Drive

Stan designed the renovation of this late Georgian home for Jackson and Catherine Kelly while in the office of Norman Askins.  The home is currently owned by John Morrison. The home includes several antique architectural elements selected by Stan, including an 18th Century mahogany front door from England and a mantle in the family room. Stan added a new front entry portico to give the front of the house a facelift and a large addition was added to the rear of the house. The entire floor plan was reworked along with all new interior finishes and details.

315 Camden Road

The home of Scott and  JoEllyn Bass, an American Colonial, has been renovated several times, most 
recently in 2009-2010. This last renovation, designed by Stan, expanded the upstairs to add a fourth bedroom; expanded the master bed/bath; added a screen porch with fireplace; added an office on the first floor; added a front porch with new stairs and sidewalk; lime-washed the exterior brick of the house; added a new driveway; and updated the landscaping.  Stan is particularly fond of the revised details at the dormers on the front of the house, which provide a sense of history, as well as the lime-washed brick, which gives a sense of age and a patina.  Stan likes many details of the renovation, including the Chippendale railing above the front door, which is repeated on the gate. JoEllyn describes working with Stan as great. “His vision, design and attention to detail are incredible,” she says. “He quickly understood our taste and our budget and worked within that framework to come up with a design that we love.  He was also very accessible throughout the construction phase to make sure the builder was executing everything to Stan’s specifications.

84 Palisades Road 

After buying the 1925 home in 2006, Kathy and Boyd Gentry worked with Stan on plans to rework and add on to the historic home. The goal was to make the addition seamless, so that the whole home, new and old, would feel cohesive and authentic. “We loved working with Stan and he served as architect, designer, mediator, marriage counselor and friend,” says Kathy. “We appreciated his subdued taste, sense of proportion and quiet manner.” Stan says he is particularly fond of the interesting fireplace in the family room, as well as the guest house, which feel “like you are in an oasis.” The renovation, done under the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Historic Preservation Division, took 14 months. The DNR program requires that the historic integrity of the structure be preserved. As an example, the original red barrel tile roof was removed, so that water-proofing could be added and existing felt replaced, and then put back on. The  Gentrys, who previously lived on Northwood, moved into 84 Palisades in 2008.

For more information on the Brookwood Hills Tour of Homes, please visit the Children's Healthcare website - http://www.choa.org/Support-Childrens/Events/Brookwood-Hills-Tour-of-Homes.  

Date and time: Saturday, March 26, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
$30 per person to Tour of Homes in advance, $35 per person day of the tour (cash and check only) purchased at any of the homes.
Location: addresses of homes noted above

To visit my store, Quatrefoil Design, click here – come see the brand new art and scupture items in the store!
To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.
To follow my blog on Facebook, click here.
Twitter: @TTIBlog
To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday inspiration

I came across this picture of a door in Charleston while researching a post...a little Monday inspiration!  I love a colorful door, and this one is particularly appealing.  What would you call it - apricot or melon?

Thank you for all of your support on the Circle of Moms Top 25 Design Blogs written by Moms!  Today is the last day of voting.  If you enjoy reading my blog, please consider casting another vote...you can vote once per day.

 Click here to vote. or go to http://www.circleofmoms.com/blogger/692. Thank you so much for your support!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

An inspirational discovery

Years ago, I purchased a beautiful green pear sculpture, which had a place of honor in my family room.  Just looking at that pear made me happy!  However, when our golden retriever Ben joined the family, his large enthusiastic tail knocked my pear off the table.

When I saw this picture from Suzanne Kasler's portfolio, I asked her where she got the beautiful pear sculptures on her kitchen table (this image is from her previous house).  She purchased them years ago at Lars Bolander's store in New York, and the were one of a kind.

I continued to keep my eye out for pear sculptures, and you can imagine my delight when I found the pear artist again recently!  I promptly purchased a green pear, and asked the artist if she would like to sell her pears through my store, Quatrefoil Design.

The artist is Lisa Olliff, and she has always had a passion for art and sculpture.  In recent years she decided to pursue her love for sculpture and pottery, and her skill, talent, and creativity really shine through!  Pears are one of her favorite subject matters, for their organic beauty.

One of Lisa's pears (already sold)
Her pears are so beautiful, and as they are hand made, each has a character of its own.  I haven't decided where I will put mine, but there are so many options!

A group of three on the kitchen table

They would look great in a small grouping, on a kitchen table, similar to how Suzanne had her pears arranged in her house.

A charming turquoise pear in my bookshelf

A large pair takes the place of honor on an occasional table

A smaller pear looks wonderful perched on top of a stack of books

The pears look great as part of a tablescape on a chest. Do you spy the pear in this vignette?

I am pleased to offer the following selection of Lisa's pears in the Quatrefoil Design store:

Medium Turquoise Pear - $110 

Large ochre pear, $160

Medium pear sculpture in green, $110

Extra large pear sculpture in ochre, $340

Extra large pear sculpture in deep red, $280

Medium pear sculpture in deep green

We also have a sweet collection of acorns - http://quatrefoildesign.bigcartel.com/product/acorn-sculpture-i is the one in this picture, check the Quatrefoil Design sculpture section in the store for more!

To see all of the pear sculptures, please visit the sculpture section of the Quatrefoil Design store, http://quatrefoildesign.bigcartel.com/category/sculpture

The possibilities are endless!  If you see a pear you like, and it is sold out, please send an email to me at quatrefoildesign@gmail.com - it is possible to have Lisa make one for you in your desired color and size combination.  Keep in mind, though, that each pear is a unique and individual piece of art, and custom orders will have their own unique character. It's part of the beauty of original art!

Also just in, six original bird drawings from Melissa Tubbs.  These are only in the store once in a blue moon - come check them out! 

Please vote for me for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Design Blogs! You can vote once per day.  Click here to vote.  Thank you for your support!

To visit my store, Quatrefoil Design, click here – come see the brand new art and scupture items in the store!
To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.
To follow my blog on Facebook, click here.
Twitter: @TTIBlog
To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Staging our house and putting it on the market

It's hard to believe, but the time has finally come to put my current house on the market.  Although I am excited about the new house that we are building (due to be finished this summer) I love my current house and it feels a bit strange to start letting go of it - and putting it on the market is really the first stage of letting go.  It is the house that my husband and I purchased 14 years ago when he was about the graduate from business school, the only home my three children have known. In 1997, my husband and I saw the house on a weekend trip to Atlanta, fell in love with it, and put in an offer that same day.  The first weekend it was on the market (back in 1997), there were five offers by the end of the weekend! It was a different real estate market back then, but illustrates the appeal of the house and the floorplan.

The house was designed by the nationally known architects Spitzmiller & Norris; it was one of the early projects of the firm, which was established in 1985 (my house was built in 1988).  Visitors to my home can't believe that it is almost 23 years old, because it has such a fresh feel to it, with an open and flowing plan, rooms that are defined and beautifully proportioned, yet also flow well into one another for optimal living and entertaining spaces.  Of course, those of you who read my blog won't be surprised to learn that my husband and I are meticulous about maintenance of the home, and it has never looked better!

My house is filled with light, and looks over a 15+ acre nature preserve, giving it a great feeling of privacy despite the fact that it is on a small (no maintenance) lot.  There are so many aspects of the house I will miss, and so many things that are familiar - the lovely curve of the railing on the stairs, which I hold the same way every time I walk downstairs; the patterns of sunlight that are different at the various times of day; the amazing floorplan of the house, which worked great for us before we had children, and just as well now that we have three children; my wonderfully spacious master bedroom, which is truly a tranquil sanctuary; the screened porch, which expands the living spaces and is a great place to enjoy the outdoors; the renovated master bathroom, which has an incredible view to the back yard;  the stunning beauty of the back yard, which changes character through the seasons, and is like a nature preserve with the dozens of birds that I see every day.

To prepare for the real estate photos, and for listing the house, my realtor enlisted the help of two wonderful stagers to get things in shape - Abigail Cancelliere and Blair Anderson of RSG Interiors (to contact them, email Readysetgo@bellsouth.net).  I am a big fan of the staging shows on HGTV, so was thrilled to have the opportunity to see what kind of changes they would implement!  Privately, I thought my house was in pretty good shape from a decor perspective, and I had spent months decluttering and packing to prepare for listing the house.  However, Abigail and Blair came in and 'swirled things around' - they moved furniture, art, and paintings from one room to another, started a collection of items that I needed to pack away in order to give the spaces breathing room, and with some easy updates, completely reinvigorated the look and feel of the house.  I am a firm believer in the art of staging, and highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about listing their home!

Here is a case study in staging.  This little table was in my family room, but was never really at ease there.  Abigail and Blair moved it up to the upstairs hall (which was empty), leaned one of my architectural renderings against the wall (carried in the Quatrefoil Design store), added a view items found around the house, and voila!  I wish I had done this years ago. Source: my images.

I bought a few items to freshen up the rooms, but not many.  For staging projects. Abigail and Blair like to work first and foremost with the items that the client already owns, so we looked around my home and attic for items that would work for our purposes.  There were a few easy things that Abigail and Blair asked me to update - for example, my kitchen chandelier shades.  I had some cute shades from Pierre Deux (left) that were cheerful and green - my favorite color - but Abigail and Blair recommended that I change them out for neutral shades that have a more modern shape.   A small change, but it has a big impact in the room. (Source: my images)

Here are a few of the real estate photos; I think they came out so well, and they really capture the fresh and light feel of the home.

The front hall remained the same.  I think this picture beautifully reflects the light and airy feel of the house - it gets really beautiful light all day long. Real estate photo.

The books that I had on my dining room buffet were cleared, in order to make the space less cluttered. I also tend to use my dining room as my office, so I cleared out all of the paperwork and put it away. Real estate photo.

The living room was fluffed a bit - mainly some of the knick-knacks were removed, and the mantel was cleared of the candlesticks and accessories that were previously there. This room gets a lot of use because of the piano, so the kids are trying to keep their piano books neat and tidy.  Real estate photo.

I love this view from the family room to the living room - it is one of my favorite views in the house.  It also shows how well the rooms relate to one another. We truly use every room of our house, which is a wonderful thing about our floor plan. Real estate photo.

I really enjoy my master bedroom - it is such has such a peaceful place to retreat at the end of a long day.  Abigail and Blair didn't need to do too much in this room - and they loved the Amanda Talley painting above the fireplace! Real estate photo.

(I am having trouble with the pictures coming through on this post. If they don't come through for email subscribers, click here to go to the actual post)

Please vote for me for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Design Blogs! You can vote once per day.  Click here to vote.  Thank you for your support!

To visit my store, Quatrefoil Design, click here – come see the brand new art and scupture items in the store!
To subscribe to my blog by email, click here.
To follow my blog on Facebook, click here.
Twitter: @TTIBlog
To see design, architecture, art, and decorative books that I recommend, please visit the Things That Inspire Amazon store.


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