Saturday, July 27, 2013

Outdoor dining rooms

When we built our house, we made a conscious decision that our outdoor room would be an intimate seating area with a fireplace, but not a space that would function as an outdoor dining area.

On the pool deck, we are using a 25 year old Brown Jordan patio furniture set that was given to us by my in-laws when they downsized, which includes a round table and chairs (seen on the left).  We have plans to get new outdoor furniture at some point – maybe next year.

I have noticed that we rarely sit outside and eat.  I am not sure if this is because of our natural inclination to eat inside, or if it is because the table and chairs are enough of a distance from the kitchen that it is not easy or practical to carry the food out there.   I love the idea of outdoor dining, though, and I have been pinning a lot of outdoor room ideas onto pinterest that feature outdoor dining rooms lately.

We have a patio that is off the kitchen that is fairly empty (please forgive the state of the patio, it has been so damp and wet this summer, it needs a good pressure wash right now!).  This space isn’t huge, and we tend to use it for entertaining when we have people over (we often set up a long bar on the far end), so whatever goes here must be flexible and light weight enough to move out of the way when we need the space.  I think a round table would work well given the size of the space.  A square table won’t work, as I need to seat at least 5 people (so that everyone in the family has a spot!). I could possibly do a rectangular table that seats 6.

This picture appeals to me on many different levels – it has the style I like, and seating for six. I love the dark trim and light walls of the house, which is perfectly reflected in the color scheme of the stone floor and the dining set (which I believe is Janus et Cie Amalfi). Via pinterest.

I have admired this picture many times when appreciating the kitchen in this William Hefner designed space, but only recently focused on the outside space – which also appears to be a Janus et Cie Amalfi chair and table set.   It looks like a round table to me.

Here is a view of the back of the house – the dining set can be seen behind the tree.  This patio space is large, and has a seating area as well. Architecture by William Hefner.  I have been a fan of William Hefner’s work for years – and he has a new book out called California Homes that I am very anxious to read (I have not ordered it yet).  Click here to see on Amazon.

This picture caught my eye because of the smaller size of the space, and the fact that the color scheme of the bluestone and house work well with the dark color of the dining chairs and table.

I saw this picture on The Enchanted Home, and it still remains one of my favorites. Attributed to Ginger Barber.

There is something about this picture that really captures my imagination.  I don’t see many fully paved courtyards in Atlanta, but I remember them well from my childhood in Washington DC/Georgetown. 

This is at a French Monastery, featured in Veranda, so does not reflect what an American back yard might look like, but it is such an inviting outdoor dining set up!

This has always been one of my favorite images of an outdoor dining room. The stone table surrounded by klismos chairs, and that unbelievable lantern, makes the most beautiful picture and is a lovely space. This house, designed by Bobby McAlpine, was featured in Veranda years ago, and this picture made the cover of the new book Veranda: The Art of Outdoor Living. It can be pre-ordered on Amazon here.

Suzanne Kasler’s outdoor table is just outside her kitchen; in fact, the outdoor table is parallel to the kitchen table inside, with steel windows and doors separating the two.  The teak chairs appear to fold, and the table has a large stone top, which means that it probably can’t be moved without great effort! It’s a beautiful look, and there is plenty of room for it.  However, I wonder if teak is too heavy looking and feeling for my smaller space outside the kitchen.  (Note the Janus et Cie Amalfi seating in the covered room. It is a chic look that clearly has great appeal.)

John Saladino had a similar outdoor arrangement at his former home – teak chairs and a stone topped table.   It would be wonderful to dine outside under the cover of the vines.

This is a pretty back yard, and I love the look of the teak dining table and chairs. Via pinterest, source.

I also like the look of a French bistro style dining set – it’s effortlessly chic. It looks particularly good on the pea gravel patio, don’t you think? Almost like it is in a Paris park.

Another casual Parisian style set up.

Since there has been so much royal news lately, I immediately thought about outdoor dining when I came across this picture of Kate Middleton’s parents’ home in Bucklebury. News reports indicate that this is where Kate, William, and the new prince will be spending time while the refurbishment on their new 20,000 square foot apartment at Kensington Palace is being finished.  Notice the large outdoor table on the left side?  It seems like this would be a wonderful place to eat summer dinners. Source.

The view from the table is absolutely incredible – I would be eating out here every day! The Middleton home sits on 18 beautiful and private acres.  Source.

Based on the solar panel seen on the right side of this house, I think this is the front entrance of the Middleton’s Bucklebury Manor. It’s incredibly charming (I love the green door), and interesting to see the front knowing how deep the house actually is…the house appears like a cottage from this view. Source.

Here is an aerial view of the house, which gives a great perspective on the house and its outdoor areas. Note that there are not just one, but two outdoor dining tables – one on the right, and one on the left side of the house.  I believe these pictures were taken when the house was on the market last year, so it’s possible that the Middletons did not replicate this arrangement when they moved in.

Do you have an outdoor dining area?  Any perspective on what works well, or any styles/brands to recommend?  I love the look of the Janus et Cie Amalfi items, but I am not wild about dealing with the cushions – even if they are outdoor fabric, they will get dirty very quickly (although I read a great blog post on a couple who had custom cushions made with marine grade vinyl – brilliant idea!).  I am also a big fan of many of the Brown Jordan outdoor furniture items. I love the idea of teak, but think it might just be too heavy for the space.  The bistro table idea might be a bit too casual and small, although very light weight and flexible. Any thoughts are welcome!

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

One of my favorite things 2013: Hipsi belts

Last year, when I was at my college reunion, the wife of a classmate told me about a new line of belts – Hipsi belts - that is based out of her hometown (Seattle).  I decided to order one, and since then I have rarely worn any other belt. I now own several Hipsi belts in different colors, as well as several different designs of buckles.

This is my new favorite accessory, and without question the best belt I have ever owned!  This is not a paid promotion – I just like the belt, personally own several, and thought I would spread the word.

What do I like about my Hipsi belts? They are totally flexible in so many different ways. They are completely flat – no bulky buckle, which means that they do not create those annoying holes in t-shirts that so many regular belts make. Plus, they shield shirts from the zipper and the flap of pants and jeans, which also protects the shirt from getting holes and creates a flat and smooth profile. They are fully adjustable, so they can be worn with every type of jeans or pants however low or high they may be.  Hipsi belts are cute enough to be worn so that they can be seen, and have many great buckles that can be swapped in and out of the belt strap. But, they are also sleek and flat enough to be completely hidden when your shirt is over your jeans or pants.

There are three basic belt strap colors – black, brown, and champagne. I started with the basic black belt and buckle set, then soon after purchased the brown belt and buckle set (seen here, holiday set here, and the equestrian belt sets seen here).

Hipsi holiday gift set

There is a new holiday gift set that is being offered this year – a basic belt set (brown, black, or bubbly (champagne) that comes with two interchangeable buckles. The “brown eyed girl” belt set and tigerlily buckle is pictured above.

I have also bought some of their cute buckles to expand the look (seen here; I have some of the animal prints, and the chic Greek key designs).

The latch mechanism is different than regular belts , and takes a few times latching the belt to get the swing of it (there are detailed instructions included with the belt, and on the website), but once you get the hang of it you are set!

Hipsi belts can be found in stores around the US (and if you are a store owner, I highly recommend carrying these great belts), and they can be purchased online at http://www.hipsiworld.com

Here is a video that the inventors of Hipsi belts put on youtube, it helps give a feel for the versatility of the Hipsi belt.

As a special promotion for Things That Inspire readers, Hipsi is offering 15% off all orders made through their web site! For a limited time, you can use code thingsthatinspire when checking out.  I hope you like these belts as much as I do!  I gave Hipsi belts to many of my friends and family last year as Christmas presents, and everyone I gave them to loves them as much as I do.

For more information, please visit the Hipsi website - http://www.hipsiworld.com

2013 books on my Christmas list:
2012 books on my Christmas list:
2011 books on my Christmas list:

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New on the market: one of my favorite houses

I have posted about many houses through the years. Some of the houses are from magazine features, and a view of both the inside and the outside completes the picture of the house. However, many of the houses that I have posted about are only outside views gathered on my walks throughout Atlanta, with a focus on the architecture and exterior style. I often wonder what many of these houses look like on the inside.

A reader recently emailed me about a house that was new on the market, and it is one that I have featured several times on my blog.  It is a charming renovation by Stan Dixon, and it won a Shutze award in 2008 for the small residence category.  I was thrilled to get a glimpse inside the house through the real estate photos, and see that the beautifully decorated and traditional interiors look like something that might have been featured in Southern Accents.

Here is the exterior – many of you probably recognize it.  This house was a non-descript 1950s ranch house that was totally and thoroughly renovated to create the classical proportions and elegant street appeal that are characteristic of this area of Buckhead.  The house is painted brick (a great way to update a ranch house in Buckhead), with a beautiful slate roof and an elegant limestone portico.

The landscaping on this property perfectly complements and enhances the architecture of the house. It’s simple and restrained, in the French style, and the symmetry of the design beautifully complements the look and feel of the house.  I often wonder if the owner has soirees out on the front lawn.

A close-up of the limestone portico. The monochromatic color scheme of the brick, limestone, and shutters is beautiful, and makes the lanterns and door stand out. The boxwoods are the perfect sculptural touch for the elegant design of the house.

The entry is a wonderful introduction to the house, with its limestone floors and cabochon pattern.  In this picture, the living room is the space to the left,  the dining room is the space to the right.  I love the design and scale of this center hall table – it must be an antique. If it is not an antique, and someone recognizes it, please let me know!

Another view of the entry, with a glimpse into the living room.

A view of the living room. Of course, I noticed the beautiful barometer with framed intaglios, arranged so artfully.  The listing notes that the décor is by Tom Hayes.

Another view of the living room. This room has an interesting mix of symmetry and asymmetry, and certainly has plenty of seating in all shapes and forms.

The dining room has an intimate scale and a fresh color scheme. I imagine that a second round table could be brought in if there was a need for more seating when entertaining.

I particularly like this view of the dining room, as the chandelier can be seen in more detail.  It looks like the color of the chandelier might have inspired the color scheme of the entire room.

Adjacent to the formal dining room is the breakfast room (or casual dining area), which is in the section of the house that projects from the front.

The kitchen is located on the side of the house, and connects the front to the back.  Although the style is different, what comes to mind is a kitchen from designer Michael Smith’s own house (featured here).  In his book on kitchens and baths, Smith notes that galley kitchens are exceptionally efficient.  The kitchen looks like it has a winning combination of beauty and efficiency.

A view of the kitchen from the other side. The home office/mud room area is at the back of the house.

Another view of the kitchen. The subway tiles seem to be the exact color of the limestone on the front of the house.

The wood paneled family room/sitting room is on the back side of the house. Note that the fabric in the curtains is also repeated in the fabric of the skirted table.

The real estate photos did not contain a view of the stairs (which is surprising, as they are so beautiful), but here is a picture from Stan Dixon’s website, taken when the house was just finished and the owners had not moved in.

The master bedroom is on the main floor, and is filled with light, with windows on the east, west, and south exposures. 

The bedroom from the other side of the room. Note the fine detail on the cabinets.  This is the only television I have seen in the pictures, so I am sure the sitting area in the bedroom gets a lot of use.

A pretty master bathroom.

One of the guest rooms on the second floor is charming. I have a fondness for rooms that are built into the roof line, and I love the wallpaper treatment in this room.

The terrace level features a wonderful outdoor sitting room, presumably below the space of the master bedroom (like many Atlanta lots, when the front of the lot is flat, the back of the lot is typically on an incline, and the terrace level opens to the back yard).

In contrast to the formal elegance of the front landscaping, the garden in the back has a more natural and park-like look and feel.  This bird bath is a charming element, and the winding path seems to lead to a large bench.

Another view of the yard, which has a private and natural look and feel.

I get so much gratification out of seeing the inside of homes that I have previously only admired from afar.   I think this particular house lives up to the exterior; the proportions of the rooms and the spaces in the house are really wonderful, and the décor is fairytale charming.

This beautiful, one of a kind house is listed by Studie Young of Harry Norman, and the listing can be found here. All photos in this post are from the real estate listing (they are particularly beautiful photos – I wish I knew who took them!).

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