Innovative decorating with collections

When I was in London, I visited the Camden Lock Market. While I didn’t find anything I couldn’t live without, I was inspired by a small hallway where two different collections were displayed.
Books on the wall
Books on the wall serving as frames for old pictures. These vintage tomes are painted white, have a colored satin ribbon glued in as a bookmark and old pictures pasted inside. Really, there are two collections here–vintage books and old photos. Both totally collectable. Other ideas for displaying books or photos? If you’re an avid reader, collect colorful versions of the classics and style them within a bookshelf or on a desk. If you’re not an avid reader, buy books in complementing colors and style those on a shelf or desk.
Closeup of book
As for photos, another option might be to think about framing a collection by subject, location, etc. and mixing them in on a gallery wall with modern art too.
These skeleton keys were dipped in paint and strung from a grate suspended from the ceiling.
Closeup of keys
Try hanging them from ribbon and stringing them in the window, or group them as a display and hang them on a wall (from just a simple nail).

The individuality seen in these collections is what I love most. Rather than simply collect figurines, glassware, books, etc., think about how you can make the collection uniquely you. Paint, ribbon and display gave these vintage finds a personal touch. This got me thinking. What collection do I have in California that I could throw my mark on?

I have a small collection of milk glass–maybe three or four vases–and I am inspired by this photo to gild them.
white and gold vases
My mom has a collection of buttons. I’m thinking of taking her jar, sifting through it to find some fun colors and shapes and making a one-of-a-kind artwork like this.
Love button artwork

What is it that you collect? How do you display it?

Warm white

White on white
The colorless shade has so many variations that can make spaces and furnishings appear stark, shabby chic and modern. But most don’t think of adding white to warm up a room. Let me show you the ways:
white church
Scott and I recently visited the island of Hvar in Croatia. And while I was taken with the tiny city of Hvar Town’s Renaissance and Gothic architecture, I was more impressed with the color (or lack thereof) of the buildings. Shades of white, cream, ivory, alabaster, pearl, chalk, milk and snow wrap stone buildings, blanket cobblestone streets, cover windows and shade outdoor markets.
white hotel
I was totally inspired by so much non color. Scott’s not a huge fan of decorating with white. He prefers color and pattern, but I suspect if I created one of these inviting vignettes at home, I would change his mind.
Warm Welcome
Create a warm welcome
Lay something soft but durable at the entry, like this striped dhurrie rug. Place a bench on top, a place to sit and put on or take off shoes–and a place to drop your bag. Make it cozy with a small sheepskin rug and a few textured throw pillows, like these linen and cable-knit designs. Add a decorative coat rack. And a few cozy items, like this shearling vest and wood bead wreath. And something whimsical and fun, such as this vintage cowbell.
Create a comfy nook in the office
Make a comfy nook in the home office
Start with a comfortable but inexpensive couch, something with a removable slipcover if possible. Add a small end table. Add a few throw pillows for additional comfort. I couldn’t find any white-and-metallic-gold pillows that I loved, so I would buy this metallic linen fabric and this geometric pattern and make my own. Shed some light on the space for reading. And finish the space with one-of-a-kind art.

How to make drip art

Top Design’s season two winner, Nathan Thomas, created original art for the season finale. The concept was simple: One canvas painted a creamy white and several paint colors to drip down the side of the canvas. It seemed so easy on TV; I decided to try it out in a client’s living room.
A better bachelor pad
I picked up three canvases from a thrift store for 50 cents a piece. True, they were a bit yellowed and dirty, but one coat of flat white paint (paint all four edges too), which I already had on hand, did the trick.

Once the canvases were dry, I stood them up in cardboard boxes so that the left edge of each of the canvases faced me. I used oops sample paints from Home Depot, which I shook vigorously before starting. The small containers made it very easy to control the amount of paint coming out.

Concentrating on one canvas at a time, I slowly started to drip paint down the canvas, making sure it started on the left edge and dripped down the canvas towards the right edge. The key here is to do this part slowly, moving the jar methodically along the edge so you can control how much comes out.

I repeated this same process with each jar of paint until the entire edge of my canvas had paint on it—and streaming across it too. I didn’t touch the canvas after that. My advice: Don’t mess with the drips. Let the paint do its thing. Trying to control the flow with tools or brushes is just going to look messy rather than organic.
Closeup art
After completing all three canvases, I let them dry completely (the edges take a long time to completely dry), then hung them above the couch.

Shopping the Brussels flea market

Brussels flea market
Rusty tools, vintage cocktail shakers, schlager music on vinyl, some furniture and all these suitcases are just a few of the treasures I uncovered at the flea market in Brussels. These old-fashioned travelers would make a fantastic end table or nightstand when stacked on top of each other. Smaller designs eat up bookshelf space stylishly.
Expensive dog
A couple of months ago, I shared a craze in doggie decor with you. So I instantly fell in love with this guy but didn’t purchase since he was almost 500 euros. If you happen upon inexpensive canine figurines, and you’re a dog lover, I would snatch them up. With unique shapes, these vintage pups look stylish sitting on the mantel, a bookshelf or a side table. A few I might buy: this vintage ceramic terrier, this vintage Dachshund statue and this French bulldog bank.
Vintage white dogVintage dachundScreen Shot 2013-09-11 at 8.16.02 AM






I have to say that if it were realistic for me to cart this fantastic rocker back to Switzerland–and eventually back to California–I would have nabbed this. But in doing just a bit of research, I found Ikea’s rattan high-back lookalike online. It’s not a rocker, but I’ll still take it.
ChairIkea lookalike











If you head to Brussels, and you like flea marketing, follow this advice that I sadly learned too late: The flea market happens daily and officially ends at 2 p.m. Wait until 2:30 p.m., and there is a very good chance you can pick up some of these coveted finds for free! Some sellers never clean up when the market closes and leave some good stuff behind. Be quick! Locals filled me in on this little secret so they’re hovering too.

Add instant warmth to a room

I don’t believe in changing out decor and furnishings with each season, but I do think it’s important to cozy up a room for fall and winter and delayer come spring and summer. I also don’t believe in spending buckets of money for a seasonal switch or addition, so here are five easy–and quickish–ideas to cozy up your place.

I always say that the quickest way to dress up a look is to paint your pout a classic red. And the easiest way to warm up a space? Red. It’s a statement but one that comforts. Santa Clause, hearts and nostalgia-creating Radio Flyers all share the shade. I wouldn’t advise letting the bold hue samba all over your home but start with the entrance. Paint the front door. Try any hue from a soft orange-y Nantucket red, like Farrow & Ball’s Blazer 212 to something bold and flaming, such as Benjamin Moore’s Moroccan Red.
Farrow & Ball Blazer 212Moroccan Red







Quick. Think of your fondest memory? Does it take you to a warm safe place? Is it from your childhood? Use those memories as inspiration for your home. As a kid, I loved playing games with my family. We’d have family game time on every vacation and on all holidays, and it always created lots and lots of laughter. To incorporate this fun into my home, I might frame and hang a series of vintage board games, fill a small glass bowl with wooden game pieces or take a whack at these mallet hooks from the very creative KariAnne at Thistlewood Farms.
Vintage game boardsVintage game piecesMallet hooks






Leather is fantastic for summer but can feel pretty cold in the fall. Add lots of comfy textured pillows. Some of my favorites for fall include off-white knits , dark turquoise velvets and a jacquard weave.
Comfy sofa
Fill space with favorite tomes. For me, cold, rainy days mean curling up with a good book. Stack novels or decorative books on nighstands, entertainment centers, even entry tables (like I did here).
Styling the entryway
Fixing drafty windows, doors and fireplaces can be a costly endeavor. Keeping several throws in easy reach is way less expensive. Fill this graphite tweed bin with throws like this coral one and this woven stripe.

new bin shotcoral onewoven one








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