Get Inspired by Paul Smith

Scott and I were in London this past weekend. He planned the trip as an early birthday present to me to see my all-time favorite musical Jersey Boys, and it was just as fabulous as I had remembered. Scott really liked it too.

One of the other trip highlights was a trip to London’s Design Museum to see the Paul Smith (that’s him below) exhibit. It was a peek inside the fashion designer’s world of inspiration, creation, and collaboration, and the entire exhibit illustrated his sense of humor, his boldness, and his uniqueness. For those of you who don’t know, this design icon is well known for his colorful stripes. I was completely inspired.

Paul Smith

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Best gifts gift guide

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’ve been doing a best gifts gift guide. I’m covering the more sentimental, thoughtful aspect of the gift giving season with help from some of my favorite bloggers, and I’ve been doing it all for I’ve shared ideas that include customized artwork, a map from a special trip, a homemade gem, something special for the collector, a treasure from childhood, an old family favorite and a tradition.

Every man probably knows that he can’t go wrong by giving his sweetheart jewelry. Simple diamond earrings sent Unruly Things author Alyson Brown over the moon when her husband gave them to her when they were just dating. Read the whole romantic story here.

Like Alyson, my most treasured jewels aren’t the pieces that came from fancy jewelry stores but the ones that have some sort of sentimental significance.

gold rings

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Turn your fashion favorites into a room design

You may remember when I wrote here about turning a favorite outfit into a room. I asked for submissions, and people responded. I decided to help a friend take several favorite pieces in her closet and turn them into a reading nook. Here’s where it all began.

Cathy's Closet

She described her style as bohemian chic, choosing texture and layers over pattern and color (unless it’s red). She also likes sleek, modern lines and artistic pattern–as long as it doesn’t overpower. So what’s a schizophrenic girl to do?

Cathy's Corner

Start with a modern chair in a lagoon denim color, and layer on a lace pillow with a hippie vibe and a classic black-and-white striped throw. Add texture and bold pattern underfoot with a knit pouf and this ikat rug. Finish the room with a bit of metallic shine with a brass pharmacy lamp.

Freshen your decor for summer without spending a dime

I’ve been living in Lausanne for a month and a half, and I already feel the need to redecorate. Since we’re only here for eight months, I’m not willing to put any money into the apartment, seeing that I won’t be able to bring much back with me. I decided to freshen up the existing decor with things I brought with me.


I have scarves, sarongs and pashminas, loads of them. I picked three gauzy, fringed numbers, all with a similar salmon-y pink color–one striped, one solid and another with an ethnic print on it–to wrap these lime green pillows on the couch.

Green pillows

Scarf pillows

For all three of these pillows, I placed the square green pillow in the middle of the scarf, sarong or pashmina, then followed these same steps for each one.

Wrapping the pillow in a scarf

I wrapped the pillow like a present, folding in either side widthwise.

More wrapping of the scarf

Then I folded the long sides of the scarf around the pillow so that they overlap at the center of the pillow.

That's a wrap

I knotted this one at the back. The striped version is knotted in the front, and the ethnic print is knotted in the front as well, but I tucked the ends in to hide the fringe and make it more about the large-scale design. To summerize the brown leather modular sofa, I used my lightweight gray scarf as a throw under my refashioned pillows.

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My scarf decorating didn’t stop in the living room. This is my very boring dining table.

kitchen table

Nothing says summer like a crisp red, white and blue palette, so I set a patriotic table with an elegant spin.

Bracelets and tea towels

These red-and-white tea towels came with the apartment. I used a few gold bangles I packed as napkin rings and my favorite royal blue-and-white striped scarf serves as the tablecloth for this summer soiree setup.

A patriotic table

The last room in desperate need of a refresh? The loo. It’s white tile and lacks any storage. Luckily, I brought my collection of pretty floral toiletry bags and double-sided adhesive squares (I brought pictures from home and knew I couldn’t hang anything on the walls).

toiletry bags

Now these colorful cases corral the things I need to keep handy by the sink–hair ties, a comb and cotton facial pads–and add a pop of vivid print to the bathroom.

Bathroom storage

Turn your favorite outfit into a design

There’s a reason you have a go-to shift or a favorite ensemble you pull out every time you don’t know what to wear. It looks great on you, you love the colors and the style suits your taste.

The same is true in design. When working with new clients, I often ask them to send me photos of their favorite outfits or pictures of the inside of their closets. That’s because the colors we choose to wear are often our favorite shades, whether we realize it or not.

I have a favorite dress that I don whenever I have to dress up. It’s a one-sleeve coral dress that is amazingly comfortable. I pair it with nude shoes and bright turquoise earrings.

Turn this outfit into a room

It actually served as the inspiration for the bar area in my brother’s house.

Anthropologie, my old place of employment, always does a nice job of putting inspiring outfits together. I love this navy-and-gold combo.


I want to change up my bedroom using this outfit as inspiration. Here’s what I would do:

New bed

No major changes. I would swap my white bedding for a solid navy blue duvet cover, then toss a few decorative pillows on top, including this ikat design. I would add an occasional chair in a neutral animal print, add a rug that’s navy and jute and prop an exotic gold mirror on my dresser.

Have a favorite outfit you’d love to see turned into a room? Let me show you how to incorporate favorite shades and colors into your existing decor. Send me pictures!

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