5 Summer Decor Themes – What’s Your Favorite?

Summer has officially arrived with its holiday barbecues, beach days, vacations, and hot weather. I like to herald in a new season with a change of scenery – and by “scenery” I am of course referring to home decor! There are so many different directions you could go with summer decorating themes – I thought it would be fun to pick five and write about them. I’d really love to get your feedback on these and hear which one you prefer. I have assembled Pinterest boards for each of them to help give visual examples of my take on these themes. Check them out and vote on your favorite summer theme in the comments below.

1. Rustic Patriotic

Primary colors: Red, White and Blue  | Accent colors: None needed

Oh say, can you see how delightfully charming a distressed flag painted on reclaimed wood can be? Or star-spangled burlap pillows? Or red, white and blue flowers on a farmhouse porch? This theme is for the proud American who relishes BBQ picnics with watermelon and grilled corn-on-the-cob, and loves July 4th fireworks so much they want to infuse their living room with that essence…in a tastefully rustic way.

2. Mountain Lake Lodge

Primary colors: Dark blue, green, brown | Accent colors: Red, yellow, orange, aqua

Hal and I recently took a trip to Blue Ridge, GA, and I am literally salivating thinking about the gorgeous cabins with spectacular mountain views sitting right on Lake Blue Ridge. I love the mix of cozy mountain cabin with fun, lakeside living. If you like lots of warm wood tones, leather, canoes, and don’t mind a cutesy bear or two, than this is the style for you!

3. Coastal Cottage

Primary colors: White and turquoise | Accent colors: Coral, pale yellow, lavender

Sea glass, turquoise water and white sand can all act as inspiration for this style. If your ideal summer involves laying in a hammock listening to waves roll in and out, cooking in a white kitchen with a light blue glass tile backsplash, and lounging on a creamy couch surrounded by beachy objects, then coastal cottage is the way to go. (Hmm, this style reminds me of someone….)

4. European Vacation

Primary colors: Tan, burgundy, eggplant (or so many other options) Accent colors: Green, brown, white, blue

If your heart goes a-flutter at the thought of grand stone courtyards, lush vineyards, Renaissance art, and Parisian bistros, then you might be in need of a european vacation. However, if you can’t afford to summer in Europe, you can bring a touch of France and Italy to your home through a variety of “molto bello” decorations.

5. High-End Nautical

Primary colors: Navy blue and white | Accent colors: Gold, yellow

Step aside, sailor, this style is for the classy captain who’s not afraid to blend a little bling with her blue. Glam gold accents spice up the clean blue and white lines of this look. Don’t be afraid to bring in some unique objects to add some character to this contemporary, elegant theme.

Now it’s time to vote. Which summer decor theme is your favorite?

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The Apartment Project: Serene Master Bedroom

As I logged on to Design Cents just now I was shamed to see that the last post was from Christmas. Yikes. How does the time slip away like that? I don’t even have kids yet! The tricky thing about having creative interests in more than one area, and, ya know, “dreams” that you’re still attempting to pursue at 32, is that you can so easily get stretched in several directions at once until you’re spread so thin you can’t even look up to see where you’re going. Suffice it to say, between working a full time job, auditioning for plays, working on graphic design projects, being a wife-sister-daughter-friend, serving in church, etc., my writing has sadly been neglected like an orphan that was in the back of the food line and there was nothing left by the time she got to the front. Sad analogy, I know, but that’s how I’ve viewed my little inner creative writing child – like I just have nothing left to give.

And you know what, that’s okay. I believe there are seasons for different things, especially when you have many different passions. It’s okay to focus on one thing for awhile and try to do it well rather than forcing yourself to split your focus so much that you’re not doing anything well. Just be sure to listen when you inner creative child is calling out for attention, and make some time for it when you can. So, in answer to my creative child, here we go…MB prep

There were a few things I knew I had to work with when decorating the master bedroom – we were not going to buy any new furniture, and we were not going to paint the walls. We already had a good, quality wooden bedroom set that Hal had inherited from his grandfather, and we didn’t want to have to repaint too many walls when we decide to move. So my main focus was the textiles and wall decor.

MB bed straight onThe blue-gray/turquoise color theme was carried through from the rest of the apartment. It is such a soothing, beautiful color, and really helped to create a serene feel in the master bedroom. I searched high and low for an inexpensive duvet cover that I liked, but sometimes you just have to pay a little more to get what you want. The porcelain blue lattice duvet was from Pottery Barn.

MB windowsThankfully, I was able to save a little money on the curtains, which I found at Target. Between the curtains is a lantern with a thousand paper cranes in it that we received as a marriage blessing from a friend.

I fell in love with an olive leaf and lavender wreath that Pottery Barn was selling, but it was around $80, so I decided to get creative and make my own. I purchased all the supplies from Michael’s for about $20 and put it together in less than an hour.

MB side tablePlaying with shapes can help to create visual interest. The two square mirrors above the side tables help balance the circular wreath, as well as bounce light around the room.

The art on the walls is a mix of very inexpensive options. Under the wreath hangs a handful of notecards of Impressionist paintings clipped to twine with clothing pins. We have a large poster of Monet’s “Water Lillies” framed on one wall, and a small print of “Le Printemps” by Pierre August Cot on another. Once you’ve seen the originals of these amazing works of art at the Met, they leave a lasting impression. For one of my birthdays, Hal printed and framed the poem, Ode to a Woman Gardening by Pablo Neruda, so that hangs on another wall.  MB angle with Monet

Our master bedroom is now a place of serenity and relaxation. We worked with what we had, adding a few key pieces in a soothing color scheme that makes it all cohesive. In the morning, the sun shining through the turquoise drapes almost makes it seem like we are floating under water on a sunny day. MB whole

Simple Ways to Deck the Halls with Christmas

photo 1 (17)Christmas is my favorite holiday and favorite season to decorate for. Perhaps it’s genetic because my parents have always gone all out for Christmas – garlands everywhere, two trees, a Christmas tapestry over the fireplace, a miniature “It’s a Wonderful Life” village set up on the piano, the usual motley mix of nativity sets, snowmen, nutcrackers, and Santa Clauses. There are so many other aspects of the holiday that bring me joy as well – sharing gifts, a delicious dinner on Christmas Eve, partying with family and friends, singing carols, Christmas brunch, being on vacation, lounging in sweats watching Christmas movies, Christmas dinner, attending plays and concerts, driving around looking at Christmas lights, and did I mention the food?

IMG_0283When it come to Christmas decor, I think it’s great to play around with different themes and colors, but there’s something about traditional red and green that has always struck a cord with me. In wondering why, I did some browsing on color theory and how certain colors affect our mood and emotions. Red is a stimulating color that energizes and incites passion for food and romance. It can help combat depression, which can be invaluable during winter when many people suffer from seasonal depression. Green is often associated with balance, renewal, and nature (which is why it is often used in spa decor), so the combination of red and green might actually be a decor choice that’s good for your health. Poinsettias are an easy way to incorporate red and green into your decor and they work well outside and inside.

photo (8)If you decorate one thing this year – do a Christmas tree. It’s so big and bright and festive that even if you do nothing else, it will still transform your living space. I read somewhere that if you want a “designer tree” you should put 100 lights for every foot of tree. I felt like that was a tad much, so I did 500 lights for a 6 foot tree, and I think that was just enough. My method for layering the tree was to place two strands of white lights in the inner depths of the tree, and then evenly spread out three strands of colored lights from top to bottom. For ornaments, I had a coordinated set of sparkly balls in red, white and aqua, which I hung one color at a time to make sure the colors were balanced across the tree. Then I wrapped ribbon around the tree, and lastly, added the more unique ornaments so that they were most visible on the outer edges of the branches.

To spice up other areas of the room/house, tree trimmings, leftover ornaments and fancy ribbon can go a long way. Adding a small fir branch, a sprig of berries and some ornaments to my side tables was just enough for that touch of Christmas. That worked well on the dining table as well, with the addition of some candles and pinecones. I also like to use some of my favorite Christmas cards from previous years, either by framing them, displaying them on a shelf, stringing them up with some clothespins, or some people create garlands and wreaths out of them.

There are so many inexpensive ways to deck the halls with Christmas. I hope you’re inspired to play around with what you’ve got to spread some Christmas cheer in your home. What are some of your favorite festive choices this year?

The Apartment Project: Lovely Living

The living room is the place where we invite guests to come, sit, have a cup of tea and share their troubles. It is where Friday night pizza and TV marathons take place. It is where we cozy up for cheap date nights, or take a nap on Saturday afternoon. Parties take place there, with Mario Kart tournaments and even Corn Hole being played. As the central, most visible and highly used spaces in our home, I knew it was worthwhile to spend most of my decorating energy (and budget) there.

TAP LR9In New York, we lived in a teeny-tiny apartment that didn’t have a functional living room, so we almost never had anyone over. We knew we wouldn’t stay in that place for long so we never settled in. It was not a home for us, it was a temporary necessity. In preparation for moving to Florida, I recognized that home is a choice. A mindset. A concept that we are free to embrace no matter where we are or how long we will be there. We have the power to transform our environment with whatever means home to us. We are the ones who endow a place or object with meaning.

With our new apartment, we made the decision to settle in and treat this as home, even though we only planned to stay for a few years. To us, home means comfort, serenity, a place to unwind, filled with love, good food, soothing smells, lovely colors, order, and of course, a flat screen TV with DVR.

The living room was essentially a bare, white box when we moved in. To add a sense of serenity we painted the walls Benjamin Moore’s Wedgewood Gray. A few pieces we already owned, like the coffee table, standing lamp and chair. The rest of the furniture we had to purchase.

The Pottery Barn Comfort Sofa- a gift from my mother-in-law- replaced an old futon, and what a welcome change it was! Of all the couches we tested it was by far the most comfortable, and reflected the beachy cottage/farmhouse style that I had grown to love in the Hamptons. Also from my mother-in-law, is the original oil painting that hangs above the couch. I made the throw pillows myself, with material I had picked out months prior while I was daydreaming about moving.

The side-tables were a Homegoods find. I couldn’t believe how well they matched the wall color when I brought them home. The mercury glass lamps add some bling to an otherwise casual space. Family pictures and accents in my favorite color (turquoise) help to establish a feeling of home for me.

Sturdy wood pieces in warm, dark brown hues add a cozy, farmhouse aesthetic. Size is a key factor to consider when purchasing furniture for an apartment. Some media cabinets are enormous, and could easily overpower a space, making the room feel lopsided. The X design along the sides of the bookcase were what attracted my interest when deciding what to buy. Varying up the shelf displays with differing book positions, pictures and objects is a great way to tell a little of your own story. You are what you read, right? So the things you choose to display reveal something about yourself. My bookcase says that I’m spiritual, artistic and imaginative. What does yours say about you?

Next to the media cabinet there was just enough space to create a little “moment” that suggests reading nook. Hal had inherited the chair and lamp from his grandfather. Rather than buying another side table, I used a pile of books to elevate a potted plant.

Our apartment living room was transformed into a piece of home through a coastal palette, comfy couch, dark wood furniture, and family photos. It evolved from being a stark, empty room into a relaxing, lovely haven. What does home mean to you and how does your living space embody that?

The Apartment Project: Beachy Master Bath

BEFORE

BEFORE

An apartment bathroom is such a small space that there’s only so much you can do with it. This can be good and bad since it keeps you from getting carried away or feeling pressure to spend a bunch of money to finish off a space, but it also limits your options. We decided not to paint to save us the hassle of having to repaint it white before we move out. Another perk of keeping a bathroom white is that it keeps it feeling clean and bright, especially since there is no window. White can also help small spaces feel larger.

AFTER

AFTER

Rug and curtain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re going to stick with white walls, then you have to find some other way to bring color in to the room, and textiles are a great way to do that. A daily shower is a must in our household so buying a shower curtain was one of the first things we did the night that we moved in. We raced over to TJ Maxx right before it closed, and quickly selected a curtain and bath mat from the few options that were available. The shower curtain has an elegant coral design in a light turquoise, and the cushy mat is the same color. This inspired a beachy theme with some vintage charm.

Beach sign

 

We happened to have this sign that says “Life is better when you’re at the beach” from when we lived in Southampton, so that immediately went up on the wall opposite the mirror.

Bathroom Clock

 

 

 

 

After much searching, I found a rusty, light turquoise clock to add to the wall. A clock in the bathroom is a must-have for getting ready for work in the morning. Once I start putting on my makeup I pretty much lose track of time and space, and can so easily end up in my own little twilight zone if I don’t have a clock visible.

 

 

 

Lantern closeupA candle always works in a bathroom. Heck, where doesn’t a candle work? Maybe not the laundry room, I guess. Lanterns are super fun decor pieces because you can find them in so many different shapes, sizes and styles. Here I used a lantern with a slightly rusty metal frame, glass insert and a rope handle. I was pretty excited to stumble upon two picture frames that emulated the metal and rope combination.

 

Hanging Beach pics

Initially we were stumped as to what to put in the picture frames. It didn’t seem quite appropriate to hang pictures of our loved ones in the vicinity of the toilet (but that’s just a personal choice). Instead, I put up a couple photos of the Grecian coastline that Hal had taken years ago.

 

 

Apothecary Soap

With such a small countertop, I was very careful to not clutter the space with too many doodads. A good rule of thumb for a small area is don’t add anything to your countertop that’s not useful and necessary. Pick things that are functional and stylish. I love the look of this apothecary style soap dispenser that I found. The glass jar beside it was a three dollar thrift store find, and it works great holding cotton balls and q-tips.

 

 

The Apartment Project: Delightful Dining

In January, my husband, Hal, and I relocated from New York to central Florida to settle down closer to family. My parents graciously welcomed us into their home while we pursued jobs and got our ducks in a row before we could find an apartment. It was a wonderful, frustrating, patience-trying, lesson-learning four months’ wait before things finally fell into place. By the time we moved into our own apartment it felt like some magical dream come true. One huge perk of transitioning to Florida, is that for the same amount of rent we got about three times the space that we had in New York. Now that I have some space to work with, I can scratch that decorator’s itch and play. The Apartment Project series will focus on one room at a time as I decorate our new little home and attempt to overcome the challenges of apartment living.

Dining Room Before

BEFORE

We’ll start things off in the dining room. The first obstacle to overcome in moving into an apartment, is that sterile, “apartment white” paint color that is freshly slathered on every wall when you first move in. Our landlord allowed us to paint with the caveat that we had to repaint it “apartment white” before we moved out. Since it’s kind of a drag to paint and repaint, and it is not super cheap, we compromised by just painting the living and dining area to break up the white and help our main living spaces feel more cozy. We used Benjamin Moore’s Wedgewood Gray.

AFTER

AFTER

For years we had been living with a mishmash of hand-me-down, cheaply made, particle board furniture (what I like to refer to as “college style” living), so with this move we decided to start investing in quality furniture pieces that would stick with us for years to come. We purchased a modern farm-style table that seats six. It was important to us to invest in comfortable, upholstered dining chairs, because in our last place we hardly ever ate dinner at the table as a result of the painful, rod-in-your-back style chairs.

The two oil-paintings on the wall are original works by Mary Baker. Click on her name to check out her Facebook page, where she’s working on some exciting new digital art pieces. Her traditional oil paintings are a real treasure, and people usually mistake them for photographs at first glance.

Also displayed on the wall are some eclectic plates I had picked up from a thrift store in Brooklyn, a few postcards Hal had collected in Europe, and a fun nod to Shakespeare, our matchmaker. Hal and I were both actors, and it was through Hal’s production of As You Like It that we met. Shortly after we were married, we played Miranda and Ferdinand in The Tempest.

As a wedding gift we received four place settings of the wedding china we had picked out from Hal’s grandmother. Recently, I looked up that pattern to see if I could add more place settings to our collection, but that particular set had been discontinued. So I purchased white Strawberry Street plates from One Kings Lane, that can easily be layered in with the wedding china.

For a little something fun, I put up a chalkboard on the partition between the kitchen and dining room, where I like to write out the menu when we have guests over. MenuFinally, nothing finishes a space off like a fresh bouquet of sunflowers.Sunflowers

DESIGN FEATURE: Hand Lettering Artist Chris Wright

Handlettered 1A few months ago my brother turned me on to this company called Hand Lettering Co. I checked out their site and was immediately drawn in by the many wonderful designs of artist Chris Wright. He takes inspirational quotes and transforms them into hip pieces of art. His eye for design, balance and very cool fonts is exquisite, and his ability to execute his ideas is even more impressive.

I was surprised how inexpensive his prints are, and immediately ordered four 8 X 10 designs. They did not disappoint. In person, they were even cooler than online. Included in the packaging was a Handlettered 5charming little bag that contained a couple of stickers of his designs, and a Thank You note that said, “Our desire is that these goods that have made their way into your hands would be a blessing to you.” I thought to myself, “wow, this is a really special artist that not only takes great care with his work, but obviously cares about people as well.” I decided to reach out to him and see if I could do a blog feature about his work. He graciously agreed to let me interview him, and here’s what he had to say….

Handlettered 31. How and when in your life did you first become exposed to the art of hand lettering, and start to practice it yourself? I have always loved art and been particularly drawn to vintage/retro signs and their unique lettering. About two years ago, when I decided to branch out and start my own business, there were a number of hand lettering artists whose work I began to follow and keep up with. This inspired me to the point where that Christmas I started practicing the art myself by drawing various Scripture prints as gifts for family and friends. It just grew from there with more practice, trial and error, and an increasing enjoyment of the art.

Handlettered 22. Did you study something design or drawing related in college, or are you completely self-taught? I have mainly been self-taught. I took a few design classes in college, but nothing quite like what I am doing now. I like to keep growing in knowing and perfecting the art of hand lettering and design, so I enjoy taking various online classes and tutorials, as well as learning from other artists online and what they’re doing. There’s a wealth of wisdom available now in this age of internet and technology!

3. Do you have a muse? What inspires you? Much of my inspiration comes from old signs, labels, and packaging. I love the typography and the flourishes and detailing that can be found on some of the most random and likely forgotten pieces of the past. There are also so many brilliant lettering artists out there. I love to follow their work and that keeps me very inspired as well.

Handlettered 44. Currently, what is your process for creating a new piece? Do you start with a freehand sketch or work with a digital program? I always start with a hand drawn sketch. Then, once I’m happy with the sketch I will ink it. I like to have it as complete as possible while still in my sketchbook. After that I scan it, bring it into a computer program where I will add various textures or colors, depending on the piece and the style I am going for.

For more of Chris Wright’s process and work, go to the source. Visit Hand Lettering Co. and purchase some of these hip, uplifting, and beautiful designs. And as always, let me know what you think.