Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Guess what arrived this week for our viewing pleasure? The new House Beautiful, and it’s their “The Ultimate Entertaining Issue.” I love to entertain and I think it’s fascinating how different people are comfortable throwing different types of parties. For instance, I enjoy a casual cocktail party with an open bar, a long counter covered with unfussy eats that will hold up at room temperature for hours. I’ve tried making fancy hors d’oeuvres or cooking up fresh pot stickers, but when people are milling around for hours time-sensitive food just doesn’t make sense. But if you have a cocktail party with a two hour window, go all out! In contrast, a dinner party for 10 requires a different plan, set up and thoughtful details like the seating arrangement (so the most talkative are across the middle of the table from each other so that everyone will feel involved in the conversation. Or put a quiet and talkative together, as long as they have plenty in common to carry them through the evening.)
Even if your are serving take-out on your best china, you will be spending time in the kitchen before the party begins. A beautiful kitchen makes the party prep more enjoyable. This kitchen has a great mix of rustic and refined elements. The old wood on the walls is all reclaimed as this house is actually brand new. The designer did a great job creating a space that feels like a really nice farm kitchen. The industrial scale faucet is an unexpected touch in this style kitchen, which is all the more reason to do it. And the butcher block counter under the window would make chopping up piles of vegetables so inviting. (But I find chopping up vegetables relaxing anyway, so maybe that’s just me.)
Creating a good impression when entertaining starts with the entry. This is a lovely, warm and inviting example. A nice place to sit down to take off your shoes. (I make my guests take off their shoes in the Japanese tradition. No high heel marks in the wood floors and no dirt tracked in.) The plant softens the space. I like that the rug doesn’t match the pattern on the sofa. It shows they aren’t afraid to be playful.
When entertaining, the front hall closet suddenly takes on importance because you need to fit your guests coats in it in addition to all the usual random items that are stuffed in there. These are a few good examples that highlight both good organization and use of color. I think wallpapering the bi-fold doors to blend in with the walls (bottom right photo) is a great idea for those less than fabulous doors.
Once your guests start arriving you might show them into your living room for some hors d’oeuvres. We don’t want them to get too comfortable and settled, so this living room strikes a nice balance. The beautiful vintage PK Sofa and Finn Juhl armchairs are approachable, so your guests won’t be afraid to take a seat and get conversations started, but they won’t be sinking in and getting lost in giant cushions either.
You might consider returning here after dinner to enjoy a nice fire in the real fireplace. The fireplace surround has such a clean minimal design that complements the furnishings.
An inviting dining area is important if you are hosting a sit-down dinner. This room emphasizes the fact that you don’t need a fancy space. The mix of chairs, worn wood, an old rug and lots of natural light makes me want to sit here for hours catching up with old friends. A couple of bottles of wine, a hearty bowl of soup, a rustic loaf of bread and some good cheeses are all you need for a dinner party.
After dinner you can retire to the library for a relaxing chat with your dearest. I love the mix of mid-century classics (the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen and the ubiquitous cowhide rug) and a sleek fireplace facade. The wraparound floating wood shelves update the library concept in a fresh way.
You’ve survived hosting a lovely party for your friends, so now it’s time to take care of yourself. Sink into a tub of lusciously scented warm water (bubbles optional). Enjoy a few more sips of wine (you don’t want the end of the last bottle to go to waste) with a truffle you kept hidden for your reward.
Now go curl up in that big bed and look forward to waking up tomorrow morning to a fresh new day in this soft and peaceful bedroom. (How fun is that sparkly stool next to the chair?! A great bench at the foot of the bed offers storage along with a place to throw your robe, extra blankets and throw pillows. I love that the bedside table has room for all the bedside necessities, with both open and closed storage options.)
Now you better start planning your next party so you can go through it all again.
Friday, August 20th, 2010
Time for a new issue of Elle Decor to drool over. Here’s my favorite pictures from the current issue.
This is a cool column that Elle Decor does every issue: it focuses on one area of the house and pulls together examples of these spaces from previous issues.
I love books. I love shelving. I love the different ways you can mix books and decorative objects together on shelves. My parents are both librarians by training, so it’s no surprise that when I was a kid I turned my own book collection into a library (complete with checkout cards in inside pockets – remember those? – and library cards which I passed out to all my family members.) I don’t follow the Dewey Decimal system in my own library, but I definitely group by subject matter. How would you find anything otherwise? Color coding your books is a recent trend, and it can look great, but I like to find my books with minimal effort.
I think this feature shows a nice mix of traditional to contemporary libraries. Notice how artwork is hung directly on the shelves in the bottom two photos.
What a peaceful bedroom. I’m not always interested in leaving a room white, but this is a great example of how to do it well. Love the texture and color of those bedside lamps. Simple clean linens are unfussy. But it’s the photos over the bed that pull me in every time. I like that it’s a collection of images, and they are a nice size for that wall.
What a great kid’s room! The colors are bold but yet they don’t overwhelm since pattern is used to tie the colors together. The big basket with lacrosse sticks, golf clubs and hockey sticks is a great example of how to corral their gear. This basket was probably used for toys when they were younger and easily transitioned to gear as they picked up new hobbies. Plus I love the transportation map on the wall! (I’ll never forget my background in transit planning.)
What a gorgeous kitchen. The palette is restrained and it floats like an island inside this massive Miami house. The textured tile on the outside of the walls adds some interest and frames the kitchen. I really like the use of wood paneling on the back wall to break up the white cabinetry without using two finishes on the cabinets. And the toekick on the island is extra high and looks like it’s stainless steel, which is a neat touch you don’t notice at first.
Finally, I like the arrangement of artwork in this living room, which ties the color palette together (with that purple-pink-black painting). I like the finish on the cabinets in the kitchen and the fun colorful rug they added which really adds fun personality to the space (in a non-permanent way). And how adorable is that dog bed?!
What shelter magazines do you read? Are their ones you’d like me to feature? Just wondering. Have a great weekend.