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Monday, July 26, 2010

Drapery Rods: What's In Style?

Perhaps the short answer is everything!  I have noticed over the past few years that drapery rods don't seem to follow any specific trends. I recently began thinking about this again when a client requested help in selecting a new look for her master bedroom. Her only thin rods because she is worried they will look "cheap".  I don't agree with this correlation, but understood immediately what she meant. And, this really got me thinking and focusing on size and plenty of time spent pouring through shelter magazines. All images are from the past 6 months, unless otherwise noted.

Besides the style of the furnishings and the overall look trying to be achieved in a given space, there are 2 things I take into consideration when deciding on what size and material to use for the rod. First, is to consider what  architectural details are in the space. Will a certain rod distract or diminish from the existing details? Or will the rod give needed detail and possibly add balance to a window wall if there is furniture placed on the wall opposite? And, secondly what is the fabric?  Is a  more substantial rod needed for weightier fabrics? And, is the fabric casual or opulant-how wil the rod relate?

This image is from 2005.  I think it is an example of where a larger more substantial rod would have added warmth and balance to this side of the room.  And the velvet drapes would not appear as heavy as they do on this delicate rod.

In this bathroom the iron window is the focus and the thin silver rod used to hang the white sheers is perfect by not competing for interest with the window.

In these 2 spaces I think the thin rods are the only choice. Imagine if the rods were larger how much they would detract from the beauty of the beams and carved corbels. 

Generally, I don't care for overly embellished window treatments or ornate drapery rods. I prefer simple panels, roman shades, woven shades and wood blinds. Since window treatments are a substantial portion of the budget for any space, I gravitate towards designs that seem to me less of a trend and more of a nod to classic applications. In other words, longevity.

However, I think these 2 examples of more ornate styled rods are fantastic!

And, I have never cared for curtains that puddle. Pet hair, random Cheerios and loads of dust are just a few things I've seen lurking in those puddles!  Personally, I like my curtains to have a soft break, like a man's well tailored trouser, and for the curtain to just skim the floor. And, I believe the very ornate curtain hardware that in the 80's and 90's that once adorned puddled drapes, is no longer desirable. I think simple well made rods are beautiful.

The other observation I have made is that all types of finishes are still being shown. In wood, there is cherry, dark walnut, mahogany and painted white or cream.  Wrought iron is still very popular, but I also see a great deal of polished nickel. And now that brass is seeing a resurgence in popularity, there are some beautiful offerings.

This is from 2008. I have always loved the combination of elegant and casual details. The simple black iron rod picks up on the seats, fireplace and harlequin vase.  A gold rod would have been overkill.

I love how casual and cheerful this aqua room is and the beautiful coiffured ceiling.  The curtains are youthful and modern. But, I find the small puddles on the floor distracting.  A thin rod would have looked equally good here. 

Another question is about continuity.  Once a rod is selected, must the same style and finish be used throughout the house? I don't think so, but some may disagree.

Above  are 2 rooms from the same home. I think it makes a good case for mixing it up!

I am very interested in your opinions and observations, designers and enthusiasts, about the subject. So go yourselves!

Images courtesy of Elle Decor, Veranda, Traditional Home, BH&G,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Country Drive

When the need to clear my mind, shift directions or decompress arises, often times I just want to drive somewhere. Not a specific destination, but to a place where things are quiet, peaceful, simple...naturally beautiful.  My husband enjoys driving, especially along any route off the beaten path. We both love to visit charming small towns and take in bucolic scenery.  So, fortunately their is never any persuading needed when either of us suggest it. The "country" is not far from us, a mere 20 minutes outside the hustle bustle of the suburbs, busy shopping destinations and traffic.

On this drive, we found ourselves winding through a little town that off in the distance we could see rolling greens hills, abundant with crops. At the end of the road was a structure. There was a man on scaffolding painting and a woman putting pies on one table and jars of honey on another.  The smell of varnish hung in the air. It was like going back in time.  It was just simply perfect.  On this particular site grows the bounty that will soon be a farmers market and general store.

Even with construction incomplete, everything was so wonderfully displayed.  Inside the store will be a  magnificent beamed ceiling.  With permission, I snapped these photos and can not wait to return to see this amazing and charming place up and thriving.

You never know where a little drive will take you, what beauty you will see or kind people you will meet...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Fond Farewell to Marija

Marija Stephens, as so very many of you know, was the author of the beautiful and very stylish blog, Holding Court.  We began blogging a month apart and I will never forget the first time that icon with the gorgeous white house and colorful tulips popped up on a comment.  When I clicked over to her blog I was completely hooked by what I saw and read. Marija had a way with words and her images were breathtaking. Truly unique, talented and original.

We rarely missed commenting on each others blog.  I spent last evening going back and reading many of her comments. She always had an opinion and great perspective.  But, it was her wit and humor that came through that made me smile.  I looked forward to reading her comments as so many of you did as well. And, also like so many, we too had forged a friendship as a result of blogging. It started out as a simple email from her and a response from me. Soon we began communicating via g-chat. Then one day, while we were on g-chat her husband, Cory said "wouldn't it just be easier to talk on the phone!" So we did....often. We talked about everything from our kids, to what we were doing on any given day, to our homes...and of course a ton about design and blogging.  Marija and I had never met in person. The last time I spoke to her was late in the afternoon of Friday July 2, 2010. It is still so hard for me to believe that the opportunity to meet will never come.

I will miss my blogging friend who died on my birthday. I only knew you for 6 short months, but I know your voice, laughter and our many conversations will linger in my mind for a long time to come.

Please keep her husband, children and family in your thoughts and prayers.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Birthday Blues...

Tomorrow I turn another year older and I am thankful it's not one of those birthdays where your age ends in 5 or 0 and causes a big fuss complete with cards and awful paper napkins displaying the number on atrociously designed squares.  No, this is one that I want to be able to slip into gracefully...until the next "big one" that I know will come soon enough.  Or at least that was the plan.

Gracefulness has eluded me lately.  Since we returned home from vacation, I have been limping and my old friend, aka the ice bag, is not stepping up to the plate as adequately as I had hoped or at least not yet....

In my twenties, I had knee surgery as the result of a car accident.  This accident  haulted traffic for hours.  If you were one of those people stuck for hours around Tyson's Corner that day long ago, sorry, but I did not cause it!  But, my soon to be new boyfriend was stuck and had plenty of time to notice the mangled cars.  A few weeks later, I limped to the apartment pool where I lived to lounge in the sun.  It was a weekday.  All the chairs, except for those being used, were in a tall stack.  There was a guy sitting close to the stack of chairs that I so desperately needed to sit in.  He didn't see me limp over and therefore seemed perplexed as to why I was asking for help. So I began explaining my situation and he said "That was you?"  Little did I know he would invite me to a party weeks later, become my boyfriend and that we would walk down the isle of a church a year later...sans the limp!

By my thirties I had been para sailing (photo below), scuba diving, became an aerobics instructor and a dedicated gym member. Just before my 30th birthday I had my first child. But, even with 2 small children and a crazy breakneck paced career I fantasized about  jumping out of an airplane.  I never got the chance, somehow with no significant event, I managed to injure my knee again!  Another surgery.  Was it the high heels I wore everyday navigating the streets of Washington D.C.???

In my forties, I have become admittedly far less adventuresome. On our recent vacation, on the first full day, I was loading up my beach bag and turned to my husband and asked "should I bring the camera?" His reply, "No, it's our first day we won't need it." Yes, very bad blogging behavior, but trust me when I say it was all for the best.

I am not one of those women who does not get in the ocean water.  I was born near the ocean and spent high school summers lifeguarding at pools and a lake. As soon as we get to the beach, we quickly set down our stuff and head into the water.  On this particular day, the sand was scorching hot and I cut my foot on a broken shell.  I knew I had stepped down funny. The water was a  bit choppy.  The first wave came and it took me down.  I came up to see my husband standing there laughing.  Another wave, down again. Oh, thanks for the warning honey. This time I come up only to see that he is now bent over crying laughing.  Now, I start laughing too because we are the sort of couple who rarely witness each other being undignified.  Key to a successful marriage maybe?  But, I try to act mad and say what I always do in this situation "do you have anything to say?" (are you okay? and I'm sorry come to mind).  His reply...."sure wish I had the camera!"

And, because someone is not paying attention....I go down for the third time. Yes, it is beyond pathetic. Only this time I lost my damn sunglasses! My husband is still laughing and as I stand there with my sand encrusted hair I say " what do have to say? Him... "you should have seen how funny that was, what I would have given for a video camera!"  Then I inform him I just lost my sunglasses.  He says "don't worry you can get a new pair in one of the shops here." My response "those were my favorite pair." My husband is still  laughing by the way, but senses he may need to smooth it over and says "you can have any pair you want".  I look at him and say "good...because those were expensive."   I turned to limp back  to my chair and I hear..... "well maybe I can find them here in the surf...." Over my shoulder I say "Yeah, honey you do that...."

So while I contemplate whether I will make it through my forties without another knee surgery, I will also be contemplating these:

My husband asked the best question last night. "Honey how to you want to spend your birthday?" and a movie.

This movie to be exact.  Here honey watch the trailer, your gonna love it!

Bye, bye birthday blues!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Let's Shower Outside!

There is something about an outdoor shower that I find incredibly charming. And, so very practical! I think we often associate them with beach houses and coastal climates. But, if you have kids, a dog, or a husband who likes to work in the wonderful would it be to have one?

We have contemplated an outdoor shower so many times and I am sure this crazy hot weather is why I am thinking of them once again. I have saved so many examples and recently found some new ones.  My favorites have double sprays.  One at regular shower height and one lower...for toes, tots and furry paws!

The choices and styles are really only limited by your imagination!!! Most have cold water only since plumbing for hot outdoors can be a bit complicated and expensive.  Solar showers are also a good option.

Refreshing Inspiration:

This simple shower is from our recent vacation spot:

And, of course the original outdoor shower!

Stay Cool!!!

Images courtesy of Country Home, Tradtional Home, Blueprint, This Old House, Tredir, MSN realestate, 1734, Lime in the Coconut blog, A&A.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday Tip

Easy outdoor updates.  We have been blissfully enjoying several  days of glorious weather!!!  Around the A&A House, that can only mean one thing....move outside!  Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Card playing, lounging, listening to music, reading, all occurs outside!

We have a large deck that is perfect for our family, but can also accommodate a crowd.  Each year I try to do something different with my flower boxes, pots or pillows.  This year I really wanted to try and capture a bistro feeling combined with the cozy atmosphere of some of my favorite restaurants. The ones where dining is on a stone patio or old porch surrounded by lush plants, beautiful flowers and the shady canapy of trees!

So that meant some help from your favorite and my favorite little black can.  Hello spray gloss paint!

All of the items that got an update I've had for years.  The 2 tables are about a decade old...leftover from my shabby chic days.  The clay pots, are just as old.  Their orange color doesn't look good on our honey colored deck.  I used to have them down below in the yard, but they are bloody heavy and haven't made it out of the garage in a long while.  However, I've held onto all these items because they are versatile and sturdy.  Always two good questions when asking yourself  "should it stay or should it go?" 

Three makeovers for less than $10 of spray paint:

The pots....

The small table on casters....

The tall table that is the perfect serving height....

What went in the pots you ask?  Pink hibiscus topiaries!

Want to see how the rest of the deck is furnished?  You will....but for now here's a little peek of where we've been enjoying breakfast. Just the two of us, while our teenagers slept in unaware we were having something better than cereal!

Although it seems we must say farewell for awhile to the cool morning and evening breezes from the past several days. We are bracing  for a hideous heat wave to roll in this week. UGH!  Somehow, I don't think croissants and berries will taste as good indoors...