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Friday, August 27, 2010

Designer Dog Dishes!

I've have a bone to pick. It drives me a bit nuts when I am visiting a beautiful home and there are hideous dog dishes lurking out in the open.  Especially in the kitchen! When I renovated my kitchen, I considered integrating them into a bottom cabinet. Out of the way and out of sight.  In the end,  my kitchen just wasn't large enough to justify giving up storage space. I am seeing this trend more and more. I would definitely suggest it to a client if space allowed.

Thankfully, there are some fantastic web sites offering super attractive dishes for inside and outside! So whether your poochy dines in the kitchen, laundry/mud room, or on the patio...there is an attractive option.  I think it's worth the splurge to try and buy dishes that are in keeping with the style of the room they occupy space in. Mine are raised iron and are kept in the laundry room.  And, now after doing research for this post my favorite may need a dish set for the deck too!!!

Doggy dining never looked so good...

English Garden

Rustic Retreat

Colorful Urban Country

Retro Rover

Stately Mansion 

Modern Loft

Country Manor

Treats too!

Iron Suburban

French Fleur de Lys

Royal Le Jardin

Italian Villa

Images via Calling All Dogs, Trendy Pet, In The Company of Dogs, Frontgate and Spode

Full disclosure...I made all the names up based on the style!  But, you can buy these feeders at the above sources.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fabric & Wallpaper: Gone to the Dogs!

I became completely smitten the first time I saw this fabric by Eric Cohler in 2006 aptly named, Unleashed! I tore these pages out and slipped them right into plastic sleeves the moment I came across them.  I love the fact the design is appealing for both young & old!!! I've yet to come across a dog themed fabric I like better!




And, the selections in canine inspired wallpaper are giving a case of puppy love! I think it's so wonderful when good design doesn't have to be too serious!

Osborne & Little's Best in Show-black

Peter Fasano's Maxx
Peter Fasano's Calvin & Lewis

Peter Fasano's Bow-Wow

Thibaut's Best in Show-aqua

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday Tip

Barking inspiration! The Dog Days of Summer are upon us. Those last few days of August. Many of us are changing gears and revving up for new projects and the anticipation that a new season is just around the corner. It's no secret I love dogs...especially mine! So this week's posts will be dedicated to dogs in design & decor. There is a place for canines in every room!

On a special drawer

In the kitchen

On the walls

On the table

On the bookcase

In the laundry or mud room

By the door


Sources: Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Pierre Deux, Ballard Designs, Hugo Guinness from John Derian Co. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

College Bound!

The big day is here and I still can't believe it. My oldest is headed off to college. This afternoon we will be making the drive with all the necessary stuff packed in the back of our SUV.

It seems for us design types decorating a dorm room would be great fun. Well, not exactly. Turns out that shopping for boys is not the endless and exciting marathon, as relayed by friends, that it is for girls.  It is not about dog-eared pages from the latest Pottery Barn Teen catalogue, the perfectly coordinated comforter with the roommate, art on the walls and just the right accessories.

Nope, shopping with boy's is a completely different experience. And, this new freshman arrival waited to practically the last minute to complete it. Here was the plan: 1 day, 3 stores and no bright colors or patterns. Oh, and one request..."Mom, I know this is your thing, but  can we just not make a big deal about it and get it done?"  I think this was the first time I have ever shopped for decor and had no pressure to get the "best" stuff, even on a very small budget. The budget is small because I am under no illusion that any of this will survive or be coming home next spring.  In my mind it is all disposable!

My son turned out to be a very easy client! His favorite thing to say during the shopping... "it's fine".  And, it was fine with me too.  All except the letting go part. I am still struggling a bit with this.  Made it through graduation, beach week, and trips away this summer just fine too.

The Room:

The Closet:

The Bathroom:

Gift From Dad:

Gift From Mom:

Of course, any of you who have already traveled down this road know these are just the basics. I just hope we can actually see out the back hatch once the computer, printer, storage boxes and clothes get loaded in!

So, as I prepare to let the first one go, I will take comfort knowing that he will be attending a very good school with a beautiful campus and history of some rather notable alumni. They include 3 former Presidents, the current Secretary of Defense, an Oscar winning actress, several pro athletes and perhaps the one that really intrigues me, is a very popular comedic political pundant...maybe you watch his show?

It's the second oldest college in the country....back in the day....before computers...the students used an ink well and a a wonderful and historic city....that we love and now will get to visit perhaps it is going to be fine afterall

Sources: Target, HomeGoods, Bed Bath & Beyond

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday Tip

Ten minute tablescape! I love entertaining, especially outdoors!!! I have been working on getting my deck whipped into shape this year and posted about it here and here. The casual nature of dining alfresco takes all pressure off to make things perfect. I nearly always just use what I have on hand.

Which is why it is so important to always be editing yourself and to make thoughtful purchases. When I am buying something new I always ask myself 2 simple questions.....

1.) Is this item flexible? Specifically, whether I am shopping online or in a store, I ask myself...can I use it in multiple ways...does it go with multiple styles, seasons, and rooms?
2.) Do I have space to store it and access it easily? This is equally important.  Because if not, I won't ever remember to use it!

I don't often buy new items. I have a decent and  flexible supply of  dishes, linens, silverware, candlesticks, baskets, containers and vases. But, sometimes I find I really do need something or it's too fabulous to pass up! So as long as I can justify it...using my own guidelines...well out comes the credit card:

When they're not enjoying time outside, I think these little blue birds ($12) would look equally good on a desk, bookcase or table. And, the mini aluminum planters ($2) you may have spotted one lined with parchment holding croissants here. They also did a very good job containing Goldfish, pretzels, and Trail Mix for some teen snackers!

For those of you who like to blow up the picture, your eyes do not deceive you...yes, I just plunked the pots of white inpatients into the planters. And, yes I know you can see the black plastic rims. I can assure you no one minded...or even noticed!

The 3 plastic containers were relocated from my seagrass basket that will sometimes get lined with a large napkin and loaded up with rolls:

And, just in case someone is concerned that I don't know how to properly set the table...I do, but I was trying to get a good picture of the flatware with the trees above reflected in the spoons...and got distracted...

cooking bacon.....for homemade potato salad. The sun kept going in & out and never I never did get a clear close-up picture and ended up leaving it this one seemed to mind this either!

Tablecloth: Ralph Lauren Home from Macy's
Silverware: Pottery Barn Mother-of-Pearl
Napkins: Pottery Barn linen with bee embroidery
Plates: Johnson Brothers-English china
Rattan Chargers: William's-Sonoma
Ceramic Bluebirds: RSH Catalogue*
Glasses: Villeroy & Boch
Aqua Hurricane: Villeroy & Boch
Mini planters: TJ Maxx*
*new purchases this spring

A mix of high & low.....Simply done.
All photos by A&A

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Outdoor Room: Budget Version!

The deck outside our kitchen is the outdoor living & dining room when the weather is nice.  I wish we had a screened  porch too....maybe someday.  We had the deck built shortly after we bought this house16 years ago.  It is much different than the style I would choose now but, we've taken good care of it and it is very well constructed. So with all the other changes and improvements that have been underway at the A&A House, it's not going anywhere, anytime soon! 

However, besides a good cleaning, a few updates were in order.  Our old wood table had become wobbly,  full of splinters and needed to go. We purchased a new table and 6 chairs.....2 years ago!  And, if truth be told, it has been sitting in the garage for as long waiting to be assembled!!! I just figured there was no point while my husband was out of the country.

These days there are tons of styles of outdoor furniture at all price points to choose from.  From Target to Janus et Cie.  And plenty of choices in between! When it comes to purchasing outdoor furniture my perspective is one based on the reality of the situation. And, my reality is that it didn't make sense to buy expensive furniture for a deck that is so average. 

Janus et Cie-Georgetown store
 I've had a fantasy or two about owning the perfect teak set and I love wrought iron.  My parents owned the same set forever.  I spotted a vintage iron set last year outside a favorite shop. Round table and 4 chairs that had the most exquisite little acorn finials atop the posts of the back rests.  And the color was french blue...sigh! I still think about it and wonder why I didn't buy it! It would have been perfect for our someday stone patio. But, definitely not this deck.

I also love rattan and wicker. We've had the rockers (above) for years and I still love them. But, for dining, this time around I really wanted easy maintenance and unlimited mobility. Without any effort or assistance, I wanted to be able to move chairs, tables, pots and umbrella at a moments notice.  So aluminum and plenty of items on casters was the decision.

Want to see how stylish Sears has become?  Let's see if you agree...

So finally, this past spring everything came out of the boxes.  The assembly according to the crew was very easy...

Their supervisor kept a close eye on their work, while she patiently waited for them to clear off the rug...

Everything was wrapped and packed with great care.  A repair kit with touch-up paint was included. I was so impressed! Garden Oasis table and 6 chairs ($500 on sale. Originally $850) from Sears!

The seating is crazy comfortable! Especially the 2 end chairs...they swivel and rock!!! I did not care for the rust colored tile on the table top and I can easily and inexpensively switch out the 15 tiles.  It also came with a decorative metal inset to hold an umbrella.

I prefer to use a tablecloth most of the time and I like my umbrella to be mobile so here is how the table usually looks:

I purchased the Navarre 8x10 outdoor rug ($170-15% off) in chocolate from Ballard Designs:

Worth Noting: Even when it's not a sunny day as well as at night I always have the umbrella open. It gives your outdoor room atmosphere and intimacy. Think of it as the ceiling!  And, truly bigger is better when it comes to umbrellas! Just be sure to purchase a sturdy stand that is weighted. I replaced my old 9 ft Pottery Barn market umbrella with a new gorgeous 11 ft. market umbrella ($160), and a stand ($47) with wheels, both from Costco:

And, from Target came possibly my favorite items. These 2 ottomans ($60 each) are for his & her feet! Not only do they double as extra seating or extra tables with their tray tops, but also can store newspapers,  magazines, summer paperback and a throw for chilly evenings!

In addition, we have 4 large aluminum club chairs (I forgot to photo-oops!) with densely padded seats that bounce! They are definitely the favorite seats of family & friends and round out the furniture grouping for our outdoor living room.

I highly recommend the iron plant trolley ($20 each) from Lowe's:

We are so thrilled with the painted pots I showed how to do here and wonder why I never did this sooner! It was a terrific starting point for this years update! Last weekend we found a local nursery that carries clay pots identical to the ones we already have.  We plan to add 3 more next year for a total of 6 for a really lush feel.  Plus they help so much in softening all the siding that graces the back of the house!

Now is the time to plan your outdoor rooms and shop for's all on sale...ready to be stored in your garage! I'll be shopping for a new rug...I'm just not convinced this will look good next year...and besides I'm quite sure I will want to change things up a bit...stripes perhaps?

All photos courtesy of A&A.