We on the color team debated vigorously about the worthiness of a traditional Valentine’s Day color for February’s Color of the Month. Some of us wanted to throw all of our eggs in Cupid’s basket, but others were feeling an egg of a different type…
The other morning, I unexpectedly woke at 5:30 and could not get myself back to sleep. But thanks to this bout of insomnia, I found a documentary that I had to share with you all. (Does everyone watch movies when they can’t sleep? I am new to sleeplessness.) The Queen of Versailles chronicles three years in the life of timeshare mogul David Siegel and his wife Jackie. When the cameras started rolling, director Lauren Greenfield thought she was going to document the construction of the biggest personally owned home in America. At 90,000 square feet and outrageous cost of $100,000,000, “Versailles” was the stuff of self-made-billionaire dreams. What the director did not know when she started filming in 2008 was that an economic crash was just around the corner for this family and the entire country.
Like so many other Americans, Siegel overextended the real estate ventures he personally and professionally embarked on. And after the very sudden and dramatic collapse of the real estate market and the near death of his business, Westgate Resorts, the fate of the Siegels and the unfinished Versailles is unknown. The cameras keep rolling as assets are auctioned off, private schools are spurned for public ones, and the spending habits of a once-billionaire’s wife finds its only outlet at Walmart. If you’ve got time for a movie this weekend, mix yourself a cocktail, grab some movie snacks and stream this stunning piece of cinéma vérité.
I discovered DwellStudio bedding a decade ago by stumbling into one of those perks of living in New York City: the sample sale. At the time I’d never spent more than $30 on a set of sheets (thank you Ikea!), but I immediately knew that this bedding, with its not-your-mom’s patterns and material quality, would be an investment I wouldn’t regret.
Now, more than ten years later, the company is opening its first flagship store in SoHo. Founder and Creative Director Christiane Lemieux has expanded the DwellStudio line to include furniture, home accessories, baby and children’s furnishings, along with their bedding staples. I got a chance to preview their new space and see their line of furniture in person for the first time. Such a treat!
The store feels as if you’ve stepped into someone’s very well curated home with vintage finds mixed in among the company’s line of modern products. I am still gaga for the bedding and can attest to its resilience over time. That first set I invested in still looks as fresh today as it did in 2001. It would even work well with any of the newer patterns. The sofas are luxurious and classically neutral enough to play well with pieces you already own. The baby and children’s line is darling without being saccharine. But most impressive to me was the wall of DwellStudio fabrics which seem to have been designed to let you mix patterns like a pro despite not actually being one.
If you’re in New York, or plan to be, you can check out the store yourself starting today. Tell me in the comments if you have any designers that you still love after all these years.
I first saw this fantastically simple and fun melted crayon art on Pinterest. So I couldn’t resist trying it with my kids when my sister-in-law Courtney suggested this very project after seeing it on Whatever. When you’ve got two five-year-olds in your house, you end up with loads and loads of crayons lying around, so why not put them to good use? That is, as long as you’re brave enough to pull out a glue gun with young kids. I found that having a one-to-one adult to child ratio helped. A lot.
All you need for this project is a piece of foam core (you could just as easily use framed canvas), crayons in an array of colors, a hot glue gun and a hairdryer. We started off by choosing the colors we wanted to use and lined them up on the board. Since ours was going to hang in my kids’ room, we went with a rainbow of colors, but using all one tone or even just a couple of colors would create a great effect as well.
Once you’ve got your colors lined up, you hot glue the underside of the crayon. Ours weren’t perfectly lined up, given the lack of precision of my amateur “artists,” but that only added to the kid-made effect in my opinion. If you choose to do this project indoors like we did, you’ll want to line your backdrop with newspaper (lesson learned!). Start blow-drying keeping your heat focused at the middle of the crayon. I have a fairly powerful hairdryer so we saw the results in just a few minutes. You’ll notice the paper start to look wet, and soon thereafter the wax will start to drip onto your canvas.
You can keep the heat on the crayons until you get the effect that you like. We had a couple of crayons that nearly lost all of their innards when some people (I’m not naming names) got a little bit overzealous with the blow-dryer, but I simply applied more heat to the “glop” to correct it. The wax dries very quickly and we were able to hang this up within 10 minutes of finishing. Add a signature for posterity and voila! A great piece of art perfect for children’s rooms.
Our friends over at Food Network are throwing a fantastic Thanksgiving party called The Communal Table on their blog FN Dish today. The idea is that FN Dish is providing the turkey, and they asked that the rest of the food community (including you!) bring side dishes and desserts. We at Design Happens were honored when we were asked to “set the table” for the event.
Without a doubt Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. A day dedicated to being thankful for the good things in your life, eating delicious food with your loved ones and no pressure of buying gifts? Genius! Personally, I like a homey holiday with an ultra-relaxed vibe, a handmade feel and absolutely no worries about getting gravy on the “good” linens. With that in mind, a little bit of inspiration from the October color of the month, and a dash of the whimsy from Constance the trailer, I created this Very Vintage Thanksgiving mood board:
To achieve this cozy look I chose a mix of rough-hewn items, some real vintage items, and new products that have a warm and friendly feel. Ceramics, bold vintage colors (like teal, red and orange), thick glass and beautiful faux-mercury tie together a farmhouse table that seems as if it could’ve been set in the 1940s. I kept my own grandmother—who raised a family through the 40s—in mind when choosing the individual salt-and-pepper shakers (some of her favorites table accessories), the charming turkey gravy boat and the vintage floral table runner. The playful pumpkin candles mixed on the table with wildflowers in a mason jars are all the decoration the table needs leaving room for the real centerpiece of the day: the bird.
How about you? How do you set your table for Thanksgiving? Do you pull out your best china for this special day? Are you low key and food-centric? Tell us in the comments!
Setting the table above [clockwise from upper left]: Personal salt-and-pepper shakers, Etsy; ”Give Thanks” banner, HGTV.com; chevron salad plates, Etsy; jadeite dinner plate, Fishs Eddy; turkey gravy boat, Williams Sonoma; silverware, BHLDN; pumpkin candles, Greenhouse Design Studio; faux-mercury turkey platter, Etsy; animal place card holders, BHLDN; mason jar flowers, Haystack Needle; cloth napkins, Etsy; wine goblet, Fishs Eddy; turquoise farm table, European Paint Finishes; table runner, Vintage in Vogue; dining chairs, Room & Board; background pattern, Flavor Paper wallpaper. See all of these items on my Pinterest as well as a couple more that didn’t make it onto this board.
Watching Erin’s gorgeous ranch transform into the Scandinavian retreat she and Ken have dreamed of has revived my love of this cool design aesthetic. Scandinavian design was, in fact, the first style that I fell in love with and truly felt was my own. What appealed to me as a teen is very much what appeals to me today. The clean lines, geometric shapes and bold colors of modern Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish designs all exude a sense of fun and interest that are often overlooked in other styles.
Many Scandinavian palettes, like the one in the living room above and what we’ve seen in Erin’s house, consist of lots of black and white layering. To warm up what could be otherwise sterile and cold, bright pops of primary colors like red (like in this Saarinen womb chair, or Marimekko bedding) yellow, or bright blue are used cheerfully.
Photo courtesy of Ikea
The seasons, especially the winter with its long stretches of very limited sunlight, have most likely had a huge influence on the abundant usage of white in Scandinavian design. White optimizes available light and does double duty by creating the illusion of bigger spaces. The room above is probably 12 feet wide, but with all white walls and shelving, the perceived space seems much bigger. A vibrant red polka dotted sofa and bright blues desk chair add a punch of cheer for long winter days.
Even in spaces that aren’t punctuated by playful primary colors, Scandinavians still manage to be warm and welcoming. A pale, natural wood coffee table and a toasty fire make this virtually all-white room feel cozy and unified instead of stark and cold. The great big windows and doors let natural light flood in and even “decorate” the walls with their greenery.
As the weather gradually begins tilting toward cold, keep these tried and true Scandinavian tricks in mind to breathe new life into your home-sweet-home.
Sara Peterson, editor in chief of HGTV Magazine, took time out of her hectic, making-a-brand-new-magazine schedule to talk to me about what it was like to see this project come to life.
LZ: Can you tell our readers in a nutshell what it’s like to create a magazine from scratch?
SP: It’s exhilarating, but also a lot of work! We spent months thinking about and discussing all the reasons people love HGTV, and then how to translate this hugely popular TV network into a fun, fresh, new kind of home/lifestyle magazine that was unlike anything else out there. Some days, I watch so many HGTV shows that I’m surprised my DVR hasn’t exploded.
LZ: What was your biggest accomplishment?
SP: Getting the magazine out with a cover that I’m proud of—it says fun, fast makeovers in big colorful letters. I love that cover line, and I’m hoping that will speak to a lot of HGTV fans.
LZ: In one word, how would you describe HGTV Magazine?
LZ: Is there any particular story that’s your absolute favorite from the inaugural issue?
SP: That’s like trying to name your favorite child! I can’t do it. We put 100% effort into every single story. That I can tell you!
LZ: Tell us a little bit about your staff: Where do they come to the magazine from?
SP: One day the whole staff talked about where we grew up and all the places we’ve lived. We hit on every part of the country—the South, the Midwest, the East Coast, and the West. We’re a very diverse staff, which is so important when you’re creating a national magazine that needs to speak to homeowners and renters everywhere.
LZ: What’s the best part about your new digs in the eco-friendly Hearst Tower?
SP: The views are incredible. We’re on the 35th floor (the Hearst Tower is in Midtown Manhattan, at 57th Street and 8th Avenue), and we face south, so on a clear day, we can see all the way downtown and a long stretch of the Hudson River. I also like that we have an open floor plan in our office, and the offices all have glass walls. It’s a team effort to create a magazine, and this openness makes constant collaboration even easier. We talk face-to-face with one another more than we email. I appreciate that.
LZ: Any sneak peeks or secrets from the magazine you can share with our readers?
SP: We photographed Sarah Richardson’s farmhouse in Canada—but not just the rooms. We sneaked around and took photos inside her closets, inside her kitchen cabinets, in her medicine cabinets. Sarah has such amazing style, so it’s great to get her tips for making a family home extra comfy—but it’s also really fun to find out what’s in her pantry, what’s in her coat closet, even what’s under her kitchen sink! Also: David’s Bromstad’s current paint color obsessions. Who doesn’t want to know those?!
Today is the first day that HGTV Magazine is on newsstands! Did you get yours yet? I’ve gotten mine and I have to say, it’s one of the prettiest and most useful design magazines I’ve ever seen (even if I am a little biased).
In its inaugural issue Vern Yip, judge for HGTV Design Star lets readers into his family’s home in Atlanta, Georgia to get a look at his unbelievable dog room (page 35 in case you’re following along with your magazines). With four dogs and two young kids in the house, it’s hard to believe that anything is organized, but this chocolate-colored room is perfection. I recently talked to Vern about his home and his article for our brand new magazine. Here’s what he had to say:
LZ: Have you seen the magazine yet?
VY: No, not yet! But I’m very excited to see it.
LZ: So we know you’re an old pro at being in other people’s homes with the cameras rolling, but what was it like to be interviewed for the magazine having the photographers at your house?
VY: It’s always good. Your home should be a physical manifestation of you. It’s a way for people to experience who you are. It was fun to share my personal style with readers.
LZ: In your article for the magazine, you show us your fantastic pet room just off your kitchen. What do you suggest people do who don’t have enough space to make a separate room for their pets?
VY: I’ve always been a dog person, but I haven’t always had a dedicated room for the dogs. Before having this room, I didn’t compromise between practicality and not having a dog at all, though. A couple of tips for keeping a clean and neat house:
Number one: get a great vacuum cleaner, and number two, look at the materials that your dog comes in contact with – the floor, the upholstery – and make sure you select those correctly to be soil and stain resistant.
To corral the clutter, use the same the same ideas you would in dealing with clutter in general. Instead of having a coffee table, use a storage ottoman. The lid flips open and you can quickly put away dog toys and leashes.
LZ: What’s your number one rule about the dogs in your house? No people food? No jumping on the couch?
VY: I wish I was that kind of disciplinarian with them! Before we had kids they had the run of the place. The one thing I don’t do, we don’t allow our dogs in our beds. It’s one area that I like to keep super clean and tidy.
LZ: Given that you’ve got pets and kids in your house now, are there any design decisions you’ve made wish you could do over? Do you make different choices now?
VY: No. My choices aren’t primarily driven by dogs or kids. Our decisions are reflections of us and who we are. Successful design is a confluence of function and aesthetics. It needs to function on a high level. I need to be able to sit on the sofa and not worry about getting a stain on it. That’s who I am. You can have great looking things that are also practical.
LZ: OK, Vern, lightning round. I’m going to ask you a question, and you give me your gut reaction:
Dogs playing poker – kitsch and cute, or tacky and awful?
VY: Kitsch and cute.
LZ: Painted animal portraits – yea or nay?
LZ: Dogs in the bed – snuggle up or get out!
VY: Get out!
LZ: Leather furniture and pets – for sure or forget it?
VY: For sure!
LZ: And last but not least: I know I’m not supposed to ask this – because dogs are like kids – but do you have a favorite dog?
VY: [Laughs] Yes, I do! I’m so embarrassed to admit that. But I can’t tell you which one it is!
If you are anything like millions of design lovers, chances are you were waiting for Target’s website to just let you in this morning. Today is the first day that the Missoni for Target line is on sale and the demand for this iconic fashion house’s zig-zag patterns and bold color pairings at reasonable prices was so high that many shoppers were met with an error page when they logged on to the retailer’s site.
Once I was finally let in, I wasn’t completely surprised to find that a lot of the truly desirable pieces where already out of stock. Obviously I wasn’t the only one thinking that I really needed one of those blankets for fall. Ever the optimist, I’m hoping that Target is holding a secret stash in reserve and will replenish their supplies. Did any of you score some Missoni?
Call it kismet, serendipity or mere coincidence that I spotted this gorgeous hilltop cabin in Nova Scotia on the New York Times yesterday. I’ve been semi-planning a road trip (it’s adventurous having no plan!) for my upcoming vacation and just last week decided Maine’s Canadian island neighbor would be the goal. But what’s to see in Nova Scotia?
Hopefully if the aesthetic of rest of the island is anything like this cabin, there will be plenty of good design to take in. The weather-worn shingles are right at home on the windswept coast. The owners, cognizant of the intense light bouncing off the sea, chose a white stain for their wood floors and a palette of muted pastels all of which combine with an enchanting effect in the wide open spaces. Check out the full-sized images on The Times, they’re worth the look. Just don’t blame me if you suddenly want to come to Nova Scotia, too.
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