Archive | October 2012

Designing a Nursery for Twins

Some of you may already know, as of last week, I was privileged to become a grandmother to twins!  We welcomed a gorgeous girl named Vivienne and a beautiful boy named Will.  My family is thrilled with our new arrivals.

During the past nine months, with input from my son and daughter-in-law, I thoroughly enjoyed designing the nursery. We decided that we would go with a vintage look. It began with the white Jenny Lind cribs.

Color inspiration was found in the multi-colored fabric with its playful undersea creatures, featuring a variety of fish, boats and even a pink octopus.  For the overall color scheme, I suggested a pale blue wall; and then placed a bright coral as contrast-banding on the lead edges of the drapery and on the rocker fabric. Kiwi green was used as an accent.  Using the fabric to design drapery that surrounds each crib gave the room a focal point, since the window was small and in the corner.  While vacationing in Cape Cod, we stumbled upon a set of two perfect fish prints to hang on the wall – one in coral and one in blue!

My daughter-in-law and I had a fun-filled day while we shopped locally at vintage stores in LaGrange IL for the chest and dresser.  We previously looked at all the typical stores that feature baby furniture, then decided to go for something more unique. We wanted to be able to repurpose the dresser and chest in the future for the children’s rooms. I had Will’s dresser painted white and it doubles as the changing table. Vivienne’s dresser was painted coral with ballet pink accents.  The chandelier was a find at Costco and the repurposed shelves were painted white and used for both storage and display space for treasured gifts.

Life does come full circle.  I remember many years ago, when I designed the nursery for my own children. How could I have imagined this latest project which needed to accommodate two babies into one space? With my son and his wife as Daddy and Mommy, this was truly a “labor of love” for all.

The window in this room was small and in a corner. I created a focal point using aquatic-inspired fabric to embellish each crib.

Existing brown shelves were repurposed, painted white and used for storage and display.

It’s Time For “A Nice Cup Of Tea”

There’s a Japanese proverb that says “If a man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.”  Now there’s a saying I can connect with.

Tea and afternoon tea time, and of course the teapots, cups and saucers, have been in my life since my earliest memories. My first memory of tea time was when I was about five years old.  It was a hot summer day and my mother spread ice cold butter on saltine crackers with strawberry jam.  She would serve tea with a bit of sugar in it with her fancy dishes, a beautiful table setting, and the silver teapot. The best part was her company and being together. In time, it became our family tradition to have afternoon tea time on vacations at various hotels, tea shops and on cruise ships.

How fortunate for me that my husband also loves tea and the whole experience of tea time. On our honeymoon in Paris, we visited a grand “Maison de The” of one the world’s greatest tea merchants – Mariage Freres. What an experience! The selection of teas and their wonderful scents, the beautiful cups and teapots, the elegant tea experts, it was all simply stunning. I fell in love with a particular cup and saucer they sell…yes I do get happy over a simple teacup….that is in the style of what was used on cruise ships. The white porcelain cup is enhanced with delicate silver edging; and the cup nestles into the center hollow of the saucer, so as not to move around, giving sea voyaging tea drinkers a steadier setting.  

In the Chicago area, one of our favorite local tea shops is Todd & Holland in Forest Park, Illinois.  Try their Mauritius blend, a strong brew of finely chopped black tea leaves and vanilla.

Over the years, I have had many tea parties (as seen in the accompanying photos) and have helped in the planning of tea-themed events such as Christmas teas, bridal teas, baby teas and birthday teas. I have collected so many kinds of teapots – silver-plated, antique, ceramic, hand-painted and Japanese styles to name a few. To me, it is a time to share thoughts, relax and simply enjoy living beautifully.  Whether you’re having tea for two or sipping tea in solitude…there is something so settling and civilized about having tea.  So go start the water boiling, and make yourself a cup of tea!

This table was set for a twins baby shower themed “Tea For Two”.

This was for a “spring tea” – notice the floral glassware.

This was for a bridal tea – notice the cookies are shoes and purses.

Dream Big When it Comes to Small Bathrooms

“Big things come in small packages” (at least that’s what my mom used to say), which is why I always go for the small box during Christmas raffles! Sometimes smaller spaces have their perks, too. If you have a smaller bathroom, there are several things you can do to maximize its space and functionality. In addition to lower-cabinet storage, consider vertical storage on the top part of your vanity or next to it. Built-in medicine cabinets are always a win, especially when installed mirror-on-mirror; that really can explode the space.

Using the same-type and same-size tile on the shower walls as used on the floor can enlarge the space and make a difference in fooling the eye. Sometimes you can gain space by adding a tray or skylight to a ceiling. Large-scaled wallpaper can also create spaciousness, as well as add a great deal of style to the overall design.

For a very teeny-tiny bathroom or powder room, this is your chance to show off your design savvy by turning it into a jewel box that is unforgettable. It isn’t a primary goal to always make a space look larger. First, decide how the bathroom is dedicated. Is it your master bath where storage is at a premium or is it a guest bath or main-floor powder room where dramatic aesthetics are the primary concern?

Regardless, bathroom design has come a long way. In addition to natural stone, there are available a myriad of porcelain tiles with some that mimic wood flooring to give spaces a “spa”-like feel. To score extra points for originality, consider rice paper or bamboo textures if it fits the overall look you want to achieve.

If you want to “get your glam on”, then look for tiles with metallic overlays that can add to the glamour and create a modern aesthetic. Some of the more recent things I have seen in bathrooms are rectangular-shaped tiles versus square, polished chrome versus satin nickel, hidden storage and drywall niches along with anything that can mimic a spa-like experience.

Good design can trump any trend, so no matter what the trend, follow your heart and go with what you think you might want to see every day. Just like the little black dress in your closet that you always go to, you want something that feels comfortable and classic, and then you can add all the bling and style with accessories, mirrors and art.

As designer Paul Rand famously said: Design is everything. Everything!”

Master bath BEFORE: The homeowners were aware that their master bath seemed tight. They wanted a larger feel for it.

Master bath AFTER: Notice the vertical storage on the vanity, and the mirror-on-mirror medicine cabinet. The pretty containers on the shelving also act as storage for makeup. By adding a skylight, we brightened up the dramatic space.

This recently completed small bathroom doesn’t appear that way at all! I used large-scale floral wallpaper, which added to the drama and scale of this bathroom along with the tray ceiling where a chandelier can be placed.

This powder room is a “jewel box.” The art, mirror and rug add to the overall glamorous feel.

This bathroom shows the same type of floor tile on the shower wall.

Pictured here in this same bathroom are vertical storage and the mirror-on-mirror feature.