Archive for September, 2007


Still Curious About Country Friends

I still affect a pathetic cry of despair every time I pass the empty Country Friends store on 86th Street in Indy.

I have two questions for my readers:

1. Where do you shop now for the things you used to buy there? I can’t think of any place else that has the selection of seasonal stuff that they had, at least not in this state. Batesville, Arkansas has Heritage House, but that’s a ways to go for Christmas decor. Then again, I do travel. Wherever you are, it would be interesting to know what your treasured home dec stores are. Please share.

2. Has anyone heard if Michael might be reopening another shop somewhere? I still have a gut feeling (call it retail intuition) that we haven’t seen the last of him.

Please share or give me a shoulder to cry on.


Rug Dilemma-Resolved

I wasn’t ready to spend $1,400.00 for the rug I found online.

Not that this is an outrageous price. Decent 8′ x 10′ rugs can range from 5K to 20K. But that’s not the kind of budget we work with. I ran across an awesome light blue and white crewel number at William Sonoma Home, the perfect size, for $699.00 (that’s $700.00 to people not trying to talk themselves into buying a rug). The color was too light. Sad that it didn’t work and that I had more schlepping in my future, I trudged back to the north side. I stopped in Home Goods to check out kitchen wares and as I passed the rugs I saw this one:

Living room

The rug wasn’t there two days earlier when Dave and I made fun of the giant acorns that I would later blissfully buy, actually on the same trip I bought this rug. Perhaps I was blinded by the rug’s price, which was only $399.00 (that’s $400.00 to people who aren’t trying to communicate what a good deal they just found). And Julie, the large graphics and the richer color (which doesn’t come through in my photo) work better with the rug in the dining area, a concern I know you had. Now I’m not one to assign divine credit when it comes to shopping finds, but then again…

There are a few more addditions to the room, the crewel throw pillow (William Sonoma Home) on the red sofa and the green pillows (Crate and Barrel) on the striped sofa. Here is a picture of another pillow I bought later from Pottery Barn. It had a touch of the blue which I needed to work into the room a little more.

Throw Pillow

And more good news: I need to replace the little chair at the desk with something more subtantial, and just as I was about to start going back to auctions John’s mom showed us a pair of beautiful federalist looking sweeties that she said she would sell me. I can use the leftover fabric I put on this bedroom chair on the new chairs.

Reupholstered Wingback

While I’m at it, I think I’ll have a throw pillow made for the wood chair by the TV. If you’ve already read this far, you must be a design junkie. So tell me, any thoughts on how to trim said pillow? I have little experience in this area.

Also, I think I may need a coffee table now. Ideas? I’m thinking a couple of airy, squarish and maybe metal (old gold finish) tables, but that may be too obvious. I’m open to other directions.


Cool Bigness

This is the last post for awhile that will poach from September’s Elle Decor. (Sorry, but Margaret Russell puts together an awesome spread.)

Table with Birds of Paradise copy

Here’s their view of a vignette from John Shea and Ray Booth’s Chelsea pad. I posted it because I’m trying to work larger scale objects (like the round balls on the table) into our house and proving to be a little wishy-washy in my commitment. I’m working to train my eye, but finding interesting home bigness can be a challenge. While John and Ray have traveled to Ibiza and Fire Island for their objects d’art, I’m lucky if I get up to the Home Goods store on 86th street.  I keep saying more extensive travel will be a part of our lives someday, but as Dolly Parton says, I better Get to Livin’.

Speaking of Home Goods, Dave and I were there trying to solve my living room rug dilemma in a more affordable way. While waiting in line we saw a woman with a foot-wide acorn made of leaves and pinecone husks in her basket. We were dismissive and joked quietly about the squirrel big enough to hide it. Days later, having completely forgotten our conversation, I bought THREE of them.

Giant Acorn

Giant Acorn

Dave had to remind me that I’d dogged them out just a few days earlier. I have no idea why I like them now and not then. See? Wishy-washy.


More on Neutrals with Color

More from September’s Elle Decor. Here is a better shot of Marjorie Gubelmann’s living room. I love the scale and finish of the hanging lantern.

Living room

And here is her dining room with its spectacular hand-painted Gracie wallpaper, proving neutral rooms are happy to live near big color walls. I find it hard to believe that I’ve never had a room this color green. I’ve always loved it.

Green dining room copy

Side note: In Bob Altman’s glamorously stuffy Gosford Park,
a great source of design inspiration if you need it, the billiard room (the room pictured above is actually the drawing room in the film. I couldn’t find a still of the BR but you get the glamour point) is glazed the same color green as the wallpaper above. I think the billiard room is under-painted with yellow. Whatever the technique, the effect gives the space a sturdy glow. In Gubelmann’s dining room, the silver of the Venetian mirrors, the shimmering chandelier, and the small scale of the black bamboo chairs keep the room light and airy. I love it.


Color: Neutral with splashes, and High Contrast

Elle neutral room

It’s a good thing great design is timeless because it has taken me forever to post these photos I mentioned from the September issue of Elle Decor. The first one is an example of a simple, neutral space with color used throughout.

purple dining room

I threw in the purple dining room with green and white highlights because I love high contrast spaces when they’re done well. I think the classical lines of the bust, the furniture and the Chinois lantern keep from giving the deep color a nightclub effect. Light a few candles (I would use black) and I would be jonesing for an invitation to that dinner party.


Rug Dilemma.

(Loloi Blue Rp04)

Considering buying the rug above to replace the smaller one in our living room below.


I’ve always thought the smaller one was a littly chintzy for the space (impulse buy) but rugs basically only come in two larger sizes–5 x 8 and 8 x 10. I would probably need the 8 x 10 to make a larger rug work since all of the sofa legs AND the desk legs will have to go on it (I’ll have to put it parallel to the walls).


Dried Florals for Fall

There is an awkward area above our refrigerator. I keep my large ceramic bowls there, but the space still needs a shot of something else to keep the kitchen from looking “enhh.”

I normally put hydrangeas from the garden in a ceramic chinoiserie cache pot in that spot, but I need that for the master bedroom now.

So yesterday while David and I were at Michaels I looked for a replacement container. We decided that this patinated coppery, bronzy, leathery looking one would work well with my maple cabinets. And the pattern was large and simple enough not to compete with the fine, “all-over” texture of the hydrangea I knew I would feature in the arrangement.

Speaking of hydrangeas, the variety I use is called ‘Annabelle’ and it is super easy to grow. We have six shrubs (you can barely see them behind the tin rooster in my header) that provide plenty of cut blooms for us, and you if you want any. Just ask. (*I put cutting and drying instructions below.) I needed ten hydrangea stems for this arrangement. The green will soften as they dry.

To add mass and textural variety to the hydrangeas I worked in some other dried florals. Nine lotus pods, the chocolate colored things, helped mix it up.

Fall Arrangement

But the colors were starting to get muddy so I needed to brigthen them up a little. I was tempted to crib some orange colored flowers that came one to a package of other stuff that I didn’t need. I thought I might mix and match until the bunch was more like what I wanted. Dave said that would be stealing. He had a point. Fortunately his eagle eye solved my moral dilemma by spotting these long, peachy colored pods. I think I ended up using about ten of these.

Five sprigs of flat, broad dried leaves (Dave, what were those called again?) and some eucalyptus (I know, kind of grandmothery, but I still love it) and a sprig of purplish grasses and I had what I needed.

Actually, just a little more than I needed, so I made another smaller (and kind of clunky) arrangement for the downstairs bathroom.


*If you use hydrangeas as cut flowers: Once you cut them (I use kitchen shears because I’m lazy, but pruners would work better), light a candle and hold the cut end of the stem over the flame until it blackens slightly. This allows the stem to take up water. If you plan to dry them, just put them in a vase with water (or water filled floral foam, which is what I used this time) and let the water evaporate. The flowers will dry and hold their form. Or you can skip the vase by tying a bunch of fresh cut stems together and hanging them upside down somewhere dry until they are papery.