Monday, March 25, 2013

Tips for a Stylish & Kid-Friendly Space {Part 2}

If you missed Part I, find it HERE.

When you're working through furnishing a room, at some point you come to the decision of what to put on the floor.  If you're like me, thoughts of floor coverings such as rugs tend to go hand in hand with the reality of "floor coverings" of a different nature--you know, the popcorn from movie night that wasn't contained on the LARGE BEACH TOWEL with which you covered your sofa or the bits of broccoli that your two-year old so cleverly got rid of during dinner time.  I know I'm not alone in feeling like any effort at keeping the floor relatively clean is a vain one.  But here's the good news:  while our floors may not remain very clean during this season of life, I really don't believe that has to keep us from having pretty rugs underneath!

Seagrass on the floor and indoor/outdoor fabric on the chairs and ottoman make for a kid-safe zone. via

Believe it or not, I think young families have lots of options when it comes to rugs.  Natural rugs (often given the generic name "sisal" rugs) can be a great choice.  Seagrass is all over the design world, and for good reason--it offers a clean, neutral look, while bringing a good dose of texture to a space and at a really attractive price point.  I think it's a great choice for homes where little ones live because it's very forgiving.   It provides a hard surface that's not scratchy like sisal, but it cleans up very nicely.  Admittedly, it's not nearly as soft as some rugs, but you can always layer a smaller, softer rug over seagrass for the areas where little hands and knees may be traveling.

While you may not feel quite bold enough to go for the white couch when you have little kids, we can at least appreciate the pretty rug :)

We used a seagrass rug in the living room of our old house.  We lived with it bare, and we also enjoyed layering a cowhide rug over it at one point, and later an old wool oriental rug.

Please note, my old house (and my current house) are never this clean and orderly!  This photo was taken for our real estate listing :)
This is a bit more realistic!

I was trying out some new furniture (including layering this smaller rug over our seagrass)  literally days before our movers packed us up.  (typical)

***We also used a seagrass rug in our dining room, and here is where I will give my one caveat for seagrass.  If you have really little kids or maybe you are just real messy, your seagrass rug may not enjoy the longest life span when placed under the table at which your family eats multiple times a day. Water spills will dry clean, but otherwise, when spills are of the liquid type (particularly olive oil in our case), it's hard for even this workhorse of a rug to conceal the damage.

See that oil stain on the rug? :(  Again, cleanliness=real estate listing photo
Another great option that falls in the "natural fiber" category is jute.  Unlike seagrass, it tends to be thick and soft, and according to talented designer Lauren Liess, it can even "eat your dirt,"  which let's be honest, is maybe every mother's dream?  :)  Read more about Lauren's thoughts on natural fiber rugs HERE.

Designer Peter Dunham layered a cowhide over jute rugs from Ikea.  (This room makes me swoon.)

Jute/wool blend rug from Pottery Barn.  Held up pretty well and this little nugget was happy rolling around on it!
I wrote about my love of indoor/outdoor fabric HERE, so it's probably no surprise that I love indoor/outdoor rugs as well!  Most are made from a material called polypropylene and can be hosed down if needed.  What's more, many are pretty soft underfoot.

We used an indoor/outdoor rug in Wade's old bedroom, and it worked great.  It looked like a natural fiber rug, but it had the cleaning capabilities of an outdoor rug.  We all found it to be perfectly comfortable for sitting too.

Wade in his old bedroom enjoying piling toys upon his father who is buried underneath.  I share it because I think you can sort of make out the look of the rug? (and because doesn't this just make you smile? :) 

Of course, if you are looking for a bright, patterned indoor/outdoor rug there are lots of those available too.

Finally, this may come as a shock to some, but I think old oriental rugs are actually really kid-friendly.  They tend to be dark, which is a plus when it comes to hiding those things that didn't get cleaned up yet.  I personally love them when they're old and beat up.  I have one in our living room that literally has rips in it (and I adore it, will try to post pictures soon).  Take that, errant sippy cup!

As far as what to avoid, I think wall-to-wall carpeting is about the scariest thing to have when it comes to a reckless toddler!  Sure, it's soft underfoot, but a major spill or a really bad accident and you are stuck with a very unfortunate clean-up job that may or may not be successful.

Light colored wool rugs that have very little variation in their color also make me nervous.  We had a pretty wool rug in our bedroom in Richmond, and it didn't take long for it to show any and all dirt.  It was soft and pretty, but we would have been better off with say, a jute rug--a similar look, but the color variation from the natural fibers would have served us well for concealing purposes!

Anyone had any experiences with these types of rugs (good or bad!)?  I would love to hear what you think about choosing rugs when you have little ones.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Headboard Dreaming {Master Bedroom}

Our bedroom is the one room in our house that we (and by we, I mean yours truly :)  painted, and I have to say, I really like our cozy little room.  Our bedside tables make me happy.  I think our rug is unique and interesting.  And I adore our shams.

The one major piece lacking here is clearly a headboard! (also, those lampshades need some love, but that's a story for a different day)  I have recently dropped some not-so-subtle hints to my handy hubby that he could totally easily make me a headboard.  He made one for Wade's room in our old house, as seen here.

And while I love the thought of buying a headboard with a little more pizzaz--you know, maybe some nailhead trim, an interesting shape, a little trim, I'm inclined to think that this is an area where I really could go the old DIY route and save a good bit of cash.

But then I go and look at pictures like this and I second guess those DIY leanings (because there ain't no way any Worthington in this house can whip up something like this beauty, much as I do have lots of faith in my husband's skills).

Source: via Anne on Pinterest

See what I mean?

But I don't know, I feel like I could dress a simple rectangular headboard up a bit, and it could be a vast improvement over the current situation.  I like the idea of going with a basic linen that's a close match for the bedskirt, and then changing the look up every now and then by draping some fun fabric over the headboard.  And no, if you're wondering, that idea wasn't original to me :)

I'm going to keep thinking, and I'll be back to share more of my ideas :)  As always, I welcome your input!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Making It Work {Framing Art}

When you're on the hunt for unique and interesting art at places like estate sales, consignment shops, even thrift stores, most of us know that you shouldn't let an unfortunate looking frame deter you if the art truly speaks to you.  After all, you can always change out the frame.  The downside of course is that having a custom frame made tends to be rather pricey.  Adding matting--sometimes even double matting--adds to the price tag too.

It's for this reason that in addition to looking for pretty art,  I like to keep my eyes out for nice looking frames, even if I don't have a particular piece in mind for framing.  A custom cut solid wood frame can easily cost you $40-50 for a small piece of art and up to a couple hundred for a larger piece.  I've found that it ends up being much cheaper to have a mat cut to fit a frame you already have on hand.  

A while ago I came across these pretty original watercolors at a thrift store near our old house in Richmond, VA.  They weren't framed, but they only wanted $10 for the three paintings, so I was sold.  I wouldn't be surprised if they were done by a former student of VCU's art school.  One of them is signed with a date from the 70's.   I was drawn to them in particular because they reminded me of the landscape in Virginia.

When it came to deciding how to frame them, I remembered two frames I'd picked up that seemed like the dimensions might be right.

This is the only picture I have of the frame, it's the large one in the back.

In this case, I took the frame and my art to a local frame store and had them cut a mat they had in stock (to save money) to fit.  I think it cost me about $30--if I had chosen to get a custom frame made it would have been over $100.

For the second painting, I decided to use one of a pair of frames I also found at a {different} thrift store for $5 each.  (yes, I think I do other things besides go to thrift stores...}.

Lucky for me, the painting was done on a standard size paper and this frame was also a standard size.  Do you know what that meant?  I was able to just use a standard mat available pre-cut at a place like Michaels to the tune of about $5!  

I liked the white mat fine...
and then I got inspired when I had it turned upside down...there was something about the contrast of the gray and the gold frame that spoke to me.
I ended up doing something my creative friend Jennifer taught me (Hi Jennifer if you're reading :) by painting the mat! I just used some leftover latex paint with a small foam brush.  The hardest part was keeping the little bevelled insert around the inner edge white.
The top painting reminds me of some of the beautiful scenery along 29N, the road I would travel from my parent's to college.  The bottom one reminds me of fall on the Grounds of the University of Virginia.

I had one other painting that needed a little facelift.

 I found this original watercolor at a thrift store in St. Louis for $12.  Loved the painting (and the fact that it included a mat), did not love the cheapy gold frame.

This time, I didn't have a frame on hand, but I was fortunate to come across another frame for literally 50 cents that was the right dimensions.  Again, when artists paint on standard canvases it really helps my cause! :)

The only problem here was that the frame was a little dingy and dull looking.
I used some rub 'n buff in silver leaf and voila, this little frame became quite the stunner :)

Does anybody else have any tips for getting a custom framed look without the price tag?

Linking up at Emily A. Clark 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tips for a Stylish & Kid-Friendly Space {Part 1}

When some of the members of your household include little people (who have lots of little toys and like to make messes), if you are anything like me, you will find yourself thinking about how you can accommodate them and their needs without completely sacrificing your own taste.  While some people favor the approach of waiting until their kids are older before they really decorate for their own tastes, I have to tell you, I just can't get on board with this mentality.  For one thing, depending on how many children you have, that could be a long time!  Secondly, buying cheap things that you don't really love (but plan to replace) just doesn't make sense financially to me.  Finally, and most importantly, I'm convinced that there are lots of ways to make our homes comfortable for adult and kid tastes alike!

While some of us are fortunate enough to have play rooms designated solely for the corralling of bright, primary-colored plastic toys, many of us do not have this luxury.  And frankly, even if you do have a playroom, your children will surely spend some of their time playing in the other parts of your home.  So how do you keep a room looking sophisticated, yet still make room for Thomas the Train and the occasional stray greasy finger that makes its way to your upholstered chair?

I thought I would implement a little series and share my ideas with you.  Here's my first tip:

  • Buy quality furniture (this can easily be done for cheap via places like Craigslist!) that you actually like, but be thoughtful about the fabric you choose. I personally would rather have a pretty piece of furniture that may or may not remain pristine than settle for something ugly and not care when it gets damaged.  Besides, there are things we can do to "protect" against furniture abuse!
*Take advantage of indoor/outdoor fabric when it comes to upholstery.  In my opinion, this is pure genius!  We are talking about fabrics that look great but that can be wiped and/or hosed down!  Some even tout the ability to be bleached!  Available in solids and prints and at many price points, this is a surefire way to put your mind at ease when your little people are running amuck near your new club chairs.

 I chose to have this pair of chairs reupholstered in indoor/outdoor fabric (this is exactly what I bought).

These babies really deserve their own post.  They are very dear to me.  

I love that the fabric has a linen look to it (and it's not rough feeling at all!), and yet I have the peace of mind of knowing that it is going to be hard-wearing and can stand up to any and all crazed small people that may put it to the test!

Actually, if I told you a small child once vomited on one of these chairs, would that convince you?  I'm sorry to say, but it's true!

Most fabric stores have an outdoor section.  Browse Lewis & Sheron's options here.


I love this classic black and white stripe.  I've told my mom I think she should have a bench in an entryway of her house upholstered in it :)

When I was deciding what to do with my pair of chairs, I strongly considered using an indoor/outdoor velvet.  House of Fabric (based here in St. Louis!), sells a variety of colors by Sunbrella.  They originally retailed for over $50/yd and now they are less than $17/yd!  I am dying to use one these sometime!

apple green


Mint Green

Who needs the ubiquitous microfiber when you can have the real deal velvet in a stain-resistant finish?! (browse the rest of the colors here)

*Choosing to have sofas and/or chairs slipcovered in machine-washable fabrics (cotton or linen are foolproof options!) is another excellent choice.  Slipcovering gives you the added benefit of easily changing out your look if somebody does some serious damage if you tire of it.  Whether or not you choose it for its kid-friendly appeal, slipcovering gives you a very current, casual look.

I doubled up my protection by slipcovering and using indoor/outdoor fabric on a wingback chair that belonged to my grandparents.  I did this because I chose a white fabric.  In hindsight though, I don't know that it was completely necessary to go with indoor/outdoor.  Since I can remove it and throw in the washer, I probably could have gotten away with a basic white canvas or linen.

Here's the chair as I remember it from my childhood at my grandparent's house.

I think a new slipcover brightened her up quite nicely! (in looking at this picture, I just realized the fabric on the pillow came from my grandmother's stash as well :)

Here are several more slipcovered pieces I would LOVE to call my own :)
I'm obsessed with the box-pleat on these chairs!!

Source: via Anne on Pinterest

This sofa, made by Best Slipcover Company, is a favorite...would love to have this sofa!

Slipcovered Ikea chairs!

Source: via Anne on Pinterest

I love the rumpled look of these linen covers!  Can't you just imagine hoping your toddler would get them all dirty so you'd have to wash them and get them more worn in?  Ok, maybe that's taking it a little too far.  

*Leather is another material people often overlook for its kid-friendly appeal.  Not only does most food wipe off pretty easily, but a little wear and tear here and there only adds to its worn in beauty.

Source: via Anne on Pinterest

This little girl is eating an ice-cream cone on the couch and does her mother look worried?

Source: via Anne on Pinterest

So what do you think? Who else gets this excited about stylish and kid-friendly furniture?!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I love a good vignette

First, thanks to all of you who shared your skincare feedback!  I really appreciate it! I will keep you posted on what changes I end up making... Now, it's back to design.

We have this joke in our house that I'm always rearranging things with Philip remaining pretty oblivious to it all.  If he wasn't so good at staying on top of our credit card statement and keeping track of our budget, I could probably get away with making some pretty big time changes.  Often times a conversation between us will go something like this:

Anne:  "Sooo, notice anything different around here?"
Philip:  "uuhhh, I don't know.  Did you create a new vignette or something?"

My witty husband has heard me speak fondly of artfully arranged items, and while his comments are typically delivered somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the fact still remains:  I love a good vignette.

Some of you may find this sentiment to be a bit extreme, but I'm telling you, when things are arranged in a beautiful way, I feel something.  And I'm fascinated, really, by the creative process this entails.  It feels sort of like working a puzzle, only there are a myriad of different ways the finished puzzle could look--each different, yet really lovely.

Ok, I feel like this is getting a little heady.  How about I just share some of my favorite vignettes?

source: newlyweddiaries via pinterest

Our entry table has perplexed me for a while now.  We are using a skirted table that was used in our dining room in our old house, and it's a pretty big surface.  There's also the cut-out for the staircase behind it to consider.  Oh, and the walls are pretty ho-hum (which I probably would have painted were we going to live here for more than a year and if the entire first floor wasn't basically open, making it very difficult to paint just one area) and there's bluish-gray carpeting happening underfoot.  Neither of these things excites me too much, but I'm dealing with it.

I didn't set out and go buy a bunch of things that I thought I should place on my entry table.  I've tried to accumulate things (over time) that I like and that have meaning to me, and then find places to put them in my house.  In this case, after I arranged our entry table, I realized for the first time since living in this house that it felt pleasing to my little eye.  I thought it could be interesting (really for myself, if for no one else!) to sort of pick it apart and think through why I feel like it works.

When I look at my own arrangement, I think that many of the same basic principles that exist in some of the images I posted above are also present, in some degree or another.

  • Objects of varying heights are included (vase of flowers and plant are both taller yet not the exact same height, picture frames are lower).  
  • The power of three is at play--on both sides, there are three objects of varying heights/shapes.  This wasn't intentional, but analyzing it now, I can see it.  
  • Different textures are present (iron/metal lamp base, fabric table skirt, greenery from plant).  
  • The color scheme is kept pretty neutral (with the exception of the painting and the tulips), which in the case of a larger collection of items like this keeps the entire arrangement from feeling cluttered and chaotic.  
  • While the palette is neutral, the shades vary, so it still feels interesting (and not flat) to my eye.  
  • Tones and colors are repeated so things feel intentional and connected to one another (matting in the frame matches color of urn, color of tulips comes from painting, colors in all three picture frames are repeated in each other)

And because I always think it's fun to know the sources, I'll share mine with you.

-lamp: HomeGoods (years ago)
-painting: gift from my brother, Taylor, who is quite the world traveler.  He bought it in Cartagena 
 Colombia!  {Matting and framing done by me at The Pottery in Williamsburg, VA....hands down the 
 most inexpensive place to get custom framing done!  It's worth the drive if you're relatively close!}
-plant: fern in urn given to me by mother in law many years ago
-tulips:  Trader Joes (I love Trader Joes and I love tulips!) in a milk glass vase I found at Goodwill.  
-silver tray: wedding gift, Pottery Barn
-china dish (on tray): Estate Specialists in Lynchburg, Va
-artichoke candle-Christmas gift from my hubby, from High Street Market
-picture frames:TJMaxx, HomeGoods, and/or Marshalls.
-fabric for table:Barbara Barry for Kravet Poetical, purchased at U-Fab in Richmond (at a major 
-umbrella holder: basically free, got it from Craigslist (I was buying something else and they were getting rid of this :)