Cath Kidston

Talk about being transported in time…Cath Kidston takes me back – way back.  But in a good way!  She takes me to a time when all of my things were super girlie and feminine. 

I always enjoy going into her shops to take in all the soft colors and delicate fabric patterns.  I especially love the Cath Kidston oil cloths, vintage wallpapers and fun line of colored glassware.  While the basic look doesn’t change, what’s on offer is always changing — like Cath Kidston iPhone sleeves…I’m sure she has them for the iPad as well.

Susan Buttner

Susan Buttner is a local Irish artist who frequently sells her work at Merrion Square in Dublin.  I was introduced to her work through Christiana who bought one of her paintings a few years ago.  I like the abstract nature of her work.  She has a variety of subjects but her most popular seems to be cottages and Georgian houses viewed through trees.  The houses tend to be painted in a more monochromatic fashion so that the surrounding paths and trees become the items that your eye is drawn to.  I like it.

Prep for planning permission

Well, technically, I’m not even officially the owner of Tilly’s Cottage until the end of the month and yet I’ve already embarked on the first tranche of work required for planning permission — and that’s the garden clear out.  No one has lived in the cottage for over 10 years so the backyard where the extension is being built is pretty overgrown.

I spent several hours on Saturday clearing out the blackberry brambles that had overtaken the space.  Not a fun job and I’m thankful I had my legs, arms and hands well covered. 

Next comes the survey and then full drawings of the planned build — at least things feel like they’re finally starting to move a bit!

Here’s a look at the before and after of my work — I’m not sure if the photo does it justice but the brambles that were taller than I am were cut down to the ground in order to provide access to the back and side walls for the survey:

Wallpaper obsessions

Back in the late ’90s, one of my marketing clients was a consortium of wallpaper manufacturers who had come together to help bring wallpaper back into home design favor.  I was always a closet wallpaper fan but in working with the Wallpaper Council, I quickly learned that wallpaper had come a long way from the dowdy looking stuff a lot of us probably remember from our grandmother’s home growing up. 

It’s fair to say that wallpaper has not only come back into favor but has made a tremendous comeback in the design world.  I’d love to say this was due, in large part, to our agency’s efforts but that might be a bit of an overstatement.  Whatever the reason, I’m simply happy to see that there continues to be a lot of innovation in wallpaper design. 

Why do I love wallpaper? I think it’s a great wall to give your walls “art” and visual interest.  To me, the best wallpapers are those that you could look at for years and almost discover something new each time you look at it. 

Molly has a slightly different version of this beautiful Venetian-looking circus wallpaper up the stairs in her Boston condo — complemented by the matching fabric — both from Scalamandre.

And I was prompted to write today’s blog entry when I saw this amazing wallpaper on Design*Sponge — love it.  I mean really love it — might just have to throw up a wall somewhere just to have an excuse to use it. Talk about a wallpaper one could stare at for days…

And one more cool wallpaper to highlight — perhaps this doesn’t fall into the “stare at it for days” category but I really like Scalamandre’s zebra wallpaper which was featured in the movie  The Royal Tenenbaums at Gino’s restaurant on the East Side in NYC.  I’m always referring to statement pieces — I guess you could say this is a whole wall making a statement.

Maine Cottage

I can’t remember the name of the movie but I remember watching this great ’50s film on TV when I was kid; the movie was set in a beautiful lodge on a lake in Maine — which seemed very exotic to me growing up in Texas.  I don’t think the movie was all that — but I can still remember the features of the beautiful lodge in the movie:  big stone fireplaces, open ceilings with wood beams, wicker furniture and panelled walls.  I think the movie was actually in black and white but in my head,  I added all the touches of color.

Maine Cottage furniture is a bit like transporting oneself into that movie.  I was first introduced to Maine Cottage when I was doing some work with Boston-based furniture retailer, Circle Furniture, back in 2002.  Circle carry their line and I can see why they were attracted to it — the furniture and fabrics ooze charm.  Maine Cottage’s signature is a broad palette of brightly painted furniture — whether wood or wicker.  As I was recently re-discovering their brand, I found some great images on their blog of their Charleston Show House.  I thought this dining room is a great example of, once again, how a little bit of color in a simple room can really bring it to life.  

If you’re not already familiar with Maine Cottage, you’ll love perusing their website.  I always meant to get up to their headquarters in Yarmouth, Maine when I was living in New England and I never made it.  Wonder if they ship overseas?

Creative cookies

I know it’s probably a bit too far away from Christmas to start thinking about cookies but I saw this cookie stamp the other day (only $17.95 on a site called Spoonsisters — some great gift ideas 

My mom used to bring out the cookie press every Christmas to make a rake of all different colorful little cookies (I can still envision the worn and weathered page of her trusty red and white gingham Betty Crocker cookbook).  I bought a cookie press myself a few years ago on eBay and while I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t yet used it, I might pull it out one of the days…and I don’t even think I’ll wait as long as Christmas.

Baby handprints

When I was a kid, my mother used to give us paper plates to decorate and then she’d send them away and they’d come back as melamine plates.  And I’m certain I made a few handprint plates in my time.  So when I saw this fun handprint stamp, I fell a little in love.  I saw it on NotCot and it’s from a Japanese design company called Rezon.  Here’s a link to a shop where the stamp is available to buy: 

But even with all these newfangled (wow, I sound like I’m 103) ways to preserve your child’s hand or footprint, the old-fashioned approaches still work well with me.

Retro cameras

I really love my Diana F+ camera.  I don’t use it as often as I should but I love the unpredictability of the shots I take on it.  I’m also totally in love with my digital camera (to the point that I even think of it as a friend when I take it out with me on walks) but using a digital camera takes a little of the romance out of photography.  You pretty much know what a particular shot will look like when you take it and if you don’t, you only have to look at the back of the camera to see for yourself. 

Here’s a shot I took last Spring with my Diana F+ looking up into the trees.  I love the dreamy look the shot has and, not only did I not know how this was going to turn out, I didn’t know whether it would turn out at all.

Another thing I love about retro cameras like the Diana is that not only are they fun to play with but I think they look pretty snazzy just sitting on a shelf, too.   Do you agree?

Things were a lot different fifteen years ago…

I’m sure a lot of people have pictures like this that, when you come across them, it raises the hair on your arm.

While certainly not the most flattering photo of me, this was taken fifteen years ago on a trip to NY with my then boyfriend.  Just a few years ago, he came across the photo and sent it to me. 

I wasn’t actually up in the towers on this visit — although we covered a lot of ground on this occasion (this pic was taken from Ellis Island).  I did, however, go up to the observation deck in 1998 and I was at Ground Zero two months after September 11th — one of the most eerie things to experience.

So, today’s post is simply a reminder not to forget to stop and smell the roses.

One of my favorite libraries

Here comes that word again: yum.  When I first saw this library I thought, “someday, I’ll have a house big enough to have a dedicated library”.  I don’t think that day will come anytime soon but in the meantime, I can enjoy a little library lust just by looking at this room.  Three things I love about it:  1)  Color 2)  Intimate and Small 3) Open with Scale. 

With floor to ceiling books, the room quickly can become very small and intimate (which I think is a very nice thing for a library) but the homeowners have done a great job of creating balance by putting a rooflight above the library to soak the room in light. And the blue shelving and matching blue chandelier is a stroke of genius to my mind.  It takes what could be a boring and staid library and makes it funky and modern.  Nice.