Sunday, March 29, 2009

This Furniture is Way COOL!

A customer came into our store a couple of weeks ago and mentioned a new residential project in the small Colorado town of Buena Vista, about 30 miles north of Salida. She encouraged me to go see it and to introduce myself to the developers.  I decided to take a drive last weekend; I found myself in the South Main Project, a "white water park and environmentally friendly development." As I rounded one of the streets hugging the banks of the Arkansas River, I noticed a colorful, patterned sofa. Is it vintage? Then I saw what seemed to be a chair and floor lamp. Why would they place living room furniture here -- in full blast of the elements? I got out of my car and guess what? These pieces -- even the area rug -- are tile, installed over concrete (?) forms! 

The other day, I did meet Katie Selby Urban, a young 30-something, who, with brother Jed Selby, pioneered this new urban township. Check it out:  South Main Project. What an impressive undertaking. (And in such a beautiful setting!)  I'm guessing they acquired some of their creative thinking from mom, a tile artist -- the woman who created the great outdoor furniture, which, by the way, is pretty comfortable. I don't know if I could sit there for a really long time but, at least, for a game of checkers (provided at the coffee table). The third photo is the view from the sofa....What fun!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chair Foursomes

Must there always be a sofa?

I'm loving the number 4 when it comes to chairs. I especially like them gathered around a table . . .  conveying a perpetual type of invitation that says to come sit, have a drink and share enjoyable conversation. I like foursomes off to the side of a living room, al fresco, near a fireplace and situated at a window offering spectacular views . . . .  I like the symmetry these foursomes unassumingly offer . For instance, I like two of one style matched up with a pair depicting a different look (as with Tami's and The Green Plum).  Of course, I love the sophistication of clubs and tubs upholstered as matched sets, too (as with Bellacasa's and Sally's). When I see these foursomes, I just know I will like the person who has brought them together. It's really just such a warm, friendly gesture. 

Four reasons to put the sofa somewhere else and opt for four chairs:

1. The balance of the four conveys a more fresh and contemporary look, even if the furniture is traditional.
2. Four chairs provide a bit of a surprise in that it's an unexpected arrangement. 
3. Great setting for games, such as scrabble and cards -- and margarita pitchers.
4. You can add to the mix or use the table separately. Versatility is always a good thing!

The top photo is a scout shot of a past Houston showhouse by Bellacasa Design & Associates. The next one is the living room of a house Joni Webb (Cote de Texas) told me about. (Sally Wheat is the homeowner and decorator.) The third belongs to Tami Owens who did a past showhouse in Houston. The fourth shows off (shamelessly) favorite chairs at The Green Plum.  The fifth is a glance into a Galveston, TX, cottage, where easy living rules. And can you imagine being on a mountain summit during summertime in Edwards, Colorado, breathing in the magnificent "aerial" views -- as depicted in the sixth photo? The seventh and final: comfortable outdoor seating, which offer ideas for both inside and out!

By the way, I am quite fond of sofas! (But anyone who knows me realizes that I do have a thing for chairs.)

So, what's your take? Are you into foursomes now?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Real-Life French Home

This is the home of a French couple living in Texas. It's a relaxed setting, decorated loosely with the things they love most. Much in their home offers a story or keeps alive a memory.  Artwork is mostly by friends. The sunroom sofa was a found piece that they reupholstered. (Note the champagne bucket at the side of the sofa; don't you love it?!) The dining room table was once a work space used by him, a former chef.  The living room sofa and ottoman/table are Quatrine pieces. The dreamy daybed in the master was found at area antique shop. She had begun to strip the living room accent table of its paint, but she stopped before finishing the project, realizing it was perfect in that half-way state. You'll see it in one of the broad living room pictures -- between two white upholstered French chairs. She also adores Casa Vieja in the Heights, a shop that custom makes furniture per your design.  Asked about her style, she laughs slightly and admits to buying only what she loves and needs.

Perhaps the lesson here is to trust your instincts. To please yourself first before others. And, yes, less is often more. 

So, enjoy the peek into their home....

She has an French food import business:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Black and Brown in Harmony

Dog tired. But totally content.
I love these guys. Sam and Kaiser.
They make my day.
Enjoy yours.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Real-Life Kitchen: Before & After

I'm conflicted. Should I do my taxes or blog?  As a compromise, I've decided to post some before and after photos of a kitchen in one of our favorite homes. Since I know it and once loved it, I can share today's ideas quickly. Then, I can make Bob, our accountant, happy.  The house, a raised Queen Anne, was built in 1892. It survived the notorious 1900 storm that crashed into Galveston, taking some 6,000 lives. According to a family bible, this house -- once our house -- served as a refuge for 100 people during that horrific stormy night. The next day, the lady of the house baked 300 biscuits to serve her unexpected house guests. That 19th century kitchen was actually a separate entity from the actual house. So this space wasn't where the petite German lady did her baking that September morning.

Into the first part of the 21st century: The real estate ad advertised a gourmet kitchen. Hmmm  . . .  I don't think so. (The yellow and red colors were kinda fun, but it was a lost space, as you can see in the before shot.) The space, overall, was a nice size, though. We loved the house; it felt right. Good karma.  Soon after buying it--  and with masking tape in hand -- my husband and I began mapping out on the floor, wall and paper what we wanted. We knew we wanted an island and about 3 feet of space all around to ensure easy movement. Once we taped out our island, we placed the slide-in stove/oven (figuratively speaking, of course) where we wanted it, which was across from the sink. When opening the oven door, did it hit the cabinets (which we replaced with new)? Nope. With the island taped out on the floor, we could also see if the fridge door might hit it. All was good. We really thought about our kitchen and the island, itself. What details would make it highly usable? We wanted an eating bar, a spice rack, a space for the microwave, electrical plugs, and both shallow and deep pull-out drawers. I drew the island, making all these notations.  I wanted storage but didn't care to have a wall of cabinets. That's where the baker's table and dish rack come in.  Our carpenter did it all. We really thought about style, materials and the overall personality, history and style of the house. A real glitzy kitchen just wouldn't fit the personality of this home. 

Underneath the old, worn-out Linoleum we found 1930s hardwoods. Yeah. We kept the original overhead glass-front cabinets that flank the sink. These cabinets are the only things we kept. Everything in the before shots went. We designed a window seat with deep storage to eliminate an empty corner. As you will notice, I also asked our contractor to frame out the fridge space and to make it the same height as the doorway next to it. It looks more visually correct to me this way.

I was at the library one day when I noticed they were selling old 19th century roof shingles. I bought two for about $10 and took them to our contractor (who was actually renovating the whole house) and asked if he could place these on our backsplash. After a moment of thought, he said, "sure." I love bringing something unexpected into a space -- like the tiles, and the old teak ship flooring we hung above the window seat. (Luckily, the new owners bought that piece; it was bolted into the wall.)

We didn't spend a fortune on this kitchen. Under $25k. (yeah again!) My photo quality is lacking, but I think this kitchen does convey style. I think the new owners love it as much as we did!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This is a Brown House You Can Love

The moral of the story is to never think or say never. (Did I just do what I suggested not doing?! (smile)

I do say "Love Where You Live." I want to make that clear up front . . . that I think your space should make you comfortable and happy. That's all that really matters -- what you like.  With that said, I do have a confession:  When someone describes their furnishings or home as being brown, I admit to taking two steps back (mentally). The color brown seems to be a favorite -- or safe? -- choice in the mountains, especially. White or cream walls with brown furniture. I dunno. I need something more, personally speaking, of course. 

However, as it turns out, minds can be changed.

Interior Designer Cathy Chapman presented a delightful surprise when showing me the three-level townhouse she did for a bachelor in Houston. Brown, brown, brown, some cream and touches of  black and white! I loved it. I wanted it!  I do wear brown, as it's complementary to my auburn hair, so I must like it. (They say to look in your closet for colors to bring into your home.) After seeing this place, I definitely do like brown! In fact, after my visit with Cathy, I went out and bought brown patterned mohair fabric for a vintage French chair by Baker that I had -- still have. Cathy had used a cream (with some brown) mohair for this guy's office.  Yum.

As you can see, she used a rich brown on the walls, which pops thanks to the white trim. Living room furniture wears the same shade of brown or close to it. Love the brown and cream check panel curtains, which really jazzes up the look. (Cathy's attention to details with her upholstery, by the way, is unrivaled. Wow. I wish I had some closeups.) She used black as an accent color. With lighting and accessories, accent tables, the black and brown bed frame, the zebra rug ....  The guy is an amateur photographer; she had his photos framed in black and hung them along the stair walls. I like the texture of the brown runner on the stairs. She placed a creamy fabric with a delicate pattern on the back of the brown leather chairs in the dining room. 

I like the round zinc table, the zinc piece on the mantel and on the dining room walls, too. I liked it all. So, if you weren't already, are you a brown convert now, too?

I think you can borrow ideas from Cathy's project to suit any budget.
As a post note, the bachelor sold this townhouse to a person who asked to buy everything, right down to the bath towels and bed linens. He/she thought it was perfect . . . .

Cheers, - susan

I Need Your Input, Plz!!!


I have a question for all my new friends in blogsville.

We have ivory-colored ceramic floors in our kitchen and mudroom here in Colorado. Not my picking; someone else chose this tile.  I'm not that crazy for ceramic tiles.  But I've got them. Anyway, I had a wild idea, so tell me if it's doable. Can I stain or paint ceramic tile so it doesn't chip or look tacky? 

The photo doesn't relate to my question obviously. I wanted to post a photo along with my burning question. It's one I took here in Salida. She made me smile. Looks like a real cow, doesn't it?! 

Thank you, thank you! I appreciate your comments!!! -susan

Friday, March 6, 2009

Favorite Window Seats

Window Seats. Whenever I see one, I just want to take my place -- to nestle into the pillows and daydream, watch the rain, gossip on the phone, nap or read. They're the most inviting niche in the house, I think. Romantic, practical, cozy.  

When my husband and I gutted our little island cottage, we designed a 9-foot long window seat with deep storage underneath the three cushions in the dining area, which provides great viewing since it's in the front of the house. Everyone who comes in makes a beeline for the window seat. It's a great place to watch people during party time! And Sam, our 3-year-old Aussie, always claims his spot. We placed a white round table in here, as opposed to a square or rectangular one, to allow easy access to the window seat.  You'll see it in this roundup; it's the simple and casual one. My husband takes up one end of it and our weekend visitor, John, is at the other end. Both reading the newspaper on a stormy morning. Sam sits between them. Not wanting to be left out. 

The other window seats are absolute beauties and, as you will see with most, convey more formality. I've found them in bathrooms, master closets, bedrooms, stair landings, offices, kitchens, game rooms and at the end of long hallways. 

Leslie Sinclair, owner of Segreto Finishes, showed me her dormer window located in their game room. And there, of course, a lovely place to perch. As an added plus, she shared an easy way to get a custom look inexpensively. So, for those DIYers: Get a store-bought blind (hers is cotton canvas) and stencil the bottom with a favorite design.  She applied a complementary pattern on the side walls. So easy; she invites others to do what she did. Anyone who wants plaster or decorative painting/design work knows Leslie and her talented crew. Her work graces the walls and ceilings of the most amazing places from Texas to Florida! (

Window seats. Aren't they wonderful? They're also such a quick and easy face lift for any empty space below a window. Two pictured here actually show that a window is an added plus but not necessary. Take a look at the windowless niches I've added here as well.  One is in the mudroom of Leslie's home; the other is a bricked space next to a kitchen fireplace.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...