Friday, April 18, 2014

11 Simple and Inspired Easter Egg Ideas

via Girl Inspired
My kids love to decorate eggs. We've been known to break out the food coloring throughout the year. Something as simple as a bowl of pastel colored eggs adds such a nice decorative touch - whether to your Easter decor or to your home, no matter the time of year. I prefer to stick to the more simple - but simple doesn't have to be boring. And simple can extend far beyond a pale pink, yellow or blue egg. As I scouted out ideas that appealed to me on a visual level, keeping in mind the skill set in my home - ranging from 8 to 15 years, I wanted ideas that were easy enough for the littlest hands,yet challenging enough for the older two. I wanted a project that would hold the attention of an 8 year old and yet not bore two teenagers while staying away from neon-rainbow-psychedelic hues that would potentially potentially spill all over the place because in my house, if it can spill and stain, it will spill and stain!

Pictured below are projects that I know would appeal to us and thought they may appeal to you as well, simple with a slight sophistication and enough whimsy to interest to a child. You'll notice that some of these eggs have been colored while others have been decorated yet their colors went unchanged. I love the golden touches, and while glitter is fun I personally try to keep far far away from it - more mess and we find it everywhere for months on end! I love the naturally dyed eggs, and the eggs that stick to simple tones. Decoupage adds more detail but it's an art-form that looks as well imperfect as it does when it's perfected. Put your twine and rubber bands to good creative use and break out the Sharpies to create fun patterns and write endearing messages. Fingerprints and confetti will also give your eggs a creative and personal touch.

via Pinterest, original source unknown

via Apartment Therapy

via Baby Center

via Baby Center

via Catnip Studios

via Yes Missy

via The Daily Meal

via Dulce Bright

via Disney Family Fun

via She Makes a Home

We hope you enjoy your decorating egg-stravaganza!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wardrobe Function :: 10 essential and timeless pieces that will age as gracefully as you do

via Tumblr

My two greatest fashion icons growing up were my mother and my maternal grandmother.Their style was timeless. Classic. Chic. They were elegance personified. My mother was a career woman in an era where many women weren't. But because she worked in the arts (she was head of Public Relations for two of New York's most prestigious museums) her style was hardly buttoned up. She always looked chic. My grandmother exuded style. She looked like an old Hollywood star. Even as a young child I knew their style was exemplary. I went through many styles and style challenges in my teens - I blame 80s fashion for all of it! But eventually I found my way. I too gravitated towards the classics. And over the years, my sense of style really hasn't changed at all.

I have a lot of clothes - Actually let me rephrase that. I have a lot of clothes that I've managed to to hold on to for many, many years. My favorite velvet duster was a "splurge" when I was in my early 20s. I also have cashmere sweaters, dresses and pants that are over a decade old now. I can be hard on my shoes and jeans tend to wear out but I tend to gravitate, for the most part, to the same simple styles. Of course I like to have fun with my clothes and toss in a few trendy pieces for fun and good measure. But I believe in sticking with the tried and true. They don't call them the classics or timeless for no reason at all. Not only are these items timeless in look and design, but they flatter a multitude of body shapes. Perhaps this is the reason that these pieces can be worn well by women from their 20s into their 50s and probably well beyond. I am quite certain that this is the reason I still have many pieces I bought in my mid to late 20s. 


1. A tailored blazer or jacket

Essential to every wardrobe. A well fitted blazer will carry you through many years. Classic styles and colors such as black, beige, grey and navy complement a wide variety of colors. These simple jacket can be worn with jeans, dresses, skirts and dress pants. They can be worn over T-shirts, blouses and lightweight sweaters. A well tailored jacket may well be the most versatile piece of clothing we own.

Pret A Porter

2. A white blouse

You should own at least one classic, button down white blouse. But once you own one you will want many, and in many different styles as well. Simple and uncomplicated a white blouse can be worn to the office, to a cocktail party or with a pair of jeans. Add a pearl choker for a classic and polished look or a fun colorful bauble for a trendy or more bohemian feel.


3. A cashmere sweater

Start your collection with just one. Choose a classic color such as off white, black, beige or grey for the most versatility. Perhaps you will opt for a pull-over crew neck or a cardigan - but select a style that will give you the most use. Worn with jeans, dress pants, skirts and dresses, you will be instantly hooked. Watch as your collection of colors and styles grows instantly! For those with sensitive skin, cashmere is a godsend! My mother must have cashmere sweaters that are close to 50 years old. They will last forever if you take proper care of them. 


4. The Little black pant - The cigarette pant

I tend to think of the elegant Audrey Hepburn when I think of these timeless, flattering pants, for I do think that she made the iconic pant what it is today. These pants hit just above the ankle and can be worn with heels and flats alike. These pants can be paired with a dressier top, or worn casually with a simple sweater or turtleneck as Miss Hepburn did. I have several pairs of cigarette pants, all slightly different, and they are incredibly flattering and always stylish.


5. Well fitting bootleg jeans

I say well fitting because we all know that finding that perfect jean can take some time. My advice is this - when you find it, get several pairs. A good pair of jeans doesn't have to cost a lot, but should fit well. They should hit and flatter all your curves. They shouldn't cut into you or add bulk. I love my jeans. I wear them for almost every occasion. I have learned to dress them up with a well tailored jacket, heels and pearls - they can take me from work to dinner. I love them with a pretty pair of flats and a cashmere cardigan, and I love them with a little white blouse. I often wear them casually with just a little white T-shirt, then if I need to run out I can add a quick touch of sophistication by sliding into a pair of heals and a little jacket. My jeans go everywhere I go practically!

Kenneth Jay Lan

6. A chunky pearl necklace

I wear pearls with everything. EVERYTHING! I have several chunky pearl necklaces. I have one that I wore on my wedding day that I still wear with everything from cocktail dresses, to - you guessed it - my jeans! 

Manolo Blahnik

7. A pair of leopard flats

Leopard is the new black. It's become a wardrobe staple and goes with everything. It really does. It offers a bit more personality and pizzaz than a simple black flat - and yes, your wardrobe should have one pair of those too!


8. A good pair of black pumps

Self explanatory, yes?

Mod Cloth

9. The LBD - Little Black Dress

Also, self explanatory, yes? If for no other reason, you have nothing to wear to a cocktail party or other event you can always rely on your LBD. It's like your BFF for your wardrobe. It will never let you down. Trust me on this!


10. The Trench Coat

Classic, timeless, this coat will help you weather any storm. Whether you're on your first post college interview or you're late to meet your new post-grad hire, this one coat will see you through most of life's events. If you live in colder climates, invest in a trench that comes with a warm liner. 

I think what I love best about these essential pieces is not merely the fact that they are indeed timeless, but they are so incredibly versatile and can all be interchanged and worn together.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Small Space Solutions :: The Formal Eat-in-Kitchen

Windsor Smith Kitchen for House Beautiful

When I got divorced I moved from our 4,500 square foot family home and re-planted our roots in a house that is barely 1,300 square feet! Real estate is at a premium where I live and I opted for location instead of space. I brought almost no furniture with me - perfect for making a fresh start - save for a gorgeous hand carved Italian dining room table and 12 matching chairs. Most of the houses I liked didn't have traditional dining rooms, but I didn't want to part with my formal table, so if I couldn't have the dining room I wanted, and needed a kitchen large enough to fit it. As I searched for a home that had charm, character and personality, that was also affordable, I did so with my dining room table in mind.

 The first home I fell in love with was spectacular. It overlooked a small creek in the back, had a den, living room and enough bedrooms for each of the children. It was large enough that we could spread our wings, and small enough that it wouldn't be too hard to maintain. The master bedroom was large, bright and expansive. It had cathedral ceilings and overlooked the creek in the back. That house had room for my piano. I have a Steinway Grand piano and am currently looking for a temporary but loving home for it. There was also room for my dining room table. The problem was that this house had 3 other offers on it the day I placed mine. The offer went to the highest bidder who bid $400 above asking. I couldn't even compete. I felt dejected. How could shopping for a rental home be so challenging? For many it's not. I personally do not like the new, sterile construction that's devoid of personality. 

I wanted charm and character. I like arches and moldings.... exposed brick or beams... large windows with sunlight and some property for the children to run around in. Newer appliances, while lovely, are not mandatory. Working condition is a must, however! I walked away from the bells and whistles of my old life - the Sub-Zero, Jenn-Air and Viking... I'd be remiss to say I do not miss them all dearly, most especially my super large refrigerator! But I knew that, while I hope to have my bells and whistles again one day, I needed a home that has charm and personality... a home that is truly a home and not just a house. I've learned that there is a difference between a house and a home. 

When I first saw my home I turned my nose up at it and walked out. It was small. Too small I thought. But time was running out and I was urged to take another look at it. The little white house sat on nearly an acre of property and while modest in size and she was full of charm. A huge bay window in the living rooms keeps the sun's rays shining on us all day long. The exposed brick from the back of the fireplace gives the kitchen charm and warmth. There was more than ample storage and counter space and most importantly, there was room for my dining room table! The bedrooms are small but they are cozy. Arches, molding and beautiful hardwood floors add the touches that are so important to me. I think I love our formal eat-in-kitchen the best - it's the perfect blend of casual and formal. 

The images I have chosen below all best represent my idea of a formal eat-in-kitchen. While traditionally we've thought eat-in-kitchens to be best for casual dining, they can really can be dressed up beautifully. They seem to have a perfect balance of traditional and modern, sophistication and simplicity. They can accommodate the nitty-gritty and mundane nuances of daily life as well as the elegance and grace of a small dinner party or holiday family gathering. I love the personal touches of the images below - the formal chandelier in the modern loft-style kitchen, the rugs, formal table and chairs, the pot rack that hangs over the table instead of the more traditional island or range-top.

via Houzz

via Empire Damansara Soho

via Pinterest/original source unknown

via Country Living

via ElleDecor

via Houzz

via Urban Core Ventures

via Greenscape Decor

House Beautiful

via Get in my Home

House Beautiful

Is the formal eat-in-kitchen something you might entertain?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Small Space Solutions :: The Murphy Bed

Ikea Murphy Bed via

The Murphy Bed is the ideal space saver. Lately I've been fixated on smaller spaces and ways to maximize their potential. Much of this stems from my personal story. Most of you know I am fairly recently divorced. I went from living in a house that was over 4,500 square feet to one that is just shy of 1,300 - And I brought my 3 (very messy) kids with me! 

We've had to make all sorts of lifestyle adjustments in addition to living in smaller quarters. I needed my home to be comfortable and kid friendly. I have no space here to allocate specifically to the children or specifically to myself. And while we would love to spread our arms and sprawl we can't at this moment. However, as a mother of growing children who will be leaving the nest in the not too distant future, I love the closeness. I love having them here, under my wing in our small but cozy nest. I hope in the next couple of years to fly off to someplace a little larger and a little more permanent, but for now we are here and happy, though I may secretly be regretting the brilliance of my decision to purchase a white couch - but that's another story!

Led by the influence of my new lifestyle, my passion for design and my natural curiosity I keep looking for new ideas and inspiration. And who knows, maybe one day I will have a small pied a terre in Manhattan and I will need to maximize that space as well, and perhaps create an additional sleeping area... and if that ever were to happen the Murphy Bed would be the ideal solution. Perfect for a small ski, beach house, or finished basement, today's Murphy Beds aren't what they used to be - Come have a look.

An office quickly converts to a guest room
Image via Houzz

A great way to maximize space in a city loft
via Now Style

A small studio or office conceals a Murphy Bed
image via Houzz 

Last minute guests are not a problem

3 Murphy Beds created by Paul Devine for the 2012 Pasadena Showcase Home

Today's Murphy Bed isn't quite what you had in mind, is it?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Maximizing your space :: The Dining Room Library

I wrote an article last year for an international publication that was titled "Are dining rooms becoming obsolete?" As I researched I posed the same question on my Facebook feed. The responses were overwhelming - I never expected such a dialogue. All sorts of people chimed in from current homeowners to Realtors, builders, architects and decorators. What was the general consensus? Well, the results were split down the middle. Many favor a traditional home with a dining room, even if the dining room is used only on occasion. The other half preferred to use the kitchen as their main dining and entertaining area, claiming that dining rooms are a waste of space - most of these people live in houses without a traditional dining room set up. Many found alternate uses for these unused rooms. Dining rooms have been converted into offices, dens, playrooms. If there are no doors separating the dining room from the rest of the house, traditional as well as pocket doors can always be added. 

I happen to love a dining room and while they really don't get used as much today as they have in the past, why not keep the dining room but make it more functional - more multi-faceted if you will. Your dining room could be part office or library. There's no reason why these rooms can't be used and made to be more functional. Books and art and artifacts complement and lend themselves beautifully to the home office, home library and dining room. 

Use your dining room table as a desk. If you are concerned about your table getting marked up you can cover it with a table cloth or skirt and cover it with a custom cut piece of glass to place over the top. This will not only protect your table, but glass is easy to keep clean and wont get dinged or marred by office equipment. Because we use so little paper these days and because our laptops don't take up much space, we can easily stash away all office equipment. A dresser, bureau or armoir are great pieces to in which to stash your office supplies - paper, laptop, copier/fax/scanner, phone, pens, etc. At the end of the day there is a designated location in which to store your office items so that your guests can come over for some good food and wine and have a nice enjoyable and relaxing evening. 

Books and food, what a perfect pairing!