06 Apr 2010

Is a Beautiful Home only for the Wealthy?

Color, Interior Beauty, Interior Design 18 Comments

Leafing through House BeautifulVeranda, Traditional Home, Elle Decor, and other shelter magazines is a feast for the eyes.   Room after room more beautiful than the last, stunning architecture, fabulous finishes, and all furnished with gorgeous furniture, rugs, and original art.  The April 2010 issue of House Beautiful features a home steeped in romance and history, the kind of place you want to escape to when in your head you’re pleading, “Stop the world, I want to get off!”  Maybe it is an illusion that life was simpler back then.  It’s an appealing fantasy though, but I couldn’t live without my Apples – and I don’t mean the fruit.  But I wouldn’t mind fooling my brain into thinking I was living a simpler life, would you?

Eleanor Cummings Texas house

Eleanor Cummings

This is actually a new home in Texas magically transformed into a Tuscan farmhouse by designer Eleanor Cummings who used reclaimed wood, stone, and brick from Houston antiquities dealer Chateau Domingue.  This home is seriously mellow.  If this were my home, I’d feel like I’d gone to heaven.  I was born under the astrological sign of Taurus which is an earth sign, so I consider it my birthright to love earthy, rustic interiors!

Can’t you just imagine lounging in this bath without a care in the world?  The way photographer Eric Piasecki used the light really captures the ambiance of this home.  Just looking at these photos relaxes me and makes me go, “ahhhh.”  A virtual rustic spa experience!

photographed by Eric Piasecki

Photgrapher Eric Piasecki captures the light

This living room seems made for after dinner conversation.  Normally I am drawn toward bright, sunny rooms–after all, I moved to Florida for a reason–but this room has such a relaxed mood, I just want to sit by the fire and maybe even close my eyes and daydream.

Cummings Living Room

Tuscan Farmhouse Living Room

As much as I love Tuscan farmhouses, to truly indulge my design aesthetics, I’d need a handful of houses to call home.  Maybe even two handsful.  My sun sign may be Taurus, but my moon and rising sign are both Leo, the fire sign of glamour.  So this entryway by Tobi Fairley just makes me go “ooooh!”

Tobi Fairley blue house entryway from HB

Tobi Fairley

Such a deceptively simple vignette:  large scale (Nina Campbell) patterned wallpaper, (Swank) Venetian glass lamps on a (Darnell) demilune commode by Amy Howard and the perfect mirror to add sophisticated sparkle.  What a beautiful composition, all the objects are in perfect scale and balance and the juxtaposition of varying shapes is a visual feast for the eyes.  And as in the living room below, I love how the warm and the cool blues play off each other.  Imagine this room with only the warm blues, it would not have as much energy.  And there’s just enough of the cool blue.

To me this living room says, invite some friends over for cocktails!

Tobi Fairley

Tobi’s living room was featured on the March 2010 cover of House Beautiful.

Tobi Fairley's Living Room on the cover

I got so enamoured with both these gorgeous interiors that I almost forgot the subject of this post!  Just shows how leafing through shelter magazines can be mesmerizing.

What I want to say is that you can have a home furnished with gorgeous custom furniture and draperies, exquisite antiques, Oriental rugs and custom finishes–and even after spending all that money, it still might not be beautiful.  Why?  Because a beautiful home is much more than the sum total of beautiful objects.

Yes, a Venetian plaster wall is more beautiful than paint.  And it’s true that just about anything high end is more beautiful than its lower priced cousins.  But there are a lot of lower cost alternatives that come close enough for those of us not blessed with a lush bank account.   Good thing, or I’d be so sad.

Of course, 99% of the rooms in the shelter magazines are beautiful.  Not everybody will like every room but to expect otherwise would be crazy.

Not everyone loves chocolate!

That would be like Baskin-Robbins saying, “We’ve decided only chocolate is delicious, so we’re eliminating the 30 other flavors.”

The point is that the rooms in magazines are beautiful because they are well designed. Interior design considers all the elements of Beauty.  Balance, scale and proportion, rhythm, unity and harmony must all be incorporated in order for a home to feel beautiful. Without these elements, a home is a mishmash of discordant objects, no matter how expensive or attractive those objects might be.
I know, I know, architecture (good bones) has a lot to do with a home’s beauty.  But good interior design can help correct less than ideal architecture, and there are so many homes without good bones, you could say residential osteoporosis is a national epidemic.

Architecture this unlovely can only be fixed by a wrecking ball. Bad feng shui too!

I’m not saying that only professionally designed homes are beautiful.   There are many talented homeowners who have the “artistic eye” and intuitively know how the elements in a room should relate to each other.  But they are in the minority.  And an artistic eye is only part of what’s involved in good design.  There’s also drafting the space plans, sourcing the products, and managing the project, the un-pretty part.  Rare is the home that wouldn’t benefit from a little professional design TLC.

Charlotte Moss, Manhattan

It is always a good idea to at least consult with an interior designer (like me) and especially before buying big ticket items or having your house painted.  Better to invest a little in professional guidance than waste a lot of your time and money having your living room painted three times because you got the color wrong, or wasting your furniture budget on a sofa that doesn’t leave enough room for an end table, don’t you think?  Or even worse, spending your entire budget and ending up disappointed.

Charlotte Moss in Manhattan

The best way to make your home beautiful is to hire an interior designer to manage the project start to finish, but there are alternatives.  Good interior design is not as expensive as you’d think.  As some wise person quipped, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, just wait til you hire an amateur!”   I’ll discuss how to hire a designer and keep costs down in a later post.
Eleanor Cummings and Tobi Fairley photos from House Beautiful.  Charlotte Moss photos from Veranda.
06 Apr 2010

The Inaugural Blog

Uncategorized 6 Comments

Writing a blog/website is not unlike having a baby.  You start out with the fun part, conceiving the idea.

An idea being conceived?

Then it’s down to work, creating the bones of the blog, fleshing it out with words and photos, until finally it’s ready to be born.  And the process is not without its tears and gnashing of teeth!

Birthing is hard work!

After the birth, the pains of labor are forgotten as your idea comes alive!

Labor pains forgotten!

In fact, writing a blog/website is a lot like designing and decorating a room.  The very first thing you need to do to make a plan.  To paraphrase a quote I read recently, failing to plan results in a plan for failure.  That being said, the blog is not perfect but who said it has to be perfect?   I will learn as I go along.  Babies, of course, are perfect, but then, that’s God for ya!

You can subscribe to my blogposts by clicking this button which is the RSS feed at the bottom right of every page.  This will automatically send my blogposts to your mail box or wherever you want them to go.   I spell this out because when I first got into reading blogs, I had no idea how to subscribe!  Clicking this button will allow you to choose whether you want to receive blogpost updates by mail, through Google Reader, etc.

You can also visit my Facebook page and Twitter feeds by clicking the ‘F’ and ‘T’ buttons respectively.

Ask me your decorating questions!

No, this is not a button to click!  But if you have a decorating question you want to ask me, subscribe to my email newsletter of decorating tips.  Just enter your email address into the gold “Sign up for my Email Newsletter” box sprinkled through the website. Every month I’ll answer a decorating question.  If you want to ask a question but don’t want your name in the newsletter, just let me know and your name shall be withheld.  Email your question(s) to [email protected] and if you remember, put “decorating tip question” in the subject line.

Now remember I warned you my blog isn’t perfect?  Well, my special report “The Top 3 Decorating Mistakes and How to Correct Them,” which you will receive when subscribing to my email newsletter is not quite ready.  Seems I need to figure out a few technical kinks.  But even if you subscribe now, I will send you the report once I get it up and running.

Welcome to my newborn blog/website, I hope that you will come back often to visit!