Bathroom, Bedrooms, Dining Rooms, Kitchen, Living Rooms

Color Pop

Have you ever been to Maine?  We go every year, and in my travels, I have learned that the least sad way to leave a beloved vacation spot is to bring something home with you.  This year, I brought home inspiration!

Maine is a beautiful place.  I use that simple sentence because it sums it up so well.  Mainers really have life figured out.  They live outdoors; biking, shooting, canoeing, paddle boarding, sailing, surfing, skiing, you name it.   But they aren’t spoiled by month after month of perfect weather.  Nope, Maine’s perfect summer lasts about 10 days at the beginning of August.  The rest of the year is a variety of rain, cold, mist, snow, you name it.   So you can either stay inside and feel sorry for yourself, or you can suit up for the weather and get outside and have fun!

One of my favorite things about Maine is it’s perfect little balance between New England and the Midwest.  It’s not considered East Coast; in fact, there are somewhere around 70 miles of usable beach on the southern end of Maine.  The rest of the place is logging forests, lakes and rocks. I think that’s what makes their style so subtly unique.  They understand that basically nobody lives in the perfect spot because no place is perfect year round; you just make the best of what’s around you at the time.  It’s that thought that is why, a month after getting home, I am still so inspired.

What happens when you live in a place that, for centuries, made it’s living off of logging?  You have a lot of natural wood interiors to work with!  So Mainers have mastered the art of the color pop.  In the imperfect weather that can sometimes drag on, they gravitate towards refreshing influences of reds, blues and yellows.  But it’s not always in ways you expect:

This is a great example of adding a punch of color to the rich neutrals on the walls, and the natural wood vanity.  I think this is from Minnesota, but the same concept applies.

Moving to the dining room, chairs are such a fun, non committal way to add color to a room!

The chairs are a nice reminder of how gorgeous the ocean is on a clear day.  I love the loads of natural wood, too!

A look in a bedroom is a sweet color surprise mixed in with tons of wood…

And then let’s look outside, where most people have an idea of what New England homes look like.  Is this what you were thinking of?

If you are looking for a fun Instagram account that has mastered the art of color popping, check out Jackie Greaney:


I just love Maine!







Dining Rooms, Kitchen, Living Rooms

‘Holiday’ Themed Design

Bear with me, here, I don’t mean Christmas!

Maybe I shouldn’t call it ‘holiday’; it’s too misleading.  What I am talking about is the time-of-year dependent decorations we put up to help us get and be excited about a particular time of year or approaching event.

This topic has really been on my mind lately, because now is an odd time in holiday decorating.  We have already packed up all of the red, white and blues of the 4th of July, (or not, because patriotism is a year round thing!) and there is a definite feeling of something big coming with school starting.  But at the same time, Autumn doesn’t technically start until September 21st, so that means we are only a little over half way through summer.  Huh!

All of this adds together to create an idea that perhaps the answer to what we should be displaying right now is absolutely nothing.  WRONG!  There is always something about the time of year to celebrate, and this time of year in Chicago, what we celebrate is growing outside.

My wreath hanger on the front door is always a great place to start, so this time of year, dried herbs and flowers are a great way to celebrate the season…

Or this…

Moving inside, decorating is not just about the eyes.  Bring in all of the scents.  Right now I love burning herb scented candles.  I am really loving Hearth & Hand with Magnolia’s Cardamom & Vetiver scented candle (from Target!).  It’s an unexpected spicy scent that has a sweet heat after effect.  Obsessed!  Don’t forget about hand soap in the powder room, either.

Floral arrangements are so beautiful this time of year.  Check out what’s growing in the back yard, maybe there’s a blossom or two to bring in and add to a bouquet you picked up at the local market.  And don’t forget about those vegetables.  Kitchen décor is always successful when you use food to decorate, so instead of hiding the tomatoes and cucumbers in the fridge, get a glass bowl out and show off the bounty!


Bedrooms, Dining Rooms, Living Rooms

Layered Rugs

When I redid my living room, I specified all new furniture in a different formation.  The room has always been a head scratcher for me from a space planning perspective.  It’s too large to put the furniture against the walls, has a fireplace and spectacular view competing for your eye on 2 separate, adjacent walls, and a turret off of one corner.  Seating arrangement was relatively easy to land on.  But the tried and true obvious answer for carpet size would have required a HUGE carpet, and the fabric I carefully chose for the chairs and sectional would have been no competition for the miles of wool on the floor.  Nope, that wasn’t going to work.  In the end, we decided on a smaller rug for the sectional seating area.  And then I went back to scratching my head for the chairs, until I realized the answer was so simple…a second rug.

Most home owners face a similar dilemma at some point in their quest to ‘finish decorating this house’.  Whether the perfect carpet remnant by your favorite maker is, like, only a foot too small, or you loved a bold pattern on line and on the ground it’s making the room spin, or the room is really more of a long, wide hallway shape than anything else, there are ways to calm the inevitable drama that results from the fact that stock carpet only comes in certain sizes.

Keep an open mind here.  In researching this topic, I saw plenty of rooms that could be classified as ‘we couldn’t decide on just one’.   That’s not where I am going.  The root of layering carpet almost always starts with a floor that begs for softening.  Be it wood, or concrete, or tile, it needs something.  You could bring in a local broadloom guy and he will bind a carpet for you in whatever size you want.  But that’s not as fun!

The most conservative step into layering is to start with a large, natural fiber rug.  Be it sisal, jute, or something similar, from a space planning perspective, all of the furniture fits on this basic layer.  Natural fiber can be rough on the feet, and lack color, so by itself it’s not the most appealing floor covering.  But it’s usually inexpensive, and makes a beautiful backdrop to show off another rug.  Put it this way, if finishing a floor is like framing a photograph, the natural fiber carpet is the matte.  Indented and on top of that, is the photo.

These are great examples of how the natural fiber rug makes a seating area whole, whether it’s utilizing the hide rug, or making a smaller rug work, it’s a great staple to make any room beautiful.

Now let’s kick it up a notch and layer some pattern on top of pattern!

This room seems to be a bit of an odd shape, in that it’s long and not very wide.  I love how they did two separate patterns on the floor.  For a kids room, it’s the perfect amount of whimsy.

I went back and forth about including this one, because it has the base sisal, and both carpets seem adequately sized.  But I decided to show it because, even though I might have done it differently, it’s a nice representation of different ways to present carpeting.

The second layer seems to be bringing the chaise back into the seating arrangement.

Finally, the cherry on the sundae, this was taken from an article on Houzz about how to decorate a living room.  I think he was referring to contrasting neutrals in the room, but I just could not stop loving the carpets!