Friday, January 23, 2015

My Angel

Abbigail Vanderdogan
July 2006 - January 2015
It is with a heavy, broken, painful heart, that I blog today. Eight years ago, the most beautiful and sweet blonde ball of fur came into my life, and stole my Texas-sized heart. From the moment I picked her up, and she nibbled on the chin, I knew we were destined to be together. Since that day, in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in San Angelo, Texas - Abby, my beautiful golden retriever ... was my most loyal, and trustworthy friend.
Abby, or Abbigail, was the perfect dog. (I know, we all think that about our pets, and we should, because they all are.) She was the glue that held all of the other pets together. She was gentle, and smart, kind and funny. I know it seems so strange to hear these commonly human attributes describing a dog - but she was all of those things, and I'm convinced that she always had a "human" soul.
When she was less than a year old, I held her and we danced to Nora Jones' "Come Away with Me". I don't think she ever forgot that moment. To me, it was a chance to hold her close while I waited for paint on a dresser (that was a disaster DIY project BTW) to dry. For her, it was different. Whether Nora Jones was playing or not, if I was in the room - Abby wanted to dance. She wanted to be in my arms, me holding her - much harder at her 120 pounds than at her 12.
She loved to swim, as most retrievers do. At the lake, she and her doggy brother, 'D' would fetch a tennis ball from the water to dry land. One day, 'D' a Boston Terrier who oddly enough also loves the water - but shouldn't, got a little too overzealous. Before I had a chance to get all the way out to him, Abby had figured out that he was struggling, swam back to him, grabbed him by the collar and brought him to me. She then swam back out to get her ball - and came up to shore tail wagging to do it all over again.
She more than tolerated the cats, which I assure you was a difficult task. Abby had hip dysplasia, most golden retrievers do, I've found; and she needed to always have a soft bed to lay on. However, if the cats had taken up residency on her bed, she'd lay on the hard floor before forcing them to find a new spot.
She routinely ate a perfect half of the food in the food bowl she shared with 'D'. We tried giving them separate bowls, but they ended up only eating half of each others food. She was so gracious and patient. Abby was one of only three puppies born in a litter of a very young mother. She had gotten pregnant unintentionally, and the breeder was afraid none of the puppies would make it. Two of them did, and Abby's mom wouldn't allow them to feed. So, the breeder, who also owned a daycare, bottle-fed Abby and her sister at the daycare among all those children until they were old enough to be homed somewhere else. I think that's why Abby was so gentle, and patient.
She knew when I was sad. And in her old age, she wasn't shy about telling me that she wasn't too happy about things either. She loved to sing, and dance, and take rides in the car. She loved a good road trip, and never, not once made my life difficult. Abby was always a joy to be around, always! Even when she'd get home from the groomer and begin rolling around in the dirt and mud, she still made me laugh with her goofy face and wide, loving, puppy-dog smile.
She never quite grew out of her puppy stage, and for that I'll be eternally grateful.
On Tuesday morning, Abby suddenly, and without pain or warning left us, with shattered and painful hearts. We still are not clear on what happened, but we suspect that she may have had a sudden heart attack, or brain aneurism. I have known so many people who have had to face very difficult situations with their pets, making decisions to end their lives so that they don't have to suffer. Abby, true to form, didn't force us to make that difficult decision. And while I am crying as I write this, thinking about how lonely I am without her, I know that she had a wonderful life, with two loving fathers, a doggy brother, and two pestering feline twins that don't quite know how to go on without her.
For 8-years, Abby taught me how to be a true friend.
She taught me that love can be unconditional.
She reminded me that I had to make time to play, and explore.
And most importantly, you can be (and should always be) both beautiful and kind.
She was and will forever be my perfect little girl.
I'll miss her ... forever.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Teak gets a new do?

Happy 2015 everyone! I can't believe we're 20-days into January and I'm just now finding time to post! Sorry about that, but I can assure you - it's for good reason. (I'll share more in the coming days.) But for now, let's get down to business!
Remember these bad boys?

You've seen them everywhere, right? Maybe you even own a few - or did, once upon a time? They're a wonderfully traditional garden chair, and the teak weathers beautifully. There's no shortage of inspiration pictures with these front and center in garden vignettes.

Beautiful, right? And so functional! They're not terribly uncomfortable, and they will last a lifetime if you care for them. Not to mention, look at how wonderful they look with those crushed pebble patios, and concrete topped tables. (Totally unintentional find by the way!)
Well, when you're living in a small space, having chairs that fold up for easy storage is quite a big deal. And when I saw these reimagined garden chairs by Anthropologie, I knew it was time to break the silence on the blog, and share.

That's right. The once garden banished teak folding chair gets a new do, in punchy John Robshaw-esque fabrics, and gets to play inside with the big boys!
They're called the Terai chair, and Anthropologie sells them for $198 in a variety of fabrics, and colors. I of course became quite smitten with these chairs after seeing them in the pictures I found on pinterest above, so I had to share them with you ... and begin brainstorming a DIY approach to these beauties.
I think I have it under control.
But only time will tell! Stay tuned ...


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A little more lovely ...

 All images sourced via Pinterest!
Hope you enjoyed them as much as I have.
Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A little lovely ...


I hope they inspire you as much as they've inspired me.
All photos sourced via pinterest.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Gert Voorjans

I'm constantly amazed at the things that I find years after they're published, that I fall head over hills in love with. For instance, the apartment of Belgian architect and designer, Gert Voorjans. I was knee deep in a Pinterest search for a friend, when I came across pictures of his living room/parlor pinned from the Wall Street Journal. I fell in love with the colorful frivolity and eclectic look that I long for, but can never quite seem to get right. It's bohemian at its best, and I quickly started looking for more pictures of the space.

Of course, I found them - but they were all different. Furniture shifted, new things came in, the evolution of the space literally unfolded right before me. While most things stayed the same, I loved how the simple addition or subtraction seemed to make the room feel new and different.

So, I brought it here to show all of you, because that's what you do when you have a blog, right? HA! Ok, so here we go. Voorjans was published in the May/June 2012 issue of Vogue Living Australia:

Here you can see his parlor, likely photographed months before. I realize that this may not be everyone's cup of tea, but roll with me, won't you? I actually am not a huge fan of this angle of the room, in fact, if I had seen this picture first, I wouldn't have paid all that much attention to the space. Even though the tapestry is absolutely amazing, and I'd trade my car for a set of those citron leather Louis chairs, I would have kept on scrolling.

I wanted to give this to you in order though ... so in August 2012, he was interviewed and the house was photographed for an online blog/magazine: Interiorator. Photos of the parlor showed it very much the same way that it was in the two page feature in Australian Vogue Living:

Except ... here you could see more of the architectural integrity of the room: those floors, the built in book cases that flank the rather modern fireplace mantel; the collection of other furniture and how it all relates to the feeling of the room. After seeing this picture, promptly falling in love with that knoll sofa, purple English roll arm chair, spindle officers chair, and still figuring out how I could get my hands on those Louis chairs covered in that superb citron leather ... the hunt was on. 
I searched every blog, every google page, every pinterest post, every online source I could think of to find as many pictures as possible of the space. I love the collection of unique pieces, the color, the pattern, the layers ... it's really remarkable. Gert has an affinity for Uzbekistan textiles (as do I) and you'll see silk ikat pillows on every sofa. The desk looks  as if it's wrapped in old aviator cloth, and books fill the shelves haphazardly, completely lovely and unintentional all at the same time.
There are interesting pieces EVERYWHERE! The iron garden stool, for example, painted in a lacquer Kelley green. That lavender slipcover with the knife pleats on the English roll arm chair, the art, the Chinoiserie chest in the corner ... clearly, Gert loves to live with things he loves.
Now, after all of this press, the Wall Street Journal did an article on Gert and published it in January 2013. This is where things in the apartment start to really shift:

Now the knoll sofa, with its tattered fringe and well worn upholstery is against the tapestry, and we get to see the function of the desk in the corner, with computer screen and telephone.

The opposite corner of the room, more art, and that gorgeous marble topped commode, hand painted. That lamp is spectacular, and while the shade rings a little circus, the sheer size of the lamp is spectacular. Layered mirrors lean against the wall, and more silk ikat shows up. It's a clever mix of modern, antique, and the long forgotten. I mean, when was the last time you saw a rattan bucket chair? EXACTLY! And even then, I'm sure you didn't see it paired up with a beautiful chest, complex master-work art on canvas, and period French mirrors. 

Then, sometime after, this photo shows up with no real source. Sure, the photo is professional, but I can't seem to find where the room was published, or who took the photo.

All sorts of new things show up. The grisaille paper screen, the antique leopard hide, more ikat pillows, art and mirros now leaned against the tapestry behind the knoll sofa - still looking fabulously worn. The table is new, and these nail head trimmed kilim covered bergere chairs have appeared.

Then this picture popped up:

Gone is the desk, the table, and the citron leather chairs I loved so much. Now, a textile covered table and aqua rattan chair are floating on this very blue wool rug. It's so daring, and bold that I can't help but stare at it, and wonder - why can't I make this work in my house. Every time I try it looks so contrived and wrong.

About 8 months ago, the parlor looked like this, according to an image that Gert shared on his instagram page:

Everything is similar, except for new placement of some of the accessories and chairs. And really proves to be a gorgeous photo with the natural light. Then, I hit paydirt when I found a Dutch online magazine that did a story on the way the room looked just last week!

Wow, what a difference, right? I mean, the paint is the same, the architecture is the same. The books, the light fixture, the major art (the tapestry) has never changed, and yet the room still looks different every time because of the gentle shifts in accessories and furniture.

Whether it's your cup of tea or not, I think that this is proof positive that with a little creative flair, you can really change the mood of your room without breaking the bank, or creating a lot of unnecessary mess. Here are some tips:

1. Slipcover your furniture! Even if it's in good shape, a slipcover can act as clothes for an upholstered piece and completely change the look and feel of a piece. When you're ready for a change, simply take the slipcover off and voila. If you can't afford an entire slipcover, and your piece has a removable seat cushion, consider having that done in a contrasting fabric.
2. Don't overlook pieces that can be repurposed. I'm guilty of it too. I see a great chair, table, heck even suitcase and it's a super low price, and I walk right by it because I don't think I can use it. But if you keep a creative outlook, you can score some super loot at crazy low prices and have an eclectic and collected home that everyone will covet. Suitcases can become side tables, and can be easily changed up with some paint. Wood or Rattan chairs can easily be painted to fit into a décor theme, and then repainted when you're ready for a new look. Lamps, particularly floor lamps are super useful! If you find a base you love, don't let the shade scare you into not buying it. Garden and yard furniture and décor. That little green lacquer garden stool might have been a rusted mess when Gert found it. But after a few coats of high-gloss spray paint, it's a fully functional and beautiful piece of furniture.
3. Mix Patterns Without Fear! This is my biggest problem. I'm always pairing up fabrics one by one to see if they work together, when the reality is that sometimes you're better off just using a better formula. If the fabrics are all from the same region, that is to say: ikat or kilim from Uzbekistan (like above) they will be fine together, regardless of color combinations. Likewise, some prints (such as damasks or animal prints) can become neutrals in the right situation. (For instance the sofa above, and the knoll sofa from the first iteration of this space.) If you love it - buy it. It'll work, somewhere!
4. Avoid Trends. Easier said than done, I know. If you're shopping at Pottery Barn, HomeGoods, TJMaxx, Marshalls or any other sort of chain store for your accessories, you're probably only going to find trendy, or (once trendy soon to be passé) stuff for your house. You gotta branch out. Check out your local thrift stores, flea markets, antique stores, and decorating outlets. That's where you're going to find stuff with history, stuff that's relatable and fun ... not just pretty.
5. Layer, Layer, Layer! I find the most interesting and beautiful things to be layered from fashion to interior design. So when you find that rug you just can't live without, don't walk by it thinking, but I already have a rug in the dining room. Buy the darn thing and throw it down on top of it! The same can be said for lighting, (yes, you can put a lamp near a sconce), furniture (who said a sample sized chair or children's chair couldn't do double duty as a footstool) art and mirrors,