Flying high

Lately I'm seeing birds in many design magazines and home decor shops. They keep popping up on wallpaper, pillows, bedding, pottery, art work and in cages.  It seems the sky's the limit!  Here are some of my favourite ways to integrate a theme into your home. It doesn't have to be birds, it could be butterflies, fish etc.


Heather Garrett eclectic laundry room
 I love the design possibilities of wallpaper, but I can also remember all those hours of scraping it off walls.  My preference now  is to use wallpaper on smaller spaces or as an accent.  The colours in this pattern work perfectly with other colours in the room. In a small space which isn't lived in daily you can be a little more whimsical or adventurous.

living room eclectic living room

This vibrant yellow is hard to ignore and it is used sparingly.  Framing sections is a perfect solution for a shot of pattern and colour.  Look closely and you will see tiny birds.  The graphic pillow repeats the motif in a much bolder way.  
Creating Exploration eclectic kids

 And the bird theme is carried through this nursery even to the ceiling.

Wall Decals and Stencils

Four Walls and a Roof contemporary kids
 These white birds  are subtle and fresh even with the addition of pattern on another wall. I think white drawings are so minimal  because they just hint at their presence.   

Look up!  Look waaaay up! What a lovely finishing touch in a nursery!   

oniroco eclectic kids

  You have to love these graphic birdcages and birds on the wall, but don't miss the pillows!

And here they  are again in  graphic black providing a  backdrop for this dark sofa.  I like how the curved lines of the sofa interact with the curves of the cages. And following up with the real thing......


Family Room Details traditional family room
 Cristi Holcombe

Using cages is a way to reference our fine feathered friends without having them actually  appear.  The absence of presence so to speak. I love the weathered driftwood with the straight lines of the cages.  

 You can also attach birdcages to your wall for a very three dimensional look which leads me to other forms of 3 D accessories....  

Accessory Closeup traditional entry
Nelson Wilson Interiors

Tucked away on a table top amidst  a display of flowers and books, 
Interieurs Showroom by Francine Gardner eclectic home office

 commanding a shelf in a very contemporary office space,

 or hanging in pristine whiteness to delight a new baby, birds take many forms in homes.

Eames House Bird by Vitra modern artwork

 The iconic Eames bird can be found in many styled homes. Charles and Ray Eames had the original carved bird and constantly rearranged  it in various vignettes around their home and when styling photos. Because of the colour and simple lines the bird was sought by Eames fans.   Using 3 D scans of the original bird Vitra is now creating reproductions of it.

Art work

Edgewood Townhouse modern

Silhouettes of birds and branches provide a very eye catching headboard design. 

Black & White Master Bedroom with a Touch of Teal contemporary bedroom
Small prints of various birds matted large and stacked on either side of this bed make for an interesting symmetrical layout.

Spring 2009 British Colonial Entry Room Design Ideas | Williams-Sonoma Home tropical

 Don't forget you don't have to hang artwork.  It can be beautifully displayed as part of a vignette.

Painted Furniture 
black birds

Birds appear to be a favourite motif on painted furniture.  This striking combination begs your attention.  It would make a fantastic art piece at the end of a hallway.


 What a difference from the dresser above.  This one is all calmness and delicacy. 


Mountain House eclectic dining room

 Ingo Maurer  birdy chandelier is a modern classic that will always inspire interest.

Lola Bs traditional living room

 And a more traditional take on a birdie chandelier.

 I could keep going but this post is already too long!

Do you have an interesting way you have included bird motifs in your decor?  Just click on the comments button and have your say.

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Create a wow powder room

 How often does a powder room get the royal treatment?   In many homes  powder rooms are  small,  windowless with functional aspects.  These elements usually defy  anything exciting happening in the space.  I'm out to prove that a powder room can be the star of your  house.

 Use tile as an accent

FORMA Design modern powder room

Buy exciting accessories

utopia projects modern powder room
The contemporary nature of the wall mounted vessel sink and hand crafted mirror is further enhanced by  horizontal striping on the walls. There is no doubt what the star of this room is.

Choose a theme 

Powder at Hualalai tropical powder room
Willman Interiors / Gina Willman, ASID via Houzz

The subtle Asian details in this room have been duplicated in all of the pieces.  If you choose a theme for a room its success is always in the details.  

Use wood effectively

Modern/Contemporary Powder Room contemporary powder room
Marius Daugvila  via Houzz

This bathroom design is enhanced by the addition of the vertical strip of wood that backs the vanity and accentuates the asymmetrical placement of the sink.  A round mirror works against the vertical line. The vase of twigs (wood again) mimics the vertical lines and helps to balance the asymmetrical layout.

Lively powder room contemporary powder room
Andre Couture Coloriste Decorateur

This bathroom also relies on vertical wood  detailing for interest.   The pops of green bring  a natural  feel to the room.

Rely on large mirrors to increase your space

Residential  powder room
 Ownby Design

When you have a free standing vanity using a floor to ceiling mirror behind it enlarges the room significantly and it also creates strong vertical lines.  The dark cabinet with silver banding shows up well against the mirror.   

Formal Power Room contemporary bathroom 
dSPACE Studio Ltd

Choose a bold wallpaper

Tiptoe through the Tulips contemporary powder room
Martha O'Hara Interiors

Go for contrast  

HHL 2010 - Bathrooms contemporary bathroom
Atmosphere Interior Design Inc.

You can count on high contrast to bring a room to life.  There's nothing like black and white to create impact. 
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Adding freshness to your home

  We are now in our fog  and freezing rain stage  after a winter of cold and snow.

Even my cheery yellow chairs which I see every day  from my kitchen window aren't  helping me feel like spring is just around the corner. I like gray, but not the gray that shrouds our island in  March.  So my thoughts go to spring which we won't get until late April or early May.

In the summer I always have flowers from my garden but in winter and early spring they are purchased.  There's nothing like flowers to bring nature and freshness into your space. Using colourful books on a table or changing pillow covers are  also  inexpensive way to perk up a room.  A throw over a chair, bed or sofa back is also an inexpensive way to add splashes of colour.

 Choosing art works  with vibrant colours will add instant freshness and warmth to a space.

 If you want that fresh feeling in your home look to  nature for your inspiration.  You will discover all the colours that make you happy. Use these colours  to develop a complete colour scheme or pick them up as accents.

Breakers Beach House contemporary bedroom
Viscusi Elson Interior Design - Gina Viscusi Elson via Houzz

 Green is the ultimate fresh colour and when you pair it with white you will always have an inviting space.  Pillows or art work with nature inspired themes like leaves or flowers add a whole other layer of freshness to the blandest decor.

Poke small plants into a table top vignette and use nature inspired ceramics to create energy.  Botanical prints always work.

Sweet as a Candy eclectic hall
  Sweet as a Candy

Topiary  and wreaths laid horizontally  can add inviting touches of nature to arrangements.Again white is the perfect backdrop for green.
OLD BRAND NEW modern hall

 Camilla Molders Design contemporary living room

 If you're someone who can't keep a plant alive for longer than two weeks buy sculptural leaves and artfully add them  to your room. They have a long shelf life! 

Amoroso Design contemporary family room
 Amoroso Design

Bath contemporary bathroom

You don't need to break the bank when buying fresh flowers .  Make up for quantity by buying the most vivid blooms you can find and group them in threes. 

Vintage Residence contemporary dining room
Jessica Lagrange Interiors LLC

Use fresh fruit to add beautiful colour to your space. These green apples leap off the table in  this high contrast scheme.  Note the splashes of lavender blue too.
Somerly Clubroom eclectic living room
Niki Papadopoulos via houzz

Pillows and  other accessories can be quickly changed from room to room to make a space look new.  You never know where you will find objects in my house. Recycling what you already own adds freshness to your space.

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Thoughts on mixing wood tones

 Wood tones are often problematic when you  choose  a colour scheme or new furnishings.  Some  people  are willing to solve the problem by spending hours looking for furniture with the same wood tones. After all that work you may  end up with a boring room where everything looks the same and blends into each other. An easier and more exciting approach is to mix wood tones in your decor to provide a more layered, interesting room. You can mix tones with confidence it you stick to a few basic guidelines.

Use your floor as the constant
When choosing furniture you have to consider your floors if they are wood.  They are the constant against which all other wood tones will be compared.  If your floor has more that one colour you can safely choose any of those colours for other wooden furniture or  accessories.

Limit the number of tones 

Bernal Heights Residence contemporary kitchen

Generally, it’s best to limit the number of wood tones  to  two or three per room. In the room above only two wood tones are used. Hints of the darker tone can be found in the floor and this creates a very harmonious look. There is also good contrast between the floor and darker cabinets.

Choose one tone as the "star"

 Cabinetry 101 contemporary dining room

If you have various wood tones or are buying new furniture, choose one of the wood tones as the dominant one.  Aim for uneven proportions. The room above is a very interesting balance of lights and darks.  When the rug and chairs are included in the mix  it's the cabinet that stands out the most. The  dark floor is acting as a backdrop.

Separate problem tones with a rug 

Reservoir Dining Room modern dining room

 Sometimes you end up with all the same wood tones in a room and the only way to bring some variety is to separate the wood tones with an area rug so everything doesn't blend together. This also works when you have two different tones that don't work that well together. Separation breaks the comparison. 

Balance wood tones throughout a space

Urrutia Design contemporary bedroom

 A close viewing of this room shows  light,  medium and dark wood tones which have been connected by spreading them around the room.  The dark table connects with the upholstery piece at the foot of the bed.  The armoire, legs and  mirror are mid to darkish and the floor is light providing good flow and contrast.

William Hefner Architecture Interiors & Landscape modern living room

If you choose dark tones for bookshelves banking a fireplace you need to have other dark tones around the room, preferably on the opposite side to move your eye through the room.

 Keep contrast controlled
Deep, dark, rich wood tones such as mahogany, cherry, and walnut will often go better with medium-toned woods than lighter ones. And likewise, lighter toned woods, such as pine and oak, will also go better with medium wood tones, rather than with dark. In other words, it is okay to use varying wood tones, but aim for a lower level of contrast. The room above has medium and dark wood tones.

Keep furniture the same tone

Classic and Relaxed Beach Condo tropical living room
All the wood tones in this furniture are medium but they do not match perfectly.   When you keep  your major furniture pieces in the same wood tone, you can  bring in other  tones through accessories.  Wood frames, candlesticks, trays, sculpture,  or vases  are  obvious choices.
Consider the colour temperature of woods

  Photography: Brian Ricks

Every wood has a colour temperature that needs to be considered. Natural ash, birch and maple tend to be cooler while other woods like oak and pine tend to be very warm with undertones of orange or yellow as they age.

Some stained woods  can show warm and cool tones at the same time.  This is ideal because then you can mix and match the wood tones in the space. When I'm choosing flooring for a client I look for finishes that will allow me to mix both warm and cool tones.In the room above the floor actually has more warms than the shot displays.

Use paint /upholstery to mimic a particular wood tone

Lorraine Vale traditional dining room

If you have one piece of furniutre that  is a different wood tone, you can use paint, window treatments or upholstery to mimic the wood tone and spread the colour around the room. The blinds and cabinet  work together. 

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Current trends in window treatments

 So what are the  current trends in window treatments?  The key words are simplicity and minimalism with an emphasis on crisp, clean lines. Gone are the days of heavy draped effects using jabots and swags, tab curtains or gathered valances.  


While layering is  popular, the overall look remains clean and the palette is usually consistent for both treatments.  Blending colours rather than contrasting ones work best when you want to layer treatments. Any type of blind can be used under drapes for a layered look.


 This is an interesting look with drapes and two romans with the outer printed one stationary I suspect. I am not a lover of the partial rod because it creates a chopped look and I never choose dark rods with light drapes because the rod becomes the dominant feature as it is above. You can purchase rods with elbows that allow you to span the width of a bay window.

Pattern is hot
When you look through new fabrics you are bound to notice that textures and patterns abound. You can't go wrong with geometric patterns, trellis designs, large scale florals, bold colours, whimsical motifs etc.

Vertical or horizontal banding is very popular.

Rosedale Living Room Drape Vignette modern living room

Wider drapes

 elements tips for curtains

 Overall, drapes are  getting longer and wider to accommodate the trend to make windows appear larger in scale. Lush materials like velvet and silk add to this look.

Tone on tone
The window treatments in the room below are simple, harmonious with the walls, and allow the view and the room to shine.  When deciding the colour of your drapes you should first consider the look/feel you want in your space.  If you want restful choose solid colour with texture and keep to the colour tones in the room.

Sophisticated Style contemporary living room

Longer, looser pleats (5-6 inches)
While on a recent trip to Europe I noticed that pleats are getting softer and longer to provide a more contemporary and less formal feel in a room.

Longer Pinch pleat

 You can't beat pinch pleated drapes.  They continue to be the industry standard for elegance. Pinch-pleated drapes characteristically retain their shape, maintaining a consistant appearance opened or closed an hang beautifully. 

Longer looser pencil pleat

Inverted box pleat

Cleaner look in headings

The inverted pleat (back pleat), my personal favourite,  is a soft but tailored look for modern decor.  It has been replacing pinch pleat styles when a more clean contemporary feel is required. Lighter colours and tone on tone add  softness to home decor.

Lonny Magazine

Grommets have been around for several years and are definitely  still in vogue.  While some grommet drapes can look very informal, it is possible to have a more styled look too.  The banded grommets below are a great example.

 For grommets to look "lush" you need at least 7 or 8 folds at the top.  That means purchasing two sets of ready made panels or have custom fully closing ones. . If you plan to open and close grommet panels daily be warned that you will spend a lot of time fiddling to adjust them so they hang nicely. 

livingroom contemporary kids

Updated Sheers
Yes, sheers are still popular but they are a world away from the fussy, frilly and lacy ones that the word sheer brings to mind. The "new" sheers have subtle iridescence and are interwoven with unexpected materials, or have embossed or printed patterns or contemporary headings as in the room below..
bedroom eclectic bedroom

This is an updated look for sheers.  The graphic nature of the valance brings the whole look a notch above the expected. 

Global Living / Bluefish Home - Showroom eclectic living room
Global Living

Printed or textured sheers look great with any decor.  

Roman Shades
Roman shades continue as a  favourite for contemporary homes.   Who can resist their clean lines and  the options for amazing patterns.  Because they are a flat construction the fabric needed is much less that full drapes.  This allows you to upscale your fabric choice and make a real statement.  I can't say enough about Roman shades because they are my personal favourite.  Their flat surfaces are almost picture like and work especially well in kitchens, eating areas and bathrooms.

Bay Area green building and design: nursery non-VOC paint, mural, eco furniture traditional kids


Metal Blinds Return
Who thought we would see a resurgence in metal  blinds?  It's begun and is driven by the popularity of stainless appliances, other metals especially bronze in 2012 and  industrial style loft living.

Woven Wood Shades
The trend to more eco-friendly materials has prodded this design aesthetic along. most are made from sustainable materials including: grasses, sisal, reeds or  bamboo. 

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