Fresh Greens: bringing spring's palette indoors

One of my favorite color pairings has always been blue and green. If you look in my closet, especially this time of year, you'll see it's what I gravitate towards first. It's fresh, crisp, classic and a little bit preppy. Sitting beside each other on the color wheel, these hues inherently work well together. Just look outside on a clear, sunny spring day and you'll see how they harmonize. Mother nature hardly gets it wrong.

I've been feeling the pull to bring fresh spring greens into my home these days: think Kelly and Emerald, mixed with the colors of sky, sea and sunsets. Below, I've shared some of what's inspiring me around the web these days.

Image of Green & Glass China Cabinet with Fretwork 
I found this piece at Suite Pieces here on Long Island via Chairish a couple of weeks ago and I can't get it out of my head. I've been looking for an armoire or china cabinet to function as office/art supply storage in the corner of my living room where I work. It's probably not ideal since there's no closed storage at all to hide things like printers and routers, but man is this right up my alley. 

Moraine- Original Oil Painting 16x20 - Seascape, Abstract Painting
Moraine, by artist Donna Walker would be a great jumping off point to establish this palette in a room. I found Donna's work on Esty a while ago. I'm always drawn to the abstract form and the beautiful sense of light in her oil paintings. Her work can also be found at Serena & Lily. Check out Donna's website if you'd like to learn more.

Band of Blue- Original Oil Painting, 8x10, Landscape Painting, on canvas   1805 Antique Dog Print Terrier Greyhound Print Copperplate Antique Engraving
Abstract Sketch 1 - Large Dark Grey  \Emerald Green Original Watercolor Painting - Original Abstract - Malachite -  Wall Art - 12x12     
A gallery of works by artists I found on Etsy would reinforce the palette. Click on the picture for links.

Another gorgeous green china cabinet. This one is by Jennifer from Dimples & Tangles

LOVE! Emily Henderson: "Kelly green and this color of navy, with white and gold accents is pretty much my color palette. I own it. It's patented, reserved for me."
a vintage chair revived in Kelly Green against SW Loyal Blue, by Emily Henderson

Lauren Liess Interiors
Designer Lauren Liess, adds blue and green to a neutral palette, perfectly.

Love the ecclectic vibe and colors in this living room!

Bring the look home yourself by layering these accessories into a neutral scheme. Click on the pictures for links to sources.
Colorblock Stripe Pillow Set - Emerald & Navy Blue Striped Pillow and Color Block Pillow Set by JillianReneDecor (Set of 3)
a preppy collection of striped pillows you can purchase from Etsy seller Jillian Rene Decor

Schumacher Betwixt in Peacock Decorative Pillow Cover, Toss Pillow, Accent Pillow, Throw Pillow  Plaid Tartan Decorative Designer Pillow 12 x 16" lumbar Green Navy Blue Accent Cushion Cover Rustic Modern Robert Allen Design farmhouse

Cotton Velvet Pillow Cover - Midnight Navy - Navy - 18 inch - BOTH SIDES - Navy Pillow - Velvet Pillow - Navy Blue Pillow - Decorative Pillo  10x20 to 12x24 Hunter Green Decorative Bolster Pillow Cover-15 COLOR CHOICES -Medium Weight Cotton Velvet - Knife Or Pipping Edge
this mix of patterns and textures can work well in the fall and winter

Nadia Vase
Add some blooms from your yard to a vintage ginger jar, or a retail knock-off a for an easy pairing. The one above is from Joss & Main and is only $24.95.

What colors make you happiest this time of year?

hello Monday: a sweet escape and great inspiration

Hello Monday. 

I was lucky enough to sneak away with some friends this past weekend. The timing was perfect and helped recharge and reset my batteries after a crazy week.

We visited Greenport, New York, eating, tasting wine, laughing and enjoying this beautiful part of our island. 

We stayed at this gem of a hotel overlooking the harbor last year too. It's a fantastic find: comfortable, beautifully designed and fantastic service.

Hello Blue Canoe Oyster Bar & Grill, a fabulous find my sister-in-law recommended.

It was a hit on every level: great food, decor and amazing setting and the perfect way to start the weekend off.
This shot is from the restaurant's website. They were just getting the outside prepped so we didn't get to enjoy the fireplaces this trip, but how cool is this spot?

We enjoyed beers on the deck and watched the Shelter Island ferry pass to and fro for a good hour.

Hello attention to detail: even the light posts were charming.

 Hello great coastal style. Grainy, instagram photos, but you get the idea. I loved everything about the interior of the restaurant. I could live in this space.

Hello Spring in full bloom. We hit the winery trail on Saturday, and even though the sun was in and out, the gorgeous green that was everywhere brightened the day. The wine didn't hurt either.

 Some traveled by coach bus.

We hoofed it instead but the rewards were just as sweet.

Today it's back to reality.
Hello to a house in need of cleaning, purging, organizing and laundry.
Hello to a day filled with catching up on emails, bills and all that un-sexy real life stuff.
Hello and Happy Birthday to my best-friend since childhood AND my "little" cousin.
Hello to the sun trying to break through, a visit from our family and a short week.

Hello to you.

What are you saying hello to this week?

hello monday: color and pattern stories that I owe to my Mom

Hello Monday and hello to you. 

My mother has given me lots of gifts in my life: faith, good manners, the ability to look on the bright side of things and give people the benefit of the doubt.  She's also given me my appreciation for design.  If it weren't for my mom going on and on about the color of the sky on a particular day, the gorgeous colonial she loved on her favorite street in Cape Cod, or her tri-annual need to rearrange the furniture, I probably wouldn't love this world as much as I do.

When I was about to graduate from college, it was my mom who encouraged me to go back to school for design even though she and my dad had just spent four years  paying for my English degree. At the time, I felt I should do something more "noble and practical" and become a teacher. When I mused about design school, my mother suggested that giving people a beautiful space was noble because it makes them feel good.

At twenty-two, I thought her answer was too simple. How could she possibly figure it out so easily? Here I am seventeen years later and mom was right all along.

So this Monday, as I work on selecting a color and pattern story for a window treatment class I'm taking, I'm thinking of my mom and how she really inspired it all for me.

Thanks, Mom. Now which scheme would she choose? 
Feel frree to weigh in, readers!

A.This is for the fictional client who has recently added a large, shared bedroom for her four and six year old daughters. She wants it to be a happy, youthful space that can evolve as the girls grow.

B. Probably mom's favorite. This is for the client who also has a young family, but lives in an old Dutch colonial in a neighborhood full of historic homes, near the harbor. They want a somewhat traditional feel to the room, but with a contemporary, less serious twist.

 C & D. These next two are for the same type of client. I was working with a ton of samples I already had and really wanted to see how I could pair these two wallpapers in a unique and cohesive way.

This last one needs something else. Maybe a pin stripe, maybe a small dot pattern. 
I'd love to hear your thoughts! Please weigh in below in the comments or on FB.

What are you saying hello to this week?

Outdoor living: my favorite place to be

For many of us here in the northeast our winter looked something like this:

With a beautiful forecast on tap for the weekend, I'm hoping to spend as much time outside as possible, lounging on our deck. Since my husband built it last spring, it has made our small house feel just a little larger in the warmer months. It's also turned our yard from being a place I dreaded into a haven.

Like any real space, time and budget often dictate how "finished" and pulled together a new space is. The key pieces we purchased immediately were the sofa, cocktail table (Amazon believe it or not), and umbrella (Ace Hardware). I had given my husband the ottomans as a birthday gift and all the other items we already had at the time

The space evolved a bit throughout the summer and fall as the garden filled in. We used it a ton to relax while the kids played, entertain friends and family, enjoy cocktails, casual al fresco dinners and to stargaze.
Since I can never leave well-enough alone, I'd like to help it evolve this summer and 
pull it together even more.

Here' s what's on the list:
  • large candle lanterns to flank the DIY flag I painted (inspired by this post by Emily A. Clark), 
  • two chairs to complement the sofa that are closer in scale to the sofa 
  • an outdoor rug
  •  add more colorful/patterned pillows to the sofa (Insert my husband's eye roll here. I will never have enough pillows.)
  • redesign the firepit area (and get rid of the dilapidated benches surrounding it)
  • add some evergreens to the large pots on the deck
After a quick on-line search, I found a couple of accents that grabbed my attention:

26" Timeless Stainless Lantern, Silver

Pottery Barn


And here's a little preview of what it might look like:

And here are a few items I spied at T.J. Maxx the other day that I'm coveting for cocktails, barbeques and cool nights.

because even in the dog day's of summer, I need a blanket when I curl up on the sofa at night.

these pops of watery turquoise remind me of the ocean and summer skies

I hope you get outside this weekend and enjoy some sunshine and relaxation with your favorite people.  Do you have an outdoor space you love? If you need some help pulling yours together, I'm just an email away.

hello monday: hello sunshine

Hello Monday. This week I'm finally saying hello to spring. Feeling the sunshine and warmth these past few days has made everything feel a little fresher and brighter around here.

*Hello Monday is where I try to greet the new week with fresh eyes and a positive outlook, inspired by Lisa Leonard's lovely blog.*

Here are a few shots from the weekend that made me smile.

Hello boy and his giant puppy.
For me, and apparently the boy, having a dog in the house again has been a breath a fresh air. Well, not literally since she does smell like dog, but you know what I mean.

Hello happy accident and beautiful spring sky. 
I found this shot on my phone that I certainly didn't intend to take. I couldn't take this shot again if I tried. 

Hello early birthday brunch for my soon-to-be nine year old. 
I won't lie: that number seems impossible and bittersweet. Halfway to eighteen. But what a kid she is. We hit the jackpot when we brought her home from the hospital. Celebrating this sweet, thoughtful girl is one of my favorite things to do.


So my week will be welcoming the reality of routine, more sunshine, celebrations and with any luck, outdoor living.

What are you welcoming this week?

Real Life Fridays: Dealing with a Dumping Ground

I think many of us have at least one area in our homes that is a catch-all space. (If you don't I am completely envious of you.) Whether it's the basement, attic, a closet, or spare room, life is busy and sometimes full of wayward stuff.

When Eamon was born we moved into a smaller bedroom on the first floor. The tiny room adjacent to it became my husband's sort of multi-purpose space. (think office supplies, printer, files, dresser, suits, etc.) The problem is that we never quite got around to really planning it out to make it function properly. It has since (seven years since) become a HOT MESS.  Peeling paint, tee-shirts, sweatshirts, shoes, bags, etc. piled up with nowhere to go. And it was making me insane.

So, I decided to tackle it. I drew up some elevations to plot its course. I got creative and plan to repurpose and reshuffle some existing furniture to go easy on the budget. Here 's what I've come up with for a man-cave closet room:

Photo atelier justine  beautiful Balboa Mist backdrop. Note: texture and contrast
a neutral palette:
I wanted to buy the paint without overthinking it. I chose Benjamin Moore's Balboa Mist. It's a subtle, crisp backdrop that's unfussy and won't compete with hanging clothes, etc. I love how clean it looks in these spaces.

 lots of white, some grey, wood tones, metal finishes and great texture
masculine feel:
I just love this simple, streamlined, masculine space. The high contrast is warmed up by brown tones 
and textured elements. 

Beyond the storage elements, I don't want to overplan this space. I'll accessorize once the functional items are installed. I'm feeling a vintage/industrial, masculine vibe for this small man cave-closet that works hard and looks good.
1./ 2./ 3./ 4./ 5./6./ 7./ 8./ 9./

My husband paid me for the design with cocktails. Not a bad arrangement.

I'll be sharing my progress here, but look for sneak peeks and snippets along the way on Facebook and Instagram.

Now that I've showed you my mess, care to show me yours? What's the one space in your home or workplace that needs some function?

Hello Tuesday: it's been a while...

I hope you're still out there. A week went by, and then two. Maybe three or four?
A self-imposed hiatus. I fell off the blogging wagon.
I've been busy being not busy. 
Kind of.
We enjoyed a stay-cation
and some family time, 
and birthdays. 

We nested with our new pooch, Nell.
(we think she's settling in just fine)

And I've found a project that distracted me. 
(more on that soon)

There's been other stuff too. 
The stuff of everyday and real life and all that entails. 
Pictures can't really capture that so well though.
I hope you've been well, enjoying sunshine and mild weather.

I promise I'll be back soon.
For real.
What have you been up to?

If You're Lucky Enough to Be Irish...revisiting an old post

Of all the blog posts I've written, one of my favorites was a St. Patrick's Day post from 2012 on my old blog, Out on a Limb.  I'd like to share it today for any of you who've never read it. It's very sentimental to me. Wishing all of you, Irish or not, a day filled with peace in your heart, joy and laughter. Slainte!

St. Patrick's Day is nostalgic for me. In high school, I marched in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York each year with the marching band.  We always performed "New York, New York" and to this day, when I hear that song, I remember my whole swing flag routine. I also remember falling in my slippery white go-go boots in front of Central Park. Even with the drunks heckling me, I wasn't phased.

I was lucky enough to be Irish and marching down Fifth Avenue.

Then I went to school in Ireland for my last semester of college and felt more American than ever.
I remember one of my Irish cousins asking me, "Do you feel Irish?" 

I didn't know how to answer that question.  In New York, people automatically assume that I'm Irish because of my name and how I look. 

In Ireland, there was no question I was a Yank.

What I do know, is that St. Patrick's Day and feeling Irish have a lot to do with my family and traditions.
My paternal grandparents, Mary & Ben Conaty in Greenwich Village in the 1950s.
I love this photo of my grandparents for so many reasons:
The vintage quality. The window into that era. The story that I conjure when I look at it.

They look happy.

I don't have too many memories of my grandmother being well,
but I have a ton of my grandfather.
He was a tough man in many ways.
There was a lot about him that was hard to love.
There was a lot about him that was mysterious to me.
He was often grumpy and a curmudgeon.
He was a bit like Archie Bunker.
But to me, he was also funny and sarcastic,
and I loved him.

I know he was not an easy man to have as a father.
He was not your typical doting grandfather either, but
he had a soft spot for me and we had a special bond.
I know his life was hard.
I'm not sure just how so, but I think it made
him who he was, for better or worse.
He was the oldest of many children.
He left Ireland alone, around the age of 20  and never went back.
Didn't keep in touch.
Didn't want to talk about it. 
Told me not to visit Ireland.
"They won't let you in when they hear your name is Conaty."
Mysterious. Curmudgeon. Grumpy. Sarcastic.

Not long before he died, over Thanksgiving dinner,
he told my brother and cousins and I
stories of his speakeasy hopping days with my grandmother.
Soon after that, over tea at his kitchen table,
he told me about meeting my grandmother on the ship
when he emigrated from Ireland.
They were both from Cavan, he from town, she from the country.
They lost track of each other until fate intervened
a couple of years later at a Cavan Ball in New York.

I am so grateful that as he aged, he told me these stories.
The man was usually an oyster.
He was an impeccable dresser.
Even during a heat wave, he wore long slacks
and a button down shirt. 
 I remember seeing him in his fedora.

Maybe that's why I love that Eamon suddenly wants to wear bow ties.

He came to this country, worked hard and raised seven children
with my grandmother, who I hear was pretty saintly. I wish I had known
her longer and better.

He died when I was nineteen.
I miss him and think of him nearly every day.

St. Patrick's Day is just a way for me to feel connected to him, to be proud to be
his granddaughter, to have carried his name and hopefully have learned from his life.

I think he would be proud  and even softer today if he could see these two
kiddos, who are lucky enough to carry a little piece of his Irish along with them.

hello monday: good stuff

This winter put me in a funk. I wasn't feeling very inspired or creative, but just when I needed it most, the sun began to shine, and the stars lined up a little. This week, I'm looking ahead with a full heart. 

*Hello Monday is where I try to greet the new week with fresh eyes and a positive outlook, inspired by Lisa Leonard's lovely blog.*
Now for some hellos:

Hello beautiful pooch who will be joining our family in a couple of weeks. 
After Cedric died I wasn't sure I could do this again, but as soon as my husband sent me this sweet girl's picture I knew I was ready. And already in love with her.

Hello to our almost birthday boy who is super excited about our soon-to-be new friend. 
We browsed the new Petsmart in our neighborhood yesterday and he picked out some toys for a local animal shelter. This little boy, who is not quite so little anymore, has a heart of gold and a tremendous love for animals. He makes me laugh and melts my heart every day.
Hello to a sweet goodbye! 
This ceiling fan was supposed to be temporary. It's now been hanging for eleven years. I couldn't be happier to see it leave and hang up its replacement: a simple, fairly inexpensive update that helps this space cross the finish line. (I'll share those pics later this week)

hello to St. Patrick's Day, Eamon's birthday and lots of celebrating this weekend
hello to a fun new class I'm taking
hello to like-minded souls who help me feel inspired and creative

hello Monday
hello to you

What are you saying hello to this week?

hello monday: hello fresh air

Yesterday afternoon Eamon asked to wear shorts and a tee-shirt. It was 40 degrees. 40 degrees feels so cold the first time the thermometer dips that low in the fall, but like a heatwave at the end of a long cold winter.

So while I didn't let him get dressed for summer, the four of us got out to chase the sun and enjoy some much needed fresh air. We explored a local pond and nature trail in our town. I've never been there in the snow before. It was wet and sloppy and still kind of chilly, but the kids loved stomping through the puddles, chucking snowballs into the water and just having the place to ourselves.

*Hello Monday is where I try to greet the new week with fresh eyes and a positive outlook, inspired by Lisa Leonard's lovely blog.*

Even if it doesn't quite feel like it yet, I know it can't be too far off.

 hello snow and ice giving way to water

 hello shadows and tall trees

hello afternoon sunlight on the water

hello to thick ice beneath that slush

 hello footprints and patterns in the snow

hello happy kids exploring and climbing


 hello Mother Nature

A small patch of green grass made this sweet girl so excited. It reminds me to be hopeful and patient for what's to come, something I know I'm not always good at practicing.

hello to the new week and all of its trials, tribulations and opportunities
hello to work and school and play
hello to some goodbyes as well
hello to looking for the light and sunshine

hello to you

What are you saying hello to this week?

How to liven up a neutral space: A kitchen for all seasons

Yesterday I shared some beautiful white spaces. I love their look, but I often wonder how easy it is for real folks like us to pull it off. 

The beauty of white and neutral walls is that everything else is highlighted by the backdrop: think artwork, texture (rugs, throws, wood), patterns and accents. However if you don't have great architectural features, texture or artwork to display, this can also be its downfall.  

Not too long ago a high school classmate of mine reached out and shared her brand new kitchen with me which is similar to this space. (Her tile is even sexier though in a herringbone pattern all the way to the ceiling.)

She talked about wanting to warm it up with wood, natural elements and adding new linens each season so she's not tied to one color palette.
Below I designed four takes on the same space to show you some budget friendly ways to add life to a neutral room.
bryn alexandra: Classic Kitchen Materials (on a budget)...someone tell me where to find that subway tile please!
Bryn Alexandra

Adding seasonal color to a neutral kitchen/dining space
Spring version of neutral kitchen/dining space
Summer version of neutral kitchen/dining space
The starting point for each design was the rug that mimics the kitchen tile, the table and the wood bowls. Each season I switched out the accessories: table linens, dish towels, the kitchen rug and a few decorative accent pieces. It's a pretty cost friendly way to change up your space when the mood or season strikes you.   

If you want to achieve this in your own home here are some tips:
  • pick a new small accent rug or table runner each season and build your palettes from there
  • add texture with plants, baskets, and reflective surfaces (copper, silver, glass, etc.)
  • add wood tones for warmth and contrast
  • add and mix patterns: think one large, one geometric, one small scale (like a dot or pin stripe)
  • repeat colors and shapes to create a cohesive, harmonious space
or hire me and I'll do it for you!

Do you change up your decor seasonally or stick to the classics year round?

wintry white spaces

All of this snow (It's falling hard here on Long Island. Again.) has me thinking about lightness and bright airy spaces. My living room is north facing, with small windows and no recessed lighting. At this time of the year, the best part of the snow for me is the extra light its reflection creates in my otherwise dim room. 
Rather than moan about the the weather, I thought I'd share some lovely spaces inspired by a snowy white palette. These rooms all share a great mix of wood tones, styles and textures making them anything but cold and wintry.

Tips to make an old home feel new
This soothing space has lots of light and natural texture making it cheerful and spring-like.

bryn alexandra: Classic Kitchen Materials (on a budget)...someone tell me where to find that subway tile please!
a classic white and marble kitchen
Pretty basement remodel with simple do it yourself solutions

A traditional stairwell makeover, exposing the treads & risers
An entry that's bright white, with lots of texture and shape makes a great first impression
This crisp, white bedroom  is warmed by vintage pieces and accents. Its seamless balance of textures, shapes and styles make it so inviting. 
This space is all about contrast: white and black, modern and old, sleek and rough hewn. It makes white look really livable to me.

Part of me would love to give a white palette a go but I'm always daunted by the reality of dirty feet and hands. Tomorrow I'll be talking about how to work with white and how to add livable color to a neutral space.

Could you live with white or do you crave more color?

hello Monday: hello March

Hello Monday. Hello Snow. 
I can't even bring myself to take a picture of it to share. 
It's lovely, but I'm so ready to see my grass again.

In the spirit of being positive though, I'm happy to say hello to March.

It's full of life and celebrations for my family:

St. Patrick's Day
Eamon's birthday
the arrival of spring 
Mom's birthday 
These all happen within a few weeks so there is much to be grateful for.

Onto some hellos:

Hello Mother of the Year. 
Clearly, this is not a title I would really give myself, but Friday night I sucked it up and took the kiddos to see the Spongebob Movie. I love going to the movies with them, but was kind of dreading this one. I expected it to be torture. The upside to my bad attitude? When you go into something with really low expectations you're almost bound to be pleasantly surprised. The movie was better than I thought, and since we were running late, we missed all the previews and had the theatre almost to ourselves. The kids loved it and their laughter was a little contagious.

Hello friend. 
Somehow just when I need it most, this girl always plans an impromptu get together. Good food, wine, laughter and adult conversation feed the soul when winter seems longest.

Hello unexpected snow day. 
We were really not expecting a steady, snowy afternoon. With the kids up late the night before, we all kicked back and took a much needed pajama day. I love that my kiddos love to paint and create.

 Hello nesting. 
We've done a lot of nesting this winter and are almost out of candles. I had forgotten about this Moscow Mule mug candle I picked up at Homegoods in the fall. I love its glow, but best of all, its fresh, clean almost citrusy scent. It smells like spring.

With any luck, it's hiding just around the corner.

Hello to you and a hopeful week ahead. 

What are you saying hello to this week?

Real life Fridays: What's for Dinner?

I don't know about you, but I feel like a good chunk of my days revolve around food. Whether it's packing lunches at the crack of dawn (I usually crap out the night before), being greeted by my kiddos as they exit the bus with the "I'm hungry" cry or planning weeknight dinners, I spend a lot of time in search of the next meal or snack for my family.

I wish I could say that I plan our week's meals out on Saturday or Sunday, but since I pledged to keep it real on Fridays, I have to be honest. When I do plan it's usually fairly loose (think Monday: pork, Tuesday: tacos). Other days I search my Pinterest files from the parking lot of Stop and Shop. Yesterday I decided on corned beef from the meat aisle at 2:15 pm. Truthfully, I'd much rather lounge and catch up with family and friends on the weekend than spend time thinking of my next school/work week and its routine.

A food blogger I will never be, but since I discovered them I rely on their offerings pretty heavily.

I thought I'd share some of my on-line favorites in case, like me, you get in a rut and need some new recipes to help get you through the rest of this endless winter.


Lindsay from Pinch of Yum shares delicious and easy recipes with a great sense of humor and gorgeous pictures. These are at the top of my list. I serve them in soft tortillas with a side of guacamole and/or green salsa (from a jar). The kids love them too.

Annie of Most Lovely Things shared this decadent recipe for her Spaghetti Pie many years ago. It was one of the first blog-inspired recipes I ever tried and it has become a cold-weather family favorite here. It's total comfort food and a caloric splurge, but worth every single sinful bite. I serve it with a salad to make myself feel a little better.

Cristina Ferrare has been know on television for years. A friend of mine actually shared this recipe with me. It is easy and absolutely delicious. Cristina's "Fall of the Bone" chicken thighs are moist, flavorful and ridiculously easy to make. Again, this is one even my kids love. The best part about it is the little prep work involved. When I make this, if my day is going well, I get in the oven just before the kids get off the bus. The beauty of it is that the longer it cooks, the better it is. It gives me a chance to help with homework and make a simple side while it lingers in the oven.

Of course, there are plenty of nights where, to keep it real, we order pizza or have leftovers, but these are some of my favorite stand-bys.

What are your go-to recipes for week nights? Any favorite food blogs out there?

Have a great weekend.

hello Tuesday: finding indoor inspiration

Monday has come and gone. Yesterday was busy and productive, hence the late hellos.

For those of you new to the blog, Hello Monday posts are where I share recent photos that help me start the week with fresh eyes and new inspiration.

This time of year I start to get a bit antsy to get out and about when we have some down time. I crave sunlight, Vitamin D and fresh air. If I'm bundled well and moving briskly, I really don't mind being outside in the cold. When the temperatures and elements are biting though, I'm always looking for places to kill some time without breaking the bank.

Last week on our anniversary, my husband and I visited the Nassau County Museum of Art here on Long Island. Don't let the gorgeous blue sky fool you. It was too frigid to really walk the grounds, but we found some gorgeous inspiration inside and enjoyed the escape. 

Hello Georgian Beauty.
This former Gold Coast mansion is home to the museum. It is lovely, elegant and light-filled with expansive views of the property and Roslyn Harbor.

China Then and Now. 
The museum's latest exhibit showcases Chinese works of art from the classical, early modern and contemporary periods and spans three galleries. The museum itself though is a jewel and worthy of exploration year-round.
Hello blue and white Chinese porcelain. 
(from the 17th-18th centuries)
These pieces once belonged to the former owners of the mansion, Childs and Frances Frick.
I love how the lotus leaf detail on this piece, especially, looks modern and current.

Hello fabulous Chinese garden stools

and artful design details at every turn.

Hello hallway with curved walls and a Greek Key chair rail (perhaps my favorite element)
and red dinosaur: part of the modern collection of Chinese art.
Hello giant ginger jar: its colors look like Spring to me. I'm hopeful it's not too far off.
Hello funny Foo Dog: I can't help but think he looks like the creatures from 
Where the Wild Things Are

hello winterscapes
They're pretty but getting old. I'm looking forward to seeing how they look in green.

Hello to a new week and some new opportunities.
Hello to you. 

What are you saying hello to this week?

Real Life Fridays: Forgetting Valentine's Day- how to pull it together on the fly

At the end of the movie Poltergeist when Tangina (the medium) is certain that she's rid the evil spirits from the Freeling family's house she says, "This house is clean."

Her line was succinct and full of quiet relief.

After six days of being home with the sick kiddos, I feel that line.

My empty house is clean, as in free of children and hopefully germs. Routines are back in place.
And I kind of forgot that tomorrow is Valentine's Day.

My mom decorated for every holiday and season when I was growing up. I wish I could say that I do the same, but as life gets busier, I'm usually lucky that the Christmas decorations aren't still up this time of year.

I've learned that less is more for me. Sometimes when I have to pull something off on the fly, the results are even better than when I plan to the hilt.

My tips for decorating in a pinch?
1.Keep it simple. I think this goes for most things. It's like that Coco Chanel idea of taking off the last piece of jewelry that you put on when getting dressed. When in doubt, leave something out.

2. Shop your house. Rethink everyday items and they're intended purpose. I usually put flowers in anything but vases for some reason. I love low arrangements on a table for better conversation, so simple, clear rocks glasses always work for me. Plus they're always right at my fingertips. I'm lazy. I'd rather get creative to avoid a trip to the basment to search for something.

3. Play with your flowers. My local supermarket tends to have a great flower section. I prefer to break up the arrangements into smaller vessels and scatter them throughout the hosue.

Since this is real-life Friday and I've yet to even think about Valentine's Day, 
here's my dinner table a few years ago.
I've had these plates from Homegoods for years.

The red tablecloth is usually in my Christmas stash.

The white runner is actually a stray white drapery panel that was not in use
The Irish Linen napkins are ones I "borrowed" from my mom years ago.

Notice that nothing is ironed. My mom is cringing.

The flowers are from the supermarket. I just broke up the bouquet and put them in rocks glasses
and in a red teapot I have that never gets used.

Sometimes real life dictates simplicity. And that's a relief.

Do you go all out or do you wait until the last minute, like me?

 Happy Valentine's Day!

Indigo Love: coping with cabin fever

It's cold, grey and I'm on day 4 of being trapped indoors with sick kiddos. Of course I love them, but they are slowly driving me insane.

A little dose of Indigo love goes a long way in distracting me. It's the color of tranquility and summer seas and a great mood lifter.

Here's what's getting me through the day:

Stardust 11x14 : twinkle star photo beach photography shimmer sparkle water print blue green teal home decor on Etsy, $40.00
I may have to order this beautiful photography print from Etsy seller SeaLilyStudio
to hang near my desk. It's summoning thoughts of warm June beach days. When school is still in session.

An Accomplished Woman: Tablescapes
My hydrangeas usually bloom like this right around July 4th.
I'm channeling thoughts of summer nights around the firepit, prosecco on the deck
and pretty outdoor tablescapes like this one.

Bloom Dress by ETOILE ISABEL MARANT paired with nude sexy wedges and boho accessories!
Although this Isabel Marant dress is out of stock and beyond my budget, I'm day-dreaming here.
I picture this with white jeans and gold sandals or over a bathing suit at my happy place.

my happy place: Smith Beach, VA.

That's not me. Or my dog. It's a really nice Smith Beach resident who shared her awesome dog with my kids one summer night a couple of years ago.

gorgeous blue dessert bowl from
I pinned this beautiful dessert bowl from Tabula Tua years ago. It reminds me of something you'd find in the sea. Chances are dessert would never make it in something this lovely in my house. I'd more likely hang it on the wall so I could see it everyday.
Blue Chenille Sofa on
This blue chenille sofa from One King's Lane looks pretty comfy and like a good spot to recuperate from the plague I'm sure the kiddos have already spread.

Thanks for indulging me. Now back to reality.

And the whistle someone is blowing from the basement stairs.

Do you have cabin fever yet?

hello Monday: treasure hunting

Here in the Northeast, it seems that Mondays have turned into storm days: 
ice, snow, sleet, freezing rain. 

Good times. 

This Monday I'm saying hello to a new coat of ice and a sick kiddo who is my free pass to stay indoors and snuggle up today. And, as usual, I'm linking up with Lisa Leonard's hello Monday series.

Since I've been stuck at home most of the weekend, I thought I'd share some shots of the treasure hunting I did on Friday. I love to hit up flea markets, antique, thrift and consignment shops. I love the mix of random items thrown together, some worthwhile, some not. I love the thought of finding hidden treasure and great bargains, but mostly I love the sense of possibility and history that's always present if you look for it.

I spent a little while browsing and sifting through the wares at my new neighborhood haunt, Long Island Trading Post, a second hand store that raises money to provide home care and housing for elderly, disabled and less fortunate.  

Here's a glimpse at some of the cool and quirky goods I found:
Apropos of last week's post, hello basket full of vintage cabinet hardware
and bench I wanted desperately for my kitchen table but had to pass on. 
I pictured it in black to pull the whole space together, but it was too big. 
Good thing I always travel with a measuring tape!
(I found this a few weeks ago there- no surprise it was snapped up quickly)

How cool is this old paper cutter? I almost scooped it up, but passed. A friend of mine ended up buying it though. It's got so much character!

 This was my favorite find. Talk about traveling in style! I might have to go back for this booze box. Traveling with it could be a little dodgy, but we could put this gorgeous, vintage stuff to great use.

Hello cool mystery box that I couldn't get open to find out what was inside. More barware? Binoculars?? Anyone?? Regardless, it's awesome looking and would be a great accessory for styling some shelves.

These Art Deco nightstands would be a fabulous score for someone as-is, or spruced up.

A pair of leather bar stools that could be great with a little TLC.

Hello gas mask. Yup, a gas mask.

And hello to the only thing I purchased. A sweet little coffee canister, brand new and $3. 
It's little things like this that make me happy. 

When you shop at Long Island Trading Post, not only do the proceeds of your purchases go to a good cause but you can donate nonperishable food for locals in need.

If you're in my neck of the woods and enjoy a good thrift shop, stop by the Long Island Trading Post!

Okay, off to nest with my girl. I hope your Monday is safe and warm. 

Real Life Fridays: My Kitchen Hardware & a Real Life To-Do List

I don't know about you, but there are still a few ways in this age of technology where I am a pen and paper kind of gal. Although I do make lists on my iPhone and use its calendar, I tend to work best when what I need to remember or accomplish is right in front of me. The downside to this? My tendency to leave a shopping list on the counter and overly ambitious to-do lists.

So, none of today's original items happened. A couple from yesterday took their place instead. At least I remembered to call my Dad. And really, the fact that I didn't kill anyone after getting "stuck" in IKEA's maze of a parking garage and carrying the bags I had to buy there across the ice should count for something.

All that  said, I didn't have a chance to get any decent photos of my kitchen hardware. So these will have to suffice until I share some reveal pictures.
Threshold™ 10 Knob Value Pack - Statuary Bronze
Threshold™ 10 Knob Value Pack - Statuary Bronze

Threshold™ 10-Pack Vista Square Knob - Oil-Rubbed Bronze
Threshold Satin Nickel Bubble Knob- no longer available (but I've seen similar ones at Pier One and on Etsy.

I had originally been thinking of rubbed or antiqued brass pulls but couldn't find any in my budget readily available. I really didn't want to break the bank on this since our larger goal is to renovate the kitchen in a few years. Given that, I wanted to find knobs/pulls that worked with the hole already drilled in our builder-grade press board cabinets. I lucked out and found all of these options at Target. The best part was they came in multi-packs and were really well priced. I only used the bubble knobs on four drawer fronts. They blend a lot better in person than in this shot and the kids love them.

They're tied together by color or shape: the dark bronze is repeated in artwork and frames and the nickel color on the sink's hardware. All in all, a quick, affordable update for a little facelift.

Right now, working on some finishing touches in the kitchen this coming week is on the list. Clearly, I'm not making any promises. At the end of the day, real life has a way of getting in the way of our plans.

Have a great weekend!

The Devil's in the Details: How to Coordinate Hardware for a Fresh Look in the Kitchen

Yesterday while walking up the steps to my kids' school I noticed a purple sock peeking beneath my rugged, not so pretty but very practical snow boots. I meant to grab black socks so they wouldn't be noticed, but clearly got dressed in the dark. I really didn't care, but it got me thinking about how the unexpected often elevates something basic.

Truthfully, I am not so much of a matcher. There's always a time and place for it. It's rare though that any of us dress from head to toe in one color, but we're often pulled to match every color, finish and wood-tone in our homes. Breaking things up a bit and learning how to strike a coordinated balance can make our homes feel more lively and comfortable.

This is especially a good idea when designing high-functioning, utilitarian spaces like kitchens.
This is a space full of hard surfaces where matching sets abound. Why not mix it up a bit and inject some character by choosing more than one style of cabinet hardware? It's a great way to update your kitchen when a renovation is not in the cards.

Here are some great examples of coordinated looks that work beautifully.

Kitchen remodel using Ikea cabinets  Counter tops are white quartz cashmere, a less expensive and more durable option than Carrera marble
In a gleaming white kitchen, polished brass bar pulls coordinate nicely with streamlined rectangular bin-pulls on the drawers. They add warmth to the elegant and sleek space and complement the tones of the wood floor.

Knobs and Handles: Design for Lifestyle
Here, lovely polished nickel bamboo-like pulls are mounted in two different directions for drawers and doors. The shiny knob would coordinate beautifully on a few or all upper cabinetry.

the nest. a one-bedroom apartment redesign in halifax, ns. the kitchen. mix and match vintage drawer & cabinet hardware.
This kitchen is a good example of working with what you have.  Based on the cabinetry, the floors and the lip of the counter, it looks to be a kitchen that might have been original to the house. Instead of fighting its vintage quality, the homeowner embraced it whimsically.  Although each pull is different, they work together because there is repetition of shape, style and color.

I thought it would be fun to put together three different kitchen moodboards 
for you which mix hardware.

My take on the country kitchen: a mix of upper and lower cabinetry, a classic backsplash, butcher block for warmth, and a great quartzite island top for modern polish. I love how the pattern in the stone resembles a wood board's grain. Here the hardware adds warmth, a reference to country-style but with modern lines, and a bit of vintage whimsy. 

Here the Carrara Marble inspired the design: I went for high-contrast black and white with shades of grey and a pop of the "client's" favorite color, green. The pulls are both modern, but classic and the sleek nickel keeps the cool space just that, cool and crisp. The accent knob is just for fun and could relate to a piece of artwork, a rug in front of the sink, or a roman shade.

This is perhaps my favorite design, and the one that is most "me": It all started with the gorgeous Mediterranean inspired tile from Fireclay. It would be used sparingly, as an accent or focal point and the other tile would be its balance. I chose a mix of cabinetry again for interest, a concrete island top for a touch of something modern and butcher block counters for warmth. The pulls could be used in two directions (vertical for doors, horizontal for drawers) and the knobs as an accent on a few upper cabinets or all.

So what's the key to mixing and matching hardware (or anything)?
  • Repetition (think color, finish or shape)
  • Don't overdo it
  • Balance and contrast (try to balance masculine with feminine, streamlined with curves, dark with light, etc.)
Are you a mixer or a matcher? Do you have a favorite look?

Stop back tomorrow for a preview of my own coordinated kitchen hardware.

* To find sources for the images on each moodboard click on the board which will take you to Olioboard. You can find the links or shop the looks by clicking on each item.