Tag Archives: decor

Nothing New Under the Sun

I haven’t blogged during the past couple of weeks because I have been busy traveling back in time and around the world. Okay, not literally, but my day class on Period and Country Decorating Styles took me all the way back to Ancient Egypt. My class was only three hours per day but along with the heavy homework load, I can now more fully appreciate the challenges facing a working mom: from finding childcare to getting dinner on the table, and house cleaning? What’s that?

Today is my first day back in my “real life” and with the children screaming at my feet I am looking at the clock, wishing I had a babysitter coming to my rescue in the next fifteen minutes. Instead we will resume our normal routine: seeking entertainment outside the home in order to maintain everyone’s sanity.

Fast forward in time and my husband is back home to entertain the kids and I’m hoping to entertain (at least interest) you with some of the things I learned during my class. We learned a lot about what details and designs have marked decorating in certain periods of time and how they show up in North American design today (both traditional and modern).

The oldest knowledge we have of interior decor goes back to Ancient Egypt. Would you believe that the design for the ever popular X shaped stool is over three thousand years old? It started like this:

An actual X stool from Ancient Egypt.

An actual X stool from Ancient Egypt.

In modern decor you’d recognize something more like this:

modernxstool

While in traditional decor today you might expect something more like this:

tradxstoolFly yourself East to China and you’ll find the origin of the the “Greek key” pattern which is not so Greek after all.

chinese greek key

Here is one way the Greek key has been applied in modern decor:

moderngreekkey

In more traditional decor it is very popular as a trim on draperies:

Very popular as a trim on drapery.

We can also attribute one of 2014’s decor trends, fretwork, to Ancient China. I love the application of fretwork in both modern and traditional design:

Used as a room divider in a modern living room:

modernfretwork

And as a lovely design feature on the ceiling of this traditional dining room:

tradfretwork

Who knows what other goodies we have missed out on from long ago China? Apparently with each new dynasty, the artwork and design etc of the previous dynasty was destroyed.

Into more familiar territory, there are oodles of decor goodies which have been passed down to us through the history of Europe which will likely be recognizable to you. Did you know that the parquet which we so shudder at today originated during Tudor times in the 16th century? Their version of parquet was a far cry from what we see today:

A tudor parquet pattern.

A Tudor parquet floor pattern. Breathtaking.

Somewhere in the 20 century things got off track and they began manufacturing the terrible, honey blonde slabs of parquet which most of us associate the word with. Thankfully, after many year of this duddy flooring the design gods have gotten back on track and started coming out with lovely patterns like this:

I don't know about you but I would consider putting something like that in my house. gorgeous.

The pattern almost looks like a Greek key and I love it.

While today we enjoy the luxury of radiant heating and gas fireplaces, during the reign of Queen Anne in the 18th century, people had to come up with innovative ways to keeps themselves warm. One such idea was the wing back chair. The premise was that the wings of the chair would block the draft and keep their heads warmer. Today we continue to enjoy the classic lines of this chair.

Here is a very modern, dare I say almost space age, version of the wing back chair:

modwingbackchair

The wing backs in this traditional living room give you a better idea of the original design:

tradwingback

There isn’t much of a positive spin that can be put on Napoleon’s reign in the early 19th century but if I could shoot at one, it would be that the sleigh bed took off at this time, though its earliest roots are in Rome.

This super modern sleigh bed is pushing the edge of what a sleigh bed is but I love the look: it reminds me less of a  sleigh and more of the toboggan I rode on as a child.

modernsleighbed

You are likely more familiar with the kind of sleigh bed seen in some more traditional bedrooms these days:

tradsleighbed

Around the same time Napoleon was wreaking havoc in France, Germany was perfecting the art of wood veneering. Though this was not the beginning of veneering, the Germans excelled at the craft and created extraordinary pieces of furniture in what is known as”Beidermeir” style.

beidermeirvenner2

A stunning Beidermeir secretaire

Veneers are used in much the same was as seen above in today’s traditional decor but are also used to help create sleek modern designs such as in the kitchen below:

Veneering is an eco-friendly (all-be-it) expensive way of using exotic woods.

Veneering is an eco-friendly albeit expensive way of using exotic woods.

The funny thing is that they used these veneers due to the economic necessity of not using too much wood. Now-a-days, to get a piece of furniture with that quality of veneer it may well be more expensive than a piece of solid wood furniture.

Once we reach the Victorian era, starting in 1837, there is not much new under the sun. This period of history marks the beginning of the first truly eclectic decor style where the good, the bad, and the ugly of all the previous generations were incorporated to create Victorian style. They did however add some distinct pizazz at this time with excessive trim and the first tufted furniture. I’m not a big fan of trim but give me tufting any day.

Here this modern sofa is enhanced with a few selective tufts:

modtuftedsofa

This sofa would fit as well in Victorian times as it would in a traditional living room today:

victoriantufted

From there we hit the 20th century and design history repeats itself. There is nothing new under the sun, simply new applications of old design. But aren’t we lucky that we had such design-savvy ancestors to pave the way?

Special thanks to Bea O’Driscoll for the passing on of this knowledge and to my husband for helping me carve out the time to relax and write this post.

 

 

 

 

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The Elephant in the Room

A current decorating project has left my mind full of how to address “the elephant” in the room. In this case meaning a large empty wall above a low rise child’s bed. The budget is being spent on necessities like new bedding, curtains, paint, and some framed art for the opposite wall and there is little money left to address this blank canvas. Here is an accumulation of ideas for how to decorate “the elephant” in the room for under $50.

WE are currently leaning towards tying up a couple strands of gross grain ribbon and attaching laminate comic book pictures to it.

We are currently leaning towards tying up a couple strands of gross grain ribbon and attaching laminated second hand comic book pictures to it.

 

If you have a bit of an artistic streak a few $7 spray cans can make a huge impact.

If you have a bit of an artistic streak a few $7 spray cans can make a huge impact.

A simple strand of lights spelling a word like "love" would be simple and beautiful.

A strand of lights spelling a word like “love” is  simple and beautiful.

Stencils are always a great option but not everyone is cut out for the work involved in a full wall stencil. Some simple stencilled birds can add a whimsical touch and is easier (and much cheaper- $20ish) than a full wall stencil.

Stencils are always a great option but not everyone is cut out for the work involved in a full wall stencil. Some simple stenciled birds can add a whimsical touch and is easier (and much cheaper- $20ish) than a full wall stencil.

Recently saw this indoor climbing wall on Leave It to Bryan. Not for the faint of heart but what little boy wouldn't love to be able to climb his walls? Check out Ebay for some killer prices.

I recently saw this indoor climbing wall on Leave It to Bryan (ignore the stencil, it’ll run you $100). Not for parents who are faint of heart but what little kid wouldn’t love to be able to climb their walls? Check out Ebay for some killer deals.

A collection of vintage plates from the thrift store makes a charming vignette.

A collection of vintage plates from the thrift store makes a charming vignette.

Wall decals can be expensive but you search you can find ones for under $50 on Etsy or at stores like Lowes.

Wall decals can be expensive but if you search you can find ones for under $50 on Etsy or at stores like Lowes.

These book ledges are sold at Ikea for $15 each. Where storage and art meet in the form of storage for attractive books.

These book ledges are sold at Ikea for $15 each. Create a focal point with some attractive books and save room as well.

Making and attaching a simple frame to the wall then filling it in with magnetic paint is a great way for you child to display favorite pictures.

Making and attaching a simple frame to the wall then filling it in with magnetic paint is a great way for your child to display favorite pictures.

If you can find a discount fabric you like, making your own stretcher board with some cheap wood from the harduying some simple frame board from the hardware store

Stretching some inexpensive fabric onto a large homemade frame and stapling it in place can create instant wall art.

If your short on closet space why not display you finest as wall art. A perfect idea for a little girl's nursery.

If you are short on closet space why not display your finest as wall art. A perfect idea for a little girl’s nursery.

An inexpensive gallery wall can be made from collecting cheap frames from thrift stores and filling them with pictures from thrifted books.

An inexpensive gallery wall can be made from collecting cheap frames from thrift stores and filling them with pictures from second-hand books. The frames can be painted if you want to unify them.

To put together a all of vintage mirrors for $50 would take some time and patience but with Craigslist, thrift stores, and garage sale finds i is possible.

To put together a wall of vintage mirrors for $50 would take some time and patience but with Craigslist, thrift stores, and garage sale finds, it is possible. This would be beautiful in a girl’s room young or old.

These are only a few of the many, many routes you could take to inexpensively address a large blank wall. As you can see from the pictures, these ideas are not all limited to use in a child’s bedroom but can make a statement in any room that needs some pizzazz. I’ll be sure to post pictures of this project when it is done, including the budget breakdown for our wall art.

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Wishing you a colourful Christmas

Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Not “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”.  Merry Christmas! Hanukkah gets to be Hanukkah. Diwali gets to be Diwali. Regardless of what you believe, let’s call it what it is without the fear of being “politically incorrect”. Christmas.

Now that I’ve blown off the steam caused by that yearly pet peeve, I wanted to share some pictures of Christmas decorating in different colour schemes. This may be a bit late for those eager beavers who begin their Christmas decorating as soon as Thanksgiving is over, but food for thought when you consider what direction to go in when decorating next year.

While red and green are a favorite Christmas time colour combination, I wanted to go beyond that and see what wild and wonderful decorating ideas people have come up with which fit into specified colour schemes.

A monochromatic Christmas:

This Christmas tree is actually black. A fad that has been catching over the past few years.

This Christmas tree is actually black. A fad that has been catching over the past few years.

A very modern and casual take on black and white Christmas decor.

A very modern and casual take on black and white Christmas decor.

For the sake of contrast, a polychromatic Christmas comes next:

I'm glad that they went for a white tree with these decorations. It keeps it from going over the edge.

I’m glad that they went for a white tree with these decorations. It keeps it from going over the edge.

Apparently this polychromatic tree was in the White House one year. I'm not sure but it looks like the "ornaments" are actually balloons. An interesting idea.

Apparently this polychromatic tree was in the White House one year

Red and green is the traditional contrasting colour scheme used at Christmas time but I decided to look for something different to show you, a blue and orange contrasting scheme:

Go Gators Go! Okay, honestly I don't know who the gators are, a sports team I assume, but pictures of orange and blue Christmas decorations are hard to come by.

Go Gators Go! Okay, honestly I don’t know who the gators are, a sports team I assume, but pictures of orange and blue Christmas decorations are hard to come by.

If I were ever to do blue and orange Christmas decor I would go for more of a bronzed orange like this. I find the full-fledged orange a bit much.

If I were ever to do blue and orange Christmas decor I would go for more of a bronzed orange like this. I find the full-fledged orange a bit much.

This year I am going to be switching up my home’s accent colours from violet and yellow to blues and greens, hence my interest in yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue analogous Christmas colours. These pictures were easy to come by. If you go into the stores this year you will see a wealth of decorations to go with this scheme.

analchrist2analog3analogous christmas

Keeping it neutral:

Very subtle and classy.

Sticking to the home’s every-day neutral beige decor. Very subtle and classy.

I’m not getting to every single colour scheme in this post but will instead finish with a classic, monochromatic red Christmas decorations:

Traditional and elegant. I love the balance of the red and white.

Traditional and elegant. I love the balance of the red and white.

For a less traditional twist on a monochromatic red scheme (hint: pink is a tinted red).

monochropinkchrist

I hope that you have found these pictures entertaining, if not inspiring and I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

For more general information on colour schemes see: Colour Schemes 101: I can sing a rainbow.

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Feeling Blue: I’ve got you stuck in my head

The premise of my blog’s name is based on how creative outlets, like working with fabric and other design elements, provide a positive and interesting place for my brain to wander. With purely obsessional obsessive compulsive disorder your brain gets fixated on thoughts which are disturbing, anxiety provoking, and depressing. I am doing well on my medication but part of my healing process is learning to fixate on the beautiful things in life rather than the ugly.

Ever since I visited FAT Paint and saw an old buffet refreshed with a coat of bright navy paint, I have had blue on the mind. Specifically the combination of dark blue and turquoise. Whilst feeding my fixation I found some gorgeous rooms to admire:

Vintage finds like this side table look so amazing with a bright coat of paint. It really modernizes the look and brings it to life.

Vintage finds like this side table look so amazing with a bright coat of paint. It really modernizes the look and brings it to life.

The restrained use of colour in this space is striking. The white keeps it from being too overwhelming or unlivable.

The restrained use of colour in this space is striking. The white keeps it from being too overwhelming.

This couch is stunning! I wish I could commit to such a colourful long term piece in my own home.

This couch is stunning! I wish I could commit to such a colourful long term piece in my own home.

I don't think I could live in a space this loud but I lo the patterns and colour.

I don’t think I could live in a space this loud but I love the patterns and colour.

My current dream is to get my hands on a formal dining room in one of the heritage homes in New Westminster and decorate it with a fun combination of black, white, navy, and turquoise. I see molding, wallpaper, a restrained use of zebra print (ooh-la-la), Jonathan Adler’s chippendale chairs and a certain blue sideboard…ahhh…to have people actually ask you to spend their money and do something beautiful. Someday. Now that’s something to fixate on.

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