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5 Ways to Create Calmer Interiors

Creating calmer interiors – and I’m talking about your home’s interior and your interior – doesn’t have to mean sending the kids to boarding school or firing your SO and moving to a house or apartment that will actually contain the detritus of day-to-day living. Not that those things won’t necessarily help, but I prefer to think of them as last resorts. Steps better taken after trying things like decluttering your living room and creating more space through trickery. Not that there’s anything wrong with a frenetic interior, of course, or a shabby one, if that’s what you’re into. But for some people – particularly people whose lives are filled with stress and chaos – home needs to be an oasis.

1. Choose calming colors for every room in your home, including your home office if you have one. Color affects mood, so stay away from colors that make you feel awake and energized, but don’t make the opposite mistake and go for those that make you feel sluggish or depressed. You could look at a color therapy chart to find the most calming hues, but only you know what colors make you feel serene, relaxed, and happy. For some, that might mean a bright turquoise or lemon, while for others, it could mean a darkish sea foam green. This is where those sample tins of paint come in handy. Put a square of your favorite by your bed – how does seeing it in the morning make you feel? How about at night?

2. Make every room of your home inviting to promote feelings of calm. Ever notice that people at parties will often congregate in the kitchen? It’s because people feel comfortable and nurtured where the food is. How can you make the rest of your home as inviting as the kitchen? First, choose comfortable furniture that looks good but doesn’t put out a ‘no touching’ vibe. Furniture should be touchable – and while it might be unseemly to throw oneself onto a couch or chair, the most calming furniture is the kind you can relax into. Second, give yourself something aesthetically pleasing to admire. Do you have a painting or accessory that you find peaceful? Or an heirloom that brings to mind happy thoughts of your favorite relatives? Display them where you need hard-hitting mood elevators.

3. Go all-natural, with materials and textiles that Mother Nature created – especially in the bathroom and in the bedroom. There’s just something about the real stuff that is conducive to letting go of stress. Things that come to mind are a durable seagrass rug or a rush ottoman, lovely linen curtains or pillows, lots of natural wood or wicker, and hey, maybe even plenty of windows that give you views of actual nature if you’re lucky enough to have some right outside of your front door. In the bathroom, a bamboo bath mat is so much nicer underfoot than your standard fuzzy one.

4. Keep surfaces clutter free, because seeing clutter all around you is guaranteed to interfere with your ability to achieve serenity. That’s not to say you have to keep all of your surfaces free of everything except for lamps and whatever book you’re reading at the moment. Just make sure that everything that’s on top of your night stand, dressers, side tables, coffee table, etc. is either beautiful to look at or something you want easy access to in the immediate future or all the time. In other words, no letting papers build up or dumping the contents of your pockets onto the kitchen counter every day after work (unless you clean it up before bedtime).

5. Think simple! A lot of people are put off by the idea of minimalism, since most of us feel much more comfortable when we’ve built ourselves cocoons of *stuff*. And voluntary simplicity still sounds so fadish, even though it’s completely mainstream by this point. I’m not suggesting that you throw out all your stuff save for your bed and one chair and a desk, but rather that you shouldn’t feel compelled to fill every last inch of your home with furniture and carpets and decorative items just because you feel like it’s the right thing to do. If you love that look – think a controlled chaos of comfort – then fabu. But more people than not find it’s hard to feel calm in a space when there’s just too much going on in it.

An Antidote to That Boring Ceiling Fan

Yesterday’s post about patterned ceilings apparently did not satisfy my enthusiasm for interesting ceilings. Why this new obsession? Turns out, our bedroom renovation is done, and now it’s time for me to paint and decorate, and I’m considering all kinds of interesting ceiling stuff. Today, I happened to spot some sweet decorated ceiling fans that prove that your ceiling fan doesn’t have to be boring. (And that having an eye-catching ceiling fan doesn’t have to mean choosing one with blades that look like leaves.)

Aren’t these ceiling fans fun? Most ceiling fans have removable blades, so you can get as creative as you want to with paint and stencils or Mod Podge and craft paper of fabric. And whipping up a DIY project like this is super easy and super fast – maybe even one of the fastest things you can do to spruce up your bedroom!

Images via Dittle Dattle; In My Own Style; The Mother Huddle (all with tutorials or links to tutorials)

Dressing Up a Ceiling With Patterns

Ceilings can be pretty boring. More often than not, they are your basic white, regardless of how colorful the rest of the space may be, and even bold decorators who have no qualms about painting with super bright or extra dark colors fear doing anything to the ceiling outside of putting a funky light fixture thereon. Painted ceilings are, in my experience, something one encounters only now and then, and usually only in pictures. As for decorated ceilings, those are even rarer outside of certain old churches and palaces. And it really is a shame.

Think you can’t rock a patterned ceiling because your house doesn’t feature large soaring ceilings plus lots and lots of space? Think again! Standard height ceilings in smaller rooms actually look better with a pattern than standard height ceilings in very large rooms. For example, how lovely is the room above, designed by David Cafiero and seen in Lonny? And while one’s first instinct – that patterned ceilings look best on high ceilings – a basic pattern like stripes or a dark border can look totally sweet on just about any ceiling when you use the right colors and coordinate with the right decor.

Not that there’s anything wrong with your basic white ceiling. In fact, if you’re planning on moving soon, I’d recommend waiting to experiment with patterned ceilings simply because renters or buyers may not want to tackle the job of painting over your experiment. While is still the most popular ceiling option, and doing the ceiling is the biggest pain in the butt when it comes to painting.

Sometimes You Need a Little Reminder

So as first posts of the new year go, yesterdays was a little tongue-in-cheek. Not that I have anything against New Year’s resolutions… but as it turns out, science has determined that people who fail to meet their new year goals are no less happy than those who succeed. My resolution? To keep finding beautiful and fun furniture and accessories to share here, along with some lifestyle tips and the occasional oddity. But since I was so snarky yesterday, I thought I’d make it up by offering up something a little sweeter from various shops around the net.


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Inspiration: Roses

Roses have long played a role in home decor and decorating. As standalone embellishments – cut roses or rose bushes – the rose has been the front-runner of all the flowers in the world for a centuries. In paintings, carvings, and textiles, roses began appearing (along with other blooms) with regularity in something like the 17th century. And why not? Images of roses are gorgeous whether they’ve been captures true to life or in stylized fashion, in 2D or 3D. Plus, as decor goes, roses tend to be timeless. Not every rose curtain or wallpaper will stand up to the passage of years, of course, but the iconic rose will certainly do so. Love roses? Me, too, which is why I put together a little inspiration for us to share.


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All I Can Say Is: WANT.


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Inspiration: Tufts!

Tufted furniture is undeniably awesome – a few well-placed tufts can turn what would be a blah headboard or bench or couch into something really visually appealing. A wee bit harder to vacuum? Well, sure, but not all that much more difficult to keep clean. The bad news is that tufting can come at a premium – the good news is that I found a great tutorial at Apartment Therapy that will have you diamond tufting in no time at all. Until you get the hang of it, though, here’s some sweet tufted inspiration to stimulate your aesthetic appetite!


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Adventures In Scaled Down Living, Two Ways

Think you can’t take your living situation to the bare minimum because you’re X or you’ve got Y or it would never work out because of Z? Maybe you’re right, but two stories I read recently suggested that you might just be wrong.

In the first, a couple abandons their condo (along with many elements of their modern lifestyle) to build a home in rural Iowa entirely without debt. With $7,000 and the help of friends and family, Hap and Lin Mullenneaux built a tiny cob house along with an open shed, summer kitchen, and a straw bale house. For water, they collect and filter rain. For heat, they use a small wood stove. And to power a laptop, modem, light, and fan, they have a wee photovoltaic system. Simple stuff, except when consider that they designer and manufactured everything themselves after taking a workshop!

In the second, two adults and two kids aaaand two cats lived for six years in a itty-itty camper and tiny tepee to save money and use fewer resources. It was much less luxurious than cob house living, with outdoor showers, water hauled from springs, human waste composting, and freezing winters. But you know what? They survived and enjoyed themselves, and while they’re in a house now, they seem to miss scaled down living as they practiced it.

There’s a song that says “love grows best in little houses” and my guess is that both families profiled above would be inclined to agree. I might agree, too, so long as you let me append the statement with something like “when the kids are grown up and there are no teenagers around.”

Inspiration: Entryways

Your entryway – if you have one – sets the tone for your home. We have two points of entry, the front door that enters directly into the living room and the side door that dumps you into the kitchen via something we switch between calling a mudroom, a foyer, and an entryway. The front door is a lost cause, since there’s no room for, well, anything and coats and shoes get stuffed into the closet. The side door area is a bit more spacious but our mudroomfoyerentryway is tiny, so no cute benches or coat racks.

This post is for all of you out there who either have a real entryway or just dream of having one – like me! Why should a simply entryway get so much priority when it comes to decorating? Consider that it’s the first and last place anyone visiting your home will so. And while you may not sit and relax in it, you do spend a lot of time there, donning shoes, finding the right coat, and getting ready for your day. It can be a very important and useful space if you let it. How about adding: A mirror to give yourself one last look over before heading out to your meeting? A bench to make taking off muddy boots easier? Bins for shoes? Hooks for purses, backpacks, and coats in the wintertime? A bowl on a table for your keys and other pocket sundries?

Basically, think not of how you’re using your entryway, but how you’d LIKE to be using your entryway, and then decorate and accessorize accordingly.* Here’s some sweet inspiration:


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*Good advice no matter what room you’re improving, actually.

Stairs of a Different Stripe

When I was searching for pictures of rooms painted with a single horizontal stripe for yesterday’s post, I came across this picture of a really standout staircase. Most of the time, when I think of standout staircases, my mind imagines strange staircases or staircases with storage built in. What I usually don’t think of is decorated staircases.

I love how the orange stripe really emphasizes the beautiful curve in the staircase and draws your eyes up and around, making you wonder just what’s going on upstairs. You’ll notice that the wall itself still has a standard angle in it – the stairs are curved, not the wall around it – but the stripe hides the discrepancy between the stairs and the wall. The stripe makes it look like one beautiful curve and I love how that works.

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