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That Oh-So-Lovely Piece of Furniture That Got Away

...and not because someone else bought it first.

You Just Have to Love an Awesome ‘After’

There’s something to be said for before and after photos. Of anything, really. I’m absolutely terrible at remembering to ‘before and after’ any project, so I’m always in awe of the people who do remember. I’m especially in awe, though, of really extra sweet afters. Like this absolutely beautiful one, whose before can be seen at Rambling Renovators:

It's already a gorgeous room, but so much lovelier even when viewed in the context of the before.

Want to know why I love before and after pictures? And especially ones like these? Because they show you that the beautiful spaces you see that not only make you jealous, but also make you question your own decorating and design abilities didn’t always look like that. At some point in the past, they usually looked not as great, and someone had to make the decisions that led to the amazing transformation that led to the room you’re so envious of looking like it does today. A before and after photo set lets you see that change and furthermore shows you that there’s no reason at all that you can’t be the catalyst for a similar transformation in your own home.

In other words, before and after photos are inspiring. They show you what you can achieve. They’re encouraging, not disheartening like seeing a finished project out of context can sometimes be. So GO FORTH! CREATE! BE CONFIDENT!

Keep Calm and Carry On

A spot to think and dream and read

My head is so full of detritus at the moment that I can’t think of much of anything other than chucking those pillows onto the floor, curling up in that chair, and reading until I had no more light to read by. Unfortunately, I have a career and a kid and a house of my own that currently has nothing resembling a good spot for reading for hours upon hours. Maybe someday…

Do you have a special spot in your place that’s just perfect for reading?

Laziness or the Unfinished Look?

What’s the first thing that jumps out at you about Claire Bingham’s living room (seen on Design*Sponge)? My guess is that it’s the unfinished walls that have been partially stripped of wallpaper and partially painted.

It’s a raw look, for sure, but unfinished walls could be something of an antidote to all the perfectly-styled homes you see in magazines and books. Would it surprise you to learn that Bingham is an interior designer and also writes about gorgeous interiors? My guess is that it takes a good eye to make a half-finished paint job work as an intentional statement.

I’m all for letting the decor in a home evolve over time – I feel you end up with a more natural, real, inviting look that way – but this goes a little beyond that, don’t you think?

A Rainbow In Leather

“Who doesn’t love a comfy, distressed, brown leather sofa?” is a question I saw once in a magazine, and the answer is me. I love comfy leather and I love distressed leather, but brown? *yawn* If your home is decked out in an amazing brown palette, that’s one thing. But why not get a little more colorful? Before I begin, I have to say that this post is for Kai Jones, who said: I would love to see a variety of options in leather furniture. Due to allergies I am supposed to only have plain wood or metal, or leather-upholstered furniture. Your wish is my command! (Variety? Yeah, I can do that.)

The benefits of leather furniture go beyond not absorbing dander and mites and such – leather furniture can be wiped clean with a damp sponge instead of needed a full shampoo, Aniline leather in particular can be deliciously soft, leather warms to your body temp on chilly days, and leather furniture is really, really durable. It’s not entirely maintenance free, of course, but what in this life is? I certainly wouldn’t kick a sweet red leather sofa out of bed.

Leather furniture can be traditional and classic and awesome, which I think is the main source of leather’s long lasting charm. How nice would it be, do you think, to curl up with a good book in this orange leather chair? Just keep in mind that all leathers are not created equal – after Aniline, there’s the sturdier but less soft semi-Aniline and then the extremely durable coated leather, which could be softer. (via)

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Ceiling Height: The Highs and Lows

Growing up, I saw mainly your standard 8-foot ceilings. Then I lived in a flat in Germany where the ceilings (and the beautiful windows) absolutely soared. But I was only in Berlin for a year, so the culture shock I felt upon returning to the States did not involve ceiling height oppression. Now in new construction, ceilings seem to have shot up to a respectable 10 feet or so, but here I sit, writing this in a classic revival Cape with its 8 footers. Which frankly, never even caught my eye until I started looking into ceiling heights, and now I keep looking up, wondering if I ought to feel oppressed by my low ceilings.

According to an Apartment Therapy survey, the majority of people prefer a ceiling height in the 8-10 foot range, with ceilings that are ‘at least 10 feet’ a close second and very few people preferring 8-foot ceilings or something even shorter. Me? I loved the high ceilings I had in Germany and then again in Brooklyn, but I wasn’t the one paying the heating bills. And really, I love the coziness of my Cape – a quality that is in part due to the low ceilings. Also, I pay for heat now, so low ceilings are def a plus. In other words, I’d say there are benefits and drawbacks to every ceiling height, standard and taller. (I can’t think of any benefits of anything lower than 8, though.)

Since I’ve experienced plenty of both, I thought I’d talk today about some pros and cons of high ceilings and low ceilings.

HIGH CEILINGS

The Pros: They look awesome, and some people find that they feel freer in a space with high ceilings. You’ll never have trouble decorating a space with high ceilings because you’re not limited by furniture height or the size of wall art. And you can toy with the idea of a painted ceiling, if you like.

The Cons: Supposedly, a room with a high ceiling can make inhabitants feel small and insignificant, though I never noticed this myself. In a room with high ceilings, the eye is drawn to the height of the room, making the horizontal dimensions of the room seem narrower. Spaces with high ceilings can be more difficult to heat and cool, depending on the design of the home.

LOW CEILINGS

The Pros: A lower ceiling can make a small room appear wider. Easier to heat and cool, if only by virtue of there being less airspace needing temp control. Some people find low ceilings cozier and homier than high ceilings.

The Cons: Decorative ceilings and thick crown molding and things like chair rails are right out, and tall people can feel decidedly cramped even if you don’t draw attention to the lowness of the ceilings. That feeling might be even more acute in a wide room. It’s tough to find the right ceiling fans and also to jump on the bed, boo.

I told you, now you tell me: How tall are the ceilings where you live? And what ceiling height would you actually prefer?

Owls, Owls, Everywhere

I’m not really sure how owls became a thing, but here I sit on a couch decorated with owl throw pillows. Maybe I’m getting a little zany in my old age – please look away from my sock monkey kitchen chair pillows – but I can’t help but love animal inspired decor. Once upon a time that would have meant a leopard print chair, but now it’s more likely to mean a framed quilt patch featuring stylized songbirds or a pint glass with an elephant on it.

So how cute is all this?


Owl throw pillows in a living room via Dwell

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Am I the Only One?

Am I the only one who can’t quite decide if she’d like her house to look like this?

Or like this?

Black and white… color… black and white… color. I just can’t decide! Right now, my little Cape is colorful. So much so, in fact, that it’s often the thing people notice first and it’s certainly the most commented on characteristic of my home. But not infrequently I find myself thinking how chic it would look if I switched up my interior with a monochromatic palette.

(Images via)

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Living Room Storage Plus Toys: Is Chic and Uncluttered Possible?

The wonderful and lovely Tiffany wrote with this query:

Um, Miss NTB? Do you take requests? If so, may I request a home entry on incorporating kids toy storage into your living room? I mean like, serious storage. Not just one or two cute baskets for decor. We have the world’s smallest living room, which is now also the world’s worst decorated (thanks, kid-proofing). I have been TRYING to come up with something somewhat stylish and utilitarian, but I end up with dumpy and cluttered. I WOULD LOVE YOU FOR A BAZILLION YEARS.

A bazillion years? I like the sound of that. Of course, before I could effectively answer Tiffany’s question I needed to know just how small the world’s smallest living room actually is. The answer? About 14’x12′, which I think is about the size of my own, so I can definitely sympathize with the very real fact that a tiny space plus childproofing plus toys can equal a major bummer of a room. The good news is that you don’t need to be all LOOKIT MAH TOYBOX!

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No Love For This Combo

Nine times out of ten – make that nine-and-three-quarters times out of ten – Palmer Weiss hits a total home run with me. For real, I will tell anyone who listen that I just love how Palmer Weiss puts together a room. So hugs and kisses, Palmer Weiss. I adore you, but this, not so much:

Maybe it’s just me, but the prints and color combination in this old Victorian house family room just scream old lady to me. Or if they don’t scream old lady now, they will in five years. Of course, what do I know? Maybe an old lady lives there!

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