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Manolo for the Home: House, Home and Lifestyle Advice - Part 21

Mismatched Bedside Tables: Yes or No?

As mentioned in a post earlier this week, I’m devoting a lot of my excess brainpower – what little there is – to putting together my future bedroom. When it comes to furniture, the only matching stuff we have in terms of furniture is the bed and two matching bedside tables. Which, frankly, is fine with me because I’m not a big fan of coordinating bedroom sets. And since I much prefer the look of rooms with lots of different kinds of furniture and accessories, I’m leaning toward using the existing bedside tables elsewhere in the house and pulling two other tables from who knows where to use as bedside tables, bringing me to the question I posed in the headline. What do you think of mismatched bedside tables?

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Not Necessarily My Style, But I’m Still In Lust

I don’t know the story behind this table – I found it on my wanderings and a Tineye search yielded nothing – but I’m finding it really, really inspirational. Normally, I lean toward Saarinen’s beautiful Tulip table when I think of how I’d like to outfit my kitchen. But there’s something about invading my rather artificial and absurdly colorful cooking and eating space with natural, unfinished wood that makes me feel a little giddy.

Does anyone else get a kick out of doing that – of taking something ridiculously out of place and making it the focal point of a room that’s decorated in a completely different style?

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.

NtB Wants: A Couple of These for the Bedroom

I’m not sure anyone will remember my mentioning it, but we had one our upstairs rooms done and it’s finally finished. Well, structurally, anyway. At this point we have the paint sitting in the landing, ready to go (two shades of gray, one light and one dark, for those curious). We just need to actually find the time to throw down tarps and tape up and paint. No easy feat when your family is comprised of two professionals and a toddler plus five cats who’d like nothing more than to track paint through the entire house.

At the moment, I’m trying to avoid thinking about when we’ll get around to painting so we can actually move in – this is our bedroom I’m talking about – and instead I am actively thinking what I am going to put in there! Right at this second, what I’d really like to put in there is at least one of these:

Walnut and powder-coated steel come together in a vintage-look side table that would look so gorgeous with the pair of low slung mcm-era Danish dressers my grandparents gave me who knows how long ago now. The designer is one Joel Nolan, and he is happy to recreate this side table in custom sizes and finishes in case the teal legs and interior just aren’t doing it for you like they are doing it for me.

New to Me: Designer vs. Decorator

Honestly, it has never occurred to me to think much about the differences between a decorator and a designer, or even to consider that these might be two wholly separate professions. But apparently in some circles, using the terms interchangeably could earn one a fat lip or at least no small amount of derision. The only problem? If Brian Patrick Flynn’s* Design Happens post from late last year is any indication, there’s not much in the way of consensus when it comes to how to use the two labels appropriately. Some people in the field strongly prefer one designation while others don’t mind them being used interchangeably.

According to interior designer Michael Habachy, “Decorating is a talent — either you have it or you don’t. Design is a skill that can be learned.” Whereas interior designer Betsy Burnham feels the line falls thusly: “A decorator is someone who furnishes a house and a designer is someone who provides interior architectural details, as well as furnishings.” And decorator Nick Olsen had this to say: “I think some designers scoff at the term ‘decorator‘ because it does have a more frivolous connotation — simply picking out paint colors and fabric swatches — but it’s one I’m perfectly comfortable with.”

There are plenty of guides out there that break down the differences between interior designers and interior decorators – here’s one example – but it seems like when you go straight to the source, the people who are actually getting in there are remaking people’s interiors don’t really mind what people call them, as long as those people are willing to pay them good money for their creativity, color savvy, and understanding of what makes a great space really great. In the technical sense, an interior decorator is usually someone with great taste who works to outfit an existing space, while an interior designer is someone with some degree of architectural abilities who will transform the space itself.

I definitely recommend that you take the time to read each of the 10 short interviews because it’s a really cool glimpse into the world of interior… whatever. Just choose the word you like best for now, I suppose. Or not – this was a really interesting read, too, and did a lot to clarify just what a licensed interior designer is.

*Speaking of Mr. Flynn, I am in love with this project!

NtB Asks: Too Cute or Too Stupid?

Know someone who loves all that stuff that looks vintage but really isn’t? Here’s something for them: a vintage-esque tissue box holder meant to look like an old fashioned gum wrapper. But oddly, it has the words ‘TISSUE BOX COVER’ printed right on it which kind of ruins the effect.

There’s also a happy tooth and a line drawing of a box of tissues, which makes the whole thing even more confusing. And yet, I can totally see how that confusion might appeal to someone into that sort of thing. Hell, in twenty years or so, my kids might just pine after one of these because it’s so damn self-referentially kitschy. I’m gum! No, I’m a tissue box!

(As an aside, do people still put their tissue boxes under covers so no one has to look at the cardboard box? That always struck me as very weird. Just put your dang tissues in the cabinet.)

One More Ceiling – This Time, Painted

Okay, okay, I swear this will be my last ceiling post in a while. It’s just, have you even gotten sort of stuck or obsessed with one facet of a room and so it feels like every time you go looking for inspiration you end up focused on that one facet? Maybe it’s painted floors… maybe it’s wainscoting… or copper fixtures. In my case, at this point in time, it’s ceilings. So what ceiling got my mind racing today?

This one, from the Danforth Inn cupola, as taken by Zombie37. Now, I’m usually not much into the whole stars and moon faux nighttime sky thing – except in kids’ rooms – but I really like the look and feel of this one. One thing that appeals to me is that it’s making no effort to look authentic. And another is the beams painted in the somewhat lighter blue. It’s just fun and unpretentious and cute. Sometimes cute is just what’s needed to finish up a space.

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)