Decorating for the Soul

First and foremost – I’d like to send out a little love in to the universe as we’ve reached Sledgehammer with Style’s 1st BLOGIVERSARY!  I can’t believe I’ve been putting my random thoughts out in to the interweb universe and a few of you have actually read them and come back for more!  Thank you everyone for keeping me inspired to keep writing and decorating!

Speaking of decorating, today’s post is about how decorating can be therapeutic and great for the soul.  Who needs a shrink when you’ve got a 25% off coupon for Crate & Barrel?!  Such is the case for today’s “client”.  My best friend Harriet recently went through a life change when she and her husband amicably went their separate ways.  She kept their place in Boston and in an effort to get a fresh start, decided she wanted to revamp her bedroom.

So here’s where we are starting: a gender neutral space populated mostly with post-college Ikea furniture.

Before 5

Before 1

Before 2

Before 3

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So once the big split happened, the first thing I recommended to her is to rearrange her furniture.  It was the quickest and easiest way to get a new perspective on things without spending a dime.  So while we planned her new room, she literally flipped her perspective 180 degrees.  And what a change!  It felt like a whole new room.

Next up, she decided on her point of inspiration for the design: a peacock feather.  It holds some serious sentimental value for us as it was part of our sorority in college, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let her plaster the room with feathers and dip everything in peacock blue.  So we took the elements we liked such as that deep rich blue as a starting point.

Since it’s such a bold color, we decided that it could be an accent color while we would create a room around it with soft, neutral colors to give her a calming haven to retreat to at night.  So here’s my first run at a plan for her room:

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This is also the point when, despite her protests, I convinced her to paint.  It’s the quickest, cheapest way to totally transform a space.  We decided on a pale purple which would accent the peacock blue/teal accents we had been eyeing.  But as all designs go, we didn’t quite agree on which purple that was.  She’s a bit more of a girlie girl and leaned more towards a shade with pink undertones.  I recommended she pick up some test pots of a few colors and try them out before she paint the whole room in a color we (I) weren’t totally convinced was just right.  Here’s the tester:

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We both agreed that the one on the left was way too pink.  The one on the right is a bit more in line with what we were thinking.  So a few weeks later, she bit the bullet, bust out the credit card for some new furniture AND tackled painting the whole room herself with one fabulous finished product (I apologize for the photos as we haven’t had a chance to do some serious “after” photos yet):

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Now we had some serious momentum to keep rolling.  The dresser is the Sorano 6-Drawer Dresser from Crate & Barrel.  It reminds me of driftwood; I’m totally in love with it.  Harriet and I went through a LOT of rug choices.  She was particularly found of this Sonnet Area Rug in turquoise from Home Decorators Collection:

Sonnet Rug

But ultimately, she decided on the Jasper Area Rug in aqua from Crate & Barrel.  And to round out her shopping cart, she chose this amazingly comfortable Haven Chaise which she had fallen in love with during a window shopping trip in LA with yours truly.

Then after a long search for non-white bedding that wouldn’t show dog fur (she has an adorable long-haired dachshund named Snickers), Harriet picked some great bedding from West Elm: the Braided Matelasse Duvet Cover.

West Elm Bedding

So after some tweaking thanks to a new paint color and some new design decisions, here’s the updated mood board for the space:

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Then thanks to the Red Sox fabulous season and a spot in the playoffs, Jefe and I took off for Boston for a baseball game and some much needed time with my bestie.  Unfortunately for her, the West Elm duvet was out of stock online.  I, however, live around the corner from the store…. so my carry-on ended up filled to the brim with bedding instead of clothes.

While we were enroute, Harriet had a great bed frame delivered.  It’s got storage for those bulky sweaters needed to bear the Boston winters.  It’s from a local retailer, Jordan’s.

Once we landed in Boston, Jefe had to take a work call so Harriet and I took a quick jaunt to Home Goods where we made an INCREDIBLE score.  We found a pair of AMAZING lamps that matched her new rug exactly.  And they were the perfect way to bring some of the pale, minty teal over to the other side of her room on her future beside tables.  Check out one of these gorgeous, curvy ladies (note that we ensured that we could fix the crooked shade before she purchased):

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What an amazing score.  Under $100 for BOTH of them.  We were stoked.  And Jefe gave us quite the look when we both walked in the front door, arm in arm with our lamps.  We looked like little girls with their arms caught in the cookie jar.

So now our search has turned to sheets, nightstands and a side table for her chaise and some artwork.  We both love the idea of black and white photos throughout the whole room; we just have to find the right ones.

And while we were there, we discussed a few other areas of her place we’d love to tackle down the road.  I love a good project so there will definitely be more to come!

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Crate & Barrel Meets Mallorca

One of my old bosses used to call me Mallorca.  I’m a fan of nicknames: Sledge, Champ, and Red just to name a few, but I was kind of indifferent towards this one.  That all changed this week when I was introduced to Paola Navone’s stellar collection for Crate & Barrel, which just so happens to be inspired by this very island.  Yes, geography was admittedly not my strong suit in school and no, I had never done my homework on this GORGEOUS island until now.  Thanks to my quick Googling I’ve come to realize that I should have taken the nickname as a serious compliment; Mallorca is absolutely stunning and has earned itself a stellar position on my list of places I have to visit some day.

Conde Nast Mallorca

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Conde Nast Mallorca 2

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But back to Paola.  She’s a world-renowned architect, decorator, artist and world traveler who was inspired by Mallorca, along with Como and the French Riviera for this casual yet chic collection of dinnerware, table linens, decoration and furniture.  Starting with her Como Dinner Plates, the deep cobalt blues and organic designs really exemplify what this collection is all about.  Their only purpose in life is clearly to be used for a fabulous al fresco dining over bottles of excellent wine.

Como Dinner Plates

And what is a great dinner party without some hors d’oeuvre?  What better way to show off these little bites than in the Como Spoon Bowls?

Como Spoon Bowls

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s begin with setting the table.  As a base, I’d start with the Como Gauze Linen Tablecloth.  It’s light and airy while packing a serious punch of color.

Como Gauze Linen Tablecloth

Then I’d pull a few of these Como White Woven Chairs up for my guests.

Como White Woven Chair

For a little ambience and an accent of red, I’d layer on the Como Loopy Candleholders.

Como Loopy Candleholders

We already discussed using these great plates and I’d top them with a set of the Mallorca Linen Napkins.  They have a range of colors, but I’d probably stick with the cobalt blue to keep the look seamless.

Mallorca Linen Napkins

For serving, I’d lay out a full spread with the Mallorca Oval Platters.  They’re so classy and simple and really could be integrated in to a variety decor styles.

Mallorca Oval Platters

And I adore the look of the Riviera Long Serving Set.  The pattern set within the silver reminds me of calm waves splashing on the beach.

Riviera Long Serving Set

My imaginary dinner party is looking pretty good.  Now I just need a great patio with an ocean view….

Mallorca Patio

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Fabulous Mediterranean al fresco dining isn’t the only thing Paola’s collection has going for it.  I’m totally enamored with this Como Bench.  It could be an incredible accent for a living room in need of a neutral piece of seating or pulled up to a long dining table.  It would serve as a stylish place to put on your shoes in a front entryway.

Como Bench

And personally, I’ve had my eye on this Mallorca Saucer to use as a small tray on top of my dresser to collect perfume bottles.  I think it will be the perfect companion to my West Elm Large White Lacquer Jewelry Box.

Mallorca Saucer

Overall, I think it’s a great collaboration for Crate & Barrel.  Paola Navone is on fire right now; she just did a VERY colorful 20-piece collection for Anthropologie this past spring.

paola navone anthro

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paola navone anthro 2

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So what are all of you lusting after from Paola’s collection?  I really would take the whole thing given the opportunity.  It’s 110% my style.

Mid-Century Storage

Today’s reader Q & A comes from another college friend, Christy (Carnegie Mellon represent!). She, her husband Chris and their adorable daughter Hazel just moved cross-country from a condo in the heart of Chicago to an incredible tree-lined property, complete with horse barn, in Seattle.  But between two grown adults that work from home, a baby on the verge of walking and a menagerie of pets, they are in desperate need of storage until they have the opportunity to start the large renovation they’ve been planning.

As a result, they’re not looking to spend a lot as most of these solutions will be temporary. But, as both Christy and Chris are both very design-minded and crazy artistic, I’ve been charged with the  request that my solutions “can’t look ugly” and in terms of style, Christy said “I hate that country shit.”  She is also definitely not a fan of wicker (so there goes most of my basket ideas).

Here’s a little bit more about Christy’s design storage dilemma, in her own words:

OK, so here’s the deal:

We are completely overhauling this house within the next year (gut remodel), so I have been hesitant to fully “move in” and make my space just so. However, I have recently come to the realization that with all the other stress in my life, at the very least, I need my most-lived-in space to be a lot more livable in order to maintain a peaceful state of mind. (aka: SANITY)
 

I spend most of my time when I’m at home in these two connected rooms: the family room and kitchen. The family room serves three purposes: 1) Hazel’s play room, 2) My office, and 3) Relaxing on the couch in front of the fireplace (sadly, this rarely happens). 

 
This house has many attractive features, but one thing it is severely lacking is STORAGE. You will see from the pics of my kitchen that we are exploding out of the space. Believe it or not, my kitchen in our condo in Chicago had about double the storage space. We had tall ceilings with floor-to-celiling cabinetry, a large original built-in in the hallway, and a huge pantry. Now we have no built ins, no pantry, and only one row of cabinets (first world problems!) But it does suck, because then we end up using our precious counter space for things like loaves of bread and ridiculous milk frothers.
 
Oh – and our aesthetic tastes tend to converge around Mid-Century Modern +/or warm contemporary. We hate ultra-modern stuff (read: cold!) and love a good, simple, hardwood furniture piece. We dislike things that are “clunky.” I love industrial objects juxtaposed with warm organic elements. It’s the German in me coming to terms with the Artist somewhere in the middle. Luckily, my husband and I agree on most things aesthetic.
 
Anyways. I need help. And I can’t spend a lot of money. And I have like no time.  –  Christy

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So, let’s attack the kitchen first as it seems their milk frothers are running over. I’d assume all of their cabinet space is filled to the brim. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at any additional areas we could take advantage of for more storage. Next to their wall oven is the perfect place to add some hanging shelves. Depending on how sturdy Christy can make them (she’s quite handy and is the one who taught me how to use a drill), she could use it as extra space for smaller kitchen gadgets, like those frothers, coffee grinders, etc. Alternatively, she could use those shelves for additional food storage.
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open shelving ikea
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In the open area to the right of the wall oven where the windows are, I’d recommend a bigger island/bar cart than what they have now. It will give them both additional table-top surface as well as additional space on the shelves below. I think the Ikea Forhoja is her best bet. It’s simple, made of real wood (and could be customized if she chose to keep it) and always has high demand for resale on Craigslist if they choose to not bring it back in to their renovated space.  It could also be put to great use for dinner prep if they are living in the space through the reno.  Finding a space to make a makeshift kitchen is essential to surviving a major renovation.
forhoja

forhoja 2

Moving in to the living room, the first thing I would add is a console table behind their sofa. This will give them a shelf for additional storage and an open area underneath to store some of Hazel’s larger toys without having them out in the open. I wouldn’t recommend this table in terms of style for Christy, but it illustrates a creative way to store kids toys in an aesthetically pleasing way:
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Some examples of great console tables that would coordinate with their current style are the Foundry table from CB2 for an industrial look or a vintage piece like this mid-century modern classic.

Cb2 Table

MCM Table

Underneath their new console or their coffee table, I would add some Christy-approved baskets for Hazel’s smaller toys. These from CB2 and Crate & Barrel would fit right in to their mid-century modern style:

CB2
Crate & Barrel

For that long wall filled with Hazel accutrimont, there are two ways Christy could go: the budgetary/immediate option or the pain and gain option. My first inclination is to spend a little more on some pieces that Christy and Chris can keep and use after the reno such as a mid-century modern George Nelson-style shelving system. It would require some rearranging of their artwork, but this option would provide the additional storage they need in the living room and still provide lasting value to their overall furniture collection.George NelsonI see this as something that would be a great piece in Christy’s future office to display her artwork, stacks of books, and pictures with her favorite red-headed friend, kind of like this one:

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(Yes, this picture is now 10 years old… I suddenly feel ancient)

Alternatively, Christy could go with the lower cost option that is still made of solid wood and would not require her to put giant holes in her walls (or break her budget).  I’d suggest going with the World Market Espresso Charles Slanted Bookshelf.  The style is simple enough that it could blend with the current furnishings and as it’s moveable, could be reused post-reno.  Also good for resale on Craigslist if she chooses not to keep it.

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A third option would be to go the budget friendly, industrial route.  This option from Ikea would add a significant pop of color and hide toys behind closed doors.  Another great piece that could be carried over to the future space, repurposed in Christy’s art studio, or resold.
Ikea
Beyond furniture, there are a few other options Christy could opt for that would help corral throw blankets, magazines, and the stray dog chew toy.  I’m loving this basket (Christy, trust me on this one) from Crate & Barrel.Crate & Barrel Basket
This storage ottoman from CB2 would provide storage as well as an additional seat for when the house is filled with more grandparents than chairs, which from what I hear, is a likely scenario.
CB2 Stool

So what do you guys think – any other storage options you’d suggest for Christy?  And in case anyone doubted that a bunch of sorority girls knew how to drill (get your minds out of the gutters people!), here’s exhibit A:

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(This may be my favorite picture of this girl.  She’s kind of bad-ass.  Although I’m slightly afraid that she may be revoking my design privileges for posting this…)

If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

I love me some chartreuse.  But its days in my kitchen are numbered.  I don’t think it ever REALLY fit in our kitchen space with the light wood cabinets and the multi-colored flecked granite counter tops.

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(Please excuse the empty paper towel holder and the Tupperware; just keeping it real folks)

So after these little beauties caught my eye, I knew it was time for a change:

West Elm Cafe Stripe Oven Mitt

(West Elm Oven Mitt – Cafe Stripe)

West Elm Cafe Stripe Apron

(West Elm Cotton Apron – Cafe Stripe)

I’m obsessed with the old school stripes and I think the blue & white combo will look clean and simple.  They also happen to compliment a lot of the red utensils we already own from Williams-Sonoma and have out on our countertop:

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So what’s the next step?  A rug for the floor obviously.  I’d love to find one of those cushioned floor mats to help save my feet for the few times a month I actually spend more than 5 minutes at a time in there.  But it’s rather difficult to find one that isn’t covered in grape leaves, flowers, or cartoonish chefs or doesn’t look like it was pulled from the kitchen of your local Olive Garden.  So for now, in keeping with my life-long love of stripes (and sticking with my non-existent budget), I’m thinking of picking up one of these guys from Ikea this weekend:

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For art, I’m thinking of going a little non-traditional.  On a recent outing to our favorite brunch spot, Toast, Jefe and I saw this tea towel from Crate & Barrel underneath the glass of the tabletop.  I’m thinking it would look great framed on the wall (not to mention helpful for this neophyte cook):

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Lastly, I’m thinking of a little accessorizing for the counter area to the left of our stove top which is basically just dead space.  There’s a solid 3′ by 2′ of counter space, however, it’s wedged in the corner rendering it completely unusable for use while cooking.  So it’s really just a storage space for a wine rack, a bottle of balsamic vinegar that’s too tall for our shelf inside our cabinets, and my recipe box that admittedly hasn’t gotten much use in the last few months.

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While meandering through Marshall’s last night, I came across some white ceramic canisters with chalkboard labels, similar to the ones below from Crate & Barrel that I think would be a great addition to that area (although mine would be filled with coffee beans, ground coffee, and Splenda):

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Consider this kitchen on its way to being fully updated!

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In other news, while walking past a pet store in New York last weekend (and lots of pestering on my part), Jefe FINALLY agreed that we can look in to getting a dog.  We still need to do our research in terms of costs, finding the type of dog we want (Miss Sneezy here has to be a bit particular), and everything that’s involved in training a dog, but I can’t help but let my excitement get the best of me.  So you may see an upcoming post or two that’s focused on aesthetically pleasing dog beds, leashes and food/water bowls.  Consider yourself warned 😉

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Martha Freaking Stewart

Lately I’ve been jonesing to cook.  Maybe it’s the excessive trips to Crate & Barrel that Jefe and I have been making.  Maybe it’s all the other bloggers out there who are always posting some awesome deliciousness they had time to make.  Maybe it’s the fact that I want to continually rewatch “Julie & Julia.”  Or it could just be that damn Pinterest.  Nevertheless, I’ve decided that not only can I organize and decorate, but that I can, in fact, cook.  World, meet Martha Stewart 2.0.

This week’s feast was thanks to a belated “Christmas” gift from Jefe.  It went a little something like this: he saw me fawning all over this particular cook book every time we walked by the display at C&B or West Elm for the last 3 months.  It got to the “I just want to touch it” levels of desire.  So the other day, he surprised me with it after I had stroked the cover for the umpteenth time.  So naturally I had to cook him SOMETHING in return.

What to Cook & How to Cook It

So I leafed through and after having more hunger pains than I could stand, I picked a) some of the easiest reciples I could find in the book that I thought I couldn’t screw up and b) something that wouldn’t totally destroy my diet (I’m back on the Weight Watchers wagon). So here was the menu:

  • Stuffed Chicken with Tomatoes & Arugula (one can never get enough goat cheese)
  • Dressed Green Beans (I’ll take my veggies with BACON)
  • Baked Apple Streusel, Weight Watchers style

I admit to not being a food blogger and I’m still trying to figure out all the settings on our new digital camera so excuse me for the lack of exact focus.  Here we go, step by step:

Recipe Page

Chicken stuffed with goat cheese

Chicken stuffed with goat cheese

And now it's wrapped in BACON!

And now it’s wrapped in BACON!

Sizzling

Tomatoes

Cut tomatoes

Pre-oven awesomeness

Pre-oven awesomeness

Post-oven deliciousness

Post-oven deliciousness

And now for the sides…. and what else was I supposed to do with 4 extra strips of bacon?!

Bacon!

I guess there should be something to go with the bacon....

Bacon Green Beans

Bacon Green Beans with a Dijon Mustard dressing

I have to say, for a very occasional cooker, it turned out pretty damn good.  My kitchen, however, may or may not have looked like a war zone (yes, it was 3 hours later before I actually managed to scrub it all down).  And now, the finished product:

YUMMY

(Insert picture of baked apple streusel awesomeness that I was too tired and Jefe was too impatient to wait to take pictures of)

The meal tasted pretty great.  A few things to note for those that are interested in trying: maybe I didn’t brown the bacon enough on the chicken but it really didn’t add much to it (and was admittedly a little limp).  I could have used MORE goat cheese and tomatoes though and been perfectly content.

The green beans could go just bacon, just dijon or with both.  It was admittedly a *little* much because you lost some of the essence of the green bean and were just overwhelmed by bacon and mustard.  That’s not always a bad thing, but if you’re looking to feel more like you just inhaled a cup of green veggies, maybe lay off the bacon (I can’t believe I just typed that…)

And I have to admit, every time I channel my inner Martha in the kitchen, I discover some other kitchen gadget I can’t live without.  Like a knife specifically for cutting tomatoes.  We just got a great knife set from Crate and Barrel (thanks to Jefe’s parents) but I still haven’t found which one will do the job of slicing without smooshing (or inadvertently slicing myself in the process…I’m not looking to make a trip to Cedars twice in one year for that particular injury).  Anyways, my overflowing kitchen cabinets seem to indicate that I will NOT be purchasing more kitchenwares anytime soon. But  how I long for the days of my future dream kitchen with an overabundance of counter space and cabinet storage….

Cooking Post 01.26.2013