Category Archives: Decorator’s Corner

Dinner with Friends

Everyone knows that kiddos are messy at dinnertime and hard to keep in their seats—and I think these placemats could be a solution. Not only do they collect food, but you can draw on them with washable or dry erase markers, too. Click through for the other designs, very cool. (-Moe)

Kat in the City placemat, $18, Modern-Twist.com.

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It’s Grate!

I have to admit, there’s been quite the overkill of animal decor this past year. I’ve been trying to fight the trend…but there’s just so much cute animal-themed stuff out there. Check out this tortoise cheese grater for instance. When not in use, it’s a cute little piece of artwork for your kitchen wall. (-Allie)

Tortoise Grater, $32, Tortoise General Store

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Real-Life Decor

So one of our readers (full discloser: sister of Moe) wrote in with her own before-and-after, a makeover of her bathroom. As many of you know, decorating NYC apartments can be a real challenge – especially a room like a tiny, quirky bathroom (that sink’s about eight inches across!) with no windows. One solution? A group of mirrors. They reflect the light and lengthen the room, bridging the floor and ceiling in this disproportionately vertical wall. Alayna chose a fun aqua to unify the frames – blue is nice and soothing, but the brighter hue is a welcome touch first thing in the morning. (-Moe)

Reader redo bathroom

Have a project you’d like to share? Send it to us at contact@swatchbookonline.com!

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Make An Entrance

yellowdoor

Country Living magazine always features inspirational homes and ideas—and I was immediately smitten with this bungalow, by designer Ann Nicholson, decorated in all black, white and yellow. The front porch is especially chic with its black chandelier, ribbon-lined drapery (outdoor fabric, of course) and that punchy vibrant yellow door. Love it! The bright hue takes the small white craftsman to a whole new level. Opt for a boldly bright exterior paint in a hue like Benjamin Moore’s Sunshine yellow and make your neighbors jealous with your style. (-Allie)

Photo by Keith Scott Morton; Image from Country Living magazine.

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To Leather or Not To Leather

QUESTION: I am shopping for a new couch and over-sized chair. I cannot decide on leather or a micro-fiber. To top if off we are going to be moving soon, do you have any tips for how to decide? We do have 2 dogs and a cat. (-Carrey, Tacoma, WA)

ANSWER: My first word of advice: Wait to purchase a sofa until you move. Many home stores are offering free delivery now, so that’ll make your move that much easier. And if you’ll be moving it yourself, waiting until you’re in the new place will save the hassle of moving these large items twice (and possibly acquiring damage in doing so).
Now…as far as micro-fiber vs leather…This is an issue that people, especially pet owners, often face. And, in my opinion, it’s a pretty straightforward solution. First, do all four-legged members of the family have an open invitation to use the furniture? If so, micro-fiber really is your best option. The surface will stand up stronger to claws, and with a wet micro-fiber cloth, wiping off fur takes a quick 60 seconds (have it Scotchgarded for extra protection). It’s also typically more affordable than leather.
However, if your heart is set on leather, the situation isn’t hopeless. Just seek out items upholstered in protected aniline leather. It’s a more expensive, but durable leather that can stand up stronger to scratches and general wear. It also develops a nice patina over time. (Click here for more info on aniline.) Just be sure to follow manufacturer care instructions to extend the piece’s life. Another tip for protecting leather from claws: Keep a throw blanket folded over the most trafficked spots (my cat used to frequent the left armrest) and you’ll have many more mark-free days.

Here are some examples of great leather and micro-fiber options. Good luck with your shopping, and let me know what you decide! (-Allie)

dc_sofashopping

Leather: Hennessy Leather Sofa (semi-aniline leather), $1,999 at Crate and Barrel. Bijou Leather Chair (full-aniline leather), $999 at Crate and Barrel.

Micro-Fiber: Buchanan Sofa (upholstered in Grade C, Everydaysuede, a micro-fiber fabric; available in 12 colors), starting at $899 at Pottery Barn. Buchanan Armchair (upholstered in Grade C, Everydaysuede, a micro-fiber fabric; available in 12 colors), starting at $599 at Pottery Barn.

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pillows pillows pillows

QUESTION: I’d like to change my accent pillows on our navy blue leather couch with the seasons. Can you share some fun new ideas instead of just changing the colors? (-Wendy, Belfair, WA)

ANSWER: Both Moe and I have what you could call a “thing” for throw pillows, so your question got us mildly excited to say the least…I love swapping out throw pillows for the season, and color tends to play a prominent role. However, pattern and texture are important traits to consider too. For winter, a warm fuzzy fur (faux, of course) is a perfect headrest when you’re cozying up with your favorite design mag and a hot toddy. Or, opt for a design that subtly mimics your holiday décor (the star topping your tree, perhaps?) The medallion pillows below have a soft terry cloth pattern—perfect for those snug winter nights. The same can follow suit for breezy autumn nights. A knit pillow mimics those sweaters that are pulled from storage post-Labor Day. Also, think pattern; have your pillows reflect the change of season outside, with falling leaves and thinning trees. In spring and summer, we lean toward brightening up after all those dark, dreary months of fall and winter. Bring those spring blooms indoors in your pillows, and you’ll have bright “bouquets” that will last you the whole season. Finally, in summer think multi-purpose. How much time to you actually spend indoors during those warmer months? Thanks to crafty modern technology, outdoor fabrics are more fabulous than ever, and thus so are outdoor pillows. Snag some of these multi-use beauties to rest on your sofa at night and then pull them outside, casually tossed onto an Adirondack or two and enjoy those sunny days. Just promise to have a mint julep for me. (-Allie)

pillow

SUMMER. Diving Board, about $35, see Magnolia Casual for stores. Coral Fan (14”x22”) and Sand Dollar (14”square) pillows, $78 each on sale at William Sonoma Home.

AUTUMN: Ailanthus in Wheat pillow (18×18), by Inhabit, $60 from PillowsandThrows.com. Ila Chocolate pillow (18×18”), $74 from Pine Cone Hill.

WINTER: Towel Stitch Medallion throw pillows (18×18”), $24.99 each at Cost Plus World Market. Small Ivan Pillow by Blissliving Home (12×12”), $40 (also a larger version for $95).

SPRING: Lush Coral Pillow and Lush Sky Blue Pillow (17×17), $36 each on sale from Unison Home. Blossom Pillow and Posey Pillow by BlissLiving Home (18×18”), $75 each.

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It’s Greek to Me

QUESTION: Love the site, I am looking for some Mediterranean decor ideas for my office. The problem is, if I wanted it to look like the convention and visitors center for Greece, I would go to my church’s bookstore. (-Jimmy, Fresno)

ANSWER: Although the words “Greek decor” can conjure up images of furniture upholstered in the Greek flag, overscaled white columns and a strict navy-and-white palette, there’s actually many facets to the Mediterranean-sea-inspired style. For your color palette, find inspiration in the surrounding landscape—a palette of bright white and vivid aqua with pops of cobalt and russet, for example. For an office setting, artwork and accessories are the best way to bring in some color. If you have a dimly-lit space, envelope the room in light with some corner floor lamps. Now…as far as an answer specific to Jimmy’s question–I have a slight upperhand, being that I’ve known him for the better of six years now. And because every interior should be specific to the individual, I put together a room that I believe fits him to a T (I can picture him now, leaning back in his chair, sipping a fine glass of Port and smoking a cigar from his humidor…)

THE LOOK: Keep walls bright white–if you can, paint one accent wall a deep-sea blue. I’d go with one big statement art piece, like this portrait of King Paul of Greece (trust me, it captures Jimmy’s personality well); I love its Rat-Pack vibe. (For other artwork options, see below.) This desk from Restoration Hardware subtly mimics Grecian columns without being ostentatious. And, it has the same solid, commanding presence as Jimmy himself. Add a couple airy-white guest chairs for a light contrast (get a set of two in Natural). Underfoot, this Greek Key rug by Jonathan Adler offers a more literal nod to Jimmy’s heritage and is so au courant with the trends. (If this is too literal for your liking, opt instead for this Flax jute rug). Top it off by adding some greenery to these olive jars to bring a little life into the room—not that Jimmy’s boisterous personality won’t be enough… (-Allie)

Greek_Decor

King Paul of Greece Laughing print, 30”x40” (also in other sizes), $199.99 at Art.com. Greek Key rug, 4×6, $720 at Jonathan Adler. Guest Chairs in Natural, set of 2, $329 at West Elm. Palladian Desk, on sale for $1,730 at Restoration Hardware. Olive Jars, $129 (small, 18”H), $159 (medium, 24”H), $189 (large, 31”H), at Crate and Barrel.

Here are a few more Greek-inspired options for art:

greek_artwork

[From left to right:] Merovigli art print by F. Dot, 20”x20”, $31.99. Fishing Boats print by Eitan Simanor, 40”x30”, $69.99. Reflets bleus artwork by Pierre Doutreleau, 31”x24”, $36.99; all available at Art.com.

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