Sun, 10 March 2019
"Never decorate all at once. 'When you do it all at once, you make mistakes,' explains Fredéric Amico. Take your time trying out different pieces, and never settle." —Architectural Digest's Clever (new online destination for decor ideas, quoting French actor and artist Fredéric Amico (view his Paris loft here)
Our wardrobe, our mind, our relationships all ebb and flow, grow, migrate, wander and progress as much as we choose to let them, and our sancturaries need not be any different.
Reflect upon your childhood bedroom and the first time your parents gave you permission to decorate it as you pleased - paint color, linens and all (or maybe you took the initiative all on your own). Then graduate to your first home away from home - perhaps your dorm, perhaps an apartment. Then remember the next home and the next as your life began to unfold.
I can remember vividly during my junior year in high school wielding a paintbrush, ushering in a double bed, selecting the wallpaper for the accent wall and reveling in my very own "grown-up" sanctuary. Then college arrived, and it was with my first apartment sophomore year that furniture was needed, and much was cheap and yard sale must-have finds, but there were treasures that I brought with me from my childhood home - that black rod-iron bed, dishware found at an unexpected estate sale, pictures that held dear meaning. And then the first "adult" apartment during graduate school, living on my own - daring to paint an entire wall red and framing everything in gold. It reflected my choice at the time, and having a choice and a home that was all my own, felt liberating. Never before have I painted a wall red - it took three, at least, coats to make it as I had hoped. But I don't regret it for a moment.
Since then, the homes I have rented or owned have been unique unto themselves, but one detail always remains constant, the woman living within the four walls - me.
Even so, each home of which my paycheck has paid the monthly mortgage or rent, has gradually evolved to reflect more of what has shaped me and influenced me and inspired me to become the person I am today. And as much as we, okay, maybe this was just me, moreso especially in my earlier years of homeownership, may want our homes to come together immediately to reflect the aesthetic we desire and see in our mind's eye, our most authentic sanctuary will be a reflection of patience, of thoughtfulness and of careful selection.
Not all of us have the luxury of being able to live in a home we love for decades, and others might state that it is a luxury to be able to move frequently based on curiosity and opportunities, but either way, we can take what means the most with us to our next home. So that no matter where we go, our journey can be reflected within the four walls of our sanctuary.
Today I'd like to share with you ways that you can begin to decorate your sanctuary to not only reflect your journey which will offer comfort and confidence each time you cross the threshold, but also be welcoming to most importantly the inhabitants, but guests who are invited to visit as well.
In last Wednesday's post, I shared eight small, but unique ways to add your signature to your sanctuary, many of which, as you will discover, reflect my journey thus far over the past 40 years. And today I'd like to share less of the specific things to include and more the concepts to consider when deciding what should hang on your walls, fill your rooms and welcome you home.
1.Does it warm your heart and lift your spirits?
Ask yourself this question when deciding what pictures, paintings, souvenirs, etc. any item that doesn't perform a function, but rather only adorns a wall, tabletop or shelf, to display.
Being reminded of what you are capable of, being reminded of the love that was felt and expressed, being reminded of a dream that came true, all of these reminders are helpful and healthy to have in your home especially on those days and during those moments we need comfort and confidence.
2. What function does it provide?
Being clear about the function that an item provides - literally or figuratively (i.e. a candleholder, a vase, a settee, a bench (literal); painting, particular coffee table books, throw pillows (figurative) — clarifies in your mind why you are considering it for your home. If the reason is because it is the color of the year, or my favorite influencer has one, unless your signature for decor is trendy, perhaps find a deeper purpose for welcoming it into your home. But if instead, the reason is to provide warmth, to lift my spirits, to hold my favorite bunch of flowers and fit perfectly on that particular tabletop, then by all means, welcome it into your home.
"Have nothing in your home that you don't know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."—William Morris
With points #1 & #2, it may appear that I am simply further describing what William Morris has taught decorators for years, and if your interpretation of the quote is similar to mine, then you are in good company, but for me, it goes deeper. What does beautiful mean?
Beautiful must go deeper, beauty can only be present if it fits the two criteria above in a more visceral part of our well-being. There are many items that are beautiful - from traditional to modern designs, art that speaks volumes from contemporary to acclaimed icons, but if it doesn't mean something to you, if it doesn't have a story as to why it spoke to you, then let someone else welcome it into their home.
I am continually editing my home, just as I am my closet, and with more evaluation, comes more removal of items that were bought at the spur of the moment, out of preceived need. Gradually, those items, if they don't possess both of the criteria above, are replaced by items that do, and the home's decor begins to feel more symphonic.
Speaking of symphonies, there is more criteria to consider when bringing it all together in your home.
3. Cost per true value
Similar to cost per wear, but slightly different, cost per true value is how much it costs to acquire the item while taking into account the value it will add to the overall quality of life over the amount of years you expect to own the item.
In other words, the antique dining table that costs $1000 and would fit perfectly in your dining room. No more need for separate tables, more dinner parties, more opportunity to share your passion for cooking and your partner's passion for convivial conversation about the guests' favorite topics. Many would way this is priceless and others would say you can do the same thing around two nondescript tables pulled together, but this is where the decision will be different for each person: What do you want to invest in? What is it that brings you and those you love great enjoyment and peace of mind?
Some of the items we bring into our homes will be treasure finds for pennies of what they are actually worth, or maybe not worth anything at all to anyone else, but priceless in our eyes. Whatever you choose to invest in monetarily, simply remember to ask the "cost per true value" question and answer it for yourself. No one else's opinion (unless they are paying for it or a partner in the household) should matter.
4. Consider the decor that spoke to you on your travels
So many of TSLL readers/listeners of the podcast are travelers to all sorts of amazing places, large and small, far and near on the globe. Often it isn't until we see, and then sometimes live with temporarily through staying in vacation rentals, a particular decor idea that we realize how excellent of an idea it is or how much it makes us feel at home even when we are far way.
As I shared in my post last Wednesday, one decor idea I would have never known about or considered was to use linen tablecloths as curtains. Perfect! And with my love of linen as it reminds me of France and my travels to the south and north of the country, the curtains I now have in my home not only serve a much needed function, but they also bring back fond memories.
5. Does it tell a story that you want to welcome into your home?
I have an antique English draw-leaf table that was the first dining room table I ever owned (you can see a bit of it in the above image on the far right). I purchased it in college after saving up $400 for it and have had it with me ever since (here is a similar one from One King's Lane). No matter what size my home, I have always made a spot for it. Currently, it holds my record player which suits it perfectly as it brings the music and the news into my home.
As well, a chair from an individual who you knew or have known and simply remembering who they are makes you smile when you look at the piece furniture even if there are a few tears in the upholstery is a keeper.
Not everything in our homes will have long stories that will make your heart smile, but gradually, once we have what we need to live sufficiently, we can be thoughtful and careful about what we wish to bring into our sanctuaries. Often it actually becomes easier because we know precisely what is not only needed but also what would be cherished.
6. Include custom art or upholstered items with beloved fabrics from your travels or the past
Whether you are a painter or someone has painted or illustrated something for you, framing it gives you an original piece of art. Playful or serious, seasoned artists or first-timers, the art we display can share a glimpse of your story to those you invite into your home as well as remind you of what you care most about.
As well, choosing to upholster old furniture, or cover pillow or make blankets with fabrics found like traveling or found like going through your family's attic are unique and signature ways of adding a decor idea that can't be purchased in a retail store.
Transforming a house or an apartment into a home is a creative journey and revelation of our truest selves in many ways if we want it to be. Recognizing the power of communication and comfort and confidence that can transpire simply with the decor choices we make is a tool we can put in our toolbox to improve the quality of our lives. It is a process that requires patience, but one day when you least expect it or aren't looking for it or trying to achieve it, you will find yourself sitting in that one particular spot in your home, passing the time doing something you love either on your own or with someone you love and you will feel the most at home you have ever felt. Such a feeling is not because your home is complete (it never will be), it is because you have curated a space that enables you to relax, recharge, share yourself without saying too much or saying just the right amount in each room of the home and knowing you did what you could with what you had.
It is my hope that you experience such moments often no matter where you are along your journey. Because, if my experience has taught me anything in each of the homes I have inhabited, it is possible and it only gets better with each step forward along the journey.
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~How to Create Surroundings for Everyday Contentment, episode #219
~learn about each episode here
~Image: an everyday moment captured in my living room, complete with a dog toy left on the floor - learn more about the photo in this post.
Sun, 7 October 2018
Home sweet Parisian home, whether you live in Paris or not.
Ines de la Fressange is stepping into the sanctuary with her new book Maison: Parisian Chic at Home (see my profile posts of her previous style books here, here and here), and along with her co-author Marin Montagut, they are both taking readers inside their own homes in Paris as well as inside 13 other Parisian apartments (the founder of Sézane, the duo behind the French decor and candle company Astier de Villatte, just to name a few).
With the opportunity to review a copy prior to its release just this past Tuesday, my decor curiosities are deeply inspired as while there are many reoccurring themes that must be Parisian go-to decor ideas, there was much reaffirming of the ideas I saw this past summer both in Paris, but also throughout the countryside. Many of which are simple and inexpensive ways to add your signature style to your sanctuary whether you rent or own.
I have created a list of 21 decor ideas found throughout the book, and if more than just a couple of these ideas speak to you, I highly recommend picking it up as the photography by Claire Cocano is intimate and brilliant, and the insights from the homes' inhabitants are insightful and offer even more creative ideas.
Most importantly, and this was something I spoke with a handful of people while I was in France, the goal with Parisian and even French decor, is not about achieving perfection. Rather it is about creating a sense of bienevue (welcome) to whomever enters, a sense of ease and the ability to live and live well amongst the four walls (and perhaps a terrasse). From the details of essentials in the kitchen, to the touch of the outdoors with ubiquitous bud vases, simple, thoughtful decor takes time and is unique to each individual who lives in a space.
1.Welcome a variety of textiles
Velvet, linen, hemp, damask silks are recommended by Ines de la Fressange for use on cushions, mattress toppers and other details about the home.
2. Add the light of candles
Recently a reader asked about my favorite candles, and I am happy to share. I couldn't agree more with this decor suggestion as while having flattering and welcoming light from lamps is a wonderful idea, the natural movement of a flame is a lovely complement. Below is a list of my favorite candles:
3. Use your "Sunday-best" tableware every day of the week
Whether the handmade ceramics you love or the treasures you found at a brocante while traveling or a secondhand shop by perusing, use them and enjoy how the presentation when you sit down to dine elevates the flavor (it really can!).
4. Collect old, slender glass bottles for single cut flowers
I am gradually adding to my collection and loving what I am finding. And even better, it saves money as you don't have to buy a full bouquet.
5. Use straw or raffia baskets (French market totes) in various sizes for storage
In the book, you'll see a picture of Ines' home closet in which she has multiple baskets storing socks (large), make-up and accessories (small).
6. Collect tools of your creative craft
Painter and co-author of Maison: Parisian Chic at Home, Montagut, collects painter palettes and arranges them into a collection or scene in his living space. Often found at garage sales for pennies, they would certainly provide much conversation and color in a home.
7. Keep your eyes open for details to add to your home
Perhaps it is an old farm door to add to your kitchen épicerie or tiles for a backdrop, you never know when a unique and signature find will be discovered.
8. Create a backdrop for everyday life
As shared about Ivan Pericoli and Benoît Astier de Villatte's apartment - their decor approach, is to welcome antiques (they need not always be expensive, perhaps more readily found in Europe, but such can be the case here in the states - secondhand shops often have many gems) and create a reading nook, a welcoming kitchenette, use beautiful ceramic dishes for everyday uses such as displaying fresh fruit, etc. to elevate the everyday experience.
9. Choose vintage lighting fixtures
I tend to always look up and around when I enter a space and upon seeing signature lighting fixtures cannot help but smile. It is the attention to such details that reveals something lovely about the inhabitant that tended to the decor.
10. Collect and pair or group demijohns
I saw many demijohns during my trip this past summer, and three of them were beautiful arranged in Sharon Santoni's cottage in which I stayed. Often they are sold with their wicker cover, but after removing the wicker, the green brilliance (there are many sizes and clear glass as well) adds a touch of life and elegance, as well as simplicity to a room.
11. Welcome handmade or handcrafted items into your home, especially your kitchen
While functional, these items are often quite beautiful and can be easily displayed for eyecatching decor.
12. A wall with many mirrors for multiple perspectives
Multiple homes featured in the book had a wall or a portion of a wall full of many different sizes of mirrors - one in a bathroom and the other in a living room.
13. Glazed terra-cotta jugs and carafes
Multiple purposes can be found in Provençal finds such as glazed terra-cotta jugs and carafes for wine, water and olive oil as they make a lovely presentation on the table as well.
~Olive & Branch Profile post
14. White walls, colorful decor
Morgane Sézalory, the founder of Sézane (France's leading online clothing company - see my most recent post on their fall collection) swears by a white palette (walls, ceiling, etc.) and lets the rest of her decor be thoughtfully colorful.
15. Collect vintage tableware and display it, don't hide it.
If you have plates, a tea/coffee set or anything made of ceramic or porcelain that you love, why not put it on display? Use it, of course as well, but when not in use, allow it serve as your decor as well.
16. Old wooden cutting boards are both functional and beautiful to display in groupings
Wooden cutting boards seem to be just about everywhere online - Food52, Esty, etc., and if you are looking for trays or additional surfaces to cut upon as well as serve food, this idea is a wonderful way to create a decorative touch as well as function on-demand.
17. Paint doors or window frames black and juxtaposed with green foliage
Depending upon the exterior or interior wall color, one apartment featured in the book had a beautiful black door with brilliant green wisteria draped about it during the summer months. The contrast was impressive.
18. Multiple bud vases filled with seasonal foliage or blooms
Sharon Santoni demonstrated this idea beautifully in her guest cottage this summer, and it immediately captured my attention. I love the uniformity of having the same varietal, but each having their own vase.
19. One long, open shelf in the kitchen for everyday essentials
Depending upon the layout of your kitchen, and if you do not have cupboard space, adding a single, long, shelf above your cooking space with beautiful brackets to hold it place is a simple way to add decor and function.
20. Select beautiful, simple glass storage containers for your food, and don't hesitate to use them as decor.
As I shared this past January, German Weck glass jars in oodles of sizes and shapes were my winter investment as I organized my kitchen cupboards; however, any glass container with a lid can enable you to store beautiful your food. Keep your eyes open and mix and match.
21. Add a globe
According to the book, globes are making a comeback in the world of decor - small or large, with ornate stands or simple, artistic bases, if the addition of a globe speaks to you, now is definitely the time to start hunting for one.
Whether you are a Francophile or a lover of signature style in your home, as you can see, it is the individual's tastes that will make the home beautiful. Having grown up with a mother who would take me to garage sales, and on other treasure hunts for the home, I thoroughly enjoy the details that I have welcomed into my sanctuaries over the years. Along with travel, when we have patience with the process and refrain from buying the same thing everyone else is buying from a big brand store, we share a piece of ourselves with not only our guests who cross the threshold into our homes, but we remind ourselves on a daily basis what inspires us and thus keep our creative side perpetually piqued and comforted as well.
~View all of TSLL's French-Inspired podcast episodes here.
~Tune in to TSLL's new vodcast - The Simply Luxurious Kitchen
~Learn more about TSLL's Weekly Newsletter
~TSLL's French Cafe Jazz Playlist (no lyrics)
~The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 1 (Season 2 is coming soon!)
Trailer of Season 1
Trailer of Season 2
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #228
Mon, 21 May 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #209
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
"Your home knows your past, it directs you toward your future, and it gives you the comfort of ritual. There is nothing on the planet that knows you and nurtures you like a home. You simply need to give it the tools to take care of you." —Home Sweet Maison: The French Art of Making a Home by Danielle Postel-Vinay
Whether we've lived in our home for years or only months, tending to our sanctuary is a near priceless gift we can give ourselves when it comes to our inner peace and well-being. Earlier this year author Danielle Postel-Vinay's new book Home Sweet Maison was published offering readers a tour of a home, room by room and how to incorporate what she has incorporated as inspired by the French culture and her French husband. The book is a personal journey, exploration and revelation of how by turning our attention to harness the power of our homes, we, as she shares in the above quote, give ourselves a most wonderful and powerful gift to elevate our everyday and ultimately the overall quality of our lives. Today I have selected 10 ideas that captured my attention, but there are many more within the pages of her book. As she shares in her introduction, "Take what you like and reject what you don't until you create a French-influenced home that is perfect for you."
1. Create a thoughtful entry/foyer
Make it unique. Introduce yourself to the world as this is where you greet the world and the world greets you. Choose a shelf or small table top to display your "memory theater" enabling guests to pause, look around and get to know you, if even to create a bit of mystery about the inhabitants. Your personal story and hints at dreams for the future can also be revealed. As well, make it functional - a coat rack or stand - to immediately allow guests (and yourself) to enter the home and begin to relax. 2. Give each room a purpose
"Fluid spaces introduced by the open floor plan [by Frank Lloyd Wright] create a sense of endless freedom and light in your home, the appearnce of unity and togetherness. But I wonder if this appearance of togetherness translates to actual togetherness?"
When we choose to give each room a purpose, we also communicate to ourselves the ideals we aspire to, a place to practice our values and share them with those we love. Whether it is the dining room being a space to gather tech-free and stay in touch with the lives of those we share the home with or our bedroom (le chambre) in which we share with most intimacy those welcomed into our personal sanctum, similar to our sartorial choices communicating without saying a word, our rooms communicate, encourage and support what we hold dear.
3. Embrace hunger and dine together at designated times during the day
Postel-Vinay sprinkles anecdotes of her French husband's foray into American cuisine and approach to food. Between the larger portions and not waiting to eat until a specified time so everyone can gather and the food can be appreciated, he encourages and reminds how feeling hungry is not the same as feeling starved. Hunger is not bad, he reminds. In fact, it elevates the appreciation for the next meal when it is time to sit down and enjoy.
4. Celebrate the food that has been prepared
Similarly to the point above, her husband is dismayed by the Americans' lack of appreciation for the food that was thoughtfully and with great time created to be enjoyed. An appreciation allows for an understanding of where food comes from and how it was prepared enabling diners to slow down, consciously enjoy the the food and thus not overeat. I also applaud this approach as it nudges us all to eat well and intelligently. In other words, what is it you enjoy about the food? What are you tasting? And you can then carry this into the kitchen to better understand how food is made, prepared, seasoned and its full flavor brought to the table.
5. Encourage all to participate and all topics to be discussed
While some may adhere to the edict of not talking about politics or religion at the table, I would propose, it is how we talk about these topics at the table that ensures that thoughtful, yet still impassioned conversations on any topic can be had. When we ignore our audience and choose to commandeer the table as our bully pulpit to share our opinions, then we have relinquished respect for fellow diners, but if instead we engage in thoughtful, elevated, conceptual conversation, all people can consider, some may learn, some may accept and some may rise to the challenge to offer another thoughtful opinion demonstrating that so many ideas have many shades of grey. As well, Postel-Vinay shares that the French encourage all guests at the table to speak, even the children. Practicing conversation and listening skills, but also demonstrating how to participate in a conversation which leaves no one out and recognizing when someone is monopolizing the conversation is a life skill for any situation involving effective communication.
6. Cultivate a boudoir (which is not the chambre, or bedroom)
"a place of refuge, somewhere to go when the world [is] too cruel, a safe place to let one's guard down"
I too learned more accurately what a boudoir is I mistakenly equated it with the bedroom. But while tangent to le chambre, it is the room or space which leads or precedes the bedroom. Perhaps the lounging area of private gathering complete with a chaise lounge or dressing table or a meditation room off to the side of your master suite; however you want to decorate your boudoir is up to you. The key is you. While Postel-Vinay shares, such rooms are not found as much anymore in France; however, to create a space in our homes for "personal retreat" and a space to "reflect your personal taste" seems to be a worthwhile return to the past.
7. Keep the bedroom private
In other words leave the bedroom off the home tour.
8. Choose neutral high quality cotton sheets for bed linens and avoid of fancy patterns
Simple, timeless, sensuous and beckoning. Our bedrooms need to be a place of refuge, escape and where restorative slumber takes place. Here is a detailed post about curating a bedroom for comfort and tranquility.
9. Choose a boutis quilt for summer bedding covers
Often found in the south of France, Provençal traditional quilting offers boutis "in which a thin layer of cotton, silk or wool batting is covered on both sides with thick cotton fabric, then quilted."
10. Take the television out of the bedroom
For sleeping, reading and intimate moments with your partner. That's it. That is all that is needed. Keep it simple, keep it brilliantly lovely and a space you look forward to returning to at the end of the day. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVE YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~11 Ways to Make Any Home Your Sanctuary, episode #105
~Subscribe to TSLL's Weekly Newsletter
~Submit ASK SHANNON questions for the June 25th episode (email by June 12th)
~Stop by on June 13th for the reveal of TSLL's 2nd book and the beginning of preordering.
~SPONSORS of Today's Episode:
Mon, 30 May 2016
Whether you own or rent, whether your place is large or small, even if you've lived in your space for decades or only a few months, these 11 simple tips will make your home your new sanctuary all without calling a contractor or breaking the bank.
In this week's Petit Plaisir, discover a book that will improve your sleep and improve the overall quality of your life: Arianna Huffington's new book The Sleep Revolution: Transform Your Life One Night at a Time
Mon, 24 August 2015
Author, blogger and decor expert Frances Schultz's new book The Bee Cottage Story: How I Made a Muddle of Things and Decorated My Way Back to Happiness is the focus of today's discussion. And while the premise of the book is all about how she restored her 1920's East Hampton's cottage, it also part memoir as readers discovery her journey to arrive at the place she is today, fulfilled, content and full of wisdom.
Topics of happiness, meditation, authenticity and yes, even decor are discussed.
In today's Petit Plaisir, I share my top 10 decor tips and ideas from the pages of The Bee Cottage Story by Frances Schultz.
Sun, 12 July 2015
If you've ever wanted to bring the comfort and luxury home with you after traveling and staying in lush living arrangements, whether a luxury hotel or vacation rental, in today's episode you'll discover 10 simple and inexpensive ways you can live a little more luxuriously right at home.
In this week's Petit Plaisir Shannon reviews the film The Woman in Gold the film and shares her experience visiting the Neue Galerie where the original Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I hangs.
Sun, 22 February 2015
If you enjoy living simply, but also enjoy entertaining from time to time, a bar cart is a wonderful, efficient way to combine style and function without the fuss. In today's episode, specific styling tips are shared on how to style your bar cart for your lifestyle whether it be a morning display full of pastries and tea, an evening of wine or a fully stocked mixed drinks bar, tune in to see why you may just want to add one to your sanctuary.