Unbelievable: Jackie VonTobel

I can't contain my excitement: Jackie VonTobel (of Jackie VonTobel Home ) just launched her new fabric line & online store today!!!!! You HAVE to check it out -oh my gosh her things are SO BEAUTIFUL!! http://www.jackievontobel.com/

Her designs are too pretty for words... But I'll try of course! ;)

Everything is so fresh & energetic& happy!!!:
Lots of them are whimsical takes on the classics: enlarged florals & toile-like patterns (The design below is just perfection... It reminds me of a modern version of one of my Grandma's plates... Oh how I need it!)...

...chinoiserie in unexpected colors...

beautiful peacocks, huge paisleys with an enormous amount of white space ...

...Cheerful graphic patterns that are still curvy enough to be super-pretty. (Sometimes graphic patterns can be a bit too much for me & feel a bit trendy but not these!)

I could seriously find a spot for every one of her fabrics & pillows in my house. (I would love a closet full of her pillows to switch in & out seasonally. Just one of these would make a room!) You can choose to go with organic cotton or eco-friendly linen, depending upon the look & feel you're after.

She uses so many different color palettes & here are images of just a few:

.... had to share the greens & grays of course!!! But this blue too (below) - oh my goodness!!!
Anyway, you've got to check it out!! I am in love and cannot wait to use some of these for projects!!!
all images from jackievontobel.com

Forcing Paperwhites/ Narcissus Bulbs

Paperwhites or narcissus are named after the mythological character Narcissus. There a few different versions of the myth of Narcissus (some including the nymph Echo & a curse) but most end with the haughty handsome boy falling in love with his own reflection in a pond and staying there loving himself until the day he dies. (hence the term "narcissist.")

A narcissus flower is said to have bloomed in the spot after his death.

Every Winter I think about forcing paperwhite bulbs. I just love the idea of having fresh flowers all winter & of course the small is insanely good. (I tried it one year but they don't do very well when you don't water them.) But THIS year, I'm doing it. I want that smell and I want those beautiful little white fowers all over my house. A neighbor of mine forces amaryllis & other bulbs as Christmas gifts & I think it's just a perfect idea. She times them so they're in bloom when she gives them.
I'm going to give them to all of the people in my life who love themselves too much as a hint for them to change their narcissistic attitudes- it's about time! (hahahah no, totally kidding... I'll give them to the people I love too much ;)
If you're anything like me & often a little short on time (and you're giving it to someone who you think might enjoy a mini-project & the waiting & watching for blooming bulbs) then you could also make them a pretty bulb-forcing kit with all of the ingredients needed: beautiful container, stones/gravel/etc., a bulb, and directions. How perfect are these paperwhites in julep cups (real simple mag) below?!
I'm loving them on this Christmas mantle (below, Martha Stewart):
And look at this huge trough on a kitchen island from here :
And pretty much anything in an urn is gorgeous to me (image below from tickingandtoile.com):
I'm loving the wild-vintage look in the photo below (from the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information center). Clear glass vases are easy to come by (in fact, pilsner glasses from a place like Ikea would be really beautiful & affordable) and I love seeing the root systems. A very raw/ natural look:
There are so many different options for planting. One of my favorites (and I cannot find the photo I'm looking for- arg!!) is to use vintage tea cups. Oney teacups are so inexpensive at flea markets & thrift stores and would make a beautiful gift. Check out this gorgeous metal (can't tell if it's copper or something else from the pic, gardensnob.com) pot below:
And they look perfectly simple in even just a plain white pot (uniquegardens.net):
Here's a quick How-To for forcing paperwhites:
( I got the information from an article on about.com with photos by Kerry Michaels)

1. Pick your container: If it's tall, you won't need to stake the paperwhites when they eventually bloom, but if it isn't, be prepared to have stakes, chopsticks, etc.

2. Add 2-4 inches of stones, pebbles, gravel, anything non-porous to your container. (This keeps the bulbs in place & out of the water.. you just want the roots in the water.)

3. Add the bulbs. If you're doing multiple bulbs , make sure they're all at the same level & nestled into place so you can keep the roots (not bulbs under water- bulbs will rot)
4. Water & Alcohol:
***UPDATE*** I've gotten lots of great emails & comments from readers who've grown narcissus themselves and they mention adding alcohol to the water to keep the plants from becoming too leggy. They say to just use water until the first sign of a green shoot arrives and then use approx 1 part alcohol to 10 parts water or 4-6% from that point on. (There are lots of different ratios floating around out there for how much alcohol to use & the article I read said no more than 10%.)

4. They do best in a cool spot out of direct sunlight for a couple of weeks. After they root, put them in a bright warm spot to speed up flowering. (The author of the article says she just keeps them on her kitchen countr the whole time.) Once they bloom (4-6 weeks after planting) you might need to stake them with something to keep them from falling over.

Here are a few inexpensive sources I found & thought I'd share with you:

For a vase similar to the one in the image above, try here (2 for $8.98)

Buy (already started/ forced?- It was hard to tell) bulbs here: $16.95 for $25

And here there's a deal with 30 for $19.95 and 15 for $10.95

I'd also heard that Walmart has them but don't have one near me...

SO, I'm going to give it a go this year & of course I'll take pics & show you how it goes when they bloom. I'm very impatient with these sorts of things but I'm going to try my best to water the bulbs this time!! (Image below from Country Living) I want these flowers!!!



image #1- whiteflowerfarm.com, image 3- greayer.com

Be Thankful For: The Democratization of Decorating

Years ago it was much harder for the average person to have a stylish home. Curtains were handmade because off-the-rack-sources didn't exist. Furniture was painstakingly purchased and lots of people went without. Those who did have curtains & custom upholstery made, went a little nutty with the matching because they could. I remember happily helping my mom as a kid decorate our living room in perfectly coordinated fabrics below:

As much as we might roll our eyes at Pottery Barn or Ballard Designs, they really have helped to democratize decorating for the masses. They brought affordable (more affordable) style into people's homes. I remember browsing Ballard Catalogs as a teenager and wishing I could have a grand formal home with topiaries & (reproduction but I didn't know it) paintings of Greek columns and just wanting everything in there. (Thankfully, both Ballard Designs & I have changed our styles a bit since then!- see pic below :)
But for those homes that didn't subscribe to design magazines (like mine) the catalogs were IT. I poured over those catalogs the way I pour over design magazines today. I tore out pages (and still have some- I need to find them & scan them in for a post) for my inspiration files on my teenage bedroom decor: Pottery Barn, Ikea & Ballard. Whether the design was "good" or "bad" is irrelevant: the important thing is that they reached lots of homes & got people thinking about their spaces & how they could affordably improve them.

And in the 10 years since I was tearing out their pages for files, the general population has become so much more design-savvy & the catalogs have managed to keep up & help us get here. (And so many more have arrived on the main scene: Wisteria, Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma Home, RH to name a few... And of course Target & Bed Bath & Beyond & Linens N Things too.) (glass ball lamp from Target below)

I won't even get into cost or quality and I don't even necessarily shop at all of these stores, but what amazes me is how far they've brought us design-wise. Good design used to be something generally reserved for those with money. Of course when people made purchases they tried to shop wisely & make their spaces as beautiful/ functional as they could (and many of them did), but the variety of sources was just so much more limited than it is today & it was just that much harder to do so. Today, you can go to Ikea & a bunch of thrift stores & create a beautiful space without spending an arm and a leg. Take my bedroom (pic below) for example: You couldn't do this before. We're now at a point where even in the very early stages of decorating ( & for lots of young people who are just starting out) we can have a beautiful look. With craigslist (sending old purchases out & even bringing new ones in) we can upgrade our spaces as we go along.
With the onslaught of home-decorating shows on channels like HGTV, the average person is just so much more exposed to design than he/ she used to be. (To be honest, I don't have cable & really only like a VERY VERY small number of the design shows out there because I think the design is so gaaaaaah on so many of them) BUT still- most of the time, spaces are improved & by watching the shows people begin to develop an eye for design. We can figure out & assess what we like and don't like. Learn budget-friendly tips & tricks. Just getting more EXPOSURE to design in general has made the average person so much more design-savvy.

And let's not forget magazines like Domino or Cottage Living who featured beautiful affordable spaces. Neither of them were able to get to a very ripe age, but I still have hope that there's a good one out there waiting to be born. (Or maybe exists & I don't know about it?!!! ) But magazines like these got us thinking. They got us realizing that we could do what the people in those gorgeous pictures were doing: creating a beautiful home on a budget. (HINT! HINT if anybody in the mag industry is out there!! We're STARVING for a magazine like these!!!! ) (Now I know many of the rooms featured were WAY out of my budget, but the ideas themselves could easily be used for someone on my budget which is what I loved. For example, you could subsitute Home Depot's custom jute roman shades ($25) for a custom set ($250) and still have "the look.")

And don't even get me started on blogs. New ones are popping up daily (I wish I could stop time just to read all of my favorite blogs- there are so many now!) and there are so many creative people out there showing how to live beautifully & affordably & making good design super-accessible. They inspire us to think outside the box & make our homes our own. (Thanksgiving Table below by Eddie Ross)

I will admit: I LOVE custom pieces & fabrics & do believe they can often make or break a room. My LR curtains, chairs & sofa were all done in fabrics I chose. BUT when it came to my accessories & casegoods, I went with thrift store & ebay finds, antiques, & less expensive catalog items. (Now these aren't guidelines for everyone- you might fall in love with the perfect dining room table from a designer showroom & maybe that's your LOVE.) But my point is that through dissecting room after room in catalogs, design magazines, and blogs, I was able to figure out how budget decorating would work for me in my space: Where it was I wanted to save and where it was I needed a splurge in order to get my look.
In catalogs, I saw what I liked (functional, pretty, clean spaces with some nice pieces) & disliked (sometimes a lack of character, layers, individuality) & took what I thought was the best from them & did the same thing with magazines. (Now think about it really quickly, because I'm not knocking the catalogue companies- when you are staging a home for sale- you make the space look pretty & nice, but you DEPERSONALIZE it in order to sell it. You remove personal items like photos & crazy artwork & wall effects that might not appeal to everyone... Well, catalogues are doing the same thing. Their job is ulitimately to sell and if they personalize spaces too much, they won't appeal to the masses, which is what they need to do to sell the most amount of goods. So it makes sense that we might often feel that a showroom or catalog room isn't a "real'' space or something to aspire to.) Anyway, with magazines, I dissected what I loved about them & eventually developed my own (ever-evolving!) style. I figured out how to get looks I loved for less. (image below from cococozy)

I started out as design-clueless as anyone. (I always loved decorating & rearranging my room as a little girl but Laura Ashley was pretty much the extent of my decorating- below, but mine was much worse.) Good style develops over time, and thanks to aqll of the readily available tools: catalogs & blogs & shows & design magazines, it's more attainable than ever these days to achieve it in our own spaces.

So, along with everything good in my life- my family, my friends, my faith, my health, my home, my business, my time, YOU- I'm thankful for accessible design this Thanksgiving. (Don't worry- I won't say that at the Thankgiving table- I would totally get looks for that one! ha!) How about you?
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!!
***update*** Janell brought up a really great point in the comments (#2) that this whole thing has also created more pros and challenges on the flip side, often for working with designers. It's awesome for designers to get such style-savvy clients (we love it!!) but it can also be difficult because some of the expectations created by these shows are unrealistic. If you decide not to "do it yourself" & elect to hire a designer (which can save you a lot of money in time & mistakes) there will of course be fees for your designer's services & those services should still hold as much value as they used to.
I have met with clients who want "design on a dime"-type designing but what they might not initially realize when contacting me is that the space will not take me any less time or effort or ingenuity to create (often more!) and so my fees for a designing like this can cost even more than my fees for sourcing a room of a more sizable budget. (This is because sourcing for discount items, fleamarketing, thrifting, etc. takes WAY more time than it would on a standard design. These design shows have crews of people providing free labor-often the biggest expense- and sourcing budget items & designing for FREE... The man-hours that go into creating these spaces costs money in real life. If they were to add up all of these true labor costs, the spaces would cost WAY more than "a dime.") I always try to make sure my designs fit within a client's budget but that budget of course has to allow for my fee... Because as much as I love doing this- we have to eat!! :)
SO- my thoughts are that the exposure & accessibility to all of this design is great for us all, but that in the end what it all comes down to is being able to put it together in a beautiful, functional way- by yourself or with help- whichever way works best for you!

Wallpaper Stencil LOVE

Well my sweet husband finished the LR wallpaper stenciling this weekend!! The stencil was roughly 17 x 20 inches & it took 3 days of painting. (RL stencil from here )

He says the worst part about it was having to wash out the stencil between every few applications of the stencil. We used a latex paint: Sherwin Williams 'Ancestral Gold' recommended by Maria from Colour Me Happy & the color coudn't be more perfect!! (a pale goldy-green- awesome with the sofa- Thank you Maria!!! :) He didn't use a stencil brush & we just went with a Home Depot cheapie about 2-3 inches wide. The application isn't even & is just what I was looking for. (perfect imperfection!!)

Here's what our living room looked like before:

And here it is after the stenciling:

(A clear glass floor lamp is on its way to the right of the fireplace to balance out the chandelier & we're adding a custom mirror in the fireplace box.) It's hard to see in the far away photos because of the light coming in through the windows, but there is a sort of grid-like pattern where the stencil applications meet. I've been going around by hand to fill in these areas (this will also take FOREVER) but it's worth it because it makes it look continuous.

It reminds me a little of my grandparents' wallpaper (where I lived growing up) and looking at it just gives me this feeling of "home." I seriously teared up when Dave finished it. (ha pregnancy! ;) It looks like a timeworn wallpaper & I couldn't be happier. It really warmed up the room & made that huge high wall feel smaller.

Now my dilemma is this: I don't think I can cover it up with my 30 Leonardo Da Vinci sketches!! (At least not right away because I just want to gaze at it lovingly.. not kidding.) But I already ordered them... SO now I think I'm going for a CRAZY gallery entry with them going all the way up the 3 walls in the entryway. Any thoughts??? Should I put them in the living room or entry? If I put them in the entry, what your thoughts on the living room? Should I put the black window-like mirrors back? (in above before pic-- they're very loft-like & strong.) Just keep it empty & lean whichever mirror and/ or art I feel like at any given time? (below) Do you think it feels too empty as it is now? (This is tough because it feels "emptier" in photos than in person because the wallpaper stencil stands out much more in person...)

Ok, would love your thoughts & ideas. And one last pic of my chemistry beakers!! (In case you didn't read the comments in a previous post, I had to laugh so hard when Terri of WindLost said she loved everything in the room except for the chemistry beakers because she's a scientist. hahaha Yes, I have to agree that I wouldn't feel the same way about them had I her job!!)

Looking back over the weekend stenciling project: YES, I almost told my husband to quit after it took an hour and a half to do the first 3 stencils. He was a serious trooper & just kept going & going but I KNOW I wouldn't have done it myself. I don't have the patience. IF you have an insane stash of patience, it's a project worth doing, but I agree with many of the comments in my last post that wallpaper doesn't seem nearly as expensive now. He's moving onto the foyer this weekend & that will be rough on a ladder the whole time but I'll post when we have pics!



ps- Head over to Velvet & Linen to vote for which readers' rooms you think deserve the GORGEOUS brickmaker's coffee table!!! I took part in the selection of the finalists & I cannot tell you how many beautiful well-designed rooms were sent in!! It was SO tough- bloggers & readers are so talented!!!

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