Happy Spring Break & Some Good News for Friends!!

Hello!!! We're off this week for Spring Break and I might literally have to duck tape my laptop shut so I don't work.  ;)  But that's the goal. 

I also just wanted to share some awesome things going on with a couple of bloggy friends:

Brooke & Steve Giannetti's {insanely beautiful} Home is being featured on the cover (and of course inside too! ;) of the May isse of Romantic Home Magazine!!  I am crazy over everything they touch and of course theirs is a perfect dream house:

And Kayce Huges's {fun &fresh & gorgeous}home is featured in this month's Country Living!!:

Kayce just recently became a sponsor of Pure Style Home & I am so happy she did!  I'm constantly drooling over a particular dress she designed at her store Pears + Bears.  (I wont' tell you which one because I don't want it to sell out!! ;) ;)   Her company, Pears + Bears also makes beautiful children's clothing.  How freaking adorable?!!!:

Oh if I ever get a girl....

And finally, Eddie Ross is making a pilot for a TV show!!!!  He's looking for a room to makeover for the pilot episode and is accepting submissions!!  Just click here for details.  I am soooo  excited for Eddie!! He can do it all {perfect tables- interior design- styling- photography- craft projects- budget- high-end- etc.} & with his sense of humor & charisma I KNOW he's going to succeed!! yay!!

Ok, so I am pretty much OFF-  no I'm OFF-  for the week but we will be having another super-duper guest blogger before & after!!  Have an awesome week & a Happy Easter if I'm not on before then.!!
ps- I wanted to thank everyone soooo much for the awesome response to my last post on roman shades.  I appreciate each & every one of your emails & comments.  Many of them contained questions about specific window situations & I wish I could answer all of them, but I hope you can understand the time it would take for me to give good, specific advice for each situation.  Right now I'm pretty overloaded with home life, clients & blog & I really hope you can understand that I'm just not able to do this right now.  I offer e-decorating services (you can click on the link at the top right of the blog)  if you're interested in specific advice for your home.  I will work on getting a price on the e-decorating page for general window treatment queries/ advice.  Again, I hope you can understand and thank you for your response!!
(again ;)

The Skinny on Buying Roman Shades: Custom Vs. Standard

I love roman shades.  I use them on pretty much any & every window that needs privacy.  (Shutters are beautiful too but we'll get into those another time.)  There are so many different types and price points that I thought it might be helpful to break it down. 

1.  The main materials that can be used for roman shades are

{A room by Steven Gambrel}

 and natural woven materials:

{Image Source unknown via Little Green Notebook}

2.  There are many cases when roman shades are beautiful/ functional on their own & should be used alone.  It offers a clean, simple look.  Here in the kitchen, is a kid-friendly solution (i.e. no food mess on curtains) with custom natural woven roman shades with privacy lining:

{Our breakfast nook, smith + noble tortoise shell bamboo waterfall shades}

 A client's living room (pictured "before" below) had a set of french doors on the left side and a double window on the right side.  When I first arrived, I knew we needed to fix the imbalance of having curtain panels on one side and not the other:

{Client Living Room Below}

Because the door wouldn't have been functional with curtain panels, and because I wanted balance, I used roman shades only (no curtains) on both sides.  I wish I had a better view of this room, (I still need to go back for finished photos)  but I had custom pleated balloon shades installed behind the newly added crown molding for a seamless casually elegant look:

{A client's living room.  My task was to keep all existing furnishings, artwork, etc. and update it.}

3.  I also love to layer roman shades with curtain panels. It's functional (panels can remain stationary and roman shades go up & down for privacy) and beautiful (You get 2 opportunities to add texture/ pattern to a room instead of just 1.)  It adds layers & creates a warmer look than curtains alone.  They can be mounted inside the window or outside the window. 

I often have them mounted above the window and outside of the trim ("outside mount") to allow as much of the window to show as possible and to give the illusion that the window continues higher than it really does which visually heightens the entire room.  (It makes smaller rooms feel more spacious and large-medium rooms feel grander.)  I did this in a client's living room here:

{A client's living room:  custom lined linen curtains & custom natural woven roman shades with privacy lining}

In my own living room, (below) I used non-custom cotton roman shades from Sears.  (The color I used was "natural" and it looks like a warm white.) I mounted them outside the widows (again, to give the illusion of larger windows and also to hide the window frames on my old 70s window) and I paired them with "custom" (I made them myself because I couldn't afford to have them made) unlined white linen curtains. (I went with unlined linen because I love how the light shines through & it's a natural, relaxed look.) 

{Our dining room}

Here (below) I used the same non-custom Sears roman shades in "white" in our family room with no curtains.  Because of our budget, in our house I try to use non-custom shades wherever I can.  The cost difference between custom and non-custom is amazing.  (Approx $30 for the noncustom Sears shades below and maybe around $150-$250 or so- depending upon fabric- for a custom version.) 

4.  Custom vs. Standard Fabric shades:  Let me be frank: you get what you pay for.  The ONLY reason I don't have custom shades on every window in my own home is because we can't spend money there right now.  I love the look of certain standard shade styles but there is a difference in quality.  Custom shades pull up & down smoothly & evenly, whereas I have to play with some of my my non-custom shades to get them to hang right & evenly.  (Sears' larger sizes - 48" and up I think) are much of a better quality than their smaller sizes.  They use a metal chain pulley system and go up and down smoothly but I've noticed there's a slight varience in the color of the fabrics between the large and small sizes--- arggg.  But the price was right.  My advice is to buy the best you can afford.  Consider the non-custom shades to give you the look you want and plan on upgrading in the future if you want/ need to.  Custom fabric shades are made to order so you you can use any fabric you like and the style selection is practically endless.  Use a local shades fabricator to get the exact fabric and style you need.  (If you don't have one, consider hiring a decorator/ designer to assist.  Calico Corners also makes custom shades.)  This typically costs more than going with a company like smith + noble who has a limited selection of fabrics to choose from. 

5.  Custom vs. Standard Natural Woven Shades:  If you simply want the look and won't be using them often (in a space where you don't really need the privacy) I recommend the non-custom shades for a great look without the expense.  In our toddler's room we went with the non-custom unlined natural woven shades from Home Depot (for around $40) because he's so short anyone looking in wouldn't be able to see him anyway when he's not dressed.  (And of course because these shades would have been close to $400 if they were custom.)  The shades are also over the bed & so would be a pain to open & close whether they were custom or non-custom, but I love the look of these Home Depot shades for anyone who wants "the look" without the functionality & privacy needs:

{Our toddler's bedroom}

Again, you get what you pay for.  If you need high-quality. smooth & easily operables shades, then you will need to pay more. 

6. Tips for non-custom natural woven or "matchstick" shades:  Most non-custom companies sell their natural woven shades unlined.  A few have liners you can purchase and add on separately.  You could also attempt adding your own lining if you're crafty.  The unlined shades significantly darken the room and filter the light but at night they're virtually see-through from the outside when your interior lights are on.  Just google "natural woven roman shades"/ 'matchstick shades" and a bunch of options will pop up.  (Target, Home Depot, Sears all have them online.)

7. Tips for Custom natural woven roman shades:  I love smith + noble's selection of natural woven roman shades.   Different materials vary in prices.  There are a lot of other amazing brands out there but I simply used smith + noble first and loved theirs.  I've heard great things about many other companies and will surely be trying some out in the future.

The decision to go with fabric shades or natural woven shades depends upon the feeling you want your space to have.   Go here to check out some different styles of fabric roman shades.   

I hope this helps & good luck!!

Guest Blogger Before & After: La Dolce Vita

Today for out Guest Blogger Series, please welcome super-stylish Paloma of the beautiful blog La Dolce Vita!

{After: Our Guest Bathroom}

I was so excited when Lauren invited me to share a before and after on her wonderful blog, though I must admit, I was a bit intimidated. After all, Lauren is the queen of fabulous DIY projects! I don’t know how she manages to do it all, but she does so beautifully and with grace and kindness.

My before and after is of my guest bathroom which after a few very simple steps, was transformed from drab and predictable to something my husband and I absolutely love!

{Before: The Guest Bathroom circa 2007}

The guest bathroom featured a plain, white shower curtain, the requisite blue and brown combination that everyone was doing, and the original walnut cabinets. Looking at this makes me cringe now. The paint color (Benjamin Moore’s Plymouth Rock) is about all that remains.

I had spotted this shower curtain at Target, which reminded me of Kate Spade’s which was featured in Domino a few years ago. I sort of built my vision around it and got to work. I love the look of the curtain with the framed fan coral and monogrammed towels.

{Kate Spade’s Shower Curtains}

{The $30 Target Version}

I have always been partial to the look of white linens, so I ordered these towels from Pottery Barn and had them monogrammed. While I love the look of white towels, they are not always practical, so the linen closet is filled with graphite-colored Cynthia Rowley towels for guests to use when they visit. You’ll notice the hand towels are also graphite. I thought it was a nice, coordinating color.

We completed this project right before Christmas. In September 2009, we traveled to London and in the summer of 2008, I traveled to Spain. I took some of my favorite shots from both trips, framed them, and hung them in the bathroom to add some interest. I chose to print the pictures in color. I thought that having black and white photos would just be too much in a predominantly black and white room.

On the Vanity: A Potted Orchid, Handmade Mexican Pewter Towel Ring, Archipelago Botanicals Diffuser, and a little Japanese bowl from Anthropologie.

The greatest impact came from painting the cabinets gloss black. We couldn’t spend the money for a new countertop and sink, so a little can of paint gave us a lot of bang for our buck! It created contrast between the cabinets and the counter which just wasn’t there with the original walnut cabinetry. If you look at the first two images in this post, you’ll notice the difference is huge!

We contemplated getting a new mirror for a while and a few weeks ago, I suggested that we buy some plain wood trim from Home Depot and paint it gloss black to match the cabinetry. Again, I think this choice made a tremendous impact and really completed the project. Not bad for a project that cost about $15.

I’d say the overall transformation of our guest bathroom cost about $300 and we are very pleased with the difference it has made. Thanks again for featuring my before and after, Lauren!

Paloma- What a huge difference the simple changes made- it's fresh, up-to-date & graphic & very "you!"  I love the huge monograms on the towels and the black touches throughout.  Painting the vanity really made the space feel so much bigger & prettier.  (And all for only $300?!!  awesome.) Thank you so much for sharing your guest bath transformation with us!!!

Can't Get It Off My Mind

Absolutely crazy over this fabric.  (Thibaut's "Sweet Grass")  MUST. USE. SOMEWHERE.

Sorry for such a shorty today but covered in spit-up and one-handed typing with baby in the other..  or "pecking" as Seleta calls it.  ;)  Enjoy your day!!


Pure Style Project #10: Plant a Branchy Bush to Steal From

As I've mentioned many times, I love bringing in branches from outdoors.  I am absolutely crazy over forsythia (image source below- unknown):

I love bringing in the bright yellow blooms and they're super-easy to force indoors.  (image below, House Beautiful)

SO, 'tis the season and I saw some for $14 each.  We picked up 2 that are about to bloom & popped them in the ground along the fence in our backyard:

I couldn't resist the pansies either & they add a bit of cheer to our sad-looking yard:

Forsythia can also be grown from cuttings, so if you can, get your hands on a 3"-6" branch and put it into moist soil.  Keep it most for a few weeks & it should begin to root quickly.   When the bushes get larger, they should be pruned soon after they flower.  (The guy at the garden center near my house said we should wait until next year to prune ours and he also said to keep the natural graceful shape (vs. "ball"-looking or hedge-shape we see so often)  cut them down low vs. cutting at the outer parts of the bush. 

So, Project # 10 is to get your hands on a branchy bush or tree and plant one in your yard if you don't have one already. 

Some of my favorites are: pussy willow, flowering quince and cherry blossoms, but check out my old post "Branch In" for some more ideas.  I'm so excited about the fact that I'll have some beautiful blooms inside my house!  (And side benefit = gorgeous yellow bushes ;)  ;)

Hope you had a great weekend!  The weather was perfection here in Northern Virgina!!  :)  Come on Spring!!

Random Friday

Yesterday we had 4 of our scraggly pine trees removed.  When the guys were back there taking down the trees, they found this little cutie (above & below) with a hurt leg.  He wasn't afraid of us at all, and right before animal control arrived, I snapped some glamour shots.  (We were pretty sure he was rabid but he was just sooooo adorable!!!)  Raccoons are almost like little wolf-monkeys.  We gave him some pizza and I think he got to enjoy his last hour or so of life- munching away and hanging on my neighbor's step.  When the officer arrived, he confirmed he was rabid & could see that he was self-mutilating (that was the leg injury we had noticed.)  I had no idea rabid animals did that.  The officer said that this was Day 1 and that by Day 2 he would be more agressive & would continue to self-mutilate and that he had to shoot him.  (He attempted to catch him but couldn'tm so out came his .22)   It was pretty awful, but I'm just so thankful the tree guys found him before Christian or our pup did!  


And for some more randomness, I've been playing with my lab beakers and my collection is growing:

I used some sprigs from that indestructible crazy bush that grows in the side of my house that I love so much.  And check out our 2 yr-old's scooter on the back patio in the corner of the pic below...  it's getting so warm!!!  wahoooooooooo

We've also been making good progress on the nursery.  (I say "good" because it feels like it's been forever since we started.  We usually bang projects out in a weekend but we're trying to focus more on life vs, blowing through projects.)   It's painted and things are up on the walls and we've gotten all but 1 fabric finished.  Our last step is hanging some curtains & shelving.  Cannot wait to show you!!!  here's Justin enjoying his owls:

So happy Friday & enjoy your weekend & get outside!!!  (How beautiful is this weather???!!!)  Come on Spring!!!

Guest Blog Before & After: Janell from Isabella & Max Rooms

Please welcome super-stylish designer Janell Beals from Isabella & Max Rooms!

I feel very honored to be writing this guest post for Lauren and her delightfully beautiful blog today. Whenever I see a new post by Lauren I happily open it, anticipating that I will be inspired.

Today I'm going to recap three of my recent projects, all using chalkboard paint. It seems I have been bitten by the chalkboard craze! It's hard not to be. This paint offers up so many possibilities and it is just such a fun project that keeps on giving after you've stored away the paint and cleaned the brushes.

Project #1: Chalkboard/Art Wall. Here an entire wall became a chalkboard and the backdrop for an art wall in my husband's home office. I had considered several ideas on how to treat the wall behind the photos and images, finally deciding upon chalkboard paint when I realized whatever I did needed to be cheap...

Project #2: Chalkboard Lamps. Yes, I know, this doesn't initially sound like a good idea. But look at the result! I had a pair of lamps that needed a little pick me up as I started working on Max's bedroom. It was a quick project with a fun outcome. And what is best? Max loves them.

Project #3: Chalkboard Stripe. Here a wide chalkboard stripe was painted around the perimeter of Max's bedroom. (I swear, I've run out of the paint and I'm not going back to the store for more anytime soon!) Before starting the redesign of Max's room I had a "client interview" with him. It was amazing how much inspiration and direction I got from his answers. Among his requests for the room was the color black, to bring in a chalkboard and to get rid of the plain walls. It quickly dawned on me that I could easily address all three of these requirements with one item...chalkboard paint. Everyone in the family has gotten in on the writing and drawing, suddenly Max's room is the most popular spot in the house!

So tell me, where would you use some chalkboard paint in your house?

Thank you Lauren for inviting me to write this guest post.


Thanks so much for sharing these awesome projects with us Janell!!  I love how you did a client interview with Max & have really worked to create a room he loves.  You've used chalkboard paint in such creative ways and I love it!!!   (the frames on the walls/  the lamps/!! so awesome) 

Happy St.Pattie's Day!!!
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