Defining Lines

Open plan living.  Open plan offices.  Shared outdoor open spaces. I like where things are going. And even though I’m the type of person who needs a solitary quiet space sometimes, I love the concept of open plan living, particularly at home. All that light and space creates a certain fluidity.

When it comes to furnishing open plan spaces, some challenges arise. I mean, what do you do with the couch? Do you just plonk it in the middle of the room? If you want to make life a little easier for yourself when styling open plan spaces, start thinking about rugs.  They very quickly help you map out an open plan living space and in particular they help define your living and dining areas. Rugs are also a wonderful way to bring in more texture, colour and pattern to your space, so naturally, I’m a big fan.

This week I’ve pulled together some sample looks that work, and found a selection of great rugs for you to muse over.  My general rule of thumb for rugs in living and dining areas is keep all the furniture on the rug (or front legs of furniture on the rug at a minimum). Stick to this and you won’t go too wrong.

Now, here’s the eye candy…

Living Area

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Image: www.mydomaine.com
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Image: cargocollective.com
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Image: sulu-design.blogspot.com
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Image: www.suburban-bees.com

Dining Area

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Image: www.stylemepretty.com
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Image: design-milk.com
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Image: www.styleathome.com
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Image: oheightohnine.com.au

Rugs can be an expensive purchase. You can very easily end up spending more on a rug than a couch. That said, there are some affordable options out there. Target, Rugs USA and Overstock all offer some great options.  Rugs are also a great thing to snatch up during sales. Bigger really is better when it comes to rugs, so keep those eyes peeled for bargins!

If you are hesitant about getting your first rug, try a neutral or black and white option.  I’m loving black and white rugs at the moment.

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Available @ www.overstock.com
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Available @ www.rugsusa.com
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Available @ www.rugsusa.com

If you’re ready to ramp it up from a neutral but are still treading a little cautiously, go for a rug with muted colours.  Muted colours will blend easily with most colour schemes.

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Available @ www.anthropologie.com
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Available @ www.overstock.com
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Available @ www.westelm.com

However, if you’re feeling more adventurous, go big and bold with colour and pattern. Lots of homes will have couches and chairs in neutral colours, so a colourful rug will really make the area pop. As you’re scrolling below, please take a moment to check out the FABULOUS emerald skin that I found. I have fallen for it and am frantically trying to figure out where I can put it in my apartment. I really don’t think I’ve the space, but never say never…

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Available @ www.rugsusa.com
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Available @ www.therugcompany.com
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Available @ www.luluandgeorgia.com

Happy rug shopping folks!  Remember, bigger is better and don’t be afraid to have fun with colour and pattern. Granted a rug isn’t a stocking filler, but there’s still time to get one on your Santa list!

S&O x

Light Me Up

I’m fast-forwarding to December today. There is a sullen mood in LA and there is Thanksgiving to come before Christmas, but I am fast-forwarding to December. If ever I needed some Frank Sinatra singing ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ it is this week. So I am going there. With haste.

I have favourite things I like to do in the run up to Christmas and decorating the tree is one of them. I love it. It’s like some sort of first date that develops into a love affair over a December (ok, sometimes November) evening, accompanied by red wine and a festive soundtrack in the background. I’ll be getting creative with my decorating this year because I don’t have room for a tree.  But for those of you who do have the space, here are some tips on how to make your tree gorgeous.

Decorating your tree is a layering process.  Get each layer right, and you’ll end up with a beautiful full tree. It starts with lights. My choice is always white lights, and lots of them.  I use four to five sets of lights on my Christmas tree.  You will curse, and swear, and have to walk away every now and then when you’re putting them on, but I promise it will make your tree look magical at night. I’m talking taking each individual branch and threading the lights through them. I know, it’s tedious, but worth it.

Next use your garland and what I call your base decorations (simple shaped decorations) to build out the first layer of your colour scheme.  I’ve gone for a metalic and blush base with pops of burgundy and black for this post. The garland comes first. I’ve used anything from ready made garlands, to wide ribbon, to pieces of fabric as a garland.  Get creative with what you use. Start from the top, and bring the garland in a spiral shape all the way down your tree.

When your garland is in place, start layering your base decorations. I cover the tree with LOTS of these. It’s the foundation for making your tree look full.  You can always take some off later, but more is better here.

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Garland: Silver Jingle Bells Garland, Crate & Barrel
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Base Decorations: Metallic Ball Ornament (Blush), West Elm
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Base Decorations: Copper & White Ornaments, Crate & Barrel

Stand away from your tree when that’s done and you should see a great foundation ready for adding accent decorations.  This is where I like to go big with the size of decorations and add lots of texture.  Don’t limit yourself to Christmas tree decorations here. Silk flowers are brilliant to use, especially ones with large heads, like hydrangeas.  Keep an eye out during the year for these (they’re not necessarily seasonal), especially if you’re keeping away from traditional colour schemes.

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Accent Decorations: Paper Ornament (Blush), West Elm
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Accent Decorations: Mythic Plume Ornament, Anthropologie
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Accent Decorations: Beaded Poinsettia, Aldik Home
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Accent Decorations: Pomegranate Ornament, Anthropologie

The tree should be looking full and textured now. The final step to make the tree look complete is to add some contrasting colour. This will make the tree pop.  I’ve gone with two strong colours, black and burgundy, to contrast the shimmering metallic and blush background I’ve used. Place these decorations in a zig-zag shape down the tree. Finally, I’ve added some *sparkle* for the top of the tree to complete this non-traditional festive look.

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Contrasting colour decorations: Hanging Ornaments Vinter 2016, IKEA
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Contrasting colour decorations: Burgundy Matte Feather, Target
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Crystal Christmas Tree Topper, Target

I don’t go too over the top after the Christmas tree, but I do like to decorate the mantelpiece. Simply place two or three Ferm Living candle holder strings along the mantelpiece (I would prefer to have these in white – spray painting is an option here). Dot a selection of Skandinavisk Jul Christmas candles, Crate & Barrel snowflake porcelain candle holders and some of the West Elm blush metallic ball ornaments we used previously amongst them. This is a festive look, yet some of these pieces can be incorporated into your living space once the Christmas decorations have been put away.  (On a side note I have a big thing for the Skandinavisk brand at the moment. I have their Ö (Island) candle burning in my apartment. Beautiful packaging and a lovely narrative behind this brand – check them out.)

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Candleholder String (Nature), Ferm Living
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Jul Scented Candle (Christmas), Skandinavisk – Available in Rolling Greens, 7505 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036 & Huset, 1316 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
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Snowflake Porcelain Hurricanes, Crate & Barrel

It is trivial to be talking about decorating Christmas trees this week. I know it is. The most inspiring thing about the US presidential election has unfortunately been Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. She spoke such dignified words at a time of defeat. I will be taking one of her closing messages with me into 2017 to light me up. “I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will — and hopefully sooner than we might think right now”.  

Now, go get all the white lights you can find folks.

S&O x

Green Gloves

I buy flowers every week, usually when I do my grocery shopping.  They are one of my staples, like eggs and red wine.  A balanced grocery shop right there. But until recently I had never taken the plant plunge.  I have now dived in, head first, and deep. Living near Rolling Greens, a botanical retail haven, gave me the final push to get started.  I’ve passed by their door too often to not be inspired.

I had two strategies for buying plants.  The first failed miserably, the second worked.

Here’s my failed strategy.  Don’t do this.  I see some nice potted plants at a flea market.  I pull three together, same pot size, contrasting colours and shapes. Do I like how this looks? Yes. Plants bought. Fast forward two weeks and the plants are looking less than healthy, sad even. I get into a conversation at a nursery about these plants and it turns out that the first one needs to be inside, the second needs to be outside in the sun, and the third needs to be outside in the shade. My plant trio is no more.

The strategy that did work was a far more common sense approach.  I went to my local nursery XO-TX Tropico and gave them details of where I wanted to put my plants.  I have a bathroom with no windows, that gets no natural light at all.  What are my choices?  I have a living room that gets three hours of strong sun in the morning and then goes into shade.  What are my choices? Simple! People working in nurseries know their stuff, take FULL advantage of that knowledge. I went with a Chinese Evergreen and Bella Palm for the bathroom, and a Dragon Tree and Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa) for the living room. Get guidance on what can survive in your living space, choose a variety of leaf shape, height and colour for interest, and let the plants do their thing.

Chinese Evergreen, Image borrowed from realornamentals.com
Chinese Evergreen, Image borrowed from realornamentals.com
Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata), Image borrowed from 99roots.com
Dragon Tree, Image borrowed from 99roots.com

The options for plant pots are endless but I’m recommending IKEA for simplicity and affordability.   Team some of their textured pots with their white Kardemumma series and you’re done.

Druvflander Plant Pot, IKEA
Druvflander Plant Pot, IKEA
Kardemumma Plant Pots, IKEA
Kardemumma Plant Pots, IKEA

I already had variety in height with my living room plants, but if yours are all the same height, consider using some plant stands to keep it interesting. I really like these linear plant stands from Anthropologie and this chevron stand from West Elm.

Linear Plant Stands, Anthropologie
Linear Plant Stands, Anthropologie
Iris Planter & Chevron Stand, West Elm
Iris Planter & Chevron Stand, West Elm

There was one last thing I wanted to do with plants.  Inspired by the airy interior of Butcher’s Daughter on Abbot Kinney in LA, I really wanted to get hanging plants into the mix. I got some brass geometric shapes at my local flea market, and put some air plants in them.  They are now hanging in the bedroom. You can get similar ones on Etsy.  A lot of people say take plants out of a bedroom at night, but I’m completely ignoring that because they are bringing far too much visual pleasure. One faux-pas did happen with my air plants. I sprayed one with window cleaner instead of water. Really. Two spray bottles, both with a clear liquid – easy mistake right?! It’s still hanging there in all its glory thankfully. But potentially dying on the inside.

brass_geometric_shape
Brass Geometric Shape, Etsy

I have totally embraced plants now.  They’re inexpensive, add great depth to a room, have varying texture and colour for you to play with, are air purifying, easier to care for than pets, and bring life to a space. I’m not quite at the naming and talking to them stage, but they’re here to stay. I’d love to hear about any of your plant and plant pot finds, along with any advice for keeping plants alive.  I’m good on the not spraying plants with window cleaner though, that one I’ve figured out!

S&O x