Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pull up a Bench

It has been a week! I feel so unbelievably guilty for my lack of presence in the blogosphere. I missed the connection so much, yet somehow was completely sucked into my work sphere. Last night at a fundraiser, I met some gals who had heard of my blog through a mutual friend and it occurred to me that this is a commitment just like anything else. Yep, it's a bit indulgent, certainly doesn't pay the bills, but boy does it add a lot to my life. For the bit that I invest, it pays tons in returns! So thank you for your patience through my challenge to juggle it all (how do you guys manage to raise children too!!?? We had doggie bath night recently and it nearly killed me!) So THANK YOU for sticking with me!

I'm celebrating my return to Blogland with the announcement of my Interior Designer, Claire Watkins from the blog High Gloss Blue. Claire is a fellow resident of Atlanta and I fell for her sharp wit and enthusiasm for design. As you likely heard me mention, I finally came to the realization that while I LOVE home decor, I really do need assistance. My own space is much too personal to critique and, having lived here for four years, I certainly don't have that fresh look. I would imagine that having a design-loving blogger for a client may not be the easiest task, but Claire handled it in stride. She took all of my suggestions to heart, gave me guidance, but in the end, is allowing me to make my own decisions. With her eye and framework, however, I feel much more set up for success.

As all you designers/experts in your field have said, it is so much better to just hire the talent from the beginning. One would save so much time and money. During our walk through the house (which I was SO nervous about!) I kept saying, I bought that because I thought... and that because I was thinking... blah blah blah. The advice, "buy something because you LOVE it and you will find a home for it"... ignore that voice. That is just not true. Unless you happen to own four homes and then yes, that object will likely work in one of them.

OK, so onto the redesign. I have several rooms I want to update and, like many of us, a limited budget. So we broke things down by room, but keeping in mind the overall "master plan." One of my first projects will be the breakfast room area, just off the kitchn.

I am blessed in that I've inherited several antique pieces of furniture. The down side is that I feel compelled to use these pieces and am hesitant to change anything. Our breakfast room set is a great example. I freely admit it- I'm not an oak person. But this set is very oak. Claire suggested painting the hutch (below)- which Mr. Southern nearly passed out over. But since I agreed not to paint the kitchen cabinets and showed him some lovely examples of painted furniture, I think we've gotten to an OK to paint.

Could we pull off the Belgian/Swedish look here a la Brooke, Joni, and Gina?

via Velvet and Linen

The other challenge is seating. These chairs just are not super comfortable. But they've been in the family for years! So, I will let them rest in the attic and just go for the comfort (I'm hoping) Parsons chairs and bench from Ballard Designs. Oh yes and the walls. I loved the red wallpaper when we first moved in but have realized how drawn I am to neutral palletes. So at some point this paper will go and be replaced with (ideally!) grasscloth- but done in vinyl for washability. I've heard that these options are great, despite all the negative connotations of vinyl paper.

First, the eye candy inspiration for creating a great breakfast nook (though some of these are a little "country" for me)... I grabbed these images for their banquette seating, which Claire suggested for the far wall in the bay window.

Young House Love

The Kitchen Designer

Country Living

Better Homes and Gardens

Better Homes and Gardens

Better Homes and Gardens

Here's the Ballard Design bench Claire suggested paired with several of the fabric samples she had.

There's the Como Ikat Dijon from Sunbrella...

the Daphne

I honestly forget the name of this one and it was not in our sample list, but I like it!

Easy Care Anya in Chocolate (Mr. Southern worries this is too busy)

and the Arabesque- which here looks far less pretty than the actual fabric sample.

And of course, must replace that builder light fixture. Claire selected this one for us from Pottery Barn, which I think will work perfectly.

I'd love to hear what you think! OH! And, I have my very first giveaway coming up this week, so please stay tuned!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Mardi Gras in Mobile

Last week, work led me to the Gulf Coast of the Southeastern United States. Deep in Alabama and Mississippi to mea are the true "Deep South." The threat of impending snow during the trip, however, added a little something I wasn't expecting. Fortunately, though delayed considerably, my Friday evening flight still landed safely and I made it home. Travel during a snowstorm (or any other bad weather) and it is amazing how happy you feel when you walk in the door of your own home!
I especially enjoyed getting to see Mobile, Alabama, particularly during the Mardi Gras season. While often people think of New Orleans, Mobile actually holds the record for the first Carnival celebration, in 1703. The Carnival season culminates this Tuesday with Fat Tuesday (or Mardi Gras, french for Fat Tuesday). The celebration precedes Ash Wednesday, or the start of Lent.

My hotel kindly left me a gift of beads and a MoonPie.

You know I had to take a quick drive through the Historic District to catch a glimpse of the homes. I was surprised and delighted to find out how absolutely affordable they are- in comparison to Atlanta standards. The houses were constructed in a mix of styles and price points.
Here are two I captured and I must apologize for the poor photo quality. I love the inviting nature of this house and the lower side window pane suggests lots of great architectural details inside. This house, which sadly we can't see through the trees very well, but seems to have a gothic quality.

Since my photographs stunk (the others I did not upload were even worse), I poured over some real estate listings to share. This little number on Lafayette Street is on the market for $329k.

This Dauphin Street Beauty is less than $600 (I can't remember the exact figure). I especially love the second floor porch and the second building (pool house? guest house?). I would guess Queen Anne architectural style... Oh to have a glass-front Butler's Pantry...
Such detail on the mantle.
Very intricate woodwork.
Here it is! The little house!!

This cute little Arts and Crafts guy on Macy Place is less than $200k... I think there's probably lots of potential here but a good bit of work too.

This one on Houston is also less than $200k. Both houses are a bit smaller- less than 2,000 square feet- and likely could use some updates.

This house is just fabulous. And I think "only" $560k.

Love the staircase and doors here.
Another view of the stairs through the door... but a handsome room in its own right.Great light throughout the house and I love all the French doors and transom windows.

Note the yellow/purple/green flag flying in front of this Georgian Revival house.
My absolute favorite though is the house known as "Elephant Walk."
Yes, this little guy is in the Mardi Gras spirit, decked out with his beads.
The yard seems fabulous- lots of texture among the plantings.
I didn't find a lot of pictures of the interior, though the ones I found are quite delightful. I adore the coffered ceilings here and the wall color is just lovely.
The bay window, visible from the front of the house, provides a terrific seating area in the parlor.

That wraps up my tour of Mobile. I also saw loads of great places on the Gulf coast- you Florida beach ladies are quite fortunate!! I hope y'all are safe and warm and had a wonderful weekend!


PS- thanks to a reader email, I have learned that Zatarains is throwing "The World's Largest Mardi Gras Party." To learn more, simply click on the link. While I'm slightly saddened that I was not invited to host one... Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez! (please note that I understand this is imperfect French).