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!



  1. I am very excited for you, Claire Watkins is truly amazing. I have a million ideas but I will defer them to those who are professional designers. I, like you, love home decor, but have difficulty picking out my own kitchen towels. I am a serious architect junkie and I have plenty of idea on that!

  2. I did the same thing, finally hired a designer and am kicking myself for not doing it sooner (although I have tried in the past and never found anybody who really gets me until now). Many, many of my things are going to live in the storage room until one of the kids buys a house or gets a new apartment. And it's good to have somebody to bounce ideas off of, at the very least. When I come back to my blog after lent, I hope to have lots of before and after pictures. Just went to Ballard's Backroom last week when I went to pick up my last chair and to get fabrics at Lewis....everything in the store was on sale....have you checked it out? And depending on what you're looking for, they have tons of cool light fixtures at Scott every month. I also like a lot of the Aiden Grey stuff...so pretty. Can't wait to see the finished project!

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  4. Bravo for choosing Claire. You won't regret working with a pro. I think it saves money and produces much better results. Pros will gently sell you on great ideas you otherwise couldn't imagine.

    Watching a pro go through paint chips - wow - it's like watching an Olympic athlete.

    Our designer friend has many jokes about "heirlooms as ball and chain." Whole houses get designed around furniture people don't really like anymore.

    Best wishes on your venture.

  5. I can't wait to see the updates! Finding a designer you really connect with makes life so easy . . . and beautiful!

  6. Wahoo! I think I get just as excited seeing these things come together as the people who live with them. Can't wait to see yours, Emmie, and so appreciate the opportunity to design for a blogger!

    Big thank you to you and your commenters for their kind words-

  7. I totally know how you feel about blogging- it does take alot and I have nooo clue how working mothers do it all (I bow down to them)

    I love what I see so far for your home- its always nice to get a fresh set of eyes on a space that you have been living in for so long. I cant wait to see what else you have in store for your home.

  8. hiring a designer sounds so exciting. i can't wait to see the final product!

  9. I have the same benches from Ballard and I love them! They're incredibly well made for the price. I had my covered in a Sunbrella fabric and I can't say how happy I am about that decision -- spills just wipe off!

    And re painting wood...I'm starting to realize no man is really up for it! My husband is always whining that he wants natural wood, even if the wood on the piece in question is totally hideous.

  10. I can hardly wait to see what you end up with! I will be watching the blog to see!

  11. You aren't kidding about blogging. I am about a month in and had now idea what went into keeping up a blog. But, like you I find it very rewarding. I still get excited when I get a comment! I love the ideas you and Claire have come up with and cannot wait to see the finished product. The inspiration images are great, and especially love the one via Young House Love.....it just went into my inspiration files. My husband is the same about painting wood...we are going back and forth about a pine table we have....

  12. Ohhhhh, I have the redecorating itch right now too! LOVE the benches and PB light fixture!

  13. * WHAT F*U*N!!!~~~"This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship!"~~~

    And just for the record, I suspect 99.9% of men feel the same about painting wood~~~ (use those eyelashes more, girlfriend!!!!). Seriously tho, I think they're BORN with that thought in their heads!!! I used to show my husband reeeeally UGLY versions of what I wanted.... thennnnnn, one day would slip in "THE" ones that really WERE fabulous (pics of the ones I had chosen & wanted), and VOILA~~~ "I won" (he DOES have good taste, tho, so I'm blessed!!!)... (My Mom taught me that~~~ I know, I know... SOME people would say "that's AWFUL"!!!! (And THAT, of course, would be a MAN SPEAKING! Laughter is everything! G' luck!)...

    Linda in AZ *

  14. I missed you! I am so excited to see the changes on my next visit!

  15. Seriously, that comment about 'buying what you love and it will fit' was so DEAD ON. I think I took the 'buying what you love' philosophy to heart and now I have a bunch of crap that I no longer love and that doesn't fit together. Your perspective on it totally made me laugh.

    So excited for your design work. Keep posting about your progress!


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