Tips & Resources: Great Interior Design Books

decorate book holly becker

I am definitely a book lover. These days with my Kindle, Iphone and Amazon it’s rare that I actually get to a book store, but I still love to buy actual books – especially interior design related books (and vintage art books too)! These books just are not the same in online versions. The photography, the reference tips, the ability to flip back to a page quickly and show a client a detail are so valuable.

Several of my favorite designers and bloggers have been putting out books lately, and I couldn’t be happier with several of the choices. I also have a few older books, which I think are super helpful to the novice designer that I’d like to share with you. Lastly, I am anticipating the release of several upcoming design books that should be released in 2015 that are on my wish list and should be on yours too! Here are my picks for some great interior design books to get your collection started. 

BOOKS WITH GREAT ADVICE FOR BEGINNERS (OR DIY DECORATING)

SEWING MADE SIMPLE: The Definitive Guide to Hand and Machine Sewing

sewing made simple book

This book by Tessa Evelegh is AMAZING if you’ve recently started learning how to use a sewing machine, or need a refresher. It has more than 500 color pictures, multiple patterns, sewing-machine anatomy, lots of (seriously) achievable projects, and best of all (for a designer) a huge glossary and section on fabrics. This book was better than my design school text book when it comes to fabric details, examples and terms. Can’t remember the difference between a dobby, damask or doupion? Sewing Made Simple will make you sound like a fabric expert!

DECORATE: 1,000 Professional Design Ideas for Every Room in Your Home

decorate book holly becker

One of the first “celebrity design bloggers” is Holly Becker of DECOR8BLOG. This book is largely her baby (also written by Joanna Copestick), and it is filled with very practical decorating advice! This is actually the most step-by-step instructional design book I’ve ever seen. It has floor plan examples, lots of guidelines and tips, quotes and advice from well-known designers from around the globe, and lots of photos of spaces that actually look lived in. Totally a good buy if you are trying to redecorate on your own!

ELEMENTS OF STYLE: Designing a Home and a Life

centeredbydesign_elementsofstylebook_photostylecarrot

Erin Gates is also a well-know blogger with a book! She is actually new to me, but I find her sense of humor and bluntness quite refreshing. I always laugh reading Elements of Style. I have not purchased her book yet, but it is on my list to buy this year and I’ve heard great things i.e., it’s practical and personal, which are two things I love. Here’s a quote from Amazon, “Erin combines honest design advice and gorgeous professional photographs and illustrations with personal essays about the lessons she has learned while designing her own home and her own life—the first being: none of our homes or lives is perfect.”

BOOKS WITH INSPIRED INTERIORS (LOTS OF GORGEOUS PHOTOS)

CHICAGO SPACES: Inspiring Interiors

chicago spaces book

I love to support local and Agate Publishing here in Chicago put out this lovely book with Chicago Home + Garden. Its forward is by hometown design hero, Nate Berkus, with an introduction by Jan Parr (Chicago Home + Garden Editor). It showcases fabulous home here in Chicago and in surrounding suburbs. I think it does an excellent job of showcasing different types of designs and styles. You may think “Chicago” and simply think Frank Lloyd Wright or Mies van der Rohe, but style has evolved in the Midwest and this is a great peek into real people’s expertly designed spaces.

SUZANNE KASLER: Inspired Interiors

Suzanne Kasler book inspired interiors

Atlanta based Suzanne Kasler has been named one of the top 100 designers by House Beautiful. Her Southern flair and classically inspired rooms are a nice respite from the more modern styles I usually gravitate towards. There is such an elegance to the natural palettes she uses, and I personally appreciate her less is more approach. The photos in this book are stunning, and Kasler’s advice is honest and down-to-earth.

BOOKS THAT EDUCATE ON A CERTAIN TOPIC

MID-CENTURY MODERN: Interiors – Furniture – Design Details

mid-century modern design book

One of the older books in my collection, Mid-Century Modern is most like a text book of educational knowledge on all topics, historical and current, concerning mid-century design. These styles, many made popular in the 1950s, fell out of favor for almost 40 years. The 21st century has brought modernism back to the forefront of design, and you can’t look at a popular retail furniture store today without seeing a large mid-century influence. Love it or hate it, it’s great to be well-versed in different aesthetics.

THE COLOR SCHEME BIBLE: Inspirational Palettes for Designing Home Interiors

color scheme bible book

If you only buy one of these books, this should be it! Color palettes, mixing paints, mixing colors and finding the right inspiration for you or a client can sometimes be challenging. This book by color consultant, Anna Starmer (yes that is a job!) is chock full of color schemes. There is also a nice section on color theory, and more than 200 palettes (including a main color, accent colors, tonal varieties, highlight colors, and inspirations). Yes, you need all those color types to make a room look great! This book will certainly get you started and help you become well-versed in coloring with confidence.

BOOKS SOON TO BE RELEASED 

This next section could also be described as bloggers gone wild. JK. The following ladies are quite popular at the moment in the blogosphere, each with their own unique design partnerships and projects. The common thread is that they are all a bit bohemian in their decorating, which is certainly a large part of my personal/decorating style, so naturally I love them! I can’t wait to for each of their books to be released. I’ll leave you fit an Amazon snippet and a link to their blog – enjoy!

HABITAT: The Field Guide to Decorating

lauren liess

“When I originally came up with the idea to write a decorating book in the form of a field guide, the table of contents and subsequent proposal just sort of flowed out. The book has ended up being a massive brain dump in which I’ve tried to share everything I can about the decorating process, and the logic behind it all.  It’s easy to reference, including charts with information being broken down on specific products and materials where I felt like it was helpful, mixed in with small bits from my life and home. I hope that when people read it they feel excited to work on their homes and feel like it’s something they can tackle, be it on their own or with help from a decorator.” – Lauren Liess (cover image not yet released)     

THE NEW BOHEMIANS: Cool and Collected Homes

justinablakeney_thenewbohemianscoolandcollectedhomes

“In The New Bohemians, LA-based designer Justina Blakeney defines the New Bohemians as creative individuals who are boutique owners and bloggers, entrepreneurs and ex-pats, artists and urban farmers. They embrace free-spirited, no-rules lifestyles and apply that attitude to all areas of their existence, including their homes, and explores 20 homes located primarily on the East and West coasts.” – amazon

STYLED: Secrets for Arranging Rooms from Tabletops to Bookshelves

emilyhenderson

Emily Henderson has one of my favorite blogs and her style is just plain fun. There is no actual description for her book at the moment, which is to be released in October 2015 but I can guarantee that it will be a winner. For now, follow along with her at: http://stylebyemilyhenderson.com

HAPPY READING & DESIGNING!

XO – CLAIRE


Centered City Guide: Austin, TX

austin texas

Alright y’all, I’m kicking of the Centered City Guide posts with my recent trip to Austin, TX. I went out to Austin for the fabulous three-day http://www.theschoolofstyling.com and also lingered in the warm weather a few extra days to explore the city. I stayed with some gracious family friends who are Austin locals (and fed me too well). In no particular order, below are my recommendations for shopping, eating, and activities.

As for accommodations, I recommend Airbnb in the South Austin or South Congress areas or the http://www.bunkhousegroup.com properties like Hotel Saint Cecilia and San Jose. The Driskill Hotel is also right downtown and quite famous.

FOR THE VINTAGE LOVER:

Uncommon Objects – Vintage emporium of just about everything you can imagine. Kind of like your grandparent’s attic on steroids, but also styled really well. Lots of fun, I’d say you need at least 30mins – 1hr here. www.uncommonobjects.com

Prototype Vintage Design – Well curated boutique with a nice selection of men’s and women’s wear, shoes, bags and the like. www.prototypevintagedesign.net

Feathers Boutique – Vintage mostly, but with some new pieces mixed in and a modern jewelry selection. www.feathersboutiquevintage.com

Uptown Modern – If you’re driving (or have big bucks to ship furniture) and love mid-century modern this is the place to go! www.uptownmodernaustin.com

End of an Ear – Totally rad record store. Super organized layout and friendly staff. The best I found in Austin (went to three total) vintage and new vinyls. http://www.endofanear.com

See all Austin vintage here: www.vintagearoundtownguide.com

FOR THE HEALTH NUT:

Wanderlust Austin Yoga Studio – Lovely studio with tons of class options and a delicious smoothie/ acai bowl bar. You can even pre-order so your smoothie or bowl is waiting for you after class! http://austin.wanderlustyoga.com

Run the Lady Bird Lake Trail – FREE fun. Pull on your running shoes for up to 10 miles of mostly paved dirt trails. I did three miles and it was great. Lots of people and dog watching. http://www.austintexas.org/listings/lady-bird-lake-hike-and-bike-trail/4369/

LEAF – Salad bar extravaganza. It’s like a Chipotle for SALADS! This is the one and only location. Seriously, a salad lovers dream. Great for vegetarians, but also lots of meat/protein options. Casual atmosphere. http://leafsalad.com

Milk and Honey Spa – Guadalupe location. Modern and eco-friendly full-service spa. I loved my Lux mani/pedi. Book ahead! http://milkandhoneyspa.com

Whole Foods (just blocks from the original first ever WF) – It’s a giant grocery store, but if you’re like me a trip to Whole Foods feels like a vacation from real life some days. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/lamar

FOOD/BEVERAGE:

Elizabeth St. Cafe – $$ (French Vietnamese) This was by far my favorite meal during the trip. It’s ADORABLE! The interior decor is spot on and from the drinks (sake/punch/wine/beer) to the full menu, coffees and pastry this place was truly enjoyable. Outside patio is also a plus! South 1st Street. http://elizabethstreetcafe.com

La Condesa – $$$ (Modern Mexican) Delicious food and chic decor in the heart of downtown Austin. This is a great spot, especially if you’re traveling with a group. Our party booked the entire upstairs floor for a private dinner event. Lots of delicious meats, the Mexican elote (corn) was to die for, as were the desserts! https://lacondesa.com

Mother’s Cafe – $ (Vegetarian/Vegan) A perfect spot if you’re in the mood to fill up on good for you ingredients! Since 1980, Mother’s has been a staple in vegetarian cooking in Austin. I loved the artichoke enchiladas! They also have an extensive smoothie bar. Huge menu with lots of options for vegetarians and non-veggies. http://motherscafeaustin.com

Bouldin Creek Cafe – $ (American/Breakfast) Awesome spot for breakfast, brunch or coffee. There’s an outdoor patio for nice days and free wifi access if you need to get some work done. Tons of coffee options too! http://bouldincreek.com

 

SAMPLE ITINERARIES:

I didn’t have a chance to see any live music while I was in town, but that is certainly part of what Austin is known for! This link has some great sample lists of places to visit based on your interests, including lots of live music venues.  http://www.downtownaustin.com/experience/sample-itineraries

If you have any specific questions let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them. Late February and March are spring temperatures in Austin so it’s a great time to visit!

XO – CLAIRE


Design Ideas for a Stylish Entryway

entryway styling

The entryway to our homes can often get overlooked. Like a sturdy handshake or friendly smile upon meeting someone, your entry or foyer gives off the first impression of your space! What’s your entry space saying at the moment? Does it jive with your style and how you would like to present your home/apartment? If not, read on because I’ve pulled together some easy and (in some cases) affordable design ideas for a stylish entrance.

First, we’ve got a Centered By Design entry project. We have worked with two clients on entry styling lately. This first project is finished and you can see the before and after photos below. The second project is still in the works and involves an awesome stencil. Can’t wait to show you that one too!

This project involved a fairly typical Chicago entrance. It has that loooong entry wall supporting the staircase and a whole lot of empty space. Our client had searched high and low for a table long enough to fill the wall, but could not find anything in the right size. And so, she commissioned a table from Centered By Design’s woodworker (a.k.a my husband Luke). The table top was built from a single salvaged floor board that we sourced from the Rebuilding Exchange. It was also custom stained to match closely with the floor and banister detail.

entryway styling ideas

BEFORE: Sad entryway…getting better with addition of the custom table.

entryway styling ideas

AFTER: Affordable updates make for a welcoming and artful entry!

I styled the table using two pieces of artwork the client already owned and added a third (the gold print) to accent the black and white art. I also used the two matching baskets, the vase on the right and the marble accessory from her collection of items around the house. By adding a third basket (striped basket from IKEA), using a few flea market finds (suitcases and dress form), tossing in another gold vase and small accent star the entry looks much more cohesive. Also, if you look closely you will notice we were able to hide the thermostat behind the tallest frame.

More detailed shots of the refreshed entry and custom table.

Alright, onto some other ideas for your entry! These photo pairs all offer some great examples.

RUNNERS: Try using a bright or graphic runner/rug to make an impact upon entry. This works especially well if you’ve got a very narrow space and furniture is not really an option. I like the company FLOR for graphic rugs especially. You can order samples online, or if you happen to live near a brick and mortar location you can practice creating your own runner design in the shop.

WALL TREATMENTS & SCONCES: Faux finishing (teal wall) or cheery wallpaper both work as bright accents here. Both designs are working to create symmetry with the use of a console table, a mirror and sconce lighting fixtures. If you have the space and some sort of division in your walls that creates a break where it would be appropriate for an accent wall this is bold and unforgettable option. (This look is harder to achieve in an open concept space like the above client).

STORAGE UNITS: A practical solution especially if you have kids and some depth in the entry hall. I like units that attach to the wall and mostly keep items hidden. You can still add artwork, a mirror and/or other personal touches.

UNIQUE MATERIALS/TECHNIQUES: A detailed stencil and wood paneling add a unique texture to the space. Options like these create a strong focal point and communicate the home owners style right away. Not for the faint of heart, detailed project these can be DIY, but I’d recommend a professional in most cases.

Hope this gave you some entryway ideas to ponder! Would love to hear some of the adjectives you think describe you and your “dream” entry.

XO – CLAIRE

Photo sources for paired examples: the chronicles of home, ty pennington, hautekhuuture, better homes and gardens, ikea, apartment therapy, hgtv, lonny.

 

 

 

 

 


Centered By Design is featured on The Everygirl

claire staszak home tour the everygirl

For those of you who may not be familiar with The Everygirl, here’s a little introduction. The site is run by two lovely women (Chicago transplants) who have a passion for informing, educating and inspiring young women. I think the site is kind of like the older sister I never had. There are excellent career profiles, current event updates, lifestyle/decor articles, home tours and more!

I especially love the career profiles and home tours of course, so I took a shot at submitting some photos from our apartment and explained that I recently started my own business and blog. Lo and behold they were INTERESTED!

In cased you missed it, you can read my full interview and see all house tour photos at: http://theeverygirl.com/claire-staszaks-chicago-home-tour

Here are some of my favorite shots, captured by the wonderful and professional Jennifer Kathryn Photography.

 


A Beginner’s Guide: Loving Kindness Meditation

January 31, 2015 Yoga + Lifestyle 2 Comments
loving kindness meditation

What first comes to mind when someone says, meditation? I used to picture monks in orange robs who lived far away in a tranquil monastery. Maybe you picture a yoga studio, or dark room full of candles. Meditation seems like something you’ve heard might be good for you, but seriously who has time for that and who wants to sit still for that long? Right? Wrong!

As someone with a non-stop mind and frequent bouts of anxiety, finding a meditative state is literally something my mind and body reject on a daily basis! Calm is NOT my natural state. I am actually convinced this is why I became a yoga teacher, because I knew I needed to chill the f*** out.

Meditation has countless health benefits and I think we need it more than ever in this fast-paced world. It is the number one thing you can do (easily I might add) to reduce your stress level.

In my experience, traditional meditation techniques such a simply focusing on the breath or “quieting” the mind are really hard, especially for beginners. The following walks you through the steps of a loving kindness or metta meditation. Metta means kindness towards yourself and others.

This is a quick, but powerful meditation! I encourage you to find a comfortable place sit, either on the floor or seated in a chair. Use pillows to make yourself comfortable, sit up nice a tall and make sure you can breathe easy. I like to light a candle to focus my gaze and dim the lights. You can think about and internally say the dialogue, or try saying some of the refrains out loud.

Here you go, off to meditation land!

  1. In the first stage of the meditation, you feel metta for yourself. You start by becoming aware of yourself, and focusing on feelings of peace, calm, and tranquility. Let these thoughts grow into feelings of strength and confidence, and then develop into love within your heart. You can use an image, like golden light flooding your body, or a phrase such as ‘may I be well and happy’, which you can repeat to yourself. These are ways of stimulating the feeling of metta for yourself.
  2. In the second stage think of a good friend. Bring them to mind as vividly as you can, and think of their good qualities. Feel your connection with them, and your liking for them, and encourage these feelings to grow by repeating ‘may they be well; may they be happy’ quietly to yourself. You can also use an image, such as shining light from your heart into theirs.
  3. Then think of someone you do not particularly like or dislike. Your feelings are ‘neutral’. This may be someone you do not know very well. You reflect on their humanity, and include them in your feelings of metta. Repeat ‘may they be well; may they be happy’ quietly to yourself. You can also use an image, such as shining light from your heart into theirs.
  4. Then think of someone you actually dislike — an enemy. Trying not to get caught up in any feelings of hatred, think of them positively and send your metta to them as well.
  5. In the final stage, think of all four people together — yourself, the friend, the neutral person, and the enemy. Then extend your feelings further — to everyone around you, to everyone in your neighborhood; in your town, your country, and so on throughout the world. Have a sense of waves of loving-kindness spreading from your heart to everyone, to all beings everywhere. Repeat ‘may all beings be well; may all beings be happy’ quietly to yourself.

Gradually relax out of meditation. Take 10 deep breaths and bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice how you feel. It may have been challenging process, just notice what came to the surface. Try to acknowledge and accept your feelings. It may have felt really good. Either way radiate some love towards yourself – you tried something new!

Let me know if you tried the meditation and how you liked it / what did not work.

XO – CLAIRE

Meditation script adapted from The Emotional Intelligence Institute 

loving kindness meditation

 


Best of Houzz 2015 Award

January 22, 2015 Interior Design 0 Comments
flowers

Remodeling and Home Design

I’m excited to share that Centered By Design received a Best of Houzz 2015 badge in the SERVICE category for our 5-star client reviews from 2014.

You can read our reviews in full HERE. We’d love to make you our next over-the-moon happy client! Let us know all about your project HERE.

 

Here are a few highlights from the reviews. Many thanks to our lovely clients!

  • “Claire was amazing to work with. She has a great sense of style and took us through the entire process of turning a living room that had sat empty for two years to a space that we now use all the time. We were initially struggling to balance the character of our century-old home and our more modern tastes. Claire helped us to first clarify our overall design aesthetic and vision for the project, before working with us on turning that vision into a reality.” – Sarah & Steve, Oak Park

  • “I love the way Claire incorporates antique with modern, eclectic with mid-century. She has a great eye and an even better attitude. I would not hesitate to recommend her to anyone for any job, big or small!” Shana, Bucktown

  • “I would recommend Claire to anyone wanting help to make their space into a home.” Maile & Andrew, Logan Square

 

 


DIY Ball Jar Light Fixture

January 16, 2015 DIY Projects 0 Comments

January is probably my least favorite month of the year, or at least it used to be. I don’t like to slow down and January always seems to know how to mess with a girl’s schedule. The snow, the boots, the general I don’t want to leave the house mood! But as I get older, I’ve begun to embrace the slower pace of January. Being at home isn’t boring, it’s actually nice, and it gives me to time to work on all those DIY projects I’ve saved countless screen shots of. Here is one of those quick and easy projects for you to try!

I want preface this DIY Ball Jar Light Fixture how-to with a nod to my amazing hubby Luke. He was the brains behind this project, and he’s my general handyman on every project. Luke you’re the best babe!

Alright, with my acknowledgments out of the way let’s get down to the details.

*Supplies Needed:
  • Ball Jar (I love the blue ones) with lid
  • Edison bulb, or some other clear, open filament bulb
  • Pendant swag kit, with extra shade holder ring (see link below for what we used)
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Hole saw drill bit (buy this after you have your pendant fixture, so you know what size hole to drill)

This is a pretty quick project. First you need a hanging pendant light fixture. We found a very cheap option ($9.99) at Cost Plus World Market.

The only catch with this particular fixture and project is that you need and extra piece that doesn’t come in the kit. You need an extra one of these rings with the grooves on it. You need this so you can secure the lid from the top and bottom. These pieces are on all the light fixtures at Cost Plus, and we just asked for a few extra from broken lamps or floor models. Worst case scenario, you’re going to need to buy two fixtures.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 4.29.11 PM

Lid. If you have a vintage ball jar like mine there is glass on the inside of the lid. You must break out the glass that is on the inside of the lid with a hammer. Then, you need to drill a hole in the center of the lid with the drill and hole saw bit. You need a fair amount of downward pressure to make this hole, so drill it over a flat, stable piece of scrap wood. After drilling the hole there is bound to be some sharp edges. To deal with this, we ran the edge of a screwdriver along the edge to dull it just a bit. In the finished product, the sharp edges will be covered with the fixture anyway.

Assembly. The swag kit couldn’t be simpler. Just make sure you install a holder ring on both the inside and outside of the lid. This allows you to then hang the jar directly from the lid. Once your lid and the fixture are connected put in a light bulb, screw the jar onto the lid, plug it into the wall, and you’re DONE! Our light hangs out on the three season porch and creates some nice mood lighting over our little bistro table.

 

*Safety note: this method should be plenty safe for occasional use. However, there is no breathability for the bulb inside the jar. Therefore, I wouldn’t use more than a 40-60 watt bulb. And, I’d never leave this fixture on for extended periods of time, so make sure to turn it off if you’re leaving the house/area.

Let me know if you give this a try. I think clustering several clear jars together would look awesome!

XO – CLAIRE


Colorful & Modern Kitchen Decor Update

January 10, 2015 Interior Design 0 Comments
kitchen design board

I’m working with a client who has recently moved into their first single family home and it’s three times the size of their past condo. This is fabulous for their growing family, but tough on the pocketbook. That’s a lot additional space to decorate!

The house is new build construction that is fresh and clean. It has excellent fixtures and cabinetry, but the space is painted boring builder’s beige…EVERYWHERE! This might be a nice option for the color averse (and good for home staging/selling), but it’s a decorator’s dilemma – especially with a narrow open concept layout and a tight decor budget.

The client’s have a great modern sensibility and are ready to inject some color into their space. The first spot in the house we need to make more functional is the kitchen and eat-in dining area. You can see some of the first level floor plans from these rough scaled computer renderings. In the first view, you’re looking straight into the center of the first floor. The living area flows directly into the kitchen and eat-in dining area, which can be viewed more easily in the second rendering. (These are basic space/furniture plans. The items placed in the rendering are place holders for the final pieces that will be chosen).

kitchen design board

Interior view as if you were looking straight through the front of the lower level of the house.

kitchen space planning

Interior view of the kitchen. Cabinetry is not picture, just roughed in.

The family loves blue, and it’s an easy color to pair with different accents to create the feeling of separate spaces on the first level. It also worked with their existing living room couch. To save on costs, we decide to paint some focal walls instead of using multiple paint colors on the first floor. This creates a nice effect from the living room, where you can see both blue focal walls together. (More on the living room design in a future post).

The wall color is Naval by Sherwin Williams. The next step was to find affordable and family friendly furniture that wouldn’t break the bank. Naturally, we turned to IKEA. Another local (and national) recommendation is FLOR. Their carpet tiles hold up very well and are easy to swap out if damaged or stained – perfect for under a dining table! Here’s the final design board for kitchen area.

kitchen design ideas

See the links below for product information.

We chose a dark table, which as extendable leaves for holiday gatherings. I paired the table with a lighter chair, and a colorful rug with blues, browns, blacks and a pop of yellow, which is our main accent color for the first floor. We also chose a similar, but not matching FLOR tile runner to run along the kitchen alley way. Mod bar stools and a Danish inspired floral complete the look.

Budget Friendly Tips to Consider:

  • As I mentioned above, painting a focal wall saves time on materials and labor. It’s not usually my first choice, but it’s certainly a good option – especially if you won’t be doing the painting and need to hire out.
  • Save on shipping costs! Ordering the rug and floor runner from the same retailer saves on shipping from multiple locations. Also, while one trip to IKEA may seem impossible, but knowing everything you need, having a list and item numbers will save you time, and probably money (if you stick to your list!).
  • Add custom touches by spending a bit more on smaller items such as the curtains, light fixture, and plant life in this case.
  • If you can DIY, give try it! The home owner tried making her own no-sew roman shades and they turned out great!
no sew roman shades

One of the lovely no-sew shades!

Excited to show you finished photos from this space, we will probably wrap up later this summer. There are many rooms being worked on little by little. Let me know what you think. What are your go-to places for affordable furnishings?

XO – Claire


Bar Styling Inspiration

bar styling inspiration

Hey, hey, hey!

Just in time for New Year’s Eve I’ve got a little inspiration for your home bar. The 20-something me would have been all over hitting the town and dancing the night away on NYE, but the 30-something me loves staying in with friends. And that’s just what we are doing tonight. I’m not hosting this time around, but I still wanted to share some easy steps for styling your bar (or lack thereof).

Side Note: You DO NOT need to own a bar to style a bar in your home. See below for case and point!

 

bar styling for home bar

Six fabulous ways to create a bar in your space!

  1. Use an existing shelving unit or bookcase and create a bar.
  2. If you’re lucky enough to have a built-in somewhere in your home, it can be easily renovated into a bar with a little elbow grease.
  3. A desk and three floating shelves serve as a bar area.
  4. An antique chest and simple tray create an area to serve drinks from.
  5. This is actually our bar (full picture below) on one hand it’s great because it’s huge and houses a ton of glassware and alcohol. On the other hand, it’s large and clunky so if you’re in a similar situation – a tray, some decanters, and a plant do wonders!
  6. If you’ve got a buffet in your dining room or kitchen you can use the top as a bar for the evening.

Now that you’ve got some ideas for where your bar can live in your home or apartment, it’s time for some general styling rules.

bar styling 101

A few guidelines, a little thrifting, some of grandma’s old glassware, a decent bar, throw in some alcohol, and you are SET!

This lovely bar is owned by a good friend of mine (actually a few of our friends bought it as a wedding gift for the stylish couple!). She graciously let me style it up for this little photo shoot. So, here’s what I suggest you keep in mind:

  1. Start with artwork you already have, or buy/find some you like. Mirrors work too, but your backdrop is an important starting point for the other elements in the bar. My girlfriend’s gorgeous painting with the yellow background, and pops of red and purple was my main source of inspiration.
  2. Source some vintage glassware. This is when it’s time to ask your favorite grandma for her old crystal! Or hit up a vintage store, etsy, garage sale, the Salvation Army – just look for interesting shapes and facets in the glass.
  3. An ice bucket is key, and there are so many stylish ones at retail stores right now. You might get lucky and find a great vintage one as well! Also, don’t forget to actually stock the bar. For styling purposes, I love bottles with colored glass or colored liquor. I’m not an expert when it comes what actual alcohol you should buy, but here’s what Martha Stewart recommends.
  4. Add citrus! Add champagne! Playing off the main colors in the painting, I used lemons, oranges, and Veuve Clicquot champagne for it’s orange label. The same principle applies no matter what your backdrop looks like. Use complementary or contrasting colors with fruit and bottles to create color and interest.
  5. Flowers…adding fresh flowers is always THE BEST way to make a setting look fresh and inviting. Experiment with different vases and flowers with differing heights. I used taller arrangement here, but a low/fuller arrangement is usually nice on a bar too.
  6. Add in a little cocktail book – spend some time arranging your barware and accessories – and you’ll have a lovely home bar to impress the masses!

Image sources for the first collage include: eddieross.com, savvyhomeblog.com, spacekc.com, casasugar.com, thekitchn.com, and all Centered By Design photos are by Joe Tighe.

Here’s a better view of our massive black bar (the photo angle is making it look even wider than it is). It’s best feature is that it opens up and the top flips out, so it’s like a real bar you can stand behind. Someday, when we own a home I think I’d go for the built-in option, like #2 in the first collage.

Hope these bar styling tips at least inspire you to have a cocktail tonight! Happy New Year!!

xo – Claire

living room with bar photo

Our massive black bar.


Perfect Palette: Color Inspiration

color palette for moroccan bathroom

Hello there,

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday celebration, and got a special gift you love! I have been inspired by one of my Christmas gifts to start this new post category – Your Perfect Palette. I sent my mom about ten Amazon links for design books I’d like as Christmas gifts (another post with design and styling book recommendations coming soon), and she was going to pick a few books to surprise me with. I was really crossing my fingers for The Color Scheme Bible, by Anna Starmer, and I got it! Hence this new blog series has been born!

The book is chock-full of unexpected, inspirational color combinations, and tried and true color rules such as, green can often be used as a neutral to balance a space – especially softer shades of green. Another good tidbit – all reds go together, as do all pinks. And soft oranges almost always feel warming.

Now, I am usually a believer that all rules are meant to be broken, but it’s nice especially when you are learning to have some guidelines. So, with each Perfect Palette post I’m going to focus on one unique color combination, and a room where this palette might look fabulous in your home. This week is all about a BOLD bathroom and contrasting colors.

When you contrast dramatic colors, your end result often creates an energetic environment. And I don’t know about you, but I could certainly use a jolt of energy each morning, as I groggily step into the bathroom.

In this bathroom, the main wall color is a bright marmalade (or orangey-red). The butterfly image is perfect for color inspiration, or could be blown up and used as artwork. When working with bold colors remember to keep decoration to a minimum. The colors are doing a lot of work, so you don’t need to add lots of artwork or extraneous decor.

marmalade_valspar

This is Valspar Marmalade Satin Interior paint.

butterfly

The main accent colors are mint, turquoise, and deep red (think blood orange or ruby red). You might think that red and orange clash, but here they are similar enough in tone and saturation to work together. The cools blues serve as the perfect accent to balance all the warm orange, and then the deep red highlights the orange – injecting an even hotter and energetic color into the space.

lighting

Earthy yet dramatic lighting fixture.

Lush red towels feel regal.

Lush red towels feel regal.

 

bathroom tile

Ultimate gorgeousness in turquoise shower tiles!

blood orange vase

Perfect accent decor with flowers, or as is.

Silver seemed like another perfect highlight for lighting fixtures or mirrors, and I felt the imagery was beginning to take me to Morocco. I continued on that theme with a few ornate mirror options.

moroccan mirror moroccan mirror silver

And there you have it! A BOLD and ENERGETIC bathroom that feels like a trip to Morocco each morning (haha, a girl can dream, right?)

XO – Claire

color palette for moroccan bathroom