Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to: Kitchen Sink Christmas Potpourri

Andrea Drexelius shares with us her recipe for a fresh Christmas potpourri blend. Add the soothing scents to your holiday decorations for a intimate feel.

From the garden:

Dried rose petals
Dried hydrangea flowers
Ponderosa and Myers lemon peel
Pink grapefruit peel
Lime peel
Orange peel
Rosemary leaves
Juniper berries
California Pepper berries
Eucalyptus leaves and flowers
Bay leaf
Thyme leaves
Sage leaves

From the cupboard:

Vanilla bean pod
Whole cloves
Loose black tea
Mulling spices

Mix together, then add a few drops of jasmine oil.

Recipe courtesy of Andrea Drexelius
Photography by Mark Tanner

Shared by: Home Cottages

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top Ten: Sentimental Gifts for Valentine’s Day

Unlike assorted chocolates that are a gamble as to what you will get, these gift ideas remove the guesswork and will delight everyone.

1. A handwritten letter.

2. Flowers (but not the home-delivery kind).

3. A gift that we’ve slyly hinted at.

4. Dinner at home.

5. Something handmade.

6. A night out (anytime but Valentine’s Day!)

7. Photographs.

8. A beauty treat in the form of a trained professional fussing over us.

9. A weekend getaway (even if it is at the local hotel).

10. A book you think we’d enjoy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

White Christmas Décor

Try casting aside traditional holiday colors for a heavenly spell.

The holiday season is about revisiting memories and creating new ones. Here, we illustrate how to embrace your traditions and introduce new, simple twists that focus on a wintry palette.

It was the Victorians who, in the mid-19th century, popularized fanciful Christmas decorations. They styled their home with delicate bulbs, mistletoe and sparkling tree-toppers. Decorating with a white and silver palette is not only fitting for the season, but also a refreshing alternative from the expected red and green. Traditional Christmas bauble is also replaced with elements such as rosary beads, angel wings and religious statues.

How to Get the Look:

·         For your living room:
o   Paint an antique mantelpiece white. It will strike a serene pose that could soften Scrooge.
o   Pair an old arched window, found at a salvage yard or flea market, with white angel wings and a string of antique rosary beads.
o   Camouflage a wall with tattered scripted paper from antique books to hide the holes; add a touch of sparkle with mercury-glass candleholders.
·         For your bedroom:
o   Fragrant paper-white narcissus is an easy bulb to grow and adds a festive touch in like-colored pots on a windowsill or tabletop.
o   Dress up an antique French armoire with a fresh bouquet of Christmas roses.
o   For a dramatic look, adorn an antique silver bedside tray with candles, pink roses, juniper twigs and winter greens.
o   Embellish plain candles with rustic string, crystal beads and medallions. Overall, the setting is ideal for the true romantic.
·         For your kitchen:
o   Combine simple styling, shimmering candles and natural elements for a serene, wintry effect.
o   Add silver accents for sparkle and sophistication.
·         For your office:
o   Achieve a nostalgic, vintage look through the inclusion of old books and photographs, antique silver pieces and angel wings hung on a weathered window.
o   The silver and white color palette exudes a classic, understated elegance.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Halloween Candle

Halloween is a holiday that prompts so many people to decorate their homes, and nothing else provides a spookier glow than candles. Sit Halloween-inspired candles from Root Candles on top of your matnel to complement a roaring fire.

Photo courtesy of

With a fragrance reminiscent of crisp fall evenings, the luxurious IllumiNoir Warm Vanilla Hallow’s Eve candle comes in a black matte glass container and is housed in an elegant black box, perfect to give as a gift to fans of Halloween. Root Candles provide a modern twist to the traditional bottle light candle with their Spooky Tree, Autumn Leaves, Halloween’s Eve and Jack-O-Lantern candles scented with mulled cider fragrance. To find the retailer nearest you, visit

By Jennifer Myers

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Get the Look: Shabby-Chic & Vintage

Antiques dealer, Clara DiGiuseppe, shares the rules to follow to get her look.

  • Don’t buy anything new. Shop flea markets and antique shops, and always opt for vintage versions of anything you want.
  • If it’s painted, it’s better.
  • Practicality should be your guiding principle. Make sure you only buy what you can use and have room for.
  • Keep everything light. From furniture to textiles to the paint on the wall, keep your color palette light and fresh.
  • Always keep comfort in mind to create a truly relaxing and stress-free home. I like comfy furniture that is already beat up so you don’t have to worry about it no matter what happens or what your children do.
  • Stick to your budget. I really don’t have anything expensive in my house. If it’s too pricey, I refuse to buy it. Moreover, if you pay a lot, then in many ways you are stuck with it; you don’t feel like you can be creative and alter it or change it out if you are ready for something new.

By Jickie Torres
Photography by Mark Tanner
Styled by Jacqueline deMontravel

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Ultimate Guide to Clearing Your Clutter: Author Q&A

A couple of energy traps in your home include stuffed bathroom cupboards and any beauty products lingering around the tub. Ready to get organized and clear that clutter? Follow Mary Lambert's advice from The Ultimate Guide to Clearing Your Clutter.

The bathroom should provide a private retreat for cleansing the body and soul. It needs to be an inviting environment where you want to linger, Lambert says. She suggests treating yourself a little in this room by having candles, perhaps placed around the tub, an oversized luxurious towel or a spider plant or fern to increase the room's energy.

Author Q&A

We asked Lambert how to let chi flow freely via improved bathroom organization. Here's how she answered: "In the bathroom, do not store too many products around the bath as this inhibits the flow of chi. Make sure you have enough cabinets for these products. Regularly check cabinets holding health products and discard any products that are out of date."

When we asked for simple feng shui cures to energize the bedroom, she replied, "The first thing you need to do is clear out any junk you have. Beware of mirrors opposite the bed as they are too energetic for the bedroom and can cause restless sleep. Electronics, including TVs, should be removed as they have the same effect as a mirror. If you can't live without it, make sure it is turned off when you sleep and covered with a cloth or scarf. Open the windows regularly."

And for those of you set to clear the clutter from your life, here are Lambert's words of wisdom: "The hardest thing for people to overcome is to change their mindset. It is liberating to clear your clutter, but it can often only be done with the help of a consultant. Once the clutter is cleared it can easily come back, so regular checks are needed. Also, by setting up good storage systems the clutter should disappear. A problem area is the paper junk--flyers, leaflets, notes. Be sure to put them straight into a recycling bin if you don't need them."

But what if you're skeptical? Junk doesn't affect me, you think. The Ultimate Guide to Clearing Your Clutter can help you, too. Lambert provides great quizzes and tips that make it easier to personalize your experience. Her book addresses a wide range of needs, from organizing solutions to completely adaption your house to the flow of chi. Your home is your sanctuary, and this book will guide you toward creating an efficacious environment that inspires your confidence, health, relationships and career.

By Lauren Vikander

The Ultimate Guide to Clearing Your Clutter by Mary Lambert, published by CICO Books; visit For our complete review, visit

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Avoiding Renovation Stress

I wish everyday life had a Command + Z function (or Control + Z for you PC users).

If you aren’t familiar with keyboard shortcuts, Command + Z is the equivalent of the “undo” function on your computer. I use this shortcut, and I use it often. (I’ve already hit the key combo twice since I started writing this blog post!) And a day rarely goes by when I haven’t wished at least once that I could undo something with the snap of a finger, the blink of an eye or the stroke of a key:

I shouldn’t have attempted to drink a cup of coffee whithout a lid while driving own a road marked “under construction”….  Command + Z.

I shouldn’t have worn a white blouse while eating pasta in marinara sauce… Command + Z.

I shouldn’t have tried a new haircut two weeks before my wedding… Command + Z. 

(And before you ask, yes—I’ve really done all these things!)

Alas, until some virtuoso unlocks the secrets of time travel, Command + Z will forever remain functional only in the digital realm; therefore, it’s necessary to learn from our mistakes so we aren’t doomed to repeat them—or at least repeat them often.

When it comes to designing, redesigning, or remodeling a kitchen, however, there is no room for error. Every mistake—from the wrong shade of paint to a miscalculated measurement—is potentially costly. Sometimes the cost is small, sometimes it’s colossal, but it’s almost always painful in some way or another. Fortunately, we at Kitchens are daily adding fantastic resources to our website to help point you in the right direction before you find yourself in the regrettable situation of thinking, I should’ve researched that contractor before allowing hi to gut my kitchen down to the studs….Command + Z.

From flooring and appliances to planning the perfect layout and creating a fully functional outdoor kitchen, you will find valuable tips, tricks, information and inspiration in every post. And after digesting all the great intel we can offer you online, you will be well-equipped and fully prepared to approach your next kitchen project with confidence and creativity—instead of wishing in vain you had the magical powers of a real-life undo button.

Written and photographed by Rebecca J. Raz

Posted  By Well Styled Kitchens

Sunday, January 20, 2013

How to Make a Modern Romantic Bedroom

“I believe designing should be approached with passion and abandon,” says Mari Robeson, designer/owner of Mari Robeson Home. From her custom fabrics and signature banners to her interior design projects, Mari hits the mark with a spirited, romantic style. “It’s a marriage of my graphic design with my interior design,” she says.

It all starts with how she approaches the work. Mari is open, allowing inspiration to arrive organically. It can come from a piece of vintage wallpaper or tile, her garden, an old movie—even her three daughters’ whimsical drawings, which inspired her new “Elovephant" fabric design.

When working with her design clients, she looks for inspiration by discovering what they love. “I ask a lot of questions. As a designer, it’s my job to help bring their dream to fruition, while guiding and educating them about style, scale, color and so on,” Mari says. “Even when I have clients who have no idea what they want, there are clues all around them. They may have a piece of art they love, [for example]. I can build an entire room around that.”

Redecorating or designing a bedroom is no different. “It’s very important to surround yourself with things that bring you joy. When you open your eyes in the morning you want to see objects, fabrics and colors that make you happy. That's how you'll begin your day,” Mari says.

For children’s bedrooms, she shares her thoughts on her blog, “I believe that a child’s room is their little corner of the world, and it should be absolutely magical and divine.”

But Mari wasn’t always this confident. Growing up in a family of engineers, economists and genetic scientists, she questioned the value of her artistic gifts early in her career.

“I used to think maybe what I did as an artist wasn’t very important, maybe I should become a doctor and save lives,” she says. But one project finally convinced her otherwise. A client, who had questioned her choices throughout the design process, was literally speechless when it was complete. “I heard the word ‘wow’ more than I ever had before. In that one moment I realized that what I did for a living mattered. When anything is thoughtfully designed it has the ability to change lives. Since then I've seen it many times,” she says. “Cultures are defined by art and architecture.”

If you want to quickly update your room, Mari suggests you focus on accessories and pillows. “Changing the color of your room changes everything. Pillows and accessories can change a room in a flash,” she says. “Of course it all starts with a good bed, and I believe that investing in a quality set of linens is worth every penny.”
She also feels that working with a good designer will save you time and money. If you do, make sure to ask for references and view the portfolio, and most importantly you should feel comfortable with that person, she says. “Working with a designer is a really enjoyable experience. Designers have a Rolodex of resources and should help your project move along in a cost-effective, timely manner,” she says.

Working with someone like Mari who has a passion to find what is best for the client will make all the difference, too. “My design philosophy? To simply bring beauty and joy where ever I can,” she says. “Be bold. And never question your first instinct.”

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Top 10: Things to Collect

Seltzer bottleskitchen utensils

1. Seltzer bottles

2. Vintage kitchen tools and cookbooks

3. Sewing notions

4. Chintz and Wedgwood china

5. Anything related to entertaining—china, silver, place cards, napkin rings

6. Linens, especially tablecloths, from the 19th century through the 1940s

7. Candy boxes, biscuit boxes

8. Presentation pieces inscribed with names and dates that were given for special occasions, such as anniversaries

9. Silver baby cups

10. All kinds of boxes: i.e., lingerie, hats, handkerchiefs

Photography by Jaimee Itagaki
Styled by Jacqueline deMontravel

Source: Well Styled Home Magazine

Meet the Landmark Trust

The Landmark Trust was founded in 1965 to preserve historic architecture in Great Britain. The most important houses and castles tended to be privately owned or managed by the National Trust. There remained, however, much work to be done for the curious and overlooked buildings. It was these minor structures that the Trust set about rescuing. If they disappeared, argued founder Sir John Smith, the most important buildings would look out of place in a perennially modern landscape. Like “a diamond ring in the spaghetti” was his analogy.

To support the society, the buildings were made available as holiday rentals. Today the Trust has a portfolio of some 200 properties. There is something for every taste form stables to prisons to cottages to bathhouses. Advance reservations are required and many properties are booked months in advance.

For more information, contact the Trust for a handbook. The price in North America is $25, which is refundable on the first booking. Contact the American Landmark Trust USA, 707 Kipling Road, Dummerston, VT 05301; (802) 254-6868 or

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Found and Transformed

Home. We all hope it is a place where we can relax, escape from the worries of the day, enjoy our families and friends, and have some fun. Those are tall orders! The beauty of flea-market-style decorating is that it fits every style and every budget. Love expensive French antiques? There are booths for that. Does your style run more towards mid-century modern, farmhouse, romantic or a mix of these? You’re covered. At flea markets, tag sales, estate sales, yard sales and antique malls across the country (and internationally), shoppers can now find something to suit their personal decor.

{Credit in caption: Photo courtesy of}

Recently I visited the Long Beach Antique Market in Long Beach, California. There were booths filled with old jewelry, vintage dishware, collectibles of all shapes and sizes, furniture and accessories in every style, and odds-and-ends like buttons and old pictures. Industrial décor has been on the radar for a while now, but it seems to be gaining ground with the masses. While at the show, I found a booth dedicated to all-things industrial (manned by Bryce Jackson, who has a booth at Country Roads Antiques in Orange, California).

Sue Jackson, owner of Country Roads says, “I am a very big believer in home decorating with what you love. An easy way to start blending the industrial pieces into your home décor is to use such things as industrial tables as coffee tables or end tables. Also, the industrial spotlight lamps fit into any home décor.”

While working on this mag, I see the deep connection to home that is shared by those who decorate with collectibles, found items, and repurposed and made-over vintage wares. Their ingenuity and creativity are inspiring-many times I am left thinking, “How did they think of that?”

In each issue and web post, we feature homeowners, designers and bloggers who have transformed their homes and their lives while seeking vintage treasures. You will also find bargains for every budget and style, and a handful of how-to projects. May you find the inspiration to make your house into the home of your dreams.

By Rebecca Ittner

Monday, January 14, 2013

Repurpose Dainty Doilies

Reuse what you have in romantic ways.


While perennially charming paper doilies always do a bit to boost the presentation factor for treats on a plate, this Valentine’s Day consider decorating your home with doilies in a fresh new way. Check out a few of our favorite ideas:

1) Wrap glass votive holders in the paper pretties to impart a little extra romance to the table. They add dimension to the setting, and when lit they cast drama on the table with glowing shadows.

2) Use doilies as mats underneath tall candlestick holders in order to draw attention to the romantic touches of your dining table.

3) Create place cards out of a small doily, or cut one in half and fold to prop up at each place setting.

How to Balance Black & White

Balance Black and White Bedroom

Q: I love decorating in black and white, but I’m finding it difficult to create balance in my bedroom. The result is always either too dark or insufficiently dramatic. Any expert tips?

A: Professional home stager and design consultant Sarah Macklem suggests “mixing patterns and textures, and combining them with soft, muted neutrals. I love to use black and white accessories to become a feature, as opposed to overpowering the room. Another way to soften the look of black and white is to combine it with natural textures like dried hydrangea, for example. Black and white décor is timeless. One way to keep a space from appearing too dark is to use a lighter complementary color, as well as white and cream, to provide contrast.”

By Rebecca J. Razo

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Style your Home with Haute Herbs

Grow your kitchen garden indoors with these clever—and cute—ways to keep your fresh herbs contained.

1. Reuse a Kitchen Collectible

Don’t throw out that rusty colander—upcycle it into a charming herb pot. Line the bottom with foil and plant as usual for a pot that fits right in.

Photograph by Jickie Torres

2. Create an Herb Centerpiece
Perfect if you haven’t got a green thumb…

Use a large basket or tray to corral several herbs in their containers straight from the garden store. Simply wrap the plastic pots in foil, parchment or wax paper. There’s no need for repotting, and you can simply change out the herbs once they’ve seen better days.

Photograph by Jickie Torres
3. Match, Set, Plant!
Perfect if you’ve got a sunny window

Find a set of matching pots, jars or tins and give your view a boost with an herb garden in a window. If you haven’t got a matching set, paint a few different pots the same color for
a similar and no-less charming effect.
Photograph by Mark Tanner

4. Create Delicious Wall Art
Perfect if you’re low on counterspace.

Breathe new life into your walls—literally! Use a planter created specifically for your walls to grow a vertical indoor garden. Or, if you’re feeling handy, affix a few pots to a wood board with a band clamp (found an any home-improvement store). Paint the wood and clamp in the color of your choice for a custom hanging-pot wall. Just be sure to choose pots without drainage holes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

10 Vignette Ideas

Fresh out of décor ideas? Here are 10 of our favorite vignette ideas, picked out just for you. We hope that these photos will inspire you grab whatever’s on your back shelf and turn it into something beautiful.

Photograph by Jaimee Itagaki
Add a dash of panache to your craft table by adapting antique tableware to serve your creative purposes. A silver condiment caddy makes an excellent ribbon wrangler and salt-and-pepper shakers made wonderful glitter dispensers. –Jacqueline deMontravel

Photograph by Jickie Torres

Outfit a work space that is just as lovely as an afternoon lunch. A hobnail tumbler and a matching milk-glass compote make for a special table setting with flowers and punch. Brighten up your desk and use the vessels as the perfect organizational tools for the home office. Keeping your pens and tools in them makes a dull space prettier—and infinitely more inspiring.  –Jickie Torres

Photograph by Mark Tanner

To get Lizabeth K. McGraw’s cheery look, keep the area uncluttered; with more space between things your room will “breathe” easier—and so will you. Cover a wood table with a cozy tablecloth, and soften a sofa or chair with a slipcover made of an oatmeal-colored natural fabric, such as cotton or grainsack. Toss comfy throw pillows into corners and on floors for an easy, casual feel. Bring elements of nature—like the hydrangea centerpiece and red fruit on the table—into your décor. Make white the primary color in the room; use other colors sparingly for pops of color. Red and blue accessories always look right with white for a traditional summer palette –Meryl Schoenbaum

cookie jar
Photograph by Jickie Torres
Backyard barbecues are one of the best parts of summer entertaining. Pesky insects finding their way into your refreshments? Not so fun. For your next cookout, repurpose an oversized cookie jar as a drink dispenser. A large ladle makes it easy to refill glasses and the lid keeps unwanted bugs out. –Jickie Torres

Photograph by Jaimee Itagaki

Looking for a new way to put antique tins on display? Vintage cookies and cracker canisters, tea tins and a variety of other metal jars make wonderful vases. Just check for water tightness, and if you detect a leak, simply line the canister with a plastic sandwich baggie. –Jacqueline deMontravel

Photograph by Mark Tanner

When the warmer weather beckons us outside, dinner gatherings are more likely to happen in the garden than in the dining room. Sometimes, however, cool breezes can wreak havoc on the tabletop, blowing up tablecloths and away napkins. A cute solution for the latter? Use an old clear glass candy jar with a lid and stack alternating patterns of fun, colorful paper napkins. It looks attractive and keeps napkins in their place. –Jacqueline deMontravel

Photograph by Mark Tanner
Got a vintage milk crate, egg basket or bread bowl? These small, colorful receptacles make perfect kitchen herb gardens. Line the bottom, if needed, to make it water safe, then plant a variety of common edibles such as parsley, cilantro or thyme. A delicious dish is just a snip away. –Jacqueline deMontravel 

Photograph by Jickie Torres
 This miniature wire dress form is a statuesque beauty on its own. However, why not put her to work the fashionable way? On a vanity it’s the perfect accessory to hang earrings, brooches and other fancy baubles. –Jickie Torres

Photograph by Jickie Torres
For your next dinner party, skip the fancy vases and rescue something that  would likely be destined for for the trash. Small marmalade, tapenade and baby-food jars make excellent bud vases. Use a set of three or four along the length of a table for a sweet centerpiece. –Jickie Torres

Photograph by Jickie Torres
Have a stash of Christmas cards saved from holidays past? Turn them into place cards for this year’s dinner festivities. Also try using vintage Christmas cards to add a sweet nostalgic touch to your holiday decorating. –Jickie Torres