Tuesday, August 25, 2009

larking about in a Landmark

After drooling for a while over Wingbud wallpaper's gorgeous so, so Swedish offerings, and then being inspired by a recent post about a lovely Paris rental over on a cup of jo, I thought I'd write about our favorite way to go "home" to Britain. We call it "landmarking". Like lots of other "landmarkers" from all over the world, we rent one of the Landmark Trust's amazing historic houses and settle in for an amazing adventure
. You'll find them here: www.landmarktrust.org.uk

a grand doorway open to adventure at Gargunnock House, near Stirling, Scotland

and the Georgian facade (conceals a 1570s tower house hidden within)

period interiors include this elegant drawing room, where Chopin played (this piano!) for the lady of the house

and a splendid dining room fit for a baronial buffet

The Landmark Trust rescues buildings of historic or architectural interest that have become derelict or in need of repair, raises funds from the public to restore these places to comfortable habitability, and rents them to holidaymakers to cover the costs of upkeep. The houses are amazing, surprising, magical -- we could go on and on, and sometimes do! You can holiday in Landmark castles, follies, keeps, and farms. We've rented one for when we're at a family wedding in England this fall . . . hope you get to visit, too!

Monday, August 24, 2009

for the little ones, wild and woollies

at our house, the little ones tend to be quite wild and woolly themselves, and they ALWAYS need a (preferably recycled or upcycled or handmade or at least Peruvian or American or possibly from the wild woods of South Carolina) friend to keep them company . . . so here's the fergusandme family's choices for tippy top not so wild things. You'll fall in love ~

we adore everything from Atlanta-based Blabla, especially Mr. X, the boogaloo, pictured at top in all his hairy splendor. www.blablakids.com

Likewise, we love the unique recycled sweater stuffies by our Canadian friends Cate & Levi, handmade, recycled, and very, very special. www.cateandlevi.com

And we're terribly excited to have discovered that deep in the deepest darkest South Carolina woods, where we often hike to mysterious waterfalls and old-growth stands, there live the pogos, a clan of cute and tiny bears upcycled from the cozy sweaters of yore. Can't wait to spot one, if not peering from behind a tree on our next SC hike, then definitely among our Etsy favorites. www.pogoshop.etsy.com

all precious things, like our little ones, we think.

new from Sweden, wonderful Wingbud Wallpaper

I grew up in Scotland, a country that is so northern that you can sometimes see the aurora borealis in the sky, where alpine plants are routinely featured in front gardens, and where it sometimes snows in June. You could say I prefer a moody, grey day to a hot and sunny one. So, as I'm sitting here in the American South, on a hot, hot, humid August day, I'm very happy to be writing about the stunning, verdant and fresh wallpapers offered by Wingbud Wallpaper
. Swedish artist and designer Lena Hautoniemi has created a range of papers that encompass both quiet, peaceful nature-inspired designs and designs that embody the riotous colors and movement and pattern of the natural world. Amazing! My favorites are Polypodium in white/light grey-turquoise (in the room pic above), and Gooseberry, in light green (first pic below). Reminds me of picking gooseberries in the hedgerows on summer afternoons when I was small . . . so simple, and beautiful! I'll be calling on Wingbud next time I need something really special on the walls in one of my projects . . . or maybe it'll be just the thing when I redo my dining room in a month or two! Thanks, Lena! I LOVE your work. You can shop Lena's online store at www.wingbudwallpaper.com, and look at her blog at www.wingbud.blogspot.com (beautiful images, even if you don't read Swedish!)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

anatomy of a living room, a bit more expensive edition

Can you do beach house blues in land-locked Charlotte, NC? We say a big, calm and peaceful, dreamy comfy "yes!" This is the opposing number to last week's anatomy of a living room -- our personal "formal" living room, just across the hall from the map-bedecked room we described previously. (I say "formal" living room because we live in a externally very traditional house in the South, and such houses generally have some formality, but we do use it a lot for, say, large scale school projects that involve a lot of glue and exacto knives and possibly even woodcarving. It's been known to host many a game of duck duck goose and roll-the-rather-dangerous-playground-ball to each other, so obviously a lot of actual "living" goes on here!) So, in place of the former owner's Williamsburg florals, swags, jabots, and grand piano (although I wouldn't say no to the grand piano!!!) we have Benjamin Moore's Palladian Blue on the walls (half strength, but it's a winner in any value), massed family photos in silver frames on the mantle, and embracing Barbara Barry (Baker) sofas "kissing" the edge of a round jute rug from Crate & Barrel. Atop the rug, there's a charming French farm table, c. 1850, cut down to coffee table height (not guilty!), and atop the mantle, there's a country California auction Venetian mirror from the 20s or 30s. It spectacularly reflects that old, old, Italian chandelier, which I got at an estate sale for less than you'd pay at Home depot for a "boob" light -- you know the kind I mean!! Oh, and also, a West Elm octagonal table and an Ikea table holding Pottery Barn seahorse lamps . . . and last but not least, one of my favorite funky Ikea chairs -- the PS Guillholmen (I think I spelled that right!). So, again, find a favorite color, shop your floor samples sales, auctions, mass market retailers (very carefully and sparingly), estate sales and consignment shops, pull it all together, et voila!! Mommy's escape room! If only it had actual doors! But it's kind of cheap and cheerful, definitely beautiful, and therefore worth that "ahhhh" response. Hope you like it! thanks, Lynn-Anne

Friday, August 21, 2009

for the little ones

newly bookmarked kid's stuff . . .

all kinds of fun
read all about it in the summer 09 online issue,
fun blog, too

shopping, a little heavy on the forest friends, but some great things, including these almost-sold-out school bags (caroline wants one!)

and, if like us you're sick of all the same old same old shirts at the mall (hey, even urban outfitters is getting a bit boring, and Lucky is not so lucky any more) check out www.shirt.woot.com (see the birdie above for an idea of the originality and creativity of the shirts) and its new little sib, www.kids.woot.com for cool and unusual stuff, and deals on kid's items ~ a new one posted at midnight. works well for us.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Marvelous Martha

Leafing through the September issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine, I was struck by the gorgeous greens on display in the "containing beauty" piece . . . as a flower lover, and a person with absolutely no ability to keep house plants alive (I usually resort to shoving them out on the screen porch when they start to droop, and then, I forget about them completely. I have even managed to quickly assassinate a cactus~) I usually skip over articles involving houseplants of any sort, but the images in this article stopped me in my tracks. I'm always amazed by the Martha Stewart team's ability to capture light beautifully in photos, and this article is no exception. The greens are so saturated, and I completely love the collection of cacti on an Empire mahogany table (protected by silver dishes from water damage, of course) . . . take a look. Inspiring, really.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

anatomy of a living room, cheap and cheerful edition

When we're bored with a space, which seems to occur with alarming frequency, we often just move things around the house until we like it better. Seriously, people have been known to get up in the morning here and find a completely different space (creativity breeds insomnia, sometimes). But sometimes, we need more, and in these trying economic times, we wanted to see if we could make a room cozy, and warm, and fun -- a home with heart -- on the cheap. So we did! This is a comfy living space, jam packed with games and craft materials, pleasant to hang out in with kids and friends . . . and we set it up for very little money. Here's how we did it: first, we bought a pair of sweet settees at an estate sale. (Caveat: give it the sniff test, and look really carefully at the piece in strong light -- reupholstery, though we love it, tends to be very expensive.) These were less than $200 for both, and set up facing each other like this, they foster conversation, and feel a little bit like a railway carriage . . . next, we threw a woolly tartan blanket over an old ottoman we had, and plopped a tray on top for drinks and things. Perfect for putting the feet up; in fact, I'm doing that now! Next, a leather morrocan pouf with crazy gilt pictures, bought at the flea market for $20 and buffed up with saddle soap. Voila, extra seating, especially loved by kids. The console table was a restoration hardware floor model find, cheap, and we loaded it up with one of the kid's collections of old globes (steal from kids' spaces in your house! they're full of things with fun and energy!) Our littlest one has been using the slate fireplace surround as a chalkboard -- why not? It's slate! We can't bring ourselves to erase his funny portraits. The little tables at each side of the fireplace are shell inlaid, not from a pricey boutique, but from homegoods (be careful, homegoods can be great, but limit your purchases to what you absolutely love). Each table holds a glass sphere lamp, bought at Pier One for cheap, cheap (but change out the shades: these were on sale at Anthropologie). The mantle features a $45 red framed 1950s map of the United States, found at an estate sale. A big old trunk (bought at a country auction for $80) with its original owner's name carved on the top stores toys, and on top, an old wooden breadbox with handles holds loads and loads of matchbox cars. Educational AND fun. We've stuffed one of the built in bookshelves with games -- there's no TV in this room, but we don't need it, and neither do you. The other bookshelf is lined with maps and full of books and family photos. Surround yourself with things you love, things that reflect your family's spirit, and mix new with things that have a history of their own. You'll be enriched by these inexpensive things; it just takes a little imagination.

Friday, August 14, 2009

an old trick, but a good one

Got an extremely boring bookshelf? This is an oldie-but-goodie solution: take out the shelves (it will be trickier if they're fixed, but you know you can do it!) and staple maps of your choice to the back wall. We like to use old maps; these came from a collection of National Geographic maps that we found at an estate sale for $5, but you can order online or go to your local bookstore. Use this as an opportunity to subtly celebrate a special trip, or your family origins, or the states you've lived. We did this, including this simple staging, in 30 minutes, promise! Have fun . . .

Thursday, August 13, 2009


we saw these terrific swinging contraptions for children at the Haba booth at the Atlanta market. Everything Haba makes is terrific quality, well executed, and guaranteed to make a BIG smile stick on any child's face. Our little ones are especially enamored of the two indoor/outdoor versions pictured below; the sailing ship, and the rocket ship. Try amazon and chasingfireflies.com for supplies, and happy swinging! (just make sure you have plenty of room ~ an excellent use for that McMansion or loft living room you haven't gotten around to furnishing yet!!)

. . . there seems to be something really comforting for kids in swinging around gently in circles, especially in an enclosed space. We often find our kids curled up with a book or a favorite stuffed animal in one of our Habitat or Ikea swinging chairs. We love them so much we have a couple of Ikea Svingas in white (only us69.99!!) on our screened porch, facing each other to allow for maximum interactive discussion ~ a relaxing place to catch up with your kids' lives . . . http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00065497

adorable new chairs for kids

we really like these new chairs for children from The Children's Furniture Company. They come in three sizes, cool colors, and interesting animal shapes. Children's chair afficionados like us appreciate the duck . . . totally adorable. Currently available only through school and library wholesalers and designers, but check out this link for online retail suppliers http://www.gresscoltd.com/products/newproducts/index.php?cmd=view&mod=189&id=100

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

told you we were back, and USE the features on your MacBook!

hey, if you have a MacBook Pro, check out what you can do on Photo Booth! Super fun for the kids on a rainy, boring end-of-summer day, and you can print to adorn book covers, lockers, bulletin boards, cards for grandma, you get the drill . . . have fun! p.s. this option is comic book. also, disclaimer: i wanted to erase this one but, for some reason, my kids LOVED it!

we're back, and we love Stray Dog Designs

hello out there!! we are back, after a hiatus we'll blame on business, busy-ness, and maybe a tiny bit of lack of motivation. Anyway, we hope to even better and more fun, with lots of decorating stuff, most of it helpful and not too silly or sweet ~ speaking of which, we were recently at the Atlanta market, scoping out the new stuff from all our favorite companies and designers, and again, our abosulte favorite new stuff was at Stray Dog Designs. Their lighting, furniture, and esp. papier mache lamps and accessories have a youthful, joyful feel, and bring a fresh spirit into many, if not any, interiors. We love the new birds in a cage lantern, which will feature two shapely papier mache doves in a golden cage contraption . . . everything else was lovely, too.

check them out