Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I'm not sure I'll be able to post tomorrow, so I'll wish you a happy Halloween one day early.

My lack of crafting skill is a frequent theme on this blog, but Baxter's costume from last year was my one, shining moment. I wanted him to have a simple costume without a bunch of clothing (he tolerates a Barbour field jacket when it rains, but that's it). I bought hair extensions at a beauty supply store and sewed them onto the elastic you get at the dance store to attach to ballet slippers.

Baxter didn't love his costume and I was able to catch him yawning when he tried it on for the first time (dogs yawn for a bunch of reasons, but often as a calming mechanism). It wound up looking like a big roar!

I only wound up putting it on him for three events, a pet Halloween parade, a trick-or-treat event for charity, and a photo shoot. I'll have photos of this year's costume, which is decidedly less crafty, in a few days.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Decor knock offs

How does Home Goods get stuff that looks like it could be part of Restoration Hardware's new collection so quickly? Is there an Alan Schwartz of decor who goes to work as soon as a new catalog hits the mailboxes?

Just for fun, here are some lamps I saw at a Home Goods up here in northern Virgina that were pretty cool (two of those red shades look like duds to me, but that double navy shade is pretty unusual!):

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Do you live in a development?

Photo courtesy of Sam Bebe/Ecotrust

Work has me in northern Virginia this week. After spending two days in the suburbs just outside Washington, DC, I've moved west to the more distant suburbs.

Despite living in new construction myself, I can't help but look at the massive developments here and wonder what life is like for those who live in these planned neighborhoods. People must identify themselves by the name of their complex (they all use words like "thrace" or "glen" in their European sounding names) and having a GPS is critical since Stoney Village Boulevard will intersect Stoney Village Place and Stoney Village Parkway, probably at a traffic circle, at some point.

My complex in Charlottesville only consists of a dozen or so buildings on one street. There are three or four different building styles, so there are never two buildings with the same facade next to each other. I realize that this is why I found the complex a little more comfortable than others.

Do you live in a complex? Does your home look like others on your street? What have you done to distinguish your house from the others? What is life like in these larger housing developments?
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Monday, October 26, 2009

A peek into the Morrison House in Old Town Alexandria

I'm in northern Virginia for business this week and managed to got a great deal at the Morrison House, yet another hotel in the Kimpton family of hotels. I'm a loyal Kimpton visitor because their hotels are usually small, boutique style, and pet friendly (without threatening pet policies or deposits). Each Kimpton is a little different and this one is considerably more traditional than the others in which I've stayed.

I'll take some pictures of the public spaces later today, but here's a look at the charming room in which I'm staying. I love how they've combined traditional case goods with modern art and lighting that bridges the gap.

Neat little details: there are only 45 rooms in the entire hotel, a complimentary glass of wine arrived at my door a few minutes after I got here, I got a $10 credit towards the minibar, coffee and tea are served in the parlor each morning, and the hotel looks like a large home, just off the main shopping street in Old Town Alexandria. I'm steps away from stores and restaurants, but feel like I'm in a secluded home. Oh and as I was winding down for the night, the housekeeper showed up with chocolates and a card with tomorrow's weather report written on it. So charming!

The Frette linens have white zebra stripes on a white background

As usual, I'm not compensated for my sneak peeks into stores and hotels. These are just places I like.
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Alexa Sofa Passes the Sleep Test

My boyfriend fell asleep on the new sofa twice yesterday. This is a very important test that Alexa passed.
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Back in the groove: Craigslist finds

It's time to get back on track with some Craigslist finds! I'm focusing on Charlottesville, but have two picks from west of town (is Waynesboro considered "the valley"? I wasn't sure if I could use that term).

1. Someone is asking just $12 for each of these cool stools. As is, they'd look pretty cool if you were going for a simple look. Painting them a bright, glossy color would look fantastic, too. I love the metal ring!

2. These $10 folding chairs don't look very special right now, but if you use these instructions from High Heeled Foot in the Door, you can turn these into something much more interesting!

Of course, if you're lazy, you could spend $198 for the same thing from Anthropologie.

3. The owner of these dining chairs didn't post a price, so I see that as an invitation to bargain. These would look wonderful with some new fabric (it's super easy to reupholster dining chair cushions like those). A coat of paint could go a long way as well.

4. As always, I have two dressers that could look modern and fun with a nice coat of paint. See some examples of what they could look like on this blog post from a few weeks ago.

This dresser is only $25 and is over in Waynesboro. What a great deal!

This second dresser is $50 and is right here in Charlottesville
. The middle door is really interesting.

5. Lastly, this piece doesn't need any paint, but it's such a wonderful deal. It's a Crate & Barrel lamp that retails for $179. A seller in Staunton only wants $40 for it! With a bright shade, this will look brand new!

Have you made any Craigslist scores lately? Any finds you want to share from the Central Virginia Craigslists? Next week, I'll try to cover some items in another part of Virginia, based on your feedback. Richmond? The Valley? NOVA? The beach?
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Meet the Alexa Sofa from Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams

About ten minutes ago, my Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams sofa arrived! It's been a long time coming and I'm so happy to finally have it here. I need to do some steaming to get out some of the wrinkles in the skirt, but I was too excited to post this entry to wait for that.

Welcome home, Alexa!

white slipcpvered sofa
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Furniture nostalgia

A little over a month ago, I stumbled upon a familiar looking cabinet at Circa, a local second hand furniture store. It was in beautiful condition, with working hardware, and just a little dust layering the inside.

Circa wanted $150 for it, which made me laugh. That cabinet originally cost many thousands of dollars. I know because my aunt had the same cabinet in her home in New York City for years (not saying the cabinet in Circa is my aunts...I don't think that was clear at first). Seeing the piece brought back good memories of Thanksgiving dinners and birthday parties at my aunts house. For a half second, I wanted it out of feelings of nostalgia, but my home is small and my decor doesn't fit this beautiful piece.

My aunt and uncle are about to move back into their place after a major renovation and redecoration. They decided to give their cabinet to my mother and while I was visiting home for a day last week, I got to see it in my parent's house. All those good memories came back when I saw it. I'm glad it's staying in the family.

Pardon the wires...I'm too lazy to photoshop them out

Century made the cabinet and legs separately so people could choose the base style that best fit their style. Perhaps this is why the Charlottesville cabinet was in the back annex at Circa. The legs weren't with it and people couldn't figure out what to do with it!

Someone needs to get into Circa and snap this up. It's such an interesting, unusual piece!
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fabric shopping in New Jersey

During my last fabric shopping excursion, I got sidetracked by a beautiful, damask fabric. While in New Jersey last weekend, I decided to peek into two, massive fabric stores to see if I could find that fabric. I didn't find it, but took plenty of pictures of the sample and book rooms. I could have spent hours looking through the all the options. Oh wait, I did!

That's a lot of books.

There were at least three different rooms full of trim!

More books!

One corner of the clearance room

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Book shelf styling

How interesting to see J. Crew stores styling their shelves with books flipped around to show the pages instead of the spines. This look has been popping up more and more and seems like something many of us everyday decorators could adapt pretty easily to work in our homes.

Maybe I'll give up on having a beautiful rainbow of books on my shelves now.

How do you arrange your books? By subject? Height? Color?

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Monday, October 19, 2009

A peek into Hillman Electric in Ridgewood, NJ

Below, you'll see my 1982 Christmas haul: a slew of Strawberry Shortcake dolls, some Barbies, a Barbie car, a bracelet, a painting, and a lamp. That Christmas sticks out in my mind as one when my stream of presents seemed never ending.

The lamp was one of my favorite presents. It had a nightlight in the bottom, covered by grosgrain ribbon and the three way switch could turn on the nightlight, the main light, and both lights. It was pretty sweet and it came from Hillman Electric in my hometown, Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Don't you love the wallpaper? I used to trace the flowers when I couldn't sleep. That console table is still in the room!

Due to some travel troubles, I had an unexpected day in Ridgewood this weekend. While shopping with my mother, we had to stop into the lighting store to buy light bulbs. Thinking about it, I realized that my mother is a local business owner's dream. She buys light bulbs at the lighting store. She gets fish at Peter's Fish Market. Presents are bought at "gift shops". She doesn't recall ever shopping at Target. She's been shopping this way for years.

I wandered around Hillman Electric as she chatted with the owner about her light bulbs (when he told her that her light bulbs were being phased out, she asked if that was because of President Obama in a hushed voice...not realizing that traditional bulbs have been on the way out for years). I thought about the history we had with the store and realized that my mother is evidence that the shop local movement is a revival, not something new.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back after a few days at home

I'm back! I pre-loaded a few entries over the last week and shared a few pictures from the road. However, I didn't anticipate some travel troubles that extended my trip by a few days, hence the two days without posts.

After two unplanned days in my hometown of Ridgewood, New Jersey, I'm back...with some pictures from a few shopping excursions.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

A trend for big, chain hotels?

Perhaps the big chain hotels are making a concerted effort to become more modern or interesting in their public spaces? Despite having typical guest rooms, the Marriott in Providence, RI has a strikingly hip public space in the middle of the hotel. Too bad it was in the 30s and 40s while I was there.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Greetings from the road

You might have noticed that I'm not responding to comments very much this week. The reason is that the blog was on auto pilot for a few days due to a business trip. I'm traveling with a group and did not make the travel arrangements, which means that instead of staying at Kimpton, we're at Marriotts, Sheratons, and Hiltons.

I didn't think I'd have any material for a hotel sneak peak until I got the the Sheraton in Wakefield, MA. They have seriously updated from the quaint, colonial hotel they once were. The lobby is flanked by two large lounge areas. The colors are pretty neutral, but when you look up, you see this:

The business center, which typically consists of three computers in a nondescript room is equally surprising.

Nice to see some big chains stepping things up a notch in the decor area.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A quick break from the usual programming

At times, I worry that my enthusiasm for certain companies may lead people to believe that I have some sort of professional or monetary connection with them. The fact is that they are more likely to have a connection to my golden retriever, Baxter, than with me.

I love animals. I really, really love animals. Regardless of size, disposition, or ability to shed, I love all sorts of critters. When I find out that someone is an animal lover, I feel a connection. When I find out that a store or company is pet friendly, I can't help but become a huge fan.

So, please don't mistake my rave reviews of certain stores or companies as the result of some sort of compensation. I'll be shouting from the rooftops when blogging leads to some sort of perk, I promise!

Photo of a Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams store from
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Is it too early to decorate for Halloween?

My patio doors

I might not be crafty, but I can buy stuff at Michael's like the best of them. I was so excited about the ravens and spiders I bought that I already put them up. It's not too early, right?

My living room...I'll be getting shades for those pineapple lamps any day now
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Craigslist tip: search for items coming from model homes

Earlier this week, I mentioned that a Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams sofa was being sold on the Delaware Craigslist. Searching for "model" in the furniture section of The Craiger (term used by a girl I knew in my Boston days) usually returns some pretty good items.

In some areas, model homes are professionally decorated. Obviously, in others, models are full of bland, uninteresting furniture that wouldn't last too long, but if you know an area well, you can usually figure out a geographic area to target for the good stuff.

When it's time to sell the contents of a model, some builders have ways to reuse or sell things privately, but some use Craigslist to get rid of items. Search carefully and you might score a great deal from a builder who's eager to clear out a house.

Here's what I found up in Delaware, all coming from the same house:

1. Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams Alexa sofa, $399

2. Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams pair of chairs in a light green toile, $225 each


3. Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams dining chairs, $199

4. Howard Miller wine console & mirror, $375 (found it online here)

Can you tell that Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams have been on my brain lately? I swear I don't work for them, I just love their products.
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