Thursday, March 17, 2016

PROJECT DESIGN: How to Style Your Spring Mantle Two Ways

Same Mantle Two Ways

Hello all!

First, I need to apologize for not getting this Project Design blog posted on time! That would have been last Friday. I have been battling a bit of a virus....my Doc suspected West Nile Virus, but not really sure. All I know is every bone in my body hurt and worst headache ever. Ugh! I am much better now and catching up, so here's to Spring and how much better it can make one feel!
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So Spring has definitely sprung in these parts! Flowers are springing up all over and what better way to bring the outside in than adding a few of those beautiful blooms to the most prominent place in your living room? The Fireplace Mantle!
When one enters a living space with a fireplace, it is only natural for the eye to travel to this most historic of focal points. Throughout the ages,  the hearth has been where the warmth and sustenance of any home would have been found. It is where family and friends would gather. So it is naturally a place for putting things of importance to the owners of the home....family portraits, paintings bringing back special memories, mementos of travels,  or family heirlooms. It is also a place to show off the changes in the seasons. And so that brings me to Spring!
The mantle in our 1911 American Foursquare home was made from a somewhat homely pale orange brick, so I had it painted white when we moved in. Painted brick still has character while providing a clean slate for anything one might want to put above it.


So! When blogger friends contacted me to be a part of Project Design: How to Style Your Spring Mantle Two Ways, I was all over it! Coincidentally I had just purchased some candlestick holders I had recently seen in the CB2 catalog.  I was also getting much inspiration by a big event at the Crocker Art Museum that is now showing an exhibit titled Andy Warhol: Portraits on loan from The Andy Warhol Museum, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburg.

CB2 Candlestick Holders
Let me digress just a little bit....growing up, I was lucky enough to have a mother who was very involved in the modern art world in Southern California. She was putting together shows at the Pasadena Art Museum before it became the Norton Simon Museum. She then worked at both the Corcoran and Ace Galleries in LA for a time before moving to New Mexico. There she started working in galleries in Santa Fe and then working exclusiveley for Larry Bell, a contemporary of Andy Warhol. My mother was lucky enough to have gotten in on the ground floor when it came to collecting art from some of the artists of those years. My mom now lives with us, so I am the beneficiary of some of her beautiful art acquisitions....


In honor of Andy Warhol and Spring, I have Andy Warhol's Screen Print, "Flowers" above my mantle along with the CB2 candlesticks and yellow Protea flowers. I just love those freaky flowers! So this was my modern take on Spring....colorful, minimal, fun!


After putting together this modern mantle, it was fun to put together something completely different! Because of the picture molding on the wall above my mantle, it has been challenging to find art or mirrors that are the right size and shape to fit. After doing a search around the house for a bit the other day, I remembered a small Suzani I had bought for my daughter's bedroom when she was younger. It fit the bill for something different and unexpected. 


I have seen Suzani pillows and Suzani throws and Suzani bedspreads. And perhaps the Suzani train has left the station, but I thought why not try it as art for a seasonal change up? I attached it to the picture molding as a wall hanging and then added a large pitcher filled with Bridal Veil. It turns out the effect was very romantic, especially after I added the antique mercury glass vases and my beloved tramp art box.


Putting these mementos together pulled at my heart strings a little bit. But then, that is what a memento is for, no? I do have an affection for old things, but I like the new as well. I think there is always a way to bring things together as long as they are interesting and tell a story.

Suzani Hanging, Tramp Art Box and Vintage Pitcher with Bridal Veil Flowers

Vintage Mercury Glass Vases on a Stack of Books

In this instance, I pulled things from all over the house that I already had. I cut flowers from the yard and filled a large pitcher with them. Then it was just a matter of moving things around until it felt right!

There you go. A couple of very different ways to go for a Spring Mantle!



So here a few design tips for styling a mantle (in no particular order):

  • Don't buy things just to fill space. Find things that are unique and have some meaning for you. 
  • Play with balance and scale to fill the space.
  • Use books to raise up things that need more height to balance the composition.
  • Start a collection. A group of similar objects can make for a powerful display.
  • Use things you already have. Hunt for things you might not have considered using before.
  • Find things from the yard...flowers, branches, greenery. 
  • Mix it up: New, Old, Playful, Serious, Expensive, Free....as long as there is a story, it can be beautiful!
  • Have fun, because this should a pleasure, not a chore! :)



For lots more Spring Mantle Inspiration head on over to these lovely blogs because they are also presenting Spring Mantles Two Ways:


HAPPY SPRING!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

SPRING!

 A Peek of one of my  Spring Mantle Styles
In Sacramento, Spring is well underway. Many of the fruit trees are in full bloom or almost done. The Camelia Festival has already happened. Tulips and Daffodils will not be around for much longer. But it is green, green, green thanks to the much needed El Nino rainy weather we are having right now.


It is time to clear the cobwebs and do a little Spring Cleaning and rearranging. With that in mind, I am putting together a couple of options for switching up the mantle in my Living Room. I am taking part in  Project Design: How to Style Your  Spring Mantle Two Ways with a group of talented blog friends who will be showing off their own mantles this Friday, March 11th. So if you are in the mood for Springtime, tune in to be inspired by all of the fresh ideas!

Here is the line up of participants for you to check out this Friday:


I also wanted to let you all know there will be some major changes around here this Spring! I am working like a fiend getting the blog and website redesigned and updated along with some very talented ladies who I will tell you about when things are ready to launch!

Spring is a perfect time to renew and I can't wait to show you everything we've been doing around here!

Happy Spring!



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Adventures in Wales: Bodnant Gardens....Dreaming of Spring


Hi all!

I know I have been VERY inconsistent about writing and sharing on the blog lately, (LATELY?!?!? what does that even mean when the last time I wrote was MONTHS ago?). All I can say is that life is full to overflowing, and the balls in the air sometimes drop, and for that I apologize. I am hoping to get back on a regular schedule very soon! I am revamping my website and the blog, and trying to make some very important decisions regarding my Design Studio which I hope to share with you all very soon! Exciting stuff ahead.

But on to my adventures in Wales. It does seem that we packed a ton of things into a very short time there....(waaayyy too short....we are planning another trip soon). One of my favorite things was our brilliant morning at Bodnant Estate  Garden. It is considered one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK. Created by Lord Aberconway (Henry McLaren) and given to the National Trust in 1949, the garden was the top item on my list of things we wanted to see in Northern Wales. I cannot even describe how lush and beautiful it is. Thank  the heavens for cameras so you can get the gist of it....


The Bodnant Estate is a private building and not part of the National Trust, but we are lucky to just see it from the outside. It was purchased by Henry Davis Pochin, a successful Victorian entrepreneur in 1875 and he began the transformation of the Georgian era estate to what successive generations have produced today. the same family has owned this 80 acre estate for 130 years.

You can read much more about its history and what is planned for its future HERE, HERE and HERE.


We arrived in May of last year, just when the azaleas and rhododendrons were in full bloom. We got to the gardens a tiny bit before they opened, and I ended up exploring around the back of the Estate in places I probably should not have been.....


This beautiful greenhouse was on the backside of the manor house and a did snap a few photos before we were let in to the gardens.


I cannot tell you how extraordinary these gardens are. everywhere you look it was breathtaking.


The wisteria was just about to bloom from a huge old vine. It  would have been amazing to see it in just another month....



The front drive to the Estate was not supposed to be part of the gardens and I think we were not supposed to be here. I did snap a photo before we realized we were probably trespassing...we got back to the proper side of the wall as soon as we realized.....



Views in Wales....now you know where all of those fairytales come from.....


There were acres of formal gardens.....





The Rhododendrons and azaleas came in colors I had never seen before.....


The Wisteria trellises were ready to carry a show of white blooms anytime.....




The gardens terraced down to the Conwy river valley....




The Pin Mill was originally built in 1730, but was suffering decay, so was brought to Bodnant in 1938 and placed on the Canal Terrace. All of the terraces were built without machinery.....whoa....


Further down, we wound our way through the forest with hills full of azaleas and rhododendrons....





We hiked down through the Dell and at the bottom was The Old Mill....built in the 1930's. Next to it is a refreshment house with tea and cakes and sandwiches.... perfect timing for a quick snack....






Yup...that is me on the bridge there....


we would around the creek and back up another way and found "the Poem"....


"The Poem".....what a nice name for the McLaren family tomb. I can see why it has the name....




From The Poem, we walked through meadows of flowers....



and pheasants were enjoying the meadows too....


We were not happy to be leaving, but if we had to, it was not so bad strolling through the famous Laburnam Arch  (Bright yellow trailing blooms) ....just before it was to bloom. It reminded us we will have to come back to see that.......


Above the exit gates....the walls were covered with blooms as well....



Thanks for strolling with me! 

One last thing I have to say.....this garden is so beautiful, I was astonished by how we had much of it too ourselves. Later in our trip when we were in Amsterdam, Paris and all through Italy, the crowds at all of the "attractions" were sometimes overwhelming. The experiences we had elsewhere elbow to elbow to get a photo of what are considered the "must see" sights of the world will never compare to this spectacular place. It was serene, peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful. I will never forget we were able to see it before it becomes overrun. Perhaps we were lucky on this day... in this month, but in looking back.....I will never forget it.....

I hope you have time to visit Bodnant Gardens in person one day. You will fall for it...I promise.