The Trestle Table

I’m always on the lookout for great deals and on a recent client shopping trip, stumbled on a beautiful and affordable table I had to share.

If you like the look of a trestle table (like this gorgeous one at Restoration Hardware), but don’t like a price tag that will run you over like a train (these can run upwards of $2K), consider the Cane Dining Table from Home Decorators Collection. It’s made of solid eucalyptus and at 84 x 40, takes up slightly less space than RH’s version (84 x 42) and is one inch shorter at 30″ – a more comfortable height, in my opinion!  Pair it with classic upholstered nailhead chairs for a rustic elegant look. At around $750, it’s a beauty.

Cane Table

If you’re in the Chicago area, you can check out the table (and a bunch of other lovely pieces) at the Home Decorators Collection showroom on Halsted.  It’s hidden away on the second floor of the Home Depot. Definitely worth a look, especially if you’re in the market for affordable large area rugs and furniture pieces like this.

Share a Little Love on Olioboard

I love competition.  And I need your help.

It’s been on my list for a while to check out Olioboard.  It’s an online tool for creating 2D and 3D design boards – a bit like Project Decor, which I also adore (check out my profile here, but promise to come back!).  Olioboard has a few different bells and whistles.

So I played around with it this morning and… well… found myself entering a little design contest.  It’s the Tobie Fairley Get Published Design Contest, judged by editors of Traditional Home, RueMag and UK’s All the Best Blog, so I guess it’s not so “little.”

The theme is stripes. Now I’m not big on blasting a room with bold patterns – I’m a more subtle girl. I incorporated stripes into my entry in at least 15 ways – can you spot them all?

Please check it out and vote – click on the pic below, sign up (it’s free!) and cast your vote for Nature Nursery by clicking on the little heart to show some Valentine’s Day love for Eye to Eye Interiors.

Thank you for your support!  -Dawn

Nature Nursery by Eye to Eye Interiors

How’s it Hanging?

There are people who go around in life correcting the grammar mistakes of others. They feel compelled to right the apostrophe wrongs, wrangle the dangling participle or suggest fewer words to make us all better writers. Their suggestions come out of the blue, but I do appreciate their quest – we all make mistakes, we can all learn.

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When it comes to decorating, I feel like the grammar police, offering up the same unsolicited advice over and over.  Sometimes this urge is quite strong. I’ll be driving through a neighborhood, see this decorating mistake through a window and I just want to get out of my car, knock on the door and explain how one little adjustment can make a big difference.  I know, it’s a sickness.  I promise, I hold myself back. I don’t randomly knock on anyone’s door.

But when I’m on a consultation and see photos, paintings or framed words of wisdom hung too high, I feel a tug in my heart.  Perhaps I’ve only been asked to provide paint color suggestions or choose a kitchen countertop…I can’t help it. I have to suggest that the art be lowered to the proper height for the room. 

Is your artwork hung too high? As you sit reading this, look up at the nearest piece of art.  If you have to tilt your head up more than 45 degrees, it’s hung too high. 

As you walk up the stairs, do you feel as if those people in that portrait up there are looking out over a cliff, gazing into a far-off horizon? If so, bring ’em down. 

As you walk through your halls, do you feel as if you’re looking right into the painting and photos? Good! You’re on the right track.

The general rule is this:  in a dining room, living room, family room, bedroom, library – anywhere you sit or recline – place the art so when you’re sitting, you only have to look up 45 degrees to comfortably view it.  Image

In a hall or stairway, place the art so when you walk by, you don’t look up or down to view it – it’s at eye level.  What if you’re short and your better half is tall and “Eye level” has a different meaning to each of you?  Compromise is key.  57″ from the floor up to the center of the art is considered “gallery height.” Use this as your guide for hallways and passageways – areas where you’ll be standing when looking at that photo of great-grandma. 

I should note that “art” in most homes is usually around 24″x 36″.  If you have several smaller sized pieces (I consider 8×10 small – like that picture of great-grandma), group them together to create the illusion of one larger piece. Treat this grouping as one piece of art when you decide how high to hang it. 

What about larger pieces? If you have a tall or oversized piece, use it as a focal point in an entryway, above a fireplace or on a large blank wall. How high you hang it depends on the art itself and how it relates to the rest of the room. 

Armed with this knowledge, take an objective look at where your art is hung now, then go for it.  Rehanging your artwork at the right height will make your home feel warmer and more inviting. You’ll see your art in a new light and I promise to not slow down in your ‘hood!

Choosing Upholstery

Okay, I admit it, I love choosing custom upholstery. Facing that long wall of beautiful swatches as they neatly hang by tiny hangers and subtly whisper their cleanability and price codes, I get a little rush of excitement.  Imagining the chair below in a gorgeous damask or a clean, simple stripe makes me happy.

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If you’ve ever experienced the process, adding custom upholstery to your order can lead to serious sticker shock. Finding just the right fabric and pattern without completely breaking the bank is an art that requires discipline and usually some self-compromise.

These days, I am finding that clients are growing attached to upholstery found in showcase homes on Houzz and Pinterest. Heck, I grow attached to what I find online on Houzz and Pinterest. But danger lurks in them thar hills. All too often, the question “Where did you get that chair?” is answered with “We had it cu$tom made.”

When you choose custom upholstery, arm yourself with the general rule that you’ll spend more than you would for the stocked version.  So if you’ve already determined that the stocked version of a particular piece of furniture isn’t your cup of tea, here are a few tips to guide you on your custom upholstery journey:

  1. In general, patterns cost more than solids. Why? Mostly because patterns are more difficult to line up and place correctly on the furniture.
  2. Be prepared to wait. Most custom upholstery takes 6-8 weeks. And if the product is made overseas, you might have to wait three months.
  3. Those letters on the label provide important information: price and cleanability. The price grade simply indicates how much it cost the manufacturer to make the fabric, which translates to a higher price when it’s put on your chair. The swatch below has an O fabric grade, which, in this case, adds about $400 to the base price of a chair.IMG_0757
  4. Unless you’re made of money, don’t fall in love with double letters.  At the very top of the price scale, ZZ will slap you wide awake with its bottom line.  To be on the safe side, stick with letters A through F. Be careful, though, because H is sometimes the highest grade. Ask to see the price difference between each grade so you can do the math while looking through swatches.
  5. Definitely let go of the image of that perfectly patterned mod chair you saw on Houzz… you know the one with celadon circles and little rust rectangles on a khaki background…  Yeah, that one. Let it go.  Think of what you love most about it – the color combo, the pattern, the shape of the chair – and let it inspire you to find your upholstery. It’s do-able, it’s out there.
  6. A good way to begin is to have your general color scheme in mind. Most fabrics are organized by color (don’t you wish they were organized by price?). Once you determine your palette, then move on to the fabric style. Pull off the rack everything you think you might like, then put back anything not in your price range. Some furniture stores have more than one upholstery rack, so make sure you’re looking at the right upholstery for the furniture you’re buying!
  7. Don’t confuse the cleanability code (usually a W, S, WS or X) with the fabric grade. “W” means the fabric can be cleaned with water-based shampoo or foam upholstery cleaner; “S” means it requires a dry cleaning solvent. “SW” or “WS” means it can be spot cleaned with either a mild detergent, upholstery shampoo or mild dry cleaning solvent. If you have pets or children, steer clear of “X,” which can stand only a dusting or vacuuming.
  8. Trust your eyes when it comes to quality. If you see that the swatch is pilling, fraying or separating, don’t have it put on your furniture.  Play with the fabric. Touch it, drape it, sit on it. How does it feel against your skin?
  9. Ask the salesperson if the upholstery you like is displayed on a piece of furniture in the store. Seeing it on a larger scale will help you picture it on the furniture you have in mind. Also try to see the swatch in the light of your own home. Ask if you can check out the swatches (usually for a refundable deposit).
  10. Take pictures and take your time. It’s a big purchase, so don’t feel rushed. If it’s on sale now, it’ll probably be on sale again. Assure the salesperson that you’ll ask to work with him or her when you return to buy.

Hopefully, these tips will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed at the racks. Happy hunting!

The Ultimate Casual Tablecloth

Today’s blog is brought to you by my mother. (Of course, a little voice in my head says, “aren’t they all?”) And it’s true, I have her to thank for so much of my eye for design and color. She says it’s the other way around, but that’s only because she’s humble.

So at an impromptu dinner at her house last night, my mother pulls a tablecloth from the dryer and proclaims, “I’ve found the perfect tablecloth.”  She shows me how it comes out of the dryer with no creases, no wrinkles, no curled edges.  She’s right – it lays perfectly on the table.

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Then she tells me to guess what it’s made of.  It’s stain resistant, so I figure it’s polyester.  She shows me the label…Image

100% Post Consumer Recycled RePET.  What???  Plastic bottles?  Yep, 100% plastic bottles, people.  Read more about the material here – it blows my mind.  The fabric is pliable – you’ll absolutely never guess that it comes from what would otherwise would be landfill. Kohl’s sells this particular version.

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Bon appetit!  (Oh, and thanks, Mom.  Dinner was delicious!)

Pillow Talk

Happy New Year!  Sitting around the dinner table last night, the conversation turned to what the new year means to each of us. For some, it’s just another day. For me, I have an inherent desire to refresh and renew. This translates into 1) taking down holiday decorations, 2) new paint for one of the bedrooms and 3) swapping out pillows. 

I was in a store the other day and a fellow shopper turned to me, holding out two burgundy pillows.  She asked “Which one do you like better? It’s for my living room.”  I told her I preferred the one with more texture, then gave my usual advice (I get asked these questions a lot).  “Get both and decide when you’re at home – the lighting will be much different there and you’ll get to see the pillow with your other furnishings.” She thanked me, took my advice, and left me there in the pillow aisle as I contemplated my next blog entry.

As I stood in the midst of velour, velvet, chiffon flowers, striped upholstery and embroidered cotton, I realized how daunting it can be to simply choose a couple of pillows for a sofa. First off, they can be expensive.  And the two accent pillows they throw in with the couch are usually too small and not very comfortable.  And how many do you need? 

1) My favorite place to shop for pillows is at one of the discount retail stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, Ross.  At full price, a good quality pillow runs between $50-100. At one of the discount stores, you can find the same pillow for $20-40.

2) For most sofas, five pillows is the magic number. For loveseats, it’s three. Pillows on chairs are optional.

3) The size of pillow should complement the size of furniture. If you have a petite, tailored, mid-century modern sofa with pole legs, stay away from gigantic fluffy marshmallow pillows and choose something tailored instead. If you have a gigantic sectional with mushy seating, dive right in and surround yourself with big fluffy pillows.  The safest bet? Go with standard sized pillows: 18×18.

4) Every home magazine suggests swapping out pillows for the seasons.  While I’m a big proponent of changing a look with new pillows, not all of us have room to store 15 fluff balls all year long (4 seasons, 5 pillows each season… that’s 5 on the couch and 15 in a closet – sheesh!).  If you’re in the same boat, consider purchasing five 18×18 pillow inserts, then invest in much-easier-to-store pillow covers to change the look. Nope, HomeGoods, Ross, TJ Maxx and Marshalls don’t sell just the pillow covers, but you can look for standard sizes with covers that can be removed, then donate the unused pillow inserts.

5) How to combine? Assuming your couch is a solid, neutral color (tan, beige, cream, brown or black), you can go to town with combining pillows to suit your personality and taste.  Choose two pillows with complementary patterns and colors, then choose another three for their color and texture. 

I’ve put together four seasons’ worth of pillows below.  If you want these exact same looks, click on the picture to go directly to Project Decor, where you can purchase the slipcovers for your very own. Or use these photos as a guide and create your own combinations. Happy New Year!

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The Ottoman

Well I did it – I went with the grass ottoman. Pros: it looks lovely in the space and is just the right size.  Cons: it’s not a storage piece and the kids can’t sit and draw without a hard surface underneath. The bright side is that they’ll get into the habit of using a hard surface when they draw. Yes, I’ve harped on them about not gouging Papa’s table with their pencils…

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I was craving a little texture and got it.  It’s casual, which feels just right these days. And storage, schmorage. I need to get rid of stuff!  Ah yes… a topic for another post.

West Elm Giveaway

Giveaway and West Elm in the same breath. Yes, please. Knowing that as entries increase in number, my own chances of winning dwindle and fade, I give to you, dear readers, the ultimate sacrifice – an opportunity to enter for a chance to win. The giveaway has been going on for a few weeks and they’re on their fourth week now. Entries received this week are for $250 worth of market personal care products. Ooh, those Rewind Candles look mighty nice. Ends December 16, 2012.

West Elm is now offering, according to their website, “clever, hard -working, time-saving, clutter-busting solutions for everyday living.”  Translation: tools for kitchen, garden, care & repair, and personal care. Yay! Now excuse me while I salivate over this garden mister. And this porcelain cake stand.  Not quite sure how either of these things will save me time or bust my clutter, but I certainly like them very much.