Friday, October 25, 2013

Bohemian 101

If you are a self-proclaimed Bohemian, even in just the decor realm, you should recognize the people in this relaxed picture taken at Charleston Farmhouse, Sussex. It is the Bloomsbury group in the 1920's.

Bloomsbury friends and family via Google

The famed loosely formed English literary and art group flowed in and out of the farmhouse near Lewes, England where Vanessa Bell, her children and Duncan Grant moved permanently from London (Bloomsbury) in 1916. There the group created a Bohemian decorative style as well as a way of living that went against convention of the time. The house is now part of the National Trust and is open to visitors.

Charleston Farmhouse via Website

Close by is Monk's House, the Rodmell cottage where Vanessa's sister Virginia and her husband Leonard Woolf moved to in July 1919. It is also open to the public and part of the National Trust. It is perfectly intact as if Virginia and Leonard went out for a walk and have yet to return. I just read the current blogpost From The House of Edward regarding the trip last spring author Pamela Terry made to Monk's House. Check it out, it was lovely and now one of my favorite blogsites!

Monk's House and gardens via Website

But it was Charleston Farmhouse that was the bucolic retreat for the group. There everything is covered in a post-Impressionist cacophony of patterns and paintings. It is a true Bohemian "atmosphere of ragamuffin delight" as Virginia Woolf wrote in a letter to Vita Sackville-West. There they played music, painted, wrote and carried on their highbrow way of looking at relationships. Seems such a lovely existence until you look at the following:

Complicated lifestyle chart via Google

Unconventional and yet somehow more forward thinking, reminiscent of today's modern relationships. But enough about that, let's look at the decor at Charleston Farmhouse:

Quentin Bell's bedroom
Another view of Quentin's bedroom 

Main room at Charleston Farmhouse

Main room at Charleston Farmhouse

Still another view of the main room

Front door view of Charleston Farmhouse

I love it when I find pictures of Charleston Farmhouse to compare. If you look closely you will see how the furnishings have changed and accessories were staged for pictures over the years. Loads of books on the Bloomsbury Group and Charleston Farmhouse are available at Amazon for research, check them out. 

If you like the Bloomsbury Group style of decor and would like to see a modern updated version, find a Domino's November 2007 issue. A really inspiring article was written by features writer Kate Bolick. She reinterpreted their aesthetic for her New York studio apartment with stellar results. 

Also, follow another one of my favorite blogs by writer Lisa Borgnes Giramonti 

Regrettably, I was so close the these sites when I visited the UK this past summer, but we were too busy to make the side trip!

Leave a comment and let me know how you interpret the Bloomsbury decor style in your space!

All pictures not attributed are from Pinterest.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bedroom Carpet Zone

I'm loving the fall weather we've been having around here lately. It's warm during the day and cold enough for the fireplace at night. The colors in the landscape are so luscious, I'm always sad it is so short lived!

Country cottage in the fall

So when the weather turns snappy in the evenings, I look for warm comfort in the bedroom when I turn in for the night. This brings me to an age old discussion amongst my clients and myself; carpet the floor in the bedroom or not?

Lovely thick carpet via Cozy Canadian Cottage

I adore the hardwood floors throughout my house and use area rugs winter through summer. Most of my clients feel the same. I use area rugs in the bedroom as well, a large one on the diagonal under the bed or scatters on each side. Easy maintenance and change is always an option. Plus love the shiny floors!

Gorgeous shiny wood floor with area rugs via Pinterest

That being said, I don't think anyone would turn away deep, soft, thick wall to wall carpeting in their bedroom if someone was offering to put it in for them. I may not go to the expense myself, but what if the carpet fairy godmother waved her wand and put in whatever I wanted? Well…...

OTT wool yarns via Google 

There is something to the idea of getting out of bed in the middle of the night and tiptoeing over a velvety pile of softness that brings out the decadence in me! Is it a perverse pleasure to dream of a romantic interlude on such softness without getting rug burns? Vibrant animal prints in wool or thick cut velvet in a myriad of colors dance in my head when I think of bedroom carpeting.

Beautiful Bohemian use of carpet via Pinterest

If you decide to carpet the bedroom, I always first suggest neutral flesh tone colors of all races; creamy pearl ivories, blush pinks and roses, mid-tone cafe cremes and the deepest, richest tones of brown. The pastels and jewel tones are successful too. Use something not in the rest of the house if you dare, this is a luxury space.

Lovely bedroom colors via Design Seeds

One option I would never choose is sisal or seagrass wall to wall or area rug. It's too hard surfaced and rough on bare feet. Softness is what we're after.

Custom fitting a wall to wall area rug in a bedroom is an option, but the cost will include binding and padding so sometimes it may be as much as wall to wall, if not more.

 In the old days, it was de rigueur in homes of sufficient income to have carpet in bedrooms because it kept rooms warmer in cold weather. Today we have insulated our homes to the point of suffocation, so it is rather a matter of choice. I recommend once a year professional cleaning too, preferably by a dry or low water method. Keeps the allergens to a minimum. 

So how do you feel about wall to wall carpet in the bedroom? Leave a comment to let me know.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Waxing on About Beeswax

I love scented candles and room fresheners, don't get me wrong. There are loads of luscious sounding fragrances and I have always fantasized about a room that oozes exotic travels, sophistication and a bit of Paris apartment. I even thought about investing in a Lampe Berger. (source) But I have never found a substitute for a really well made beeswax candle.

The bee in beeswax

Wicker patterned candles, who knew?

Beeswax candles are long burning so they are worth the initial investment. They burn clean and smell to me like church, incense and honey. (Talk about exotic travels!) I love the honey color in their natural state. They also come in white, colors and even patterned.

Rolled white beeswax pillar

Lovely colored beeswax pillar

Gorgeous pattered beeswax candles

I never realized the cottage industry in beeswax candles. When I was looking up sources for this post, I went to Pinterest as I always do first and there was a virtual explosion of pictures pinned from all different sources. The shapes are amazing! Check out the following:

What a beautiful rose patterned beeswax candle!

Hobnail pattered beeswax pillar is one of my fav's 

I need one of these Goddess beeswax candles!

OMG, is this the best Halloween candle or what?

I stick to the pillar, taper and solid shapes. They burn the longest and you get more value for your money. The rolled version, while they're attractive with the honeycomb pattern, are just too short burning for my applications. On the plus side, they do cost less up front.  

Cute beeswax gnome candle

The sources for all the candle pictures as well as dozens more pix are on my Pinterest board here. Enjoy the sampling and hopefully I've converted you over to the sweet side of candles!  

Drop me a comment and tell me what your favorite shape is!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pattern Mixing for Bohemian Decorating

Love that Bohemian mixed pattern look, it is so uncontrived and spontaneous. Right? Well, yes and no. It is a spontaneous look when you want the result carefree but mostly cohesive like the fab example shown below: 

Lovely nook via Pinterest

That relaxed, lived-in feeling is probably the result of years of collecting things they loved and re-used family furniture. 
But it can also take careful planning and execution for that uncontrived, carefree feel.  
Check out the example below:  

Perfect pattern mixing via Pinterest

The rug is the foundation and starting point. We've discussed that before in previous posts and here it is in practice. The common ground is the fresh red pulled into several disparate patterns. Other colors are added in from those patterns, so we ended up with red, yellow, sharp and soft turquoise and tiny amounts of green all against a neutral background. Here's another:

Formal, Sophisticated Pattern Mixing via Pinterest 
Again the starting point was the rug, the wall color was chosen to increase the volume. The gorgeous screen picks up black from the rug border and adds additional color choices. The sofa and chair were selected to complement this new introduction. The sharper purple Ikat patterned pillows are a mixture of red and purple probably a nod to the red in the screen and the ceramic pot on the table. So how easy is this to do at the fabric store? Well, I went to one and look what I've come up with:

Soft Boho look via author

Let's assume you have a black/beige oriental rug on the floor (after all it's the most common oriental I've seen in client's homes) and that you have a pretty patterned sofa in the pale turquoise/gray shown. Loads of options here for adding additional color. Would love some beige or brown leather chairs with this!
Next I took the same floral and switched it to:

Beige Bohemian via author

This type of beigey velvet is in sooo many homes I go to! Well, here is that same floral with additional patterns leaning towards red. Love the idea of turquoise and red with the beige!
Lastly, I took the diamond pattern to:

Stunning Black & Red via author

A basic black pin striped sofa that is probably the second most frequently seen in my client's homes. That same diamond print sure changes with the darker background! I love the pops of red on black and the cheeky animal print.

So, can you see how it's done? Start with your rug, add some fabric choices with a common color threaded through and your whole room comes together easily. I can hardly wait to use some of these fabrics and add in the accessories to finish that Bohemian room.

Please write a comment on how you got to your color choices in your room, I'd love to hear from you!