Timeless Trait Tuesday – Home as Retreat

I spent the last couple weeks pondering how to make a house inviting and welcoming to guests. And those are very important traits for a home to have, because “no man is an island”, and it is the relationships we have with our families, friends, neighbors and community that are often cultivated within our homes. But, as it always is with guests, they go home eventually. Because they have their place of rest and retreat. So, too, should we have ours.

I think creating our home as a retreat is so important to our modern lives. When we spend so much time being busy outside of the house, we need a place to hang our hat at the end of the day. A place where we can cook a good meal, share it with our family, and spend the evening catching up on conversation and relaxation. We need a home that functions efficiently so that the mundane tasks can be accomplished quickly enough to allow ample time for the things we really want to do. We need a place where we are surrounded by things we love; things that have good memories attached, that make us smile, that make us feel like we have created a special place in which to raise our family and build a life.

I know we can all easily answer that a retreat is someplace we go on vacation to get away and relax, but we need to be able to do that in our own homes! Our home is the one little corner of the world that is all ours, where we have the freedom to do and be and live as we please, a place where we can get away from whatever worldly pressures weigh heavy on our hearts. I know I’m the type of person that values a big comfy couch to sink into, where I can read my books, do the Sunday crossword, and snuggle with the hubby and the puppy. And I know my hubby is the type of person that has to have a big place to work on his many hobbies, and a big bed to snuggle up in at night. A sense of calm and quiet is important sometimes, but sometimes we like to pull the blinds all the way up, throw open the windows and the doors, and feel connected to whatever the weather or the community is up to.

What do you think of when you hear “retreat”?

How have you made your home your own personal retreat?

all images via Pinterest

Timeless Tangent Thursday – Collections

Talking about making accessories personal got me thinking about all the many things people collect, and how special these collections can be to us.  I was most certainly a collector when I was younger… stamps, candles, horse figurines, little animal statues, you name it and I probably had more than one.  The only thing I really collect anymore are books, but I’d like to think I’m starting an art collection.  I think collections are important, because generally, they’re cultivated over time with a good deal of care and attention.  And even if you inherited a collection, someone else spent time on it.  They show our personalities and our values and our unique sense of beauty and wonder.

Sometimes, though, I think it can be hard to figure out how to display a collection.  I grew up admiring the displayed collections in the home of both sets of grandparents.  My grandmother (dad’s side) collects antiques of all kinds, but I’ve always loved her collection of old baskets hanging from the barn beams in her family room.  And my grandfather (mom’s side) was a dedicated collector of Native American artifacts, displaying them prominently in carefully planned shadow boxes.  An entire wall in their dining room held his most treasured hobby of retirement: the birds he lovingly carved and painted, each one perfectly to scale and coloration of the real thing.

So today I went looking for interesting collection displays.  I’ve always felt that the best way to display a collection is by keeping the items all together.  That way, there is a sense of presence and importance given to them.  And that can certainly make for a stunning visual presentation.  Here are some of my finds!

What do you collect?  How do you display them?

Want to see more collections?  Check out this fabulous project:

A Collection a Day, 2010

(all images from Pinterest)

Timeless Trait Tuesday – Welcome (Again!)

I think our discussion about inviting and welcoming homes requires a little more introspection. I know I talked about this a little bit during my first week of blogging, but making your home welcoming and inviting is about more than just hospitality, don’t you think?

Making your home inviting from the outside could mean a clear path to a well-lit front door, a brightly colored porch swing, or large numbers on your mailbox.

Making your home welcoming on the inside includes not only your hospitality, but the colors in your home, the comfort of the furniture, the furniture arrangement, the smells, the quality of light, the personality of the artwork, and the care you take in making a house a home.

What can we do inside to make our homes more welcoming?

Furniture. Sure, you want it to look good, but it should feel good too!  It should make someone want to sit down and stay awhile!  It should be arranged to to facilitate conversation, allow movement through a room and complement the architecture in terms of both style and scale.

Lighting.  Light makes a big difference in spaces small and large.  Too little, too much, too glaring, too blue; when lighting is off, so is everything else.  Make sure there is more than one light source, so you get combinations of ambient, accent and task lighting appropriate to each space.  Remember that the fixture over your dining table should hang 32″-36″ above the tabletop.  And when it comes to table and floor lamps, make sure they fit the size and scale of the room and the furniture, and err on the larger side.

Materials.  When your rooms have layers of textures and a variety of materials, there is visual interest.  Do something like use linens and velvets together in varying shades of the same tone to add depth, or use different patterns in the same colors\ combinations.  Don’t use the same tone of wood or paint for all your furniture; then it looks like you bought everything on the same day from the same place.  Warmth created by varying wood tones and species makes a space look collected and personal.

Accessories.  Cut down on the clutter!  It’s ok to leave tables small and large completely empty; every room needs moments of visual rest.  In my opinion, your accessories should be meaningful to you to add meaning to the space.  Use the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid!  When it comes to accessories, less really is more.

What suggestions do you have?

How have you tried to make your home inviting and welcoming?

(all images via Pinterest)

Must-Read Monday: “Home: From Concept to Reality” by Kelly Hoppen

Hello all!  I’m finally back on the blogging wagon… Life has been “interruptive” as of late! But now I have another must-read for you this week.

This book is about British designer Kelly Hoppen’s own journey to define home.  As a result of her experience, she deftly explains the design process, working from whole to part, and focusing as much on architectural detailing as furnishings.  Stunning photographs, neutral palettes, and a strong sense of balance and proportion make this home a wonderful study in timelessness.

  Enjoy!!

(cover image from Amazon, other images via)

Timeless Trait Tuesday – Inviting and Welcoming

What makes you want to enter a house?  What makes you want to stay?

What makes a home invite you in and welcome you with open arms?

I think we can all agree that there are two categories: the exterior of a house invites you in, and the interior of a house welcomes you to stay.  Through my reading and my studies, I’ve found several characteristics that I think say “come on in and stay awhile!”

Exterior Characteristics

Sheltering Roof – symbol of home; offers protection and safety

Visible Entry – designated path to experiencing the inside of the home

Curb Appeal – appetizer to the interior

Interior Characteristics

Warmth

Texture

Natural Light

Comfort

Order

Personality

Rare for me, this post is long on images and shorter on words 🙂

A home is meant to be inhabited, lived in, cared for and enjoyed.  If it is not inviting, these things cannot take place.  After all, can something be timeless if no one wants to live in it or derive any joy from it?

Timeless Trait Tuesday – Unity. or, Cohesiveness. or, Interior Design Complements Architecture.

Were it not for architecture, we would not have interior design. For that matter, we would not have interiors. Architecture is truly a fine art of form, function, innovation, structure, engineering and vision. Architecture has defined the landscapes of all our great cities, all our great societies. If you ever have the chance to take the architectural boat tour in Chicago, it is well worth the 90 minutes to understand how architecture has shaped the city as it proved a haven for both European and American talent. (I am biased because I spent a summer internship there, but Chicago has such a rich architectural heritage. Keep reading long enough; I’m sure you’ll hear more about it!)

I stated this in yesterday’s post: a successful project, as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts. That requires a unified and cohesive project, one where the architecture and interior design, and all the finishes, materials and furnishings, are of the same vocabulary. That means that inside and outside not only relate but complement each other to the extent that one could not exist without the other. I think restraint is applicable here also; fewer materials unify a project.

Take, for example, the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe. A pioneer in architecture and architectural theory, this home was created for single female doctor (completed in 1951) as a complete expression of Modernism. Its simplicity centered around the focus on the landscape; the furnishings are all of the same period, created by artisans that held the same Modern ideals (in terms of material and process). Truly, the architecture would not be successful separate from its interior, and vice-versa. It is a unified presentation. Photos below from http://www.farnsworthhouse.org/photos.htm; visit for more images and a complete history of its development.

Yesterday I introduced you to Bobby McAlpine and his work. This is his take on the cohesion of interiors and architecture:

“I don’t see houses as objects. If you go by a big-columned classical house, and the primary emotion it evokes in you is ownership—wouldn’t it be great to own that—that’s one thing. But if you go past a house, and your primary instinct is how wonderful it must be to be behind that window, then I promise you that was a house conceived with the intimacy of its interior as its primary driving force.”

— Bobby McAlpine quoted by Logan Ward in The Poet of Place for G & G  (source)


If you read about renowned designer/architect John Saladino, he relies on the juxtaposition of materials, styles and scale to produce his work. But in doing so, he still creates successful projects by carrying themes from outside to in and ensuring that there is one feeling that each expresses.

So, what else could this concept look like?

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There are, however, many projects which do not adhere to this unity principle.  But does that necessarily make them less successful?  Less beautiful?  Less timeless?  The interior of this lovely English country home, by influential architect Edwin Lutyens, was recently “revamped“.  Check out the article and the slideshow.  What do you think?