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Blue & White Everywhere

Blue and white porcelain has been a favorite of mine for some time.  I grew up with it.  My grandmother had it in her home and my mom has it in her home too.  They both have wonderful taste and I feel fortunate that I grew up in homes that were both beautiful and comfortable.   When working on my home or a client's home I often find myself asking "Would my grandmother or mom do that?"

Well,  I'm seeing blue and white porcelain everywhere!  It is definitely a classic but can work with many different styles.

Here's a little background on these gorgeous accents that have been around a little while.  Cobalt blue decorations started in the Middle East in the 9th century but it really wasn't until the 14th century that the Chinese fully developed the technique to make the blue and white porcelain that we are more familiar with today.   Towards the end of the Ming dynasty (17th century), the porcelain was being exported to European markets and soon became highly prized by both Europeans and Americans.  Some say blue and white porcelain may have been the first truly global commodity.  Today collectors still head to the Netherlands to find the best examples of Ming era porcelain because a Dutch trading company held a near monopoly on the highly sought after goods.  During the 18th century, supposedly with a little help from industrial espionage, the Europeans were able to replicate the Chinese technique.   The technique has changed very little since the days of Ming emperor Kangxi.  But today gas fired kilns are used and a "decaling" technique is used by most to create the blue painting replacing the labor intensive hand painting.  There are entire books dedicated to the history of blue and white porcelain.  So, I'm going to stop there and you can go to Amazon to buy book to learn more!

Check out how blue and white porcelain is being used today.  I think you'll agree they are a real asset to these spaces.


The four pictures above are from the Grant Gibson blog.

Habitually Chic blog
Habitually Chic blog
Elle Decor

Here is blue and white porcelain in rooms by my favorite designer Michael S. Smith.  This first picture was used for the cover of his book called Houses.  

Michael S. Smith is long time designer for Cindy Crawford.

The blue and white tiles above the fireplace connect to the porcelain.

Michael S. Smith

Here's a couple twists on blue and white porcelain.  This picture is from the Peak of Chic blog of the Schumacher showroom in the Atlanta.  What fun wallpaper!  The print comes in a fabric too.

I discovered this very hip version of blue and white porcelain shaped as coke bottles by Taikkun Li that can be found at Pagoda Red.
I found these ginger jars at the Washington Design Center.

National catalogs offer the blue and white porcelain too.

William Sonoma Home
According to Wisteria, newlyweds in China were given two porcelain pots, bearing the Chinese ideogram for happiness.


I bought mine at Wisteria to fill in the bottom of my dining room buffet.

Thanks for stopping by!  Please contact me if you would like help making your home beautiful!


Am I Seeing Double?

I almost fell out of my chair when I saw this picture in my inbox today. Remember my recent post called Can I Work There? I had mentioned an opportunity to help a client transform an underused living room into a study. Well, a couple weeks ago I presented my plan for the study to my clients and I have to say the look and feel is very similar to this room that was just published by Elle Decor. Now keep in my mind that this client's budget was probably 5x my client's budget. My client's study is a couple months from being completed so I don't have pictures yet but take a look at the items I picked for the room below and see the similarities.

Here's the Elle Decor shot...

Steven Gambrel

This is a library designed for a young family who just moved into a new home outside of New York City.  The bookcase and fireplace surround are original to the Tudor style house.  Steven Gambrel who is known "for a classic look with modern comfort" designed the sofa, banquette and ottoman.  Both the rug and drapery are silk.  The walls are wallpaper with a custom overglaze which is hard to see in this picture but I bet it's gorgeous in person.  To see more of this house, click here...A Tudor Reborn.

The look of my client's room is also traditional. When you consider their house is colonial and the rooms off of the study have a classic look it was a natural direction to go in. But like Steven Gambrel, I wanted my clients to feel comfortable in the room. Now look at some of the items I picked for my client's study and you'll notice the similarities to the Elle Decor photo.

A blue wool and silk rug with a consistent pattern through out.

Cream colored upholstered seating with nailhead detail.

Brown leather ottoman (we chose a richer darker leather than the picture below).

Blue high gloss paint to be used on the wainscoting. 

Dark wood bookcases and cabinets will be custom built to coordinate with his and her desks.

Brass lighting fixtures, including a great ceiling fixture, will be used throughout the room.

A fireplace with dark wood surround will have a flat screen television installed above it.

A coffered ceiling will be installed with a paint treatment in between the molding.

Two sets of wood doors with individual glass panes will be installed and painted white.

A pretty piece of art will be installed with brass sconces on either side for additional accent lighting.

My client's room has lots of details so I placed everything on a cork board so we could easily see everything while we discussed the room's design.

If you look closely, you'll notice my space plan in the top center of the board allows for a seating area with 4 lounge chairs set around a leather ottoman.  A space plan is a must and prevents costly mistakes!!  My detail design of the built in bookcases and cabinets is on the left in the middle. The cabinets were designed to conceal all the ugly office stuff.

My client was very involved during the design process so the space plan, cabinet and bookcase design, and fireplace had been agreed to prior to my presentation.  But I always keep a few things a surprise. With every presentation I like to provide my clients a few options for major furniture pieces, fabric, paint and lighting. Who doesn't like a choice? However, in this case, the cream fabric you see on the right of the board was so perfect for the lounge chairs I didn't even show them another option. They loved it.

The picture of the rug above doesn't do it justice so here's another one...

It's a wool and silk blend with the details hand carved out to give it texture. It was the jumping off point for the room.

Normally I only do a post a week but I couldn't wait to share.   Have a great weekend and for those of you in Maryland enjoy this great weather we're finally having!


A Beautiful Room

First, I have to say I'm feeling pretty fortunate today.  Our family enjoyed a really great Valentines Day.  My daughter, Kylie, gave me two really pretty handmade cards and my 9 year old son Connor gave me the best hug and kiss a mom could want.  And to top it off Reid gave me the boots I salivated over during our trip in Paris last October!  Life is good.  Just in case you missed my post on our trip you can check it out here...Paris...What Strikes.

Second, I want to share a picture of a room that I just love.  I've seen it a few times on various blogs this past week and had to include it on mine too.  I think you'll agree it's a great one...

Sometimes a room really resonates with me and this is one of them.  My last post was on abstract art and here's a room with it's walls covered in abstract art.  The mix of woods and upholstered furniture is great.  The lighting fixture is stunning and the windows highlight the outdoors.  I'm also liking the layered rugs.  It's sophisticated, little boho, little traditional, little European, little vintage, mixes old with new, highlights great artwork plus it's inviting...everything I love in one room!  This room was designed by a very talented husband and wife team, Brooke and Steve with Giannetti Home (who also has a great blog called Velvet and Linen) and the paintings are by her husband, Steve.  The room was for the Gilt & Ashton Kutcher Showhouse in LA for the DNA Foundation, a charity that focuses on eliminating human trafficking.  If you want to see more of the room, here's a great post on how the room came together...gilt home and ashton kutcher showhouse.

Contact me if you would like help transforming your space!


Local Talent II

When I design a room I start with an "inspirational" piece.  This item can be a great rug, a family heirloom, a beautiful fabric or treasured accessory.  However, one of my favorite items to start with is a beautiful painting.  

So it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Donna McGee a very talented artist who creates gorgeous abstract paintings.   Donna's award winning paintings can be found in galleries in Washington, D.C. and NewYork City and in private and corporate collections across the country.  She is also the author of two books:  The Whole College, an art book for aesthetic education and Creativity and The Child:  Training Modules for Teachers.

With her paintings, Donna wants to impart a meditative quality.  She invites the viewer to to let their eyes travel over the entire canvas and draw their own inspiration. 

I'm always curious how people discover their passion and what inspires their creations.  Well, find out from Donna herself:


MM:  When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

DM:  I can’t remember any one time making this decision.  It seems to be something I always did. My family was always involved in the arts in some way.  My house always had music playing and lot of art materials such as paint, clay, and sewing notions around the house.  I grew up during the fifties when I was not involved in organized sports, but rather spent lots of time playing, making mud pies, designing and making doll clothes, and sketching nature in my back yard.

I enjoyed art classes in school and always won prizes for my work.  However, when I decided to go to college and wanted to go to art school, I did not have support from my father.   So I studied early childhood education instead and became a teacher.  I taught for several years and eventually studied how art can be the base for all learning which lead me to help establish a school in Harrisburg, PA that uses art as a major discipline for learning. I taught many years on the college level.  The courses were always designed to help early childhood teachers understand and know how to create learning environments based on art as a way of learning.  I still teach today, but I now teach online. I teach a distance learning early childhood education art course for a community college in PA.  I am finally at a time in my life when I can paint full time and devote most of my thoughts and energy to my painting.  

China Red Web

Skipping Stones

Monet's Abstract

MM:  Have you always done abstract paintings?
DM:   No. I was always intrigued, but never knew how to start.  Sometimes people look at abstracts and say anyone could do that or it looks like a child did that.  Actually, Picasso said, "It has taken me a lifetime to learn how to paint like a child.  Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
When I teach I emphasize, that when children are left to create their own images and not have interference form adults, they create the most amazing and beautiful art.  
When I moved from Pennsylvania to Maryland twelve years ago I signed up for Helen Corning’s abstract painting class at the Yellow Barn Studio at Glen Echo.  I came home and told my husband, that this is what I was searching for.  I found something that spoke to me.  I also found out, that abstract art is one of most difficult to paint.  Here I am looking at a blank canvas and I am to make something on it.  I am not sketching something I am looking at; instead the image must come from within.  I have been painting abstract painting ever since that first class.





MM:  What is the inspiration for your paintings?
DM:  When I paint I do not know what the finished product will be.  I choose a pallet to work with and make some bold marks on the empty canvas and start applying paint.  I really like to explore texture and paint and add lots of layers to see how colors and shapes change each other, and how it becomes a total image.  I continue to add layers or paint, texture, and sometimes scraping it off, until the total picture tells me that it is finished.
I have been told that some of my paintings look old and aged while others look like a piece of hand made silk.  Those, who have purchased them, tell me that my paintings are meditative and they continue to explore the painting and find new images.  Nature and children’s art still have a strong influence on my painting.  

Asian Screen

Monte's Glimmer

I think you'll agree that just looking at Donna's paintings make you feel peaceful and relaxed.  I look forward to the day I can hang one of her pieces in my home!  You can view more of Donna's work on the Foundry Gallery website.  Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about Donna's work.