Fake flower faux paus?

To embrace or reject fake flowers in design (embrace!)

I’ve noticed that many of the most beautiful homes in magazines share one thing in common – beautiful flowers – no big surprise. This got me thinking – are these flowers all REAL? I did some extensive researching on how designers are using fake flowers and found a spectrum of “never” to “love them”, but my favorite was a use-case in between that blends the real with the fake. Buy a few fake stems and tuck them into greenery. I like this idea.

NDI Flowers – love them, every day!

Now the question is – do they look fake? Take a look for yourself. These flowers were purchased from NDI. NDI is a family business and have been selling beautiful silk florals for 50 years. The flowers are made to order and I think they look great. I have a number of individual stems to rotate through and greenery for the holidays. These arrangements were made by NDI and even the water is faux.

The dining room is coming together with beautiful tulips from NDI
Smaller NDI arrangement on the mantle

DIY: A 1930s desk with leather top

Restored

We found a beautiful desk at Father Time Antiques. The desk is from the 1930s and had a green leather top that was in good, but not perfect condition. The desk fit our room perfectly, has a great classic look with history and was on budget at $195.

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Father Time Antiques desk from 1930s with leather top, $195

After doing some research, I decided to replace the leather top myself with a new black leather top with gold tooling. I had a great experience doing this, it was easy, and the results speak for themselves.

My first step was to vacuum and sand out the interior of the desk and drawers. I waxed and polished the wood and lined the drawers with cork. It initially had a musty smell but that completely dissipated after these steps were complete. I am sure it also helped to have the drawers on the floor for a week airing out.

Cork-lined drawers with bakelite handles

When I removed the leather top, I noticed there was water damage on one area of the desk where the wood felt “soft”. I cut this area out with a utility knife and replaced the veneer with a piece I found on Amazon.

I removed water damaged veneer and replaced with a new piece of wood from Amazon

I measured the space with a piece of magazine, and cut the veneer with a pair of kitchen scissors.

New veneer in place and sanded

I glued the new piece of veneer with wood glue and placed heavy books on top. Then, I filled the edges with wood putty and sanded it down when dry.

I ordered the beautiful new leather top from Dave at DCT Leathers. They are based in Canada and did an amazing job!

Leather top from DCT leathers with gold tooling

All I had to do was follow his instructions: brush a layer of wallpaper glue, roll out leather and smooth with cloth. Done!

Cork-lined drawers in place

This desk will live in the den, which is painted dark navy / black Railings by Farrow & Ball.

The dining room, in process

Ellis green, a needlepoint rug, and Ikea hack woven leather chairs

I posted the “before” photos of the dining room many months ago, when it was gray (and boring!), and I am not quite ready to post the “after”, but I’ve certainly made progress. What makes this room special is that all of the major elements were either made by hand or procured second hand from Ebay and 1stDibs. The most expensive item in this room was the paint. We painted the dining room Ellis Green from Farrow & Ball for a big impact. While the dining room has a lacquered look and feel, it is actually a high gloss finish and not a traditional lacquered application which is why it is not a perfect mirror, but it is close. This saved ~$5k and it works. I love the high gloss green and it makes a big impact for less [than Swedish putty / lacquer]. The inspiration home (linked above) was painted with the traditional lacquer treatment. Otherwise the paint color and finish (high gloss) are exactly the same. Comparing the two rooms you can see a difference, but one that I am willing to live with for the savings.

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Farrow & Ball “Wendy’s Green”, Ellis Green high gloss paint in pre-war dining room

The ceiling and molding is painted Wimborne White. Similar to the guest room, the rug was from Ebay and is an Asmara needlepoint rug. It was a great price (<$1,000) and a perfect fit, in perfect condition.

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1stDibs Chandelier, South Loop Lofts credenza, Ikea hack chairs (I made them), Asmara rug

The chairs were an Ikea hack with a $25 Ikea frame and leather strips purchased from an online supplier, based in TX. I posted a tutorial on these chairs on my old blog that you can find here. The chairs were ~$90 each. My father made the table and the bar cabinet.

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High gloss Ellis Paint, Farrow & Ball, Ikea hack chairs, window will ultimately have drapes

The artwork is my own and flanks the large window while it awaits the perfect chintz drapes, TBD. I have pulled a few samples and am working on my final selection for long drapes, but haven’t made a final decision yet.

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Will add a large piece of art over fireplace and decorate mantle

The fireplace is marble and was custom made for the house (by the prior owner). We will hang a large piece of art over the fireplace this month. The piece that I have chosen is currently in a show at Downs & Ross in New York. I will post the great unveil when it is hung!

 

DIY: 14k Gold Earrings

DIY jewelry making

Today I took a break from my usual home photography and made two pairs of earrings. I had been searching for weeks for the perfect gems for these earrings on Etsy and Ebay and finally found the right selection. This was a trickier jewelry-making project because the chain and the wire was so thin and small. It was hard to wrap those loops! And, I can’t even begin to give instruction on how to do this yourself because frankly, it takes a lot of practice, but you can find a great tutorial on how to wrap loops here, which is the main skill required to pull these off, and the supplies are as follows:

Supply List: 1) 6-ft of 14k Yellow Gold round wire, 30-gauge, dead soft, 2) 5-inches of 18k Yellow Gold 1.5mm oval cable chain, 3) 1 pair of 14k earring posts with 5mm balls and open rings (to attach the chain), 4) 1 pair of 14k earring backs and 5) various heart faceted briolettes from 5mm to 10mm in size.

Pro Tip: As you make your loops, never forget to “link” the next piece (the chain link) before you close your loop. If you forget, you won’t be able to open your loop back up and add a chain, or a next loop. The only case where this is an exception is for the open loop on the post.

I am a very crafty person and I have always been good at painting and making things myself. My mom and dad are both so talented, and I am sure I got some of my skills from them. I remember spending time with my mom in the basement growing up doing crafts together, and helping my dad in the wood-shop. I took my first (and last) jewelry making class on the Indian Reservation near my hometown when I was a teen, (many years ago!) but otherwise have been self taught.

14k gold earrings that I made today with various gemstones that I sourced from Etsy and Ebay

I cannot wait to wear these! If you like them too, you can find them here!

Decorating with Chairish

“Old” is new nightstand, for $113

I love Chairish, as you may have assumed from my previous post. What I am most excited by is the opportunity to give something “used” a new life, and to find great quality pieces at affordable prices, that are also unique and different!

I found this nightstand while searching Chairish and paid $113 for the nighstand + $80 shipping (negotiated down to UPS from white-glove). It is prettier in person than it was in the listing and there are two operational drawers that were not initially highlighted that made me so happy to see.

Chairish nightstand: a beautiful alternative to a big box store for $113

Am now searching for a new lamp with more color to add to this room – potentially an emerald green or a painted floral base. TBC…!

Decorating with Needlepoint Rugs

The inspiration bedroom for the guest is of course, Tory Burch’s Bird & Thistle bedroom in the Hamptons.

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Architectural Digest, Tory Burch – Asmara Ferncroft rug

While the wallpaper was easy to identify, the rug was not tagged and I had to deep dive the internet to identify the rug as the Asmara Ferncroft. Tory has layered multiple rugs in this room as you can see from a photo taken at an alternate angle. It is unclear to me if this rug is also Asmara, but it does not appear to be.

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Architectural Digest, Tory Burch – Unknown layered rug

Both rugs are beautiful, but at >$6,000 for the size we needed, they were out of budget, so I shifted the search to Ebay and found the perfect fit 6’x9′ for <$400. There are plenty of needlepoint rugs on Ebay to choose from. Most important for me was to find a larger floral pattern that would compliment the Bird & Thistle wallpaper well. Matching a rug to wallpaper is a bit like matching a tie to a shirt. You can mix and match patterns but the sizing should complement and the colors should coordinate, but don’t need to match perfectly. The rug that I purchased was $450 including shipping, a far cry from the thousands of dollars you could spend on a new rug, and this rug is new itself, but made in the 1990’s.

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Aubusson Needlepoint Rug, 1990s, from Ebay

You may remember the rug that is currently in the guest room from this post,  but here is a refresh:

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Surya, Grace cotton rug with crochet edging, in off-white

The rug lays flat, is an off-white color, has crochet edges and is 8’x10′. I am currently selling this rug on Ebay. Here is a picture of this rug in our room, before we swapped it out.

The Surya cream rug works well, but is basic
The nightstand – A Chairish find!
The pattern works perfectly with the wallpaper
And, more pattern with the Liberty quilt, made by my mom

The new rug in position couldn’t be more perfect and I love the play of pattern across the rug, quilt and wallpaper.

Window Treatments

and custom drapes

We installed Blinds.com Malay Oak wooden romans in the guest room and will layer curtains on top. The blinds.com wooden romans are a great deal and this custom treatment cost only ~$290. The shades fit perfectly on the first try and the continuous loop cord is discreet and has a clean finish.

Double hung wooden blinds from Blinds.com, Malay Oak

We will add Bird & Thistle curtains that match our Brunshwig & Fils wallpaper.

Bird & Thistle Wallpaper, blinds.com window treatment, Ikea Gjora bed

Layered over the wooden roman will be Bird & Thistle drapes in a traditional French Pleat, also known as “pinch pleat”, style. I am having the curtains made locally, in Chicago.

Rods are typically installed 4″ above the window frame, but we will need to install closer to the ceiling to align best with the window casing. This window is 63″ wide and 73″ including the trim. The length is approximately 106″. For this window I was advised that I should leave ~10 inches on each side of the window to provide enough space, but I am leaving only 3″ in addition to the molding since the molding is so wide. This will provide for 8″ on each side beyond the window glass for the drapes to bunch.

The drapes will require 12 yards of fabric. I will hang the drapes on loops and mount the rod directly onto the wood frame (I don’t want to mount on the wallpaper). Hopefully we can leave a few inches of fabric behind the loop and have enough to pull across given this configuration.