Thursday, February 18, 2010

Looking for inspiration

You might recall that I have started my search for a new house. Within the year I'll be saying goodbye to the house that's been my home for the past sixteen years. I've decided on a particular area and have been spending available Sunday afternoons visiting open houses. And of course, when I see a house that I like, I begin to imagine how I would decorate.

Lately I've been inspired by Stephanie's house redo, as well as a few books and magazines I have collected. I've also visited several French decorating blogs--La Maison Douce and Pampille--which I know some of you would enjoy. These are beautiful, feminine, French-inspired spaces--Rococo mirrors, Louis XV chairs, crystal chandeliers--but, I'm not sure it's the style for me.

I'm not even sure how I would define my decorating style these days; it's been years since I've lived alone and haven't had to negotiate decorating decisions. I'm attracted to 40s vintage, but with a contemporary edge so it doesn't end up looking like my grandmother's house. I live with neutrals, but I enjoy pops of bold color in interesting objects--paintings and prints, antique cloth book covers, objets d'art. I crave the formal intimacy of a small Paris apartment, but love the expansive casual feel of French country. Qu'est-ce qu'une fille à faire? What's a girl to do?

I'm looking for inspiration. Do you have any favorite décor inspired books, blogs, or websites you can share?


  1. I love bright, warm colors and was inspired by "Bringing Italy Home" and "Bringing It Home: France," both by Cheryl Maclachlan, when we bought our first home eight years ago. My own personal taste runs toward pink, soft, and ultra-feminine, but I had to curb that on account of the fact that I live with two males who I didn't want to throw up every time they came home. "The Paris Apartment" by Claudia is a classic, as are all of Betty Lou Phillips' design books. I would recommend going to the library and grabbing every book that catches your eye. Look through enough of them and what you're attracted to will eventually become evident. To find specific titles that you might obtain at the library, just pull up any French interior design book on Amazon, and scroll down to "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought," which is a list of similar titles. I'll bet you can find everything you're looking for through interlibrary loan.

    I think setting up a household to your very own specifications and taste sounds like a lot of fun!

  2. Check out the Cote de Texas blog. The writer is an interior designer in Texas who uses a French influence in her work. I love perusing her site for inspiration.

  3. I love the style in the blogs you mentioned...sort of rustic country mixed with classic Roman and Greek Revival. You should check out the book The New Eighteenth-Century Style: Rediscovering a French Decor by Michele Lalande. Fabulous!

    Of course I also love the really minimalist Scandinavian decor like in the Chez Larrson blog. My apartment is leaning in that direction but with accessories that are more rustic because I am torn between the two styles.

    Being an Interior Designer I am highly influenced by the architecture of the space being designed and that tends to dictate what type of interior I create.

    My last apartment was very vintage with original 6" mouldings on the floor and around doors and windows, plaster walls, original wooden two paneled doors etc. so my decor went in the direction of lots of exposed wood and more traditional fabrics while my new apartment is recently remodeled with the typical 3 inch mouldings, (cheap) hollow, paneled doors and more modern tile flooring, crisp drywall and a more contemporary feel but is blended with the high ceilings, heavy, scrolling moulding above the living room windows, etc of the original 19th century building...its making me want to do a mix of contemporary blended with traditional.

  4. Marsi, thanks much. I have a couple of the books you mentioned and will go to the library this weekend to browse the shelves. Yes, "The Paris Apartment!" If they don't have it at the library I'll have to browse the shelves at my local Barnes and Noble.

    EC, I remember your apartment--loved your kitchen! The book you mention--I saw it on; it caught my eye. I'll also look for it at the library.

    And the Cote de Texas blog--what a find! What I love is that she shows real photos of real spaces, and sources the furnishings and accessories. Thank you so much for the suggestion.

  5. Go for the formal intimacy of the small apartment and save the french country for the lake house...

  6. A. - I am very drawn to a mix of Parisian chic and French country leaning toward the neutral with pops of color and lots of sparkle in sconces and chandeliers lately. All with a nod to the antique or vintage and imperfections galore. But I do use modern elements to go along with it in lampshades for instance. I'm going to be posting soon on my bedroom makeover which I swear, has breathed new life into me. I literally feel like I can breath in there again whereas before it was like a cave. Here's my list of books you might like:

    French Country Living - Josephine Ryan (very good)
    Essentially French - Josephine Ryan
    At Home With White - Atlanta Bartlett
    The Paris Apartment - Claudia Strausser
    Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Interiors - (her newest book is a little different than her others and I highly recommend it. Lots of vintage inspiration here and I really liked it)
    Provence Style of Living - Jerome Coignard
    A Well Kept Home - Laura Fronty (not a decorating book but lots of inspiration)
    Country Living Magazine - It's a good mix of modern vintage or modern country, not the old country style with bunnies and dusty mauve, but more well worn interiors. Occasionally they knock it out of the park with something so lovely and vintage I have to save the article.
    Elizabeth House blog - on my sidebar. She's really talented and works a lot with vintage items.

    Hope that helps. I think mixing it up with different styles is great because it does not tie you down into one "look" and something fancy next to something rustic, tarnished, or aged is often more striking. I can't wait to see what you come up with and enjoy this journey!

  7. Stephanie, thank you. So many great resources that will keep me busy over the next few days. I've discovered a few new blogs, and a new decor--Belgian style--a mix of formal French and rustic. It really appeals to me. Bisous!

  8. you hav been given some wonderful advice... i always read french and british magazines... i feel they are so fresh and interesting and of course, vogue living australia and living etc. i squeal when the new copies arrive! happy to have discovered your blog xx pam

  9. The New Eighteenth Century Style is a book I do not own but would love to! The Interior Design firm I worked for had it in their library and I used to look at it all of the time. I love it so much! I definitely think its worth owning and plan to do so eventually (when I don't have so many other things that I NEED to spend my money on).

  10. Ive really enjoyed taking a look at your blog! stunning pics! I have a blog focused on Hermes Paris at it would be great if you could pop by if you get time - look forward to your next post Elle x

  11. I just picked up Essentially French by Josephine Ryan and it's full of inspiration!
    All the best to you.

  12. I am delighted to have found your blog... it is indeed lovely.