Thursday, October 29, 2009

Interiors Series-Ice Blue

Nobody was more surprised than me that this photo took my breath away every time I came across it in my photo file. Quite simply put, blue as we see it here was never a personal colour favorite. Not that I am alone, in 2o yrs as an interior designer never did I ever get asked to do a "blue" room. Most associate it with their grandmother's outdated taste. Having said that, why were there so many "blue" rooms in my photo file? I guess things can change or your tastes evolve because I loving this room by designer Christopher May and this bequiling shade of icy blue, it looks fresh and surprisingly youthful. I think those window drapes (or window treatments as we generically say in the biz) are the absolutely perfect blue colour, length and style. In deciding on the expediture in hanging drapes, there can be two thoughts in designing for a window of this height. Drop the drapes to a more "human" scale by hanging at mid-height and leaving the top arch window open, the less expensive version as it uses less fabric. Some people find this human scale more cosy. Or go for the drama and accentuate the room's grand scale (and that soaring fireplace) but doubling up the fabric and the cost. I was always one for the latter approach even if it was wait-and-save. You know me, 99% of the time more is always better.

This one totally caught me by surprise especially since my parents has chairs exactly like this in the 60's and I sure never thought I wanted to see them again. Something about that rustic stone wall, ceiling beams, brick archway has me thinking this colour is a lovely departure from all the other more predictible colours we often see in rooms of this nature. Sort of a Scandanavian element that has been working it's way into my side view lately.

Fabric-covered walls always going to grab my attention, something I personally would love to do. This room by designer Jane Churchill makes me want me to go wash a new pair of bedsheets, hang them outside to dry, give them a iron, make the bed up nice and crisp and and then fake the flu for a day or two. For some reason, I feel positively and luxuriously domestic when I look at this photo. No small response in my case.

If there is a woman alive who doesn't love this exquisite vignette by

designer Suzanne Kasler , I want to meet her.

This is most definately a woman's bathroom. Forget sharing the sink, I am going to guess this woman isn't even sharing a bathroom. Pure feminine. Pure elegance. And pure beauty. What more could you ask from a woman's private retreat? This ice blue retreat by designer Mary mcDonald makes me warm all over.

Top 3 photos via House Beautiful/4th photo via Willow Decor Blog/5th photo via Flickr

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Packed and ready to board...

photo by Chris Everard

Did I mention I am leaving you for almost 2 weeks? Yes, I am almost packed and almost ready to cruise the Mediterranean coast. A bit of Spain, Italy, and France and some time alone with that man of mine. But that doesn't mean you won't be hearing from me though to tell you the truth I have little plans of checking a computer from the middle of the ocean. Since I can't be wrapping, I decided to share my bulging file of interior design photos. All those rooms that have captured my designer attention since I began blogging, filed away for another time. Now seems like a good time. This Interior Series is accompanied by my totally random design thoughts, little bits and pieces of what I think makes the rooms so inspiring or details worth noting. Every few days there will be a Interiors Series post, I bet you won't even know I am gone. It was a fun thinking about design again, I hope you enjoy the departure in subject. Please continue to comment all you want, they will be lovely to read and publish on my jet-lagged return.

To of my favorite rooms. You likely have seen this particular room before, it made quite an impression on many a blogger and for good reason. It captures the very best intent of good design, the impression that the room has evolved over time. Where every addition adds to the setting making the point that no room should ever be finished. The interesting thing is that this spectacular room actually breaks a few design rules if you were to follow designer textbook. Some of the lamps are set high, there is no real colour scheme (the beauty of it), the wing chairs are quite high in relation to the sofa, the layout is slightly off-center, and yet the result and mood is breathtaking. Breaking a multitude of design rules is what gives this room it's continental flavour. My point? Think it through but not too carefully, take your time, be patient and find the right piece. Let the room and your taste evolve. Don't strive for finished. Love the blue ceiling. Ciao.

Top photo by Chris Everard-Sarah Kaye/Bottom photo by James Merrell - No designer source found.

Kiss.....Kiss Lipstick Gift Wrap

This is my last gift wrapping post this week I promise, but I was in one of those fun moods. While browsing through some fashion sites I came across a red taffeta dress with large pink polka dots and loved the colour combination.You don't often come across those two colours together unless it's Valentines Day, but that dress got me to thinking of my Kiss Kiss Gift Wrap idea. I also had these pink labels that I wanted to use somehow. Pink and sure won't get lost on a party table full of gifts!

The materials, my metallic red gift wrap that is truly one of the most beautiful red gift wrap paper ever, a roll of large circle labels in pink, wide pink satin ribbon, a narrow red velvet ribbon, a tube of red lipstick, and a good set of lips ( I didn't say they were mine but I was the only one here). You may prefer it as seen above with no Kiss, Kisses but I thought it was just plain fun. I simple cut my gift wrap to size, then added the pink circles (with kisses) in a fairly random pattern. As many or as few as you want. I didn't do it in that order only to be able to photograph it both ways. My Kiss labels went over the plain ones once I was done the first shoot.

Slather on that lovely red lipstick, kiss the label (practise a few times on plain paper as there is a pucker trick to it) and you have lovely Kisses for your next girlfriend party gift. You could take this idea a few steps further, adding labels in multiple colors and shapes on any solid colour gift wrap. If it's a group gift, everyone could sign it along with their kiss or write a positive characteristic of that person. Cover the gift labels with compliments in red pen. Once you get that pucker technique down perfect, you could even try this on a solid gift wrap paper, not too shiny of a paper though or the lipstick will smear right off. Wonder how these Kiss...Kisses in coral, pink, or red would look over my zebra pattern gift wrap paper?
All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hermes Box Re-gift ~ Part Two

Two things happened this week that led to this second Hermes re-gift post. First, the storage room. With a few days left before he leaves for the next year, my son had promised to lend me his muscle in cleaning and purging my out-of-control storage room. It is busting out with gift inventory, remnants of my 20 yr. designer career, and way more personal things than we should have at this point in our lives. We walk in all ready to start, we survey the overwhelming task, then look at each other, laugh out loud, and then go find something else to do. For me that is this blog post, for him it's anything but starting this intense project. We have been doing this for weeks. The second thing that happened was that a lovely friend gave me a generous stack of Hermes boxes.........taking a second shot at re-gifting or re-cycling Hermes gift boxes is way more fun than purging my storage room.

You may remember my first Hermes re-gift post last spring (click here to read). I stayed quite close to the original colour scheme, just happened to have a stripe ribbon that worked. Note the difference in photography since I upgraded to my new camera, the Hermes orange is so much better in the new shots. For this 2nd try I knew I was looking to heighten the colour combination and as any interior designer knows, that means a complementary colour scheme.

While I was playing around with ribbon colours to do justice to the signature Hermes orange, my eye kept going to this fabulous card on my work table sent to me from another blogger in France. She did something incredibly special for me and I simply adore her so I wanted to do something with her elegant and tasteful note card. It just seemed to fit perfectly on this square and flat Hermes box. I layered and crossed two fabulous lengths of a hand-dyed chocolate silk and then did the same with sheer organza ribbon (moved slightly over)to the underside of the box lid, then secured the card. I can open and read the message anytime I want. I will use the box to store something special in my dressing room. I may even have a narrow filigree frame made to surround the card. These flat, shallow gift boxes meant for ties or scarves would be a great used in this fashion for a gift presentation. Perfectly shallow for a special poem or photograph..............or a great scarf. Maybe even homemade Christmas treats. I would love to open this box and find rows of those yummy walnut crescent cookies all wrapped in vellum.

I love the effect of the teal ribbon with the Hermes orange. My new orange velvet poinsettas have a faded, vintage quality and I think they are going to look fabulous with red gift wrap and ribbon for the holiday gift season ahead.

This vivid teal ribbon has a sheer edge has just enough of a brown tint that it worked with the distinctive Hermes brown edging and gave a brilliant contrast. I used a sheer organza ribbon in chocolate brown behind the oversized poinsetta. Sheer organza, especially in wider 3" widths has the unique ability of giving volume to your main ribbon. It can literally lift the heavier-weight ribbon so it pops up behind a larger flower that could easily take all the attention. I used a narrow duplex ribbon (a color on each side) in teal and brown to bring the vivid colour forward on the poinsetta. I am beginning to think that this colour scheme could work for a Holiday Wrap Room collection as well.

This teal ribbon is a new one for me and I am quite taken with this colour. I also have it in a platinum gray and magenta. It handles beautifully and as you can see has enough beauty that it can be used very simply as I have shown on the smaller box to the left. Ok, if you look really, really close I did tie in a amber crystal heart.

Do you think Hermes would send me a variety of their iconic
boxes to try out a few more ideas?
Have a wonderful weekend bundled up nice and cosy.
A big welcome to the all the new followers and
many thanks to all my readers for the lovely comments.
You inspire me.

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A pinch of Paprika.....

With all the wrapping that has going on around here, it has been weeks since I gave myself a little wrapping challenge. One of those breaks where I just play around and see if I can capture what has caught my eye. Where better to get colour inspiration than from the fashion world? Or in this case another blog.

When I saw this image on the stylish blog This is Glamorous last week, I was totally taken with the colour combination seen in the Rochas Spring 2010 Collection in Paris. With a colour combination of paprika, saffron, apricot, and a gorgeous dose of chartreuse, I really couldn't help myself. Then those silk flowers on the waist.......of course I am going to at least try.

A petite rosebud and a wider length of burgundy taffeta gives a petite gift a luscious twist.

The gift on the left has a few leftover strips of pattern gift wrap and a simple bow of apricot ribbon. Go back to the top photo and see it with the apricot silk peony and chartreuse satin ribbon. You can also see the purple dahlia moved to the front of the gift. Here I show it on the left with all the satin ribbon to the right.

A couple of my variations. The larger gift has both a apricot and purple silk flower tucked into all that chartreuse satin ribbon and a narrow length of orange ribbon. If I was being totally faithful to the fashion style seen above, I would edit my embellishments. Though I like to think I can wrap very simply, I am only kidding myself. I really do think more-is-better when it comes to gift wrapping. Though I do have a simple recycled gift wrap to show you are going to be so proud of my restraint!

2nd photo from blog This is Glamorous / All other photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Diva Event........and Wrap Room Workshops

A few weeks past I promised I would show you some table piece creations I supplied for a Diva event for The Michigan Opera Theatre. If you look closely, you can see the word Opera imprinted on the series of satin ribbons that I ordered custom for this event. My only directive by the stylish hosts (who thought of this idea)was to make sure the centerpieces didn't inhibit any person-to-person visibility across any table. This idea of using gift wrapped boxes as centerpieces can be a effective and unique way to dress up your next shower or function. A Tiffany inspired wedding shower, what could be better than boxes wrapped in Tiffany Blue with white ribbon, it is the box after all that is the inspiration for this popular wedding theme. I would love to do a Burberry theme for a baby shower. Boxes wrapped in solid tan with Burberry plaid ribbons in blue or pink. Can't you just picture how stylish that would look?

My personal favorite is the orange and gilt damask with the purple ribbon. Two of my favorite wrapping colours combined. While at this Opera function talking to a few women about gift wrapping and their own ability, it became apparent that women can actually be afraid to wrap. They see it as a skill like interior design, some people have it, some don't. As a interior designer of twenty years, I can safely say it is not the same. I do believe interior design is a inate talent, but gift wrapping is simply a skill anyone can learn as long as they have the right materials. But it did get me thinking through another idea, gift wrap workshops. An idea my friend has been after me to do for some time (she loves any kind of party). So here is my latest project to get off the ground........groups of ten to twenty, great wrapping materials, a hands-on approach to technique, plenty of tips, some delicious nibbles, good background music .............Wrap Room Workshops by A Gift Wrapped Life. A lovely evening to indulge in the creative and relaxing task of gifted pleasure. Doesn't that sound like a bit of stylish fun? Tell me what you think.

Both photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Thursday, October 1, 2009

An Etsy Find........and my inner flower child

Jodi French ~ Etsy

I always tell my younger friends " I would love to be a 20 to 40 year old right now". Strictly in a fashion and style sense of course, fashion is crazy fun right now. There is benefits to every age (as you shall see) but the benefit of being younger is and always has been that you get to have total fun with exploring fashion. So if you are in the 16 and up group, I hope you are mixing it up big time and styling yourself to the hilt. Mixing vintage with new, playing with your hair like crazy, adding layers of jewellery, pulling on mile high boots, trying it all and seeing what works. I entered my teens in a most interesting time in fashion history. Parents were dressed in Mad Men style, teens were uniformly dressed in a boring frat style (which didn't suit me at all), but lucky me, the whole world shifted mid-way and I queued right into the Age of Aquarius so I did get to explore my inner fashionista (artsy, wild-child).......long wild hair, going braless (mistake) in halter tops, wearing granny dresses, capes, maxi coats, mini skirts, fringed leather vests, puffy tie-dyed shirts, platforms, boots , and bandanna style head scarfs, and what fun to see it all coming back and merging in it's current re-styled fashion. If I hadn't explored that hippie explosion of unrestrained style while I could, I hate to think how I would be trying to relive it now. I truly believe if you embrace the age-appropriate fashion while you can and should, you don't feel compelled to wear it again and for good reason. The rule is you don't wear a trend twice and I for one think this is true. That means no leggings for me in public. I did those in the 80's.

It was these fabric chokers with their ribbon tails that got me thinking about all this. I used to wear these in my flower child phase. A reader named Jodi French emailed me her Etsy shop link {click here} and I loved the idea that I could wear this gorgeous floral choker with a open shirt, jeans, vest, a couple long strands, tie this around my neck and feel like I am adding a youthful and stylish touch without too obviously trying to relive my past. I would love the look of these flowers on with an open collar. Just a small flower child detail. But if I was younger, I would so be wearing these a number of ways, but for sure with a strapless or one-shouldered dress for a night on the town. Or maybe even in some wild hair.

Wouldn't these make a lovely and affordable gift ( 29.00) for your stylish friend? I would buy her a lovely book, wrap it up in a pretty paper and tie it up with one of these floral chokers as a lovely embellishment. Two gifts in one.

I love these faded neutral flowers over this gorgeous wrap. Perfect over any number of clothing options and at any age. 85.00.

Love the fringe.

Feeling all cozy and warm. Jodi French made this cowl as a modern day version of the Irish Fisherman's sweater. 29.00.

All photos from Jodi French ~ Etsy


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