Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Going groovy with Lavender

Hey, I am all for computer upgrades, things moving faster and 100's of new fonts. I did ask for this. This photo is supposed to be at the bottom of this post but today is the day of computer reckoning. One failed attempt after another while I go on a blind date with something that I am supposed to love in the end. I love computer technology, just not the dating part. I am trying to make friends with Windows 7 and Adobe Photoshop on one computer and all those Mac programs on another. I don't know why these two companies just don't get married and get it over with once and for all. Life and technology could be so much more pleasant and zen-like if they did. This is like dating two guys at once........not that I ever did that before.

The physical characteristics of our Master Bedroom are very similar to the room above so beautifully designed by Jeffrey Biluber. The high ceiling slope, the windows, the generous proportions, and a well-used fireplace . Our walls are painted a warm and cosy "milk chocolate' (the husbands request), the furniture of large scale and a beautiful design. So why on earth do we not have a headboard and draperies (we do have shutters) that will grandly finish this room once and for all? A son in school, a business launch, a designer hiatus, and a whole lot of indecisiveness about what that defining colour should be, the one colour that will sweep me off my feet and keep me happy for years to come. I am not and never have been a short-term designer. But I am a very patient one.

To be fair to myself, when we built our custom Jack Arnold French Country home eleven years ago every other interior room was 99.9% done and decorated, every paint colour, every wallpaper, furniture placed, every picture hung, every accessory in its spot, so it's not that I was a design slouch. To this day there is little I would change and I still love my home. Every once in awhile I get the urge to downsize into the smallest little cottage, but that usually passes for now as it does with most of us. When I came across these photos using varying shades of purple................well I knew I had found the "it" colour. Milk chocolate and lavender, maybe some accents in eggplant. My teenage attic bedroom was a groovy purple so it will be a sentimental choice even if I twist the tone to a more elegant one. I also have a thing for natural linen so sometimes one photo, one colour combination, can answer all your colour questions.

Colour trends mean nothing to me and never did even when working with clients. If anything, it meant that that colour was going to saturate the market quickly and you know what happens when it starts showing up everywhere.........it becomes dated real quick. To some clients who were eager to jump on what they saw as being current, I appeared like I was out of the loop. If anything I was always trying to protect them, to see past the expired date that was just ahead. It is one thing to wear a fashionable and trendy colour, quite another to dress up a whole room or house. The easy answer is to do what decorating magazines tell you to do when you want to indulge a colour whim, test it out. Throw pillows, a couple vases, or some framed prints. And this theory does work, a temporary dose of aqua has quickly told me this tranquil colour just doesn't have the drama this room wants and needs. I am going to go for it............a groovy kind of lavender. My heart is telling me it is the colour of my dreams.

Top photo by Polly Wreford via Sarah Kaye/2nd photo by designer Jeffrey Bilhuber via Southern Accents/3rd Photo by Dallas designer Shannon Bowers via Veranda/Bottom Photo via Traditional Home

Friday, March 26, 2010

Just a few things............in case you miss me

Busy weekend ahead, a bridal shower, a friend's play production, a client presentation to finish, but that is the fun part. The bad part is I will be missing my computer for a few days as it get itself all backed up and then disappears for a major overall and some cool new upgrades. Ready for my clean new blog design that has me all excited. I can't tell you who is helping me with all this re-design right now, but hopefully she will in time as she is a most talented gal and I would love to share her styling ability and talent. I have a beautiful and exciting list of new advertisers we will be adding to the new blog design, my hope is that you can always find the best gift and the companies that send them. Only the kind I would buy and give myself. Totally off topic but I bought the most fabulous dress today and will have to find a way of showing it to you as it is quite unique (this will not include me modeling it until I make significant improvement in my cycling) . Speaking of cycling, my injury is finally getting better with numerous chiropractic adjustments. I hope to be back on the the Cycle Challenge next week. Even better I hear the temps will be rising into the 70's. So girls who signed up and haven't sent their miles/km this is your notice. The challenge should be back on by the end of the week. I may be computer missing-in-action for a few days and my voice will be quieter than usual but I figured you might enjoy the break.

Thank you to the readers who took time to comment this week, your comments are
thoughtful, gracious and I love getting to know you this way.
Just between you and me and my mental health professional, more reader comments
would be beneficial to my well being. And I want to know you better.
A most lovely welcome to the new readers this week.
Have the best weekend ~ xo

Magnolia photo by House Beautiful

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Subtle Weekend Glamour

Every time I look at this well-appointed settee, I want to go and buy a ballgown. Something in duchess satin worn with an understated but sparkly diamond necklace. Or maybe the one at the bottom of this post. Is this bolster pillow not the most exquisite? That damask in the background is almost identical in colour and pattern to my ensuite wallpaper, a subtle platinum with everything else in ivory and white. So I should dress up and sit in my bathroom? It does have a chair and a chandelier, it is a party prep room perhaps. Funny how design can conjure up associations, make you rise to the occasion. This is the best part of design. It can make you feel good. Glamorous. Every time you walk in the room.

If I was a purist, the rest of my home would be all tonal, shades of ivory. Like this home so perfectly executed by Canadian designer Julie Charbonneau, sometimes wish I could personally handle a monochromatic palette on a daily basis. To do so would mean excluding all my favorite colours and truthfully I would miss them and could never leave any of them behind. When I have done this look for clients I found I didn't want to leave their house upon project completion which is a big clue right there where my second personality resides (my husband would say I am selling myself short, there is at least 10 personalities going at any given time). It has a soothing countenance that I find elegant and orderly if that makes sense. My eye keeps going to the book collections, today all in ivory, last post showing a red collection in the Charlotte Moss townhouse den.

We all know mixing shades of ivory with white in a bathroom is truly a classic and timeless palette. It just never gets old does it? If you do this look and are aiming for ballgown glamour, upgrade your fixtures to polished nickel. The subdued palette loves a bit of sparkle. White towels, not ivory. I love how Charbonneau has hung the framed prints right over the window frame.

A sink cantilevered over a mirror.............creative glamour. These photos are from our stylish and hip Canadian design magazine House & Home. We have some incredible Canadian design talent that I will share over the next few weeks. Next week will be "Not so mellow.......Yellow" as I heard the daffodils are peeking out early this spring and it makes me feel positively perky on this grey and rainy day.

Just a bit of glamour for your weekend. Let me rephrase that........a huge bit of glamour.

Alexander McQueen ~ Paris Fashion week Fall 2010.

Top photo from Traditional Home/2nd, 3rd and 4th photo show room design by Juile Charbonneau~ Canadian House & Home/Bottom Photo from Harper's Bazaar.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Charlotte Moss..........The 2008 Townhouse I somehow missed

I missed this showhouse feature somehow way back when and I would have guessed there wasn't a Charlotte Moss photo that had escaped my notice. It was conceived by Moss as a NY pied-a-terre for a couple who met in Rome and then married in the hills of Tuscany. A sophisticated couple with multiple residences and continental style. I came across this feature on the Veranda website this past weekend and thought it was something new, but it was a 2008 showhouse done for Laurel, a luxury condominium located in the Upper East Side of NY. The point being that it could have been done yesterday and isn't that the true mark of a good designer? I thought if I missed it maybe you had too.

Having a story behind design decisions isn't such a bad idea. Build your ideal profile and it can be a way to direct and edit your design decisions. The enviroment that reflects your passions, your dreams. It may be a better approach than saying " middle aged couple, live in the burbs, no social life, likes blue". The storyline of a continental couple was the inspiration for Moss and resulted in this exquisite blend of French and Italian design. Filling every inch of the fabric-covered wall space above the persimmon velvet sofas with this pair of paintings...........too perfect.

Clients would often ask me how we were going to relate one room to the next. How can it be different but still be connected? See how simple it can be? One small dose of that persimmon colour and it's done and connected.

This sample board of semi-precious stone, wood, and marble samples was originally seen in the Charlotte Moss NY townhouse store. I remember standing there and looking at it for the longest time and thinking "anyone who would go to the trouble of arranging these samples in this type of order is one remarkably detailed and precise person". And as we know, this is absolutely true when it comes to Charlotte Moss.

This may be a tight corner but doesn't it have everything you need?

If you remember the photos from my Mediterranean cruise last fall, I photographed a newspaper rack from a cafe in Cannes that caught my husbands attention (click here). I would do this idea in a minute if I had any wall space left. Maybe I should make some adjustments, this would be so perfect for our weekend newspapers which I like to read at length and in-depth. Another idea would be to mix in some more interesting newspapers, perhaps from Paris, Rome or London. A few brass or pewter towel racks and there you have it, a civilized and interesting wall treatment.

So what colour is your view? It may not be a NY view but it may be something you should be considering when selecting a room's paint colours. You can be 99.9% sure that the tones seen in the copper patina and adjacent limestone building was what inspired Moss to use this soothing palette in the Master Bedroom.

The Charlotte Moss signature..............the most exquisite bed treatments.

All photos from Veranda

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shopping for Prada

Like any woman does when you are forced into rest and a reclining position, you go online shopping. Neiman Marcus, Holt Renfrew, Restoration Hardware, Kate Spade, all the fun sites to get me into a spring mood whether it be fashion or furniture. Actually I was doing furniture and lighting research for a design client and did eventually get sidetracked once my work was done. What got me going was the Prada vinyl bag in this month's Vogue (the one with the other purse inside) and couldn't find it online where it looked quite as good as their ad. But this little crystal clutch number up above was equally pleasing to my eye.

I am kind of taken with this Prada vinyl look for summer. Too bad my legs don't tan because I am sure that is what this shoe is intended for......to show off your leg tan (or your superior self-tanning application method) all the way to your toes.

I love wearing statement necklaces, I just don't like the weight around my neck and on my skin. By 7:00 pm I am looking to take it off and wring it around someone elses neck so I guess this means I am not a worthy fashionista. I think I just need to rethink the approach and go for something that I can wear over a shirt or blouse (is that an outdated word?) like this Prada number shown above and below.

Maybe if I put my necklace collection on Ebay I could buy on of these?
And be quite happy with one.

My son is trying to talk me into ditching my Blackberry for an iphone because he knows I am such an easy mark for new technology. Problem is I never did get by Blackberry working with my Bluetooth so I think this means though I like to think I am ahead, I am actually really, really far behind. But I am a really good virtual shopper.

Prada photos from Neiman Marcus

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fifi does........... A Gift Wrapped life

I hope Fifi Flowers isn't too upset that I waited so long to post her artful gift (forgive me!). When I ran across one she did for Vicki Archer a few weeks ago, I realised I had missed a draft of this post from months ago. You aren't a real blogger until you have had Fifi Flowers draw something she likes in your post, or in this case my blog header . It certainly is a badge of honour and a wonderful gesture, after all it's nice to know something had inspired the fabulous FiFi. Oops........I see something she missed or maybe left it out on purpose. Care to guess? It is easy to miss but is my favorite part.

Thank You Fifi ~ I adore my drawing!
And your artistic generosity.

Original artwork by Fifi Flowers

Coral........... and Real Mink Ribbon

Steven Meisel ~ Vogue. September 2007

I haven't given myself one of those fashion inspired gift wrap challenges lately and since I am nursing a muscle injury from when we swerved and averted a car accident a few weekends ago I have to stay off the bike and am self-restricted to minor movement. I can stand and wrap, just can't seem to bend well so a wrapping challenge it is and this fashion photo had me more than intrigued. Nothing like a good dose of coral fur to distract me from the fact that my cycle challenge is interrupted so early in the game. Too bad, the weather is simply fabulous right now and I could have covered some ground by now. This is only a delay and not a quit kind of excuse before I even start. And I think I want that doggie in the window, I am having replacement dog fever really bad these days. I used to put a ribbon on my male puppy until my son said "no more Mom" and he was right, the poor boy dog looked ridiculous. The next dog will definitely be a female. She can watch me gift wrap with ribbons in her hair.

What a luscious coral colour to experiment with and turn my head towards a colour zone that I might not think of by myself. Fashion has a way of doing that for me. I notice combinations that served me well in my designer days and now gift wrapping. Looking for gift wrap cues in fashion and interior design isn't such a frivolous thing, inspiration comes by keeping your eyes and creativity open. I have these gorgeous bronze organza bows that I gussied up with a length of bronze taffeta so the ribbon bows would add volume to the rear of the organza bow. It doesn't really need it, I just like doing it.

I find myself reaching for these narrow, satin ribbons lately. For something so thin, it does seem to capture the eye which surprises me. I tend towards wide ribbon in much the same way I tend towards larger jewelry, nothing more than a personal preference. In the end I did slide a wider hand-dyed silk underneath so it just goes to show you how I can't shake my preferences as easily as I think.

I like to move bows forward to the front of the box just to mix up the styles. And you know how I love these glass hearts. Since my photo table moved I have been having a bit of a camera lighting and focus problem. This really is the same coral as the top photo. Time to call in the real experts again.

Yes, this really is mink ribbon and I had very little of it left to work with so I gussied it up with an organza ribbon that has petite glass stars. Just gave it a little more sparkle and gift glam and how much better could the star colour be for this wrap challenge? This mink ribbon is so unique and tactile that it does show it's luxurious nature best on solid paper, it certainly doesn't need any pattern competition.

Steven Meisel ~ Vogue. September 2007

Totally off topic here but maybe I just need to go sit in a Paris bar somewhere
until this muscle is healed? Practise my sultry look.

These organza bows do have plenty of impact for gift wrapping and cost no more than a standard ribbon bow. That being said, isn't this a better way? I have them in bronze, chocolate brown, black, and green and they are on my website under the Wrap Room. Just so you know.

A frou frou welcome to the most fashionable of new followers.

Have the best weekend.

Vogue photos from Vogue Archives/Other photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Paris awaits you...........again

Pavillon de Flore ~ Paris by Rita Crane Studio

I was thinking about my friend today who is headed over to Paris this week. And I was thinking about my own upcoming trip in September. And then I was thinking..............is there any city more beautiful? I could look at this photograph all day and thought maybe you would enjoy a bit of gorgeous Paris too.

Then I got to thinking what I really, really liked about Paris. It's the walking, you can eat all you want and come home weighing less. What a clever French trick, no secret at all to how french women stay so svelte.! Next time I will cycle there too. For some reason I really want to cycle in Paris. And collect more business cards. Paris shops have the best business cards and I would like to frame a few together. Well, actually a whole pile of them.

These stunning Paris visuals are by photographer Rita Crane as seen on Flickr and they are some of the best I have seen. Her website offers these photographs for sale.

Even in the winter..........such incredible beauty.

Even when you have to wait in line......for macaroons or to visit the Louvre.
Who cares? Beautiful Paris awaits you again..........have a fabulous trip. XO
Walk and eat all you want.......what fun!
And sneak in a day trip to Versailles......you must.
Did I mention I love macaroons?

All photographs via Rita Crane ~ Flickr

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bringing Small Comforts Series - Soothing and Practical

Not every woman is the type to indulge themselves, some women can be immensely practical even when they are recovering or seriously ill. She may not have the energy to indulge herself even if she wanted to so it is up to you to do it for her. Something practical but pretty and special enough to make her smile every time she uses it.

Towels are a practical item, we use them every day. When it comes to towels I am a practical kind of gal, I only buy white towels. Mostly because they are stored in a cabinet with glass doors and I like the uniformity in our ivory ensuite. But a few years ago when I was feeling under the weather I went out a bought myself a few sets in the most feminine and gorgeous shade of pale pink. I keep them in a section of my dressing room and whenever I use them they just lift my spirits. Buying a woman a set (bath towel/face towel/facecloth) of gorgeous towels in her favorite, happy colour will certainly lift her spirits in a most comfortable and practical way. If a monogram service is available, you could have a set monogrammed with uplifting words such as relax, restore, refresh or request her name be embroidered in script very small and discreetly in the top corner. Just for her.

Soap can also be a practical luxury. Though she may adore scented soap and it's gorgeous packaging, palliative nurses tell me that many patients are often highly-sensitive to fragrance at times during treatment. Unscented soaps such as Dove or Ivory can be practical but simply lovely when layered into a glass canister and tied with a beautiful ribbon. A gift even the most practical gal can use and appreciate.

You don't have to wrap every bar of soap with tissue and seals as you see above, but it could be a detail that elevates a simple soap collection to a luxurious level. An effort even the most practical would appreciate. This jar of wrapped soaps is a prototype from a company that didn't go forward with the product or I would give you the source. Instead I am giving you the presentation idea.

Another soothing idea, a glass decanter filled with a bath foam, a jar of loofah, a tray of soap. This can be the time to gift bath products that are unscented or organic, the more natural the better. The products can be simple, the presentation thoughtful and soothing. Something to heal her body and her soul.

!st and 2nd photo by Polly Wreford/3rd photo by Chris Everard/4th photo from files/5th photo by Daniel Farmer ~ Sarah Kaye.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Henri Bendel ~ Box Regift 2 Sweet Treats

It does seems a shame to not recycle boxes at least a few times before they get folded up into pieces of cardboard and put out to the road. It just seems to make sense to me to pass them along in a new version............just for the gift giving fun of it but mostly for the recycle factor. I am sure there was a time when re-styling a box seemed like you were trying to upgrade the gift and borrow some gift status but those days are long gone. We have to get over this when it applies to gift wrapping, to recycle something into a clever new use is just plain good sense. It is why I tell you to re-use boxes, iron your ribbon and tissue, use the leftover strips of gift wrap. To not be wasteful but clever. Gift wrapping can be considered a wasteful production, I understand this, but gift giving is a part of life so we can at least be conscious of how to best modify our packaging waste.

I think to re-style a box says a something positive about your gift giving effort. For those times and those special people who you know will appreciate your effort and creativity. Who actually look forward to your gift wrapped creations. It means you took some extra time, you actually put the presentation together and if anyone has trouble with you re-using a store logo box then I would say save your lovely box for another time. I think we tend to think of store boxes as disposable items, a free way for stores to push their brand, but you do know that you somehow paid for this box in the purchase price don't you? It is your box to use as storage, closet fashion decorating, and of course what I am suggesting here today. A no-cost, clever, creative way to make your gift givng more special, more thoughtful, and more fun for you and them.

I made an order mistake and ended up with a stash of Sweet Treat postcards instead of Sweet Treat gift tags and I am way too private to send a postcard and have my written thoughts travel the postal system for anyone to see. I have been using them up as glitter gift tags (with a hole punch) and as you see them here.......to re-style some beautifully designed gift boxes. Sometimes the store logos are larger so they need something larger to cover it than my huge assortment of gift labels. And there is nothing to say you can't use this a larger gift tag with your message written on the back. Certainly less cost than a greeting card and certainly more original in my opinion.

It is no secret that I do believe a boxed gift has more gift presence than a bag gift and that applies to it's look and the unwrapping experience. Bags were designed for ease and though there are some very clever ones, opening a boxed gift still provides more pleasure, more occasion. Do you agree? Maybe it's more reminiscent of the department store heyday where everything was tissued, boxed, and ribboned but it certainly suggests the gift is more special. The reason stores still offer gift boxes as an option even for items that could easily be bagged. Ask a consumer at the check out if they would prefer a box or bag and I am going to guess most say "box please". Though putting the two together (see the gift bag that was in the box) in this stylish Henri Bendel way is probably the best of both words.

The more I think about postcards the more possibilities I can see for gift wrapping. This meringue image is sweet enough to frame isn't it? But other postcards can give you a ton of inspiration. Postcards bought in Paris, Italy, New York, stash up when traveling. If you use an image, a postcard or a gift label as I have shown before, it can go a long way into making your packaging more polished, more eye-catching. It's almost too darn easy.

If I was going for total frou frou presentation I would add some of my special real fur white ribbon as I have shown here. A bit more youthful, maybe a gift for my younger nieces, a sweet sixteen birthday, or my princess friend who I might add is 50 something but you know what they say "Once a princess, always a princess".

For the next few weeks, I am showing an assortment of gift wrapping ideas from last Friday, the day I was playing like crazy to delay my cycling. Nor worries there, it's raining like crazy. I will be back to the Small Comfort Series and lots of other topics like how to cover that huge logo on the new Kate Spade boxes. I admit I thought I might be stymied, the challenge too big. The logo is now oversized and placed in a most akward position as a box regift, but I think I took on the challenge quite well. Let's see what you think.

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Friday, March 12, 2010

Henri Bendel ~ Box Regift 1

I have very generous friends when it comes to giving me lovely boxes full of lovely birthday things. So I am well-supplied with some gorgeous store boxes right now which I will use to show you how to regift a store box and use "card cuts" at the same time. A few posts back I talked about using the top image of note or greeting cards to jazz up simple tissue paper, gift wrap or in this case a really good looking box.

This dramatic Henri Bendel ~ New York box has been sitting on my wrap table for a few weeks and today I was in the mood to play around and see how many directions I could take the brown and white stripes. This is the first round using colour matched cards, next week you will see the second and third rounds using the same box but taken in a totally different style and colour direction.

There really is no need to gift wrap the box when it has a pattern this graphic and eye-catching. A simple ribbon and a great "card cut" , doesn't get much easier than that. I just use double- sided tape to affix the card over the store logo. You could also use a glue stick.

Another card cut image from the same box of blank notecards.

Here is the same chocolate image but I added a few wider ribbon bands in the same colour to see if it gave the presentation more impact. It does, but I like the simple, single ribbon just as well.

The vintage typewriter "card cut" is one of my favorites. I used to write a newspaper column on a typewriter so I think it brings back some fond memories. I will use this same card image wrapped in another style in a future post. I am playing like crazy today. Anything to delay getting this sore body back on that bike today.

Welcome, welcome to new followers and readers this week.

And a big welcome to the ambitious ladies who are cycling along with me on my Cycle Challenge. I will introduce them to my sidebar on Sunday. Until then.......get going?

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life


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