Thursday, September 17, 2015

Richard Scarry's Busytown Birthday

My daughter, Rachel, chose an appropriate theme to celebrate her youngest child's first birthday--Richard Scarry's Busytown. The familiar characters: Lowly Worm,
 Sergeant Murphy,
Mayor Fox,
Hilda Hippo, and
 and sister Sally cat
could be found around the house. Rachel made actual moving automobiles for each of the characters. Lego wheels under their seats allowed the characters to zoom, zoom.
No wonder, Sergeant Murphy had to blow his whistle a time or two.

Decorations were bright and cheerful primary colors. Rachel used pompom rope as swags on the chandeliers. Here was the children's table.

And this was the adult tablescape.

Curt and Rachel made banners by enlarging pictures of Busytown characters they found on the Internet.

Name tags had Busytown characters suited to each guest.
Rachel creatively personalized a Costco sheet cake by making a road from crushed Oreo cookies in the shape of a one. The traffic lanes were marked by m&m's to keep miniature Busytown characters safe on the highway.

Because birthday boy's favorite food is yogurt, Curt and Rachel invited guests to come for brunch. They served a smorgasbord of fruit and granola, as well as yogurt.
 For kids, opening gifts is a highlight of a party.
They also relish eating cake. Birthday boy's first taste was tentative.
 However, it didn't take long for the verdict to register.
 Soon, the hesitancy was replaced with enthusiasm.
If a little is good, a lot is better.

So thoroughly did birthday boy enjoy his cake that a bath was called for, even before guests left.

One thing is for sure:  Busytown has nothing over this household. With four children six-years-old and under, there is never a dull moment. Great job on the party, Mama Cat!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Next Generation's "Industrial French" Powder Room

Here are photos from my youngest daughter's powder room. This half bath is where her tots wash their hands before and after meals and where mama and daddy wash up when they come in from out-of-doors. Form follows function, so Rachel put a casual spin on the space. I'd call the design aesthetic "industrial French".

The room's charming leaded-glass window dictated iron and pewter finishes rather than gilding or polished metal. The small chandelier is pewter-colored iron.
Two leaded-glass windows from Mission Road Antiques add visual interest to plain-vanilla walls.

And on the floor, Rachel placed an antique French pewter basket loaded with design magazines.
Across the room, my daughter--with the help of her preschoolers--painted the vanity with Annie Sloan chalk paint. The wonderful zinc mirror is perfect for above the sink.

 Hand towels from Target are embroidered with the fleur-de-lis.
However in my estimation, the piece-de-resistance is another find from Mission Road Antiques, a French lavabo.
How fitting that the zinc basin below the spigot is filled with French milled soap and packets of lavender.

Friday, July 31, 2015

My Nose-Powdering Space

Here is the peek into our powder room that I promised you, in my last post.

What strikes you as you glimpse inside the door?  The wallpaper.  Right? Because it covers the largest surface, one would think that it is the star of the show. However, actually, the whole powder room design began with the sink.

When I found this beautiful Kohler sink called "Prairie Flowers of the Midwest", I could not pass up the lovely artist renderings of plants I remember from my preschool years on a farm in Kansas.

With the delicate colors and gold leaf detailing, I did not think I would ever tire of this graceful basin. I was right, because now, nearly 20 years later, this classic sink is still available (™-design-on-Anatole-pedestal-bathroom-sink/productDetail/Prairie-Flowers/416705.htm?categoryId=430815&defaultCatId=429706).

The wallpaper followed naturally, because the gold leaves and green background perfectly complimented the basin's hand painted botanicals. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe this paper is by Colfax & Fowler. (I prefer British wallpaper because it isn't coated with a shiny film.)

Breaking up the pattern is a corner cupboard. Although these are normally used in dining rooms, I chose to have the linen closet configured in this way to maximize the powder room space.
For the walls, I chose a series of eight botanicals. There are three on each of the two walls near the loo,

and two on the wall above the towel rack.

Displayed on the hand towel rack are antique linens.

Observant guests use the paper hand towels available above the sink. :)

A miniature chandelier lights the small room. (Oops, for you observant readers, yes one of the bulbs is burned out.)

Finally, a Nest candle provides a sublime aroma: moss & mint.
Stay tuned, in my next post, I will feature two powder rooms in my daughter's home.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Place to Powder Your Nose

Your powder room has the potential to leave the biggest impression of any room in your house. Why? Because tiny spaces can be the most dramatic! A small space can carry off darker walls or whimsical wallpaper, while the mirror and sink can make a big splash.  Let's study the details in the rooms where you powder your nose.


The largest expanse in a powder room is the wall space. What would overpower a large space can be enchanting in a small dose. Here are some examples:

This silk paper is de Gournay, sometimes called "the Chanel of wallpaper". I know it is memorable, because although I saw the image months ago, when I thought about this post on powder rooms the de Gournay swimming koi immediately surfaced in my mind.
This powder room belongs to by Waterworks founder Barbara Sallick.
The second image I remembered was the Scalamandre prancing zebra wallpaper. You have to admit it lingers in the memory.
This paper comes in several color ways, including red!
Here is another chic wallpaper in a powder room designed by Judy Kling and her daughter, Wendy Wolcott (J K Kling Designs).

Are you noticing an animal theme? The motif must be de rigueur judging from the examples on Pinterest and in national shelter magazines. Here is yet another powder room designed by Style At Home blogger Jessica Wak featuring safari-inspired walls.
 This is Tanzania wallpaper by Thiabut. 
One of my favorite designers, Tom Scheerer, used thee same paper in a Hampton cottage.

However, let me raise a word of caution: When it comes to animals, they can be easily overdone. Wouldn't you agree that leopards on the walls combined with a tortoise shell vase and the alligator sink may be a bit over the top? 

Perhaps a more subtle nod to the wild would hold a more enduring appeal.

That would be the case, unless your motto is "go bold or go home." Even if bold is beautiful, tread softly here. Only a designer as good as Miles Redd could carry off this elegant powder room below featuring peacock feathers on gilded paper.  The combination of unusual wall covering, floating antique Georgian mirror, and unusual sink shouts softly "high end designer".    


However, before trying to replicate Redd's masterpiece, do some soul searching. Would the custom peacock feather wallpaper and Benjamin Moore Gulf Shores paint color on the door "wear well" in your home? If you describe your style as understated elegance, this room wouldn't suit you. On the other hand, if you're aiming for memorable opulence, then go for it!

One unique feature to note, if you are following Redd's lead, is the feminine Georgian mirror juxtaposed to the masculine Henry sink by Waterworks. The pairing makes this room unforgettable, and brings us to a second element that takes center stage in a powder room--the sink.

Sinks and Vanities

I have a soft spot for blue & white Chinese porcelain. As a consequence, although I am wary of cleaning around top-mounted vessel sinks, I love this powder room ensemble. The tiger-maple antique vanity is the perfect compliment to the French brass fixtures and export porcelain bowl. 

Another use of Chinoiserie appears in the vanity below. Notice the mixture of metals: gilded mirror, brass sconce and plumbing fixtures, but a silver undercounted sink. With a deft hand, the designer avoids the matchy-matchy pitfall. I especially love the shimmer of the silk Roman shade.

The vanity below looks fabulous with the French wallpaper, sconces, and mirror...

as does this mirrored vanity and Venetian mirror.

For a more modern look, try a subtle geometric tile on the mirror wall, grasscloth elsewhere, and a floating rectangular sink and starkly simple mirror.

A glossy vanity also gives a modern vibe.
Polsky Perlstein Architects
Phillip Jeffries wall coverings never disappoint, especially if transitional decor calls your name. His papers beautifully bridge traditional to contemporary design.

I really appreciate the modern profile of this chair and vanity executed in traditional mahogany and paired with the crystal chandelier and rectangular shaped Venetian mirror.


Speaking of mirrors, the shape of this tortoise shell beauty mirrors the wallpaper perfectly. ;)

This sunburst mirror holds court, even when competing with a rather bold wallpaper. And, don't you love the Carrera marble countertop?

My last image pleasingly combines wall covering, vanity, sink, and mirror. The pagoda-shaped mirror  suits the French toile wallpaper, while the Italian marble-topped antique vanity perfectly grounds the room.

In case you are wondering what I did in my own half bath? Stay tuned; my next post will give you a  peak into where I powder my nose.