Kelly Christakos Stivers
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Wednesday
Nov192014

lydia's nursery

Well, friends, I think it's finally time I got my bum in gear and posted pictures of baby girl's nursery!  Since Lydia's ten months old now, I figured I'd better post pictures of it before it's time to change it into a big girl space.  To be fair, the nursery was 99% complete before she was born, save for linens for the daybed, but I don't even want to tell you how long it took me to decide on pillow fabrics for it. And if I'm being completely honest, this room went from being the bane of my existence when I was pregnant and couldn't make a decision to save my life to being my absolute favorite room in the house. I'm so in love with how it turned out!

From the beginning, I knew I wanted something feminine and sophisticated but not too babyish, so we installed our version of board and batten (read about it here), painted it a crisp white and then painted the ceiling the most beautiful shade of coral/peach.  When the table lamp is on at night, the whole room glows, it's so cozy.  A champagne Jenny Lind-style crib, gauzy flax linen curtains with a coral banding, an antique oak chest used as a changing table, a handmade daybed, a four and a half foot long handcarved mermaid, custom crib bedding, gold accents and a gallery wall complete the room and make it perfect.  It's everything I ever wanted my baby girl's nursery to be.

The nursery gets a ton of natural light, making it challenging for a novice photographer like me to get the perfect shot (another reason it has taken me so long to post!), but, instead of obsessing any longer, here it is! I will post a full list of resources for everything in the room tomorrow, but for now, here it is.  I hope you love it as much as I do!

Thursday
Nov132014

white + gold thanksgiving table

I about had a heart attack yesterday when I realized that Thanksgiving is exactly two weeks away.  Where has November gone?  This will be the first holiday we are having as a family since the hubby was deployed for Easter and I'll be hosting something small and intimate to commemorate baby girl's first Turkey Day!  To keep things as easy as possible for me since I'll be busy cooking, I'll be sticking with the basics when it comes to the table: white dinnerware and serving dishes, my new, gorgeous glass water goblets, linen napkins, a burlap table runner and some simple greenery as the centerpiece.  I may even get a little fancy and tuck sprigs of rosemary in with the napkins for a little bit of a rustic touch.  We shall see.  I have watched enough Barefoot Contessa to know that, when entertaining, simple table decorations make a beautiful backdrop for a delicious meal, letting the food be the star of the show.  Below is my ideal table setting for Thanksgiving, or any holiday, really.  White, gold, a little bit of texture and some greenery makes a simple, elegant statement.  And everything here can be used year round, another added bonus!

Raffia table runner / Marble and brass serving tray / Gold flatware set

White cake stand / Monogrammed hemstitch napkins / Gold rim dinnerware / French wine glasses

Rosemary topiary / Gold serving set / Nesting bowl set

Wednesday
Nov122014

coronado showhouse

I always look forward to the annual showhouses put out each year by my favorite design publications and since it's no secret I love a beautiful beach house, I was especially excited to see the Coastal Living showhouse in Coronado, designed by LA-based Betsy Burnham and her partner, Max Humphrey.  To be honest, I thought the pictures the magazine put out left a lot to be desired, so I was excitied to see that Domaine Home has featured an amazing tour of the home in all its California-casual-meets-Hamptons-glam glory

Designer Betsy Burnham had me at hello when she ditched the typical, kitschy beach decor and instead embraced an "old school Hamptons vibe" with crisp white paint, coffered ceilings and built-in bookshelves.  Skirted upholstery, faux bamboo, vintage rugs and a healthy mix of pattern and color add a fresh, modern touch. 

This entry makes a fabulous first impression, from the black and white checkerboard painted hardwood floors, the built-in bookshelves to the zebra hide rug!  What a luxury to have enough space for not only a round table but also additional seating!  This is, by far, my favorite space in the entire house:

You can never go wrong pairing shades of blue with white.  Here a navy pinstripe rug, printed curtains and Roman shades look so sophisticated against an all-white background:

I typically like to use the dining room to add a little drama, but here the light and airy casual feel is so welcoming:

Coffered ceilings, geometric print wallpaper, bookshelves and a dhurrie rug in the office are perfection.  The gauzy linen curtains are a soft finishing touch:

Framed nautical charts are a great way to add a personal touch and make a dramatic impact when hung in a grouping:

I love an all-white kitchen and this blue island is such a pretty compliment:

Perfect bookshelf styling (and an equally fabulous etagere!):

Planked walls, black and white checkerboard floors and a ton of natural light is the perfect way to welcome guests in a side entry:

Bookshelves framing a bed dressed in gorgeous scalloped linens is just perfection:

Bold black and white stripes add a little drama to the master bath (love those seaglass-colored tiles):

Peter Dunham's Fig Leaf curtain panels add such a fresh pop of color.  This is one of my favorite ways to add some color to a bedroom - keep the bed linens simple and white and add some fabulous pattern to the windows!

Love this cozy little corner of a guest room:

To see more of this beautiful showhouse (and there are a bunch more!),

check out the full article here.

Friday
Nov072014

high gloss

Want to know a little secret?  Of all the coffee tables, cribs, consoles, dining chairs and side tables I've stained, painted, distressed, whitewashed and drybrushed over the years - and there have been quite a few - not once have I been asked to do a high gloss or lacquer finish!  I'm finally getting my butt in gear to give a little love to a few of my own pieces, one in particular a china hutch, and I just can't stop thinking about giving it a glorious, shiny, high gloss finish.  I'm not going to lie, I've always been a little intimidated to do this for a client.  To nail the glossy, "I can see my reflection" finish, it's got to be done JUST RIGHT.  There doesn't seem like a lot of room for error, so I feel much more comfortable (and much less pressure) giving it a go on one of my own pieces first. This is a very big departure for me, as almost all the pieces in my house have a more distressed, weathered feel, but covering imperfections in a piece with a lacquer finish, if done meticulously, can yield the same results and I'm excited to try!

One of my favorite inspirational sources whenever I'm working on a piece is Mrs. Jones Painted Finishes.  Stephanie has the heart of an angel (she's graciously responded to a couple questions I've had when I've been stumped before) and the steady hand and incredible talent of a true professional! She does high gloss and lacquer finishes like it's no big deal! Here are a couple pieces she's done that are serving as major inspiration for me right now!

How amazing is this black lacquer?

Is this not the most gorgeous thing you've ever seen?  She even painted the pulls with Ralph Lauren Regent Metallic paint.  The contrast is so striking:

Crisp white on this cabinet is anything but boring, but what I love most about this is that she covered the cracked varnish with the lacquer and gave it a "mock crock" look, which goes with what I was saying about how lacquered or high gloss pieces can still feel old!

The gilded edges on this table were inspired by some gold rimmed vintage teacups!

I'd say she nailed it, wouldn't you?

A steady hand and a TON of patience is needed to get edges like that right.  Just beautiful:

Glossy white lacquer on a set of Chippendale chairs is so, so good:

I had to post one more shot of this gorgeous black lacquered finish.  This is the stuff that furniture refinisher's dreams are made of!

I'm anxious to get started and to show you the before and glorious afters!  Wish me luck!

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Wednesday
Nov052014

6 coffee table books to add to your collection

A good mail day is when a glossy new magazine lands in my mailbox.  A GREAT mail day is when a new book makes its way to my doorstep!  While I tend to be a little more conservative with how much I spend on decorative accessories, the one thing I will always spring for are books.  Nothing is more personal than a big stack on a coffee table or bookshelves.  When we built the corner built-ins in our living room, I could barely wait for the paint to dry to fill the shelves with my favorite tomes as well as big, beautiful picture-filled pages that showcase our interests, hobbies, all the places we've traveled and all the places we have yet to go! They are my favorite gifts to give as well as to receive!  Here are six of my favorites; all of them make great gifts and great additions to your own collection:

Albertus Seba: Cabinet of Natural Curiosities.  This is the most prized natural history book for good reason - it is chock full of the most gorgeous illustrations of animals, plants and insects and it's such a conversation starter for adults and quite an educational tome for children, too!  It's my favorite book to give as a gift and the coral wrapped around the spine makes for a lovely addition to a bookshelf!

American Beauty by Claiborne Swanson Frank.  A tribute to the strong women who symbolize America today, featuring more than 100 portraits of leading ladies who emulate grit, grace and glamour, American Beauty is fabulously patriotic and full of girl power! 

Ralph Lauren.  This bad boy celebrates the man who has singlehandedly helped shape and define American style and it is filled with page after gorgeous page of his life, work and inspiration accompanied by the legend's own words.  This is seriously one of the most beautiful books I've ever flipped through!

The Big Book of the Hamptons.  You know I had to get one about the Hamptons in here, right?  A good friend gave this to me for my birthday this year and it quickly became one of my favorites, thanks to page after glorious page of waterfront shingle style homes and some of the most gorgeous landscaping I've ever seen!  The chic orange cover adds a pop of color to my bookshelves, too!

Elements of Style: Designing a Home and a Life.  Fellow blogger Erin Gates' interior design tome is as much a feast for the eyes as it is fun for the soul.  Filled with beautiful images of Gates' design projects, decorating tips and entertaining and gift guides, it also is a great read, thanks to many witty and sometimes downright hilarious personal stories about Gates' life, much like her blog.  Oh, and the black and white striped spine is delicious!

Tory Burch: In Color. I was a happy girl the day this landed on my doorstep! This beauty is organized by color including images from her collections, her travels, how she entertains, her personal style icons, artists, authors and designers she loves, as well as personal moments with her three sons and how much her parents shaped her life and her brand.  The inspiration to be gleamed is endless; it truly is a beautiful book, much like the designer herself. 

What are some of your favorite coffee table books?  I'm always looking to add to my collection!