Friday, December 31, 2010

Wishing you a Happy New Year

 I wish you happiness, health and prosperity in 2011.

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Make a Statement with Upholstery

Customizing your upholstery is a great way to add personality to your home, whether you are ordering a new piece or reupholstering an existing item.  Too often people play it safe and select an overall neutral for their upholstery. This is "smart" in that the piece will be timeless. However, you can still have a timeless piece, while taking your upholstery out-of-the-box. Here are some tips for just that.

Tip 1: Use two fabrics on the same piece
This photo is from House & Garden UK magazine and features dining chairs with 2 fabrics - a timeless look, but more interest than one overall fabric.

Below is a Before & After of an antique fainting couch from a Beautiful Habitat project in Louisville, Colorado.


We used both a solid black and a contemporary print from Kravet to customize the piece.
Tip 2: Use a Small Pattern
Small patterns can look like solids from a distance. This can be a "safer" alternative if you aren't ready to go bold. You'll still have interest and uniqueness in the piece, but it will not be too trendy.
This project is a home I worked on in Broomfield, Colorado. Here, the sofa fabric is actually a gray-on-charcoal dot pattern. It adds fun to this contemporary decor, but reads as a solid from a distance so it doesn't complete with the artwork and other fabrics.

Tip 3: Use a Big Pattern
A large and bold pattern can still be timeless. Here, elegant dining chairs have again been upholstered in two different fabrics. This  time a large embroidered pattern has been centered on the chair backs of each chair. The result is truly stunning.
This is from House & Garden, UK magazine May 2007.

So think out-of-the-box with your upholstery and have fun!

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas (US) and a very Happy Christmas (EU)! Whatever phrase you use, I hope your Christmas is filled with joy, love, family, friends and beauty!

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Entertaining - Setting the Table

As Holiday Entertaining gets into full swing, I find myself inspired by some amazing table designs. Your table setting and decoration is a great way to set the tone for your holiday gatherings and to create parties to be remembered.

First a quick primer on *proper* table settings. To be followed, or completely ignored as YOU see fit for your own party...

Starting with your dinner plate, which looks more lovely and festive when layered over a place mat, charger, or both. A salad plate or bowl can be layered on top of the dinner plate, depending on your planned courses. Don't be afraid to mix styles, colors or vintage with new - get creative. Place cards are a great touch to a dinner party. Think out-of-the-box, use fruit or foliage, or a small gift.
 Next - forks to the left of the plate, knife and spoon to the right. Place silverware in the order of it's use, working from the outside in.

Glassware is at the top right of the plate. Water glass first, followed by white wine, then red wine glasses.
(article and photos from House Beautiful Magazine's Entertaining Issue)

And now some simply beautiful and creative table design and decorations that are inspiring me this holiday season. Courtesy of House Beautiful.

Michael Devine, Fabric Designer

Miles Redd, Interior Designer

Jan Barboglio, Home Furnishing Designer

And a final image from BBBCraft Sisters c/o Design Sponge. I love the incorporation of pomegranates and evergreen into the table.

Do you have a beautiful holiday tablescape? Share it with us! You can send me a link via the comments on the blog, or upload to the Beautiful Habitat Facebook wall.
Happy Holiday Entertaining!

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

Friday, December 10, 2010

Easy Holiday Decor - Ribbons

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to spruce up standard Christmas decorating is with ribbon or tulle. Both can add texture, shimmer and color to your holiday scheme.

Use it on the tree.

Use it on the mantel.

Use it with the nativity.

Add it to any greenery, wreaths or garland.

And to take it up another notch - use the same ribbon or tulle throughout your home, then use it in your gift wrapping.

It makes a beautiful statement and takes your Christmas decor to a new level. The best part is you can reuse the ribbon for many years before it wears out! The amount of average household trash increase by 25% during the holidays. You'll be doing your part to reduce that, while making your holidays beautiful.

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pecan Pie Cookie Recipe

I don't usually include recipes on the Beautiful Habitat Blog. However, this is my very favorite holiday recipe and is much requested by family and friends. I felt the best way to share with everyone was right here. If you like it, recipes just may find their way onto the blog more often.
These have long been made by my grandma and mom for the holidays and have been my favorite cookie for as long as I can remember. I hope you and your family enjoy them as much as we always have!

Pecan Pie Cookies

1C butter, softened
1/2C white sugar
1/2C dark corn syrup
2 egg yokes (retain the whites)
2-1/2 to 3 C flour (I need 3 cups in Denver's altitude, but less may be needed elsewhere)

Cream butter and sugar together on low.
Add syrup and egg yokes and beat until well blended.
Stir in flour gradually.
Chill at least 30 minutes.

Pecan Pie Filling
1/2C powdered sugar
1/4C butter
3T dark corn syrup
1/2C pecans, coarsely chopped

Combine butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan over low heat.
Stir occasionally until it reaches a full boil.
Remove from heat and stir in pecans.

Bake it
Preheat oven to 375
Grease cookie sheets
Beat egg whites
Roll 1T of dough into a ball, flatten slightly on the cookie sheet (degree of flattening required varies with altitude and flour).
Brush with egg whites.
Bake for 7-10 minutes, the dough should fluff, but not start to brown.
Remove dough from oven.
Roll 1t of filling into a ball.
Press the filling into the center of the cookie, making it look just like a mini pecan pie.
Return to the oven until dough lightly brown.
Cool on wire rack.

This recipe can be doubled - and usually is in our family. Enjoy!

I wish I had a photo to add, but the batch I made for my November book club are long gone. Guess I'll need to do another batch just for the photos...

Do you have a favorite holiday recipe? Share it!

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Setting Your Thanksgiving Table Round up

I have seen so many wonderful blog posts about setting your Thanksgiving Table. Here is a round up of my  favorites in case you need some last minute inspiration.
Send us photos of your amazing Thanksgiving table!

Before you begin to make a beautiful table, here is a quick Dining Etiquette 101 from

And on to the Decorations:
Thanksgiving Decorating with Gratitude! from Irene Turners blog "Little Bits of Beauty"
Thanksgiving Table from your truly at Beautiful Habitat
Thanksgiving Centerpiece Ideas: Blossom & Branch from Design Sponge
Thanksgiving Table Inspiration from Habitually Chic
Interiors to Inspire:Thanksgiving Edition from Coco & Kelley

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

Monday, November 22, 2010

Long overdue!

Are you feeling neglected? I certainly don't blame you. Let's just say it - I've been a terrible blogger and my posts are about as consistent as the Denver Broncos this season. For that, I do apologize.  Unfortunately Beautiful Habitat is a one-man show and I'm feeling like this lately.

On the bright side, when I haven't been posting to the Beautiful Habitat blog, I have been working with some wonderful, fun, and adventurous clients. Their stories, needs and the process we take in their homes will make for great posts in the near future. In the mean time, I've been terrible at providing content to you, my wonderful readers whom I appreciate so much. I promise this trend won't continue.Stick with me :)
If you are looking for a Beautiful Habitat fix, you can find daily tips and advice on twitter and Fabcebook.Please join me at both!
Thank you for your continued support and look for posts coming very soon!

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Home Office Design 101 - Going Beyond Function

In my last post I covered the basics of creating a functional home office. In brief summary:
  1. Adequately-sized area with some privacy
  2. Adequate work space with comfortable and supportive seating
  3. Adequate storage space 
  4. Good Lighting

Once you've covered these, you should certainly have the makings of a functional home office that will support your business and personal needs. Some people don't even get this far and settle for a less-than-functional space. Many others stop at these four functional basics. But a home office can be much more. Home offices deserve good design, too.

"Form follows function - that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union." ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

What can you do to take your home office to the next level?  Start asking questions and work with your answers.
A questions that I ask every client of every room we design: Does this room help you to be the right self at the right time? Do you need to be energetic? Creative? Focused? Professional? Or, if you work in an office during the day, perhaps you need a relaxing home office space to unwind. What things can we build into your office space to help you be that person?
What motivates you? How can we build in motivators in the space?

The office makeover that I've been featuring was predominately functional. However, we did go beyond function. My client is retired, so did not need to have strong work or professional cues. However, she does have motivators - family. So we ensured that there was plenty of room for family photos.

And a vital element of home offices that is often missed is transition. You need cues to help you transition from work to home and home to work. Sometimes this is a simple as closing and opening a door.But perhaps you need more and the transition can be the formality and tone of the room, wall color, or other cues to help you be the right self at the right time.

Look for future blog posts that incorporate these functional and other elements into the design to create wonderful home offices!

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Home Office Design 101 - Function

"Form follows function - that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union." ~ Frank Lloyd Wright 

Home Offices are first and foremost functional spaces. I believe they can be more than just function, and we'll be talking about that in the next post. However, without function, a home office really does fall flat. Let’s cover a few basics that you need to have in place for a functional home office. I’ll be using examples from a client home office project to walk us through the needs and some possible solutions.

The Project:

My client used a small corner of this music room/library as a home office.
The problems:
  1. Not nearly enough work space. 
  2. Storage was inadequate and hard to access.
  3. Room located just off of the foyer in a very public area of the home.
  4. Inadequate lighting.
  5. Confusing purpose of the room (for more on the changes to the music room, see this post).
My client, an empty-nester, had 2 childrens' rooms turned guest rooms in the home. She has frequent guests, but rarely used both guest rooms at once. We decided that saving a guest room for 2 nights per year while she suffered with an inadequate home office for 365 days just didn't make sense. We moved the home office into the smaller of the bedrooms. What about the guests? We placed the furniture against the walls so that a queen air mattress could be used in the center of the room to easily accommodate extra guests.

Functional Needs in a Home Office
Let's break down some of the functional needs in a home office and look at the solutions we found for this particular space.
Functional Need 1: Adequately-sized area with some privacy

Functional Need 2: Adequate work space with comfortable and supportive seating
Functional Need 3: Adequate storage space
We included a generously sized desk that can accomodate multiple functions at once. An attractive filing cabinet is next to the desk for often used papers and supplies. Infrequently used items are stored in the closet.

Functional Need 4: Good Lighting
 This room has wonderful daylight with 3 large windows. Unfortunately, the night lighting was poor with no overhead fixture to provide lighting. We had to create specific lighting zones to suit the functions. At the desk, we installed an over-sized swing arm lamp. It adjusts in 3 places, so can easily be directed toward the task as needed. We also added a floor lamp with 5 different settings at the reading area.

And finally, if you are fortunate to have a large home office, it's nice to create areas for functions other than a desk and some filing cabinets.  This might include a hobby or craft area, or a reading nook.

A reading nook should include a comfortable chair, with extra back support, if needed, a table for drinks and books, and good lighting. 

The next post will look at adding on to the functionality of a home office with how it looks and feels. 
Stay tuned.
Other posts in the Home Office Series.

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

Monday, October 11, 2010

Home Offices Deserve Good Design, too!

Home Offices are more important than ever before. Between home-based businesses and telecommuting, nearly 60 million Americans work from home at least part time. With additional office and general computer use apart from work, the need for a functional home office is very evident. However, the reality  is that often home offices are not truly functional, and are very rarely beautiful. Why don't more people believe they should have a space that is functional, comfortable, looks great and inspires them?

Home offices are very under served by Interior Design magazines and books. They are not thought of as one of the beautiful rooms of a home like master suites and formal living rooms. Home offices are functional afterthoughts, hidden away like the garage or laundry room - necessary, but ugly. Many people “make do” with either the location and space or the furniture for their offices, using hand-me-down furniture or spaces that aren’t really comfortable or don’t support the functions to be accomplished.

This seems so counter-intuitive to me when we spend so much time in our home offices. I would venture a guess that the home office logs more hours than all rooms except the bedroom. Of course, if you work from home, the home office may well be the most used room in your house. So you deserve to have function, comfort and beauty. Hence the beginning of a Beautiful Habitat Home Office Series, where I’ll be covering tips and topics to improve your home office with examples from some recent home office makeovers.
 I scoured months worth of multiple home decor magazines to find only a few home office images to share with you to jump start theHome Office Series. I hope you'll fis some inspiration in them for your own functional and beautiful home office space.
Luxe Magazine, Winter 2010, Designed by Clodagh Design.

 Luxe Magazine, Winter 2010. Designed by Kevin Spearman, Bellacasa Design Associates, Inc.

Have specific home office questions or issues? Send your questions to me and I'll add them to the list of topics to cover in the series.

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

23rd Ave Sculpture in Denver

I have recently started working with a new client in the Sloans Lake area of Denver. It's an adorable 1939 home that you will hear much more about in the coming weeks. While driving to client meetings, I pass an eye-catching sculpture studio. After a meeting with my client last week I decided to stop in and check it out. I was not disappointed!

Welcome to the 23rd Avenue Sculpture Studio and Gallery at 3500 W. 23rd Ave, Denver, Colorado . 

The studio is owned by Dennis West and features his work, along with several other artists that work out of the studio. They are rough looking group of metal workers, but were more than happy to show me around the studio and explain the various pieces and artists. Below is just a sample of the various treasures that I found while wandering.Customers are welcome to purchase anything in the outdoor or indoor galleries, or the artists will happily do commissions and custom work.

 A great outdoor bar area. There are also outdoor seating and fire pits available. John "Wild" Mann, one of the artists, also informed me that they would take my basic outdoor metal bench and spice it up with some custom accents. I intend to take him up on that offer next summer!
They also offer metal sculpture classes and monthly wine tastings at the studio through Toast Wine and Spirits.

Many of the pieces are made from reclaimed pieces of metal - great for art and the environment!

Dennis makes custom gates and railings for indoor and outdoor use.

 Copper Sculptures

They have little pieces...

 ...and large pieces

 A hand-forged iron music stand.

 A mobile - yes, it rotates in the wind.

Custom Door hardware
I love supporting local art. Of course, I couldn't leave without selecting a few hand-made creations of my own. I picked these two sculptures, which have a base built to go in flower pots. These are perfect for me - the lazy gardener. I haven't planted flowers in those pots in 2 years. Now I don't need to - I have sculptures!

So check out the 23rd Ave Sculpture Studio in Denver and support these local artists.

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration


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