California French Cottage Home Tour

One of my oldest and dearest friends lives just down the street from me.
Bienvenue à la Maison Claire.
Claire describes her home as a "Beach Cottage" built in the 1950's.
I think her background as a French language student who 
studied in Paris has greatly influenced her beachy style.
She has achieved a 
gracious, comfortable and elegant style.
 This is her living room/family room.  She loves a neutral palette and it always feels current.
Notice the French theme?
 Claire's husband loves the sea and sails racing boats.  Her sons are/were lifeguards on 
Newport Beach.  There are nautical motifs throughout their home.
Claire has this gorgeous kitchen and hates to cook!  She remodeled this a few years ago.  
(Wish she had taken before photos).
 But she knows where the best take-out is and count on her to make fabulous appetizers.

 The kitchen nook is a favorite spot for her family and friends to gather.  
I could not get a lighter shot!  All that California sunshine outside!
The view outside her kitchen window.  
We are lucky here to get the ocean breezes and have few insects.
This area (formerly the smaller kitchen) is Claire's office.
 She designs jewelry using new and vintage pieces collected from flea markets.
Claire has made some of my favorite jewelry.
 Her "atelier."
 This is a little jewel box of a powder room.
She bought the base at an antique store and painted it 
(along with the mirror) and added the marble top.
See my hand by the orchid...busted.
 Come on upstairs. 
 I love where the full length mirror is positioned (I suggested it, remember Claire?).
 Isn't her daughter's room darling?  Claire did such a great job mixing new with vintage finds.
I love the hanging lantern and the seahorse table.  So unique.
Here, in the upstairs hall you get the beach cottage feel but with the elegance of a crystal chandelier.
The above photos flank the front door.  I love that sweet quilted chair on the left.
The handles and knobs on the built-in on the right are from an antique hardware store. 
Nice way to add character to a new piece.
 I love Claire's style and "je ne sais quoi."  How about you?
"Thanks, Claire for giving us a tour.  Sure, I'd love a cup of tea."


"Pillow Addict V" • 6th Street Design School

Our next PillowAddict is...
  Kirsten Krason from...
See the pillows at the top in Kirsten's living room?  She has a magical and fearless touch for
mixing color and pattern to marvelous effect.

  Our home was featured on 6th Street Design School when I had just started my blog.
Anyway, you think you have a pillow problem?
Can you imagine the combos constantly floating around in HER head?

Take it away, Kirsten...  

Here are all of my favorite pillows with some descriptions. 
Jett's Nursery has a fun tiger pillow in it. The pillow is by one of my favorite textile designers, Thomas Paul. I think his designs are so fun and playful. Perfect for a nursery! 
 In my Living Room I use a lot of color and pattern in my pillows. I love the Bettina fabric from pottery barn and I used it to make a fun floral pillow. The fabric is discontinued but you can still find it on Ebay every now and then. 

In my bedroom I have some very vibrant floral pillows that I just love. The fabric has been discontinued which makes these pillows even more special. 
Thanks, Kirsten.  Keep those happy pillow combos coming
Good luck and best wishes to everyone dealing with Hurricane Irene.


"Feature Friday" on Southern Hospitality

If you haven't already met Rhoda, from Southern Hospitality, you must!
She is a décor and DIY blogger with taste and G.R.I.T.S. (Girl Raised in the South).  

I love her "Feature Friday" series.   So, you can imagine how excited I was when she
 contacted me to say she'd like to feature our home.  
Please go over here and check it out.  
If you have had too much of our house...check out the other "Feature Fridays."

Remember this sweet painting that Susie gave me?
Tip:  For a cost much less than custom,
I used one of the framing store's stock frames (made from remnant pieces)
 and floated on black linen to fit.

Also, please check out Inspired By Life for bloggers' interiors that Staci Edwards admires.

Thanks again, Rhoda and Staci!


Taco Tuesday?

Outside of Mexico, Southern California has 
the best Mexican restaurants. 
(Feel free to agree or dispute this statement in the comment section).

My analysis*:
Places I have Lived                                   General Mexican Restaurant Rating
New York                                                   C     (Decent =Expensive)
Chicago                                                      C+   (Decent=Slightly Less Expensive)
Orlando, Fl                                                  C     (Skip it and go for Vietnamese)
Paris, France                                               D     (Don't even think about it)
Fort Lauderdale, Fl                                     C     (Go for Cuban or Italian from the 
                                                                               New Jersey/York transplants)
Southern Calif.                                            A     (Real Mexicans using their grandmas'
                                                                               recipes with fresh Calif. ingredients--and 
                                                                               inexpensive, especially on Tuesdays)

Debbie invited me over last week for Taco Tuesday on her patio.

On my way there, she called to ask me to bring grated cheese, sour cream and sparking water.
Oh yeah, and tortillas!  Good thing I was coming.
But look what was waiting for me when I got there...
The best margarita I had ever tasted!  It had Tommy's Mix 
blended with tequila and frozen mango cubes.  That's it.
We ate dinner outside with candle light.

When my daughter comes home from New York for Labor Day Weekend,
she wants to have fresh fish tacos at her three favorite Mexican restaurants
(all within biking distance).

Please check out Inspired By Life for bloggers' interiors that Staci Edwards admires.


"Pillow Addict IV" • Design Indulgence

Major Pillow Addiction...
See Sherry's living room from Design Indulgence?  
It was featured in the May "Better Homes and Gardens."  
Who knows if those pillows are still there...probably already replaced.  
It's a Sickness.  Have compassion.  

Sherry finds top quality designer pillows for $100 (examples here).  
By the time you buy the designer fabric (sometimes with minimum yardage), have them made with hidden zippers, self welt or trim, including down/feather inserts--you often can't make them for less.  Talk about the temptation!  Then, she shares this information with us vulnerable addicts.

Wanted:  Sherry Hart
International Pillow Dealer
Your turn to confess, Sherry:

How great is Mary Ann for putting together all these great post on PILLOWS....she is quite the pusher isn't she?  I mean if you are trying to quit pillows....then she is not your girl.....right?

But since there is really no chance of that [that would be like trying to quit shoes...not gonna happen] then I say we just get to it and stop all this nonsense.  I looked up the definition of our topic...and beside bed pillows they talked about throw pillows, or toss pillows, which they say are purely decorative and not designed for support or comfort.  BUT...they are designed to rob you of time [searching for the perfect one], money [paying for all the ones you now have in your closet], and sleep....[thinking about WHAT the perfect one would be].

Pillows are mean like that.
I have a closet full of rejects.
Wish I had all the money I have spent so I could buy the perfect one.

Nevertheless...let's get down to my take on the bastards.
Here are some from around my house.

My most recent purchase for the couch in my LR

One of my favorite fabrics.

These are in my guest room....

This is one I got at the mart in July.  In my keeping area.

These are on my bed.  I am sorry to say their life will soon be cut short.  I have plans.

Another one of my favorite fabrics.  Also in my keeping area.

These are on my sofa.
Now...some thoughts about designing pillows.
They can set the theme for a room...this was a nursery I did.
Think about the mix of fabrics.  Solids and pattern.  We put these on a LR sofa.

We added a button at the corner of these.

They look good with a throw.....if you aren't going to use 2 pillows.

As in the pillow above, you can use a flat welt with a little pleat at the corner.

Don't forget about using a different fabric on the back.  Especially if it is an expensive fabric.  You usually need about  1 1/2 yards for 2 pillows [front and back for both] depending on the repeat.  I like bigger rather than smaller.  Especially on a couch.  Maybe a 22" and an 18".  Remember you are using them for impact...so go big!

One more thing...if you have them made...add the invisible zipper, or use an envelope back.  YOU know you are going to change the buggers.  Plan ahead.

Thanks so much Mary Ann for making me realize that I need an intervention.  A support group.  Put me in the same category as all the other guest bloggers on this quest.  One pillow shy of a finished room.

Gorgeous pillows and great tips!  Thanks, Sherry.  You make me smile every time I read your blog.
Remember to visit Design Indulgence.

 Winner:  Anuradha Varma from facebook won the
 "Eat Drink and Be Merry" sign via Random Number Generator.  
Please give me your contact information.