Browsing Category: Design 101

The 3 Levels of Rug Layering

Hello Party People!

Today I’m totally feeling the aches and pains of DIY!  Yesterday I painted the chairs, after hours upon hours of sanding, and I can’t wait to show you how they look!  For now, and the next day, they’ll be in hibernation drying and curing.  I would say that waiting is the hardest part, but it’s not… it’s not at all.  Painting those suckers was quite a feat, lemme tell ya!  Anyhoo, I’ve said too much – that’s to come on Thursday.  (If all goes well!!)

Today, I’m thinking about the coziness of layering rugs.  Maybe because the weather is cooling down or because the look is easy/casual but I’ve been loving all the layering going down!  And I think it will be a nice look for my dining area… just another way to get the “stuffy” out and bring the comfortable in.



Here are the basics of layering and it’s super easy.  Start with a sisal or jute rug, plain in color and low pile, and then insert texture and color with a smaller rug on top.  Seriously, anyone can do that, right?  Elementary, my dear Watson!

Then, another step up from beginner, let’s say the high-schooler of rug layering, is based on mixing colors and patterns.


Now you’ve got a tougher look to pull off.  Black and White, a classic, keeps it a no-brainer though.  Phew, not so tough, huh?!  Pick two colors and stick to that scheme to keep it from looking fussy – it’s more modern that way.

But let’s say you want to play in the big leagues of rug layering… want that look to stand out.  You want people to say, “Dang, that’s a lot of layered rugs!”  It looks so effortlessly easy… of course, you and I both know that there is a bunch of thinking, hunting, and crazy placing that goes behind these “haphazardly laid” rugs.

This is master rug layering, people.

kristoferjohnsson1 rug layering layered-rugs-5

Instead of picking colors, per se, you pick a look, a mood.  In the first picture, it’s modern shapes and graphic patterns that tie the rugs together, along with the black and white, of course.  In the other photos, it’s a bohemian feel with kilim rugs in intricate patters… yes, the colors are harmonious but you don’t get bogged down on the exact colors because the “feel” is cohesive.

So, where do you rank?

For the dining room, I’m trying to go for master, but that “a lot” of rugs thing is kinda tough… you literally have to have a bunch to layer.

Back to the hunting part!!

Happy Creating!  Jessica

To Label or Not to Label?


How was your weekend?  Good I hope!  We enjoyed our last few weeks of summer in the pool.  Gotta keep practicing “paddlers” and “kickers” so the boys can finally swim on their own!  I seriously daydream of the day when I can leisurely lounge on the sidelines with a cool drink in one hand and a good book in the other.  Ahhh, sounds sooo nice.

Anyhow, as some of you know I picked up the Domino Book a few months ago.  Lots of pretty pictures and some neat advice… But one thing in particular has had me thinking for awhile.  It says that an important first step to decorating is to determine your style.  Label yourself.  This is something I have always struggled with and I don’t think it’s that uncommon… how about you??  Do you struggle to define what you like in 2 or 3 words?

Here are some buzz words they throw out to inspire:  Feminine, Elegant, Tailored, Classic, Modern, Traditional, Witty, Comfortable, Zen, Edgy, Dramatic, Pop, Vibrant, Clean, Organic.

Any jump out at you?

Or are you appalled by being asked to label yourself?

Does a label restrict who we can be or does it allow us the freedom to be who we are?

Both, I guess.

But since I’m on a trek (of sorts) to become better at my addiction, I am game to play.  Now, to figure out how to describe “my style.”  I can do that… I think.

Here’s what I’m not….

Cultured Irreverence


Masculine Bohemian
Masculine Bohemian


Ladylike Luxe
Ladylike Luxe

I actually really like all the rooms, but are they me?  Not so much… especially at this point in my life!  I’m not nearly so glamorous or sophisticated!

Me?  I’m a little more of this…


and this,


But maybe with a little more color?


And of course a sense of humor!


So, yeah, that’s my style in a nutshell.  Well, for now, at least!

Collected Relaxed Happy

I love going to antique stores and flea markets, so a lot of my favorite pieces are from all over the world (although, yes, I have to admit that I’m most in love with Asian ceramics and art).  But I’m not on the zen side of design – I can’t say no to color and I like having stuff; pictures on the walls, finds from our travels, art made by the kids.  No room in the house is off limits (I mean, how could it be??) and that’s nice for us… the kids have an impact in the space and how it’s designed too.

Ever noticed how you love certain rooms, but never emulate them?  This is me to a T!  I see all white rooms and think they’re so fresh.  But then I’ll pick out fabric and go for the wackiest patterns.  I never buy white, beige, cream, taupe.  I don’t want to sew white stuff.  I want to buy fun things and make colorful pieces… I guess, deep down, it’s just not me.  And now that I’ve found my style, I feel better about it!

I’ve been labeled!  Phew, what a relief.

Making the Bed – Domino Idea

Hhheeelllloooo Nurse!  Remember that old gem?!?

For the last week I’ve been reading the Domino Book of Decorating.  I’m sure many of you have perused it (or even read it).


It’s a beautiful book on the outside, which is great for decorating with it later, and has great photos on the inside.  I won’t say that it’s a wonder of decorating advice… it’s kinda predictable.  Not too much there that I haven’t heard before… but what am I expecting?  Only superhuman decorating powers!!  No pressure Domino.  Gotta step it up in the 2nd half.

BUT.  A few things have caught my attention.  Here’s what I read last night on the bedroom section, “The easiest way to combine different patterns (sheets, that is) is to make sure they share the same background color (such as white or ivory).”

It can’t be that simple, right?!?  Maybe, just maybe, in the sheet world, it is.

I investigate.


These sheets all have an ivory background – Check.  Does it work together?  Check, check!

Now, I did struggle to find great photos of just sheets, but it seems that the rule does in fact pan out.  As for the rest of the bed?  That definitely takes a bit more artistry.  A few suggestions from the pros… pick 2-3 colors and stick to them, vary the scale of the prints (so, one large, one medium, one small), however, keep the intensity of the colors the same.  I’m learning something… I CAN be taught!!  Like the photo above, the reds are all super red and the blues are in the navy category.  Uh huh.

All navy and white. Stripes, circles, large print, solid. Easy one, yes?
More advanced, but still doable in my book. Reds, blues, orange with ivory as the anchor. Art matches perfectly too!
Black and white can calm it all down, even in a print. This here was done by a trained eye. Yes, there is the pink chinoiserie theme, but the turquoise? Genius.

Now there this room, which is so put together and special. Yet.  The thinking behind it makes no sense to me.

Thom Filicia you are a crafty dude. Purple walls?!?! Say what?

So with all that said, take these suggestions and then just do whatever feels right.  It is the bedroom!!  Wink, wink.

And now, just a bed set that I’m loving.  I must share.  Cool people sleep here, yes, they do.


Now, go make your bed and lie in it.





Mark Hampton – Part II

It’s Friday and school’s out!  Oh, yeah!!  (The Snicker song just came on – I know you know it!!)

And I’ve got Mark Hampton’s chapter on wallpaper on the brain – fun stuff to think about, if ya ask me!  And although he was most known for using chintz, I want to share a few of his ideas/thoughts on the wallpaper subject since (not only was it my favorite chapter) it might just inspire you to wallpaper a room or two!

1.  Strongly patterned wallpaper very often makes a small room look larger.  “It seems larger because you immediately have a point of reference.”  This trick works the best in tiny rooms.


2.  Often, a wallpaper allows several patterns to play together in an “orderly” way; meaning it can unify lots of patterns, making the space have a sense of purpose rather than looking random.  It can unify lots of “disparate elements or decorating that you love but that you find difficult to mix.”


3.  Wallpaper can be a great background for art… seems counterintuitive, but a patterned background can have a calming effect when there is a combination of drawings and paintings.


4.  The fear of wallpaper creating a “fussy” look is an opinion of taste not a fact.  A room can look sleek and modern in wallpaper.


5.  In rooms where the furniture is moved frequently, wallpaper works great because when the arrangement is changed there are no “blank” areas on the walls.


6.  Wallpaper is also perfect when your room lacks architectural interest.  “If the existing architectural details are bland, the mood of the room becomes far more assertive with the help of a good, strong wallpaper in a definite style.”


7.  And finally, wallpaper is great when your walls are in bad shape or you love to move pictures, since it’s perfect for hiding nail holes!


All Fabulous reasons to look into some wallpaper!  But really, I just love it ’cause it’s soooo purdy!  But, hey, if it can make your rooms look bigger, walls look smoother and artwork smarter – then all the better!!  Cheers and TGIF!

You can even wallpaper your exterior!
You can even wallpaper your exterior! Not such a square box anymore.
This ain’t your grandmas floral!
Lots of prints and colors… yet, surprisingly calm and cozy.


Why I can’t stop playing the field.

Welcome back Amigos!

Throughout the years I’ve read advice from designers who’ve said, if you want a smokin’ house, PICK A STYLE and stick to it!

Say what!?!  Just one?!?!  Panic.  ‘Cummon, it’s easier to pick a mate than one measly style!!

It’s just plain unnatural to cuddle up with one style all the rest of your days (well, until you redecorate, at least.)  Mixing it up is part of our DNA and hey, it keeps things interesting… there always seems to be a new trend that comes along and seduces you a little…and you can’t help yourself to a few Japanese vases, only to come eye-to-eye with an early American that’s got gorgeous bones, but your mother is pushing Greek Revival, when along comes Louis XV to put you in a tailspin.  Yes.  You always go back to old faithful, but (can we all agree?), it can be pretty fun to play the design field.  And all that enjoyment, leads to the creation of an incredibly pleasurable space.

Case in point…

My Favorite! Love the panels, suzani and (yowzer) the Monroe photograph. I might feel weird, though, sleeping with the vultures watching overhead.


01_248 3_MH1108_SAWAYA_dining_V 3_1303842336_sig_bergamin_0411_14


If you can’t have fun in your home, then where can you?!?  Never settle for just one style… at least when it comes to decorating with your eye candy, I can testify that English, French, and that sophisticated Mid-Century, can all get along very well.