The New Art – Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau, the international art movement and philosophy popular during the 1890s until the first world war, can be regarded as the inspiration for most modern architecture and design styles we see today.  What began as a rejection of the eclectic revival art forms of the 19th century, can be seen as a turning point in how we view, feel, and experience art and design.   This philosophy eventually led to the Arts and Crafts movement, but Art Nouveau differed in that it fully embraced the use of machines and new materials.  This was reflected in the use of exposed iron and large shapes of glass as well as the whiplash curves and motifs that are characteristic of the style.  Architects and Designers sought to harmonize the built environment with the natural environment; door frames and window moldings would curve and vine into flowers.  The famous Paris Metro entrance by Hector Guimard, uses lettering that mimics the qualities represented through the structure.

Paris Metro

Paris Metro Entrance by Hector Guimard

Art Nouveau was an all-encapsulating philosophy for modernist thinking.  The idea of creating something new, designing buildings, using new techniques and materials for the service of design.  The Art Nouveau movement perceived Architecture and Interior Design as an abstract principle inspired by environmental elements rather than an imitation of historical forms.

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Nouveau Door, Paris; Hotel Tassel by Victor Horta; Casa Batllo by Antoni Gaudi

Around the start of World War I, Architects and Designers began using a less costly, more streamlined, geometric style which eventually became Art Deco.


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Organized Closet Checklist

Make it easier to get dressed quickly by following these few easy steps!

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  1. Edit your wardrobe:  The seasons are changing and now is a great time to decide what you wear most, least, or not at all.  Check on things that no longer fit.  Are there any tank tops or summer clothes that you didn’t wear this year?  Be ruthless; toss them out!
  2. Decide what to store:  We are moving into cooler weather; let that and frequency be your guide on what to keep in your closet, and what to store elsewhere.
  3. Organize your “hang-ups” by type and color:  A good place to start is with length and then color, when you have a system in place for where things go, outfits are easier to put together.                                    closet 2
  4. Set up zones:  Low hanging bars hold skirts and pants, while high bars can hold shirts and suits.  For dresses, an eye-level bar, and out of season items can go on high shelves.
  5. Choose the right hanger:  It’s amazing how your closet will look neater when you have one type of hanger – wood, wire, or plastic.
  6. Manage odds and ends:  Hang belts, ties, scarves, bags in plain sight and on hooks that can be attached to the inside of your closet door.  Or use containers, like matching baskets to manage these items.
  7. OMG Shoes!  Decide on a system for storing your shoes.  It could be a rack on the floor, see-through plastic boxes, or original boxes with photographs stapled to them to identify what’s inside.  Out-of-season shoes should be stowed elsewhere, and toss the ones you no longer wear!

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DIY Dining Chairs Makeover for $26.00

Buying new furniture can be very costly.  In my search for new furniture for our dining room, I decided to just change the chairs up to create a new look for the room.  I found these chairs for $8.00 each at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.

chairs before

Ralph is checking out the new additions

Now, these chairs were in pretty bad shape, there was some water damage to the feet of one of them and spiders had made a home in the underside of the other one.  So I gave them a good rub down with some Clorox wipes and then I started sanding.

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Water damaged foot

Well I knew ahead of time, before I bought the chairs, that I wanted to paint them white, so I was able to use painter’s putty or regular Spackle to fill in the damaged parts of the feet.  The only supplies I needed were:

  • paint
  • light grade sandpaper
  • brush and roller
  • spackle
  • Chairs and Fabric

chair project suppliesSo I sanded until the chair felt smooth, and then I sanded in between the layers of paint to make sure that I didn’t have any paint strokes, and then for the final coat of paint I used a spongy roller that is used for cabinets so I was sure to be free of any brush stroke texture. Looking back on it now, It would be way easier to use a sprayer, but if you don’t have access to a sprayer, a little elbow grease doesn’t hurt!

chair foot dualUsing the Design Principles of Unity Harmony and Variety, and painting the two chairs the same color and covering the seats with the same fabric, I created essentially a new set of chairs for our dining room!

chairs afterI got some left over designer fabric for only $10 on sale, the chairs were $8 each, and the rest of the supplies I already had on hand.  So, for $26.00 we have the beginning of a new set of chairs for our dining room! Only four more chairs to go!  Stay tuned for the table and china hutch makeover!



Elements of Design: COLOR

When talking to clients, I have found that one of the hardest things for DIY-ers is color selection.  Probably the most common question I have to answer is: does this match?  It is true that there are colors that ‘match’ well together, but there is so much more that goes into the psychology of color selection.  Certain colors can cause us to feel and act certain ways, we respond to color physically, physiologically, and sociologically.  One example of this is in children; they prefer bright primary colors, and as we age we tend to prefer more subdued colors.  Another example of how we respond to color is with centrifugal and centripetal colors.

  • Centrifugal – derived from Latin centrum (center) and fugere (to flee) warm, bright hues direct our attention outwards from our selves.  Extroverted people tend to appreciate these colors more.  Within our space these colors create a more lively and energetic environment. A place that is suited better for action.


  • Centripetal – derived from Latin centum (center) and petere (to seek) cool, soft, darker hues direct our attention inward.  Introverted people tend to appreciate these colors more.  Within our space these colors create an environment suited for sedentary tasks and enhance concentration.


It is important to consider the use of the space when selecting color for your rooms.  For example, is a living room going to be used for socializing and entertaining guests? Then consider the warm centrifugal colors, to help create a lively, energetic space.  Use centripetal cool colors for a library or den or any space that would be used as a retreat in order to limit distractions and enhance concentration.


Is your Stuff Weighing you Down?

interior-design-parade-teaserWhat would you save if there was a fire?

There was an interesting article in Parade Magazine a while back about de-cluttering and prioritizing the ‘things’ that are important to us.  The stuff that we acquire over the years at one time carried sentimental value, then gets lost in a closet somewhere.  At times we are overwhelmed with what we have and what we have to do, and that why it is a good idea to ask for help to remind you what is really important.

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Completed PVC Beauty Project

DIY: Storage for Hairdryer and Straightener

diy-storage-hairdryer-straightenerSince I use my hairdryer and straightener just about every day, I usually just leave them lying on my dresser.  In an effort to reduce the clutter, I thought I would try my hand at a DIY project I saw on Pinterest a while back.  One thing to note, you will need to weight the bottom (I used pebbles from my yard and driveway) so that the container doesn’t topple over when you take out the hairdryer.

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harmony unity image

Principles of Design: UNITY, HARMONY and VARIETY

harmony unity imageWhen discussing the principles of Unity, Harmony and Variety, it is almost impossible to describe one without talking about the other two.  Unity is the repetition of a common element or characteristic within your space to provide visual harmony.  For example, a monochromatic color scheme or repetition of shape and form within a design brings sameness and cohesion.

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Principles of Design: CONTRAST

fancy-yellow-contrast-flower-hd-wallpaperContrast is the juxtaposition of elements that are opposite; dark and light, big and small, thick and thin, heavy and light.  Contrast for designers is, in reality, more important than that; it is arguably the most important element of the design.  Designers strive to create interesting, comfortable, creative spaces and easily achievable using contrast. Continue reading

asymmetry - rocks

Principles of Design: BALANCE

asymmetry - rocksThe concept of balance as it refers to the interior means achieving visual equilibrium through the arrangement or proportion of parts of the whole.  We can achieve balance in our spaces through reaching equilibrium among varying forces of weight, texture, color and size.  Balance in design is can be achieved in a variety of ways; the easiest (in my opinion) being symmetrical balance.  A nightstand on either side of a bed, two end tables flanking a sofa, a dining room table are several common examples of symmetrical design within our spaces. Continue reading