Feb 29, 2012

Decorative Plate Wall

This may sound a little old-fashioned to you - like it did to my husband - but I love pretty plates and don't mind a few displayed on the wall.  I understand that some people may get flash-backs (some good, some bad) of visiting grandma's house and seeing a plethora of floral plates hung all over the dining room walls, but let me reassure you that wall-hung plates can be beautifully displayed in an updated fashion...with some tasteful moderation and design-savvy execution.  If you're not quite convinced, I found some great example pics on a blog I love called Addicted 2 Decorating:

 original pic from addicted2decorating

 original pic from cottageandvine

original pic from mmmcrafts

original pic from viewalongtheway

original pic from dwell

I love the organic flow of the plates in several of the pictures.  I think it really freshens up the concept and keeps it from looking stuffy and old.

I decided I needed a little decorative plate action in our dining room to add some color to the beige walls and help tie in our huge ever-present Texas star.  (Aside: My poor rooms never know when they're going to be targeted for another project...sometimes I feel sorry for them like they're a victim of my never-ending design obsession.)  I found these little gems at Pier 1 for a steal, and the rest is history:

Feb 27, 2012

Landscape Love

So often we focus entirely on the interior design and decor of a home and forget about the ever-important yard and facade of a house.  Though they say not to judge a book by it's cover, a house with a gorgeous yard is apt to have an equally fantastic interior.  Landscape design always fascinates me because it's a fine art that so few understand but everyone always appreciates.  Check out the pictures of a dear family friend and landscape architect, Elizabeth (Buffie) Mumm, who designed and executed a fabulous outdoor space installed by ABC Landscaping of Colorado Springs, CO.

 Who doesn't dream of a babbling brook in their backyard?  The placement of winding river rock and greenery among the varying grades of a complex water feature signify the fine detail that went into this impressive design.

 Here is a peak at the back of the house that overlooks this amazing display.  Is it just me, or don't you want to hop over the stepping stones and peek inside too?

The exquisite lighting installations really brighten up the outdoor space, even in the dark of night.  From intimate bistro lights hung on the pergola to uplights on the trees and underwater lighting - this backyard glows!

A backyard like this helps me appreciate the luscious complexity of landscaping and the design efforts that go into it.  Thanks Buffie, for sharing such an incredible space with us!  Anyone else see some things they love in these photos?  -Kristen

Feb 26, 2012

Please Vote for Inspired Whims!

Every year Apartment Therapy hosts a friendly competition that allows people to vote for their favorite new design or cooking blogs in six different categories.  This year Inspired Whims has been nominated for Best Home Design Blog!  Yay!!!  So, if you wouldn't mind, please go {here} to vote for Inspired Whims before midnight EST this Friday, March 2nd....lets see if we can rise to (or at least toward...) the top.

After this first round of voting, the top 6 nominees in each category will go on to a subsequent vote-off that will run March 3rd - March 9th.  More on that later, if we rise to the occasion!  I truly appreciate your support and encouragement on this blogging journey - yesterday, today, and every day.

(Please note:  You'll have to create an account with Apartment Therapy to sign in and vote.  I did this myself and it was very easy to do...just a single step and then you can vote.  And no, you will not get auto emails from them unless you choose to do so!)

Feb 24, 2012

Kitchen Transformation (Before + After)

We've had a little DIY fun around here lately, this time in the form of a kitchen update!  We tried to spend minimal money on our cosmetic fixes, which include a mosaic tile backsplash, new cabinet hardware, and some super cool pendant light conversion kits.

Here is our builder-basic-blah kitchen before:

As you can see, it's about as beige as it gets.  We wanted to kick it up a notch, to make it look a wee bit more custom.  That being said, here are some (prettier) after shots:

Whole room shot, taking it all in...

Moving closer...

1st close-up: mosaic tile backsplash...

2nd close-up: contemporary cabinet hardware...

3rd close-up: can light to pendant light transformation (my favorite!)

Feb 22, 2012

Bacon, Mushroom, and Gruyere Quiche

I apologize, it's near impossible to make quiche look as delicious as it tastes...a true shame because this is the best quiche I have ever tasted.  Hopefully you'll give it a try despite the poor photo quality.  (Why is food always so tough to photograph???)  The wonderful appeal of quiche, at least from my perspective, is that you can serve it any time of day...breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.  Regardless of the meal time,  it is sure to be a crowd pleaser! People will surely ask for the recipe, just as I did when a friend made it the other day...

Ingredients for Crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces (I used salted butter)
1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients for Filling:
3 large eggs
12 oz whipping cream
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Salt & Pepper (as desired)
8 slices of thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled into small pieces (recommend the fresh deli-sliced bacon over the prepackaged type)
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated

Feb 20, 2012

Headboard Decals

So when you first think of Headboard Decals, what do you imagine?  For me, I think...how can a wall sticker fulfill the role of a headboard???  But then I consider the fact that we've never had a headboard in our guest room and that's worked just fine in our last few digs (we don't have a guest bedroom at the moment...gasp). Well, then I happened upon the coolest headboard wall decals that offer an inexpensive, removable (key for renting!), and design savvy solution to the lack-of-headboard dilemma.  Made by Blik, the following decals come in various colors, fit the bill for any decorating budget at only $40, and can really finish off a room that is in need of some headboard help.  I'm already planning on ordering one once we move cross-country and settle in to our next home this upcoming summer (yes, another move!).

 A clean-lined and classic look - this Wrought Iron Headboard decal is my favorite in red (of course)!  And don't you LOVE that suzani coverlet, too???

 A more traditional and refined option, the spindled Olivia Headboard decal would dress up the room a bit.

The Nessa Headboard decal has a beautiful distinctive shape and sophisticated detailing that resembles the look of a delicate nail-head trim.

With a baroque-style flourish, the Sophie Headboard decal definitely livens up the space with a romantic flare.

How fun are those?!?!  There are a few other headboard design styles {here}.  Blik offers all sorts of wall decals - from wall tiles that function as removable wallpaper to other faux furniture decals.  Keep reading for a few other fun furniture decals that I love...

The Tripod Light ($35) adds the perfect dash of whimsy to the room that has an abundance of overhead light, negating the need for (functional) lamp light.

I love grandfather clocks, especially sleek ones with pretty curves minus the overly-ornate detailing.  These Grandfather Clock decals ($37) have a nice Scandinavian simplicity...just hang a round wall clock where the face would be.

The Classical Must Haves ($55 for 10 decals) includes a collection of decals that you could use in all sorts of rooms.  The small candlesticks and vases would be super cute on a shelf, while the larger furniture pieces are great for those empty walls, walkways that won't allow for furniture, and even to layer behind your true furniture.

Not only do the decals perform well as practical furniture substitutes (i.e. headboards) or cheeky art (i.e. grandfather clock and tripod lamp), they are also great conversation starters. Your guests will surely ask where you found such quirky items!  As the website says, "Your movers will thank us...", after all there is no back-ache after carrying this "furniture" up the stairs.  -Kristen

Feb 17, 2012

Pendant Light Love

Of late I've had a sudden affinity toward light fixtures.  I'm not certain if it's because we have boring builder-grade lights throughout our house and recently took a jump off the (crazy!) deep end and installed a new light fixture in the dining room (a future post...), or if I'm drawn to light fixtures because we live in Portland and lighting is a true luxury with our constantly clouded skies.  Either way, I'm on a lighting kick and have found some fabulous pendant lights to share with you!

The functional beauty of the pendant light is that it can be utilized in so many different spaces.  You can hang them in an entry or hallway, over a kitchen island/peninsula, the kitchen sink, a dining table, a bathroom vanity, a bedside table...or for even more drama hang multiple pendants in a cluster over a dining table or a bed as the focal point in a bedroom.  Also, the pendant light is typically a much more affordable option than chandeliers and most flush or semi-flush mount ceiling fixtures.  Have I won you over yet?  If not, feast with your eyes and then decide.  (There are some cool options for recessed light transformations at the bottom of the post...)

The West Elm Small Wire Pendant ($99) adds an eclectic industrial vibe to any space.  Quite large for being "small" it's 16 inches in diameter, so it's plenty large to put above a dining table.  It also comes in a cool white.

The Ikea Ottava Pendant Lamp ($30) is a great price and would look amazing in a pair or trio hanging over a kitchen island or peninsula.  It has a hip old-school kitchen/nautical vibe, but remains a classic shape that won't go out of style.

The Schoolhouse Electric Harding Pendant ($165) is a clean-lined pendant that goes with any decor style.  It looks great with an Edison bulb for some added character.

I'm loving the shamrock green color of this Shades of Light Loft Shade Pendant ($69).  It also comes in 5 other colors - red, white, black, nickel, and bronze.  Let this be the color focal point of an other-wise neutral space.

This Schoolhouse Electric Azusa Pendant ($99) has an refined industrial look with it's conical glass shade (sold separately) and hardware-looking galvanized canopy and rod.

To add a little lipstick red to your life, take a step on the wild side with this Ikea Vaster Pendant Lamp ($90) with built-in long-life LED bulb.  With a 16" diameter, it's a substantial fixture that would look really cool in a reading nook or as a focal point in a bathroom.

A beautiful shape, the Shades of Light Quatrefoil Pendant ($119) would be the perfect pick-me-up touch of light in an entry-way, a hallway, or laundry room.  It's rust-colored patina melds well with any other metal finishes you may have in your home.  Don't feel like all hardware needs to be the same metal - a mix of metals makes any space look more collected and eclectically refined.

The mouth-blown glass Addie Pendant from Home Decorator's Collection ($129 each) comes in all four pictured colors.  Hang in a multi-colored grouping as shown or stick with a more mono-chromatic look with a single color choice.  Either way, they add the perfect touch of classical whimsy to any room.

Now, you might be saying, "That's great, but all I have are ugly can lights that limit me to an exposed lightbulb in a recessed socket."  No fear my friends!  Let me inform you of the most fantastic invention - the pendant adapter for can lights!  Can you tell I'm a little excited?  All you do is screw this contraption into the socket and (voila!) you have a pendant light.  Another awesome feature of these converters is that they have a built-in spindle that allows you to adjust the cord length depending on where you want the light to hang.  Here are 3 great options:

 Home Decorator's Collection Ryder Instant Pendant Light Conversion Kit ($59) for some modern warmth

Ballard Design Glass Pendant Shade Adapter for Recessed Can Lights ($69) for a traditional look that goes with any decor

I'm loving them all, and now need to figure out which ones I want to order for 2 of my recessed lights hanging over the sink peninsula in my kitchen.  Choices choices...so glad they're so affordable too!  Which of these pendant lights is your fave?  Let me know which ones are inspiring you to join the light fixture craze.

Feb 15, 2012

Sunny in Seattle

It's been a while since I've done a travel post so I figured I'd mix it up a bit and throw one at ya'!  A few weekends ago we took a trip up to Seattle and tried to squeeze in as much as possible in the two days we were there.  Wow, what a beautiful city!  We were so fortunate to be there on a very sunny weekend - which is quite rare in the month of February.   We definitely loved our time there and hope to go back again in the late Spring or early Summer when we can go out on the water.  Here are a few things we'd recommend doing - including some restaurants to visit and sites to see - if you ever take a trip there:

1. The number #1 tourist attraction in Seattle, the Space Needle, really is worth the trip!  Not only is it architecturally beautiful, but also it really does have the most amazing view of the city, Puget Sound, and the surrounding Cascade Mountains.

The structurally stunning Space Needle

A view from the top with beautiful Mt Rainier in the background...rarely visible through the clouds

 Puget Sound and snow-capped mountains...so gorgeous!

There are some super cool sculptures like this one at the base of the Space Needle - cool, huh?

2. Vios Cafe and Marketplace is the most quintessential Greek restaurant in the beautiful Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle...let me just say, if I lived in Seattle and had an unlimited budget, I'd live in this area.  The food was absolutely sublime, the service was fantastic, the decor made it so inviting, and the best part - they have a toddler play area inside the restaurant so parents can have a few minutes of their meal together while keeping an eye on the entertained little one(s).  A must go, if you're in the area!

Pastisio entree, some divine house wine, and pita with feta cheese/roasted red pepper dip...YUM!

Loved the ethereal lanterns, the picture rail molding, and the colors...

The kid area...what a great idea in a nice restaurant!

3. The Seattle Aquarium was such a fun and educational stop for kids and adults alike.  It sits on Seattle's Waterfront, a great place to walk along for some spectacular views and fresh seafood.  The aquarium is on the smaller side but doesn't lack for anything.  There is a nice indoor area with several interactive tide pools areas, large water habitats where you can watch them feed the fish, along with several smaller tanks for specific species like (my favorite!) sea horses.  The outdoor section has sea otters, seals, and a few other fascinating creatures.

 Great indoor tide pools where little ones can touch star fish, anemones, and sea cucumbers...among others

Many of the tanks are down low so wee ones can look in at their level  

A pic of the sea otter pup that was recently born...she was so adorable.  It was fascinating to watch the momma otter, grandmother otter, and baby otter interact - loved it! 
(pic from seattleaquarium)

The waterfront hosted some picturesque harbors with a few yachts I'd like to go out on...

4. Right across the street from the Aquarium is the famous Pike Place Market.  I could have stayed at this market all day - eaten three meals, shopped til I dropped, then maybe chow down some more!  This market has a spectacular view of Puget Sound and offers every item you can imagine.  Most of the market is indoors which is nice for those rainy Seattle days, and right across the narrow brick street you can find a smorgasbord of fabulous delis, bakeries, cheese shops, and the original Starbucks.  A must-visit for pastries is the Piroshki Bakery where we had a to-die-for Cheese Onion Garlic Roll and Cinnamon, Orange, Cardamon Roll.

 The market was a true photographer's paradise...the colors, the lighting, the wares...amazing!

 The most colorful tulips...

Not many markets have this nice of a view...
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