Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tips from the Pros: Better Homes & Gardens

A few days ago I had the opportunity to attend a session with
Jill Waage, Editorial Director for Better Homes & Gardens magazine about
finding your own sense of style and incorporating it into your home.

Jill has been with BHG/Meredith Corp. for many, many years and has some pretty cool perspective and experience.  If you search for her name at BHG.com you'll find some gorgeous closets and mudrooms she has designed recently.  Beautiful.
 The session was full of great nuggets and information, but rather than recap everything, I'll try and boil down the top takeaway points that jumped out at me:

1) Look at what you love.
Jill said to look no further than your favorite movies and TV shows for inspiration.
What spaces are you drawn to?
She brought up a really interesting example of how a home set in a movie altered home design in such a way that years later, we are still being influenced by it.

Do you recognize this living room?

Photo: Architectural Digest

It's from the 2003 movie Something's Gotta Give, starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson.
Jill said this home became what she calls a "Game Changer" in the world of design; this was the first look that really inspired so many of the staple elements that we're obsessing about in home design today:

- Relaxed white slipcovers (these also included the skirted slipcover, which shot up in popularity after the film's release)
- Crisp white trim with contrasting dark wood accents in the floor and furniture
- Beachy nantucket blue stripes on a natural-fiber rug
- Eclectically coordinated - but not "matching" accent furniture
- Embracing light and white on walls and in the architecture to give the room an open, airy feel
- Etc. Etc. Etc.

And yes, I said it was from 2003.
Crazy that nearly a decade later those trends are still on the top of the game.

Jill said finding what you're drawn to in pop culture helps develop your own personal style.  I couldn't agree more.

2) Function in YOUR life. 
When looking for furniture or accents, don't be blinded by the "cool" factor of what some pieces can do.
Do you really need your coffee table to convert to a laptop desk?  Or are you better suited for something that has storage?
Jill says just because it's great that a piece can provide ____ function... but is that how YOU need it to function?
Don't be afraid to break the "rules":
Writing desks CAN be used as sofa/console tables.
Console tables CAN be used as nightstands.
Nightstands CAN be accent/end tables
Dressers CAN become entertainment centers.

Make furniture work for YOU - don't alter your life to fit your furniture.

And Finally
3) Define Your Space.
It's not a new theory, but it's worth repeating.
Open floor plans are wonderful and allow for flow and conversation and lots of other activities.  But make sure you're not just lining up furniture against every wall and calling it good.
Break up an open room/area into space for eating, for chatting, for tv watching, for game playing, etc.
You can accomplish this with furniture and placement, yes, but don't forget floor covering, using different textures, etc.

We left the session with a copy of the latest BHG issue, a handy card for session notes on one side, and tips from Jill on the other, plus a coupon for the furniture store that was hosting the session.
(Homemaker's for the locals).

And now, it's time to end this post with some eye candy:
 I kept slobbering over this industrial table every time I walked by.
I love the contrast of the worn iron base with the scrubbed reclaimed wood top.
So simple and beautiful.

And check out that wall art behind the table!
It's simply a grid of distressed round mirrors - totally something you could DIY, I think!
Instant glam into a room, for sure! 

More reclaimed wood tables.  Love love love.

I'm not normally a fan of the big matching mirror bolted to the dresser,
but I had to take a picture of this one because the design is genius!
See the panel on the left with the necklaces hanging from small hooks?
That panel actually slides behind the mirror, so it hides your jewelry!
I would love it more if the mirror was designed to hang free on the wall over  the dresser, instead of attached to it, but regardless, that is smart design.

 (This piece is actually one from BHG's own furniture line. )

I loved these fake books they had stacked in one of their displays.
I have some hollow books that are great for stacking and hiding stuff
(When The Redhead was an infant I stashed tiny diapers in a hollow book in the living room so I wouldn't have to run upstairs for ever diaper change.  Worked like a charm)

These have a thick woven cover and are embellished with a rich leather strap.
I think with the right fabric you could totally DIY these, too.
Very tailored and handsome.

And here's some more potential project inspiration...
I love the fabric panels in this lantern!
Rustic and simple, and would be easy to make your own, and even change the panels out as the seasons (or your decor) changes too.


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