Architectural Elements

France, Part II

So….The Intermission lasted a little longer than expected. I had intended to finish up the second half of my France post but the jet lag threw me. It took me a few days to recover. 

Where was I…?

We were sad to leave Gavarnie, but after my brother convinced me that the hotel reminded him of The Shining I felt better about leaving.

Then we took our traveling circus to the Atlantic coast. First stop...

St. Jean de Luz

a charming fishing port on the Basque coast, near Biarritz.

Les. Pois. Sons, Les Poissons!

After endless amounts of windy mountain roads it was SO nice to see the horizon... against crystal blue water.

Being a fishing village, the markets were full of interesting creatures... 

The streets were very crowded during the day although this picture proves just the opposite.?

It's weird- I came back from France and ended up with pictures of abandoned streets and shrimp. Oh wait, here's one that proves we were around people:

A local festival activity.

Dad even did a little jig in the streets.

We stayed at the the most charming hotel- Hotel Deveniere- it was more like a local bed and breakfast.

Our courtyard out back...

That my mom liked to draw while we sat down there and sipped on wine...

And just so you know this is what my mom's sketchbook/journal looks like. Her way of describing what we ate… Martha S. would be proud, right?. 

Le Deveniere is full of antique furniture and authentic English flair. 

I loved their hardware:

This was our room-

To the left you will notice a uni-pillow. Hoyt and I like to flip our pillows alot in the middle of the night so this quickly became a problem.  We had to coordinate the pillow turns like they were football drills. If you had a tape recorder you would have heard sporadic yelling throughout the night: "… FLIP!!!!…. FLIP!!!!"

Definitely a first time for everything.

Other than the pillows, we loved our room. 

I didn't take great pictures but the rest of the place has such character. Felt like you were visiting a relative… right at home. 

This was definitely the most relaxing part of the trip, which we needed. After a few nights of pillow flipping and dancing in the streets we packed our bags and left the beach...

We hopped on a train and headed North. 

Next thing I knew we were in Paris.!!!

I have never been to Paris and immediately fell in love with the city. 

And that's not easy for me. It usually takes me a while to love big cities.

But Paris has an energy to it that sucked me in- it's elegant and edgy at the same time. 

We stayed in the heart of St. Germain- (at Hotel Millesime)- and I honestly could live in that area in a heartbeat. Such diversity. So much ART!! 

We didn't have much time there so we tried to visit as much as we could. This is also the reason I (regrettably) don't have as many pictures as I would like. OK- and I admit- I wanted to fit in and it's not very Parisian chic to wear a chunky camera around your neck.

Museum D'Orsay… a must see. Period.

The paintings gave me chill bumps. 

Notre Dame… So cool.

 We hit up Shakespeare and Co.- a little bookstore that's definitely worth a visit. During the 20s and 30s this place was a place of refuge for struggling writers like Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald, and others; owned by George Whitman. This charming bookstore is definitely worth seeing (across the Seine from the Notre Dame)

Not really sure what's going on with the father/son in the foreground. Hmmm… 

Pretty sure what's going on with father/daughter here.  Father sharing an important history lesson. Daughter nodding along but really paying attention to the wood paneling details behind him. 

St. Chapelle (which many of you recommended!!) was, ofcourse, stunning. 

Why don't we make buildings like this anymore?

Inside the Chapel on the second floor were the most beautiful, intricate windows I've ever seen. 

But I kept finding myself staring at the vibrant patterns on the ceilings and floors, envisioning what textiles I could make out of it.  Go figure...

Then, of course,  


I just had to stop in the fabric showrooms like Nobilis, Pierre Frey, etc. 

I celebrated my 27th birthday here- and toasted with an amazing mojito while overlooking the Louvre. (I think it should be a ritual, don't you?)

I read in SKY magazine (I was desperate) an article about Paris. I thought this quote summed it up beautifully:

In Paris "happiness consists of something intangible and fleeting. That success can't be measured. That your experiences matter above all else…. At the very least, Paris gives charm to life's daily grind. At it's extreme, the city changes you."

(thanks mom and dad)

Dark Doors

I have a thing for dark doors.

Some houses call for it, some don't. 

<via Southern Accents>

<Nate Berkus>

When would I recommend painting doors dark?

*When you have a long, uninteresting hallway with lots of doors (and you don't want it to look like The Shining.)

*When you have cheap (stock white) doors. Painting them dark almost always makes them look nicer than they actually are. 

<Todd Romano>

<Jennifer Dyer via Lonny Mag>

*When you are lacking warmth in a room. Warm up the doors.

<Cobb via cottage living; last photograph in post is same house> 

<source unknown>

<Douglas Friedman via House Beautiful>

*When you want to add some GLAM in a room (go with black high gloss)

<via house and home>

* When your front door (from the inside) is uninteresting and disappears. Same thing goes for french doors or accent doors.

<Barbara Westbrook via AHG>

<via Canadian House and Home 2008>

<Barbara Westbrook via House Beautiful>

<via House Beautiful>

Paint colors to try:

If you want a good true black my go to is Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black-

I used it on a recent project paired with Rocky Mountain hardware in the white bronze finish - stunning combo:

If you want more of a dark brown/grey I'd recommend Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze. I actually painted all of the interior doors in my house this color. I also used it in this kitchen. It's a good one. 

If you want to go a tad lighter than that- try Sherwin Williams Porpoise.

For a good neutral brown (that doesn't go too brown, more of a grey brown) I like Benjamin Moore Fairview Taupe

Other recommendations:

  • Paint the DOOR only. No trim. 
  • Go glossy on the finish. Satin oil or high gloss.
  • Pair it with good hardware.


New Orleans style

I've been doing some research.

Me? Research??? Shocking, I know. This was more like "client research" as one of my clients is a New Orleans native living in the middle of Nashville, TN. Her style is chic, effortless, and very "New Orleans." So.. what does that MEAN exactly? How can I understand my client if I don't really fully understand this Creole style?

Parlange Plantation via flickr 

I borrowed a few of her NOLA books and went on a mini-mission to find out for myself.

Photo on 2010-10-12 at 22.01 #2
< insert PROOF >

New Orleans style is so interesting to me because it's heavily borrowed from so many different cultures and styles but yet it's uniquely New Orleans at the same time. 

 A timeless aesthetic...

Creole houses

There is always something in a room that you couldn't find anywhere else.


 I learned that Lagniappe actually translates to "a little something extra"... which, in my opinion, totally defines the style.  


It's an eclectic mix of French, Spanish, African, Native American, West Indian, Creole, tropical, romantic, rustic, classical.. the list goes on.

But if you're anything like me, you're going to skip right over the history part and just look at the pretty pictures. Pictures explain it better, anyway.

A house by A. Hays Town, via Things that Inspire...


A Hays Town via TTI

Interiors by Gerrie Bremermann that I snagged from Cote de Texas and Southern Accents..

Gerrie bremermann via CDT
Rowan2 southern accents

Bremerman southern accents


And some more beautiful rooms by New Orleans interior designer Tara Shaw ...

Tarashaw veranda 2005-via CDT 
Tara shaw 2veranda 2005 via CDT

Tara shaw veranda 2005 via CDT

Veranda tara shaw

Veranda tara shaw4 

In the book Creole Houses I found a lot of great insider info AND beautiful pictures... (photographs are taken by Steve Gross and Sue Daley)



New Orleans Home & Lifestyles magazine had some good pictures too...

New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles 1NO7

So much character!

A recent Elle Decor issue featured a young, fresh New Orleans home decorated by Tommy Clements. I love that it mixed the owner's New Orleans heritage with modern elements. 

Elle decor new orleans house

OK, Time Out- let's review the entire house because I'm OBSESSED with this place...

The bathroom is unreal. Everything about it I love- even the robe. 

Elle decor new orleans clements 2

I, personally, would not have chosen that artwork for the kitchen- mainly because it doesn't seem to flow with the rest of the house.. but hey, it's not a deal breaker. 

However, the dining room. Is. Awesome. That glossy trestle table paired with the unique, rustic chairs, the black/white photograph and the pop of greenery !! Love.

Elle decor sure thing clements

AND the bedroom!!! I can't even talk about it.

So chic. So interesting. SO New Orleans.

See, now that I've done my research <insert air quotes> I can say things like that: SO New Orleans.- I mean- NAH'lins.  

 At this point all I need is a shopping trip. Who's with me??

(image #1- via flickr, image #2- via Creole Houses, image #3- interior by Gerrie Bremermann, image #4-via House Beautiful)

A Chapel

In the heart of the woods in Birmingham you might find a chapel. 

It's private, unassuming, and in my opinion- perfect.

One of my relatives commissioned the incredibly talented architect, Bill Ingram, to design a quaint chapel tucked in the woods behind their house.

It's simply a quiet retreat. Where you can go to have alone time, pray, or just to be still


On Bill Ingram's website there's a wonderful statement about the art of restraint. I think it's quite fitting for this chapel, this architect, and this blog post... so here is an excerpt: 

"It seems that, somewhere along the way, ours has become a cluttered world.  

We inhabit cluttered spaces.


And, in many ways, our thinking reflects that environment with noise - with gadgetry and ornament.  

And the spaces we fill are distracting. 

We seek balance in our lives with things

But... balance is found in the art of restraint. 
IMG_8717  IMG_8671 

By definition, elegance is the height of art. Elegance and opulence must never be confused - for one chokes the sensuality from the other.  

When a space is in harmony it resonates.


It beckons peace. 

Creates romance. 


 It gives quiet drama to our living.


 It enhances our spirit."

Well said, Bill.

Here's to finding a space in your home that brings you peace. 

pictures from me; quote from Bill Ingram Architect website




window seats and (preferably) window beds

Cottage living window seat 

TTN on window seats:

*If you're going to have one, I recommend making it as deep as a bed. Trust me on this one! Nobody sits on the window seats that are 18" deep. They're just not comfortable! But if you make it a window bed- it'll be the new hot spot in the house.


Window seat hb

Picture 4

*Throw a blanket on your window seat so it'll look comfortable and inviting (even when it's not!)

And while you're at it, put a few books there too.

Domino window seat 

*Provide extra lighting. Swing arm or wall sconces are a great addition to any window nook.
Newlywed diaries cotliving 

Elizabeth dinkil design 

*Add comfortable pillows- some that you can really sink into it. But not too many! Make room for a booty.

Window seat domino
Via decorno 

*Provide storage underneath if you can. I would either choose deep drawers for blankets, etc. or I would leave it open for books like the picture above. 
Remodalista window seat 


IHeart this one. Has a window seat bed ever looked so inviting?


(1) Cottage Living via pure style home (2) Domino Mag (3) House Beautiful (4) via Belgian Pearls (5) via domino mag (6) cottage living via newlywed diaries (7) Elizabeth Dinkil Designs (8) via HGTV (9) domino mag (10) house beautiful (11) via decorno (12) via remodelista (13) cottage living....I miss Cottage Living and Domino! :(

Beams- Exposed

I started a post a while ago that just included pictures of rooms I liked. When I went back and looked through them I realized they all shared one common element: exposed beams.

There is something about this raw architectural element that screams 'cozy' and better yet 'rustic elegance'.... You know I love anything with that description!

A rustic, elegant tax return? Yes please!

Erin martin house 2_0005
 design by Erin Martin
 East hampton cottage 

Tom Scheerer via House Beautiful
Kitchen SA John coolidge
Designer John Coolidge via Southern Accents


via House Beautiful

 Beams elle decor 2007
via elle decor 2007

Southern accents beams
via southern accents

GG  Carter smith home GG
Carter Smith's home via garden and gun    

House beautiful 

 via House Beautiful

Melanie BHG
Designer Melanie Pounds via BHG

Ina Garten's kitchen via House Beautiful

designer Betty Burgess via Veranda 
 Victoria hagan
Designer Victoria Hagan  

Sela ward bill ingram 

Sela Ward's home designed by Phillip Sides