Friday, May 1, 2009

Cumpleanos Feliz!

One year ago I began my blogging journey hoping to explore my creative side and share my love of all things fabulous and frugal. It has in fact turned out to be so much more!

I've connected with so many amazing friends both on-and-offline from all over the world. And your feedback has made me realize the universal need to create beauty no matter what your budget. I deeply appreciate all of your comments so keep 'em coming!

Although current commitments don't allow me to be prolific, I am committed as ever to delivering fresh content and the loveliest finds for you. So, thanks again dear friends and here's to many more Pretty*Practical posts - cheers!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Reduce, reuse...


While buying green is not always in the budget these days, repurposing is always a great bet! That's why I love the ideas offered at Repurposeful, an eco-friendly blog brimming with frugal green advice. With everything from 4 new uses for an old shower curtain to (more importantly) reducing day-to-day waste, Repurposeful's practical approach has inspired me to do a quick 5-minute toss into our forgotten 'outbox'. So I'm off!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Wet Room Wisdom

Can we say I have some catching up to do? Won't bore you with the details, but let just say that toddlers and technology don't always mix. But big thank-yous to those of you who've checked in. So now that I have a new monitor :-) Let's chat!

Truth be told, the time away allowed me to indulge in another voyeuristic activity - attending Open Houses! Here in Brooklyn, this economy certainly makes a renter like myself want to have a 'looky-loo' to see what's out there. And I'm telling you it's not a pretty sight! So many homes under 900 sq. feet and with hefty price tags to match! Well, as you might imagine, teeny homes equal tiny rooms. One postage stamp-sized bathroom in particular I can't seem to get out of my head.

For a diminutive space such as that, I think a wet room is order. Popular in Europe, but yet to catch on stateside, wet rooms or shower rooms feature a sink, toilet and open shower area where the water converges to a drain in the floor.

Livingetc has lovely photo selection of these small yet airy spaces. For a twist, the final two pics demonstrate how a glass or wall partition can be added for practicality or modesty. Would you try something like this in your home?

Photo credit: Livingetc

Thursday, February 26, 2009

'Shopping' My Etsy

This week, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a kind comment regarding my last post on homemade art. A reader named Nadine mentioned she had recently discovered the crafty goodness that is Etsy and it made her think of Pretty*Practical! Awww, thanks Nadine!

And yes it's true. I do have a special place in my heart for Etsy. I've always found it to be a great go-to resource for special little items that won't be seen everywhere and Etsy is invaluable when you need gift-buying ideas for that 'hard-to-shop-for' friend/relative. You know who you are! :-)

Of course, there are tons of talented crafters to choose from and we all have our faves - so here are some of mine:

1. Simple printed ceramics and wooden blocks from Paloma's Nest above are both earthy and elegant.

2. Be still my heart with these large scale floral prints from Kaiku. So beautiful!

3. I'm loathe to share this one :-) Gorgeous and very affordable cushion covers from Ruth's Crafts.

4. Hammered copper earrings and glass cocktail rings from Saffron Creations. These are fierce!

See anything you like?

Friday, February 20, 2009

DIY Fridays: Homemade Art

Gosh, I haven't done a DIY Friday in a while! So it's about time, right? Okay guys, this time we're getting artsy and all you need are non-toxic paints (preferably); a couple of brushes; paper/canvas; and an open mind!

Example 1: The art in the window above is simply a pair of paintings made by my children. For us, these windows are a constantly evolving gallery. You too can scoop this abstract style by cutting a generous length of drawing paper (sold by the roll) and applying lots of freestyle brushstrokes in primary colors until you achieve the desired effect. We hung ours from the window with binder clips but any other type of clip or adhesive will do. Note: Our neutral living room and our informal attitude make these paintings look completely at-home. Also great for enlivening the view.

Example 2: If your style is more formal, a stylized art piece may be more apropos. In our kitchen above, the 'sunset' canvas was also created with the help of little hands. I was inspired by a similar-looking Marimekko fabric but didn't have 'Marimekko money'! ;-) My little daughter (4 at the time) helped apply wide swathes of yellow, orange and red paint. Then, I carefully blended the layers to create more depth. Note: You have to know when to stop. Blending can be addictive!

We always get great compliments on our home-made art. But maybe we just have kind friends! However, I think a few homespun pieces give a home a cozy, lived-in feel. If you have children this a great way to spend a lazy Saturday morning. No kids? Then it's time to channel your inner child. :-) So grab some art supplies and get busy! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Current Crush

Just some random prettiness I had to share. How cute are these hand-blown teardrop vases from Crate and Barrel? Delish I tell you and I *heart* them both! The weather recently has been a tease and I can't wait for spring. So, until then, a little color therapy goes a long way.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Requiem for Domino

As most of you know by now, the much-beloved Domino announced yesterday that it will be folding with March 2009 being its last issue. I don't know about you, but when I heard the news I was quite bereft and reflexively went to the Domino website (which will also be shuttered) hoping for something - a sign - a glimmer of hope - I don't know. I came away empty handed. Domino was the only magazine I looked forward to every month - like a little gift in the mail and it will be dearly missed.

In the meantime, permit me to send a virtual 'shout-out' to Nick Olsen, Domino's online Deal Hunter. An uber-talented decorator, Nick's column is a hilarious must-read that's totally on-point when it comes to decorating ideas and advice. Currently, Nick is on a White House decorating kick with my fave posts being his 'speed decorating' inspiration for Malia and Sasha 'Fierce' (as he dubbed her) Obama's rooms.

By the way, if there any early Domino subscribers out there - I'd love to receive scans of your fave 2005- 2006 issues to share with late 2006 subscribers like myself. I'm thinking a vigil might be in order. *sniff*

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!

[Photo credit: Clockwise from top left - Reuters/Vincent Du; Reuters/Aly Song; AFP/Getty Images/Paul Ellis; Reuters/Enny Nuraheni.]

Wishing everyone a year of great happiness and prosperity! To enjoy more of these beautiful and inspiring photos, click here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Finding My Style

[Photo credit: HGTV/Find Your Style]

Those close to me know I rarely watch television. However, every Saturday at 3:00 pm I do make an exception for HGTV's Find Your Style! Hosted by Karen MacAloon also of Design Remix, this is my weekly TV fix.

Using style 'tells', Karen deciphers the homeowner's style and guides them in designing their room of choice. Karen then adds the finishing touches which are always fabulous! Note to all design snobs - Karen's open-minded attitude is infectious and has made me appreciate styles I wouldn't normally care for. She also shares lots of design tips and tricks that anyone can use.

Last night, my curiosity got the better of me and I gave show's online style quiz a try. I must say, I was quite surprised at its accuracy. Billed as Rustic Comfort, my style is detailed below:

"Part updated country, part ethnic flair, both with a contemporary look and feel. You need a home with casual and practical style – an environment that'll work for kids, pets, company and more. The emphasis is on simple yet attractive, durable furniture will hold up over time while your colorful accessories energize and entertain for years...Function is a key consideration as well. A multi-purpose ottoman that doubles as a coffee table or storage unit would work for you."

Although I' not sure about the label, most of the style assessment is spot-on - right down to the ottoman. F.Y.I the photos on the HGTV site don't do Karen's work justice. Ya gotta see the show! However, the quiz is a worthwhile endeavor. To check it out, click here.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Unexpected Inspiration: Museums

[Photo credit: Room photos, Apartment Therapy]

It's only Wednesday and I'm dreaming about the weekend. Is that bad? Well, let's think of it as planning ahead :-) Apparently, this one promises to be frigid but if you're feeling intrepid Pretty*Practical recommends exploring the great indoors!

Specifically, your local museum. Museums are one of my favorite places to soak up ideas on displaying art, discovering new color combinations and curating your own collections. At the American Museum of Natural History I fell in love with the driftwood horse if the first photo above. Can't you imagine this looking awesome in a spare modern home? I also loved the trellised windows (right) featured in an exhibit room. So intricate and pretty!

[Photo credit: Room photo, David Netto Design]

Last but not least, how striking are these graphic groupings of charcoal drawings? Bringing it into real life, the attached home design photos illustrate how simplicity along with an infusion of natural elements is key to a restive atmosphere.

[Photo credit: Room photos, Apartment Therapy]

And what about this colorful trip down memory-lane? The candy advertisements above are featured in actual vintage trains at the New York Transit Museum - a Brooklyn-based gem that kids and grown-ups will certainly enjoy. And as you can see, this palette of muted red, yellow and blue can make for spaces that are both lively and livable.

Have you found recently found inspiration in a place that surprised you? Let me know!

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Italian Design School

Nota bene aspiring designers! This January, Italy's newest design school, The Florence Institute of Design International has opened its doors to students from around the world.

Founded by veteran architect, Marc DiDomenico, the school builds upon Florence's rich history of art, culture and design by combining modern technologies with Italy's imaginative culture. Courses include interior design, graphic design and architecture with masters and summer abroad options available.

This is great opportunity for anyone looking to hone their design skills in an idyllic environment. To learn more, click here.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Around the Blogosphere: Purple Area

Several years ago, I assisted on a shoot at the home of a lovely Finnish lady. Oh, everything was divine! From the food to the decor, and it was all presented in such a beautiful, simple and gracious way. Since then, I've had a deep love for all things Scandinavian.

Case in point, the delightful Swedish blog, Purple Area. Written by interior designer, Susan Larsson, Purple Area is a veritable hub for inspired decor ideas. Susan is blessed with a great eye and always seems to have the most amazing design finds - clean and modern with just the right warm touches.

While the blog is written in Swedish, there is an English translation option. But who needs words with gorgeous photos like these! To enjoy more Purple Area style, click here. Thanks Susan!

And have a great weekend everyone!

[Photo credit: All photos courtesy of Purple Area]

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Small Moments

[Photo credit: Pretty*Practical]

Growing up, January 6 officially denoted the end of Christmas. It was the day to ruefully pack away the decorations and return to 'life as usual'. Of course, this ritual could not be conducted a day late for to do so would mean a year of bad luck! Today, as I remove ornaments and holiday cards, I can't help but feel a little nostalgic.

This holiday was quiet but very meaningful for our family. My husband took some rare time-off and we were able to enjoy the little things like the gingerbread house my daughter made at school; delivering petite greeting cards; traveling around on wintry nights to enjoy the holiday lights and delighting in our children's toys as if we were kids again. So for now, I'll cherish these little warm memories till next...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Beginnings

Happy New Year! Wishing you joy and peace at home and beyond.

[Photo credit: mark.os via Flickr]