Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Home decorators' god-send: Shop-A-Matic

Oh my gosh, I can't contain myself and have to post here when I just discovered, from clicking idly on a link in my blogroll on my other blog, this wonderful new service brought to you by those elegant and tasteful editors over at the New York Metro Magazine:

Shop-A-Matic is an online catalog of New York stores. New York Magazine's editors scoured home-d├ęcor shops all over the city (my emphasis!!) to find a broad range of the most attractive products, from Ikea to Knoll. In September, we'll add accessories; expect new categories monthly as well as updates to existing catalogs.
Isn't this just a god-send? This is not just one store's online catalogue, this is a selection of the best and brightest the whole NYC has to offer to discerning home decorators with all budget sizes! And you can sit pretty in the comfort of your own home instead of having to wear out your heels trudging from shop to shop, with a notepad in hand to jot down dimensions and prices and taking photos with your camera phone and THEN after all that have to upload them all to your computer. Now all those hassles have been taken out - and it's not just by any untrustworthy joe schmoe but by the NY Mag's home decor editors themselves!!!

Have I just died and gone to heaven? How much I wish I had that when I was sourcing furniture for my new home!

And the site itself doesn't disappoint. Clicking on my favourite Chairs category, it has a hugely diverse range of "statement" chairs, from the wonderfully quirky to the supremely comfy, featuring quite a number of 20th century design classics (such as the below Wiggle side chair by Frank Gehry), and all sorted by colour, style, price or material.

What's more, all the prices are already listed upfront on the thumbnail photos themselves so you don't have to waste even another mouse click to find out if that divine item on display is within your budget or not. (In the case of the above, it's woefully above whatever's left of my fancy chair budget, as it retails at $875, plus for me, international shipping!) And when you do click on the item, the details include the phone number (and both physical and virtual address) of the store, as well as when the item was last seen in the shop, together with the dimensions of the piece. So you could literally just ring up the store and reserve the item. Badabing!

Ok, enough gushing about the site... (after all, the stores are all in NYC, and I'm here in Dublin... Life's soooo unfair...)

Oh well, back to work...

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Cute and Cosy... New England Style

When I was doing up my new home, the images that inspired me the most are those from the 2007 Laura Ashley catalogue, with its mix of New England seaside and French country inspirations, both of which I love dearly. The former in particular brought back memories of my Thanksgiving trip to a traditional New England village (Newburyport, Massachusetts) the year I was studying in NYU. We went shopping in these little white-cladded wooden houses, and oh, how I was craving even then for those gingham fabric hearts and hand-painted glass vases!

But what is New England Style? According to Tommy Hilfiger and Anne Kasabian:

New England is as much a feeling as it is a region. It's Cape Cod clambakes in the summer, apple-picking in Maine come fall, snug Vermont inns in the winter, and the colorful, blooming gardens of the spring.

Here I sought to put together images and links and descriptions I've collated from the web that together conjures up the cute and cosy feel of a New England style home...

Architectural Style
Cape Cod style home plans were among the first home designs built by settlers in America and were simple, one- or 11/2-story house plans with steep rooflines, low eaves, a large central chimney, and a central front door with transoms. This type of house plan, built all over the New England area, later became known as the Cape Cod style. This home design is still popular today for its affordability and efficiency. (from Coolhouseplans.com)

Cape Cod/New England style homes usually have two levels of living area, one and a half to one and three quarters stories featuring steep roof slope and dormers. They do not usually have geometrical shapes, overhang or other ornamentation. The area of the second floor is usually 40% to 75% the area of the ground floor. Almost all homes that are one and a half or one and three quarters are Cape Cods. They commonly have a Shaker type of siding or other wood siding.

Unique Features of Cape Cod/New England Home Plans:
• Usually built in 1 1/2 or 1 3/4 stories versus two story.
• Generally has a shake or wood siding exterior finish
• Roofs generally have a steep slope and most have dormers.
• Most offer two or more living areas.
(From Amazingplans.com)

Signature Elements:
Lots of applique patchwork quilts and decorative items made of check or gingham-patterned fabrics; lots of hand-crafted wood ornaments and hand-painted glass ornaments. Such hand-made crafts evoke a comfortable, folksy atmosphere in the home. Painted wood furniture are designed in Shaker style to create a rustic country feel. All interiors feature cute basic shapes like hearts, stars, etc., as well as animals, angels and the American flag. Simple representations of yachts and houses are also present.

Colour Scheme:
Usually white/cream, with red and navy blue accents (evoking the colours of the American flag). Solid patches of such primary colours (sometimes in more muted, pastel-ly shades) combined with the cute geometric shapes together give a sense of whimsy and childish delight.

Interiors photo credits (Olde Glory)

Friday, August 3, 2007

For all homebodies out there...

My recent experience of acquiring and feathering my own nest helped me discover a whole new world of home goodies: from high-end items like fine-bone china and bespoke furniture and even designer paints; to low-budget stuff like eccentric coffee mugs and cutie rugs. This blog is dedicated to other similarly-addicted home-philes like me who cannot stop drooling over Laura Ashley catalogues, who seemingly without self-control watch hours upon hours of home-buying and home-redecorating shows until late into the night, who spend an extremely-inhumane-to-wallet amount of time loitering around homeware stores and have (almost!) forgotten what it's like to go clothes-shopping, and who bore their family and friends with tales of their latest acquisition of kitchen gadgets (and for those in the terminal case, who believe fervently that their battle experiences with various home-cleaning products were normal conversation fodder!).

If you recognise traces of yourself in the above description, you, my friend, have come to the right place to commune with your fellow addicts. This blog aims to provide a safe, relaxed, and dare I say, homely, setting for us self-professed homebodies to indulge and indeed gorge ourselves on all things home and hearth. Modelling after one of my favourite sites, Cuteoverload, here I endeavour to compile the latest and cutest home trends and products, both online and off. I hope this is a place where people would feel comfy enough to post their own experiences of home-makeovers and share tips on dealing with various contractors, from decorators to plumbers. As I myself am still learning and discovering about this weird and wonderful world of home design, I would be grateful for any pearls of wisdom you'd care to share in creating the ideal home sweet home!