Garden Party

It's that time of year again. That magical moment in Connecticut when the flowers are in bloom, the sun is out late, and the backyard becomes our living room, dining room, and playroom all wrapped into one. Now, I know you may be thinking... isn't your site called Kate Smith INTERIORS?!? Yes, yes, title police you are correct. But the backyard is such an extension of the home, I think we can make an exception just this once, right? 

I'll start by saying that I adore our backyard, but I know it isn't "perfect". We eventually want to repoint the entire patio. I also know that the grass will never be technicolor green and there will always be some weeds because I am a firm believer in natural lawn care; my toddler and dog practically have competitions on who can roll the most in the grass so I need to make sure that stuff is 100% au naturale. Weeds and all, compared to my 10 years of city living, this backyard is an oasis! When my husband and I were first looking at this house, we walked outside for the first time, put our then 1 year old down on the grass to toddle around and we looked at her, and looked at each other and knew that this house had to be ours. I swear my husband would have made an offer regardless of what the inside looked like because he loved the yard THAT much. Luckily for me, I also fell in love with the charm and character of the house itself! I also lucked out that the previous owner had a major green thumb and left us with a beautiful border garden surrounding the entire property. It is chock full of low maintenance perennials which means very little work for me, and lots of color all spring and summer.

So what do recovering city dwellers do when they get a backyard in the suburbs?! Entertain, of course! I love to throw a good party and whether it's just dinner for our family, or full blown bash with all our friends, I love celebrating in our little eden. Today I'm sharing pictures of our base outdoor set-up that we use all summer long. It's filled with shades of green, and of course some blue and white touches. I like to keep the design simple so that the focus can be on the natural beauty of the yard itself. Besides, who wants "fussy" when it's summer time?  To me, it's all about bare feet in the grass, rustic food, delicious drinks and great company.  I hope this inspires you to get outside in your own yard!

xx,Kate

One Room Challenge- Week 2- Inspiration and Game Plan

It's week 2 of the One Room Challenge, and today I want to talk a little bit about the inspiration for the space and also walk you through my game plan for getting everything done. 

The second I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to do the baby's room for this round of the ORC. I really didn't think I would be doing a baby boy's room though. Truth be told, I was so (irrationally) convinced I was having another girl that I actually designed and sourced an entirely different nursery for a daughter! So, when I recently got the exciting news I'd be having a boy, I had to start back at square one for the design.

Luckily around this same time I was out sourcing product for another project of mine and I stumbled upon some great finds in the kid's shop at Serena and Lily. First, I found an amazing herringbone wallpaper that will lend lots of texture and pattern to the room. And then I found an adorable nautical throw pillow. I instantly fell in love with the color, and the print reminded me of my childhood summers on the shore in Rhode Island. It has the exact feel of a New England beach town, and since I now live in a New England beach town full time it seemed perfect. Just like that, I had my inspiration piece!

Me and my girl back in 2015. I spent my childhood summers in a sleepy beach town on the Rhode Island Coast, called Quonochontaug. Long before Watch Hill, RI became a hot spot for T-swift and her pals, I would go with my family for carrousel rides along the strip. We'd pop into the candy box for some penuche, and would sit outside watching the sailboats and waiting for the sugar rush to kick in. All these years later, it is still a favorite spot to bring my own family. My daughter LOVES the beach, and already talks about how excited she is to bring her "baby brudder"

Me and my girl back in 2015. I spent my childhood summers in a sleepy beach town on the Rhode Island Coast, called Quonochontaug. Long before Watch Hill, RI became a hot spot for T-swift and her pals, I would go with my family for carrousel rides along the strip. We'd pop into the candy box for some penuche, and would sit outside watching the sailboats and waiting for the sugar rush to kick in. All these years later, it is still a favorite spot to bring my own family. My daughter LOVES the beach, and already talks about how excited she is to bring her "baby brudder"

While I'm definitely inspired by this beachy vibe,  I want to avoid going for a full blown nautical theme. Instead I'm using the print as my roadmap, and adding in some other elements to try and make the space feel unique. Some preppy gingham, a painterly chevron, some boho ikat and lots of natural fibers and pops of solid colors will be rounding out the space. I'll  be getting an amazing custom lacquered dresser from the talented team at Broome Street Studios, and some really fun accessories like this brushstroke lamp from Jana Bek Design. Keeping the color palette classic, but adding in a mix of styles should help to keep the space looking fresh, and avoid the biggest nursery trap of all; having everything being overly matchy matchy. 

 

Luckily, after I picked out the wallpaper and pillow, most everything else in the design plan came together pretty easily.  I say most because I still have a few big decisions up in the air. What will I do for the window treatments and artwork? At this point, your guess is as good as mine, and the clock is ticking!

Indecision on some items aside, I'm feeling fairly optimistic about being able to tackle this space within the 6 week period since the work is almost entirely cosmetic. The biggest project that needs to be done is to wallpaper the entire space, and we've already gotten the work underway. Once the wallpaper is all up I can move in all of the furniture and really hone in on the details. So, as of right now, my game plan is as follows:

  • Install Wallpaper (As I mentioned we already have some progress here, but check back next week for the full reveal!)
  • Finalize floor plan and layout
  • Set furniture in place (I can't WAIT to show you guys the changing table! Hint- it isn't shy on color!)
  • Decide on and install window treatments
  • Style all soft elements (pillows, blankets, rug etc)
  • Add in additional accessories
  • Choose artwork for above the crib
  • Deliver and raise a baby (I'm pretty sure that this will be the really hard one!)

Thanks so much for following along. Make sure to check out all of the other ORC participants here and check back next week to see the progress on the room as well as my ever growing baby bump.

xx, Kate

Blue and White Dining Room Reveal

Yesterday I finished a dining room install and I just couldn't wait to share these pictures! (Side note, one of my goals this year is to up my portfolio game so hopefully you will be seeing lots more room reveals to come).

I know I shouldn't pick favorites, but this project has been at the top of my list since we started it. I've been itching to put everything together since the moment we did the mood board.  Not only was the home owner such a pleasure to work with, she brought some great ideas to the table and she was really open to trying new things too. To top it all off, she shares my love of all things blue and white. Definitely a winning combination. 

We wanted to keep the design traditional and sophisticated to work back to the style of their hundred year old New York home, but we still wanted it to feel fun, fresh and modern to fit the lifestyle of their young family. The homeowners kept their original dining set and rug, but the rest of the room was a total transformation. We had an amazing team to add the woodwork and wallpaper, and topped everything off with the most gorgeous draperies in my favorite fabric. The cherry on the cake is definitely the amazing artwork that was commissioned for the space. It highlights the blue and white, but also pulls together the yellow, golds and neutral from the rug and fixtures. 

I am absolutely in love with the space and hope you love it as much as I do. Full reveal below.

xx,

Kate

 

Blue and White Dining Room Modern Traditioal
schumacher pyne hollyhock window treatments
modern traditional blue and white dining room
window seat schumacher pyne hollyhock
Dining Console and Bamboo Mirror
Abstract Art

Room refresh- From Baby to Big Girl

My daughter recently transitioned from a  crib to a big girl bed, and this change gave me the perfect opportunity to refresh her room. I didn't want to do an entire design overhaul, (I'm sure that will be coming at some point when she inevitably decides she doesn't love pink anymore) but I did want to breath some new life in the space, and make it a little less "baby" in feel. After all she reminds me 543,000 a day she is "a big girl" now.

Step one was getting the crib out of her room and adding in a real bed, or in this case, two real beds. (For the sake of this post, let's just pretend that I *wasn't* weeping quietly to myself while we did this thinking abut how quickly the past 2.5 years have gone by.) I love the symmetrical look of double twin beds, and we really lucked out getting this set for her room.  We moved into our house a little over a year ago, and worked with the absolute nicest sellers. Since we were moving from an apartment in the city, we negotiated with them to leave behind some of the furniture pieces we loved. Twin bamboo bed frames were high on the list of items I wanted, and they have been the perfect addition to this room.

My second step was to oomph up the color scheme a little. I had painted the room a soft pink back when we moved in and wanted to keep that as the base. I added in some pops of hot pink (my daughter's current favorite), and then grounded the room with some natural elements in jute and linen. I pulled my entire color palette from an abstract piece of art by Michelle Armas.  The piece is actually the very first gift I bought my daughter when I was pregnant with her back in 2014. I love abstract art in any room, but think it is particularly compelling in children's spaces because it really gives their imaginations an opportunity to run wild.

Finally, I needed to add in a little more storage for her ever growing stuffed animal collection and her bedtime books. I added in shelving that can double as a bench for her to sit on and "read". It's a great place to tuck away some of her toys and stacks of her little books. I also added in some more baskets for larger overflow items.  My daughter is fiercely independent and loves to do things for herself so this allows her take out the toys she wants when she wants them. Easy access also means she can start to learn to put away her toys on her own; score one for Mom!

We're two weeks into the transition and so far she loves her new room! I've included a full room tour below and hope you love it too.

My daughter helped to pick out the bedding. I think it's important for kids to weigh in on their likes and dislikes so they feel comfortable in their room.

My daughter helped to pick out the bedding. I think it's important for kids to weigh in on their likes and dislikes so they feel comfortable in their room.

This shelf has been the most practical addition! I love the extra storage it provides us with, and it is a perfect reading nook. It sits below the art that inspired the room's entire color palette.

This shelf has been the most practical addition! I love the extra storage it provides us with, and it is a perfect reading nook. It sits below the art that inspired the room's entire color palette.

Kid spaces are some of my favorite to work on because they are so much fun! This project was extra special having my little one by my side. I always want my clients to be happy, but making my daughter happy is best of all.

xx, Kate

 

 

Designing for real life

I'm sure most of you have had the experience in your life when you've been in a beautiful home, but the space felt too much like a museum to be comfortable. I've even been to a cocktail party before where the hostess only served "clear" drinks for fear of someone spilling on her treasured goods. If you weren't in the mood for white wine or a gin and tonic you were out of luck! (And yes, to any SATC fans out there, I did almost laugh out loud that this was happening in real life). 

Personally, I'm a firm believer that a home should be lived in. I also like things to be aesthetically pleasing. I don't think that these ideas have to be mutually exclusive. The majority of my clients have families and want spaces that work for their busy lives, providing both form and function. In my own home, I strive to make a space that looks great, but isn't too precious for my 2 year old daughter or my little pug to run around in.  Besides, I like red wine! 

Here is some advice on things to consider when you're trying to strike the balance between a stylish and livable home 

 Know Your Fabrics

I cannot overstate this point enough. I have an ivory sofa in my living room and when people see if for the first time knowing I have a toddler and a dog, they sometimes look at me like I'm insane. What they don't know is that I specifically ordered a certain performance twill fabric for how well it wears and how easily it cleans. When I was picking out fabrics I ordered a bunch of samples and put them to the test. I literally drew on the fabrics with crayon, spilled red wine on them, and dipped them in marinara sauce. After each "test" I cleaned the fabric (by hand, since you can't throw a sofa in the washer machine) and hoped for the best. The one we chose looked like new every time. The actual sofa was put to the test at my daughter's second birthday party. A certain adult family member (who shall remain nameless) accidentally spilled an entire bowl of salsa all over the sofa. The room went silent and my relative was profusely apologizing. I just said "not to worry" and after a little spot treatment it was as good as new. Phew.

Believe it or not, the "salsa incident of '16" happened before this picture was taken. You'd never be able to guess it because it still looks as good as new. 

Believe it or not, the "salsa incident of '16" happened before this picture was taken. You'd never be able to guess it because it still looks as good as new. 

 

Think About How The Space Will Be Used And Who Will Be Using it

One of the first questions I ask a client is "How do you plan to use this space?". Is this an eat-in kitchen you'll be having family meals in each night? Or a formal dining room you'll only use on holidays? Will you be using the a living space as a family room? Will you have pets in the room? These questions may drastically impact how you choose to design a space. For example, my sunroom is a space where my daughter and my dog spend a lot of time so I really needed the space to be functional for them. I chose a really durable jute rug, and used indoor/outdoor fabric on all of the furniture and pillows so the space can handle the abuse. To keep things stylish I chose fun prints for the pillows and had fun mixing my prints and colors. The end result is fun, a little quirky and totally practical.

Design For Your Current Situation, But Think About The Future

If you do have small children, you want to make a space that works for them.  But remember that they won't be small forever. Try to find items that are practical for your space now, but that you won't get sick of in a few years when you're children grow and their needs change. IE steer clear of too much traditional children's furniture and instead focus on transitional pieces in durable materials.  I'm constantly adding x benches and poufs into living spaces for this purpose. The poufs are great when babies are learning to walk, they are the perfect "stepstool" onto the sofa for toddlers and they work as great ottomans for children and adults. I also love filling big woven baskets with toys instead of using toy chests. The baskets eventually become the perfect place for throw blankets, or firewood when you no longer need all of the toys. These items are super practical and I promise you will be so happy 5 years from now when your space still feels current instead of being saddled with Elmo or princess paraphernalia. 

Sources: Pouf , Baskets, X-bench

Sources: Pouf , Baskets, X-bench

And if you really want to design for "real life" the most important thing to remember is that at the end of the day, things are just things. The true value of a space is in the memories we make within it. So above all else just have fun. Drink that red wine, eat that salsa, and enjoy your home! 

xx Kate

 

Table for two....

It's the first day of February and that means that Valentine's Day is just around the corner!

I have to admit, I haven't always been the biggest fan of the holiday. In fact, I've even had some Valentine's horror stories. Cue 17 year old me finding out I was rejected from my first choice college ON valentines day and eating an entire "death by chocolate" trifle alone while sobbing. (Side note- People always say "things happen for a reason" when you face a blow like this and it  sounds sucky when you're wallowing but it is TOTALLY true. I ended up going to an amazing school I absolutely loved. I even moved back to my college town last year. Go Stags!) 

As I progressed into adulthood, Valentines Day became more of an afterthought. I worked in the Fashion industry, and Valentines always fell smack in the middle of New York Fashion Week and market. I was usually so busy that I hardly gave any thought to it. My husband and I finally started our own little tradition of having a mini date at the original Shake Shack late in the evening once I was done with work and shows. Looking back, there was something very romantic about hanging out under the stars on a chilly night and splitting a burger and fries. 

Now we're starting new traditions.  I absolutely love going out to eat, but on Valentine's day in particular I much prefer a quiet dinner at home. This year, I'm setting up a fun and eclectic table for two in our sunroom. I like to mix our wedding china with some more casual elements, add some fresh flowers, some candles and voila - the perfect date at home. 

Below is the full slideshow of my set up, as well as my checklist for a great date night at home. 

Date Night Must Haves

-Great Music I usually let me husband handle this, and he doesn't disappoint

-Candles Let's face it, we're all a little bit more attractive in soft lighting

-Roaring Fire Some cliches exist for a reason 

-Fresh Flowers They help pull together any table

-Simple, Yet Elegant Menu I tend to trust anything Ina Garten makes

-Great Wine My go to is a Russian River Pinot Noir. It's almost always a crowd pleaser, even if your crowd is just two people

 

I love eatting in the sunroom. It gets tons of light during the day, but in the evenings if you keep the lights low you can look out onto the stars.

I love eatting in the sunroom. It gets tons of light during the day, but in the evenings if you keep the lights low you can look out onto the stars.

I like mixing our wedding china with more eclectic pieces. I specifically chose this china because it is stamped with an abstract KS at the top and I thought it was a good sign to have my initials!

I like mixing our wedding china with more eclectic pieces. I specifically chose this china because it is stamped with an abstract KS at the top and I thought it was a good sign to have my initials!

Fresh flowers don't need to be fussy. I'm not one for red roses, but I'll take potted springtime flowers any day! Also, I like to set the arrangements further back on the table so that you can actually see and talk with the other person.

Fresh flowers don't need to be fussy. I'm not one for red roses, but I'll take potted springtime flowers any day! Also, I like to set the arrangements further back on the table so that you can actually see and talk with the other person.

I'd love to hear about your Valentine's Day trials and tribulations. How are you planning to celebrate this year?

xx Kate

Prints Charming...Print Mixing 101

Without question, one of my favorite parts of writing this blog has been hearing directly from you.  I love when you guys reach out with comments and questions, and one of the questions I keep hearing over and over is about mixing prints. I think a lot of people love the eclectic look but might not know where to start and are scared to try it in their own spaces. To be honest, there is no right and wrong when it comes to mixing prints. It is totally subjective and if you like it, go for it! That said, I tried to put together a mini tutorial explaining the process I go through when pulling together unexpected print partners.

Whether I'm getting dressed in the morning, or designing a new space, here are the guidelines I tend to follow when mixing my prints

Choose a "roadmap" print

A roadmap print will help to pull all of the colors and prints together. It's goal is to be the item that makes all of the other items "make sense". For the below bedroom, this floral printed pillow is my roadmap. The grey ties back to the upholstered bed and bedding, the teal ties back to the lamps, the yellow to the walls and accessories and the hint of black ties back to the gradient charcoal in the chevron duvet

 

It's all about Balance

We all know the saying that opposites attract, but they do more than just that, opposites can help to balance a space. If you're bringing in a really feminine floral, try to balance it out with something bold. Soft painterly prints look great near something more rigid and geometric. This helps to keep a space looking modern and fresh.

Stripes go with everything

Literally, everything. And yes, I mean literally. I dare you to find something a stripe doesn't pair well with. 

Leopard goes with everything

We all know Jenna Lyon's famous quote, and it really does ring true. Leopard is a neutral in the best possible way; it plays well with others. It has a way of adding just enough quirk and charm and can easily pep up any space and sit with any print. 

Case and point regarding stripes and leopard. These three prints might not be an intuitive combination, but I really can't think of a thing that doesn't work well with stripes and leopard

Case and point regarding stripes and leopard. These three prints might not be an intuitive combination, but I really can't think of a thing that doesn't work well with stripes and leopard

Play with Color

You guys know by now that I design with a lot of blue and white. It's such a classic color combo, and beyond that it is a perfect palette to start to mix prints with. Sometimes it can be really impactful to take a simple two tone color palette and mix prints only within those colors.

Focus on Scale

If you're still risk averse to mixing different prints, try mixing the same print in a different scale. The result can be just as dramatic as seen in this sweet bedroom nook. (And yes, that is my daughter posing in the bed. The cherries aren't the only dramatic thing in this picture!)

Don't take yourself too seriously! Take risks and have fun!

This I think is most important. Sometimes you need to take risks in design.  Some of the best combinations were born by taking seemingly dissimilar items and placing them together to see what it looks like. Sometimes it's a train wreck, but other times it is unique and special and amazing. Don't be afraid to push yourself a little outside of your comfort zone. 

 

 

Hopefully the above guidelines will give you a good jumping off point. I'd love to hear the print rules you live by as well! Drop me a note below or shoot me an e-mail here.

xx Kate

A DIY Christmas

This Christmas the elves in Fairfield decided to get creative and transform two IKEA staples into something a little more colorful. 

Building IKEA furniture can sometimes be a nightmare task in and of itself, so I wanted to keep the design updates for these super simple. Below I will walk you through a basic blueprint for what I did, but these can truly be updated a million different ways. 

First up, the DUKTIG play kitchen

This is what the kitchen looks like when assembled per the manufacturers instructions. Photo courtesy of IKEA

This is what the kitchen looks like when assembled per the manufacturers instructions. Photo courtesy of IKEA

My daughter has always loved playing with this kitchen when we've gone to friend's houses so I knew it would be a perfect gift for her. I wanted to make a few little tweaks though. Here is a list of the supplies I used:

Spray Paint - You can pick any color you'd like. I used paint and primer in one because I'm lazy efficient. I chose to only paint the natural wood parts and leave the "appliances" white, but you can paint any and all of it you choose.

Contact Paper- There are so many selections of cute prints and colors these days. I love this navy greek key, but if you want the true look of a kitchen, marble or wood contact paper would work great!

Foam Board- This goes behind the unit and creates the backsplash.

5" Drawer Pulls- I honestly think this is what makes the biggest difference when upgrading the look of this kitchen.

And after these little tweaks, the final result was:

My daughter absolutely loves it! She started "cooking" with it the second she walked downstairs Christmas morning. (Full disclosure, the second she saw it she actually ran over and said "I need coffee" which made me feel like mom of the year. I guess I must say that A LOT!) Overall, for the small extra investment made for supplies, and minimal extra work put in, I would say this DIY was a total success!

 

Next on Deck was the DUKTIG doll bed. My nieces each got American Girl Dolls for Christmas, and so I thought a sweet doll bed would be the perfect gift from Auntie.

Photo from IKEA

Photo from IKEA

This was an even simpler DIY as the only work I really did was to spray paint it! I ordered custom doll bedding on Etsy and then added a monogram decal to each bed so that the two girls could tell them apart. It was so simple, but really made a big difference. The end result:

As much as we're all looking to simplify our lives around the holidays, I would definitely do these two projects again. They were both so easy, and the smiles we got on Christmas morning were well worth any extra effort. I'd love to hear about your DIY projects this season. Drop me a line below, or shoot me a message here.

I hope everyone has been enjoying this Holiday week with family and friends!

Best wishes for a bright 2017! 

xx Kate

A Colorful Connecticut Christmas- Living Room Tour

My Christmas decor has evolved a lot over the years. My first memory of a Christmas tree was from the 80's. We had a white tree (yes, white!) that my mother meticulously decorated with victorian looking ornaments like fans and birds all in pastel colors. Let's just say it was VERY 80's. The white tree eventually got the boot and we started to bring real trees in that were decorated with a mish-mosh of crystal ornaments mixed with my sister's and my hand made creations. When I finally grew up and moved out on my own, I had a definite opinion on how I wanted "my" tree to look. I was living in an apartment in Manhattan and wanted the tree to be sophisticated and chic. I focused on all metallics and mixed gold, silver and bronze into a sparkly delight. 

This year marks another new beginning for me and my family. It is our first Christmas living back in Connecticut. It is also the first Christmas that my 2 year old daughter really understands what it going on. She is so excited about Christmas and Santa and it has made me feel like a kid all over again. With that said I have only one goal in mind while decorating this year, and that is to make it magical. I want my daughter to walk downstairs on Christmas morning and think that the sugar plum fairy has been dancing around our house all night. Sophistication is the furthest thing from my mind at this stage, I want COLOR! 

So below is a tour of our Holiday living room. It's colorful, it's quirky, and I think it feels down right magical. Hope you enjoy!

xx   Kate

 

FullSizeRender (94).jpg
FullSizeRender (91).jpg

I'm Dreaming of a (Blue and) White Christmas - Dining Room Tour

Guys, I have a Christmas confession to make........ I don't like red and green. Before you start lobbying Santa to put me on the naughty list, just hear me out. It's not that I don't like the color red (I have Scalamandré Masai dreams) , or the color green (refer back to my obsession from the one room challenge), it's just that I don't really love the two together on their own. A big hunk of red color blocked with a big hunk of green always seems so forced. I feel like other colors should be mixed in to help balance out the harsh contrast. What's the solution? Enter my favorite color combo; blue and white. This classic combo somehow works perfectly in winter and can make a holiday table feel classic and unique at the same time.

In keeping with the overall vibe of my home, my dining room is decked out in a mish-mosh of decor this Christmas. I have traditional tartans, mixed with ginger jars.  And deco plates mixed with chinoiserie ones. Lots of boxwoods are a must for me, including mini boxwood wreaths for the chairs. Overall the room has all of my favorites, and still finds a way to make red and green work together paired with lots and lots of blue and white. 

Hope you enjoy the full tour below! 

xx

Kate

 

Sometimes it's best to stick with what you love instead of trying to force a "theme" that doesn't fit with your overall style. 

Sometimes it's best to stick with what you love instead of trying to force a "theme" that doesn't fit with your overall style. 

  I may have had to have some wine for the sake of this blogpost. The sacrifices I make for my art!  On a serious note, how adorable are these cocktail napkins?!? 

 

I may have had to have some wine for the sake of this blogpost. The sacrifices I make for my art! 

On a serious note, how adorable are these cocktail napkins?!? 

I love mixing china, and this deco pattern with a classic willow print is right up my ally! 

I love mixing china, and this deco pattern with a classic willow print is right up my ally! 

Why My Young Family Loves Very Old Things; making my case for Antiques

If you've been to my house, its no secret that I love antiques.  Say the word antique in a certain crowd though and you might elicit shrugs from people who are picturing their Grandma's house.  I'd like to offer a different perspective. Styled appropriately antiques can work well in any home, and often times they offer the perfect touch to tie a room together. I personally think it's so much fun to take something old and breathe new life into it. 

When I'm working with new clients one of the first things I ask is what they want to keep in a room. Design isn't just about starting from scratch with a blank slate. Great design is layered and evolves over time. 

I think antiques sometimes get a bad rap as being too serious or stuffy especially for a young family's home. (Side note since we're still getting to know each other. I keep referring to myself as having a "young" family which I guess is a self-appointed term. I recently was on the phone with my mother and called myself a "young mom" to which my mother, who is one of the sweetest people on earth, very bluntly told me I was not. Thanks for keeping it real Mom! I do however have a young daughter, so let's just say that counts as young family territory then. Ok, moving on.) The reality is, antiques can look really cool when you juxtapose them with more modern pieces. The picture below is of an antique secretary we have in our living room. I love the detail on the piece, but I wanted to find a way to have it mesh better in our home. I ended up adding two frames above the desk; one with a favorite photo of my daughter taken on her first birthday in front of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the other is a print of The Beastie Boys lyric "No Sleep Till Brooklyn". Classic combination? No. Do I smile whenever I see it? Hell yes! 

Who says 18th century woodwork and Beastie Boys don't mix?!? Throw in some ginger jars and a leopard pillow and this old piece is my new jam. And who can resist an adorable baby next to a New York landmark?

Who says 18th century woodwork and Beastie Boys don't mix?!? Throw in some ginger jars and a leopard pillow and this old piece is my new jam. And who can resist an adorable baby next to a New York landmark?

I think I might need a new poster "No Sleep Till Brimfield"

I think I might need a new poster "No Sleep Till Brimfield"

 

So in the spirit of embracing the old and the unexpected, I want to share with you some of the major reasons I love designing with antiques and think you should too.

Antiques are full of character and make a home feel unique

The number one reason I love bringing older pieces into a room when I'm styling is because they can make a space feel so individualized. Back in the day, things weren't built in such  mass quantities as they are today. Often times things were made in limited batches and with unique details. Bringing one or two of these pieces into a room can really help avoid the "cookie cutter" effect. People always want their spaces to feel pulled together, but the second you try to copy a page from a catalog you loose all personality. Antiques are the perfect remedy to that adding loads of charm and making a space feel all your own. 

The quality cannot be beat

This point cannot be overstated. You know that expression "They don't make them like they used to." That idiom exists for a reason (and it isn't just Kenny Rogers). They literally don't make things the way they used to. From the high quality materials used to the craftsmanship in assembly, you really can get a superior product when you're shopping for antiques. We have a few family heirlooms in our house that are over a century old. Think of the amazing quality it takes to last that long! I mean, I love Target as much as the next red-blooded American (or maybe more), but I hardly expect my purchases to be around in a few years let alone a few hundred years. 

It's good for the earth

We are a nation of consumers. I am as guilty as anyone on this, but the reality is there are things we can be doing to reduce our consumption rate. Buying used goods such as antiques can be good for our wallets and good for the earth. Natural resources have already been used to make these items; we might as well give them a good home instead of using up more resources.

They keep a family legacy going

While many great antiques can be bought, the best in my mind are ones that have been passed down from generation to generation. There is an obvious reason why these are great (hey, they're free!), but the true value is in the memories they carry.  My home is a patchwork of my husband's and my families merged together and reinterpreted. When I look at the wingback chairs in my living room, I remember being a little girl and opening christmas gifts sitting in what felt like a throne. When I look at our brass coffee table, I imagine my in-laws traveling abroad when they were a young married couple.  When I see my daughter playing the piano (ok, "playing" is a generous term, she's two) I think about all of the beautiful music made by generations of Smiths before me.  I may be a total sap (ok, I definitely am) but I really think you can't put a price on these memories. 

This brass table is a favorite antique in our home. It carries amazing memories from my husband's family, and reminds me of a similar piece I had in my own childhood home.

This brass table is a favorite antique in our home. It carries amazing memories from my husband's family, and reminds me of a similar piece I had in my own childhood home.

So, for those skeptics out there, I encourage you to go ahead and try mixing in some older pieces. You might just be pleasantly be surprised with your new look!

xx Kate

PS- If you live in the North East, here are some suggestions on where to start hunting for antiques:

Brimfield Antique Show- Brimfield, MA

Warning, this show is not for the faint of heart. It is the largest show out there and is so amazing, but it can be a little bit overwhelming. Go with a game plan in mind and if you see something you like, write down the vendors information and location. Despite the craziness it is worth the trip! Full details here.

The Trove- Old Saybrook, CT

The Connecticut shoreline is filled with so many amazing antique stores. I love visiting in the fall when the beach traffic has moved on, and goods are ripe for the picking. The Trove happens to be one of my favorite spots. You walk into the storefront and it looks like your average antique store, nice, but nothing too special. Then you realize there is a MASSIVE warehouse out back filled with even more goodies. I could spend an entire day roaming around this place. It is definitely worth checking out!

Good Will- Various Locations

If you like the idea of bringing antiques into your home, but you're scared of an antique price tag, check out your local Goodwill. As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."  You can often find cool vintage ceramics and small furnishing. The best part is, you will be supporting a great cause. Click here to find out more information on local branches. This is also a great place to donate unwanted home goods and clothing of your own, and certain locations pick up larger furniture items you would like to donate.

Shameless Plug Time....

If you're still not sure where to start, consider hiring a decorator or stylist to do the shopping for you. Hiring someone who can help sort through the junk for you can be a wise investment. You can even hire someone to do the shopping with you. This way you can benefit from asking lots of questions and watching how they manage the process.  If you already have a lot of antiques and you aren't sure which ones to save and which ones to toss, working with a professional can be hugely beneficial as well.