the art of arranging

beautifully styled interior design doesn't happen by accident. so much of what i admire in my favorite spaces goes beyond this paint color or that fabric choice — it's that someone somewhere made the conscious decision that this art would be best on that wall, that these frames would work better than those ones, that this book should stand next to that one, and that this table here would look better with that lamp sitting atop it. it's the act of staging and styling that lends each of these spaces its polish and its wow factor. here is a compilation of what i deem to be beautifully styled spaces:
this space wouldn't be nearly so extraordinary if it weren't for the stacks of books placed on various surfaces throughout the room. clear lamps on heavy hardcovers, a vase of flowers on a pile of old favorites, the dark spines against the light boxes on the coffee table...
three circular mirrors break up gridlike shelving filled with various titles and trinkets. don't you love the splash of red shining through the open back bookcase?
the coral and lucite had me at hello but this space is definitely worth more than a cursory once-over. for instance, i wouldn't instinctively think to put a pair of candlesticks in a bookcase, but don't they look better there than they would hiding in some cabinet?
more coral, more candlesticks, but a very different vibe. there's no doubt it's a grown-up room, given the intricate bust and the fancy candelabra, but there are also plenty of features to suggest that someone actually lives here. the throw pillows aren't relegated to the corners of the couch but rather in the middle where they might actually be used, there are at least five stacks of books in an arm's reach, and if you look closely there's a deck of cards just waiting to be played...
now who walked into this space and decided that the frames and the objets d'art should be arranged asymmetrically, ascending toward one corner of the room? does that kind of vision just come naturally to some people? it's brilliant, it's different, and it works. i love it.

on the lookout

i've been keeping my eyes peeled for the perfect trench coat. it needs to be the right shade of khaki, hit at mid-thigh, and preferably transform me into emma watson. i'm joking about the last bit, but i think a lightweight trench coat would be a timeless addition to my closet, don't you? what do you think of the following three options from urban outfitters?

black and white stripes

happy monday, everyone! it's so nice to be back. stripes are everywhere this spring, aren't they? i went shopping on friday and saw walls and walls of striped merchandise. of course, stripes aren't a mere trend but a design staple that have adapted seamlessly from fashion to interior design and back again. here are a host of different spaces that make use of one of design's tried-and-true classics: the black and white stripe.

two very different rooms with the same base: a black and white striped rug. available inexpensively at stores like ikea (here and here) and overstock (here), it's an easy look to introduce in your own home and an affordable starting point for all kinds of décor.

a bit more of a commitment are these upholstered occasional chairs. but because the black and white stripes act as a sort of neutral, i could see them working in any number of different spaces. how about behind a desk or vanity — or perhaps at the heads of the table for a dinner party?

i love the graphic punch of striped wallpaper in a small space like a bathroom or a foyer. it's the perfect mix of classic and fun and a great backdrop for your other belongings — art, books, plants, hot pink towels...

the easiest way to bring stripes into your home. try these for an inexpensive way to try out the look before making any big decisions.

this pièce de résistance is one of my favorite spaces of all time. how playfully brilliant is the combination of scalamandre's zebra wallpaper, white subway tile, and a black and white striped shower curtain? only kate. (though if you've mastered a similar look in your own home, you're simply obliged to send me the before and after!)

have a lovely start to the week, ladies!

happy happy happy weekend!

it's the weekend and i couldn't be happier! i'm exactly one week away from two weeks of glorious spring break. we have an excursion to a nearby abbey and an afternoon picnic planned for tomorrow (i'll undoubtedly be singing the sound of music soundtrack, despite the fact that we're not in austria) and sunday will be spent catching up sleep and work. what are you up to this weekend? something fun, i hope! i'll see you back here monday!

desk du jour

a ghost chair, a pouf, and a topiary all in one space means i'm a guaranteed fan. i also love the mirrors behind the desk and the built-in shelving to the right.

on an unrelated note, my post about our weekend in switzerland is up on my study abroad blog if you care to check it out. (hang gliding video included!)

on another unrelated note, i just added an "on the daily" feature to the right side of my blog where you can check out some of my favorite blogs. i read an embarrassing number of blogs and thought it was time to share the love! let me know if i'm missing one of your favorites :) i'll be adding to the list often as i find more blogs i love! i'd love for you to take a moment (or an hour...) to click over to some of my daily reads and i hope you find one or two new favorites of your own!

rainy day chic

spring showers are no excuse not to look polished and put together. currently drawing inspiration from the following ensembles:
{emily zak of british vogue photographed by vanessa jackman}
a black umbrella shields a dangerously chic fashion editor. don't you love the way she layers a leather top over a run-of-the-mill blue oxford? such a tasteful way to incorporate the lingerie-as-clothing trend into an everyday outfit.
a red flower offsets a classic khaki trench and green hunter wellies. she is the most brilliant stylist!
a similar look updated with red hunter boots. this makes me want to add another pair to my closet! my black ones are obviously versatile but wouldn't it be fun to sport a pair of yellow wellies on an otherwise dreary day?

Bag, Tag, Bag!

catherine from the shiny pebble has dared me to share the contents of my bag with you all! i have to admit it's really nothing exciting, but i'm excited i get to tag five more bloggers! here goes...
- elliott lucca demi bag a christmas gift from my boyfriend, this can be worn as a cross-body bag (perfect for traveling), a handbag, or a clutch (ideal for nights out). it fits all my travel documents and the metallic basket-weave goes with everything.
- train tickets from tours to the airport in paris for our trip to italy in april. eleven days and counting!
- mechanical pencils primarily because i had a standardized test last week, but they're always good to have on hand!
- coach gramercy patent skinny wallet pretty in pink and just the right size for the following: 30.95€ in cash, two credit cards, two student ID cards, two "frequent flyer" cards to local restaurants (la croustille for paninis and francesca for pasta), four paris metro tickets, one unused french library card, and one untouched make-up sample from a magazine.
- american passport where would i be without this guy? i love opening up to all the newly acquired stamps. it's filling up pretty quickly!
- burt's bees replenishing lip balm with pomegranate oil as good as regular chapstick but leaves behind a dash of color.
- missing from photo (duh): panasonic lumix digital camera my dad and i spent a little too much time picking the perfect camera but at least we got it right in the end. i'm obsessed!

now for the fun part! not that i wouldn't love a sneak peek into all of your handbags (i'll fess up to being rather nosy) but here are the names of five lovely ladies i hope will be up for the challenge:
carissa from lowercase letters
fallon from a lovely being
jamie from glam latté
please don't disappoint, darlings! i'm looking forward to seeing what you've got.

stella mccartney

cheers from london town, everyone! i hope everyone had a lovely weekend. we're here for a quick pit stop before i head back to tours tomorrow. i'm so excited to show my brother the city and meet up with my beloved cousin! (by the way, if you haven't checked out her blog, you're missing out!) in the spirit of all things british, i loved every look that walked down the runway at stella mccartney's fall 2010 show. and you?

neutral territory

i think it's only appropriate to preface our weekend trip to switzerland with a few of my favorite neutral spaces. i am quite certain that our whirlwind trip, which is to include hang gliding in the swiss alps, will be anything but neutral, but it seems only fair to honor the country's historically unbiased stance with a hearty helping of simple and pretty.
rug: good. chairs: great. worn metal table (look close!): sheer brilliance.
i spy with my little eye... one of my favorite materials, lucite.
i love the range of seating options here: leather wingback, white sofas, modern occasional chair. the antler chandelier is a perfect finishing touch and i love the wire pendants too. wow, is there anything i don't love about his portfolio?
{above three rooms, gunkelman flesher via desire to inspire}
i'm not sure what that little wooden cubby is for but, thanks to the exposed brick and the cool light fixture, i think we can agree to let it slide.
i would love to cozy up with a good book on one of these chaises longues.
pendant lamps for freeing up space on your bedside table = genius.
i love the hexagonal floor tiles in this otherwise ordinary bathroom.

like the gallery walls, like the hat on the bust, like the funky silhouette of the chairs, like it all.

white walls, dark floors, and a whole lot of pretty in between.

before we leave, i wanted to take a moment to thank you all for your lovely comments and emails this week. your creativity and kindness never cease to amaze me. i'll be catching up on my blog reading when i return from my weekend away so i'll be returning the favor soon enough! thank you again and have yourselves a fantastic weekend!

bicycle rides and desk du jour

my brother, grayson, and i just got back from a 26 mile bike ride from tours to villandry! those who have been reading for a while may remember how tough this ride was for me the first time around (read about it here and here) — but this time we one-upped ourselves by making it there and back! that's 42 kilometers, ladies and gents.
i didn't want to leave you hanging, though, so i thought i'd include this handsome space for your viewing pleasure. i don't know that it's exactly what you'd call a desk but there's a chair and books and lots of pretty, so why not?
seriously, how good are those black floors and that yellow chair? i hope you are all having a wonderful week — the weekend is just around the corner!