For the Love of Leather

Leather need not evoke imagery of motorcycle gangs or overstuffed sofas. Allow me to present these recent favorites from Shopbop as evidence...

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What other ways are you wearing leather these days?

Lived-In Kitchens

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Why then do the kitchens featured in so many magazines give off such a steely vibe? You know what I mean: the granite, the stainless steel, the refrigerators void of family pictures and the countertops void of bills and letters. I love these kitchens for the simple reason that I'm convinced people actually live in them. 
{This might not be your average kitchen sink (filled with flowers in lieu of dirty dishes) but I love the attention to detail. Black counters are an unexpected alternative to granite or marble and they're stunning paired with white cabinetry and pale blue walls. Don't you love the flounce of the skirted sink and gardener's stool?}
{The equipment might be top-of-the-line but there's a very unfussy quality to this kitchen. The hanging pots are practical and pretty — especially with the splash of turquoise! I love the book shelves on either side of the hood.}
{I know people say they're tired of subway tile but to me it's a timeless classic. The open shelving contains an impressive cookbook collection and keeps plates and cups in easy reach. The styling — the potted plants, cut fruit, and phone on the table — gives it that lived-in look I love.}

{one | two | three}

Rue Hues {They're Baaack!}

I'm so excited to be blogging about two of my favorite spaces from the fourth issue of Rue today. Won't you stop by and share your thoughts?

How To Decorate A Small Space

Interior design is rarely easy, but those who live in particularly tiny quarters know that it’s even trickier to decorate without the luxury of space. As a college senior, I have lived in my fair share of dorm rooms... and plan to move into an equally tiny apartment wherever life takes me after graduation in May. Good things come in small packages, right?
Mirrors provide an easy and inexpensive trick for making the most of what you’ve got. There’s no better way to create the illusion of more light and more space than what you’re really stuck with. We all know this trick works in bathrooms, but I think you’ll be surprised at what it could do for other small spaces in your home.
Place a mirror over the bed or dresser in your boudoir to reflect artwork — or bring in a piece of mirrored furniture to do double duty!
A strategically placed mirror lets you check your hair on the way out the door or, in the case of this dining room, multiplies your view of a vase of flowers or the glow of candelight during a dinner party. 
Mirrors need not be hung, though that’s a great way to maximize use of floor space. Doesn’t this oversized mirror steal the show in this glamorous home office? The combination of black and gold on both the desk and the mirror create a sense of continuity that small spaces often lack.
Go big or go home, right? Channel the all-out allure of Versailles and hang square mirrors in a symmetrical grid on one wall. The effect here is that of a stately ballroom but would open things up in your home too. 
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How have you used mirrors to open up your small space? What are your tricks for decorating a small space?

I Want To Dress Like You

{Note to self: must buy red leather belt.}

Blog crush alert! I am smitten with the personal style of Atlantic-Pacific blogger Blair, who goes by her initials BEE. Smitten. She's preppy with a twist and never shies away from color or costume jewelry — an inspiration to us all!
{If only every rainy day were so chic! Blair pairs a favorite BB Dakota dress with red Hunter wellies, reminding us that inclement weather is no excuse for dreary dressing!}
{How fabulous is her hair? I'm definitely coveting her J.Crew sweater and American Apparel clutch. I'm amazed at how she makes the mundane (grabbing a cup of coffee) magnificent (bouffant and sequins).}
{I want to steal everything about this look. Who knew a classic Ralph Lauren shirt could be so fun?}
{Red lips and a hot pink skirt definitely perk up a gray day. Her love of color is endlessly inspiring!}
{That's it — I'm tying grosgrain ribbon on everything I own.}

Any other personal style blogs I should waste all day swooning over know about?

A Rustic Retreat

{The inviting front porch of Trina and her family's country home.}

I've slowly been making my way through the blogs recommended in my reader survey last week and I am just blown away by how much beauty is out there! Thank you all for sharing your favorites. One of my happiest discoveries has been A Country Farmhouse, a lifestyle blog that chronicles the renovation of Trina and her husband's home as well as a few of her passions: "country life, antiques, old houses, and healthy living." I've never found myself pining for a country cottage so badly!

{The white walls and neutral furniture of the living room exude calm and serenity. What I wouldn't give to curl up by that fire!}
{In addition to having an eye for architecture and interior design, Trina is a brilliant photographer and stylist. I love this open display in their kitchen.}
{I love the contrast between the home's white walls and the couple's collection of antiques. The blank canvas gives the dark woods new life!}
{Have you ever seen a more darling setting for a dinner party? I adore the antique tablecloth and the hydrangeas spilling onto the porch.}
{Trina frequently shares pictures of farm-fresh flowers, styled into flawless little vignettes in her own home. The eye candy is endless!}
{There are just no words to describe that view.}

Steven Gambrel in Southampton

{Gambrel matches the door trim to the vaulted ceiling in elegant glossy black. The kelly green sofa and ottoman provide a welcome contrast to the moody palette. Don't you love the red trim on the lampshades and the Missoni fabric on the armchairs?}

I'm very intrigued by this Southampton home designed by New York interior designer Steven Gambrel. It's a far cry from the beachy palette of our summer home on Nantucket (blue, white, yellow) but that's exactly what piques my curiosity!

{I love the combination of gray and red-orange in this end of the room. The unexpected textual art is an interesting touch and one that I would love to recreate in one of my own projects.}
{The playful op-art floor tile picks up on the black subway tiles and white hood in this high-tech-meets-rustic kitchen. Notice the contrast between the modern open shelving and the worn farmhouse table — delightful!}
{Wood benches are an unlikely alternative to traditional dining chairs. They might not be very comfy but they definitely work from an aesthetic perspective! I love that the doors open up onto some sort of terrace. How great would it be to cook with the beachy breeze and fresh air so close?}

It's definitely not your average beach home but I love it just the same. How about you?

{P.S. I think I'm going to switch back to two posts a day. It would give me the time to write up a longer post like this one every now and then as opposed to short, one picture posts. What do you think?}

Quote Du Jour

Thank God It's Friday!

It couldn't come soon enough. This weekend is my final House Party Weekend at Bucknell and my friends and I will be making the most of it! I have two friends coming in from Connecticut and I'm so excited to catch up and show them around. I hope your weekend is equally fun-filled and I'll see you all back here on Monday!

{photo via Haute Design}

Forever Favorite

My love of navy blue (see my "about" page) is here to stay and I'm happy to report that the design world is in agreement. How stunning is the use of my favorite hue in these interiors? The navy and white toile wallpaper in the Lonny bathroom is a charming twist on my favorite powder room. The second space features a very rich shade and sticks to a rather monochromatic palette. I spy a very classic Hermès blanket and a wonderfully preppy skull-embroidered velvet pillow! The third interior, designed by Windsor Smith and featured in the pages of Rue, suggests a compromise for those unable to paint or paper their walls: floor-length curtains! The saturated silk is delightfully dramatic — and this navy-loving lady can't get enough.

Client Work!

I'm beyond thrilled to announce that I have begun to take on a couple of interior design projects! This is an idea board I drew up for a New York City loft where we're trying to incorporate the client's impressive Danish modern furniture collection into a more colorful, Lonny-inspired space that feels effortless and family-friendly. What do you think? 

Must. Catch. Up.

Design Darling is looking a little empty today. And I'm looking, well, a little wiped out. I hope you won't mind me taking the day to conquer my inbox, actually open the new Rue, and write some pretty posts for tomorrow. Send your best tips for overcoming stress and getting productive my way : )

P.S. I'm compensating for my lack of posts today by sharing "My Stuff" on my friend Helena's gorgeous blog, A Diary of Lovely!

{photo by Pamela Hanson}

The Design Dialogues {Mrs. Lilien}

I pretty much cried tears of joy when Kelley Lilien agreed to participate in The Design Dialogues. A busy Mrs. with a styling house and a delightful blog under her belt, Kelley has a covetable style that's all her own. I could not be more enamored with her punchy portfolio, her poetic blog posts, and her cheery outlook on life. Without further ado, my very favorite Mrs.!

Never has a stylist's portfolio made me quite this happy.

Who you are: 
Mrs. Kelley Lilien

What you do: 
Prop Stylist + Graphic Designer + Poetic Blogstress

Where you do it: 
Coronado, California

Pictures from the "7 Persuasions of a Successful Mrs." shoot that Kelley styled for her portfolio.

Five words to describe yourself... 
Enthusiastic, convivial, ostentatious, passionate, and excitable.
How do you define your aesthetic? 
Old school country club cocktail party meets modern day glam on her way to the glitter parade.
Who are your style icons? 
Carmen Miranda, Lilly Pulitzer and Cher.

This Mrs. thinks of everything. Design is in the details!

Favorite destination: 
I have a soft spot for Palm Springs, but say Ibiza and my knees go weak.
Favorite quote: 
"The sky's the limit!"
Favorite site: 
It changes all the time; however, today I am really loving Pintrest. Admittedly, I'm late to the party, but I'm having all kinds of fun with this!
Favorite store: 
Jonathan Adler, it's the happiest place on earth.

I have always loved this shot!
Favorite thing to read: 
The thesaurus.
Favorite thing to watch: 
Re-runs of The French Chef with Julia Child.
Favorite thing to wear: 
Giant costume jewelry and bright lipstick.

Kelley (second from right) and friends pose for another portfolio shot.

How did you decide to launch your own styling house? 
I concocted my imaginary dream job and, with some good advice and encouragement, I made it happen.
What is the most glamorous aspect of your job? 
Spirited praise from perfect strangers and getting recognized in public.

And the least glamorous aspect? 
Late nights, long hours, closets bursting at the seams with mounds of carnival-esque items.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? 
Knowledge is power.
And the advice you’d offer aspiring entrepreneurs? 
Follow your heart. If you have the talent to back up your dreams, everything will fall into place.

Mrs. Lilien's dream home.

Three tasks on your to do list. 
My to do lists frighten me; I'd prefer not to talk about them!

Three items on your wishlist.
1. Caviar Sudan Sunglasses 
2. Giant Inflatable Pool Swan 
3. Meyer Lemon Tree

Three tasks on your bucket list. 
1. Ride a camel in the Arabian dessert.  
2. Live in London for a year.
3. Have a heart-shaped pool like Jayne Mansfield in my back yard!

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Thank you so much for participating, Mrs. Lilien! Isn't she fabulous, everyone? If you're like me and can't get enough of her work and witticisms, do check out her blog and portfolio!