California designer Shiree Hanson Segerstrom's weekly tips for decorating, gardening, and stylish living

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

GREAT TABLE LAMPS...First in a Series on Lighting

I never get tired of looking at lighting.  Good looking lamps are really hard to find.

So when I find a good source for lamps I am thrilled because it means a lot less time sourcing.  This gold leaf Greek key design is gorgeous but will only work in classic or modern styles rooms.  Still, I love it.






















This style of lamp is what is loosely referred to as transitional.  Transitional means the style can be either traditional or contemporary.  I love that ambiguity.






















This lamp has an Italian flair to it.  One of the things I have noticed about Italian design in the U.S. is that it is so overdone.  Venetian plaster in a new Sacramento home is never a good idea, however the old architecture of San Francisco is a different story.  I would love this lamp in a room that has a quiet elegance: solid velvets, Belgian linens, highly crafted yet simple wood furniture.























This lamp would be best in a modern or retro looking room.  The scale would be tricky to work with but then again, sometimes going against your instincts on scale can have a reversal effect.  In other words, using big items in a small room can at times make the room feel bigger.






















Another modern looking lamp.  This could also be very glamorous like in Hollywood Regency styles.  Good looking lamps have a way of coming back decades later.
Silvery, reflective finishes work well in small or dark spaces, and are complimentary to most color schemes.  I've never been one to shy away from mixing metals...clients ask that all the time. 

The lyre is a symbol often used in architecture.  The lamp above is based on a lyre's design.  

Pagoda's come from Oriental design.  This is obviously a western rendition but it certainly is cute.  It would be adorable in a bedroom with toile or Chinoiserie fabrics.

I could see the lamp above in a man's den or bedroom.  It's masculine and modern.

I just love this lamp.  I'd like to see it with classic or traditional room styles or a glamorously designed one.

Another pagoda, this one silver leafed with a black drum shade.  More on lamps Monday, May 23rd!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pet Hair, Stains, and Decorating Lessons Learned the Hard Way

We have always had pets.  Cats, dogs, mice, hamsters, and leopard gecko's in the early years when my son Christian was little and later, just dogs and cats.

















It's true, they are a lot of work.  There are the walks every morning and night, the aspirin administered daily to old timer Spreckles, and the occasional accidents on my hardwood floors.  However, the unconditional love they give and the fun they add to our lives is beyond measure.

Choosing the correct fabrics are the most important decisions you will make when decorating a home around pets.  There are simple do's and dont's to make life easier and more pleasant with pets in the house. 






















Prints such as subtle florals, stripes, checks, or tone on tone fabrics hide pet hair, spots, and stains better than solid fabrics.  Textured fabrics such as washed chenille's repel them better than smooth or polished cottons.  Mohair's and velvets will repel stains and dirt but pet hair sticks to them like Velcro.






















My cats have always been on the furniture and my dogs on beds on the floor.  Riley my two year old adopted cocker spaniel didn't learn this rule early on and I've tried in vain to teach him.  He has claimed my master bedroom reading armchair and prefers it especially when I've been courteous enough to warm it for him.




Stormie, my 18 pound, plus-size cat has claimed the slip covered armchair I designed for and placed in the best sunny window in the house.  Cats have a way of winnowing out the best perches.  























There are many tricks for containing and controlling pets indoors.  One of my own rules is that my pets live indoors with the family.  When I'm away for more than a few hours, I have gates for closing them off in the kitchen where the floor is pet friendly...just in case.  I've built an outdoor dog run off the main patio where they can spend the afternoon when the weather is mild.  It's shaded and cool in our hot California summers.

Slipcovers are especially pet friendly because they can be stripped off and either washed or dry cleaned.  Don't wash slipcovers unless you are absolutely certain the fabric was pre-washed before fabrication.

Upholstery can often be professionally cleaned on site by a professional carpet cleaner or drapery cleaner.  A word of warning here: If the fabric is older than 4 years, have them do a spot test.  The little welts on the back and arms are prone to fraying.

Set your pets up for success by making sure they know the rules of the house.  Consistency is key with dogs.  Cats of course, can't be trained so if you don't care for their characteristics, best to stick with dogs.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Decorating with Faux Boxwood and Florals...Intermingle them with fresh to fool the eye!

Keeping indoor plants alive is a challenge for most people, me included.  If you have found the plants that thrive in your home's unique lighting conditions you more than likely have them in abundance.






















I love the look of boxwood and ivy topiary in my projects but unfortunately indoor lighting conditions don't suit those plants.  Further, topiary are expensive and replacing them every time they die isn't practical.  I came up with a solution that I think will appeal to even anti-faux plant people.
 

What I've learned is mixing real plants, the ones that you know work in your home, with faux boxwood creates a kind of smoke and mirrors.  People see and feel the real plants and an assumption is made that the others are real by association.

I recently redecorated my own entry and living room which you can see in the pictures below.  Since I want my house to look good all the time I have built in a little system for having continuously good looking floral and plants.

I intermingle live plants such as creeping fig and reindeer fern in decorative jardinieres with faux boxwood and faux rosemary in beautifully crafted clay pots.  It's particularly effective if the live ones are near the entry to the room.  This builds a "precedence". 

Incorporating dried plants and wreaths is another little trick I've learned.  I love dried eucalyptus, bay, and boxwood like the wreath in my entry above.

Faux plants have a bad reputation because the quality was poor for so many years.  Today's faux plants are different than Grandmother's.  Manufacturer's often use real wood in topiary.  The foliage looks imperfect and inconsistent just like in nature.

Another little system I created is with fresh floral.  I have placed several beautiful vases with faux hyacinth, faux hydrangea, and faux pomegranate branches throughout my home.  When I entertain, I simply swap the faux floral with fresh ones from my garden such as lilac, roses, daffodils, and tulips.

Good looking faux topiary and floral arrangements are not easy to come by, nor are they inexpensive.  For this reason many stores don't keep them stocked.  They were a regular feature at my store S.S.HOME.  I have found a wonderful, tiny store in Oakdale, California that carries all shapes and sizes of faux topiary like the ones seen above.

The green pot above came from there and it's called Alexandra's Home and Garden.  The other turquoise pots came from a store around the corner from Alexandra's called I Love Paris.  And the big, beautiful dried wreath came from Fleur de Lis in Modesto, California.  Alex, Ruth, and Eleanor have been doing retail for years and each of them have developed very pleasing retail styles.

This trophy vase embellished with lion engravings and lion medallion handles is loosely filled with a boxwood garland.  

Fresh potted creeping fig in a Portmerion bowl I picked up on a trip through Wales.  Portmerion is available at better china stores.  Sometimes you can find it piecemeal at TJ Maxx.

1-7 1/2" potted boxwood, set of 2 $12.85 and $10.85; 2-double 16" boxwood in red clay pot $31; 3-Set of 3 spindly boxwood in flared pots $82 per set; 4-boxwood wreath with ribbon 9 1/2" diameter $31; 5-double boxwood topiary 40" $314 (regularly $418); 6-20" boxwood wreath $53; 7-triple boxwood 60" $410 (regularly $682).  All plants available through Shiree Segerstrom Interior Design.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Dinner is Served"... A Look at the Most Formal Room in the Home.























The old home builders had it right putting formal, stand alone dining rooms in every house.  They went away for awhile but a look at the following photos would lead one to believe they are back and looking better than ever.  Betsy Burnham dining room above.



















The fact that dining rooms are gaining popularity pleases me.  Old fashioned manners have all but disappeared here in the states, and sitting down to dinner at a proper dining table encourages us to slow down and focus on the important things: family, friends, and the events of the day.  Brian McCarthy dining room.























Dining rooms aren't hard to design or decorate, once you realize what is most often missing is fabric.  Think of it this way: a room is just a box of walls, ceiling, and floor.  If you add a wooden hutch, wooden table and chairs, wooden doors and windows, all you have is... wood.  Barbara Westbrook and Kim Winkler dining room.























Putting fabric on the chairs and windows is really necessary to keep the room from looking cold and unfinished.  Fabric is one of the most important elements in the room.  Ashley Whitaker dining room.























DeGourney wallpaper is extremely popular right now in formal dining rooms.  Architectural features like molding, casement, and lighting are equally defining.  Alessandra Branca dining room.



















Whatever dining scheme or style is used, fabric will soften and envelope the room, muffle sounds, and give it a finished look.  Abby Rizor.























If you enjoy entertaining as I do, you know how useful the dining room can be.  I can seat up to 8 at my table.  Any more than that and I use it as a buffet.  Some time ago I purchased about 30 simple, 10" white plates.  I like to stack them at one end of the table with the old fashioned silver flatware my Mother gave me for my 50th birthday, and freshly pressed linen napkins.





































Mother's Day is this Sunday.  I am having about 30 guests at my Sonora home for a barbeque after the annual Mother's Day Parade.  I'm so looking forward to reconnecting with family and friends.  Then on Sunday morning we will go to Murphy's, our nearby winery enclave for a family brunch.  The best part is my son Christian will be home for a few days!  Christina Rottman dining room.























Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Refresher Course

I freshened up the decor of my Sonora home recently.  The changes are a subtle update that brightens and enlivens the space.






















With colors of cream, taupe, warm green and claret red, adding touches of bright turquoise and shiny mercury glass immediately updated my living room into a multi-color scheme.  Adding the Moroccan inspired tablecloth by Pomegranate gave this corner of the large room a busier, more updated feel.  Piecrust pots from Napa Home and Garden.

The iron Eiffel Tower, found at a California flea market by my picker Suzie Shawnego makes a good parking spot for recently received cards and invitations.






















While I miss the ambiance of having table lamps in the entry, the oversize pots, turquoise vase by HomArt, and my wedding silver add a lot visual interest.  The framed mirror is an antique and the sideboard is vintage Drexel Heritage.






















I found this great trophy cup with lion details at the L.A. Home and Gift Market a few years ago.  It looks great overflowing with boxwood clippings.
































































Another Napa Home and Garden piecrust rim, glazed clay pot above, holding hydrangeas.  Love the acid green.






















No huge changes in the dining room.  I just added a few red goblets to my Vagabond Vintage hotel dinner ware.  The zinc pigeons are from Vagabond Vintage as well but are no longer being made.






















One of my friends and readers, Lisa, noticed I haven't been posting salad combinations.  This salad is for you Miss Lisa.  Hugs to you my Texas friend!

spinach
red onion
Point Reyes bleu cheese
toasted walnuts
dried cranberries
fresh ground sea salt and pepper 
aged balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

Assemble all ingredients on a large plate starting with spinach.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Great combination.

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