Saturday, November 26, 2011

My holiday wishlist disguised as gift suggestions

 Are You Considered
a Grinch?
A Scrooge?
or (Even Worse)
An Old House "Nut"?

Send this to Your Nemesis:

Top 10 Best Holiday Gift Ideas
(not just) for Old House Lovers

For some reason I've never understood,* most owners of old houses have a reputation for being, to put it gently, difficult to buy gifts for. As one of those so-called "old house nuts" who has been tagged as "impossible to shop for," I feel compelled to set the record straight and help the friends and families of others who are crazy about (a) their house, especially but not necessarily if it is a historic home and/or (b) antiques and/or (c) garbage picking and/or (d) obsessive attention to detail find out how easy (and affordably) we really are to please. (Links for c and d are provided in case you need a context for this classification.)

See the list, vote for your favorite idea or add your own.

(*And if you have any ideas why folks dread gift shopping for us old house lovers, please let me know.)

Thank you and have a happy, peaceful holiday season!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Great Holiday Gift Ideas for the Home Decor Enthusiast

Our Favorite Books for Interior Decorating
Inspiration, Advice & DIY Instructions

  As interior decorators, one of the most frequent questions we receive is "can you recommend a book" about some aspect of interior decorating.The ones we recommend the most -- with extensive reviews and resources too -- are also our top gift suggestions for anyone interested in interior design, home decorating, and similar topics.

The home decorating books we have chosen to include are ones that we think will appeal to both those with little or no experience on a basic instructional level (if applicable) yet still provide inspiration and tips the more expert will appreciate. We have tried to cover a range of topics, including window treatments, pillows and decorating accessories, upholstery, fabric, period decor, and general interior decorating and design topics.
You can see the complete list and details at

Top 10 Best Home Decorating Books

Friday, November 11, 2011

New! Arts & Crafts / Craftsman Style Design and Decor

We’ve recently published a two-part guide to Arts & Crafts style in general with a particular emphasis on interior décor for c. 1900 period home décor.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce those of our readers who may not be familiar with this classic style to some of the basics. Craftsman is the term used for the American adaptation of the British Arts & Crafts Style. Both styles are organic components of the Arts & Crafts Movement, which was as much a philosophy and social movement as a design style. Many of the artists associated with the style were active in socialist (in the UK), progressive (in the US), and environmental social reform causes.

The Arts & Crafts movement arose as a reaction to industrialization’s effects on society, the environment, and the decline in production quality the industrial revolution caused. It was a direct response to the transformations in quality and design caused by mass production. Hence, the Arts & Crafts style emphasized individual design and craftsmanship.

This period (c. 1890-1915), not coincidentally, coincided with the late Victorian era. The emphasis on simplicity so important to the Arts & Crafts aesthetic was also a reaction to the real and perceived excesses of the Victorian era. Many of the earliest proponents of the Arts & Crafts movement began with the Eastlake, Aesthetic and Gothic Revival designs they helped popularize in the late 19th century.

Contra the complex and ornate mix of patterns and embellishments the Victorians favored, Arts & Crafts design was starkly simply with minimal ornamentation that emphasized colors and stylized forms from nature. Architecture was seen as organic and buildings were designed to utilize local resources such as stone and wood indigenous to the area. The goal was to harmonize with the natural surroundings.

The emphasis on organic design and the expanse and diversity of the American landscape led to several distinct regional differences in the Craftsman style. From Bungalow style in the Northeast to the Prairie style of the Midwest and the Spanish-influenced Mission styles of Texas and California, the shared hallmarks of skilled craftsmanship, individual authorship, and functional form were both evident and a unifying factor.

To learn more about the Arts & Crafts Style, Click Here. (Will open in a new window.)

To see even more pictures, watch videos, and read about some of the leading members of the Arts & Crafts movement in both Britain and the U.S. Click Here Names to know include John Ruskin, William Morris, Gustav Stickley, Elbert Hubbard, Walter Crane, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Frank Lloyd Wright, and others. We’re still adding to the list so bookmark this page and follow us here or
on Twitter  for news and updates

Thursday, October 27, 2011

First Snow & Simmering Soup

First snow of the season today here in CNY. Made me yearn for a bowl of hot 'n hearty soup.
Since I didn't quite expect the snow yet, I was caught unaware and didn't have the ingredients on hand, so I'm planning on making this for the weekend...It's easy to make but takes 2 or 3 hours to cook. That's a plus in my book as nothing warms up a house on a chilly day more than the delicious aroma of a soup simmering on the stove, especially if you aren't ready to turn up the thermostate yet!

Here's my recipe if you'd like to try it.
I suggest adding a green salad and a crusty loaf of dark whole grain bread for a most satisfying meal. You can make it with the beef or vegan style if you prefer. Either way, it is satisfying, healthy, and delicious!

Beefy Ukrainian Borscht

Monday, October 17, 2011

FABRIC: Are Natural or Synthetic Fibers Better?

FABRICS: Are Natural or Synthetic Fibers
Better to Use for Interior Decorating Fabrics?

Check out this FAQ about the pros and cons of different types of fabric content. Dispels myths about both natural and synthetic fabrics and has a lot of resources. Well organized and worth a look for anyone interested in home decorating, fabrics, and green living.

If you have a question not answered in this comprehensive guide, you are invited to submit it and you will receive an answer too.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Greetings fellow decorating time travelers!

September 29, 2011:
Is "Somewhere in Time" one of your favorite films? Do you find yourself paying more attention to the settings of period shows than to the story? Do you get excited if you are digging a flower bed and find an old bent hand-forged iron nail? Then, my dear reader, perhaps you were also born too late.  In my case, I figure I arrived on the scene about 150 years too late, give or take a decade or two. 

This blog will reflect that by focusing mostly on the past in the present. Allow me to provide some context by way of a background summary:

Personally, my wife and I are restoring a Queen Anne Victorian, which has been our dream for more years than I care to admit. Professionally, I specialize in helping others create livable yet historically sensitive rooms that are appropriate to both the style and period of the home as well as the owners’ lifestyles.

Although we currently live in an 1880 house, we work with a range of styles from the 1700s through the 1950s, including American Colonial, Neoclassical, Federal, Victorian, Gothic Revival, Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, Retro and their sub-styles.

In addition to historic home decorating and consulting, we sell related items on our websites and other on-line sites. We pride ourselves on our outstanding customer service, our stellar reputation as interior decorators and as top-rated e-merchants, we live in a historic home still undergoing major restoration. As many owners of old houses (affectionately aka ''money pits'') discover, the painstaking work of historically sensitive renovation and restoration is made even slower by the search for and high costs of quality materials.

We have been able to find many resources for original and reproduction building materials, hardware, and fixtures - but there was no one offering top-notch affordable period reproduction wallpapers as well as a range of historically-appropriate damasks, brocades, embroideries, toiles, tapestries, velvets, silks, chintzes, and trims for upholstery, portieres, bedding, draperies, lampshades, and the like. And the cost of what we did find was often prohibitive.

Fortunately, we had access to decorator showrooms but it was time consuming and, even at wholesale prices, budget-breaking to find appropriate choices for our clients' homes (ranging from 1700s saltboxes to 1950-60s tract houses) as well as for our own.

Looking for an alternative, we began building an international network of the finest designers, fabric mills, suppliers and trade showrooms. We collected thousands of first quality over-runs, sale fabrics and trims, bolt ends, decorator remnants, discontinued yardage, and new vintage goods so we could create the perfect exquisitely appointed, detailed interiors that old homes (and their owner-caretakers) demand and deserve.

Through word of mouth and internet, the demand for our services (and our fabric collection) grew. We decided to try listing some of our finds on-line and, thanks to like-minded spirits and fellow fabric addicts and old-house lovers, Restoration Fabrics & Trims and Old House Interiors are now world-wide resources with multiple sales outlets.