Gifting for the Humble Abode

Gift Guide 2017 - Home

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This year, home for the holidays has a special meaning for me because it’s the first time Tom and I will celebrate Christmas in our very own home. One of the first things I did in preparation for the Holidays was to go out and buy the largest tree that would fit in front of our windows. I’ve always loved a tree in front of a window because not only do you get to enjoy it, but those on the outside do, too.

When it came to thinking about gifts for the home, I gravitated towards really unique items that would really make a house a home. Those things that show others a bit more of your personality and make coming home feel special.

I really love the idea of pairing this acrylic book stand with a gorgeous coffee table book. I have lots and lots of coffee table books that I absolutely love and while they look good sitting on a shelf or the table, I’ve hardly ever seen a guest look at one. I like the idea that you could open your favorite book to your favorite page and encourage guests to thumb through it. Continuing with the book theme, I’m feeling like my bookcases could use a little kick. I love the idea of pairing these beautiful bookends with your most tattered and beloved books to create a beautiful contrast on your cases.

I also looked for items that I thought would make a space cozy and bright. I’m completely obsessed with these pillowcases by Elizabeth Few. I saw them first at Roxie Daisy here in Charlottesville and have been completely in love ever since. I also love the idea of using this coverlet during the holiday months. How amazing would an emerald green velvet coverlet look this time of year.

And last, but not least, those emoji notecards. Last year, I got some emoji cocktail napkins that I just love, and I wanted to continue the theme. My husband has been really into writing handwritten letters this year, and I love the fact that these pair the best of technology with a good, old fashioned note.

I hope you find something in here that will bring a special touch to the homes of those you love this year.

Merry Merry!

It’s All In The Mix

abstract art dresser interiors

I’ve always loved this image from Veranda – I love the choice of art, the colors, the textures, and especially the mix of styles. I think there are two reasons why mixing styles works so well in this image. The first is that pairing the antique dresser with a bright, colorful piece of contemporary art breathes life into the dresser, which could have a tendency to be overly stodgy or too precious. The second is that there is a tension created by placing two contrasting items next to each other that is much more interesting than if you didn’t.

I have a somewhat similar antique dresser that I absolutely love, and I’m dying to get a great abstract painting to go above it. If I did, this is how I would style it.

The gorgeous painting is by Michael Manning on Artsy, which is a great source of contemporary art, and I paired it with a wonderful occasional chair from Jonathan Adler, a unique lamp, and a simple box.

I also found several other options, below, that offer a similar take on the idea:

A Pop of Primary

Shiraleah Clutch//Sachajuan Spray//Rebecca de Ravenel Earrings//Milly Dress//bkr Waterbottle//Sophia Webster Shoes//Katie Kime Elephant//Oliver Peoples Sunglasses

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Pop of Color

 

 

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Paz Collective Scarf// Ann Taylor Funnel Neck Coat //  Franchi Clutch (similar here and here) // World Market Earrings (similar here) // Frame Denim Jeans // Joe’s Jeans Heels // Loft Tee

While dressing for winter can be quite pricey, it’s also relatively simple. You really only need a great coat and great accessories that you mix, match and wear on repeat. That being said simple is not always easy, as I can attest. It takes some time to find a great coat. I had thought I wanted a camel wrap coat, but considering the one I want is WAY out of my budget, I started looking at alternate options. I found this great grey coat quite randomly at Ann Taylor. I love the silhouette, color, and collar, which can be worn several different ways. However, when I bought it, I realized I didn’t really have a scarf to wear with it. I think a beautiful scarf adds just the pop of color you need near your face when you’re wearing a neutral ensemble. I found this one by Paz Colllective at the Menil Collection in Houston. Museum gift shops are always my favorite as you can find really unique things that you can’t find anywhere else. I really love all the different colors in this one and the fact that the base is grey and there’s a little black means I can wear it with just about anything.

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White Space

As an art history major, I theoretically understand the importance of white space. Almost every work of art has it, and it’s almost always essential to making a beautiful piece. Yet understanding it theoretically is very different from understanding it practically. Practicality is really the realm of the artist. It is the artist that is skilled at saying this painting would be better if I didn’t put something in that space.

The problem with my theoretical understanding is that on some level I’m also an artist. I, like you, have many blank canvases in my life to paint. These include my time, my home, and my wardrobe among other things. I often find that these areas of my life are filled with too many things that I don’t love. One of my favorite authors, Leo Babauta, touched on how to remedy this problem in his article, “Too Much to Do, Not Enough Time.” He writes: “You have too many things to fit into your container, and you’ve decided to only put the important and beautiful things into the container. That means a bunch of things you think you “should” do are not going to fit.” What Leo is essentially instructing each of us to do is to become the artists of our own lives. When you boil it down, essentially the work of an artist is to choose – to choose to only depict what is most relevant and beautiful to the subject matter. And in order to emphasize the subject matter, the artist left out a lot of things he might have felt he “should” incorporate. For instance, think about the painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso. What makes this painting truly beautiful and meaningful is really what Picasso chose to leave out. Rather than depicting the women as they actually were (as he probably “should” have done as a highly trained visual artist), he chose to depict only their most basic forms, and it is what he left out that makes this painting a modern masterpiece.

As you think about those blank canvases in your life today, and your hope that they be a little more beautiful and meaningful, I invite you to ask yourself, “what can I leave out?” You might just find that this white space is just the thing your life needs to truly come alive.

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The Mildly Frustrating Wardrobe

If you’re like me you’re mildly frustrated by your wardrobe. You have pieces you like, but there are just days that it seems like you have absolutely nothing to wear. And this usually happens after a work trip when you haven’t had time to do laundry and before a big meeting when you really need to look sharp or right before you plan to go to an event and you end up blowing your money on things that aren’t really you.

I’m kind of tired of that. I hate to say it, but it kind of comes down to planning. I’ve never, ever sat down and evaluated what I want out of my closet, what I have that I like, and what I would need to get to a place that was less frustrating. For a long time, I put this process off because I felt like I needed to have the “perfect” wardrobe. You know one of those minimalist wardrobes you see all over Pinterest that allow you to be dressed for life with only 3 things? And so I put it off.

But I’ve come back to the idea with a different, looser, more realistic mindset. First off, I’ve accepted that the perfect wardrobe doesn’t exist. There will be events that come up that I never imagined, and suddenly I’ll need or want something I never expected. Second, Fashion is always changing, and if you want to be stylish you will always be trying new things with your wardrobe. Third, I might not be able to get rid of all my frustrations with my closet, but I can be more intentional about my wardrobe.

So what do I want out of my wardrobe?

I want to be stylish, well-dressed, and comfortable with minimal stress for the activities I do on a normal basis.

What are some goals I would like to achieve?

I would like to have two weeks worth of outfits that I like wearing and that are appropriate to the activities I do on a normal basis. One of the problems I run into is that I have a few outfits I really like, but often times when I want to wear them the outfit is dirty or at the dry cleaners or I’ve already worn it once that week. So two weeks worth of outfits seems like a reasonable, but not over the top thing to have.

Basically I want to build a wardrobe foundation. These items might not be all that I own, but they will be key pieces that enable me to not be as frazzled in the morning, know I have stylish and professional things to wear, not have to do laundry every week, and feel appropriately dressed for the normal activities of my life.

I’ll keep you updated on my journey from mildly frustrated to (hopefully) mostly satisfied.

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The Importance of Style & Intelligence

I took a tour of McCormick Observatory a few months ago, and came across this old picture of an astronomer at the University of Virginia. I really got a chuckle out of the fact that he was wearing a full suit and tie to stare at the stars. It also reminded me of the famous Oscar Wilde quote “you can never be overdressed or overeducated” because this picture is such a perfect visual depiction of that idea.

As someone who’s interested in both fashion and learning, I’ve always loved this quote because it marries two areas that often seem quite opposed. I think we more commonly think that highly intelligent people do not have fashion sense, and that stylish people are not well-educated. However, I, like Wilde, do not find the realms mutually exclusive.

In fact, by linking these two ideas together, Wilde insists on the importance of both, and that each is dependent on the other. You are not truly well-dressed if you have not educated yourself, and you are not fully educated if you cannot dress properly. While they are distinct arts, they both indicate a level of respect for oneself and one’s world. You are in effect saying I care enough about myself to take care of my appearance, and I care enough about the world I live in to learn about it. Both show gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given and are important areas to cultivate in our lives. 

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Dinner Chez Claire

My friend and neighbor, Claire, is starting a dinner series. She has a vision of curating fabulous dinners in unusual places be that a bank, a boutique, or a wildflower field. Last weekend, I joined her for the first iteration at her apartment and snapped a few pictures of the evening. As guests arrived they were greeted by Sangria, passed hors d’oeuvres, and an inviting tablescape on a terrace overlooking downtown Charlottesville. I fell in love with the turquoise plates, which set the stage for a beautiful meal. The three-course dinner prepared by a local chef featured a colorful summer salad, delicious paella, and to top off the meal, a trio of desserts. Not only does Claire have a knack for creating a visual feast, but she always makes sure to include the most interesting people in order to create a night to remember. I’m already looking forward to dinner number two!

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Meet Me at Congress Hall

I had the unexpected opportunity to go to Cape May last weekend. If you had asked me two weeks ago about Cape May, I could have told you absolutely nothing. However it is absolutely charming and historic to boot. Cape May is one of the country’s oldest vacation resort destinations. The whole town is a a National Historic Landmark because of the concentration of Victorian buildings.

While we stayed in the historic Bradford Cottage on Franklin Street, I spent a day at Congress Hall. Congress Hall is America’s Oldest Seaside Resort. Four different presidents have vacationed there and it was the official Summer White House for President Benjamin Harrison.

I fell in love – mostly with the colors. The outside of the hotel is the perfect shade of yellow and four enormous American flags greet you upon approach. The lobby is a gorgeous shade of green punctuated by a fantastic floral print. The restaurant, The Blue Pig Tavern, where we had lunch has the cutest napkins in a fabulous shade of light blue. Congress Hall also has it’s own farm, Beach Plum Farm, which harvests the most delicious tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. I highly recommend the BLT – perfect for a post beach snack. On the beach, you have the choice of a gorgeous yellow and white striped tent or chaise lounges and umbrellas with a pink star. The hotel definitely has me rethinking my use of color. Often times I tend to favor neutrals, but I was amazed to see how well a multitude of vastly different colors paired so fabulously together.

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How-to Dress for a Music Festival

Last weekend, I went to Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival. When I went to ACL for the first time in 2004, it wasn’t a huge deal. Now, I feel like it’s blown up and there’s more of an expectation to dress the part. It’s almost as if there is a music festival dress code these days, which can leave a lot of us wondering what to wear.

Have no fear! Here’s the five things you need to know about how to dress for a music festival. Whether you’re headed to weekend two of ACL or Festy in the Old Dominion, you’re sure to look the part.

1) Rule Numero Uno.

  • Embrace the bohemian vibe, yet don’t take it too far. While part of going to a music festival is letting your freak flag fly a little bit, you don’t want to end up with a closet full of clothes you’ll never wear again.

2) Keep your base neutral.

  • The base layer is your blank canvas where you can paint your festival masterpiece, so to speak. While I went with pants paired with tanks and tees for all these looks, you could easily do dresses, shorts, or button-downs depending on where you are headed.

3) Layer fun accessories.

  • I was able to create three distinct looks by using different accessories. The first look has more of an urban rocker thing going  on. The second gets it’s interest from the layers of colorful necklaces. And the third is slightly more polished, but the scarf, which I wore as a turban, keeps it from looking too stiff.

4) Plan your outfits ahead of time.

  • You don’t want to miss the music because you’re fretting about what to wear. For the first time in a long time, I planned out every outfit down to the lipstick I was going to wear before I left for the weekend. This ensured that I could forget about what I was wearing and just dance to Jimmy Cliff. Highly recommended.

5) Rock your own style.

  • At the festival, I got so tired of seeing girls wearing the exact same thing. It almost seemed like a uniform. I highly recommend wearing a few pieces that are uniquely you so you don’t get swallowed in the sea of cut-off shorts. While the outfits I put together have a great bohemian vibe, they aren’t too far outside my wheelhouse because they all contain things I wear on a normal basis.

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[Outfit 1: J.Crew Bag (similar)//Calvin Klein Fedora (similar)//Target Scarf (similar)//Ray-Ban Aviators//Leather Bracelet//Vintage Silver Cuff (similar)//Moroccanoil Treatment//Melissa Joy Manning Hoops//Lucchese Cowboy Boots//Tom Ford Vampire Kiss Lip Color//Arquiste for J. Crew Perfume//Coach Wallet//Citizens of Humanity Jeans (similar)//Motif 56 Belt//Altuzarra for Target Tee//J. Crew Jacket]

[Outfit 2: J Brand Jeans (similar)//CeraVe Sunscreen//Melissa Joy Manning Hoops//Vintage Necklaces//Sanctuary Clothing Tank (similar)//Straw Cowboy Hat//Dooney & Bourke Purse (similar)//Mossimo Supply Co. Sandals]

[Outfit 3: Vintage Belt//Madewell Necklace (similar)//Tom Ford Sahara Pink Ultra Shine Lipgloss//Vintage Adrienne Vittadini Scarf//Dooney & Bourke Purse (similar)//Ray-Ban Aviators//Melissa Joy Manning Hoops//Everlane Tank//Citizens of Humanity Jeans (similar)//Mossimo Co. Sandals]