Great windows are a practical way to take advantage of the scenery that surrounds your home. I like how a large window can frame a beautiful tree or field and instantly create a piece of art that changes with the season. At the moment I am fortunate enough to live in a home with bay windows. It sits quite a distance from the road, so the snow covered scenes I've been seeing lately look really spectacular.
I admire windows that stand on their own, without the clutter of drapes or blinds. This is not to say that I don't appreciate a beautifully dressed frame but there is something so clean and picturesque about a bare window.
Here are a few examples I came across to inspire your next window treatment... or not.
These arched windows have such an intricate design it would be a shame to obscure the graceful architecture, or trim for that matter. The designer has opted for an all-white palette, allowing the detail around the window to pop.
In this 2009 Princess Margaret Hospital Showhome designed by Lynda Reeves, a dark smoky paint on the window muntins really frames the view.
This bathroom window makes the tree outside resemble a lush landscape painting.
This church-turned-kitchen is exquisite. Architect Jonathan Tuckey took advantage of the tall gothic window, which seeps sunlight.
I can't imagine an iota of windowpane buried under heavy drapery. An organic background enhances the cool palette — throw open the French doors and breathe deeply.
1. Wave Avenue blog.
2. From House & Home March 2009 issue, design by Lynda Reeves, photography by Michael Graydon.
3. Mark D. Sikes Powerful blog.
4. Shadow House by Jonathan Tuckey, architect. Photo by Dirk Linder. via Remodelista.
5. Boxwood Clippings blog.
Designer Kimberley Seldon of HGTV fame takes gingerbread house decorating seriously. Using ready-made kits available through Metro, Seldon suggests ways to customize a house based on your decor preferences. What else would you expect from a design diva?
Traditionalists rely on the classic colour combinations found in the candy that accents this look. Choose symmetrical details for the exterior of the house, like twin candy cane pillars. Create a wreath with coated chocolate candies and enhance 'curb' appeal with a mint-square doormat. Finish with snowy dusting of shredded coconut.
The modernist makes a statement with simple graphics and uncomplicated details. To make a contemporary wreath, slice the top off a white marshmallow and ring by black-and-white licorice allsorts. Use a halved black jelly bean as a doorknob, and chocolate-coated mints to mimic rooftop tiles.
You love to make a splash and get noticed. Take a similar approach when creating a gingerbread house and lavish it with metallics in the form of a gold dragée starburst and luxe gold-wrapped truffles that fill in for winter planters. White-chocolate pretzels stand in for lattice on the side of the house, while the walkway is lined with silver candy balls to create a grand entrance. Sprinkle crystal sugar coating on the roof, and kick things up a notch with a row of silver bling down the peak.
A confession: I've never read Love in the Time of Cholera. It was, apparently, everyone's favourite book in university, but I never got around to it. So while I didn't really get the reference to the novel in this week's listing in Cartagena, Colombia, I nevertheless fell in love with the house. Whether you're a Gabriel García Márquez fan or not, this $12.8 million colonial beauty in the heart of the port city is worth a look.
Imagine yourself in a warmer climate, with a Caribbean breeze wafting through the palms and the fountain burbling next to you. I'm crazy about the orange walls — and the vines climbing them — paired with the blue tile. On the second level, one side is shaded by a roof, the other by a leafy pergola.
Here's the vestibule beyond the fountain — possibly one of the most charming spaces I've ever seen while combing through listings for this blog. I can't resist a good beamed ceiling, especially with the wood chandelier and stone floor. And that juliet balcony! Let's take a moment to just sigh over it.
The roof deck not only has a view of the Caribbean Sea, but a hot tub as well. (Though, sadly, no sea view from the hot tub.) In an 11-bedroom mansion, getting food from the kitchen up to this al fresco dining spot is probably a long haul. Luckily, there's an elevator to lighten the load.
Instead of drapes, this dining room has romantic curtains of vines. (Let's just pretend never drop their leaves or wither.) The scale is clearly grand — this table seats 18, and you could probably squeeze a nineteeth onto the chandelier — but the covered arches make the space feel like a hidden surprise.
A TV lounge off the courtyard is open to both the entry and adjoining room, but warm lighting and a plush cluster of seating create an inviting little retreat. For further relaxing, there's a gym, sauna, and spa-like area with a loose stone floor.
Upstairs, each of the 11 bedrooms has an ensuite bath. If the floor space and two seating areas in this room are any indication, though, the place could easily sleep 40 or 50.
Want to know more about this Colombian manse? The listing bills it as a single-family home, but a little searching reveals that it's currently a luxury hotel. Take a look!
1–6. Casa Pestagua
For another dreamy South American home, read about this Uruguay villa.
I've been noticing a softer decorating palette for the holidays: candy-cane hues of red, white and bright green are taking a back seat to pinks, orange, forest, mint and gold. Delicious! Stationery company Rifle Paper Co. nails the mix in their holiday card collection. Here are my two favourite takes. Hopefully they inspire you!
Pale pink takes the spotlight, dressed up with ribbons of gold and sage with coral accents.
I'd love to see this pretty combination on a tall statement tree.
Minty blue and greens ground sugary pops of pink, and persimmon orange.
A house strung with evergreen garlands and lush wreaths would look great updated in these colours. Happy holidays everyone!
1, 3. Kimberley Brown
2, 4. Justine Wong
Recently I've been seeing a lot of street style photos like this pop up on blogs and Pinterest. They got me thinking. I have a sweater like that, I must dig it out.
And here it is. My mother knit my Aran sweater more than 20 years ago. It's now back in regular wardrobe rotation. This sweater is a testament to superiority of natural materials (pure wool) and handmade construction. Aran knits take their name from the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. The natural wicking, insulating qualities and water-repellency of the wool made these sweaters ideal protection for those spending their days fishing the fierce North Atlantic. The combinations of stitch patterns used were indicators of clan and livelihood. For example, moss stitch depicts the seaweed that was used to fertilize the fields; cable stitch represents fisherman's ropes. In fact, the distinctive patterns were often used to identify the bodies of fishermen whose bodies washed up on the shore following an accident at sea. Ah, bless the Irish and their grim tales! I'm pleased to report my sweater conjures much happier thoughts.
My newly rediscovered love of chunky, creamy cable knits has me wishing I could drape myself in them 24/7. Luckily, the trend has migrated over to home, so I have the option of doing just that.
I trace the rise of this trend to Christien Meindertsma. The Dutch-born artist's 2005 Flocks series and other knit creations are a whimsical overscale take on needle traditions and a commentary on sustainability. Hers is not your grandma's knitting basket!
This piece by Meindertsma is actually a rug knit from the wool of 18 merino sheep! I could never imagine walking on such a pretty thing. I'd use it as a wall-hanging like this. You can actually buy this through Thomas Eyck for about $10,600.
If you are nimble with the needles there are many great online sources for knitting patterns. My favourite is this one for a Christmas stocking. If you are more of a buy it than make it type, this throw from Rockett St. George is the perfect accompaniment to a mug of tea and a good book.
My love of Aran knits, however, is not boundless, and doesn't extend to slipcovered chairs and sweatered trophy heads!
Browse a gallery of more cosy winter-inspired winter decorating ideas.
1. Irina Lakicevic via A Portable Package blog
2. Margot Austin
3. Le Souk via The Style Files
4. via Les Carnets du Design
5. VT Wonen Inspiration House lifestyle fair via The Style Files
7. Land of Nod
9. Rockett St. George
10. Biscuit Scout via Etsy
11. Rachel Deny via Afflante
Let's get it straight from the start: even though this week's home has sweet cottage style, it's not really a cottage — unless a six-bedroom, 8,000-square-foot, price-on-request mansion is your idea of one. That said, it is an adorable getaway on St. Lucia, and well worth a look if you need a Monday escape.
The house's huge scale is pretty well disguised from this angle by greenery, and a blue and pink pastel paint job and gingerbread details lends it a grown-up dollhouse look.
On the other side, though, an infinity pool looks across the bay and out to the Caribbean Sea, and the stairs at right lead to beach access and a dock. According to the listing, the property is near the town of Gros Islet, at the island's northwestern tip, but the map puts it further down the west coast, near the city of Castries.
After a dip in the pool or the surf, rinse off in the outdoor shower and sit down to a meal in the open-air dining room. White louvers and cutouts conceal both a canvas that can be rolled down as a sun screen and a hurricane shutter system for windier weather.
I'm not sure if this is the 30' x 30' entertaining space the listing mentions, but interior designer Lane Pettigrew certainly filled the room with enough crisp white upholstery, dark wood floors, and curving palm branches for an authentic colonial look. If you don't have time to grab a book and put your feet up on that plush armchair, there's a separate home office.
What I love about this kitchen is that even though the bright light and palm fronds give it a tropical vibe, the design elements — pale stone countertops, white millwork, a fun, drippy chandelier and snappy black and white tile — would look fresh in any locale. A carved bracket under the shelves is quaint detail.
What do you think? Are you inspired by this Caribbean idyll?
For more real estate eye candy from St. Lucia, check out a previous post on the island's Belmont House.