Fall Pretties

Loving these pumpkin ideas from Better Homes & Gardens. Carving a monogram or a house number into pumpkins is a whole lot chicer than making lopsided jack-o-lanterns, don't you think? Now, if this September heat wave in California would subside, maybe we could start thinking about decorating our front steps for fall! What will you do to welcome fall into your home?

A HomeGoods Homerun...

Homegoods is a hit-or-miss store, in my (Kari's) opinion. Sometimes you go there and find something fantastic and other times you leave shaking your head at the ginormous resin horse in mid-gallop that costs $300.00. The other day, I stumbled across these rugs at Homegoods and was purdy happy about it. They are good-lookin' but they are cheap (as all rugs in my home must be because we do love our red vino and both the hubby and me were raised on farms, so our bare feet go through the muddy flower beds and straight onto the hardwood floors...). I love the size of these bad boys (4'x6') and I love that I won't shed any tears when it's time to get new rugs---'cause I spent less than $50 on the two them together. :) A Homegoods homerun! (And it totally makes up for the huge dolphin they had for sale there...what kind of interior needs a 4-foot electric blue dolphin anyway...?)

New Favorite Blog/Site: Sunday-Suppers

We had to share this one with you...it's so very in line with what we here at the Babs Blog love. What happens when you combine a love for good food, an appreciation for gatherings, and gorgeous photographs? You get Sunday-Suppers. Check this blog out---you won't be sorry. Lots of beautiful photos of food and gatherings around food---and really amazing recipes! We'll be trying the grilled pizza, for sure. Both of us have been looking for the perfect pizza dough recipes to make the most amazing crust---we are trying to duplicate some uh-mazing pizza we had in NYC this summer. (Jill will top her pizza with proscuitto, shaved parmesan, and arugula. Kari will top her pizza with smoked mozzarella, speck, and grilled slices of pumpkin.) Check out Sunday-Suppers and let us know which recipe you'll be trying!

Love Us Some Lonny...

So happy that Lonny now has a full-fledged website with a beautifully-selected gallery of interiors. Lots of beautiful images to inspire us! Today we're loving that room pictured above, found on Lonny. Sophisticated yet lived-in, with touches of old and new. Simply perfect.
Head on over to Lonny and check out both the magazine and the site's gallery. Enjoy!

How to Cope with Trends...

Lately, I've (Kari) been having a lot of discussions about trends with friends and clients. We live in a word of accessibility now, and anyone can jump online and read a blog or a website that deals with design. This is a good thing---the design world is no longer an exclusive club that only the elite can access. Rather, the design world is now a free-flowing forum of ideas and anyone can participate. This makes design trends easy to spot and, because of all the great info out there on DIY and resources and such, it's easier than ever to follow trends. That leads us to our topic today...I keep being asked the same question, "I like this now, but I think it's a trend. What happens when I get sick of it?" If this is how you look at design, you're gonna be in a constant state of conundrum. A better way to approach design is by asking "What do I love apart from what all the design info out there tells me to love?" Here are some steps to create lasting spaces:


1. Unless your decorating budget is limitless, choose neutrals for your large pieces of furniture. Things like paint and pillows are easy to change, but big pieces of furniture are usually investments and even a new upholstery job is pricey. If you have furniture in neutral tones (whether it be white, gray, taupe...whatever...), you can easily change your mind about your accent colors, patterns, etc. Having custom pillow covers sewn to cover old throw pillows costs a lot less than having to reupholster your zebra-print sofa once you figure out you are tired of animal print. :)
2. For high-dollar items, make sure you love, love, love it. If you started liking something just because everyone else likes it, too, are you still going to love it when those other folks move on? Let's take the Chinese Chippendale Chair trend, for example. I personally have always loved these chairs and have been searching for originals for quite some time. To me, they are classics, period. However, they are popular in blogland and in the design world right now, so lots of people have jumped on the Chinese Chippendale Chair bandwagon, just because it's the "now" thing to do. I spoke to someone the other day who dropped $500 on one of these chairs and now, she thinks she's "over" the whole Chinese Chippendale thing. This is a person who followed a trend with the rest of the crowd instead of buying something she personally loves. If you can afford this, great. If you can't, try thinking for yourself. Really ask, "Do I love it or am I following the pack?" Don't spend $1,000 on an ikat rug if you aren't going to love it in six months (instead, consider the ikat FLOR tiles...). I love ikat, too, but I promise that it will be so "over" in DesignLand in another couple years. It's just how things go. If you love it for you, invest. If you love the trend, bargain hunt.


3. Aiming for a "perfect" room is snore-worthy. When I go into a house void of any personal effects, it's boring, boring, boring. You live there so you should have things that you love and that reflect you, you, you. That means mementos, personal photos, or pieces of furniture that have a history or a personal tale behind them. Ask "how does this room reflect me?" Your goal should not be to create a room that looks like it belongs in a design showroom; your goal should be to create a room that reflects you.

4. Learn who you are design-wise. A few months ago, I took a friend along with me to the Pacific Design Center. I had a few things to look at there, and she really wanted to come along. On the way to PDC, I asked her how she would describe her personal design style. She said she was contemporary when it came to interiors. As we walked through the design center, though, I noticed that every time she got excited about something (a mirror, a bed, bedding, a lamp, a sofa) it was anything but contemporary. As a matter of fact, it became evident that my friend is Marie Antionette reincarnated when it comes to design preferences! She loves the frilly, the romantic, the ornate---nothing that would be labeled "contemporary style." This is why most decorators/designers will ask clients to collect photos from magazines and such that show spaces that they like. Oftentimes, the label that a person gives to their personal style is a bit misleading. Before you start a personal decorating project, spend some time looking at pictures of spaces and understand the overall look that fits you. This will make life much easier in selecting pieces for your space---that way, you won't be duped into purchasing a lamp that just doesn't fit your aesthetic.

5. Don't be afraid of "trends," but understand that they are fleeting. I'll admit, I kinda hate the word "trend." It seems to denote a flighty way of doing design. I would like to claim that every aesthetic I like is timeless, but I have to be honest: some things are "in" and some things are "out." That's okay, because it's those so-called "trends" that keep interiors fresh and interesting at times, but most of us need to be able to make budget-friendly changes as what's "en vogue" invariably changes over time. Did any of you grow up with an avocado-hued appliance in your home? Yep, thought so. Our moms were all over their "designer" avocado-colored washers, dryers, and fridges, weren't they? That was a trend, folks. Nothing wrong with that, but no one is gonna call an avocado-colored fridge "timeless." It's okay to fall for a trend and to know in your heart that you will be "so over it" in a year, but make sure that your budget and your fickle design sense match up. Don't blow the budget on stuff you know you like because it's popular---give those "in today, out tomorrow" items a little less of your pocketbook and then, when you want to get rid of that Chinese Chippendale Chair, you'll shed a few less tears. :) (By the way, if you are getting rid of a Chinese Chippendale Chair, I will totally take it off your hands :)

These are a few tips I use when helping a friend or client divvy up their decorating budget---what do each of you do when trying to reconcile a decorating budget with "trends" vs. classic pieces? Are you smitten with trends? Do you know yourself well enough to only buy things you'll love forever? How do you spend your decorating budget on these things?

Another Gallery Wall...

The gallery wall ain't goin' nowhere, girls (and guys). Sure, it's been one of those interior trends for awhile now, but there's something truly classic and timeless about putting your personal photos and artwork on the wall in an eye-catching manner. We don't think this feature is apt to disappear from the decor world anytime soon. What's your personal preference on the gallery wall---a little (like the top photo) or a lot (like the bottom photo)?

So many good things...

This dining room (found via Plush Palate), has so many good things going on...the mix of it all is so perfect. Cheeky Eames chairs combined with rustic farm table combined with glammy chandelier combined with painted hutch combined with perfect wallpaper combined with parquet wood floor...{sigh}. Do you want to hang out in this room as much as we do? :)

Fall Fantastic

We're loving some of these DIY wreath ideas from Better Homes and Gardens. Are you feeling the air get crisper where you live? Sometimes, here in California, we don't get a real season change, but this year the cooler air has arrived earlier than usual, and we are not complaining one bit. Makes us want to start making our homes cozy for autumn. How are you getting your house ready for the change of season?

Rue Magazine

Rue is a new online magazine that is definitely worth a look! It is full of great design and party ideas. Be sure to head on over and take a peek.

Guest Blogger: Fruitful Hands Boutique

So sorry for the delay in posts this week. We are hoping to make up for it with this wonderful guest blogger, Kathy Cragin from Fruitful Hands Boutique. Check it out...

What a fabulous opportunity to be able to share on the Babs Blog – one of my favorites!

Let me take a moment to introduce myself: I’m Kathy Cragin and my life is CRAZY!!! Probably just like yours, but maybe a little different version of crazy. I have two little squirts: Jayne, she’s 5 years, and Lincoln D. who is 2 years (the “D” just stuck; it’s for his middle name). I am homeschooling for the first time this year and it is great! Well, I’ll admit, it’s not always great… but most of the time it is. My husband works one of those crazy medical schedules, and often, once the kids are in bed, and he’s at work, I’m looking for something to fill my time. I can’t sit still doing nothing for very long. I just don’t work that way. So I started a little business called the Fruitful Hands Boutique.

This little boutique has been a dream of mine for at least 5 years. It finally came to fruition last Thanksgiving (2009). I’ve got this creative itch that just doesn’t stop until I scratch it. It moves from one thing to another: scrapbooking, sewing, crocheting, knitting, making hair bows, bags, clothing, jewelry, cards…whatever I see that I think I might be able to make, I’ll give it a try! I needed an outlet for all these treasures that I was creating and I like challenges (like starting your own business) and thus, the Fruitful Hands Boutique was born.

FHB is based on the scripture found in Proverbs 31:31: “Give her of the fruit of her hands and let her works praise her in the gates.” I know of so many gifted women and wanted to provide a way for them to simply create without having to figure out how to sell their items. I started with 3 vendors and have grown to over 20 women creating their amazing wares for me to sell. Many of these women are moms and wives who want to help support their husbands and families in whatever way they can. FHB also donates 10% of every sale to Bethany Christian Services, a fantastic adoption and foster care organization.

The boutique features numerous talents, lots of great gifts, and women who enjoy doing custom work. We have a couple of amazing jewelry crafters accessorizing you with beautiful beaded necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. You should see the detail work done by the ladies who sew! They create sturdy, recyclable grocery bags, day bags (you know, the kind of bag you can just throw everything in), purses, and those flour sack towels that dry everything so well! And if you’ve got a little girl, we’ve got hairbows, bottlecap necklaces, mini purses, and pillowcase dresses. You will also find photography and other home décor, cards, burp cloths, mini cosmetic bags, blankies, crocheted washcloths, bibs, visors, hand-appliqued onesies, and so much more!

If you are interested in supporting these talented women, or maybe even selling your own craft, be sure to check out the boutique at www.fruitfulhandsboutique.com or become a fan on facebook. I also have a blog to feature the Boutique and other talented women: www.fruitfulhandsboutique.blogspot.com. You can always contact me directly: Kathy Cragin, klynncragin@yahoo.com

Thanks, Kathy, for sharing about your wonderful business. We hope you readers will check out Fruitful Hands, and maybe some of you crafty gals out there will be interested in being a part of this wonderful opportunity. Here are some of the projects currently being featured on Fruitful Hands:








Favorite Read: Style at Home


If there's still a hole in your heart from the demise of Domino magazine, take heart. There are some great mags out there still, and even if none of them is exactly Domino, there's some really great design being printed. You've heard us talk about Canadian House & Home here on the Babs Blog and now we are talking about another favorite read from Canada: Style at Home. We really love this magazine, and the accompanying website is a gem, too. Lots of good content about home design with some great food, entertaining, and party DIY mixed in---does it get any better than that?

Here are some great photos from the website to encourage you to check out the magazine a little more thoroughly:





The Babs Blog on Celebrations at Home:

Wow, wow, wow. Are we ever honored! This morning, we got the sweetest email from Chris Nease over at Celebrations at Home. She was letting us know that the Babs Blog is being featured today on her blog! See the post here. After spending some time perusing this new-to-us blog, we've decided it's a keeper. Full of wonderful ideas for party planning! It's evident that Ms. Nease is quite a talented lady. We are adding Celebrations at Home to our blog roll and we hope you will, too! Thank you again, Chris!

DIY Art: Paintchip Prettiness

Chances are, you've already seen this fabulous paintchip wall art piece that was posted on Apartment Therapy not too long ago, but we couldn't help but post it here as well. Why? Well, we just simply love it. It's not only the bold color or the fun use of chips, but the frame is, well, heavenly. And, if you had real patience, you could do this without swiping hundreds of paint chips from your local Home Depot, too: it could be painted on a flat board or canvas and be very lovely, too. Are you feeling inspired yet? :)

Spaces We Love: The Canary

We hope you had a great Labor Day weekend. I (Kari) love Labor Day because it symbolizes the end of summer. I know this will cause many of you to be aghast, but I am going to admit something here: I am not a summer person. Not even a little bit. I like autumn a lot (great clothes, pumpkin spice lattes, rich color), I enjoy winter (scarves, Christmas, excuses to build a fire in the fireplace), and I love spring (my yard looks amazing, pedicures are essential again, and everything feels so fresh and alive). But summer? Not so much.
So, for this Labor Day weekend, my husband (who happens to be the most fantastic man on the planet) planned a surprise weekend away for me. He knows me well, so he took me to Santa Barbara for the weekend so I could bundle up in cute jackets at night---the weather in Santa Barbara is much cooler than in Visalia, California. (He also bought tickets for us to see Tift Merritt, Ray LaMontagne, and David Gray at the Santa Barbara Bowl this weekend---great show!)
Santa Barbara is a city we love. And, when we are in Santa Barbara, we stay at the beautiful Canary Hotel---a space we love. This gem was given a makeover a few years back by the talented Michael Smith, and now it is beautiful. If you are planning a stay in Santa Barbara at any point, you must consider the Canary as it is gorgeous and for some of us, it might be the closest we ever come to living in a Michael Smith room (even if we are only living there for the weekend!)

Here are a few photos of the place:



Can you just die over that room? Michael Smith nails it, of course. Perfection, and nothing about it says "cookie cutter hotel room." Rather, you feel as though you are staying in a friend's beautifully-appointed guest room instead of a commercial hospitality interior. Someday, I will own a bed like the one in the rooms at the Canary.

The hallways (of which I don't have a photo) are covered in a delightful sea blue-green grasscloth with framed suzani remnants on the walls. The lobby (middle photo) could be picked up and put into my house and I promise I wouldn't complain one bit. It truly is a beautiful place. (sigh) I'm already thinking of our next visit!

Another Thank You...

While we we off playing over the Labor Day weekend, some bloggers were hard at work. Sheek Shindigs is apparently one of those blogs that didn't take Monday off, like we did. We were delighted to receive a cheery, kind email from Sarah and Sara telling us that The Babs Blog was being featured on their blog Monday! We are truly honored. And, after perusing Sheek Shindigs, we are adding it to our blog list as it is chock full of great party ideas!
Thank you, Sarah & Sara! We are so glad you contacted us!

A Thank You...

Some time ago, the lovely Annette at Swanky Tables held a give-away for some fabulous Stella & Dot jewelry. See the lovely earrings above? Kari won those! Yep, those earrings are even more gorgeous in person and will make a fabulous addition to a little black dress that will be debuted this Labor Day weekend while away on a vacay with her hubby. Thank you, Annette! We love your blog, and it's so exciting to win something so pretty!

Labor Day, a.k.a The Last Hurrah...





Photos via Martha Stewart

Summer's almost gone. Today is the first of September, schools are back in session, summer flowers are starting to look tired in our gardens...
If you are like us, you've already started dreaming of fall wardrobe basics: nipped in wool coats, cashmere scarves, sumptuous leather riding boots, and skinny cords. Even while the fall collections in stores tempt us, we still have one more weekend to pretend it's summer. Summer's Farewell is Labor Day weekend. Do you have something planned? One last dip in the pool, sunburn at the lake, or bucket of homemade icecream? Are you going to be sitting at a lovely table like one of those pictured above? We hope you have something fun planned with friends and family as we usher in this new season of autumn and bid adieu to summer.
We'll see you back here on Tuesday. Have a great Labor Day Weekend!
---Jill & Kari