Saturday, April 10, 2010

motto for new home: pretty and PRACTICAL

I used to look at magazines and swoon over gorgeous interiors, and then do my best to replicate what I saw without giving a thought to whether it was practical or not. I've been turning over ideas in my head about our next home; we'll be moving in October to a three-bedroom apartment with a combined kitchen/dining/living room, a pantry/storage room, hallway/mudroom, bathroom, separate wash closet, a terrace, and two gardens. I've moved quite a few times in my life, and every time I get smarter about interior design. Here are some of the rules I have decided on for our next home:


One of the latest trend in kitchens is open shelving, but I have enough dusting to do in the other rooms, and in the kitchen things that are standing out tend to get a greasy film. That's what I learned from experience now with my kitchen island which has open shelves. I constantly have to pull stuff off and clean everything, especially since it's close to the floor and Kiki's hair manages to settle in the most impossible places.
Another trend is to only have storage on the shelves or cupboards. Again, this looks beautiful, open, and uncluttered....but I am being honest here, I need as much storage space as I can get! I want a place for everything; let's not forget that things which are often overlooked like flower vases, tupperware, baking sheets, and glass jars for homemade jams all need their place along side the usual suspects like plates & bowls, glasses & cups, pots & pans, spices & canned goods.


With past gardens and our balcony, I would go to the nursery and pick out one this, one of that, basically anything pretty that caught my eye. I ended up with an array of plants which were all beautiful, but there was always something lacking; I finally figured out what that was. A CONCEPT.
For at least one of our two gardens, I have decided to have a color scheme of white, green, silver (think lamb's ear and sage), and splashes of pink and dark purple here and there.
This way, I can have a variety of plants, forms, and aromas, but there will be a thread of continuity uniting everything in a graceful, harmonious way.

At some point I had to admit to myself that, if I wanted to be truly happy with our gardens, if I wanted them to look like the vision I have in my mind, I am going to need help from a landscaping artist. My 'domestic goddess' ego is squealing in a corner right now, saying, "A real housewife would be able to plant her own garden!"
But I know from the past that I was always getting one or two plants at a time (because I don't drive), and then doing guess work as to where to plant them and how, not to mention that I never worked with stones or borders, or ever managed to add plants which spread and filled in the bare ground between larger plants. I am actually really excited to work together with someone who will be able to quickly and efficiently realize the vision I have in my head. So no, I won't be able to say 'I made it myself;' but I will have helped design it, and I'll be taking care of it, and keeping it beautiful.

For veggies, herbs, and annuals, I want to have a raised bed made. I've heard so many great things about them, and finally want to experience it for myself. Plus, no chance of Kiki peeing on anything edible.

One of my biggest goals is to use the storage space in the cellar and pantry so well that I never again have to slide something like boxes of Christmas decorations under the bed! I can't tell you how happy I am that we are finally moving into a home with alot of storage space. Up until now storage has always been an issue. I want the space under our bed to be so clean that you could eat off of it. I am sick of boxes under there getting covered in dust and dog hair. Yuck! Even if no one else sees or notices them, I KNOW THEY'RE THERE and they haunt me!

I have some sort of phobia about hammering a nail into a wall. I have most of our framed photographs and art standing on shelves and table tops, taking up room and looking a little cluttered. And then on the other hand, I have wide open spaces of wall which I am too scared to fill because I'm afraid of making a mistake. I really want to learn how to cluster photos and pictures in a way that looks informal and, in itself, like a work of art.

This is going to be a really tough one, guys. I am hoping to keep my arts/crafts/office space as small and tidy and organized as possible. I only want it to take up a corner of one of the bedrooms, so that it can easily be transformed into a baby's room. I am hoping that, by figuring out a good filing system for our bills/papers/letters/photos, I will be able to accomplish this.
That will probably be the biggest it me, or is this one of the toughest things to keep organized? 
One of my goals is to buy, and use, a drill.
I don't know why, but I find power tools frightening and overwhelming.
(sheesh, what a sissy)
But deep down inside I have this feeling that being able to drill holes in walls will give me an incredible sense of freedom. Just think of all the shelves I'll be able to install by myself!

xoxo country girl


  1. I like your motto. Thumbs up for storage space. I often wonder why we have so many things and no matter how much I give or throw away, there are still so many things.
    Yay for the drill! Pretty handy!

  2. Dawn..of course all your ideas are wonderful and 'oh so true'. I hope everything you want you get, as I know you and it will be 'oh so lovely'.
    ((hugs)) to you as I know you can use them with Ramon being gone..

    xoxo Gert

  3. Hehe, I like these rules! I'll abide by them as well once I get my own house!

    SO excited for you to move into your new apartment; I just know you'll make it lovely!♥

  4. Oh yes you can never have enough storage! You should speak to Nathan about power tools as he is the master of all things DIY. The thing that I have reaslised about decor is that it is a constantly evolving creature and it is ok to change the accessories with the seasons and with experience of living you can make adjustments - this has changed my way of decorating for the better. Now we create a natural base and accessorise around that :) We used to have a green lounge and a lilac bedroom! Needless to say the walls are now white and cream. More than anything find what works for you and go with it, don't feel guilty about hiring a gardener, go for it!
    Love Morwenna xoxo

  5. So glad I found your blog. Gardening, photography but most importantly,Cavaliers are my love too!

  6. I agree with the "no open shelving" rule. In planning, building, and continuing to work on our home, we use the Shaker motto: "a place for everything, and everything in its place." Though I must admit that keeping everything in its place is a challenge for me!

  7. Dearest Dawn, I didn't know that you finally got your new home!! Congratulations - what an exciting time ahead you have!
    Our house is nearly 300 years old, and space is our biggest headache...we have so much STUFF! You're right to plan carefully & cherish it!!
    Can't wait to hear all your new ideas...
    lots of love xoxoxox Rachel

  8. Oh, I am impressed, dear Dawn!! Sooooo impressed!! You are putting way more thought into your house and new space than I ever have!! This is so exciting!! And I know it's going to be gorgeous! Daniel and I were just talking about the house we had built in New Mexico when we lived there. We actually hired someone to design a desert garden for us and then we implemented everything on the plan. It was the best garden we ever had - everything was so cohesive and simply beautiful! Here, we started with someone else's garden and while it's becoming beautiful, it isn't as cohesive as we'd like. Can't wait to see what you do with it all!! Love, Silke

  9. i didn't know you were moving either...congratulations...that's something exciting to look forward too..

    i loved all of big thing i have to do before Teddy gets here is get the christmas wrapping paper out from " UNDER THE BED "...i know..yuck.

    this was fun...sending love,

  10. Those sounds like rules I need to stick to in my home....

    You must be so excited to move, your new home sounds perfect for you :) x

  11. Wonderful tips lady - I agree with an awful lot of them! Can't wait to see you apply all this wisdom to your new home! :) really should write a home domestic book you know xxx

  12. i know, you're right about open shelves - but i love that look. so nice to display my transferware and white pitchers. but ugh! the grease, esp. when you cook often. but i love your ideas!

  13. Dawn dear,

    I would LOVE to meet your Mother and to have a chance to talk with her. Usually bookstore gatherings are small and intimate, not like the talks with scads of people. I would adore meeting her. Is she in Berkeley?

    Ok, back to work now. I'm trying again with gourds as you know. We have had raging storms here while I was traveling.


    Sharon (of the open shelving, which always needs dusting)



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