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I’m always inspired by the ingenuity of lighting fixture designs. A lamp or pendant light is like art and can make or break a space. But these Roofer lights by Benjamin Hubert for Fabbian are so cute and versatile that they’d work in both grand and modest spaces alike.

roofer light green

The green is great fun (imagine it with brass accents or against a fresh white interior). But I would probably go for the gray.

Roofer light black

The Armadillo light by LZF  is another shingled design. The shingles are arranged more irregularly, giving this light a quirkier feel. This cherry red is the perfect color for the style.

Armadillo light

Anyone spotted any other shingled designs I missed?

As you can probably tell from my lack of posts recently, life around here is a bit hectic. Birthday parties, babies, schools, travel and lots and lots of work – frankly I’m amazed we’re keeping it together. It’s at times like this that I crave a home that is an oasis of calm. Of course, that’s not easy when you’re slowing disappearing under a sea of toys and laundry. We manage it for a few hours each week, after a major clean-up and when everything is sparkling and tidy. But, for the rest of the time, I have to resort to my favorite books and blogs to find the kind of simple, streamlined, relaxing interiors that make the perfect antidote to a stressful day.

Here are a few of my recent favorites.

This kitchen, featured in Skona Hem, via Emma’s Design Blogg, sums up my idea of restful design. Although it’s predominantly white, it’s not spartan (which I try to avoid as it just makes me feel uneasy). It has honey-colored wood, sloping ceilings, organic shapes, and some symmetry (those beautiful yellow and white glass pendants), all of which contribute to the sense of simplicity and calm.

A calming living room is the perfect balance of formal and casual, organized and relaxed. I’ve found the ideal combination in this room, from Greige, found via Fondly Seen. The art is what really sets the tone. But the comfortable chairs with a touch of formality, the slightly distressed wood paneling, the tall multi-paned windows – they all combine effortlessly to create an ideal of lived-in luxe.

A calm space doesn’t have to be entirely clutter-free. This living room (via Lilac and Gray) manages that relaxed feel, despite having open shelves. The neutral color palette helps but it’s the choice of materials that really creates the mood here: linen, cotton, wood and seagrass and the use of unpretentious and unchallenging ticking stripes, give the place a soothing, shoes-off vibe.

Can you have such a thing as a relaxing dining room? After all, isn’t a dining room’s design supposed to invite conversation, hilarity and stimulate appetite? Well, not in my book, not today at least! I like this dining room, from Elle Decor, via Arianna Belle, because it combines furniture styles and materials so effortlessly, is pretty and yet simple, and it combines striking full-height windows with softer drapes and chandeliers.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but for a relaxing bedroom, I like a lot of light. It doesn’t make any difference to me if the sun’s rays burst in at dawn because, with two young kids, chances are I’ll be up by then anyway! But I do like the sense of space and calm a light room provides. I don’t think I’ll ever have a canopy like this over my own bed, but the effect here is pretty dreamy. With the soft blanket, acres of white bedlinen and simple furniture, this is pretty much the perfect place to retire after a busy day. Via BeautyComma.

Now, for bathrooms, I’m going to have to go with this one (also from Emma’s Design Blogg). It has the cool neutrals, plenty of greenery, symmetry, organization and storage, but a relaxed organic feel, especially with the slate floors.

So what makes a calming room? Answer: whatever relaxes you. For some people that might be features like open fires or soft rugs, for others certain colors relax, for others it’s all about organization. For me, it’s neutral colors, plenty of negative space and light, a touch of greenery, organic shapes and textures and an effortless mix of styles that looks like it has evolved over time.

What about you?

Do you keep mental lists of favorite and iconic design pieces? You know, those items that, one day, you’ll have in your dream home? Maybe you’ve even treated yourself to a few of them. But, if you’re like me, the list seems to grow endlessly. So I’m going to try and keep track of them by posting my all-time favorite lists here. First up, ceiling lights.

The Random light by Moooi is a firm favorite. I haven’t found a place for one of these in my home yet – partly because they’re so large. But I love the way this design seems to create order from chaos. Here it is in situ.

Via Fondly Seen.

This Alvar Aalto Golden Bell light has a retro appeal but would fit in so many schemes. This one is actually an updated version by Artek. But the original is forever etched on my mind because of this image from Living Etc many years ago.

Then there’s the Tord Boontje blossom branch chandelier.

Who can forget how great this looked over Gwyneth Paltrow’s dining table (Via Habitually Chic)?

The next one is kind of quirky. The goose feather Pluma Cubic light was designed by Heike Buchfelder in 2003.

I just think this would be great in a bedroom, although cleaning it would probably prove a nightmare! I first saw it in the bedroom of decorator Philip Gorrivan’s daughter, in Elle Decor, where it made a charming feature that was somehow both childlike and grown-up at the same time.

Not all ‘favorites’ have to be expensive designer pieces though. There’s something about an extra long capiz shell chandelier that is romantic and decadent – but this West Elm version is very affordable.

Then there’s the Moravian Star light. These ubiquitous fixtures work for industrial lofts or Victorian houses alike and come in all sorts of finishes. You only have to Google ‘Moravian Star light’ and you’re besieged by hundreds of choices of sites to purchase them.

My first encounter with the Moravian Star light is a bit of a story in its own right. I lived in a hilltop town in Italy for a year from 1994-5 and there were numerous workshops in the villages nearby where artisans made these lights. I had never seen them before and was smitten immediately. I thought about bringing some back to England but never did. Of course, a few years later they started popping up everywhere…

Now here’s a design classic you’ll definitely recognize: the PH Artichoke light by Poul Henningsen 40 years ago.

The Artichoke light is so recognizable that it’s easy to ignore its brilliance. No self-respecting minimalist loft would be seen without one.

Then there’s this chandelier, as seen in designer Fawn Galli‘s dining room.

I love the way it resembles a firework or supernova, adding a burst of energy to a formal dining room arrangement.

Finally, no all-time favorite list of lighting would be complete without a good old fashioned chandelier. I’ve said before how much I love the glamor of a  ceiling light dripping with crystals. But, there’s something even more special about a turquoise chandelier and this one still takes my breath away.

Although this image was all over the blogosphere after being featured on Chinoiserie Chic, I’ve never managed to track down a source for this light. If anyone knows, do tell the rest of us!

I’d love to hear about your favorites too. What would you add to this list?

After the florals and frills of the last few posts, I’m feeling the need to highlight some rooms with a more edgy aesthetic. (Maybe it’s the nesting instinct that’s drawing me to clean-lined, minimal spaces!?) Luckily, I came across this stunning house by designer Nacho Polo on Vintage + Chic, which fits the bill entirely. Cool, calm, collected and utterly stylish. Not sure I could live in it, but I sure wish I had the discipline to create something this stunning.

This is my favorite room. I love those dining chairs.

Interesting use of contrasting shapes here. It makes the simple color scheme more exciting.

Clever to use the all-white frames as a form of art in itself.

Love that black chandelier and rococo wallpaper in an otherwise modern minimalist bathroom.

Even if you can’t handle black and white in every room, I think it’s perfect for making the most of a small bathroom.

What do you think? Could you live here? And even if not, wouldn’t you love to visit?

I’ve always had a ‘thing’ for chandeliers. I mean the great big, jaw-dropping, sparkly, bejewelled variety. The type that, even if you could afford them, you’re unlikely to have the kind of house that would suit them. I spent the first two years of living in this house planning to get one for our dining room, only to settle on the much simpler (and cheaper!) Nelson saucer bubble lamp from Room and Board. So, for now, my dreams of owning one are on hold.

But I can still appreciate the sheer romance of a truly breath-taking chandelier. Take a look at these beauties which, I think, show that an over-the-top chandelier can still be stylish, elegant and modern. The first two are both from SmartAlec.

white-living-room-2

modern-white-interiors3

Aaah, a chandelier in the bathroom. Is there any greater sign of luxury? I’m not one for baths with views, but even I could handle this room! Via Lolla Loves.

bathroom

This turquoise chandelier hangs in the office of San Francisco designers Masucco Warner Miller. Quite frankly, I don’t think you need any more decor in a room that has this hanging from the ceiling, but to see what the rest of the space looks like, check out their fabulous portfolio here. Via Chinoiserie Chic.

turquoise-chandelier

This room is a magnet for magpies. Practically everything sparkles. Despite the fact that it could resemble the frosting on a little girl’s birthday cake, I love it. I think the symmetry prevents it from looking too sweet. Via Decorpad.

decorpad2

This dining room shows how you can take a traditional crystal chandelier and make it super clean-lined and modern. I love this sheer black shade: it looks as though it’s modestly covering up the ‘naked’ chandelier while still leaving a hint of what’s beneath. By Graham Atkins Hughes, Era Management, via Desire to Inspire.

dining room

This yellow and turquoise chandelier is just so cute. Shows that not all chandeliers have to be serious. Source unknown I’m afraid.

yellow and blue chandelier

This style of chandelier just evokes bygone eras. To work, it has to be a little tarnished though, like this one here. Via This is Glamorous.

blue room and chandelier

And finally, the chandelier I covet the most, a Swarovski blossom chandelier. This one’s from Gwyneth Paltrow’s house. Via Habitually Chic.

masl05_paltrow

I’m still happy with my Nelson lamp. But, one day, there will be a glamorous chandelier, dripping with crystals, hanging over my dining table…

Julia at Hooked on Houses is having a blog party so I thought I’d bring a little something along… Today I’m hooked on chandeliers made out of unexpected things. I’m a fan of using a standout pendant lamp to pull a space together and add some personality. But these examples are pretty crazy, so get ready….

Ok, I’m going from mildly wacky to downright loopy in this post (don’t go scrolling ahead now). So this first one isn’t too unexpected. We’ve seen teacup chandeliers before, right? But this one, via A Room Somewhere, is so very casual and sweet that it stands out.

Teacup chandelier

I simply love this next one. It was created by Danny Seo and I spotted it on Anh-Minh (she has a knack for finding unusual things!). Seo made it himself out of an old IKEA shade and some cheap bird ornaments. It’s adorable.

Bird chandelier

You’ll never guess what this one is made of: old gramaphone horns! They look great in this cluster of three, especially with the varying colors and sizes. This is from a photo of artist Jorge Estevez’s Paris home, featured in House and Garden‘s May 2009 issue. I hunted high and low for a picture of it online and eventually found it via Little Willow (a new blog discovery for me). The gramaphone horns are available from Trouver Antiques.

trumpet chandelier

Last, but definitely the loopiest, is this chandelier made out of boxes used for packing Chiquita bananas. It’s actually a pretty amazing design – I quite want one. And it’s eco-friendly because it’s recycled. Although I’m dubious about how fire-safe it is! Via igreenspot.

Chiquita chandelier

Crazy, huh?

I’m in the mood for sparkly interiors, it seems. If it’s shiny or shimmery, glittering or glistening, iridescent or pearlescent, lustrous or luminous, metallic or crystal, gilded or burnished, mirrored or sequinned – I want it! So, for anyone else with my magpie tendencies, enjoy this collection of rooms that sparkle with metallic wallpapers and fabrics, crystal chandeliers, mirrored furnishings and twinkly pealights and all manner of shiny things…

Credits: 1-17 LivingEtc; 18-19 Graham & Green; 20 Osborne & Little; 21-22 Gwyneth Paltrow’s house via Habitually Chic; 23 Michael Grimm via The Deco Detective; 24 Metropolitan Home; 25 Elle Decor; 26-30 Metropolitan Home

If you’re a fan of LivingEtc, you may recognize the work of photographer Polly Eltes. I was introduced to her photos through Modern Girl Style. Some of the photos were definitely familiar from the pages of the British interior design magazine. Her portfolio is full of calming, inspirational interiors. I like the use of dramatic and bold pieces, and the combination of neutrals with shots of blue and green is one of my favorites.

Bedroom - Polly Eltes

I am sure this one appeared in LivingEtc. Gotta love that chandelier!

Bathroom - Polly Eltes

Kitchen - Polly Eltes

Bedroom - Polly Eltes

I love the light in this photo.

Bedroom - Polly Eltes

And this one.

Terrace - Polly Eltes

She also has some wonderful outdoor shots that capture the quintessentially British countryside. Makes me think of home…

Garden - Polly Eltes

Garden - Polly Eltes

Check out Modern Girl Style for more fabulous photos and ideas.

As I mentioned here, I’ve been revamping our dining room. Nothing major, mind you. Just a few tweaks here and there to finish the space. I’ve finally finished it and have some photos to share. It’s not an easy room to photograph so forgive the amateurish attempts. But you get the gist.

Dining room

Dining room

Dining room

So, what did we do? Well, we replaced the Seventies brass and perspex chandelier with a Nelson saucer bubble lamp from Room and Board. We made the photo wall with frames from Aaron Brothers. The black round mirror was a bargain find from Lamps Plus. We bought the tall curvy vase from Wingard and the ginger jar from Bae Home in San Francisco. Oh, and we laid the table!

I watched Frost/Nixon last night and was surprised to discover some great interiors in the movie. A lot of attention has been given to how faithfully the set designers were able to replicate certain interiors, especially that of the house where the famous interviews took place. But, what I hadn’t appreciated until reading about the making of the movie, was how difficult it was to evoke the sense of 1977, without allowing the interiors to distract from the plot.

I was particularly taken by the design of the Beverly Hilton hotel where Frost’s team stayed during the interviews. Here are a couple of shots of the living area, from the Set Decorators’ Society of America magazine.

Hilton suite

Hilton suite

Ok, it’s a bit overbearing for your average living room. But look at that wallpaper! I like it with the Asian screens and dining chairs. Funnily enough, that chandelier in the corner is exactly like the one we just took down in our dining room. It came with the house and didn’t fit the rest of the decor. It looks rather good in this setting though. If anyone wants to buy one of these, I have one going cheap!

Hilton suite

Here’s a close-up from the movie trailer. Of course, it helps if your evening dress matches the wallpaper! I actually quite like the light fitting too (just seen behind Rebecca Hall).

Hilton bedroom

It’s hard to find a good shot of the master bedroom but this one via Perspective, the Art Directors’ Guild magazine gives a good sense of the style. There’s also a picture of the designer Susan Benjamin’s sample board for the room.

Sample board

Again, the wallpaper plays a starring role. The red lamps are also rather impressive, as is the multi-faceted dresser.

Finally, the interior of the plane Frost takes to meet Nixon (and where he meets Caroline Cushing) deserves a mention.

Plane interior

While I can’t say I’ve ever been on a plane with quite such a spacious lounge, doesn’t this remind you just a little of a Virgin Atlantic plane?! Very cool graphic on the far wall (designed, specifically for the movie).

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