Hygge Your Home

Now that the weather has turned chilly it is the perfect time to Hygge (hoo-GAH) your home. Hygge is the Danish concept of adding warmth and coziness to your lifestyle. During the long Winter months it is important to bring in elements that will help you not only endure but embrace and enjoy the season.

The easiest way to add Hygge is to bring out fluffy blankets and throws and spread them around your home. Place them on couches, chairs and the foot of each bed ready for an impromptu snuggle or nap. Last year I found Sherpa pillows and throws and they are perfect Hygge elements. Pile them up in a basket in the living room or den.

Surround yourself with natural elements, such as pine cones and seed pods, branches of bittersweet and holly. Green plants and orchids bring life and nurturing to your home as you turn your perspective back inside. Turn down the lights and burn candles with earthy scents such Chestnut & Acorn or Black Ginger.

A mug of hot cocoa or tea every afternoon as the sun dips and temperatures drop creates a comforting Hygge ritual. Set out a wicker tray and pretty mugs or teacups along with a selection of your favorite teas, a jar of honey and a silver spoon. A reminder of a relaxing time now awaits you.

Simple, soothing and soulful… from warm socks to hearty soups to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald singing Autumn in New York, let the season begin!

Resources: Sherpa pillows and throws (Pier 1), trays, silver spoons, Chestnut & Acorn and Black Ginger candles (Hollyhocks).


Seasonal Decor

As Fall approaches and the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, my attention turns back to the inside of our little cottage. The focus is on coziness and color… which means putting down more rugs, adding a few throws and changing out the table linens. Our cottage has Benjamin Moore China White walls, open white washed ceilings, pine floors and rattan blinds throughout. We have jute rugs, wicker chairs and a couch slipcovered in stone colored denim fabric.  The accent colors are brick red, turquoise, green and mustard yellow which are subtly added through pillows, painted furniture and art. It is very clean and simple, just the way I like it!

Hollyhocks has the same basic color scheme but each season I create an Inspiration Board to decide what accent colors to pull through the shop. This Fall it will be brown and green with pops of orange and red. I plan to use natural elements, such as wood bowls and moss balls to start and then weave in pumpkins, acorns and bittersweet as the season progresses. Mercury glass candle holders will add the sparkle. I avoid adding store bought, traditional decor (ghosts, goblins, turkeys and Santas) for the simple reason that we don’t have the storage space. This is true for both our home and the shop.

Plus has anyone noticed that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are becoming one long holiday season starting in late August? Add the proverbial pumpkin spice to the mix and you realize how commercialized they have become. I guess it’s my personal mission to make the change of seasons and holidays more about surrounding yourself with the things you love and less about hauling boxes of decorations up from the basement. Namaste!

Resources: Rattan blinds (Lowe’s), jute rugs (World Market), wicker chairs and couch (Pottery Barn), wood bowls, moss balls and Mercury glass candle holders (Hollyhocks), pumpkins, acorns and bittersweet (Mother Nature).

Inspiration Board

First, I apologize for the long delay in blogging! In April we adopted a stray cat that we have been nursing back to health. His name is Ginger Baker (aka Gee Bee) and he is an orange tabby with major cattitude! In July, we had a wonderful visit with our grandson, Zachary, and we’ve enjoyed lots of good food and some beautiful sunrises and sunsets. PLUS it’s been a crazy, busy summer at the shop so it’s been quite a whirlwind. Now it’s time to get back to business…

At Hollyhocks we have an Inspiration Board behind the counter that we change out regularly and it serves multiple purposes. Mainly it helps me organize my thoughts for the coming season so I can order and display the items we carry in a cohesive, thoughtful way.  Also it helps our customers visualize the themes and hopefully, spurs their creativity in taking the ideas home. And because we mainly use color to decorate each season, it helps me decide which colors to highlight throughout the shop. I do this in a variety of ways through candles, flowers, accessories and images that I cut out and frame.

This summer the board featured citrus colors with pops of pink and turquoise, easy outdoor living and entertaining ideas and lots of painted furniture. The texture of wicker mixed with wood and metal added a nice contrast. For example, a galvanized tray of herbs on a hyacinth runner makes a great centerpiece and a wood bowl of oranges, small vases of flowers from the garden and Mercury glass votives complete the look.

It is time to start working on the next Inspiration Board and I’m currently going through catalogs and magazines pulling the images that appeal to me. In a few days, I will lay them out on the counter and see what themes emerge and start pinning them on the board… and when I’m done, I’ll share it with you!

Resources: Carved wood frames, Ghana market baskets, Kantha totes and throws, copper bells, jute rugs, beach mats, sand sweepers, galvanized trays, herb bundles, hyacinth runners and Mercury glass votives (Hollyhocks).

Note: For great summer recipes such as: Farmers Market gazpacho, peach salsa and chilled cucumber basil soup, check out our cooking blog at Blueberries & Tootsie Rolls.

Backyard Retreat

We are in the process of decorating our backyard deck so I pulled these pictures from Pinterest for inspiration.* Outdoor spaces can be tricky but I’m applying my design philosophy (see Decor Secrets blog post) to help me figure out what to do. First up, is to decide how we want it to function. Mainly, I want it to be a quiet sanctuary where we can sit with a cup of coffee or glass of wine and relax. Because of our busy schedules, we need a peaceful retreat but we also like to entertain, so it needs to work for more than the two of us.

Next, I have to settle on a style so I can decide what furniture and accessories we need. Fortunately, I like shabby chic and cottage style so nothing has to match. I started out with a teak bench and a round metal table and a few metal side tables. To that I have added a mish mash of furniture from a wicker settee and chairs to an old door and a chiminea, all scored at yard sales. I just found a funky distressed red shelf with a chicken wire back which adds a pop of color.

The color scheme is based on red and bright green outdoor pillows that I already owned. To tie it all together I spray painted the small side tables apple green and bought a matching umbrella. I also spray painted the large round metal table espresso brown. The wicker furniture is tan and white and I’m leaving them as is but at some point I will give them a coat of clear varnish to protect them. Most of my other outdoor cushions are off white so everything works together nicely.

To create an entertaining area I decided to re-purpose one of my potting benches into an outdoor bar by adding a bottle opener and using the drawer that holds the dirt as an ice bucket. And for now, I’m using the old door to hang signs and bird houses because that works best in the space but it can be changed out later. The large round table is in the corner of the deck near the potting bench and it can be used for dining or set up as a buffet.

So the current arrangement is the teak bench with the settee on one side and the two wicker chairs and a side table on the other side facing each other. There is a small coffee table in front of the bench and a side table next to the settee. It’s important to have a table near each seat so you can easily set your drink down. The potting bench and red shelf are on either side of the teak bench. I am still working on where to put the chiminea but it will become a focal point once I fill it with outdoor candles.

Plants and the rest of the lighting are still to come but I wanted to share the inspiration and thought process behind creating our backyard retreat. We will keep you posted… in the meantime, happy Spring!

*Note: Flea Market Gardens 2017 also gave me lots of creative ideas for using junktiques outdoors.

Resources: outdoor pillows (Pottery Barn), Apple Green and Espresso Brown spray paint (Ace Hardware), Citron umbrella and stand (Pier 1 Imports), potting bench and outdoor candles (World Market), Flea Market Gardens 2017 magazine (Lowes).


Cottage Living

We renovated our waterman’s cottage a decade ago and since then it has evolved from a beach house filled with hand me downs scored from trash bins, basements and second hand stores into our main residence. We have added family treasures (a walnut sideboard and majolica from my mom, childhood cowboy boots and paintings from his mom) along with colorful furniture from India and some Pottery Barn pieces, all tucked into a 1200 square foot house. It’s cozy and perfect for the two of us.

Cottage style is my favorite decor because it can be coastal, bohemian, modern… or all three combined to create your own eclectic style. It is also small space living, another favorite trend of mine. Every room is lived in and enjoyed, including the outdoor spaces. It is a way of life that celebrates the past but meets your current needs whether you are empty nesters or living by yourself. It should be relaxing and informal.

There are certain elements that embody cottage living. One is hard wood floors. You want floors that can be swept clean of sand and dirt because there is a lot of running in and out. A porch is another key element. Whether screened in or not, a porch needs a few easy chairs and maybe a table for playing cards. A lamp for reading, doing crossword puzzles or knitting and baskets to hold books or yarn. A couch for napping is a bonus but a nice addition. Add in a few house plants and you have created a peaceful retreat inside your own home. Heaven!

Many cottages have eat in kitchens and a wood table (round or a long narrow farmhouse style) plus roomy, comfortable chairs work best. I emphasize comfortable because this is the heart of the home and where you will spend lots of time… whether drinking coffee and chatting with your neighbors or cooking dinner for friends. We also love our open shelving which makes serving and cleaning up a snap. Entertaining in a cottage is about last minute cookouts, cocktails in the garden or Sunday supper with a few good friends.

Beadboard or wainscoting is a common feature on cottage dining room and bathroom walls. We used it as the backsplash in our kitchen and as custom panels on the refrigerator. And we had our porch ceiling bead boarded to give it a more vintage look. It is all painted a clean, crisp white. We also left the ceiling on the main floor open to expose the beams and had them white washed. This is a great way to create the illusion of higher ceilings in a small house.

We like to say we have a small house that lives large… it is open and has good flow from room to room, it is uncluttered and easy to maintain and it nurtures our hearts and souls… what more could you ask for in a home?

Discover Your Style

The layout of a room is determined by a few things: 1) it’s function and; 2) the placement of the furniture. (For more tips, check out the blog post Decor Secrets.) But where do you go from there? The next step is to figure out what you love and how to develop your own unique style.

What ideas appeal to you and what do they have in common?

For many years, I cut out pictures from catalogs and magazines and filed them away and if a specific project came up, I would create an Inspiration Board. Now there is Pinterest where you browse ideas and save them to various boards by category. The advantage is that you can search by what interests you, choose from millions of images and easily save them to one of your boards (i.e. Home Decor, Cottage Living, Entertaining, Feng Shui). Once you see them all together the recurring colors, textures and motifs should pop out.

How is your personality and life style reflected in your home?

Artwork, photography and film can evoke feelings and help you hone in on your personal style. The works of Georgia O’Keefe and Henri Matisse helped me realize my love of vibrant colors. The movie sets in Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated intrigued me because they were so thoughtfully curated to reflect the personalities of the main characters. Utilize that creative thinking in your home and tell your own unique story through artwork and family photos to tchotchkes and treasured mementos.

Where do you get inspiration and how can you re-create it in your home?

There are decorators whose designs speak to me and I study them carefully. Two of my favorites are Mary Emmerling and Kathryn Ireland. Some of their work is featured in the montage above and they share a common vibe… white walls, pops of color, texture and the layering of accessories. In these rooms, I can imagine myself snuggling in with a good book or having an al fresco meal on the patio. That feeling (also called hygge, pronounced HOO-gah) is something I try to emulate in my home. Find those things that give you that warm glow of inner peace and contentment and spread them around.

The beauty of this entire process is that by exploring and discovering the things you like, distinctive themes will naturally emerge. So take the time to figure out what you love and surround yourself with ONLY those things following the wise guidance of Marie Kondo in “the life-changing magic of tidying up” (see the blog post Feng Shui Journey). It’s a philosophy that will always serve you well.

Flea Market Finds

Hollyhocks decor is an eclectic mix of store bought items mixed with vintage finds. Some we inherited from family but it’s also fun to hunt for treasures at flea markets, junk stores or even Etsy. See below for some of our favorite finds.

Wood Benches: you really cannot have too many benches in every size. Use them to hold plants or books or stack them for a one of a kind shelving unit. Place small ones in the bathroom by the sink, medium ones in a guest room to hold folded towels and large ones at the foot of the bed for putting on shoes and socks. They are incredibly functional and the chippier, the better.

Crates and Wire Baskets: they combine functional storage with an aged patina. In the kitchen they can corral cutting boards, utensils and cooking supplies. Crates stood on end can be used as end tables or shelves or they can be stacked to create an entryway system. Wire baskets can be attached to a ladder to create extra storage in any room.

Mason Jars: these are easy to find, relatively cheap and can hold everything from  Q-tips and cotton balls in the bathroom to rice and beans in the kitchen. They can display seashells, sea glass or rocks collected on nature walks. We use them as terrariums and hanging lanterns at the shop and they are charming additions to every style of decor.

Flower Frogs: this is my particular obsession but I think they are super cool. They can be placed in the bottom of vases to hold flowers but they also look great stacked on a table next to a little garden gnome. Use them to hold vintage postcards or black and white photos or your grandma’s favorite recipe card.

Vintage Books: something about a grouping of old books with a similar color scheme makes me smile. Hunt for children’s books, gardening books, poetry books or cookbooks to create a unique collection. Open up to an interesting page, place a magnifying glass on top and set out somewhere to be admired.

Suitcases: if you need a place to store photos or memorabilia, find a few old suitcases and stow them on or under a bench or console table. If space is super tight, stack them up to make an end table. They can store winter hats and scarves in the off season or leave one open in the spare room filled with guest essentials.

We also collect yardsticks, bottles, metal signs and frog figurines. All of these things mixed together adds up to an abode that is lived in and well loved. Welcome to the Hollyhocks home!