Year: 2016 (page 1 of 6)

Champagne Flutes & Coupes to Ring in the New Year in Style

Champagne is nearly synonymous with New Year’s Eve.  Midnight toasts always call for bubbles.  And, truly, there is no better occasion for beautiful glassware.  Flutes are the usual choice, but champagne coupes are surely making a comeback.  As a glassware addict, I believe that drinking from stylish vessels can both enhance the flavor of your sparkling wine and cast a favorable glow over the entire evening.  In light of that, following are the prettiest and most unique champagne glasses that you can still pick up between now and Saturday night…

Champagne Flutes & Coupes to Ring in the New Year in Style | Shopping | Motley Decor

Black flutes from ZGallerie will add drama to your drinks table or bar cart.  A set of 4 costs less than $26.

Coupes are extra glamorous covered with tiny gold dots.  You can pick these beauties up at Walmart for under $100 for a set of 4.

Riffing off of a popular mid century trend, these flutes have a chrome-and-ombre effect.  The set of 4 will cost you less than $50.

A classic is revived thanks to West Elm.  These champagne coupes sell for $48 for a set of 6.

Oleg Cassini designed these lead crystal glasses, available at Bed Bath and Beyond where a pair runs about $50.

 

A tempting splurge: these emerald green crystal coupes are about $200/pair at Macy’s.

Stemless wine glasses have had their moment and now it’s time for stemless champagne flutes.  These playful pink vessels are only $3 a piece at CB2.

If you love pink, but still prefer a stem, try these handblown flutes by Sagaform.  The pair is about $25.

And last but not least, check out these chunky smoke gray flutes.  Singles are available for $10 each.

Torn by all of the options?  I’m with you and a proponent of mixed stemware myself.  This is partly because I cannot commit to a single style with so many gorgeous options to choose from.  However, it also creates for more interesting tablescapes with glasses of various heights, shapes, and even colors.  A mix of barware also serves two more practical functions.  First, it allows each of my guests to drink from a unique glass that he or she can easily identify–a sort of tracking system for drinks.  And second, I come from a long line of clumsy women.  Inevitably, each of my lovely glasses will break.  When one does, I just sweep up the mess and move on.  I avoid the hassle of trying to keep my matched set whole.  I’ll just pick up some other pretty glass to replace the broken one.  So, mix it up if you are so inclined.

Happy shopping and the happiest of New Years!

 

Any Port in the Snow Cocktail

Looking for a Christmas cocktail to keep you warm this Winter?  Try Any Port in the Snow…

Any Port in the Snow Cocktail | Motley Decor

As the name suggests, it’s heavy on port (wine that’s both more flavorful and has a higher alcohol content).  Slightly sweet, with a little kick at the end, tawny port makes a nice Winter libation.

Any Port in the Snow is also loaded with quintessential holidays flavors like cloves and orange–an irresistibly fragrant mix that always recalls the holidays for me.  A mild scotch delivers a larger kick on the tail  that warms from the inside out.

The flavor profile is not unlike mulled wine or even red sangria.  However, this is a cocktail that both soothes and packs a punch.  So, please be forewarned and enjoy responsibly.)

Perhaps, best of all, Any Port in the Snow couldn’t be easier to make, which makes it ideal for entertaining.  Here’s the recipe…

Ingredients:

1 oz mild scotch (I used Pig’s Nose)

2 oz tawny port

handful of whole cloves

Orange peel

Directions:

You can either infuse the port with a handful of cloves for 24 hours prior to serving or simply throw 3-5 cloves in each drink.  Then, mix the scotch and port, using a 1:2 ratio, stir gently, and add an orange peel as a fragrant garnish.

Ice is optional.  I prefer this warming drink at room temperature.

Happy Holidays!

 

Decorgasm: A Celebrity Hairstylist’s Fabrizio Rollo Designed Apartment

Fabrizio Rollo’s latest project is colorful, vibrant, and brave.  These traits are not out of character for the maximalist designer who also answers to the name “Lord Rollo”.  Still, his treatment of a celebrity hairstylist’s Sao Paulo apartment gave me an unexpected, delightful little jolt when I stumbled across it in a magazine recently.  In the days and weeks that followed, I found myself returning again and again to the dogeared page filled with blues oranges, art, and patterns.  Each time, I found something new to love.

Decorgasm: Fabrizio Rollo Decorates the Sao Paulo Apartment of a Celebrity Hairstylist

One of the first things that struck me about this room was its use of complimentary colors: blue and orange.  It’s a bold and often overlooked pairing–probably because it’s difficult to achieve a chic effect with these two colors…unless you’re Fabrizio Rollo!

The walls are a pale aqua and more intense shades of blue are peppered through out the space with royal blue dominating the carpet and striped turquoise covering a pair of stools.  The sofa is a clever shade of murky blue-green that melts into the mirrored wall without competing with its counterparts for attention.

Although used in smaller doses, orange plays an equally significant role in this interior.  The antique Louis XV-style chairs are the most prominent furnishings in the living room, boasting generous proportions and an air of grandeur.  Rollo saw fit to upholster them in luminous tangerine damask, creating an instant foil to the sea of blues.  This contrast was further enforced by the electric pop art on the right wall that introduces a florescent shade of orange.  Although it’s not the most prominent art in the room, that Warhol print packs a punch.

In addition to the art, this room contains a few other elements I tend to love.  Ikat prints are among them–both in the pillows and the curtains.  They mingle with beloved animal prints.  Murano glass is another weakness of mine that Lord Rollo has chosen to employ.  Finally: that coffee table…I’m a sucker for anything modern and sculptural in white.

Decorgasm: Marco Proenca's Sao Paulo Apartment, Decorated by Fabrizio Rollo // Motley Decor

This is the homeowner, Marcos Proença.  He tapped fellow Brazilian, Fabrizio Rollo for this project, requesting a design that was “flashy and beautiful, happy and glamorous”–a space that was “different in a good way”.  He wanted a home that was a mix of traditional and modern and that conveyed a sense of wealth without feeling stuffy.  I have to say: I admire his mantra.  Mission accomplished.

Decorgasm: Tour Fabrizio Rollo's Latest Project

This is another shot of Proença’s apartment with even more to love–more antique chairs, more Murano glass, more animal print.  Yum.

Tour the rest of this thrilling apartment at Elle Decor or visit Rollo’s website for more maximalist inspiration!

Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider

What’s better than spiced apple cider on a chilly Autumn day?  Spiked apple cider on Thanksgiving!  Luckily, you don’t have to choose between the two.  This recipe combines the the tangy sweetness of apple cider with Fall-forward spices like cinnamon and cardamom with the family-holiday-coping properties of ale and vodka.  Just in time for those heated political debates that everyone is dreading this year after the  most contentious election in memory!  You’re welcome.

WARNING: this Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider cocktail/punch does NOT taste like alcohol.  However, it is deceivingly potent.  So, pace yourself and your guests–especially the teetotalers among them.  (Every family has one.)

Motley Decor's Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need for the spiked cider:

32 oz mulled cider (see mulling recipe below)

2 12 oz cans amber ale

1 cup Absolute Pear (or other pear-flavored) vodka

the juice from 1 lemon

sprinkle of cinnamon

Just in Time for Thanksgiving: Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider Recipe

Mixing the punch…

Because this recipe contains beer, you’ll want to mix the cider in a large decanter with a stopper (rather than a punch bowl, for instance) to preserve the carbonation.  Aside from that one note, this recipe is extremely straight-forward.  You just  mix all of the ingredients and add cinnamon to taste.

If you prefer dryer drinks, add more beer to mellow out the sweetness of the cider.  If you feel like the vodka taste is too strong, an extra squeeze of lemon with balance it out.

Then, just set out the mixture  with some glasses for all to enjoy.

What to Drink This Thanksgiving | Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider Punch Recipe on Motley Decor

Mulling apple cider…

Ingredients: bottled apple cider, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cardamom pods

Note: fresh ginger, anise, and cloves are also great for mulling (although I felt that they weren’t needed for this particular drink).  If you want to use them, just be careful with the cloves.  They can quickly become overpowering.   So, taste your cider often.

In a large pot on a stovetop–or even in a slow cooker–combine all of the ingredients and let them cook at a temperature just shy of boiling for about 20 minutes.  If you catch the cider boiling, just turn off the heat and let the liquid cool.

Once at room temperature, strain and funnel the cider back into the bottle and store it in the fridge overnight.  The next day, just give it a shake before concocting the punch recipe above.

All jokes aside, Thanksgiving is not just a glutinous holiday.  It’s an important one as it forces us to take inventory of all we are thankful for.  And, despite tensions in the country at the moment, we can’t loose sight of how lucky we truly are.  Whatever blessings you cherish most in this life, acknowledge them this Thanksgiving, express your thanks, help someone out if you can, and never loose hope.

Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider for Thanksgiving // MotleyDecor.com

Pop Quiz: Is Your Home Too Trendy?

To find out, answer the questions below, keeping a pen and paper handy.  Each response has points assigned to it.  You’ll need to add up the points from all of your responses to tally your score at the end and see if your home is–indeed–too trendy.  Don’t worry: it’s only 8 questions + a lightning round…

1.  What best describes your bar cart situation?

a.  It’s always photo-ready, loaded with gorgeous glassware, patterned straws, and every bartending tool imaginable.  Nothing is ever amiss, because I usually only drink wine at home. (3 pts)

b.  I don’t have a bar cart per se, but there’s definitely a designated cocktail station that also functions as a decorative statement. (2 pts)

c.  From a home decor standpoint, I’m observing the 18th amendment and have no need for the devil’s trolley. (1 pt)

 

2.  When it comes to tropical-themed wallpaper…

a.  I think it looks great in other people’s homes. (1 pt)

b.  I’ve a got an accent wall that fits that description. (2 pts)

c.  People often mistake my place for The Beverly Hills Hotel. (3 pts)

 

3.  What percentage of your furnishings and decor did you purchase new and in the last year?

a.  75%+ (3 pts)

b.  around 50% (2 pts)

c.  25% or less (1 pt)

 

4.  Your art wall is…

a.  A mix of art from different disciplines, family photos, and mementos. (2 pts)

b.  Restricted to black and white photography only. (2 pts)

c.  Mostly pop art and funny or inspirational sayings. (3 pts)

d.  Nice try.  I don’t have an art wall. (1 pt)

 

5.  Your primary accent color is…

a.  Pink. (3 pts)

b.  Any other color. (1 pt)

c.  Different in each room. (1 pt)

d.  Forget accents!  Color reigns supreme in my home. (1 pt)

e.  Sorry, I live in a strictly monochrome zone. (3pts)

 

Pop Quiz: Is Your Home Too Trendy?

6.  The metal finish that plays the most significant role in your decor is…

a.  Chrome. (1 pt)

b.  Brass and gold. (2 pts)

c.  Rose gold and copper. (3 pts)

d.  Stainless steel, blackened iron, or oil rubbed bronze–nothing too shiny. (1 pt)

e.  They all battle each other for dominance.  It’s tough to say who’s winning. (2 pts)

 

7.  Lights hung from exposed cords or wires are…

a.  Totally a thing now.  Ain’t nobody got time for an electrician! (3 pts)

b.  Something I try to hide or I begrudgingly tolerate. (2 pts)

c.  Nowhere to be found in my home. (1 pt)

 

8.  Most of your furniture can be described as…

a.  Minimalist or streamlined. (1 pt)

b.  Midcentury modern–whether vintage or reproductions. (3 pts)

c.  Scandinavian in spirit. (3 pts)

d.  Antiques. (1 pt)

e.  Bohemian. (3 pts)

f.  Too diverse for any one style to claim the majority. (2 pts)

g.  Hollywood Regency. (2 pts)

h.  Other. (1 pt)

 

Lightning Round!  Give yourself one point for each of the following that you have in your home:

  • A sheepskin throw over a chair (1 pt)
  • Succulents and/or cacti (1 pt)
  • A figurine of a hand making a piece sign (1 pt)
  • Reclaimed wood (1 pt)
  • A painted portrait of someone–you have no idea who (1 pt)
  • A macrame or 70s-inspired wall hanging (1 pt)
  • Random mineral specimens (1 pt)
  • Books strictly for display purposes (1 pt)

 

OK, time to add up your points!  If you scored…

8-13 pts

No one could accuse you of being too trendy in your home decor.  Sure, you’ll adopt a trend here or there, but ultimately, you march to the beat of your own drum.

14-26 pts

Clearly you stay on top of trends and, as such, you’re predisposed to run with more of them.  Still, your style is all your own.  You’ve mastered that balance.

27-32 pts

You’re a bonafide trend scout!  In fact, you’re probably that friend whom everyone goes to with questions like “what do you think of this coffee table?”.  It’s because you have swagger and that comes through in your digs.  But is your home too trendy?  The truth is: there’s no such thing.  Your home should be a place that makes you happy.

Share your score in the comments below!

4 Palette Ideas for Benjamin Moore’s 2017 Color of the Year, Shadow

Benjamin Moore’s choice of Shadow (a smoked amethyst purple) was a surprising selection for 2017’s color of the year and a drastic departure from last year’s “Simply White”.  Still, I for one, am excited to see a moody jewel tone take center stage in the coming year and hope its a harbinger of more colorful, dramatic interiors to come.  Naturally, I’ve been bouncing around palette ideas in my head.  After much thought, 4 color combos bubble to the top.  Here they are…

Shades of Gray & Shadow

Both complex hues with plenty of depth, gray and purple are a match made in heaven, creating a sexy, mysterious atmosphere.  In this pairing, I’d give precedence to gray, layering shade upon shade with limited pops of deep, dark Shadow and lighter notes of dusty lavender.

The other key to pulling of this color duo is to pile on the lustrous textures.  Think: velvet, antiqued mirrors, mother of pearl, and chrome…

Violet & Citrus

Benjamin Moore’s 2017 color of the year, Shadow isn’t just purple.  It’s a sultry, saturated, slightly-more-blue-than-red tone.  Thus, it’s complimentary color is a somewhere-between-yellow-and-green hue.  These two botanical-themed shades of violet and citrus are meant to be.

Of course, complimentary colors can be overwhelming or even jarring.  So, be sure to balance the intensity and even the amount of the two hues to match the mood you’re looking to create in particular room.  Hedge the duo with plenty of neutrals for a more relaxing atmosphere.  Or throw restraint to the wind and saturate a room with the two colors for a more energizing effect.

Amethyst & Sapphire

4 Palette Ideas for Using Benjamin Moore's Shadow | Sapphire & Amethyst

via OKL

4 Palette Ideas for Using Benjamin Moore's Shadow | Sapphire & Amethyst

David Collins

A cool blue also plays nicely with the 2017 color of the year and–contrary to the last pairing–makes for a soothing, tension-free setting.

Of  course, a little tension is necessary.  Thus, make sure to mix in some warm neutrals like rattan, burl wood, cognac leather, or even tortoise shell.

Every Shade of Purple

4 Palette Ideas for Benjamin Moore's 2016 Color of the Year: Shadow | Layers of Purple

Hunt Slonem

Layering Shades of Purple | Shadow, Benjamin Moore's 2017 Color of the Year | 4 Palette Ideas | MotleyDecor.com

via AD

Then again, purple is a shade that begs to be layered and Shadow is no exception.  Nearly every tint–from lilac to orchid–can be used in concert, as evidenced by the overwhelmingly violet interiors above.

If you take this route, commit.  Contrast light shades of purple with dark.  Mix ultra saturated tones like aubergine with more delicate hues like wisteria.  Oscillate between indigo and merlot.  Diversity is key.

How to Cure a Halloween Hangover

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday.  Wearing a costume, doling out candy, and partying like a pagan are activities that I relish each last day of October.  The only problem is, November 1st often turns out to be my least favorite day of the year.  Racked by headaches, nausea, and often embarrassment; Halloween hangovers are no joke.  Luckily, last year, I finally stumbled up on the cure…

In my experience, folks generally fall into two camps: those who starve a hangover and those who eat their way through it, devouring a smrogasbord of greasy, salty goodness.  If you belong to the former camp, I can’t help you.  However, if you belong to the latter, read on!

Halloween Hangover Cure

What you’ll need:

1 can of chili (I’m partial to either Stagg Ranch House Chicken Chili or Hormel No Beans)

2 cans of corned beef hash (it will shrink at you cook it)

1-2 eggs (per person you’re feeding)

A handful of sharp cheddar cheese, grated

A handful of scallions (or green onions), finely sliced

Optional: hot sauce

Preparation is simple (after all, you won’t be operating at your best when you make this meal):

Brown the corned beef hash in a frying pan, while simultaneously bringing the chili to a soft boil in a separate pot.  Make sure you leave one burner for a second frying pan.  When the 2 aforementioned items are almost ready, cook the eggs sunny side up.  Then, it’s just a matter of layering.  Place the corned beef hash at the base, sprinkling it with some shredded cheddar.  Then, ladle the chili over top–again–sprinkling more cheese.  Next, the egg(s), which are topped with scallions.  Hot sauce is optional–as is a bib.  DIG IN!

To your sober, healthy ear, this recipe may seem a little…unhealthy or even…unsophisticated.  Still, I guarantee you that your hungover self (and even your drunk self) will love it!

Of course, it never hurts to hydrate.  Plan ahead by drinking water all Halloween day before your ghoulish night activities.  Chug water before going to bed and leave a full glass (and a couple of Advil) on your nightstand.   Maybe even keep some coconut water in the fridge.

And poof!  Your hangover is cured.  You’re welcome.  Happy (early) Halloween!  Be safe.

14 Jaw-Dropping Chinoiserie & Asian-Inspired Rooms

Still on a high from my trip to Asia, it seems only fitting to pay homage to the East’s contributions to contemporary interior design.  Since the 17th century, Asian decorative arts have fascinated the West.  Fueled by admiration for the mysterious and exotic, Europeans distilled Eastern motifs into a whimsical, romanticized style known as chinoiserie.  While most cultural influences fall in and out of style, chinoiserie has enjoyed unmatched endurance.   Ceramic garden stools, ginger jars, and hand-painted wallpapers depicting trees and birds are common place in some of today’s most celebrated interiors.  And in this modern age, more authentic Asian furnishings–not to mention textiles–are more accessible than ever.   So, without further adieu, I give you 14 jaw-dropping chinoiserie and Asian-inspired rooms…

14 Jaw-Dropping Chinoiserie & Asian-Inspired Rooms on Motley Decor

This bedroom expertly mixes cultural references; however, the Asian influences among them are perhaps the most palpable.  The walls are wrapped in texture-adding grasscloth in a moody teal shade (which–by the way–is 1 of 7 Fool-Proof Wall Colors).  Lacquered folding screens flank the bed paired with stylized bamboo chairs, enveloping the space with Asian flair.

14 Jaw-Dropping Chinoiserie & Asian-Inspired Rooms on Motley Decor

In this show house dining room, the Eastern allusions are more subtle.  The art on the far wall could arguably be construed as Asian-inspired with birds in flight, rendered in gold leaf.  The drapes too are a fretwork pattern, which is commonly associated with chinoiserie decor.

Jaw-Dropping Chinoiserie & Asian-Inspired Rooms

A motley of far-flung treasures from the East congregate in this guest room.  The chinoiserie cabinet is topped with a fish bowl planter.  The headboard is draped with (what I can only guess is) a fabric remnant from some breath-taking kimono.   All of this is set off by the silver mylar wall covering–a suitable, updated alternative to silver leaf.  (Bonus: see the living room of this house in one of my previous posts.)

Jaw-Dropping Chinoiserie & Asian-Inspired Rooms | See 13 More on MotleyDecor.com

The pagoda day bed in this space provides for a stunning focal point that is unmistakably chinoiserie.  The mural also contributes to the exotic feel.  However, everything else in the room takes on a more streamlined and modern air, ushering the space into the present and allowing the showstoppers to do their job uninterrupted.  The balance is achieved pretty much perfect.

14 of the Most Jaw-Dropping Chinoiserie & Asian-Inspired Rooms | See 13 More on MotleyDecor.com

Although as of late Kelly Wearstler’s work has skewed edgy, enchanting spaces with traditional leanings can be found in her body of work.  Above is one such example: the dining room of her former Hillcrest Estate.  Although the architecture is clearly modern, that didn’t stop Wearstler from filling her home with exotic antiques.  Here, East and West mingle to the delight of anyone lucky enough to dine in this space.

14 Jaw-Dropping Chinoiserie & Asian-Inspired Rooms | See 13 More on MotleyDecor

The interior of this Cape Cod home (which contains another room that was also featured previously on Motley Decor) is coated completely in this seductive, pine green lacquer.  In the bedroom–as you can see–it makes the blossom tones of the Chinese pillows sing.  The pierced fretwork shutters usurp the  undersized art in prominence and anoint the room with both light and chinoiserie vibes.

Vibrant Living Room with Asian Influences a la Eddie Ross // See 13 More Chinoiserie & Asian Inspired Rooms on Motley Decor

It’s no surprise that an avid collector like Eddie Ross would have an eclectic home.  His living room is a testament to this and a celebration of many cultures.  Asian references are counted among them.  Just look at that chinoiserie folding screen, that ceramic garden stool, that bamboo chest, those ginger jars…

14 Jaw-Dropping Chinoiserie Rooms

Windsor Smith, a designer known for her laid back yet elegant style, is responsible for this arresting vignette.  That pearly wallpaper with a chinoiserie motif is enough to inspire envy even in the most uncovetous of hearts.  (Mine is among them.)  The tone-on-tone layering of other white objets–the matte and shiny ceramics along the dull, fibrous linen of the chairs–is beautifully executed.  At the center is an Asian cabinet in stark, weighty black that delivers a surprising but welcome contrast.  Crystal sconces and brass hardware deliver an extra dose of glamour.

Chinoiserie room in blue and white with stunning details // The Most Exquisite Chinoiserie & Asian-Inspired Rooms // MotleyDecor.com

In this blue lacquered cave of a room lies a myriad of Eastern inspirations.  Where to start?  The palette of blue and white is characteristic of chinoiserie decor–as is the Greek key rug.  Asian textiles and pottery pepper the far wall.  The luminous gold leaf ceiling radiates Eastern elegance.  Even the conical cocktail tables–though contemporary–feel rooted in Asian design.  This home also contains a gorgeous blue & white, Asian-inspired bathroom.

Dining room with neutral chinoiserie wallpaper and candied apple red lacquer chippendale chairs // 14 Jaw-Dropping Chinoiserie Rooms // MotleyDecor.com

The first time I saw this room, I vowed to one day lacquer dining chairs in a candied apple red.  These Chippendale specimens ooze character–especially set against the backdrop of the neutral-hued chinoiserie wallpaper.

14 Jaw-Dropping Chinoiserie Rooms // MotleyDecor.com // Ideas & Inspiration for Home Decorators with Eclectic Taste

Still, large doses of saturated color are not a prerequisite for an inspiring chinoiserie space, as illustrated by this show house living room.  In a sea of white, cream, beige, and tan; whispers from the East rise above the din in the form of striking patterns and shapely silhouettes.  Again we see the Greek key motif, trimming the ottoman.  Swirling clouds adorn the side table.  And Chinese figurines, along with curvaceous urns, stand guard at the mantel.

A colorful dining room by Nick Olsen with a dash of chinoiserie | 13 More of the Most Stunning Asian Inspired Rooms

Taking on a more light-hearted and laid back feel is Nick Olsen’s dining room.  In a clever and unexpected pairing, Chinese Chippendale-like chairs bring Danish midcentury modern perches to the table.  Red vinyl upholstery unites the two styles.  A thin band of chinoiserie wallpaper lines the walls and, in this setting, trapezoid lampshades are reminiscent of pagodas.

Hutton Wilkinson's Living Room + 13 More Jaw-Dropping Chinoiserie & Asian-Inspired Rooms // Motley Decor

Let’s end on a high note.  Shall we?  Enter: Hutton Wilkinson, who embraced chinoiserie with enough zeal and grandeur to rival an 18th century aristocrat.  His walls are koi fish orange, juxtaposing his collection of jade green ceramics.  A generous strip of gold leaf highlights his art and penchant for symmetry.  Intricate garden stools and pagoda statues satisfy the need for sculptural elements.  This celebrated maximalist and right hand man to the late Tony Duquette never fails to amaze.  Be sure to check out Hutton Wilkinson’s dining room too!

What Japan Taught Me About Design

Visiting Japan was a deeply rewarding experience that precipitated lessons in design (among other things) that I will carry with me forever.  If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen a sneak peak of what I’m referring to.  Either way, here are 4 aesthetic truths that the splendor of Japan has engrained in me.

There’s No Competing with Mother Nature

Design Lessons from Japan on Motley Decor... 1. There's no competing with Mother Nature

As a maximalist, walking into my room at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), I was struck by its simplicity.  The palette and materials were completely neutral and natural: warm wood finishes, woven tatami mats, and semi-transparent paper screens.  Adornments were limited to a singular tapestry accompanied by a lone vase.  However, as soon as my eyes beheld the view outside, it all made sense.  My room wasn’t the main event.  Rather, it was a frame for the lush, verdant, and utterly magical garden just beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Design Lessons from Japan on Motley Decor... 1. There's no competing with Mother Nature

In fact, the few minutes that I spent strolling through that garden were among the most memorable of my trip.  Every shade of green was represented in every fathomable texture–from dark, smooth pine needles to velvety, chartreuse moss.  Black dragonflies danced about as glittering koi slithered downstream.  Only birds could be heard and the air was spiced with an earthy, faintly medicinal aroma thanks to some morning showers.

Having returned home, I’m definitely motivated to focus more attention on landscaping.  And, if I ever achieve an enchanting garden (like the one I visited in Kinosaki-Onsen) I’ll have to remember my time in Japan and tone down the room that overlooks it.  Because we mortals simply can’t compete with the wonders of Mother Nature.

Food Presentation Is Important

What I Learned in Japan via MotleyDecor... 2. Food presentation is important

Another extraordinary perk about staying in a ryokan is having an elaborate meal served in your room.  Low slung lacquer tables are set with the greatest of care and small course after small course delights every sense.

What I Learned in Japan via MotleyDecor... 2. Food presentation is important

Each petite portion is plated to impress.  Notice how the pumpkin is cut to resemble a gingko leaf and how the gingko berry is skewered on a pine needle.  This is just one example of many.  Each serving is as beautiful as it is delicious.  Despite the small portions, the sheer number of courses is enough satisfy nearly any appetite.  I was blown away and humbled to think about how much work had gone into preparing our meal.  I felt immensely grateful for the experience.

And now that I’m home, it’s time to up my food presentation game.  For real.

Have a Signature Color

What I learned about design from visiting Japan | Motley Decor | Have a Signature Color

Kyoto is home to over 2,000 temples and shrines.  Every few blocks, you stumble up on a new one–even in crowded markets.  More often than not, they make themselves known  by their vibrant, blood orange entrances.

What I learned about design from visiting Japan | Motley Decor | Have a Signature Color

After some quick googling, I learned that this color is meant to purify the patrons who pass beneath so that they are fit to meet the gods within.

Unfortunately for me, this koi fish orange color did not cure me of the tremendous sense of gluttony I felt while in Japan–home of sushi, ramen, tempura, udon, sukiyaki, and the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.  However, it did impress up on me the importance of a signature color.  I hereby call dibs on green!

Nothing Conveys Grandeur Quite Like Gold

Nothing Conveys Grandeur LIke Gold | Design Lessons from a Trip to Japan on Motley Decor

I’ve long been a fan of the yellow metal hoarded by nearly every civilization since the beginning of time.  But, there’s something about the way the Japanese employ gold and feels especially majestic.  I suppose the best example is the Kinakuji Temple, a structure sheathed entirely in gold, crowning a reflective pond and nestled among dense vegetation.

Nothing Conveys Grandeur LIke Gold | Design Lessons from a Trip to Japan on Motley Decor

But, even in smaller doses–whether it’s the embroidery on an obi sash or the paint on this wall mural–gold enhances Japanese art forms with synergistic results.

I will strive for this level of grandeur the next time I apply gold leaf.

Until next time, sayonara!

4 Ways to Decorate with Yellow Inspired by Emmy Gowns

Yellow gowns dazzled on the red carpet of the 2016 Emmy Awards.  Shades ranging from lemonade to dandelion compliment a variety of skin tones and are having a moment in fashion.  As always, fashion informs interior design–or perhaps the reverse is true.  In any case, here are 4 ways to decorate with yellow inspired by gowns worn to the 68th Emmy Awards.

If you love Angela Bassett’s acid-dijon-yellow, batwinged frock…

…then consider taking an equally fearless approach to decor and slather your walls in a bold shade a la Kim Bachmann…

4 Ways to Decorate with Yellow Inspired by the 68th Emmy Awards

via OKL

If you prefer a more citrusy shade of yellow enhanced by ornate, feminine details much like Lianne La Havas’ dress…

4 Ways to Decorate with Yellow Inspired by Emmy Dresses

via Vogue

…then take a page out of Thom Filicia’s book and put citron paint to statement-making furniture…

Yellow Decor Inspired by the 2016 Emmys

via AD

Or, if you have a sunny disposition and a penchant for throwbacks like the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt aka Ellie Kemper who donned this patterned, retro number…

…then embrace vintage pattern in a subtle sulfur hue…

4 Ways to Decorate with Yellow Inspired by the 2016 Emmys Red Carpet

via OKL

However, if it was Mandy Moore’s ruffled marigold gown that caught your eye at the 2016 Emmys…

Inspired by the 68th Emmys: 4 Ways to Decorate with Yellow

via usmagazine

…then go goldenrod in an unexpected way like this beaded chandelier…

Inspired by Yellow Gowns on the Red Carpet of the 2016 Emmy Wards...4 Ways to Decorate with Yellow

Which approach do you prefer?

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