Saturday, July 28, 2012

California dreamin'...

Well, actually, I'm not dreaming. I'm on a plane heading back to California for a quick weekend trip to see my fiancé and Emily, both of whom I've been missing terribly. As I'm flying back and forth over the country, I thought you might enjoy seeing the photographs I took at the Oceanside pier a couple of weeks before I moved. It's beautiful, isn't it? I must admit I miss the perfect southern California weather (especially with all the crazy heat this summer) and seeing the ocean every day.
Back soon. Have a lovely weekend, all.

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beauty from Biltmore...

Last weekend I went to Asheville with a couple of friends to tour Biltmore Estate. It had been nearly 10 years since I was there and in that time, I think it's only gotten more beautiful. The house, the gardens, even the winery ~ everything is lovely and welcoming. Biltmore is the home built by George Vanderbilt, a French chateau in the North Carolina mountains. We picked a glorious summer day to visit, as you can see by the sky and gardens, so I thought I'd share a little of the beauty with you. Hope you enjoy.

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Wall of Women...

Isn't it fabulous when "someday" finally arrives?
About five years ago, I started collecting portraits of women from local artists on Etsy. I didn't have anything particular in mind other than I was drawn to them, particularly the work of Janet Hill, which you can see in the bottom row. After three years of collecting, I decided to start framing them. Even though they were framed at different times, I kept to the same color scheme in choosing frames. I have this long, 18-foot, uninterrupted wall in my living room and I thought it would be perfect to display all of these portraits when we moved back to the Carolinas "someday." I dubbed it the Wall of Women and after several years of preparation, I finally got the last piece back from the framer last week (the one directly below) and was able to hang them.
The wall doesn't contain my entire collection; some are hanging in other parts of my living room. Eventually this wall will be wallpapered ~ I've always treated it as an accent wall ~ but for now it's painted a darker pink than the rest of the room. The art takes up a good portion of the wall, which is just what I wanted. I'm really happy with how it turned out. What do you think?

I am linking to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound.

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Monday, July 16, 2012

A fabulous find...

Last weekend I went furniture hunting with a good friend of mine at a place called The Sleepy Poet in Charlotte. It's an antique/vintage market with hundreds of vendors and it is fabulous. I found so many wonderful things there at really good prices that I would need three houses to fit in everything I loved.
Since I was really only looking for a sideboard and a china cabinet, I decided to exercise restraint. But then I came across this antique vanity and, well, I just couldn't leave it there.
When I was a little girl, one of my friends had a vanity similar to this that her grandmother brought when she came to live with them. We used to play at it all the time and I've always dreamed of having one of my own. When I saw this one, I fell in love. It's in wonderful shape, and the two side mirrors still fold in. Isn't it fabulous? Excuse the quality of the photo ~ I took it real quick on my phone so I could share it. The piece goes wonderfully with my antique bed, too. Now all I have to do is find a little stool to go with it...

Photo by The Art of Living Beautifully

Friday, July 6, 2012

The thrill (and agony) of furniture shopping...

One of the fun things about moving is that we've decided to buy new furniture. I've lived with a mixture of hand-me-downs and inexpensive furniture for years and finally decided it was time to buy something good. For the living room, I wanted beautiful, comfortable and classic, without a huge price tag, if at all possible. I didn't want to spend money on furniture that I'd be tired of (or it would be tired out) in five years.
After months of online searching and weeks of hitting the stores, I was beginning to wonder if I was asking too much. A couple of friends suggested I look in Columbia since I had tried nearly every store in Charlotte. Since I wasn't really interested in a two-hour ride to High Point, I figured it was worth a shot. After an entire day of looking and finding many beautiful pieces for other rooms, I was nearly resigned to settling for Pottery Barn (not that there's anything wrong with that, but it wasn't quite the experience I was hoping for). Just as we were beginning to head out of town, we stumbled across a furniture store we didn't know existed and lo and behold, I found what I was looking for. It helped that the sales person was an actual designer and understood what I wanted and why.
I fell in love with the chair in the top picture on sight ~ I love the clean lines and the overall modern look with a hint of vintage. (Please excuse all the photos; I took them with my phone.) The chair also happened to be incredibly comfortable. I mean, really comfortable ~ my friends couldn't get over how great it was. Unfortunately, the great chair also came with a great big price tag (more than the couch). And I wanted two. Ugh. I could just hear the conversation with my fiancé in my head, if you know what I mean. But then the sales person told me they were having a special sale and the chair was 50 percent off in certain fabrics ~ your choices narrowed from about 300 fabrics to 100. Since the fabric I wanted was included in the bunch ~ that lovely gray in the second photo ~ I ordered two chairs. I was so thrilled I was ready to skip around the store. The chairs will look wonderful grouped together with a little round table under the big window in my living room.
And now it is on to the sofa, which I actually found before the chair. I'm not really sure that sharing the photo below is going to tell you much because while it is the same style sofa, I ordered it with two cushions instead of three, no rivets (you can see them on the trim of the arms) and turned legs instead of the straight ones. I also ordered it in a different fabric ~ a color called natural, with a slight texture to it to help with wear. And the type of wood on the legs is going to be different. So, again, it's my sofa but not. And it was on sale, too.

I also found a couple of other pieces for the living room that I'll show you later. If you're wondering where all this furniture is going to go, my living room is pretty large.
Now I just have to find a sideboard and china cabinet for the dining room, a small sectional for the TV room, rugs for the living room and TV room (and maybe the dining room) and... well, you get the idea.

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Birthday, America ~ and Russ...

Our country isn't the only one celebrating a birthday tomorrow. My sweet, wonderful Russell turns 15 on July 4. Yes ~ 15. He's been my constant companion since I rescued him when he was 9 months old and he is the reason I love dogs so much. He's an old soul, mellow and fun (as you can see in the photo below) and just generally a wonderful creature. Age is catching up with him, though, and I don't know how much longer he'll be around. But he's still thrilled to greet me and he just ran a few minutes ago and flopped on the hall rug to roll all over it like he's done for years, so he's still enjoying life most days. We'll be celebrating the Fourth with hot dogs ~ Russ's favorite.
Wishing all of you a lovely and safe holiday!

Photos by The Art of Living Beautifully