Inspiration

Design inspiration from the Dalmatian Coast

Hvar, Croatia, Dalmatian Coast

It's been nearly a year since I first laid eyes on the crystal blue waters of Croatia's Dalmatian Coast.  Last August, Joe and I set out on a life-changing tour of Croatia, visiting Dubrovnik, Korcula, Hvar, Split and Plitvice Lakes in one whirlwind trip. 

Long worn-torn and under the thumb of a socialist government, the country formerly called Yugoslavia, is now opening its doors to tourists.  It boasts a rocky coast, walled cities and fortresses, glistening blue waters, more islands than you can count, and natural wonders if you choose to venture farther North.

The people are friendly, the food and wine are superb and the homes are beautifully simple.  Many residents still live in hundreds-of-years old walled cities.  And everything is built with breathtakingly beautiful limestone.

It's a way of life I can only dream of.  And maybe visit on very, very special vacations.

Beau roars along with vintage car-themed birthday

Little kids only turn two once and the theme for Beau's second birthday couldn't have been more obvious. CARS! This toddler is obsessed with anything that goes: cars, trucks, planes, boats, you name it.

It's been months since the bash, but it was such a fun theme, I still wanted to share!  For decor, I gathered a number of vintage decorations and toys from around the house.  The next time you have a party, I highly encourage you look around and see what useable stuff you already own. It'll be classier than anything from the party store and the best part... it's free!  

I blew up a couple photos of Beau in his favorite cars and hung them on the wall.  I also created cute signs with wooden placards from the craft store, stick-on letters, craft paper and photos.

We munched on chocolate checkered flag cake, stoplight brownies, and Cracker Jacks, along with some savory snacks for both kids and adults.

I also spray-painted small cardboard boxes, hot-glued on mason jar lids for wheels and let the kids decorate their own box cars will stickers and markers.  I think the adults had just as much fun as the little ones!

Halloween costume inspiration: New Orleans style!

Halloween is a HUGE holiday here in New Orleans and I have to say, we're some of the best when it comes to costumes.  From Mardi Gras to Halloween and all the events in between, the people of New Orleans know a thing or two about dressing up!

So, to offer up some inspiration, here are some of my favorite costume ideas from my family, friends and this crazy city we call home!

Slightly extravagant guest closet makeover

guest closet makeover

Yes, I fully comprehend that chandeliers in closets are completely unnecessary.  Some might say extravagant.  I don't care.

Our upstairs is one of the few places in our house that's almost completely renovated, save a few little details.  One of those details was the ugly yellow closet with an outdated 1970's light fixture, painted shelves, metal rod and broken bi-fold door.

I figured it would be an easy weekend project to replace the door and spruce it up.  As usual, I was wrong!  The entire project ended up taking about three weekends, but it was too much fun to quit with a new rod and door.

Hanging the solid wood door was a challenge and that was just the start.  I also painted the walls and trim, hung a small chandelier, had new shelves cut at Home Depot and covered them with spray glue and wallpaper, installed a new rod... and finally... added the cherry on top with an antique crystal doorknob from Ricca's.

The changes brighten up our tiny closet so much.  I hope it'll be a sparkling little treat for our guests for years to come!

Historic Rountree house saved by New Orleans renovator

New Orleans Rountree Bland House Courtesy Cygnette

This thing was ugly.  Dangerous too. When we moved into our home, looming behind us was a behemoth of a Gothic New Orleans mansion.  In its day, the Rountree house was a treasure, but through the years it became dilapidated- propped up with 2"x4"s and covered in blue tarp. 

Think I'm exaggerating?  Just read the articles below...

Over time, many people tried purchasing the historic home, designed by famed New Orleans architect James Freret.  However, caught up in a divorce proceeding, the owners were never willing to sell.  That is, until Andrea Bland came along.

Andrea is a true gift to New Orleans.  She's spearheaded incredible Uptown renovations, bringing homes many thought were too far gone back to their original glory.  She's been honored as Preservationist of the Year by the Preservation Resource Center.  It was a hard-earned title.  

When Andrea took on the 4,200 sq ft Rountree house, it was leaning a whopping 13."  A strong wind could have knocked this thing down.  Not to mention one of our famed New Orleans hurricanes.  Andrea straightened the home and stripped it down to the studs.  She then came back, carefully re-crafting every original detail, down to the ornate tin-lattice under the eves and the plaster medallions on the ceilings.

WGNO News reporter Deepak Saini followed her work on television.  Uptown Messenger writer Owen Courreges documented the progress in print.  Their research and storytelling weave an incredible tale.  The images are breathtaking.  Now complete, it's almost impossible to believe just how far Rountree... now Rountree-Bland...  has come.

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Read more (and check out BEFORE pictures) here:

Deepak Saini: Rountree Renovation: Preserving an iconic home

Owen Coureges: The slow, painful death of Josephine's leaning tower

Owen Courreges: The good, the bad and the ugly