It’s 94 degrees outside today in Syracuse. With humidity factored in, the heat index is flirting with intolerable, somewhere slightly north of 100. I’ve got not one, but two fans running in my bedroom, and the curtains drawn to help beat the heat. Whether I like it or not, the sun is on my mind. Tomorrow is July 1st and the 4th is coming up quickly, so I may as well lean into the summer heat and look for a silver lining. If you’re a type who hosts, there’s no end of options for outdoor entertaining, a fête in the afternoon sun.
I’ve recently been enviously eyeing Aerin Lauder’s collection for Williams Sonoma, and I think it’s the seasonal ideal. Not terribly expensive. Bowls as low as $20 on sale for a set of 4 and a serving platter only a few dollars above that, on sale. I’m thinking a 4th of July outdoor get-together. Red meat on the grill, blue and white dishware, and plenty of cold drinks. I’d skip the table clothes, the vases with expensive flowers, the poshness of it all. Simplicity works, let your guests enjoy the backyard, the grass, the foliage, the unpicked flowers. Picnic tables or even sitting on the grass, buffet style. I’m imagining just stacks of these beautiful dishes and good food and you’ve got yourself an unpretentious gathering but with an element of refinement. However, the styling in a few of the photos puts them in a more styled context, and of course they’re equally beautiful, if not quite “me”. Nothing terribly original about this idea, it’s been done to death, but these items are all beautiful enough that you wouldn’t want to put them away even when the weather turns cold. These dishes could hold a place of pride in any stylish home, if you ask me.
There’s also a smaller selection of blue, white, and green dishes that I love also. For those who find blue and white china a bit passé, maybe this would be the ideal twist. It retains the classic look of blue and white china but the green twist feels more quirky, personal, whimsical.
Lately I’ve been thinking about my own place. Not that it’s happening in the immediate future (I currently live with family), but inevitably I will need to get my own place – likely a small one-bedroom or even studio apartment. I’ll finally have carte blanche when it comes to every single decision regarding design and function. The scenarios I’ve played out while pouring over Sotheby’s real estate listings will suddenly be a reality, albeit with one significant caveat. How do I reconcile years of inspiration via Architectural Digest with a Dollar Store budget?
I’ve never been a Target idolator, but I’ve always respected their collaborations with well-regarded and high-priced brands and designers. I like the idea that your average person can get a piece of the pie, can own a version of something they’d normally only be able to afford in a parallel, affluent life. Others criticized these collaborations, saying that the mass-market affordability (and the step-down in tangible quality necessary to make them happen) cheapens the brand. The reason people want the brand in the first place is because of the quality and the exclusivity, so by doing a line at Target, is anyone really getting what they want? I can see both sides of the argument, but I think critics will be happier with Target’s newer approach. They’ve skipped the middle-man and created their own lines, inspired by trendier and more expensive brands. A brand’s reputation isn’t hurt, but Target shoppers can choose from items that are more in line with what they might be coveting online or in magazines than one would expect from such a massive, accessible store.
One such line created by Target seems to have caught the attention of many design bloggers and Instagram basics. It’s called OpalHouse and it’s incredibly (sometimes painfully) trendy, seemingly very heavily inspired by Anthropologie’s home collection of product. As I filtered through the 567 (!!) items available in the Opalhouse collection on target’s website, I thought about what items I’d consider purchasing, were I in need to furnishing my own place. Definitely best to avoid anything too trendy or attention grabbing, something that I wouldn’t get sick of, wouldn’t be embarrassed if any guest saw it, and things that reminded me of things I’d seen and wanted over the years, albeit at a much much MUCH lower price point. I decided to give myself a budget of $25 or less per item, and not to go crazy. I think it’s important your home didn’t look like someone else designed it, and picking too many items from one brand or one collection is a trap to adopting someone else’s taste as your own. Where’s the fun in that? Here’s what I came up with:
^ Plastic Tumblers 16oz ($1.99 each) and 22oz ($2.49 each)
^ Velvet Fringe Pillow ($24.99)^ Palm Taper Candlesticks ($14.99 each)^ Artificial Palm Leaf Plant in Gold Base ($24.99) – I’m not sure I can keep a real one alive^ Various Wood and Cast Frames ($14.99 each)^ Green Embroidered Tassel Accent Rug ($19.99)
^ Floral Earthenware Vase ($14.99)
White cabinets. For years, it’s all you saw in magazines, HGTV, and popular home blogs. Studies were done that showed white cabinets were the most desired by home buyers. House flippers and mass-appeal designers were steadfast in their devotion to all white kitchens. Prior to that, it had been all dark woods. Super dark. Unnaturally dark. And before that, light wood, maybe a honeyed oak with lots of wood grain. Lately it’s all about painting cabinets in shades of grey. But isn’t it more fun to have an edge, to be an original?
In October 2013, Cameron Diaz’s Chelsea, Manhattan apartment (pictured below, with the gold backsplash) was featured in a design magazine. Her kitchen was a revelation, bucking the trends, she chose dark, emerald green cabinets. I knew someday I’d like to design a home with a green kitchen, perhaps even for me. In the years since, I’ve found more examples of design forward homeowners taking a gamble on green and winning big every time. It’s distinctive, classy, bold, original, and grown-up. If all green cabinets feels like overload, consider painting just the base of the kitchen island. You could have an Emerald Isle of your very own.