Things We Like: Chinoiserie Chic Bedroom Design

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

A French term that loosely translates as “Chinese-esque,” chinoiserie (pronounced: shen’wäz-re’) describes a European style of art and design dating back to the seventeenth century when early traders first started brining art, fabrics, and silks back from Asia.

Characterized by its use of fanciful imagery of China, asymmetrical balance, whimsical contrast, Chinese porcelain and lacquer like materials, chinoiserie has long been a popular style of interior design — particularly amongst the Chinese, French, and English aristocracy. Notably, Louis XV of France favored chinoiserie design, and decorated entire rooms at the Château de Chantilly in the chinoiserie style. Other prominent people who have incorporated chinoiserie in their homes include: Tory Burch, Ann Getty, Pauline de Rothschild, and Yves Saint Laurent.

If you want a bedroom that is colorful, vibrant and exotic, chinoiserie may be a style to consider. When done right, it exudes a sense of sophistication, worldliness, and high-class that you simply cannot get from any other style. Chinoiserie design also provides ample opportunity for collectors to incorporate antique and vintage pieces into their décor. While authentic chinoiserie pieces can be quite expensive, reproductions offer the same look at a fraction of the cost.

Some common elements of chinoiserie design include:

  • Vibrant silk wall coverings patterned with flowers, birds, bamboo, or butterflies.

  • Colorful Chinese statues of exotic animals, pagodas, and historical figures;

  • Glossy table lamps, vases, and plates painted with scenes of Chinese life;

  • Lacquered furniture with classic chinoiserie curves; and

  • Decorative throw pillows.

Many of the elements that make chinoiserie so great for some, also makes it unsuitable for others. It is often said that you either love the style or hate it, but I think there is a middle ground that can be achieved. So, don’t discount chinoiserie entirely if the bold colors and whimsical imagery are too energetic for your bedroom; you can still incorporate elements of chinoiserie design without losing too much of the tranquility you’ve come to expect from a bedroom.

For example, instead of covering your entire room with fanciful wall coverings, you could frame smaller pieces of silk wallpaper and use it as paneling to create an accent wall behind your bed. You can also incorporate a couple carefully selected chinoiserie lamps, ceiling fixtures, and small decorative statues and vases. While the most easily recognizable chinoiserie lacquered furnishings are painted with fanciful scenes, a simple curved black or brown glossy piece can be a more subtle way to make your space a little more chinoiserie. You may also opt for more muted color palette using colors like dark teal, and flat gold, instead of vibrant pink, gold, and silver colors.

If you’d like to learn more about chinoiserie design, be sure to check out the Chinoiserie Chic blog. For more inspiration, Houzz also has a channel with striking examples of how people have created fabulous chinoiserie bedrooms.

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Breakfast in Bed: Jello?

Post by Alison Hein.

My sister wanted a 1960’s theme for her birthday bash – music, decorations, clothing and yes, food. As we collaborated on the menu, Janet loaned me a couple of old cookbooks for inspiration.

I paged through many recipes when the idea struck. A Jello mold! Sadly, ingredients such as raw egg, cream cheese, canned fruit and other oddities didn’t feel right. So I followed one of my favorite bits of cooking wisdom – when in doubt, add booze. I knew I was on track when I peeled the foil from the proseco bottle and spied the tiny smiley face printed on the cork.

Lots of fresh fruit added a colorful, decorative touch, and the frosted grapes shimmered and sparkled in a perfect party-like manner. Janet couldn’t find her old jello mold, so I used one of my grandma’s old cake pans. Any pan will do, but be patient and let the jello set to just the right consistency for the fruit to “float”. 2 ½ hours was right for the size of my mold.

Jammin’ and jiggly, our shimmery jello was an evening birthday party smash! And the next morning, who’s to say it wasn’t a real groovy breakfast in bed?

Jammin’ Jello Mold
2 cups water
1 6-ounce package of raspberry Jell-o
2 cups proseco, chilled (or use ginger ale as a non-alcoholic substitute)
1 lemon
2 cups (1 dry pint) blueberries
6 ounces raspberries
1 small head Boston lettuce
Frosted Grapes (see below)
2 cups mixed berries (or other fruit) for garnish

Preparation
Pour water into a heavy, medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Pour in contents of Jell-o package and stir for 2 minutes, until completely clear and smooth. Stir in proseco. Pour mixture into mold and refrigerate until partially set, about 2 to 2 ½ hours. Texture should be firm enough that fruit will remain “floating” when immersed in the jello. Slice lemon into very thin rounds. Press lemon slices down and arrange in a pleasing pattern to cover the bottom of the mold. Add the blueberries and raspberries, pressing down to “float” throughout the mold. Return the mold to the refrigerator, and chill for at least another 2 hours, or better, overnight.

When ready to serve, run a small, sharp knife blade around the rim of the jello to loosen. Then very briefly put the mold in warm water. Place a platter on top of the mold and carefully flip. Arrange lettuce leaves around mold, then garnish with Frosted Grapes and mixed berries. Serve immediately.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Frosted Grapes (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Salad Recipes)
1 bunch green grapes
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
½ cup to 1 cup sugar

Preparation
Wash and trim grapes. Dip grapes into egg whites and shake off any excess amount. Dip and roll in sugar to cover fruit. Let dry on rack at least 2 hours before serving.

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Bedtime Stories: Boy Wonders

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Boy Wonders by Calef Brown.

The newest addition to our bookshelf is this collection of very silly poem things by author and illustrator Calef Brown. “Boy Wonders” is a series of queries on a number of subjects. I’m sure most of us don’t have answers to most or possibly any of his questions, but they are sure to elicit chuckles and perhaps a stream of inane questions in response. I’ll be honest with you: I’ve always liked Calef Brown’s poetry a lot more than his imagery. I find a lot of his pictures to be kind of creepy. It’s mostly the way he draws noses. That’s not the only thing, but that’s the most prominent thing that creeps me out. Fortunately, this is a pretty un-creepy collection.

Among the musings contained therein are such vital questions as: “Are phones annoyed when no one calls? Do ants, when anxious, climb the walls? Is water scared of waterfalls?”
You get the idea. my son’s favorite is about Jason and the Argonauts:

I’m proud to say my son has actually improved on this by changing it to: If I were an Argonaut, would I say “Argh”? Or not?

Boy Wonders is a silly fun book for anyone who loves a ridiculous pun or play on words. So long as you aren’t scared of weird-looking noses.

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Movies in Bed: Hercules

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Greek mythology. It’s always so much fun to read. About the only time I did my homework in middle school was when I was assigned Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. I was supposed to read all the bits about the Odyssey, but I went ahead and read the whole thing. It has been much to my delight that my son loves the myths of olde as well. Argus, the watcher with a bunch of eyes? Not creepy to him in the least! He is fascinated by Medusa. How could you not be? I really hope he decides to name his first dog Cerberus.

I don’t think he is ready yet for The Clash of the Titans, though I really can’t wait until he is. As a really mediocre compromise, I pulled up Disney’s Hercules on Netflix. My wife had beaten me to the classic , so I was left with limited choices. Everyone knows the story: half man, half god, super strong, etc.

He wasn’t crazy about it. Frankly, I think the conflict was a bit stressful for him though after the fact he would assert that it was really boring. At least they got Danny DeVito to play Philoctetes, the short fat faun. Other than that, it’s not that memorable. I don’t think 1997 was a great year for Disney productions.

BUT, if your child is a fan of mythology, or you want him to become one, this is a nice and easy stepping-stone into the world of folklore and mythology.

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Things We Like: Sleeping Porches

A couple weeks ago, I read an article about the most expensive home in America, which is currently listed at $190 million. The Copper Beech Farm is a 15,000 square foot, 12-bedroom estate that was originally built in 1897, and is situated on 50 acres of manicured grounds in Greenwich Connecticut. While the home itself is gorgeous, as can be expected of any property of that value, one of its features stuck out for me: a sleeping porch off the master suite. Intrigued, I did a bit of research on whether a sleeping porch is a real thing.

What is a sleeping porch?

Touted by some as the “ultimate luxury,” sleeping porches first gained popularity at the turn of the 20th century; however, they have been used extensively throughout the world since Roman times. Nothing more than a screened in porch, similar to a modern day sunroom, people used sleeping porches to enjoy the comfort of the cool night air during warm summer months when sleeping inside wasn’t ideal. In addition to being more comfortable than sleeping indoors, people also believed that the fresh air helped with respiratory illnesses and other ailments. This idea was particularly popular as Americans began moving away from industrialized cities to the countryside.

Modern Sleeping Porches

Even though most (but not all) homes today have central air conditioning, and some people harbor a a general distrust towards their neighbors, sleeping porches are making a comeback in recent years. Many people are looking for ways to reconnect with nature, or otherwise find it enjoyable to sleep outdoors in the crisp night air. And even if you have central air, a sleeping porch is an eco-friendly way to escape the summer night heat while keeping your electric bill down. Add a rustic porch bed with metal frame with a mosquito net and quilted bedding an you’ve got a charming bedroom retreat for your and your guests.

If you aren’t keen on the idea of foregoing all the modern modern comforts you’ve grown accustomed to by sleeping outside, a lot of homeowners are converting what was once a sleeping porch into a cozy and functional sunroom. You could even add a day bed, which is perfect for an afternoon siesta.

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