Vanity Fair Oscar’s party

Oscar gowns were massively disappointing. I get if my clients here in Fairfield County don’t want to push the envelope and like to play it safe but these women all look stunning, have a team at their disposal for handling hair/nails/makeup and they can get dresses from all over the world. Why is it always such a snooze fest, especially this year? High updos, ruffles everywhere, big princess skirts… Yawn. I kept wandering if David’s Bridal was sponsoring some of the festivities.

Vanity Fair party however was much more fun!

Have you ever seen a prettier pregnant woman? It does help that she is 29 and supermodel but still, just beautifully executed.

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Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in Versace. Photo from vanityfair.com

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Kate Bosworth: just gorgeous. Perfect hair, perfect red lips and I love brown velvet belt. Gown by J. Mendel. Photo from here.

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Minni Driver looked so beautiful and one-shoulder is a huge trend. Color is flattering and dark red nails pop. Would have liked it better with a soft updo but it works either way. Photo from here.

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Olivia Munn in Giambattista Valli dress. Gorgeous. Photo from here.

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Lastly, Jessica Alba in Ralph&Russo gown. I love the dress: the details, the color, everything. And Jessica Alba is beautiful but I hate that Genie updo. It would have worked so much better with a low soft bun and strong pink lip.

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-haiku

How to whitewash a brick fireplace.

Most homes built around 70s-80s usually have a brick fireplace with colors of brick varying anywhere from orangey-red to black-brown-red. It automatically dates the room and looks drab. One fairly “easy” fix is to whitewash the fireplace, it will instantly change the room for brighter and lighter. However, it is time consuming and can be bit frustrating depending how porous or dark your fireplace is. But it is definitely doable! I’ve whitewashed 2 fireplaces as our current house and previous house each had dark bring fireplaces. Here’s how I did it.

Our last house had a fireplace that looked like this.

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I mixed equal parts of white latex paint and water, stirred and stirred. Covered up all surfaces, got a sponge and a rag and went at it. I sponged the mixture on the bricks, then dabbed the drips with the rag. Sore shoulders – check. I waited a day and let the brick absorb it. I don’t have an in between photo but the brick does absorb a lot of paint. So much so that I had to do a second coat. The, however, it looked too painted and uniform, so I got my sander out and sanded a few areas down. Hello dust!!!! Here’s the after.

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It’s our listing photo, so all crap has been cleared away but it does make a huge difference, doesn’t it.

On to our current (and forever) house.

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As soon as I saw the fireplace, I knew I would have to whitewash it. However, unlike the other fireplace which was built out of interior brick (brownish) this most was mostly red with black. Our chimney sweep said that’s the exterior brick. Anyhuuu. This was one SO difficult. I can’t even. It took my well over a week and I was really panicked because no matter what I did, it looked bad. I started with 1/3 white latex paint I had left over and 2/3 water. I ended up with light pink fireplace. Girls were thrilled. I did half and half and ended up with pink-purple fireplace.

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No honey, there’s no dinner as I have spent all day painting our fireplace purple. So bad. Bad bad purple. Slept on it and decided to add a bit of warm beige on my current white paint-water mixture.

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Better but decidedly yellow-ish. Everyone told me it looks fab and begged me to stop. So I did. But it bothered me. Every single day. It just wasn’t right. I figured if I made the water mixture whiter, got the brush out and painted ALL the grout lines, it might look better. It did. BUT it drips everywhere and I have myself a serious carpal tunnel with this. It still wasn’t what I wanted so I ended up getting my sander out and went to town on all those overly yellow areas, concentrating on the edges. It took hours, 7 sander pads (brick eats though it) and 2 days of cleaning all the dust off. It literally got everywhere and I hadn’t thought to cover anything up. I know.

So this is the after. Sorry, its not the greatest photo. I’m looking for a round mirror to go where the wreath is and need a carpenter to redo the mantle so I haven’t taken any photos. However, it is so much better than the original. Ideally, I’d love to do a limestone veneer over it but that has to wait a bit.

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Before

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After

So what do you think? Would you whitewash your fireplace?

 

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Reasons why you need to buy a peacoat stat.

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I always recommend to my clients to start a Pinterest board where they can pin any outfits they find appealing. Then I ask them to go back and edit: if you are a petite curvy woman, we can get rid of any photos of Angeline Jolia but let’s keep the ones of Reese Witherspoon and Christina Hendricks. The edit again so that the outfits that remain actually are the ones you would wear, meaning if you almost never wear evening dresses and/or high heels, let’s toss those too. Your inspiration file (and your wardrobe) should reflect you now (not 5 lbs lighter) and your actual lifestyle.
Once you have a photo of an outfit you like see what do you already own. I love this outfit here, so classic and so flattering. You probably own riding boots already, ditto for skinny jeans, probably have camel scarf and t-shirt. Don’t have camel but have white? Go for it? You can go all black as well but I would recommend against mixing any more colors in. Keep the shirt and scarf in the same color family (green would look pretty, so would blue) but try to keep some items matching (not exact color but in the same color family).
J Crew and Lands End make a variety of pea-coats at affordable price points, I think they are classic pieces and you’ll get lot of wear out of it. Black and camel are classics, of course, but I can’t resist bright yellow or hot pink. Especially if you mostly dress in neutrals, why not punch it up a bit? My outfit looks too colorful said no mom ever. Am I right?
J Crew pink peacoat from Seersucker+Saddles; J Crew yellow toggle coat via everythingfab
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-haiku

Starry Ceiling tutorial

 

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Source: decorpad.com

I’ve been wanting to do a starry ceiling in Melanie’s room for while. I really like the iconic Osbourne&Little Coronata Star wallpaper seen above but it is pretty expensive plus the cost of actually putting it up and dealing with smoke alarm in the middle of the ceiling (which conveniently cancels any plans I might have had for a small chandelier) and ceiling lights. And I wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of having to scrape it all off when Melanie no longer likes it.

This DYI version by Honey&Fitz is adorable. Love the light blue ceiling. Read about it here.

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She used a Silhouette Cameo to make these out of contact paper and cut these out. Ugh, I don’t have these things and it just seemed really more work than I wanted. She also used a chalk snap line to create the grid and warned that chalk gets everywhere. Unlike her, I didn’t have a helper and I didn’t really see myself doing all that.

Tami over at athriftymom.com did gold balls on the walls and her husband helped her create a cardstock template which they used to mark where stickers would go. See her project here.

I found these gold star decals here on Etsy. I think I bought $225. I made hubs measure the ceiling and ended up cutting out a rectangle out of cardstock like Tami did, fashioned a handle in the middle of it with some tape and a random pipe cleaner. Then went and marked every spot. It is as tedious and neck cramp inducing at it sounds. However, me just marking the spots where stars go was easier (I thought) than using chalk snap lines and there was no mess.

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Her room doesn’t have crown moulding yet so I left some room for that. If you are going to do this, make sure you alternate the rows. Every second row, I marked the middle spot of the previous row in a new line. See the picture.

I like the way it looks though Melanie was disappointed that none of these glow! Oh well.
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How to manage you first grey hairs

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The sleepless nights, stress, not taking care of yourself, genetics – what have you – have finally caught up with you. You officially have grey hair. Ironically, it can happen in your 20s as well as 30s, 40s and some lucky ones don’t get any till in their 50s. So what to do? There’s basically 2 options:

*HIGHLIGHTS: you can go up to 3 tones lighter than your base color and have the stylist place more highlights around the face, more flattering and then you won’t see the annoying little grey hairs! It will grow out obviously, so your upkeep would be to visit a salon every 6-8 weeks. There are some products that help you do some touch ups at home.

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Color wow has great reviews and is easily available; it comes in 7 colors including red and has some staying power. Not really easy to apply, be prepared for some tired arms but it is what it is. $34.50

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Rita Hazen, colorist to the stars, has her own line of root concealers which have won high prize. Apparently it even stays on through showering. Bonus points for ease of application though it might take several tries to get used to it. 4 colors, $25.

*SINGLE PROCESS aka just dying all your roots. It can be difficult to find color that matches your hair EXACTLY so you’re better off coloring the roots and having the stylist pull some of that color through to blend it in. If you have a lot of grey, this is a better option that highlights as it covers all your roots. If you still would like to get some highlights, I would recommend ombre look where the ends of the hair are lightened a bit using balayage technique (thicker highlights that are painted on hair) so you don’t have to get highlights every time you need a touch up. You can get a few highlights around the face to make it look more natural like Lily Aldridge here:

Burberry Soho Store Celebrates Fashion's Night Out

                      Lorenzo Santini / Getty Images

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Girls Easter outfits and dresses.

I pretty much make everyone dress up for any holiday dinner. Maybe it stems from our increasingly casual lifestyle and my inability to stop wearing leggings daily but it’s so nice to wear something dressier and makes the occasion feel more special. I absolutely decorate like a madwoman and set the table even if it’s just the four of us.

Here’s Olivia at the age 2: I don’t think she she was particularly crazy about this fluffy dress. If you want to have your daughter in something similar, I strongly recommend you search Ebay or go to local TJ Maxx or Marshalls. They will grow out of these dresses so fast at that age and will only wear it once or twice. Definitely get a cardigan as well, especially when in East Coast.

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I like matching my daughters, obviously! 🙂 Girls are wearing white Ralph Lauren dresses and I got yellow cardigans from Old Navy! My top is seriously over decade old but I still get use out of it. If you have lighter skin, pick brighter yellow, if darker you can pretty much do any yellow. I like these picks, both under $100, beautiful with black cropped pants or white jeans.

Ann Taylor bow blouse here ; English Factory lace blouse here

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Last Easter they both wore tunics by Roberta Roller. Their Easter baskets are from Pottery Barn Kids. This Roberta Roller kurta is on sale right now!

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I love pretty dresses for girls still. Here are my favorites, all priced under $35!!!

How adorable is this pintuck ruffle dress from Boden or this spring dress from H&M?

Carter’s floral dress here for toddlers; Old Navy embroidered dress for ages 5-16.

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-haiku

 

How to start sleeping better and beat insomnia.

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This isn’t me though I have the same lamps. I would like to give props to this lady though, never when struggling with sleep did I sleep in a silk nightie! Good for her.

Photo: carriagebeforemarriage.com

Since you are reading this, I am going to assume that you’ve experienced this torturous miserable condition. I’ve always been an excellent sleeper till I had my second daughter. It was as if I completely lost any ability to sleep and with a colicky baby, I needed to sleep. Badly. I was promptly prescribed Ambien, extended release Ambien, Trazadone, etc. Few worked if any and only for 2-3 hours. I would take 2 Ambien pills and get 3-4 hrs of sleep and that morning hangover, ugh, that was miserable. I saw a slew of doctors, had my thyroid tested over and over; I saw every healer, acupuncturist, anyone that thought they would be able to help. Meanwhile, I had 2 children and a husband who needed their mother and wife back. Sleep, though, remained elusive. I slept a few hours, then stayed up for a few, then slept. 2-3 yrs into it my hair started falling out, all of a sudden I had melasma all over my face and while I had never been a particularly patient person, I definitely wasn’t one then. I’ll save you from all the little stories, I am sure you have a few of your own. It is a cruel cruel thing to be stripped from your ability to function normally.

I tried a sleep center where a nice man nicely explained that I should keep a set schedule and not drink coffee at night. I knew all that. It didn’t help. I kept thinking I surely have a condition and once the doctors find it, I will be cured and instantly start sleeping 8-9 hours a night. Nope. Every year I’d gear up to fix this, see bunch of doctors and then give up. Last year I was begging my primary to help me get better as my girls had stood by the wishing well and both threw in coins and wished mommie could sleep again. “NO, mommie is too tired to xxx” is something they heard too often. Primary recommended antidepressants (I was crying), I didn’t take them. I didn’t need a band-aid, I needed sleep. Very very very expensive endocrinologist found some problems but nothing that explained my insomnia. And then I came across something called Sleep Restriction Therapy.

SRT has been around for awhile, go ahead and google it to get extra info, but I can tell you very scientifically that it sucks ass but absolutely works IF done right. It works better than Ambien in several studies and more importantly, gives you the chance to have the tools to do something about which I hate to tell you can very likely be something you’ll have to deal with for the rest of your life. Back to SRT, remember when you sleep-trained your babies? You’ll have to teach your body now how to sleep because your body can coast on few hours here and there and quickly adapt to doing so. The basic idea is this: you will severely restrict your sleep time till you have brought your body to complete and utter exhaustion. You need to take yourself down. It is exactly as much fun as it sounds. Imagine your normal sleep patterns in your brain as a river. For whatever reason, the neurons are out the river bed, flowing all over the place. When they cross the river here and there, you sleep. But what you need to do is FORCE all this mess back to the river bed. So lyrical. Here’s how:

It will take 2-3 weeks in my experience to work but if you are half-assing it, it wont work as well and eventually you’ll be not sleeping again. Ground rules: NO NAPPING. You can have 2 cups of coffee in the morning and that’s it. You must work out every single day. Cardio is great, even if its only 20 min. Tell everyone you are doing it so it will be too embarassing to back out. If at possible, take the first week off from work. I managed to drive around etc but it was really hard.

Week 1: you will only be in your bed from 12 pm (or 11:45) to 5 am. No reading etc in your bed, you will only to go there to sleep. Set an alarm and drag yourself out at 5. Go to kitchen, turn on every light (you need to get your body to wake up and think its daytime, during the winter, it will still be dark and depressing outside). I thought that’s fine, I don’t sleep anyhow, I’ll just watch TV but OMG I could not stay awake! Don’t even plan on sitting on the couch as you will fall asleep. Read, do laundry, chores, whatever. I would go out at 11 pm in the rain to walk, otherwise I was falling asleep. Take cold showers. Whatever you do, stay up.

First few nights were absolutely miserable. I was pretty muchawake in bed the whole time and fell asleep right before alarm went off. IT SUCKED. So bad. And here’s why you need to tell everyone – you will become so grumpy that you’ll sorely test everyone’s patience. You’ll be dizzy and tired and angry. Eye on the prize though! If you are sleeping through without waking up for at least 2 nights, you can add 15 min to your sleep time, go to bed 11:45. IF you sleep through from 11:45 to 5 am for 2 days, add another 15 min. But 15 min, not an hour!

Week 2: for most, week 2 is much much better. But here’s a catch, if you sleep from let’s say 11:30 to 5 am, you will be tempted to go whole hog and go to bed at 10 pm (you will be tired and it will be SO tempting) and sleep till you wake up on your own. Sounds so good but you will mess up this whole thing and the torture of week 1 will be for nothing. Baby steps. Easy does it. Keep doing 15 min adds and wait a few nights before making any changes. If you wake up at night or can’t fall asleep, limit sleep again to 5 hours but no less than 4 hrs.

I’ve seen reviews where people complain about SRT not working because it made them feel awful (duh!) and because they didn’t get better sleep but didn’t quite follow the rules. You can’t take a recipe, add some random ingredients and omit others and expect a stellar outcome. Obviously, go rule out other issues but for most, in my humble and untrained/uncertified opinion, this works. It did for me after 5 years of chronic debilitating insomnia. My hair is growing back. My husband likes me a whole lot more. My kids are happier.

But here’s a fly in this ointment. It is likely a permanent condition. Meaning that even though you’ve wrestled this river back to its bed and are enjoying 7-9 hr sleep, insomnia will come back. After 6 months of blissful deep sleep, feeling tired and going to bed and promptly falling asleep, we sold our house, bought a new one and had to stay with friends for a few weeks, my sleep patterns got all messed up again. So I am back to retraining myself. But at least I know there’s something I can do about it.

Good luck my friends!

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-haiku

Valentines for kids

If you have kids like I do, then you’ve been busy for the last week trying to figure out what cards to send to school. Valentines are encouraged but it cannot include food, unless your kids are in preschool, then the rules are little more lax. I’m curious, can lollipops trigger allergies? Anyone?

I have 2 girls, aged 5 and 7, so that meant I needed 18 and 21 cards respectively. I had big plans this years, I really did. I came across this lovely website called lil’ luna which was full of creative, beautifully executed crafty ideas for valentine’s day and anything else really. I don’t think lovely Kristyn has EVER sent in something like that for teacher’s appreciation day.

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I am a creative genius. Yeah!

Kristyn has several ideas for valentines for kids. I was going to go with this.

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Then I started adding stuff that I would need to my virtual basket on Amazon: card stock, sticky dots, frogs… Then I imagined myself having to print all these out, cut all this up and stick all these on those cards 39x over plus writing to and from on the cards…. And sort of left it at that. Then a few days later I ended up at Walmart, realized I am pretty lazy and then high-fived myself for at least getting the cards weeks in advance. 🙂 And 5 boxes of cards cost less than $10. I still had to do some assembly but overall not bad.

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All boys got frogs (you are toad’ally awesome), 2nd grade girls got cards with rulers (they are all studying inches and centimeters, so these will come handy plus it has bunch of heart shapes on them) and K girls got Shopkins stickers. Ghirardelli chocolate bags for teachers.

You can also order customized cards from Etsy but these will be quite more expensive.

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Dean Penn store: $30 for 30 cards plus shipping

Etsy also has customizable stickers, so you could order a bunch with your child’s name on it or buy PDF file and print and cut at home. What are you all doing for valentines?

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-haiku

Best style tips for petites.

Yay, my first email from a reader expressing her frustration in clothing options for petites. I feel your pain, L. There are tons of articles on how larger women are having a hard time dressing but I’ve seen many stylish options for women who wear bigger than size 10 whereas I am always shaking my head going through Nordstrom or Bloomingdales petite section. Even brands that normally have attractive clothes somehow end up designing what can only be described as sad sad clothes for women shorter than 5’4″. Considering that average height for women in the States is just that, it remains a mystery to me why such a large section of populace is underserved.

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Rule number one: come to terms with the face that you’ll need to use tailor often. I’ve found that even petite clothing still needs to be altered to have that perfect fit, depending on the body.

Jackets should hit you at the hip (feel the top of your hipbone). Stay away from boxy fits and go for fitted at waist or empire cut jackets. I really like J Crew petite blazers, Ann Taylor petite options as well as White House Black Market petite options.

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stylishpetite.com

 

Tailored pants should cover 2/3 of your heel and the pointy toe flats and heels are your friends as they will make the legs look longer. Color coordinated pants-shoes will also visually lengthen your legs. I see this done wrong all the time. You cannot have the same trousers for both flats and heels. If you wear both, buy 2 pairs of pants and have each tailored accordingly. The picture of the left automatically makes you look shorter and too long pants draped around your ankles is not a great look either.

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Source: alreadypretty.com

Jeans should be hemmed to be at an ankle length. Play around to see which length is most flattering by cuffing them first before altering. Skinny or straight leg jeans are most flattering. You can do maxi dresses but stay away from anything too billowing.
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Skirts (other than mini) and shorter dresses should end right at the top of your knees.

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Shoes: as I said, aim for anything pointy toe. Boots need to end right under the knee and wedge heel is your best friend. In my experience it’s really hard to find well fitting boots for petites as the calf area is inevitable too large. European designers cut narrower than American designers. I’ve had luck with Johnston&Murphy, Aquatalia and Nordstrom’s BP brand which is meant for juniors and is therefore cut narrower.

Do not wear light skinny jeans with dark short booties, it shortens your leg and makes it look bigger. Likewise don’t wear booties with skirts. Ever. Do heels, flats, or tall boots. Case and point.

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Last but not least: be mindful of volume. If you are a flowy top do not do flowy wide skirt as well. Pair a-line skirt with a fitted top. If possible accentuate your waist, this tip works whether you are plus size or regular petite.

Here’s my inspiration board for Petites on Pinterest.

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-h

From fashion to interiors: favorite interior designers

“If you care about the way you look, you’re going to care about the way you live.”       Newell Turner

Obviously interior design and fashion design are closely link, influenced by each other and share the same playground: textures, colors, proportions etc. I’ve heard some designers recommend choosing paint colors and fabrics according to what flatters you personally. If that were the case, I think I would be wearing awful lot of Joy Tribout. She runs a St. Louis based interior design firm as seems to abide by the same rule I do: make sure there’s at least one item that pops. 🙂 We share a love of black and white, animal prints, traditional mixed with modern and equestrian style. All photos are from joytribout.com

Beautiful bathroom and the black shutters anchor the room matched by black and zebra pillows on the chair.

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Nautical bathroom. Love the settee which is upholstered in navy blue velvet.

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Gorgeous pantry. If there’s a small room with no natural light, you are so much better off going with dark paint color all over to add coziness and drama, lighter colors would make the room look muddy.

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I’ve always wanted a dark kitchen, probably doesn’t do well with resale and I wonder how quickly it would show stains an dust but love the look regardless. See how the light from above reflects on silver trays and stainless steel backsplash.

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Lovely guest bedroom.

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To me this room is class Joy Tribout: functional: TV, plenty of storage, seagrass rug that wears well combined with luxurious: animal skin, velvet upholstery, equestrian details a more feminine chandelier to balance off the more masculine elements.

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Some outfits in the similar style. Bold, feminine, classic.