Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shop Like a Design Blogger: My Little Happy Place

This week I'm thrilled to welcome Alison from My Little Happy Place, one of my daily blog reads. A native Texan, Alison and her family currently live in Brazil, where she blogs about interior design and style. While Alison's eye is impeccable and her ability to spot a bargain and see an item's potential is uncanny, what I love most about Alison is her distinctly upbeat and entertaining point of view where happiness and joy -- not perfection -- are the ultimate aims of interior design.

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I was truly honored to be included in Averill's Shop like Design Blogger series, as I don't see myself as being in the same league as other Blogstresses who are, in fact, designers. However, I do love design, and soak up as much of it as I can. I live overseas, and often find e-shopping is the only way I can obtain certain "looks," however, when I'm home, Stateside, there are definitely physical places I don't miss the chance to visit - certain I'll find something great!

The last few years have witnessed such a flourish of accessible design opportunities, that even those of us not part of the design "trade" have been able to dream up and create our ideal spaces, without breaking the bank. Some of my go-to sources are most likely the same places many people find their treasures; but each person focuses on their own aesthetic. It's such a win-win because mainstream retailers have caught on to what expensive boutiques have known all along: Style Sells!

Without further ado, here's my picks for bringing home clever design:

1. Lamps: Without a doubt: Homegoods. Pick up your latest shelter mag, and spy a lamp you like - chances are, there already is, or soon will be, a dead-ringer at your nearest TJ Maxx/Homegoods location - for a fraction of the cost. To keep it real, I must admit it is sometimes an exercise in frustration to find a pair with matching shades and hardware intact, but when you hit the jackpot, it's the Real Deal! (Runner Up: Walmart's website for terrifically-stylish options.)

2. Modern Furniture Knock-Offs: Overstock. If you have a penchant for modern design, or just want a touch of it to mix things up, but don't want the commitment of an authentic piece, look no further than Overstock. The vast website is an online shopper's dream: customer product reviews, low-stock warnings, and free or $1.00 shipping - amazing! I've recently ordered two chairs for a room remodel, and the quality for the price is spot-on. Can't say enough about it!

3. Art: Etsy and Art.com. For truly one-of-a-kind works, hit up the Etsy website. You can "convo" an artist about particular pieces they have listed, and even request special, custom versions. It's a great way to start a collection of original art without stepping foot into an overpriced gallery. If you are trying to fit a very particular space, and have an idea of what type of art you'd like, Art.com is a great website. You can search by category, "try" the different works in a room, sample different frame options, and save what you like to your own "gallery" for future viewing. Not one-of-a-kind pieces, but certainly better than the options at your typical, Big Box store. I was immediately smitten recently with this custom, four-piece abstract landscape from artist JShears.

4. For that One-of-A-Kind Piece: Warrenton Antiques Festival. Although the Antiques Festival is only offered twice a year, the sheer volume of opportunity makes it worth your while to make a list throughout the months of what special pieces you'd like to find. If the thrill of the hunt is part of the fun for you, then Warrenton (or any antiques fair) is the place you need to go! There are a few vendors with typical, "bought at Market" wares, but for the most part, this is where you'll find honest-to-goodness "found" items that speak to you on a more personal level. It's the kind of items or accessories that make statement pieces, or just finish off a room - making it yours and yours alone. I recently snagged this unique, industrial coffee table (shown above) for a friend, and it immediately became a special, focal point in her room.

5. Newest "A-Ha" Sources: Big Lots and Tuesday Morning. These two stores may be lurking in your nearest, not-too-trendy shopping center, but they just might be worth a regular stop-in. If you are patient and diligent, you may just find the exact same Chinese Garden Stool that Pottery Barn lists for $100+ for a mere $20 - like I did at Big Lots a few months ago (shown above).

Or a piece waiting for a DIY makeover, like this Wisteria wanna-be I stumbled upon at Tuesday Morning.
I think it goes without saying that people who love design see the styling of a room or home as an ongoing process, and keeping an eye open for that special piece is a just a part of our existence, and you never, never know where one may pop up! Thanks so much, Averill for letting me share.

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