”A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in — what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.” Victor Hugo

One of the best perks of living in the suburbs is that one can tend and care for a garden. It could be anything really, from small flowering shrubs that add to your home’s curb appeal (and keep the interiors pretty too), to ample vegetable parterres and orchards. I once read that gardening takes a lot of water, especially in the form of perspiration. If that’s the case, the satisfaction that comes from taking care of even the tiniest patch of land is worth the effort!  Plus, studies show that gardening lowers the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, so let’s get gardening! I’m starting small by flower-sitting a friend’s avocado tree, we’ll see where that goes.

For those of you with a real garden and a willingness to get dirty, I have just the right inspiration. Tucked in my ”garden files” I found a pretty garden tour published in Traditional Home. It is a small cutting garden in Winnetka Illinois, designed by landscape designer Craig Bergmann of Lake-Forest. The owners wanted a ”secret” place in a private area of their property, with lush views year-round so Bergmann designed the perfect mix of annuals and perennials that bloom throughout the warmer months.

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Summer is in the air…can you feel it? Finalizing holiday plans, enjoying the warmer days and finding any excuse to be outdoors – are all symptoms of the imminent arrival of summer! My favorite time!

I’ve planned on writing a post about the society wedding of the year (Pippa’s) but I guess if you were into that sort of news, you’ve already carefully analyzed every detail of her dress and her royal entourage so there’s not much left to talk about, is there? Instead, I want to share with you what I’ve been pinning lately. Pinterest remains my favorite place to seek inspiration, although Instagram is a very close second. You all know how much I love color, blues and greens the most though I’ve never shied away from reds and pinks either so I’m surprisingly pinning lots of white and neutrals lately. It is a phase I embrace in my own home as well, as I’ve removed most color accents from our favorite rooms. Anyway, here are some great spaces and homes that are serene and beautiful. All white and neutral. Enjoy!

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In line with yesterday’s post, I have a pretty little home to show you (again). I’ve blogged about it before, it was one of the first home tours I ever featured, but I know you won’t mind seeing it again. It fits the bill perfectly as it is all about transforming dark and dated interiors into fun, fresh, modern ones with minimum of effort and on a budget. Imagine that!

Country Living published the story in 2011 and it still remains one of my favorite makeovers! Designer Sara Story helped her sister Lisa redecorate her Connecticut house without breaking the bank. With a budget in mind, the entire home design was cleverly planned and carefully thought out. The major ”splurges”, or investments if you will, were made in the kitchen (new cabinets and appliances) and powder bath (new tiles and waterworks). The rest of the rooms got new coats of paint, wallpaper, old pieces were smartly recovered to play along nicely with some new catalog additions.

The end result is simply fabulous! It certainly pays off to have a decorator sibling willing to help you create a beautiful home.  With some clever tricks, the house looks brand new and so bright.

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Happy Thursday!

Today’s post is slightly different than usual as I have a tiny design dilemma to share with you. The other week we attended a couple of cocktail parties at two of our friends’ homes here in Urbana and I got the chance to see some beautiful properties. Both set in our neighborhood, Historic Urbana – affectionately called the ‘faculty ghetto’. The brick paved, tree-lined streets feature beautiful homes in a variety of architectural styles. Each one is prettier than the next and (since we are renting) often times I find myself fantasizing about decorating them, repainting their facades or reconfiguring their front yard gardens…

Anywho, our friends recently purchased their home – a 1890s Victorian style beauty and, while they did do some light decorating, the interiors are pretty much original to the house. Exquisite wall paneling, carved wood and fireplace mantels, intricate moldings and rosettes, colored glass windows and transoms, everything is still intact and, well… over a century old.

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Howdy!! It has become a habit here on Café Design to zoom in weekly into a particular room and its décor. Breaking down the details is one of my favorite things to do when writing about beautiful homes. Plus, it gives me the chance to learn something new and become a better designer for it. I hope. So here goes this week’s installment of  ”Room of the Day”.

This beautiful home library is the work of Texan designer Shannon Bowers and was published in Milieu a few years ago.  One of the reasons I thought of this space today is because of its freshness. We’ve had some tropical weather here in Illinois and there’s nothing more soothing on a hot summer day than a green and white color scheme. I just love how this room is such an eclectic mix of details. On one hand, we have clean lines of modern architecture. White walls and neat built-ins contrast with the selection of antique furnishings and the warmer woods. On the other hand, every piece seems to tell a story. The neutral color scheme has lots of patina, jazzed up with green and gold accents. Pottery and ceramic bowls in greens and aquas, textured seagrass and linen bring everything corner into focus.

shannon bowers

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