Lingering upon Alice Gao’s creativity

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Today, I thank the world for photography. Correction, Alice Gao. Because, unfortunately, under the realm of photography is the likes of selfies, and so I can’t say I thank the whole world.

But I’m just gonna come clean and say it – selfies are such a gift. Come on, they’re super liberating. You have all the power in the world to be as pleased as you like with your photo, rather than having your face’s fate quivering in the hands of that stranger at the party who snapped you and a friend out of the blue, leaving you like a couple of deer in headlights with excessive makeup on. (What an image. I enjoy it.)

So on second thought, yes, I thank the world for photography and selfies.

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Alice Gao, though, really must be the reigning queen of this world. Or at least for me, on this day, and since I’ve found her. For example, I can’t decide whether or not I’d like to hang the finished painting alone or the photo itself of the painting still dripping from the creative process. As in, with the palette still fresh and the bottles looking as if they have given every last drop of their creative juices to the canvas at hand. And the strips of moody navy, slowly peaking towards the colour the artist was looking for. She makes her photo a piece of art, when it is itself featuring a piece of art. Now that’s ingenuity.

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And here, although these flowers look as though they’re fit for a palace or among tight circles serving high tea, the griminess of the sink and the crossing strips of metal on the window serve as a humble stage for the royally strewn stems.

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Caught mid-packaging, I see every bit of the efforts we take in creating something beautiful from head to toe for a recipient we care about. Cut string, labels messied about from choosing just the right one, stamps even. It’s as if Gao is floating in and out of our lives and pauses these moments in the most unexpected lights.

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Ah. This I adore. The composition has allowed for an immense dark sky to hover over the vibrancy of the flowers, the normalcy of morning tea. But this colour to me is not laden with grief or gloom, but blanketing comfort, lifted just enough so that we can see the light she has captured.

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I almost feel as though I’m viewing more so a portrait of a portrait than a scene of an apartment. The framing of this portrait, however asymmetrical, focuses the lady staring right back at us. The to-die-for gold and marble end table elevates her to a point of eye-level, as if we’re about to enter into an enlightening conversation with the woman before us (who I have no doubt has some bad-ass stories to tell).

ps. white brick wall alert. yes, i am swooning.

And oh my golly gee willickers, I just found her blog, Lingered Uponand I did a helluva lot more than just linger. I think I just moved in unannounced. Here’s a sneak peek of her posts, slash justification of my rudeness:

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Just everything about this outfit makes me feel like a savvy, stylin’, successful photographer.

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And just everything about this makes me want to just be her for a day. Those boots. That espresso. That style.

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A true heartbreaker

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Everything about coffee is comforting. Its smell, its inherently soothing quality at any time of day, and the mugs we curl our hands around. Especially if said mugs are polka-dotted, just sayin’. I don’t drink it anymore, otherwise I turn into a frazzled, anxious, monster of procrastination. I call myself a monster because suddenly I start opening four tabs every minute and scrolling through tumblr as if I were at gunpoint. So, yes, I did plenty of experimenting in first year.

But now I’ve discovered the beauty of heartbreak coffee, who from their own establishment in Long Beach, CA, captures that comfort and delivers it promptly to my instagram feed. It was love at first sight as I perused through their photos, each as well lit and charmingly rustic as the last.

Samples of brilliance. 
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Heartbreak Coffee doesn’t seem to be a heartbreaker to me at all. In fact, I think it’s meant for the heartbreaks – a cup of coffee that looks good can soothe our hearts any day. The only heartbreak I have to deal with is the fact that I’m on the other side of the country from them… one day.

p.s. inspired me to follow a gaggle of beautiful instagrams. Mayhaps some peaks are coming in the near future. ;)

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Let’s make time look even more precious

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For some reason, 2014 sounds about five years farther away than it should, but I’m happy to say hello to a new year (even if it knocked at my door with what seemed like a day’s notice). And even though it came quickly, the last few hours before ’13 gave its final bow were brilliant. 

Given my startled reaction to shifting the calendar year up one, I might as well have something pretty to look at while I keep count of the days, am I right?

A big ol’ moon. I’m getting starry eyed just thinking about having this in my room.il_fullxfull.509059526_erus il_fullxfull.538196432_wfto

This calendar’s a gem. il_fullxfull.527463044_tw2l

Woodland creatures, particularly that of a literally smiling deer, can brighten anyone’s day. il_fullxfull.539162261_9phs

Birdy time. And story time: I’ve had my ups and downs with how I feel about crows. You can call our relationship something of a hate-love-hate type of thing. Although now I get that these aren’t crows, because crows are all black… but I can’t leave ya hanging now, can I? Quite simply, I was stalked by a pack of five crows, and I believe they were intent on the sub in my hands. Of course, as they squawked angrily at me, I just started eating the thing faster. After it was all done, they formed a grudge because whenever I would leave my house, they still followed me. Research (always taken with a grain of salt) for you to verify that I am not exaggerrating.  precious

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Accentuated

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What would the French language be without accents? Why do accents even exist, aside from the comedic appearance of a hat on top of an assortment of letters? Although I can’t stand here and say to you with a straight face that I’m fluent in the language of love, there’s still an inkling of an answer in my mind: to guide us through the twirls and leaps of each sentence, accentuating the romanticism I envision when someone speaks French.

And how are rooms any different than languages? A room can divulge whole stories to you that otherwise would have remained quiet, because seeing how people choose to surround themselves in a place they identify as home reveals the comforts they can’t live without, be it a single picture frame with a pair of familiar eyes staring back at them, or whole galleries to keep them company.

The details lie in the accents people choose to display, as though they are surrendering bits and pieces of themselves to those allowed in.

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A white wall has always seemed to be the perfect, and most literal, blank canvas for a room to show off details that otherwise may have gone unnoticed. Take the vertical row of pegs, all perfectly aligned with the hanging light as if they were pointing our eyes towards it. White walls have always been my weakness for this reason, because they do so while washing the whole room over in what I feel is such purity.

But if you’re like me, this weakness may have shifted. I am proud to announce I have a new unforgivable weakness – a block of colour against a set of white walls that has such depth and moodiness and warmth all at the same time that to sit anywhere in its vicinity I’d feel as though I was in a sea, or a night sky in the last of its hours before the sun rises.

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Aside from how charming this little boy looks, and really quite proud with his overwhelmingly large collar extending over his cardigan, the most striking part of this photo is where he is placed. An unconventional placement of artwork is deliberate, bold, and unabashedly inviting.

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And so I meet my original weakness again, but this time it’s not the block of colour surprising me but the copper fixture to hang elegant and minimalist garments. If only I had clothes that I didn’t, from time to time, want to hide away from any peaking eyes, including my own. Although, can you really blame me? That sweater with two moth holes from three years ago will definitely be perfect for something. ;)

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You know how I can tell this was chosen by a man? Because any real man is never really sick of playing with dinosaurs, even if he pretends it’s just a bookend for visitors. Although, to be fair, as a real-life woman, I wholeheartedly advocate any need for a toy dinosaur in my room. 

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Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of choosing all of the special details that give a room a story is that any one detail that may be the feature accent for you won’t be for another. That chalkboard, for most, could be the “accent winner” because it’s obviously the most hilarious way to keep your routine in check, but for my music-lover boyfriend sitting next to me, it’s most likely the pair of headphones waiting to be slipped on just next to it.

Everyone will indulge in a different part of a room if done right. In my opinion, anyway.

What’s a bit of your room you couldn’t do without? For me, it’s a face-off between a summer scarf draped between two hooks as a sort of hippy-dippy headboard, and a poster of a sunlit forest that literally soothes my core with a glance. 

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Working Bees Like Collages

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Oh, the ambitious vision I had for my college work space. Sleek white shelves against a DIY wallpaper background, inspirational posters and family photos interspersed below them, and maybe a fox in a velvet green suit with a monocle framing a curious eye (a figurine, of course, otherwise that’s just unrealistic). But what am I left with? An incomplete wall of corkboard circles, and a makeshift collage I had recruited myself to take on for the school newspaper’s LifeStyle section (where I happen to work, otherwise I wouldn’t force the editors to feature my little DIY project).

All I can do now is pick up from where I started. Complete a collage that is both buzzing with motivation (I do aspire to be a working bee) and free from the chaos that comes with collages fit for a fan-girling teenager.

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Christmas gifts this year will be opened meticulously carefully so that I can essentially use them as itty bitty scraps of art. I’m sorry, family. It will take me anywhere from three – five minutes to open gifts this year.

70b40a16b95d7c492225bfef925b7c3eLiteral inspiration board. To be precise, a wood board. If I had the luxury of having an office that was all glamour and all white, a rustic wooden board would be so welcomed.

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Organized inspiration. Plus, the peachy-pink colour palette of this scene is too soothing. (I even have a little set of rainbow clothes pins… intriguing).

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Three perfectly framed words of motivation, forcing you to be picky about what you put up in front of you, and to choose only those that are more personalized to what you need to hear. For example, I don’t particularly like hearing the “rough and burly coach” type of motivation screaming at me, “That’s all you got?! Hah! Come on!” Instead I welcome an Australian yoga teacher anyday saying, “Breathe, and take one day at a time.” (Accents can vary.) Also that pink skull is very necessary.

09c4ec85a0b4d2aebf1012d1bceb7939This is almost more like a showroom than an office. As soon as I slip into my desk chair, I can imagine myself itching to grab a tube of red lipstick and getting down to business in the mode of some high-fashion magazine editor. I might also snap at someone for a tall, non-fat no-sugar latté. And yet the colour in this room is a constant display of optimism to me. Every detail is soaked in vibrancy, and although some may grow tired of this amount of bold detail (myself included), if work is only requiring a couple hours of your time then I can’t imagine a better energy booster.

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This room takes that optimism and plays it down a bit. Its presence is still hanging off each frame, each antler horn, each banner, yet it takes on a more subtle form with the more rustic backdrop of a white brick wall. There’s a little more room for mistakes, and a big reminder that that’s most certainly “ok”.

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Oh, IKEA, you Swedish creative masterminds. Taking a circular cork board as bubbles of inspiration boards is the most refreshing twist of tradition. I tried this in my own room, and I’m quite pleased with it, if it weren’t for the lack of symmetry. I wish I had one or two more to complete my equally Swedish, not quite as creative (as I didn’t exactly come up with) office space.  

Chalky Creative Juices (Yummy, eh?)

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You can just call the space above my bed a void. Regrettably, it holds the remnants of a DIY project that was unintentionally entirely unpractical. That’s kind of a mouthful, but the project was too. I hung stringed lights so that they made the silhouette of a frame. Boom, that’s magical. Then I tied three strings from each side to the other, and attached photos with paper clips to it. That’s where it went awry. Because every time I settled into bed, my pillows would destroy my masterpiece in one innocent “still-getting-comfortable” move.

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So remind me why I didn’t move into a classroom again? Well, because that’d be straight up depressing, obviously. But it does hold a very simple answer to not only changing up your bedroom as often as you please, and, if I got that nifty chalkboard “marker”, I get a semi-permanent headboard too.

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Isn’t this room so alive? It’s practically bursting through my screen. And, unlike my own whimsical dreams of a starrily lit headboard with dangling photos, the whimsical nature of these cupboards is still practical. It also saves you from ever needing to tell a friend or house guest (I guess the house guest isn’t your friend, in this case) from where that dang breakfast spoon is.

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I recognize that this is a menu, but golly jee willickers, it’s art to me. This should just be my headboard instead. And I wouldn’t say no to what they’re serving up either. (In fact, I’d ask for it immediately. Maybe command if I’m direly hungry.)

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So what we’re looking at here is but a simple collage, am I right? No! A gallery of inspiration, thanks to the elegant logo floating above. A collage can always be deemed a gallery when given a title.

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I never knew this either, but a chalk headboard can make your dreams come true, too. Want a little puppy to greet you in the morning? Draw one into your reality. Let’s just ignore the fact that it may be diagnosed with an unknown doggy disease given its distant eyes and disintegrating legs. Let’s move on from this morbidity. It’s a cute idea.

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And here, I present to you, a real gallery! Displayed on the walls of a Parisian apartment bedroom, we have a very minimalist gallery – although, I’d fill those frames in a second with some substance. Or at the very least a chalk-drawn doggy. ;)

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Gord Bond Exhibition at Hamilton’s Mulberry Street Coffee House (aka a coffee shop I can deem perfect in an instant).

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I sat down next to a rather colourful young man, with a pair of eyes that seemed to stare into my soul, or at least one side of my face. I was then asked to leave the coffee shop as I was engaging in an animated discussion with a painting.

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Gord Bond is the real creator of these fellas. He plays “God” to a whole clan of faces that perpetuate reflection on how we examine those around us – what we decide is perfect and, with that, what we decide is beautiful.

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I was entranced by them. And although not for their realism initially, I came to see these portraits as even more realistic as to how we interpret the world… because I don’t go up to the bus driver to pay for my ticket and see nothing but a face in perfect proportions. I see the greying hairs burrowed on top of his eyes, and maybe the lines stemming from his eyes. Or I greet the hostess of a local restaurant and focus on her perfectly arched eyebrows, as though they were painted on her face, and her full lips dramatized with the help of a cranberry hue in lipstick. So if I were to paint a portrait of either of these people, and if I were to paint proportionally as to what I focused on, the works of Gord Bond would mirror my own, in terms of style alone, to a precise degree. Magnified and shrunken characteristics, bold strokes glazing over the areas I didn’t linger over, and more detail given to the areas I did. The beauty of this work, however, is that no two portraits would be the same given our own differing interpretations of our imperfect world around us. What ends up on my canvas could be entirely different than yours’, and that’s why I was so entranced with these paintings… because it was as if I was stepping into the interpretation of the world through the eyes of another.

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(no photo mine, unless it says Little Rabbit Ears on it!)

Hally’s Serves Happiness

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Every now and then I think to myself, “Why am I writing this physics lab report again? Shouldn’t I be eating a croissant and/or owning a café as sweet as Hally’s?” And the answer is always, “Yes, you should be eating a croissant. Owning a café as sweet as Hally’s may not be in the cards for you for a while.” Thanks inner self. You always inspire me to make the right decisions. store front

First of all, mint is my savior colour lately. That, along with the cheery yellow of the bar stools, is pulling my body in with a force so much more powerful than gravity. (Physics lab, remember?)

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The chairs alone, as in simply the shape of them, are so Parisian in nature. But dipping them into pastel mints and lavenders makes the whole room coo ooh-la-la in a way I have never seen chairs do before.

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These brick walls give off such a subtly rustic charm Hally’s. You can see that the crevices of the natural walls were so deep, and so aged, before she got her hands on them, and yet that history is highlighted by dousing them in this milky white. It’s as though she’s taken a canvas, painted it white, and allowed every other colour to inject the whole room with as much happiness and joy as possible.

rmHALLY'S_08The walls act as a background to the colour palette that has come together so dreamily – mint, sunny yellow, and deep, natural greens. On another note, I would wish for nothing more than to be waiting for my croissant and cappuccino on one of these stools of happiness right now. 

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The next time I ask myself why I don’t own a café like Hally’s will simply be answered with, “You will one day,” because as of right now, I can’t think of a life any more perfect than surrounding myself with the smell of pastries, coffee beans, and the sweet, sweet atmosphere of a minty sunshine forest.

Should you be as curious as I was, the interior designer behind Hally’s is Alexander Waterworth. His website is as delicious to the eyes, let alone his design, as the croissants sitting on that counter are to my tummy.

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My Next Dinner Guest is Nature

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With the leaves bidding adieu from the trees lining our street, I’m finding myself more and more tempted to buy a big ol’ bouquet of flowers and placing them in as many spots as possible in my room. Seeing as though my duvet is already dipped in a cheery floral print, one might think I would reject the thought of more flowers – but I can’t stop! Yesterday I started dreaming up a canopy around my bed built of flowers and vines and it was too pleasing for words.

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But you should tell me I’m being quite selfish to hide all the glory of nature in just my bedroom from my roommates. I’m sure they’re all aching for it just as I am… so no one would resist if I lined the dining table with a myriad of autumn leaves and berries, would they? Just as long as they don’t think the berries are to eat. Everyone knows the smaller, more fairytale berries are poisonous (my rule of thumb).

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Or how about leaving a bunch of flowers that seems to capture the last of fall’s vibrancy all at once? Not to mention has what looks to be miniature apples dangling by.

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(Must be served with layers of pancakes as courtesy. And served with layers of whipped cream and berries as a luxury.)

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But I’ve noticed that, with much appreciation, sometimes the most simplistic greenery of all can appear the most elegant. And sprouting out from opaque black jars against a crochet table mat, well this is too much rustic charm to handle.

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But here we are on the opposite side of the spectrum again. If one is aching for the summer again, by all means, go for it. Arrange every colour of the rainbow into as many vases as you like. The burst of neon with the napkins stabilizes the explosion of colour to me.

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Layer cake. And these plates would just go too perfectly with the table already.

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Oh my sweet lord. I can’t decide which I adore more – the fact that this table is nestled under not only the stars and trees, but an ethereal chandelier dipping down from above, or the fact that the stars themselves seem to have fallen onto the table already, illuminating the flowers Mother Nature brought instead of wine to the dinner party.

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I just picture each of these chairs being gleefully dipped into an enormous, cotton-candy smelling pot of pastel colours, only to realize that it would look just as charming if they pulled them out before they’d gone all the way through. Or perhaps it was the happiest mistake ever made.

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Who has seen a pie this cool? Cool enough to just drop on triangular pieces of batter in any which way they please and have this as the result. (That’s definitely how they make this pie, right? Droppin’ pie crust is the most effective.) The traditional grid lattice, which I adore, has been given a breather while this funky, triangular cut gets to steal the show for a bit.

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To me, this is the most effortless of all the table scapes. And perhaps that’s because we’ve caught it in the act of setting the table, and what looks to be a fresh loaf of bread is giving the whole room an atmosphere of home (if your home does happen to bake bread on the daily). But more than that, they’ve chosen such a vibrant purple set against so much greenery, and then they let the light from the window, and the colourful dishes speak for themselves.

Even if I have to wear my parka every day, fall still has some kick in her – she has plenty of colour to give.

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Credits can be found via my pinterest. 

Colour Outside the Lines

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Lately, I’ve been thinking back to my dorm room of last year. It smells of day-old coffee filters and my perpetually turned on heater that would suffocate any and all visitors. So the ones that stayed I knew must really like me.

*patting myself on back for friend-making strategy*

And even though my parents once told me that they thought of my dorm as jail cell, I grew to really love my bedroom, office, living room, sometimes kitchen, but never bathroom of  a dorm. It was another home for me, and nothing less. And how else to make a single room feel like a home but to infuse it with glorious amounts of colour.

Here is an ode to colour, in the rooms that make it feel most like home. Although, disclaimer: sometimes the coziest of rooms don’t rely on bright colours but cloud-like hues of grays and whites, as an example. Definitely not discarding the cozy appeal of those colour schemes, but I grew up in a colourful house, so… a gal’s gotta have colour.

houseofc_forsale_9Magnified floral wallpaper will get me any day. I can vouch for the joy floral accents can give you (hint: I sleep under floral sheets and it sets me up for the happiest of slumbers).

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That chair is not simply pink. No, it is punk pink. So pink it makes your heart do a little dance, just like the youthful vibe it presents to us.

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Eyes first directed towards the toile curtains in replacement of ordinary cupboards. Such french enchantment in a kitchen should really become a prerequisite to any kitchen cooking up crêpes. (Note to self: purchase toile towels at the very least.)

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When the back of a sofa becomes the focal point of a room, you know it’s one damn special sofa. The floral detailing, of course, is to credit. Although this room exhibits a total lack of fear towards mixing and matching patterns altogether, so it goes as no surprise that the back of a sofa would be used as the perfect opportunity to give the room that one final hoorah!

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Really, I just want those thermoses. They speak to me on the same level as the delicate vase with that beautifully plump flower I would want to wear in my hair everyday.

On a sidenote, please check out Miss Moss’s wedding for some serious eye candy. If you’re like me, upon first glance at that name, I immediately envisioned a pleasant woman, but just enveloped in moss from head to toe. Cool. So, in hopes to confirm this, I zipped on over to her website only to be so much happier with what I found – a treasure chest of posts with designers I hadn’t heard of, playlists, and gorgeous photography to go along with her words. Needless to say, she’s been a favourite blogger of mine for the better part of two years now, and the fact that she is the coolest human being has just been verified by her wedding. 

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Geometry Class

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Ever since I posted about the minimalist shelving units by Outofstock, the ones that are suspended in the air with neon steel rods, I’ve become so in love with design that keeps the lines of basic shapes visible. It’s almost as if they leave us with the bare bones of something to come, and yet everything looks exactly as it should. Maybe it’s akin to seeing a distressed brick wall in a finished home. It seems to add an instant injection of history, and warmth, and seeing a creation paused, yet finished. 

Hope you followed my ramblings there.

 

tumblr_lyl4zq8oNY1qcirk4o1_500It’s similar to seeing something as minimal as this mirror against such an ornate wall. The unexpected arrival of something so bold in its simplicity gives the room such a kick, as if it hadn’t already with the pair of riding boots standing proudly in the center.

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Geometry draped in gold. My mind is going in circles as to why I haven’t dipped everything on my own desk in gold.

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Speaking of brick walls, these are perhaps the cleanest, most deliciously white brick walls I’ve ever seen. If there hadn’t been some keen observation towards the eye-catching circular shelves, the brick wall wouldn’t have been on the radar. Just a pleasantly subtle way to wrap the room in an elegant package. 

But, of course, the shelves do steal the show here. They add such playfulness to an otherwise entirely sophisticated and elegant room on its own. And, oh my stars, those golden birds. Even this room has caught onto the trend of dipping everything in gold – I’m clearly behind.

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That ladder goes up to a roof garden, I hope.

In this case, though, this room may be downright depressing if it weren’t for the distorted lines of the geometric lighting. And yet, perhaps the intention of the designer is to have complete confirmation that our eyes are drawn to the lighting in that it’s more a piece of art than anything. Again, the juxtaposition of two entirely different vibes accomplishes this.

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Can I call this mirror adorable? Because that’s what it is to me. A miniature garden for a miniature triangular mirror. A graceful infusion of nature into a soft white brick wall. Goes together like milk and cookies.

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And how could I write about “geometry” without bringing up origami? It’s the bare shapes we don’t dress up, which still become a form of equally intriguing art, that entice me. And this workspace would be begging for some joy in light of its almost asylum-like monochromatic color scheme. I want to so desperately throw a bright red clock against the wall.

On the note of insanity (re: asylum reference), I have just emerged out of possibly the most hectic two/three weeks of my academic life. And now, I declare victory. Simply because I have survived, give or take a few battle scars.

Just enjoyed some West African Peanut Soup that I made myself. Please don’t think I came up with that on a whim, because it was all Cookies + KateShe is a culinary goddess.

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(first via achica, unable to find, third, fourth, fifth via pinterest)

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