With the coming of spring, I am calm again.
– Gustav Mahler
As I padded down to the kitchen this morning in my gray wool socks and red flannel cat pajamas to pour a cup of white rose tea, I was surprised by a mysterious radiance peeking through the patio doors. I wasn’t expecting light or warmth after months of cold, rainy, dreary, charcoal gray mornings, but there it was.
I pulled back the fabric panels and pushed open the double French doors that have been shut tight since October. Delicate golden clouds hovered over smoky blue mountains above the calm blue waters of the San Francisco Bay. I took a deep breath of the warm, fragrant air and smiled. Suddenly the mood of the world had changed.
Let in Light
I pulled on jeans, a sweater and boots, and hurried to let in more light, fresh air and bird songs. I filled empty outdoor urns with orange tulips from our dinner party. Then I headed to our overstuffed garage in search of faded and worn-out pink, gold and green cushions that I inserted anyway in the seats of eight rusty wrought iron chairs on the patio.
Fabric Reflecting Nature
As I pulled the drapes back to expose more light, I stopped in the moment and looked closely at the fabric I chose years ago. To my surprise, the textile mimicked elements of nature, displaying fuzzy frond shapes embellished with embroidered olive-green stems and nodes. Stitched between feathery leaf designs were unfurling fiddlehead fern fronds that looked just like the ones in our garden. I’m a sucker for any shape that curves in a whimsical manner and displays nature’s marvelous design skills.
[Quick design tip: This type of elaborately detailed fabric is typically not inexpensive, so to save on cost, my trick here was to buy only enough to have narrow panels made. The gathered panels appear to cover the full width of the doors, but actually do not.]
The Red Sofa
Then in celebration of spring, I decided to open the second set of French bi-fold doors in the living room, something I rarely do. Here, the curvaceous arms of an antique red sofa spread like wings in front of the fabric panels behind.
I was surprised again when I realized the delicate cream-colored stitching in the red sofa fabric I also selected years ago replicates the whimsical feeling of the green embroidery on the door ensemble and harmonizes with the neutral background of the draperies.
More Floral Designs
A broader perspective from the dining room displays yet another floral fabric on a second sofa, which separates the two living areas of the great room. An antique French provincial table with curved apron and legs facing the dining room provides additional separation and repetition of curvaceous shapes.
The sofa’s large-scale floral design on cotton linen contains elegant shapes of flowers, leaves and stems in various shades of red, green, gold, pink, apricot and brown. This central element serves to pull the room together through the repeat of its shapes and colors in the room’s flooring, rugs, walls, furnishings, window treatments and accessories.
Between the Two Doors
The rustic, colorfully painted, handmade armoire at the end of the sofa grounds the center of the great room. The Brazilian piece, with rusty terra cotta details on its base, corners and crown, combines blue, gold and orange to both contrast and harmonize with the living room’s warm palette. From its aspect between the two openings to the patio, the armoire’s touches of blue repeat the color of the bay and the Marin Headlands in the distance.
Although I grew up in the Southwest and love warm colors, I broadened my palette when I moved into our old cottage on a tiny island surrounded by blue. Not only the water of the bay, but the hills and mountains bordering it, and even the fog that comes in under the Golden Gate Bridge all contain shades of blue that I now find irresistible.
I found an old colorful and worn Turkish Oushak rug for the living room with an orange, red and gold geometric design on a magnificent blue background. I love the combination of colors and shapes woven into the thick course texture embellishing the floor, especially the blue that brings the outside in and the inside out.
I show these various images and close ups of the elements in my great room to demonstrate how combining all the disparate things that you love can work together in harmony by repeating shapes, colors, textures and patterns. I learned this principle years ago from the true Master of Design – Nature. Good design repeats itself has been my mantra ever since.
Honor Nature This Spring
The view from your windows may still be white, but when the snow melts and the calm of spring arrives, take some time to appreciate and honor the change of seasons. Nature is truly the source of all beauty!
Happy spring, everyone – and thanks so much for reading my blog!
For the love of nature,