Obsessed With: Black Fringe

March is a crummy month in New England. Forget "in like a lion, out like a lamb"—It's March 31 and we're all still huddled into our ice-encrusted houses like polar bears trying to keep warm. Forgive me for not running out to buy gauzy, flowy, Coachella-chic resort wear... I'm spending the weekend parked under a throw blanket with a bourbon-and-bitters IV drip. Home, right now, feels heavy. Stuffy. Stagnant. 

At the same time, I'm aching for any nod to summer style, especially at home. It's been so long since the holiday wreaths and lights came down, and I'm ready for something fresh (but not too fresh—we won't be embracing the al fresco lifestyle for a few more months yet).

Enter these picks. The perfect balance of dark and light, fresh and funky, items pairing black tassels and pompoms with sheer and natural materials feel like the perfect blend of breeziness and edge for this in-between season. I want everything.  

1. Aldous shower curtain, $50, Joss & Main. 2. Xinh clutch in Noir, $16, Xinh & Co. 3. 100-percent cotton Euro sham, $53 for a set of two, Wayfair. 4. Tassel throw blanket, $25, Target. 5. Kate Spade New York Tassel Stripe throw pillow, $129, Wayfair. 6. Creative Co-Op Collapsible two-piece basket set, $59, Wayfair. 

1. Aldous shower curtain, $50, Joss & Main. 2. Xinh clutch in Noir, $16, Xinh & Co. 3. 100-percent cotton Euro sham, $53 for a set of two, Wayfair. 4. Tassel throw blanket, $25, Target. 5. Kate Spade New York Tassel Stripe throw pillow, $129, Wayfair. 6. Creative Co-Op Collapsible two-piece basket set, $59, Wayfair

What are you craving for your home and wardrobe in these doldrum days? Leave a comment and let me know what you'd like to see more of!

Featured! A Trio of Bedroom Makeovers

Pillows, headboards, nightstands… Lately it seems like all I’ve been looking at is bedrooms. Lucky for me, the spaces—and homeowners—I’ve had the chance to work with in the last two months have been nothing short of dreamy, and the love for the resulting rooms has been pouring in from far and wide.

Bedroom-makeovers-Donna-Garlough

First up: In the weeks before Christmas, I worked on behalf of Joss & Main to design master bedrooms for two incredible women, Olympic gymnasts and friends Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin. Nastia was moving into a brand-new home near Boston with her fiance, Matt, and needed a soup-to-nuts design. Shawn, meanwhile needed help adding a layer of personality and coziness the relatively bare-bones space she shared with her husband, Andrew, in Nashville. Both women travel almost nonstop, so they were eager to create welcoming retreats where they could go to relax and recharge.

Funny enough, both Nastia and Shawn selected the same bed, a grand yet rustic sleigh style, so part of the challenge was fine-tuning each bedroom design so it felt distinctly like either Shawn or Nastia. I worked with each of the women to create mockups that we could tinker with together, swapping out products until we were both happy with the look.

Shawn’s mockup took on a slightly more feminine, farmhouse feel, with some linen and ticking stripe and different finishes on the bed and nightstands...

Feminine-farmhouse-bedroom

...and here’s how it turned out.

Images credit Nicole Gerulat for Joss & Main

Images credit Nicole Gerulat for Joss & Main

Nastia’s bedroom mockup went in more of a rustic-glam direction, with a crystal orb chandelier and fur throw...

Rustic-glam-bedroom

...and here’s the finished look.

Images credit Nicole Gerulat for Joss & Main

Images credit Nicole Gerulat for Joss & Main

The following month, I worked on my first makeover on behalf of Wayfair Canada, a sister brand to Joss & Main. Angela Price, a Montreal-based blogger and star of the reality show Hockey Wives, wanted a glamorous new look for her bedroom. This one was a thrill to design, as Angela was really into the idea of going moody and dramatic. When I pointed out that a lot of her inspiration images had dark walls, I suggested painting the walls a near-black shade, Domino by Sherwin-Williams, and she was 100% game. (How amazing is it when someone just gives you their total trust? I was giddy.)  Here’s the mockup we created together…

…And here’s the finished room.

All images credit Marie-Lyne Quirion for Wayfair Canada

All images credit Marie-Lyne Quirion for Wayfair Canada

I’ve been overwhelmed by the great coverage these bedroom makeovers have gotten, including three features on People.com and a nod on the Montreal blog MTL, as well as Shawn, Nastia, and Angela's own blogs.

Do any of these bedrooms speak to your style? If so, which would you choose? Leave a comment below!

What to Do With Brown Kitchen Cabinets

Honest question: Has any home feature been vilified more than brown cabinetry in the last fifteen years? Seriously. Watch any episode of House Hunters or any home-renovation program on TV, and you’ll see young home buyers wrinkling their noses at kitchens featuring dark wood cabinets and grayish-brown granite countertops. “I want a white, bright kitchen,” they’ll say, sneering at the glossy finishes. On Pinterest and in shelter magazines, dream kitchens in white and pale gray tones dominate the scene.

Here's why I have brown on the brain: A friend living outside Boston recently reached out to me about her own brown kitchen. She and her husband are planning to rip out the countertops, flooring, lighting, and cabinet hardware, but they can’t decide what to do about the cabinetry itself. On paper, the cabinets are are everything they want—solidly built and configured relatively well for the space. The problem is their deep chestnut color:

The pre-renovation kitchen.

The pre-renovation kitchen.

While the “she” in the party would love to paint everything a pale shade, like all of the kitchen designs she’s pinned online, he’s hesitant to sand and paint over the wood grain, which stands as evidence of the cabinets’ handmade, hardwood construction.  

It got me thinking: Is it possible that brown kitchens have gotten a bad rap? Are there any drool-worthy brown kitchens out there? Forget the builder specials with Home Depot faucets and the cheesy, ornate, faux-Tuscan Real Housewives kitchens that dominated the early aughts. (You know what I’m talking about: this and this.) What does the brown kitchen of today look like, if there even is such a thing?

It took some digging, but i’m seriously digging these:

Source: Hometalk

Source: Hometalk

Credit: Lauren Liess via Country Living

Credit: Lauren Liess via Country Living

Incidentally, I recently shot my dear friend Jamie’s brown kitchen for my book; I loved how she brought campaign-furniture styling to her kitchen and modernized the look with brass hardware and brass-trimmed tile. It’s very glam, no?

Behind the scenes at our shoot.

Behind the scenes at our shoot.

So. What makes these good brown kitchens different from the ones everyone loves to hate? How do you make sure you end up with a fresh, updated look? A few tips:

  • Mix light and dark. The dark woods in the above kitchens are paired with light subway tiles, pale walls, opalescent white glass light fixtures, and other elements that help brighten the space. 
     
  • Keep the hardware simple. Whether bar pulls, knobs, or bin pulls, the lines are streamlined and sort of utilitarian-looking, which gives them that understated, farmhouse vibe.
     
  • Elevate it with a smart mix of materials. In the “old” brown kitchen, all of the accents matched, typically in a dull finish of brushed stainless steel. The new version mixes stained and polished wood with metal, glass, marble, oiled bronze, polished chrome, and more. 
     
  • Choose walls and floor finishes that feel crisp and new. Whether it's powder-blue plaster or sleek tile floors, there's an element of modernity in all of these rooms.
     
  • Incorporate a hit of color. Be it in the paint, the accessories, or fresh greenery, there's something vibrant somewhere in the space.

With all of this in mind, I threw together a mockup to show my friend how she might keep the existing cabinets and still get the fresh, modern-vintage farmhouse style she described wanting in her home. Have a look.

Corinn Ryan Kitchen.jpg

What do think? Are you anti-brown cabinetry, or could you see it coming back into style?

Featured: Inspiring Women Series on Cloud & Day

Fact: In my line of work—writing, styling, editing—I get to work with some pretty incredible women. One superstar I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with a ton in the last 12 months is photographer Joyelle West, whose work has been featured by on Homepolish, Curbed.com, and on the cover of the Boston Globe Magazine. She’s done travel photography and weddings, which is how we met (I was the editor of Boston Weddings magazine and a contributor to New England Travel for a few years), but these days she's almost entirely focused on interiors. Joyelle is the sole photographer for my upcoming book, which means we spend a lot of time crouched behind a lens together.

Image credit: Joyelle West

Image credit: Joyelle West

Image credit: Joyelle West

Image credit: Joyelle West

Joyelle recently decided to start a series called “Inspiring Women” on her blog, Cloud and Day, and for the first installment, she asked me to answer a few questions about my work in this creative field. I was thrilled to oblige. A few nuggets I shared:

On staying inspired:

I’m lucky to get to visit other cities when collaborating with celebrities and bloggers on decor projects …. Going to the big trade shows for my industry, like High Point Market in North Carolina, always fills me with ideas, too. And when I’m traveling, I make a point to visit local restaurants and decor shops and take in aesthetic experiences that are different from what I see every day.

On shooting for my book:

[A]ll of the homes we photographed were styled by the homeowner and/or me; not a single one was put together by a trained interior designer, so they were living, breathing examples of what I’m encouraging readers to do. I’m urging people to embrace their innate design leanings, start putting things together using tips and tricks I’ve learned over time, and to stop treating decorating as this precious, pretentious thing. Anyone can do it, and it’s such an amazing way to express yourself.

Head over to Joyelle’s blog, cloudandday.com, to read the complete feature and to check out her amazing portfolio of interior photography. And if you have any other questions about my job, my weird and circuitous career path, or my book, shoot 'em over via the comment section!

My Favorite Vintage Rugs & Decor

Not long ago, a reporter asked for my thoughts on decorating with vintage and antique-inspired rugs—dhurries, kilims, etc. You can read the full article here, but it got me thinking about my favorite vintage scores of all kinds. It's no secret that I love things with a past (ahem, my circa-1860 house) and try at least once a year to hit my favorite antiques show, the Brimfield Market. When I travel, I love popping into thrift shops and open-air markets to see what quirky things the locals are unloading. Without fail, the stuff I pick up secondhand always ends up being the stuff people ask about when they come over to visit, so I thought I'd share my top ten favorite vintage pieces and some sources for pre-loved things—just in time for flea-market season.

1. The blue rug

Blue-oriental-rug
Blue-oriental-vintage-rug

This was our first, and probably biggest, vintage purchase, and it came from the Brimfield market. We desperately needed a rug for our parlor (top shot above), and it stayed there for about four years. The great thing about Oriental rugs like this is that, while they can come off as formal and proper, they're actually super-resilient and great for homes with kids. If a rug is 50+ years old, there's almost nothing a toddler can do to it--spills, muddy sneakers, using it as a runway for toy planes--that it hasn't survived before. A dark and complex color pattern helps conceal splotches, too. Today it lives in our dining room (second shot above), which we painted Benjamin Moore's Gentleman's Gray to match, and even the occasional dropped spaghetti noodle doesn't cramp its style.

2. The hallway runner 

Vintage-Oriental-hall-runner
Oriental-runner

When we bought the blue rug, we bargained with the seller and got him to throw in this runner in lieu of lowering his price. Good move, no? It looks as good today as the day we brought it home. 

3. The bathroom chandelier

Vintage-crystal-chandelier
Vintage-chandelier-crystal-detail

A couple of years later, after renovating our master bathroom, we went back to Brimfield and found this chandelier. I have no idea whether it's an authentic anything or its provenance, but it sparkles like mad and looks great with our other hotel-luxe inspired finishes, so I don't care. 

4. The church print

Vintage-church-framed-print

While on vacation last summer, Dave and I wandered into the Hospital Thrift Shop on Nantucket, and walked out with armloads of little decor pieces. My favorite was this print of an old church, simply because it reminds me of the church where we got married. The price tag? $3, but apparently it was "Wacky Wednesday" at the shop, so I got it for $1.50. Yesssssss. 

5. The ink block

Vintage-wooden-ink-block

This wooden block currently serves no purpose other than looking cool on my bedroom mantel. Hand-carved wooden blocks like these are traditionally used in India to make block-print textiles, which I also love. (Making my own block-print fabric is currently #1,974 on my to-do list.) I got this at the Brimfield show about two years ago.

6. The Turkish (I think) rug

Turkish-rug-draped

We got this bad boy at—you guessed it—Brimfield, thinking it might work in our entryway, and it was only $165. It's too big for that space, which is why it's currently being used to drape over an ugly file cabinet in Dave's office. Maybe we'll put it in the mud room, if we ever finish our mud room. It's a not-quite-flatweave, with barely any pile, so I think it'll be good in a high-traffic space.

7. The definitely-Turkish rug

Vintage-coral-blue-Turkish-rug
Vintage-Turkish-rug-detail

It took forever to find this guy, but I got him from an Etsy seller based in Istanbul. He's wool, ever-so-slightly shaggy, and the perfect size for our master bathroom. When I want the space to look all put together, I put some coral flowers in a blue vase on the sink. Puuurrrrty.  

8. The Custom house print

Vintage-boat-print

A few weeks ago, I was in California shooting a home for my book, and I went into a decor shop called Bon Bon looking for pieces with personality. This vintage 1974 lithograph caught my eye as I was leaving the store—and it was marked down 50%. I had it shipped home, and I love it irrationally. You'll see him in my book, 'cause he looks great leaned on a long, narrow console.

9. Our Lady of the Loo

Vintage-woman-portrait

When renovating our kitchen, we added a tiny powder room not much larger than a confessional box. When it came time to decorate it, of course I filled it with a crazy blue marbled wallpaper, because I have no restraint, and then put up this odd Virgin Mary-esque portrait I found on Etsy.  I'm itching to re-frame her—the brown wood isn't doing it for me—but she still makes me smile every time I go in that room.

10. The cockatoo

FullSizeRender.jpg

I bought this on Chairish after posting about the parrot trend, and I love it to death.

I could go on and on. There's the sailboat painting I bought online from a seller in Sweden. A kilim rug my husband picked up in Greece. Some Oriental scatter rugs I use as floor mats in my kitchen. Vintage pieces just make a home feel special and interesting, IMHO, and you can bet I'll be featuring a ton of them in my upcoming book. 

My most frequent sources, for now, are:

If I get the chance, here are some markets that I've been meaning to visit at some point:

What are your favorite sources for vintage? Are there any shops or shows you'd plan a trip around? if so, leave a comment below!