Thursday, October 24, 2013

Steal These Decor Ideas: Asian-Inspired Worldly Living Room

Welcome to a tour of a space I truly admire.

I'll walk you through it and share the owner's thoughts and ideas.  Steal some inspiration for yourself!

It's said that the best spaces reflect their owners and tell their story. This could not be truer for this living room, belonging to a beautiful creative soul who has traveled the world several times over, Lindsay. After having owned, rented and lived in various homes everywhere from Montreal, Quebec to Sundance, Utah to Santa Fe, New Mexico to London, England, Lindsay has now comfortably settled into a sweet pied-√†-terre apartment in a pedestrian-friendly leafy neighbourhood of Montreal.  Oh, and she's relieved she doesn't own it.

This gives her the freedom to figure out her next move in life, since negotiating out of a rental agreement or subletting is, exceptions aside, less of a undertaking than selling a home.  Also, it came as-is, which alleviated some of the many decor decisions one has to make when settling into a new place.  

Finally, all of her favourite things are together in one place.  She jokingly says of herself, "I'm very predictable when it comes to things that I like."  She's always gravitating toward the same kinds of things: red, turquoise, and ethnic in that they represent her world travels. 

Living in all those different places, she has had distinct influences and has put up and taken down home decor schemes several times over, accumulating and letting go of many pieces along the way.  Now, she has whittled down her belongings to only her favourite pieces and is pleasantly surprised by how well they work together. She is, quite literally, surrounded only by the things she loves, and that remind her fondly of her loved ones. 

Read on to learn what inspired some of the decisions in this lovely sunlight-filled living room.

Wall Colour

"I've always been afraid of colour on the walls, especially if it was somber or dark," Lindsay says.  But since this is a rental apartment, it wasn't up to her to choose.  "When choosing colours, I only ever used cream, ivory, or 'Buttermilk' from Benjamin Moore (a pale yellow)."  

Here, the walls were pre-painted a kind of mushroom-y greige.  At first, she wasn't sure she liked it but, "it turns out that all of my brightly-coloured stuff comes out better on this backdrop."

Things she's learned over the years

  • Stick to neutrals for the big pieces.

Tiny Tim rests on the creamy white leather couch (The Brick)

The big pieces (the creamy white sofa, white TV buffet, and smoky green-grey console table) are all quite neutral but it means that all of her brightly coloured accents really pop even more.

"You don't need to commit to having a huge piece in a bright colour that you might get tired of," she says.

This white piece with carved lotus flowers is from Jackalope in Santa Fe.  (I've been there.  It's amazing.)

Lotus buffet detail

This Asian console table is a direct nod to Lindsay's grandparents, who were both born in China.  Her mother grew up in Hong Kong and spent time in Indonesia, so there's always been a lot of Asian influence around her growing up. 

Smokey Green/Grey Asian Console Table (Pier 1)

This table was found at Pier 1.  "It was love at first sight," she says.  She once owned an original Chinese table that had literally started to disintegrate, and eventually had to part ways with it.  But she missed it. When she stumbled upon this one she knew it would be a great replacement.

Hanging on the wall is a gorgeous suzani from Jordan, given to her by her parents.  Interestingly, these intricately embroidered suzanis were traditionally made by Central Asian brides as part of their dowry, and presented to the groom on the wedding day.  One more lovely thing in here that has a story behind it.

  • Chevron goes with everything.

Chevron pouf (West Elm)

She went to West Elm on the opening day of its Montreal location, and came home with this pouf.

"I convinced myself that Timmy needed this pouf to climb onto the couch," she says with a laugh.  "That's how I justified the purchase."  

  • To her surprise, other graphic patterns blend well too

Along with the chevron, Lindsay recently meandered into colourful polka dots and other graphic patterns, like this black-and-white blanket on the couch, from Ikea in London.

"The polka dots were a risky move for me!  I'm a lot more colourful than I used to be."  She is pleased at how these contemporary graphic pieces blend so well with the more ethnic vibe she has favoured all these years.

By happy accident, the colours of the polka dots are echoed in the painting above the couch.

  • Metallics are neutral

She has finally figured out that for her, metallics are a neutral and mix together really well.  She used to think gold was kitschy, but now loves the gold frames throughout the room for their warmth and ability to tie a bunch of random things together.

Also, she's no longer afraid to mix gold and silver together.

Gold frame & a tiny gold lidded pot

These Are a Few of Her Favourite Things...

She got this gorgeous hand-carved solid piece of wood for $125 at ADV.  It's from Indonesia, where her mother lived for a time.  It's big and heavy, and she's not too sure what it's for.  "My immediate thought was, 'I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, but I must have it,'" she says.

Handcarved wooden piece (ADV)

This red drum on casters replaces a traditional coffee table, as space is at a premium.  Lindsay adores the fact that she can put a drink on it, roll it around with ease as well as store blankets and things inside.

Years ago, her paternal grandmother actually designed it and had it made.  Interestingly, she had owned a home decor store on Sherbrooke Street during the 1970's called Pour l'instant.  Apparently, it looked like the present-day interior of Zone.  (Montrealers will know the store Zone, found on Sherbrooke Street as well as on rue St-Denis).

"She was incredibly ahead of her time and was in fact one of the first people to import Finnish Marimekko textiles locally."  How cool is that?

Red Drum on Casters (Vintage)

This red Asian lamp is one half of an identical pair that belonged to a dear friend's mother.  When the mother passed away, she and her friend split the pair to remember her by.  "It's has sentimental value to me, it's crooked, and I love it."

Red Asian Lamp (vintage)

Lindsay saw this transparent chair being used in a friend's store (as guest seating, not for sale) and begged her to buy it.  After coveting it for two years, she eventually did.  She loves that it takes up so little visual space.  She had slip covers made for $40, a price that means she can have more slipcovers made anytime, should she want to change the look.

See-through acrylic chair (bought from a friend)

She spotted this turquoise lantern in a fancy flower shop window, all lit up at night, and could not stop thinking about it.  "I'm very predictable when it comes to turquoise.  If it's turquoise, I love it."

Turquoise Lantern (Westmount Florist)

Show & Tell - Family Edition

A sentimental vignette

Here, a photo of a dearly departed friend, a tiny bird enjoying its reflection in a mirror and a miniature painting of lily-of-the-valley form a special vignette on an ornate wooden shelf.

As for the red booties?  They're from Shiprock Gallery in Sante Fe.  Her Dad was buying a piece of art there when she noticed them and fell in love.  They're Inuit, and she felt they should come home to Canada.  They also happen to highlight her soft-spot for the kiddies.  Her Dad gifted them to her.

A special place for remembering loved ones

This black Buddha statue holds a very special place in her heart.  When Lindsay's father died last year, she wanted to have an area to remember him by.

She searched for a Buddha that gave off the right vibe: comforting, not too intense, happy without being overly jolly, calm, peaceful.  Also, she wanted just one, not to start a collection.  Not a Buddhist herself, she did not want to offend any practicing Buddhists, but rather show that she has great respect for it. She surrounded the statue with photos of family.  She dressed it with beads: in the white pouch is a love amulet; beautiful, and very representative of her time in Santa Fe.  Along with the red stone beads, the adornments bring colour against the black of the statue.

Beautiful antique bookends

There was a beautiful antique shop near her childhood school in London, where she used to go antiquing with her mother.  She would spend all her time pointing out things she thought were beautiful, but of course they were all too expensive for a kid to have.  She especially loved these horses.  

Then one day, around age 8 or 9, her mother gave them to her.  Lindsay knew they were very special, very sophisticated, and needed to be well taken care of.  "Mom has always been very good about respecting me as a person, even as a kid.  She didn't just say, 'no because you'll break them or lose them'.  She knew I loved them."

Vignette by the front door

This vignette features an ornate spoon-handle hook from India.  Her Dad fell in love with India when he produced the film Ghandi, and later, City of Joy.  She was raised in England amongst many Indian friends.  Her family has had a long and recurring love affair with the country - also highlighted by the bright sari hanging in her bedroom.

The tiny painting of a winter scene in Montreal is by local artist, Tristan Tondino.  It was a parting gift when she was moving away to Santa Fe.

The felt bird garland, which I love (not surprisingly), is from Santa Fe.


Tiny Tim and me hanging out on the floor, getting my shot.

White lotus - well chosen details.

Lovely Details

I'd like to sincerely thank Lindsay for opening up her home to all of us and being so candid with the details of her life.  I'm so inspired to see someone who really has it figured out in terms of picking and choosing the things that make her happiest. 

Let us know what you think of us featuring other people's beautiful spaces.  Did you enjoy this tour?  Is this something we should be doing more of?

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  1. Aahhhhhhh!!! I love it! Great tour. You write so beautifully and I love home stories that are really detailed - satisfies the home stickybeak in me. I like how she said renting the place gave her more freedom. And how her mum gave her the horses - ahhh. Isn't it nice how giving 'grown-up' things like that can mean the world to a little kid. Well done!

    1. Thanks so much Maya! I too love the details and am so thankful to Lindsay for really opening up - even afterward when I had follow-up questions. BTW I have an enormous crush on your blog.

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