Paris-Inspired Terrace

Is it just me, or are Wednesday afternoons kind of a drag around blog world? Do lots of bloggers give themselves Wednesday afternoons off? Hope this post can serve as a little pick-me-up.

So, in my dream world I have a two-story row house that faces a quaint street and has a balcony on the top level overlooking the street. Private parking space in back, please.


Perfectly calling to mind the ubiquitous smoking terraces outside French brasseries, two of these café chairs with this little side table would be the perfect place to have breakfast or watch the world go by. The chairs are $159 each, which is pretty steep but considering that they are commercial-grade chairs I’d expect them to de very durable and last a really long time. I’d master the perfect Cafe au Lait (Photo by Piefinger) and sip it while flipping through my new favorite picture book, Paris in Color.

There is something so Parisian about smoking and ash trays. However, if you don’t smoke (I don’t) you can still use this little catch-all for sunflower or pistachio shells as you snack outside on a lovely afternoon. If you don’t have a real small dog to sit at your feet (like many Parisians do), this bronze one looks ready to play. Complete the Street-side motif with this authentic vintage street sign.

There you have it! This seriously is my dream balcony. If anyone finds 2 café chairs cheaper than this one, please let me know! 

One question: Do you prefer me writing the items in paragraph form like I did here, or bullet form like I did yesterday


Paris-Inspired Half Bath

I meant it last Thursday when I said that a bathroom is a good place to take a risk. And I’m going to take a BIG risk today and do something ultra themey. Many designers turn up their noses at themey rooms, and rightly so, as I believe they’ve had their heyday and today’s rooms lean more towards a cohesive “house-story” (I just made that up but it sounds so HGTV) with nods to certain themes here and there.

But you know what? What’s life if you can’t have any fun, and why do I blog if I can’t put something together like this? It has been bouncing around in my head for weeks!! I can see it really working in a hotel, a rental, a public space… anywhere where people don’t spend long periods of time is OK to go a little more over the top than normal, and make it memorable.

Walls: The paint colors are inspired by what makes Paris stand out among so many other European Cities… the more-or-less uniform paint colors on building façades imposed by the Haussmann renovation. Really, look at most photos of Paris (especially the city center) and these tones will prevail. Not to mention they look so lovely with wrought-iron or other dark metal playing off of them. I don’t have paint color recommendations but look for a smoky purply-blue (but with prevailing gray tones) and something pinkish gray-tan (almost a weathered limestone color). I would paint the ceiling of the room (that’s right! Paint the ceiling!) with the purple-gray and bring the color down onto the walls about 12 to 18 inches. I’d paint the rest of the room with the tan. A purple-gray molding along the line where the colors meet (I tried to give the impression of this on the inspiration board) would be a lovely touch.

Floor: I’d go with your classic small hex tile on the ground with gray grout. Gray grout will hide dirt and prevent the inevitable depression felt when once-white grout looks dingy. Additionally, the gray highlights the white classic hex shape. This style of tile has been around for hundreds of years and is not going away anytime soon… timeless is definitely the right word. And, it is so affordable!

Sink: The pedestal sink was inspired by what I saw when I looked at the bridge in the above picture. I thought, “those thick columns would make a killer sink.” Since I’m impatient, I did not find a sink exactly like them, but it’s close enough to make me happy. (Also, yes, every half-bath needs a toilet, but you’re on your own for that one…)

Lighting: Here I have selected two different lights: a 24-inch sconce for above the mirror, and a hanging mini-pendant one for additional light. You’d wouldn’t want to put these too close together, but I like how they “go.” They are very different styles (square vs. organic) in the same finish on purpose. If you get two that are too similar, but slightly different it will look like you tried too hard and didn’t quite get it right. These two both lean toward art nouveau which helps tie them together. They look like they were plucked out over the years and give a good eclectic layer.

Mirror: The lighting and hooks (and sink and door hardware, if you can swing it) would ideally be a dark bronze or cast iron color, so there’s no need to darken up the space with a dark mirror frame. This one from World Market brings the Marché aux Puces look in. Since this is a half bath, a normal mirror will do; no need for a medicine cabinet. Make sure the mirror is not too close to the wall color. Darken or lighten with paint (a drybrush technique would be ok) as necessary.

Cast Iron Hooks: Anchor the light paint colors with dark finishes like the dark aged bronze lighting and these art nouveau cast iron hooks.

Wastebasket: This cute little French Apothecary wastebasket would fit right in.

Art: Skip the Eiffel Tower nick-knacks and look for some more subtle Paris-themed artwork. Things were starting to look really cold in here. Bring in this warm-toned Camille Pisarro print and have your own little piece of the Musee d’Orsay. can even send it to you framed and matted as shown.

Towels: Dark green is another unofficial color of Paris. From the famous metro entrances to the booksellers’ booths on the Seine, it is a great accent for the tan and gray-purple. For hand towels, stay away from anything too jungle-y, and get the darkest, deepest green possible.

None of the online stores linked to here have provided any compensation for this post; I’m sure they don’t even know this blog exists! 

Eurotrip: Part 3 (Paris)

Days 5, 6, and 7: Paris

Early morning on day 5, the family packed up our stuff in Bruges, fit everything in the car, and we parted ways in Lille. We took the train from Lille instead of Bruges because it was way cheaper not to cross any country lines. My parents and sister headed off to England: since they had more time off, they spent a few days there before touring the Loire Valley and ending up in Paris. Due limits on how long we could be away from work, we abbreviated our trip and went straight to Paris.

This was my third visit to the City of Lights, and I was pleased to find myself playing the role of tour guide, and surprised at my own knowledge of how the city was laid out and how to navigate it. We only ran into a few roadbumps on this final leg of our trip, and by this point we were feeling somewhat tired but excited to see what Paris had to offer. Last time I was in Paris was in hot July of 2009 and it was much cooler this time. Jacket weather, but it was very nice. The cloudy skies did feel very Classic Paris.

The first thing we did after getting rid of our suitcase at the hotel was make a bee-line for the famous Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt. At first we were disappointed since all we saw were knockoff handbag and tchotchke dealers, but we pressed on and found the good stuff. Most of the good stuff, anyway. Since Monday was the last day of the market, some vendors had closed up shop so our choices were limited. What I really wanted was to score an unbelievable deal on a rug, but satisfied myself with a couple magazine ads from 1929 and 1933. I will share a photo of them in another post. I was in heaven just browsing, of course.

Doug had a few things that he insisted we see: the Champs-Elysées and the Arc De Triomphe. These were kind of strange requests to me since I thought the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame would get top billing, but I was more than happy to oblige (yes, we saw the Tour, Notre Dame, and the Louvre exterior as well, of course). Then, I learned his big reason to visit the Arc: to practice a little long-exposure photography as you’ll see below. And it took no arm-twisting for us to sample some macarons at Ladurée… they were definitely delicate and indulgent, but I guess I will always prefer a brownie when given my choice of sweets.

Paris has a modern and almost funky side, though, which we were pleased to experience as we walked down Rue de Rivoli and saw the bustling shopping area and took a peek at the construction at Les Halles, which looks like it will be pretty cool once it’s finished–with an underground mall (if I’m not mistaken), an expanded park, and apartments, I think? Anyway, that will be interesting to check back in on next time we’re there (there WILL be a next time, mind you).

We wandered over to the Centre Georges Pompidou and admired it from the outside, but skipped going in. I really am a fan of museums, but have found them to be a big “time suck” if you really only have a few days visiting somewhere (I went into the museum in 2009). While I’m not head over heels for modern art, I find the exterior of the center very fascinating, and always have.

All of these things, mind you, were done and seen on our first day in town–finishing the day with the stunning Tour Eiffel at night. Originally the plan was to go up it, but one elevator was out of service and my knee had been acting up, so we admired from ground-level. Finally, we took the metro to our semi-shady part of town and got back to the hotel. We were so wiped out at the end of the evening it didn’t matter that our room was pretty small and the bed was like a rock. It was clean and secure, so we slept like babies.

The second day we spent familiarizing ourselves with the city in an interesting way–somewhat of a wild goose chase to find my friend who we were supposed to meet up with Tuesday morning. We’d spent the first half of the day attempting to track her down, then gave up and did a little more sightseeing, had a delicious lunch in Montmartre (revisiting a place I LOVED in 2009), and a bit of minor shopping. Finally, we took advantage of the free wi-fi (and bathrooms!) at McDo (McDonalds) and got into contact with my friend. Well, after all was said and done, we got together at 6:00 Tuesday night.

Let’s be honest: our stay in Paris was mainly about the food. We had delicious crepes at the shop at the very bottom of Sacré-Coeur, boeuf bourginon at Le Poulbot in Montmartre, salmon salad at a restaurant near Musee D’Orsay, and even the cheap sandwiches we bought at a street vendor and ate on the banks of the Seine were just terrific. If I didn’t buy enough souvenirs, it is because I was too preoccupied thinking about my next delicious meal. We spent a ton on food but it was totally worth it. That’s my philosophy on travel, anyway.

The final day, we spent the whole morning at the Musée D’Orsay, which is my favorite Paris museum. Out of all the time periods of art, I prefer the impressionists and post-impressionists. I really could spend all day here. Instead, we broke for lunch and had our aforementioned sandwiches and crepes on the Seine. Being that it was our anniversary we took part in the tradition of locking a padlock on the bridge and throwing the key in the river.

You can catch part one here, and part two here. I still want to do an overall wrap up of the impressions of my trip, so if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!