Provence: Where the Pleasures of Life Abound

Since summer travel is on everyone's mind right now, I thought it'd be great to share a write up by my dear friend, author and travel blogger Caroline from Shutters & Sunflowers. Caroline is an expert on my favorite place of all time - Provence! 

Provence is SUCH a special place and no one knows it better than Caroline. She has a way with words and sweeps you into a world of beauty and pleasure, making you experience the beauty & bounty that the South of France has to offer. A perfect read as we go into the weekend! 

Her blog Shutters and Sunflowers is a travel resource where she shares stories about things which touch her heart. In her own words, "it's about living the journey not waiting to get to the destination!" Amen to that. Caroline has very generously shared her Provence travel guides with us for free at the end of the post.  Enjoy :P

 

What is it that consistently draws people to Provence and to the Luberon in particular? What precisely is Provence’s appeal, that special ‘je ne sais quoi’ which makes the region so captivating? Aside from its natural beauty, its enduring appeal is that it remains one of the few places whose charm has not diminished with the passing of time. Simple pleasures of life can still be found here, and in abundance.

 

Immersing Yourself In Simple Pleasures

Provence is a place where lingering in the shade over a long lazy lunch, watching the world pass by, is part of life and in our over scheduled lives, is perhaps the very essence of Provence’s appeal!

Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence

It’s where shopping means ambling through a brightly colored market, filling your basket with freshly baked pastries, ripe local produce, the soil still clinging to it, a medley of olives, honey and flowers.

Colorful baskets at the market in Uzes

Colorful baskets at the market in Uzes

Life seems kinder here, that in itself is so integral to Provence’ appeal, where instead of rushing, one simply meanders....exploring the narrow streets, stopping every so often to admire a tall shuttered window or a worn brass door handle, which you just know has a story to tell.

Shutters on the streets of Uzes

Shutters on the streets of Uzes

It’s a place where one wanders down tree lined avenues, where bustling street cafés beckon, their only requirement being that you take your time over a coffee or glass of wine. Simple pleasures so integral to Provence’s appeal, just as alluring today as they were when Van Gough, Gauguin, Cézanne captured it on their canvases!

 

A Symphony for the Senses

There is so much to admire in Provence. To look at, to taste, to smell, to hear - simple but delightful sensory experiences which define it's appeal.

Sights of Provence

Provence and especially the Luberon, is visually stunning. The sense of the past is inescapable in its enchanting perched villages, its tumbled down castles, abbeys and medieval chateaux.

Chateau in Lourmarin

Chateau in Lourmarin

Set against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery and a magical light, Provence has enticed artists for centuries. This unique transcendent light has a sharply defining clarity which has the becomes almost translucent, a painter’s dream!

Church in Lourmarin

Church in Lourmarin

It is an ever-changing kaleidoscope, where streaming sun rays intensify and illuminate the natural colours of the spectacular landscape. 

Bounneiaux across the vineyards

Bounneiaux across the vineyards

Vibrant summer carpets of dancing yellow sunflowers and shades of lavender.

Sunflower fields in Provence

Sunflower fields in Provence

L'Abbaye Notre Dame de Sénanque Gordes

L'Abbaye Notre Dame de Sénanque Gordes

Endless rolling fields of bright green vineyards, olive groves and fruit orchards, which evolve into a deep, rich, ocher glow before shedding their gowns to rest during winter.

Vineyards in Provence

Vineyards in Provence

Fragrances of Provence

As the seasons change so do the natural fragrances, which in this part of the world have an intensity which perfumes the air like no where else. Lavender, verbena and olives, so defining of summer in Provence pervade. And later, the heady aroma of the vines, when lush crops of grapes drip like fat jewels, from ancient gnarly fists. Fragrances which giddily illustrate Provence’s appeal!

Lavendar at the market in Uzes

Lavendar at the market in Uzes

Grapes in Provence

Grapes in Provence


Tastes of Provence

Good food and eating in Provence, really matters. It is a place of mouth watering tastes; the flaky, buttery texture of croissants which melt on your tongue; of ripe tomatoes whose exploding flavor instantly reminds you of the summers of your childhood, of freshly cut grass, of not having to do anything.

Produce at the market in Uzes

Produce at the market in Uzes

Olives at the market in Uzes

Olives at the market in Uzes

Crusty, floury baguettes spread with soft, creamy cheese which oozes between your finger tips; small sweet strawberries, figs, nectarines and slices of chilled melon, a scrumptious regional bounty which is so much a part of Provence’s appeal. And as you feast on all this deliciousness, your ears full of the lyrical melody of the French language and the chirping of crickets, you’ll probably wonder if anything has ever tasted as good.

Crusty baguettes in Lourmarin

Crusty baguettes in Lourmarin

Perhaps the very heart of Provence’s appeal is that it is a place to find respite from the frenzied, interconnected world so many of us find ourselves consumed by, a place to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, as beguiling today, as it was many lifetimes ago.

Experience some of the beautiful regions of Provence for yourself:

What to See  UzèsAvignonLourmarin
Where to Stay  UzèsAvignonLourmarin
Where to Eat  UzèsAvignonLourmarin

Lourmarin Travel Guide - for Lourmarin & it's surrounding area
Uzès Travel Guide - for Uzes & and the surrounding regions of Languedoc, Roussillon and Provence.

What I'm loving: An end table with flair

I recently saw this metal looped end table in the Joss & Main catalog and flipped out ...I love it so much! Not surprising at all that it's sold out. If I was in need of an end table for my home right now,  I'd be signing up on that wait list on the double. That base is just gorgeous.

Draco end table arteriors.JPG

 

A cozy nook in the living room ....

 

Or a bold one!

Pillow Talk

I had a beautiful Saturday last weekend, exploring The Getty Center with some friends. The temperature was off the charts (in the 100s!) & we were quite literally baking in the heat, but it was totally worth it!  We went on one of the art tours and the docent gave us a super interesting perspective on their Italian art collection & my personal favorite was the French decorative arts section (it's the south wing, if you plan on going).  Also, the museum grounds are stunnnnning. I'll do a separate post next week on my Getty visit and some things I loved design-wise once I've sorted through all the pictures, so stay tuned for that :P

This week I wanted to share some fun & fantastic pillow finds for the summer!  Throw pillows can really bring some pizazz into a space. And they're an easy, easy way to dramatically change the look of a room. 

When selecting pillows, the key is to have fun with it, but I've definitely discovered a trick or two to help with the process.

Sizing...  for larger sized seating like a big sofa,  don't use small pillows. I made this mistake once and my 18-inch pillows looked very out of place on this gigantic sofa. 22 to 24 inches are a nice pouf size.  For chairs or single seats, 18-20 inch squares or a lumbar pillow work well.

Mixing patterns... think in terms of threes. 1 solid. 1 floral/paisley/large print. 1 small scale pattern/geometric/stripes. You can ALWAYS bend the rules. But this is a nice starting point to help narrow down your selections and get a good set going.

I though it'd be fun to a do a roundup of some of my favorite prints and styles this summer and what to pair them with. Check em out!

 
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Choose 1 color palette and change up your pillow styles. This brings cohesiveness to the look and creates an impact.  Following the rule of 3 here, you can experiment with everything from animal prints to fringe details! All the pillows below are on Wayfair (most from the Elements of Style collection).

An Eclectic Mix in Monochrome

 

Ikat prints are right on trend and so FUN!  Because they're busy, pairing them with solids offers a nice balance & keeps the scheme looking fresh. MyPillowStudio on Etsy has a bold selection of prints.

Ikat

Pairing Ikat with solids

 

 

Monogrammed pillows bring that personal touch and look GREAT, especially in the bedroom. They give it a nice finish. And it's so easy to personalize these days. Pottery Barn offers it on everything from throw pillows like the ones below, to shams.  And then there's Zazzle & Etsy. Pair  it with a chevron or trellis pattern, or they can fly solo too with some bordered euro shams.

Monogrammed

 

 

Block prints are a total classic. A great indoor/outdoor pillow.  They're fun because you can mix them without overwhelming a space, so long as you stay within the same color palette. Pottery Barn has some great indoor/outdoor block prints for under $15!! (they're on sale right now!!)  And Serena & Lily has some dreamy blue & whites (always blue & white, always :P)

Block Prints

blockprints.png

 


Embroidered Suzani pillows are especially tasteful. I saw a few pictures of Tory Burch's Manhattan office recently and I loved the blue & white suzanis she has on her couch!  If you're looking to add some suzani style to your space, I found this seller on Etsy, DecorIkatPillows, who has a pretty cool collection.

 

Suzani

 


And lastly, my absolute favorite - the GREEK KEY border pillow! (found an Etsy seller who makes them nicely).  You know how much I love greek key elements in design, and these pillows look effortlessly stylish!

 

Greek Key

And that's a wrap!   Hope you enjoyed that roundup and let me know if you try out any of these styles & pairings or have nay questions. And share it with a friend if you think they'll  enjoy knowing a thing or two about greek key borders & suzanis  (I mean, who doesn't want to expand their pillow selection horizons? ;-)  ;-) )

 Any favorites of yours that I haven't included ?

 

Image Credits: The Neo Trad (Mark D Sikes design),   How To Decorate (Ballard Designs),   Makkas Drapery (Erin Gates Design)

Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July friends!  I hope you're enjoying this gorgeous, summery, patriotic weekend.

There's a small chance some of you are checking your emails & reading this today. And I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share  some inspiration with you inspired by the colors of the day. Leaving you with some reds, whites and blues as you continue your celebrations! A mix of interiors & fashion. 

 

                                                            Martha Stewart

                                                            Martha Stewart

 
 
 
 
                                                                  Mark D Sikes

                                                                  Mark D Sikes

 
 
                                                  Bunny Williams

                                                  Bunny Williams

 
 
                                                                       Caitlin Wilson

                                                                       Caitlin Wilson

 
Love this vintage shot!

Love this vintage shot!


And finally, some living room inspiration I pulled together with today's palette (inspired by these fabulous chairs I saw over the weekend)

chairs (love these chairs so much! just discovered this place Design Plus)  /  rug / coffee tablelamp / tray / candle holder / seagrass prints

 

Image Credits: House Beautiful, Martha Stewart, Ideal HomePier 1 Imports, Jackquie Vintage, Vogue, Caitlin Wilson

Fantastic Art

When I walk into a room, one of the first things I notice is the art. Good art can really make a room come alive!

Lately, I've found myself being drawn to great, original abstracts. I know a lot of people look at abstract art and think "Oh I could've made that!"  (I've definitely been guilty of this!)  & ok, maybe there's some abstracts out there that aren't great and don't justify the hefty price tag.  But I've found that making a good abstract is freaking difficult. The composition, color choices, brush strokes,  all give a painting that certain "feel". Easy to look at, very hard to accomplish.

 I've been seeing a lot of rooms lately where a more traditional room is accessorized with a contemporary abstract, and I have to say, it's a winning combination!!  I love this mix of styles. It's what makes the room interesting.

Here's some images of rooms where the art is really bringing that extra something to the space. And I've rounded up some of my favorite art sources for you below! Art does not need to be expensive to be good. There's some great, affordable art out there.  Check 'em out below  and feel free to browse through the sites and pick your own favorites!

 

Love, love, love this abstract on canvas in a little boy's nursery, discovered on Elements of Style.  It's got a fantastic blend of colors & goes perfectly with the gray walls.

art in a nursery.jpg

 

A gallery wall of birds in the Southern Living Showhouse 2016 , designed by Mark D Sikes. Love how the gallery extends down the entire wall , givingit height (also loving the chandelier but we can talk about that later! :) )

 

These framed chinoiserie panels are beauuuuutiful. The clean, powder blue upholstery and the panels are a perfect complement to each other.

 

A great example of mixing styles...this room designed by Mark D Sikes, has a lot of vintage elements (vases, studded chair, sette, hurricanes, lamp), and then there's that one perfectly-sized, eye-catching squiggly abstract!  Genius.

 

Stunning horse photography...

 

And here's some of my favorite picks right now! :)

Love, love, love these minimalist watercolors by Lauren Adams Art on Etsy. Their so interesting to look at & the framing is spot on.

 

 

Get those serene vibes into a room with agate art by Dolores Robak Art (also on Etsy).

 

I'm in love with these abstracts on canvas by Kelly Witmer.  You could get high quality giclee prints and frame them ..they'd look pretty great! 

kelly witmer 3.jpg

 

There's a wonderful new art source on the block -  Artfully Walls. They have a great selection of varied art & they have some fantastic, ready-to-go, curated collections by designers as well.

Here's a few pieces from Mark D Sike's curation...blues, blacks and whites, combining tiles, abstracts, botanical and photography. 

 

Here's another one I like -  the "garden of delights" collection.. 

mark d sikes artfully yours 2.JPG
crane and flower.jpg

 

Large scale photography can give a room dimension & depth. Here's a great example by Erin Gates Design .. what a view!  (Fun fact: centuries ago, monasteries would mount a huge painting where the monks had their meals so they could ponder on it in silence while they ate. I like the thought of that A LOT.  Here we are pondering over What's App messages  ...maybe some cool, large-scale photography will change that! ;-) )

 

Serene shots by Mina Photography

 

 

Pure Photo's nature photography is PHENOMENAL.  They're definitely pricey, but phenomenal.

 
 
 
 
pure photo 5.jpg

 

I hope you enjoyed that round up!  I have lots more fantastic art to share with you. Let me know if you like this post / check out any of these finds & I'll do a round 2! 

Also, share this post with an art-loving friend...someone who likes to discover new art or  someone who's in the middle of a redecorate. You never know who's in need of some inspiration :)

Any artists you're crushing on right now?