A Happy Home: Notes On Decorating With Artwork

When I first moved into this apartment, I thought to myself, "Well, I'll only be here for a year. No sense in painting or doing anything too elaborate." Hilariously enough, I find myself at the same place a little more than five years later, and I am plagued by how silly of a decision that was. Although - to be fair - I did move in here with zero furniture / décor minus my cherished tiny thinking chair. I personally come from the school of If You Love It, Put It On The Wall (hence my dedicated kitsch corner), but a most-talented hippie, Erin, is here today to share with us just how to use our space efficiently and effectively with one of her favorite things - artwork.


There comes a time in every girl’s life when she needs to stop decorating her home with stick-on wall decals, sorority memorabilia, and movie posters. But, decorating can be a daunting and overwhelming task without a little bit of guidance. Selecting the right furniture and color palette should obviously be the main focus, but it's always disappointing to walk into someone’s home only to find that they have completely bare walls. Most people totally forget to utilize their wall space when decorating, and in turn, their homes tend to have an empty, just-moved-in feeling to them. I’m sorry to break it to you, but simply slapping a coat of paint on the walls absolutely does not solve this problem. Adding artwork is an excellent way to personalize and polish any room in your home.

Note 1. Large, contemporary works look incredible in an area that is a focal point such as above a couch, in an entry way or at the end of a hallway.

My Scandinavian Home
Note 2. Small works look great as accents in kitchens, bathrooms, and in other small spaces that need some sprucing.

Better Homes & Gardens
Jacquelyn Clark
Note 3. A set of small pieces are a great way to fill up a large space above a mantel place, along a hallway or staircase, and above a headboard.

My Scandinavian Home
Before you run off to the store to purchase some overpriced stock photography in a cheap plastic frame, do yourself a favor and spend some quality time developing your own personal taste in art. This is massively important to do before you make any big purchases to avoid winding up with a piece of artwork that you've grown out of after just a few years. To help get your feet wet, I highly recommend browsing the artist profiles on Saatchi Art, an online art gallery based in Los Angeles that simplifies the sale of original artwork and reproductions directly from artists from all over the globe. Saatchi’s website is incredibly easy to navigate and allows you to narrow your search by location, price, size, style, medium, and even subject matter.

Now, if you’re a noob, purchasing a reproduction and having it framed by a local frame shop is probably the most cost-effective way to go. In short, a reproduction is an image of the original artwork that is printed on archival paper. When you purchase a reproduction, you’ll get the look that you love without the hefty price tag and shipping fees that go a long with acquiring an original piece. Many artists have prints of their original artwork available on their websites. As for me, I'm currently really into to the work of Atlanta-based painter, Michelle Armas. Her work is vivacious, effervescent and the perfect way to inject some color into a room with an otherwise neutral color palette.

Michelle Armas
Taking your print to be professionally framed under glass is a great idea because it will not only look sophisticated and luxurious, but it'll also protect the image, ensuring that you'll have it for many years to come. Your local framer can work with you to determine the best matting and framing options based on your budget and the look that you want.

If you’re wanting to buy an original work of art but you're concerned that you need to have a couple hundred thousand dollars just casually lying around, the good news is that you're mistaken! Another great website for browsing artwork is Previously Owned by a Gay Man, which is an expertly curated online home décor consignment boutique. Here, you can shop for original artwork, framed photography, and vintage prints, as well as magnificent furniture and accessories for your home with unexpectedly reasonable prices. You can rest easy when ordering from these guys because every piece was once owned by a fabulous gay man, so you know that it’s not only super stylish but was kept in fantastic condition.

Previously Owned By A Gay Man
At the end of the day, you should always trust your gut and only purchase artwork that you absolutely love. Discovering and collecting artwork is an intensely personal experience that should take time to develop over many, many years. Happy hunting!


Beauty Bag: Skincare Suited for the Beginning of Fall

Ugh, y'all. Just... ugh.

The temperatures are officially dropping, which means that my skin has already started suffering. Maybe it's having to do with growing up in Florida for the first 18 years of my life, and generally being conditioned to endure warmer weather throughout the seasons, but my skin is always the first to dry out as soon as the temperature drifts south here in New York City. It hasn't even fallen below 55 degrees, and I already feel colder, dryer, and totally flaky. Since moving up north over eight years ago, I've had to let my body adjust in it's own time to the seasonal temperature and weather changes - but learning how to care for my skin properly throughout these frigid months has helped me more than anything else. 

First of all, I'd like to preface my below list with one bit of food for thought: everyone's skin is different. If you're unsure of what will work for you - try it for a few weeks, and see what happens (sounds so simple, no?). Whenever I feel like I'm in need of a refresher, I just reach for the latest product I can find at the beauty counter (enter Sephora, what every beauty dream is made of). Each individual has their own unique way to take care of their face and skin - but I encourage you to try a few new products and discover something that makes you glow!

It's so, so important to exfoliate. By the end of the summer, your skin has built up a whole heap of dead and damaged cells, dulling down your complexion. Your face and body can get super dry and itchy, so using a scrub helps to prevent any irritation. I am obsessed (and I mean obsessed) with Brand New Day Microderma Scrub and Masque from One Love Organics ($12) - the sweet pea flour soothes skin while fresh pineapple enzymes polish your skin to absolute perfection.

Get toned. Yes, I use a toner as a makeup remover on lazy days and nights. But on top of being cleansing, toner also helps prepare your skin for serums, creams, moisturizers, lotions, and oils so that their effects can get reach down under the surface. Kiehl's Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner ($16) makes my face feel clean, but not tight. And, because it's alcohol-free, it's great for sensitive skin while the herbs and cucumber extract are soothing and calming.

Maybe it's time to invest in a cleansing oil that you've been hearing all about. Oils are ideal for the transitional season because they cleanse perfectly without losing basic moisture. When you scrub up with a harsher face wash in the cold weather, you can lose all the essential oil on your face that keeps you from drying up and / or breaking out. But cleaning oils bind to the bad oils on your face, making this product a real skin savior, especially when prepping your skin to endure dropping temperatures. Philosophy came out with Purity Made Simple Mineral Facial Cleansing Oil ($25) which removes dirt, makeup, and pollution while retaining all those lovely friendly oils that keep your skin moist and fresh.

Speaking of, moisturizing is where it's at. In my personal routine, I've always believed that more is more when it comes to moisturizing. When the cold weather comes around and hangs out for a while, skin dries out quickly and easily in the new frigid temperatures. Layering a serum with a lotion adds a double boost of essential moisture while also helping to repair past summer sun damage. Also: get an under-eye cream. It's a different type of skin, people! It needs it's own TLC. I swear by Skyn Iceland products, like the Arctic Elixir with Raspberry Stem Cell Complex ($60), Pure Cloud Cream with Arctic Berries and Peptides ($65), and the Icelandic Relief Eye Cream with Cotton Powder ($45), which are all pricey, but 100% worth it.

And while we're here, hippies, please don't skip the SPF like we talked about in this original post. Sun damage can happen even on the cloudiest of days, so it's important even in the fall and winter seasons to wear sunscreen.


Beauty Bag: DIY Homemade Face Masks

There's a heavenly sort of feeling that comes over me when I take off a face mask. It's a combination of being both intensely clean and quietly at peace. In other words, my love letter to whomever discovered face masks - you're a genius. As I comb through the Skin Care section at Sephora, it's really quite easy to spend an entire paycheck on facial creams, peels, masks, and treatments. But if you're looking for a quick fix, you don't have to look too much further than your own kitchen pantry. Just grab yourself a bowl and start mixing! Here are my top three go-to face masks that one can make with the ish in your cabinets and / or fridge.

1. Greek Yogurt Mask. I always have Greek yogurt (almost exclusively Fage) on hand; this is mainly because I used to love sour cream and would eat it all the time. We're talking multiple times per day. This was clearly prior to realizing how fatty it is - you live / you learn. Now I chow down hardcore on Greek yogurt because it's great for your skin, keeps that digestive tract in check, and tastes amazing on twice-baked potatoes (true story). But on top of all that, Greek yogurt makes an unreal face mask - no additional ingredients necessary! Just slap some straight from the fridge onto your face, leave for 10 to 15 minutes, and rinse off with warm water. The lactose enzymes in the yogurt will dissolve dirt and tone down redness and irritation, leaving your skin bright, clean, and soft. 

2. Avocado Mask. Growing up in Florida, we almost always had avocados around the house. I became so used to them being available that even today they're generally a staple in my weekly diet - which is a fabulous habit to have because they're great for you inside and out. You often hear about hair masks made from avocado, but did you know that all their healthy fats are super skillful at moisturizing your skin, too? Some people combine avocado mush with just a dash of honey (also uber hydrating) but I like to pair it with honey AND apple cider vinegar, which acts as an astringent to clear up skin and balance pH. Just smash up in a bowl all together, smear on your face and let sit for 15 minutes before rinsing with cool water.  

3. Chocolate Mask. Chocolate's not just for eating (although that's still good, too, duh). It's overflowing with antioxidants and a touch of caffeine which leaves skin de-puffed and brighter after a face mask by improving blood flow to the skin. Mix some cocoa powder - LIVE for this stuff - with finely ground coffee beans to kick the caffeine up a notch and really wake that skin up. Add in some cold pressed organic coconut oil, and you've got yourself an unbeatable concoction. Slather on and leave for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water (I also like to end with a splash of cool to close up those pores). 

Have another? Send your at-home and DIY beauty fixes to hippieteaparty@gmail.com - we want to try them!

Blogging tips