An Ode to Board and Batten…

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Craftsman, Home Design, Wood Work

I love board and batten! Our home would feel so nice with it running up the stairs and wrapping each room. I have wanted to install some fancy woodwork in our home, but I always thought you have to be a master craftsman to undertake such a huge project.

I have been really inspired with all the amazing work out there in blogland. So I have decided I want to give our little home a some character because it really wants to be a cottage, not a suburban cookie cutter.

The timeline for this project is not immediate… Hopefully sooner than later.

Here is an Ode to Beautiful Woodwork:



Principle of Design #3 – Emphasis

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Bathroom Design, Home Design, Principles and Elements of Design

Emphasis in interior design is simply enhancing or creating a focal point in the room. A successful focal point immediately draws the eye to a specific point in the design. It does not have to be dynamic in pattern or bold in color because size, color, line, texture, woodwork and ornamental detail can all be used to attract attention.

Some natural focal points often found in a room include: a fireplace, a beautiful view, architectural details, artwork or a large piece of furniture (such as a bed or piano). Other objects in the room should compliment the primary focal point.

Principle of Design #2 – Rhythm

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Home Design, Principles and Elements of Design

The brick wall creates rhythm in this bedroom.
(Image from Country Living, “Guest Bedroom Decor.”)

In Interior Design, rhythm is the means through which the eye is drawn around the room. It creates harmony and unity in design. Successful rhythm will create expectation, anticipation and even surprise. Rhythm may be used to draw attention to the focal point in the room.

There are five ways to create rhythm:
1. Repetition and Alternation
Repetition is created through the multiple uses of white in this bedroom.
(Image from Country Living, “Guest Bedroom Decor.”)

Repetition establishes rhythm through repeated elements in the design. Repetition may be found in color, pattern, texture, line, architectural elements, lighting and furniture. An example of repetition can be found in a series of chairs lined up in a room.

Alternation is the sequence of two or more components creating a pattern which the eye can easily follow. An example of alternation would be a series of pillows in two coordinated prints creating a ABABAB pattern.

2. Progression
West Elm Modular Nesting Tables
(West Elm Modular Nesting Tables)

Progression is the use of shapes moving from large to small, or small to large (an example may be found in nesting tables). You can also create progression with colors gradating from dark to light or light to dark.

3. Transition
The strong lines of the exposed-beam ceiling draw the eye from one side of the room to the other.
(Image from Country Living, “Guest Bedroom Decor.”)

Transition leads the eye without interruption from one point to another. Some ways you can create this continuous line include: architectural elements such as crown molding and wainscoting, a carpet runner, or a painted wall.

4. Contrast
(Photograph from Joe Schmelzer)

Contrast or opposition is created by an abruptly changing, repetitive pattern. Some examples include: contrasting patterns (striped, plain, striped, plain); color (black, white, black, white); or varying forms (angular and circular).

5. Radiation
(Image of spiral staircase located at

Radiation is established through the use of concentric or spoke-like lines from a central point. Radial rhythm is often found in windows and floor patterns.

15 Minutes to a Clean Kitchen

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Clean Home, Habits, Kitchen Design, Kitchen Tips

(Image from House Beautiful, “California Kitchen.”)

I love a clean kitchen (including a well organized pantry). It is the room that for me most dictates my mood. If the kitchen is clean, the house is clean… or at least much less dirty. I try to spend 15 minutes each morning straightening the kitchen – right after my family finishes eating breakfast.

(Image from House Beautiful, “Cabinetry with Period Charm.”)

Here are the nine things I do to keep a tidy kitchen:
1. Fill sink or dishpan with hot soapy water. Place dishes into the water to begin soaking. While my dishes begin soaking, I quickly sweep the kitchen and dining area (typically, we only eat in these areas… so it is easy to locate dirty dishes). I place these dishes on the counter near the sink. Next, I wash the dishes by hand or load rinsed dishes into the dishwasher. (I grew up without a dishwasher, so I typically wash by hand… even though we have a dishwasher now.)

Now I need to pause here and comment on the importance of washing dishes, pots and pans just after using them… as soon as I finish frying eggs in a pan I begin soaking the frying pan, quickly rinse dishes as you cook, wash dishes after each meal… this saves me so much time.

2. Pick up trash from the table, countertops and floor… throw away.

3. Put away all items that go in the kitchen… In my kitchen, everything has a designated “homespot.” This helps me and my family keep an orderly kitchen because everyone knows where to put items away.

4. Place items that go into other areas in our home into a tote box, laundry bin or basket. These items will be redistributed later… the second I start putting things away in another area is the second I begin a new project so I try to focus on one task at a time.

5. Wipe down countertops, appliances and the backsplash. I have found it helpful to keep a spray bottle of vinegar and water (about a 1 to 3 ratio) to quickly spray down our oven vent and other areas that kitchen grime builds up.

6. Sweep or vacuum the floor. Spot clean as needed. About once a week I do a mop down of the floors… if my children are outside playing in the mud (like right now) then I will do it more frequently.

7. Take out the trash and reline with a trash bag… I don’t know why, but I always forget to put a bag back in the trash can. Also, frequently (once or twice a week) I will spray the trash can down with Lysol to kill off bacteria and odors.

8. “Sparkle the sink”… by spraying with a little bit of vinegar or window cleaner and wiping down any water spots. Run disposal as I clean the sink.

9. Redistribute items in my basket to their proper “homespots” throughout our home.

** This process takes only 15 minutes each day. If you feel this will take longer be sure to get your family involved. Have children scrape-off their dishes, clear their settings, wipe up spills and tuck in chairs. I have found that even at a very young age children can do an excellent job helping with proper instruction. My son who is six is responsible for taking out the trash whenever it is full; my son who is five sweeps under the table after meals with a little hand-broom; and my daughter who is four is responsible for wiping off the table.

** Also, because I don’t like to pick up scraps of papers, rocks, broken toys, sticks and other treasures my children have collected… if it is left out (and not in their “Keepsake Basket”) then I throw it away. I know it sounds mean, but it helps me know if it is important for them. If I think it might be important, then I will give a warning that any items left out will be thrown away shortly.

Principle of Design #1 – Balance, Scale and Mass

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Home Design, Principles and Elements of Design

I love learning about the “secrets” to design… so I thought I would do a series on the Elements and Principles of Design.

Principle #1 – Balance, Scale and Mass
(Image from

Balance and scale are used to create mass, or visual weight, in design. When a visual equilibrium is met the room will feel composed and completed. Careful consideration should be given to the placement of objects throughout the space. For example, if one side of a room contains several dark, heavy or large pieces the room will often feel off-balanced.

You can create balance in a room with symmetrical (mirror image) placement of objects from a central point. Typically, symmetrical balance will create a more formal feel.

(Image from

Balance can also be achieved asymmetrically by placing varied objects around a central point. Often asymmetrical balance will create a more informal or casual feel in a room.
(Images from Country Living, A Kitchen Full of Color)

A third way to create balance is through radial placement. Objects are placed in a circle around a the center point of the design.
(Image from House Beautiful, “Dark Dining Room”)

Some helpful points for achieving this visual equilibrium are:
* The visual weight is more important than the actual dimensions or size of an object…
* It is important to factor architectural elements – such as a fireplace or large window – into the “balance equation”…
* Massing furniture or objects together can create a heavier visual impact. For example, a sofa may be balanced with two smaller chairs…
* You can balance a little piece with a bigger piece by placing the large object closer to the central axis and the small object further away…
* Lighting can effect arrangement as it will create a visual impact of its own…
* Achieving balance is intuitive…

“The desire for symmetry, for balance, for rhythm is one of the most inveterate of human instincts.”

–Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr. (The Decoration of Houses)

Finely Crafted Bungalow…

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Bathroom Design, Craftsman, Fireplace, Home Design, Kitchen Design, Stonework, Wood Work

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the classic bungalow. Typically, they are full of excellent craftsmanship, well thought details and feel “like home”. This newly constructed bungalow from Black Star Construction Group has all these elements… it is a beautiful home.

Welcoming curb appeal with the deep front porch and flagstone pathway.

Contemporary Arts & Crafts, Santa Barbara, CACasing Detail.

Fine craftsmanship is shown in the details.

I love this fireplace!

This kitchen has great cabinetry. I love the way the formica countertops turned out, the metal trim edging is perfect, and the glass back splash really gives it a trendy feel. The fir flooring keeps the entire feel very comfortable.

I love the dark trim with the light painting. I think the molding adds a very nice touch.

I am always a huge fan of a well designed tile shower. I think that it is a classic feature…

Contemporary Arts & Crafts, Santa Barbara, CA Contemporary Arts & Crafts, Santa Barbara, CA

A more modern take on a classic arts and craft design element.

Full master bathroom remodel. Full master bathroom remodel.

This bathroom is amazing. The combination of the tile with black edging, the diamond motif and the brilliant green work flawlessly together.

(Images may be found at

Shaker Style…

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Home Design, Shakers, Staircase, Wood Work

The Shakers immigrated to the United States in the late 18th century to avoid religious persecution. When they arrived in America they began developing a society that emphasized a belief in a personal relationship with God, simplicity, equality, industry and a striving for perfection. This emphasis created a legacy of perfectly, yet simply crafted pieces. The enduring beauty of Shaker furniture is a result of their attention to details, the utility of their furniture and a fine elegance in all the created.

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, KY - Photo by Joy Ribisi

Influential Elements in Shaker Design

  • Simplicity – In direct contrast to many of the pieces found during the same period, which were influence by the Federal and Sheraton styles, the Shakers would remove all elaborations creating pure and highly functional pieces. Shaker decoration is integrated in the overall form of a piece, they would use the basic elements of design (scale, proportion, repetition/variation and symmetry/asymmetry) to create visual appeal.
  • Open and uncluttered spaces.
  • A limited color palette of earth-based neutrals, warm yellows, reds, blues and greens.
  • Handcrafted furniture in cherry, chestnut, maple and pine.
  • Handmade quilts, toys, dolls and other accessories.
  • Establish a Place of Order – The Shakers believed that every object should have a designated place, which necessitated large quantities of storage. Cupboards and drawers would often line an entire wall. Oval boxes and woven baskets were used to organize small objects. Pegs on chair rails were available to hang clothing and furniture to keep the floor clean and bare.
  • Symmetry and repetition – They relied heavily on patterns involving the repetitive use of similar shapes, forms or space to create unity and order within each design.

  • Natural Elements – Fabrics included cotton, silk and wool. Hardwood plank floors finished with a clear varnish.
  • Lighting included beeswax candles and sconces.
  • Cleanliness was considered essential in the Shaker society and as such homes, furnishings and farms were meticulously maintained.
  • Other elements commonly found in Shaker design include the “Hand within a Heart” motif (to represent our heart belongs to God and our hands were meant to labor), the Tree of Life, doves and bird, and clocks (signifying mortality).
Picket Fence Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, Maine - 2007 Shaker Workshops Photography Competition Winner - Joy Ribisi

Images may be found at–