Friday, April 30, 2010

Nielsen confirms mobile revolution?

The results of a recent survey about mobile phone use habits from Nielsen, widely publicised today in all online media portals, give the strongest as yet indication that uptake of mobile phones as information and Internet access device may be reaching a critical mass level. Unfortunately, missing from quoted numbers are any indications as to how big the current population of users is, and especially comparisons to online and other media channels, but quoted percentages about information access activities relating to G3 mobile phone users can look very impressive at the first glance. I would love to get my hands on the original report because the figures quoted by the journalists leave much to interpretation but I will try to make some sense of what’s being reported:

  • 43% of all mobile phone owners in Australia have Internet - enabled handsets, 29% of those are actually accessing the Internet via their phones (equals to only 12.5% of all mobile phone users, which is not that great after all…)
  • Some 73 per cent of users conduct online searches by mobile, compared with 30 per cent a year ago (significant increase but it is still only 9.1% of all mobile phone users)
  • Other uses: checking news and weather (59 per cent, up 18 points), email (58 per cent, up 20 points), maps and directions (56 per cent, up 24 points) and social networking (39 per cent, up 25 points) – or in absolute terms: 7.3% , 7.2%, 7.0% and 4.9% respectively.
  • Among the 39% of users accessing social networking sites, Facebook is by far the most popular: 98% of respondents say they use it! Free access offers from carriers like Vodafone may have something to do with it… Twitter attracted 20% of users and MySpace 17%.
  • There is a notable drop in local search (to 27% from 33% in the previous year), mobile TV (to 6% from 8%), booking tickets (4% from 5%) and most significantly, downloading of ring tones (to 21% from 30%) – hmm, looks that there may be a glitch with the Location Based Services concept…
Published numbers refer to 2009. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions but one thing is certain - use of mobile phones for tasks other than just making calls is gaining in popularity. There is no proven business model as yet that will allow making big money from mobiles for everyone, unless you are a telco or mobile application store owner, although smaller players are starting to nibble on some revenue from the mobile sector by developing custom services and applications for sale.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Colour ME Happy!!!

{me & maria}

We got a visit from Maria Killam of Colour Me Happy this week!!!  Maria flew down to DC (really Virginia) from NYC this week and we had such a great time!  Maria is everything she seems on her blog and more: super-stylish, quick-witted, thoughtful, frank and so much fun.   She's continually looking to grow & learn and is a natural teacher.  This may sound cheesy, but she's a very wise, self-aware person.  . 

 I got to go on a Colour Me Happy color consultation to see her in action and (of couse!) she's so good.  I have no doubt her client will be thrilled with the results.  She also picked out some colors for me at our house for when we get to those rooms!!  yayyyy

{the perfect little turquoise vase she brought me}

Maria also filled me in on the latest color trends and one of my favorite descriptions was "Pretty Ugly."  Click here to read more about it.   I also learned that I'm totally in the stoneage as far as technology goes and have a lot of things to learn like twitter, snaggit and windows live writer.  Maria is so generous with info and I have a mental checklist of all the things I need to get on like a Pure Style Home facebook page, etc.  Anyway, it was awesome to meet another amazing blogfriend and we can't wait to see her again!!  She's amazing!!


Laird in the Wye Valley Trial (with supercharger)

Laird in the Wye Valley Trial (with supercharger)
(Acrylic on Board)

Here is the finished painting that was started at the live painting session at the Morgan Opening Run earlier this month. The source photograph was taken from the book "Morgan Sweeps the Board" by Dr J D Alderson and D M Rushton.

Available for sale at my shop:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grains as Food: an Update

Improperly Prepared Grain Fiber can be Harmful

Last year, I published a post on the Diet and Reinfarction trial (DART), a controlled trial that increased grain fiber intake using whole wheat bread and wheat bran supplements, and reported long-term health outcomes in people who had previously suffered a heart attack (1). The initial paper found a trend toward increased heart attacks and deaths in the grain fiber-supplemented group at two years, which was not statistically significant.

What I didn't know at the time is that a follow-up study has been published. After mathematically "adjusting" for preexisting conditions and medication use, the result reached statistical significance: people who increased their grain fiber intake had more heart attacks than people who didn't during the two years of the controlled trial. Overall mortality was higher as well, but that didn't reach statistical significance. You have to get past the abstract of the paper to realize this, but fortunately it's free access (2).

Here's a description of what not to eat if you're a Westerner with established heart disease:
Those randomised to fibre advice were encouraged to eat at least six slices of wholemeal bread per day, or an equivalent amount of cereal fibre from a mixture of wholemeal bread, high-fibre breakfast cereals and wheat bran.
Characteristics of Grain Fiber

The term 'fiber' can refer to many different things. Dietary fiber is simply defined as an edible substance that doesn't get digested by the human body. It doesn't even necessarily come from plants. If you eat a shrimp with the shell on, and the shell comes out the other end (which it will), it was fiber.

Grain fiber is a particular class of dietary fiber that has specific characteristics. It's mostly cellulose (like wood; although some grains are rich in soluble fiber as well), and it contains a number of defensive substances and storage molecules that make it more difficult to eat. These may include phytic acid, protease inhibitors, amylase inhibitors, lectins, tannins, saponins, and goitrogens (3). Grain fiber is also a rich source of vitamins and minerals, although the minerals are mostly inaccessible due to grains' high phytic acid content (4, 5, 6).

Every plant food (and some animal foods) has its chemical defense strategy, and grains are no different*. It's just that grains are particularly good at it, and also happen to be one of our staple foods in the modern world. If you don't think grains are naturally inedible for humans, try eating a heaping bowl full of dry, raw whole wheat berries.

Human Ingenuity to the Rescue

Humans are clever creatures, and we've found ways to use grains as a food source, despite not being naturally adapted to eating them**. The most important is our ability to cook. Cooking deactivates many of the harmful substances found in grains and other plant foods. However, some are not deactivated by cooking. These require other strategies to remove or deactivate.

Healthy grain-based cultures don't prepare their grains haphazardly. Throughout the world, using a number of different grains, many have arrived at similar strategies for making grains edible and nutritious. The most common approach involves most or all of these steps:
  • Soaking
  • Grinding
  • Removing 50-75% of the bran
  • Sour fermentation
  • Cooking
But wait, didn't all healthy traditional cultures eat whole grains? The idea might make us feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it doesn't quite hit the mark. A recent conversation with Ramiel Nagel, author of the book Cure Tooth Decay, disabused me of that notion. He pointed out that in my favorite resource on grain preparation in traditional societies, the Food and Agriculture Organization publication Fermented Cereals: a Global Perspective, many of the recipes call for removing a portion of the bran (7). Some of these recipes probably haven't changed in thousands of years. It's my impression that some traditional cultures eat whole grains, while others eat them partially de-branned.

In the next post, I'll explain why these processing steps greatly improve the nutritional value of grains, and I'll describe recipes from around the world to illustrate the point.

* Including tubers. For example, sweet potatoes contain goitrogens, oxalic acid, and protease inhibitors. Potatoes contain toxic glycoalkaloids. Taro contains oxalic acid and protease inhibitors. Cassava contains highly toxic cyanogens. Some of these substances are deactivated by cooking, others are not. Each food has an associated preparation method that minimizes its toxic qualities. Potatoes are peeled, removing the majority of the glycoalkaloids. Cassava is grated and dried or fermented to inactivate cyanogens. Some cultures ferment taro.

** As opposed to mice, for example, which can survive on raw whole grains.

Free GIS Tools – Google Map

It is not always practical or possible to use high end GIS software for specific tasks so free alternatives can be very handy. Not to mention that very often expensive commercial software can be cumbersome to use and produce dubious results (or not at all! – the supplier will remain nameless…). Good things can come for free.

Over the years I have collected a number of handy and free tools. I would like to share the list with you, starting with… Google Map API. I know, a lot has been written about it already but still not many professionals consider Google Map as a serious contender to “online GIS status”, and hence dismiss it outright as just a fancy toy, or even treat it as a GIS impostor. So, here are a few points why I believe it is a very powerful tool you cannot ignore. Just consider this:

  • Enormous throughput capacity - to deploy and maintain on your own a custom online mapping system with equivalent capacity would cost you a fortune.
  • Ready to use maps and imagery - the whole world of it, which would be prohibitively costly to replicate even if you are focusing only on a relatively small patch of land.
  • Comes with 2D as well as 3D view option that works on many browsers - I can’t name any commercial software that can do that…
  • Comes in 4 different flavours: Javascript (v2 and v3), Flash, Static Map and Mapplet – which gives you a lot of flexibility in choosing the right platform for your project.
  • Works online as well as on mobile devices (with access to the internet) – a single development platform for two separate access channels, just think about cost savings!
  • Bundled with handy web services: geocoder, reverse geocoder, elevation data service, data parser (txt, xml, kml, kmz, geoRSS), Street View panoramas, traffic, driving directions, local search, Wikipedia points of interests, videos and picture overlays, charts, spreadsheets and on-map advertising, if required.
  • Easy to integrate with any data: as images via Web Map Service or kml/kmz, or vectors and point data via Web Feature Service, xml, txt, kml, geoRSS or JSON.
  • Easy to extend with free custom libraries: drag’n’zoom, marker manager, marker labeller, drawing tools, etc. as well as your own code.
  • Easy to integrate with any website – as long as it is freely accessible.

There are many more exciting features that could be included but I think the above is a pretty impressive list of capabilities that will be hard to match by any other commercially available software. If your project involves deploying a public access mapping application that has to be build from scratch, you can’t go wrong with Google Map!

Related posts:
Google introduces Aerial View
Live traffic on Google Map Australia
Manual geocoder for 70 countries
Google Map Static goes V2
Ingenuity of Google Map architecture

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

3D Earth View added to Google Map

Developers using Google Map API enjoyed integration of 3D Earth View for browsers and standard maps for quite a while – is one such site that took advantage of this integration from day one. However, users of the official Google Map site were provided with this option only yesterday. Flat “Terrain” map is still available but has been moved now to “More…” tab.

Google Earth Plugin was released to developers in 2008 yet it took 2 years to integrate with Google Map proper. It was quite a challenge to combine all the functionality consistently between different map options. Google is constantly working on adding more and more functionality. In case you did not notice, you can experiment with some additional functions by activating tools that are not yet officially released – just click on the red New! text in the top right corner of the screen to bring up a pop-up box with extras, such as “Drag 'n' Zoom” or “Aerial Imagery” which shows rotatable, high-resolution photos presenting features on the ground from four different perspectives.

I must admit that on one hand I am excited about all that new functionality and constant updates of Google Maps and API versions however, on the other hand, it all is starting to look a bit chaotic. It is quite a challenge to comprehend all available functionality options! As complexity of solutions offered by Google increases more and more users will be opting for “simpler alternatives”. This is in turn may be a great opportunity for developers to provide tailored applications.

First spotted on Google Maps Mania: Google Earth comes to Google Map
Via: Official Google Blog: Earthly pleasures come to Maps

Monday, April 26, 2010

Just a Year Ago...

**update**  We moved from this house to a new one (another fixer upper in September of 2012) so here's the story of our last home...  (No after pics of the new house yet ;) ;)

Today I'm joining the Poppies at Play Parade of Homes Tour!  So if this is your first time stopping by- welcome & thanks so much for coming!! 

...  Just a year ago we moved into our new {70s} home.  We've made so many changes to it that I thought a before& after post of the whole house would be fun.  I'll put links throughout the post to the specific rooms in the house so if you've got any questions, check those post for answers, sources, how to's, etc.  Also, the pics have been taken throughout the past year as we completed the projects which is why you'll see so many seasons in the different pics.


Our house had been vacant and on the market for about 4 years before we came along & bought it. (above) You can read the original post I did about it here.  I was totally IN LOVE even though it was a bit sad-looking.  We were told by numerous family members (and even one of our realtors!) what a mistake it would be to buy this house.  Well, my husband & I aren't known for listening to others (Sometimes to our detriment & sometimes to our benefit!)...  so we took the plunge anyway. 

We painted the cedar a dark gray and added a trellis with climbing jasmine and as many shrubs as we could afford.  (Still planning on adding more :)  Here's a photo I took "after" during one of the blizzards we had this year: 

The entrance (below) was in need of some loving:

...And here's what it looks like now (errr on Halloween ;):

{Bright orange front door, new lantern, rug, paint, etc.}

Our foyer was really bad.  I'm not even sure the photo below does it justice.  The linoleum floor was beaten up & grimy and the pendant cast a sickly yellow light in the space:

I wanted something interesting and a little "off"...  and something that would have a big impact when you first walked in... so we hung a bunch of DaVinci sketches randomly along the walls:
{After: fresh paint, custom frames, new caged lantern, orange door & seagrass carpet}

The living room is one of my favorite parts of our house.  We're up in the trees and it feels like a treehouse, especially with all of the windows open and a breeze blowing through.  Here's a photo of it before with wall-to-wall carpet:

And here it is now (or last week; I've already rearranged since this pic, something I do all the time)..

{My husband, Dave, installed hardwood floors and we had a custom wool rug cut for a soft spot to play for our kids}

And here it is this week:  (I promise I don't have too much time on my hands!! ;) ;)

Here's a view of the side wall before:

And here it is now:

{photo by Helen Norman}

{We added an a mantle with a mirror for a focal point on the once bland wall.  Dave also did an awesome job stencilling the wall with an allover pattern... )

Here's the bookshelf we jam-packed with books & things we've collected over the years.  The 2 lower shelves house toy boxes:

The dining room is smaller than it looks and is open to the living room.  Here it is "before:"

And here is is now:

{After:  New chandelier, furniture, blown-up 15th Century Drawing  on wall...  For details on the dining room click here}

Our kitchen met with its end the second day after closing on the house...  Here it was before:

And here it is now:

{We removed the upper cabinets, added beadboard & shelving, painted the lowers, did hardwoods and painted out old fridge with chalkboard paint for fun}

Here's our little breakfast nook now:

{It's a great place to hang and I love our old-fashioned wallpaper...  For details on our kitchen redo, click here}

Ok, now onto the bedroom!  Here's our bedroom 'before' in all its glory:

{yum! yum!}

And here it is now:

{That's Ashby on the bed.  We found the brass headboard on the side of the road and it sort of guided the design of the room which is a mix of old & new, white and metallic.. for more details, go here by Helen Norman.}

I hung up some of my jewelry on the wall & I wear it so much more than I used to:

...Like I said, things move around a lot...  Here's a view of my nightstand with the chair over there:

{photo by Helen Norman}

Our preschooler's (Christian's) bedroom is a tiny fun spot in the house:

We hung up pages of the Saggy Baggy Elephant on the walls (above) and turned his closet into a little play area with a chalkboard paint hill and a green vintage wallpaper lion:

We just finished decorating our new baby's (4 month old Justin) nursery.  We went dark & a little nutty in here:

The walls are a dark navy and we made the canopy out of a stencilled dropcloth.  we made sure to include a place for Christian to hang out in Justin's room so he feels included:

{Christian chillin in his reading nook}

Now onto the lower level.  (And I'm only showing you one room down here because the rest are still in progress and are NOT pretty) Here's the space before, planned to be a combination family room and office:

{lovely linoleum}

And here it is now:

I love having this huge table to spread projects out on.  We had wall-to-wall seagrass carpet installed and we love it.  (It can't be hurt!!) I wanted it to feel happy & airy down here so the panelling got a fresh coat of aqua paint. 

Before we moved in, there was a weird  fenced in elevated area with a drop ceiling.  Don't ask because I don't know why:

...So we knocked it all down & leveled it and it's now the TV/ seating/ play area:

Having a ton of hidden toy storage is key to keeping me feeling sane:

We've got an ever-growing collection of flea market paintings so up they go above the sofa:

And finally, here's another veiw of the family room before:

{Gotta love that 70s stone}

We debated & debated about what to do with the stone and the wood-burning stove but in the strangest way the stone started to grow on me and now I love it.  The wood-burning stove was awesome & so cozy in the snow storms, so it's definitely staying for now:

{Lanterm, Ikea  Chairs & Ikea ottoman with custom washable slipcover...  For details on the lowerl level redo, click here}

...And that's about it for now!!  We always have something going on over here so I hope you'll come back.  (And everyone who is always here, thanks for bearing with me for all the repeats!)

Anyway, thanks so much to Andy for inviting me to be a part of the blogger home tour!! I'm honored to be included!!  :)  I hope everyone  enjoyed it and now it's time to head on over to House 


Simple Pleasure...

There's just something about the wind blowing your curtains when the windows are open. Now that the warm weather's here, we have our windows open as much as possible and I'm loving the breezes & seeing our living room curtains gently blowing.  (They're simple white unlined linen and perfect for being wind-whipped... Not that I planned this, but I'm very happy with the results.) 

There are so many little things to love about each & every day and as Spring really comes to bloom, I find myself taking even more notice.  What simple pleasures did you indulge this weekend?


*image from

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Free weather widget upgrade

Free weather information tool that I launched in September 2009 has just undergone a small upgrade of functionality. It now also shows animated cloud cover over Australia in the last 12 hours. As all data displayed in the widget, the image is sourced from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology in real time. Included is also a link to an interactive map with the latest weather information on site. I plan one more small update of functionality later in the year. Full instruction on how to integrate the tool with any blog or website is on free widgets page.

Cloud cover image is updated every hour and consists of 12 individual images, published by Bureau of Meteorology, which are converted into a single animated gif image with GD library. I am only now starting to discover this amazing image transformation tool for PHP.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I'm so excited because Pure Style Home is getting a makeover!!  The new blog header is really special to me I can't wait for you to see it next week!! 

{image from here}

But for now, have an awesome weekend & take in all the little beautiful things around you.


UK unlocks vaults of spatial data

I reported last year that UK government made a commitment to release majority of its spatial information collected and maintained by the Ordnance Survey for free public use. The first set of data, including raster maps and vector topographic information, is now available for download. Ordnance Survey has always been a model national mapping agency with very efficient system in place to produce high quality and up to date spatial information for the UK. Til recently it operated on fully commercial basis and now is quickly catching up with “open access” initiatives.

Australia has also opted for open access approach. However, after initial enthusiasm surrounding gov2.0 taskforce and initiatives such as MashupAustralia aiming at unlocking volts of government spatial and non-spatial data things have slowed down to a standstill. The biggest achievement so far is adoption of Creative Commons licensing by many government agencies but access to data have not improved dramatically. No new data has been added to catalogue since January although it is good to see that NSW and Victorian governments followed with similar initiatives.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Intriguing map of government censorship

Google has just published a small map application showing world wide statistics about “Government requests directed to Google and YouTube” to remove content from services, or provide information about users of services and products. The information covers period between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009. You can draw your own conclusions however, general media has already started sensationalising the story with titles like: Big Brother is watching us on Google.

I would like to use this example as another proof that analysing information spatially can give additional insights into the issues under investigation. In particular, information presented as a list draws attention only to countries at the top of the list, namely Brazil, Germany, India or US. However, presenting the same information geographically can add additional perspective on the whole issue. What got my attention on this occasion was a geographic spread of countries with requests by government agencies. These are predominantly all established democracies in Europe, Americas, South East Asia and Oceania. There is a notable absence of requests form countries in the old communist block as well as the Middle East. There could be a number of reasons for this phenomenon warranting further investigation but just to provoke some thoughts, is it possible that, contrary to a popular belief, citizens in democratic societies are subject to higher level of censorship than those form more restrictive political systems?

First spotted on: Google Maps Mania

Google Maps Navigation launch in UK

In November last year I reported about Google entry into the mobile GPS Navigation market with its fully featured Map Navigation application for phones running on Android 1.6 OS. Now the application has been also launched in the UK. Australia should not be too far behind.

In contrast to other iPhone based tools from major GPS navigation companies, this one is totally free although it does rely on the Internet connectivity to work. For Google it is all about enabling a new advertising channel that can deliver highly targeted and localised ads with search and driving directions queries as well as in reference to points of interests displayed on the map. These are still early days for advertising on mobile devices but it appears Google is attempting to transfer its successful online model onto this platform.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More Than One Way To Skin A Cat

When approaching the design of a space, I do believe that there are "wrong" ways to do things, but I also believe that there are multiple"right" ways to do the space.  In my mind, there really is no "right" way, but there is however, a "best" way.  ---a way that feels "right" for the person who lives there & is appropriate for the home.

{Design by Pheobe Howard, Photo by Luke White}

Often times clients show me a room and ask me what I would do- what colors I would use, what materials, etc.  For me, this isn't how it works.  I might know how I would want the space to evolve if it were for me, but until I've really grasped my client's style and their dreams for the space, I really can't answer that question.  I always need to know who my audience is.

{Design by David deMattei & Patrick Wade, Photo by Jose Picayo}

Once my clients & I have agreed to work together, it's all about me drawing out my clients' wants, needs, tastes, style, etc. to create a vision that I think will be "best" or "right" for them and will work in their home.    It isn't however, the only "right" way to do the space.  If 10 different designers came into that home, there would be 10 different "visions" for the space, all based upon the client's wants/needs and the designer's own aesthetic.  They might all be amazing to viewers like us, but I'm sure the client will have a favorite or "best."  It doesn't mean the others were wrong, however, just not "right" for the client.  The one that might look "best" to outside viewers might not be the homeowner's choice...

Design is personal.  It's one of the reasons when doing a room reveal, that I often explain what I or my client was going for in the space...  An overall mood, feeling, style...  Because there are many "right" ways to do a space, but I want you to know why I made the choices I did.  Coming from the point of view of the homeowner/ designer, a design is often much better understood.  And understanding is one of the first steps in liking.

{Design by Betsy Brown, Photo by Don Freeman}

Before we were married, I knew my husband was the one for me because I felt more understood by him than anyone else in the world.  I didn't have to explain the "whys" of everything, because he just knew why because he understood me & where I was coming from and liked me because of it. 


It's similar with a space...  If viewers or "judges" (like us blog readers! ;)  know where a client is coming from and what he/ she wants out of the space and how he/ she wants it to feel, we understand it better and appreciate it.  I'm not saying that we cannot judge a space if we don't know where the owner/designer is coming from, but that having that information helps us understand a space a bit more, and in turn, helps us appreciate it.  We may not like even one teensy element of it for our own homes, but we're able to see the beauty in it for someone else. 

{Cathy Kincaid, Photo by Reed Davis}

I don't do "one" style of decorating/ design.  I can't.  My clients all have their own unique styles and I go where their styles take me.  Yes, my own style/ aesthetic plays a major role in how a space will turn out, (which is why there's often a "look" to rooms a designer's done) but it's not limited to styles of furniture or decor...  it's present in the way the space is put together. 

{Darryl Carter, Photo by Simon Upton for Elle Decor}

When you love & appreciate a variety of different styles, you can recognize that there's no one style that's "right"  although you probably have a personal favorite or favorites that you want in your own home.  But when critiquing and evaluating others' interiors, to think that only one style is beautiful/ good is really limiting and elementary.  Trust me, I've been there!!

When I first really became interested in decorating & started experimenting with my first apartments, I began creating rooms that adhered to a "style."  My dining room felt a bit "cottage" and when you were in there you got this feeling.  My living room was kind of an "Eastern" mix full of things from my grandparents' extensive travels. There was another feeling in there.  (And it was right next to the dining room so it wasn't pretty! ;)  My bedroom had a mahogany 4 poster bed and felt a bit British Caribbean...  I could go on, but I think you get the point.  I began with pieces of furniture or accessories that I'd been given or bought & created rooms around them, collecting other items that "went with" others.  It was more "themey" however, because it wasn't authentic and wasn't personal to me. I was creating rooms around furniture/ things, not around and end goal/ mood/ atmosphere.   It should be the other way around:  "Things" are our tools for creating atmosphere. The rooms were great at that time for me in the sense that I was experimenting & using my place as a canvas & learning to put rooms together, but they were totally out of context all squeezed together room-by-room in an apartment.

So what I'm saying is, I could do a home for a client who lives in a cottage and who wants that "cottage" feeling throughout her whole house and we could use lots of cottage-type pieces and it would be appropriate. 

(Ginger Barber, Photo by Victoria Pearson}

What's inappropriate or inauthentic is when it's forced or out of context.  It's like the girl who shows up to the backyard barbeque in 4 inch heels and a short skirt:  she looks great but totally ridiculous for a bbq.  Had my apartment dining room actually been in a cottage, it would have been much better!  (And our girl would look so much better on a hot date than with her heels sinking in the grass at the bbq!)

There are people out there who say they hate neutral interiors or colorful rooms or "cottage style" for example.  Does that make it wrong or bad?  I don't think so.  (hahah only in the case of my dining room!!)  There's good and bad of everything and I think the important thing to ask yourself when judging a room is:  Do I maybe dislike this room because it's not done in a style I like or is it because it's not done well?  I believe we can learn to appreciate many different "styles," just as we can appreciate the value of a well-executed space. 

{Christina Rottman, Photo by Mikkel Vang}

Painting the Rat:  It's similar to art.  Show a photo of a rat to Monet, Van Gogh, and Da Vinci and have them paint it.  Each of the 3 paintings would be totally different yet all of the same rat.  Think of the rat as the "style" and the Painter as the "designer" with his/ her own aproach/ aesthetic.  If you have a problem with the photo of the rat in the first place (the style), then you might not like any of the paintings (the interiors) or even give them a chance because of their subject.  If you close yourself off to a room because of its design style, you won't be able to appreciate it or understand it and you lose the opportunities to grow/ learn/ hone your eye. 

Which Rat Do You Like Best?:  Once you have opened yourself up to the photo of the rat, acknowledging that maybe you don't like the subject matter of a "rat" but you can appreciate the value of a well-done rat, you can begin to evaluate & appreciate the artists' interpretations.  You don't even get to that stage if you shut out the paintings because their subject(style) is a rat (a design style you don't personally like.) Here's where the artist/ or designer's personal aesthetic/ style / approach to design comes into play.  Just as each artist's rat painting would have been executed differently & in his own style, each designer's interiors are executed differently & his/ her own style.  If a designer is good, he/ she can give you a rat if you want one, just as the painter can give you the rat.  If a designer isn't good, then the overall vision he/she  is was trying to achieve for the client would be hazy or lost and it would be a badly done room, as if a terrible painter (like me!) were to attempt the rat. 

You might personally love Monet's rat, but not like Da Vinci's rat.   It's great for you to have an opinion, a favorite that you're passionate about, and by dissecting the reasons why you like one and not the other, you grow.  You could never have done this if you closed your eyes to the paintings in the first place because they were of ugly old rats.

Does this make sense?  It's okay to critique/ judge, but I do believe we need to be open to design styles other than our own if we expect to grow/ learn/ appreciate design. 

{Dana Lyon, Photo by Reed Davis}

This doesn't mean loving everything.  There are plenty of rooms I don't like and even after hearing from where someone was coming from, seeing that the homeowner adores it and that it is appropriate, I still don't like.  That's fine!  We don't have to like everything (and definitely won't) but it's good to dig deeply and ask ourselves "why?"  ...  To just mentally pinch ourselves to doublecheck that it's not because it's done in a style that's different from ours or because we might not understand it. 

{Miles Redd, Photo by Thomas Loof}

Rooms shouldn't need a translation but there are so many spaces that grow on me the more I study them.  (And on the other hand there are rooms I initially think "So pretty!!" and then upon further inspection/ study, they kind of start to bore me...  some of these even being my old houses!)

So maybe a room isn't done exactly the way you would do it, but can you appreciate it anyway?  Is there in fact more than one way to skin a cat?


*All interiors from House Beautiful unless noted otherwise