2014 in Review- Thank You!

Hello!

While my creation of this blog didn’t steamroll through 2014 (due largely in part to starting the year with ankle surgery, and ending with a move to Manhattan); it makes me feel great that I had an audience who liked my work, and people who brought traffic to my site.

Thank you for your support, and I look forward to a bountiful 2015 for Brian Toth Lifestyle!

X,

Brian

(The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.)

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,900 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Halloween Entertaining

Halloween is by far my most favorite holiday. So much in fact, that I don’t do the traditional crazy decorating… I don’t want to “work” on Halloween, I want to go out and ENJOY it! However, I must admit to loving fall entertaining with a hint of Halloween. Here you will find this years “tablescape” and “entry bar”, with a little info on how to achieve the look.

Start with anything black & white, as it sets a great foundation. As you may already know, I love to mix metals; so don’t be afraid to use both silver AND gold. Most people associate spooky Halloween as cold and dark- black, white, and silver. But I’m a “more is more” person, and adding gold or bronze, as well as the definitive orange, really add a gleaming glow in the candlelight. Don’t be afraid to mix patterns- its all about texture: it creates depth! Here you can see the place settings are strictly black, white, silver; and a hint of gold with the silverware. Black wineglasses finish the moody look. I used both gold and black candlestick holders, with white and bronze candles, as well as gold glass pumpkin vases- as pillar holders. Use tapers to bring height to a table; but remember to not block any diners views!

Low and long flower groupings provide the fall warmth, and a scattering of mini pumpkins make it festive. Being adults, my favorite “spirit” to celebrate Halloween with is Champagne; and what better brand than Veuve Clicquot? They are already known for their infamous Yelloween Parties, so why not continue at home? Here I happen to have a Veuve bucket, but using a large skull bucket at the end of the table keeps the bottles close by!

I always like to start dinner guests off with drinks, while still getting into the theme of the party. If you have an area to create a “bar”, go for it. Set before the table, it provides guests with a party kickoff. My go-to Bar stand is the one from West Elm, as its collapsible, storable, and interchangeable with different colored trays. Adding lanterns throughout the home- on floors, in windowsills- not only help bring a spooky atmosphere, but bring flickering light to unsuspecting corners.

Here is another option- more of a long display area, to create an actual “bar” feel. Bucket set up can hold many bottles, an area for glassware, and a highlighted area to drop off the always appreciated guest bottle! (Find some fun Halloween towels to keep on hand- as you don’t want ice water dripping everywhere).

Lastly, there is a fun wine I think is definitely appropriate for Halloween. Its called “Poizin”, and it’s actually from my hometown of Healdsburg, in Sonoma County! Not only are the bottles so cool with the etched skulls and dripping wax seal, but they come in a coffin..! How perfect is that? (also to note- the bottle’s theme colors can be chosen to your preference! Here I chose a neutral Silver).

Happy Halloween!

 

The Bohemian Traveler

I recently had the pleasure of giving an interior “facelift” to a friends home in Hancock Park.  Originally from Vancouver and loving LA, her laid-back lifestyle gives off an ecclectic hippy spirit. Not needing to spend money on new items; but rather just “repurposing” and reallocating pieces, a new open flow was achieved. By simplifying cluttered objects and designating specific areas, it created a relaxed So Cal vibe. From her love of all things French, to vintage flea market finds and Native American ancestry; you will see how all of her influences work together in a harmonious tone.

A Front Door Facelift

The entry to your home is an important, yet often overlooked aspect in decorating; it sets the tone of your life, and who YOU are. It can welcome guests with a feeling of good energy, carry wonderful scents, and provide ease and comfortability. If you own a home, most often a garage is the point of entry, and the owner rarely uses the front door. Figuring out what works for you, maintenance-wise, is key. If you’re going to add potted plants, will you remember to water them? Do you have a path or steps that need lighting to guide guests? Do your friends have a difficult time finding your home due to lack of a visual address?

Here we start with a “plain ol'” entrance. A faded door, no address posted, dead plants, and sad looking steps. It looks like this could be a winter picture, however it is springtime in LA.

With this entrance now changed, a whole new life and energy has been brought to the home! The door was repainted, not only in a rich, dark color; but also in a semi-gloss, to create a luxe feel. Instead of changing out the existing weathered handles and locks (which can get expensive), they were repainted in a rich tone that still reflects the colors of the house. An address plaque was ordered in matching tones, and instead of adding to the door (which is dark at night), was attached to the building under the “welcome light”- thus making it easy for guests to find.

New trees were planted, here olive trees; perfect for a Mediterranean style home. In staying in style with the existing pieces, new planters (same shape) but with a glaze (like the new door), reflect the polish, and provide depth to the appearance. Planting a variety of succulents keeps them easy to maintain, and don’t be afraid to mix and match- create height with tall, soften with big and round, and have some drip down the side. Or if you want to add color, plant flowers that bring you a sense of happiness- and remember about seasonal changes!

Noticing there are plenty of steps where one could stumble, lantern were placed accordingly. The lanterns’ oxidized metal look was chosen to reflect those of the tree planters, creating a cohesive look.The great thing about these is that they can be moved around to different levels; bringing light to various areas. Also, for those worried about leaving candles unobserved, a perfect solution- remote battery operated! With just a touch on your remote, candle on or off (you can find them at most stores carrying home goods).

Lastly, a new welcome mat was added. Depending on your climate, seasons, etc; have a few stored away, and bring out when appropriate. For the majority of the year, find one that means something to you. It can be grand, monogrammed, modern- and I prefer oversized… make a statement!

Green with Envy: St. Patrick’s Day

One of the most overlooked “holidays”, St. Patrick’s day is mostly known for green beer, corned beef and cabbage. Gone are the college days of the pub crawl; yet every year almost everyone participates in some way or another, usually by wearing something green (or getting pinched if you’re not!).  I happen to be partly Irish, and it’s also the day of my parent’s wedding anniversary- plenty of reasons to celebrate!

Either way, decorating the home or having a fun themed dinner is always a pleasant way to celebrate this month, whether you’re Irish or not! Who turns down good food and beer?

 

Start by getting your hands on as much green as you can- It’s hard to miss at all the stores.  Most often, it’s a monotonous sea of garish Kelley Green; but here I’ll show you how to break it up, and make it have an elegant feel. Green wrapped candies, mints, and chocolates are great treats; mini Leprechaun hats and 4-leaf clovers make fun party favors; and of course: flowers.

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Choosing different tones of green, as well as different heights, create depth and bring a dramatic element to your flowers. Break it up with a classic white filler flower; and you have full, vibrant arrangement. I love the way the bright fluffy green hydrangeas fill out the vase, leaving the tall bell stalks to bring volume. Place around the house to bring a fresh, green glowing flow.

 

For the “fun stuff” (i.e.: guest treats), display in different shaped vases, bowls, and canisters. Filled with candy, and favors is a great way to not only bring green into the room; but your guests as well!

 

And last, but definitely not least…  the dinner table. A place to gather with friends and family, enjoy hearty food, and drink ’til content!

 

Starting with linens, choosing different shades of green will bring depth and layers. When choosing china and glassware, break out anything with gold trim… Gold is a huge part of the Irish day! These plates and champagne glasses both have gold trim, and bring a gleam and warmness to the table. Keep it simple with low flowers. Here I used continuing hydrangeas to continue the flow, and give a great pop of an unusual green. Lastly, white candles keep it classic: however a combination of green tapers or pillars with gold candleholders would be a great way to bring a richer feel to the table.

 

All you need to add is the friends, food, and drink! For the non- beer drinkers (or wine lovers), most bottles are made of green glass, so it makes a welcome addition to the table!

Cheers- to hopes of finding your pot o’ gold!

Creating Romance: Valentine’s Day Dinner at Home

The second month of the year is upon us, and that means seeing RED! Of course, that could mean 2 things: you are in love and want to share this month with your significant other; or you are single and don’t want to be alone. Well, luckily I have dinner decor solutions for both! (Even for you guys out there- pay attention! The ladies want to be pampered!)

If you are in a relationship, make the evening special by making it intimate. If you can, start by setting up in a cozy nook of the house, against a window with a view, or possibly in bed? Of course you can use the obvious dining room table, but make it feel like date night in a different part of the house- create something unexpected. Next, layer on the red! Red, burgundy, pink, maybe even purples, so that the impact really gives it a wow factor. If you have any dish ware, bowls, china, glasses, etc. that have those colors, don’t be afraid to overload it. In this case, it can never be too much!

Polish it up with nice stemware- making sure to have BOTH champagne and wine glasses- after all, you will be celebrating, and not want to have to leave the table 🙂 Add fresh flowers (roses, tulips, something exotic like red ginger), candles, tea lights, (scented or not), and make sure when placing them to keep it low and out of the view line- you want to be glancing in each others eyes all night!

 

Now for all you single ladies who don’t want to be alone, (or if you just want to host a Vday dinner) throw a “single ladies dinner party”! Dress up the table with your best; same ideas as above, but now take it to the “fun” level. Placing glass jars filled with different candies and chocolates make it fun to sneak some treats. Use of glittery or silver/metallic reflective pieces creating a fun, dancing glow against candlelight. Again, load up on the flowers- not only do they look beautiful and inviting to touch, they fill the house with such a wonderful scent! Make sure to have plenty of champagne and wine (at both ends of the table!) to either celebrate your freedom, or help drown your sorrows! After all, it can’t be that bad if you’re surrounded by fabulous decor and friends!

Back to Basics: Black & White

The simplicity that is black and white; and not to be confused with old or boring. Using these 2 colors (or non-colors, as some would argue) can be the building steps to creating a fresh, clean and dramatic look to your homes. 

 

Starting with lighting, it can be a huge change to add something dramatic and black. Many think black lighting is too gothic, but it can also just add drama to an all white room, or toughen up a space with its color. If you don’t want too much black, you can always try a clear/crystal lighting, and either add dark shades, or place it in a dark room to add brightness. Remember, once the fixture’s turned on, there is light!

 

Lets now address accessories. Adding just the right piece of art, whether formal or whimsical, can bring you just a touch of glamour.  Have fun with pillows, like these shown (patent faux croc and cowhide, against a black leather couch) which add depth and texture. Coffee table books in a tray keep the accessories consistent,  while still inviting guests to peek. A great feature can be wallpaper- with literally thousands to choose from, you can definitely find something right for you, even if it’s just an accent wall. Want a playful addition? A white greyhound statue added to the mix will make your place feel regal and protected!

 

Providing guests with hidden nooks of simple color make both the spaces stand out on their own, as well as providing a chic and clean color pallet as a backdrop. 

 

Finally, styling your home to entertain. Crystal, metallics, and glass create strong lines, while helping reflect light against dark walls and furniture. While fluffy white flowers bring softness and a welcoming tone. Playing patters against each other is also a fun way to bring life to your black and white space. Upholstered chairs with luxe dinnerware, against modern lines of a vase and flatware, combined with linens and glasswares- all keeping in line with color blocking- provide a feast for the eyes… no food needed!